Part of a Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms translation project at fruitydeer.com.
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Source: 三生三世十里桃花 by Tang Qi Gong Zi // Translated By: fruitydeer
This is part 3 of 4. It took more time than expected since these final two parts were much longer. I pretty much lost steam as well and had to take a breather. The final part is done, however, and will be uploaded in the next few days once I’m done editing.
Just a brief note that depending on context, “heaven” can refer to either a general higher power or the “Heavens” (alternatively, the Nine Heavens) that these immortals live in. While immortals can dictate mortal fate, their own fates are dictated by the higher power.
Another twenty thousand years went by in a hurry. Ye Hua was nearing fifty thousand years of age.
The Nine Heavens has tens of thousands of rules. One such rule states that those gifted the fortune of being born into immortality1 are in natural violation of the laws of heaven and earth. Thus, in order to remain an immortal in the Heavens, one must rid themselves of the Seven Emotions and abstain from the Six Desires.2 Breaking this rule will enter one into the cycle of reincarnation with no chance of ever ascending to the Heavens again.
Mortal ascension to divinity has never been an easy feat. So, once mortals master Daoism and reach ascension, they tend to follow rules to the tee. None dare to bring the affairs of the Mortal Realm into the world of immortals. For them, leading a life with such strict standards and no room for error was indeed a stressful one.
Of those living their lives in such a rigid manner, there is one particular immortal who leads at the front of the pack. He sees following the rules of the Heavens as a matter of utmost importance. And even this immortal acknowledges that of those conducting themselves with rigid standards of indifferent detachment, there is no one in the 36 Heavens3 that can compare with the young crown prince, Ye Hua.
Whenever his third uncle, Lian Song, invited him out to drink, he would tease him every now and again. One time, the topic at hand was on the moon resting beneath the Nine Heavens. The debate over the waxing and waning of the moon then led to a discussion of one’s fulfillment in life.4
Defeated by Ye Hua in conversation, Lian Song wanted to save some face. With a faint smile, he patted Ye Hua on the shoulder and said, “You’ve yet to meet true fulfillment in your life, yet you come and tell me what fulfillment is. Simply understanding it on paper isn’t quite the same.”5
Ye Hua turned his wine glass and said, “In what way am I not fulfilled?”
Lian Song quickly took the reigns of the conversation. He brought up the several vicissitudes that come with having experience in life, saying, “While observing the stars at night, you can indeed see with your own eyes the waxing and waning of the moon. However, to truly understand the pros and cons of life, you must wander the Immortal Realm yourself in order to experience the taste of love.”
While Lian Song spoke with nonchalance, Ye Hua also listened with nonchalance. At the end, Ye Hua chuckled mildly and paid no serious consideration to his uncle’s words. He had never understood why the notion of love was seen as such a big deal.
Soon after, Tianjun dispatched Ye Hua to the Mortal Realm to put a stop to the the Scarlet Flamed Lion Beast.6
It’s said that ten years ago, this Scarlet Flamed Lion Beast left the Southern Wilderness for the Zhong Rong Kingdom of the Eastern Wilderness. He was terrifying and belligerent, wreaking havoc and inciting massacres with no signs of quitting. Scorching thousands of miles of land, the beast brought on a ten year drought in Zhong Rong, leaving the country’s people wandering about in their homelessness and misery.
The ruler of Zhong Rong has always been rather cool-tempered. However, at the turn of the tenth year, the Scarlet Flamed Lion Beast took a fancy to the ruler’s wife. Without so much as a word of acknowledgement, he stole away the Queen and took her back to his cave. At his wits end, the typically amiable ruler became furious. In his fury, he committed suicide. When his spirit drifted into gates of the Netherworld, he reported the every evil deed committed by the Scarlet Flamed Lion Beast.
Though the Scarlet Flamed Lion Beast’s reputation falls short when compared to ancient mythical beasts like Tao Tie7 and Qiong Qi,8 he doesn’t lose to them in terms of capability. With the intention of refining his heir’s abilities, Tianjun sent Ye Hua to subdue the creature alone.
In Zhong Rong, Ye Hua battled the Scarlet Flamed Lion Beast for seven days. During this fight, the heavens and earth turned pale. Though the beast was eventually slain by his sword, exhaustion forced Ye Hua into his primordial form. His primordial form was, in fact, a majestic and awesome black dragon. Ye Hua thought it was rather ostentatious, so he shrunk himself down to the size of a small snake and found an inconspicuous cave on the nearby Junji Mountain to rest in.
It just so happened that Junji Mountain’s peach trees were in the midst of harvesting season.9 Ye Hua settled into the cave indifferently, slowly closing his eyes and drifting into slumber.
Several days passed as Ye Hua slept to his heart’s content. When he finally opened his eyes, he found that he was no longer in that wet cave. Instead, it looked like he was inside mortal constructed thatched hut. The run down hut was on the verge of collapse and had a wooden door that was in even worse shape. One could not help but feel that just pushing on the door could cause the entire hut to crumble.
A passing gust outside brought on the rustling noises of a few tree leaves. At the same time, the little wooden door opened. First, there was a pair of shoes. Then, a plain robe. Finally, the face of a maiden.
His many years of practiced acumen and calmness were ruthlessly shaken up. The slender figure of the woman before him sent his mind into a sudden daze. A vague memory of someone else’s backside, buried in the recesses of his mind, seemed to match hers.
An inexplicable emotion rippled through his body. The feeling was akin to one losing something in a past life and finally finding it tens of thousands of years later.
Lian Song would likely wave his fan casually and say, “This is falling in love.”
Buddha would likely chant Amitabha and say, “This is an illusion.”
Yet, there is a reason behind everything.
What Ye Hua couldn’t remember was that seventy thousand years ago, when Mo Yuan sacrificed himself to the Dong Huang Bell, he was awakened by a hoarse voice. That voice was full of endless sorrow, crying out, “Shifu, wake up, wake up—”
Over and over, the sound lingered in his ears. Though the voice wasn’t calling out for him, he woke up anyway. The owner of that voice was the woman before his eyes.
He forgot the dreams of his past life when he was born as Tianjun’s eldest grandson, but the tribulations borne of his awakening in Scarlet Hellfire had long been written into his book of destiny. When Ye Hua woke up in the midst of the Scarlet Hellfire, the first thing he saw in this world was this woman. Back then, she had disguised herself as a man called Si Yin.
Ye Hua laid on the bed as if he had been stabbed. His eyes, typically placid like a body of ripple-less body of water, gradually shifted into winds and waves like that of a dark storm.
The woman looked around a moment then exclaimed cheerfully, “You’re awake?” Then she touched the horns on his head, stroking them for a moment before noting with satisfaction, “Out of the snakes I know, none are as handsome as you. You’re no ordinary snake; you even have horns on you head. They’re even smooth to the touch. Heh heh, how nice it feels!”
His eyes narrowed as he stared at her wordlessly.
Ye Hua was actually a majestic black dragon, but this woman seemed ignorant and had likely never seen a dragon. She simply treated him as a regular snake that had a unique appearance. As such, she tried to raise him into a domesticated snake.
A domestic snake has many perks.
For example, she would hold Ye Hua in her arms and talk to him. She pinched bits of food in her soft hands and fed it to him. She also shared half of her bed with him, letting him sleep by her side at night while covering him with a thick blanket.
He assumed that she probably never raised a snake before. She didn’t realize that snakes don’t need to sleep on the bed, nor do they need a blanket covering. Dragons? Even less so.
Many nights, Ye Hua would wait until she fell asleep and shift back into human form so he could hold her in his arms. Before she woke up the next morning, he would shift back into a little black dragon.
She didn’t know how to dye fabrics so everything she wore was plain (素 // Su). Compared to the female immortals in the Heavens who wore colorful satin dresses, she was much more simple by leaps and bounds. Ye Hua still thought these plain clothes were most beautiful.
He gave her the name, Su Su.
In the blink of an eye, it was the ninth lunar month. Across the Four Seas and Eight Wildernesses, the scent of osmanthus filled the air. In the midst of the swirling scents, Su Su brought home a mother crow that just lost her baby. She spent most of her days look for food for the mother crow. The care and energy she expended on Ye Hua faded significantly. Though he appeared calm and collected, he realized in a panic that in the eyes of Su Su, this little snake was no different than the crow. Ye Hua thought that continuing on like this would be improper.10
When Su Su took the crow out to look for food the next morning, he shifted into his human form and summoned a cloud to return to the Nine Heavens.
In the Nine Heavens, the person with the most insight on love was his third uncle, Lian Song. This generation’s tianjun was the quite the talent when he was young, but Lian Song’s talents outshine even that of Lao Zi.11 Among the ancient gods, he’s truly the number one Casanova.
The Casanova said, “I’ve never been with a mortal woman, but there’s a good saying that goes, ‘The old bustard loves money while the lady loves beauty.’ There’s no woman that doesn’t love a good looking man. Just go stand before her and flash a smile. She’s guaranteed to go weak in the knees.”
Ye Hua took a sip of tea, offering no response.
The Casanova then said, “Since the beginning of time, beauties have always loved a good hero. How about you conjure up a monster and put it on that mountain to give her a fright. Once she’s scared of out of her mind, pull out your Qing Ming Sword and and rush over to heroically kill the monster. From that point on, you’ll be her savior. Unable to pay the debt, she’ll naturally have to marry you (以身相許 // Yi Sheng Xiang Xu).”12
Ye Hua put the tea cup down and rotated it on the table. He said airily, “One of these days when I’m free, I’ll help you conjure up a monster to go scare Cheng Yu. Regular monsters naturally won’t scare her, so we’ll make a particularly powerful one that is capable of beating her. Once she’s on her last breath, you can jump in and rescue her. She’ll probably have no way to pay the debt either and have to devote her life to you.”
The Casanova chuckled dryly, waving his fan in exasperation.
“You look down on the Beauty Tactic. You can’t bear to use the Hero Tactic for fear of scaring her. Then how about the opposite–use the Pity Tactic. Slash yourself a few times and lay outside her doorstep. She can’t ignore a person dying in front of her doorstep, so she’ll naturally try her best to save you. Then, in order to repay her, stay after your injury heals to serve her and attach yourself to her. What can she do about that?”
The tea cup came down on the table with a thud. What a great idea.
With the Pity Tactic, there’s not even a need to slash oneself. Gods have an illusion spell.
After tea with Lian Song, Ye Hua immediately bounded down on a cloud. This time in the Mortal Realm, he created a magical barrier in order to hide Junji Mountain from the eyes and ears of the Heavens. When Ye Hua landed in front of Su Su’s hut, he drew up a spell with a wave of the hand. He covered himself with blood, using the injuries from his High Immortal ascension as a point of comparison.
This strategy was indeed, very successful. As soon as she opened the little wooden door and saw him, she became alarmed and immediately dragged him into the hut.
Su Su’s efforts to stopping the bleeding were extremely clumsy. While Ye Hua laid on the bed watching her, she was sweating profusely as she fiddled with the medicinal herbs. He felt a little satisfied. But Su Su was terribly frightened; the hand she used to apply the medicine was shaking. Most of the medicine spilled onto the floor while some of what remained spilled onto Ye Hua’s robe. It’d be lucky if she could even cover his wounds with what drops were left. As Ye Hua gazed upon her paled expression and tightly pursed lips, his heart softened and he suddenly found his conscience.
When she turned around to retrieve more medicine, he waved a finger and quickly healed the injury so that the open wound closed on its own. After she returned with more medicinal herbs and noticed the already healed injury, Su Su stared at it, completely dumbstruck. Ye Hua thought that this dumbstruck look was rather adorable.
Su Su was worried for him so she kept him at the hut to recuperate for a few days—exactly what Ye Hua wanted. She didn’t remind him to take his leave, so he acted none the wiser. Once the injury was healed, he mentioned nothing about leaving.
Until the morning of the twelfth day.
Early morning on the twelfth day, Su Su brought him a bowl of porridge. She told him tactfully that as a weak and small girl, taking care of some small animals wasn’t much of an issue. However, taking care of a living, breathing person like him was a bit difficult. Since his injury was mostly healed, it was probably time for him to leave this place. She kept hemming and hawing, clearly uncomfortable at having to push her guest away.
Ye Hua picked up the bowl of porridge and took a sip, replying casually, “You saved me, so naturally I must stay and repay you.”
Su Su hastily put up her hand to signal that it was unnecessary. Ye Hua didn’t reply, simply leisurely drinking the barely edible bowl of porridge to completion. Then he looked up at her and smiled faintly, saying, “If I don’t repay you, wouldn’t that be ungrateful of me? Regardless of whether you accept it or not, this kindness is a debt I must repay.
Her expression turned blue then white. Ye Hua propped his cheek up with his hand and gazed at her. He thought her desperate attempt to save face whilst at a confused loss was incredibly adorable. He never could have predicted her next words, which made her a hundred times more adorable to him.
What she said was, “If you must repay me, why not marry me (以身相許 // Yi Sheng Xiang Xu)13?”
They made their oaths to heaven and earth in the Eastern Wilderness. On the eve of their wedding, he held her in his arms as she slept soundly. He felt so fulfilled.
But fate is a mysterious sort of thing. They say that our lives are predestined and we can’t do anything about it. Mortal fates are determined by immortals while immortal fates are determined by the Heavens. There’s no way to avoid it when it comes or stop it when it leaves. Ye Hua was a Crown Prince chosen by heaven. Because of the chaos created by his second uncle, Sang Ji, and Tianjun’s determination to keep the engagement with Qing Qiu’s Bai Family, everyone in the Four Seas and Eight Wildernesses knew that he must eventually marry Qing Qiu’s High Immortal, Bai Qian.
Before, he thought there was nothing special about life. Whether he was marrying Qing Qiu’s Bai Qian or Bai Qiu’s Qing Qian, it made no difference. It was simply an extra person sleeping on the bed at night. However, now that he has a woman he loves, everything must be reevaluated.
The lessons of Sang Ji’s past mistakes laid ahead like a bloody mess. Moreover, Ye Hua was sitting on the title of heir apparent, something he couldn’t simply throw away. He was due to be named Crown Prince as soon as he turned fifty thousand years old, which made matters with Su Su even more difficult to manage. After days of careful consideration, he weighed the options and picked the one that was both the most dangerous but most likely be able to settle things once and for all.
Incidentally, there were some unusual activities with the Merman Clan in the Southern Seas. It presented Ye Hua the perfect opportunity to cut his ties with the Heavens. However, taking care of this matter on his own could raise suspicions. He needed to call upon someone, whose words Tianjun would trust, to help cover things up. The unlucky Lian Song was tasked for the important job.
Lian Song waved his fan and gave Ye Hua a once over, saying regretfully, “Given the situation, a battle in the Southern Seas is inevitable. When the time comes, I can naturally stand before Father and testify for you, letting him know that you were annihilated with not even a trace of your being left.
“However, are you really going to give up the position of Tianjun, which sits just within your reach, just for a mortal’s sake? Mm, what do they call this in the Mortal Realm? Ah, the pursuit of love is greater than the pursuit of power (不愛江山，愛美人 // Bu Ai Jiang Shan, Ai Mei Ren),14 even when the position is that of being wise ruler.”
Ye Hua simply rotated the tea cup and smiled faintly. “I don’t have a single thread of desire to possess these great and vast lands. Forcing myself to take on the position won’t make me any sort of wise ruler, so I may as well empty out the seat and allow someone truly virtuous to take it. Three years after Sang Ji was exiled, I came along. Who knows? After me, Tianjun may not even need three years to find an even better successor.”
Lian Song’s eyes curved and he smiled with a one word reply, “Difficult.”
Not long after, Su Su became pregnant. Though Ye Hua was so overwhelmed with joy, years of practiced collectedness made him seem much more calm than most first-time fathers. During pregnancy, Su Su became more fussy in her eating preferences. In that time, Ye Hua’s cooking improved drastically.
Everything was developing steadily, step by step, according to his calculations. Two months later, the Merman Clan finally commenced their rebellion.
Lian Song held a white wei qi15 stone and smiled, “Normally, the chief of the Mermen doesn’t have such a rash temper. With his meticulous personality, it should take at least another month. Could it be that you went ahead and took some liberties?”
Ye Hua looked over the chess board and smiled faintly, “The sooner they bring the matter to the forefront and the sooner Tianjun orders me to mediate, then the better my odds of success are.”
Lian Song put the white stone down and chuckled, “You don’t need to use these grandiose reasons to fool me. It’s mostly because your wife is pregnant and you can hardly wait, no?”
The black stone Ye Hua held between his index finger and middle finger settled onto the chess board with a clack. Immediately, the expanse of white stones were completely surrounded by the black stones. He raised his head and smiled, light as a feather.
“It’s simply killing two birds with one stone.”
- As opposed of having to cultivate from a state of mortality before achieving immortality.
- 七情六欲 // Seven Emotions and Six Desires: An ancient concept with links to Eastern Medicine. The basic concept is that strong emotions wreak havoc on one’s emotional and physical well-being. Our six [sensory] organs produce six consciousnesses, which leads to the Six Desires. These are the seeds of the Seven Emotions, which can cause strife on ourselves and the world around us. For further reading, see here and here. The first link is more complicated, but it touches on how the Seven Emotions and Six Desires links to our Yuan Shen // Primordial Spirit.
- 三十六天 // 36 Heavens: Refers to the Heavenly Realm, aka where immortals reside. The term comes from the 上清派 or Shang Qing School, a Daoist movement that began during the Western Jin Dynasty. It’s connected to the idea of Heaven having 36 Levels (see Footnote 5 of Ye Hua’s Epilogue, Part 2.)
- 月盈月虧 // Waxing and Waning Moon & 人身圓滿 // Fulfillment in Life: There’s a bit of wordplay in the original idioms used in the text. First, waxing and waning can also read as pros and cons. Second, the character full // 圓 in full moon // 圓月 is is also the same character in fulfilling // 圓滿. Waxing and waning of the moon is essentially a metaphor for the pros and cons of life, where a full moon is a fulfilling life.
- Lian Song uses the idiom 紙上談兵談 // Zhi Shang Tan Bing at the end, which means that idle theoretical discussion / military tactics on paper is not actually useful in practice. He’s teasing Ye Hua for his hubris despite having no experience to back it up.
- 赤炎金猊獸 // Chi Yan Jin Ni Shou: Alternatively, Crimson Lion Beast or Golden Lion Beast. A monster of mythical proportions. Often depicted as a lion’s body with phoenix claws for feet, one or multiple horns on atop his head, and a mane made of fire.
- 饕餮 // Tao Tie: One of the Four Perils // 思凶 in Chinese mythology, which are foils to the Four Symbols // 四像 (also the Four Guardians, Four Auspicious Beasts). Tao Tie is an insatiable, gluttonous beast with a sheep’s body, tiger’s teeth, and human-like features on his face and hands. So greedy, he’s even eaten his own body. Often a motif found on ancient Zhou and Shang Dynasty dings, which are prehistoric ritual bronze vessels sometimes used for ritual food sacrifices. More on the Four Perils here.
- 窮奇 // Qiong Qi: Like Tao Tie, he is one of the Four Perils // 思凶. A monstrous creature that eats people starting at the head. Speaks human languages and looks like a winged tiger. A metaphor for those who support those who act in bad faith while defaming the good ones, he always eats the reasonable person in a quarrel or people who are loyal and faithful. More on the Four Perils here.
- I’m pretty sure the writer is is subtly implying that peach blossoms are in the air. See my post on how taohua acts as symbolism for love in Chinese culture.
- Improper is the literal translation of how he’s feeling, but it’s really along the lines of Ye Hua being like, “This ain’t it” or “This won’t do.”
- Although I used the word talent to provide a broader translation, the term actually being used is feng liu // 風流, which can be used to describe romantic/merriment (in a suggestive way) or distinguished and accomplished. The author uses it as an innuendo, saying, though Tianjun had quite some feng liu in his youth, Lian Song’s has so great feng liu that he outshines even Lao Zi (Laotzu). For Lian Song and Tianjun, it means to romantic abilities. For Lao Zi, it refers to actual scholarly accomplishments.
- 以身相許 // Yi Sheng Xiang Xu: To give one’s heart or devote one’s life to another. It’s more literal meaning is for a woman to give her body to a man to tie them life. Normal usage is when the woman is proposing (when used the other way around, it’s usually a spoof).
- See footnote 12.
- 不愛江山，愛美人 // Bu Ai Jiang Shan, Ai Mei Ren: More literal meaning is that one doesn’t love the country (jiang shan) but instead loves the beauty (mei ren). Jiang shan means rivers and mountains, but is also a figure of speech for country or state power.
- 圍棋 // Wei Qi: Known as Go; a Chinese strategy game where the goal is to completely surround the opponent.