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 // Translated By: fruitydeer
Happy December! Here’s the last A’Li side story. It offers another peek into Bai Qian and Ye Hua’s married life, which basically consists of Bai Qian’s two boys fighting for her affection. Poor kiddos.
All the officers and maid servants of Xi Wu Palace felt from the bottom of their hearts that their jun-shang1 has been unhappy these days.
Though jun-shang has always been a little cold and indifferent, in the several years they’ve served him, his expression had never been this severe. Ever since High Goddess Bai Qian came to the Nine Heavens, whenever jun-shang stood before her, his expression was always very warm.
But now, even when the high goddess stands before him, jun-shang still frowns from time to time. The officers and maid servants thought to themselves that this was very abnormal.
For example, yesterday.
Jun-shang had been in conferences for several days and, with great difficulty, finally freed up some time. He took High Goddess Bai Qian to the Jade Pool to admire the flowers.
During this season, a hazy mist of immortal energy surrounded the Jade Pool. Lotus flowers flared outwards from the mist and revealed floral blooms of pure white. Seeing this put High Goddess Bai Qian in a good mood. She held onto jun-shang‘s hand, acutely worrying over his physical health, “You’ve been busy for several days and even came to spend time with me. Are you tired? If you’re tired, let’s go to the pavilion over there and sit. You can lie down on my lap.”
Jun-shang‘s eyes carried a smile and he grasped onto the high goddess’ hand. As he was about to reply, the little heavenly grandson, A’Li, appeared out of nowhere. “Mother, mother, there’s big butterfly over there. A’Li pounced and over and still couldn’t catch it. Mother, hurry and come help A’Li!”
After talking, he grabbed the high goddess’ hand and disappeared like a wisp of smoke. His short legs moved as fast as wheels of fire.2 In the blink of an eye, he disappeared under the magpie bridge3 that was up ahead.
They saw very clearly the jun-shang that was left hanging by the Jade Pool with his brows wrinkled.
Another example was today.
Today, the high goddess decided on a sudden impulse to hand make a pair of form-fitting nightclothes for jun-shang. She was taking his measurements inside her Chang Shan Hall.
The high goddess took many fabrics and compared them against jun-shang‘s front and back. She said in distress, “Every type of fabric suit suits you so well.” Then she pondered, “Should I make you a set with every type of fabric?” Jun-shang chuckled softly, “You’re the one who’s more fit for these types of words.”
These tactful and perceptive maids naturally knew that it was the time for them to leave.
At this moment, the little heavenly grandson, A’Li, appeared out of nowhere yet again. His little chubby hand held onto the high goddess’ leg. “Mother, mother, the homework that master assigned is too hard. There’s so many things A’Li doesn’t understand. Mother, hurry and come save A’Li!”
She hadn’t even collected herself before the little heavenly grandson took her hand and ran off. Almost falling down when he passed the threshold of the doors, the high goddess held him up and hugged him in her arms, reluctantly stepping over the threshold and walking away.
Jun-shang stood alone in the hall with two fabrics fallen below his feet. Not only did they see jun-shang‘s brows wrinkling, but it also looked as if the blue veins on his temples had twitched a couple times.
Another example was this evening.
What happened that evening, the officers and maid servants naturally did not see.
On this mysterious night, Nuo Mi Tuan Zi, A’Li, had his evening meal at his mother’s Chang Shan Hall. His little belly was bulging and he was too lazy to move, so as usual, he lied on his mother’s bed.
Ye Hua-jun had finished meeting with several officers and, on the way back, plucked a freshly bloomed sacara dives.4 He walked along a bed of starlight as bright as snow as he made his way to Chang Sheng Hall. The sacara dives landed on the ground with a “pa” sound. Tuan Zi was sound asleep with “gu-lu-gu-lu” sounds of snoring, scratching on his plump little stomach as he turned over. Ye Hua-jun’s brows wrinkled and the veins on his temple twitched twice.
His Highness the Crown Prince felt that this night could no longer be tolerated, lifting his hands and scooping Tuan Zi up from High Goddess Bai Qian’s arms. Like a gust of wind, he sent Tuan Zi back go his own Qing Yun Hall. When he returned to Chang Sheng Hall, he went ahead and sacrificed his Qing Ming Sword, using it as a latch to close the door tightly.
Under the lamp, High Goddess Bai Qian propped up her cheek and smiled at him. She led him inside and took the initiative to wrap her arms around his neck. Her eyes overflowed with brilliant lights and vibrant colors, carrying a different kind of intention. It seemed almost like a painting. Leaning closer, she said, “You’re rather interesting today, why are you so angry with Tuan Zi?” Her breath exhaled by his ear while her chin rested against his shoulder.
The darkness in His Highness the Crown Prince’s eyes was so dense that it could not be dissipated. He held High Goddess Bai Qian and was just about to lead her into the inner room, but the sound of claws scratching the door suddenly rang from outside the hall. Then, the sound of a small stone hitting the door. Tuan Zi stood outside, wailing with stuttered cries, “Father, let A’Li in, A’Li wants to sleep with mother. Why won’t father let A’Li sleep with mother? Mother’s bed is so big, can’t A’Li just take up a small corner? Wu-wu-wu-wu-wu!5 His Highness the Crown Prince staggered a bit and High Goddess Bai Qian hurriedly supported him.
This evening, once the crown prince’s brows started furrowing, they never smoothed back down.
In the end, Tuan Zi was still let into Chang Sheng Hall. When he entered, he felt right away that Chang Sheng Hall was much chillier in comparison to when he lied by his mother earlier in the afternoon. His father looked at him with a dark expression. Tuan Zi unwittingly shivered, then used two extra blankets when he went to sleep. But he deliberately nudged over and over under the blanket, taking a little handkerchief to tie his and his mother’s hands together, lest his father carry him outside in the middle of the night again. He felt that his father was rather petty lately.
But Tuan Zi’s days of freedom and leisure did not last long.
Three days later, the academy’s teacher announced an upcoming quiz to test the students across the Four Seas and Eight Wildernesses. From the immortals in the heavens to those down on earth, tens of thousands of gods will be placed in ranks to demonstrate scholarly achievement. This quiz was different than others because the first place will receive a reward.
The master at the academy where Tuan Zi studies was the god Wen Chang Di-wen.6 Jin Wen shen-jun7 is an immortal of the First Rank and has always had a great relationship with Duo Bao Yuan-jun, a god of ample treasures. So when he says reward, it’ll definitely be a great reward. The young children of the noble families in the Heavenly Clan each rolled up their sleeves, preparing for this test like never before.
Naturally, Tuan Zi was one of these children. Because his mother’s birthday was three months away, he had been troubled over what kind of gift to give her. He was still young and lacked self-sufficiency; everything that was his belonged to his father. Taking his father’s things to gift his mother seemed pointless because this wouldn’t show his sincerity towards her. This left him very stressed. However, this gift seemed to fall from the sky at the perfect moment, so Tuan Zi felt that this might be the “will of heaven” that Cheng Yu so often talked about. This will of heaven was facing right at him, so it’s possible that it also knew that he was the little heavenly grandson of the Nine Heavens. The will of heaven was indeed very perceptive.
He focused hard on studying, all in order to win this reward for mother using his own skills. Mother will definitely be extremely touched and think that since he’s so well-behaved, she must watch over him more often. Then, she’ll go ahead and move him from Qing Yun Hall to Chang Sheng Hall to accompany her. In the future, he’ll never be thrown out of the hall by father ever again, heh heh heh heh.
With this “heh heh heh heh” of a beautiful dream in mind, Tuan Zi studied arduously for ten days. During these ten days, he didn’t bother his mother at all. When he really missed his mother, he would give himself encouragement in this way: “A child with a mother is like a treasure, a motherless child is like a piece of grass.8 Even though today feels bitter as can be, tomorrow I won’t get thrown outside!”
Biting the end of his pen and clenching his fist, he silently said those words to himself, then persisted once more.
Heaven doesn’t disappoint those who do bitter work. This phrase was indeed an ancient truth. Tuan Zi worked hard for ten days, and as the little heavenly grandson, he was more cognizant to the rankings of the gods in the skies and earth. When the conditions are right, success will naturally flow. For this quiz, Tuan Zi came in first place.
Jin Wen shen-jun looked at him with a wide smile, “Since the little heavenly grandson led in the rankings, it seems like the little heavenly grandson indeed worked hard. This time’s reward has fallen to the little heavenly grandson.”
The little heavenly grandson, who received such heavy praise from Jin Wen shen-jun, had yet to remove the cloth tied across his forehead.9 The victorious little heavenly grandson looked at his dispirited schoolmates, who were sighing in despair, with a sense of self-satisfaction. There was a thread of sweetness in his heart. The reward he won must be a very special reward. When mother finds out, she’ll definitely be extremely proud.
Tuan Zi’s thoughts were correct. He placed first in the exam and won a great reward from Jin Wen shen-jun. His mother was, indeed, very happy. However, the happiest of all was actually his father.
Ye Hua-jun has always been steady. His expression would consistently show neither happiness nor anger. However, Xi Wu Palace’s immortal maid servants and officers could sense that His Highness the Crown Prince was like a spring breeze these days, carrying a mood that couldn’t be described simply using the word “happy.” He was extremely, uniquely, especially happy. Because his son’s academic achievements weren’t truly at the level where he should be able to generate this much happiness based just on these results, to them, His Highness the Crown Prince was truly a loving father. It made them all feel even more reverent.
Kun Lun Temple’s High God Ling Yu10 sat in the main hall of the temple, having a heart-to-heart with Tuan Zi, who had was personally dropped off by his mother no more than a day ago: “A’Li, Jin Wen said that you initially really wanted the reward, even neglecting sleep and forgetting to eat for ten days while you studied. But now that you’ve successfully won, why do you look so unhappy?”
Tuan Zi held his head in melancholy, crying in a soft sobbing voice, “Because I…I didn’t know this non-refundable reward was to go to Kun Lun Temple and study with Uncle Mo Yuan for three years, wu-wu-wu-wu-wu-wu-wu-wu-wu…”
- 君上 // Jun Shang: Means something like lord or master.
- 風火輪 // Feng Huo Lun: Mythical wheels of fire that one can stand on and move at great speeds. Used by the protection diety, Ne Zha.
- 鵲橋 // Que Qiao: Reference to the bridge of magpies that Chang’e, the Moon Goddess, crosses over year on Qi Xi, Chinese Valentines Day, to see her lover, Hou Yi. From the folktale, Legend of Chang’e.
- 無憂花 // Wu You Hua: The name of this flower in Chinese translates directly to worry-free flower.
- 嗚 // Wu: Onomatopoeia for crying or whimpering noises
- 文昌君 // Wen Chang Jun: Also known as Emperor Wen Chang // Wen Chang Di-jun. He’s the Daoist god of culture and literature. The deity Si Ming is associated to him and both are represented by a constellation near the Big Dipper. Students and would-be exam takers pray him for academic help. This translator was one of those hopefuls when applying to college back in the day…
- Referring to Wen Chang Jun. Shen-jun literally translates to immortal lord or immortal master. Somewhat derivative of jun-shang.
- This is a catchier rhyme when read in Chinese…
- Like a Japanese hachimaki. Not much of a practical purpose in modern times, but still symbolizes hard work or exertion of effort.
- Mo Yuan’s 9th Disciple