Monday, February 25, 2013

Hua Xu Yin Part I Chapter 1 (II)


The latter part of this chapter definitely differs in tone from its earlier part. Ye Zhen's decision at the end here is controversial, to say the least, and many are unable to understand the logic it. I find that we can't look at the situation with our modern philosophy. You really have to put yourself in her mindset and all that she had been taught since she was young. Even though I didn't agree with Ye Zhen's choice, I understood it. This was her pride, her duty. And through this choice, a chain of events will take place.

The drama version of the novel is turning out to be a bigger mess than I anticipated. Whoever is the stylist for that drama needs to be fired. Kevin Cheng looks like an old transvestite (with blue highlights) and Jiang Xin looks like something kind of lumpy Greek warrior. Yuan Hong is luckier than the other two, mainly because it is just impossible for that boy to look bad. The press conference took place today, with the mentioned three in attendance. There was plenty of bromance between our Bu Bu Jing Xin's princes, and Jiang Xin is basically family since she is dating Ye Zu Xin (10th prince) in real life. What I don't understand is why Lin Yuan, who is supposed to play Ye Zhen, was not there. She is the main character, even more so than Mu Yan. Just imagine the BBJX's press conference without Liu Shi Shi. I don't know what is going on with that, but hopefully we get to see our leading lady soon. I was disappointed before when I realized the drama is merely a loose adaption of the novel, but now I am glad. This way, I can just use the drama casts in my imagination.

I stated in the introduction post that Zhao Li Ying was my ideal Ye Zhen, but after seeing a picture of Ivy Chen in ancient clothing, I changed my mind. Ivy fits almost perfectly to the image of Ye Zhen in my mind. I edited the post with a picture of her so you can go see if you agree with me. Anyway, I'm excited to be finished with this chapter, because now we can start to move to the meat of the story. 

Part 1: The Confines of a Floating Life
Chapter 1 (II)


Just when I thought I was going to die, a dark blue color shrouded over me. The feeling was like seeing clouds dissipating to sunlight after rain. My legs finally succumbed to the pressure. Mu Yan pulled me into his arms, jumped up lightly, and kicked the saber back. “Pow!” The sound of the blade cutting through human flesh echoed through the air. The man in black stared down at his stomach, where the scimitar was sticking through. He slowly knelt down to the ground. The battle between good and evil was finally over. What went around had finally come around. From the look on the man’s face, it seemed like he couldn’t believe that this was the end.
In the dead silence, Mu Yan said, “I really don’t know how my brother trains you. If I was you, I would have kill the girl the moment I walked in the cave, confusing my opponent. Luckily, you finally figured it out, but it was too late.” The man in black had yet to die. His eyes widen as he tremblingly said, “You…”
Mu Yan laughed lightly, “Did he think that I don’t know anything? It seemed like he really underestimated this big brother of his.”
The man didn’t say anything else. He only bowed his head and lifted his shaking hand. It seemed he wanted to remove the blade from his stomach. Mu Yan covered my eyes with his hand. In the cave, there suddenly came horrible cry. I asked, “What did he do?”
 Mu Yan answered, “Kingdom Chen has a legend that said, if a person died with a weapon on his body, in his next life, he would also be a man of martial arts.”
I said, “Does that mean he want to be a scholar then?”
Mu Yan took his hand off, “Perhaps he only wants to be a normal man.”
Since many years earlier, I had believed that, with my personality, I wouldn’t do anything without cause. Every action must have a reason behind it. For example, when the cook made me food that I didn’t like, I would run to him and asked why he didn’t make the fried potatoes that I liked. Why, why, why? After asking like that for a while, usually, the next day, my meal would have fried potatoes with it. This taught me the importance of knowledge. Knowledge must exist in order for there to be happiness, and vice versa. From when I was fourteen until I was seventeen, in those three years, I often asked myself why I liked Mu Yan. I finally concluded that it was because he had saved me twice within the span of seven days, when we didn’t even know each other. Jun Wei thought that I didn’t really like him, that I only thought I did. For if I really liked him, then I wouldn’t need a reason, wouldn’t have to ask why. But I felt that a reason to love was like food to a restaurant. There was never a restaurant without food, just as there was never a love without reason. My feelings toward Mu Yan were built on the two times he saved my life, because, to me, there was nothing on this earth more important than my own life. Jun Wei didn’t understand my logic, basically because he didn’t have any logic of his own.
If someone gave you a drop of kindness, then you should repay with a river.  But if someone gave you a river of kindness, how could you repay them? According to customs, in cases such as that, you should repay with your body1. If, at that time, I knew the ways of the world and realized that I had liked him from the moment he saved me, then I would promise my body to him as repayment. The moment his hand left my eyes, my heart was pounding loudly, but I didn’t know why.
[1] Meaning she will pledge to marry him
I asked him, “Why did you saved me?”
He said, “You’re just a little girl. As a man, I couldn’t watch you die without doing anything.”
“What if I was a young lady?” I asked
He turned and pulled me back into the cave, smiled and said, “Then I definitely had to save you.”
I obviously had a good opportunity, but I didn’t seize it. Worse was, I didn’t even know and was only focused on staring at the half smile on his face. I said, “Ge’ge, I don’t know how to repay you. How about I gift you a picture? My drawing skills aren’t bad. What do you want me to draw for you?”
At that time, light illuminated the cave. He cocked his head to look at me, “Oh?”
The angle, the light, and the tone of his voice were all just perfect.
I was mystified, wanting to somehow impress him. I looked around, but there was no ink in the cave. Though I could use the charcoal from the firewood to draw on straw paper, but a few days earlier, for convenience’s sake, I had cut up all the straw paper to palm sized. It was only barely big enough to draw an egg, not to mention a person.
Mu Yan saw me looking around the cave for a while, holding a piece of straw paper, appearing at wits’ end, and realized what I wanted to do. He handed me a stick, and said, “Use this. If you want to draw me something, then drawing it in the dirt is fine too.”
I studied the wooden stick in hand for a moment then, quivering, started drawing the first lines. But even a master of embroidery couldn’t use iron to weave out a decorative flower. That was my exact predicament. I intended to draw the moment when Mu Yan jumped up high, and used his bare hands to knock down two assassins, that beautiful scene. But, after I finished, he stared at it for a long time, then said, “What did you draw? It kind of looks like a monkey climbing a tree to pick peaches, but also looks like a bear fighting with a hive of bees…” That was the impression I left Mu Yan with that time. A girl who thought she could draw well, but drew him to look like a monkey and a bear.
Now, even in the dirt, I could draw portraits which are lifelike, but there was no way to take back the first impression Mu Yan had of me. Jun Wei said, “Maybe he felt that you were talented, for, though you only draw one thing, it could be interpret as many things.” Jun Wei thinking like that showed that he had the mindset of a swordsman. But painting and swordplay are different. In swordplay, if he showed one move, but it could be interpret as other moves, then that was good swordplay. But a painting that was supposed to be one thing but looked like something else would definitely could not be sold.
Mu Yan and I spent almost six days together. The night of the sixth day, while I was sleeping, he left the cave. I waited for him for four days, but he never came back. Four days later, I had to leave, for it was summer and the bodies of the assassins were beginning to decay, attracting flies, and emitting a horrible smell. If he and I had met during winter, when I was still inexperienced, I would definitely have waited until I figured out the reason why I was waiting. After I figured it out, I would have a reason to keep waiting, wait until he came back, or perhaps he would never come back. But that was another story. In reality, I had to leave, bringing with me a deep sorrow. When I left, I still thought that my waiting four days was because I wanted to officially say goodbye to him. Of course, that was too naïve a thought. I had freed my heart to love Mu Yan, but I had yet to free my brain to realize that I loved him. That was the reason I missed that chance.
When I left the mountain, after walking a long distance, I looked back and discovered that the cave was behind Mount Hui.
Two years after that, Mount Hui became a place I frequently went to. After Jun Wei made me read the romance novel he wrote, I finally understood why I kept thinking about Mu Yan, why I kept going to the mountain alone. It turned out I was like the female character in the novel, captured by love. The only difference was that she understood her lover. I, on the other hand, loved one-sidedly. I didn’t know where he lived, how old he was, if he had a house, a horse, and if he did, did he pay for them at once or by payments, if his parents were alive, and if he was living with them.
When I realized I loved Mu Yan, I kept looking for him, but nothing showed up. It was like this person never existed. I even used my family’s influence to search, but still couldn’t find him. I knew he was a Chen citizen. But these days, it was easier to change one’s citizenship than it was to change one’s wife. Though he might be a Chen citizen today, he might become a citizen of our Kingdom Wei tomorrow. In short, it was impossible to find him based on his citizenship. But besides knowing that he was a Chen citizen, I had no other leads. Thinking back, my most beautiful years of being fifteen, sixteen, was spent looking for him. But there was no clue, causing me to have regrets even on the day I died.
The forest surrounding the mountain had changed colors twice, and I lived to the age of sixteen. Legend had it that before I turned sixteen, I was not allowed to live in luxury, or else I would die young. That was why my Father sent me to Yanzong Temple, hoping that I could to avoid that fate. The fact that I was able to live peacefully pass my sixteenth birthday made everyone relieved, thinking that there was nothing to worry about now. The next day, an ambassador came to escort me back to the Palace. When I was about to leave, both Jun Wei and I shed tears. I left Xiao Huang in his care. Xiao Huang needed the mountains whereas the Palace was a just big cage. I didn’t know why Master Jun left Mount Junyu to live near Yanzong Temple, but, at that time, he had taken Jun Wei back home and accepted the position of Leader of Sect Junyu. That meant that Jun Wei now had enough money to take care of Xiao Huang. Jun Wei and I made a promise. Every month, he would take Xiao Huang to come visit me, paying for the trip fees himself.
Father gave me the title of Princess Wenchang, to show that I was the most educated princess in the Palace. But Master often scolded me, stating that though I had been learning from him for fourteen years, I had only obtained a small part of his knowledge. It looked like my standard of education was already high compared to the others, which meant that they didn’t have much education at all. Above me, I had three older brothers and fourteen older sisters. My biggest problem was that I didn’t know which one belonged to which concubine. My three older brothers all had their own interests, causing my Father lots of headaches. My eldest brother was interested in poetry, my second brother was interested in women, and my third brother was interested in men. In short, there wasn’t anyone who was interested in ruling the country. Father often looked at them with a worried frown. Only when he came back from playing with his concubines, did he seemed less anxious. When I first came back to the Palace, my only feeling was that, in this time of chaos with warlords vying for supremacy, and the whole nation in rebellion, for this decaying country to survive until now, it was nothing less than a miracle.  If I was not a citizen of Wei, I would surely propose attacking it, for the kingdom could be easily captured.
I had never believed in that dream my Father had about the monk. If a person’s fate was indeed control by some outside force, then that force would have to be powerful enough that it could only be stopped by something such as strong conviction, or power, but not a mere dream. Fate had it that I would die young. I couldn’t avoid it even if I wanted to.
I died that winter when I was seventeen.
That year, Wei suffered from a severe drought. The street was filled with people dying from starvation. Our country was like a piece of cake, sitting on the river shore, waiting for someone to claim it. That day, ten thousand Chen troops stood outside the capital, with their dark armors and shining blades. They came to destroy Wei and terminate the 86 years reign of our Ye family.
Master had died two months earlier. Before he died, he was not able to think of a way to save Wei. I was his direct student, which meant that our knowledge were linked. If he couldn’t think of a way, then I definitely couldn’t. When I first came back to the Palace, I thought it was my duty and therefore took time to write essays criticizing the current government policies to present in Court, expressing my opinion of the country’s situation. My only feedback was Father patting my head, complimenting that my calligraphy was good, and ordering my confinement. The winds of revolution blowing across the lands all these years had yet to reach Wei. Though in other countries, there were already female court officials, but, in Wei, women were not to discuss government matters. A woman only had two duties: to sew clothes and give birth to children. When our kingdom was about to be lost, Father finally wanted to hear my opinions. But, at that time, I didn’t have any more ideas. My only advice was that everyone should use this time to eat more delicious foods, for when the kingdom was lost, all would be gone. Once again, Father punished me with confinement.

He stroked his beard with shaking hands, “Though you grew up in the wilderness, but, as a princess, do you not have any affection for your country?”

After that incident, rumors of me being a heartless person spread through the royal family. All my brothers and sisters sighed, “Zhen’er, you read so many books, but you don’t understand the concepts in them. You’re too cold, too heartless. Father had wasted his love on you.”

I couldn’t believe it. When they needed to be honorable, they weren’t honorable; when the situation came to its end, then did they pretend to be honorable. If they could maintain that pretense honor until the final moment, then it would be inspiring, but unfortunately, they weren’t able to do so. To me, the royal family and its country were one. If the country perish then so would the family.
The 7th day of November, the sky was mournfully dark.
It hadn’t been three days since Chen troops surrounded the capital when Father decided to surrender. Never was there a kingdom’s destruction that came as coldly as Wei’s did. The events which occurred during previous kingdoms' endings, such as the king burning himself, officials hanging themselves, princesses escaping, all didn’t happened. The concubines were temporarily in riot, knowing that after the nation was destroyed, they would not be able to live the same carefree life. But if they ran away from the Palace, then they were doomed to travel in destitute, suffering hardship in order to survive. Besides, the Palace was not in disorder. Everything was clear and tidy; there was no need to escape. They deliberated for a bit, then finally decided to wait.
After the latest news arrived, I went and put on the most beautiful outfit I ever had. It was said that that outfit was made from the feathers of 81 little egrets, all snow white. Its only weakness was that it looked too much like mourning clothes, therefore there was rarely an occasion to wear it.
Three quarters to noon, a white flag was raised on the city gate tower. Light drizzle came from the sky.
Wei suffered from drought for a long time. That drought was the beginning of our kingdom’s destruction. Now, rain had come to mourn its end.
I climbed up the city walls without any obstruction. Three thousand troops had taken off their armors and changed sides. The colors of our weapons seemed somewhat darker than that of Chen. A soldier’s weapon was connected with his morale. The country was ruined and yet, they weren’t able to give their all and fight to death. The soldiers were half dead, half alive, but their swords were completely dead. This city wall was very high. The king believed that the city wall’s height would represent its invulnerability, the higher it was, the more powerful. But that power could not withstand one sentence, the one sentenced uttered from the Wei King, “We surrender.”
Looking ahead, Kingdom Wei stretched on, the dark clouds gathered in the sky, drops of rain as delicate as silk flew with the wind, onto the faces of the Chen soldiers standing orderly outside the capital. I looked for the last time at the land below me. It was a fertile land, where our Wei people had lived and worked.
There were staggering footsteps from behind me. I heard Father said, “Zhen’er, what are you doing?”
In the course of one night, Father had aged obviously. Though he was old, but because of good maintenance, we liked to pretend he was still young. But now, we couldn’t pretend anymore.
The truth was I had nothing left to say. The situation was already like this, talk was only useless. Father was supported by a eunuch, crumbling with each step. I organized the thoughts in my head, and said to him, “Father, do you still remember the words of Yanzong Temple Leader, my Master Hui Yi?”
He nodded slowly.
The wind was strong, causing my clothes to flap loudly. It was impossible to hear clearly, so I had no choice but to raise my voice. With my body wrapped tightly in the gown, I somberly said, “Master had taught Ye Zhen the duty of royalty. He often preached that the royal family was the pride of the nation, that the honor of the royal family was the honor of the entire nation. It could not allowed to be trampled even a little bit. But when you surrendered, did you considered yourself the pride of our nation? If Ye Zhen was king of a nation, I would definitely never surrender and caused our people to suffer great shame. You could see this as a way for the Wei citizens to escape from death. But today, Chen troops stood outside our capital. They had come here by walking over the corpses of our citizens. The three thousand troops inside the city laid down their armors and surrender. How are they to answer to the thousands of citizens who had died for our country? Now, the people standing here are no longer children of Kingdom Wei. Those people had already rest in peace. Though Ye Zhen had lived in the mountain since young, but I still had inside me the blood of royalty, representing the pride of our citizens. Father, you ordered everyone to surrender to Chen, but Ye Zhen absolutely could not. If I was a mere citizen, then today, I would suffer dishonor by the hands of Chen, but I am a princess.”
Thunder clashed from above as rain poured down. I turned and looked at the city below. A young man dressed in lavish clothing was standing there for who knew how long. At first glance, he looked very much like Mu Yan. But in a blink of eye, he seemingly disappeared in the rain.
Father anxiously said, “So what if you’re a princess? Come down first…”
The rain was really washing everything away. For six months, there was never a rain like this. Was Wei to be perished so quickly? This was Heaven’s will. I wiped the rain from my face and looked up at the sky. All of my emotions and thoughts could be summed up in one sentence, “If the nation dies, then so will I; that is the conviction of a princess.”
I jumped down from the city wall, thinking about how Master was afraid that I would become a philosopher. It turned out that what you were afraid of would come true. In the end, I did become a philosopher, confined in my own belief and ultimately ended in death. My only regret was not being able to see Mu Yan again. That night, with the stars shining bright, he held me, his sleeves emitting a faint fragrance of plum blossoms.
He said, “What a scary girl. I saved your life and you repay my kindness with evil?”
He said, “It is blood that comes from your womb according to a prescribed cycle…”
He said, “You’re just a little girl. As a man, I couldn’t watch you die without doing anything.”
He said, “What did you draw? It kind of looks like a monkey climbing a tree to pick peaches, but also looks like a bear fighting with a hive of bees…”
Perhaps he had already forgotten me, had already gotten married, with dozens of kids, never knowing that there was a little girl who was still searching for him, who, at death’s door, was still thinking of him.
The wind carried over the soldier’s cries, their voices blending in with the sound of rain. I heard a war song which the soldiers often sang, the mournful melody mixing in with the rain sounded even more sorrowful. I lay on the ground with my eyes closed, very aware of life leaving my body. There was the sound of footsteps approaching and stopping next to me. A hand caressed my cheek. There was a light fragrance of plum blossoms in the wind, but I couldn’t distinguish whether it was my imagination or not. I struggled to talk, “Ge’ge…Ge’ge…” The hand trembled on my cheek.
I was not able to be raised like a princess, but I would die like a princess.
I died on the winter of that year, accompanied by the mourning song of Wei, “The clear moon, the sinking stars, my family far away. When the plum blossoms fall, bring me home…”  

20 comments:

  1. Oh honey, I know what you mean. Peanuts can tell you my initial reaction when i saw the Blue Fringe of Doom. D: Its amazing. Just when you thought their styling can't get worst... they give KC a blue fringe. x_____x;;;

    I'm just shocked that they can make even the gorgeous kickass JX look frumpy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Omg just read the introduction to the chapter and was trembling about how they are going to disfigured the story. dramas nowadays tend to use too much color in their clothing and effects for there fight that it become weird and nonsense. If they can be sober in their setting and without using this massive effects, the drama would be better.

      Delete
    2. What do you mean by Blue Fringe of Doom? I'm now very curious.

      Delete
  2. This is definitely a heart broken story. TT. so sad. Even I know the story line ahead from your introduction, the actual line that said ' I died' was sure shock me a bit.

    Thanks for hard work! Looks forward to your next post.

    ReplyDelete
  3. A big thanks! I hope you will continue translating the novel.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
  4. Thank you for the effort on translating this novel. I'm looking forward to read more of it.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thank you for the translation. This is do sad...

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thank you, this is indeed a beautiful story, full of wonderful descriptions and feelings. I really love it.

    ReplyDelete
  7. That is so sad. I love the conviction though. The funniest part was when she said her third brother was interested in men. How did that get past the radar? Does it tell you what happen to her family? Cannot wait for the next part. Thanks for translating.

    ReplyDelete
  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  9. thanks for the translation! looking forward for the next chapter.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. From: Yingtai Tong

      Kevin Cheng is quite handsome in Hua Xu Yin even though they put too much lipstick on him, a male Chinese actor. Kevin Cheng looks cuter and he looks younger than those annoying and overrated caucasian male actors who look ugly, that use digital alteration in fake pictures and videos. To: chenguangorchard, your February 2013 posting is very rude and that is not true that he looks like an old transvestite. You look like an old transvestite!

      Delete
  10. Chenguang, Thank you very much for your lovely translation.
    (It's boring that I can't find more interesting word but this thankness is really sincerely feeling from me, I hope you accept it.)

    Tangqi's protagonist always unique. Ye Zhen is really interesting.
    I love the way she told all of her story until the last day of her live. I'm so touch.

    - Aijou

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kevin Cheng is quite handsome in Hua Xu Yin even though they put too much lipstick on him, a male Chinese actor. Kevin Cheng looks cuter and he looks younger than those annoying and overrated caucasian male actors who look ugly, that use digital alteration in fake pictures and videos. To: chenguangorchard, your February 2013 translation is not lovely, your posting is very rude and that is not true that he looks like an old transvestite. You look like an old transvestite!

      Delete
  11. Who Is Yang Guang, Kai Ming and Zhen Qing 300 years ago? Please reply as soon as possible! Thanks, feel free to check out my blog too! www.cecilialeeshishi.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  12. Is there any more chapters on this or is this like an one shot? Thank you for translating! 😊

    ReplyDelete
  13. I am watching the series at the moment but I feel your translation is more enjoyable than the TV series. Well done.

    ReplyDelete
  14. It's only the beginning but why am I sobbing so hard???? Oh, this is beautiful.

    ReplyDelete