This is the last part of hamster’s translation. All of you should know by now, why she is stopping the translation and also took down Three Lives Three Worlds Ten Miles of Peach Blossom and The Pillow Book translations from her blog. Thus, don’t ask me where you can read them because I don’t know. Also, I can’t ask her for a copy and distribute them around as it would defeat the purpose of her taking them down in the first place. Maybe one day, she will post them back so all you can do is wait.
I am not sure what will happen to this translation since it has changed hands so many times. I am trying to have it finished but there are always so many obstacles in the way. I just want to know in view of the plagiarism accusation against Tang Qi and the fairly conclusive evidence in Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms, are you still interested to read this novel? It is a waste of time and effort to translate something that very little people is interested in reading.
If you want a summary of Jiu Jiu’s story, click here.
Part 3 – Chapter 2.2 (translated by hamster)
Cheerful scenes scrolled past us, with swallows and orioles tweeting the entire way. Soon, a long and mottled green stairway came into sight. Large shades from the canopies above coupled with jadeite moss on the stone steps made the stairway resemble a dark stretch of satin fabric embroidered with a matching colored fringe. I stopped to look up at the beautiful columns, the buildings with curving jade roofs, and the blindingly brilliant multicolor bead curtain. It was the same scene I saw last night, down to the majestic gate.
“Are you tired, Miss Jun?” Gong’yi Fei turned to look at me.
In truth, I had stopped because a tall figure holding a paper umbrella had snuck into my mind. I shook my head and followed him all the way up the ancient green stone path. When we got near the mountain gate, I couldn’t stop myself from asking: “Does Guzhu Mountain belong to the Gong’yi family?”
Gong’yi Fei who was leading the way came to a pause. His white figure was captured in the great bronze mirror hanging in the middle of the building. “It hadn’t always been. Guzhu Mountain is a sacred land of hibiscuses. Visitors used to flood the mountain came every flowering season that I decided to buy it five years ago. In the end, it’s better to leave a tranquil place like this quiet.”
I took two steps closer to him, right below the gate, and touched the sunkissed glass bead curtain. “The gate must be quite old, but this curtain looks brand new.”
Gong’yi Fei faintly smiled as he turned the jade bracelet in his hand. “It should be new if I change one out every month. I’m not sure how much money I’ve burned in the last five years on this item.” He then swept his fingers across the curtain strands and invited me in: “Miss Jun, after you.” Suddenly touched, the beads made jingling sounds.
I reached out to stabilize the ringing beads. “It’s all right to take the curtain down, you know. Changing for a new one over and over like this is somewhat of a waste.”
He bowed his head in seeming contemplation. “You’re right, of course, but I would feel something was missing if I took it down.”
“And that is?”
He stared ahead, pensively brushing aside a curtain strand. “The rush of burning money, perhaps…”
I didn’t know what this gate meant to Gong’yi Fei. He didn’t seem to care and perhaps had forgotten that he had met a woman here in his youth. A girl with long black hair in a white dress, holding a paper umbrella. A girl he didn’t know had died some place away, some time ago. Great trees stood next to the gate. The moment we stepped past, I felt countless pairs of eyes hiding in the foliage looking at me coldly. This tall gate represented the fixation belonging to that dead woman that couldn’t dissipate. But I didn’t deal with the dead.
Behind the gate was another stone stairway with a hundred steps. On top lay a large courtyard shaded by verdure, its scale comparable to a royal palace. In retrospect, the Gong’yi clan was extremely rich. To be this rich, they had to either been supported by the government or an anti-government force.
It was very worrying that Mu Yan actually had relations with this family.
No one spoke along the way. When we got near the residence, I saw that the gate was closed shut and no one was standing in front. While I was thinking it odd, a young boy dressed like a servant rode a malnourished horse and stumbled forth. He knelt in front of Gong’yi Fei while blubbering out: “Master, you’ve returned! Madam and the eldest mistress are fighting each other. Xiaofeng’s going to die. Cui’er jiejie told me to hurry and go find you…”
Before the young boy could finish, a white figure had flashed by. Gong’yi Fei had brought me up on the thin gasping horse and shot away like an arrow around the high walls of the courtyard. Seated on the horse, I only had time to ask: “Madam? Eldest mistress? Who are they?”
Gong’yi Fei’s ambiguous answer came from above my head: “My older sister and my wife have been at odds for some time now. They occasionally get into small arguments. I’m quite embarrassed to have let Miss Jun witness such a thing.” But there was no embarrassment detected from him.
With the wind whistling in my ears, the Devil pushed me to ask: “Is this sister your twin?”
The person behind me fell silent. Then at length, he laughed and answered straightforwardly: “So we are.”
My hands slipped from the horse’s mane, causing me to almost lose my control and fall off the horse. How could that be? I muttered those four words three times. In the end I did not say it aloud and swallowed the whistling cold wind back in.
Honestly, Gong’yi Fei’s having a twin sister who was still well and alive was as unbelievable as Jun Wei’s saying he had always had a crush on me. According to legends, the Gong’yi family in Peizhong would never allow twins to exist. If twins were born, one would be kept and one must be killed.
This was mostly because the guardian beast Qianhe was too useless. It had always been said that the Gong’yi head of household established their authority through the summoning of this beast. At the same time, this useless beast couldn’t tell the difference between twins. Imagine, if the Gong’yi family gave birth to a pair of twins and the older brother would one day inherit the head position, after he confirmed blood ties with the Qianhe beast and obtained the ability to summon it, if the younger brother with similar blood were to impersonate his twin to summon the beast to rebel, it would all be too easy.
Like an undefeated hero who could only die if he suffered from a terminal illness such as cancer, these twins were cancerous to the Gong’yi clan – they were a cancer called internal strife. No matter how powerful, a family would fall if it had infighting among members. Wise elders had realized this since the early days. Through seven hundred years of clan history, many unlucky heads of household had given birth to twins. Even a pigeon pair would be dealt with. The chosen one would be favored by the gods, having the attention of everyone. The abandoned one would be as insignificant as a blade of grass, immediately losing his life.
The interesting thing was that almost all of the best heads of household were one half of a pair. The first debt they incurred after coming into the world was the debt of kin blood. Such circumstances had perhaps turned people heartless.
Seven years ago when the Gong’yi clan was destroyed, I seemed to have heard this generation’s head of household had a twin sister. At the time I could only let out a small sigh. It surprised me to know now that this twin sister was actually still alive. Hadn’t she been thrown into the Taihao River to feed their guardian beast the moment she was born?
It was later proven that I was completely making a fuss out of nothing. The amazing thing was much more than that. Like some unknown philosopher had said, life is always full of surprises. If you aren’t about to be surprised then you are already being surprised as we speak.
The thin horse carrying us panted to an open green space. In a small loess field, a leathery black steed neighed and then came crashing down to the ground, splashing red dust in the air. Gong’yi Fei carried me as we dismounted the horse. By the time we landed on the ground, I saw a red-robed woman with a sword in her hand kneeling next to the horse lying on the ground. She was holding onto her right arm as though she had suffered an injury. Her angry face was that of a beautiful rose, vivid and plump, and mesmerizingly beautiful. The servants panicked and got out of our way. Gong’yi Fei hurried over to help her up. He seemed to have touched her wound, for the woman groaned as she supported herself on her sword. With her uninjured hand, she grabbed Gong’yi Fei’s arm and sobbed to him: “Go take a look at Xiaofeng. See if the crazy woman had killed him yet!”
Gong’yi Fei who had always been pleasant was furrowing his brow at this time. He patiently supported the red-attired woman to check the fallen horse. My eyes were fixed on the white-robed woman standing beside the hitching post not far from there. I could not move my eyes away for a long time. Her dark hair flowed like a waterfall. Her deep eyes shone like freezing lakes. A black jade headband adorned her forehead. In her hand was a silver nine-section whip.
Qing Jiujiu of Yong’an. The woman I thought had died was standing under the morning light like an ice sculpture, drawing a long shadow at her feet, a living and breathing person. I stared at her for a moment, feeling compelled to approach her. I then suddenly heard Gong’yi Fei’s deep voice asking: “Xun jie, what had happened?”
He was looking up in her direction. The red-robed woman in his arms fought to control her shaking hands, tears of resentment filled her eyes. The black horse nearby called Xiaofeng (Night Wind) went completely still after drawing a long gasp of breath.
She faintly spoke with a voice that sounded like clashing gems: “Her fencing is poor, so I accidentally hurt her her when I slipped my hand. As for the horse, didn’t it throw you off yesterday? What use is there in keeping an inferior horse that couldn’t even recognize its owner?
My eyes were glued on the white-robed woman who replied. Her eyes gave a sweep as cold as a thousand years of snow. She paused, drew back her rod, whipped around and left.
The red-robed woman started blubbering: “She killed Xiaofeng, and wounded me, but you just let her go…”
Gong’yi Fei coldly interrupted her: “You were too hot-tempered. She is not right in the head. I have told you to leave her alone, but you just had to provoke her.”
“Are you even my husband or not?” the red-robed woman glared at him.
Gong’yi Fei helped her up by her uninjured arm. “Good question. Except for me, ask yourself if anyone else in this world would indulge you like this.”
She pushed his hand away to stand up by herself, her eyes were still teary, but she bit her lips to say bitterly: “The one who loved me the most will always be my father, but he, he…” She hadn’t finished when she squatted to the ground and burst out crying again.
Gong’yi Fei also knelt down. Taking out a handkerchief from his sleeve, he handed it to her: “Don’t cry. Look at yourself. Do you look like a grown married woman like this?”
Although his voice was harsh, his words were gentle.
I looked up in the direction Qing Jiujiu had left. The sun was moving behind small puffs of clouds, leaving behind odd-shaped shadows on the lawn. Floating dandelions grazed the grass. Golden hibiscuses were in full bloom on the mountainside and plains. That white figure went further and further away, disappearing into the hibiscuses.
I didn’t see Qing Jiujiu again for the next five days. The servants told me she wasn’t called Qing Jiujiu, but Gong’yi Xun, the twin sister of Gong’yi Fei. She had been lost since she was young, living a very pitiful life. On a moonlit night two years ago she was brought to the Gong’yi estate, finally reuniting with her twin brother after years of separation.
I heard that Gong’yi Fei’s wife, Gong’yi Shan, could not accept such a thing that night. She had thought that person to be a fake and had angrily gone to the reception hall. But she had froze on the spot when she saw Gong’yi Xun’s face. I wanted to know the ending, but the servant who was excitedly telling the story suddenly stopped. Afterwards, no matter how I asked, he was no longer willing to talk. I supposed it wasn’t proper to banter with an outsider about an eldest mistress who had a mental problem.
I didn’t know if Gong’yi Xun really had a screw loose. It didn’t seem like it, but if Gong’yi Fei said she had a problem, it meant she had a problem. Just like when my father thought I was a coldblooded girl, even if my blood was surging it was meaningless. This is the power of those in authority.
Through many casual chitchats, I learned that Gong’yi Fei seemed to look down on his twin sister. It was said that when Gong’yi Xun had just returned, there didn’t yet exist any major problem despite their weak bond. After all, they had been separated for so long that it was normal to have a distance between them.
But this apparent harmony only lasted for two months. Gradually, everyone noticed that there were times when Gong’yi Xun did really inexplicable things. Of course, she did very little most of the time. But once she did something, trouble was basically waiting to happen.
On the third month since Gong’yi Xun came back to the Gong’yi family, a friend came by to invite Gong’yi Fei to an eagle fight. The two eagles flew after each other in the air. After another powerful offensive, one was wounded and wanted to make an escape. The other chased after it in hot pursuit. Both flew straight toward Gong’yi Fei who was sitting on the stands. Gong’yi Xun who sat beside him instantly killed the eagles with her nine-section whip… In the end, they had to reimburse the gentleman with a substantial amount of money. This was the first time Gong’yi Xun showed extreme protectiveness over Gong’yi Fei.
Plenty of similar incidents happened in the following two years, plenty of money was paid out by the Gong’yi family in compensation, and at the same time, plenty of assassins who tried or were about to try to harm Gong’yi Fei died under Gong’yi Xun’s nine-section whip. They became known as the ‘three plenties’. (1)
- The Three Plenties 三多 is a term used to identify three symbols of good fortune. It consists of the peach (longevity), the pomegranate (progeny) and the citron (happiness).
Although I had many brothers and sisters, they were all my half siblings. Moreover, we almost never spent time together. I couldn’t exactly understand the sibling bond people spoke of. My closest friend since I was young would be Jun Wei. But in my imagination, if one day Jun Wei who liked to write novels hoped to have the only copy of a certain famous writer’s masterpiece, but the novelist’s son dictated that only if I married him would he give Jun Wei that copy, I pondered for a moment whether I would agree… In the end, I felt that even if Jun Wei were to knock me unconscious with a stick and force me to get married, I would still run away when I woke up… However, faced with the same thing, Gong’yi Xun had nodded. Just for a chess manual so she could give her twin brother the best birthday gift.
According to rumors, Gong’yi Fei only found out when the other party sent betrothal gifts over. He might as well have thrown the team of housekeeper and servants who brought the gifts over out the Gong’yi door. The person who could always keep on smiling without blinking an eye even as Taishan collapsed around him was beyond furious at this time.
Afterwards, the siblings who were already distant became increasingly estranged. According to what the servants said, Gong’yi Fei acted as though he didn’t even have this sister thereafter.
Gong’yi Fei said that Gong’yi Xun’s mind wasn’t very sound. I didn’t think he was just saying it. Perhaps after going through those things, he really felt there was something wrong with her mental state. But I knew what he did not. No matter what they thought, I knew that Gong’yi Xun was no other than Qing Jiujiu.
Admittedly, the Qing Jiujiu who held an umbrella standing at the mountain entrance had passed away. There was a kind of existence in this world where dispersed consciousness and residual spirit condensed anew inside the body. After the condensation, they would forget all things from the past life. If they came to existence, this creature would be known as a phantom.
I didn’t believe Qing Jiujiu was Gong’yi Fei’s twin sister. The Gong’yi clan had never dragged their feet with the disposal of their twins; there were no chances for loopholes. If Qing Jiujiu wasn’t Gong’yi Fei’s twin sister, then Qing Jiujiu’s residual spirit being condensed into Gong’yi Xun’s body was naturally not possible either.
But ultimately it was only my intuition.
Master Jun had hoped I wouldn’t stir too much trouble after leaving home. When I was younger I had thought knowledge was bliss; I did not know it was ill luck. After growing up and being cornered to a dead-end, I realized ignorance was often bliss. The less I knew of this world the happier I would likely be. For that reason, I restrained the urge to approach Gong’yi Xun.
Even though I didn’t go look for her, she went to look for me.
It was a cold windy day. In the small guest courtyard, crepe myrtle flowers swayed in the wind, purple and deep blue, undulating into a tranquil sea of sparkling waves. Looking leisure in her white robe, Gong’yi Xun came through the flowers like a ripple in front of my eyes. Looking at me from the other side of the window, she at last said, “This big world is really full of wonders. I am a phantom while you’re a dead corpse branded by the Huaxu enchantment.”
Although I could guess what she had come to see me for, this was an opening I did not predict. I opened the door and invited her in: “Legend has it a phantom is formed from condensed spirit. It’s supposed to be very sensitive, and I see now that that is indeed true. Most people cannot see any difference between my dispersed spirit and the real living, let alone the ancient Huaxu magic sealed within me.”
She slightly lowered her eyelids. Behind them were a pair of emotionless eyes, faintly blue like the sky reflected in the water of winding mountain streams.
I leaned on my palm and asked her: “Why have you come to find me? Do you want me to weave a dream for you? If you have heard of the Huaxu enchantment, then you must know the price to pay for me to weave a dream?” I looked into her eyes. “You can’t afford it. A phantom’s life means nothing to me.”
She lifted her eyes, her gaze sweeping across the undulating crepe myrtle flowers beyond the window. “Weave a dream? The sorcerer who helped me condense my spirit once mentioned of this function of the Huaxu enchantment. But I’m not interested in any illusory dreams of yours. I don’t know what price the Huaxu enchantment requires for weaving a dream, I bet not many know in this world. What I want is much more real than that.” She regarded me. “You must be able to see the memories of my past life sealed within my body.”
My face slipped off my palm and hit the table with a smack, showing how shocking this all was. If reincarnation existed, a phantom would be like human reincarnation. Just as we are not born with the memory of the past, phantoms are the same. How could there be the so-called memory of a past life?
Perhaps she saw my doubts, her snowy fingers came to rest beneath her eyes, a pair of pale blue pupils. “This is where my human memory is sealed. They said that I died seven years ago, then a sorcerer spent five years to help me condense my soul. He extracted the remnants of consciousness before I died and sealed them into two beads, then embedded them anew into my body. But the me now isn’t the same me then. Without those memories, I am nothing.”
I looked at her curiously: “Then why did you come to look for me? You only need to ask that sorcerer to unlock his seal, then you will be whole again.”
There was a draft at the window. A glimmer flashed in her eyes. Before I could catch onto it, they had stilled again: “Zi’ke was right. It wasn’t a good life considering I had died so young. I don’t need such memories. He had asked for the help of a sorcerer to embed my soul. I was told I owed Ah Fei much in my past life and that my only wish was to repay him. So I took this opportunity to come back to life and live a brand new one. Recently I was thinking, however, that no matter how bad an existence was, it should still have some worthwhile memories. When Zi’ke brought me to the Gong’yi family, he said Ah Fei has always missed me. Now I’m starting to doubt those words. The sorcerer had no way to see the memories sealed inside of me. They can only unlock the seal like you suggested. But I have no interest in knowing about the bad memories. Only good ones would be enough. The Huaxu enchantment might be able to do this. If you are willing to help me, I’ll try to help you with whatever it is you want. As for my memory, after you look into it, please tell me about the good things.”
She was right, the Huaxu enchantment could indeed see into memories that had been sealed. It was almost like spying on others’ dreams. With that said, I should pay attention to my own safety once I entered, even if there was no harm other than that.
“Zi’ke?” I whispered at length. “The style name of Su Yu, the Crown Prince of Chen?”
She looked at me, lightly nodded and answered, “Yes. Su Yu, Su Zi’ke.”
I laughed. “I’ll help you. I don’t need anything from you in return.”
Master Jun had saved my life so that I would assassinate the King of Chen. I’d departed for a long time but I had yet to make any preparations for it. I could now use her memory to search for information. I almost forgot to mention, the Gong’yi clan was a formidable force of Chen seven years prior.