Da Mo Yao Chapter 4: Beauty

This chapter was more summary than translation because it’s a set up episode. It’s still critical to the narrative, but because my darling perfect stupendous Huo Qu Bing doesn’t show up, naturally it’s not an episode that leaves me riveted. If you are a JiuYu shipper, then you can happily feast on this. This chapter really set everything in motion in Da Mo Yao. Jin Yu is smart and fearless, but she’s also too risk-taking for her own good. I appreciate that she’ll never blame others or rail at the Heavens for problems that arise she had a hand in creating. Aside from Jin Yu and Jiu Ye, most of the characters in DMY are real life historical figures, and this episode introduces the Li siblings (famous in Han dynasty history). It’s amusing to see Tong Hua twist the history to fit her story, but I like how creative she works within the existing framework.

Tong Hua has said in interviews that, not only is Xiao Huo her favorite male character ever written, she wrote DMY for him. Because she doesn’t believe in her heart of hearts that this brilliant young man died at the age of 24 (this is well known in Chinese history and is not a spoiler to all the Chinese readers of this novel, so I’ll let you all know as well). I am NOT saying Huo Qu Bing dies in the end of DMY. He might, or he might not. The most important takeaway is that Tong Hua loved him so much she wrote a love story solely for him, i.e. she created Jin Yu for him. As for me? My translations of the DMY novel is also because of him. I need no other reason. He’s about as memorable a fictional leading man as Fitzwilliam Darcy is to a battalion to young girls reading Pride and Prejudice for the first time.

Chapter 4: Beauty

When the carriage returns to Luo Yu House, my position has greatly changed. I am returning as the new head of this business. I was assured Hong Gu would be fine with it, and indeed she was, pleased that she was not punished and could still enjoy her life and run the house with me. She handed me the books for the last few years, and confirmed that the best girls have indeed left. In truth, she was happy I came, someone to bear the heavy burden with her. And with my friendship with the Big Boss, I would be a good mountain for her to lean on.

I understood now why Wu Ye allowed me to be the new head, hoping I can turn the fortunes of this dance hall around not because I have the capability, but because I had the connections with Jiu Ye. I was told that Fang Ru has the potential but she didn’t have the heart to do this. I called for her to be brought to me. I told Hong Gu not to worry, these things take time. We can train the girls, but it’s luck to find a true star with talent and beauty. We might want to build up our reputation outside first with fresh new tactics, and then the talent will come to us.

I told her it was up to the two of us to think up new ideas, suggesting we take a tour of all the dance houses and she tell me what their specialties are. When Fang Ru arrived, I told her that I was giving her back her sale contract and she was free to leave. She looked shocked and grateful. I told her to come to me if she needed anything since I saw her as a friend. She ran off so quickly Hong Gu remarked that she’s never seen Fang Ru move that fast in this house before. I tell her there is a chance Fang Ru may return of her own accord, and we need to take it because forcing her to stay she will never put her heart in it.

I’ve paid off Fang Ru’s debt and the money will be docked from my earnings, which makes me laugh, to incur debt on this job before I even take on any responsibility. Hong Gu doesn’t know if I’m hurting in my wallet right now, but she knows I’ll be hurting elsewhere soon. She stares my ears until I back away. Hong Gu says “It’s not my fault. You got out but then you chose to come back willingly. From now on you will be the face of this business, you have to look the part.”

I remember legends of the past who have sacrificed, whereas I am merely sacrificing my ears. When I return to the Bamboo Residence, I peek in the mirror and realize how ugly I look right now. I touch my ears and sigh. Papa didn’t want me to become a flower, yet I become the head of a bunch of flowers. But if what I am doing can alleviate some of the worry in Jiu Ye’s furrowed brows, then everything will be worth it. If back then I had this level of thoughtfulness, perhaps I could have helped Papa think up great plans, then things would not have……

I shake my head and tell the me in the mirror “Don’t chase after the dead. You already spent more than a thousand days in sadness, it’s time to forget and look ahead. Didn’t Papa say so? The mistakes of the past are so that we don’t make it again. You’ve grown up now, it’s time for you to learn to share in another person’s worries.”

I can smell Xiao Feng bringing dinner, which normally would send me running, but today I don’t move from my spot. I tell him to bring the food inside, I don’t feel well. Xiao Feng worries that I’m sick and has Jiu Ye come check on me. It was Jiu Ye who treated his sick grandpa. I quickly said it was nothing, startled to learn that Jiu Ye knew medicine.

After dinner, I kept thinking about how to run the business when there was a knock on the door and I absentmindedly said to come in. It was Jiu Ye, and I wanted to wrap a towel around my head but couldn’t find one, so I just covered my ears. I pulled on the string by accident and it hurt like heck. He asked if I was sick, and then saw my ears “Hong Gu pierced your ears?”

I pouted and nodded. He laughed “Take your hand away, didn’t Hong Gu tell you not to touch it for 10 to 20 days otherwise it will get infected?”

I realized that if it was infected, the string would be removed and after the infection heals, I’ll be pierced again. I quickly put my hands down. Jiu Ye looked at my weepy expression and shook his head with a smile. He turned his wheelchair around and left, returning shortly with a small ceramic pot. He explained that this was aged wine that was good for preventing infections.

He gestured with a white cloth for me to tilt my head so I knelt down and turned my head towards him. His cold hands lightly touched my ear lobes and barely grazed my cheeks, but I felt my face heat up. He used his hand to hold my head still and when I turned, my lips accidentally pressed against his palm. My heart thumped and I quickly shifted my head, staring intently at my skirt hem on the ground. His hand stilled for a moment before it resumed cleaning my ears.

As he wiped my ears with the wine, he revealed that he had his ears pierced as a child. Since he was a sickly child, his mom heard that piercing the ear to pretend to raise the boy as a girl will make the child easier to raise healthy.

To create the earring hole, Hong Gu strung some ugly moles on the ends of the string. I asked if he had those when he got his ears pierced. He teased me “My mom had mine painted in rainbow colors to make me happy.” I looked at him with some pity, clearly his were even more conspicuous than mine.

After he wheeled himself out, I remained kneeling on the pallet for quite some time. Suddenly I stood up and started dancing and twirling on the pallet. Until my body grew tired and I collapsed on my covers, where I buried my head in the blanket and smiled like a loony. When wolves are young, they learn to lick their own wounds. So this is what it feels like to be taken care of by someone else. It is so warm, and I want to be a human. Papa Papa, I am so happy right now!

Buried in the blankets, I had my goofy smile for a long time. Suddenly I sat up and grabbed a hankerchief and wrote along the edges of it.

“Happiness is the flower that grows in the heart. Beautiful and seductive, lingering and enchanting a person. But the memory can lie, and I worry that one day I won’t remember today’s happiness. So I want to write down what happens from now on. So that one day when I am old, so old that I can’t even walk, I can sit on a pallet and read these hankerchiefs and see my own happiness. There will be times of sadness, but no matter if it’s happy or sad, it’s the traces of the life I led. But I will try my hardest to be happy…….”

………………………………….

While dining at Yi Ping Ju, the top restaurant in the city, we heard a beggar singing a folk tale song outside. The performance was so well received the beggar was greatly rewarded by those who listened. It gave us the idea to add a story to our dances, which had until now been just a performance without any narrative. After a month, I came up with an interesting story, with songs and lyrics to accompany it.

Hong Gu was worried, a story about a princess and her horse servant falling in love and overcoming all odds to be married. I thought it was romantic. Hong Gu pointed out that even an idiot would see that, despite all the names being changed, it was the story about the current Han princess, Princess Pingyang, and her husband the Great General Wei (who was formerly her horse servant). That was exactly what I intended.

Hong Gu asked “You want to use the whispered about story that everyone in Chang An has heard about, the story about the current Great General Wei, to incite everyone’s curiosity and bring in the audience who wants to hear gossip. But one person is the current General holding all the military might in the Kingdom, and the other is the older sister to the current Han Emperor. Have you thought about their reaction?”

I popped a sweet in my mouth and responded “What kind of reaction? Great General Wei was base-born and endured a lot of hardships in his youth, which is why he understands the struggles of the common people, and why he has such a gentle persona. He is someone who will not create unnecessary scenes. If he hears of this, he will likely laugh it off and ignore us. Princess Pingyang is always worried about the age gap between her and General Wei. On the surface she pretends not to care, but she really does care what others think. Her biggest worry is that General Wei married her because of her birth, but deep down he dislikes that she’s much older than him. But this dance performance will highlight their love story, how they fell in love dispute their great differences and only could be together after the Emperor discovered it and used a decree to allow them to get married. What a fabulous happy ending!”

Hong Gu asked about the Emperor, leaving me laughing at how impressed she must be with my prowess, that the performance I devised could potentially reach the ears of the Emperor. If that happened, it would mean we really were famous. Hong Gu knows this industry, if we perform it, we’ll be famous.

I explain that I tried my best to paint the Emperor in the best light, as wise and brave. How he receives it is beyond my control. But I want to take this chance and asks her to take it with me. She sighed, impressed with my youth and guts. She’s endured not being famous for so long, she wants to take this leap of faith with me, especially since I’ve put so much thought into it.

Fang Ru suddenly returns, softly telling us that she wants to return to the dancing house. She appears resigned, but then loses her temper at me, asking if I’m happy now that she’s returned. Isn’t this what I wanted all along? I tell her to stop blaming the others and the world for what happened to her. She starts to cry and let out her frustrations, while Hong Gu comforts her. I tell her “When Hong Gu was six, she was sold by her brother so he could marry a woman. I don’t even know who my parents are. All the girls here have sob stories. At least you had good parents for many years. I’ve already torn up your sales contract so you are coming back as a free woman. You can leave anytime. But if you choose to stay, you have to follow the rules of this house.”

After Fang Ru goes to rest, I ask Hong Gu how it feels to play a good guy for once. She concedes it feels good, and she has seen that my methods produce better results than forcing girls to do what they hate. I have Fang Ru start learning the part of the princess, with two other girls to learn the part of the Great General Wei. I tell Hong Gu to adjust the performance as necessary and I’ll leave it up to her, since I’m going home now. I suddenly realize that I used the word “home”, not sure when that started. Hong Gu laughs, asking me to just move here to make it more efficient and more fun to spend time together. I make a moue at her without responding, getting in the carriage and heading off.

………………………………………………

I noticed through the window that it was another full moon night, surprising me to realize it. Brother Wolf is likely strolling under the moonlight, and occasionally howling at the moon. Does he think of me? I don’t know if wolves have this emotion. I’ll ask him when I go back to see him. Or perhaps he has a mate now, someone to howl at the moon with.

Chang An and Xi Yu are vastly different. Looking skyward, there is bound to be an obstruction like a rooftop or a wall. In the desert plains, everywhere you look the sky connects with the edges of the earth. But right now I am sitting on the roof and looking at the sky, and it looks as expansive.

I touch the flute in my hand. Being busy choreographing the performance, I haven’t touched it in a long time. I don’t know if I can play the Bai To Ying tune I just learned. I play with a serious of stops and starts, filled with mistakes. But I’m still happy. Not being able to howl at the moon, playing at the moon is also an enjoyment. After playing it another time, it’s much smoother and I feel quite proud of myself.

As I’m being all full of myself towards the moon, the sound of another flute wafts up to me. It’s leisurely and elegant, like a fairy dancing or a beauty weeping. Jiu Ye sits in the courtyard playing a flute. The same flute, mine sounds like a hungry 80 year old while his sounds like a fair maiden at the banks of a river. His music seems to be pulling at the moonlight, illuminating him with a silvery essence so that his white robe makes him appear indescribably handsome.

The song ends yet I remain bathed in the conflicting emotion of happiness turned to woe [that her tune was so bad compare to Jiu Ye]. He held his flute and looked up at me “Bai To Ying is a song about a woman’s despair. If your heart isn’t aligned, it’s impossible to capture all the tonal shifts. This is my first time hearing this tune played with such a happy vibe. Thankfully you have an expansive lung to play it.”

I stuck my tongue out at him “This is the only tune I know, so tomorrow I’ll go learn more. Your playing is so wonderful to listen to. Keep playing, I’m in such a happy playing mood.” I pointed to the moon “The bright moon, the clear sky, the swaying bamboo trees next to you, these are all such happy things.” Sometimes people are not as well off as wolves. Wolves always get excited at the full moon, whereas people often ignore it.

Jiu Ye looked at me for a moment before nodding “You are right, these are all happy things.” He looked at the moon again before raising his flute to his lips. I don’t know this tune, but it sounds like a spring rain where people are laughing, the trees are laughing, the blades of grass are laughing. I stare at Jiu Ye playing the flute. I don’t know why you have this hidden sorrow in your eyes, but I want to ease it.

Under the black and blue night sky, with the moon hovering over us, one of us sits in the courtyard, the other sits on the roof with knees drawn up, the bamboos as dancer and the jade flute as music.

……………………………………

Fang Ru’s quiet and restrained performance as the princess sending her general off to war is heartbreaking, so the people in the audience sniffle and wipe their tears away. Hong Gu is shocked at how well Fang Ru is doing after a slightly shaky start. She thinks in 10 days, Luo Yu House will be the hottest place in all of Chang An. I smile and walk outside.

It’s April already, the air bursting with energy. All the excitement I kept pent up in front of Hong Gu finally bubbles forth. What is waiting for me in the future? Will I achieve the objective I hid within the dance performance? I hear a noise and walk to the courtyard to see the music conductor pushing a man out. He explains this man wants a job as a musician here but we already have enough.

The young man is wearing worn but clean robes, a clear open face that looks honest but slightly worried. I got a good impression from him so ask where he’s from. He’s just arrived at Chang An, and his name is Li Yan Nian. I allow him to play for me, and he’s come prepared with his lute carried on his back. He starts to play and his music is extraordinary, transporting the audience to the vast wilderness where nature and music blend seamlessly together.

I know I must keep this talent no matter what. I ask why he’s seeking employment here. With his talent, the more famous Tian Xian House ought to be his first choice. He admits that he went there already and they want him. He explains that he’s lost his parents recently and traveled here with his younger brother and sister to seek a living. His sister heard about the new dance performance of “Hua Yue Nong” (Flower Moon Passion) here at Luo Yu House and insisted he come here to play for us.

Li Yan Nian explained that his sister thinks the performance of Hua Yue Nong was surely well calculated. I was stunned to know that his sister saw through my intentions and could see that this was no simple dance performance. Since I was small, I learned tactic and strategy, with Papa teaching me that life can change on a dime. Having once experienced a cataclysmic event, after entering the Shi Residence, I started collecting data on the rich and powerful in Chang An. But this sister of his appeared to have just arrived in Chang An and already knows the workings of it. Her decision to eschew a more famous dance house for ours is a decision made with purposeful forethought and the willingness to take a risk. If she knew my ulterior motive and therefore wants to enter Luo Yu House, what is her motive? Why does she want to meet Princess Pingyang?

I take a closer look at Li Yan Nian, finding him quite handsome. If his sister is equally as eye-catching, then I must keep this person. I doubled the offer he got from Tian Xian House. He accepted calmly, not seeming particularly happy. I tell him to call me Madam Yu, like everyone here does. I decide to call him Master Li, and invite him to move into the house with his siblings. He confirms that they are living in a shack in the outskirts of the city, and I share that I once lived in the forest when I first arrived, which finally elicits a smile of mutual understanding from him.

I ordered a room cleaned and inform Hong Gu I hired a new musician, telling her to trust me on this one, his talent is unparallel. Li Yan Nian arrives the next morning with his siblings. His younger brother resembles him, with a bit more youthful brashness. His sister is covered in a face veil, but even her walk is elegant like a dance, entrancing us all.

Under the veil, all I can see are her eyes, which are enough to assess her. It’s seductive yet calculating, in a split second it felt like a flash of a sword slashed through the air. I’m intrigued! I smile, while besides me Hong Gu keeps sighing and sighing. This girl, just by her form, has caused Hong Gu who has seen countless beauties, to be speechless. Li Yan Nian bows to me and introduces his younger brother Li Guan Li and his sister Li Yan. [The Yan character in the names of Li Yan Nian and Li Yan are completely different characters in Chinese though pronounced the same.]

Li Guan Li happily checked out their residence, while Li Yan didn’t enter the room but stood in place and looked at me. The first words she said to me was wondering why I did all this for them. She didn’t think their status deserved my benefaction. Her voice was not like that of most girls. It was deep and low, requiring one to listen carefully to capture her words. It was akin to someone whispering in your ear at night, causing a twitching in the heart.

I told her “I normally don’t like to be so obvious, but I really want to keep you. And it’s all of you, not just Master Li. I like to do things in one clean swoop, so you don’t have to move around, which is more hassle for all of us.”

She asked “Us?” I laughed “Your brother is a master at the lute and handsome to boot. His sister understood my intentions simply by watching the dance performance I created. How can I let my kindred spirit be disappointed?”

Li Yan’s eyes reveal twinkling mirth “Madam is surely very perceptive.”

I didn’t know there could be a female version of bosom buddies, where two people just get each other. I chuckled “No more than you. My name is Jin Yu.”

She elegantly takes off her veil “I am Li Yan.”

I suck in a deep breath as I am hit by stunning shock. It’s not like I haven’t seen a beautiful woman before, but she is not someone that the word beautiful is even adequate to describe. So it’s true that in this world, there is a kind of beauty that can make a person forget oneself. If the stars fell because of her, if the moon lost its lustre because of her, I would not be surprised.

© 2012, ockoala. All rights reserved.

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Comments

Da Mo Yao Chapter 4: Beauty — 46 Comments

  1. Thanks for the chapter Ms. Koala!
    I’ve been refreshing all day ^^

    I actually can’t wait for this drama to premiere. Unfortunately it seems it’ll take a while ><

      • me neither. My guess is that she want the story to reach the king because she want HQB to notice? I can’t wait until she meet HQB again.

        Thanks Koala for all your hard work.

    • Jin Yu’s ulterior motive for this performance is already revealed in this chapter.

      “Her decision to eschew a more famous dance house for ours is a decision made with purposeful forethought and the willingness to take a risk. If she knew my ulterior motive and therefore wants to enter Luo Yu House, what is her motive? Why does she want to meet Princess Pingyang?”

      The above section tells us that Jin Yu is looking to meet Princess Pingyang. Since Li Yan has seen through Jin Yu’s motive and chosen to come, which means Li Yan also has the same motive.

      • Uh oh, Captain Koala, I think I just got more confused. I figured that Jin Yu had basically wanted to bring the dance house to imperial attention, but why does she want to meet Princess Ping Yang specifically? That seems oddly random? Unless she’s hoping to meet HQB through his uncle, General Wei Qing, who is married to Princess Ping Yang. That seems rather convoluted, when there are surely more straightforward ways of running into HQB? Or maybe I’m the one thinking too simply …

        As for Li Yan, I assume that she’s also hoping to attract imperial attention, through the dance house? Since it was through Princess Ping Yang that the current Empress Wei came to the attentions of the emperor, I suppose Li Yan is hoping to pursue a similar route, which, historically, is actually what ends up happening.

      • just a thought… could jin yu wanting to meet princess pingyang got anything to do with her father?

        this intrigue that the characters in damoyao has presented me has me wiki-ing all over about that period of chinese history.. im sure my high school chinese teacher would be so proud- they had to literally force us to take an elective on chinese history in those days and i spent alot of time in that class looking out of the window…

      • The reason why Jin Yu wants to meet Princess Pingyang is revealed in the later chapters. The next one if my memory serves me right.

        The romance plot thread reminds me of BBJX. The girl fall for the gentle guy first (Meng Jiu/8th Prince) and then falls for the guy who is more ba qi (霸气 – don’t know a good english word for this) which in this case is Huo Qu Bing/4th Prince.

      • i should have been more clear. i realised that she wanted to meet Princess Ping Yang. BUT i don’t understand why she wants to meet the princess. i have half-way through reading chapter 5! i have to finish reading it in mandarin before i read your translation! *rushes off to read chapter 5*

  2. Wow, so fast koala! Thank you!

    I am so in love with this heroine now. She’s a quick study and very resilient indeed. Hmmm..will this dance bring our brooding HQB to Luo Yu house? And I don’t know what to make of Li Yan yet. I hope she won’t turn over to the dark side. Getting more and more intrigued with each chapter…

  3. Ah, I can already smell the political intrigue starting! It’s complete irony that Huo Qu Bing loves Jin Yu, yet she is the one responsible for lifting up the fortunes of the woman (Li Yan) who will threaten the position of HQB’s aunt, Empress Wei, and by relation, the rest of the Wei family. I sort of rub my hands in glee.

    I just read through the Wikipedia articles of the older historical figures mentioned in this novel, such as Empress Wei, General Wei Qing (HQB’s uncle, and Empress Wei’s half-brother), Princess Ping Yang, etc., and in some ways, their real life stories are even more thrilling than the fictional story taking place here. I especially find the back stories of Empress Wei and General Wei Qing fascinating – same mother, both illegitimate children (I kind of admire their mother for “getting around”, given how patriarchal Chinese society was/is!). I’m also surprised that, to my knowledge, no one has done a drama or a movie about these people. So, so, so much drama fodder right there, and free for the picking too!

    • Of course there are dramas and movies about the Han Dynasty. The 58-episode drama 汉武大帝 (Emperor Wu of Han) features all the important historical figures of that era.

    • The drama Emperor Wu of Han is a serious real deal. They’ll probably spit blood to read Tong Hua’s crazy version of Han history in DMY.

      There is also the drama 大汉天子 (Da Han Tian Zhi or Heavenly Son of the Han Empire) starring Huang Xiaoming as Lie Che during his teenage years until he becomes Emperor Wu.

      There are tons of dramas/movies about the Han dynasty. Not recently, which has seen a surge of Three Kingdoms and/or Qing dynasty stories.

      I personally love the Song dynasty tales the most. Tang is too wimpy and slightly sleazy for me.

      • Captain Koala, what Song dynasty tales do you like? I know the story of the Yang family is really famous. Then there’s the fictional Condor Heroes stories by Jinyong, set during the fall of the Song dynasty. Come to think of it, the most famous Song-era stories that I know, historical or fictional, are all set during the decline of Song and lament the corrupt officials who sped it along. I admit, that doesn’t exactly endear me to the Song dynasty as a whole.

        I’m more biased towards the Tang dynasty primarily because of Wu Zetian. Otherwise, I’m not a fan of Tang-era women’s clothing, which reminds me of Korean hanboks, in that they completely hide a women’s curves below her chest.

    • Hi, Captain Koala and Sherry, and thank you very much for the drama recommendations! I had actually meant that I’m surprised that no one’s done a drama or movie specifically about the Wei’s (again, as far as I know). I just find their rise (and fall) very interesting, and again, so much fodder that you don’t even need to make up fictional drama!

      As much of a sleazeball as Yu Zheng is, it would be interesting to see his take on Empress Wei’s rise and fall, and her half-brother General Wei Qing and how he ended up married to Princess Ping Yang, etc. Outside of him, I can’t really think of any relatively famous Chinese director/producer who would be willing to do a story on the “lesser” figures of history. Most dramas that I’ve seen about the Han, Qing, and other dynasties tend to be expansive dramatic pieces, where “the whole world is the stage” and the principal figures are the emperors and his more famous courtiers.

      I don’t like YZ’s hardball tactics, but I do grudgingly appreciate his willingness to do “insular” and women-centric stories, where we can see what makes these figures “tick” on a less “grand” level. And as much as the women in his drama are super scheming bitches, or they’re super moping victims, at least he does make dramas that prominently focus on women and give us an inside view on how their backgrounds and certain events ended up shaping their futures and thoughts and actions.

      On the other hand, I do dislike how Yu Zheng has complete disregard for historical fact, since I admit to being something of a historical purist myself. In fact, I somewhat lament that DMY, based on what I’ve heard other people say, is less strictly historically accurate than Bu Bu Jing Xin was. Actually, one of my (very minor) pet peeves with BBJX was that Tong Hua made it seem like it was a concrete fact that Yong Zheng had usurped the throne, whereas historically, we don’t actually know the truth one way or the other. I think I would have preferred that she made it more hazy.

      Okay, enough of my rambling! Although … We did say that this was a book discussion, right? ;)

      • Hi V, oh yes, I am so glad that I’m not the only person who finds Yu Zheng’s dramas sometimes worth watching. If some episodes get too cheesy and cliche, I just wince my way through them or fast forward entirely, but his dramas get me excited and happy and sad and angry at exactly the right times.

        I’ve with Koala on preferring Song Dynasty stories to Tang Dynasty ones. V, have you read/seen Jin Yong’s Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils? It’s set earlier in the Song Dynasty, several generations before the beginning of LOCH. I’m currently translating it solo (and verrrrry slowly) on spcnet.tv. One of its three protagonists, Xiao Feng, is my favorite hero in the wuxia universe. Definitely worth giving it a shot!

      • Oops, I always make typos! >.<

        Also, I forgot to mention that Wei Zifu is one of my favorite empresses in Chinese history. And I really like Princess Pingyang of the Tang Dynasty (not the princess in this era). So many fascinating and capable women for us to marvel at!

        I've been plowing ahead on DMY on my own now, and I'm slowly starting to warm up to HQB. His moments with Jin Yu are really quite humorous, especially the handkerchief and drooling scene. However, DMY as a whole seems a whole lot more unrealistic to me than BBJX (minus the time-traveling). Especially the whole wolf pack thing. Oh well, I'll try to look past its faults. :)

      • Hi, Sherry, and so nice to have someone else join in my long, rambling “discussions”! Now I feel less guilty for taking up space on the Playground! ;)

        Yes, I have watched Tian Long Ba Bu. (The one with Jimmy Lin – don’t know how closely that version sticks to the book, since I must admit to not having read any of Jinyong’s books, having been scared off the first time around by all of the dense wuxia-centric terms.) On a rather random aside, for the longest time I thought Crystal Liu Yi Fei was the prettiest in that drama (TLBB/DGSD) compared with her later projects, such as Return of the Condor Heroes. I don’t know how they did it, but the make-up artists managed to make her look super mature and refined in that drama (TLBB/DGSD), even though she was quite young when she filmed the series. It’s only been recently that I’ve thought LYF has surpassed her beauty in TLBB/DGSD, although I may be the only one to think so. Sadly, I can’t really say the same for her acting …

        About BBJX, in spite of the time-traveling aspect, I too feel that it was a very, very realistic story, in that the characters felt completely real to me and their actions and thoughts made utter sense given their well-established personalities. I felt that the time-traveling aspect was only used as a device to frame a much larger story about the interactions of super-complex characters and a girl/woman who couldn’t let go. The time-traveling wasn’t the “means to an end” that we see in 99% of all other time-traveling stories, where the heroine travels back in time basically just to prove how superior she is to the people of whatever time period she’s happened to land in. If anything, the time-traveling was a weight that the heroine couldn’t cast off, as opposed to being an empowering experience.

      • Haha, I’m on the verge of falling asleep, so I’ll be quick. Ah, I thought Liu Yifei was very pretty in DGSD, especially during her first appearance. However, her character was just an empty shell. I loved her a lot in ROCH (maybe it was her dubbed voice that I loved?). Anyway, the wuxia terminology is just so much fun, combining real martial arts schools with Jin Yong’s imagination, and brings in such a varied assortment of characters that I never get bored.

        Yes, that’s exactly how I felt about BBJX as well! Such a serious, well-paced, hauntingly beautiful story. At first I was uncertain about how well LSS would play Ruoxi, since I often cringed at her dull, wooden acting from way back when, but she really did her justice. Heavens, I was sometimes fangirling over her more than the princes. xD However, the more of DMY I read, the more I think Jin Yu doesn’t really suit LSS, but maybe she can astound us once again if she gets cast into this 180-degree turnaround role.

    • Schemes of a Beauty had Princess Ping Yang, Empress Dou (the grandmother of Emperor Wu, the current emperor in DMY), Empress Wang Zhi (mother of Wu) Empress Wei Zifu (for like the last 5 seconds of the series, LOL. You can just go to viki and watch the last minute of the drama to catch her), and Emperor Wu.

      • Hi, Lazy Goose! He he, I actually did watch or rather skimmed Schemes of a Beauty. The younger generations, after Empress Dou’s generation that is, really annoyed me in that drama. And the future Empress Wei in that drama, in her like 5 seconds of screentime, looked kind of cunning, when historically she was somewhat reluctant to become the Emperor’s woman.

        Anyway, like I said, I tend to not trust Yu Zheng’s portrayals of historical figures; they’re frequently a complete turnaround from their historical characterizations. (Although I did like Lu Zhi in Schemes of a Beauty. As much as she practiced nepotism, you have to give her due credit for keeping her entire clan in line, as well as keeping the Han dynasty stable during its first transition from one emperor to the next.) On the other hand, there aren’t many other directors/producers of similar fame that do the kind of stories that he’s known for. In fact, I remember being rather surprised when Tangren came out with “Clothing the World”, it just seemed so different from the usual fare that they do.

  4. Thanks for the setup chapter. You are wonderful!

    I hope Jin Yu gets her wish to see Xiao Huo. I see the “Flower Moon Passion” as representative of her blossoming emotions for him brought on by the night when they first met….<3<3<3

  5. Thank you for getting these out. I can’t tell you how much I love your site and appreciate the time and hard work you put into your recaps and translations.

  6. tx koala love the story awaiting eagerly for chap 5 for me I prefer reading the book than watching it in movies or dramas if only i can read chinese but ur here instead to do the honors my heartfelt gratitude i can enjoy this story thru you ur awesome

  7. When I saw that you had two chapters up, I almost cried (of happiness, of course!)!!! One reason why I love Tonghua is her use of history and how manipulates the characters to fit her story. Just as in BBJX, I’m excited about how she is going to unfold her version of real historical moments.
    In chapter 3, the part that got me was when she came “home” to Jiu Ye, who was reading and waiting up for her. Jiu Ye is just too sweet and kind… just my type of guy. There’s not much about Huo Qu Bing, so I’m on currently aboard on the Jiu Ye ship. However, since you placed Huo Qu Bing on such a high regard, I’m so curious as to how he’s gonna show up again in Jin Yu’s life and turn me upside down. lol. I know for sure, I’m easy to persuade. LOL.
    Anyway, THANKS SO MUCH for the quick translation. I can’t wait for the next one(s). Lol. (no pressure, take your time!) :D

  8. Interesting! So Jin Yu wants to meet the Princess Pinyang, why exactly?

    The politics begins… Also, getting close to Li Yan already feels like a mistake! I hope our heroine maintains hers intelligence, tenacity and wit and dealing with this move of hers.

    More importantly, I missed HQB today :(, Can’t wait to read more on him.. the eventual reunion between Jin Yu & HQB is going to be EPIC! I hope it’s really soon.

    Thank again Ms. Koala!

  9. OMG, this just gets better and better, I think the first time around, I underestimated how much the political uprising in her childhood affected her. Thinking back on it, the thing that JY avoids the most is succession battle, which… oh, what can I say? she brought it upon herself.

  10. Thanks so much for your translation… I have just finished the book online.. and I am not going to lie.. i am torn between the 2 men…. i love them both….. but i think i might be one of the few people love Jiu Ye at the end not matter how awesome HQB is… i am really curious who will be cast for the role of jiu Ye…

    i can’t wait for more chapter translation… thanks!

  11. So….an intense-ish experience with Jiu Ye occurs…. Right now I’m kinda shipping both men –like I did with 4th prince & 8th prince in BBJX. I’m leaning toward HQB for the OTP, but four chapters in, this feels like a very plausable triangle where either man could be a good match. Since I don’t know what’s to come in the chapters ahead, I venture to say that right now neither HQB or Jiu Ye is writtren to be so perfect & pristine or so evil & horrid in nature that readers automatically know which side to pick. INTERESTING…..

    –Thanks, Koala!

    Hmm…I like the fact that we’re not “supposed to” root for one man over the other. I’m sure most of us will eventually pick a ship (if we haven’t already!), but right now the playing field is level.

  12. Me too…I couldn’t wait and decide to read them online….I’m savoring it slowly (actually it’s more because I’m a slow reader) so I’m only at Chapter 10.LOL. I haven’t read a chinese novel for years…
    TQ for the recommendation.
    And I always come back for your english translations just to cross check if I missed anything and participate in the book discussion!

  13. on a side-note.. after reading a few chapters ahead of koala unnie’s translations in the original chinese.. i’m somehow having problems envisioning liu shi shi as the lead- she just seems so… reserved.. and does not have that “xiao sa” air of the ‘desert flower’ that jin yu is… hu ge would be totally yummy as huo qu bing ( totally totally fell in love with his character in chinese paladin and as guo jing in loch) but i’m wondering if he has that gravitas to pull off that young general role… i can however totally imagine yuan hong as huo qu bing (not helped by the fact that i love 13th prince to bits) cos he has that ability to be naughty-playful and yet totally nail the arrogance that comes with the status. hu ge is just…. mr nice guy in my books at this point, so nice that you’re right when you said earlier that if he nails this, it could totally be his career- making role….. and as to whoever acts as jiuye…. somehow feels like he’s getting the short end of the exposition stick.

  14. Thank you, Ms. Koala for sharing another beautiful translation. I’m so psyched with our main heroine’s craftiness. I admit I was quite fearful of her character being completely swallowed up by the great Chang An, but I should have known that she would come out triumphant, though the transition from the wild desert to the civilized city was a bit jarring for. I was expecting her character to suffer a lot more misfortuned before she found her footing, but I suppose all things happen for a reason. Jiu Ye is such a sad, sad character :( And I’m excited to read more on this blossiming sisterhood between JY and LY. Thanks again! :D

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