I've been dreamily re-reading Chapter 18 of Three Lives Three Worlds, the Pillow Book again and again! It's my favourite chapter by far because it showcases Dong Hua Dijun and Feng Jiu's personalities perfectly. I don't plan on translating the Pillow Book since Hamster is doing a phenomenal job, but I've decided to translate Chapter 18 since I've been re-reading it every day (heh). It also provides a love antidote to all the angst in the earlier parts!
It would have been better if I did a series review with complete summary before translating specific scenes since this presumes you have knowledge of the background of the book already. However, I am a bit of an anal type (if it isn't obvious haha), and I will need to re-read the whole series again and think about it before doing a proper series review.
You can try the shusheng bar links (1) and (2) for a summary. Also, go to Hamster's blog of course for her awesome translations of Book 1 and parts of Book 2!
So, a brief context with spoilers:
Bai Feng Jiu is the future female Monarch/Queen of QingQiu. She is the only nine-tailed red fox in the Heavenly Realms. She is a very young goddess.
Donghua Dijun (Di Jun is literally translated as King Emperor) is one of the 5 Great Gods, he used to be the Heavenly Emperor. He is worshipped by all the deities. His trademark is his silver hair and purple robes. He is almost as old as time itself.
By chance, Donghua Dijun saved Feng Jiu's life and she was indebted/in love with him since. To repay this debt/pursue her love, she worked as a maid in his palace for 400 years, changed into an ordinary fox to be his pet and even became a human to follow him when he reincarnated as a human for experience. It is a pursuit of 2000 years and he never knows that she loves him. But at the end, which is where the novel starts, Feng Jiu decides that their love has no fate and will never blossom. She gives up on him.
But they meet again <3 and through some adventures, their destiny starts to tie themselves together. This chapter comes at the later part of the book, after Donghua Dijun saves Feng Jiu from Aranya's Dream - basically, a dream landscape where Feng Jiu got trapped when she was trying to steal a special fruit which will allow her to give a heavenly body to a mortal soul she owes a debt to. The awesome part in the dream landscape is that Donghua Dijun tells (lies) to Feng Jiu that they are married and she wakes up, planning how to get her grandmother to agree to her marriage to Donghua Dijun (because she thinks her grandmother will only think he is good looking! Haha).
So, chapter 18 is full of love, because Donghua Dijun and Feng Jiu's love is finally mutual! Although there will be troubles later, since Donghua Dijun modified Feng Jiu's memory of what happened in Aranya's Dream so she won't know that he had tricked her. This is because he had learnt that they actually had no fate, but because of something in Aranya's Dream, they started to have a weak, very weak, thread of destiny together. So, in order to protect this weak thread of destiny, he blocked parts of her memory.
Chapter 18 thus starts after they wake up from Aranya's Dream...
[I had taken certain liberties with the Chinese text to maintain the original spirit but also make it understandable and easier to translate!]
Actually, Feng Jiu has made a careful calculation in her heart.
After leaving Fan Yin Valley, the first thing she did was to go to her Aunt's place [This is Bai Qian Qian, the female lead of Three Lives Three Worlds, Ten Miles of Cherry Blossoms, who was the former female Monarch of Qingqiu and married to the Crown Prince of the Heaven, JiuChongTian]. Her Aunt was the one who brought her up to JiuChongTian, but she was kidnapped by Donghua Dijun halfway with no sound or message for days. Even though the Bai Household was very free with their descendants, Feng Jiu had to soothe her Aunt in case she had been worried for her.
The second thing was to revive Ye Qingti, Qingti was the one who had saved her from a Demon Sword causing his own soul to be contaminated with demon essence. Even if he reincarnated, he would be a demon and experience lifetimes of pain. The only one way to save him was to make a duplicate heavenly body to inherit his soul, dissolve the demon essence, put into the Yao Spring to cleanse the impurities and make him into a small god. That year, she had placed his soul at the ancestral XieGuZhou. Now that she has the Pinpo Fruit, she can revive him! After visiting her aunt, she will go to XieGuZhou and retrieve Ye Qingti''s soul.
And, after retrieving Ye Qingti's soul, she will go visit her Goddess Grandmother, this is the third thing. Even though she is already married to Donghua Dijun, she has not gone through the customary rituals of her people. Although these rituals will appear superficial to Donghua Dijun, but as they are of great importance to the Elders of Qingqiu, Donghua Dijun and her will still have to undergo a marital customary ritual. However, one, Donghua Dijun is not from a great family (I found this hilarious since Donghua Dijun is one of the Greats, the Sources, so to speak), two, he has no important official rank (in relation to the power of the realms I'm guessing, since he is obviously of the highest class) , and worst, three, he is a great fighter. It will be difficult to get Goddess Grandmother's approval. Still, it had taken her great pains to win Donghua Dijun and she will not let this marital destiny be ruined by Goddess Grandmother. She will convince Goddess Grandmother herself.
However, from ancient times, it has always been humans wishing a lot, the Heavens not granting.
The Crown Prince of JiuChongtian, Ye Hua (Bai Qian Qian's husband) was sitting in a pavillion in his palace. He was, in his incomparable grace, painting, her Aunt was reading a book and her cousin Little Dough was sleeping soundly in her Aunt's embrace.
Fengjiu nervously went over to pay her respects to her Aunt. The Crown Prince Ye Hua smiled at her, her Aunt did not even blink, and said, "Ah, it's Feng Jiu. You don't remember about your own big event in a few days?" Her Aunt's tone implied that this was not a good thing.
She immediately froze and said in a small voice, "No... I don't remember."
Her Aunt did not raise her eye and continued, "Then I will remind you, your Weapon Coronation [it sounds weird but the literal translation is Hiding Weapon Ceremony] will be in 15 days."
The Weapon Coronation. Her head ached and she frowned pathetically, "Aunt, could you pretend you didn't see me and that I actually came back after the 15 days?"
Her Aunt finally raised her eyes, her eyes full of laughter, "If you really came back after the 15 days, I would have transformed into you to replace you. But, since you are really back, don't you dare to take the easier way out! There's still 15 days - just sleep 2 or 3 hours less and you will be prepared."
She cried, "But I only sleep four hours a day!"
Her Aunt looked pitifully at her, "Ah, that is quite poor thing, but youths can sleep one or two hours a day. It's ok."
Feng Jiu changed her pitiful glance to her Uncle in Law, Ye Hua. Ye Hua put down his paintbrush, "Ah, it really is quite pitiful."
Her eyes immediately rose with hope, Ye Hua changed to another brush, "Luckily you came back earlier, if you came back seven or eight days later, you won't even get to sleep."
The hope in Feng Jiu's eyes flickered, then, vanished.
Even though the Kingdom of Qingqiu did not have as many ceremonies and rules as JiuChongTian, there were still important ceremonies. For example, the Weapon Coronation. Every new ruler when ascending to his position must go through this ceremony. The date of the ceremony was calculated from astrology and the birth time of the new ruler. It was usually one hundred years later, during which, the new ruler will personally handcraft and present a personal weapon, on the day of the Weapon Coronation, in front of the eight realms of Deities, and this weapon will be used to rule the sacred lands and used by the future descendants. For example, the Tao Zhu Sword in her hands, this was personally crafted by her Aunt at her own Weapon Coronation.
After Feng Jiu had personally taken over her Aunt's position, and inherited the Throne of QingQiu, in these two hundred years, half was spent on studying and the other half was spent on crafting the heavenly weapon. She has crafted a special sword, the material was from one He Xu Mountain of the Great Wilderness, so the sword was called He Xu Sword.
In the few days before her Aunt's wedding, the He Xu Sword was completed, but the scabbard to store the sword has not been designed. Previously, she thought she had a lot of time. But after she fell into Fan Yin Valley, she had forgotten about it entirely.
If on the day of the ceremony, she presented a naked sword to the Eight Realms, her Grandfather Bai Zhi King Emperor will skin her fox fur for sure. She tragically looked at the sky, it was useless for her to carefully make calculations previously, what was important was to make the scabbard! 15 days, 15 days. She must as well try her best!
Feng Jiu sighed while walking at Fen Tou Li spring. Coincidentally, she met Lian Song Jun (Third Heavenly Prince) and they walked together. Lian Song Jun saw the dejected expression on Feng Jiu's face and expressed his concern. Feng Jiu was touched by Lian Song Jun's concern and explained the responsibility of her Weapon Coronation. Lian Song Jun shook his fan and laughed, "Isn't your house hiding a Dijun? Donghua's ability to craft a sword is first class, it would only take him one or two days to complete it. Isn't not using him at this critical moment to waste a gift from heaven?" He teased, "All you need to do is to ask him sweetly and he will help you, why do you need to sigh?"
At this moment, half of Feng Jiu's brain was thinking about what material to use for the scabbard and what design to put at the top. After listening to Lian Song Jun's words, she mumbled, "My own matters should be done by me. Of course Dijun will complete it perfectly, but if I relied on Dijun for everything, I will never improve. Further, Dijun would not want me to be a useless person that only relied on him. At the most, he will help me prepare the schedule for the scabbard progress, but will not help me any bit more." Suddenly, Feng Jiu's eyes lit up as if she thought of something, "How about we make a bet on whether Dijun will volunteer to help me? If I win, Third Prince must give the rest of the rare porcelain which weren't given to Dijun when he helped you make the short sword to me, if the Third Prince win, I will cook the fat fishes in the Fen Tou Li spring for you for half a month."
They had just reached the palace entrance, Lian Song Jun raised his fan and laughed, "Even though the bet is equal, but thinking of your situation, it is better if I win." He pointed his fan and said, "Ah, but it's not good if I win, if I eat your fish, considering Donghua's jealous nature, he will definitely make me puke it out!"
Feng Jiu said, "Third Prince is exaggerating, no matter what, Dijun won't be like that..." They leisurely chatted and entered the palace.
As Lian Song Jun's love luck was going smoothly, his gambling luck was not. After Dijun heard about what happened when Feng Jiu visited her Aunt, indeed, he conjured a brush and ink out of air and helped her created a timetable to make the scabbard. He pasted it in the study room facing the study table. After thinking for a while and giving her words of encouragement, he did not do anything else.
When Dijun left the study room, Feng Jiu quickly turned to Lian Song Jun with an open hand, her face full of joy, "I thank Third Prince for your generosity. It looks like I'm destined to have Third Prince's porcelain."
Lian Song Jun said in a small voice, "Previously, you had a face of dejection, but now you are so happy, just to win my porcelain?"
Feng Jiu said in a softer voice, "To make a good sword scabbard within 15 days is already a fixed deal, it is no point worrying anymore. But to put Third Prince's porcelain on my scabbard to increase its allure and beauty is a surprise fortune, how can I not be happy?"
Outside, Donghua had arranged a chess table with two stone chairs under a Sandalwood tree with Zhong Lin. Now that Feng Jiu was using the study room, she will need to draw the scabbard design on the study table, it would disturb her if he played chess with Lian Song Jun in the study room. It was good anyway since the weather was warm enough to play chess outside and enjoy the light wind.
Zhong Lin carried the chess table and changed a few directions. No matter where he placed it, Dijun would say it was not right. Although Zhong Lin appeared to be rigid and officious, at Dawn Palace, he understood the intentions of Dijun best and was bestowed the beautiful nickname, the Decoder (解语花 is hard to translate - literally it is the Flower that dissolves Riddles). Now that the Decoder could not arrange the table to suit Dijun's preferences, he was facing a huge pressure. After arranging it a few times, Zhong Lin Excellency was at the brink of breaking down, when Dijun said softly, "Ah, this position is not bad."
At first, Zhong Lin Excellency could not understand, this position was placed outside of the Red Sandalwood Tree's protection, away from the being able to appreciate the flower fields, why would Dijun like this position? When Zhong Lin raised his sleeves to wipe off his sweat, he saw the study table in the study room and Feng Jiu who was arranging things behind the study table. Zhong Lin Excellency immediately realise, that study table was not placed towards the door and could not see the outside scenery well... the Decoder Zhong Lin Excellency sincerely said to Dijun, "Outside has the comfortable cool wind, but her Highness Feng Jiu's study table cannot receive the cool wind. Your humble servant shall go and move the study table." Dijun gave him an appreciative look and nodded his head, "Yes, moving a bit is also good."
While Feng Jiu was working hard inside, Dong Hua and Liang Song Jun were working hard outside, the black and white chess pieces fought fiercely. Liang Song Jun said appreciatively, "Last year, we were drinking wine and playing chess at Dawn Palace, at that time, I advised you, you will want to find a Empress Queen one day, Zhi He [another princess] is also not bad. Ah, actually for Zhi He to match you was a bit pushing it, but at that time it was because she had stayed in Dawn Palace for many years... but your wait many years later for Feng Jiu, is not wasted, truly, only she is fit to be your Empress Queen."
Dong Hua raised his eyebrow, "Are you drunk? So rare of you to be able to say a few good words."
Song Hua smiled good naturedly, "I didn't drink wine, but I made a bet." He continued, "Even though I have a decent impression of Zhi He, she dances quite well, but if we compare beauty and aura, Feng Jiu is far beyond Zhi He." He placed one white piece, "I told Feng Jiu to ask you to help her make the sword scabbard, but she said her own matters is for herself to do, she cannot rely on you and become a vegetable. I originally thought she was just saying formal niceties - girls like to be pampered after all. But, who would have thought, she didn't think anything of the fact that you would not help her. Her words were true."
Dong Hua lifted his eyes to see Feng Jiu in the study room. The girl in red was concentrating on the white paper in front of her, her expression serious. Dong Hua could imagine how she must look when she corrected papers. He said, "Xiao Bai [his nickname for Bai Feng Jiu - Xiao means small] has always been matured."
While the mature Feng Jiu worked endlessly in the study room, Dijun was busy at the back of the yard.
On the third day, Feng Jiu was moved to the small yard, and realised what Dijun was doing at the yard. She looked around, everything had changed. The six sides of the pavillion had a curtain to block the wind, the crystal tables and chairs in the pavillion became a long table, the white crystals at the point where the pavillion and lake met had a thick carpet for her to sit.
She heard from Zhong Lin that Dijun found the study room too constrained and had specially arranged the small pavillion for her to comfortably use. On the first day that Feng Jiu moved to the small pavillion, she immediately felt this place was much nicer than the study room. Whenever she was bored with moulding her scabbard, she just lifted her head and viewed the scenery. Whenever she wanted to sleep, she just gathered the six pointed curtains and it became a bedroom. She was a little moved by Dijun's thoughtfulness.
Feng Jiu ate and slept at the pavillion. Even as she was deeply busy, she also deeply felt that if JiuChongTian had a ranking for the most idle God, Dijun would definitely be in the top 3. Due to her official work, she was forced to camp in the pavillion. However, Dijun also came to camp in the pavillion! Even though she was fed tea and food by Dijun, most of the time, Dijun was reading books in the pavillion. When she was drawing the scabbard, Dijun was reading books, when she was choosing the material for the scabbard, Dijun was reading books, when she was breaking the wood material, Dijun was reading books, when she was fixing the scabbard box, Dijun was sleeping with his face covered by a book...
Ten days quickly pass, and the scabbard was about to be finished. The only thing left was the decoration at the top of the scabbard. Feng Jiu finally relaxed. When she relaxed, she suddenly remembered something in her dream.
A few days ago, Dijun had asked when she was going to bring him to QingQiu to see her parents. What did she say? At that time, she was carving wood and carefully said the truth, "Wait until I convince my grandmother, then I will bring you back."
She was too busy to realise then, but now that she remembered she gulped. Why did she say the truth! Dijun's face was covered with a book and he did not say a word for a long time. She did not notice then, but now that she realised, was Dijun angry? But Dijun acted normally in the next few days.
She opened her eyes wide and looked at Dijun's peaceful face in front of her. She stroke Dijun's face and said softly and guiltily, " I will definitely quickly convince my grandmother and father and bring you back to QingQiu. I'm sorry to be unfair to you for awhile, don't be angry at me for this." She then lightly patted Dijun's head. After apologising to Dijun, the stone in her heart fell. Seeing that there was half an hour left to sleep, she snuggled into Dijun's embrace, avoided the moonlight, and fell asleep.
The Weapon Coronation was fixed on 18 February. Feng Jiu had worked hard for fourteen days and night, finally at 5 am on 18 February, she has completed the scabbard.
She made a perfect box and exquisite flower designs on the scabbard. She did not know how her dad and uncles made the scabbard previously, but she knew it was much better than her Aunt's.
Feng Jiu looked satisfiedly at her scabbard. After admiring her scabbard for a while, she tucked herself carefully into Dijun's arms.
However, she couldn't sleep so she woke up and started to paint. When she was about to sleep again, she heard Dijun who had just awaken, "I remembered that you had already painted finish - why are you still painting this late?"
Feng Jiu loved to hear the voice of Dijun who had just awoken, low and a little nasally. She thought it was very nice to listen. She wanted him to say more and so purposely did not say anything. There was only candlelight. Dijun placed one hand on her shoulder and leaned over, "That looks like... a house?" He looked at her, "Ah? Why are you not saying anything?"
After being busy for ten plus days, Feng Jiu reflected that she had neglected Dijun and wanted to speak to him properly. Since she had already enjoyed his voice, she pulled the candle closer and said, "I couldn't sleep after finishing the scabbard so I looked at the plans of the Bamboo building. Actually, the Fox Hole that Aunt left behind, I am not used to living... and I always wanted to build a small Bamboo building outside the Bamboo forest. But my previous drawing did not include the bedroom for you and the small fox babies, so I wanted to do a new drawing for Migu (one of the deity helpers) to build. Even though in a year, you might only stay at QingQiu for half a year, I felt that..."
Dijun listened interestedly, he pointed to a part of the drawing, "Is that room for me?" He continued, "I'm very free, it makes no difference to stay at Dawn Palace or QingQiu. I could always stay in Qingqiu, but I thought I would stay in your room, why is there another room?"
Feng Jiu proudly said, "This is because I am considerate. If we fight and I kick you out, if there isn't this bedroom for you to sleep in, you will have no space to sleep in! Although there is a study room, it's troublesome to get Migu to set up a bed and blanket for you."
Dijun calmly said, "I feel that no matter how angry I make you, you should not kick me out."
Feng Jiu waved her hand, "Ah, these are not important, let's not mention it. What's more vital is how many rooms we should prepare for the little fox babies? I plan to stay in the Bamboo building for about a thousand and eight hundred years, so we must carefully plan how many rooms to build. How many rooms should we build?"
Dijun said, "If how many rooms built will be how many fox babies born, one is enough."
As Feng Jiu chatted, she slowly started to yawn, "Ah, actually I wanted to leave two rooms, as two fox babies will be more lively, but I was worried they will play together and not kiss me. If they don't play with me, what would I do! Like in Aunt's house, there is only Little Dough. Little Dough will stick to Aunt a lot, I thought that would be better so I only left one room, since you agree..."
Dijun decisively said, "Then we will born two. You don't have to change the plan, you can give my room to them. Ah, this is settled."
Feng Jiu just finished a yawn, "But..." Dijun already blew the candle.
Dijun pulled the curtains and no more light could come in. He kissed her forehead for a while, then covered her with the cloud blanket on his body, "If you don't sleep, it is going to be daylight soon. After staying up for so many days, aren't you tired?"
Feng Jiu immediately forgot what she wanted to say, leaned on Dijun's chest and mumbled nodding, "I wasn't tired talking to you just now, but now that the light is gone, I feel tired... have you seen my scabbard, did I do well?"
Dijun wrapped her in his embrace, "Yes, I saw it, very well."