A late Merry Christmas to everyone! I had to take a break from ancient C-novels for a while after summarising 3L3W 10 Peach Blossoms (haha), and it's nice to finally finish my translation for Chapter 18 of The Pillow Book <3. As usual I have translated to keep the reading flow smooth and its spirit intact, it is not 100% literal and accurate.
Thanks everyone for the support and your sweet words. It's been a very busy period for me (finishing up work and packing up to move to Hong Kong for 2 months!) but I'm also looking forward to starting on my official translation project for Heavy Sweetness Ash-Like Frost.
I hope you enjoy this chapter as much as I did (I have read this chapter almost twenty times hah!)
Lian Song Jun came to Tang Ning Mountain for two reasons, one to follow Cheng Yu, two to check out the crowd.
Because his purpose was clear, Lian Song Jun truly gained a lot from today's event.
For example, when he was changing the position of his fan in his hand, he saw a flicker of interaction between the little fox and Dong Hua. None of the other bystanders noticed, but Lian Song Jun's eyes were sharp, and he naturally saw Feng Jiu raising her gaze instantly after breaking through the formation. And, sitting on the highest position, Dong Hua Dijun moved his left hand and placed it under his cheek, he faced Feng Jiu and lightly mouthed out the words, "Beautiful fight". The little fox's mouth naturally broke out into a proud smile, thereafter she made a great effort to subdue the smile and changed to a serious gaze as she kept the He Xue Sword. While her father made a grand speech, Feng Jiu's gaze swept the crowd to see if anyone noticed them.
To make such flirtatious moves with your lover in front of such public space, Casanova Lian Song Jun paused and realised that even he himself have never done such a thing. For a moment, he felt that he did not live up to his name as the Love Saint, and unconsciously gazed at Cheng Yu's figure in the audience. Ever since Cheng Yu sat in the audience, she had been discussing with Si Ming Xing Jun who sat next to her regarding the various ways to eat the pit of the peach, she had never turned back to look at him once.
Lian Song Jun dazedly watched her back for a while, a little down-hearted, a little dejected.
Deep in his dejection, Lian Song Jun raised his head to the sun, calmly and slowly a big patch of thick cloud floated by. When Lian Song Jun realised who was on this thick cloud, he immediately stop being depressed. To think he could see such a scene today, he waved his fan and leaned back in his seat, and started to feel interested again.
At this moment, Feng Jiu was placing the He Xu sword in the sacred mountain. Before she could place it properly, she saw the thick cloud move closer and instinctively paused. During this pause, a laughter came from the thick cloud, "This is truly a great gathering of all the various gods. However, in Nie's humble opinion, Feng Jiu Highness' Weapon Coronation is lacking one step." Out of the shadows, came a man wearing a coat of mink holding a heated stove. He was carried by a group of servants onto the cloud's centre.
There was only one person in this world who Feng Jiu could not help feeling hot for whenever she saw him. This person was the Dark Demon Lord Nie Chu Yin. To appear at this scene and to say such a thing, Nie Chu Yin was clearly here to start something. But since the elders of the Bai family were all here, Feng Jiu felt there was no need for a junior person like her to speak out, so she kept her sword scabbard and raised her gaze to her dad, Bai Yi.
Out of all the elders of the Bai Family, the person who was best at preserving face and social niceties was her dad. The music on the stage stopped, her Dad said pleasantly, "I have long heard that the demon tribe did not bother with rules and ceremonies, but who knew that the Dark Demon Lord Nie Chu Yin respected rules so much. We are truly ashamed to need to have troubled Dark Demon Lord to come all the way to our home to remind us on how to conduct our ancient ceremony."
Nie Chu Yin's eyes slightly reacted but his face maintained a smile, "Bai Yi High God's words are a little inaccurate - I did not come to remind, today I came to the Weapon Coronation, only with a heart full of respect. I especially remember that there is one step after the sword is tested, a competition is held where persons of the same rank are permitted to challenge the Monarch in order for everyone to truly respect the Monarch's abilities. But why after Feng Jiu Highness's Weapon Coronation, the sword is immediately being hidden after it is tested?"
What Nie Chu Yin was planning, there were those in the audience who were still confused, but they were those who already understood.
Previously QingQiu's Weapon Coronation indeed had a step where the Monarch had a competition with those of the same rank and generation. If they lost to the Monarch, nothing would happen, but if they won, they gained a wish from the Monarch. It was spread that Bai Zhi King Emperior had set these two stages - to test the sword and then to compete with the sword, first to encourage the Monarch to improve, but also to inspire the people in the Bai Family of the same generation to also work harder. All of Bai Zhi King Emperor's Four Sons passed through these two stages, but when it was time for her young daughter Bai Qian to go through it, the Queen Empress could not bear it and cried to the King Emperor. After crying to the King Emperor for two months, the King Emperor finally removed the competition stage from the Weapon Coronation Ceremony for Bai Qian. It was silently recognised that any female monarch after Bai Qian Qian would also not need to go through the competition stage.
Immortal Zhe Yan moved slightly to face Bai Zhi King Emperor who was sitting beside him, "As the Weapon Coronation is an important traditional ceremony for the new Monarch, if there is a change in the rules, this has to be recorded in the rule books of QingQiu for it to have effect in the Eight Realms. Did you forget to change it?"
Bai Zhi King Emperor rubbed his forehead, "You know how QingQiu does not place emphasis on rituals and ceremonies.... I had forgotten."
Immortal Zhe Yan continued, "Then... for those eligible to challenge the New Monarch as a person of the same generation, did you also forget to restrict it to the gods of QingQiu?"
Bai Zhi King Emperor vaguely said, "The previous ceremonies were held quietly and were unsophisticated... there was no chance of the Demon Tribe being interested... it was not strange for me to have overlooked that."
Immortal Zhe Yan sighed, "Because of your forgetfulness and oversight, you have allowed Nie Chu Yin to gain a big advantage at our expense, and you won't be able to criticise him even on reason."
Bai Zhi King Emperor scurrowed his brows, "He is older than Feng Jiu by seventy or eighty thousand years, to treat him as Feng Jiu's counterpart, isn't that just bullying a little kid? He won't have the cheek to do that. In his group of followers, I doubt there is anyone who can beat Feng Jiu."
Before Immortal Zhe Yan could reply, both of them took a sip from their tea cup and their gaze returned to the floating cloud as they heard Nie Chu Yin say, "Since the rules in QingQiu's books regarding the Weapon Coronation has not changed, there should be a competition to duel the swords. I have longed heard of Feng Jiu Highness' extraordinary skill with the sword. As I am someone passionate in the art of swordfighting, would your highness mind exchanging two strokes with me?"
A shadow passed over Bai Yi's previously pleased face, "Even if there is a duel, how can Demon Lord be treated as my daughter's counterpart? I ask the Demon Lord to show some self respect."
Nie Chu Yin laughed wholeheartedly to see Bai Yi has been moved to anger, "Feng Jiu Highness is part of the generation of grandchildren for Qing Qiu. I am the third generation Demon Lord, based on this position, I am Feng Jiu's counterpart. I am only passionate in the art of swordfighting and sincerely ask to exchange a few strokes with Feng Jiu Highness. Even though it's only a duel, but as I am the Demon King, I will not fear losing to anyone... unless Feng Jiu as the queen does not dare to lose to anyone?"
Indeed, Nie Chu Yin is the third generation Demon Lord, but the position of Demon Lord is gained through fighting skills and not through bloodline. Based on this, it was difficult to say that Nie Chu Yin and Feng Jiu are counterparts. However, even if it was difficult, it would still be hard to deny the co-relation. Additionally, what was meant to be an internal challenge for QingQiu, have become a competition between the Demon Tribe and QingQiu due to what Nie Chu Yin said. Although the relationship between the two tribes have been harmonious, there was still a fundamental divide, and because of Nie Chu Yin's provocation in front of the Eight Realms, Feng Jiu has no choice but to meet his challenge.
In the audience, there were those who were genuinely worried, and there were those who were excited to watch a good show.
Immortal Zhe Yan exasperatedly turned his gaze to Bai Zhi King Emperor, "See, you have miscalculated again. Since ancient times, those who wanted to achieve big things are able to put down their pride. Nie Chu Yin has made his determination to throw away his pride and to bully Feng Jiu into a fight. Clearly he wants to gained a promise from QingQiu to use when he wants to achieve something. Pity you are someone who always want your pride, so you will swallow this injustice inside your stomach. Let Feng Jiu fight with him then."
Bai Zhi King Emperor placed down his tea cup and said, "Let Feng Jiu fight with him first then we'll see." He nodded towards Bai Yi.
Bai Yi understood his father's attitude. Under Nie Chu Yin's smile that was widening, he icily gestured Feng Jiu to come down from the peak of the grass steps.
Compared to her father's unhappiness at this injustice, Feng Jiu appeared extremely accepting. Except for a few ignorant deities who looked at Feng Jiu with anticipation, everyone else knew that there was no way for Feng Jiu to beat Nie Chu Yin. Since Feng Jiu did not expect to beat Nie Chu Yin to gain back the pride for QingQiu, her heart was at ease.
Feng Jiu calmly opened the sword scabbard and drew the He Xu sword. She then calmly made a gesture to Nie Chu Yin who was holding a sword, "Honoured.*" （*赐教 which was what Feng Jiu said is more may i learn from you or kindly enlighten me, but I translated it to be more colloquial). It was not every day that there was a chance to meet such an opponent. Although it was certain that she would not be able to beat him, she would still definitely gain by fighting a good match.
In a moment, there was a dance of the swords. At the tenth stroke, Nie Chu Yin's iron sword pointed straight at the throat of Feng Jiu. One sweat dropped from Feng Jiu's forehead to her cheeks. In the end, the gap between their strengths were too wide. Nie Chu Yin kept his sword and said with false pity, "I have seen your Highness' sword skills. To think Qiu Qing's swordplay is only like this."
At the stage below, Bai Yi's brows rose high and he bit his teeth and said to Bai Zhi," Are we going to let him take advantage and insult QingQiu?" On stage, Feng Jiu humbly said, "Although Demon Lord is older than me by eighty ninety thousand years, and bigger than me by three times, but as we are counterparts, for you to win me within ten strokes, I have lost wholeheartedly."
The laughter in Nie Chu Ying's eyes turned cold instantly, "Your Highness has a sharp tongue. But since I have won, your Highness must be a person of her word and not shirk your promise..." before he could finish, he heard a voice from the audience, "Wait".
Everyone's gaze moved to the direction of the voice. The voice came from a deity in blue robes. She had a calm assured face, it was Nu Wa's Han San Deity.
Han San Deity has been under Nu Wa Goddess for tens of thousands of years. Although her rank was not high, as she was in charge of the marriage book for the gods, even gods and deities would show her respect and not call her by her name directly. Han San Deity was seated at the most secluded corner of the audience. She announced, "Although I am an ignorant small deity, but I am aware that QingQiu's Weapon Coronation has a rule where the New Monarch's Husband and Wife will carry out the stage together. Therefore, although Demon Lord has beaten the New Monarch Feng Jiu, but he has not beaten the New Monarch's Husband, therefore it is a bit too early to ask for a promise from her Feng Jiu Highness".
The stage fell into silence and then a loud sudden buzzing. Bai Zhi King Emperor's hand froze on the tea table, while Immortal Zhe Yan looked shock. Feng Jiu's mother's mouth fell wide open while Bai Yi High God almost fell down. Bai Qian High Goddess looked at Ye Hua and asked, "She is married? Who did she married? When did she marry?" Ye Hua said carefully, "Since Han San Deity said it, it must be true." Ye Hua looked suspiciously at Lian San Jun at his side, Lian San Jun pretended to be a proper gentleman and huffed, "I don't gossip."
With a stiff neck, Feng Jiu turned to the highest position in the audience. But, the purple robed silver haired god was nowhere to be seen. Nie Chu Yin faced Han San Deity in silence and then laughed coldly, "I have never heard that Feng Jiu Highness had a husband. However, even so, it is not certain that I am not able to beat him. Whoever it is, please come onstage." Feng Jiu thought in her heart, I think you really cannot beat him.
All the gods looked attentively in mid-air and waited for the New Monarch's Husband to descend from the sky. However, at this juncture, they saw a purple robed god come in slowly and unhurriedly from the right of the stage. He casually pulled up his sleeves, "Ready to fight? I went out to grab a sword." Long silver hair, navy blue headguard, a handsome serious face - when he held a buddhist scripture, his face would flash red or with a calm seriousness, but when he held a sword, his expression became sharp and fierce like a spiralling tornardo, full of destructive power. This was Dong Hua Dijun, who sat at the highest position in the audience, the previous ruler of the realms.
Nie Chu Yin froze. The entire stage went completely silent, in a moment everyone had fallen to the ground. The gods in the higher ranks stood up from their seats. If Dong Hua Dijun stood, who dared to sit? Feng Jiu remembered faintly in Fan Yin Valley that she had seen such a scene, when Dong Hua appeared, all the gods in present quickly kneeled down. Feng Jiu finally understood why Dong Hua Dijun did not like to go out - imagine everyone kneeling everywhere you go, you will feel tired just by looking at them.
Dong Hua Dijun gazed at the neat rows of gods kneeling at him. He lifted his hand lightly to signal that they can dispense with the ceremony and turned to comfort Feng Jiu who was standing by the side, "I knew from the start that you will lose, you don't have to feel that you have lost face for me." He gave her a handkerchief, "How many strokes did you block?"
Feng Jiu said as she took the handkerchief to wipe her sweat, "Ten strokes."
Dong Hua nodded, "That's ok." He turned to face Nie Chu Yin and said, "How many strokes do you think you can spar with me?"
Dark Demon Lord Nie Chu Yin is a man with dreams. After the ruler of the Demon Tribe Shao Guan disappeared into ash, the tribe separated into seven groups. After Nie Chu Yin became the Dark Demon Lord, he wanted to reunite and rule the entire Demon Tribe. To be the ruler of all seven groups. To achieve his dreams, one good step would be to enter into an alliance marriage with the heavenly gods. However, all those high gods with the power to affect the heavens were male. As Nie Chu Yin was an orphan, he did not have a sister to enter into an alliance marriage. If one of the high gods liked males, he even wondered if he could make such a sacrifice for his ambitious, but he decided he could not. So since he could not enter into an alliance with them, he decided that at least he would not offend them. But if he had to offend them, then at least he must get a big advantage from them!
He had calculated carefully before coming here. He knew that he will surely offend the Bai Family of Qing Qiu - but if he could get a promise, he believed it would be worth offending. However, he could not imagine ever offending Dong Hua Dijun. But the time has passed, and he has already offended. Since he has already offended the Bai Family and offended Dong Hua Di Jun, he definitely must get this promise from the Bai Family.
Since he was definitely not Dong Hua Dijun's rival, he definitely could not fight against him.
Nie Chu Yin tried his best to hold his smile, "Dong Hua Dijun is too kind, swordfighting can only be done with people of the same rank. Although I can be considered the counterpart of Feng Jiu Highness, however there lies a great gap between Dong Hua Dijun's age and me, how could I be considered your highness' rival? Although to challenge Feng Jiu Highness is to challenge Dong Hua Dijun at this stage, but Dong Hua Dijun is of great stature, how can you be treated as the same rank as me? To duel with me would be to go against the rules of this stage."
Bai Qian recovered from her earlier surprise and furrowed her brows at Ye Hua and Lian Song, "Whether he is Feng Jiu's counterpart is based on his reasoning, whether Dong Hua can spar swords with him, is also based on his reasoning. How can his mouth be so powerful! If Dong Hua insist on fighting, it would appear as if he is bullying his junior." Bai Qian let out a long sigh hidden with worry.
Lian Song Jun knocked his fan and lazily laughed, "I feel Nie Chu Yin has overestimated Dong Hua's pride."
Although the stage below was filled with discussed, onstage Dong Hua Dijun was calm and composed. "You say I am not your counterpart," He wrinkled his brows and asked, "Why am I not your counterpart?"
Nie Chu Yin was stunned, the gods below stage were also stunned.
Dong Hua Dijun looked at Nie Chu Yin and then looked at Feng Jiu. He said slowly, "Since she is my queen, naturally she is my counterpart. Just now you said you and her were of the same rank, therefore naturally you and me are also of the same rank. For me to duel with you will be a duel between counterparts, which rule in the QingQiu book does it contravene?"
Nie Chu Yin's expression was heavy, "This..."
Dong Hua Dijun slowly weighed the tip of the sword, "I heard you are passionate about swordfighting. Coincidentally, I am also passionate in swordfighting. Since we have affinity, let's duel."
All the gods were dumbstruck. Bai Qian High Goddness spat out her tea, Lian Song Jun had held on to the back of the chair and sat more steadily, he gestured at Bai Qian, "See, as what I said just now, Nie Chu Yin's ridiculous logic cannot work on Dong Hua Dijun. To Dong Hua Dijun, face has never been treated as part of his body."
Comment: The awesome thing about Tang Qi Gong Zi is that you never realise how epicly long her stories are when you are reading them, but when you are translating them - you always get a bit surprised about the amount of detail and length of her chapters! This is by far my favourite chapter <3 only because I totally squealed at Dong Hua's awesome entrance as Feng Jiu's Husband.
I know that Chapter 18 ends a bit abruptly in the sense that you don't get to see the fight! Chapter 19 is actually more the aftermath of the fight. But as earlier said, the Pillow Book is Hamster's awesome project and I don't really plan on continuing the translations. However, please feel free to ask questions about the further developments and I will try and answer! If really demanded, I may do a small translation of the fight in Chapter 19 and a short summary to close up any loose ends. I really do try and make an effort to finish whatever I started so I don't leave things hanging for my readers.
I hope to see you when I officially start Heavy Sweetness Ash Like Frost! To me, it is an equally awesome book with two male leads I really love <3