Thursday, 13 March 2014

Once Promised (曾许诺)by Tong Hua(桐华): Summary and Scene Translation for Chapter 5 (Part 1)

   Dear Readers, perhaps xia0yuer and I have some strange karmic connection in our past lives, as you know, I took over her Heavy Sweetness translations halfway when she disappeared... and now she's back! She's offered to share the translating burden of Once Promised! We are still working things out, but *cross fingers* because that means you will get Once Promised so much faster and better (since she translates amazingly well).

   Heavy Sweetness fans will probably rejoice, because that gives me more time to translate faster as well! My workload is increasingly getting heavier so I think this will all hopefully work out for the best. The translation community has gotten so vibrant of late due to the Lost You Forever fever, and i hope this brings lots more great c-novels to the english community :). I dream of sharing so many more c-novels!!!

  Ok, so back to chapter 5. The famous winged fox Ah Bi and the white swallow Lie Yang appears in this chapter! I love Ah Bi. He is one of my most favourite characters - too lovable.

  I think I will summarise the first part and translate the second part. The chapter title is soooo romantic. I think it's my favourite in all the series. My summaries are semi-translations if you noticed haha, I basically almost translate it word for word but skip descriptors and some dialogues.

Chapter 5: Short Letter Long Love, Feelings Cannot Be Mailed (Part 1)

  After the Peach Banquet ended, all the guests left and there were no more puppet maidservants. Even the real maidservants were rare and the Jade Mountain became very quiet. The desolate and lonely Jade Mountain - this was its real face. Not even the thousand miles of peach blossom flowers could hide the emptiness.

  Xi Ling Heng realises why the Emperor Mother has a peach banquet every thirty years. It's too lonely and boring on Jade Mountain! As she starts to get frustrated about how long 120 years will be on Jade Mountain, Chi You sends a weak winged fox (It's called bibi in chinese, hence his name becomes Ah Bi. He is a legendary creature.) to Xi Ling Heng. The poor baby fox's mother died in battle and with its last breath she tore the baby fox out of her stomach. Chi You saved it and sent it to A'Heng.

   A'Heng carried the fox to the Emperor Mother but she said coldly, "These are noble and proud creatures that are very hard to rear - he won't live."

   So A'Heng feeds the peaches and jade bone marrow to the baby winged fox. As these peaches and jade bone marrow contain lots of divine essence, if one cannot swallow it, one will die. So the baby winged fox start to bloat and scratches A'Heng, it then bites and drinks her blood, which actually lessens its pain.*

   The Emperor Mother shakes her head, the silly creature has its own lucky fate. Clumsily and unintentionally, it has found its lifeline!

  So every day, A'Heng feeds it peaches, jade bone marrow and her blood. It starts to grow extra strong with especially different and defined wings! After a year, the winged fox is as big as a cat and A'Heng names it Ah Bi. Ah Bi is very special - the winged fox cannot actually fly, but Ah Bi can fly! Every day, A'Heng plays with Ah Bi and waits for a letter.


   Her oldest brother, Qing Yang, is always busy with work, so he doesn't write. Her fourth brother Chang Yi is very concerned for her, but only sends food and doesn't write. Only Chi You - only Chi You sends letters frequently. In one month, he can send a few letters, long letters about the local specialties and geography of where he is, small letters of just a joke, what he ate, sometimes they are as long as a hundred words, sometimes they are as short as "On the desk, the Night Blooming Cereus has blossomed, white, smells nice."

    Sometimes, he will give a surprise. He will tell her, the Han Waters have a monster that eats people, he subdued the monster and suffered light injuries. The monster died and he made the teeth of the monster into a windchime for her.

   Xi Ling Heng hung the windchime on the eaves of the roof. Every time the wind passes, in the midst of the beautiful chimes, she will imagine: Huge waves, Chi You and the water monster fighting, his arms are hurt, red blood dyeing the Han water, but his mouth still holds a proud wild smile that says he doesn't care.

  Xi Ling Heng gradually grew dependent on Chi You's letters. Even if it was just one line, it brought life and vitality from outside, her replies were always the same - what she did with Ah Bi, what she did with Ah Bi.

   Sometimes Xi Ling Heng will think, if she read all her letters at once, they would bore Chi You to death. But she wrote the letters happily, and Chi You always replied.

   Perhaps because they exchanged letters so frequently, although the Emperor Mother did not mind lending her green bird to pass A'Heng's letters, Chi You found it inconvenient and told A'Heng he had found a very good bird to be their messenger.


   A few months letter, a pure white bird tied with five flowers was sent up Jade Mountain. Chi You had no time to tame it before sending it to A'Heng so he sent the bird first. At first, A'Heng wondered - what kind of bird such that even Chi You could not tame? The bird was extremely beautiful - then A'Heng realised that it was very proud. When it cried, its voice was very horrific to listen, all the other birds would tremble on their branches. The Emperor Mother explained that the white bird's voice is very lovely but because it is trying to speak like a Phoenix which is above its ability, hence it is so awful to listen. Every five hundred years, the Phoenix will lay an egg, but somehow the white bird's egg landed in the Phoenix's nest and the Phoenix egg disappeared so it reared the white bird like its own.

  So A'Heng told the white bird, "You are no ordinary bird since you can battle with Chi You, I have no ability to tame you. But since Chi You made the effort to give you to me, I cannot let you go easily. Just stay on the Jade Mountain first to help me pass messages, when I leave the Jade Mountain, you can decide whether to stay or go. If you agree, I will release you, if not, I will trap you for a hundred years."

  The white bird opened its mouth and spewed fire at Xi Ling Heng's suggestion.

  The Emperor Mother shook her head, the Phoenix mother must have loved the white bird so much that it gave it her own hundred years essence (hence the white bird can spew fire).

   At first, the white bird resisted, but then started to get bored because no one bothered it although it was fed everyday. A hundred days later, the white bird pecked at Xi Ling Heng's clothes. Xi Ling Heng said, "You are not a sparrow, you are not a Phoenix, you are you, only one in this world, I will temporarily call you Lie Yang**, if you have the chance to cultivate a human shape, you can change another name as you please."

   Xi Ling Heng happily writes a letter to Chi You, thinking how shocked he will be to see that she has already tamed Lie Yang.

   As Lie Yang flies away with her letter, Xi Ling Heng sits on her table, one hand on her chin, gazing at the windchime, her cheeks slowly turning red.

   Soon, thirty years have passed, it was the Peach Banquet again.

*Xiao Yao may have the healing abilities from her blood from A'Heng, but its also because she grew up on Jade Mountain and ate their special peaches and jade bone marrow which are filled with divine essences!
**Lie Yang means scorching sun. It really suits its name right? Haha.

Comments: As if I wasn't a big enough Chi You fan - he sends her a cute companion, a messenger bird, and letters, lots and lots and lots of letters. Good ole romantic love letters - is there any better courtship? <3


  1. thank you so much

  2. Aww, Chi You is so cute and adorable. Thanks for the speedy translation. I'm loving Lost You Forever, but the wait is killing me.

    I'll only be reading Once Promised for the good happy bits. As soon the sad parts come I don't think I'll be able to read on. I mean I was bawling at the end of DaMo Yao and that it meant to be a happy book.

    Thanks for the effort.

    1. Awww! I'm so happy that other people find Chi You cute and adorable! Haha, I can understand only wanting to read the happy bits. I never really expected to fall in love with Chi You and A'Heng to be honest, but I did, the people they love, the world they live in, and I guess that just left me no choice but to follow the road they walked on!

  3. thank you!!! and what wonderful news about your collaboration with xia0yuer. :D

    1. Thanks for reading! :) Yes, we are still working it out but I think it's going to be great!

  4. Decembi, what is it about lawyers that enables them to have a life (family, career, LIFE) and still regularly update a blog? I don't know how you and Koala do it - your output would put some "full-time" bloggers to complete shame.

    Moving on, I recently had an "epiphany" about Chi You, so please allow me some room to babble. (You know how good I am at that. ;))

    For the longest time, I didn't know how to "categorize" Chi You. He's not a demon, but he also doesn't seem to be a "normal" god: his lineage is completely unknown - it's like he sprung out of nowhere! - and his powers are also unlike those of a regular god. At best, he seems to be a beast that was "fortunate" enough to be able to cultivate into a god - but a very powerful one at that!

    If Chi You were a completely original creation of Tong Hua's, I might "demand" more of an explanation as to his origins; call it a case of being "once bitten, twice shy", but I tend to be a bit leery of C-novel fantasy writers because I HATE it when they pull out a deus ex machina and wave it off as, "Oh, it's fantasy!" Thus, I like to see some indication that fantasy worlds still have some "rules" to set boundaries. Also, in good literature, all heroes have an origin story, because it's so vital to shaping their journey, and Chi You is clearly the hero of Once Promised.

    However, after reading Chi You's Wikipedia entry (yes, the one with the fantastically ugly picture of him), I realized that Chi You is meant to be a manifestation of nature, and anyone who's been forced to sit through a literary analysis class knows that man-vs-nature is one of the most quintessential conflict types. Of course, I don't think Tong Hua was thinking that deeply when she was writing Once Promised, but the people in ancient times who invented Chi You would've definitely been very aware of the power of "Mother Nature" and natural calamities, and it would've been natural for them to come up with a beast/monster that embodied that terrifying force.

    Then, thousands of years later, along comes TH who scoops up this wholly unlikable beast/monster and transforms him into a swoon-worthy romantic hero of the most epic proportions. Just like what she did with Xiang Liu. Yeah, only TH could take Huo Qu Bing and turn him into a cynical general who would forsake his country for love. XD

    So yeah, that's the extent of my epiphany, because reading your blog, Decembi, makes me feel like I'm back in literature class, what with all your talk of Chekhov's gun and Romeo & Juliet (which, by the way, I've never liked, but that's a ramble for another day XD).

    1. Hey Mei!

      Unlike Koala, I have not mastered the 4th dimension! Haha. I don't know how she does it to be honest since she's also a mother. I may be married, but I don't have children and still relatively young (in my head haha) so I don't have that much familial responsibilities. Work is getting heavier, so there's lots of time management to do! But I guess I'm used to reading and writing a lot in a short amount of time, and I usually translate quite a few chapters at one go, so it may appear like I'm writing every day, but I'm not haha.

      I love your epiphany!!! I totally agree. I thought Chi You was the manifestation of nature, its wildness, and also his adeptness with the relationship and cycle of the 5 elements. Actually, maybe one day I will write a brief entry about what I understand of the 5 elements, I've very basic knowledge of fengshui and bazi and it's interesting to see how it all relates with the Yellow Emperor's legacy (ok getting ahead of myself).

      And, it's totally understandable that the most scary thing for humans is nature - its all its wild manifestations! I love how swoon-worthy Tong Hua makes Chi You - he really is such a sweetie! He writes her letters!!!! All the time! Awww.

      Hahaha! I was a literature and theatre student before studying law, so I tend to get very rambly! I try not to use too obscure allusions. I have a love-hate relationship with R&J, I still think the duologues are some of the most beautiful poetry ever, but perhaps most people over idealise the play, which is the furthest from romantic love, but more about the dangers of infatuation.

  5. I think I love you for translating these. Thanks so much!!!

    1. Awwww! That made me laugh and feel all warm inside. Thanks for reading :)

  6. OH MY GOD! It's christmas right? I'm not dreaming? I really did read what I read right? What an amazing news! What a joyful day!!!
    Thanks for translating this chapter :) You're really quick!
    And also thanks for this good news! I'm blessed for now, I have 4 chinese novels to read. I couldn't be more happy ^^

    Little Red

    1. Er, Merry Christmas? :). Always great to hear from you Little Red. Haha, are you happy with my surprisingly fast updates? Xiaoyuer and I are working out how to collaborate, but it's most likely a done deal, and yay because she's so good at it! Haha.

      Oh, which four are you reading now? :)

  7. Decembi...thank you for your translations! You're the best :)
    Chi Yo is soo romantic.

    1. Aww thanks for reading! I try my best to convey what I love about Once Promised. Yay, so glad you find him romantic too :)

  8. i was brought here by boredom and man i'm so thankful Koala slowed down in her LYF translation coz I had the chance to drop here in your website. Wow! full of treasures and
    jewels, what a gold mine. I'm really really really happy to read your translation of Once Promise. The romance is as intense as LYF. I love to read your squeels and take on the story. Thank you very much!

  9. Hello anonymous, awww really thank you for your comment it made me super happy to read too! I love sharing what I love with like-minded people and only too happy to squeal along with you!

  10. A true romantic hero..what girl wouldn't fall for a man who does all these gestures over so many years? So is this 120 years that AH is grounded what some commenters over at LYF on koala's playground or was it ockoala (?) herself mentioned as actually the Goddess Mother's plan to get AH and QY together?

    1. I know right! A'Heng was doomed to love Chi You from the start. Indeed, it is those 120 years. The Goddess Mother didn't know about Chi You when she first grounded A'Heng, but after seeing how devoted Chi You was to A'Heng, she did want to matchmake A'Heng despite knowing that she was already engaged to Shao Hao! Sneaky one, this Empress Mother.

    2. I'm just happy to know there is someone on AH and QY's side! :D I absolutely loved the scene with the two phoenix dolls and how amazed the Empress Mother was that QY could have used that skill to do more important and significant things but instead he used his skill to gain a smile from AH! True love!


    3. Actually, Empress Mother had slightly malicious intent at the start when she wanted to matchmake A'Heng and Chi You. She clearly knew A'Heng was the princess of Xuan Yuan and already engaged to the prince of Gao Xing! There was no way she could marry Chi You from Sheng Nong..... but Empress Mother ultimately isn't evil and I like her too. Haha.

      Me too! Chi You does the most romantic things. *Swoon*