Sunday, 27 April 2014

Gentleman Free-Floating Cloud (闲云公子) Chapter 1 – Part 1 of 2

We have met Huang Fu Yun when she was ten and she met He Zai, then once more when she was fourteen and she met Gong Sun Xian Yun.  Now she is twenty and if possible, she seems even more like a wimp then before.  To me, that is ok so long as she continues to bring in the laughs, so let’s see what she has got in the first chapter. 

Sidenote to readers: The chapters are rather long, so I will break up each chapter posting into two from here onwards.

- Moonblossom -

Chapter 1  (1/2)


The secret to longevity is to know one’s limits according to Wang Yun’s beliefs.

Her case is a classic case of name and personality mismatch.  The ‘Yun’ () in her name refers to the big waves on the river, but she is only of average smarts, average charisma, average kongfu, and possess zero guts to boot.  It is ironical that she lives in Bai Ming Sect where people say things like “fight!” or “kill!” every other day.  Thankfully, there are only small waves and no big waves so far….

No, she should be honest and acknowledge that there were times when there were big waves.  Luckily, she managed to tide through each crisis time after time, almost as if the heavens have no eyes or that it is blind.  Since she will be turning twenty this year, it seems that her luck is not too bad and she should be able to live till a ripe old age… As long as she did not walk into a snakepit called the Central Plains. And right into the heart of the enemy camp no less….

Speaking of the Central Plains… wow, this place is so prosperous, so amazing.  She looked around her and finally turned to the young man behind her “He Zai, are they looking at you?”

The young man in question looks around twenty-five or twenty-six.  He is a big man and has a pair of clear brows, full lips, and long hair which he let fall freely on his shoulders, giving him a wild look.  He wears heavy, exotic make-up like her with a snake painted on one side.  Without batting a lid, he answered: “They should be looking at both of us.”

She did not sound pleased at his answer and continued strolling with her hands folded behind her back.  The Sky Slave bell on her wrist matched the Sky Slave bell at his ankle and gave off a pleasant tinkling sound.  However, the people of the Central Plains did not seem to recognize good stuff when they hear or see one for she noticed they were the recipients of many unfriendly stares.

“They are looking at us because... we are Sky Slaves?”

“Miss is clever”

She continued to probe: “So the people in Central Plains are all aware that the bells and snake emblem are the mark of Sky Slaves?”

“Miss is very clever”

She gave the matter more thought, paused, and suddenly skirted behind him: “I am a timid person and am not used to people staring at me. You shall walk in front.”

The young man’s brow puckered before he concurred: “Miss indeed has a timid disposition.”

With that, he continued to stride confidently ahead while she followed suit.  It is really fortunate that he is big and tall so that he can block out most of the unfriendly stares thrown their way.  “Ay, we are akin to “walking towards a mountain when knowing full well that a tiger lives in it”.  He Zai, you must protect me.  I still wish to live and be able see the green mountains and charming streams.”

“That is but of course, Miss” and he added: “Miss can just say she wishes to live till a hundred.”

“Yes, I do wish to live till a hundred, so you must remember to protect me especially if a sword suddenly come swinging towards me.”

He gave up and kept silent.

After a while, they reached a house with the words “Tian He Manor” hung prominently above the door.  Two white lanterns were hanging on either side of the door and there were numerous people in mourning clothes milling around.  At their appearance, everyone paused and looked at them warily.  Some even shifted their hands nearer to the hilt of their swords, disgust clearly showing on their faces.

One of the servants in mourning clothes scrambled through the door and shouted: “Young Master!  There are Sky Slaves!  The Sky Slaves from the Evil Sect are here!”

Does he really need to act so alarmed?  She fingered the snake emblem on her face and looked at her red robes.  Although she is dressed in male garb, she has styled her hair in the same way as a woman would from the Central Plains, so it should be obvious she is a woman.  To avoid unnecessary clashes, she has also plastered a friendly smile on her face so it is be unlikely that the people of Tian He Manor would start banishing their weapons.

While she is lost in her thoughts, a young man dashed out from the manor.  He recovered his composure when he saw them and graciously raised his fist in greeting. “I am the current Master of Tian He Manor, He Rong Hua.  May I enquire what you are doing at Tian He Manor?”

Seeing that He Zai is keeping mum, she has no choice by to reply “My name is Wang Yun, and he is He Zai.  We are passing by when we heard that the esteemed former Master of Tian He Manor has passed away.  We are here especially to pay our last respects.”

At her reply, He Rong Hua’s face softened: “I see…”

One pugilist stepped forward: “Young Master, they are Sky Slaves who have brought disgrace to our wulin[i].  If we let them pay their respects, it will be like a slap across the face for the Old Master.” 

He Rong Hua looked troubled and said regretfully: “Miss Wang, we appreciate your thoughts but it is not convenient now…”

The same pugilist mocked “Why be so polite to them Young Master?  They are Sky Slaves! Everyone knows that Sky Slaves are useless dogs who have deflected to the Evil Sect.  Since they were no match for their opponents, they should have chosen an honorable death instead of a cowardly existence.  If such people are allowed into the manor, it will only sully Old Master’s reputation!“

He Rong Hua has turned rigid but Wang Yun was not too concerned: “Since it is not convenient, we shall not impose and will bade our leave now.”

He Rong Hua lowerd his eyes and kept silent.

He Zai finally spoke: “Miss, please wait. It was said that the Old Master of Tian He Manor has agreed to record all the things he did in the last sixty years after he died, regardless of right or wrong, and for the records to be given to Cloud Manor.  In doing so, he has hope that future generation will have a chance to read about and avoid the same mistakes he did. I admire a man of such high spirit from the bottom of my heart. If the Old Master is looking down from the heavens above, an admirable man such as him would surely not mind to see Sky Slaves among the mourners.”

He Rong Hua raised his head and stared at him with his eyes bright.  “You are right, my late father would not have minded your status.  Had he been alive, he would have welcomed you into the manor himself.  Men! Make the necessary preparations for we do not wish to slight our two friends here.”

The righteous-sounding pugilist from just now was unhappy over the turn of events.  He Rong Hua said to him “Brother Shao De, Gentleman Xian Yun will be arriving soon.  If he thinks that Tian He Manor is acting petty over this and record it in the wulin annals, young brother me would have no face left to see my late father in the neither world.”

Gu Shao De shifted his feet. “Even if that is the case, they should not be allowed to enter through the main door.”

He Rong Hua looked troubled again and glanced at He Zai.

Wang Yun smiled.  “No problem. Main door, side door, both are doors.  We are fine with whatever is convenient.”

So Wang Yun and He Zai entered the manor through a small side door while He Rong Hua waited for them inside.  Wang Yun shot He Zai a look, and with a familiarity borne from years of companionship, both started towards the hall with He Zai in front and Wang Yun following closely behind, the sounds of their bells tinkling with every step they took.

She looked at the back view of He Rong Hua and thought to herself that here is someone from the orthodox sect.  He does not have a devilish glint in his eyes and he is not tall or big as He Zai. Even if he is a Manor Master, she does not find him pleasing to the eyes…

No, it is not merely unpleasing. It is actually bad. Very bad in fact.  Is this fellow suffering from an unknown illness?  Why are his hands trembling so badly?

After she paid her most respects in the inner hall, she walked out to the main hall and waited for He Zai to come out.  After a while, she started to play with the jade flute which she always carried around to while away the time.  She can hear someone calling her “Demoness!” but she ignored it.  Smile, she thought, may peace be with you…

“Shameless!” said another voice but she knows she is not, so she sees no reason why she should think the word is being used on her.  Seeing that she has turned her back to them, someone walked up to her.  She raised her eyes when she saw a pair of boots in front of her, and when she saw who it was, she smiled: “Hello Young Master Gu, I was just angsting over the fact that I have no chance to speak with you.”

Gu Shao De swallowed the insult at the edge of his lips “Are you looking for me?” he asked suspiciously.

“Yes” she said with her eyes bright. “I heard that all those who are here to pay their respects to the Old Master are prominent figures of the wulin.  But when compared with the people here, you look so young and dashing. Why, the wind seems to billow behind you when you walk! If I have to guess, you must have made a name for yourself a long time ago in order to have become a big shot now.”

Gu Shao De gave a slightly embarrassed cough.  “Miss is mistaken.  I am but someone who took up a few pages of the wulin annals.  It is really nothing.”  At her quizzical look, he continued “Or has Miss never heard of Cloud Manor?”

“Er, is Cloud Manor famous?”

Now it was Gu Shao De turn to look quizzical.  “Is Miss not from the Central Plains?”

She smiled and shook her head: “This is my first visit to the Central Plains.”

“I see. So I am mistaken.”  He softened his tone.  Although the majority of Sky Slaves were the disgrace of the Central Plains, there were also some who willing became slaves of the Evil Sec due to poverty.  “People from Cloud Manor are scholars who record all the matters that are happening in the wulin.  They are a neutral party and hold the respect of all major sects.  In particular, Gentleman Xian Yun is especially knowledgeable.  He has attained the title of ‘Gentleman’ at the young age of thirteen and has built up a strong rapport with the other sects in the past decade.  Do you think he is impressive?”

She agreed: “Impressive, impressive indeed….” Isn’t He Zai taking a bit too long?

“With his outstanding temperament, admirable morals, unparalleled talents, it is such a waste that he iives in the messy pugilist world and taint his halo...”

“Yes, such level of talent is rare in both heaven and earth, very rare indeed.”  It is not without regret when she says this.  People who are very pure are usually quick to move on to the Western Paradise.  Amitabha…

“He is also one of the most handsome man in the pugilist world. Refined and elegant, flawless like a beautiful piece of jade.  Be it young or old in the pugilist world, the feeling you get from him is as if he came from the nine heavens. With him around, it is as if a piece of free-floating cloud has floated from the sky to grace our mundane world.”

“… wow, great!” She nearly clapped to complement his admiration.  Where did this nincompoop come from to have such blind devotion? or could it be that Gentleman Xian Yun knew black magic that can beguile people?

Before Gu Shao De could carry on more about Gentleman Xian Yun this and Gentleman Xian Yun that, they heard a commotion at the entrance. “Gentleman Xian Yun is here!” as he rushed out “Open the main doors wide and welcome the gentleman into the Manor!”

The servants rushed obey.  From her corner at the hall, she noted that the side door was so small, it was almost like a pet entrance.  So she came in through the small door like a dog while another waltzed through the main door like a king…. these people in Tian He Manor were indeed a bias lot. 

She decided to stop looking and took a cup of tea from a nearby servant. A good listener who can say the right things at the right time must take good care of her voice …

The commotion got louder as everyone present seemed to swarm around the new arrivals. Are these people really here to mourn, or are they waiting for Gentleman Xian Yun?

“Gentleman Xian Yun, this way please.”

“We are like family Brother Shao De, please do not stand on ceremony.”

The voice sounded like warm jade with a hint of coolness in it.  The voice is much more pleasant-sounding then He Zai’s and if the owner has a beautiful face to match, how great would that be?  Although she was wary of beautiful things, she appreciated eye-candy and so it is with great anticipation when she tried to locate the owner of the voice.

When she saw a dashing figure in white, she froze.  This is the like-a-flawless-jade Gentleman Xian Yun?

Gentleman Xian Yun gave her a cursory glance before his eyes was drawn to the Sky Slave bangle on her wrist.  She noticed his split-second pause but she gave nothing away as she nodded at him.  He did not lift his eyes from her and returned with an equally polite nod.

“She is a Sky Slave.” said Gu Shao De in low tones.

“I see, she is a Sky Slave…” muttered Gentleman Xian Yun, and finally looked away to light a joss stick. 

Wang Yun looked at the crowd in the hall and asked Gu Shao De. “Young Master Gu, those dogs () outlside … I mean who is the rather dashing  () young master outside?” [note: ‘rather dashing’ sounds similar to ‘dog’] No matter from which angle, the scene before her was exactly like a pack of dogs fighting over a bone.  If her guess was correct, the man arrived together with Gentleman Xian Yun.

“That is Fifth Gentlemen as he is ranked fifth among the numeric scholars.  He is Gentleman Xian Yun’s assistant”

“Oh I see.”  What a clever move!  The next time there is a crisis, she could take a leaf from Gentleman Xian Yun’s book, and throw He Zai to the wolves while she escape. Seamless collaboration – that has always been the best word to describe her relation with He Zai.

When Gentleman Xian Yun has finished paying his respects, Gu Shao De informed him that the young master of the manor has brought a Sky Slave to see the body, and that he should will be back soon. A fleeting look crossed Gentleman Xian Yun eyes but he was expressionless as he replied: “Old Master is indeed a man of high standing, that even Sky Slaves would come pay their respects to him.”

He turned to her: “I am Gong Sun Xian Yun (闲云) [meaning: free-floating cloud].”

“Young missy here is Wang Yun ()” she replied.  So much etiquette! She suspects a normal person in the Central Plains would probably spend half of his life on such polite exchanges.

He repeated her name slowly “Wang Yun ()?”

 “Gentleman is a free-floating cloud high up in the skies, while I am but a puff of cloud above the water.”  For some reason, she felt her skin crawl when he repeated her name, although his voice sounded somewhat familiar….

He looked at her for a while before continuing: “So Miss is the waves above the river (
). It is indeed a good name. Would Miss be so kind to enlighten me on who you work for?”

She smiled and replied without missing a beat “I work for the Huang Fu family, but it is all menial tasks I do.”

“Oh I see, the Huang Fu family of Bai Ming sect…” he circled her and his eyes landed on her hair “It is indeed true that a strong general has no weak troops.  Xian Yun deeply admires Miss Wang’s courage to tour the Central Plains with your fellow companion.”

He Rong Hua finally walked into the hall with He Zai behind him. “Huang Fu family?  Are you referring to the Left Protector of the Evil Sect?  Over the past few decades, the Huang Fu family has lost its standing within Bai Ming sect.  Xian Yun, do you have any records of them in your library”

"Ever since Huang Fu passed his title to his three-year old daughter seventeen years ago, there have been no more reports on them.” Gentleman Xian Yun paused and added meaningfully “Until today, Cloud Manor has no idea on how she looks like, her whereabouts, her interests, or how many men she has under her.”

He Rong Hua gave a cold snort: ”It does sound quite mysterious.  Historically, the Left and Right Protectors are potential successors to the Master of the Evil Sect.  The current Left Protector is Huang Fu Yun and Right Protector is Che Yan Yan.  The latter loves to acquire Sky Slaves and has provoked us on multiple occasions.  It is likely she would become the next Master…. Miss Wang, since you work in the Huang Fu family, do you know the Left Protector thoughts on this?”

Wang Yun waited until He Zai has reached her side and that she is within his protection zone before replying: “Ay, how am I supposed to answer when Young Master put it like that?  Afterall, I do work for them.”  She pretended to look torn, and sighed when Gong Sun Xian Yun did not lift his eyes off her still. “Actually there is nothing much to hide. The Huang Fu family is not mysterious, it is just that they have declined.  Miss Huang Fu is weak in intellect and is incapable of fulfilling the duties of a Protector, much less become the next Master.  I think in another two years, someone else will be taking over her position, and there will be no further need for Gentleman Xian Yun to record anything about the Huang Fu family.”

Gong Sun Yun did not speak, and continued to stare unwavering at her.  She ignored him and turned to He Zai: “Let us not stay here and trouble Young Master further.”

He Zai nodded “It is indeed time to leave.”

She noted once again that He Rong Hua’s hands were shaking.  Disease.  Confirm he must be suffering from a disease!
“Are you leaving so soon?” He Rong Hua summoned a maid to serve tea.  “Brother He, Miss Wang, if you leave so hastily without even drinking some tea, it will really be too remiss of me.”

“The fact that Young Master allowed us to pay our respects already spoke volumes on your magnanimity. Old Master must be smiling from the heavens to know that he has such a worthy successor.”  She saw a maid passing a tray of tea to Gu Shao De, which He Rong Hua then took a cup from the tray for He Zai.  He Zai passed the first cup to her before taking another cup for himself.

Gong Sun Yun said “It may not be safe for Sky Slaves to travel in the Central Plains so Miss Wang and company must remain vigilant.  If you encounter trouble, you must look for people to help you out.”

“Of course, of course.”  She sipped her tea and found it to her liking.  If she has the chance, she must find a way to bring some tea home.

He Zai, Gu Shao De finished their drink in one gulp.  Gong Sun Yun waited until all have finished before turning to He Rong Hua: “I have written an extra copy of the chronicles of Old Master last night which you can place in his coffin at a later time.”

He Rong Hua was full of gratitude: “Xian Yun, thank you so much!”

Seeing that they have changed the topic, Wang Yun was about to signal He Zai to leave when she suddenly felt dizzy and a sharp pain in her abdomen.   “Miss Wang!” Gong Sun Yun was the first to notice something was wrong and reached out to catch her as she fainted.  

He Zai was a step faster as he caught her and nestled her to his chest “Miss!"

That scumbag! She just knew the better tasting something is, the more likely it is to bring trouble. The stench of blood has already risen her throat and Wang Yun did not bother to hold back as she threw up all over He Zai’s as an outlet for her anger.

[i] wulin - the pugilist world

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  1. Thank you for the translation :)

  2. Same here :) tysm.

    - samie

  3. Thank you for reading, you are most welcome. My sister was just saying this book is "a very light read". I take it as good since we already have all the brain surgery we need in our day-to-day. t hope it brings some fun & joy to your day.

  4. Absolutely loved the chapter. I could litereally see Xian Yun joining the dots in his head with the girl in the mountian with the Sky Slave bracelet. And Wun yun has this wry sense of humour. I'm loving it so far.
    I think the back and forth between them is going to be epic.

  5. Dear Moonblossom,
    I was inspired by the posted prologues and decided to attempt reading the original Chinese text, despite my weak competency in the language.

    It was slow-going for me and reading your translation here greatly helps. Thank you so much for your efforts :)

  6. Omg Moonblossom! You left me hanging with the ending of chapter 1 part 1..

    I wonder what they put into her tea.. How come He Zai didn't get affected..?

    I can tell I'm getting addicted to this. Thank you for the translation.

    1. Good question. No wonder the writer spend time writing about the tea being passed from the maid to Gu to He Rong Hua, then from He Zai to Wang Yun. I was thinking how come writer is so long-winded... and then she was poison, then you start thinking - huh? who put the poison, did I miss a clue? But the answer will be revealed very soon

    2. I think the comments in the previous entries said that He Zai was the poisoner. Hmm, the question would be 'why'... Maybe he wants to escape from the sect, and intends to use this opportunity to frame it on other people? It was also curious how He Rong Hua's hands kept shaking. Could it be that he recognizes He Zai? They both have common family name right?

    3. Good point there! He Zai and He Rong Hua did disappear for a while, something smells fishy...

  7. hehehe..I think Xian Yun was staring at Huang Fu Yun as he was upset why she never contact him after all these years or probably trying to confirm whether Huang Fu Yun was the same one who guided him out of the forest. If I am not wrong, he kept her lock of hair which he cut.

    I wish I can read Chinese and devour alllllll Chinese novels.

  8. Hi, Moonblossom. Thank you so much for taking up this translation project, and thank you, decembi, for hosting Moonblossom's translations.

    I think He Zai and Huang Fu Yun's first meeting in the first prologue piques my interest much more than her first meeting with Gong Sun Xian Yun in the second prologue. I am not sure why, but perhaps it is because I find the bond of master and slave between a young girl (the master) and a much older young man (the slave) quite interesting. They certainly make a very unlikely couple. Given He Zai's larger and taller build and more advanced martial arts skills, how did Huang Fu Yun keep him in line? Maybe he eventually developed a sense of loyalty toward her later on, but how did she control him in the beginning?

    I went ahead and listened to the rest of the novel using google translate to read the words aloud to me. However, I was truly struggling, as I didn't understand maybe 50% of the novel. I didn't pick up on how funny Huang Fu Yun was until I read your English translation!

    I really like her! She has a streak of dark humor in her and is subtly sarcastic without being overtly obvious and offensive. Her tolerance is hilarious.

    I assume many here like He Zai or Gong Sun Xian Yun. I can tell decembi especially loves Xian Yun from her introduction to this novel. However, after going through the novel, I still can't bring myself to like either man. Huang Fu Yun is actually a very pitiful character - having to rely on her wits to survive from childhood until adulthood in the demonic sect with no family or friends to depend on. However, she is so likable because she doesn't pity herself. She values her life and wants to live, to survive, albeit in a very funny way by trying to remain low profile and tolerate everything and everyone she comes into contact with. And it is because I like her so much that I don't like the two men in her life. Both have forsaken her to save someone else when her survival depended on them the most. Sure, each has great reasons for choosing to save another before saving her. They think she is strong and her will to survive is great, so even if they rescue someone else and let her fall down a cliff, it will be okay, because surely she will bounce back and manage to live on. What Xian Yun and He Zai don't realize is how fragile she is inside, despite her "I'll be fine on my own and I don't need anyone" attitude. They truly don't understand her and really don't deserve her. When each man tried to later explain why they didn't choose to save her, I almost cried for Huang Fu Yun, for not only did she not rage at them, she ironically had to comfort them and tell them it was understandable that they put her safety behind someone else's. Ugh! It was not fine and understandable! If they truly love her as they claim, then shouldn't her safety be the most important in their eyes? I just don't like these two guys! I also feel that neither man has done anything to redeem himself later on.

    1. Hello Melanie, Hahahaha I do enjoy your epic comments. Moonblossom, I don't know what is your policy for spoilers, usually I just leave a big spoiler tag but do tell if you are uncomfortable with any spoiler discussions at your translation threads.

      I avoided writing about the mid-point climax in my review because I thought it was too much a spoiler to include in the review, but the climax where both male leads were forced into a situation where they had to make a choice and chose not to save the female lead was so epic and the reason why I gave the novel 5 stars. I love that the author had the guts to go there, to make that choice for her characters. I don't like He Zai at all, from his actions of poisoning Fu Yun in chapter one, my ship firmly stayed with Gong Sun Yun. Fu Yun risked her life to bring him to the Central Plains so he could pay respect to his father and he repaid it by poisoning Fu Yun - thanks very much second lead. That was really selfish of him - it's not that he didn't think of asking Fu Yun to stay, he wanted to stay and could not risk a chance that Fu Yun would say no.

      For the cliff part (hahah literally a cliff hanger), I felt the second male lead's decision was really unfathomable - he chose to save a relative that abandoned him in the evil sect years ago instead of Fu Yun who had stayed and lived through all the danger with him over the last years. But, for Gong Sun Yun this was his sworn brother, who was put in a dangerous situation because he wanted to send back Fu Yun to her Sect, he held his brother's life in his hands, what kind of hero throws away the brother just for a woman he had dreamt for in the past years? I won't want such a hero. I love that he saved his brother, and then immediately dived down to try and save her.

      When he met her again, he didn't dare to touch her, he asked her - was I too late? And I loved what he said later to her, "I couldn't save you the first time, but the second time, the third time, I will save you."

      I know it may sound like a little bit too late, and I really loved your analysis about Fu Yu which is just perfect and I'm the ultimate Fu Yun fan girl over any of the male leads, but I also do think Gong Sun Yun is perfect for Fu Yun - he is willing to throw everything away for her in the end and give her the freedom she always wanted. He never pushes himself on her, gives her all the time she needs, and when she finally says heck it and chooses not to tolerate. He is right there for her. Maybe not there the first time, but the second time, the third time, he will wait for her till it's time. <3


    2. Oh, dear. I am sorry, decembi and Moonblossom. I was so used to just using spoiler tags that I didn't stop to ask first if it was alright to discuss spoilers here. I would like to respond to decembi's posting above but I am not sure if I should continue posting here, as my comments will surely have spoilers in them. Should I just move the discussion over to shushengbar? Or is it ok to continue using spoiler tags?

    3. Hey Melanie, I've spoken to Moonblossom, she's fine with spoilers with the appropriate spoiler tags so discuss away! :)

    4. I'm so weak! I ve read all the chapter 1 but I felt like i have to read back and went through all the comments to see if someone would have spoiled out the story. I told to myself not to be such a weak reader and wait for new chapter. but I like to spoil myself. thank you for translating this book. i have so much fun reading this.

      I like the girl. her character is so awesome. she doesn't care about what people think of her and never paid attention on the "bienseance" of society. in fact she could be a heroin in our area and live perfectly fine without thinking what is right or wrong.

  9. thanks for the spoilers...i guess, happy ending means Wang Yun will end up wt the male lead. funny, this kinds of novels ( like Lost U forever ) always about how much a man loves, shows his passon and loyalty to a girl. i like this book coz its a light read and so much fun coz this time female lead is from evil sect.
    - Samie

  10. decembi: "I don't like He Zai at all, from his actions of poisoning Fu Yun in chapter one, my ship firmly stayed with Gong Sun Yun."

    So it was He Zai who poisoned Wang Yun!! Good analyse S. Zara