Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Once Promised (曾许诺)by Tong Hua(桐华): Translation for Chapter 7 (Part 1)

      I was planning to update tomorrow actually, but today my blog crossed the 50,000 page view mark which is surreal for a small blogger like me. So, I just want to thank all you kind people for reading my translations and writings and squealings. I am always learning :).

     A'Heng's brothers make their vibrant and memorable entrance in this chapter. I can't quite decide if the above picture is Qing Yang (the oldest) or Chang Yi (the fourth brother). What do you think? 

    I really like Chapter 7 since this is the first time we see A'Heng's family - they are the most unique royal family, mostly because they were a family first then royals, the Xuan Yuan Tribe only becoming a royal family and recognised as an imperial power and kingdom in its own right much later. So you see real love and kinship, and you understand what makes A'Heng the person she is. Also, A'Heng's mother, Lei Zu, is a real woman.

  So Chapter 7 is special for me, and I translated the whole thing. I will split it to three parts.

Chapter 7: If only this scene of beauty will always remain* (Part 1)

  What was hardest for me in translating this chapter was the title. It's so poetic and conveys more than I could ever try to explain based on my current language competency.

  The title <最是一生好景时>, is inspired (I'm guessing) from a line of a famous poem, 《赠刘景文》, which goes likes this, 一年好景君须记,最是绿时。If we do a literal translation of the <最是一生好景时>, it stresses on 最 (always) and 好景时 (lovely scenery/circumstances), hence I translated it as above. But, it becomes even more romantic if you invoke the poem which describes the last strands of autumn, simplistically, it says don't think that the beautiful scenery has finished for the year, you must remember, the most beautiful scenery is at the start of winter, when oranges ripen and mandarin oranges are green.


  Isn't it beautiful? Even with my very marginal understanding of Mandarin, it's such a lovely contrast - where the flowers have withered and winter is coming, but oh even in such coldness, there are still riches blossoming. It's supposed to be an encouraging line of poetry where the growth in the seasons are a metaphor for life - when someone is at an later age, their youth long lost, but now they have matured into the "golden age of life", it encourages you not to give up, to cherish the now which is still beautiful, to pursue your goals.

  Enjoy the chapter for now, and maybe we can discuss again why Tong Hua chose this title for this chapter :)

  Xuan Yuan Mountain has four peaks - east, south, west, north. The Yellow Emperor's first wife Lei Zu, second wife Fang Lei, third concubine Dan Yu, fourth concubine Mo Mu each occupy one peak. The highest peak is the East Peak Chao Yun Peak, which is where Lei Zu stays, the mountains are so high they pierce the clouds. It's the first place you can see the sunrise in Xuan Yuan Country.

  When A'Heng was still on the cloud carriage, she saw Fourth Brother Chang Yi standing in front of Chao Yun palace, looking down from the mountain again and again, the just rising morning sun was very warm, but Chang Yi's waiting and concern was even warmer than the morning sun.

  A'Heng did not even wait for the carriage to stop and stabilise before jumping off the carriage, "Fourth Brother". She fell into Chang Yi's embrace.

   Chang Yi laughed and patted her back, "Why is your personality still like this? I thought the Emperor Mother would have disciplined and made you more mature."

  A'Heng laughed and asked, "Where is big brother? Mother?"

  "Mother is spinning yarn in the palace, I'm don't know where big brother is, yesterday he locked himself in the mountain forest at the back mountain and ordered no disturbances."

  A'Heng secretly smiled, while following her brother into the palace, she whispered softly in his ear, "He is injured."

  "What?" Chang Yi was shocked.

  "In order to make Shao Hao rescue me, he made some bet with Shao Hao, both of them are injured, although big brother won, he was especially injured."

  Chang Yi's expression warmed, he shook his head and laughed, "Usually, both of them are more matured than the other, more cunning than the other, but they are just like little kids, every time they meet they will fight, even after fighting for thousands of years they refuse to stop."*

  The spacious and brightly lit main palace hall was silent, their voices were especially clear, A'Heng and Chang Yi unconsciously restrained their breaths.

  After passing the main hall, and reaching the side hall, there was insufficient light rays and it was only bright in front of the window, a white-haired old woman was sitting in the midst of the sunlight, moving the spinner to spin yard, the brightness of the light especially highlighted her age.

  A'Heng was reminded of the Empress Mother who had risen to dance in the middle of the Peach Blossom Flower Forest, she felt her heart sour, she lightly knelt, "Mother, I'm home."

  After Lei Zu finished spinning one thread of yarn, laid down the seven-coloured spinning carriage, then she raised her head to look at her daughter, A'Heng did not know why, she suddenly knelt down a few more steps and leaned at her mother's side, lightly saying, "Mother."

  Lei Zu lightly said, "I made you a few sets of clothing, they are placed in your room, after a few days, remember to bring them when you leave the mountain."**

  "Thanks Mother," A'Heng lowered her head, thought for a while then continued, "I don't want to go down the mountain this time, I want to stay on the mountain for a few years."

  Lei Zu asked, "Why?"

  "I'm a bit tired, so I want to stay on the mountain for a few years." Ever since she was small, A'Heng was always thinking of ways to sneak down the mountain, but after the sixty years on Jade Mountain, she suddenly realised that there was no difference between Chao Yun peak and Jade Mountain, it was lonely the same way, it was cold the same way, she wanted to accompany her mother.

  Lei Zu ordered Chang Yi, "Help me prepare a small cup of tea."

  Chang Yi made a respectful gesture and left.

  Lei Zu stood up, and walked to outside the hall, A'Heng silently followed her.

  There were many mulberry trees*** planted behind the Chao Yun palace, the branches were many and the leaves were lush, thick and dense, the bright sun rays lit the top of the mulberry trees, it was filled with vigour and life, in a moment you felt your heart and spirit lightened.

  Lei Zu asked A'Heng, "I had not been angered for hundreds of years, but I was furious sixty years ago, I even wanted to personally go to the Jade Mountain and ask for you from the Empress Mother, do you know why I was so angry at the Empress Mother?"

  A'Heng said, "Mother believes daughter did not take the Empress Mother's godly weapons."

  Lei Zu's cold face revealed a trace of smile, "The real reason was not that, that was the reason Qing Yang assumed, Qing Yang said how would you even reach the level to steal a godly weapon, at the most you will steal a peach."

  A'Heng's heart started to guess that maybe her mother and Empress Mother had some kind of grudge, but her mouth respectfully said, "I don't know."

  Lei Zu stopped her pace, she turned her head and looked at Chao Yun palace, "You are the princess of Xuan Yuan Tribe, sooner or later you must live in such a palace, but before that, I want you to possess all the freedom of the eight wilderness****, but the Emperor Mother robbed you of your most precious one hundred and twenty years. She has stayed in the ghostly place of a Jade Mountain for thousands of years, she knows even more clearly than me what is the most precious thing in this world. One hundred and twenty years of freedom and joy! What treasure on earth can equal it? More than anyone else, she knew clearly how heavy the punishment was, clearly knowing she was taking away your most precious item, but hypocritically saying she was giving me face."

  The misty fog surrounded them, in these building so tall as to reach the clouds, the exquisitely crafted jade carvings on the Chao Yun Palace, A'Heng watched and watched and felt her eye rims moistened.

  Lei Zu's gaze fell on her daughter's face, "A'Heng, quickly while you are still young, go down the mountain, go and laugh, go and cry, go and commit all kinds of outrage, go and make trouble and get into fights. You will have enough time in the future to live in a palace, the time you have outside is very limited, don't waste it again on Chao Yun Peak. I don't need your company, I only need you to live happily.**** Now you don't understand, but when in the future you become a mother you will understand, as long as all of you live well, I will also live well."

  A'Heng finally understood why every time she secretly sneaked down the mountain, her mother will not know, she was even once so proud of her cleverness; but now she understood why she could always so smoothly leave her house, why her father or big brother never sent soldiers to chase after her; now she understood why she was different from other princesses, being able to freely roam in the great wilderness.

  "Mother," her voice sobbed.

   Chang Yi carried a cup of tea over, and respectfully served it to his mother.

   Lei Zu slowly savoured the tea then coldly ordered, "A'Heng, tomorrow you will leave the mountain. You can go anywhere, just don't let me see you." After finishing her words, she threw away the tea cup and left.

  A'Heng's eye rims were red, Chang Yi smiled at her, and forcefully swiped her nose tip, taking her hand, "Let's go, let's find big brother." Just like when they were small.

  Chang Yi and A'Heng tip-toed quietly deep into the forest, as they walked they passed a few boundaries, but these boundaries had no effect on Chang Yi and A'Heng, they easily crossed them, and saw something spectacular.

   The mulberry trees here were only 3 "尺" (chinese approximation for foot) high, but they were all foreign species implanted here, even the trunks were dark green like the leaves, as if they were carved out of top grade green jade. At the moment, on top of the grand jade green mulberries bloomed blossom over blossoms of white peonies as big as a bowl, in reality these peonies were made up of snow, and were even purer than the ordinary white peonies.

   The green jade of the mulberries were sparkling and clear, the cold peonies glistened bright, the whole world seemed to be clean and pure as if it was a coloured glazed world, without a single trace of dust or dirt.

  In the centre of this precious coloured glazed world, blossom over blossom of white peonies opened, layer over layer they created a seven layered peony tower, lightly setting off a man, his face wasn't clear, one could only see blue robes, to say the blue was light, it wasn't light, to say the blue was deep, it wasn't deep, perfectly gentle and clean, but as precisely cold and distant, just like the light blue sky on an ancient snowy mountain's peak, no matter how cold the snow mountain was, it was also warm, but once you walked closer, you could never reach it, farther than the distance of the icy snow. 

   A'Heng and Chang Yi exchanged a glance, they stood far away, each placing their hand on one jade green mulberry tree, opening their life gate, they let their divine essence flow into the mulberry tree, to help their big brother heal, in a moment, the mulberry tree was so green it started to glow, and the white peonies in the coloured glaze world started to open and open and open, the cold air became even stronger.

   But not only did their big brother not accept their kind intentions, he actually despised them for being nosy, a few ice peonies suddenly flew up and smashed on A'Heng and Chang Yi's faces, they did not even have the time to resist and were frozen by the ice and became two ice popsicles.******
   All the white peonies floated up, surrounded and danced around the blue robes, the thousands of ice peonies were ablaze and blooming, it was as if the whole world became a coloured glazed flower world, it was so beautiful as to dazzle one's eyes and shock one's heart.

  After a while, Qing Yang slowly opened his eyes, all the white peonies vanished, and transformed into a snowstorm, flying down as if in a dance.

  Qing Yang stood tall with his hands behind his back, he gazed at the sky to admire the great snowstorm, he stood for very long, his body covered with a layer of snow, even Chang Yi and A'Heng's eyebrows had started to turn white. 

  After admiring the snow enough, Qing Yang walked over and cause the ice on Chang Yi and A'Heng's bodies to disappear. Chang Yi was so frozen his skin had turned green, A'Heng's teeth were chattering and she kept jumping, Qing Yang coldly looked at her, "You stayed at Jade Mountain for sixty years but did not have a single improvement, even if a pig was released on the Jade Mountain, he would have cultivated an internal essence already."

*This my friends is the essence of a godly bromance.
** I love Lei Zu's light words that are imbued with so much meaning.
*** I had to check this - they are trees that help grow silkworms.
**** Epic. Epic. Epic.
***** I'm sorry, the first time I read this I actually cried. The second time I read this and translated it, my eye rims were as wet as A'Heng.
****** Hahaha siblings.

Comment: This translation is for Lei Zu.


  1. Omg, thank you! Between this, Heavy Sweetness (I am still hesitant about Jin Mi though) and Lost You Forever translations, I feel so spoiled. It's so bittersweet to finally get to know A'heng's family. The pain of Zhuan Xu and Xiao Yao losing their family is worse when you see how awesome it was...

    Thank you again Decembi!

    1. Hello Bella, thanks for reading and commenting :)! hehehe, I hope Jin Mi will grow on you, she really goes through a path of knowledge.

      I know! I really love A'Heng's family (except the Yellow Emperor haha). Welcome!

  2. Thanks again for the summary and translation, decembi!

    Despite the later heaviness of this book, I'm quite enjoying the family dynamics right now before everything goes shot to hell. The funny scene between the siblings was the perfect complement to the earlier touching scene between A'Heng and her mother.

    "[sic]even if a pig was released on the Jade Mountain, he would have cultivated an internal essence already."

    *snorts with laughter* and he said it in a deadpanned manner which makes it even funnier. :P

    My favorite character in Once Promised is actually Chang Yi and I believe Qing Yang to be one of the most misunderstood characters in the novel.

    I'm so glad you had a * indicating Qing Yang and Shao Hao's godly bromance because their friendship was one of the things I liked best in the book, aside from all Chi You - A'Heng - Shao Hao scenes.

    1. Hello joanna, thanks for reading and commenting!

      I know, the family scenes are really sweetness that becomes nostalgic loss in hindsight --- but I think that sweetness and love does live on in various forms in Lost You Forever, all is not lost.

      Oh, that's interesting! Chang Yi is such a sweetheart. He doesn't get many scenes, but he does these little touches that mean so much. I agree! I like Qing Yang, he has his own difficulties being the oldest.

      Shao Hao never really had a compelling romance with A'Heng for me, it was his love/hate/torment push and pull with Qing Yang that made him real for me.

  3. OMG, the scenes between the siblings were so cute. I was smiling like a lunatic after feeling so bad for A'heng.

    Thanks for the update Decembi.

    On a side note, you posted an update about The King is Here being published but I could not find a summary anywhere. Could you please direct me to the correct place?

    1. Aww! Me too! I love reading the siblings scenes. <3 It's nice to remember that A'Heng is a little girl at heart too.

      Thanks for reading and commenting :)

      The King is Here is being published in April according to a chinese book blog site I check out sometimes. For summary, do you mean english or chinese? Because I don't think there are any english ones. If you are interested in chinese, I can find a good one for you.

  4. I can't read Chinese. At all. Actually I only want a synopsis or a book blurb to know what the book is about.

    1. Oh! Well, just briefly, the female lead is a Demon King (haha she calls herself that) and she's really awesome. The story starts with her running away from Hell because she was betrothed to a god in the Heavenly realms......

  5. So sweet to see this royal family actually love and care for one another! They sibling interactions were so cute, and I can see now why XY and ZX always missed their parents, grandma, aunts and uncles, they really did live in a sheltered and very loving environment!! Sad that all that had to disappear because of power hungry men!

    OMG LZ just broke my heart here! She an amazing mom!


    1. Teehee! Actually, the Sheng Nong royal family are also very loving, just more strict and uptight about proprieties. I super love the sibling interactions! A girl can be fearless with two doting older brothers right?

      LZ rocks! There will be more cool LZ, Emperor Mother moments soon......

  6. such a loving sibling that is why i was so broken hearted just thinking what will happen to them in the future..

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting :)

      Yeah, their relationships are so lovely! But while the ending is a bit sad, I still found it beautiful that in the midst of the blood shed and politics, they always stay true to each other and never betrayed each other

  7. Congrats Decembi on the huge number of hits on your site...there's lots of your fans out there :) You deserve all the praise because your translations and reviews are so eloquent and you're always spoiling us with regular updates!

    LZ is such an awesome mum!

    1. Aww! Thanks Little Peach. I'm just happy to have so many people to share my passion with! It's so much more fun to discuss a book with fellow readers :) That's what keeps me motivated to constantly translate!

      Lei Zu is really great! She's not just an empress, she's a real mother to her children, which is really touching because you can see how much Qing Yang, Chang Yi and A'Heng adooooreess her. Hee.