Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Once Promised (曾许诺)by Tong Hua(桐华): Translation for Chapter 9 (Part 4)

   I think some people avoid Once Promised because it's known to have a sad ending, but I find everything about it so beautiful. Especially, this part of the chapter. I would recommend reading just this part even if you don't want to read the rest - this is really heartrendingly beautiful!

  Also, can you guess who is in the picture? :) 

Chapter 9: Heal the world but not one's self (Part 4 of 4)

  The wind late at night was strong, the blue sea of flowers rippled up like the waves, rising and falling, the figure of the Yan Emperor was sometimes blur and sometimes clear.

  A'Heng walked towards the Yan Emperor and sat down next to him.

  The Yan Emperor smiled as he watched the falling sun, "You look quite similar to a friend of mine, not only the looks, but also some small movements."

  A'Heng watched the setting sun and did not speak.

  "She is called Xi Ling Lei, the people who know her name now are very few, but three thousand years ago, she was the most famous woman in all of the great wilderness, she was called the extraordinary lady of Xi Ling, my father ordered my older brother to go ask for her hand in marriage."

  A'Heng asked, "Did she agree?"

  The Yan Emperor shook his head, "No, if she had agreed, maybe my brother would be the Yan Emperor."

  A'Heng asked, "What kind of person is your wife?"

  The Yan Emperor smiled, there was a deep sadness, "Both of you are indeed alike. Many years ago, Ah Lei asked me the same question, no one else was concerned before her, after her, no one else dared to ask, you are the second friend to ask this question."

  The Yan Emperor placed his hand on his wife's tombstone, his expression was gentle, there was unceasing longing in between his brows, "When I was young my divine energy was low, I was not good at fighting, my looks were not extraordinary, I was not used heavily by my father. My brothers did not really play with me, I liked to plant flowers and vegetations. Outside the capital of Zi Yi, there was a river called the Ji River, next to the Ji River lived a god tribe with low powers, they had no power to be officials and did not participate in the army, they only survived by doing little errands and small businesses. There was a girl who sold flowers who lived at the shores of the Ji River, she like to use her divine energy to plant all kinds of blue flowers, there were blue Mu Dan, blue Hibiscus, blue Hyacinths..."

  The Yan Emperor's hand touched the blue camellias at his side, "The first time I saw her, it was a misty morning, I was picking medicinal herbs next to the river, she had came out of the house to take water, she wore long white robes with blue flowers at the bottom, her hair piece was a blue camellia flower. There were very little people at the river at that time, we saw each other across the river, our gazes met, she gave a small smile, but I was so anxious that I did not dare to look at her, I pick up the hoe and steered it towards the ground, but it ended up landing on my feet. She broke out into great laughter across the shore. I had to rest in bed for a month, I did not know why, after I was healed, I calculated the time she would take water and went to the river, at the start, I went every few months, then it became every few days, later I went to pick medicinal herbs at the river side every day. But I did not dare to talk to her, the young me was very shy, my face would turn red and my heart would skip every time I saw her, I did not dare to give her an extra glance. We always look at each other across the river, but never dared to say a single word. Three years later, father commanded me to accompany brother to go ask for marriage from the Xi Ling Family, because Ah Lei knew how to breed silkworms, and just nice I had grew a special Green Jade Mulberry Tree, Father thought that I could help brother's relations with Ah Lei, so I was asked to go along. That trip was a failure, Ah Lei had bullied brother a lot, but I had became good friends with Ah Lei. Ah Lei invited me to travel with her in the great wilderness, I immediately agreed, later we met Ah Mei who was good at dance and singing, the three of us became sworn siblings. Out of the three of us, I was the oldest, but Ah Lei had the biggest courage, she brought us to do things I never dared to think about."

  The Yan Emperor laughed and shook his head, the expression between his brows started to lighten up, "That was the wildest period of my life, I did not dare believe that I was able to be rowdy after becoming drunk, that I was able to fight. We even agreed 'To always be together, to always be happy like this'. Ah Lei exclaimed that whoever broke this promise, she would punish him or her. But, when she met this glittering young man, it was she herself who first broke the promise. The day she left, we were sitting on a hill mound, like today we were watching the sun set, I was blowing a song, Ah Lei was singing, Ah Mei was dancing. Before I could blow the song finished, before Ah Mei could dance finish, Ah Lei suddenly said she had to go, she wanted to find that glittering young man. Ah Mei was very angry, she ran off in anger. When I sent Ah Lei back, she asked 'Do you have a maiden you like, someone you want to be with forever?', I suddenly thought of the blue robed maiden besides the Ji River. Ah Lei said, 'If you like her, tell her, aren't you afraid she might marry someone else?' Suddenly, I panicked, I didn't even have the chance to say goodbye to Ah Mei, I quickly returned."

  Although A'Heng knew that they eventually became husband and wife, she was still anxious, "Did you find her? Was she at the side of the Ji River?"

  "I went to the river side at night, I guarded it until the sun rose, but I did not see her. The blue flowers by the river were still ablaze in the spring winds, but the maiden who wore the flowers was nowhere to be seen. I was disappointed and sad, I stood there like an idiot next to the river as if I had lost my soul, I stood there from morning to night, when the sky turned dark, I turned back, and realised she was standing behind me, her hair had a blue Li flower*, she looked at me with tears in her eyes. I thought a kin of hers had died, I worriedly forgot that we did not know each other, the first thing I said to her was, 'Don't be sad, I will take care of you in future.' She smiled and took down the flower and threw it into the river, 'You did not appear for twenty years, I thought something had happened to you.' Then I realised the Li Flower she was wearing was for me."


  "Afterwards, we went through lots of obstacles, because her stature was too low, my father obstinately disagreed, but luckily the Chi Sui Tribe helped, they entered Ting Yao into their tribe annals, so Ting Yao married me through the Chi Sui Tribe." The Yan Emperor smiled and stroke the tombstone.

  "Ting Yao was like the wild flowers on this hill mound, they looked weak, but no matter how strong the wind or rain is, it cannot destroy them. Yet, I caused her death. Ting Yao's body was not suitable for giving birth to children, but as the Yan Emperor I had to have a heir, so again and again she became pregnant for me, when Yu Wang was born, her body finally couldn't take it anymore," The Yan Emperor leaned his head on his wife's tombstone, he said in a low voice, "They all say my medical skill is the top of these lands, but I could not save her, I could not save Nu Wa, I could not save Yao Ji, I am a useless doctor who could only watch them die before my eyes, Ah Lei, do you think Ting Yao will blame me?"

  A'Heng realised the Yan Emperor's heart was confused and he had mistaken her for her mother, afraid of agitating him, she did not dare to speak.

  The Yan Emperor continued to murmur, "Ah Lei, I'm so selfish! I know my death will cause difficulty for many people, but I secretly anticipate that I will die quickly, after Yao Ji died, I really wanted to leave with her, this way I can also finally reunite with Ting Yao. Everyone thinks that the Yan Emperor falling sick due to sadness is an exaggeration, but they do not know that ever since Ting Yao left, I have been sick, I have been sick for more than a thousand years."

  The Yan Emperor held A'Heng's hand, "Ever since I became the Yan Emperor, you no longer secretly send me messages, but when Yao Ji died, you wrote me a letter, saying I cannot let myself dwell in pain and sadness, that I must understand I am not only the husband of a woman, the father of three daughters, I was also the entire realm's Yan Emperor! How can I not understand? If I did not understand, that year I would not have betrayed the promise I gave to Ting Yao on our wedding night and succeeded the throne of the Yan Emperor, and I would not have held on year after year until today. But, Ah Lei, I am really tired! When the poison activated this time, I even secretly thought, now you can no longer use grand logic to persuade me, I must die! Ah Lei, our relationship is like siblings, but because I am the Yan Emperor, we must even avoid messaging each other, because I am the Yan Emperor, Ting Yao has also died young. In this life, ever since I succeeded the throne, if I count... the happy days are few, and life is too long too long, the happiness too little too little, I am too tired, I want to rest, I selfishly want to rest..."**

   The tears rolled down from A'Heng's eyes, she lightly said, "It's alright, you can rest, no one will blame you for being selfish, you have already held on very long for the citizens of Sheng Nong."

  She suddenly saw Chi You flew here, before he reached, his divine strength arrived, he protected the Yan Emperor, many little white flowers sprouted out of the surrounding and covered the Yan Emperor, the Yan Emperor's consciousness slowly stabilised, he fell into a deep sleep.

   Chi You asked A'Heng, "What did you say to him? Right now he can't take too much agitation."

  A'Heng was very regretful, "I shouldn't have asked him about the Yan Empress out of curiosity."

  Chi You stared at A'Heng, "Why did you reveal your real looks?"

  A'Heng touched her own cheeks, "Just now when the Yan Emperor mentioned my mother, I unconsciously thought about my mother when she was young, I guess the Beauty Preserving Flower must have changed my looks back." No wonder the Yan Emperor's heart was so agitated, he must have mistakenly thought she was her mother.


*A flower of mourning.
** Extremely beautiful and touching.

Comments:  Have you guessed who the lady is above? Yes, she is A'Heng's mother when she is young, Xi Ling Lei. Can you guess who is Ah Mei? :)

So far, the chapters have still been very intimate and quiet as characters are introduced to us one by one... but after this, readers, the world is going to become very very very big. The next chapter will arguably be the most important chapter in Book 1... when we finally see the promise that becomes so important for our main couple.


  1. Yan emperor and Ting Yao love story is so beautiful and touching. Even without words they managed to capture each other's hearts. I guess this is what you call soul mates.

    And as for Ah Mei I still can not guess who this might be. I got all too different characters in my mind from reading all your translations on different novel *guilty as charged* I got to to think carefully and organize my thoughts >.<

    1. Yes, sutekii! I totally agree! <3 Yan Emperor and Ting Yao's love story is my favourite of all, and you don't ever get to see or hear Ting Yao, but only her overwhelming presence on the mountain the Yan Emperor chooses to die on. My bleeding heart!

  2. Ah Mei = Emperor Mother of Jade Mountain

    - anya

    1. OH thats right now I remember when I read about Ah Heng spending time on the Jade Mountain and her mentioning about Ah Heng's mother and her past. Thanks Anya

    2. Heehee, there's a hint on how the Emperor Mother dances when she heard the Yan Emperor was sick - the roles of the three friends are clear - Ah Lei sings, Yan Emperor plays the musical instrument and Ah Mei dances.

  3. I know this is not the answer you are looking for, but I often see that girl in the picture with a monk. http://ff.topit.me/f/2d/04/11242861137c1042dfl.jpg

    By any chance, do you know which couple they are? It's an illustration by 伊吹五月 (Her work is really amazing) I know she often draws Dong Hua & Fengjiu. I can recognize some of the characters by their clothing, but I don't know their names or which book or video game they are from.

    Anyway, I only know that Ah Mei is the Jade Mother since Koala posted a brief background about the relationship between Ah Heng's mother and father. Anyway, it was quite tragic from what I remembered. She had fallen in love with the wrong man who was only using her for his ambitions. After he got what he wanted, he ended up marrying his first love and the animosity between them began.

    I don't think Koala explained how the falling out happened between Ah Heng's mother and Ah Mei. Was it because of Ah Heng's father? Ah Lei seemed to abandon her friends after she had fallen for a man. Will we be getting more background information in Once Promised?

    1. Yes yes!!! I love 伊吹五月 , I saved tons tons tons of her images. I'm not sure which series it belong to too! Maybe I shall google one day, I had the impression it was from a video game though hahaha.

      Ah Heng's mother and father's story is more explicitly dealt with in Book 2, which I have not read finished. Haha. But, I feel that the Yellow Emperor did love Ah Lei, which is why he was very nice to Shao Hao's other daughter who was remarked to look more like Ah Lei and A'Heng than Xiao Yao did.

      Yup! Because Ah Lei broke the promise for the three of them to always be together, Ah Lei wanted to find A'Heng's father, so Ah Mei left in anger. But, they never had a chance to reconcile, because the Yan Emperor went home to woo Ting Yao and Ah Lei got married --- that's their regret I think, they never thought that would have been the last time they met. :( But, there's still another incredibly beautiful part for the three of them (I love them to bits) which will be translated in Chapter 11 I think.

  4. Just dropping by to let you know I'll probably be reading a month and half worth of your translations today. It took a lot of effort, but I had to refrain from reading c-novels, ssb, peanuts/hui3r's blog, your blog, and Koala's blog during the last 1.5 months. Now I'm free from real life obligations and have so much reading to catch up on.

    You'll probably see me leave random comments throughout your posts over the next couple of days~ :D

    1. Hello joanna! :) So nice to hear from you. Wow! One and a half months! You will have lots to read lol. Looking forward to the comments <3

  5. what a beautiful chapter! Thanks for your hard work!!! :)

    1. Thank you!! Once Promised translations are v long lol

  6. this is just so sad.... in the end those 3 best friends dont really have good endings in their life. yan emperor dying to die, a lei is with her family but not very happy, and a mei the worse, spending thousand and year waiting and waiting. btw, thank you for translating...

    1. Let me give you a BIG COMFORTING hug! I think the Yan Emperor had quite an amazing life though, he met a woman, Ting Yao, who loved him as much as he loved her, their love story is so pure and wonderful, despite the sacrifices and pain that they had to bear (literally for Ting Yao and her pregnancies). The Yan Emperor is also a very kind person, hence his great sacrifice to provide medical knowledge to all the people in this world --- I think he is amazing and I feel sad to see him leave because the peace is going to be disrupted in the realms, but I am happy for his release.

      For Ah Lei, I have to read Book 2 to decide. But despite not enjoying bliss from marriage, she has the BEST sons and daughters who love her so much.

      For Ah Mei, she's probably the most pitiful because she never got to tell the person she love, she loved him. But, at the end of her love, she had the company of Ah Bi and Lie Yang who really loved her.

      That's why sometimes it might be terrifying to be a God, because whatever you lose, you lose for thousands of years. But whatever you love, you can also love for thousands of years. :)

  7. Long time not read this :) thanks decembi:)

  8. Yan emperor love story is so beautiful,,
    thanks for the hardwork decembi,

    by kiki,

    1. Thank you, Kiki! The Yan Emperor's love story always makes me swoon.

  9. Thanksomuch for the dedication from the likes of koala and you... just came across your Once Promised posts and can't wait for the next! Xp

    1. Thank you! I'm always very happy when people shower love for once promised. The writing is so rich.

  10. Such a heavy burden the Yan Emperor has to endure...he has to keep on living iwithout the love of his life ...for his kids...and for the people...