Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Once Promised 曾许诺 by Tong Hua 桐华 : Translation for Chapter 10 (Part 2/3)

Chapter 10 of Once Promised is much longer than I have anticipated so I have decided to put up what I have so far as part 2 of 3, instead of part 2 of 2.  

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Chapter 10: Pledging The Rest of Our Lives Together under the Peach Blossom Tree (Part 2 of 3)

As Ah Heng dashed up Xiao Yue Ding, she knocked into someone and nearly lost her footing.  Luckily, the person extended a hand to stop her or she would have sprained her leg. Ah Heng smiled and tried to thank her saviour but her words trailed off when she saw who he was.  Unbidden, her heart started beating wildly and she felt weak all over.  Looking at her red ears and lowered head, Shao Hao asked apologetically:  “Miss, did you hurt yourself?”

Shao Hao next noticed the man behind Ah Heng and gave him a nod and a smile. Chi You’s smile disappeared as he walked up to the pair and reached out for Ah Heng’s hand while he pushed away Shao Hao’s hand with the other.  “What is the Prince of Gao Xing doing at Shen Nong Mountain?”

When Shao Hao remained silent, they were joined by Yu Wang and a young maiden dressed in red.  Ah Heng guessed that the young maiden must be the god-daughter of the Yan Emperor.  She was beautiful, much like the Mu Jin Flower, and Ah Heng thought the maiden had been aptly named.

Mu Jin smiled at Chi You, “Sister Yun Sang hurt herself.  Luckily, she met His Highness Shao Hao who escorted her back.”  Her smile disappeared when she noticed Chi You’s protective hand on Ah Heng.

Worried for Yun Sang, Ah Heng asked hurriedly,  “What happened to Yun Sang?”

Mu Jin looked at her with animosity, “Who are you to call Her Highness by name?”

Chi You countered coldly, “Why else do we need names, if not for people to call you by?”

Mu Jin was surprised that the normally aloof Chi You would defend this stranger and bit down hard on her lips to prevent her tears from falling.  Yu Wang looked at Ah Heng before saying gently: “We met several demons trying to stir up trouble on the way here.  Luckily, her injury was not serious and she should recover after resting for a few months.  Does Miss know my sister?”

Ah Heng nodded absently.  What had brought Yun Sang to Gao Xing for her to have met Shao Hao under such coincidental circumstances?

A red bird flew down to perch on Yu Wang’s shoulder and he smiled at the group.  “Dinner is ready and father bade us to go over.”

The Yan Emperor has prepared a table full of simple fare for his guests. Everyone paid their respects to him before taking their places at the table.  Looking at them, the Yan Emperor had mixed feelings.  Gathered in the house today were youngsters from the next generation who could change the fate of the world.  In another few hundred years, would they still remember their dinner tonight?

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Fiction: Little Moon's Matchmaking Mission (Hsiao and Yue's Epilogue: A Butterfly Dream)

   Hsiao and Yue's epilogue! I had placed a lot of love and effort into this epilogue, which is longer than any of the chapters in the main story. I guess it's true - even I am sad at saying goodbye to these characters that I had fallen in love with.

  I hope you enjoy this epilogue - for it had everything I wanted Little Moon to be, and everything I wanted to give Hsiao and Yue.

Yue and Hsiao’s Epilogue: A Butterfly Dream

“I dreamt I was a butterfly, flitting around in the sky; then I awoke. Now I wonder: Am I a man who dreamt of being a butterfly, or am I a butterfly dreaming that I am a man?” – Chuang Tzu


     She was a simple village girl. Her routine was fixed – she would take care of the house, take care of her young siblings, and when she was old enough, she would be married off to the farmer’s boy next door.

     She was never taught about beauty, but a girl, however simple, would have an instinct for romance. Every month, on the night of the full moon, she would secretly leave her house and go to the forest nearby. At the edge of the forest, there were smaller shrubs and fallen trees. She would sit on one of those fallen tree trunks and marvel at the moon.

    Who knew that one night she would find an injured man leaning on one of the tree stumps? He had thick clear brows and ruggedly handsome features. He was clearly not from these parts. She stumbled back when she saw the blood pouring from the slashes of his robes. That was how they first met. That was Hong Meng’s first dream (红梦 – red dream).

   When Hong Meng woke up, her heart was beating so furiously that she thought it would fall out of her mouth. She knew it was only a dream, a figment of her imagination – she wasn’t a simple village girl, and as she gripped the edge of the bed, she certainly had not met a dark foreign man in the edge of the woods. No, she was Hong Meng, daughter of the owners of the famous Red Inn in the Yuan Town.

  She heard her mother call for her. It was time to prepare to cook their famous dish, the red hot spicy pork dish. There was no time to ruminate on dreams.

  But Hong Meng’s dreams did not stop. She had always had vivid dreams when she was young, but these dreams continued in sequence, as if another life was playing before her eyes. The village girl brought the foreigner to an abandoned hut, brought medical supplies and food. By some miracle, he recovered. And, perhaps inevitably, they fell in love.

   The deeper they fell in love, the deeper was Hong Meng’s sleep. Her parents soon grew worried for their previously bright bubbly daughter. For soon, all she wanted was to sleep…

   But, that was not the worst of their worries. For, Master Fei Zhu (非朱*), the richest and most corrupt businessman in Yuan Town, had taken a fancy to Hong Meng and had came to ask for Hong Meng’s hand in marriage as his sixth concubine! They wanted to refuse but did not dare to since Master Fei Zhu was under the magistrate’s protection and was also technically their landlord. They could only plead that Hong Meng was sick and that they would discuss her marriage when she got better.

   But Hong Meng never got better. One morning, she woke up and never fell asleep again. She woke up and cried till her parents swore that her tears were red. Hong Meng stopped speaking.

  And, at this point, when Hong Meng’s parents were at their wit’s end. Why, at this moment, a beautiful girl with a moon-shaped face and beaming smile arrived at their inn.

   “Boss Lady, may I order your famous red hot spicy pork dish?” She sat herself down and gleefully cried out to Hong Meng’s mother, Hong Niang.

  Hong Niang shook her head, “I’m sorry but we have stopped serving this dish because my daughter has fallen very sick and only she can prepare the dish in our famous signature style.”

  The beautiful girl’s face fell, and then her eyes glittered with interest, “What kind of sickness may I ask?”

  Before Hong Niang could answer, she was surprised by the arrival of a tall handsome man. He was dressed in simple grey robes, his face was strong with thick clear brows and sharp eyes. He looked worriedly at the beautiful girl, “Madam, how could you just leave without a word? If Master finds out that I lost you, he would kill me.”

   The beautiful girl laughed, “You worry too much, Hu Jun, I knew that you would find me in no time. Besides, didn’t I tell you I was going to come to Yuan Town for their famous pork dish before returning back home? Come sit down, the Boss Lady is just about to tell us about her daughter.”

  Hong Niang found it strange that this important looking and serious young man would greet the beautiful girl so respectfully as “Madam”, but even more strangely, she felt like unburdening her heart towards her.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Heavy Sweetness Ash-Like Frost: Translation (Chapter 15.1: Under the Faint Purplish Red Moon)

  This chapter is really particularly beautiful. I noticed that Dian Xian describes the Water God and Night quite similarly- both of them are steady silent men, gentle, warm, with a gaze as clear as water. However, while the Water God's heart is as pure as his gaze, Night's gaze is more hard to discern. 

  In this chapter, we get to hear some words from both of their hearts. And, is that a real laughter from Night? 

Chapter 15: Under the Faint Purplish Red Moon (Part 1 of 3) 

  The sky at daybreak was just leaving the darkness of the night, the light was clean and pure, I was riding on a furry white cloud and comfortably moving towards the Four Stars Palace. 

  I rode to the back door and stretched my hands to give a light knock, but the door obediently opened even without me pushing it. Two or three sika deers at the pond turned to look at me, when they realised it was me, they lost interest and turned back their attentions to the person in blue robes nearby. 

  The person in blue-robes was sitting with his back facing towards me. Although his back had the colour of the blue in the lake, it made one think of the lost moonlight in the chinese ink paintings, clear but lonely, all-encompassing and moist. At this moment, his sleeves were half-raised as he scooped up water from the pond, as if washing the little sika deer that was huddling next to me. 

  When the little sika deer saw me, it immediately turn up the whites of its eyes, it stiffen its neck, it stuck out its tongue, and it flipped on the floor as if it died.

  The blue-robed person was surprised, his hand paused and he turned towards me. His gaze was clearer than water, more languid than the clouds, this was Night. 

  "Mi Er..."

  I quickly walked two steps to Night's side. I stretched my hand to touch below the nose of the little sika deer, there was no breath at all. I pushed its legs, it was hard, stiff and could not be moved. I turned my head to Night, "It died! Did you kill it? Why did you kill it?"

  Night was stunned, his face was full of confusion, unconsciously he tried to explain, "It's not me..." When he regained his awareness, he said, "Mi Er, don't be anxious, I will check." When he finished speaking, he stretched his hand and there was a silver glow around the neck of the sika deer.

  I quickly stood behind his back and twisted my finger, the little sika deer's ears immediately started to move, its soul which appeared to have vanished earlier appeared to have bounced back. It happily jumped up. Night was not prepared, he was so shocked by the corpse suddenly jumping alive that he took a step back.

  I lowered my head and patted the little sika deer that was huddling at my feet. I praised it, "Not bad not bad, you have gained about half of my skills! Tomorrow I will change your meal, I wonder what good food should I give you..." I paused to reflect, "Perhaps, some cabbage." The shining light in the little sika deer's eyes immediately vanquished.

  Night was astounded into silence, "So it was Mi Er, you...!" He broke out into laughter, his laughter was hearty and immediately brightened up everyone's feelings. Although Night was someone who smiled, and often he would not speak but smile first, he was gentle and elegant, but I always felt that his smile lacked something. Today, his smile and laughter was to my satisfaction.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Drama Recaps & Commentary: Marriage Not Dating (Episode 1 & 2)

   I was on overseas leave the last weekend and couldn't wait to write about "Marriage Not Dating", which is probably my favourite korean drama now playing. However, things were pretty crazy when I returned to work (3 am nights!) and I'm writing this now as a mental break (and love squeal). I honestly don't watch dramas live and usually only watch them after it ends and deciding if I like them enough based on drama recaps (haha). One, I don't have enough time, and two, I'm always wary of the terrible endings korean dramas love to have. 

  The last korean drama I watched "live" was Secret Garden, and I actually spot some similarities with this drama and Secret Garden. Mainly, the plot is pretty unpredictable despite being so cliched, it has the funniest evil mother-in-law in the making and terrific chemistry between the leads! Since dramabeans are doing the best recaps ever, I would just like to share my views and "deconstruction" of some of the scenes and its depiction of "contract dating/marriage". 

   P.S. I love the ost too, click here for one of the zesty drama themes and listen to it while you squeal with me...

Episode 1 & 2: The Set Up

   Episode 1 actually starts with our dear female lead, Jang Mi, in a courtroom facing a charge of stalking and our male lead, Ki-Tae, rushing passed the courtroom security declaring that he needs to find the woman he is going to marry! The show then backtracks in time and we are introduced to Jang Mi setting up a party in a hotel room for her boyfriend, Hong Dong (a clownish wannabe party boy who is rich). Hong Dong is so stressed out by her preparations for the party and her signs of commitment (and desire to get married?) that he asks his friend, Ki Tae, for help.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Once Promised 曾许诺 by Tong Hua 桐华 : Translation for Chapter 10 (Part 1/3)

posted by Moonblossom

Hello everyone!  I'm back to help out at 'Once Promise' Chapt 10, while Decembi kept us entertained with Little Moon's Matchmaking Mission.  I am a big fan of Chi You and am glad to help spread the love of the most powerful demon I knew.  Surprising, I almost couldn't recognize, big, bad Chi You in this chapter, but I guess all villains started as normal boys in the beginning, so here is the proof in Once Promise : )

Chapter 10: Pledging The Rest of Our Lives Together under the Peach Blossom Tree (Part 1 of 3)

Ah Heng did not sleep well that night.  She tossed and turned, and when dawn broke, she was tensed and tired, although she did not feel the least bit sleepy.

When she spotted the Yan Emperor carving on a piece of wood at the end of the corridor, she went to sit opposite him.  Looking at him, she still found it hard to believe that this man who was so crucial to the peace of the land, was about to die.

The Yan Emperor said, “How embarrassing to have lost my composure in front of young lady last night.”

Ah Heng took off her Beauty Preserving Flower “Uncle, I am the daughter of Xi Ling Lei.  My nickname is ‘Heng’ and my mother calls me Heng’er.”

The Yan Emperor glanced at her then at the flower in her hand.  Ah Heng gave him a sweet smile and put her Beauty Preserving Flower back to her hair.  “This was won from Auntie Mei.”

The Yan Emperor laughed.  “I heard that she locked you up for sixty years.  She is just like the old times, with a quick temper.”  His thoughts wandered off and his smile faded.  “The last time I met her was on my wedding. Time really flies and it has been over two thousand years since. How is she?”

Ah Heng gave the question a moment’s thought. “She is doing fairly well.  Often, she would stand at the cliff and admire the sunset.  Oh yes!  She likes to make magic puppets.  Many of her maidens were actually puppets.”

The Yan Emperor concentrated on the wooden bird he was carving.  “Your mom and I are the ones who taught her how to make puppets.  At that time, she wanted to make a bird that could sing, but she could not do so with her limited powers, and would beg Ah Lei and I to help her.”

Ah Heng was afraid to bring up the past again and tried to change the topic. “How is Chi You?”

“He is busy running around the hills setting stratagems.  I think he is trying to make use of the qi around the mountains to extend my life.  Although he has never studied stratagems, he is naturally attuned to energy flows and is quite gifted in creating and destroying stratagems.”

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Fiction: Little Moon's Matchmaking Mission (An Chi's Epilogue: The Prince and The Beast)

   I'm posting An Chi's epilogue first because it feels most fitting and closest in time to the ending. I like An Chi as a character, she's a girl who has been lovingly protected, and only wants to lovingly protect.

An Chi's Epilogue: The Prince and the Beast 


   I was born in the same year as Qing Ge Ge and Hsiao Ge Ge, only a few months after the birth of Hsiao Ge Ge. My father and the Emperor were sworn brothers and as they drank in celebration at my birth, the Emperor had famously said, “An Chi shall marry the Crown Prince.”

  Officially, this was treated as an intoxicated jest, but it became a golden premonition that circled around my life.

  Qing Ge Ge and Hsiao Ge Ge liked to come over to my residence to play. There were less rules to follow than in the Royal Palace. The garden hidden at the back of the residence became our small paradise. We liked to role-play – Qing Ge Ge and Hsiao Ge Ge will take turns playing the role of the prince and the beast, and I was always the princess.

  There would always be a happy ending. The princess will always be saved by the prince. Only the prince changed each time the story starts again.

   The year we turned eleven, we never got to start the story again. I never knew what happened in the Royal Palace but Qing Ge Ge, Hsiao Ge Ge and I never got to play again. Qing Ge Ge had visited me with my favourite osmanthus cookies and told me, “You can play with Hsiao or me, but not both.”

   I almost choked on my cookies, and couldn’t answer. Qing Ge Ge did not force me.

  I waited and waited, but Hsiao Ge Ge did not come. A week later, I received a letter from Hsiao Ge Ge. I could recognize his calligraphy – sleek, graceful, famous in all our lands. It only had four characters, “他需要你 (He needs you).”

  I remembered once we had a mooncake party at my residence. The moon was full, we lit our lanterns and ate mooncakes till our stomachs could take no more. I had watched Qing Ge Ge and Hsiao Ge Ge, both of their faces were so identical when they were young. I was often asked, “How do you differentiate them?”

  Hsiao Ge Ge was sitting on a bamboo stool and quietly gazing at the moon. Qing Ge Ge grew impatient and stood up. The moon rays fell on him as he thought up of a new game for us to play. I thought then that Qing Ge Ge was the illuminated crescent moon and Hsiao Ge Ge was the shadow behind it. Without the shadow, there would be no light.

   I did not realize then, but I wondered later if Qing Ge Ge realized that he could always move forward so confidently because he knew Hsiao Ge Ge was behind him?

Monday, 14 July 2014

Little Phoenix is Not an Immortal (小凤不是仙) by Shu Ke (蜀客) (HE) (XX) (4 stars) - Review + Scene Translation

   Has anyone missed my book reviews? To be honest, I have not been reading any chinese novels (absolutely do not have the spare time :(). This was the last novel I read before I fell really sick in May, and it's a really cute xianxia novel. It's short too, only about 43 chapters? It's about a girl who travelled through time and finds herself in a burnt up Phoenix's body! She looks awful and is picked up by the King of the Feather Tribe (head immortal of all the birds), and finds herself embroiled in the war between the Gods and the Demons. 

Here's the summary I translated and posted in ssb:

   From the moment the heavens were born, was there any Phoenix as unlucky as her? From the start, she was a stranded Phoenix that was bullied by chickens! Luckily, she met the elegant and distinguished Phoenix King, Zhao Hua Jun. From then on, she entered the realm of the gods and enjoyed the good life where she only needed to open her mouth to be fed. Unknowingly, she saved the Prince of the Realm of the Immortals He Yue Wei, and even experienced an unexpected blessing through a disaster, by eating the internal divine essence of the previous Phoenix God and gaining the form of a person. She thought her life was finally improving, and her relationship with the Phoenix King was deepening, but who knew that everything would change suddenly? 

  The Demon King, the reincarnation of the Death God, he had the aura and power of the Ancient Gods and looked down upon the six realms. No one could control him, but in the realm of the gods, there is a rumour spreading of a prediction that will be able to seal him again...

  When Little Phoenix personally saw the reunion of Zhao Hua Jun and his old lover, she left in a fit of temper. Coincidentally, she met the uncontrollable Demon King. Should she "leave the light and head towards the dark" or "be loyal to the end"? The destiny of the three realms will be turned upside down by this Little Phoenix. It seems that deep within this destiny... is a fate decided by Heaven...

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Fiction: Little Moon's Matchmaking Mission (Author's Note)

“It's hard being left behind. (...) It's hard to be the one who stays.” 

   I have this habit of researching all I can about every book I finish. I love reading about people's thoughts on things I love, or exploring different interpretations of a book. I thought it would be fun to share my inspiration of Little Moon's Matchmaking Mission.

  The inspiration started with the Moon God. I was utterly fascinated with the typical vision of the Moon God, this white-haired, white-moustached/bearded jolly old man who would connect the love and marriage affinities of all the mortals in the world with a red thread. I wondered, what was his love story? What was his views of love? Would he be heartbroken at how easily marriages are connected and broken these days?

  So, I started conceptualising his love story, and I realised that his love story would span a few lifetimes, the tone of his story would lean towards being more serious and bittersweet. I wanted to write a romantic comedy - something light, something that would make you feel warm or let your mind fly free when you watch the moon. So, I decided to create Little Moon, a "niece" of the Moon God. She was a character that was part of the Moon God's love story, and instead of writing about San Yue and Hsiao first, I changed the chronology. So, we get to read about their second chance at love, we get to have fun!

  Little Moon's Matchmaking Mission is really a romantic comedy from Chapter 1 to Chapter 12. Chapter 13 is meant to make you re-look the whole previous chapters, where there is a kind of symmetry between the past and present - Yue and Hsiao helping a couple give birth just like the Moon God and Ye Liu on their first meeting, Yue finally playing for Hsiao a song on the flute to hilarious consequences. But more importantly, Yue unlike San Yue, got to follow Hsiao on his adventure to become a great King this time. San Yue had a life only of waiting, and she never got to wait for Hsiao to return alive. 

  In Little Moon, Hsiao had to wait for Yue, a "long unknowable wait". 

  This was my exploration of the idea of the timing in relationship, and the question, "Would you wait for someone all your life?" Would you wait for nothing? Or, is waiting, being the one who stays, also a kind of love?

Friday, 11 July 2014

Fiction: Little Moon's Matchmaking Mission! (Chapter 17) (ENDING)

  Yay! We have reached the final chapter. Trying to write my own little fiction has taught me how tough it must be to write a real novel (and how far away I am from such an endeavour). I'm very grateful for all the supportive and constructive feedback I have gained along the way. Now, I would like to wipe the sweat off my brow and return to being a simple translator (but don't worry, I won't forget about the epilogues!). Haha. 

  At the start, I thanked Hui'er, Moonblossom and Sherry. And at the end, I would like to also thank these readers who have given such great encouragement along the way. Honestly, without all you guys' support, my story would have been puttering to the finishing line. In order of chronology of comments: to the many anonymous commenters, fangorn, Kiyo, upside_down aka lemonsalt, sutekii, Elaine Teo, Redhazel, Sonia, bingu, Peachie, Lola, hanny, karma, macopaleaf, GalaxyAngel007, ginny hale, Hanisah Suria, hh, samie, uw_maulida, Escapism Fanatic, Yasmin, MissyMay, Riley Elizabeth, LittleDi, HannaH, Little Peach, cathy0430, atz, totoromalas, lalalolo, Marie St Claire, Kamila Hasbianti, aimey, anya, Unknown 2,, giginkanovels, super-latte and joannakuang. *gives little head bow*

  Finally, I shared my little tale to one of my close personal friends and sister of my heart, R, yesterday and this morning, she shared with me a line of ancient poetry that reminded her of Hsiao, Yue and Xi Yang (in this very order). I can't help but marvel at the serendipity of it all, because it fitted perfectly with the ending I had planned to post this very morning. R, one of the real life fairytale princesses I know, thank you.

   I hope all of you will enjoy this final chapter - I have always envisioned Little Moon as a little folk-tale/fable to read dreamily before bedtime. I will write an author's note after this to share the inspiration for the story :). 

Chapter 17: A Lover's Wait

   The silver-haired and silver-robed Moon God, the dark-haired and white-robed Hsiao, one stood in the rain, the droplets falling upon his face, one knelt down on the ground, the droplets tip-tapping on his back.

  Finally, Hsiao lifted up his head at the full moon, and he stood up. Tall, upright and firm. The Moon God never forgot the strong glow in Hsiao’s eyes when Hsiao told him, “I am going to wait for Yue. No matter how long it takes.”

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Fiction: Little Moon's Matchmaking Mission! (Chapter 16)

    Hello! The penultimate chapter of Little Moon took longer than expected because for the first time in writing this story, I wondered if I should deviate from my original plot. I have grown to really love the characters as I wrote this story, and I truly considered if this was the way the story should move forward. And, indeed, after some reflection, I felt that I needed to follow what I had planned. This was the true path of my story - I promise it will all make sense in the end.

  Thank you, readers, for the support. I will see you soon at the finishing line.

Chapter 16: The Emperor’s Women

Moon God


    I looked at Yue Er in her beautiful red robes. Her face lifted up towards me, radiant with happiness, “Uncle, I cannot wait.”

The Empress


     In the morning, a royal maidservant came to my bedchamber and announced that Crown Prince Hsiao had requested an audience. “Let him in,” I said.

     I was not surprised – did Hsiao come already to insist that he did not need Hu Jun ( (Hu – protector) (Jun - handsome))? I had sent Hu Jun, the best of my bodyguards, to be Hsiao’s head protector, but knowing Hsiao’s aloof personality… it was likely he was already here to reject this.

    I raised my head to the empty golden gilded bird cage that hung over the wooden carved window. The golden glint of the bird cage caught the sunlight like time shining one last time before it loses its sparkle and fades away. It has been at least five years since Hsiao had stepped once again into my bedchambers.

   When I had first entered the palace, I was enamored by its grandness and magnificence. There was no lack of precious stones, gold, silks, rare herbs, more physical riches than one could ever fully possess. One soon got bored with material luxuries. One day, when the Emperor asked what he could give me, I turned to one of his bird cages that hung in the garden pavilions and said, “The bird is so young and adorable. I want to release the bird.”

  The Emperor had laughed. He was tickled, because no concubine had asked for such a gift before. He clapped his hands and announced, “I hereby give you the right to release any bird in the palace.”

  I was soon known as the Emperor’s favoured concubine that loved birds, the concubine that loved releasing birds. I was given precious and rare birds from all over the Yan Kingdom. Soon, I was releasing birds by the tenths, and even hundreds on special occasions. A thousand birds were said to be released at my coronation as the Empress.

   Even though, those were my young ignorant days, they were my happiest. I imagined a little golden glow of goodness coming out of every bird I released, and I was adding these all up for my child. I would like for him to be bathed with such goodness and blessings, for him to only know light.

   Hsiao was my dawn. The light awakening from a peaceful slumber, a long period of blissful ignorance.

   When Hsiao was six, he started to look sadly at the birds that were released from the bird cages at my palace. When I asked him why did he look so sadly at the birds receiving their freedom, he had turned to me and said, “Mother Empress, don’t you see? People catch birds for you to set them free.”

Monday, 7 July 2014

#talk 20: Moons, Ten Loves, Frequently Asked Questions and other spring wonderings

credits: qianyu

   Lemonsalt sent me the above picture saying it looked like Ye Hua and Bai Su Su. I agree! I love qianyu's watercolour renderings. They really are so lovely. 

  My blog has turned seven months old! Despite being an IT idiot, I have slowly organised the content of my blog. I have also finally added the synopsis for the translation and fiction works on the pages in the header. I'm very happy with that (I have a low threshold for satisfaction haha). 

  One of the things I'm interested in working on would be the Frequently Asked Questions page. I don't know if I will be able to answer all questions, but I would certainly like to try. In one of my other entries, I got a really good question about chinese mythology and the pantheon of gods. I don't think I have sufficient knowledge to answer that yet, but I do plan to do write ups in future about the more famous Chinese Gods that you see so often in the xianxia novels, such as Jade Emperor, etc (although ambition as always exceeds ability haha).

  So ask away! :) Yes, seriously about anything! Fiction, Translation, Dramas, anything!

    I just returned from Macau yesterday and I'm still acutely feeling the pangs of wanderlust. Singapore Airlines launched a sales promotion today and I quickly booked my plane ticket back to Hong Kong. This time I will have much less baggage and 30kg of check in, I'm all giddy thinking of the books I'm going to cart back this time!

  One of the things I have also missed after I started blogging was time to read! At first, I started blogging to digest what I have so rapidly read, but now most of my free time is spent writing/translating. Not that writing/translating isn't enjoyable (because it's really much more fun when one gets to discuss the story with like-minded people), but the full-scale plunge into a new universe in a new novel is a feeling I do miss. I read Ten Loves by Zhang Yueran on the plane in Macau, and was rather curious of what the original text must be like. There were beautiful turn of phrases and a strong narrative voice, but besides the last story (Who Killed The Month of May?), I did not particularly enjoy the short stories. I think if you read any of the stories alone, you would find it interesting, but when they are sold as a collection, they all kind of meld into one fatalistic story of love - everything usually ends in blood and death, that it got kind of predictable in a horror movie way. But, Who Killed the Month of May?, was a very lovely short story and it was the story the book ended with so it still left a positive aftertaste. But, it also made me think that some things are lost in translation, especially the bit at the end when the male character's daughter reminds him that June is here and May is over.

  I think the chinese language has a huge range of words and something very romantic in the chinese language can be just the right tinge of fatalism - that right tipping point between life and death, that may just be a bit too heavy in english. There is a beautiful logic in the chinese words that I enjoy, for example Moon (月 - Yue) can also connote the months - First Moon refers to the first month, January, Second Moon refers to the second month, February, so on and so forth... and it's so beautiful, because the cycle of the moon is a month isn't it? What a beautiful way to read time.

  I actually thought of naming the chapters First Moon, etc - but I knew I would end somewhere around 16 chapters and I didn't like the idea of going beyond the Twelfth Moon. It's wonderful that I am going to end Little Moon. :) I'm excited for that. To have everything completed, and for readers to hopefully get the full range of the ideas I wanted to explore and the things I wanted to say. I must say that the popularity of Xi Yang was something completely unexpected. Haha.

  I have other exciting projects in mind, but I shall learn patience (endure, endure!) as well because I want to finish my current projects. Thanks for being so patient and supportive of my works. *heads bow*

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Heavy Sweetness Ash-Like Frost: Translation (Chapter 14.4: A Bug Eating Through The Heart)

    Lemonsalt sent me this really cute and spunky picture of a sika deer. Haha. I love it. Sometimes while translating, I laugh at the cute little actions of the sika deers (I do think that they are Night's nefarious but cute spies).

      I am in macau now! :) Yay. A short weekend trip following my husband's firm trip.

   This is a really long chapter! I don't break up the chapters, I actually follow the format of Dian Xian's internet c-novel. This is chapter 43 out of 68. Things are really heating up in Heavy Sweetness...

Chapter 14: A Bug Eating Through The Heart (Part 4 of 4)

   Phoenix's coquettish eyes narrowed, and suddenly in the darkness of the night, he gave me a smile. It was like white snow suddenly falling on a mountain that was teeming with burning red plums - extremely dazzling. The surrounding people all froze at Phoenix's smile, the cheeks of the immortals in the bird tribe suddenly floated two intoxicated red clouds, the Peacock goddess' eyes twinkled.

   But a dash of cold wind passed through my body. Although Phoenix was usually mercurial in his moods, his personality leaned towards the dark. He was usually cold and scathing towards me, for him to suddenly smile at me, I couldn't help but gave a cold shudder, I was so frightened I lowered my head.

  The ends of Phoenix's robes moved even though there was no wind, the precious sword in his hand was suddenly pulled out of the scabbard. The sound of the sword being unsheathed was sharp and glaring to the ears, the sharp blade of the sword slowly passed very closely to my downcast eyes. My heart was alarmed.

  Master Pu Chi moved and the side of his body blocked me from the front. His back was straight and tight, as if he was an arrow on a stretched bow, he had a fully prepared and anticipating aura. The two of them were caught in impasse, suddenly Phoenix raised his head upwards and laughed darkly, "Why? Can I even hurt Night's wife?" When he finished speaking, he turned his body with a swish of his robes. It was like the pouring rain after the fierce clashing of thunder, he left a group of people awkwardly staring at each other.

  The Peacock goddess gave me a look then she hurriedly chased after Phoenix. I did not know if I had sensed wrongly, but in her gaze I sensed an unfriendly wrath.

   I dazedly watched their retreating shadows, my soul was still frightened and unsteady. I wasn't sure if in the smiling eyes of Phoenix, I had actually read a killing intent that had quickly flashed by. 

   I saw the Peacock Goddess chased after Phoenix within a hundred steps and said something to him, Phoenix waved his hands at her as if in rejection. The Peacock Goddess reluctantly led her bird tribe immortals towards the palace where the Heavenly Empress resided, with each step, she turned back thrice. But Phoenix remained where he stood, he lifted up his head towards the night sky full of stars, it was not clear what he was thinking about. The guardsmen behind him stood tall and stern, the weapons in their hands shone with an intimidating aura. 

  Master Pu Chi let out a breath of air and said, "Truly, he fights and love in the same way. Since Phoenix became the Fire God, the fire in his stomach has only grown."

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Fiction: Little Moon's Matchmaking Mission! (Chapter 15)

I can’t remember if I shared this but my husband liked chapters 11 and 12. 14 was a personal favourite of his. Chapter 13 is actually my personal favourite (I have a Moon God bias) but the past history kind of went over my husband’s head. Haha. I got a little worried that Chapter 13 was too confusing, but my husband assured me that my blog readers were smarter than him lol.

  I’m very happy to share chapter 15 because this was one of the very clear scenes in my head when I started sketching out the story. And, the picture I found for chapter 15 (insert many tiny hearts), I love it so much! The story will probably be either 17 or 18 chapters. 

Chapter 15: A Heart-Breaking Question

Little Moon/Yue


    I was a person of fleeting moods. Gods did not need to eat, but I always enjoyed having meals. And, for every meal, I would often struggle to decide what to eat – only because there were so many different types of dishes I desired.

   For a person who struggled even with the simplest decisions – fried or steam? Spicy or salty? Chicken or duck? Strangely, I had no hesitation at all when I was faced with the life-changing decision of choosing between being a Moon Maiden or being with Hsiao.

   Because, the choice was always illusory. Wasn’t the question, at the core of it all, to pick the path true to one’s self?

  I wanted to be a Moon Maiden because I believed in love. Because, I believed in love, I wanted to follow my heart.

  I smiled warmly at my uncle, my eyes crinkled into tiny crescent moons like him, “Uncle, I love you.”

   Uncle patted my head, “You have picked a hard road, Yue. Then again, the course of true love never did run smooth.*”

   “Your divine core is unstable and you are extremely weak. I will send you down during the night when the moon is strongest to meet Hsiao,” Uncle said as he slowly strand by strand placed my stray hairs away from my forehead and behind my ears.

   “I object!” I did not even need to lift my head to know whom the angry voice belonged to.

   “Xi Yang,” Uncle intoned wearily as Xi Yang stormed into the bedchambers.

   “I will personally guard this door to stop you from ever going down to the mortal realms again,” Xi Yang declared and glared at me.

   “Xi Yang Ge Ge,” I started to beg, “I need to go down and speak to Hsiao.”

   “What’s there to speak of? I have already told Hsiao about your identity and destiny,” Xi Yang said, I could tell he was furious and I could see the fine green veins popping up at the side of his forehead.

  “Uncle, I cannot believe you are supporting Yue in her foolish endeavour. Are we to watch her walk onto the path of self incineration?” Xi Yang shook his head in disbelief at Uncle’s resigned acceptance.

  “Xi Yang Ge Ge, I love…” before I could finish, Xi Yang interrupted me.

  “Yue Er, then how about my love for you? Because you love Hsiao, you can give up your fate and face karmic retribution for him. Then how about my love? Uncle’s love? Is the fate of our love to watch you self incinerate? Do you know what that means? There is no reincarnation for a red thread,” Xi Yang spoke in a conflicted tone that hinted at the deep feelings he was suppressing.

  I shook my head, “Xi Yang Ge Ge, 太迟了 (it’s too late). At the start when I allowed Mei Yun to marry Gentleman Yun Feng, when I encouraged General Tie Shi to pursue Princess Bai Ying, I had already plunge forth deep into my feelings and not looked back.”

  I raised my right palm to Xi Yang, the third red dot was already half black, “Even if I stayed in heavens, at the most, I would only be a shell, Xi Yang Ge Ge.”

  I lifted up my eyes directly into Xi Yang’s eyes, the pain that flickered in his eyes twisted my heart. My Xi Yang Gege, the person I admired most after Uncle, everything he did was magnificent, my always arrogant protector.

  Suddenly, we heard the arrival of the Royal Heaven General Jun Lang (君狼- Gentleman Wolf) with a small troop of elite soldiers. He bowed in greeting, “Greetings to the Moon God, greetings to the Crown Prince Sun and Maiden Yue.”

  “Subordinate is under orders from the Jade Emperor to bring your royal highness before him due to the sun eclipse’s this afternoon,” The Royal Heaven General continued bowing his head in deference to Xi Yang, “May Crown Prince Sun kindly follow us.”

  Xi Yang’s eyes stayed with me, “If you go down and meet Hsiao tonight, don’t ever call me Xi Yang Ge Ge again. I am not your Xi Yang Ge Ge.”

  With that, he gave a swift turn and walked out of the bedchambers. I did not even have the heart to call him back.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Fiction: Little Moon's Matchmaking Mission! (Chapter 14)

   Wow, we have reached chapter 14! Sometimes, it feels like a dream to me, that I have readers who enjoy my little fiction. And then I wake up, and it amazingly still exists.

  I think the story will end at Chapter 16-18, it depends on how long the chapter gets. This is my maiden attempt at a full original fiction and I have learnt quite a bit through the process, I hope you will enjoy this final arc!

  Also, many thanks and sweet hugs to sutekii who so kindly wrote a recommendation and review for Little Moon. *I'm so touched!* 

Chapter 14: A Difficult Choice

Little Moon/Yue


   I felt like my brain was breaking into a thousand fragments, and yet it also felt like everything was finally falling into place.

   Uncle patted my head, “Don’t worry, you will always be my niece, Yue. But you have a choice to make… a choice I wish you didn’t have to make. I was happy when you wanted to be a Moon Maiden, I thought this might be fate and this was your road to divinity. However, somehow your destiny got crossed with Hsiao’s again…”

  “Yue, if you continue on your path to be a full-fledged Moon Maiden, you will accumulate divine essence and your heartstone will stabilize again. You will be immortal and slowly become a real goddess,” Uncle gave me a warm smile before continuing, “But, if you choose to go against this path, if you choose to be with Hsiao, it will be uncharted territory. You will be neither mortal nor immortal… you will likely suffer karmic retribution and vanish.”

Prince Sun/Xi Yang  


    To say I was disgruntled watching over Hsiao would be a modest underestimation. After teleporting Yue back to the Heavenly Realms to the Moon God, I rode Hsiao’s horse with Hsiao to the Capital. I had considered using a wandering cloud or teleporting straight to the Capital, but I was skeptical if Hsiao’s physical body could take such a disturbance.

   Although it had taken some time to bring Hsiao back to the Royal Yan Palace, I wasn’t worried about Hsiao’s life. Hsiao’s pulse had largely stabilized with half of Yue’s heartstone. It took all my restraint not to want to tear it out of his chest. I scowled as I watch Hsiao sleep soundly in his bedchambers. When I had first arrived at the palace gates with Hsiao’s royal token, the soldiers had practically fallen to their feet in panic to see their long absent Second Prince return with a serious injury. After countless examinations by the Imperial Doctors, they pronounced that the Heavens had looked kindly upon their Second Prince and he would wake up soon. They had marveled at how the poison had miraculously resolved in Hsiao’s body even without an antidote.

   I had refused to explain my identity to these silly mortals, and they had placed me in a neighboring royal pavilion as they waited for Hsiao to awake. Although uncertain of my origins, they did not dare to treat Hsiao’s saviour lightly.

  “If you are a man, you should wake up now,” I scoffed and prodded Hsiao’s forehead as I sat on a stool next to his bed.

   Since the first moment I met Hsiao, his body had emanated a golden divine glow. It was obvious that he was fated to be the Emperor, and was no ordinary mortal. I suppose my rival had to at least be of this standard. But, I did not intend on wasting any more time on him for I wanted to return to Heaven to check on Yue.