Monday, 6 October 2014

Once Promised 曾许诺 by Tong Hua 桐华 : Translation for Chapter 12 (Part 1/5)

   I must give my sincere thanks to Moonblossom for helping me translate Chapter 10 and 11. :) Her translations were beautiful and brought us to the grand stage of Shao Hao and A'Heng's wedding. A'Heng is getting married but the groom is not Chi You. Will the wedding be successful? 

   Chapter 12 is actually the chapter when I fell for A'Heng and really understood her as a strong and soft female lead. It's quite a long chapter so I have split it into 5 parts. 

   The title of the chapter is a line from the poem, 《虞美人 秋夕信步》 by a famous poet, Na Ling Xing De from the Qing Dynasty. The literal translation of the title would be, "Beauty Yu - Walking Aimlessly in an Autumn Night" - the poet is walking aimlessly in the night and thinking about his past with a beautiful woman. 

  The chapter's title comes from the first half of this famous line, 薄情转是多情累,曲曲柔肠碎. It is supposed to describe the poet's feelings of being burdened and troubled by love - how someone deeper in love will be more troubled than someone who has less feelings. But, somehow that meaning did not capture the whole line for me. I felt it seemed to be describing how when someone's feelings start to grow, it starts to entangle you - perhaps, a feeling that you thought was shallow somehow starts to grow depth and layers the more you reminisce and will forever enrapture you, causing your insides to want to break.

Chapter 12: As the Feelings Grow Deeper, the Heart Grows Tired (Part 1 of 5)

     The fifth day of the fifth moon is Gao Xing's May festival. It's an extremely auspicious day suitable for weddings. Thus, the grand wedding of Gao Xing's Shao Hao and Xuan Yuan Ba was fixed on this day. 

   The citizens of Xuan Yuan prized talent and admired heroes. Since Gao Xing's Shao Hao was the top male hero in the lands, the dream husband of all the females, they were very happy for their only princess to marry Shao Hao. The citizens of Gao Xing prized status and bloodline. Xuan Yuan Ba was born from the Yellow Emperor's royal wife Lei Zu, and although the Yellow Emperor's bloodline was a little low, however Lei Zu was from the famous tribe of Xi Ling, her bloodline was respected and even once produced a Yan Empress. Xuan Yuan Ba was worthy of their first prince. 

   Although the culture of both countries were different, undoubtably, both sides were happy for this marriage alliance. The upcoming wedding of Gao Xing's Shao Hao and Xuan Yuan Ba became the happy news of all the households. Ever since they left Xuan Yuan mountain, everywhere the Xuan Yuan wedding troop went as they sent off Xuan Yuan Ba to Gao Xing, they were met with celebrating citizens. 

   Chang Yi knocked on the bridal sedan and happily told Xuan Yuan Ba who was inside, "Did you see that? The people are singing and dancing everywhere!"

   Xuan Yuan Ba was sitting primly inside the sedan. She said in a soft voice, "Yes, I heard."

   Chang Yi said, "In front is Xiang Shui, Shao Hao's welcoming party is at the opposite shore of the river. According to customs, I can only send you to the river side, shall we rest here for a while?"


  Chang Yi leaned at the sides of the sedan and said softly, "Although I should be very happy, but I am both happy and sad, I almost wish that we would never reach Xiang Shui."

  Xuan Yuan Ba leaned her head on the insides of the sedan, as if she was leaning on her older brother, "Shao Hao is Oldest Brother's good friend, he will definitely treat me well, you do not have to worry. What's more, I am only getting married to Gao Xing, you can always come and visit me."

   Chang Yi laughed, "Yes, that's what I thought too, and my land Ruo Shui is near to Gao Xing."

   Xuan Yuan Ba asked, "When are you going to marry my future sister in law?"

   "In a few years, it would be a good excuse to invite you home and we can all reunite."

  "Fourth Brother, you must frequently visit mother in future."

   "Yes, I will take care of mother, you don't have to worry about our family."

   The officials in charge of ensuring the auspicious timing is preserved came forward to hurry them, "Your Highness, if we don't continue our journey, we will miss the auspicious hour. Gao Xing's welcoming party is already at the river shore."

  Chang Yi lightly gave out a sigh and commanded for the journey to resume. 

   In a while, they reached the shore of Xiang Shui. 

   The parties on both side - one sending off and one welcoming, they looked at each other. The drums and trumpets were being played with increasing strength and joined with the cheers of the citizens from both sides, it seemed like the whole land was covered in celebratory festivities. 

  With Chang Yi's help, Xuan Yuan Ba got down from the bridal sedan. She was already wearing the clothing of Gao Xing, in a full robe of white since Gao Xing's royal colour was white. She appeared curvaceous and soft, her steps were light and gentle, while Shao Hao in the opposing shore was grandly robed and distinguished. Both of them gazed at each other from across the river, it was a beautiful emotional scene, where both appeared as perfect complements. The citizens from both sides felt their heart burst at the sight of this couple perfectly made for each other. 

   The loud boisterous celebratory music ceased. The ritual official gave celebratory greetings and struck a metal bell. 

  When the sound of the striking of the metal bell rang far and wide, the young boys and young girls of the Gao Xing Tribe in their customary clothes started to sing the song to welcome the bride. 




[The above is an actual poem describing a grand party welcoming a bride. It's weird if I literally translate it and would not really capture the meaning of the poem. So, just imagine a song being sung of a bird coming home to roost, to make a home here forever, and she (the bride being compared to the bird/magpie) is being welcomed by two hundred guards.] 

  In the midst of this grand celebratory song, there were ten thousands of beautiful Xuan birds dancing in the air and they formed a bridge on top of Xiang Shui. This was the grandest most formal and respected way of welcoming a bride in Gao Xing. In the ten thousands of years, although there were many royal marriages, only the Jun Emperor's first wife enjoyed this welcome ritual. 

   The citizens on both sides had never seen such a beautiful sight and gave out cries of joy and surprise. 

   Shao Hao stepped on the Xuan bird bridge and under the lead of the Xuan birds, he was heading towards Xuan Yuan Ba, his robes flying in the wind, his whole aura outstanding. 

   Chang Yi smiled and moved back a few steps, he told A'Heng, "Xiao Mei (little sister), go! Your husband is waiting for you ahead." Looking at Gao Xing's grand welcome ritual, he can finally let his heart rest and allow his younger sister to step on this bridge to cross the river. 

    In the midst of the pleasing but formal song, and following the lead of the Xuan birds, Xuan Yuan Ba also stepped onto the bridge the Xuan Yuan birds had made for the marriage. 

  At this moment, the sun was shining, the winds were cool, the shores at both sides were luxuriant with greenery and flowers, there was nothing but a bridge made up by the Xuan birds, like the arch of a rainbow joining both sides. 

  Shao Hao and Xuan Yuan Ba followed the instructions of the ritual officer, step by step, neither fast nor slow, they slowly walked towards each other. 

  All of the people excitedly gazed at them, anticipating the moment when they met on the bridge and joined their hands.

  But suddenly, an angry cry broke through the clouds, "Xi Ling Heng!"

  Gao Xing Tribe's welcoming party had hundreds of people singing but their song could not cover the deep anguished cry from the clouds. Xuan Yuan Ba acted like she heard nothing and continued to walk towards Shao Hao. 

  Shao Hao's eyes quickly swept through the clouds. He also acted like he heard nothing and continued to walk towards Xuan Yuan Ba, but his fingers slowly moved to create a magical boundary. The wind started to blow faster, the river was covered with clouds and there were mists all around, the visions of the people from both sides were shrouded and they could not see what was happening on the river. 

 When Shao Hao and Xuan Yuan Ba reached the middle of the bridge, the entire river was surrounded by fog. Shao Hao and Xuan Yuan Ba reached out their hands...

   "Xi Ling Heng, have you forgotten our promise?" In the clouds and mists, a man in robes as red as blood stepped off the great legendary black Da Peng bird, and fell from the sky, his eyes full of anger and anguish. 

Comments: I love the way Tong Hua played with names as representative of identity - A'Heng is not referred to by her name 'A'Heng' in this chapter but Xuan Yuan Ba, only at one point, when Chang Yi was speaking to her as a brother, the author used her name A'Heng. Because A'Heng is no longer the simple A'Heng, but Xuan Yuan Ba, the royal princess of the Xuan Yuan Tribe, getting married for her country. So, it is Xuan Yuan Ba that is getting married, not A'Heng. That was why it was especially perfect when Chi You arrives on the scene and shouts, "Xi Ling Heng!" That is the woman who made the promise to him. Will A'Heng ever be able to reconcile all her identities? 

The Xuan birds coming to make a bridge to reunite the couple is a clever play on the legend of the Cow Herder and Weaving Goddess (see my write-up here on the legend) - where magpies come to make a bridge to reunite this couple once a year because the Heavens did not want the two to be together since the Cow Herder was only a mortal. 

It's also quite clever since the poem Tong Hua used to welcome the bride is titled "Magpie". Tong Hua also puts a twist to the romantic symbol of the bird bridge. Usually, the bird bridge is a symbol of universal love overcoming the odds, but ironically, the birds are uniting a couple in marriage but they are not in love. The true groom then arrives on the legendary great Da Peng bird. *SWOON* 

When I read Lost You Forever, I was struck when Xiang Liu came to stop Xiao Yao's wedding - I saw the parallels of when Chi You came to stop A'Heng's wedding. At that moment, I thought --- Xiang Liu might be the one deepest in Xiao Yao's heart. Also, Xiang Liu stopping Xiao Yao's wedding with a promise appears to have paid homage to a famous scene in Louis Cha's The Heaven Sword and Dragon Sabre, except in the Heavenly Sword and Dragon Sabre, it was a girl stopping the groom from marrying someone else. 

Look forward to Tong Hua's version of the lover comes to snatch the bride from the groom! 


  1. Tysm!♡

    - samie

  2. thanks alot!! this made my mondayyy!! Happy Monday! is there any illustration of shao hao and xuan yuan ba's wedding?

    1. Welcome! Haha there are no official illustrations for Once Promised and I got this from a japanese manga, The Bride Of the Water God.

  3. This part reminds me of 小曲兒 - 上邪 lyrics that hoju translated for "Really really miss you"

    Your wedding gown like fire has scorched the horizon
    Henceforth, the setting sun will sear my heart [‘til red] like cinnabar
    It is said that peach blossoms can be found in your eyes
    But how is it that in one evening, those blossoms fell like rain?

    Btw decembi, will there be any updates on The Emperor's Strategy? Or do you have intentions of finishing Once Promised and Heavy Sweetness Ash-Like Frost first?

    1. Oh those lyrics are lovely! Teehee, I must add that A'Heng's wedding robes is actually white, but the bride of the water god pictures were soooo beautiful I decided to use them anyway! Hahaha.

      I plan to translate The Emperor's Strategy again when I finish Book 1 of Once Promised or finish Heavy Sweetness Ash-Like Frost. I think 3 translation projects + 1 own fiction are too tough for me to manage especially since they are all ancient c-novels. I also actually have two ancient c-novels I want to translate in the backlog. :( Sigh, so many dreams, so little time. My work schedule is very tough though so we will see how it pans out. For me, family and work is still my priority, but this blog is my passion project <3

    2. hahaha yes I knew A'Heng's wedding robes were white, but I felt the lyrics still complimented the translation quite well.

      I definitely understand, I was just wondering, no intentions of rushing you. I know you're a super busy women ^^

    3. Teehee! No problem! I really miss the Emperor's Strategy too. It's hard to pick it up suddenly after a big break too, when I do so, I will probably do a long translation update!

      Thank you! All the best for your blog too <333. I try to update at a pace I find comfortable so that blogging remains fun.

    4. yes you have a lot on your plate atms, I was thinking of reading Emperor's Strategy, but then decided to wait for you. I'm in no hurry to finish the novel. I actually enjoy having a break and reading, it feels so good to read again hahaha! My current project isn't as full on so I leisurely just cruise along.

    5. Awww having a break sounds soooo awesome! I have been taking mini breaks here and there and went back to reading hardcopy english novels. It's quite refreshing. <3 Indeed, let's cruise along!

  4. Thank you for the lovely chapter translation Decembi and Moonblossom! Everything is translated really beautifully.

    I think the Bride of the Water God is a Korean Manhwa not a Japanese Manga. Was following it for some time a few years back.

    Jia You for the translations Decembi! Looking forward to seeing The Emperor's Strategy again :)


  5. Lovely to hear from you, lemonsalt ;)! You are right! It's a manhwa. I find korean comics have v lovely art but strange plots.

    Me too! I want to finish a bk!

    1. Yeah I think so too! The plot of BOTWG was interesting at first but got quite meandering after that. Actually it is a good potential adaptation for a drama. The male lead in the manhwa looks quite like Hyun Bin.

    2. I think I will only read BOTWG after it finishes! I agree. Hyun Bin is male perfection! Swoon

  6. OMG totally cant wait for the next partttt , this is the shao hao in my mind

    1. anyway thank you moonblossom

    2. Shao Hao is a perfect looking man in white and your picture is not far off from my mental image too.

      I feel like part of a twin - Decembi wrote this piece and came up with all the imageries; I only did chapt 10 and 11. tee.hee. But I'll say on Decembi's behalf - "You are most welcome!"

    3. aww, so decembi was the one who translate this. my bad.. thank you Decembi.. hahah

      i cant really imagine how chi you look like, which actor do you think suits to be chi you?

    4. Heehee no problem icicles! Moonblossom is my trusty partner in all things Once Promised.

      I agree that the picture of Wallace Huo in white is absolute perfection! I'm half decided on Wallace Huo being Shao Hao for the simple reason that I can never decide if I like or dislike Shao Hao. He is a difficult character to grasp.

      I think Yuan Hong is a pretty good fit! :)

    5. yeah yuan hong would be awesome. hahaha, what makes you undecided whether you like or dislike him?

    6. Because Shao Hao's character isn't that likeable in Once Promised hahaha for me

  7. Chang Yi is so so so sweet! Thanks for translating :)


    1. Hello Nightflower, yes he is such a sweeet brother. I want one too!

  8. I was waiting for CY's appearance and it was all I could have hoped for. His cry made my heart hurt.

    And of course, thank you decembi for the translation!

    1. Welcome dramapenchant! Ah, Chi You, is really one of my favourite male leads ever. He is so strong and direct! Steal the bride, CY! <3

    2. He's totally my style!! <3

      I also love CY and how much he dotes on AH!! Where can I get a brother like that? This totally explains the close relationship between XY and ZX...

    3. Hahaha that's so it's okay it's love! ♡

      YES, CY and QY are the best brothers ever! I think A'heng would have wanted ZX and XY to be together if possible...

  9. Hello, Decembi and moonblossom ,thanks for translating all along. Will you actually continue translating Once promised? thank you. sorry for asking.

    1. Moonblossom was very generously helping me for some chapters. While I still plan to translate this, this project is on slight hiatus due to my work :(

  10. Hello, Decembi & Moonblossom!
    I was hoping that you'll translate the rest of the book, too! Please do consider my sincere request to translate the book because I really love it but I dont know Chinese!
    At least, could you provide links as to where I can find the translations/recaps of this book?
    P.S. Thank You in advance! :)

    1. Hello Asianbolt!

      Thanks for the support. I do plan to continue translating this project but in all honesty, I'm going to be slow. It's on hiatus currently.

      Can you see my main navigation bar? All the translation links are there :)

    2. I just wanted to say how much I appreciate your hard work translating OP. It is my most favorite novel and the love of Chi You and AH is one epic love story that has imprinted in my heart. Not only I enjoyed reading your translation, I love to read your reactions and comments. I hope to see you complete this project... I will be waiting.. and checking to see the next update. Thanks again 🙏🏼 🙏🏼

  11. Will you still finish this novel? I came late in the game and is addicted to this novel. I hope you can continue translating it.

  12. Same... Chi You and AH love is one of a other love compared to. I love this couple so much...their love, their hate and their longings for each other is immensely indescribable...even to the end .. they have never give up....just wow. CY so patiently waited for AH...

  13. I hope you continue translating the rest of this novel soon.

  14. Can't I download and keep your translations? I love both Once promised and Lost you forever very much.

  15. Can't I download and keep your translations? I love both Once promised and Lost you forever very much.

  16. Have ou finished translating more chapters? Or do you know where can i find the completed book translate?

  17. Have ou finished translating more chapters? Or do you know where can i find the completed book translate?

  18. Have ou finished translating more chapters? Or do you know where can i find the completed book translate?