Ah, I get it, the pace of the book is uneven. Things finally start moving and it becomes easier to translate the going-ons in the wild south. I quite enjoy translating the wuxia scenes and it is a kick I didn’t quite expect when I started the story. No everyday I can try dabbling in flying kicks and invincible thunder palms like Melanie. How many ways can you handle a sword, let me count the ways….
Chapter 7 (Part 2)
Shang Guan Jing is quite happy with her life recently. Firstly, Feng Jin has gotten visibly better after their marriage. Even if she has married hastily, even if she does not love him, they respect each other, they enjoy the other’s company, and that is enough. She has done the right thing and she is genuinely happy to be able to relieve him from suffering.
Secondly, she is pleased she can help improve the life of the villagers. She has been coaching martial arts for the last two months and the villagers have grown to accept her. Compared to the time she first arrived in Nan Man, more will talk to her and some will even walk home with her after class.
Today, she has followed Feng Jin into the forest to gather herbs and she tells him about her recent encounter with the family who lives up the mountain. These are the family members of the old granny and the family whom talk to her most often. “There is this middle-age couple. The woman is very pretty and has a soft, sweet voice. She looks so gentle and fragile that I doubt I can ever raise my voice in her presence. And her husband is tall, lanky with sharp features…. wait a minute, that man resembles you! Especially when both of you do not like to tie your hair in a knot and prefer to wear the same kind of loose robes. But his are printed robes while yours are plain white robes.” Pause. “I like you in plain robes.”
“So meaning you only like my clothes and not the person wearing them?”
She is a little embarrassed and rebuffs him quickly. If she does not like him, she would not have married him. Seeing that she is shy, Feng Jin did not tease her further and concentrates on rubbing her calf. “Other than the couple, who else have you met?”
She has sprained her leg while helping him to pick some flowers growing high up in a tree and Shang Guan Jing answers truthfully while he tends to her leg. “The one whom I met most frequently is the old granny whom I mentioned to you the other time. There is also a woman around my age, 2 young men in their late teens, a strong-bodied huntsman, and 3 elderly folks who can be rather cranky at times. Ah, there is also a 10-year old boy called Nineteen. He is very cute but can be a little temperamental. You can talk to him but he only answers back when he feels like it. But even though he seems awkward around me, he would follow me around for a long time.”
His squints. “Is that so? These folks are really enthusiastic…”
“Huh? What did you say?”
“Nothing. With what we have gathered so far including the ‘red phoenix tail’, I will be able to concoct some pills. If we do not want to have a baby so soon, we can each take a pill before bedtime.”
Shang Guan Jing has never thought about having children but now that she is married, it should only be a matter of time before they have a child? After Feng Jin is done massaging her leg, he wants to continue foraging for herbs. She wants to follow him but he is insistent that she should stay put and let him complete the task alone.
She can obey him, if it is what he wants, which is why she is now sitting alone in a clearing, with only the sounds of forest for company. The tranquility is enjoyable and she took out some food that the servants have prepared. As she munches on the food, she wonders idly if she should learn to cook so that she can cook something for her husband one day.
She hears a rustling sound and thinking that Feng Jin has returned, she turns around with a smile. But it is not Feng Jin and is someone who appearance is enough to stun her immobility. “Er Shi Ge…”
Bo Lan Zhou smiles and greets her warmly like old times. “Jing! I have searched such a long time for you. A really long time.”
Uncontrollably, her eyes filled with tears even as she breaks into her habitual smile when around him.
“I know I have let you down and hurt you. Even if I were to die nine more times, it would not be enough to atone for my mistake.” He walks up to her and brushes her tears away gently. “Can you follow me back? Even though Da Shi Jie has injured you, she is very remorseful after the incident. Shall we go back and start all over again? We all grew up together and I believe that there is nothing we cannot sort out so long as we put our minds to it.”
“Yes, back to Yu Ling peak. I know you are very good to me and likewise, I care for you deeply in my heart. Both Shi Jie and you are the nicest person to me on this earth. Won’t it be wonderful if we can all live together, just like how we have always been there for each other?”
Although her face is still smiling, Shang Guan Jing can only feel grief. “What is there to go back to?”
“Back to a live a good life of course.” Seeing more tears, Bo Lan Zhou reaches out to brush them away from her pale face. “You have teacher’s token and if you can hand it over, we will be able to open the cave and access the treasures inside.”
“I don’t want the treasure! I only want Teacher to be well; for Xiao Shi Mei to be well.” Finally getting a grip on herself, she turns her face away to avoid further contact with him. As she moves back a step she notices his sword and pales even more. “That sword… it belongs to Fourth Shi Mei. What have you done to her?!”
“Well, Xue Ying should not have meddled in our business since she has married and settled down in the Western Dessert. But she picked a quarrel with us the moment she came back and kept asking for your whereabouts. She behaved as if we have harmed you.”
He reaches out and catch hold of her hand. “Please come back with us and you will be able to see Fourth Shi Mei. You have always been close to her and you would not want her to worry unnecessarily right? Or suffer?”
Shang Guan Jing feels a chill on her back and shakes free from him. Her hand has already closed over the hilt of her sword when a cold voice rings out from the shadows. “Why are you wasting your breathe on her! Shang Guan Jing, let me see how close you are to him!”
Da Shi Jie!
And Feng Jin is standing right behind her.
Chapter 8 (Part 1)
The moment Li Yun Yi finishes talking, she turns back and thrusts her sword at Feng Jin. Shang Guan Jing quickly leaps into the air and lands between the 2 of them. Her sword is already in her hand, and she blocks the onslaught with all her might. The air vibrates with a sharp ‘clang!’ and Li Yun Yi is forced to back away 3 steps.
Shang Guan Jing grabs Feng Jin’s hand and tries to dash for the path between 2 trees. “Leave with me!”
Before they can however, several men appear and surround them. There are about 20 of them and they are all armed. With a roar, they start attacking and Shang Guan Jing has to focus all her attention on them.
Within a few strokes, Shang Guan Jing already knows that they are not her match in terms of skill, but she is outnumbered and she is also has Feng Jin who doesn’t know martial arts. He is innocent and has nothing to do with her feud with her sect members. If he is hurt or harmed in any way, she will never forgive herself. In fact, her one and only thought now is getting Feng Jin to safety.
Taking a deep breath, she quickens her pace and strikes out like lightening. As if she has eyes at the back of her head, she blocks a sword aimed at her back and in her return swing, her sword has cut cleanly through the attacker at her back. As she moves to block another oncoming sword coming from her left, she spots a shadowy blur to her right. It looks like Yan Ying and…. it is Yan Ying, thank goodness! From the corner of her eyes, she sees him injuring 3 men with one swing of his sword and sends Feng Jin’s attackers sprawling to the ground.
Seeing that she has help, Bo Lan Zhou and Li Yun Yi joins in the fight. Their men can take care of the newcomer but they will need to tackle Shang Guan Jing.
As they start attacking her, Shang Guan Jing strikes out another 49 strokes in rapid succession. When her sharp eyes sees a gap on Bo Lan Zhou’s left, between his arm and waist, she slips her sword nimbly through the opening and cuts his side. He tries to block her upswing but she step-sides his countermove efficiently and nicks him in the neck. As Bo Lan Zhou presses a hand to his bleeding neck, she eyes him coldly. “You have never manage to win me yet in a duel.”
Li Yun Yi is incensed when she sees the blood and thrusts her sword at Shang Guan Jing. Because they are very close, Shang Guan Jing can see the fire and fear in her eyes and silently acknowledges to herself that Da Shi Jie must indeed love Er Shi Ge very much to be so concern over him. The force of her swordplay is testimony of her anger and unbidden, a thought crosses her mind. What about herself? Does she have someone whom she loves and wants to keep safe?
The answer is yes, she does.
With her minds preoccupied with protecting Feng Jin, she is a split second slower in swinging back her sword. Seeing his chance, Bo Lan Zhou swings and cuts her sword arm. His sword is very sharp and Shang Guan Jing almost never feels the sting until the sensation of warm liquid flowing down her arm cues her that she has been injured.
She did not break her rhythm and brings up her sword in the next split second before Bo Lan Zhou has opportunity to injure her. In the same move, she thrusts out her sword at Bo Lan Zhou and adds a second cut on his neck.
Li Yun Yi is furious what she has hurt Bo Lan Zhou a second time and turns around to glare at Feng Jin. Thinking a tit for a tat, she thrusts out her sword at the lanky man.
Since the Yan Ying has appeared, Feng Jin has not moved a muscle and merely observes the fight from beneath a tree. As Li Yun Yi swings her sword at him, he sees Shang Guan Jing leaping in the air towards him once more, hands outstretched to deflect the blow. She manages to block the woman a second time but her stance has left her back unguarded. Feng Jin stares on impassively as Bo Lan Zhou strikes his palm on her back.
Shang Guan Jing is unprepared for the hit and almost simultaneously, Li Yun Yi has moved and skewers her sword cleanly through her shoulder.