梓琴 (Ziqin) by 九鹭非香 (Jiu Lu Fei Xiang): ZiQin

伊吹五月(Y Xuy Ngũ Nguyệt)-(Ibuki Satsuki)-www.kaifineart.com-6 (1).jpg
Artist: Ibuki Satsuki

Zi Qin

“Evil disciple!”**

**孽徒 niè tú derogatory term, can refer to disaster, sinful, etc. addressing to a particular subject (apprentice, disciple, creature, etc.)

San Hun (散魂sǎn hún scattered/loose soul/spirit) whipped my upper back, it hurts as if my soul/spirit was scattered. Between the absent-mindedness, I heard Zhang Jiao (head of sect) angrily scolded, “This whip is for you not following the sect’s rules– rushing indiscriminately into action and reluctance to leave the world (the mundane)[1].”

[1] Indulging in the worldly lives (the physical world; human’s pleasures)

At that time in my mind, appeared an elegant face of a man wearing white who heard me played guqin. He was most joyful sitting under the peach tree on the side of Qing Zhu Ya (Green/Blue Bamboo Cliff) while listening to me play a long tune (song). He would always smile after he finished listening to the whole song. He would be half reluctant as he helplessly informed me, ” Qin er, you play the wrong tune again.”

Once again a distinct high-level sound echoed, and the Wu Ji hall’s empty space seemed to have a sound in response.

“This whip is for your disgraceful (unfilial/rebellious) acts, dare to actually have wild fantasies (thoughts) with your own master!”

The pain made my fingers curled involuntarily, but my eyes do not want to admit defeat. My opened eyes stared intently at Zhang Jiao’s furious expression, and mouth was slightly raised, “Master … whether delusional (wild fantasy) or so, this ZiQin voluntarily chose, but the thing is … that person is Mu Jin, you Zhang Jiao…… what business does it have to do with you? ”

Under the scaffold, the Xian Men (sect) elders after listening to these words are short of breath, and their faces ashen. Only auntie Qi Ling’s eyes redden, and mouthed to me to not mention any further; to leave it alone.

Even she thinks I’m wrong? Xian Men sect believes that I’m wrong, guilt of terrible crimes (idiom), but where was I wrong?

To say wrong, is merely the wrong fate.

© translations belonging to bananachocolatecosmos.wordpress.com , 2016. If you read this somewhere else instead of bananachocolatecosmos.wordpress.com then the translations has been posted WITHOUT permission of translator. 

“Shameful thing! As matters stand, does not know how to repent!” San Hun [whip] again firmly whipped downwards. I bit my teeth tightly, and still tried to suppress my groans. Zhang Jiao asked sternly, “Are you admitting to your wrongdoings?”

“Not … wrong.”

“Good! Good! Mu Jin has taught a disciple well!” Zhang Jiao angrily grinned, “Because it was you who went to instigate your fellow brothers and sisters (fellow sect disciples) to go down from the mountains to Death Valley to the steal the (legendary) elixir. The result were serious injuries to your brothers and sisters. Are you still saying you are right?”

I was silent.

Master was gravely injured and remains unconscious. His life was in imminent peril (idiom). Only the elixir (magic medicine) at Death Valley could save him, but it’s the kind of place where people go in but never come back out alive. In accordance to master’s resolute character, it’s improbable that he will permit anyone to help him get the medicine, and so I can only take advantage of when he was unconscious to take the risk of going in. However, I did not expect the help of Shuang shijie (senior female disciple) to follow me in…

Results are the medicine was finally taken, and Master was saved. Shijie,who protected me as I left the valley, was seriously injured. I can only asked the elders for help. Then the deeds of stealing the elixir from Death Valley were brought to light (exposed), and my feelings for master was also brought to light.

It’s because the elixir from Death Valley can cure thousands of poisons, clear the bones of the dead, yet can only save the person from one’s heart…

Off the platform, an elder said, “Sinful disciple is so obstinately persistent in going about things the wrong way. She certainly shall not remained at Xian Men sect. Please Zhang Jiao, act on behalf of Venerable (zun zhe) Mu Jin to clear up Men Hu sect!”

“Please Zhang Jiao clean up sect**!” Everyone, one after another, agreed.

** They (including the elder) is instigating the leader of the sect to purge/remove impurities (in this case, ZiQin)

Zhang Jiao looked at me, and his eyes flashed a murderous aura. The bottom of my heart became cold– clean sect, clean sect and I will no longer be master’s disciple.

“Zhang Jiao!” Auntie Qi Ling stood out, eyes redden, “Qin er…… ZiQin, whether good or bad, she is Venerable (zun zhe) Mu Jin’s disciple that he personally received. Why not let Venerable Mu Jin settle this matter after he wakes up?”

“Cannot!” Another elder stood up, “Venerable one [Mu Jin] is good hearted. When that time comes,  feared that he will only let her go. When ZiQin escapes from Xian Men sect, if a person with bad intentions knew of this matter, [I’m] afraid that will harm/tarnish Xian Men’s reputation/prestige ah! ”

Aunt Qi Ling glared at the elder, suddenly brushed her sleeves, and walked out.

Wu Ji hall fell into a moment of silence. After half a day, Zhang Jiao said in a low voice, “Sinful disciple ZiQin, going against common order (moral orders) … does not repent. Subjected to fifty lashes, and expelled from Xian Men sect.”

Fifty lashes are enough to make my soul flies away and scatters (idiom), but what made me most afraid of are the last four words. (It’s five in translation above but original is in four words)

I said, “ZiQin is Master’s disciple. If Master does not expelled me, I would still be his disciple.”

© translations belonging to bananachocolatecosmos.wordpress.com , 2016. If you read this somewhere else instead of bananachocolatecosmos.wordpress.com then the translations has been posted WITHOUT permission of translator. 

Beneath an elder sneered, “Humph, Xian Men (gates) never receive monsters. If it wasn’t his Venerable Mu Jin’s good-heartedness, who would possibly let a half-spirit half-demon monster like you enter (the sect’s door).”

Although his words were full of contempt, but it was not wrong. My original body was that of a guqin. On the guqin contained spirit qi. A Daoist immortal desired to refine/transform me into a human, but the spiritual qi (energy/power) on the guqin was not enough to turn me into a human form. Thus, the Daoist immortal had no better choice, but to borrow qi from a monster of sinister appearance and mixed it together; ultimately that helped me transform into human.

Half spirit half-demon, no compatriots, no clansman/relatives, even the only closest person the Daoist immortal has passed away [endless] years ago.

I senselessly do not know how many years, until I’ve met master. Under the moon of the first month and above the endless sea, he followed the moonlight and came. He was like the legendary gods in folktales who rescued me from the hands of the siren. I held onto him and refused to let go. He smiled as he asked me, “You don’t want to go home?”

“Don’t have home.”

“Since that is so, do you wish to return to Qing Zhu Feng (Bamboo Peak), become my disciple, and make Qing Zhu Feng Shang your home?”

All the memories seemed clearly distinct from that moment together. He gave me a name, taught me Buddhist teachings/techniques, and allowed me to read. He accompanied me on Qing Zhu Feng Shang to see the mountain of the immortals, the rain, the wind and frost that swept the mountains. All while holding my hands as we went across every inch of land on Qing Zhu Feng.

In their eyes set up high, Mu Jin was the immortal senior– loved yet ruthless. But I knew he has emotions. Because when I was being joyful he would smile. Because when I was naughty he would get angry. Because when I was injured he would become concerned.

“No more needless words.” Zhang Jiao waved his hands that interrupted my train of thoughts, “Immediate execution.” The San Hun whip was held in his hands and was then given to the execution elder.

My hands, feet, and wrists’ strength are sealed by Yin Shi (stone), and there was not the slightest bit of resistance I have.

Execution elder is different from Zhang Jiao. All the punishments in the sect (Xian Men) are mostly given to him to perform. He can use several hundreds of whips on a person, yet will not injure them. However, he can also use one whip that will cause one to lose half his [or her] soul.

When the first whip came down, I knew, Xian Men wanted to put me to death.

Master … if you knew I died, would you grieve?

I’m unwilling to see you grieve.

I do not know how many dozen hits as I felt my body has completely gone numb. Before my eyes everything turned black, only a voice in my mind became increasingly clear, “Qin er, Qin er” The sound kept echoing, and never seemed to stop.

“Stop!” A high sound exploded in my ears. I faintly knew, this voice was auntie Qi Ling’s.

Did Auntie not leave already…

I propped my head dazedly to look. The doors of Wu Ji hall split. The backlighting of auntie’s face made me cannot see it clearly, but I recognized the figure next to her.

© translations belonging to bananachocolatecosmos.wordpress.com , 2016. If you read this somewhere else instead of bananachocolatecosmos.wordpress.com then the translations has been posted WITHOUT permission of translator. 

—-

My eye sockets were burning up like acid, and heart throbbed while I shudderingly mumbled, “Master…”

“Mu Jin did not know that Zhang Jiao unexpectedly have personal fondness for using this sort of punishment.”

Such sharp words that the crowd has never actually heard of before. I felt the Yin stone on my wrist slowly disintegrating. In a blink of an eye I fell into a warm and familiar embrace.

With my dimmed eyesight I did not see his face clearly, and only vaguely felt his arms trembling. The hold was not so stable like it had been in the past.

“Qin er, do not hurt.” His voice was light like when he would coax me as a child to drink medicine.

“Let’s go home, back… home.”

“Yes, master will take you back to Qing Zhu Feng.”

“Halt!” Zhang Jiao shouted loudly, “Mu Jin you already know what your disciple feels towards you…”

“What Mu Jin’s disciple feels, Mu Jin already knew the answer. Do not worry about this matter Zhang Jiao.”

Outside Wu Ji hall the sunlight fell onto my numbed face. I think, at this time in the hall the elders’ facial expressions ought to be more stiff than mine’s.

On Qing Zhu Feng Shang, it was recently blanketed under snow. The cold seeped into my body. I think the entire Qing Zhu Feng Shang has been covered in white as each step master took left a trace.

At this point, my eyes have been clouded in darkness, and buzzes rang unceasingly in my ears. The many whips have already hit more than a few parts of my soul out. San Hun whip– can scatters people’s souls, and those who are already dead will never have a day of rebirth.

“Master…”My voice gradually became hoarse, “How is the wound?”

He tightened his arms around me, “Good, ZiQin’s medicine was very efficacious. When your aunt Qi Ling came to find me I have already woken up.”

© translations belonging to bananachocolatecosmos.wordpress.com , 2016. If you read this somewhere else instead of bananachocolatecosmos.wordpress.com then the translations has been posted WITHOUT permission of translator. 

“Blame me?”

He was silent.

“Blame me for liking you?”

He was silent for a long time. I could not see his expression, and my heart panicked. He said, “No blame.” His tone carried the heaviness of countless sorrows that cannot be express into words.

I smiled, “Master, I want to play the guqin.”

“Be good] Qin er, you need to heal first.”

“This is the last time, let Qin er play for you master.”

I laid out in a few words the truth that he was unwillingly to speak out. He abruptly stopped, his chest went up and down, and his steps eventually went in the other direction. He held me and sat alongside the guqin, but I have no more strength to put my hands on top of the guqin. My heart inwardly sighed. I tried to squeeze out a smile, “Before the injury, the master always made tea for me to drink. Tea seems to have the effect of healing sickness. Today can master help me make tea once more?”

“…Yes”

I felt the warmth leaving me. I pushed hard with all my strength to sit up straight, and heard the sound of the door opening. I think master has went inside the house already. My body could not hold the weight much longer and so, I slowly lowered my face on the strings. Today the strings seem to be too tight, and pressed harshly against my face.

“Starting from today, you are called ZiQin alright?”

In absent-mindedness I seemed to hear the first words master said after he brought me to Qing Zhu Feng, “In the future if you were bullied or have been wronged, speak to master, and master will protect you.”

In this life, does not know what I live for. But having you to protect me, I feel greatly fortunate.

Suddenly the heavy, stiffened body seemed to loosened up a lot. I placed my hand on top of the strings, and my thoughts that I cannot control are gradually drifting farther away.

“Master! I’ll be playing it!”

“Oh? Let master listen.”

“Qin er…… using so much strength, does your fingers hurt?”

“Does not hurt!”

“But the strings of mine cannot endure you playing like this several times.”

“If the strings are not broken then Qin er lives. Strings break…”

I faintly smiled, and my index finger curled.

“Zheng!” sonorous sound echoed, like the sounds of cuckoo singing in blood.

The strings broke, and my eyes lightly closed.

Vaguely, I seem to hear the sound of broken teacups. After that, the world turned as quiet as death.

END

© translations belonging to bananachocolatecosmos.wordpress.com , 2016. If you read this somewhere else instead of bananachocolatecosmos.wordpress.com then the translations has been posted WITHOUT permission of translator. 


800px-Catalpa_ovata_flowers
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catalpa_ovata

The Chinese catalpa or the catalpa ovate is a pod bearing tree native of China. For those that do not know, it is commonly used to make the undersides (bottom) of qin. Isn’t this poetic?

Although to him it was not love, she remains forever in his heart like the catalpa wood remains as the bottom portion of a qin (a wooden qin; Mu Kin). Sometimes there is a happy ending; sometimes certain endings cannot be avoided.


~

I will find a short story with a happy ending next time to translate, rest assured. ^.^

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11 thoughts on “梓琴 (Ziqin) by 九鹭非香 (Jiu Lu Fei Xiang): ZiQin

  1. No, I’m not crying, water is just leaking from my eyes. Oh god, the feels. Thanks for the translation! I need to go lay down and contemplate life. T_T

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Ah this is one of those stories where I appreciate Jiu Lu Fei Xiang more. Also it’s one of her shorter stories that I can translate lol. I hope I can convey the message here with my translations. I will probably translate another short story by her (with happy ending). Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi! Thank you for translating these 🙂 so well done
    Maybe because I get confuse easily, so I dont understand this short story.
    Even after searching for synopsis. huhu
    I bookmark this in hoping later day I can get what the story is about.
    Thank u again, and see ya!

    Liked by 1 person

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