First Arc ー Chapter 3 (Part 6): Battle Begins
Jiang Zhong shook his head. “Impossible. Even if His Majesty has a reason to spare Xue Cai, the Ji Family also has no reason to rescue him. Once the Xue Clan is eliminated, there is no longer any contender in court. Why would he make an unnecessary move and provoke a headache(hot potato) for himself?”
“Do you want to……bet with me once?” Jiang Chenyu raised her head, her two eyes sparkling. They were unusually firm and also unusually confident. “This daughter bets that Gentleman, he will definitely rescue!”
Along with these words, everything was finalized as the dust settled.
The next day, a written letter was deferentially sent to the Marquis’ residence. At 1-3pm, a carriage embroidered with the White Marsh appeared outside Qing Lan Temple which was at the suburbs, ten Chinese miles away from the capital according to the appointment.
The carriage curtains were lifted lightly and the one who walked out was indeed Ji Ying. Two monks led him all the way until the courtyard behind the temple before they bowed and withdrew.
On the other hand, inside the courtyard were ancient trees and upright stone tablets. On top of the stone table, fresh tea was just starting to boil.
A pair of slender white hands carried the yellow rosewood teapot engraved with qilin* on the stove. The thumb and middle finger supported the cup, the index finger pressed the cover down, lifted the pottery cup’s cover up and lightly rubbed along the edges of the tea tray to remove the water droplets adhered to the bottom of the pottery cup before pouring fresh pale bluish green tea into the cup.
*T/n: A Chinese mythical hooved chimerical creature
The below is not the only representation but just for reference
When doing this series of actions, it could be seen that the pale purple sleeves were gently floating and the posture as beautiful as an immortal, comparable to the beauties in paintings.
Ji Ying gazed fixedly at that person and was motionless.
That person’s head turned around to smile at him and say, “One’s life lies in not seeking material gains but enjoying a cup of water in the mountains. I wonder if this Yang Tian Xue Lv brewed from infusing white plum blossoms stored for many years is acceptable to Gentleman?”
T/n: From the poem ‘Drinking Longjing’ by Sun Yiyuan. Longjing is a type of tea and often said to be the favorite tea of emperors.
I think my translation of the poem is likely to have been hardly comprehensible, so I’ll try to explain the meaning of the poem briefly. This poem is mainly saying to not have too high demands for a materialistic life but simply lead a more plain and peaceful life.
Under the dancing jaggard plum blossom trees, he saw that person with a slim waist and silky hair, slender long brows and twinkling eyes who was gentle and beautiful, taking away people’s breath upon seeing her. It was none other than Jiang Chenyu.
Ji Ying released a sigh of relief as a smile immediately formed on his face. “Such great tea, Ying naturally give thanks and gladly receives.”
Jiang Chenyu extended her hand to gesture a ‘please do’ posture and pushed the tea which had been brewed before him. The winter snow was already overflowing while the sky cleared and became bright blue, only making people feel that when the worldly affairs of the human society reached this area, each and every one of them were kept far away. The two people just sat like that while facing each other, silently tasting their tea and not speaking for quite a long while.
Finally, it was still Jiang Chenyu who opened her mouth first to say, “Chenyu overstepped my authority and posing as my father and using his name to invite Gentleman to come here. Hope that Gentleman may forgive.”
Ji Ying smiled faintly. “Miss inviting Ying to come must be because something is the matter. Since something is the matter, what does it have to do with who invited me?”
Jiang Chenyu did not resume the conversation immediately. She cast her eyes downwards to gaze intently at the tea in her hands. It was a period of silence again. In the end, she inhaled deeply as if she had finally made up her mind. She raised her head to say, “Does Gentleman know where did this name of Qing Lan Temple originate from?”
Ji Ying slightly pondered and said, “If I didn’t remember wrongly……This temple was named by Ice Glass Gentleman.”
“That’s right. This name, including the horizontal inscribed board in front of the temple all came from Xue Cai’s hands. When Ice Glass Gentleman was four years old and went out with his family for an outing in spring, he was careless and inadvertently wandered off from them. He lost his way within this mountain and when he was about to faint from hunger, he fortunately met a beauty. That beauty carried a lantern and brought him to this place. The monks from the temple discovered a child unconscious outside the door and rescued him. After he woke up, he recalled the favor with gratitude. When he remembered that the person called himself ‘Qing Lan’, he suddenly came to a realization. It turned out that she was the last monster from ‘Classic of Mountains and Seas’* ー Qing Lan Woman. Thereupon, he used her name to bestow upon this temple.” When Jiang Chenyu said until here, she paused a while before she said, “A four-year-old child could have such a fortuitous encounter. It honestly causes us to be envious.”
*T/n: It is an ancient Chinese book with mythological legends.
Ji Ying smiled as he said, “Since it was a fortuitous encounter, if it had not been such a splendid person like him, it also wouldn’t have brought about an interesting tale which spreads far and wide.”
Jiang Chenyu pointed at the rock beside her and said, “Then does Gentleman know about the origins of this Embracing Mother Rock?”
“Of course. Speaking of it, it’s still related to Ice Glass Gentleman. After he was rescued by the temple monks, he looked forward to his family members coming to search for him every day. He emotionally recalled his mother’s favor and composed ‘Ode* of Embracing Mother’ which pervaded the four nations while this piece of rock was changed to this name in order to commemorate that poem of his.”
*T/n: Also known as ‘song’. It is a type of classical poetry
“The young child who is weeping, hair begins to cover his forehead. He drinks milk from his mother, becomes joyful due to his mother. The boy who is fierce and unruly, sings resoundingly on the bamboo horse. Mother calls out to go home, he loathes his mother’s harsh criticism. The bright clothes of a scholar, a visitor at a foreign land. The sleeves loose and gown split, he recollects his mother’s needle box. The old man who is grizzled, the tears can’t be covered up, the withered grass before the tomb, all the vehicles are already no more*……” Jiang Chenyu said slowly, “When he is a young child, he is intimate with his mother. When he is a child, he is annoyed by his mother. After he grows up, he leaves his mother. After he becomes old and comes back, it’s hard to see his mother……Just these short ninety six words**, he had already written the entire lives of a mother and child until the end and back then, he was merely four years old.”
*T/n: It’s supposed to be four words by four words but as you can see, it was quite difficult to squeeze them into four words so I roughly standardised everything to six words.
The interpretation of the poem is in the next line. *T/n: The original Chinese text has in total sixty four words since the poem is four by four words
This time, it was Ji Ying’s turn to keep silent.
The tea in the teapot continued to boil, pushing to the top until the cover made a flapping sound. Occasionally, there was a breeze which brushed past the mountain forest. ‘Rustle, rustle’. Jiang Chenyu gazed at him intently. Her eyes contained a thousand kinds of emotions and deliberated ten thousand times. Finally, it combined to form one sentence, “Gentleman, I beg you……rescue him.” As she said, she bent her knees and knelt down.
Ji Ying returned her gaze. The bottom of his eyes which appeared to be tranquil actually had a cloudiness which was hard to conceal. At the end, he sighed softly.
Jiang Chenyu bit her lip as she said, “Gentleman has countless spies which are your eyes and ears, so you surely already know about my Elder Sister and I as well as Princess going to the cold palace to see the Empress. When you received the written letter you should have also been able to guess for the reason we were looking for you. Gentleman could have not come today but since Gentleman has already come, then that indicates that this matter can be accomplished, isn’t it?”
Ji Ying’s line of sight shifted onto that piece of rock wall called ‘Embracing Mother Rock’.
“Gentleman, you have three thousand hangers-on, nurtures the worthy and accepts the scholars. You treasure talents the most and even spare no scruples in lowering yourself to honor others, personally grasping the shaft of a cart. Right now, this child prodigy who managed to write ‘Ode of Embracing Mother’ when he was just four years old, shot a tiger in front of the imperial presence when he was five years old, sent on a diplomatic mission as an envoy to Nation Yan when he was six years old is about to be implicated by his family and perish unexpectedly. How can you bear to fold your hands at one side, keeping yourself out of the matter and turn your back on him? Won’t this cause the hearts of the scholars in the world to turn cold from bitter disappointment?”
Ji Ying said, “Miss, please rise.”
Jiang Chenyu did not stand up but continued to say, “If it’s someone else, I also won’t ask for help. But it’s just you, only you, I know that you can save him, therefore I was audacious in asking for this. Gentleman, to His Majesty, Xue Cai is only an insignificant child from a traitorous official but to this world, he’s instead the most valuable treasure and a rare prodigy. After his head is chopped off, there won’t ever be a second one anymore.”
Ji Ying’s emotions seemed to have been stirred by this last sentence. A strange expression flashed past his face. When he looked at her again, his gaze had many more things. Those things twinkled, jumped and lastly coalesce to form regret for something. “What you said is not wrong. There’s indeed only one Xue Cai……” He shut his eyes and opened them again. He stood up and said, “To the long river of history, the hundred years of a person’s life as well as the enmity and resentment of the nation and family are merely grains in the vast ocean, fleeting and instantly drowning out. But the outstanding accomplishments in literary talent can leave a good reputation throughout the ages and coexist with the extensive ancient times. Although Ying is not talented, I also can’t bear to see things very rare and valuable like jade and pearls shattered and covered in dust. I promise you, Miss Jiang, I will rescue Xue Cai.”
I will rescue Xue Cai.
Each of these five words were with unswerving determination and impressively resonating.
Jiang Chenyu raised her head and looked at him without averting her eyes. Tears vaguely surfaced in her eyes.
This round of gamble……she had won.