Thank you for all of the novel suggestions. Most likely one of them will be used in next week’s translation, because I did not read the summary or the book before I began to translate this one. Your thoughts would be much appreciated; does it deserve another shot?
Also known as “Silken Dream of the Big Dipper.” Written by E’Mei, published in 2010, a time traveling piece.
Summary: Career girl Xie Xuanji, trained in speedy calculation, was transported back to ancient times after dying, landing in the body of a beautiful girl, a singer who was given to the Zhao Palace by a wealthy merchant. In a twist of fate, Xuanji saves the life of Prince Zhao’s mother (this ruins any suspense the first translation may have built up) and thus attracted the attention of Prince Zhao. After discovering her independent personality and unique thought process, he is surprised (and delighted), and falls in love…by legend, she is the reincarnation of a heavenly maiden, and whoever “gains” her, can unite the country…and so she attracts the attention of six countries. But although she just wants a peaceful life, she is constantly thrown into these powerful struggles, facing a choice between the man she loves and a position as queen of the six palaces, how will she decide? And who will really be able to lead China and unite the six kingdoms?
Chapter 1.1: The First Meeting
Before dawn is the darkest, coldest time of the day. Suddenly, on the little mountain path, there were the sounds of disorderly footsteps. A close listener would have found that at the minimum there were over a hundred people in the night.
One by one, under the dim moonlight, the figures of doughty night travelers revealed themselves. Wordlessly, they moved towards a large manor at the foot of Huatai Mountain. Their eyes glinted with a cold, bloodthirsty light, and the chill flashes of the points of longswords gleamed amidst the crowd — after just a few more hours, it would time for those swords to drink fresh blood…
The light fog of early morning had just dissipated when, at the base of the Huatai Mountain, a ruckus broke out at the palace of Prince Zhao, for the prince’s imperial mother, the Consort Wu, had arrived at the residence the night before. Because of her arrival the people of the village were roused with a nervous sort of energy, hoping to impress her with their performance and behavior; the secluded beauties in the south cloister of the palace more so than the others, all eager to have their shot at pleasing the imperial consort.
It was well known that Prince Zhao Jianshen was among the cream of the youths of the kingdom of Ji; talented and handsome. Not only was his status esteemed and himself graceful and elegant, he was also exceptionally good looking, widely-recognized as a man of unsurpassed handsomeness. Huatai Mountain was around five hundred li away from the capital, and so usually the family of Prince Zhao never set foot inside his courtyard. So this visit from Consort Wu, on her way to visit her own ancestral home, was rare and most people were eager to make the best of this opportunity impress the woman of standing and power.
The servants inside the village put their eagerness to good use, carefully performing the tasks assigned to them, all the while listening for the sound of footsteps that would arrival of the Consort Wu, wholly throwing themselves into the preparations.
The ten or so girls who lived in the southern cloister of the manor; their hearts beat wildly. They were al dancers and singers that wealthy merchants and high ranking officials had given Prince Zhao, but had been “unused” for the greater half of a year, and had never even seen the face of the prince. With this rare occasion of the Consort Wu’s passing, they hoped to impress her -e ven if they didn’t have a chance to become closer to the prince, they would at least have the chance to be given to one of the soldiers as a wife or concubine. That, at least, was preferable to dying alone in the Cold Palace, wasting away their youth.
But, for Yun Ge, there was nothing that could deter her from her determination to go to sleep!
So while everyone else was frantically moving about, this Yun Ge girl continued to sleep within her courtyard – it wasn’t like the COnsort Wu was a handsome man! And even if she were, she couldn’t possibly be more handsome than Zhou Yu [of the Three Kingdom’s era] – so what was there to see?!
In name, Yun Ge was a petty singer of the Zhao Palace, but she was very content as an a girl of obsessive intersts; namely, sleeping and eating. So what if she could garner the interest of the prince? What was so great about adding three ranks and then engaging in the beastly battles of the other women, fighting for his love; how tiring that would be!
According to Yun Ge’s philosophy, it was important to stay far away from the pesky matters of other humans. And among the pesky matters of other humans, the most common were those of the powerful and esteemed. Ah, but the feeling of sleeping peacefully, that was better than being a grain of rice found in every corner…this was a happy life…
But at this moment, it didn’t matter if she had exuberant ambition or not. Neither the lazy Yun Ge or the other bickering singers had any idea that they would soon face a question fo life or death…
Outside the village, within a thick forest, there were hundreds of eyes that glinted like cruel wolves, harsh and greedy as they eyed the glamorous palace in front of them. Among them, one man – appearing to be the leader – gave a strange, gabbling laugh. “There are already some of our men by the sde of Consort Wu. Doggy sent back news that security is relaxed during lunch; when they change shifts. Inside that manor there are women and money; I just need the Consort Wu to spare the life of my big brother, the other comrades can loot and share whatever they want…Hehe! Women of the Prince! You won’t have the chance again [vulgar language], even if you’re reincarnated eight or nine times!”
His underlings, hearing the news about Prince Zhao’s wealth and luxury, thought of his manor as a golden mountain. And! There were concubines and singers of the first rank beauty in there. Even if it were true that those were the women that the prince didn’t want, they were sure to surpass the faded flowers and wilted willows of the brothels. Thinking of this the eyes of the petty criminals lit up with green light and they had to swallow the foam in their mouth, and could hardly wait to charge into the manor and loot its wealth!
The leader was quite pleased with the results [of his, um, inspiring speech], and pushed a sturdy man by his side forward. “Go! Follow the plan!”
In the towre of the eastern garden, the Consort Wu, having eaten lunch, was energetically chatting with Mother Zhang, the manager of internal affairs. She was in her early fifties, older than Consort Wu by a few years, an elder of the Zhao Palace, her entire family devoted to the service of Prince Zhao. Her father was a private advisor to Prince Zhao, her husband the chief butler of the estate, and her two sons were his honorable and competent subordinates, always fulfilling assignments for the prince. She herself was quite close to the Consort Wu.
Consort Wu played with her tea cup. This high-quality white porcelain cup was tinted with a pale tea-green color, and she laughingly teased, “Mother Zhang, instead of running the affairs of the prince’s courtyard, you’ve run off to this little out of the way place! What is the reason? Could it be that there are some immature daughter or mother in law or concubine who has upset you?”
Mother Zhang, laughing, said, “It’s because this subordinate wanted some peace and quiet…” No sooner had she said “quiet,” than was there a very loud, disruptive noise outside.
Consort Wu was usually a woman who respected the rules, and always hated the improprieties of the servants more than anything else. Hearing the noise she wrinkled her brow, but seeing the embarrassed expression on Mother Zhang’s face, she could not help but start laughing.
Mother ZHang’s face reddened. “Forgive us, lady, I was incompetent in training the servants,” and saying this, backed out to see what had happened. As she walked she sighed darkly to herself, praying that none of the girls in the southern cloister had charged in, begging for an audience with the imperial consort.
But without having entered the door of the eastern courtyard, she saw one of the personal bodyguards of the consort gallop over, his face worried. As soon as he saw Mother Zhang, his first words were, “There’s a huge gang of bandits who have attacked, and have already broken through the front gate! Please tell the Consort to prepare, and find a safe place to escape the danger!”
Keep, or choose a different book? Leave your ideas in the comments!