步步惊心/ Bu Bu Jing Xin
Startling Surprises with Every Step
Written by Tong Hua
Chapter 2 (Parts 4-6)
Brought to you by the Magnolia Translation Team
Translated by Plushie
Chapter 2, parts 4-6 is released! Download link will be under the cut.
New Revised Version VS Old Editon
I had some people asking questions in regards to the different versions of the novel. To clarify, Bu Bu Jing Xin actually started out as a online novel, with chapters being released periodically. When it got popular, the writer managed to secure a publishing deal and she went back and revised the book for the printed version.
Overall, there isn't too much difference between the two versions. Tong Hua changed a few story details, added a few small scenes and changed some wording and sentences.
Overall, there isn't too much difference between the two versions. Tong Hua changed a few story details, added a few small scenes and changed some wording and sentences.
Some of the more notable changes (ones I can think of on top of my head):
1) The biggest change would be how the protagonist died in present time. In the old version, she dies by getting electrocuted while changing a light bulb and falls off her ladder. In the new one, she dies in a car crash.
2)The protagonist's modern name was Zhang Xiao Wen in the original novel. In the revised edition it is changed to Zhang Xiao.
3) The revised editions mentions Zhang Xiao's boyfriend. The older edition did not.
4) 4th and Ruoxi had a very short, awkward watching the stars interlude right before he gave Ruoxi his first horseback riding lesson. This was not in the older version.
Honestly, you are not missing too much if you are reading the older version. The main plot, important and pivotal scenes, and characterization are all remained the same.
The version our team is translating from is the new revised edition. Some confusion arose because I had mentioned about a Taiwanese version in the translation notes of chapter 1. To clarify, the Taiwanese version is the same as the new revised edition.
Besides the usage of traditional Chinese in the text, there should not be any difference between the two. I only mentioned it because I own the Taiwanese version in hard copy, as it was the only version I could get my hands on physically. The others are translating the novel from an online source.
Hope that clears up any questions regarding the different editions of the book.
Chapter 2 (Complete, w/ parts 1-7):
(downloading the pdf is highly recommended!)
Read online below:
Characters Introduced So Far
(In Alphabetical Order)
Dong Yun: One of Ruolan’s maids.
Eighth-prince (Aisin-Gioro Yinsi): The eighth son of Emperor Kangxi. Also known as the Eighth Bei’le. Ruolan is his Ce’fujin (Second Wife). Is often seen smiling out of the corners of his mouth as well as conducting himself with a calm and gentle disposition.
Kangxi: Current Emperor of China.
Ninth-prince (Aisin-Gioro Yintang): The ninth son of Emperor Kangxi. Currently not given a peerage title. Seems to have a more taciturn personality. Nicknamed “the venomous snake” by Ruoxi.
Qiao Hui: One of Ruolan’s maids. Qiao Hui used to serve Ruolan even before Ruolan’s marriage. When Ruolan married, Qiaohui accompanied Ruolan to Eighth-prince’s household. Seems to be concerned for her mistress especially regarding Ruolan and Eighth’s relationship.
Ruolan, Maertai: Ruoxi’s older sister. The two are especially close as they are born from the same mother. She is also the Ce’fujin (Second Wife) of the Eighth-prince. Mild and gentle in nature, Ruolan likes to spend a better part of her days reciting Buddhist scriptures.
Ruoxi, Maertai (Zhang Xiao): Protagonist of the story. Originally a modern day, white collar professional named Zheng Xiao. Under certain unexplainable, supernatural occurrence, Zhang Xiao’s spirit travelled through time upon her death and took over a young Manchurian girl’s body. Now stuck in ancient times, Ruoxi must navigate through an entirely foreign environment armed only with the little historical knowledge she remembers.
Tenth-prince (Aisin-Gioro Yin’e): The tenth son of Emperor Kangxi. Currently not given a peerage title. A bit of a simpleton. Likes to tease and bicker with Ruoxi. Nicknamed “the blockhead” by Ruoxi.
Chapter 2 (Parts 4-6)
After that day, the Tenth-prince would often come to visit me.
In order to not stay an illiterate, I also began to practice calligraphy. Ai! It’s better if my calligraphy isn’t mentioned at all as it is the cause of much pain in my heart. I don’t know how many times I have already been teased by the Tenth-prince in these past few days. I started out being embarrassed, and blushing every time he teased me, but now I can just calmly endure it.
However, to seek revenge for just an angry glare is my attitude for dealing with the Tenth-prince. Therefore, a few days after that, I asked him how to write the words, “ga la”. He couldn’t answer my question so we mocked each other a couple of times before giving up.
If one were to ask me if anything good had come out of the time we spent together, it would probably be that my quarrelling friendship with Tenth-prince has developed rapidly. To borrow Qiaohui’s words, “Nowadays, if Tenth-prince does not get teased by the young mistress within a few days, he would feel very uncomfortable.”
I snickered. How could that squirt of a kid fight with me? Nevertheless, after our numerous banters, he is no longer that “blockhead” I had labeled him to be. He might be a bit artless, simple, not very refined, reckless, impulsive and sometimes quite unreasonable, but I feel he is a lot like the friends I had in modern times. I don’t need to guess what his thoughts are; he would never hold back his feelings and would directly show his own emotions on his face. Conversely, I can also express my feelings directly to him without constraint.
Currently, I’m half laying on the table, practicing another few words with the brush. Feeling it hard to concentrate on the task any further, I put the brush down. Through the bead curtain, I can faintly see jie-jie listening to a young eunuch say something. Then with a wave of her hand, the eunuch leaves.
I walk towards her, telling one of the maids to bring me some tea. Jie-jie says to me, “Eighth Bei’le is coming tonight to have dinner with us.”
I take a sip of my tea, and then ask her, “Is the Tenth-prince coming too?”
“I don’t know. It’s hard to say.” She suddenly remained quiet for a moment before commanding all the maidservants to leave. She then sits down next to me.
Feeling her manner is not quite normal, but not being able to guess her intentions, I sat quietly on the spot. Jie-jie looks at me and begins to speak but then hesitates. Curious, I couldn’t hold back any longer so I ask, “Jie-jie, is there anything between us that we cannot freely say to each other?”
She nods, looking as if she finally made up her mind. “Do you have feelings for the Tenth-prince?”
“Ah!” I was a bit startled. I hurriedly reply, “What do you mean? We just really enjoy playing with each other, that’s all.”
Seeing that the look on my face does not seem to be feigned, she looks relieved. “It’s the best if you don’t!” She then continues seriously, “Although we Manchurians aren’t as uptight about such matters compared to the Hans, as a girl, you should still have some sense of propriety.”
When the Eighth-prince arrived, I was playing jian-zi with Qiaohui in the courtyard. I’d already kicked the jian-zi in the air about forty times, which is also my current record. Really wanting to break my record, I purposely pretended not to have seen him. Qiaohui and the other maidservants were about to give their greetings when the Eighth-prince made a gesture of silence. Thus, everyone just stood on the spot while staring awkwardly at me kicking the jian-zi.
45, 46, 47….
Not being able to stand this strange atmosphere any longer, I finally stopped and acted as if I had just discovered the Eighth-prince’s presence. As I hurriedly give my greetings, all the servants in the courtyard also quickly follow suit.
The Eighth-prince smiles at me, and then compliments, “You are pretty good at it!”
I smile but remain silent thinking to myself, “Totally being dishonest. Even the maids here are so good at it that they can play it using every part of their entire body. Meanwhile I can only play using my right leg. How can that count as being good at it?”
The maids help raise the curtains, and the Eighth-prince went ahead into the house with me following behind. As I went in, I remembered to turn around and tell Qiaohui, “Remember this. It’s 47 times!”
As I finally come to a full stop, I realise I am standing right across from the Eighth-Prince. Jie-jie, with her head bent, is currently helping him roll up his sleeves. I take a look around the room, uncertain of what to do; I ended up staring blankly at jie-jie and the Eighth-prince.
Finishing up rolling his sleeves, jie-jie looks up again. The first thing she notices was me staring at them. Blushing she asks, “What are you standing there like a stiff pole for?”
Realising that it was a bit strange for me to be just standing there and feeling my cheeks growing hot, I turn my head and embarrassingly answer, “It’s because I didn’t know what to do. That’s why I’m standing there.”
The Eighth-prince chuckles, ‘There are so many chairs here and you don’t know what to do?”
I thought to myself, “He’s basically granting me permission to sit.” So I quickly find a chair to sit down in. Jie-jie says, “Here, clean yourself and prepare to eat soon.”
After rinsing my mouth after dinner, the maids took away the table and brought some tea for us.
Last time, although he was also here for dinner as well, the Eighth-prince left very quickly afterwards. Today he does not seem to be in a hurry to leave. Thus, I assume he will be staying overnight here tonight.
As I was deeply involved in my nonsensical and random thoughts, I hear the Eighth-prince say, “In a few more days it will be Tenth brother’s seventeenth birthday. Since it’s not a milestone age, there probably won’t be a huge banquet at the Palace; only a small one just for propriety’s sake. But we brothers want to use this opportunity to privately get together and celebrate. Since Tenth brother does not have his own residence yet, I was thinking of holding the celebration here.”
Jie-jie thought for a moment before saying, “I don’t have any experience with organizing such things. How about asking Di’fujin’s opinion on the matter?”
The Eighth-princes takes a sip of tea and then replies, “She’s currently not feeling too well. Plus, it is Tenth brother’s own idea to have the party here.”
Taking a glance at me jie-jie says, “Alright, I will organize it then.”
The Eighth-prince slowly says, “Since it’s a private affair, don’t put too much pressure on yourself. We are only just trying to find some place to get together and have fun.”
“Is the Crown Prince coming as well?”
“We will definitely send an invitation. Whether he comes or not, I cannot say.”
Jie-jie nods and didn’t say anything afterwards.
While jie-jie hangs her head in silence, the Eighth-prince also just looks ahead, not speaking as well. I lift up my tea cup to drink some tea but discover there is no more tea left inside. Putting the cup down, a young maidservant comes up to refill it. I wave my hands to gesture her to stop. Sensing the atmosphere getting more and more awkward and strange, I get up and dryly say, “If Eighth Bei’le has no other important matters to discuss, Ruoxi will take her leave now.”
Eighth-prince was just lifting his hand to give his approval when jie- jie hastily injects, “You are going to bed so early?”
I smile in response. “Not going to bed. I’m just going back to practice my calligraphy.”
Instantly, jie-jie says, “You’ve just finished dinner and you want to go practice calligraphy right away? You should be careful of getting a stomach ache.”
Seeing any hope of me getting away is lost, I give a dry laugh before sitting down again, motioning the maidservant to refill my tea. The Eighth-prince smiles at us from the corner of his mouth.
Even I could tell what jie-jie was trying to do, there’s no reason a perceptive man like him did not understand. However, I could not figure out if he is displeased about it or not, so I gave up trying to discern his thoughts.
Silence. More silence. Continuous silence!
I admit my self-cultivation is no match for the two of them. Not being able to stand the awkward silence any longer, I stand up from the chair and suggests, “Let’s play weiqi”
Jie-jie shakes her head. “I don’t know how.”
I look towards the Eighth-prince who nods at me and then orders the maid next to him, “Go bring the weiqi out.”
I quickly cry, “Wait. I don’t know how to play weiqui. Let’s play xiangqi instead.”
But the Eighth-prince shakes his head at me. “I don’t know how to play xiangqi.”
“Ah.” I exclaim. Not sure what to do, I return to my chair once more. Again, the room fell into silence. More silence. Continuous silence!
Chinese checkers, kriegspiel, poker, officers and soldiers catch a thief, Chinese Paladin Online…. I realised that none of my ideas are helpful with solving the awkward situation at hand. Quickly pulling my thoughts back together again, I finally declare, “Let’s play weiqui!”
“I thought you said you don’t know how to play?” the Eighth-prince asks.
I question back in surprise, “Can’t I learn? No one is born knowing everything.”
“Ruoxi!” Jie-jie warns with a stern tone. I feel a bit frustrated. Why must one always have to keep one’s status and identity in mind when speaking around here?
The Eighth-prince was pensive for a moment and then his semi-smile finally breaks into a full smile. “Alright!”
I was a bit entranced by his smile. Remembering his smile on the carriage, I suddenly understood something. I finally realise why I had felt that smile he had given at the time was different from all his other smiles. It’s his eyes. His eyes were smiling last time. Usually, his smiles never reach his eyes.
The smile he is giving now, he is also smiling with his eyes. With that, my mood all of a sudden improves. Looking at him I also smile back.
The Eighth-prince briefly explains the rules to me and then plays white stones to let me go first. He further explains the game while we play.
When I was young and vain, I had aspired to be one of those talented women who excelled in all of qin qi shu hua. Due to this, I have also studied many game records of famous weiqi games. However, after entering high school, because of the busy workload and my general disinterest in the game, I decided to drop the very brain-wracking game and instead turned to learn the easy to learn card games.
Thinking for a bit, and remembering the saying, “Gold corner, silver edge, grass belly”, I found a suitable corner on the board to set my stone. Jie-jie is sitting next to me, leaning on her side while watching me play. I had the intention of letting jie-jie learn as well but seeing that she doesn’t seem to be very interested, I could only abandon the idea and continue to contemplate my next move.
It didn’t take long until the board was filled with a sea of white. I was a bit despondent at my situation. “Why is Eighth Bei’le not taking it easy on me?”
He replies, “How do you know I’m not taking it easy on you?”
With a long face I say, “If this is called taking it easy on me, then if you were to be serious about it….”
“Still want to continue then?” He asks.
“Yes!” Since I am going to lose anyways, I might as well strive to lose more gracefully, saving as many stones as I can. To do so, I would have to give up some of my stones and sacrifice them to the white ones. Defending my two remaining corners, I wracked my brains hard, trying to recall the remnants of the little memories of the game I have left. Not knowing if my tactic I had thought up is working or if it was due to him taking it easy on me, my two corners were surviving.
Looking at the board the Eighth-prince asks, “You’ve learned to play before?”
I tell him, “I’ve seen other people play before, so I only know a little bit. How is my playing?”
He regards me, joking, “Not too great. But I must compliment you for knowing the idea of “the warrior breaking his wrist”, and not get caught up in unnecessary entanglements. “
I smile but do not reply. Seeing that it is getting late, and assuming the Eighth-prince will definitely be resting here tonight, I stand up and say, “Ruoxi will retire now.”
The Eighth-prince gives me a nod. Seeing it’s not a good idea to stop me again, jie-jie also stands to instruct the maids to prepare a bath for me. Giving them a ceremonial curtsy, I leave the room.
I had slept a very comfortable sleep. By the time I opened my eyes, the sky’s was already very bright. Thinking that Eighth Bei’le should have already gone to court, I called upon a young maid to attend to my morning wash. After this was done, I went to give jie-jie my greetings.
When I got to the house, I see jie-jie staring blankly out the window. I go to sit down next to her. Thinking about the situation last night, I also began to feel a bit melancholy.
There was a moment of silence before jie-jie, without turning around, asks, “What are you thinking about?”
I brush up against her side and link her arm with mine. “What is jie-jie thinking about?”
She does not say anything but only continue to stare outside. Finally she answers, “Not thinking of much.”
For a time, both of us remained silent. Placing my chin on jie-jie’s shoulders, I stare out the window as well.
We sat there for a long time before jie-jie finally cheers up and says smilingly, “I’m going to the Buddhist hall now, you go out and play. You shouldn’t be cooped up in the house. “
I nod, and specifically ask Qiaohui to accompany me. Qiaohui has served jie-jie since she was young and had followed jie-jie to Eighth’s residence when jie-jie married. She should know everything about jie-jie’s affairs. Today I’ve decided to match wits with the girl. No matter what, I must get to the bottom of what’s been going on with jie-jie.
 睚眦必报 ya zi bi bao - to seek revenge for an angry stare. An idiom used to describe a narrow mined and revengeful person. The idiom comes from a story from The Warring States Period. There was a man named Fan Ju who came from the Kingdom of Wei but was expelled from it. However, he eventually found prestige in the Kingdom of Qin. After becoming rich and powerful, he took it upon himself to repay those who were kind to him and take revenge on those who were not. Even those who only had given a bowl of rice was repaid royally but those who were unkind to him, even if they had only given him a angry stare in the past, he took revenge on.
 Orig.旮旯A dialect word used in Northern China. It means nook, a corner, or a narrow and remote area. Ruoxi purposely asks 10th this word because the two characters that constitutes it are uncommonly used.
 Orig.毽子or to踢毽子. Also known as the Chinese hacky sack or the shuttlecock. It’s a traditional Asian game where a person tries to keep a weighted shuttlecock in the air with his or her body except the hands.
 orig嫡福晋, di’fujin. Meaning first wife or main wife in Manchurian.
 Orig. 临帖. The word use here specifically means to practice one’s calligraphy by imitating a model of calligraphy of great and famous calligraphers. In China, Calligraphy is usually an art form, much like painting. Therefore people usually start practicing calligraphy by copying the styles of many famous calligraphers before eventually developing their own styles.
 围棋. An ancient Chinese board game that also found popularity in Korea and Japan. It is more commonly known in the West by its Japanese name, go. It utilizes a grid like board and players play with black or white stones. Rules are relatively simple but it is a fairly deep and strategic game. The goal is to try to secure more of the board than your opponent. To do so, players try to capture opponent stones by surrounding them with their own.
 象棋. Another two player Chinese board game. It goes under the same family as the Western game Chess. Therefore it is often referred to as Chinese Chess. The goal of the game is to capture your opponents general, much like in Western Chess where you have to capture the King. Pieces are also somewhat comparable to the Western counterpart though rules are not completely the same.
 官兵捉贼 (guan bing zhuo zei) - A game similar to the party game mafia. People are secretly and randomly assigned roles such as the “guan”(officer), “bing”(soldier) and “zei” (theif). The purpose is for the officer to try to figure out who is the thief or thieves and catch them.
 In weiqi, black always goes first.
 琴棋书画. Literally zither(qin), chess(qi), book(shu) and painting(hua). Zither refers to music. Chess usually refers to weiqi. Book obviously refers to poetry and history etc. Painting means the ability to draw and paint. To say someone excels in all four of these things mean to describe the person as a very talented and learned individual. It’s a very high compliment as each of these four things can take a life time to master and learn.
 Weiqi games are often recorded and noted on paper with a grid diagram for players to analyze and learn from. In Chinese these game records are called a qipu, or in Japanese, kifu.
 金角银边草肚皮. It’s a saying most beginner weiqi players are taught. It’s used to help players remember the order of importance of the various sections of a weiqui board. The corners of the board are extremely important and it’s often the best to start placing your stones from a corner and work your way towards the middle of the board. The corner makes it easier to attack as well as defending your stones. To signify its importance, the word “gold” is used describe it. The edge or the sides of the board is also important but not as important as the corner, therefore it is described as “silver”. Lastly, the middle section of the board (it’s “belly”) is the least important compared to the other two. Therefore it is referred to as the “grass belly”.
 壮士断腕 – An analogy to tell people that one should act decisively and without any hesitation under strenuous circumstances. The analogy comes from the story of a warrior who, after being bitten by a poisonous snake on the wrist, unhesitatingly cuts off his hand at the wrist in order to stop the poison from spreading to the rest of his body. Ruoxi demonstrates this when she gives up some of her stones in order to save the rest of her stones on the board.