步步惊心/ Bu Bu Jing Xin
Startling Surprises with Every Step
Written by Tong Hua
Chapter 4 (Part 4): Translated by Cutzie
Brought to you by the Magnolia Translation Team
This work is an amateur fan-translation of original work by Tong Hua as available in free online format in Mandarin Chinese at:
The translation is done as good will, so that fellow fans who do not read Mandarin may enjoy this lovely work. We declare that we do not profit monetarily in any way from this work, and also do not pretend to be professional translators, hence apologize in advance for inadvertent translation errors. In addition reposting of the translation must be done with explicit permission of all translators as contactable via spcnet.
Characters Introduced So Far
(In Alphabetical Order)
Dong Yun: One of Ruolan’s maids.
Fourteenth-prince (Aisin-Gioro Yinzheng): The fourteenth son of Emperor Kangxi. He is described as being quite handsome. Is currently around fourteen to fifteen years of age.
Fourth-prince (Asin-Gioro Yinzhen): The fourth son of Emperor Kangxi and the future Emperor Yongzheng. Slightly pale and has an impassive demeanour.
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: The current Emperor of China.
Mingyu Ge’ge (Guoluoluo Mingyu): Younger sister of the Eighth-prince’s Di’fujin, Guoluoluo Minghui. Not on good terms with Ruoxi. Most likely the one who caused the original Ruoxi’s accident after an argument. During the Tenth’s Birthday banquet, Ruoxi and Mingyu gets into a fight, resulting in quite a spectacle.
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. Has a deceased lover who was a soldier in her father’s army. The man was of Han descent and had taught Ruolan how to ride.
Ruoxi, Maertai (Zhang Xiao): Protagonist of the story. Originally a modern day, white collar professional named Zhang 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.
Thirteenth-prince (Aisin-Gioro Yinxiang): The thirteenth son of the Emperor Kangxi. Nicknamed “the Death Challenging Thirteenth” by his brothers. Has a more carefree and unrestrained demeanour.
Glossary of Terms
(In Alphabetical Order)
Bei’le: Shortened from Duo’luo Bei’le. A peerage title that can be bestowed to those within the royal family. It is the third rank in the Qing peerage system for the imperial line.
Ce’fujin: A title. Meaning second wife or ‘side’ wife in Manchurian.
Di’fujin: A title. Meaning first wife or main wife in Manchurian.
Ge’ge: A Manchurian word for young mistress, or lady. It is a title you would call an unmarried noblewoman (or before they are bestowed an official title by the Emperor) above a certain rank.
Jie-jie: Older sister in Chinese.
Ji’xiang: A standard greeting one of lower status uses to greet people with higher status in court. The word literally means auspicious and can be translated as, ‘I wish good fortunes, prosperity and happiness to you”
Chapter 4 (Part 4)
Kangxi cut him off, “Seventeen is still young?”
The Tenth-prince said urgently, “Fourth brother and Eighth brother both married a Ce Fujin first. If that’s the case, why don’t Father grant me a Ce Fujin first?”
Kang Xi’s face hardened, “Nonsense! Is making Mingyu your Di’ Fujin insulting to you?”
The Tenth-prince, not knowing how to reply, hurriedly got on his knees. “I didn’t mean it like that! I just…I…I just wanted…”
The Eighth-prince stood up, smiling, and calmly said, “Imperial Father, I think that Tenth brother is caught off guard so he doesn’t know how to react. As soon as he calms down, I’m sure he would be more than ecstatic.”
The Tenth-prince turned to stare at the Eighth-prince with wide opened eyes while his face turns slightly purple. There was a bit of anxiety in his expression, along a bit of anger, a bit of pain, but more than anything, a kind of helpless pleading.
The Eighth-prince looked back at him, still smiling, “Tenth brother, quickly thank Imperial Father for his kindness.”
The Tenth-prince continued to stare at him. Though the Eighth-prince was still maintaining that calm demeanor, his eyes were gravelly dark, making it impossible to tell what he was thinking.
Finally, that bit of pleading, of anxiety, of anger, of pain, all melted away from the Tenth-prince’s face, leaving only a look of indifference. He slowly turned around, knelt down, and kowtowed three times. The sound of his head hitting the ground rang clearly throughout the hall.
He announced in a loud voice, “This humble son thanks Imperial Father!”
The Eighth-prince slowly sat down.
I felt as if those three kowtows were hitting against my very own heart. One hit, then another one, and another one, all pressing against me, making it difficult to breathe. I already knew beforehand that marriages during ancient times were decided solely by the parents, that it was hard to make one’s own decision. Yet only when seeing it played out right in front of me, did I felt its cruelty.
I glared at Mingyu angrily. She also stared back at me, looking a bit dreadful, a bit self-satisfied, a bit of unwillingness, and also a bit of hatred. Then slowly all of that dreadfulness, satisfaction, unwillingness, and hatred disappeared into a charming smile. Under my angry gaze, she got up and solemnly went out to give her thanks. Seeing her and the Tenth-prince kneeling side by side just made me want to shout. Why?! Why?! Is he not a prince?! Does he not have the highest, most honored status?! Yet, this status has eliminated his most precious possession – freedom!
I thought of my sister, then of the present situation where the date of the concubine selection was quickly approaching. Could this be the fate of everyone in the Forbidden City? The fear that I have been repressing this entire time began to surge forward. Who would I be given to? Looking at the concubines that are sitting next to Kangxi, who all could be taken as his daughters, my whole body trembled. Uncontrollably I kept wondering if I would become one of this old man’s side wives or another young man’s main wife.
I didn’t know what happened afterward or how I got out of the palace. All I remembered was that as soon as the carriage stopped in front of the manor, I rushed out and ran to the door, ignoring the shouts behind me.
I just ran, ran as fast as I could, with all the strength in me. I felt the urgent need to find a place to hide, or else I, too, would, somehow, be unknowingly married to someone.
All the maids and servants behind chased after me.
“Ruoxi, Ruoxi!” Jie-jie called as she ran.
The Eighth-prince quickly commanded the guards to seize me. One of them jumped in front, blocking my path. I wanted to run around him but he grabbed my hand. I struggled to break free, only wanting to find a place to hide.
From far away, I could hear the Eighth-prince’s voice, “Knock her out!”
Ever since the Mid-Autumn Festival, I’ve became more reserved, and more quiet. Qiaohui and Dongyun tried as they might but still couldn’t get me to talk as before. Every day, if I wasn’t practicing my calligraphy, I would be sitting somewhere, staring blankly into space.
For the first time, I began to carefully contemplate my life here in the past and what my destiny would be. I kept asking myself, “Could I do nothing else but wait until everything falls upon me?”
All the maids and servant in the mansions would give me weird looks. I knew that they all thought I went crazy because of the Tenth-prince but I didn’t care.