步步惊心/ Bu Bu Jing Xin
Startling Surprises with Every Step
Written by Tong Hua
Chapter 6 Part (4-6)
Translated by Cutzie
Brought to you by the Magnolia Translation Team
I've already complied the parts of Chapter 6 into one file. The online version will continued where we left off but for those who are downloading the Pdf file, you should go to page 12
Download link (Chapter 6 full): http://www.mediafire.com/?o3iwh7mvl11ascj
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, we 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)
Crown Prince (Aisin-Gioro Yinreng): The second son of Emperor Kangxi. Currently the Crown Prince and thus next in line for the throne.
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 demeanor.
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 6 (Parts 4-6)
I thought about Tenth prince’s marriage day, where Thirteenth prince had to face a whole world of red while his heart was mourning in white. It must have been really hard to endure. My anger for his behavior before had completely disappeared, leaving only an endless amount of sympathy.
The two of us sat there silently for a while before he turned to me, smiling, and asked, “If you’re not in love with Tenth brother then why do I see you singing for him? And why does everybody say you go crazy because of him?”
I leaned my head to look at him and asked, “When Qui Ran Ke first met Hong Fu Nu, what was she doing?”
He was startled by my sudden question, and pondered for a while before answering, “She was combing her hair.”
I smiled, “Men and women can be like Qui Ran Ke and Hong Fu Nu, caring and supporting one another without any other purpose. It is not romance, but merely sincerity.”
His expression seemed to change at my words as he stared at me. I calmly looked back at him. After a few moments, he spoke, “Good! Good for the phrase, ‘not romance, but merely sincerity’!”
I felt happy, seeing that he understood my meaning. After all, in ancient times, friendship between the opposite sexes was still a relatively new idea. I was afraid most people would not be able to accept it, but he seemed to have no trouble doing so. The two of us couldn’t help grinning at one another.
I saw that the people ahead were getting ready to leave, therefore stood up, and said, “We should go back,”
He stood up with me, “How about a drink?” he suddenly asked.
I looked at him, surprised. He smiled warmly back at me. My heart was unable to restrain the sudden affection, “Why not?” I replied generously.
He looked at the horse and asked, “Would it be alright if the two of us to ride on one horse?”
I laughed, “It won’t be the first time.”
He let out two barks of laughter before jumping on the horse and pulling me to sit behind him. A loud, “Go!” and the two of us flew off.
He led the horse through a small quiet alley before stopping in front of an exquisite courtyard. An elderly lady opened the gate and, upon seeing Thirteenth prince, dropped down in a curtsy.
“Thirteenth prince,” the lady greeted, smiling, “Why did you not send us a word before coming? The young miss is currently attending a customer. Let me notify her, tell her to quickly come here.”
“There’s no need,” Thirteenth prince replied, “I’m only using your place tonight to have a drink with my friend. Just go prepare a table with some foods and wine.”
The lady took a sneak peek at me. Seeing that I was too looking at her, she quickly bowed her head and left.
Thirteenth prince seemed very familiar with the house as he confidently led me into an elegantly designed room. There were couple of simple wooden furniture in it, but the room itself was otherwise lacking decorations, save for a porcelain vase near the window containing a few bamboo stalks.
I looked around for a bit before sitting down with Thirteenth prince. I smiled at him.
“Your lady confidant?” I asked.
He smiled back, “I usually just come here to have a few drinks out of boredom. We do not necessarily talk much.”
I nodded. The girl that lived here must be a higher level courtesan, a woman that would not attend to just any man.
Before long, the elderly lady came in with two servant girls carrying foods and wine. They set the table and left. Thirteenth prince and I began eating.
A couple of drinks in, the two of us started to talk. From the rumors circulating the Palace to interesting stories of the past, from poetry about mountains and rivers to the philosophy of ancient kings. We unexpectedly discovered that we were both great admirers of Xi Kang and Ruan Ji. Our conversations became more in-sync and we both lamented the fact that we had not met sooner. I, myself, got very excited.
Ancient China has been trapped for thousands of years under the net of Confucian belief, with its Five Bonds and Three Characters, successfully repressing any individual thoughts. With monarchy as the central government, there was no chance for individualism to properly develop. On the other hand, Xi Kang, a man born in turbulent times, could be called a pleasant surprise, a streak of light across the dark sky, though short but beautiful. His masterpiece, “Severing Relationship Letter to Shan Tao,” an elaboration on human nature, demonstrated the real principle of equality. His “Fei Shang Wu’er Bao Shou Khong” stated that Confucian rituals were merely a belief of a group of people, and therefore not necessary for everyone to follow. A person’s happiness would only be known to that person only. Therefore, a person should have to right to pursuit his own personal happiness. It can be said that Xi Kang’s philosophy coincided much with the modern ideas of freedom and individualism.
Though I knew that Thirteenth prince was a rather unrestraint person, I would never expected him to hold Xi Kang’s beliefs with such high regard. He was, after all, of royal blood and therefore, at the top of the social hierarchy. The astonishing discovery that someone from this ancient time could understand my innermost thoughts was like an ecstasy, disabling my ability to stop talking. He too seemed very surprise, in this Confucian culture, to meet a woman like me, voicing my discontent, when few men actually dared to do so. There was one third of shock, one third of admiration, and one third of joy in him as we continued on our discussion.
“Actually,” I said, bringing the cup of wine to my lips, “there is one important reason why I like Xi Kang.”
He thought I had an interesting theory to tell and listened with rapt attention.
I lowered my eyes and smiled secretly, “There are many handsome men throughout the history of China, such as Song Yu and Pan An, with their feminine beauty. But Xi Kang was different. The history books stated that he was seven feet eight inches tall, with a special grace. But how do people evaluate him?”
Thirteenth prince replied, “Those who see him sighed, ‘Desolate and solemn, with such a pure character,’ or said, ‘So respectful in manner, so great in strength.’”
I clapped his shoulder, “Exactly! Xi Kang was healthy and masculine. He was a stable pine tree under the golden sun that could not be pressed down by snow or blow down by wind.”
Thirteenth prince had probably never heard a woman spoke so blatantly about a man’s physique before. His eyes become wider with every word I said. After I finished talking, he stared at me and did not speak for a while.
“A true romantic scholar from the past,” he finally said.
I confessed that, at the beginning, my intentions in becoming friends with Thirteenth prince were selfish. Though, to other people, I was on Eighth prince’s side as my sister was his Ce Fujin, in history, it was Fourth prince and Thirteenth prince who came out victorious. I do not have the ability to change history but I could create an escape route for myself. But, after having this heart to heart discussion, I truly saw Thirteenth prince as my friend. Who else here would believe that all men were born equal? Who else would feel that even the emperor had no authority to force people to do what he wanted? Though it was only because of his admiration of Xi Kang that Thirteenth prince questioned the current cultural system, it was enough for me.
By the time we finished drinking and Thirteenth prince bought me back to the mansion, the sky had turned dark. Though the horse was going at a normal speed and I had on the cloak Thirteenth prince had given me, it was still very cold. After he helped me dismount, I told him to leave first.
He thought for a while, “I should go explain to Eighth brother.”
I smiled, “They won’t give me a hard time. My sister will not let them.”
He smiled back but ignored me and knocked on the door.
I saw that he was resolute and had no choice but to follow him. The door was quickly opened. The two guards was shocked to see Thirteenth prince standing next to me and hurriedly bowed.
“Rise,” Thirteenth prince said dismissively, “Go notify Bei’le that I am here.”
One of the guards went away immediately while the other quickly closed the door and led Thirteenth prince to the living room. I inclined my head to Thirteenth prince as a farewell then leave for my sister’s room myself.
When I got back to the room, there was no sign of the other servants, only Qiao Hui.
Jie-jie saw me came in, her face pale, “You should have remembered what I've said. Last time was the only exception, there would be no re-occurrence.”
I stood there, suddenly speechless. Going out with a friend was something I did often in the modern times. But we were in the past, where a small thing like this would render a big reaction from those around me. I could not help but sighed.
I continued to stand there in silence for I had nothing to say to her. There was a 300 years gap between us. Helpless, Jie-jie sadly looked at me.
After a while, she wearily said, “Go on,”
Her tired appearance wrenched my heart but I just didn’t think that I did anything wrong. In this place, I have already lost a lot of things; I didn’t wish to lose my right to make friends too, even if it meant upsetting my sister.
I silently went back to my room.
I woke up late the next morning, but could not make myself get out of bed. I stared at the roof, thinking back to last night. The memory of my conversations with Thirteenth prince lifted my mood and I wished I could ask him out for a drink right now.
I was immersed in my happy thoughts when a servant girl called out, “Xiao Jie, Bei’le has sent for you.”
I sat up immediately, feeling a bit anxious. After getting ready, I quickly went with the eunuch waiting outside.
When we arrived at the study room Li Fu was already there, opening the door and inviting me to go in. He stayed outside. The slamming of the door set off my barely calmed nerves.
Eighth prince was standing there in a long, pale blue robe. The porcelain urn next to him was nearly his height, and contained more than a dozen scrolls. He had no reaction upon my arrival and continued to stand elegantly looking out the window. The sunlight streaming in danced across his face, making it hard for me to see his expression.
I didn’t know what Thirteenth prince told him yesterday. I also didn’t know what he thought about the whole incident, and therefore did not dare to say anything but only stood dumbly by the door. After a long silence, he slowly turned towards me.
With a small smile, he asked, “Where did you and Thirteenth brother go yesterday?”
I thought for a minute, “Did Thirteenth prince not tell you?” I asked.
“I’m asking you right now,” he replied.
I was utterly confused but thinking about it carefully, though our conversations yesterday were out of the norm, it was hardly something that I needed to hide.
I met his eyes confidently and answered, “Thirteenth prince took me out for a drink.”
My answer got no reaction from him. On his face was that same eternal smile, but his eyes, his eyes gazed deeply into mine as if he wanted to see right through to my soul. I looked back at him for a while but finally, feeling embarrassed, pretended to sit down as to turn away from him and those eyes of his.
Just as I sat down, he whispered, “Come here,” I looked up at him. His gentle smile was still there as he said softly once more, “Come here.”
I determined that he was being serious and gradually stood up. Head down, I slowly walked towards him, step by step. I stopped three steps away from him and looked down at the floor.
His long sigh was almost inaudible. “Am I so scary?” he asked softly as he took two steps forward.
I found that every time he was near me, I would feel an invisible pressure that would send my heart racing, my brain would become dizzy and incapable of coherent thoughts. He gently grabbed my hand and pulled it up. I reflectively drew back. He tightened his hold.
“Don’t move,” he said.
He drew out from his sleeve a clear jade bracelet with a blood red line running down the center. He slowly pushed the bracelet onto my wrist, released my hand, went back to the table and sat down. With the distance between us, my mind cleared up and I was able to think clearly again. I began to wonder what was going on. Was I not called here to be lectured? As I was thinking, he spoke again, “Personal Ministry Yao Shilang is coming over. You should go back first.”
I let out a “Yes,” and withdrew. Li Fu saw me walking out and came hurriedly to bow. I, being too busy in my thoughts, ignored him and left.
When I came back, Jie-jie saw the vacant expression on my face and thought I had been lectured by Eighth prince. She smiled gently and said, “It is the established custom.” I did not answer. With my hands hidden in the sleeves, I silently went back to my room.
That night, at dinner, Jie-jie saw the bracelet on my wrist.
“Where did you get this?” she asked, taken back.
I was caught off guard and did not know how to answer when she suddenly nodded, “Thirteenth prince is really generous. This is an extremely rare phoenix blood jade bracelet. “
Jie-jie had misunderstood but, since I couldn’t explain anyway, let’s just let Thirteenth prince have this credit.
She unexpectedly did not scold me but merely sighed, “Out of all the princes, Thirteenth prince is one of the best. He has a sense of justice the others doesn’t.”
I lowered my head and smiled secretly, a feeling of satisfaction overcome my heart. My sister was indeed not an average person. With his mother being of common blood, other young ladies would only see Thirteenth prince’s lack of matriarchal support as equaling to an unstable future.
After the meal, while we were drinking tea, Jie-jie suddenly said, “There are some things that are just not within of our control. Therefore it is better not to think about them in the first place.”
I froze with the cup of tea halfway to my lips. I did not know how to reply nor could I make any heads or tails out of that statement. I thought for a long time, “I will take care of myself.”
 In Chinese culture, the color red symbolized happiness and is used on wedding gowns as well as wedding decorations. The color white, on the other hand, symbolized grieve and is often seen during funerals.
 Qui Ran Ke and Hong Fu Nu are fictional characters set in the rise of the Tang Dynasty. They, along Li Jing, were sworn brothers and sister.
 Orig. 红颜知己, which basically means a lady soul mate, someone who you can tell anything to. Ruoxi is referring to the “young miss” that the elderly lady mentioned before.
 Xi Kang was a Chinese author as well as Taoist philosopher that criticized Confucianism. He and Ruan Ji were musicians and two of the Seven Sages of Bamboo Groves.
 Five Bonds and Three Characters are two central Confucian ideas. Five Bonds basically listed the main human relationships of the time: Ruler to Subject, Father to Son, Husband to Wife, etc, with the former being superior to the latter. Three Characters described the characters of humans.
 “Severing Relationship Letter to Shan Tao” was a letter Xi Kang wrote to Shan Tao, breaking up any relations they had, due to the fact that Shan Tao had recommended him to be his successor for a government post, an act that demonstrated Shan Tao’s little understanding of Xi Kang.