Sunday, November 15, 2015

Great Merchant - Dao Ming (Prologue 3)

Inside the Room of Meditation

“Please wait here, General.” A pair of guards respectfully guides a fat, bald, ruddy old man into the crystalline room. “We will prepare your carriage right away.” They cup their hands and bow deeply before leaving the room.

“There’s plenty of time, take it slowly, take it slowly.” The old man waves his right hand lazily as he struts into the room. “Eh? There’s already someone here?” He looks over at the other side of the large room, spotting a white-haired man sitting cross-legged in the corner, spots of glistening light trailing from his eyes, down his face. The old man swings the rake he’s holding over his left shoulder, causing the few possessions he has dangling off the rake to jingle, making his way over.

“What are you in here for, sonny?” The old man jokingly asks.

The young man opens his eyes, giving them a quick wipe with his sleeve before getting up. He cups his hands and bows slightly, “Greetings, elder.”

“Hoho, dispense with all the useless formalities, life is too short for that! Oh, wait, we are already dead, so it doesn’t matter anyways. Hahahaha!” The old man lazily waves it off, makes a joke and starts laughing by himself. The young man smiles politely at him, nodding once before sitting back down.

“Why the long face lad? Ah… I know!” The old man sits down across from the young man, laying his rake and bundle of things carefully on the ground. He clumsily reaches into his sleeves, retrieving two wine cups. “Hmm… I guess Hui Mong Wine would be good right about now.” The old man reaches into the bundle at the head of his rake, retrieves a gourd with practiced motion, then he fills the two cups from up high, without splashing a drop.

[T/N: The wine name is Returning (to) Dream 回夢]

“Here lad, help yourself.” He slides the small wine cup expertly to the young man, it stops perfectly in front of him, with the surface of the wine completely tranquil the entire way. The old man takes a long sip of the wine in his hand, inhaling deeply. Seeing that the young man is looking at the cup with a neutral expression, the old man slaps his knee.

“Drink, drink! Wine only tastes better when there are others to drink it with you!” The old man stops drinking for a moment and thinks. “Ah! You are afraid of drinking without foundation eh, don’t worry, this old geezer’s got you covered.” He puts the wine cup on the floor, flicking his sleeves before bringing his hands together before moving expertly while humming a mantra. Multiple beads of light with various scenes in them float in the air. “Hmm… let’s go with, this, this, oooh, roasted swan leg, definitely that.” The old man would say this and that out loud, sometimes with the name of food thrown in, each time he does so, he will reach towards one of the beads, which would grow larger into the size of his head when he reaches into it, before grabbing out some food.

[T/N: “Foundation” is my take on 打底. It’s a common folk-belief that you ought to eat something before you drink, as to enjoy it more without getting dead drunk right away.]

The young man looks on in astonishment, his previous thoughts vanishing like smoke.

“Eat, eat, better to be a satisfied ghost than a hungry ghost. Hahahaha!” The old man grabs a roasted piece of large swan leg and starts taking big, delightful bites out of it after his hearty laugh.

“Then I won’t be polite.” The young man nods at the old man, a small smile creeping into his face as he partakes in the unexpected feast before his eyes.





“Aiyah! What the hell is the Heavens doing? Don’t worry lad, you won’t be going to Hell, I will drag you back out myself if I have to! Well, maybe let me take a nap or something before hand. Hahahaha!” The old man laughs heartily once more, his face red from the alcohol, with bits of food and grease on his face. His face turns serious all of the sudden, his eyes opening wide. “I mean it, you might have to stay there for a few days, but I will come get you! If I don’t show up, one of my brothers will!”

The pair started talking while they were eating, as the alcohol flowed, the atmosphere changed. Small talk turns into arguments about food and wine, then onto women, and then onto more serious topics. The two feel like old friends that haven’t seen each other in a long time, despite the obvious age gap in their appearances.

“You might not believe me, but big brother used to be a prankster when he was young, he didn’t grow up until we ended our pilgrimage with our master!” The old man looks around to make sure no one overhears. “Well, I say that, but none of us really grew up if you know what I mean! Hahahaha!”

The young man had experienced the ruthless power struggles of the Royal Court. Despite his short lifespan, his insight into people’s character has been honed and sharpened to an unbelievable degree. In addition, he innately sharp mind and clear, unclouded, unbiased observation skill allows him to see through most people. But the jolly old man in front of him completely baffles him. He forcefully suppresses the hope in his heart and accepts his fate.

“I thank senior for his kind intentions, but you don’t have to exert yourself for this criminal.” The young man places his wine cup onto the floor before respectfully bowing to the old man with cupped hands.

Slam

Unexpectedly, the old man slams his wine cup heavily onto the crystalline floor, pouting like a child, with the red cheeks to match. “There are crimes, and then there are ‘crimes’. If what you did is a crime, then Heavens is a sham!”

The old man then quickly fills his cup up once more before angrily biting into a piece of mutton. The young man sits stunned, never expecting the same words he said to King Yanlou to be repeated by someone else. His heart fills with warmth and gratitude, even if the old man is merely humouring him, he’s already extremely happy to have someone like this to accompany him on this last leg of his journey.

“You know, if you want, I can bring you to another Domain for a few incarnations. It only started a few thousand years ago, so some of the recent souls that came through here have been diverted there as well.” The old man puts down his hands for a while before sighing. “I always thought there was something wrong with Heavens, but I didn’t know how to put it into words. But some recent friends I made gave me some new insights after all these years.”

“Heh, if there’s something wrong with Heavens, then who would want to stay? One lifetime of facing off the darkest of corruption is enough.” The young man laments.

“Good!” The old man lifts his hand that’s now holding a drumstick before stuffing it into his mouth, his hands making numerous incantation gestures, causing the space to ripple. “I will be sending you to Star Number 5354.” The old man says with gusto, the drumstick no longer in his mouth, the bone has been placed on the floor at some point in time. “I bid you good journey!” The entire space seems to shake, blurry, ghostly images of the old man seem to overlap upon themselves. The various food on the floor, the gourd, and a dull, copper bracelet intended for a child, are wrapped up in a giant fan made out of banana leaves before shrinking in size, flying straight into the young man’s dantian.

[T/N: I loled for a bit and people were giving me weird looks xD 星號 五三五四 is literally translated to Star Number 5354, but it is also the homonym for “Nonsense”.]

“Senior! Wait! What is your name?!” The young man shouts as he feels himself being pulled to… somewhere.

“Just call me the ‘Heavenly…’ no, call me the ‘Earthly Tumbleweed’! Hahahaha!” The old man laughs once more as the world goes black for the young man. The old man’s figure distorts, like a mirage, the appearance melts away, revealing a hideous thing with the body of a man and the head of a pig. Unperturbed, the figure grabs more food from the beads of light, grabbing another wine cup and wine gourd from somewhere, before enjoying himself with a smile on his face.

“General! Your carriage is ready.” The pair of guards from before returns, with their ever respectful gesture.

““Eh?!”” The two of them look at the hideous figure walking toward them.

“Good! Lead the way!”

The guards give each other a questioning look, wondering why the General stopped using his transformation ability. They didn’t hesitate for long however, before they quickly guide the pigheaded General down the hall.


Back in King Yanlou’s Court

“Terrible news! Terrible news!” A pair of guards runs back into the ancient court room after going to retrieve the soul that was sent to the Room of Meditation. The pair runs to the center of the court, kneeling in front of King Yanlou, shaking like tree leaves in a typhoon.

“Calm yourself!” The judge-secretary shouts at the two. “What happened?!”

“The… the… Li Fang Sing is gone!”

“But… that’s impossible!”

“It’s true!”

The pair of guards and Lin Bai turn to look at King Yanlou, who slowly closes his eyes. After a few moments, he picks up the commandment tablet. “FATE BEYOND FATE, DAO WITHIN DAO. THE COURT IS ADJOURNED!”

SLAM

Everyone else in the room opens their eyes wide in shock, some even pick at their ears, wondering if they heard right.

“I SAID, ‘THE COURT IS ADJOURNED!’”

The judge-secretary is the first to recover. “Next!”

His voice acts like cold water, splashing onto the still dreaming guards. They all recovered with a few hiccups, resuming their duties.

“““Huuuooooooooo”””

Dadadada

[T/N: I’m not sure how many of you are familiar with Journey to the West/Saiyuki/even Dragon Ball. But the references in this chapter is extremely thick. The old man in question is Zhu Bajie (the pig demon with the nine-tooth rake), after completing the pilgrimage with his master, everyone but him became a buddha. He was honoured and given the role of “Cleaner of the Altar”, since he’s lazy and loves to eat, so he got rewarded with the task of eating all the leftovers from offerings. He’s also depicted as a soft hearted, compassionate being with the power of transformation, willing to give even demons second chances at danger to himself and his group. As for the name he gave to the MC, “Earthly Tumbleweed” -personally I would’ve chosen another name, but there’s already precedence so I’ll go along with that-, it’s based on his former title cum nickname as a Celestial General, the “Heavenly Tumbleweed”. TL;DR: The old man is actually the Pig Demon from Journey to the West.]

9 comments:

  1. Short and easy chapter, heavy, heavy with the cultural reference though, it was fine for me, but damn it might be confusing for westerners xD

    If there are reference anyone doesn't understand, feel free to ask! One more chapter and then we are out of the prologue.

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    Replies
    1. Heh, yeah, there's QUITE a bit of references throughout the entire chapter. I think I'd need a whole need chapter if I T/N all the references xD

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  2. Zhu Bajie from journey to the west?

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    Replies
    1. That's what it says at the end with the T/N :3

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  3. Replies
    1. No, this is another series I'm doing on the side.

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