Monday, March 7, 2016

Great Merchant - Dao Ming (Chapter 5 - Cursed Child, Beloved Child 5)

Previously on Dao Ming…

Tong ran to Ming’s house to warn them of his father’s plan to sell them to the slave dealer, then ran off to the guesthouse housing Monk Wisteria to get his help. After failing to make the monk budge, he went to set fire to his father’s manor. After the villagers try to save the house by putting out the fire, his older brother criticizes everyone. In the midst of that, Tong stealthily smears charcoal onto his arm, framing him as the one who sets the fire.

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“Wait! Wait! It has to be him! It was Tong that did it!” The eldest son of the Chief repeatedly stabs his finger in Tong’s direction, his face twisted into an ugly expression.

The Chief and villagers bring their attention to Tong with doubtful looks, not entirely convinced.

“‘If man doesn’t benefit oneself, the world will come to an end.’, for what reason do I have for setting my own home on fire, Gwai Lam Zyu?! Isn’t that why you tried to kill me when I caught you?!” Tong points right back at his brother, with blood dripping from his arm, an ornate self-defense dagger can be seen embedded into his malnourished arm.

[T/N: ‘人不為己,天誅地滅’ transliteral -> Man does not care for self, heaven shatters ground crumbles, idiom means that a person will always put himself first, such is the natural way of the world - hence the world ending if the person doesn’t. 季林珠 - Gwai Lam Zyu, surname meaning Season, lam for forest and zyu for pearl. Saying someone’s full name in Chinese in this way represents a lack of respect with a touch of rebuke, or just a very serious mode like your mother saying your full name :P.]

The eldest son’s finger trembles as the dagger looks eerily familiar, quickly patting down his robe in a frenzy, as though he’s looking for something. His mouth starts gaping like a fish out of water as he realizes that his dagger is missing. “Brother! I would never stab you! Someone is trying to frame me here!” His face trembles as he notices an old man being escorted through the crowd. “What reason do I have for setting the house on fire?! Like you, why would I burn down my own home?!”

Tong sneers, “Frame you?! You mean like how you tried to frame Chief Steward Lou by saying he didn’t protect the valuables? Like how you tried to frame the villagers by saying they didn’t stop the fire?” The servants’ and the villagers’ gaze turn back onto Lam Zyu as he continues. “Who doesn’t know you fucked up with that snakehead Gwai? You are probably trying to find any excuse to sell someone to that son of a bitch at this point to save your own skin!”

[T/N: Snakehead is similar to triad boss or a loanshark, it can be used positively to address a powerful merchant or something similar, but in this case, it’s obviously done with a negative connotation.]

“You! You!” Chief Steward Lou points at Zyu while clutching his chest. “Good! Good! To think I treated you like my own grandson! Pei! We are through, I will have no relations to this family of yours!” The wrinkled old man turns to the dark sky and laments. “Oh, Old master Gwai! You must be turning in your grave, your son is useless, and your family’s heir is beyond redemption.”

“Elder Lou…!” Chief Gwai reaches out his hand helplessly at the sudden outburst.

“Same here!”
“And here!”
“Pei! To think I ‘wasted my life for you’!”

The senior staff of the manor quit one after another, the other servants’ faces pale, as they too would leave if they could, it’s obvious that the House, like its master, is no good.

[T/N: 幫你賣命 - transliteral ‘help you sell life’, meaning someone who does their best for you, ie. Working to their fingers, working tirelessly, etc… ‘wasted my life for you’ is the middle ground I chose for its context since being indentured as a servant is often a pretty heavily entwined master-servant relationship as it’s different from being bought as a slave to become a servant. The ‘House’ used here means the clan/family, used the same way as one with noble Houses, ie. House of Medici]

“Sister Ceoi, Brother Zoeng, Elder Ma, please, please, think it through, it’s just little kids spewing off nonsense. Just give me some face, after working all these years, think of your salaries!” Chief Gwai tries to pacify the servants, knowing that without them, his House would truly fall. The Chief Steward looks after the day to day domestic expenses and tasks, the Head of the Kitchen is responsible for meals and wellbeing, the Head of Bookkeeping is responsible for the day to day operation of his family business as well as the taxation of the territory to be sent as tribute to the Governor as Village Chief, and the Vice-Chief is responsible for making contacts and setting up contracts. Without them, he will become a toothless tiger even if he wasn’t already in a bind. “Little Zyu, apologize to Elder Lou right away!”

“Hmmph! Too little too late!” The former Chief-Steward snorts coldly, before turning to the old man making his way through the crowd. “Doctor Ye! Quick, help Little Tong.”

“Calm down, calm down.” The old man drops the wooden medicine trunk on his back onto the ground, ties a length of cloth around his forehead, knotting his disheveled hair out of the way and reaches out for the nearby Tong.

“Is it serious, doctor?” The girl servant asks with a serious face, along with the rest of the lower caste servants, Tong has stopped treating them as objects years ago. This bred a sense of loyalty and familial feeling between them in regards to this Young Master of the House.

“Hmm…” The doctor removes some ceramic bottles, a torch and various objects from the trunk. SHIIII The old man skillfully tears apart Tong’s clothing before opening a small bottle and rubbing his hands with its contents. “Alright, someone hold up the torch, I will inspect him now.”

“Little Zyu, why aren’t you moving?” The Chief becomes helpless, as all the indentured staff leaves, with only the slave-servants still remaining. “What… what are we going to do now?”

His eldest son just stands there like a piece of wood, unable to accept the series of event. The plague was supposed to be their road to fortune… ‘How did it all turn out like this? What have I done wrong?’ keeps circling in the recesses of his mind.

Dong, Dong, Dong

“Attention, the Elders are here to speak.” A middle-aged man bangs a gong three times to get everyone’s attention.

“This is as good a time as any, so we will make this quick. As everyone can see, Gwai Zyu Nou isn’t fit to be the Village Chief, nor does he have the qualifications to do so. Representing the Elders, I invoke the removal of the current Village Chief and start a new selection for the next Chief! Anyone that objects on the Chief’s behalf, speak now!”

The gossiping villagers became quiet after the gong rang, now the current topic has them speaking softly again, under the bright, warm glow of the burning manor.

Seeing the unfavourable condition, Chief Gwai starts calling names. “Old Seon, I helped you expand your field by 5 mu! Is this how you repay me?”

“I didn’t even bring it up with you, taking 50% from the rest of my fields even though you’d long ago recouped the cost! And then you planned to sell my kids and wife? Screw, you, you bastard.” The scrawny man, scarred by hives all over his body, looks away while holding his pinky out, pointing away.

[T/N: The TL;DR of this pinky gesture means disapproval.]

The Chief flinches slightly, changing his target. “Sister-” But before he can get more than a word out, the villagers, one by one, looks away and repeat the same gesture as the first man, with a few holding a fist under their chin.

[T/N: This gesture is basically ‘fuck you’ in southern chinese sign language.]

DONG

A loud, single strike rings out from the gong. “The villagers have spoken, Gwai Zyu Nou, you are hereby relieved of your responsibility and authority as the Village Chief.”

“Wait, Elders, wait, can’t we talk this out?!”

“We did, we just finished, didn’t you hear? Lou is right, your ancestors must be ashamed of you.” The elder walks away from the former Chief, passing by Tong, shaking his head as he sighs. “Competence skipped a generation, and the one with the talent isn’t even the heir.”

“Ah Zyu, Ah Zyu, what are we going to do now?!” The former Chief shakes his unresponsive eldest son, who is looking back at him with unfocused eyes.

“You can sell yourselves, one will make a good fool, the other is bright and educated, so he will make an excellent boytoy, maybe even a eunuch.” Tong sends the words back at the father and son pair, causing them to shiver. Those are the words they spoke before! That must mean…

“You ungrateful son, how can you betray your own family for mere outsiders?!”

[T/N: 反骨仔 - transliteral “reverse bone son” meaning someone ungrateful, a tratior. 手指咬出唔咬入 - transliteral “fingers bite out not bite in” meaning willing to help outsiders but don’t bother helping those close to them. Seeing as we don’t have an english equivalent, I opted for a more contextual translation.]

[E/N: or better yet “BLOOD IS THICKER THAN WATER U TRAITOR”]

“You… you… you…” Lam Zyu snaps out of his stupor into a rage, flinging himself at the bandaged Tong.

CRUNCH, SNAP

A blur of white flashes by suddenly, colliding with the eldest son just before he reaches Tong. “He’s my patient, don’t you DARE lay a hand on him.” The old doctor walks back from the stilled young man, who shortly collapses onto the ground with a spasm. With a smooth motion, he cradles the young man’s head before it falls onto the floor, grips his arm and pinches his throat slightly before slapping him in the chest.

In the shadows, forgotten by everyone, is the monk, who sighs once more and leaves quietly, unbeknownst to anyone.

CRACKLE

The spasming young man breathes in with a gasp.

“5 taels of gold, payment for treating Tong, medical compensation for your eldest son assaulting my patient, payment for emergency life saving treatment.”

“That… that’s highway robbery! You can’t do that!” The former Chief exclaims while reaching for his eldest son.

“Bring it to the Magistrate then! Let’s see who’s in the right!”

The former Chief flinches, without his position for status, he’d be treated like a commoner! And it isn’t like he has the money to bribe anyone! He can only stare hatefully at the old doctor, as though he can stare him to death.

“If you can’t make the payment, I will be taking Tong as collateral.” The doctor isn’t blind, with his many years of experience under his belt as a former army doctor, he can tell that the dagger wound was self-inflicted and amateurishly done, with the blade just shy of an artery. For a child to go that far, there must be some unspeakable occurrence.

“Oh ho?! What’s this, Chief Gwai, what happened to your house?” A fat man strolls up from the road with a yawn, escorted by a group of men.

““Gwai Daiyea…”” Both the Chief and his eldest son murmurs weakly as the devil of their nightmare walks up to them, the glowing flame framing the man as though he came from the brimstone and Sulphur (Yellow) Springs of the Netherworld.

[T/N: Have a hard time with this one, author chose to use 磺 as opposed to 黄, the first meaning sulphur, and the latter being yellow. Brimstone is written as 硫磺. 磺 is literally “rock” and “yellow” put together… cause yeah, sulphur is a yellow mineral. So this could be a typo, could be a pun, or something I don’t know, hence I have the yellow in bracket :P]

White Jade Forest, near the village

“Are we all set?”

“Yes, dear.”

“Yes, father.”

“Alright, we are going to follow an animal trail, I met a foreign huntsman here before that said he came from the ‘Other side’.”

“… Dear… isn’t that…”

“Haha, nono, he’s human, it’s just they don’t have a name for that place.”

“Sigh… to think we have to abandon our home…”

“‘Heavens don’t give humans hopeless paths’, it will be tough for a while, but it will beat becoming slaves and being separated.”

[T/N: 天無絕人之路 - transliteral “heaven don’t have deadends for human”. It’s similar to the idiom for “when god closes a door, he opens a window”, except the problem is that there’s no “God” here so to speak.]

The three of them grit their teeth as they enter the dark, foreboding forest where monsters and heavens-knows-what lurks.

14 comments:

  1. I notice how weird Yue (cantonese) pronunciation can feel weird. I'm willing to to switch to mandarin if it helps the readers, thoughts? (I'll just T/N if there's wordplay with someone's name, it's a 'thing' nowadays apparently with chinese writers, so I expect that to pop up sooner or later)

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  2. Thank for the new chap hope there is more to come its getting interesting.

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    1. Author sent me about a dozen since CNY... I will try to get more out in the next few days... T.T

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    1. That would be in my email, author doesn't have a website to host the work since it is written in Yue (Cantonese) and seems like he's just happy throwing the work at me (I also act as an editor for him as I translate). I might have to restart the patreon/donation and throw (if any) money at him if the series proves popular enough.

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  4. wow, thank you so much, this is really interesting....

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  5. actually... what is gwai word look like...
    i keep read it and i getting confuse by it

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    1. 季 for the chief and son. Meaning seasons, that's how Tong changed his name to Li from it by removing the "roof" on top.

      貴 is for the loanshark slave dealer guy, meaning expensive, can also be used as noble if used in conjunction with other words.

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    2. when i read i can understand the cantonese sentence.
      but when reading the tl abit confuse.

      and i hope i can get to read the continues soon.

      the prob is... there is no way to read the raw in mandarin...

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  6. I liked this novel " grat merchant dao ming " so much that until today I have read 4 time al the translated chapter until the last public chapter 5 and waiting to contine read this tale.

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  7. it seems the translation is really hard...

    must wait another week again...
    i hope i dont forget this series soon

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