The Chant of The Sinking Moon Chapter 2

Translated+Edited: Akiha

Chapter 2 The Rain that Hits the Window and Damping the Silk

“The General is back! The General is back!” Just when I was still panicking, a middle-aged man wearing the clothing of a high level servant lowered his head and bent his back, standing at around ten meters away from the pavilion, “The general asks the mistress to bring young master and young lady to the Fu Song Hall.”

“Mmn, alright.” My beautiful mother slightly nodded her head and I obediently get off her lap. Nong Mo stepped forward to help mother smooth her clothing out. With my stubby hand, I grabbed onto mother’s thin finger and everyone walked out of the pavilion and headed east.

The residence at the current time emits an old feeling. The dark brown long corridor is quiet, simple, with a few turnings. More than half the plantations in the residence are lush green throughout the four seasons. Looking at the garden from faraway, the greeneries seem to extend to the horizon. Some of the fan-shaped window by the passageway had roses peeking out. The roses are not elegant as peony, not beautiful as the moon; neither eye-catching nor bland, neither prideful nor plain; as if rouge that had the colours balanced, as if my mother for this life.

As I was thinking intently, we have arrived in front of Fu Song Hall. A quiet garden, conservative decoration, dark coloured wood paint – this is father’s study room, and also Han family’s most confidential place.

“Other than Hua Mei and Nong Mo, the others shall step back.” Mother said so with a calm voice. The servants all had an arm on their chest and retreated while bowing.

After the servants had retreated, mother brought me and brother and slowly entered the room. Before entering, Hua Mei made eye contact with Nong Mo, and after nodding their heads, the both of them stood on both side of the door.

“Jin Se, you’ve came.” A handsome man with a large build and rigid face looked at us lovingly. He is my father for this life. The country, You Country’s General, Han Bai Qing. Father and mother’s feelings towards one another are deep. According to Nong Mo, the both of them met and fell in love at first sight during Qian Qiao Festival[1]. Soon after, father who held power and position did not care about the opposition of King of You and stood to his decision to marry mother that was born as the rich merchant’s commoner daughter into the Han family and made her his wife. In these fifteen years, they still love and support one another, and father had never take in any concubine. Han Bai Qing and Su Jin Se’s love story have become the beautiful legend in the You Country and this had even made father, who was known as the Six Countries’ First War General added another layer of gentle charm.

“Bai Qing, what is it?” Mother slightly knitted her brow and let go of my hand to walk up.

“Xiao Er, Qing Qing, come.” Concern can be seen on father’s face as he waved his hand towards me and my brother. What happened? I walked up to father and tilted my head and was lifted up by him.

Leaning onto father’s broad arm, I blinked my eyes confusedly at him. He walked towards the desk and pointed to the scrolls on the desk while talking patiently: “Qing Qing, this is the map for the Six Countries.” Map? This is the first time in the five years of my life that I’m learning about this continent. “Do you know which Six Countries is it?” Father stared at me with caring eyes and asked me seriously.

“Qing, You, Yong, Jing, Liang, Yi.” Looking back at him, I answered accordingly.

“Mmn, your mother had brilliantly taught you about it.” As he said that, he smiled warmly and gently looked at mother. The two of them began to send messages through their eyes. I awkwardly looked at brother and he had the face indicating he can’t take it anymore. Looking, looking at it again will make a person die of diabetes!

Twisting my body in father’s arm, I successfully attracted his attention. “Our You Country is located at the most southern part.” Father pointed towards the lowest part where the shoe-shaped country can be seen on the map, “As what Qing Qing can see, You Country has three neighbouring countries. One of them is the Jing Country that’s located at the centre with five countries surrounding it.” Father’s long finger pointed towards the middle of the map where the smallest circle can be seen. “Another one is the Yong Country to the west and the other one being Qing Country to the east.” Other than these four countries, the most northern part of the map has two more large countries: Liang Country that’s located to the north of Yong Country and northern west of Jing Country; and the Yi Country that have the southern borders connected to both Qing Country and Jing Country.

Quietly memorizing the land division in the map, I raised my head towards father curiously, why is he teaching me geography now? “Qing Qing, father will soon leave and rush to the borders.” When he said that, both mother and brother was shocked.

“Father, is a war going to happen?” Brother walked up and stared intently into father’s eyes. Mother slightly frowned, concern showing on her face, “Is it another war with Qing Country?” When I was three, father had gone on an expedition before and it lasted half a year. During those six months, the concern on my mother’s face never ceases and any sort of news will cause her to feel unsettled. The war at that time ended with You Country winning and it was settled by Qing Country giving out some of their lands along with a hostage as compensation. After the Qing You war, father was known by all the Six Countries and You Country had even become the southern countries’ lord.

“This time we’re having a war with Yong Country.” Father carried me and sat in front of the desk, pointing towards the intersection of Yong Country, Jing Country and You Country. “The King of Yong was dissatisfied at the fact that the money offering made by Jing Country was too little and so armies were deployed to march in on Jing Country. Empress Dowager Qian had sent an ambassador and asks for our country’s help. The King disregarded our opposition and is determined to dispatch our Han military to help in the march.”

“Then, how long will it take?” Mother stared at father and with a concerned voice, “Is the victory certain?”

“I don’t know.” Father sighed, “All the information is told by the ambassador of Jing Country. Our country did not obtain any detailed military report.”

“Father, please allow Xiao Er to follow.” Brother suddenly kneeled down and looked at father determinedly. “Xiao Er is now fourteen years old. Having been trained and practised martial arts and military tactics for around ten years, Xiao Er would like to join in annihilating the enemy and decrease father’s burden.”

“Xiao Er! Don’t fool around!” Mother hurriedly walked forward and wanted to pull brother up.

“Jin Se.” Father raised his hand to stop mother and lowered his head to look intently at brother. “The front line is not as easy as what you’ve read in the books. The enemy will not be soft on you like your teachers did when it comes to killing. Do you understand?”

“Xiao Er understands, and Xiao Er is willing to join.” Brother nodded his head strongly and held his palm onto his fist.

“Alright. This time, Xiao Er shall follow me to war.” Father nodded his head, feeling satisfied and patted brother’s shoulder.

“Bai Qing!” Mother shouted out of shock and her eyes were filled with reluctance.

“Jin Se, as a boy born of Han family, it is our job to serve the country.” The gentleness in father’s eyes were swept away and he looked at mother passionately: “I begin to take the lives of others when I was fourteen years old and the times that I enter and surviving the war are not lesser than ten times. Xiao Er has grown up. He’s no longer a hatchling under your wing, but an eagle that should accept the challenges set by the heaven.” Saying so, he lowered his glance and looked at me sadly, “As for Qing Qing, unfortunately father can’t celebrate your birthday this year.” As he said so, he took the red silk handkerchief on the desk and place it on my palm: “This is a present that father prepared for you, it can only be given to Qing Qing earlier.”

Carefully unfolding the handkerchief, a mutton fat jade[2] can be seen. It was a small, round jade as large as a dragon’s eye with Lycoris Albiflora carving. The enchanting petals with a few layers make one’s feel how much love can be found from it. “This is a precious jade circulated from the sea. The flower carved on the jade is said to be a divine flower that blooms in the heaven. A white divine flower signifies happiness. Father hopes that Qing Qing’s whole life will sail smoothly, and that’s the reason why this white jade is a present for you.” Saying so, he placed it around my neck and carefully helped me to adjust the red string.

Father, this is actually the legendary Cluster Amaryllis. When I passed away in my past life, as I walked towards the Sanzu River, I saw that the path along the Huang Quan were grown with Lycoris Radiata. As bewitching as blood, as enchanting as flame. It appeared to be brilliant as it grew on the grey and white nether road. So brilliant it make one feels yearning, yearning so much that it feels sad, so sad that despair can be felt.[3]

“Bai Qing, when……” Mother bit her lower lips and softly spoke, with a face of trying to hold back her concern.

“Tomorrow.” Father placed me on the ground and slowly stood up, looking at mother passionately, “We will leave tomorrow. And after I leave, you and Qing Qing will both move to the palace and temporarily live there.”

“Why this soon? And why……” Mother began to feel agitated. Father walked up and held onto her fingers: “This is the King’s order.”

“It’s one thing if we are departing that early, but why do mother and sister need to live in the palace? It’s obvious that the King does not believe father and have both mother and sister as hostages.” Brother spoke angrily, the feeling of dissatisfaction began to sprout.

“Xiao Er!” Father stared at him strictly and brother shut his mouth at that moment. “No matter how much we’re suspected, as long as we remain loyal and felt no guilt, the King will treat both your mother and sister well.” After saying that, father gently place my hand on top of mother’s palm: “Qing Qing, follow your mother to pack your things up and prepare to enter the palace tomorrow. I still have things to discuss with your brother.”

“Mmn.” Feeling unsettled, I nodded obediently. Following mother out of the door, Hua Mei and Nong Mo automatically followed behind. Mother said nothing on our way and had a frown and a worried look on her face. Until we entered Shang Xin Chamber and my room, mother then opened the cupboard and began packing. I obediently stood by Nong Mo’s side and began to think to myself: This is the case where the honour of the subject is higher than that of the ruler. Hopefully father will not be Yue Fei and the King of You is not the Zhao Gou[4].

A low sobbing pulled me away from my thoughts. “Mistress, what happened?” Hua Mei hurried over to support mother’s trembling body: “Mistress…..”

Mother held onto Hua Mei’s arm and slowly walked towards the desk and sat down. In the hazy, teary eyes of mother, the worry had all turned into tears, dripping onto the pink handkerchief, dyeing it red; it made her appeared to be slightly older. My heart felt sour and I slowly walked over. Holding onto mother’s finger, and said lowly: “Mother, Qing Qing will always be with you. Father and brother will return after winning.” Mother always cried to herself at places where father can’t see her. Her fragility made others felt their heart breaking, while her strength made others felt protective over her.

Mother cleared away the tears at the corner of her eyes and hugged me. Her hold becoming more and more strong: “Qing Qing, Qing Qing.”

“Mm, Qing Qing’s here.” I replied lowly. Mother, I’m here, so let’s support one another and wait for the news of their victory.

In the night, summer rain fell and the crystal beaded curtain was lifted by the wind. Circling over the Nong Mo that was sleeping by the outer side of the bed, I wore my shoe and walked to the window. I stared at the mottled bamboo outside the yard and hold onto the white jade by my neck for a long time: Father, mother, brother. You’re my family for this life. Even if you’re in the midst of the chaotic generation, even if you’re in dangerous situation, I hope that all of you will never give up. As long as you never give up, the victory will be there.

Thunder and storm roared, a heavy rain poured down. The windows were dyed with the colour of water droplets and the room had turned darker and darker. From my back, I heard sounds of Nong Mo flipping her body over. Tip-toeing my way over, I quickly moved to the side of the bed, flipped the mosquito net, I used all my limbs to climb over to the inside of the bed. Feeling the pat from Nong Mo, I closed my eyes and slowly fall asleep.

As the sky began to turn bright, I woke up suddenly and hurriedly wear my clothes. Looking at the garden that was thrown over by the storm that raged for the whole night, coldness spread through my heart. After Nong Mo had done braiding my hair and applying the Cinnabar on me, I hurriedly dashed to the outside.

“Father! Brother!” Leaning by the red gate, I looked out of the residence. The both of them were bidding mother farewell on their horses.

Father smiled as he looked at me and nodded his head: “Qing Qing, you must listen to your mother. On the day of your birthday is the day that I will return victoriously.”

“Mm!” Nodding my head strongly, I confidently looked at my extraordinary father.

“When I’m not in the house, don’t turn into a glutton. Or not I can’t carry you when I return.” Brother who was wearing red war robe was more handsome than ever. Tugging the rein, he turned his head over and smiled, looking casual and relaxed.

“Brother must eat more, don’t become thinner when you’re out there. In case you can’t carry me and blame it on Qing Qing!” I moved my legs and ran over to his horse. Raising my chin, I replied childishly.

Under the concerned gaze of mother and my sad wave, the both of them with equipments on their body entered the thin mist on their horses. The future ahead is uncertain, who knows where all of it will lead to?

Even after years later, this sorrowful scenario still appeared in my dreams at times.

Farewell, parting.

I had wished that I did not allow the both of you to depart, wished to forget about the memories of what happened after.

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[1] 千巧节 Qian Qiao Festival or known as 七夕节Qixi Festival/Tanabata or China’s Valentine’s Day (Lunar calendar 7th July)  

[2] According to this, Mutton Fat Jade carries the meaning to prevent negative energy, strengthen the owner’s will, and enrich life and it looks like this:

Image result for mutton fat jade

[3] Lycoris Radiata, Cluster Amaryllis are both Red Spider Lily, and yes, the author did keep on changing the terms for the flower so I just follow suit:

Image result for lycoris radiata

While Lycoris Albiflora or White Spider Lily is the white variation of it:

Image result for lycoris albiflora

I used Japanese term Sanzu River here, in the raw it’s San Tu River, it’s actually the same thing but I think majority are more familiar with the former.

[4] Yue Fei is a general and tactician with great achievements but was later on framed by the emperor, Zhao Gou for something he did not do and died as a result. The case by which the subject’s honour/achievement had made the ruler felt threatened.

Akiha: Prepare yourself folks, the train’s arriving soon.

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