The Chant of the Sinking Moon Chapter 5

After this chapter, I will be separating the chapters of all the novels I’m translating into parts. In all honesty, all three novels are way too long to be done in one seating after classes.

Translated: Akiha

Chapter 5 After the Incense Burnt Out, More Fragrance Floats in the Air

It was the twenty-first day of the seventh month. The rain drizzled, making the surrounding looked misty as if was carried by the wind and the temperature turned low. I walked up the stairs, where some greeneries can be seen peeking out from the crevices. The crimson colour gate of the Tan Ji Temple appeared stern. Outside the temple, flags can be seen swaying in the air. The imperial army with their silver helmet and steel armour stood by waiting for orders. Upon entrance, an incense burner can be seen in there. Rows of bamboo and Usnea Longgisma[1] can be found in there.

“This old monk is here to greet Her Grace Consort Shu.” An old monk wearing gold and red coloured kasaya[2] stood in front of the staircase and paid respect modestly with his one of his palm standing vertically.

“We will be troubling the master today.”  Consort Shu who wearing plain coloured palace attire with gauze fabric slightly nodded her head.

The attendant behind her was holding a red coloured shade to cover Consort Shu from the drizzle. I stuck close by my mother’s side and felt the cold rain falling on my cheeks. Following the voluptuous palace maid, our group walked up. Circling around the incense burner, I raised my head and saw the strong calligraphy with the words “Da Cheng Hall” on the inscribed board[3]. By the frame of the gate, the lines of paralleling couplet can be read: Sounds of Usnea sounds of bamboo sounds of bell, all the sounds exists freely; Colour of mountain colour of water colour of dusk, all the colours becomes void.

Regarding free, feel the flowers that withered and falls; Becoming void, observe the clouds that gather and scatter. Such mood in poet is something no ordinary people can come to understand. Kneeling on the cushion, I paid my respect to the Buddha thrice, I asked for nothing, but I was touched by it. Arriving at the back hall, I prayed to Guanyin. The Gods that overlook the mortals, do see through my reincarnation this time.

Raising my head, I saw mother’s eyebrows were deeply furrowed. Hearing her mumble, I listened closely and heard the words “my husband”, “my son”. Is she praying for father and brother? Mother’s lips moved faster and faster and her palms that were placed together were trembling slightly. Her pale complexion had my heart gripped tightly.

The main in green clothing looked at my mother worriedly and then walked over to the side of Consort Shu. With a low voice: “Your Grace, the Lady of the General is…”

Consort Shu’s lips slightly curved up, as if she was smiling or that she was mocking. With a cold gaze, she slightly raised her arm and smiled plainly: “No need to say more, we shall see how sincere the Lady is.”

Are you seeing this as a joke? Within Da Cheng Hall, the eyes of the Gods and spirits are around; so, it was inappropriate of her to do so in such an occasion. Supporting myself up with my arms, I slowly approached my mother and hold onto the tips of my mother’s fingers. She suddenly opened her eyes and tears can be seen within her eyes.

“Qing Qing.” The voice that came out of her lips was that of a sob.

Entering the embrace of my mother, I said to her in a low voice: “Mother, you can’t pray for those.” What the Buddha gave us were teachings, understandings, overcoming, and realization. Such a thing like praying does not exist. If one were to pray to the Gods, it will then become greed, anger and foolishness, to which all of it eventually becomes obsession. And overly obsessed will make one be tangled in their own strings which will turn into speculations and suspicions.

The more you pray, the further away it goes; the more you pray, the higher the chance of it not being granted.

Mother looked at me blankly. After a while, she shook her head and hugged me and she lightly sighs into my ear: “That’s right, the more I pray, the harder it is for my prayers to come true.”

“Amitabha.” Raising my eyesight, I saw an old monk with white eyebrows looking at me unperturbedly, talking slowly, “That was impolite of this old monk, may I know the young lady’s age?”

Mother patted her handkerchief with embroidery on the corner of eyes and slightly nodded: “This daughter of mine will be six years old by the eighth day of next month.”

“Do you mind this old monk read the fortune of this young lady?” when the words were said, exclamations can be heard within the hall.

“Didn’t Great Master Liao Wu[4] stop fortune telling ten years ago?” The smile on Consort Shu’s face looked gentle, but her eyes were cold.

“Amitabha.” The Great Master nodded towards Consort Shu and slowly answered, “Liao Wu will only read the fortune of the ones who are fated to.” He was quite the great monk that has good spirit that I had begun to respect him who was not tied down by the restrains of the mortals.

Consort Shu slightly closed her eyes and the corner of her lips had also gone down. Swaying her sleeve, she turned her body to leave: “Hong Luo, what are you doing lagging behind!” The maid behind her nervously lowered her head and hurriedly followed behind. The group of palace maids had remained silent. “Go and clean up Qi Yuan Hall, I’m going to pray to bear a child!” After the angry shout, the voice echoed within Da Cheng Hall, making the atmosphere eerie.

Mother hugged me tightly and I felt her body trembling slightly. I circled my hands around mother’s neck and heard her mumbling: “Qing Qing, don’t be scared, don’t feel scared.”

“Lady, young lady, please move towards Zhan Hua Hall.” Great Master Liao Wu stretched his right hand and guided us from the front.

The path leads to darkness, smilingly looking at spring while caressing the flower. The fragrance of incense rushed to my face, the sense of Buddhism tugged to the heart. The rain outside the window began to reside and the bell was knocked rhythmically. All of that made the atmosphere so heavy that no one spoke.

“The more you pray, the harder will it come true.” Great Master Liao Wu said so lowly, his voice echoed within the hall, “The young lady is someone whose fate is intertwined with the Buddha.”

Mother placed me on the ground and chatted: “The Great Master is exaggerating. Please do not take the words of a child seriously.”

“Even with her age, she was able to view the world clearly.” The monk Liao Wu extended his hand and led mother to sit down. He scooped up water and placed it into a bamboo cup, “Madam, do enjoy it. This simple room has no tea, do enjoy the spring water.”

“Thank you, Great Master.” Mother sipped it and smiled, “The water’s of good quality. It tasted better than tea.”

“Amitabha.” The old monk lightly spun the beads on his hand and smiled at me, “This water might not be water, the current life might not be life. In accordance to the teachings of Buddha, everything is void.”

Facing such a person, is there a need to pretend to be like a child that knows nothing? I relaxed my brows and smiled, answering him: “The teaching of the Buddha was not for the people to pray for more or asking for donation, but was to have us mortals have different experience in life, to understand and realize the meaning to be living, am I right?”

The monk with white eyebrows smiled happily and placed the red sandalwood beads in front of me: “Do accept this, young lady.”

“How can we?” Mother hurriedly shook her hand.

I smiled towards him and placed both my hands in front of my forehead, bowing to show my respect: “Thank you, Qing Qing will be accepting it.”

“Qing Qing!” Mother glared at me.

“Madam, being someone whose fates are intertwined with one another, there are no reason to reject.” Liao Wu the monk placed the red sandalwood beads on my palm and took out an oracle tube, “Young lady, please.”

Looking at him smilingly, I randomly picked a lot from it and handed it to him. Mother nervously grabbed onto my small hand and looked at the monk, Liao Wu hopefully.

His face changed slightly and he nodded his head as he smiled, understanding something: “What the young lady picked was the first lot of the eighty-one lots.” The lightly placed the bamboo lot onto the table. With an unreadable expression, he simply said: “The name of this lot is ‘The Pondering Mumble of the Moon[5]. There are two poems that can explain it.”

“Pondering mumble….. of the moon?” Mother’s brows furrowed and looked at me worryingly. “Pondering mumble?”

The old monk slightly raised his white eyebrows and lowly recited: “Stepping onto the snowy ground laughing at the past life, the huge and wide world are there for you to venture on.” As he said so, he passed the lot to my mother and continued: “This is the first time I’m unravelling this lot. Do not feel worried, Madam. ‘The Pondering Mutter of the Moon’, it is only the muttering of the heaven’s song.”

Mother’s eyebrows smoothed out and she mumbled: “the heaven’s song?”

“The real meaning of this will be revealed in the future. This old monk can only explain it in one sentence: The wealth and glory are all within your hands, you shall lead your life peacefully if it does not reach you.”

The wealth and glory and all within your hands, thus you can throw it away if you so wish to; you shall lead your life peacefully if it does not reach you, and so happiness and suffering will both befall unto you. The Great Master really only say half of it and left half of it unsaid. But the life are full of different experiences – experiencing it, is not something that can be done that easily.

After that, Liao Wu did not say much. Mother led me and bided the Great Master farewell, she had remained silent as we walked. I lightly touched mother’s wet hand and felt her mind that was in chaos. I looked back and on the floor grown with algae, a deep and shallow, a big and small footprint can be seen on the soft ground.

Suddenly, my heart also felt chaotic, why so?

As we got nearer to Qi Yuan Hall, mother’s hand became more and more wet. Right after stepping in, the attendant named as Hong Luo had stood by the door and bent her body to greet, with a soft voice: “Her Grace has moved to the back chamber, the Lady please do head there as well.”

“Thank you for your hard work.” Mother nodded her head and the hand holding onto my hand relaxed. Her body was not as stiff as before and her steps were lighter than before.

Outside the corridor by the back chamber, a river can be seen flowing down from the mountain. As the wind breezed by, the sound of the rocks being splashed, the sound of the river flowing by, and the silence within the yard had made everything appeared to be peaceful.

“Lady, please do enter.” Hong Luo pushed open the door. A fragrance can be smelled even before we entered the chamber.

Entering the chamber, it appeared to be plain. A lying couch[6], a table made of lumber, and two embroidered kneeler. I leaned against the window and looked out. Behind the chamber, it was filled with greeneries, water droplets hanged on the green leaves and mist were formed. Hong Luo walked over and closed the window, looking at mother smilingly: “Lady, the temperature had turned quite low after this rain on the mountain. The young lady is still young; it will be bad if she was to grow cold from how chilly it was.”

“You are quite attentive.” Mother’s nose twitched and she looked at the incense burner on the lumber wood table, “What is this fragrance?”

Hong Luo lightly walked over to the table and waved her hand over the thin smoke, with a smile: “This is a high quality fragrance distributed in the west. It is called the Qunfang Marrow. It’s a fragrance that’s difficult to be found even within the palace.”

Mother leaned over and breathed it in deeply: “Mmn, it is quite the nice fragrance.”

“Good that it’s up to the Lady’s liking. When afternoon arrives, the servant will come and notify Lady and Young Lady about the vegetarian meal.” Hong Luo walked to the door and greeted again, lightly closing the door, “This servant shall head out.”

When the sound of the footstep distanced away, mother then heaved a long breath of relief. She turned her body to carry me and sat onto the lying couch: “How did Qing Qing understand Great Master Liao Wu’s recitations?”

Averting away from my mother’s questioning gaze, I lowered my head, bit my lips and poked my own fingers: “I guessed it.”

“Guessed?” Mother looked at me as she smiled, “Qing Qing, you are really clever. This head of yours do turn faster than mine.” As she hugged me, she cradled me and said lovingly: “When your father comes back, I will ask him to look for a teacher. So, Qing Qing do take this chance to learn more. Mother don’t want to drag you down.”

My cheek was on my mother’s soft chest and I softly answered: “Mmn, Qing Qing will work hard.”

The fragrance had the whole room covered and Qunfang Marrow had entered my body as I breathed. Feeling sleepy, I yawned lazily. Mother had also covered her nose and mouth with her embroidered handkerchief. She slightly opened her mouth and her eyes grew hazy.

My eye lids became more and more heavy. I wanted to exert some strength but found myself unable to do so. The surrounding had turned blurry and my head was feeling heavy. My eyes, ears, lips and tongue had turned numb, and I can only smell the fragrance within the room.

This… What is happen… ning…

A moment later, the door of the chamber was opened and four people with green clothing had entered the room. The thin and tall man leading them extended his hand and pressed onto the side of the neck of the mother and daughter. He then signalled the other three with his eyes. One of the men who were tall and buffed lifted Su Jin Se and another woman with small stature had carried Han Yue Xia. The four green silhouettes then flashed out the window. They stepped on the rocks by the river, ran over the river, and suddenly went up and lightly stepped onto the branches, quickly disappearing into the woods.

In the chamber, only the fragrance remains; outside the window, only the rustle of the leaves remains.

On the other end of the back chamber, the sweet fragrance of Osmanthus floated within the large chamber. “Hong Luo, what time is it now?” A soft voice can be heard from the lying couch.

“Answering Your Grace’s words, it is the second quarter of the hour of the snake[7].” Hong Luo kneeled on the support on the lying couch and was lightly tapping the white jade mallet[8] on her master’s back.

The plain coloured silhouette turned her body; Consort Shu pressed her temple with her thin fingers. The polished red nails had appeared to be more pretty and coquettish than usual: “That incense should have burnt out by now.”

“Yes, this servant had only placed one piece.”

“Qunfang Marrow is an extraordinary fragrance that can’t be bought with money. We had put in quite the effort this time.” The pair of beautiful eyes was half closed, a triumphant light can be seen within the eyes, “Hong Luo, slightly to the left.”

“Mmn, mmn.” Consort Shu sighed comfortably and suddenly opened her eyes. With a cold smile, she uttered to herself: “Hmph, the mother of the world? The fated person? I would like to see how all of you will end up.”

Lazily brushing her hair, she looked at the incense burner by the lying couch and softly said: “Hong Luo, the incense had burnt out, burn another one.”

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[1] Usnea Longgisma:

[2] Kasaya:

[3] Inscribed board:

[4] Just placing this here, the name bestowed upon a person when they become a monk or nun bears certain meaning, and 了无 Liao Wu’s name meant ‘Everything becomes void”

[5] This is actually what the meaning of this novel’s title is. I tl it as Chant of the Sinking Moon because rather than reading 沉吟 as a phrase, I saw them as two different words. So the real title of this novel is supposed to be “The Pondering Mumble of the Moon” rather than “The Chant of the Sinking Moon”

[6] I don’t know the proper word so picture it is~ It’s not really a bed, but for like a sofa to lie on.

[7] Hour of the Snake 巳时,it’s 0900-1100 (9am – 11am)

[8] Not those big and heavy ones, it’s these:

Once again, it’s another cliff hang~ And the plot’s entering~
*looks at the low rating of this nove* Geez, I wonder how did people rated just after 1-3 chapters.

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