Happy Goat Year! I’m thinking of doing a 1st chapter series, where I would translate the 1st chapter (or prologue) of a book I recommend but don’t otherwise have the time to fully translate. This is the first of the series, so sit back and have some New Year laugh~
This is another Jiu Lu Fei Xiang work that I’ve introduced on SSB. When 99 wants to be, she’s pretty hilarious. Here, she writes about Xiao Xiang, a puff of cloud, and Chu Kong, a celestial star. It sounds like a match made in heaven, except it’s far from it. The two get off on the wrong foot, mess up everyone’s romantic fate, and end up having to spend seven bitter lifetimes with each other as punishment for their crime haha. This is how it all begins:
Seven Unfortunate Lifetimes
All Thanks to a Single Moment of Impulse
by Jiu Lu Fei Xiang
I am a puff of auspicious cloud. One hundred years ago as I was drifting in front of Yue Lao’s house (1), the sloshed fogy suddenly turned me into a spiritual entity on a drunken whim. After he sobered up, he stroked his beard and tried to defend himself: “Ah, you’re a puff of cloud fated for divinity. From now on, let’s call you Xiao Xiang Zi.” (2)
Yue Lao – old man under the moon aka the matchmaker god who ties couples who are meant-to-be with red silk strings.
Her name means ‘lucky baby girl’, but the format used is similar to how a eunuch would typically be named, starting with Xiao (little) and ending with Zi (child).
At the time, I was too naïve to notice what was wrong with the name I was given, and so I obediently nodded.
Thereafter, I donned a woman’s body and bore a eunuch’s name as I lived in Yue Lao’s home and became the old man’s helper. The fogy gave me three meals a day plus some pocket money for snacks and drinks in exchange for my watching over the mess of red strings in the Yue Lao temple.
As time went by, it soon became hundreds of years for which I had unwittingly labored for Yue Lao. I thought that my days would continue to be spent sitting in front of his temple and counting white puffs of clouds drifting by. But I was told by everyone who came before me that a boring story would waste the readers’ precious time. I therefore am going to make sure not to disappoint anyone.
That day, a nightmarish guy fell from Heaven-knows-how-far above and plunged head-first onto the carpet of red clouds in front of Yue Lao’s temple, making noises just like the ones I made whenever my stomach digested food and farted air out.
Because I was dozing off at the time, I only blinked at him a few times sleepily. The boy dressed in red struggled to pull his head out of the red cloud carpet, stared straight at me, and then all of a sudden raged: “Stupid brat, stop sitting there to watch. Don’t you know to come over and help me?”
His yelling woke me up. I stared wide-eyed at him for a moment: “Didn’t you already get out?”
He glared at me peevishly, then stood up while brushing off his clothes before looking at me disdainfully. “One look and I knew you’re a maid from the destitute Yue Lao estate. You don’t even have eyes!”
I yawned lazily and wiggled my butt around for a more comfortable sitting position against the stepping stones. “Ain’t got no eye boogers,” I said, digging my ears, “but I have plenty of earwax. Look!” and flicked something out from my finger.
The boy leaned to the side in disgust; contempt filled his eyes. “What can come from a beggarly master but a beggarly maid?”
Even though I normally didn’t like that old drunkard who went around to steal booze, he was still my boss who had been feeding me for several hundred years. At least on the surface, he was family. Family can hate each other, but family cannot let outsiders badmouth us for even half a syllable.
Squinting my eyes, I looked the boy up and down and said, “I heard everyone from the Morning God’s estate loves to primp and preen. Among the twelve gay men there, the next is more beautiful than the one before him. I didn’t believe it at first, but you’re really opening my eyes with that getup of yours.” I watched the boy’s face turn blue with rage and gave him a smug smile. “May I ask which gay one you are?”
“How dare you!” He waved his hand to form a whip out of thin air before ruthlessly cracking it my way.
Even though I was pretty lazy and didn’t like doing anything, ever since I learned the universal truth that I’d be bullied if I weren’t strong enough, I never fell behind on my practice. After a few centuries, I could be considered to have achieved some basic magical powers. His whipping was hard and fast, but it wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle.
With that said, he cracked that thing so suddenly that I wasn’t prepared for it, and in the process, got my round fan whipped to shreds.
I completely froze.
The cost of living wasn’t high in Heaven, but Yue Lao was ridiculously stingy. After buying a few jars of wine, there was never much left of the daily allowance he gave me. This round fan was bought with the savings I’d scraped for decades. The Weaver Girl (3) only sold it to me at a discount after I begged and begged. I hadn’t even played with it for that long, and yet… and yet this bastard had gone and shredded it?
of the Weaver Girl and Cowherd fame.
I couldn’t tell whether the surging emotions inside of me were ultimately anger or pain. All I knew was that I had to give him a good beating before I could cool down today. I rolled up my sleeves and tied back my hair – the hair I hadn’t bothered to tie for the last century.
“Come over here,” I told him as I knotted my hair. “I’ll give you two choices.”
He held the whip in his hand as he looked at me in disdain. I so wanted to wipe that smile off his face.
Patting my tightly coiled bun, I stood on the steps in front of Yue Lao’s hall and raised a finger: “One, pay me. Two, work your debt off.”
The boy sneered: “Who the hell do you think you are?”
I cracked my fingers. “I’m an ominous cloud that will curse you for life. Quake in your boots, fool.”
He raised a surprised eyebrow at my gusty resistance. “You have some nerve to challenge me when you’re nothing but a puny maidservant with only a few hundred years of cultivation…” His words hardly landed by the time I used a spell to make the thick cloud carpet under his feet sinking like a quicksand swamp. He was caught dumbfounded. While he wasn’t reacting, I flashed my sparkly white teeth and gave his chest a shove.
He was startled, but since his feet were stuck, he couldn’t move anywhere. I clung to his shoulders and smiled: “You smell so nice,” and then unhesitatingly chomped down on him…
My magical powers were beyond terrible. Here, everyone easily had tens of thousands of years in cultivation; I might not even register as a blip in the rankings. Since using magic to fight with him was no different from scratching his itch, I didn’t even bother to fight. There was also heavenly law here that would prevent him from killing me. I just wanted to draw blood for now.
I clenched my jaws and used more strength. He screamed and kicked up a fuss. For the moment, he forgot all about magic and pulled on my hair instead. The bun I knotted so prettily was now all messed up. I clung to his waist in a death grip and refused to let go.
“Are you a dog? On second thought, you’re a donkey! A jackass! Let go of me!”
“Ay eee, orh I ite yoo!” (Pay me, or I’ll bite you!) My speech came out in a mumbo jumbo. I honestly think I’m quite sweet normally. If this jerk hadn’t thrown my decades of savings down the drain I wouldn’t have fought with him so adamantly.
After wrestling with him for a while, saliva began to drip outside of my control and soon mixed with his blood, soaking his red garment into a wet patch at the shoulder. Thinking it was kind of rude, I stopped biting to swallow my drool back. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to drool on you. This spot is dirty, I’ll bite somewhere else.” I immediately switched to a different place to bite and continued to relentlessly demand: “Ay ee, orh I ite yoo!”
The boy froze for a moment. Since I was latching onto him, I could feel his chest heaving up and down as he shook with anger. “You’re going to bite me then tell me I’m dirty?! You’re telling me I’m dirty?!” He folded his whip into a shorter length and ‘pop’, I felt my butt go numb. Then, a tingling pain slowly spread to my flesh. I bawled, releasing him.
I was simultaneously stunned and furious: “You ruined my stuff and won’t pay, then even have the nerve to spank me?!”
He was also simultaneously stunned and furious: “You’re the one to talk. So what if I spank you? So what? So what?!” For every ‘so what’, he gave me another spank. The smarting pain traveled from my bottom to my head.
“No one had ever spanked me!” I shrieked, and then butted my head into his recklessly. Little birdies began to circle the both of us. Unable to control the spell under our feet, the cloud carpet changed back to its original form.
While he was still woozy, I grabbed his hair and shook him till he lost balance and fell to the ground. But he soon recovered and yanked my hair as he pressed me to the ground with him.
We rolled as we fought, fighting from outside all the way inside, pulling each other’s hair, pinching each other’s nose, yanking each other’s ears. Not using any spells, we stubbornly resorted to our fists to solve our problem, beating each other to a bloody pulp.
I don’t know for how long we were entangled, or how many bookshelves we knocked down before we finally attracted Yue Lao’s attention who was buzzed in the backyard.
“Holy Mother of Chang’e!” (4) Yue Lao wailed: “The red strands! The red strands are all tangled!”
Chang’e – goddess of the Moon