Roufeng

柔风》Roufeng

by 小狐濡尾

9469e411ly1fjzm26n11ij20b40fkta7

Cat recced this novel to me and it’s one of those rare ones that stay with me long after I finished the last chapter. For now this stays in the 1st chapter category bebause I do want to finish MGQ 😅

Chapter 1 – Madam Baoji

“Madam Baoji is here!” someone yelled.

The listless people lying on the ground suddenly came alive. Most of them were raggedy and rancid.

The boss lit a lamp. In the dim light, a beautiful figure approached. She was about twenty years old, dressed in a blue outfit made from coarse cloth and embellished by white flowers. She wore her hair in the style of married women, her bun adorned with a stem of gardenia. A string of green bronze bells was tied to her thin waist with twines, jingling every time she took a step.

The most curious thing was that she held a large and shiny rooster in her arms. It was especially handsome with its crimson cockscomb, a golden neck, gradient green wings that shifted black, and a metallic blue tail. This was a “rainbow phoenix” as called by the locals. If people in the area of Chengzhou wanted to cure illness by marriage (1), then they must use this particular rooster in their nuptial rites.

(1) 冲喜 – the superstitious practice of getting married to cure the groom of his grave illness. In this case, they use the rooster as a substitute groom in the wedding ceremony because the real groom is too sick/bedridden.

“Mom, who’s Madam Baoji?” a thin boy fearfully clung to his mother. “Why does the boss personally hold the light for her?”

“Boy, your life will change if you’re picked by her!” an old man lying against the wall murmured. “Madam Baoji specializes in finding people for Prince Wu’s palace. Even scrubbing the toilet there is better than dying here!” He suddenly had a coughing fit. By the time he removed his hand from his mouth it was covered in blood. He then proceeded to wipe it all over the sooty wall.

The boy looked at his sallow mother and then at the baby girl in her arm. A starlight flashed in his eyes. “Then… mom, I’m gonna go beg her!”

A middle-aged man with a belly as big as a drum weakly said, “Can men stay men after they enter Prince Wu’s palace? All of them are chopped to become eunuchs. When your dad passed away he said you must pass on the ancestral lineage…”

“Does the palace need women…?” the pale mother murmured, “I can still sew and wash…” She handed the baby girl to the boy and leapt at Madam Baoji. Black fingerprints immediately smeared on her white floral skirt.

“Choose me,” said the woman, raising her head.

“Scram! When has Madam Baoji ever picked women!” The boss kicked the woman straight in the neck. “Wretched undeads!”

Her head fell to the muddy ground and rolled away, her eyes still blinking. There was no blood on her neck, only countless leeches squirming around.

Her head rolled in front of a man with no legs. He poked it away with a wooden stick, causing the person next to him to yell: “Fuck! Don’t cast it my way!”

However, the ghost market was full of people, and no matter where it was pushed, it would roll in front of someone.

Hence the head was kicked back and forth like a ball.

Only the boy was crying while the baby girl in his arms did not make a sound.

A few yards away, someone suddenly trembled.
Madam Baoji’s slender eye glanced up at the boy but she didn’t say anything.

The boss man followed her eyes to the boy, keenly asking: “Ma’am, this child is slightly thin but he’s still considered clean and doesn’t have his mother’s disease. Why don’t you take a look…”

Madam Baoji stroked the rooster’s feathers and replied, “I’m not here for Prince Wu’s palace today.” Her voice was thin and flat, and slightly hoarse, as if her vocal cord had been damaged.

“Then…” the boss man was respectful to her, bowing as he asked.

“Our Eunuch Feng said that the house is too old and should be renovated, so we want to find men who can do hard labor.”

“We have them!” the boss man excitedly said. “Please follow me, I’ll handpick each of them for you.”

Chapter 2 – Dawn arrives when the first husband crows

At the end of the Wei Dynasty, the empire was in chaos, war was rampant, and refugees consumed children.

The land to the south of the Yangtze River and to the east of Jiangling was, at the moment, occupied by Prince Wu, Xiao Zi’an. In order to survive, the refugees sell themselves at night in the Jiankang ghost market.

The boss man was essentially the ghost market’s broker. His job was to recommend the right person to his clients and earn commission from the sales.

But Madam Baoji seemed to be particularly picky tonight.

He shouted names and let the men stand up for her to choose, yet after many yards she still did not stop to look at anyone.

He grew anxious, but also knowing that Eunuch Feng was a difficult person to serve, he followed Madam Baoji and didn’t make a peep. Only, he was rather fretful about the lamp oil cost.

They saw a lamp light ahead, held by a household servant for another woman.

She was dressed much more vibrantly compared to Madam Baoji. Draped in a coat of dark blue feathers, she rather looked like the rooster in Madam Baoji’s arms.

Another servant carrying a wooden bucket came over and poured water over someone’s head.

The Qinhuai River was full of dead corpses, and water from there was as putrid as it was cold.

The young man trembled from the cold splash.

He was sitting next to a dead body that was covered under a torn bamboo mat. The corpse was still intact and looked like it hadn’t died too long ago.

Madam Baoji suddenly stopped to stare at the young man.

The boss man quickly said, “Ma’am, this guy won’t do, look at his hands and feet…” He lifted the lamp.

The young man’s clothes were clean and tidy, so he was obviously a neat person. The problem was that his hands and feet had rotted. White bones stuck out from the decaying flesh and blood like dry branches in the dead of winter.

The servant forced his head up to wipe his face clean.

“Madam, you have great eyes! This one is very good looking!”

“Aiya…” the woman took the lamp from her servant’s hand and went up to the young man, sliding the back of her hand over his cheeks. She sighingly praised, “Very handsome, what a prize… I can still use him after his hands and feet are chopped off.”

The young man stiffly turned away, coming face to face with Madam Baoji.

His eyes were out of focus although they appeared to be in good condition.

“Boss,” Madam Baoji suddenly called, “how much is this blind one?”

“He sells himself to bury his brother. His hands and feet are rotted, his eyes are blind, he’s worth a single coin at most.”

“A single coin…” Madam Baoji slowly recited these three words, producing a mocking smile at the corner of her mouth.

This translation belongs to hamster428.

“Well, isn’t it Zhang Cui’e.” The woman draped in feathers adopted a condescending smile when she saw Madam Baoji, .

“Mrs. Yu,” Zhang Cui’e returned her greetings. The rooster in her arms suddenly made a crow.

Mrs. Yu covered her mouth and howled with laughter, “Is this your dead ex-husband?”

Everyone in the ghost market knew that Zhang Cui’e got married in Chengzhou in a healing ceremony for her groom. But her husband passed away soon after she entered nuptials with the rooster. Subsequently she lost her in-laws in the war. She took the rooster and ended up in the land of Prince Wu where she married Eunuch Feng. Every time she came to the ghost market on Eunuch Feng’s charge she always brought along this rooster, thus people called her Madam Baoji (2).

(2) Baoji lit. means holding a chicken

“Yes, this is my first husband.”

Mrs. Yu shook with laughter: “Shameless minx.”

Zhang Cui’e fanned her rooster’s wing at Mrs. Yu and said, “My husband says hello. He says your outfit looks pretty nice. Maybe because it’s plucked from his brother’s butt, it looks very familiar and intimate to him.”

“Vulgar wench!” Mrs. Yu was red with anger. As she was about to slap Zhang Cui’e her servants hurriedly stopped her. The boss man also came in between the two women.

“Don’t be angry, Mrs. Yu,” he whispered in her ear to remind her, “Eunuch Feng is a bigshot at Prince Wu’s palace. Even if you have more money you can’t afford him anymore.”

Zhang Cui’e still hadn’t changed her expression. She politely curtsied to Mrs. Yu: “If you’ll excuse me, ma’am,” and went past her.

At this moment, the young man got up from the ground with a surprising strength and clung to Zhang Cui’e with his rotting hands.

“Please buy me, ma’am.”

Everyone was in shock.

Zhang Cui’e chuckled and threw a glance at Mrs. Yu. “My, my…this…”

Mrs. Yu screeched, “I’ll buy you! Why are you asking her? I can pay two coins!”

Zhang Cui’e smiled down at the young man, “Go with Mrs. Yu, she’s paying two coins.”

The young man looked up, decidedly shaking his head. “I only ask that you buy me.” He shakily raised a bony claw to his neck and said, “If you won’t buy me, I would rather stab my throat and die.”

Mrs. Yu visibly blanched. Zhang Cui’e faintly smiled. “You see Mrs. Yu, it’s not that I want to buy him; he’s the one pestering me.”

She looked down again with a cold expression and a vicious tone: “Buy you? You’re not worth a penny!”

The young man trembled and lowered his head but refused to let go.

Zhang Cui’e straightened her posture and offered, “But it would be a pity to let you die.” She paused for a moment. “Come with me if you insist. I won’t give you any money, but I can give you firewood to cremate your brother and let him go to heaven.”

“Thank you, ma’am!”

Zhang Cui’e scolded, “Then what are you still doing! Do you want me to carry you and your brother? I don’t have servants to serve you!”

In front of the crowd, the young man crawled to his brother using his festering hands and feet. He painfully convulsed every time his flesh scraped against the ground. He picked up his brother’s body and struggled to strap him to his back. The weight of the corpse made his forehead perspire as his flesh and blood smeared all over the ground.

Zhang Cui’e indifferently looked at him and impatiently ordered, “Hurry up, it’s break of day now that my first husband has crowed.”

He continued to crawl on the ground using his good elbows, following her voice.

Mrs. Yu stared after Zhang Cui-e’s departing figure and the lizard like crawler. One could fit an egg in her gaping mouth.

The boss man woke up from his shock and chased after them: “Madam, you really won’t… pay?”

If she didn’t pay he would lose his commission.

“You know that our Eunuch Feng is a stingy man. He told me to buy a servant for the house but he didn’t give me a penny for it.” Madam Baoji answered in her thin, flat voice and tossed him a piece of copper, “for the lamp oil.”

Two humans, a rooster, and a corpse left the ghost market as the crowd stared after them. Someone whispered, “Why does this guy rather let Madam Baoji insult and torture him than to go with Mrs. Yu?”

“Ha, don’t you know Mrs. Yu’s husband? He’s a demon… how long can the handsome lad live if he go with Mrs. Yu? Actually, he might be better off dead.”

Madam Baoji had a pair of pointed ears. She heard these whispers and merely smirked.

40 thoughts on “Roufeng

  1. What an intrigue 1st n 2nd chapter..hope when you finish MGQ you can starts with this story..jiayou.. btw Yang Xiao (HSDS) looks more n more captivating in the drama.. each looks is a millions worth hahaha..xie xie ni hamster😗

    Like

  2. Hammy!!! Hammy!!! I can’t believe you are translating this… I am so so so excited. I was just hoping you’d read this and then we can chat about it… never did I expect you to do translations of it. I am speechless. I am going to read your translated version right now. Yeah, only four months later reading this post but I don’t care. I am too excited. This is absolutely in my top three Chinese novels ever.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Hi! For sure Chongzi 《重紫》Shu Ke 蜀客 and Mei Gongqing 《媚公卿》- her translation is top of the line. This is why I like Hamster’s blog so much, mostly everything she has listed in her book club section I’ve read. I try to read when I can, I don’t usually keep a list of what I read but I have a minor list going on… 《梅夫人寵夫日常》作者:扶華 – also deals with spirits and the occult. The girl can turn into a cat at will – she is similar to a gatekeeper of sorts(靈異神怪 情有獨鍾 甜文). 《青珂浮屠》作者:胖哈. I enjoyed it to the point to stop and take notes for this story – that’s how many characters and families there are in the novel. Female version of Nirvana in Fire. (女強). I am always open to good reads. What novels would you recommend ?

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thanks a lot for the recs!! I’m not a native Chinese reader so reading novels in Chinese is a painstakingly slow process haha, and I don’t want to dive in unless there’s some certainly it’ll be a good story. I’m starting on roufeng now based on your glowing reviews and it’s definitely on the difficult side for me (maybe ~5% of the time I’m confused by the text) and will probs take me a week or two to finish!
          Usually I read in Chinese as a last resort if there are no English translations available (or if the quality is bad and butchering the writing). As a function of my limitations I’ve only read a small scope of novels in Chinese and they’re much less complex. One of my favorites is “公主贵姓” – on the lighthearted side, with banter that makes you smile. I’m currently reading “重生之女将星” which is still in progress – the storyline is good fun and reminds me of Mulan; MC is very lovable. If you have any more recs I am all ears!

          Liked by 1 person

          • That’s awesome. I am so pleased that as a non-native reader that you still take the time to read the novels. It’s a
            complex language with a rich history. There are so many ways to describe just the simplest phrases. This is why I enjoy this blog as the way it’s translated; I then get to fully appreciated the scope of description. I’ve added your two recaps to my list; I’ve found I tend to enjoy light heartedness more than the rip your guts out and then stiff it back in for a HE now a days. I don’t want to cry! So that is why I’ve yet to pick up
            this novel again. Ha. I know I love it. I find myself thinking about it; but it’ll sit in my thoughts full time once I pick it up again. Now, I think one chapter is locked. So not sure where you are reading it, let me know if you need it and I can see how I can find it again. I remember it took some effort and after I got it; I realized wow; all that, totally worth it.

            Like

        • Both the latter two you recommended which are not on the book club list sound really interesting. What would you say is the difficulty level (vs roufeng) and is there any romance? 😀

          Liked by 1 person

        • Haha you guys. Don’t go by the book club list. It’s so old and outdated and I haven’t read anything new in ages. Also, cat thank you so much for your shower of praises. I don’t know if I deserve any of it. I just try my best and sometimes get discouraged because my best is still so lacking 😔 but I’m glad I seem to be doing something right in your eyes! Will be back some time soon with an update, cross my fingers

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Okay I am back. Love it. Great translation. It’s such a rare gem and no one will be able to translate it like you can. So I am curious, once this goes in the book club page, how would you rate it? Top marks, perhaps?

    Like

    • Ugh. Browser crashed. Let me see where was I… both have romance. I. must. Have.Romance. The first rec should be easier. The second one is more complicated. Only in the sense that there are so many characters. The last time I did a relationship chart was for Nirvana in Fire (when I started to watch the TV drama) cause I wanted my people to watch it. So I would preface it with “just look at this and you will enjoy the show even more.” Ha. Anyway, I get most of my recs from the various Weibo posts I follow. I only log on now and then to see what novels folks are recommending…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ahhh! Hammy, you are around!! Yes, you do deserve it, to translate is one thing; but to translate with heart and preserve the elegance of the language… that’s a whole different level. It’s Hamster level!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Last post tonight, I promise. This is one of kind story about love, survival and redemption. Fantasy (more original Grimms’ fairy tales). There are magical powers and the supernaturals. It’s dark. It deals with death, the undead and undead’s desire to “live” and “survive.” Selflessness, forgiveness and sacrifices… a simple act, unintentional or not, have long lasting consequences. Decisions made, the butterfly effect… this story has layers of complexity; but ultimately it’s about love. Nothing is a simple nor as complicated as love. I read this novel in one day and I cried my heart out (multiple times). It’s a beautiful story but it’s not for the faint of heart. And I am so happy that this novel has a chance at being read and appreciated by more readers. Thank you, Hamster, for reading this and translating this. And to you readers, I hope you will give this novel a chance… after all, for the kid in us, who doesn’t want to believe in love and ever after?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t think there is anyone who can turn away from reading this novel after a review like this. I am on chap 10 now and can’t wait to see how it all unfolds

      Liked by 1 person

        • Finally finished and I must say, this was certainly not an easy read, and so different from anything else I’ve come across. So very dark, twisted and enveloped in mystery.

          The first half was probably the hardest, reading through all the set up, staying with main characters who are honestly not too likable or understandable. I think the turning point for me was the ~40th something chapter. When all the details come together, when the first bolt of realization hits you, just wow 😥 You can’t help but be touched by the acts of ultimate selflessness and sacrifice. The character growth is just incredible. Your review says it best. Truly an unforgettable tale… thank you so much for sharing this with us ❤

          Liked by 1 person

          • Yay!! So happy you finished. Doesn’t it just stay with you? Yup. When it all comes together, it was “holy sh*t, no. NO! WTF!” Hahah. At least that was my initial reaction. Ha!

            Liked by 1 person

            • Omg yes definitely. It kept coming up in my thoughts. I definitely cried in the middle (during the rescue scene… that one might be my favorite chapter).

              I am starting Chongzi now!!! On chapter 7 and finding the mythical set up and terms slightly confusing, but will persevere 🙂

              Liked by 1 person

              • Chongzi’s setup is a lot like Hua Qian Gu but a certain parts legit made me sob in ways that HQG didn’t. It’s really old though, so I feel like the tropes are outdated for 2019 even if it has a special place in my heart 😔 let us know what you think!

                Like

                • Ahh don’t really want to cry but at the same time can’t wait to get to the good parts! I haven’t watched HQG because of the mixed reviews, but might change my mind after Chongzi. Let’s see!!

                  Hamster would love for you to update your book club list. I am nearing the end of “why harem intrigue, rather raise a dog” (way easier to read vs roufeng or chongzi haha) inspired from that list 🙂

                  Like

                    • I’ll just say it here lol. There’s 嫤语书年. The heroine is the last daughter of a well known gentry family and has been married once (though not consummated), and is married again to the powerful Wei family who seeks her family’s scholarly fame to legitimize their position. I really like the way this book is written. It’s not high on drama, but rather peaceful, despite the situation they are in. There’s also 知否? 知否? 应是绿肥红瘦 which the drama Minglan Story is adapted from. I like the book more than the drama. It’s great if you like snail pace slice of life 😂. Then there’s 猎户家的小娘子 which I have hesitated to recommend because it’s filled with 18+ passages. But lest you think it’s a trashy novel, it’s actually wholesome and continues to be my happy read even after so many years. Again, it’s mundane slice of life because that’s my genre lol, about a hunter and his young wife, but not without adventure and character development towards the latter half.

                      Like

                    • Love!!! Adding those to my list. I might read the hunter one first after Chongzi – you have me convinced 😀

                      Also addicted to Chongzi so far and seriously considering if I should read / watch HQG afterwards…

                      Like

                • It’s interesting – based on what look like heated online threads in chinese, there seem to be fans fiercely loyal to HQG (which was written before Chongzi) or vice vera.

                  Like

                  • I am missing out on the convo! What trip? Where are you Hammy? Miss us as much as we miss you? And I’ll add your recs to my list. And I don’t mind some trashy ones. Hahahaha. And @SS, I am so happy you are reading Chongzi. There is a part two to it, it’s on my list but I’ve not started. I need to reread C again as it was one of my fav novels and I wonder if it still remains…

                    Like

                    • I went hiking in the alps 😬 U know I’m forever thinking of u guys, which is why I just got a Chromebook to better facilitate typing (3 yrs of translating on a tablet has been inefficient to say the least). It’s been a long time so I can’t say my memory is fresh but one of the reasons why I liked Chongzi better is because Luo Yinfan has real lust and desire. Bai Zihua of HQG is such a prude, I can’t even.

                      Like

                    • Oooh Alps sounds so beautiful and pristine! I agree with you Hamster (without having read it haha)… but based on reviews the the guy in HQG sounds kind of snore zzz.

                      Cat what is the part 2 called and is it a continuation of main story and main leads or deviates into side story? And do you know how it’s been rated? Sometimes if the sequel is said to be bad I just finish the main book and leave it at that hehe 😅

                      Like

                  • I am halfway into the last book of Chongzi and I already see myself getting Chongzi withdrawals at the end of it. I do love the story – although certainly it has its flaws / predictable plot devices. Cat would be curious what you think upon a reread. It seems there is both a part 2 sequel (short epilogue) as well as a book 2 in the same world. Hamster have you read either? : )

                    I am starting the hunter story in parallel when I need a break from the Chongzi intensity – so far surprisingly simple yet very sweet.

                    Like

                    • I wasn’t aware of a book 2! Back when I read it I think it had an epilogue and 2 outtakes or something like that. And I think the author wrote 9 more outtakes that I haven’t read.

                      Wasn’t it good? I love the scene where he accepted her as his student for the 2nd time and only he knew she was the same kid. So when he gave everyone the middle finger by saying that her name shall be Chongzi I positively clapped like a seal.

                      Haha lmk once you are done with the hunter story

                      Like

                    • It’s sister story. Set 20000 years later. 《奔月》I have not read it but plan to once I pick up c for the second time. I think I will go for round 2 this weekend. Let see if I still heart it like I did back then… teehee

                      Like

                    • Hm. Not sure where my reply went. Trying again. 《奔月》Is the second sequel. 20000 years later but more like a sister story… going for round 2 this weekend on c… let see if I still love it.

                      Like

                    • There is a short epilogue to Chongzi too! Like 7 or 9 chapters only, very short. Check out the author on jjwxc.

                      Although the pacing is a bit slower than what I usually read, I am enjoying the meandering writing style of the hunter story and appreciate the realism in the details. This was a great rec – thank you! Jumping a bit ahead but already wondering what other works from this author are good because her writing style is simple and lovely. Apparently there is one called 面首 which is certainly much more 18+ (as you can prob guess from the name) and is one of the most controversial of this author’s works. Debating whether to brave it 😉

                      Like

                    • On chongzi, more than luo yin fan, mu shishu is my favorite… there were not enough scenes to do him and his alter ego justice 😭😭😭

                      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s