Hi everyone! This is jjunjun here and I have decided to translate the novel 琅琊榜 (Nirvana in Fire) by 海宴 (Hai Yan). The novel has been adapted into a drama starring Hu Ge, Liu Tao, and Chen Long which will be broadcasted in 2015. Before watching the drama I wanted to read the novel first. So I decided to translate it while reading it and share it with anyone who can’t read Chinese.
Don’t ask for spoilers I don’t know anything. I am new at blogging and this is my first time translating so please treat me kindly and give me some feedback 😀
Before you begin reading here are just some things to note:
- jianghu: literally rivers and streams, essentially means the martial arts world where people join sects and fight each over and perform heroic deeds
- gongzi: a title for a young man from a prosperous family
- Lang Ya Bang: an anual ranking by the Lang Ya Hall, its categories are: top martial arts experts, top sects, top wealthy people, top beauties, top gongzi
- Xiao Jingrui: the second ranked gongzi on the Lang Ya Bang, 2 identities
That’s about it. Haha, if there’s anything that’s unclear feel free to ask. I hope you enjoy my translation of Nirvana in Fire.
Lang Ya Hall.
It is the world’s most mysterious place, yet at the same time, it is also the world’s most well known place.
All who had heard of the Lang Ya Hall knew, that it was situated on the peak of the Lang Ya Mountain, that it was a beautiful, graceful manor, that its gardens were filled with pavilions, that beautiful, clever girls served as servants, that a wide stone path led to the door of the Manor, winding down the slope, trailing down to the foot of the mountain. From the northern sky to the southern sea, by sea or land, anybody could easily reach this place; they could freely walk through its doors. Except for charging guests for nourishment and accommodation, the hall did not impose any restrictions on their guests.
Even when exposing itself to the world’s eyes without any form of disguise, it remains an enigma. To this day no one knows what kind of an organization it is, or how it is run.
The people only know that no matter what one wants to know, as long as one brings enough silver coins to the hall one would get a satisfactory answer. Never had the hall once failed.
Once, a curious person had asked the owner of the Lang Ya Hall, “You surely cannot know everything, if someone were to ask you how many hairs the emperor has, or what the heavenly maiden dreamt of last night, how would you answer?”
The owner of the hall smirked, and laughingly answered, “ I deem the price for all the questions asked, for example what you have just asked me, I would charge 30,000,000 silver coins. Who, may I ask, would pay such a large sum just to tarnish my reputation? What people actually want to know, most likely can be found out. So far I haven’t met anyone as tedious as you.”
That person’s mouth twitched and disappointedly said, “Ah, so you’re a swindler.”
Unfortunately, no one else thought the same as that person did, still the carriages crowded the front of the manor every day, still the silver flowed in like water, still and each day the hall’s fame rose to be greater than the previous.
Even though it was obvious that the intention of the hall was to make money, the people of the Lang Ya Hall knew that occasionally they should provide some benefits to their clients.
Everybody likes free gifts, especially when the costs of the gifts were originally high.
The annual Lang Ya Bang ranking was the hall’s greatest gift back to the jianghu.
The world’s top ten martial arts masters, top ten sects, top ten prosperous people, top 10 beauties, top 10 gongzi.
The first three were, of course, obvious, but the last two lists had some conditions in order to qualify, that is they had to be single.
Xiao Jingrui was still single, so ever since his appearance on the Lang Ya Bang from the young age of 20, he had been steadily rising. It was as if he didn’t have the slightest reason to worry about dropping off the list. But even being able to appear on the Lang Ya Bang went to show that he was not average.
His greatest distinction was that from the day he was born, he had two fathers and two mothers, was a part of two families, and had 2 identities. One family was the Jinling’s Xie family, the Xie father inherited the Ning Guo Marquis title, and was an aristocrat. The mother was the younger sister of the current emperor, Princess Wei Yang. In this family, Xie Jingrui had two younger brothers and one younger sister. The other was the Fenzuo’s Zhuo family . The father had superior martial arts skills, owned the Heavenly Spring Water Mansion, and roamed the jianghu for many years. The mother was a famous heroine. In this family he had one older sister, one older brother, and one younger brother.
But even so, Xiao Jinrui didn’t take the surname Xie, nor Zhuo. His surname was Xiao.
Even the most dullest, irrelevant person would know that Xiao was the imperial surname.
Why would Xiao Jinrui have such a strange background?
If we start from the date of his birth, all will be clear.
Twenty-four years ago, the Ning Guo Marquis, Xie Yu left his pregnant wife to go on a western military expedition. The princess stayed behind in Jinling. That same year, at the Heavenly Spring Water Manor, Zhuo Dingfeng challenged the demon sect leader to a spar at Miao Jiang. Before leaving he sent his six months pregnant wife to Jinling and left her in the care of her parents.
But who can know what the heavens will do? A vicious disease spread to Jinling. The officials closed the city gates and stopped people from entering and leaving. The city was put into quarantine to prevent the spread of the disease. Only a few of the most prosperous people received special care. Of course Princess Wei Yang and Zhuo Dingfeng’s wife were one of them. They were allowed to leave, but had to first undergo inspection to see if they had the disease.
At this point Lady Xie was eight and a half months pregnant, and Lady Zhuo was nine months pregnant. They were both moved to Rui mountain and became neighbors.
Before, they were only acquaintances who nodded at each other at social gatherings, but having experienced the same disaster alone without their husbands, they spent much of their time together and became like sisters.
This day they were talking and playing chess, when suddenly both of them began to feel the labor cramps, the servants hurriedly prepared a birthing room.
It was a chaotic scene.
From the afternoon till the night, they were in labor. Outside, a storm was stirring, lighting flashed though the sky and the rain beat onto the tiles above. Just when everyone thought their hearts were about to explode, finally, the sound of babies’ cries could be heard. Two boy babies had been born almost at the same instant.
Welcomed by roomful of cheerful people, these exalted, precious, boys were brought to the bathing tub. At this time the accidents occurred. An old hollowed out tree was stuck by lightning and caught on fire. One of the branches fell off and hit the roof. The wind blew and inside the room the candles went out and screams were heard. Hurriedly the guards and servant brought the two ladies out and grabbed the babies and ran.
Luckily, no one was hurt and they found a new place to stay. Just when they thought they could let out a breath they discovered a big problem. The two boy babies who were grabbed in the dark, were naked without any distinctions, were both crying, were the same weight, had the same face, which was who’s?
By the next day the problem worsened as one of the boy died.
When the Xie Marquis came back with his military achievements, and Zhuo Dingfeng returned with the glory of defeating the demon sect leader, they saw their beloved wives with one baby.
Lady Xie was the Wei Yang Princess, so the emperor naturally was concerned and issued an imperial edict and summoned the two families to the imperial court.
But when the emperor saw the two couples’ faces he knew that the situation was worse than expected.
Xie and Zhuo were both tall and had distinct features. The two wives both had willow brows and almond eyes and were both graceful and elegant.
Though they couldn’t be considered identical, but looking closely, the structure of the face was very similar.
Even if they were to wait until the baby had grown up, just by looks it would be impossible to tell whose child the baby was.
The emperor stared at the baby and couldn’t decide what to do but because deep in his heart he liked the child, he made the decision,“If we cannot find the right parents then taking either surname is wrong. I will give him my name, as a prince. His name will be Jingrui as he was born on Rui Mountain. One year he will live the the Xie, the other with the Zhuo.”
Because the emperor himself had said so and as there were no other options, everyone could only agree.
So like this Xiao Jingrui had a double identity. He was the Ning Guo Marquis’ eldest gongzi and also the Zhuo sects’ second young master. Thus the two families became as close as one family.
The two identities brought Jingrui twice the doting, and twice the honor, but also twice the hardships. He knew from childhood that he was different from his brothers and sisters. He had to fulfill the expectations of both families. Xie stressed on the literary arts while Zhuo emphasized the marital skills. Xie wanted his son to become a man with culture and strategy; Zhuo wanted his son to roam the jianghu. Even with the tremendous pressure, Xiao Jingrui didn’t disappoint. His literary arts were first class and his martial arts allowed him to roam the jianghu. As well he possessed a handsome face. As his best friend Yan Yujin said, “ As perfect as this is enough.” Yet even such a renowned, perfect person as him, could only struggle on the Lang Ya gongzi list for four years and only rank second.
It was as if he had reached an invisible wall.
But the good thing was that although he was a young man with hot blood, he was actually a gentle and caring person. He wasn’t too competitive. After all first is good and second is also good. As long as he ranked on the list, he was content. He even never actually bothered to learn more about the gongzi ranked above him.
To this young man with a double identity, the Lang Ya Bang was only a means to achieve his goals.
Yun Piaomeng was already twenty-nine, to a beauty that was a time where one withered, but every year when the Lang Ya Hall ranked the beauties, her name could always be seen.She was a woman who could remain on the list for over a decade, and almost 30 years, a single but still respected woman.
Different from the gongzi list, it was more difficult to appear in the beauties list.
As the young men liked to show off and travel, it was hard not to know them, but the beauties were different. Except for a few who lived as entertainers, most hid in their rooms, where they waited for their destined one. Thus every year when the lists were revealed many unknown name would appear. Of course after appearing in the list, even the most unknown girl would become the desirable partner. Especially since the young beauties were usually from noble families. Many people came to ask for their hands, so many that the doors would be broken down.However only a select few would actually see the beauties. These few would say, “Beautiful, so beautiful. Definitely is a Lang Ya beauty.”
To most people, the beauties were like flowers hidden behind clouds. Yun Piaomeng was different. She appeared on the rankings at the age of eighteen, and everyone could see her because she was a doctor. Xunyang’s Yun family produced doctors. They were gentle people and many on the jianghu had received their care so people on the jianghu treated them with respect. On the 10th of every month, for three days the Yun family would set up a stand and give medicine to the poor. Therefore the older folks saw her grow up into a beauty.
Yet what was strange was that she rejected all of her suitors.
Someone even bought an answer at the Lang Ya Hall. The answer was, “Once an ocean cannot be a drop of water.”
The answer was short but the meaning was clear, and the expression in the beauty’s eyes proved that the Lang Ya Hall’s answer was correct.
What kind of a person had her heart but still left her single?
That question’s value was 50,000,000 silver coins, plainly telling everyone, “Even if I know the answer I don’t want to say it.”
But there are such stupid people with money. Nine years ago a wealthy young man named Shen Zhechen bought the answer. When he left the hall it was with a darkened face.
The answer was leaked after half a year from the Shen house.
It was similar with the other answers from the Lang Ya Hall, very short and clear, only 4 words.
“Past life’s union.”
Specifically that Yun Piaomeng retained her past life’s memories and was waiting for her past life’s lover to find her. To this answer, she didn’t deny. Thus Shen Zhechen couldn’t say that the Lang Ya Hall had swindled his money.
As to Yun Piaomeng’s past lover, and who he reincarnated as, at Lang Ya Hall this question had no price yet. Because their rule was that you ask the question, and the owner decides the price for the answer. If the price is too high and you can’t afford it then feel free to leave. The questions with prices meant that they couldn’t be afforded.
Who was Yun Piaomeng’s past lover? This question had no price because no one had asked.
No one was stupid enough to waste their money on that. What if the that person wasn’t themselves? Then it would be like losing both the person and the money.
Just like that Yun Piaomeng’s youth was lost in the eyes of the world. Next year she would be thirty. Still lifting the cup to invite the shining moon, and along with her shadow becoming a party of three.
“Is it true that no one asked about the reincarnation of her lover?”
“So there’s really an idiot who asked? What price did you decide upon?”
“If you, “hehe,” once more I’ll seal your mouth. So, how much?”
“1 silver coin, a pure coin.”
“However even if it’s pure it still is only 1 coin! Is there something wrong with you? Then why was the last answer worth 50,000,000 silver coins?”
“I felt like it.”
Is there something wrong with the owner of the Lang Ya Hall?
Regretfully no one paid for this to be answered. Or else the answer would’ve been very simple and concise.
“So what answer did you give him?”
“A person on the list, Yun Piaomeng’s past lover at must at least be in the list.”
“Ehh!? For a 1 coin value answer, it’s worth contemplating.”
“All of our answers are worth contemplating never mind the cost.”
A long silence, only broken by the sound of Osmanthus flowers falling outside the window. After a period, a long sigh.
“ You, are such a person-harming sprite. ”