[Cry of the Midnight Jackdaw] Chapter 3

Chapter Three,
Fall of the Country (III)

Other women of the imperial family branches were made into government prostitutes, while the men were all put into slavery, but at this time, no one cried, perhaps yesterday’s long night opened the bloody life and death up in detail and placed it in front of these imperial relatives who were raised comfortably. They who did not even feed on minced meat finally woke up from the dreams of beautiful hairs, adorned faces and golden hair ornaments[1], and got lashed by fate so much they numbly walk forward. The hearts were only left with those words uncertain if it was for consoling others or for consoling oneself each time the mountains and river end, about how it was better a coward than a dead hero, where by leaving green mountains would one not need to worry about having wood to burn.

The Jin army efficiently fixed a prison cart very quickly. All of the imperial family were outfitted with crude handcuffs, and were detained in threes and fives and put in the cart.

These years, they were all infatuated with indulgence, feasting on meat and wine, left with a myriad of illnesses[2], and long already had no power to even catch a chicken. At this time when they were crudely pushed around by the soldiers, the ones better off would stagger with their feet, then fall to one side. Sometimes, one would meet with an official with a violent temper, unhappy how they were delaying his path to return home with glory and rise up in ranks, them giving a lash was a regular matter.

Xiao Zuo was particularly treated well, and was arranged into a horse carriage. De Qing and Zi Wan did not have this kind of good fortune, and was hung with chains and sat in the prison cart at the back spread with dry grass, separated from him by a whole imperial family.

After all, it was a group of escorted prisoners, the horse carriage would naturally be far from the comfort of an emperor’s imperial carriage. The space inside the carriage was narrow and small, only haphazardly using two wooden planks to create what was considered a seat, the four walls were all rough wood, what cushions, fine silks, don’t even think about it, even regular families’ horse carriages would be spread with cotton fabric or straw, but they were could not be found anywhere.

The driver at the front driving the carriage seemed to be very unhappy with driving this monarch of a fallen country, and on the entire way, the sounds of whipping the lash were just like the cries of ghosts, while the carriage was itself was constantly shaking, especially when passing by rugged areas- each time, Xiao Zuo felt like the boards all around would immediately fall apart.

Sitting in this kind of carriage was truthfully a hardship- with a mere half a day, Xiao Zuo’s legs already rubbed so much slivers of blood seeped out, while the back was much more aching. Once they finally reached the capital, the two legs were long already bloody, the underpants inside stuck to the wounds, and even the slightest movement was able to get Xiao Zuo to hiss and call out in pain.

“Li Fu Hai[3]!” He Xuan[4] knitted his brows and tossed the imperial memorial from the table to the ground, in between the features was a ruthlessness that had not yet dispersed. He tossed the hot tea the maidservant brought up shivering while still angry, and the fragmented pieces of porcelain along with the steaming-hot Bi Luo Chun(tea) spilled all over the floor. The maid to the side was so scared she knelt to the ground and constantly kowtowed her head, unsure how she angered this ancestor again.

“Li Fu Hai!” He Xuan called once again in irritation, ground against his teeth and squeezed out some sound from between the gaps of it, “Get in here!”

“This year’s Zhen Lake salt-transport envoy has been stolen by old Fourth again, what do those bunch of shitty old things busy with all day!” He Xuan took the tea the maid filled once again and took one sip, and slightly calmed down, glanced at her, and asked, “What are you called?”

“This servant is Ling Xiang[5]……” The young servant girl knelt down once again shocked by the honour, and once she heard Li Fu Hai’s unhurried steps, “Greetings to Li gong’gong.”

“En, the tea is passable, step down now.” He Xuan waved his hand, and Ling Xiang then meekly retreated, and attentively closed the door, then went off. Li Fu Hai knew that He Xuan was in a bad mood, and found a different topic to speak upon, “Your Highness, today, General Bai has lead that group of people from Nan Liang back to the capital.”

“Isn’t Father scheming for what benevolent king’s fame or something, I hear that he conferred that little emperor of Nan Liang a duke?” He Xuan sneered, stroking the edge of the cup, “Caution drives safety[6]. That bunch of Nan Liang prisoners may be mere mischief makers, but it will not prevent the trouble and unrest at a later time. Father is currently being deceived by Née Liu[7], as long as that Née Liu blows upon some wind into the ears, whatever she says will be done……”

“Your Highness.” Li Fu Hai sighed, and still tried to persuade He Xuan, “Heed your words, heed your words.”

“This is the crown prince residence, I(gu)[8] know my limits, you can be at ease.” He Xuan paused, then said, “You said they’ve arrived at the capital today already?”

“Precisely. The palace reports say that General Bai’s group has already reached the mountains, they will reach the Xin Zheng gates after noon.”

“Mm, this Nan Liang is a piece of fat meat, old Fourth has already bitten away the salt-transport envoy, then, no matter how much more incredible that Née Liu is, the matter with Nan Liang, should be my (gu) turn now.” He Xuan lifted his eyebrows, and suddenly seemed like he recalled something, and turned the topic, “Help me call xiao’Chong’zi in.”

“Have you completed the matter I asked you to do a few days ago?”

Xiao’Chong’zi reddened his face, and then nodded his head, “I have already redeemed Sir Song, he is already settled at the Fang Garden right now.”

“Have him prepare tonight.” He Xuan smiled, then leaned on the cushion to his back, but the smile did not reach the bottom of his eyes, “I will go over after having a meal.”

The inclinations in Jin were open, and in front of the capital’s imperial college were rows of brothels- since the former dynasty’s forefather did not care for the imperial censors’[9] persuasions and stubbornly took in a male consort, the southern winds[10] were especially strong, spoiled men[11] with money and power found fun in raising male pets, so the censorate was long accustomed to this matter, and couldn’t even bother with a punishment on the surface anymore.

Song Ying’s[12] personality was artful, obedient and gentle, while the voice in the bed was sweet and agreeable, their features filled with emotion, much like peach blossoms alight, better than the many scenes of spring.

On the next morning, when He Xuan was called awake by Li Fu Hai, he was a bit irritated, and reached out about to have the teapot on the table by the bed thrown towards the door. Thankfully, Song Ying stopped him, and He Xuan placed back the teapot still angry, and got up and let Song Ying help him dress in the court robes.

The daylight came late in the autumn, so at this time, it was still a span of black outside the windows, with dark clouds concealing the moon. All around, one could see the night-watch maids holding up lanterns flickering with faint light. Charcoal fires burned vigorously inside the room, Song Ying helped him tie his waist band while dressed in pulp-white underclothes and bare feet, a head of crow-black hair would sweep over He Xuan’s face from time to time, making it so itchy that he would laugh.

Today was a big morning court meeting- He Xuan woke up a bit late too, so he probably did not have enough time to have breakfast at home. Song Ying only came not too long ago, and very clearly understood these things- at this time, he already instructed a servant girl to prepare some cakes to eat on the way for He Xuan to fill his stomach.

Once everything was packed, Li Fu Hai was already waiting for He Xuan by the sedan chair. He Xuan received the prepared food, then bent his waist to enter. Once he opened it up, he discovered it was the thousand-layered cake he liked eating, then smiled, and took one corner of it and ate it.

5 thoughts on “[Cry of the Midnight Jackdaw] Chapter 3

  1. [1] 云鬓花颜金步摇, [芙蓉帐暖度春宵]- a lengthy poem verse for what refers to a beautiful woman.

    [2] The original expression this is derived from is 酒肉穿肠过,佛祖心中留, which translates to how as long as you had Buddha in your heart, it was okay to drink and eat meat. The adjusted version here is moreso… you’re okay to eat meat and drink wine so long as you keep all sorts of diseases and ailments in your body. Indulge to your content so long as you pay the price.

    [3] 李福海- fu, for fortune. hai, for sea. A sea of fortune.

    [4] 贺暄- xuan, for warmth, in particular, of the sun. Also used for fluffy and soft.

    [5] 菱香- ling, for water chestnut/caltrop. xiang, for scent. The scent of water chestnuts.

    [6] 小心驶得万年船- being careful will allow one to sail a boat for ten thousand years.

    [7] née(氏), a way of addressing a married woman by their maiden name.

    [8] 孤(gu)- pronoun used by those (feudal) princes.

    [9] 言官- according to google, officials who examine material that is about to be released, such as books, movies, news, and art, and suppresses any parts that are considered obscene, politically unacceptable, or a threat to security.

    [10] 南风- south, or nan, sounds similar to the word for a man. Roundabout way to refer to homosexuality, in particular for men.

    [11] 公子哥- an old term for pampered sons of wealthy families who only know to play and eat.

    [12] 宋缨- ying, for tassel or ribbon.

    [13] 贺旸- yang, for the sunrise.

    [14] 贺蘅- heng, for wild ginger (asarum blumei).

    [15] 孙得禄- lu, for a government official’s salary. de, to obtain. To obtain official salary.

    [16] (柳)梓童- zi, for the Chinese catalpa, tong, for child, or, as an adjective, means bare. A bare tree (梓木) bears no branches nor fruit.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply to kahka Cancel 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 )

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