Chapter 314: Monarch’s Word, the sound of the qin is like the sound of your voice Original and most updated translations are from volare. If read elsewhere, this chapter has been stolen. Please stop supporting theft.
When Mu Linger saw Han Yunxi and Long Feiye get off the carriage, she made a beeline for Han Yunxi. Han Yunxi had seen countless women infatuated by Long Feiye’s looks, but this was the first time she’d seen one who acted like he didn’t exist.
“Han Yunxi, where’s my Qi gege?” Mu Linger came straight to the point. She’d been staying in the capital city all this time just for Qi gege. She assumed that he’d get even with her because of what happened to Han Yunxi, but he never showed up. When her father ransomed her out of the Duke of Qin’s estate, she’d stuck around in the closest inn so she could hover around the estate gates and bump into her target. Unfortunately, she met with disappointment every time.
“It’s not like you entrusted your Qi gege to me. How should I know?” Han Yunxi asked with a grin.
Mu Linger was left speechless before she asked, “Has Qi gege looked for you?”
This silly girl. Is it really alright to ask a question like that in front of Long Feiye? Even if Gu Qishao had looked for her, she’d never admit it here! Mu Linger simply treated Long Feiye as air and vice versa. Long Feiye took Han Yunxi’s hand and kept walking forward. But Mu Linger actually dared to block his way.
“You injured Qi gege!” Father had questioned her about the happenings at the back courtyard behind the bamboo grove of the Mu estate. That was how she discovered that Long Feiye had kicked Qi gege into the lake. Actually, her father had been covertly keeping an eye on all her actions behind the bamboo grove, but she had no idea. She was even naive enough to tell her father all about Gu Qishao, including how she liked him.
“Scram,” Long Feiye said coldly. In the end, his intimidating aura scared off Mu Linger, who obediently backed away.
Still, her tone was tough and unyielding. “Han Yunxi, Qi gege did everything because he wanted to help you! If anything happened to him, do as you see fit!” Then she turned and strode off with wide steps. She had decided to follow Han Yunxi around until Qi gege turned up. She was sure that he’d come to look for Han Yunxi.
Even without her reminder, Han Yunxi had been worried about Gu Qishao the entire time. It had been too long since she’d gotten any news of him. She wasn’t even sure how serious his injuries were. Besides him, there was also Mute Granny. Long Feiye had told Chu Xifeng to send out men and search, but there was still no news. It was normal to lose track of a body after it fell down from such a high cliff, but Han Yunxi still persisted in believing Mute Granny survived until she saw a corpse. By the time the pair reached the Hibiscus Courtyard, it was already late night. She’d long lost track of the times they’d traveled through the garden’s covered walkway. The gauzy light of moon shone upon the still evening and its silent people. Long Feiye lead her along as he strolled slowly through the paths. Time itself seemed to slow down as everything turned inexpressibly beautiful.
“Han Yunxi, do you know how to play the qin?” he suddenly asked.
That was too high of a calling for her. Han Yunxi didn’t even know how to reply.
“You haven’t had enough of their music from the birthday banquet?” she asked with a smile. But no matter how brilliantly she smiled, he always returned them with his usual icy self. Han Yunxi was beginning to wonder who came up with the saying ‘smiles are contagious.’ Is that even true?
“Just asking on a whim,” Long Feiye replied simply.
“If you want to listen, I can play on a whim,” Han Yunxi was still smiling. She’d long grown used to his coolness, and her mood was exceptionally good tonight. She didn’t know how to compose music or accompany instruments, nor could she read ancient musical scores. But she still knew how to play a few Chinese zither pieces of here and there. If she had really played against Chu Qingge tonight, she might not have lost. But if there were better ways to beat her, of course she’d use them instead! She didn’t like performing in front of so many people. That was a serious loss of status for a Qin Wangfei! Certainly, there were plenty of nobles at the banquet, but how many of them really had the right to hear her play the qin?
“If your lordship listens seriously, will you play seriously as well?” Long Feiye asked with interest.
Han Yunxi looked over and caught a rare hint of laughter in Long Feiye’s eyes, faint and indistinct. Its appearance beneath the tranquil moonlight made it all the more mesmerizing. She lost herself hopelessly in those eyes. This fellow has to be in a good mood, too. I don’t even remember the last time he smiled.
“I will!” Han Yunxi nodded earnestly. Unlike Chu Qingge, who played to a crowd, she’d only play for him. Long Feiye led her along–not to Leisurely Cloud Pavilion–but to his own sleeping quarters. Han Yunxi had looked around his mysterious rooms the first night she arrived at the estate. She knew that it had a tatami mat tea room with a rare guzheng inside. But she’d lived here for close to a year without ever hearing any music from these rooms.
Long Feiye personally brewed some tea, its fragrance pure and fresh. Han Yunxi washed her hands and lit some incense, whose delicate tendrils of smoke curled up to the ceiling. Long Feiye had long changed into a set of loose, white informal robes to sit leisurely on the tatami. Although he was holding a cup of tea in his hands, his indolent posture made it look like he was holding wine instead as he gave a light sip. His current appearance looked less chilly than usual and a little more careless. As he sat by the window, bathed in moonlight, he almost resembled some sort of wandering immortal. Once again, the shameless Han Yunxi found herself entranced by his looks. It’d been ages since she’d seen him so relaxed. She didn’t get it. Was he finally feeling drunk from all the wine he drank?
Suddenly, Long Feiye asked halfheartedly, “Han Yunxi, how long are you planning to stare?”
Han Yunxi first gave a start, then quickly withdrew her gaze. Once again, she didn’t know how to reply. Hadn’t he always let me stare as I like?
When Long Feiye noticed how Han Yunxi’s ears were turning red, his eyes flickered with amusement. Naturally, the expression only lasted for a second.
Han Yunxi lightly touched the strings of the qin and asked, “What’s the name of this qin?”
“Monarch’s Word,” Long Feiye said mildly.
Han Yunxi only felt that it was a beautiful name. She murmured it under her breath as her fingers plucked its strings. Gradually, the melody grew to become “Butterfly Lovers.”1 The notes of the qin were sweet and pleasant, the notes lingering in a plaintive melody like someone quietly telling the story of a 1,000 year unrequited love. Han Yunxi didn’t know why she’d picked this pieces of all songs. Perhaps the name of the qin, “Monarch’s Word”,2 was to blame.
A monarch’s word, a gentleman’s word. The sound of the qin is like the sound of your voice.
Listening to the qin was like listening to that monarch or gentleman speak. How one would yearn at the sound!
Long Feiye rested his head in one hand as he sat in silence, his eyes on Han Yunxi. Though he looked to be listening raptly to the music, he was actually focused on Han Yunxi herself. Though he looked wholly absorbed by the melody, he was actually wholly entranced by her. He was thoroughly staring at her slender and beautiful brows, high nose, tender pink lips, and her hooded expression as she focused on playing the instrument. He look as well to the aristocratic violet robes draped elegantly about her body. His gaze was like that of a predator on its prey, but also that of someone inspecting his most precious treasure. The longer he looked, the heavier grew his gaze. His eyes seemed to hide many, many unknown secrets. She had no idea that his feelings for her were just like his gaze right now, mingled with a host of too many complicated things, unfathomable and deep.
Because Han Yunxi was playing with her head down, she didn’t realize that Long Feiye was staring at her instead of listening to her song. When the last note trembled to an end, Han Yunxi finally lifted her head. She had lost herself in the melancholy strains of “Butterfly Lovers” as well.
By now, Long Feiye had long hidden away the feelings in his gaze to resume his usual cold expression.
“What’s the name of this song?” he asked.
“Butterfly Lovers. It’s a famous song, but I didn’t write it,” Han Yunxi explained hastily.
“Butterfly Lovers? What’s the meaning behind that name?” Long Feiye was curious.
Han Yunxi more or less summarized the plot and its protagonists, Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai, before she broke into a grin. “Your Highness, what would you do Liang Shanbo’s shoes?”
But Long Feiye only replied coldly, “Your lordship isn’t that weak!”3
Han Yunxi was momentarily tongue-tied. All right, even if he’s in a good mood, I can’t talk with him about these kind of topics. They don’t fit him at all!
Long Feiye polished off a great many cups of tea before he finally judged, “Mm, it was a very good song.”
Han Yunxi was lost for words. She was starting to suspect that this guy had other motives besides asking her to play the qin. But this was the middle of the night. Besides listening to music, what other business could he have? She sat by his side and drank tea with him. “Your Highness, the matter of the western mountains…”
Emperor Tianhui had said she’d have to head there as soon as the empress dowager’s birthday banquet was over. Long Feiye had made such a ruckus at the banquet. He succeeded in threatening Emperor Tianhui, but they still hadn’t solved this problem. Han Yunxi had shown off the Medicine Fan both to get out of performing publically and to leave herself an escape route by tempting the empress dowager.
“You’ll understand tomorrow when you go to the Imperial Physician Courtyard,” Long Feiye said simply.
So mysterious. But since he’d said as much, Han Yunxi didn’t ask any further. She was extremely curious. What kinds of things would happen when she went to the Imperial Physician Courtyard? Would someone there stop her from going to the Western Mountains?
Not Gu Beiyue, that’d be impossible!
Since Han Yunxi couldn’t figure it out, she could only wait for tomorrow. Now that the topic was done, she fell into silence again. Actually, most of their time together was spent in silence unless she spoke up proactively. She used to be quiet in the past as well, but now she spoke more often. Despite this, she had no idea what to talk about next.
He wanted to hear the qin, but she’d already finished playing. Like this, the two of them sank into silence again. Truthfully, they’d both gotten used to it, but tonight’s silence was deeper than usual. The atmosphere seemed a little strange, as well.
Abruptly, Long Feiye spoke up. “Han Yunxi…”
“Mm,” Han Yunxi replied immediately as she looked his way. Their eyes met, but Long Feiye remained mute for so long that she had to probe him out. “Your Highness, what is it?”
Long Feiye seemed hesitant, but he quickly rejected his indecision. “Nothing. Let’s go, I’ll bring you back.”
For some reason, Han Yunxi’s heart suddenly felt a bit empty. She only replied with a single sound. “Mm.”
Actually, Leisurely Cloud Pavilion wasn’t very far from the sleeping quarters here, but Long Feiye actually took her hand and walked her all the way to her door. It was very late, and her heart felt somewhat flustered. The moment he let her go, she felt another wave of emptiness again. But once again, he was as calm and logical as always. He carefully reminded her, “You must go to the Imperial Physician Courtyard tomorrow morning. Don’t be late.”
Just who would be waiting for Han Yunxi at the Imperial Physician Courtyard tomorrow?
- Butterfly Lovers (梁祝) – also called Liang Zhu in Chinese for the names of its two protagonists, Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai. A classic Chinese story of two star-crossed lovers, you can read the summary here. ↩
- Monarch’s Word (君语) – Junyu. The meaning of this name can be translated many ways (including King’s Speech, a suggestion by translator Jimminx!). Jun can mean a “gentleman/scholar” (such as the male protagonist of “Butterfly Lovers”), or “ruler, sovereign, monarch, lord.” Yu is “language, speech, prose, tongue, expression.” Han Yunxi first thought of “Butterfly Lovers” because the name of the qin can be literally read as “Gentleman’s Word,” which probably reminded her of the scholar in Butterfly Lovers. In English, we tried to make the same logic connection by using Monarch’s Word–in which Monarch > Monarch Butterfly > Butterfly Lovers. Credits for this fun little piece of wordplay goes to my editor Khuja. 😀 ↩
- Your lordship isn’t that weak – In the story, Liang Shanbo (the male MC) was unable to marry Zhu Yingtai and died from illness caused by a broken heart. ↩