Marquis Of Grand Xia Chapter 4: Mars Stay at Antares

“This woman knows martial arts!”

 

Ning Chen yelped in his heart, “Hoodlums weren’t scary, Cultured Hoodlums on the other hand, were!” At this moment, this cultured, female hoodlum even knew martial arts, he’s doomed!

In the moment it took for him to turn around, Qing Ning had already grabbed ahold of his collar, preventing him from taking a step forward.

 

“Hey, we can talk this out. Gentlemen use their words not their fists.” Ning Chen said in a weak voice, a voice that couldn’t be any weaker even if he tried.

 

“I’m not a gentleman, I’m a girl!”

 

Qing Ning ignored his pleas and dragged him to the backyard.

 

“You are abusing your authority to take revenge on me!” Ning Chen denounced her as he struggled.

 

“Didn’t we just meet? How could I possibly hold a grudge against you.” she asked rhetorically and coughed. There was no way she would let the blame be pushed onto her.

 

“That’s right, we don’t have any bad blood with each other.” Nin Cheng suddenly thought to himself. He finally came to his senses. He had no grievances or grudges with Qing Ning so what was he afraid of?

 

“Big sister can you let go of me first? I’m feeling a bit dizzy?” Ning Chen earnestly implored her.

 

After being dragged around by collar for such a long time, he began to see stars and his chest felt tight.

 

However, hearing him call her “Big sister”, suddenly made her feel like the True Qi in her second meridian had gone berserk. If it wasn’t for Zhang Sun’s gentleness rubbing off on her since childhood, she might have really slapped this kid to death in a fit of anger.

 

Ning Chen on the other hand was confused. It was just a way of addressing her and had no deep meaning behind it. He wasn’t even 16 yet so calling her “Big sister” wasn’t going overboard. Right? Right, it’s not going overboard at all.

 

Ning Chen felt dizzier by the second. He couldn’t take it anymore, at this rate he might strangled to death.

 

“Big sister...”

 

“Stop calling me Big sister!” She was fuming at this point, her eyebrows were already knitted into a monobrow and her teeth thoroughly broken from grinding.

 

“Then what should I call you? ...”

 

“Qing Ning”

 

“Qing Ning? Let go of me this instant or you will have to burn joss paper for my spirit during next year’s Qingming...” [1]

 

“Hm?” Qing Ning turned around as she heard this. Upon seeing Ning Chen’s beet red face, she jumped back in surprise and immediately loosened her grip.

*cough cough*

 

Ning Chen violently coughed twice before taking several deep breaths. A short while later, the dizziness finally passed and the world was beautiful and right again.

 

He wasn’t stupid, by now he realized where the problem was. A moniker had nearly cost him his little life. Women. They are truly unreasonable creatures.

 

“Sister Qing Ning.”

 

Of course, men were pretty base as well, especially Ning Chen, he had nearly been strangled to death by this woman but a moment later, he was ingratiatingly smiling and buttering up the woman who nearly killed him.

 

As the saying goes, “ It’s difficult to hit someone who had apologized to you.” While she did not want to forgive Ning Chen, annoyingly she felt that she had no valid reason to hit him. So she had to suppress the raging fire in her heart.

 

“You can rest for the next two days, once your injuries are healed up, I’ll allocate some work to you.” She paused for a while before continuing , “The palace is pretty chaotic right now. Don’t run around.”

 

“Sister Qing Ning, thank you for the concern.” He flashed her the widest grin he could manage. This girl might seem fierce on the outside, but she was actually really kind.

 

His battle plan had been formulated : Qing Ning is a nice girl, the Concubine is a baddie, don’t offend the Empress. From today onwards, he will butter up Qing Ning, avoid the Empress, and run away from the Imperial Concubine.


 

Ning Chen’s room was located near the backyard of Weiyang Palace which was situated far away from the Empress’s bedroom. Weiyang palace had the least amount of eunuchs and maids compared to the other concubines. This was due to the empress preferring a quiet environment. Qing Ning had the same preference as well.

In other words, Ning Chen lucked out when he got acquainted with Zhang Sun due to his penny. The Imperial palace was rife with conspiracies and schemes, compared to this, being posted to Weiyang Palace was definitely a respite however brief.

By the time he got back to his room, he was in a pensive mood. He gazed at the sky outside his window, calm and silent.

 

Only when he had finally settled down did he realize ,” The sky outside is really different from my hometown’s.”

 

“The hustle and bustle of the earthy life is naught but a passing dream in the end”[2]

 

“What are you thinking about?”

 

He did not know since when, but a slender shadow had been standing behind him. Ning Chen finally came back to his senses, the sky outside pitch black.

 

“When did you enter?” Ning Chen asked in a surprised tone.

 

“A long time ago, you just didn’t notice because you were in a daze.” The assassin replied.

“Is that so? I was careless then” He said as he chuckled at himself, the sorrow in his eyes disappearing in a flash. He’s already here and there’s nothing he can do about it except make the best out of it. Venting his sadness with poetry is nothing more than self-inflicted misery.

 

“You still haven’t told me your name.”Having rationalized away his sadness, a smile returned to his face.

 

“Mu Cheng Xue.”

 

“No matter how much you try, you can’t outrun time itself. What a sorrowful name.”He said with a heavy sigh.[3]

 

“Just a name, what about yours?” Mu Cheng Xue asked.

 

“Ning Chen.”[4]

 

“…”

The two were silent for a moment as if did not know what to say. Two people who would normally not have come into contact with each other, ended up meeting each other through a weird twist of fate. They did not know anything about the other except for their names, but perhaps a name was all that was needed.

“Why did you try to assassinate the emperor?” Ning Chen finally broke the silence and asked.

 

Mu Cheng Xue didn’t immediately answer his question but walked to the window instead and gazed at the moon. After a long while, she softly replied.

 

“To return a favor.”

No wonder people used to say “The hardest debt to return is a favor”.

 

Ning Chen didn’t press the matter any further. There were different degrees of closeness in a relation. His relation with Mu Chen Xue was established because of their common plight and only stopped at that. Pressing her for answers would do more harm than good.

 

“You’ve saved me so I owe you a favor.”

She returned a favor but accrued another debt in the process. As she stared at the sky, she couldn’t help but wonder when would she be able to return this favor. When would she be free of these shackles?

 

“You’ve helped already, we don’t owe each other anything.”

 

Noticing Mu Cheng Xue’s emotional fatigue, he did not wish to bind this girl with another chain. The shackles of a favor were heavy indeed.

 

“Hah.” She laughed softly, her smile blooming like a peony in the night, beautiful and bewitching.

 

Ning Chen glanced at the girl beside him, a hint of admiration flashing past his eyes.

 

“You can stay here for the next few days. If the chance presents itself, we can think of a plan then.”

 

As he said this, he noticed her bloodstained clothes and changed the subject, telling her, “There’s a new set of clothes in the cupboard, you can go freshen up. I’ll be going now.”

 

As soon as he finished, he stepped out of the room, leaving her to change in peace.

 

As she saw off the teenager, a slight warmth filled her heart. So, human connections don’t just wear you out.

Feeling bored, he walked out to the backyard and seeing no one in sight, started stretching. After a round of testing, his wound seems to be holding up without causing him too much pain. He then carefully climbed up a maple tree he found at the corner of the wall, and onto the rooftop. He laid down on the roof tiles and after getting into a comfortable positions, began counting the stars.

 

“One, Two, Three…”

 

“One hundred and twenty five, one hundred and twenty six, one hundred and twenty seven…”

 

“One thousand one hundred and ninety seven, one thousand one hundred and ninety eight, one thousand one hundred and ninety nine…”

 

As he enthusiastically counted, he was blissfully unaware of the fact that just below him was the room of a certain girl, who was grinding her pearly white teeth and loudly clenching her fists as she laid in bed.

 

Qing Ning was trained in martial arts so she was sensitive to the movement in her surroundings. She had noticed him when he climbed onto the roof however she did nothing as she was curious what he was up to. Once she saw he was only counting stars, she left him alone.

 

However what she did not expect was that fellow getting addicted to counting stars. He had already counted past one thousand and from the looks of it, he didn’t plan on stopping.

 

She angrily put on her dress and walked out. With a kick of her feet, she flew onto the rooftop and stared furiously at the culprit.

 

Seeing a silhouette appear in front him, caused him to jump up in surprise. However he calmed down as soon as he found out it was Qing Ning. He joked, “ Sister Qing Ning, I didn’t expect you to have difficulty sleeping.Are you here to count the stars as well?”

 

He didn’t know that the room below belonged to Qing Ning nor did that thought even occur to him.

 

“You seem pretty comfortable here.” She said in a strained voice as she ground her teeth and stared at him with a dangerous glint in her eyes. She looked just about ready to toss him off the roof.

 

“It’s alright, just a bit cold.” Ning Cheng earnestly replied, not sensing the danger in the air.

 

“Do you want me to get you some clothes to cover yourself with?” She said in a deep voice. Hearing his “shameless” answer, her anger exploded.

 

“It’s fine. Hm?”

 

As he said this, he felt the strangeness of the mood, turning towards her, he froze.

 

Shit. Killing Intent.

 

“Sister Qing Ning, please sit.”

 

Ning Cheng jumped to his feet and helped her sit down, a smile hanging on his face.

 

“Sister Qing Ning must be really tired after a hard day of work. Let me give your legs a massage.”

 

“No thanks.”

 

“A massage for your back?”

 

“No thanks.”

 

“Should I massage your shoulders?”

 

“No thanks.”

 

Seeing her firmly rejecting him, his sense of danger grew stronger and stronger. He cautiously asked her, “Sister Qing Ning, it’s already so late, why haven’t you gone to sleep?”

 

Hold on.

 

Ning Chen suddenly realized the dress she had on was different than the one she had on during the day plus it looked it she had just put this on. As he finally connected the dots, he wanted to slap himself right now.

 

As expected, if one wasn’t an idiot and courted death, death couldn’t be bothered with you. If one is unlucky, even drinking cold water would give you a brain freeze. This was obviously Qing Ning’s territory. Despite loafing here for such a long time, he hadn’t considered this possibility.

 

Qing Ning mentally repeated to herself, “Keep calm, keep calm, keep calm.” Ning Chen was truly an amazing character, not only did he offend her to the point of her trying to kill him on his first day, he did it twice.

 

“What?”

 

Just as she was about to punish Ning Chen, she heard him gasp. She turned towards the direction he was gazing.

 

In the star studded sky, a blood red star flashed brilliantly across the night sky. A short distance away, another red star dimmed however, this was barely noticeable. If one blinked, one would have missed it.

 

“What’s the matter?” Qing Ning asked, not noticing anything.

 

“That blood red star is called Antares[5] while the dim star beside it is Mars, which is known to you guys as Ying Huo[6]. These two stars meet each other at least every 15 years. A rare sight indeed. If I’m not mistaken, it will meet in another two days.” Ning Chen quietly gasped. He did not expect to meet the legendary Mars staying at Antares[7]. What a lucky coincidence.

Once she heard this, she squinted in the direction Ning Chen pointed at and finally noticed the dim red star. She immediately grabbed and asked him, “Is this true?”

 

Being grabbed by Qing Ning’s vise-like grip made him cry out in pain. “Sister Qing Ning. It hurts.”

 

Qing Ning immediately corrected her misdemeanor and loosened her grip. However, she continued pressing him for answers, “Quick, answer the question. Is what you just said true? Will the two stars meet?”

 

He nodded as he gently rubbed his arms. “Yes, I’m 80-90% sure of it and it’s very likely to happen tomorrow.”

 

“Oh no.”

 

Qing Ning’s expression fell immediately. She got to her feet and with another kick of her feet, leaped off the roof and took off in the direction of Zhang Sun’s residence.

 

“Weird.”

 

Ning Chen shaked his head in confusion at the sight. He then got up and patted the dirt off his butt and happily went to sleep in his room...

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

Credits: 

Special thanks to 7STARDARK BLADE! The first ever patron of Catato Patch Translations.

Footnotes:

[1] 清明节 Qingming Festival - (also known as Tomb Sweeping Day) Traditional memorial day in which paper offerings are burnt for the departed.

[2]红尘莽莽,不过大梦一场。:The hustle and bustle of the earthy life is naught but a passing dream in the end.

This is my interpretation/translation of the author's poem. The first part refer to earthly desires and one's mundane life and the vastness of it. While the second part refers to when one recalls memories he tries to forget, the pain he once felt is now replaced by a deep sigh and a shallow smile (indifference).

[3]朝如青丝暮成雪:  No matter how much you try, you can’t outrun time itself.

Firstly, this phrase has a literal meaning and a deeper meaning.

The literal meaning is a person has black hair(青丝) in the morning(朝) and it turns snow white(成雪) by evening(暮). PLEASE NOTE: Those words represent those meanings. They do not always have to represent them. Some depend on usage and some have multiple meanings. Eg. 青丝 is not actually black hair but in this context it is.

The deeper meaning is that you can't win against time or nothing is eternal.

[4]宁辰: Ning Chen

Firstly, I want to start off by saying I'm still not sure what the author intended with this name. Chinese names are traditionally given by their ancestors/seniors (grandparents) and unless you specifically asked them, you probably won't know.

 

Ning usually refers to calmness/quiet and safety in some cases. You can look at the traditional word and guess the meaning for this word (寧) : 心 being sheltered where 心 means heart.

Chen refers to seasons/ time.

[5]星宿二, 心宿二 : Tau Hydrae/ Antares

 

This is going to be a long rant. Firstly, author referred to the wrong star. He uses the name 星宿二(Xing Su Er) which refers to tau-Hydrae which belongs to the hydra constellation. But what he meant to use is 心宿二 (Xin Su Er) which refers to Antares of the Scorpius constellation. They might sound similar but they are two very different words so thanks a lot ^%&**, for wasting 60 minutes of my life fact checking your typo. Even google knows you are wrong.(see image after footnotes)

Antares is a bright red star in the Scorpius constellation. With respect to Mars staying at Antares, in Chinese astrology, it represents the emperor.

[6]荧惑: Ying Huo

This nickname came about due to the erratic nature of Mars' movement and brightness . Ying refers to lights/fluorescent while Huo refers to confusion. In Chinese Mythology, Ying Huo/Mars has often been associated with disasters like war, famine, death. (similar to western mythology)

[7]荧惑守心: Mars staying at Antares

This a phenomenon where Mars and Antares "meet" each other and happens every 15+ years. It represents huge changes in government. This came about due to the meanings in the name's constituents. 

Mars represents erratic change or it could be taken as being easily changed. Antares , sigma-Scopii and tau-Scorpii all belong to the same constellation of Scorpius and respectively represent the Emperor, the Crown Prince and the Bastard. These taken together represent government. So Mars staying at Antares is the combination of both these meanings where the government (Antares) is close to change (Mars).

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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