Since it’s Christmas Eve and all, here’s my present to you: a wuxia story by Chen Jiye, translated by myself. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone! More wuxia translations are on the way.
by Chen Jiye
In the afternoon, snow falling. Snowflakes fluttering about, frequently blowing into Old Shangguan’s simple wine stall in the village. Old Shangguan suddenly recalled when Shangguan Wuxue left home at the age of fourteen; that day the sky was also full of dancing snowflakes. His son looked back a few times as he departed, ultimately fading away, lost in the midst of the thick snowfall.
The door curtain was stirred, snow mingling with the wind as it blew inside, snapping Old Shangguan out of his remembrances of eight years ago. Two men of the rivers and lakes entered, both of them young. They didn’t say much. Shangguan brought out wine and beef. Shangguan had specially added more wine and beef to their dishes, as was his custom whenever travelers amongst the rivers and lakes stopped by; they always seemed to want more wine and meat. Shangguan would always think, perhaps my son Wuxue is at this moment sitting in some shop, drinking wine and eating meat.
Shangguan stayed off to the side, smoking and smiling as he listened to his guests’ idle chatter. Shangguan always enjoyed listening to the conversations of people from the rivers and lakes. He believed his son ought to be having his own astounding encounters to talk about. Not only that, but occasionally he would pick up some news of his son from listening to these discussions.
The first few years he heard of his son defeating several martial arts experts, and that he had performed numberous chivalrous deeds. When people spoke of his Shangguan Wuxue, they all called him the same thing: “Shangguan, the Young Xia”. But after a while he heard no further news from the rivers and lakes concerning his Wuxue. In fact, he heard rumors that it seemed like Wuxue had fallen into some deep abyss and died. But Old Shangguan didn’t believe that at all. Not long ago he had received news of his son. He had fallen off a cliff, but in the end it had been a blessing in disguise that ended in an adventure. Not only had his martial arts improved, but he had also fallen in with a fellow female xia with an appearance like a heavenly immortal. The past year or two, though, it seemed there had been no news of his son. He didn’t know what kind of adventures Wuxue had encountered.
The two rivers and lakes travelers finished their conversation, paid their bill, and stood up, ready to be on their way. Old Shangguang brought in two bowls of piping hot plain tea to warm and settle the travelers’ stomachs before they departed. The two youthful travelers were touched and repeatedly thanked him. When they had finished their tea, they saw that one of the wine shop’s support posts was loose, so one of them lifted the post up with one hand and place a brick under it, making the post much more stable. Only then did the two men, with warm hearts and high spirits set off from the wine shop. With a hurried pace they stepped out into the wind and snow and were back out onto the rode, among their wanderings.
As the sky grew darker, the snowfall became heavier and heavier. Old Shangguan put his pipe in his pocket, put out the stove fire, and cleaned up and tidied up his cutting board and other preparations. He packed his bowls and chopsticks in the bag on his carrying pole and, step by step headed into the village. Shangguan didn’t know that his son Wuxue two years ago had been killed amongst the ever-fluttering snowflakes on a snow-covered mountain by those same two men who had just ate and drank in his shop. Naturally, there was no particular reason for it, just another senseless fight.
He left behind a track of distinct footprints on the snowy ground, which were little by little covered up by the snow. This sky full of dancing snow! Like it was trying to hide this monstrous and multicolored world away under a single color.