Siege in Fog | 迷雾围城

Siege in Fog Chapter 6.2

Happy Sunday, everyone! The dialogue in this chapter was really fun to translate and I hope you’ll enjoy the read too! I hope you have your 🍿 ready because not only is this a bumper chapter, it contains quite a bombshell! 😊

Oh my, how is that Hongmen feast going to go? By the way, the author makes quite inventive use of this motif so keep in mind its meaning throughout the whole of chapter 6. 😉

Words are loaded pistols.
— Jean-Paul Sartre


Chapter 6.2

She was strangely calm.

The feast was really just the usual spread, except that it had been specially laid out at the waterside pavilion in the West Garden, originally a spot for viewing sweet-scented osmanthus. This place had formerly belonged to some nobleman from the Qing dynasty but had remained neglected until the arriviste Yi family took possession and had the pavilions and lodges rebuilt while artfully preserving the extant trees and rocks. Beside the pavilion were two osmanthus trees, each about a hundred years old, like two huge umbrellas. Their branches were thickly clustered with tiny flowers, making the mid-autumn air redolent with a sweet fragrance. However, the sky was grey and it began to drizzle in the afternoon. Each silky raindrop went ‘plop plop plop’ into the pond, causing the red fish in it to look up expectantly whilst the pond seemed to rustle with the sighs of the shrivelled lotuses. Intermingling with all this was the subtly elusive fragrance from the osmanthus, leaving one with an impression of autumnal chill amidst the stirrings of a breeze.

© MerakiTranslations This translation belongs to If you are not reading this from then this has been posted without consent from MerakiTranslations.

Below the long window was a square table that could hold eight but now only sat Qin Sang and Yi Lianshen. The pond lay just outside the window but the sound of the rain pattering down on the lotus leaves made the atmosphere a little melancholy. The kitchen had specially steamed crabs, which were in season, for the occasion. Yi Lianshen observed: ‘ “Leaving the lotuses to hear the rain”.¹ This is the only place in the house where one can appreciate verse; everywhere else is unbearably vulgar.’

Qin Sang said: ‘Er Ge has always been refined and well-read in the classics so even your taste in clothes and food is not in the least bit vulgar.’

Yi Lianshen smiled winningly and replied, ‘Flatter me all you like but I’m not falling for any of it and letting you leave that easily. Not that I’m not enjoying your compliments, to be honest.’

Slightly offended by his arch tone, Qin Sang said, ‘You’re my older brother. Why pass such flirty comments?’

Yi Lianshen smiled: ‘I never said you were flirting with me. Why get so worked up?’

Qin Sang said icily: ‘Please show me some respect, Er Ge. I may only be a woman but if push comes to shove, I still have the courage to throw myself into the pond. The one we have here isn’t very deep, but it’ll do to drown a person. If I die, that will be more blood on your hands. If word gets out that you killed your father and forced your own sister and sister-in-law to their deaths – well, that won’t sound too good, will it. Don’t tell me that besides Li Shimin,² you want to model yourself on Emperor Yongzheng?³ Just don’t forget that even though the latter wrote one Dayi Juemi Lu, such a work did nothing to stop tongues from wagging.’

² Li Shimin was the second emperor of the Tang Dynasty who assassinated his older and younger brother in a successful bid for the throne.
³ Yongzheng was the fifth emperor of the Qing Dynasty who placed many of his brothers under house arrest or in exile for disputing his succession.

Yi Lianshen burst out laughing. ‘No wonder Lao San is smitten by you; you’re quite fascinating.’

Qin Sang sighed and said, ‘If that were so, he would have come back together with me.’

‘Very true. After all, he really shouldn’t have abandoned you now of all times when it’s the Mid-Autumn festival,’ Yi Lianshen agreed. He picked up a flagon and poured her a cup of wine. This fragrant mead was a speciality of Fuyuan. The slender, pure white porcelain cup seemed to brim with the sweet aroma of honey.

Qin Sang declined, saying, ‘Thank you, Er Ge, but I don’t drink.’

Yi Lianshen did not insist, saying instead, ‘The telegram said both of you had boarded the train, but that he got off halfway. I’ve been trying to figure out why he did that when I plainly hadn’t made my move yet. Did he — or did he not — have a motive?’

Qin Sang said, ‘I’m not afraid to admit that he got off in a huff because he quarrelled with me whilst we were on the train. I honestly don’t know where he might be at this time.’

Yi Lianshen smiled: ‘I wasn’t trying to feel you out. Frankly, I’m not too concerned about where he is. He doesn’t have the means to make trouble.’

Qin Sang nodded, saying, ‘You have control of the army and you have Father in your hands. Even if there’s unhappiness in some quarters, they can’t really move openly against you.’

Yi Lianshen sighed and said, ‘I wouldn’t be so sure. Li Zhongnian just telegraphed to say he rejects my provisional appointment as provincial military governor and even said Zhang Xikun counterfeited orders to seize power. He’s threatening to get military aid from Murong Snr in Chengzhou so he can come over. That is what’s worrying me.’

Although she didn’t know if he was telling the truth, Qin Sang’s heart could not help missing a beat. Yi Lianshen went on: ‘As for that Gao Peide, he’s even worse: he just telegraphed to say that since the Marshal is seriously ill, he wants to be allowed to come down south — with his regiment — ostensibly to visit the sick but in reality to force my abdication5; in effect, open rebellion.’

Qin Sang said nothing and Yi Lianshen added: ‘ “Unsheathing my sword, I look ’round / At a loss and in vain!”6 Whichever way I look, I don’t see a single person who understands me. Not my father, not a single person; now that I’m in this position, I really understand what it means to be completely isolated.’

Qin Sang said slowly, ‘Father has always loved and thought highly of you. Actually, he would have handed everything over to you: it was just a question of time. Why were you so hasty this time? Now all it’s done is given the others an excuse to censure you.’

Yi Lianshen shook his head and said, ‘If I hadn’t struck first, Lao San would have completely put an end to me.’

Qin Sang said: ‘All he cares about is enjoying life. Military and political affairs only give him a headache so he won’t compete with you for power over those things. Besides, you’re the one who’s been Father’s right-hand man all these years so why would Father value him over you?’

Yi Lianshen smiled but did not answer, only narrowly weighing her up. His scrutiny gave her goose pimples but she forced herself to remain composed. She was holding one of the copper utensils from the eight-piece cutlery set for eating crabs:7 the small scissors pressed hard against her palm which was now slightly clammy. Then she heard Yi Lianshen say sceptically: ‘You’ve been married to him for two years but never realised what kind of person he really is?’

Qin Sang replied: ‘I’m just afraid you may have misunderstood him somehow. Be that as it may, you two are brothers: he’s always been reckless in deed and manner so I can only hope that you’ll be magnanimous enough to overlook his faults.’

Yi Lianshen shouted with laughter then said: ‘If that little speech was for my benefit, it was very well acted. But I must confess that I never expected you to agree to marry him.’

Qin Sang replied mildly: ‘Er Ge, if you have something to say, why not just speak frankly instead of passing snide remarks.’

© MerakiTranslations This translation belongs to If you are not reading this from then this has been posted without consent from MerakiTranslations.

Yi Lianshen smiled: ‘Looks like you really don’t know then… That third brother of mine lost his head the moment he clapped eyes on you and insisted that our father send someone to propose a marriage alliance. It seems your mother deemed his character unsuitable and tactfully declined. Not long after that, there was a crisis in your father’s business: through a series of traps he was cheated out of a large sum of money. The private bank collapsed, droves of creditors came knocking and – since it never rains but pours – the farmland was commandeered at that time of all times. Your mother, never very robust to begin with, fell seriously ill from anxiety and vexation and after lingering for a spell, left this world. Soon after that you dropped out of school and returned home. Grieving for a mother departed, compelled by an autocratic father: in less than a hundred days you were married off to that third brother of mine.’

Qin Sang said, ‘I don’t believe you.’

‘That swindler had a name: Fu Rongcai. He set a neat little trap and led your father all the way into it. This Fu Rongcai had been a rascal all his life and, having accepted five thousand silver dollars from my brother, made a clean job of the whole business. A pity that he never got to enjoy that five thousand dollars. Half a month later he was knocked unconscious and by the time they fished him out of the river, his corpse was so bloated even his family couldn’t recognise him.’

‘I won’t believe you.’

Yi Lianshen, picking up a small copper hammer and cracking open a crab pincer, said idly, ‘That third brother of mine has always been full of ideas even as a child and is a past master at scheming. He’s eluded me this time and I confess to being a little on tenterhooks. Fortunately I have you in my hands, San Mei: with such enticing bait, I won’t have to worry about reeling him in.’

Qin Sang said: ‘You can stop trying to drive a wedge between my husband and me. I call you Er Ge because I respect you, not because I fear you. You chose this path yourself and yet you’re trying to sow discord between Lan Po and me…’

‘No matter what, he still bears half the responsibility for killing your mother – it’s up to you to believe it or not.’ Yi Lianshen held the lily-white crab meat and lightly dipped it in the vinegar and ginger sauce dish, adding with perfect indifference, ‘What would I gain from sowing discord between the two of you? Lao San is holed up who knows where now and even if you see him again one day, it’s not as if you’ll shoot him dead on sight. I just find you to be quite an interesting woman and Lao San shouldn’t be allowed to keep you in the dark all your life. He really does love you, if a little excessively, which clouds his judgement.’

Qin Sang said, ‘You’re wrong. If he really cared about me as his wife, he wouldn’t have let me come back alone. If he really knew what you were planning to do, if he really got off the train on purpose — he wouldn’t have let me come back alone to Fuyuan.’

Yi Lianshen smiled. ‘Silly, it’s precisely because he loves you that he let you come home by yourself. Because he knows that I won’t do anything if it’s just you alone. He, on the other hand, has to go and win over a bunch of cousins and generals and they aren’t the easiest to get along with. Besides, this involves a quarrel between us brothers and some will only be too eager to fish in troubled waters. He has no army of his own and if he falls out with them, some of these people will undoubtedly want to kill him for the credit it’ll earn them with me: after all, I can’t very well murder my half-brother so they’ll get rid of him for me as the best display of their loyalty. He might as well run those risks by himself then — why drag you into it… If he actually succeeds in getting them on his side, they can send soldiers to besiege Fuyuan and in such a scenario, I would be even less inclined to harm you since I need you as a bargaining chip. If the siege fails, then he just dies alone in the fighting and that will also be enough to end things. He’s already calculated for you to such an extent. Why would he do so if he weren’t crazy about you?’

Qin Sang shook her head. ‘If he really loved me, he would certainly have kept me by his side: he would rather we die together than be like a couple of mating birds who fly their separate ways the moment they encounter danger. Er Ge, you’ve guessed wrong. What he can’t have, he destroys and discards. His letting me come home alone is merely a smokescreen. You men only care about your territories and your ambitions: a mere woman, a nonentity like me, doesn’t mean anything to him. Just like how you wouldn’t give up a fraction of all you possess8 now for the sake of a woman.’

Yi Lianshen appeared slightly stunned by her words as he lifted his cup to sip the wine slowly. Qin Sang watched the delicate rain murmuring down on the pond of shrivelled lotuses. The soughing wind carried a subtle fragrance: the osmanthus had bloomed at the right time, the foliage clear and bright and the golden flowers bursting with an almost cloying scent. The curtain of rain was like fine gauze, blown about indistinctly by the rain, the distant pavilions and lodges receding from view at times in this light misty rain.

© MerakiTranslations This translation belongs to If you are not reading this from then this has been posted without consent from MerakiTranslations.

12’s notes:
1 “Leaving the lotuses to hear the rain” is my poor attempt at translating “留的枯荷聽雨聲” which comes from a poem by a famous poet, Li Shangyin (courtesy name Yishan) who lived during the late Tang dynasty. The author later says Yi Lianshen composes poetry in the style of this poet. [Go back]
4 Dàyì Juémí Lù 《大義覺迷錄》was written by Yongzheng after he came to power and presents his response to the calumnies surrounding his succession.[Go back]
5 逼宮 bīgōng (of ministers, etc.) force the king or emperor to abdicate. Can also be used in a contemporary sense when subordinates gang up to make demands of their superiors or else they’ll resign etc. [Go back]
6 This wonderful line comes from Frank C Yue who translated the entire poem at his blog Chinese Poetry in English Verse. [Go back]
7 Invented in the Ming dynasty, the set comprised eight copper or silver utensils, among which were a hammer and scissors, to help make eating crabs easier. The wealthy classes in the Ming and Qing dynasties elevated enjoying crabs to an art. [Go back]
8 三千里江山如畫 sānqiānlǐjiāngshānrúhuà ⇒ lit. ‘three thousand miles of picturesque scenery’. An interesting phrase that recurs throughout the novel which I feel needs to be translated according to context. [Go back]



Translated and edited by 12

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13 thoughts on “Siege in Fog Chapter 6.2”

  1. Wow now we understand more, but what is true or not. This is so great novel. Thank You very much for Your hard work. Hope the drama will be also great, waiting for the sommer


    1. Thank you for reading and commenting, MichaelaH! The author is good at keeping us guessing, isn’t she? 😉 Yes, keeping my fingers crossed that the drama will be aired this year.


  2. Why the story is dragging?, seems so long until the rescue will come.

    If LZN loves her, why bring the whore and practically being with her in front of QS. Totally disrecpect his wife. That is cheap and no gentlemen do that. I hope QS can find a way to leave this sick husband and family and have a quiet life.


    1. Thank you for reading and commenting, Liera. The author likes to hide many clues in her writing so I guess you have to be patient?
      🤔 LZN?


  3. “Shocking revelation or mind games”…
    my jaw dropped while reading this chapter, the scenery was so amazingly setting the mood
    is Yi Lianshen telling the truth or playing mind games on Qin Sang about her marriage and why Yi Liankai let her come to the house alone.
    Yi Lianshen showed some real emotions he felt isolated even Qin Sang tried to comfort him.he think Yi Liankai is threat to him to seize the power.
    He said ‘What would I gain from sowing discord between the two of you?”
    I tell you why because you know Yi Liankai loves Qin Sang and you want to destroy everything Yi Liankai has… his love his wealth even his live .
    at the end of the scene Qin Sang was truly the one who is isolated.


    1. 😘 I think it’s fair to say everyone has an agenda in this story. But it’s also true that ‘the spectator sees most clearly’. Who is a better judge of Yi Liankai? Guess we’ll find out slowly.
      Thanks as always for reading and commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you so much for translating this story.
    I originally thought this chapter will be focusing on Yi Lian Shen. Instead we got to know more about what kind of person Yi Lian Kai is and his feeling toward Qin sang.
    And there is so much calculating move and plotting between Yi brothers.


    1. Thanks for reading and commenting, yellowie! What the characters choose to say also reveals their personalities, I feel. Yi Lianshen comes across as a smiling 🐅 to me. Yep, they seem to reserve their deadly moves for each other 😓


  5. Dear 12! There are not enough words to describe how much I appreciate your work!!! Thank you so much for erasing the language borders, so we can enjoy such masterpiece!! Love youu! =*

    P.s. Even though Yi Lian Kai was planning to quarell with Qing Sang to save her, it does not justify him beting up and kicking her!

    Liked by 1 person

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