Hunting for Beautiful Men, a Journey Through Time 狩猎美男之古旅 (Volume 1)
Chapter Four: I’m A Femme Fatale
I’m a Femme fatale—Right after I was told that I’m a femme fatale, I find out Uncle Liu is a member of the Jianghu community.
I got back home and saw Uncle Liu fiddling with eight copper coins, I curiously approached and asked, “Uncle Liu, you know how to do divinations?” Uncle Liu stroked his beard, smiled and nodded.
“Then can you take a look for me?”
“What would you like to know?”
I looked down and touched the eight copper coins, wondering whether I’d be able to sneak off with them after he’s finished telling my fortune, and add them to my secret stash. Since I’m completely broke here in the ancient times. Suddenly looking up, I saw what seems to be a calculating look in Uncle Liu’s eyes, then it was gone the next moment, making me wonder if I’ve got blurred vision or something. (You are nearsighted okay?)
“Can you see when I’ll be able to go back home? Will I have a lot of money later in life? How many male lovers will I have?”
Uncle Liu hesitated, perhaps not expecting me to ask such playgirlish and money-hungry questions.
I miserly clutched onto the eight copper coins, shaking them in my hands, then finally threw them onto the table reluctantly. Once the coins stopped moving, Uncle Liu carefully measured them with a black ruler that he seems to have pulled out of nowhere.
Finally, he explained that the first coin was 祸, or disaster, meaning disaster brought me here.
The second coin was 水, or water, obtained from the water. This made sense, since he pulled me from the waters.
The third coin was 雷电, or thunder and lightning, this was a major obstacle and enemy of mine in life. Probably referring to electricity, I did get electrocuted back in time and came here.
The fourth coin was 履, or shoe, key of destiny. What kind of key is my shoe? Who uses a shoe as their key? Is there also a Cinderella here? Who’s the prince?
The fifth was 圣, or sacred/noble/master/royalty, fated in this life time, tangled together in previous incarnations. Tangled together? With whom?
The sixth was 贞, or chaste/loyal, the source of troubled times. It’s the same 贞 from my box of 贞德 Joan of Arc artificial hymen, was it referring to that? Will this play a big role in these troubled times?
The seventh was 色, or sexual desires, disastrous affection and doomed love. What? I haven’t even began a relationship yet, and you are already giving me such a severe warning. Let’s hope the good comes true and the bad be untrue.
The final one was 空, or hollow/empty, the end of life, but it was a changeable divinatory trigram.
Putting all of them together we have “祸水电履圣贞色空.”
Saying that I’m a femme fatale is fine, at least it means I’m pretty, but this whole business with “sex emptiness”, “after a lifetime all is emptiness”, it’s not cursing me to become a Buddhist nun is it?
“The divinatory sum composed of these eight copper coins here is 罔, or deceive/no. This character is composed of the 门 ‘door’ radical on the outside, then the 艹 ‘grass’ radical top of 草 ‘grass/hasty’, and the character for 亡 ‘death’ on the inside. This means that if one acts in haste carelessness, then absolute death is imminent. Of course, it could also mean to survive death by fighting fearlessly for your life. In short, nothing is set in stone, there also exists the possibility of change.”
Sure enough, he was an old crook, telling me that there is a chance that I could go back, but there is also a chance that I won’t be able to go back, and it’s all prone to sudden change. With all the possibilities being a possibility, what good is getting my fortune told?
“Uncle Liu, since it’s so much trouble to ask just one question then I’m not going to ask the rest.”
Uncle Liu was still studying the copper coins, frowning and shaking his head from time to time. I thought, you really are putting a lot of effort into your act, wait until I get back to my time, I’ll definitely help you apply for the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role.
“Uncle Liu, Xiao Niu Zi said that you’re the village doctor. My eyes can’t see clearly in the distance, do you think you can take a look at it?”
“That’s not too hard to treat, let me go into the mountains and gather some medicinal herbs, then apply topically for a few days and you will be fine.”
“Xiao Niu Zi said that you’re getting older now and it’s inconvenient for you to go into the mountains, he said that he’ll go and gather the herbs for you.” I can’t let Uncle Liu ruin my plans of wooing Xiao Niu Zi.
There was a flash of alarm in Uncle Liu’s eyes, “Xiao Niu Zi?” But he changed his tone quickly, “Alright, I’ll list out the names of those medicinal herbs.”
Because I can’t recognize any of them, Uncle Liu drew out all the different herbs for me. And I gotta say, Uncle Liu’s paintings are really something, saying that they are lifelike is really no exaggeration! If only his name was Liu Bo Wen, then I’ll definitely treat these paintings like my baby and cherish them forever. But, his name isn’t, so my enthusiasm ends here.
That night, I was so excited about going into the mountains with Xiao Niu Zi tomorrow that I couldn’t fall asleep. But then I thought, a man and a woman, alone in the deep, desolate mountains, is it going to be dangerous? Then again, it’s a rare opportunity to further our relationship, it’ll be a shame to give up on it. But chances are, these mountains in the ancient times might be inhabited by a pack of tigers, will Xiao Niu Zi be able to fight the tigers? (A pack of tigers? If he’s human than he won’t be able to fight them. Pfft, did you think they were wolves? Talking about packs and whatnot. )
I tossed and turned, and just as I was about to fall asleep, I heard the sound of bird fluttering out in the yard. Peeking out from the crack in the door, I saw Uncle Liu remove something from the foot of a pigeon, then placing something else in its place and released the bird. Could this be the messenger pigeon used by the Jianghu community? But why is Uncle Liu doing this in the middle of the night? He must be hiding some sort of secret. Maybe it’s the annual crooks skills exchange workshop?
Uncle Liu glanced over towards me for a moment, just as I wondered whether I’ve been spotted, I saw Uncle Liu slowly walk back into the house.
I climbed back into bed, but could no longer fall asleep. I don’t want to get mixed up in any disputes in the Jianghu community, I don’t know any martial arts, how am I supposed to keep myself alive? I grew up in peaceful times, accustomed to the comforts of life, I can’t withstand the trials of life and death in this age of turbulence. For sure I’m going to be a realistic and cowardly person. (It’s rare to see you evaluate yourself so objectively for once.)
There was this joke that said, “I was captured by the enemy. The first day, they tortured me, but I didn’t talk. The second day, they seduced me with a beautiful woman, I talked. The third day I wanted to talk again, but I was released.” I think I’m probably just like him. If I’m faced with cruel tortures from the enemy, then I’ll probably only say four words, “I’ll tell you everything!”
I was simply trying to use my Joan of Arc and take advantage of a few guys here in the ancient times, then escape back to the future. Even if I can’t escape, I can settle down and start a small business, and make enough money for me to make ends meet. Is it really necessary to wipe out such a simple little wish? If I get involved with the Jianghu community, I won’t have enough lives to lose! What use is this god damn box of Joan of Arc, it’s not like it’s knife proof or bulletproof!
It’s too late now to run away, it won’t be easy considering how Uncle Liu is skilled enough in martial arts to walk in the night without making a single sound, any rash actions would just get me killed, I have to give the matter further thought. Since I’m still blind as a bat right now, the only thing I can do now is to fake ignorance and await opportunity. The first order of business right now is to cure my eyes, then make other plans.
First of all, this is how I imagine 小牛子 Xiao Niu Zi to be —>LINK, or this —>LINK, but I definitely feel it more in the first picture! I don’t really follow the two actors, it’s just THAT particular look fits in with what I imagined Xiao Niu Zi looks like.
This chapter was interesting and difficult to translate, because of the references to Bagua divination, I Ching, sutras and what not. But it made for some interesting research and reading. I have temporarily decided to refer to 江湖 as Jianghu community. I spent days agonizing over this term in the past. Bearbear actually has a Wuxia novel translation in the works, but it won’t see the light of day for quite a while.
I did my best to make this chapter work and make sense. I put the original Chinese they got from the divination in there, followed by my translation of the possible meanings associated with that character, using “/” to separate the multiple meanings it might have. It doesn’t look too messy does it?
Also, please let me know if that part where Uncle Liu was explaining the divinatory sum and taking the Chinese character apart radical by radical made sense to you. Because I have another book I’m a little afraid to translate because it involves mystery and puzzle solving that’s kind of like this. Oh, and I have no idea what divinatory sum is, I made the term up based on what it says in Chinese and the few search hits I got. The internet wasn’t so helpful on this one.
Next few chapters are pretty funny, let’s all look forward to it together 😀
Joan of Arc artificial hymens are real! Read about them here —>LINK.
As always, please like, comment, and follow if you’ve enjoyed reading!~ Ciao! ❤
1 Divinatory trigrams are the eight little things you see on the link I’ll provide you. Looks familiar? Check the Korean flag! Click here to check it out —>LINK.↩
2 Original words here being 祸水, made up of the characters for 祸 disaster, and 水, water. The Chinese uses water as a metaphor for women, if you read Dream of the Red Chamber you’ll probably remember Bao Yu saying women are made of water. But I digress, 祸水 is used to describe women who ultimately lead everyone to their doom, they aren’t necessarily evil, but just bad luck. Often times you will see 红颜祸水 basically meaning the same thing, but emphasizing on the beauty of that woman.↩
3 色空 is taken from the Chinese translation of the Heart Sutra, which it says “色不异空，空不异色；色即是空，空即是色” From what I can understand, it’s talking about how everything is emptiness, I think.↩
4 Radicals are parts that make up a Chinese character. Read more about it here —>LINK.↩
5 There was a play on words here, Uncle Liu written in Chinese is 刘伯, pronounced Liu Bo. And Liu Bo Wen, the famous Chinese military strategist, officer, statesman and poet written in Chinese is 刘伯温. While Uncle Liu is a way of addressing someone, the latter is a name. The difference between the two when written out in Chinese is the last character 温. The author made a joke and said if only Uncle Liu had an extra 温 at the end of his name, she’d treat his paintings like treasure. To which the in-story author commented that 刘伯 Uncle Liu is not a name, but a way of addressing someone. If you’d like, read about 刘伯温 Liu Bo Wen here —>LINK.↩
6 江湖 or Jianghu is a common term in Wuxia novels, simply put, it’s the bigger community that martial artists, artisans, peddlers, organizations, gangs, and even street performers, fortune tellers and prostitutes belong to i. Within Jianghu is 武林, or martial arts community. The two terms while used interchangeably, is in fact different. Read about it more here (recommended) —>LINK↩