Part 1: The White Jade Tiger 白玉老虎 （英文板）
In my free time I enjoy reading and translating Chinese classical novels. Here's the first scene from one of them. If you are interested in something like this, please leave a message. Thanks and God bless.
It's an enchanting spring day, an exceptionally important day for someone in particular.
Willy Zhao, lays on the warm bed attempting to regain strength after the long ride. His steed, powerful and quick, had taken him over 200 miles in a relatively short time. Still, afterwards he found the need to rest his head on the soft and fragrant sheets.
The bed belonged to a woman, Shanna, who is even softer and more fragrant than the luxurious mattress. Every time she knew she would meet with Willy, she attempted to make herself even more desirable.
The rays of the sun shine through the window, the breeze carries in the aroma of the abundant flowers surrounding the house. As Willy looks out at the sky he lets out a deep sigh,
"It's a beautiful day isn't it?"
"Indeed it is a pleasant day." Shanna responds without smiling. "A good day to kill people."
"You plan on killing people today?" Willy asks, scratching his head in confusion.
"Only one person." Shanna responds.
"I'll kill you!" Shanna admits. Willy, unconcerned, smiles and then laughs warmly at Shanna. "I really did want to kill you initially, but I know how difficult it must have been for you to come see me."
"You already know?" Willy asks.
"Of course I know." She responds, unable to hide the sadness in her voice. "Today is the day that Willy Zhao is to be married." The sun illuminates the streams of tears on her impeccable skin. "I know the only reason you've come here is to cut our ties and even if we ever meet again, I'll be treated as someone common."
Willy is unable to deny her words or hide his remorse,
"I've come to give you something." He extends his hand, holding a strand of pearls, shinning as brightly as Shanna's tears. "I didn't forget my promise."
As Shanna takes the pearls, she slightly caresses it with her finger. "I knew you would bring these for me. You've always been a man of your word." Her tears have ceased, but her hand continues to tremble. She leaps up, hurriedly, tossing the pearls at Willy's face, "You son of a bitch. Just like you, these pearls are rare but they're shit!"
The pearls didn't strike Willy's face. The trajectory sent them out the window. Willy again smiles warmly, "There are advantages to being a son of a bitch."
"It's better than being a scumbag or an asshole." He says, attempting to make her laugh. There was never any commitment among them, but even so, in separation there is always some form of agony. His hope was to leave a smile on her face before leaving, but there was no time for Shanna to smile. Then, the pearls she sent flying out the window had just as abruptly flown back inside, following a loud THUMP!
A three foot arrow crushed deep into the pillar. The pearls rattling back and forth from the impact. The silver feathers on the arrow continued to vibrate when another smaller arrow smashed into the back of the previous arrow.
Shanna stands, looking in unbelief. Whoever fired the arrow was accurate beyond understanding. Willy smiles bitterly for the first time, "Looks like it's time to pay my debt."
"What are they here for?" Shanna asks in fright.
"If I'm to be married today, it's the best day to repay what I owe." Willy explains.
Outside of the small cottage, the green, blue and red flowers of various sizes and shapes decorate the front yard. The spectacle of colors is disturbed by two individuals standing, wearing all black: an elderly woman and a brick-shaped young man. The elderly woman is hunched over from age, but the fire in her eyes has yet to fade. The two of them carry two bows, one long and one short.
As Shanna peers out at them from the window, she can't help but ask,
"Who are these guys?"
"It's the Black Witch and her son." Willy explains.
"Who's the Black Witch?"
"She's someone who can fire an arrow right through the eye of a fly."
Scratching her head Shanna ponders out loud, "That hunchback is that good?"
Willy continues, "Her son is not as accurate as she is, but he's incredibly powerful. If he's in the mood, he can shoot an arrow through two people." Willy pauses as he sighs, "The Golden Bow and Silver Arrow. It's unfortunate for anyone who sees them."
"And you owe these people?" Shanna asks worriedly.
"I've always been unfortunate." Willy responds.
"What do you owe them?"
Shanna shakes her head in confusion, "How can you owe people...people?"
Willy takes a breath, "One night, near the Ming River I was having a few drinks when I saw a young lady fleeing for her life. Her son was following closely behind. I noticed the young lady had already been struck by an arrow as she pleaded for help." Willy takes another breath, still peering out the window, "Seeing them being chased by a burly man, instinctively I draw my sword and helped them escape."
"Then?" Shanna inquires.
"Later I found out that the young lady wasn't a lady at all. She was a man, in the martial arts underground known as the Hive. An expert thief that prefers to disguise himself as a lady."
"So it turns out the two of them were thieves." Shanna responds.
"Lucky for me, the Black Witch didn't assume I was one of them." Willy says, almost bitterly.
"But of course they can't let you off the hook completely." Shanna adds.
"They gave me a deadline of three months to find the thieves and bring them back."
"Is today the deadline?"
"Almost." Willy states dryly.
"Did you capture the thieves? Shanna asks.
"Not yet." Willy admits.
Frustrated, she responds, shaking her head,
"You're like a little boy who enjoys going around putting bugs in his hair."
"If there were only a few bugs in my hair it wouldn't be so bad?" Willy adds.
"You have other things in your hair as well?" Says Shanna.
"I also have a few scorpions and poisonous snakes in my hair as well." He explains.
Shanna couldn't even respond. While glancing out the window, the sudden appearance of snakes frightened her speechless.
Just then a man arrived with a basket. Snake heads protruding from all sides. The man carrying the snakes had a disturbing appearance: only half of a nose and ears that had been bitten so many times that they could no longer be called ears. On his person, he also carried eery-looking red and green bags. Making him look all the more menacing. He appears completely unconcerned as many of the snakes climb along his shoulders and neck. The sight made Shanna want to vomit.
"You also owe this man?" She asks.
"Yup." Willy responds, swallowing. "I owe him five snakes. Five of the most poisonous snakes there are."
Shanna contemplates almost to herself out loud, "You helped two thieves escape and then you mistakenly killed this man's snakes. Why would you have to pay him back for that?"
"Because it turns out he's a Poison Buddha." Willy states. "Even though his body is filled with poison, he has a heart like Buddha."
"A Buddha that raises snakes?" Shanna asks
"Some people raise snakes to harm others, but he raises snakes to save lives." Willy explains. Looking over at Shanna, he could see she was still unclear of his meaning. "Only by extracting the poison from certain venomous snakes can the antidote be created."
"And so...you owe him five snakes?" Shanna asks.
"They are snakes of a particular breed. The Poison Buddha had been searching for them in the swamps for three years before he collected all five. The combination of the five venoms could create a concoction that would be an antidote for hundreds of poisons."
"I've heard that snakes don't release venom until they bite someone." Shanna adds. "Is that why he lets the snakes continually bite him?"
"That's his method." Willy agrees. "The first time I saw him, he was being bitten by five snakes."
"What else could I do. Without thinking, I drew my blade and cut the five snakes into ribbons."
"You must be pretty handy with the sword." Shanna comments.
"Yes, but once again I was mistaken." Willy responds, a bit annoyed with himself.
The Poison Buddha, Black Witch and her son stand waiting in the garden. The silence is deafening, when a distant banging sound thunders through out the air.
"Is that the sound of a drum?" Shanna asks.
"It would seem so." Willy agrees.
"Why would someone be using a drum this early in the morning. He must be some kind of fool." Shanna remarks.
"He doesn't use the drum like normal people would use it. He uses it to split souls." Willy explains.
"Split souls?" Shanna asks, still unclear.
"Every time he drums three times, someone's soul is taken away." Willy adds.
The drumming repeated itself as it echoed throughout the entire area.
"How many times is that?" Shanna asks, feeling a bit nervous.
"Don't tell me you owe him a debt as well? Shanna asks.
"I owe him a great debt. I owe him a blade." Willy explains.
"How many more people do you owe?" She asks.
"As far as big debts...just these three." He says.
"All of these monsters just happened to know you would be here?" She asks.
"They didn't know until I invited them. It's a good day to pay what I owe." Willy says peering out the window.
The soul drum rings out loudly once again. The man beating the drum is called Sean Liu. As the noise rang through out the air, he can be seen emerging from the bushes in a distance. He dawns a jade green jacket and pale white shirt. The shirt is just as pale as his expressionless face.
He uses a white cane made of bamboo, continually tapping ahead of his pathway. How could this possibly be a man that takes souls? It's not strange that someone who generally avoids the sun would be pale. What is strange is the whiteness of his eyes. No color in his pupils. It would appear that this seeker of souls is a blind man.
He travels on a small path that winds through the garden-like scenery. The Black Witch and her son stand at the side, unmoved. Of course the blind man is unable to see them waiting. Yet, he turns as he approaches,
"Black Witch. I hope you are well."
“Unfortunately, this poor widow is so upset she could die." The Black Witch responds.
"It's been about 13 years am I right?" Sean Liu asks. "Time really does fly."
"There are only a few hours in the day, a few hours in the night. How could time go slowly?" The Black Witch snickers. Sean nods his head in agreement, no expression on his face.
"Some days seem longer than others." Sean says to himself, still tapping his cane as he moves forward carefully. As he reaches the Poison Buddha he takes another pause. They both remain silent, but two snakes just happen to escape the basket as he approaches. They slither in Sean's direction and "Pop Pop." Two sounds ring out as his cane strikes the snakes lightly, but directly leaving them motionless like dirty ropes.
"It seems I may have accidentally killed your snakes." Sean says to the Poison Buddha. "Should I pay for them?"
"Can you pay?" Poison Buddha responds, irritatedly.
“Those were just common rock vine snakes. If you want I can catch seventy of them in no time." Sean responds.
The Poison Buddha is startled by Sean's cunning accuracy and awareness. "No need. I can get more on my own." He admits.
"Well that's good. Yet, I still have a word I would like to speak with you." Sean adds.