Sunshine Aficionada

the blog of Sherry/Xaari

Pre-Finals Mania

What’s up, dear blog? I’m going to be dead next week when I have five finals, three of them in one day from 8am-6:30pm. I just love the scheduling of my life. I’m hoping that I don’t bomb them and destroy the grades I’ve worked to the death to accomplish this semester.

Last month I watched the historical drama Schemes of a Beauty 美人心计 and promptly fell in love with a few male historical figures and the actors themselves. I’m sure the male audience of the drama was even more pleased; true to its title, Meiren Xinji abounds with beauties. I’m still in awe and fascinated by the politics, warfare, and court intrigues of the early Han Dynasty. This craze even beats my fervent interest in the Liao and Song dynasties.

Today I translated the lyrics to Luo Hua 落花, the theme song for Schemes of a Beauty and sung by the lead actress Ruby Lin. The past few weeks I also translated excerpts from Jin Yong’s wuxia novel Sword Stained With Royal Blood 碧血剑, Gu Long’s novel The Tale of Refining the Sword like Cleansing the Flower 浣花洗剑录, and tidbits of dialog from the latter’s 2007 drama version. I’m thinking of perhaps starting a translation collection (a portfolio blog?) of my Chinese-English translations over winter break.

I watched about 15 episodes of 浣花洗剑录 in two days until I stopped due to lack of free time and declining interest. Unfortunately, while searching for a summary of the series I stumbled upon a spoiler that broke my heart. I lost all inclination for continuing the series because I moped in misery for a good three days over the tragic fates of my favorite couple in the series, Mu Lang Shen Jun and Princess Tuo Chen. My body was literally wracking with sobs during their final scene and I cried so much that my eyes were terribly dry for hours afterwards. Needless to say, I love them to death. It’s the first time I am so truly endeared to any tragic couple because I love both of them without reservation. Usually I am either drooling bucketfuls over the male lover or desperately wanting to smack him for his absolute failure in both matters of the head and the heart. But their love was beautiful, passionate, and true until the very end, even though the princess later discovered the full extent to which the man she loved had deceived her. Egregiously evil, her enemy in every way, yet the dearest in her heart even until their dying breaths. I will not elaborate further for fear of spoiling such a heartwrenchingly tender story for someone else.

Also, I finished Chapter 7: Training of Kindest Cruelty last month. I’m making progress on Chapter 8, which will be out before the end of the month. 🙂

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DBSK/JYJ Paradise

So I’m still waiting on the Junsu crown necklace to come in the mail, but I’ve already received my Mirotic Version A album that I won from the DBSKnights 2nd Anniversary Giveaway Contest, my JYJ Billboard Release of the Week magazine, and my JYJ “The Beginning” Special Edition album and poster. Unfortunately, the JYJ t-shirt ended up having a centimeter-diameter hole in the back. I’m pretty angry. :/

Now my side of the dorm room is paradise. 🙂 I wish I had a high-quality camera to take a picture…but I’ll summarize in words instead. On the bulletin board at my desk I have 3 8×8 inch photo cards of Jaejoong, Yoochun, and Junsu, followed by the magazine which I ingeniously perched on the ledge and pinned to the wall using a binder clip and pin without damaging the paper. On the shelf above my desk are my upright JYJ “The Beginning” and DBSK “Mirotic Version A” albums in their full glory. On the wall to the right of my desk is the JYJ “The Beginning” poster.  Below that is a row of four more 8×8 photo cards, one of each member and one of the group. On the bulletin board behind my bed, starting from the left, is my Islands in the Sun calendar followed by my ten Super Junior autographs. Under the autographs are a picture of Yesung and a picture of DBSK from the Mirotic Version C album photoshoot. To the right of that is my 3×3 mosaic of the remaining 9 8×8 photo cards from the special edition. Not to mention DBSK is my laptop wallpaper and Jaejoong in the snow (from the JYJ showcase booklet) is my phone background.

Now my loves and inspirations are plastered everywhere. Everything is arranged perfectly with regards to location and filling up space, so now I feel as if this is a sort of fate. This is my consolation to make up for not being able to attend the JYJ showcase in NYC this Friday.

Hmm…other stuff to blog about…well, it seems incorrigible that I fail at chemistry even after studying 12+ hours for an exam. However, after studying less than 5 hours for honors microeconomics, I can score a hundred on my midterm. O_O Looks like I’m cut out to be a businesswoman after all. 😉

Also, I’ve updated my novella Kindest Cruelty on FictionPress with Chapter 6: Escape. Check it out!

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Protected: Chapter 4: Memories

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Protected: Chapter 3: Sufferings

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Shao Nian Yang Jia Jiang

Yes, I admit that I have been absolutely enamored by the Shao Nian Yang Jia Jiang (少年杨家将) series from 2006. I never cried in any of the 50 episodes in Legend of Condor Heroes (射雕英雄传) from 2008, but sobbed my eyes out at least six times in this 43-episode series. Okay, I admit that it’s the first time I’ve seen EIGHT hot guys in one drama. Unbelievable. They are, of course, the seven Yang sons (although I hate Wu Lang) and the handsome Liao general Yelü Xie. I don’t want to spoil anything, but for emotional bookkeeping purposes, I cried twice for Si Lang, once for Qi Lang, once for Yelü Xie, and twice for the family at the end.

And let’s not forget that I’ve harbored very, very murderous thoughts for the entire Pan family (devil incarnates, all of them), the moronic emperor, and the Liao worm Tian Ling. I wished for them to quickly rot on many an occasion, and I’d bet anything you’d seethe too if you watch this series. In fact, the undeserved fates of the protagonists and the long-term triumphs of the villains was what turned me away from the series for 9 months. I had watched ten episodes last August, was so saddened by the injustices to the Yangs that I stopped, and then finally continued the series again after APs and watched the remaining 33 episodes in 20 days.

Based on true history, the story is about the heroic Yang family in the early Song dynasty. Of course, the director and scriptwriters have taken many liberties with plot details (which unfortunately released all my tear ducts). I was bored to death during the long speeches made by that hateful Pan Ren Mei, and was sometimes bored in the scenes with Yang Ye (the courageous head of the Yang clan, but whose punishment of his sons and trust in the enemies I adamantly disapprove of).

However, let me tell you right off that Yelü Xie does not die in this series. So rest your fears, dear ladies. 😛 And surprise surprise, he’s featured in my upcoming novella that follows the lives of Yelü Xie and my characters after he abdicates his position as Liao general. The first chapter is available to the public two blog entries before this one. The second chapter is also completed, but password-protected. I may eventually publish my story on FictionPress, but if you’d like to read it before then, just shoot me a line. 😉

An image gallery of what the primary protagonists (or the earliest introduced characters) can be viewed here: http://afanatic.org/story

I’m not telling who the mystery man is yet. 😛

The others are:

Yelü Xié 耶律斜 “slanting” (♥)

Xià Róu 夏柔 Róu’er “summer gentleness” (my character)

Xuě Dié 雪蝶 Dié’er “snow butterfly” (my twin’s character)

Zhào Yù 赵玉 “jade” (the high-and-mighty lady my character works for)

But…my greatest love in the wuxia/ancient universe is still Yang Guo. ♥ ♥ ♥ I just don’t deserve to write about him. 😛

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Protected: Chapter 2: Coercion

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Yelü Xie

Yeah, I’m in love with the Liao general Yelü Xie (耶律斜) from Shao Nian Yang Jia Jiang (少年杨家将) … and I really need to finish this series. I stopped before episode 10 last August, and now I’m nearly done with ep 18 but I only started watching earlier this week. And I was pondering, why isn’t there any actual wuxia/historical Chinese fanfiction? I think I only found one little collection of Jin Yong fanfics, and was quite disappointed, so I’m going to venture away from sci-fi into new territory.

That is, I’m going to write original wuxia/historical Chinese fiction in ENGLISH. Whooohoooo. I’m crazy. And I’m going to have so much trouble with setting/characters/plot when my brain must be set to ancient Chinese mode but I have to write in modern English. 😛 I don’t know how long this story will be, or how long it will take me, or even if I’ll ever finish it (since it seems to be my favorite method of procrastination, I’ll inevitably feel guilty every time I write).

But, for the sake of my drool that cannot be suppressed, and for the sanity of my equally Chinese-culture-obsessed twin, I will spearhead this new genre, creatively dubbed ‘Wuxia in English.’ It’s a dull category name but it’s spot-on. First off will be a teaser for an untitled story involving Yelü Xie, a certain mister mysterious, and two characters who will be the ancient counterparts of myself and my twin. This part only will refer to some scenes in the 2006 Young Warriors of the Yang Clan (少年杨家将). Which, by the way, you should totally watch. There is an English subtitled version somewhere in cyberspace. Absolutely worth every second of your time.

Yes, Yelü Xie is the villain, but he’s really an anti-hero type of character. Not set in black or white. Fierce, ruthless, proud…but also super romantic. Surprised me out of my mind. I hated him for almost an entire year, but the actor Yuan Hong is totally my dream guy, so I decided to see how his intriguing role plays out.

Now, enjoy the product of my daydreaming! This first part will not be password-protected because I want the whole world to love him. 😛

The story of Yelü Xie, former Liao general who ceased antagonizing the Yang warriors and left with a broken heart to pursue the life he always wanted, free from politics and bloodshed. Set during the Liao and Song dynasties in ancient China.

Chapter 1: Roaming

986AD

He was free. The wind caressed his face, lingering over the long scar on his left cheek, as he sped across the endless grasslands. The hoofs of the swift steed he had stolen the previous night pounded a steady rhythm to which his heart drummed along. He inhaled deeply the refreshing, chilly morning air and scanned his surroundings. Glimpses of dawn’s blush streaked across the eastern horizon in wispy strokes of scarlet and tangerine. It was beautiful, really. He had already experienced this tranquility on the open plains for weeks now, but he still feared that it would vanish like mist in a dream. It was, after all, only the first moon since he last issued his bellowing war-cry, since his last sighting of a thousand mutilated corpses, since he had last taken a life. It had also been the same amount of time since he’d last seen her, dueled with her, and nearly killed her.

He would not think of her. She was the past, the forgotten. Yet a painful sting seared through his chest as his own words echoed back at him: “I will never forget you.” It had been the most magical night of his life. He pulled on the reins tighter and closed his eyes in reminiscence. He had met her at dusk, demanding payment from her, as he had gone to great lengths to help her seek vengeance on the venomous Liao scum who had killed her father and indirectly caused her mother’s death. All he wanted was for her to accompany him into the mountains and spend a peaceful night by a bonfire. But the stubborn girl had refused, so he had no choice, really, but to seal her pressure points, hoist her on his back, and carry her up to his favorite spot in the mountains.

She had awoken just as he was feeding more wood to the fire. She was so loud and defiant, unable to maintain a civilized conversation for more than a minute. No doubt her brashness was owed to living on the far outskirts of town, hammering and forging and sharpening fine swords for a living. And he wanted badly to see her temper flare by misunderstanding the ‘debt’ he told her he wanted to claim. He had all but jumped on top of her upon the grass, his hot breath condensing just above her, to test if she understood his character. She protested and insulted him, but she understood, unlike the night she called him a lecher when he was only trying to ease her into a better position for stargazing on the hill of wildflowers.

He was no gentleman, but he wanted to show her that his true intentions were still noble: without another word he hurled a smooth rock at the nearby fire with unerring accuracy and force, smothering the flames instantly. The black smoke dispelled to reveal a clear full moon, which cast its ethereal glow on the towering blue cliff of precious stones behind them. He knew, without seeing them, that the crevices of the cliff glittered like faint stars; he saw their reflections in her endearing eyes.

He imagined that every girl would be captivated by the midnight magic unraveling before their very eyes, and he had secretly prepared this moment for days, when he was tired of planning battle tactics against the Song armies. But she told him in a few simple, heartbreaking words that she could not accept his feelings, much in the same way she had once waved his incense-infused staff for attracting fireflies and traced a single word, “No,” in a shower of gold onto the black sky that instantly became repulsive to him.

That was exactly her nature: simple, honest, and direct. She was also boisterous and rude, fiery and at times inclined to violence. But it made him feel like a man of flesh and blood. He hadn’t cried when he met her in her bedchamber, dressed in red on her wedding night. He had bitterly offered her a cup of wine to sever their ties and celebrate her wedding…her union to someone that wasn’t him…to not a mere commoner, but his fierce rival Wu Lang, fifth son in the highly revered Yang family. He hoped she was happy now as Wu Niang, wife of a man good enough for any woman but her. But he, he was not happy, and he wanted so badly to curse her to the depths of the earth, but still loved her too much to do so…and a single drop of moisture rolled down his scarred cheek as he opened his eyes again.

He cracked the whip with more force than necessary and viciously wiped the tear on his sleeve. He couldn’t remember the last time he had cried; he hadn’t even shed a tear during the public executions of the female Liao spies who had set up headquarters at the Scarlet Teahouse. The beheading of all those women fiercely loyal to him and to the Great Liao was all his fault. It was his fault that their lives had been cut so brutally short, his fault for failing to send them home quickly enough when their plot had been exposed by the Yangs. He had promised to spill every last drop of the Yangs’ blood to avenge them, yet he was never able to personally attain that satisfaction. He had failed them even as they turned in their graves.

But now the tides had turned. He had already vowed to alienate himself from warfare and corruption, both of which he would have to resort to if he wanted to vanquish the remaining Yang warrior, Liu Lang. And what’s more, he now held a high regard for the entire Yang family, the dead and the women included. Only last month, when forced to retreat his troops from outside the Song capital, did he realize that the Yangs could never be defeated in spirit even if they perished in combat. His past hatred for the courageous warriors in red armor had been fueled by a mixture of jealousy and spite, initiated when Wu Lang fought him for the first time and marred his handsome face with a deep scar. From then on he had pitted himself against Wu Lang at every opportunity, but ultimately lost to him in both love and war.

And now, as he clutched the reins tightly and buried himself in the horse’s mane, he finally acknowledged the truth that had been gnawing at him for years. Yes, he was once the proud general of Great Liao, the Dowager Empress’s right-hand man. But he had already fought his last war and lost. And he didn’t feel a twinge of regret. Instead he felt a burst of relief as he began to truly see, to view the world through newborn eyes, no longer clouded by the single pursuit for Song blood. How often he had dreamed of carefree days like this, when there was nothing but flawless blue above him and the soft grass beneath.

But he couldn’t roam forever. One moon ago he had crossed from the Central Plains back into Liao. Now he was approaching the border once more, but this time thousands of li east. He would soon reach the Eastern capital Dongjing, not far from the coast. He would have liked to avoid contact with people for as long as possible, but he couldn’t continue to gain sustenance from hunting and occasionally robbing travelers. His emerging savage tendencies would subside once he reached civilization again.

He spotted the outline of a dense forest ahead, the border between the Central and Eastern regions. The split had been received with no opposition, so the forest was completely unoccupied and unguarded. Yelü Xie cracked the whip to hasten the steed through a relatively clear path directly into the silent forest. Ancient trees with their towering foliage thoroughly filtered out the weak sunlight. He sped through the semi-darkness with ease and relaxed. Within the next hour he would reach the gates of the Eastern capital, and he needed to be fully alert upon arrival. If he liked the place enough, he would settle there temporarily. Otherwise he would traverse the Southern region, and if that didn’t suit him, he wouldn’t oppose to residing in Song. But he would make sure to avoid Bianjing at all costs. Crossing paths with her or the Yangs again was the last thing he wanted in this lifetime.

It wasn’t long before the trees thinned and his eyes had to adjust to a growing brightness. Sunbeams greeted him at the edge of the forest, and he quickly dismounted near a massive shrub. There he discarded his fur cap, his heavy outer robe, and his pendant with the hanging silver crescent of Liao. It wasn’t safe for him to exhibit his former identity as the Great Liao general anywhere on the continent. The Eastern cities, especially Dongjing, were furthermore perilous because of their proximity to the Kingdom of Goryeo.

But his curved sword in its gilded sheath would remain on him no matter what. In one swift, practiced movement he climbed onto the horses’s back and sped onward. The thick underbrush soon dwindled to wild grass, then suddenly transitioned to an expanse of brown dirt with no end in sight. The steel gates of the Eastern capital loomed ahead, the sun reflecting harshly on the metal’s gray luster. He slowed his horse from a gallop to a trot as he approached the first row of sentries, who barely cast the lone man a glance. The inner guards were more apprehensive, their eyes lingering on the gleaming hilt of his sword, but let him pass wordlessly.

He had arrived in Great Liao’s most sequestered capital.

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