Superstar Aspirations

SA Chapter 94 (Part 4) – A Prince Exchanged For A Civet Cat

Trigger Warnings: implied non-consensual actions within the Plot of the MOVIE. (Not between main characters nor in the world of the novel)

Phew. Part 4 alone was the length of one whole regular chapter @_@


{Please read the original translations on SurrealSkyTranslations instead of supporting TL aggregator sites. Thanks!}

     If you counted both “Lost Wings” and Black Cloud’s DVD sales revenues in addition to its box office net profit, then this film which started with an investment of slightly more than 100 million RMB yet obtained more than 15 billion yuan in profit, was simply this year’s number one gold mine!

     It was now only June and halfway through the year. As far as the box office was concerned, Black Clouds was the reigning champion.

     No producer would have issues spending (on a chance to make more). After Rong Xu finished filming Maze City, numerous crews sent Luo Zhentao their own scripts. Many endorsers also looked for Rong Xu in hopes of hiring him to be their spokesperson.

     Director Xu Sheng, like Old Liu, didn’t have a preference of hyping up his movies in advance. However, Director Xu was still better than Old Liu; once the crew officially determined the actors, Director Xu would generously present costume photos and posters and hold a press conference to announce the public opening ceremony.

     Thus, although Rong Xu’s role in Director Xu’s new work had yet to be revealed, once they begin filming next week, it would be made public.

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     Old Liu(‘s side) was different. Rong Xu had already filmed his final scene, yet Old Liu hadn’t even disclosed the three words “The Embroiderer” (Zhuang Hua Luo) to the public.

     Since it was called The Embroiderer, it naturally had to have its purpose.

     As stated before: The Elite Guards’ Embroidered Uniforms used the finest cloud brocades crafted by Jiangnan’s skilled Sewing Women and Embroiderers. They wore finely embroidered silk and fabric, paired with an Embroidered Spring Sword.

     This movie wasn’t called the Flying Fish Brocade, The Embroidered Satin, The Embroidered Silks, or The Embroidered Spring Sword, but rather ‘The Embroiderer’. Of course, this was intended to be a glaring hint.

     Kong Chao had watched his brethren die one by one. Although he felt it was a bit strange in his heart, he (at first wasn’t) determined to explore the truth of the matter. He had his suspicions. He still had his hopes that everything was just a coincidence.

     As long as one was part of the Elite Guards, their head was tied to their (uniform) belt. Be it life or death, they consented to be resigned to their fate without lingering resentments.

     However, the last brethren Elite Guard who had participated in The Case of Sheng Ge had sustained serious injuries and found (Kong Chao) before dying in his arms. This incident made Kong Chao finally believe these events were not coincidences. He also watched that comrade lock eyes tightly with (the emblem on his) chest and gesture towards it before his death.

     Thus, from the beginning to the end (of the movie), Kong Chao worked under the belief that his brethren were asking him to not forget their lifelong friendship, and to keep their memories alive by avenging them.

     With this, an iron-blooded warrior set out alone to explore the truth about the case, diving  deep into this intricate game of chess.

     When he ran into Sheng Xiangjun and a group of brave and reckless strongmen, he finally discovered the “truth” and reported the sins of the East Faction to the court. Consequently, His Royal Highness personally escorted Li Gaodan, the governing person of the East Faction, into prison and ordered his execution.

     Witnessing Li Gaodan’s beheading, Kong Chao believed he had avenged his people and could finally give his comrades a proper explanation. However, along this journey, he had physically and mentally exhausted himself fighting the East Faction and had also lost many more brethren in this exchange.

     In the end, he resigned from the post of Commander of the Elite Guards and departed from the capital alone. Unexpectedly, 10 days after he returned to his hometown, Sheng Xiangjun appeared, and while Kong Chao’s feelings for Sheng Xiangjun were definitely not love, this woman had fallen hopelessly for this indomitable man.

     And since Kong Chao didn’t drive Xiang Jun away, Sheng Xiang Jun stayed.

     One year later, the emperor became seriously ill. He passed the throne over to the Crown Prince, and personally became Emperor Emeritus.

     Kong Chao still respected the Crown Prince. So, upon hearing the news, Sheng Xiangjun cooked a full table of delicacies and the two of them drank under the moon, which could be regarded as distantly celebrating their country. 

     When Sheng Xiangjun became drunk, she began talking about her mother’s family: “My mother was the first daughter of the Zhao family in Jiangnan. The Zhao family was the last one left that passed down their traditional embroidery skills. However, my mother was the only one in her generation. When she fell ill and returned to the Heavens, the family’s embroidery skills were gradually scattered among other miscellaneous families. But now, even the WuMen Xie family’s skills are not inferior to my mother’s. If my mother was watching from Heaven, I’m sure she would be pleased.”

     Kong Chao’s expression became cold. Still drinking, he said casually: “Do you know how to embroider, too?”

     Sheng Xiangjun smiled and said: “Why would Brother Kong even ask? In all my Sheng family’s generations, who didn’t know how to embroider? My mother was never stingy about her craft and always hoped to spread her knowledge. Even my father knew how.”

     This hooked Kong Chao’s interest. He walked back to the house and brought out the Flying Fish brocade he had kept locked up for a year, handing it over (to Sheng Xiangjun): “What about these kinds?”

     Sheng Xiangjun smiled and suddenly pointed to (where Kong Chao’s heart would be on the uniform): “The embroidery work here is done wrong.”

     Kong Chao was taken aback. He looked at the obscure pattern on the chest area. This dark pattern was the Elite Guard’s emblem. The Flying Fish patterns on each Elite Guard’s outfit may be slightly different, but the pattern should be the exact same. The pattern on his Flying Fish brocade was the same as his other comrades. How could it be wrong in Sheng Xiangjun’s eyes?

     “Where did they stitch incorrectly?”

  Sheng Xiangjun grabbed a paper and brush and began to draw: “If one wanted to embroider Zhuang Hua Luo[1], they would use the best quality of silk……”

     While talking, the gentle lady drew a needlework pattern on the paper. This missus from the Sheng family was learned in qin, chess, literature and calligraphy since childhood, and every stroke of her brush was extremely stable. In just a few moments, she outlined the incorrect stitches in detail.

     “These strokes are wrong. When it stitches downwards like this, the embroidery style is no longer “Zhuang Hua” style.”

     Sheng Xiangjun’s face was slightly flushed from the alcohol, so she didn’t notice the shock on Kong Chao’s face.

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     This dashing but cold and resolute man took the paper from her hand. His fingers trembled and his phoenix eyes widened as he stared firmly at the paper’s contents. He stared at the diagrams intensely and his eyes grew redder and redder, practically shredding the paper with his gaze.

     Sheng Xiangjun understood the art of Zhuang Hua Luo (Zhuang Hua embroidered silk), but didn’t understand the code of the Elite Guards. Kong Chao understood the Elite Guard’s secret codes, but didn’t understand Zhuang Hua Luo.

     Today, he finally saw a hint of that secret code and finally understood why his comrade had pointed to his heart and pressed a bloody handprint on his chest before death. He had always been reluctant to wash that piece of clothing, even hiding it away at the bottom of the chest. He took it out daily, deep into the night, and looked at the blood on the chest area, constantly reminding himself to avenge his brethren.

     However, he didn’t know till now. On the chest area of their uniform, (the embroiderer) had utilized the Elite Guard’s code to stitch out five words——

     Prince Exchanged for Civet Cat!

     The exchange of a civet cat for a prince was a popular folktale from the Song Dynasty. However, this story held one meaning: the prince was a fake!

     Ten days later, the Crowning Ceremony commenced, and the emperor supported his sickly body and personally passed down the jade seal to the Crown Prince.

     But, at this very moment, a loud shout came from the gates of the Imperial Palace. King Guangping, the Emperor’s sole younger brother and the Crown Prince’s relative, rushed towards the site of the Crowning Ceremony, shouting: “Imperial Brother! Do not give him the Jade Seal!”

     The emperor was startled, while the Crown Prince knelt in the hall without saying a word.

     This was the last scene Rong Xu had to film and also his character’s final appearance.

     More than 20 cameras captured the prince’s silence, the horrified emperor, and the awkward officials from all directions. Duke Guangping brought the Jin YuWei Imperial Guards from the front entrance of the palace, with the Elite Guards following close behind. They rushed into the site of the Crowning Ceremony with great fervor and made the emperor curse in anger: “Guangping Wang [2], did you come to rebel?! Cough cough cough cough……”

     Duke Guangping righteously descended from his horse in an imposing manner. He walked into the hall, lifted the edges of his robe, knelt down, and said with a sad expression: “Imperial Brother, this official speaks with all the sincerity of the heart, the sun and moon can bear witness, but you must not give the jade seal to Lang’er…… if you hand it over, it shall be the end of the royal line!”

     The emperor flushed red with anger while scolding his nonsensical brother. Yet, he never  noticed that his most beloved son continued to kneel there in front of him with his head bowed in silence, as if he hadn’t heard a single word.

     Duke Guangping raised his hand: “Commander Kong, give the Emperor a detailed report of the situation!”

     The army moved to both sides, and a grim looking man in a black uniform walked up. Beside him followed a young woman in filial white linen. She had tears in her eyes while holding a Flying Fish brocade stained with blood. They walked into the hall step-by-step and stopped by the emperor’s knees. Kneeling to the floor, the woman held up the Flying Fish brocade.

     The emperor was already trembling, and he tumbled backward one step, landing on the Dragon Throne.

     Inside the hall, the civil and military officials all watched on in shock, listening to the woman narrate (her story) in tears, like rivers of blood, retelling word-by-word her blood-soaked tale.

     Her name was Sheng Xiangjun, and she was part of the Sheng family who had been loyal (to the throne) for generations, who’s ancestors had supported two dynasties. Originally, the Sheng family, as ministers and pillars of support for the Empire, should have continued to assist Ming’s government through fire or water. But, two years ago, when her father returned to his hometown in Fujian to visit relatives, he never expected to run into a crazy woman. The crazy woman stopped his sedan chair and kept claiming wrongs.

     Elder Sheng Ge was extremely puzzled and left the crazy woman alive. Who would’ve thought that the crazy woman would no longer be crazy by the time they arrived at the courtyard house, instead demanding veteran Sheng Ge to return her son.

It was like this that Old Sheng Ge learned an unnerving secret: The prince was exchanged for a civet cat.

     Empress Xiaoci was the empire’s mother and had a good character. When she was buried ten years ago, the Emperor had specially allowed her to be buried in the imperial Mausoleum, where he hoped to be buried with her in the hundreds of years to come. But in truth, she was a cruel-hearted woman. Seeing that the beloved concubines were having children one after another, her status became insecure. 

     No one would have believed that this Empress who had been praised for a lifetime had colluded with the imperial doctor and faked her pregnancy.

     She wanted a son, so she coerced her ten palace maids to be forced by the guards, resulting in seven becoming pregnant.

     Among these seven, only one gave birth to a son. Before the palace lady could even see her son, she was beaten to death by the Empress and thrown into the well behind the Imperial Harem. However, Empress Xiaoci never knew that the guard who had forced the maid ended up rescuing the maid and helping her escape out of the palace under the cover of night.

     After the prince was born, all the court ladies and guards were secretly executed. Only that one court lady survived.

     The prince was born smart and handsome, and was bestowed the title of Crown Prince by the emperor when he was merely six years old.

     Sheng Xiangjun’s eyes were red as tears ran down her face. She held up the Flying Fish brocade in her hands and shouted loudly: “That prince’s name is Zhu Molang!”

{Please read the original translations on SurrealSkyTranslations instead of supporting TL aggregator sites. Thanks!}

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     The author has something to say: Orange Qin: Don’t cry, the emperor doesn’t want you, but baby wants you, Kiss Kiss =3=

     Fuwa(author): People who don’t eat cilantro are not qualified to act cute! [Covering my stiff neck_(:з」∠)_]


[1]Zhuang Hua is a style of embroidery that contrasts colorful flowers with gold outlines or undertones. Zhuang Hua embroidering was and is still considered a highly specialized skill. Luo is a specific type of silk. Thus, the title “Zhuang Hua Luo” should be directly translated as “The Zhuang Hua Embroidered Silk Clothes”. The novel also references “Zhuang Hua” ladies who specialize in Zhuang Hua embroidery. Since the plot of the movie is centered around an Embroidery Family, I chose to use The Embroiderer as the movie title.

[2](Name) Wang: Wang can mean king/emperor/duke/prince/ruler. In this case, since Guangping is the emperor’s younger brother, Guangping Wang here means “Duke Guangping”


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6 thoughts on “SA Chapter 94 (Part 4) – A Prince Exchanged For A Civet Cat”

  1. My awe to translator-sama who took up the burden to translate the texts and make it understandable to us who are uneducated about the culture. This must’ve been one hell of a ride to translate.

    Liked by 1 person

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