May 30th, 2023

Fifteen Days Between Two Capitals

Author: Ma Boyong

Translated from Chinese by Viv

Published in 2020 by Hunan Literature and Art Publishing House

Genres: action, adventure, anchient China, drama, historical, mystery, non bl, plot heavy, wuxia

Title explained:

The word “Capitals” in the title of this book refers to Nanjing and Beijing, both of which have served as the capital city of China in the history. The term “jing” in Chinese means capital, hence Beijing literally means “the northern capital,” while Nanjing is known as “the southern capital.”


In the fifth month of the first year of Emperor Hongxi’s reign, the Ming Dynasty, a shocking event occurred that spanned across the two capital cities, which forced the crown prince Zhu Zhanji to embark on a crazy and desperate journey. He had to travel over 2,200 miles in fifteen days from Nanjing to Beijing to save himself and the Ming Dynasty. It was an almost impossible task, but he had no choice…

Character Guide:

Zhu Zhanji(朱瞻基): the current crown prince. He enjoys playing crickets and can be arrogant and easily misled due to his privileged identity, often putting himself in danger out of complacency.

Wu Dingyuan(吴定缘): the adopted son of Wu Buping, the chief constable of the Yingtian Prefecture. He enjoys drinking on the streets and appears to be a playboy. He was recruited by Yu Qian to join the team escorting the crown prince.

Su Jingxi(苏荆溪): a female physician in a medical clinic who specializes in traditional Chinese medicine and can also use everyday medicinal materials to cause harm to others.

Yu Qian(于谦): Appointed by the crown prince in a time of crisis as the Right Secretary. He was the glue that held together the “Iron Triangle”, the group escorting the crown prince back to Beijing.


Tonight in Jinling City1, things were not quite the same as usual. First, the weeping willows on the banks of Qinhuai River trembled as their branches fluttered. Then the colorful pebbles on the Rain Flower Terrace collided and rubbed against each other, emitting a faint mournful sound. At the same time, waves began to appear on the dark surface of the lake behind the city to the north for no reason, gently crashing against the walls and the other side of Qintian Mountain. Meanwhile, inside the Beiji Tower at the top of the mountain, the bronze astrolabe, which was supposed to be as immovable as the North Star, rattled its iron chains.

Under the faint moonlight, the beautiful scenery inside and outside the city turned into one beacon after another, revealing disturbing omens. Suddenly, the great bells of Jiming Temple, Qingliang Temple, Dabao’en Temple, and Chaotian Palace stopped ringing simultaneously, as if shaken by an invisible giant hand. The sound of the bells became anxious and chaotic, echoing throughout the city in an instant.

The townspeople had barely opened their groggy eyes when the whole earth suddenly shook. According to Buddhist teachings, earthquakes have six stages: movement, emergence, surge, tremor, roar, and strike-and all six occurred at once. In an instant, Zhongshan Mountain shook, the Qinhuai River roared, and the city seemed to be overrun by thousands of mad horses with iron hooves. Whether it was the government offices along Chang’an Street or the treasury and residential buildings at Xishui Pass, whether it was the Three Great Halls of the Imperial Palace or the shipyards of the Longjiang Supervisorate, whether it was the Baibican entrance at Jubao Gate or the unfinished glass pagoda at Dabao’en Temple, everything trembled under the overwhelming force.

The most magnificent and grand city of the Ming Dynasty was now like a prisoner prostrated on the ground, subject to the punishment of the divine power. Amidst the sound of the earthquake, a golden hourglass in the Hall of Supreme Harmony fell to the ground with a bang. Its buoy stopped forever at midnight on the 18th day of the fifth month, the first year of Hongxi’s reign in the Ming Dynasty.

Translator’s Note: 1 Nanjing is known as “Jinling City” in Chinese, which literally means “Golden Capital” or “City of Gold.” The name dates back to the Southern Tang dynasty (937-975 AD) when the emperor set up his capital here and named it Jinling. It is said that the name was inspired by a golden light that shone over the city during its founding ceremony.