Why Harem Intrigue When You Can Just Raise A Dog Instead? (Chp 32)

Chapter 32: Searching the Palace (搜宫)

English proofreader: JimmyfromIT

The next day ―

It was hushed and tranquil. Nothing out of the ordinary happened. Nurse Feng assigned people to observe Xia’dong, Lan’xin, and Hui’xin. While the three of them were working, the observers secretly searched their rooms. However, their search came up empty. They didn’t overlook the other servants’ rooms either. While they uncovered some shameful items, at the end of the day, they didn’t find anything related to black magic, so Nurse Feng didn’t bother investigating deeper.

That night around midnight [1]子时 (zǐshí) Between 11pm to 1am. I explain more about ancient Chinese timekeeping in my post under Cultural Notes., the Emperor was in Zhong’cui Palace [SHR’s Palace] when he suddenly started having a splitting headache to the point where he was almost driven mad with pain! The Imperial Physicians tried their best, but they could not find the cause. Come morning, the pain had still not subsided. They had no choice but to give the Emperor a concentrated calming herbal concoction supplemented with acupuncture treatment to provide him with some reprieve for a while.

Morning Court was cancelled due to the Emperor’s sudden strange illness. Once the news got out, it immediately caused a mighty uproar in the capital! The Emperor’s body is not his own – it belongs to Great Zhou’s populace. The Emperor’s health was critical for the country as it directly related to the livelihood of Great Zhou’s citizens! In a flash, everyone’s attention was fixed on the Imperial Palace.

Seeing that the Imperial Physicians were unable to conclusively diagnose what was wrong with the Emperor, a few Imperial Concubines took it upon themselves to kneel in front of Qian’qing Palace [where the Emperor lives]. They requested that the Emperor permit the National Preceptor [2]国师 (guóshī) An honorary title given to religious leaders for their exceptional moral conduct. to enter the palace to examine him. Taoism is Great Zhou’s state religion. The highest-ranked Taoist priest was bestowed the title of National Preceptor by the Late Emperor. However, the title of National Preceptor was merely an honorary position. They weren’t allowed to involve themselves with Great Zhou’s state affairs.

In Bi’xiao Palace, once Meng Sangyu heard the news, she slowly came to a realization. “It’s finally here.”

“Your Ladyship, will there be any trouble?” Nurse Feng’s palms were slightly sweaty.

“Don’t worry, let them come. When they do, it’ll be a great chance to pay them back, one by one. I’m in a bad mood today!” The corners of Meng Sangyu’s smile deepened, appearing slightly evil.

Emperor Zhou’wu was bewitched by her smile. His heart beat rapidly in his chest. It was his first time seeing this kind of devilish Sangyu. Her appearance could be compared to a sexy demoness leading the way down the path of corruption.

Seeing her dominating form as if she were about to devise strategies in a command tent, Nurse Feng’s anxious heart gradually calmed down. She made a sound of acknowledgement and took her leave. Nurse Feng stealthily but vigilantly kept an eye on all the palace personnel coming and going from their duties, especially Xia’dong, Lan’xin, and Hui’xin.

The Emperor accepted the concubines’ idea and immediately summoned the National Preceptor to enter the palace. He fed the Emperor a bowl of blessed water, and his pain miraculously disappeared. The National Preceptor then walked to the palace gates. He rhythmically pinched his fingers, seemingly making some divine calculations before announcing:

A palace in the northwest area of the Imperial Palace is haunted by spirits, and it may well be related to his Majesty’s sudden strange illness.

The Emperor was shocked. He immediately assigned a squad of Imperial Guards to the National Preceptor and ordered him to take them with him to investigate. Although it could supposedly be any palace in the northwest area, the National Preceptor merely looked into the distance from a high vantage point along the way and pinched his fingers again before pointing in the direction of Bi’xiao Palace.

Meanwhile, in Bi’xiao Palace, Meng Sangyu sat in front of the mirror and leisurely put on her makeup. She added extra face powder so that her complexion was pallid white. Her lips were painted a vermillion blood red. She used a charcoal pencil to exaggerate the outline of her eyes, making them darker and bolder. Together with her beautiful flowing eyebrows, this bright and attractive face gave off a lofty and bewitching aura, her dark eyes as bright as cold stars. Taking a sidelong glance, even Nurse Feng and the rest, who were accustomed to seeing her dressed up, did not dare to look at her directly.

Emperor Zhou’wu was also taken aback and didn’t have the heart to disturb her. This highly contrasted face cut through others like a knife in a distinctively imposing manner. How could this be his sometimes charming, sometimes gentle, sometimes elegant and dignified Sangyu?! It was clearly a demoness! …but it was certainly a captivatingly beautiful demoness!

Seeing A’Bao faintly trembling like that, Meng Sangyu couldn’t help but let out a small smile. With this smile, the imposing aura that could even capture souls completely disappeared, almost as if it were an illusion. Nurse Feng and the rest were unable to contain a sigh of relief. Looking like this, Her Ladyship was really scary! Hopefully, the heavens could protect the National Preceptor!

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“Bring my court dress over along with the entire set of nail guards [3]指甲套 (zhǐjiǎtào) Nail guards were accessories worn by concubines and nobles as a symbol of wealth and status. They originated in the Ming Dynasty but became popular in the Qing Dynasty. Take a look or read more about them. and pearl hair ornaments.” ordered Meng Sangyu sluggishly.

Nurse Feng and the rest complied. They brought over the most extravagant court dress of the first rank and helped her dress. They placed coral court beads around her neck and accessorized her hair with lavish dangling hair ornaments. Decked out with splendour, they finally adorned her fingers with nail guards made with gold filigree. Dressed to the nines, Meng Sangyu just had to stand there and arch an eyebrow and it would be enough to cause others to quake with fear. This elegant and stately, yet striking appearance paired with an unmatched majestic aura had no equal. Even if one looked far and wide within the Inner Palace, no one else could come close to achieving it.

Emperor Zhou’wu raised his head to look at her with a dazed expression.

“Okay, the outfit is complete. I haven’t worn this soldier’s garb in a while. It’s hard to get used to!” Meng Sangyu smoothed a wrinkle in her gown before turning to Nurse Feng and asking, “Nurse, do I seem like a demonic consort like those described in the history books?”

“Yes! Yes, you do! No one is as demonic as Your Ladyship!” Nurse Feng didn’t even think before offering praise. Bi’shui and Yin’cui held back smiles as they blushed.

Emperor Zhou’wu came out of his daze upon hearing Sangyu and the servants’ conversation. At first, his expression was a bit strange but then he burst out laughing. Hehehe! How could Sangyu be so smart and cute! A dynasty’s demonic consort – is this what they look like?

“That’s good. Alright, bring out your coldly elegant, haughty, and noble demeanours for Bengong. Let’s go to the entrance to welcome the National Preceptor.” Avoiding her nail guards, Meng Sangyu carefully picked up A’Bao and brought him close to her chest. She majestically led an entourage of servants towards the entrance.

Putting on airs, the National Preceptor led the squad of Imperial Guards forward. Seeing Virtuous Consort at the entrance, he hurriedly led the group in paying their respects.

Meng Sangyu sat upright on a large wooden chair carved with flowers holding her beloved pet. Leisurely caressing him, her coldly brilliant and striking phoenix eyes gazed over at the National Preceptor, causing him to feel a sinking feeling in his stomach.

“To what to do I owe the pleasure of National Preceptor’s visit?” Her voice sounded lofty and somewhat indifferent. Her warm and gentle appearance emitted an overbearing pressure.

As expected, the former most favoured Consort’s aura was impressive. She wasn’t an easy one to deal with. The National Preceptor secretly tightened his grip on the horsetail whisk [4]佛尘 (fóchén) looked similar to feather dusters with strands of horsetail, or other animal hair, attached to the end. The handle might be wrapped with silk or linen. In Chinese Buddhism, it’s a holy tool that symbolizes sweeping away one’s troubles. You might see priests and Head Eunuchs carrying them in ancient dramas. in his hands before bowing and replying, “This lowly priest discovered that Your Ladyship’s palace is bursting with unholy energy. Clashing with this malevolent energy is the reason why his Majesty is experiencing incessant pain. This lowly priest implores Your Ladyship to cooperate and allow this humble one to lead a group inside to investigate.”

“How could Bengong possibly let a group of men inside Our palace to search as they please? How could Bengong disrespect the Emperor so?” Meng Sangyu faintly replied. The beloved pet in her lap raised his snout and let out a particularly fierce growl.

The aggressive demeanour of this master and pet pair were surprisingly alike. How nefarious indeed!  The National Preceptor’s heart shivered with fear before he collected himself again to speak, “This lowly priest is also acting for the sake of his Majesty. Please comply, Your Ladyship. When his Majesty is safe, this lowly priest will personally seek out Your Ladyship to apologize and request punishment!”

Having reached this point in the conversation, if she still didn’t consent, she would have to bear being slandered as being disloyal. Meng Sangyu narrowed her eyes at him before somewhat relaxing and asking, “Are you sure that this problem lies inside Bengong’s palace?”

“This lowly priest consulted the heavens. The unholy energy is definitely real,” confirmed the National Preceptor with certainty.

Meng Sangyu sneered. Emperor Zhou’wu also cursed these ‘sham priests’ in his heart. When his soul returns to his body, he’ll completely dispose of these charlatans once and for all. He has long been fed up with their preaching and claims of having refined pills of immortality that grant eternal life.

“If I allow you to enter and turn Bengong’s Bi’xiao Palace upsidedown in your search, how will Bengong uphold Our dignity in the palace in the days to come?” Meng Sangyu posed another question.

“This lowly priest only has to take a look to know where the problem lies. This one will definitely not carelessly touch Your Ladyship’s things without permission. If there are no more concerns, this lowly priest will immediately lead a group inside to search.” The National Preceptor held in his temper to reply.

“You only need to take a look? Why, National Preceptor’s cultivation is high indeed! If Bengong’s Bi’xiao Palace has no problems, what will National Preceptor do? Bengong’s father has fought many a bloody battle at the frontier. How many brave men from the Meng family’s army have laid down their lives for the country? Even the sun, moon, sky and earth can bear witness to the Meng family’s loyalty. If National Preceptor accuses Bengong of witchcraft to bring harm to his Majesty, then National Preceptor must bear responsibility for his words and actions!” Meng Sangyu’s every word laid a trap.

The National Preceptor had received reliable information from Gracious Consort. Thinking that Meng Sangyu was putting up a last-ditch effort, he carelessly made a solemn oath. He was determined to enter the palace to investigate.

“Very well!” Meng Sangyu smiled coldly. “Bengong can permit you to search Bi’xiao Palace, but We won’t let you do so easily. Listen well, Bengong will give you a quarter of an hour. If you find anything suspicious, Bengong will admit to any charges. If you don’t find anything, National Preceptor must kneel outside the Gate of Divine Might [5]神武门 (shénwǔmén) (a.k.a. Gate of Divine Might) is the north gate of the Forbidden City. for three days and three nights in apology to Bengong. Following that, you must resign from your post as National Preceptor, relinquish your Taoist title as head priest, and never again practice The Way [6]The Way refers to the Tao, the natural order of the world. This website has a brief introduction to Taoism and its philosophical tenets. for the rest of your life.”

“I accept!” Thinking of the glory and wealth to come, the National Preceptor clenched his teeth and agreed.

“As for the rest of you,” Meng Sangyu pointed at a group of imperial guards with a gold nail-guarded finger, “For those participating in the search, Bengong will assign people to search your person. Don’t think you can smuggle in any shameful items as you please and blame Bengong for it later. Afterwards, if it’s proven that Bengong’s Bi’xiao Palace is clear of suspicion, every one of you shall be caned 80 times. Your squad leader shall be caned 100 times. If you agree, then enter and search.”

“This……..” Being caned 80 times is enough to take a life, let alone 100? The squad of imperial guards hesitated before half-kneeling to request, “Imploring Your Ladyship to permit these servants to return and report to the Emperor. Please wait a moment, Your Ladyship.”

“Permitted. Go ask then.” Meng Sangyu picked at her nail guards, answering indifferently.

In Qian’qing Palace, Shen Hui’ru was flipping through memorials. Upon hearing the imperial soldiers’ report, she coldly smiled and said, “Agree to her demands. Besides putting up a last-ditch effort, she won’t be able to play any tricks.” The evidence was planted so deeply. Even if she discovered that something wasn’t right, she had no time to remedy the situation.

The squad leader soon returned to report the situation. Afterwards, the soldiers allowed Bi’xiao Palace’s servants to search their person in turn. All of their personal effects, including their jade pendants and embroidered pouches [7]Embroidered pouches – usually hung on one’s belt and contained incense, lucky charms etc. Sometimes considered love tokens~ were all confiscated. Then, they followed the National Preceptor as he made a beeline for the bedchamber.

Meng Sangyu slowly followed from behind. Her lips curled up in a mocking smile as she watched the National Preceptor circle around the flower vase. Emperor Zhou’wu watched with red eyes as a group of people recklessly trashed Meng Sangyu’s bedroom. He deeply committed their faces to memory.

The National Preceptor had an enigmatic expression on his face. Holding the horsetail whisk in one hand and a compass in the other, he put on an act of examining the surroundings before ordering the imperial guards to overturn the flower vase. Water spilled on the floor and several stalks of lucky bamboo broke or fell out. Besides this, there was nothing else.

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The National Preceptor’s heartbeat quickened. Hidden within the crowd, Lan’xin’s face paled. Bi’shui and Yin’cui, who continued to keep an eye on Lan’xin and the other two, exchanged a knowing glance.

Thankfully there was a backup! The National Preceptor secretly rejoiced. Rhythmically pinching his fingers together again, he walked over to the bed and said to the imperial guards, “There is evil energy over here! Go investigate!”

One of the imperial guards agreed and crawled under the bed to carefully feel about.

Meng Sangyu’s mocking smile caused the room to fill with tension. A’Bao gave out a snort.

“You all should hurry. A quarter-hour has almost passed.” she drawled a reminder while glancing at the hourglass within the chamber.

“This lowly priest is aware and will definitely not take up more of Your Ladyship’s time. Imploring Your Ladyship to allow this lowly priest to take a look in the main hall.” The National Preceptor’s face paled and his voice trembled slightly. The group of imperial guards also lost the arrogance they had when they had first entered the chamber.

Meng Sangyu raised an eyebrow and made a “Please go ahead” gesture, but that only caused this group to become more anxious and afraid.

Naturally, they didn’t find anything in the main hall. The National Preceptor knew in his heart that Gracious Consort’s strategy had already been seen through. It would be a waste of energy to continue searching. The National Preceptor’s forehead was involuntarily covered with a layer of cold sweat. His body trembled as he got down on his knees in front of Virtuous Consort.

“Bengong’s father has risked his life many times for Great Zhou. Who would have thought that Bengong would have to deal with accusations of slander and be subjected to others’ mistrust? If We were truly charged with the crime of harming the Emperor, then all of you would have forced Bengong to death!” Meng Sangyu raised her head and sighed deeply.

“This lowly priest doesn’t dare and begs for Your Ladyship’s mercy!” The National Preceptor slammed his head as he kowtowed repeatedly. What wealth and glory? What power and status? Everything was finished, completely finished! After today, how could he have any face [8]Face is essentially how someone is perceived by others and it extends to all sorts groups – families especially. Learn more about the concept of Chinese {face}. It’s too hard to explain succinctly… to re-establish himself in Great Zhou? Having tried to bully and humiliate a descendant of the Meng family, he would be drowned in the spittle of Great Zhou’s citizens! The excellent reputation he built for over half of his life was utterly obliterated into nothing!

“If you want forgiveness, then go to the Gate of Divine Might and apologize! Drag him away!” Meng Sangyu waved her hand and Bi’xiao Palace’s guards immediately tossed the National Preceptor outside the palace entrance.

The group of imperial guards were already lined up and kneeling outside in the courtyard just outside the hall. Meng Sangyu didn’t even spare them a glance. She picked up a book of travel notes and leafed through the pages while ordering her servants, “Beat them ruthlessly! When counting, use a loud voice. Bengong will be listening inside!” She wasn’t kidding when she said she wanted to pay each one of them back in turn!

Outside the hall, the cracking sound of the canes (TL: more like large slender planks of wood) rang out non-stop as the beatings continued. With every hit, the servants loudly called out the number for Virtuous Consort to hear. Bi’xiao Palace momentarily caused an uproar as all eyes focused on the events going on inside. Even if one counted, only Virtuous Consort dared to viciously beat the imperial guards who belonged solely to the Emperor. Based on the fact that she asked the Emperor for permission in advance, and that this is her usual style of going about things, no one could bring themselves to complain about her actions considering that even the Emperor in Qian’qing Palace was silent.

Emperor Zhou’wu nested in the woman’s embrace. The miserable cries of the imperial guards reached his ears but he only had eyes for her devilish smile. His heart suddenly started beating faster and it was hard to control himself. This kind of seductive and devilish Sangyu was like a bright sun radiating its shining light. She firmly captivated his complete attention. Before, he felt extreme disgust for her arrogant and tyrannical ways; now, no matter how he looked at her, she was so adorably cute. Is this the meaning of the legendary phrase, ‘beauty lies within the eye of the beholder’?

Thinking up until here, his doggy face reddened and he buried his face in his paws like a thief.

When the caning was over, there were almost no imperial guards who could stand. Furthermore, some even died from the beatings on the spot. When the Emperor heard the news, he dispatched another squad of imperial guards to carry their bodies out and simultaneously deliver several valuable items to placate Virtuous Consort’s anger. Virtuous Consort kneeled to accept the rewards, but because of this, she shut her palace doors and voluntarily submitted to house arrest. The Emperor couldn’t continue to pressure her and force her into a corner, so he could only go along with her actions.

Once the news spread throughout the palace, everyone in the capital was in an uproar. Virtuous Consort was a descendant of a righteous and upstanding official! Duke of Protection Meng put his life on the line fighting bravely at the frontier only for his daughter to be slandered to this degree… this is clearly a case of persecuting the loyal and honest! The Taoist priest kneeling in front of the Gate of Divine Might in punishment almost died from the smell of rotten eggs hurled his way. From now on, he had no way to establish himself in Great Zhou. As for the concubines who suggested that the National Preceptor enter the palace, they were accused of falsely spreading rumours and banished to the cold palace [9]冷宫 (lěngōng) a.k.a. the Cold Palace – abandoned palace(s) to where concubines who have fallen out of favour are banished. Usually known for having poor living conditions and perhaps several madwomen.. The squad of imperial guards also quietly disappeared to destroy all evidence.

This incident not only failed at defeating Virtuous Consort and the Meng family, but the results dealt heavy casualties on one’s own side, severely lowering morale. Shen Hui’ru was livid [when she heard the news] to the point where her complexion turned ashen. That very day, she requested to see an imperial physician on account of her pent up rage.

 


TL Thoughts:

Bless, I’m so glad that I made a character list! (> m <)!!! It really came in handy for me while translating this chapter. I hope you find it helpful too! I’ll continue to update it as the story continues.

MSY is so badass :3 It was fun translating the formal language in this chapter! ^ ^ ~ Does it read okay?

Also, thank you for your feedback about pinyin illeisms! I’ll continue to use them from now on along with the Royal We/Our when appropriate.

Happy Easter to those who celebrate! I hope the Easter Bunny pays you a visit ~

Until next time,

Nyamachi

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Translator Notes   [ + ]

1. 子时 (zǐshí) Between 11pm to 1am. I explain more about ancient Chinese timekeeping in my post under Cultural Notes.
2. 国师 (guóshī) An honorary title given to religious leaders for their exceptional moral conduct.
3. 指甲套 (zhǐjiǎtào) Nail guards were accessories worn by concubines and nobles as a symbol of wealth and status. They originated in the Ming Dynasty but became popular in the Qing Dynasty. Take a look or read more about them.
4. 佛尘 (fóchén) looked similar to feather dusters with strands of horsetail, or other animal hair, attached to the end. The handle might be wrapped with silk or linen. In Chinese Buddhism, it’s a holy tool that symbolizes sweeping away one’s troubles. You might see priests and Head Eunuchs carrying them in ancient dramas.
5. 神武门 (shénwǔmén) (a.k.a. Gate of Divine Might) is the north gate of the Forbidden City.
6. The Way refers to the Tao, the natural order of the world. This website has a brief introduction to Taoism and its philosophical tenets.
7. Embroidered pouches – usually hung on one’s belt and contained incense, lucky charms etc. Sometimes considered love tokens~
8. Face is essentially how someone is perceived by others and it extends to all sorts groups – families especially. Learn more about the concept of Chinese {face}. It’s too hard to explain succinctly…
9. 冷宫 (lěngōng) a.k.a. the Cold Palace – abandoned palace(s) to where concubines who have fallen out of favour are banished. Usually known for having poor living conditions and perhaps several madwomen.

14 Comments

  • thank you so much for the update!!! this chapter was immensely satisfying. i think the way you translated the formal language was smooth and fit perfectly. great job~!!!

  • Happy Easter & many thanks for the update!
    Whew! To be honest I had my heart up in my throat until this all ended with Meng Sangyu’s victory – there’s no telling whether they missed one spot or had another scheme arranged which they couldn’t root out in time.

    Sucks for Shen Huiru, that witch. Someone remind me again who Lan’xin is? Is she the one who joined them from the palace or one of the dowry maids?

    Looking forward to the next update.

    • Hi Tangerine! Thanks for commenting 🙂

      Lan’xin is one of the maids from the Meng family. I don’t think she was a dowry maid because it seemed like General Meng made arrangements for her and Hui’xin to enter the palace later on.

  • Darn it. This novel is sooo good that I can’t wait to read the next chapter. I tried to mtl but it become unreadable. Sigh.

  • Happy Easter everyone!

    The formal language was easy to read and the flow is nice. Ahh our FL is so devilish, I love it!

    Thanks for the chapter! 💕

  • Thank you for the chapter! 💕💕💕💕

    Sooo satisfying to read ahhhh!!!!!
    Everyone gets a slap!!!!

  • Thanks for the chapter! I was worried when reading that the author would decide to stop right when the action was starting to make it a cliff-hanger. I should have known better and trusted the author haha
    Happy Easter and stay safe!

  • Nyamachi, thanks for the chapter. MSY is real badass. Just love how she ups the game to a higher level, of winner grabs all. Please update more chapters soon. You’ve got me invested in this story, hook, line and sinker with your seamless translation. Trust me, after trying to make sense of mtl, I am so grateful to you for doing such a wonderful job.

    • Awee! Thank you so much for your kind words Solitaire! It means a lot 💕💕💕

      I’m noticing that translating is getting easier (and going faster) than when I first started. Not using a dictionary as much. I have some things for school to get done but will translate more when those are finished.

      Thanks again for the compliment!! 🤗 Hope you’re staying safe and well 🦄🌻

  • awesome chapter! Thank you 😀

    • My pleasure, Rena! Congrats! You’re the first comment on Nyanovels :3

  • It’s always the guards and servant who have to pay! seriously they were doing it based on orders, did they really have to be beaten to death?

    • Yeah, it’s definitely not fair 🙁 In a way, hurting the servants is a way to get back at their master (or that’s the logic, I suppose).

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