Why Harem Intrigue When You Can Just Raise A Dog Instead? (Chp 33)

Chapter 33: Sudden Changes 1 (变故1)

It was almost as if the news of Virtuous Consort punishing the Imperial Guards had sprouted wings and spread throughout the capital. Some claimed that Virtuous Consort even dared to slap the Emperor’s face [1]The concept of {face} due to receiving favour and becoming conceited. However, after this incident, Virtuous Consort stayed within her palace and did not concern herself with worldly affairs, so the claim lost its credibility. With her father accomplishing the achievement of a lifetime at the frontier, shouldn’t she be seeking the Emperor’s favour and swaggering around with pride? With Virtuous Consort’s act of self-confinement, it was clear that the Emperor’s suspicion towards her had deeply hurt her feelings.

No matter how the outside world judged her, Meng Sangyu completely ignored them, closed her palace doors, and only concerned herself with rooting out the spy.

“Do these things look familiar?” Meng Sangyu threw a cloth bundle in front of Xia’dong, Lan’xin, and Hui’xin, who were kneeling on the ground near her chair. The cloth bundle loosened as it travelled through the air and opened as it hit the ground. Out tumbled the voodoo doll and two cursed paper talismans that were inside.

Upon seeing these inauspicious items, the three’s faces showed similar expressions as they repeatedly kowtowed in denial.  Looking at their identical frightened expressions, it seemed that it would be impossible to tell which of the three harboured evil intentions if they kept them all together.

Bi’shui approached their master and quietly reported her observations. All three of them were suspicious, but Lan’xin’s abnormal reaction put her above the others as the culprit. Faintly hearing her name from Bi’shui’s lips, the sound of Lan’xin kowtowing became even louder. In a moment, a purple bruise formed on her forehead and her entire body was covered in a layer of cold sweat. She was extremely nervous.

Her nervousness caused the scent of rouge mixed with sweat to grow. Emperor Zhou’wu’s nose twitched. He jumped down from Meng Sangyu’s lap to walk up to Lan’xin and barked loudly.  It’s this smell! I’m sure of it!

“Lan’xin, A’Bao already recognizes you. Are you still not going to admit to what you did? A’Bao clearly remembers the smell you left on the flower vase, the bed, and on the screen!” Meng Sangyu languidly spoke. She still hadn’t removed her makeup so her face looked sharp and intimidating. It caused others not to dare to look her directly in the eyes.

Xia’dong and Hui’xin looked at Lan’xin in disbelief.

“Your… Your Ladyship……” Lan’xin’s body trembled uncontrollably to the point where she had trouble forming words. She finally realized where she had slipped up. She never expected that she would fail because of some stupid mutt.

However, to be able to avoid Imperial Duke Meng’s stern gaze and successfully conceal herself by Virtuous Consort’s side for two years, she was no pushover either. She quickly collected herself and refuted, “Replying to Your Ladyship, the sun and moon can testify to this servant’s loyalty towards Your Ladyship. This servant begs Your ladyship to investigate further! A’Bao is just a lowly mutt. How can his reactions be taken seriously? This servant often serves in the chamber. It would be normal for this servant’s smell to linger.”

“A’Bao, come here.” Meng Sangyu ignored her and extended her hand towards A’Bao, who had a fierce expression. When A’Bao jumped onto her lap, she kissed his little nose and leisurely spoke, “Bengong will be honest with you. A’Bao has determined that you are the culprit. No matter what you say, Bengong will not believe it. You don’t need to waste your time defending yourself. Bengong will also not force you to confess who gave the order. Bengong knows who it is clearly in Our heart and will definitely pay that person back in the future. As for you, go die by caning. Your family will soon join you in the afterlife.”

“Please don’t, Your Ladyship! Please spare this servant’s family, Your Ladyship! This servant was blinded by a moment of weakness! It has nothing to do with them!” Knowing in her heart that her master always meant what she said,  swiftly and decisively, Lan’xin hopelessly cried out. She quickly crawled forward on her knees to her master and grabbed her legs, asking for mercy.

The eunuchs standing by the door took the hint and walked forward to drag her away. They also stuffed a handkerchief into her mouth to quiet her. While the sound of begging for mercy abruptly ceased, it was replaced by the oppressing sound of caning outside in the courtyard.

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It was silent inside the chamber. Xia’dong and Hui’xin had long lost all strength in their limbs. Their faces were ghastly pale. Meng Sangyu tiredly waved a hand, gesturing for people to take them away.

“Burn these evil things. The Emperor is still in a coma so burn several Buddhist scriptures to bless his recovery.” Since transmigrating to Great Zhou, Meng Sangyu believed in the concept of souls. Even if she didn’t like Emperor Zhou’wu, she wouldn’t make a move to purposely harm him. Whether he lived or died was up to fate. She could only seize opportunities when they came.

Emperor Zhou’wu was moved and sniffed, licking the woman’s pure white wrists. Nowadays, Sangyu was the only person who was concerned about his real self, who was in a coma. Shen Hui’ru couldn’t wait for him to die. The cursed doll and the cursed talismans were all bonafide items.

“Yes.” Yin’cui and Bi’shui took the small cloth bundle to the kitchen, where they threw it into the stove furnace to be burned to ash.

Nurse Feng poured her master a cup of tea and hesitantly spoke, “Your Ladyship, Lan’xin’s parents have already passed on. Her family only has a little brother and little sister left. Both of them are still children. Why not spare them, Your Ladyship?”

“Spare them?” Meng Sangyu’s hands that were playing with A’Bao’s ears gripped them with sudden strength.

Emperor Zhou’wu clenched his teeth, forcing himself to endure the pain to his ears. He raised his head to look at her with worried eyes. Her expression suddenly turned cold.

“Even if I spared her family, has she ever considered sparing mine? If I actually fell into her trap, me, you, Bi’shui, Yin’cui, Father, Mother, Elder Brother, the Meng family’s two thousand clansmen, and even A’Bao – all of us would face execution! I only want the lives of her small family of three. Considering all the things she’s done, this is already quite merciful. Since she’s willing to act, she should bear the consequences that result from them. She should have long foreseen this outcome beforehand!”

Having vented out these chaotic feelings, her eyes became empty. In a heavy voice, she asked, “Nurse, do you remember Su Jie’yu [2]婕妤 (jiěyú) Lady of Handsome Fairness – a lower-ranked concubine (now added to my character list along with the other consorts we haven’t seen in a while)?”

Nurse Feng’s expression changed to shame. She carefully replied, “Wasn’t Su Jie’yu the one who suddenly passed away last year from illness in the middle of the night?”

“Yes, her. You might remember the two head maids at her side? They were a pair of sisters?” asked Meng Sangyu.

“This servant remembers,” nodded Nurse Feng, “The older sister committed a crime and was expelled to the Laundry Department [3]浣衣局 (huànyījú) The Laundry Department – a common department to banish servants or even concubines who have lost favour; known for being a place of hard labour. by Su Jie’yu. When Su Jie’yu passed on, the younger sister was recruited by Imperial Consort and is now one of her head maids. Her older sister was quickly recalled from the Laundry Department and currently serves as a second-rank maid in Imperial Consort’s palace.”

“Dying from illness? Give me a break! It happened depths of in winter. The rooms’ underfloor heating [4]地龙 (dìlóng) is a type of underfloor heating system in which hot air/smoke is channelled under the floor to heat it up to keep the room warm. Thank you, Nopenopenope, for explaining what a 地龙 is. This sentence made so much more sense after your explanation!!, as well as four braziers, were all burning fiercely. Even if Su Jie’yu was afraid of the cold, she wouldn’t be scared to this extent! The charcoal burned so vigorously, yet the doors and windows to the inner hall were tightly locked. There wasn’t even a crack left open! This was the work of someone who deliberately planned on killing her. The burning charcoal consumed all of the fresh air inside the chamber and emitted a poisonous gas causing Su Jie’yu to die of poisoning. Besides her head maid who had the night shift, who else could the culprit be? It was a pity that the Imperial Physicians didn’t care about the original cause and easily let the culprit off the hook. If you want to get rid of a problem, you need to pull it by its roots. Su Jie’yu died because of her soft-heartedness, and Imperial Consort definitely had a part in it.” Noticing that her hands were gripping too tightly, Meng Sangyu hastily let go of A’Bao’s ears and apologetically kissed his forehead.

Su Jie’yu died from illness because her body was weak. Her manner of conduct was also extremely low-key. Even in death, she died silently. He had never heard a trace of this rumour before. He didn’t expect that this incident concealed this kind of filthy scheme. These women in the harem were far more cruel and ruthless than he had ever imagined. On the one hand, he was the one who pushed Sangyu into the heart of the struggle, forcing her to fight in order to protect herself. On the other hand, he despised her for the methods she used to defend herself. He really was……

Emperor Zhou’wu didn’t know how to describe his current state of mind. He hated that he couldn’t ruthlessly slap himself. Since his soul had slowly adapted to A’Bao’s body. A’Bao’s reflex arc was very short. He actually used his paws to firmly slap himself a few times. When he finished hitting himself, he was left in a daze. He could only bitterly laugh that more and more, he was incapable of controlling his own actions.

Seeing A’Bao use his little paws to hit his own face with a comically tense expression, Meng Sangyu laughed in a low voice. The mood slowly lifted.

She glanced at the dumbstruck Nurse Feng and couldn’t help but add, “Nurse, to protect myself, there are certain things that I must do. If I spared Lan’xin’s family today, later on how will I control the servants under me? Who could I still trust? If I spared those two children, it’s hard to say that they won’t be used by people harbouring bad intentions. If they insisted on getting revenge for their older sister, in the future, there would be two more people out to destroy me. An ant may well destroy an entire dam [5]千里之堤毁于蚁穴 (qiān lǐ zhī dī, kuì yú yǐ xué) – A Chinese idiom meaning that if a small problem is overlooked, it could develop into a big disaster. Ants multiply quickly and make tunnels in dams, allowing water in and consequently causing it to collapse. I’ll add this to my chengyu page. While I was looking up this phrase, I found a great resource that has a bunch of idioms, including how to pronounce them, their literal meaning, and the figurative meaning behind them. No one should be underestimated, especially if they are your opponent.”

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Nurse Feng was left speechless from her argument and her face completely paled. She could only nod repeatedly n agreement. On the other hand, Emperor Zhou’wu was fixed on the phrase, ‘an ant may well destroy an entire dam.’ He thought once more of how the current state of the country was in shambles. It caused him to have mixed feelings.

The black magic incident passed like so. The Inner Palace was quiet for a few days. No one expected that something disastrous would happen! The Fifth Prince who choked on the longyan was supposed to have long recovered, yet the more he rested, the weaker he became. A month hadn’t even passed before his sickness became incurable. Medicine was useless at this stage. The Worthy Consort was devastated. She summoned all kinds of doctors to try and cure the Fifth Prince. Consequently, they discovered that the Fifth Prince wasn’t sick at all – he had been poisoned! This medicine was planted in the medicinal herbal concoction that Fifth Prince consumed every day. Now that the poison had accumulated so much in the body, having taken around twenty servings, the Fifth Prince was beyond saving.

Worthy Consort cried in front of Qian’qing Palace. The Emperor became angrily vowed that he would investigate the truth behind the poisoning incident. Everyone in the palace felt insecure and feared being implicated in the matter.

In Bi’xiao Palace, Meng Sangyu was in the study practicing calligraphy. A’Bao sat on the desk. He held the ink stick between his little paws and moved it around and around, grinding the ink. This tableau was slightly comical but extremely sweet and warm.

Nurse Feng entered the room and quickly reported what happened. Once she was finished, she gazed at her master with worried eyes.

“No need to worry. Didn’t Worthy Consort complain that I was inauspicious? Since saving the Fifth Prince, I haven’t stepped foot in her Jiang’zi palace. I haven’t even sent her a gift to send my regards. We won’t be drawn into this matter.” Meng Sangyu put down her brush and briefly muttered to herself before saying, “There is an 80-90% chance that this incident is aimed at Imperial Consort Li. Nurse, over these next few days, keep a close watch on the palace gates. Don’t let unnecessary people enter. If my hunch is right, the palace will undergo some drastic changes.”

“Of course, this servant understands,” replied Nurse Feng seriously.

Meng Sangyu sucked in a breath, spread out a roll of raw silk and dipped her brush into the pitch-black ink. On the surface, she wrote, “The wind sweeping through the tower heralds a rising storm in the mountains,” these seven big words in wild cursive hand [6]狂草 (kuángcǎo) Wild Cursive Hand is an erratic type of cursive hand where characters are often illegible..

Looking at these words, Emperor Zhou’wu’s abysmal state of mind became even worse. Fifth Imperial Son was poisoned by someone? Who on earth did it? Shen Hui’ru? This name practically leaped into his mind and caused him to grind his teeth.

…………………………………..

Events passed like Meng Sangyu had predicted. Matters became more complicated. The investigation into the poisoning still had no reasonable leads, yet the Second Prince ended up causing another monstrous disaster. While playing, he accidentally pushed his study mate [7]伴读 (bàndú) A person hired to be a companion to children from a wealthy family. To my knowledge, it was usually children of nobility who were invited into the palace as study mates and playmates for the princes and princesses. into the lotus pond and he drowned. That study mate was one of Left Chancellor Li’s most dependable subordinate’s grandchildren from the main line. To make matters worse, he was his family’s only son and heir. The subordinate felt inconsolable grief and took the matter to Court, and finally, the Hall of Golden Chimes [8]金銮殿 (jīnluándiàn) The Hall of Golden Chimes is a popular name for the Emperor’s Audience Hall in the palace (a.k.a. 太和殿 (tàihédiàn) The Hall of Great Harmony)..

The Emperor was furious. He punished the Second Prince with 30 beatings and put him under house arrest for half a year to ponder his errors in seclusion. Still, this conflict was unresolved. Seeing the Second Prince only receiving a corporal punishment while his own son had lost his life, the subordinate’s heart filled with rage. He was so angry that he presented evidence to the Emperor proving that Chancellor Li had been forming cliques within the Court for self-interest, selling court positions and titles for profit and embezzling funds. At the same time, the results of the investigation into Fifth Prince’s poisoning were released. It was the work of Imperial Consort Li. Her motive was to help her son to get rid of any competitors for the position of Crown Prince.

Once the news broke, the entire Court was in an uproar. The Emperor swiftly dealt with the matter. He demoted Chancellor Li’s entire clique. He stripped Chancellor Li of his post and sent him to jail to await questioning. Imperial Consort Li was arrested and banished to the Cold Palace without any chance to defend herself. As quick as lighting, Imperial Preceptor Shen assumed power and replaced Chancellor Li’s position in Court. In the blink of an eye, the power balance shifted within all levels of society.

 


TL Thoughts:

Oof so much happened in this chapter!! From foiled schemes to murder plots being revealed to changes in Court! Phew! The title certainly fits well!

You may have noticed faster releases this month. I’ve been on a translation/blogging obsession roll for the last weekish~ This is not normal! Please still refer to the Updates section in the sidebar!

I added lots of content over the last few days:

  • Three Harem Intrigue Chapters <3
  • {Cultural Notes} Section – For anything related to Chinese Culture
  • {Chinese Language} Section – For language learning and review.
    • My first post lists the Chinese Idioms, a.k.a. Chengyu, I have come across while translating WHI. I will be adding to this periodically as I slowly go through all the flashcards that I’ve saved. ^^; I’d love some company on the long road to language mastery *o*
  • Picked up a new series, Held in the Lonely Castle. It’s about the ill-fated love between a eunuch (MC!) and a Princess from the Song Dynasty. I expect lots of literary references if the description is anything to go by. Take a look if you like 🙂

As always, thank you for reading and sticking with me <3 Sending hugs!

Until next time,

Nyamachi

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Translator Notes   [ + ]

1. The concept of {face}
2. 婕妤 (jiěyú) Lady of Handsome Fairness – a lower-ranked concubine (now added to my character list along with the other consorts we haven’t seen in a while
3. 浣衣局 (huànyījú) The Laundry Department – a common department to banish servants or even concubines who have lost favour; known for being a place of hard labour.
4. 地龙 (dìlóng) is a type of underfloor heating system in which hot air/smoke is channelled under the floor to heat it up to keep the room warm. Thank you, Nopenopenope, for explaining what a 地龙 is. This sentence made so much more sense after your explanation!!
5. 千里之堤毁于蚁穴 (qiān lǐ zhī dī, kuì yú yǐ xué) – A Chinese idiom meaning that if a small problem is overlooked, it could develop into a big disaster. Ants multiply quickly and make tunnels in dams, allowing water in and consequently causing it to collapse. I’ll add this to my chengyu page. While I was looking up this phrase, I found a great resource that has a bunch of idioms, including how to pronounce them, their literal meaning, and the figurative meaning behind them.
6. 狂草 (kuángcǎo) Wild Cursive Hand is an erratic type of cursive hand where characters are often illegible.
7. 伴读 (bàndú) A person hired to be a companion to children from a wealthy family. To my knowledge, it was usually children of nobility who were invited into the palace as study mates and playmates for the princes and princesses.
8. 金銮殿 (jīnluándiàn) The Hall of Golden Chimes is a popular name for the Emperor’s Audience Hall in the palace (a.k.a. 太和殿 (tàihédiàn) The Hall of Great Harmony).

29 Comments

  • Thank you for the eaely updates! Really appreciate it!!

    • No problem Anan! 🙂 Thanks for commenting!

  • Omggg what a fast update. What a way to enjoy my life after work. Tq

  • Thank you for the quick update 😀

  • When one person is the judge, jury, head enforcer and murderer this is what happens. If real life wasn’t so close to this right now I would find it funnier

    • Thanks for commenting! Hope everything is going well for you RandomDude!

  • Thank you for the chapter!
    The description for MC’s makeup really reminds me of the changes of Zhen Huan’s character settings from “Empresses in Palaces”, after she returned from the temple and entered into palace politicking.

    • My pleasure! Ooh good comparison!!

    • Or Consort Yu after Ruyi was sent to the cold palace. She had to step up to stay safe.

      • Very true! Ruyi also had that look going for her, didn’t she?

  • I can’t wait for the Emperor to wake up and shake up the palace again. Will Chancellor Li hold on? I bet Shen Hui ru will have Consort Li suiciding in the cold Palace. Consort Li and Jeffrey Espstein didn’t kill them selves. Thanks for the updates.

  • Wow we’re being really spoiled, thanks for the chapter! 💕

  • Very well played Shen Hui’ru, hate her if you want but she is a master at her craft – the craft of scheming and treachery!!

    Quite sad to see Consort Li and her entire family implicated, just what Meng Sangyu was talking about earlier with Nurse Feng – when someone commits a crime, their relatives and all involved suffer.

    The higher they rise the harder they fall, all this planning and manipulations – have they forgotten that the emperor is still alive somewhere?! Even if he’s in a coma, & what about his secret guards who will make it their business to exact justice if the emperor really passes away as they wish?

    • Good insight! I hadn’t made the comparison before but it’s very true. Power to eliminate someone’s clan probably helped in enforcing monarchial power in those days. I’m surprised that people were still willing to commit crimes despite such a heavy punishment. If my loved ones were at stake, I’d do everything to not put them at risk. What goes through their head when they decide to poison someone or do something else with grave consequences??

      We haven’t heard anything about the secret guards in a while. I wonder if they’ll play a bigger role once the doggy emperor returns to his body.

  • Thank you for the early update! Great job translating!

  • Master schemer meets master strategist. Our MSY has always been 10 steps ahead of SHR. Can’t wait for the day that the dog emperor gets back to his real body. The whole harem has been turned into a playing field by the imposter.

    • Very well said! The Emperor will be get his body back soon (~2 chapters?)

  • Thanks for such quick chapters – in a way, the speed seems to echo the rolling changes in the story! When the Emperor recovers his form, it’s going to take a lot of prayers to make up for the deaths he allowed. Looking forward to his redemption arc!

    • Hi Humbledaisy, my pleasure! I don’t read ahead when I translate. The recent chapters have definitely been more exciting so I’ve been itching to find out what happens next! = quicker releases haha! Thanks for commenting❤️

  • Thank you for the update but I wish I could read till the end right away😭 it’s getting so exciting 🥺

    • I’m almost done translating the next chapter (~90% finished). I have a big paper due soon though so it’ll likely be out sometime next week 🙂

  • Thank you for all of your hard work! Wow! So many chapters!

    What a narrowly avoided catastrophe for our leads. I feel badly our leading lady needs to be so heartless, but she’s right. That maid was probably a good person to her younger siblings and having someone to blame for losing her could drive them to do something even if MSY tried to be nice to them or explain. The coldhearted logic is there but it’s still sad. I am glad now that the Emperor can see how he drove her to need to protect herself like this while he used her as a shield for the girl he loved.

    • <3 Thanks for taking the time to comment!

      Yeah, it's pretty sad :( I guess it goes to show just how high the stakes are to survive in the harem. Yes, I'm happy he's reflecting on his actions haha. I wonder how he'll react once he gets his body back. Hopefully, there will be some good character growth!

  • Hmm, I’m somewhat disappointed in MSY. She stated previously that she doesn’t harm children. Turns out that’s only true as long as it’s convenient. She has decided to put her safety ahead of her morals, which wouldn’t be such a problem if she hadn’t previously claimed otherwise.

    • Hey Canisse, thanks for your thoughtful comment! Like Andi mentioned above, it is some pretty cold hearted logic. You’re right though. It wouldn’t have been problematic if she hadn’t claimed otherwise. Hopefully no more children will be harmed in the future. 😟

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