Why Harem Intrigue When You Can Just Raise A Dog Instead? (Chp 39)
Chapter 39: Brother-In-Law 3 (大舅子3)
English proofreaders: JimmyfromIT, 247reader
The Imperial Duke’s mansion occupied a large area, but the courtyards and furnishings inside were really quite modest, comparable to what you might find in a second- or third-ranked official’s mansion in the capital. This was where Sangyu grew up, where she lived as a young lady. Perhaps she used to sit by the lotus pond and enjoy the scenery, or maybe she enjoyed the coolness under this sweet-scented osmanthus tree. Or maybe she strolled along this path… Emperor Zhou’wu and Meng Yan’zhou walked side by side, their expressions unbelievably chummy.
As they detoured through the covered corridor, 游廊 (yóuláng) A covered corridor linking two or more buildings. a small, storied building suddenly appeared in front of them. The small building was sylvan and elegant, resembling nature itself. It stood out from the other plain and ordinary buildings within the mansion. It was surrounded by clusters of flowers and trees from every season, and inside, the plum blossoms were in full bloom. The mixture of red and white created a lively atmosphere, adding a great deal of warmth to the bleak and chilling winter.
Emperor Zhou’wu’s eyes lit up. He unconsciously took a few steps towards the small building and whispered, “That’s…” The multitude of flowers and trees within the courtyard almost obscured the small building from view. Plants from every season were interspersed with on another. Each season was a beautiful scene in and of itself where one could smell a strong floral fragrance. This was undoubtedly Sangyu’s style.
“Ah, you can’t go there. That was my sister’s living quarters before she entered the palace.” Meng Yan’zhou hastily blocked Emperor Zhou’wu.
“My apologies. I noticed that that courtyard was beautiful and unique from other places in the manor so…” Emperor Zhou’wu smiled and withdrew with difficulty.
“My younger sister loves to garden. Each tree and plant inside was personally planted by her. Naturally, it’s beautiful.” Whenever he spoke about his sister, Meng Yan’zhou’s face was full of pride.
How could he not know that Sangyu especially loved gardening? She personally looked after every potted plant and flower arrangement in Bi’xiao Palace. From the shape to the artistic style, she had a style that was uniquely her own. Emperor Zhou’wu followed Meng Yan’zhou towards his courtyard. He had a smile on his face, but his empty eyes revealed that his mind was somewhere else.
Yan Jun’wei couldn’t help but secretly laugh to himself, and quickly walked to Meng Yan’zhou’s side as if he intended to make conversation. In reality, he steered Meng Yan’zhou’s conversation to the topic of his younger sister. When he heard something about Sangyu, Emperor Zhou’wu refocused his drifting state of mind.
“Elder brother? How come you’ve returned?!”
As they were about to turn into Meng Yan’zhou’s courtyard, a sixteen- or seventeen-year-old youth appeared at the end of the path. As he caught sight of Meng Yan’zhou, his expression was one of utter surprise. Although it only lasted a brief moment, Emperor Zhou’wu and Yan Jun’wei still took note of the hatred and disappointment that flashed through his eyes.
Thinking about Meng Yan’zhou’s impulsive personality and that today he had secretly snuck out of the mansion, Emperor Zhou’wu’s eyes darkened momentarily as he realized what had transpired. All of this had been for the sake of the Imperial Duke’s title.
However, Meng Yan’zhou had absolutely no clue about the youth’s dangerous intentions. His thick eyebrows wrinkled as he asked with shock, “This is my courtyard. Am I not allowed to return?”
“You seem quite disappointed that your elder brother has returned. Is it because he didn’t run away to the borderlands to seek death?” asked Emperor Zhou’wu slowly. The smile on his face was extremely cold and indifferent, and his sharp gaze was a knife that could painfully cut someone to pieces.
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The youth’s face instantly turned deathly pale. Then, out of desperation, he loudly refuted, “That’s utter rubbish! Who do you think you are to dare slander me so?”
“You know in your heart whether it’s nonsense or not. This lord despises concubine-born sons like you the most. You’re always pining for things that don’t belong to you in the first place.” Yan Jun’wei fanned the space in front of him with a look full of scorn and disgust.
Everyone in the capital knew about Qi Dong’lei’s concubine-born younger brother stealing his position as Heir Apparent. See Ancient Ranks and Titles. The youth’s face alternated between green and white upon hearing Qi Dong’lei open his mouth and lay bare his heart’s innermost secret desire. It was very entertaining to watch. Moreover, the sight of the dark expression of the person dressed in lake blue clothes in front of him, his eyes seeming to clearly see through him, practically sent his legs out from underneath him.
“No wonder that I could leave the manor so easily today. Turns out that you and Aunt Wen were helping me!” Meng Yan’zhou finally reacted after realizing what had happened. His expression was completely menacing.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. I still need to prepare for next year’s spring examinations. I’ll take my leave.” The youth quickly finished speaking before he turned around and ran. Meng Yanzhou was a reckless man who didn’t believe in phrases like ‘a gentleman uses his mouth and not his fist’. Once angered, his opponent might end up with a body full of wounds.
“Damn it! This great one Here he uses 老子 (lǎozi) literally meaning ‘this old one.’ It’s a rough or arrogant form of self-address similar to 俺 (おれ) in Japanese. hates those scholar-types the most! They pretend to be so upright and just when in fact they have bags of evil tricks up their sleeves!” Meng Yan’zhou said viciously, clenching his fists.
“Well said!” Yan Jun’wei put away his fan and smiled as he agreed. He liked hanging around with candid people like Meng Yan’zhou. You didn’t have to expend brainpower to get along.
“Let’s go in.” Emperor Zhou’wu folded his hands behind his back and walked towards the courtyard. While walking, he said lightly, “The title is bound to be yours and it won’t fall to others. You just need to be more vigilant in the future. Use your head more when you encounter problems and don’t lose your life by falling into someone else’s trap.”
“Right!” Meng Yan’zhou agreed, blindly following in Emperor Zhou’wu’s every step. His tone was rather amazed. “Your words and your manner of speaking are very similar to my younger sister! My sister used to also caution me like this.” Because of this, he had an exceptional opinion of Han Hai, and his esteem for him had only grown.
“Oh, really?” Emperor Zhou’wu suddenly came to a stop and looked at Meng Yan’zhou with keen, sparkling eyes. Seeing Meng Yan’zhou nod his head, his face broke into a smile. His smiling expression was bright and open, completely different from the slightly majestic, indifferent smile from earlier. With just one glance you could see his utter delight.
It was just saying that he was similar by chance, that’s all. Was it necessary to be so happy? Was it because he discovered the feeling of ‘a wife sings and a husband follows.’ This is a play on words for the Chinese idiom 夫唱妇随 (fūchàng fùsuí) meaning that ‘the husband sings and the wife follows’. Figuratively it refers to marital harmony. Yan Jun’wei’s forehead was covered with furrows. He hadn’t known that the Emperor was actually so easy to please.
Seeing Han Hai’s smile, Meng Yan’zhou foolishly smiled along. Whether he was smiling or not, this person still looked very gentle, but Meng Yan’zhou still felt an overwhelming pressure and didn’t dare to act presumptuously. However, Han Hai’s expression was very honest and relaxed right now. The feeling of distance disappeared.
“Actually, after I snuck out of the manor, I really had thought of heading to the frontier, but afterwards I gave up.” Meng Yan’zhou scratched his head, embarrassed to speak.
“Oh? What changed your mind?” Emperor Zhou’wu raised an eyebrow.
“My sister once said that if I came across some minor matter that worried or angered me, then I should walk three laps around my courtyard to cool my head. If I encountered some earth-shattering dilemma, then I should walk three laps around the Imperial City 皇城 (huángchéng) The inner part of Beijing with the Imperial Palace at its centre. This area mainly consists of institutions and facilities serving the court and the offices of the court. to thoroughly think things through. When I was walking around the Imperial City, I saw the Imperial Palace in the distance. I thought of my younger sister inside, so I came back.” Meng Yan’zhou’s voice was very depressed.
“You have a wonderful sister! Of course, you’re also a good elder brother.” Emperor Zhou’wu was silent for a while after he spoke, and patted Meng Yan’zhou’s shoulder, sighing deeply.
Yan Jun’wei cast a sidelong glance at Meng Yan’zhou, his eyes filled with envy. It would be great if he also had a family member who could comfort him and help plan strategies.
The three of them entered Meng Yan’zhou’s courtyard. Emperor Zhou’wu and Yan Jun’wei were astonished by the courtyard’s vast, smooth duelling ground and the rows of weapon racks. As expected of Imperial Duke Meng’s son, to be so zealous about martial arts!
“What does this do?” Emperor Zhou’wu pointed at an enormous millstone beside the duelling ground.
Yan Jun’wei’s eyes lit up at the sight of the assortment of weapons. He walked over to the millstone and stretched out a hand to try and lift it up. It didn’t budge.
“This is for building arm strength. Those iron kung fu balls and copper maces are too light.” Meng Yan’zhou walked over, pulled up his sleeves, and grasped the millstone with two hands. Clenching his teeth, he hoisted the millstone up past his shoulder.
Emperor Zhou’wu and Yan Jun’wei both stared blankly in shock. When Meng Yan’zhou put down the millstone, Emperor Zhou’wu commented with interest, “So it turns out that Meng Yan’zhou was born with superhuman strength.”
Yan Jun’wei glanced sideways at the young man’s muscular arms. His eyes were full of admiration.
“That’s right. My sister said I was born with natural talent.” Meng Yan’zhou lifted his chin, his face filled with pride. However, a look of dismay soon crossed his features as he sighed, “But she also said that while I have well-developed limbs, I have a simple mind. Other people’s brains are filled with smarts but my brain is full of muscle. I can’t lead soldiers in battle. I can only charge into battle and serve as cannon fodder.”
A brain filled with muscle? Only Sangyu with her strange character could think of a snarky phrase like that. Emperor Zhou’wu lowered his gaze, tucking away his beaming smile.
Yan Jun’wei had already stopped holding back, and he laughed heartily. So Her Ladyship Virtuous Consort was also a clever person! This phrase was superb!
“Hey, what are you laughing at? What my sister said wasn’t wrong. I always act without thinking things through. Today was a close call. Last time I was also easily incensed by a few words to the point that I exchanged blows with Shen Xi’yan. His small body is as fragile as a stalk of hemp. 麻杆儿 (má gānr) literally translates to ‘hemp staff or pole’. Reading up on the cultivation and use of hemp in ancient China (it’s a 5000-year tradition!), female hemp fiber is thin and soft and can be used to spin cloth so he might have been referring to this. I was wondering if another possibility could be a joint since cannabis hemp was used for medical and euphoric purposes pretty early on – the first mention was around 2,000 B.C. It’s quite a booming industry in China and cannabis is one of the 50 ‘fundamental’ herbs in Chinese medicine. I only pushed him lightly, but unexpectedly he ended up covered in bruises! If I’d known that he would be like this today, I would have beaten him to death earlier!” Meng Yan’zhou’s expression was wild. He punched the wooden spear beside him, and it split in two with a loud crack.
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“Shouldn’t you say that you regret antagonizing him earlier? You need to be able to endure anger in the moment. You also wouldn’t have started a feud between yourself and the Shen family.” Yan Jun’wei chuckled. This kid was fierce! He liked him!
“This lord can endure anything except anger. If there’s a grievance, it must be avenged. or else I’ll be pent up with anger!” Meng Yan’zhou’s face was as flushed as if he were really holding a grudge.
Emperor Zhou’wu lightly smiled and patiently taught, “When a gentleman seeks revenge, ten years later still isn’t too late. A temporary truce is just a strategy. If you’re stronger than your opponent, you should defeat him to the extent that he’ll have no way of making a comeback; If you’re equal to or weaker than your opponent, you should learn to endure. Then, find a way to discover his weaknesses and strike at the opportune moment. There are many ways to get revenge. You don’t only have to use your fists. If you want to uphold the Meng family, then you need to learn to strategize more and approach things from different angles.”
“Well said! I won’t be so impulsive in the future.” Meng Yan’zhou nodded with new understanding.
“Your father must have a lot of books on military strategy. You should read them when you have time.” Emperor Zhou’wu said sincerely, patting his shoulder. In truth, Meng Yan’zhou wasn’t stupid. He just didn’t like to think deeply about things. This might have been due to Imperial Duke Meng’s deliberate teachings. If trained well, Meng Yan’zhou was sure to become a formidable general. Moreover, his character was good, too; he was ruthless, courageous, and decisive. His natural temperament was simple and forthright, and he valued friendship and justice. This was exactly the kind of person that Emperor Zhou’wu most loved to place in important positions.
Seeing that Meng Yan’zhou simply agreed, his eyes full of trust, Emperor Zhou’wu pondered to himself a moment before saying, “I heard that the Imperial Court is going to establish a new government office. They need talented people who are brave and skilled in martial arts like you. It’s better than going to train in the military. Do you want to give it a try?”
Ah! So he’ll look after his brother-in-law just like this! This is what’s called using one’s power for personal gain! Yan Jun’wei’s forehead twitched. However, he had also taken a liking to Meng Yan’zhou and would be getting a good deal from this matter. He had originally wanted help the other party get a promotion and earn a favour from Virtuous Consort, but in the end he couldn’t win against the other party’s actual brother-in-law. I just realized this now, but shouldn’t Emperor Zhou’wu be Meng Yan’zhou’s 妹夫 (younger sister’s husband) rather than his 姐夫 (older sister’s husband)? The raws keep referring to him as 姐夫. Author’s mistake?
“What kind of government office?” Meng Yan’zhou’s eyes lit up.
“Similar to the Imperial Dragon Guards’ and Imperial Guards’ government office, but it will have more power than either. However, right now it’s still in the planning phase. Once there is more concrete news, I’ll ask Dong’lei* Author’s typo? Emperor Zhou’wu uses ‘Jun’wei’ here instead of ‘Dong’lei.’ to notify you.” Emperor Zhou’wu walked to the side of the duelling ground. He threw Meng Yan’zhou a large sword, saying in a deep voice, “Show me your sword technique. Let me see what you’re capable of.”
These words carried the kind of pressure unique to superiors, making the listener feel that they had no choice but to follow. Meng Yan’zhou caught the sword. He held back his questions about the other party’s identity and walked to the duelling ground to show off his skills. He had practiced martial arts since childhood and had a lot of natural talent. With his supernatural strength, he fiercely waved the hundred catty sword 百斤 – 100 catty; Catty (斤 jīn) is a traditional unit of weight equivalent to ~500g (in China) and ~600g (in Taiwan, Japan, Korea, and Thailand) or about 604.8g (Hong Kong and Malaysia). Here, the sword weighs 50,000 g or 5 kg. in a vigorous sword dance. It was a brilliant sight to behold!
Emperor Zhou’wu squinted his eyes and thought to himself: If something really happened to Imperial Duke Meng, Zhen will train Meng Yan’zhou. After three to five years, he would be be able to uphold the Meng family, and Sangyu would also feel reassured.
Please give a belated welcome to JimmyfromIT who has helped me proofread several chapters now. He finally agreed to let me give him credit in the chapters~ He’s shy, so please be nice <3 (but you’re all lovely people anyways ^ ^) Check out his bio on the about us page~
A very big thank you to Austyn for your extremely generous donation!
This cat is deeply grateful! *bows*
Hehe, Meng Sangyu’s old courtyard sounds a little bit like a fairyland~ I wonder if we’ll get to see more of it? Thank you for reading!
Until next time,