Why Harem Intrigue When You Can Just Raise A Dog Instead? (Chp 40)
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Chapter 40: Scent (味道)
English proofreader: JimmyfromIT
Yan Jun’wei eagerly watched his movements from the side. He prided himself on his high skill and natural talent in martial arts. Never before had he encountered someone who could be his match. He didn’t expect that Meng Yan’zhou’s level exceeded his own. Imperial Duke Meng really taught his son well for him to be so reckless yet so honest and straightforward. Even if he hid a peerless skill in martial arts, other people wouldn’t have a clue. At the very least, he and Meng Yan’zhou had been friends for many years, but he had never noticed because the other party’s hot-headedness and impulsiveness weren’t fake. Therefore, while Meng Yan’zhou was unable to further elevate the status of the Imperial Duke’s manor, he was unlikely to be bullied by others. What an ingenious scheme!
Taking into account that he mustn’t expose his identity, Yan Jun’wei could only watch from the side. He anticipated the time when he could openly reveal his identity. At that time, he must definitely have a serious match with Meng Yan’zhou to compare their strength.
Once Meng Yan’zhou’s sword came to a stop, Yan Jun’wei couldn’t help but applaud and offer praise before walking over to borrow his sword and inspect it closely. Soon after that, the two of them walked over to the weapons rack again and discussed the various weapons which rested there.
Emperor Zhou’wu lips curved and he made a hand signal to Yan Jun’wei before walking towards Sangyu’s courtyard. The courtyard was very quiet because it was unoccupied. Two guards stood alert at the entrance. Emperor Zhou’wu turned around and headed towards the back wall. In two or three light steps, he soundlessly leaped inside.
The fresh scent of plum blossoms floated over in the cool air. The smell was very similar to Bi’xiao Palace. He was distracted when all of a sudden it felt like something was pulling strongly at his heartstrings. Following his intuition, he crossed through a corridor past the study and arrived at a boudoir. 闺房 (guīfáng) Women’s quarters or a lady’s chamber. He stood there for a long time before lightly pushing open the door to the room.
The room was immaculate. You could tell that there was someone coming to clean it every day. A low couch was placed by the window which was exactly the same setup as it was in Bi’xiao Palace. The carved bed was covered with soft bedding. The colour was vibrant and the scarlet tulle bedcurtains were lifted by the occasional passing cold breeze. They swayed gently as if offering a silent invitation. The sweet floral fragrance left behind by the owner floated through the room, adding some lingering warmth to the chilly air.
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Emperor Zhou’wu took a deep breath and his heart pounded fiercely. This was the scent that he had longed for countless times since he had woken up. His facial features unconsciously tightened as if he was trying his best to patiently bear something. Step by step, he approached the large carved bed. Lifting the curtains, the person he yearned for day and night was nowhere to be seen. Flashes of realization and disappointment showed briefly in his gloomy eyes. He laid down on the bed and slowly closed his eyes. Turning his head, the familiar fragrance became more intense. He opened his eyes and saw a perfume sachet left behind by its owner beside the pillow. He gave a slight smile and squeezed it tightly in his palm. He brought it to his nose and peacefully closed his eyes once more.
Without Sangyu’s warm embrace, sweet scent, and warmth, he hadn’t had a good night’s rest for a few days in a row. This made him remember the days when he had first turned into a dog before he had met Sangyu. Every day was fraught with fear. Every time he closed his eyes he would fervently pray that he would be able to return to his [human] body. Every time he opened his eyes he had to face the sound of despondent barks and meows and the putrid stink of dog food filled his nose making it difficult to breathe. Every single night he couldn’t close his eyes and every single day he lingered on the verge of collapse. If he hadn’t come across Sangyu, he would’ve surely gone crazy. How could he have possibly accepted the ensuing series of psychological shocks and betrayals?
The first time he ate human food; the first time someone wiped the dirt off his fur; the first time he was comforted in a soft voice… In Bi’xiao Palace, he finally had a good night’s rest. It was the most blissful sleep in his entire life. That incomparable sense of security deeply seeped into his bones. It wasn’t something he could easily forget.
Sangyu’s every expression played continuously through his mind. Emperor Zhou’wu fell into a deep slumber. Thirty minutes later 两刻钟后 – See my post on Ancient Chinese Timekeeping~, the sound of coughing startled him awake.
“Your Majesty, I thought you would go and quickly return. I didn’t expect that you would actually fall asleep. How was it? Did you sleep soundly?” Yan Jun’wei lifted his eyebrows as he stared at the perfume sachet clutched in his hands, pondering silently: Smelling Virtuous Consorts scent to be able to sleep? Could this be some kind of after-effect from turning into a dog?
“I slept very well. What time is it?” Emperor Zhou’wu naturally stowed the perfume sachet away in his robes. His pitch-black eyes were clear and focused without any trace of drowsiness.
“It’s almost 4 pm. 申时 (shēnshí) Between 3 pm to 5 pm. Read more about timekeeping in ancient China~ The Imperial Duchess went to Marquis Yong’An’s manor Clam previously translated 镇国公 as ‘Duke of Protection.’ Should I translate 永安侯 as ‘Marquis of Everlasting Tranquility’ or would you prefer if I left it in pinyin? and is presently on the road home. She despises that I hang around with Meng Yan’zhou and won’t be happy to see us. It would be better if we took our leave soon.” Yan Jun’wei pushed the door open and walked out. He bypassed the back wall with familiar steps.
“Then let’s go. Next time Zhen will bring Sangyu back to visit her family.” Emperor Zhou’wu smoothed out the wrinkles in his jacket. Hearing that there was no one behind the wall, he tiptoed lightly and leaped over.
The corners of Yan Jun’wei’s lips drew upwards and he followed closely behind. The two of them walked halfway before running into Meng Yan’zhou who had come looking for them. Using getting lost as an excuse, they managed to fool this hulking oaf of a man and hurriedly took their leave.
Upon returning to the residence, the courtyard’s orioles and swallows swarmed out to greet them. They completely surrounded Yan Jun’wei and pulled and tugged at his arms, leaving Emperor Zhou’wu alone on the side. His nose was flooded with all kinds of irritating scents from various cosmetic powders. Sangyu’s scent, which he had gone to great pains to acquire, was in danger of disappearing from his body. Emperor Zhou’wu’s expression was clearly displeased. It was indeed troublesome to have too many women. Previously, he didn’t feel this way, but now that he had Sangyu, he realized how satisfying it was for one person to completely fill the space in his heart. He had no room to accept anyone else.
“You lowly b*tches! Release Dong’lei!” Tao Hong vigorously joined the fray. Though it seemed like she squeezed into the chaos, in reality, she was skillfully pushing aside the women to save her commander from untold misery.
“Little Tao Hong!” Eyes brimming with tears, Yan Jun’wei hugged her tightly and fiercely kissed her on the lips. With her escorting them, he safely led Emperor Zhou’wu through the tight blockade and returned to his own courtyard.
“Someone come, Zhen wants to take a bath and change clothes.” Emperor Zhou’wu brushed the hem of his jacket with knitted eyebrows. Sangyu’s scent on his body had already been contaminated making him feel extremely dejected. Luckily he still had Sangyu’s perfume sachet safely tucked away in his bosom. He touched his chest and his glum expression lightened a bit.
Stuffing the sachet into the blankets, he washed off the smell of rouge and powder that clung to his body, put on a set of white underclothes, and sat grandly with his legs apart 大马金刀 (dàmǎjīndāo) which describes boldness and grandeur or speaking sharply. For a visual, ZW is sitting like this. on the low couch. Tao Hong held a white cloth and intended to dry his hair with it. Getting a whiff of the dense smell of rouge coming from Tao Hong’s body, his brows pursed together and he said in a heavy voice, “You’re dismissed. Switch with someone else, a male.”
Tao Hong was slightly taken aback but didn’t dare to ask more. She exited the room and was about to call for someone when she ran into Yan Jun’wei.
“I’ll do it, you withdraw.” Yan Jun’wei took the cloth from her and waved a hand indicating that she should retreat.
Seeing that it was Yan Jun’wei, Emperor Zhou’wu expression was more at ease. He asked in a deep voice, “Did you bathe?”
“I bathed already. Smell.” Yan Jun’wei chuckled and extended an arm in front of him.
There was no particular smell. Emperor Zhou’wu leaned back against the couch and allowed him to dry his hair. Staring at his boss’ handsome face, his line of sight lingered on his high, straight nose for a moment. Yan Jun’wei calmly pondered: To be so sensitive and attracted to smell, it really is an after-effect from turning into a dog!
“Has there been any news about Imperial Duke Meng?” The sound of the deep and resounding voice interrupted Yan Jun’wei’s imaginative train of thought.
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“Today we found the bodies of two fallen horses in the depths of the Muddy Shores. There is still no trace of Meng Chang’xiong or Han Chang’ping. The Barbarians and Xie Zheng’hao also came up empty-handed,” reported Yan Jun’wei in a low voice.
“Send some more people to look. We must find them. If they’re alive I want to see them in person… ” He paused, opened his eyes before finally finishing his sentence in a hoarse voice, “…If they’re dead, I want to see their corpses.”
No matter what, he had to give Sangyu an explanation. He hoped that matters wouldn’t take a turn for the worst. Thinking of the possibility that Sangyu could come to hate him made him feel fearful.
“Yes,” agreed Yan Jun’wei cautiously.
“The imperial edict bestowing the commander’s seal will soon reach the frontier pass. How are the preparations for Xie Zheng’hao’s matter?” Emperor Zhou’wu focused his mind as he tapped the tabletop and asked in a heavy voice.
“The assassin is already concealed themselves by his side. When the battle begins, he’ll definitely complete his mission.” Yan Jun’wei had full confidence in his subordinate.
“Mm.” Emperor Zhou’wu nodded. “How are the preparations to lure Shen Hui’ru and that substitute out of the palace going?”
“Elder Lord Zhao and Madame Wu I’m assuming this is Imperial Consort’s mother. Here she is referred to as 吴氏 or Madame Wu. 氏 (shì) can refer to a clan or a form of address for women – Miss or Madame depending on their marital status. Formally, Imperial Consort’s mother would be known as 赵吴氏 Mrs. Zhao, née Wu since women kept their maiden names after marriage and it was a way to differentiate between wives, esp. when there was more than one. That’s why they were considered ‘outsiders’ of the family since they retained their last name. have already been swayed by our people. A request was submitted early this morning. Today when the Imperial Duchess went to visit Marquis Yong’an’s manor and heard the news, she returned and also drafted a request. Several maternal families of imperial concubines above the rank of Consort have also taken action, including the Shen family. More concrete news should be available tomorrow.” Yan Jun’wei put down the towel, poured Emperor Zhou’wu a cup of tea and handed it to him.
“Sangyu is also visiting her relatives?!” Emperor Zhou’wu’s hand that gripped his teacup suddenly tightened. His eyes blazed with anger as he looked at Yan Jun’wei.
Yan Jun’wei hurriedly guaranteed, “The Imperial Duke’s manor is far away from the Imperial Preceptor’s manor. [The operation] will definitely not implicate Her Ladyship Virtuous Consort. This subject will send more people to escort and protect Her Ladyship and her party.”
“There must be no mistakes!” Emperor Zhou’wu put down his teacup with a wooden expression. After a long time, he spoke, emphasizing every word.
“This subject obeys Your Majesty’s command.” agreed Yan Jun’wei respectfully, not daring to neglect the matter in the slightest.
“How is she doing today?” The man’s deep, rich voice became very low and hoarse as if he was trying very hard to suppress something.
“Her Ladyship hasn’t slept for a few days,” replied Yan Jun’wei softly.
“How do you know she hasn’t slept for a few days? Have your people spied on her while she’s asleep?” Emperor Zhou’wu suddenly turned his head to glare at Yan Jun’wei. The maelstrom in his pitch-black eyes caused one’s heart to leap in fear.
“This servant wouldn’t dare!” hastily denied Yan Jun’wei, “It’s just that Her Ladyship’s complexion was really too poor. The dark circles under her eyes have almost caught up to yours, Your Majesty.” He eyed Emeperor Zhou’wu’s dark circles meaningfully. This master also suffered from insomnia every night.
“There’s been no news about Imperial Duke Meng and A’Bao is no longer by her side. She definitely wouldn’t be able to sleep. Emperor Zhou’wu sighed wondering whether to be happy or sad. His woman missed him, but the one she missed also wasn’t himself.
“Is she still looking for A’Bao?” asked Emperor Zhou’wu hoarsely as he rubbed the dark circles under his eyes.
“After searching for three days, Her Ladyship didn’t order her servants to look anymore. She said that no news was good news. A’Bao might’ve run outside the palace to play or maybe he was picked up by someone from the palace to be raised secretly.”
“She likely has already guessed that A’Bao is dead but still wants to give herself some form of hope.” Emperor Zhou’wu smiled and his eyes clouded with a layer of mist. “She’s always like this. She can always find a way to make herself feel a bit better.”
“Her Ladyship is a very strong and optimistic person.” Yan Jun’wei also respected this quality of hers. Despite such a difficult environment, she could still maintain a positive and optimistic attitude. Her Ladyship Virtuous Consort’s perseverance was impressive. As expected of Imperial Duke Meng’s daughter!
“Alright, retire for now. Zhen wants to rest,” said Emperor Zhou’wu as he closed his eyes and waved a hand. Once Yan Jun’wei had bowed and retreated from the room, closing the door, he slowly walked to the bed and flipped open the blankets. The quilt had long absorbed the fragrance from the sachet. It was imbued with Sangyu’s unique scent. Emperor Zhou’wu smiled. Holding the sachet tightly, he was finally able to force himself to sleep.
In Qian’qing Palace, Shen Hui’ru was holding Marquis Yong’an’s request in her hands. Wan’qing was massaging her shoulders while saying contemptuously, “That Imperial Consort thinks that she’s so special because she received favour. Today she even pestered the Emperor to personally accompany her to visit her relatives!”
“The Emperor to personally accompany her? Someone like her?” Shen Hui’ru sneered and tossed the memorial aside.
After having entered the palace for more than three years, concubines who were of Consort rank and above were entitled to return home to visit their families, but being personally accompanied by the Emperor was an honoured privilege that was exclusively reserved for the Empress, and only once in her life. When she entered the palace, she had dreamed of wearing her phoenix robe and visiting her family hand in hand with the Emperor countless times. She wanted to let all of Great Zhou’s citizens know that she was the Emperor’s true love. She was the only one with the right to ascend to the position of Empress. However, this dream was thoroughly crushed in three years of waiting.
Thinking until here, Shen Hui’ru suddenly grinned and picked up the memorial. With lightning speed, she wrote two words, ‘graciously granted.’ Visiting relatives, was it? Then she’ll let all of Great Zhou’s citizens see who was the real phoenix flying through the heavens! 凤凰于飞 (fènghuáng yúfēi) An idiom describing a pair of phoenixes flying together meaning marital happiness.
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Hehe, this chapter was sweet – v – Excited to see how ZW will manage to return to the palace. I have a feeling that his reunion with Sangyu will somehow involve scent…
If anyone needs a refresher, I’ve updated my list of characters and placenames! Please let me know your preference for 永安侯: ‘Marquis Yong’an’ OR ‘Marquis of Everlasting Tranquility’ to keep with Clam’s ‘Duke of Protection’ for Imperial Duke Meng.
Until next time,
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