Why Harem Intrigue When You Can Just Raise A Dog Instead? (Chp 42)
Chapter 42: Visiting Relatives 2 (省亲2)
English proofreader: JimmyfromIT
To prevent her mother from worrying and in consideration of the Meng family’s safety, Meng Sangyu stopped here and didn’t reveal any more secrets. Lady Meng didn’t dare to delay. She immediately wrote a letter and ordered people to deliver it to the army posthaste.
Aunt Wen was Old Madam Meng’s niece from her maiden family and the Old Madam was very fond of her. The Old Madam forced Meng Chang’xiong to accept Aunt Wen as a concubine. No one expected that she would’ve gotten pregnant from only one night together and given birth to their illegitimate son, Meng Yu’da. Once more, taking advantage of the fact that Meng Chang’xiong was drunk, Aunt Wen succeeded in climbing into his bed. With one tryst, she was pregnant again and gave birth to their illegitimate daughter, Meng Rui’zhu. Her efficiency was on par with a baby-making machine, rendering others speechless. Fortunately, Meng Chang’xiong and Madame Lin were deeply devoted to each other and didn’t let her get close. Otherwise, who knows how many concubine-born sons and daughters she would’ve birthed! For the last several years, she had relied on the Old Madam’s support and antagonized Madame Lin numerous times. Seeing that Meng Yan’zhou was a failure and that her own son was gifted, she went so far as to push the Old Madam to take away Meng Yan’zhou’s position as Heir Apparent. See 世子 in Ancient Ranks and Titles. Luckily, Meng Sangyu received favour after entering the palace prevented the Old Madam from acting foolishly. Only since the year before last when the Old Madam passed away due to illness did she restrain herself somewhat.
Hearing that the two sought an audience, Madame Lin’s face displayed a disgusted expression. Just as she was about to wave her hand to send them away, Meng Sangyu devilishly grinned and said with interest, “Let them come in. Let’s see what they’re up to this time.”
“This servant greets Your Ladyship (Rui’zhu greets your Ladyship).” The mother and daughter respectfully knelt down and paid their respects to Meng Sangyu.
“Rise.” Meng Sangyu casually flicked her gold filigree nail guards.
Without looking at her expression and just by listening to her lovely, agreeable yet languid voice which harboured dark intentions, Emperor Zhou’wu knew that this mother and daughter would probably suffer misfortune. He couldn’t help but reveal a pampering smile.
Seeing the Emperor suddenly reveal an extremely delighted smile, Yan Jun’wei couldn’t help but feel somewhat puzzled.
“What business do you have?” asked Meng Sangyu lightly. Her sharply contrasting phoenix eyes 风目 (fèngmù) Eyes slanting a bit upwards. They were considered pretty from a traditional Chinese aesthetic viewpoint. Used to describe a woman. honed in on Meng Rui’zhu who was standing behind Aunt Wen and had deliberately dressed up. Meng Rui’zhu was fourteen this year. She inherited her stature from Duke Meng and was extremely slender. Though her fair and clear complexion was inferior to Meng Sangyu’s peerless beauty, she deserved to be called a pure and fresh beauty. She had a special lingering charm that caused others to feel tenderness towards her and was the type that men adored the most.
“Your Ladyship, what does your honoured self think of your younger sister, Rui’zhu?” Aunt Wen pushed Meng Rui’zhu in forward.
Meng Rui’zhu slightly lowered her gaze, not daring to look directly at her legitimate elder sister’s face. However, it was precisely this half-hidden side profile and shy yet not shy expression, this reverent and respectful attitude that aroused one’s sympathy even more and caused one to be unable to feel even the slightest bit of distaste. This was a girl with rather profound schemes who, despite her young age, knew how to showcase her own charms to the max.
“It’s been three years since we’ve last seen each other. Younger sister has grown much taller and more beautiful, just like a white lotus flower.” 白莲花 (báiliánhuā) A white lotus describes a woman who is innocent and kind. Used sarcastically, it can refer to people who seem pure on the outside but are actually rotten on the inside. [The second case here, meant as a jab~] Meng Sangyu covered her mouth and softly chuckled for no reason.
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On the rooftop, the sound of this light laugh ruthlessly pulled at Emperor Zhou’wu heartstrings. He felt numb yet ticklish; It was an indescribable discomfort. He fervently wished that he could immediately appear before her and bring her into his strong embrace.
“Thank you for your praise, Your Ladyship.” Meng Rui’zhu’s cheeks slightly flushed, slightly increasing her captivating charm.
“If you have something to say, don’t beat about the bush.” Madame Lin couldn’t stand this mother and daughter’s fake expressions and urged them to speak plainly.
“Yes.” Aunt Wen was also impatient. Holding Meng Rui’zhu’s hand, she said, “Your Ladyship, Rui’zhu is already fourteen this year. Next year she will be eligible for the Grand Selection. 大选 (dàxuán) The Grand Selection was a large draft for imperial concubines that occurred every three to five years. The women had to undergo a rigorous elimination process to be chosen. Read this article for specifics [Ming Dynasty] Your Ladyship, these last three years you have not borne a son and moreover presently Gracious Consort has stolen imperial favour. Why not accept Rui’zhu into the Palace? Your honoured self will also have another helper. Rui’zhu is like this servant and with just a glance, you can tell that she will be good at bearing children. She’ll definitely be able to give your Ladyship a helping hand. In the future, if she gives birth to a prince, wouldn’t it be perfect if Your Ladyship brought the child to your honoured self’s side to raise?”
On the rooftop, Emperor Zhou’wu’s expression turned livid after hearing this. What was that supposed to mean? Was she cursing Sangyu to be childless for her whole life? Even if there were no children, it would not behoove this kind of despicable servant to step on Sangyu to advance her own status!
So it was about entering the palace after all! Meng Sangyu lifted her teacup and took a sip. Her bright phoenix eyes stared at Meng Rui’zhu who had nowhere to run. Just when Meng Rui’zhu’s mental endurance was about to reach its limit and her complexion turned from red to purple to white, Meng Sangyu leisurely remarked, “What do you mean by that, Aunt Wen? Are you so convinced that Bengong will be unable to birth a child? Bengong has painstakingly nourished Our health for three years. If We wanted a child, wouldn’t we birth him Ourselves? Why would We bother to adopt someone else’s child?”
“This servant was wholeheartedly considering Your Ladyship’s interests and spoke out of turn. This one begs Your Ladyship’s forgiveness. At present, Gracious Consort is the most favoured in the harem. Your Ladyship, your honoured self’s power is waning. Having a helper is also a good thing. Considering that you are blood-related sisters, Rui’zhu will naturally be with you in heart and mind.” Aunt Wen hastily asked for forgiveness. Her expression was most sincere.
Meng Rui’zhu also softly added, “Elder Sister doesn’t have it easy in the palace. After entering the palace, younger sister will definitely wholeheartedly assist Elder Sister.”
“Hee~” Meng Sangyu mockingly smiled. Her gold-filigree nail guards repeatedly tapped the armrest of the chair. Her lethargic, casual voice suddenly became icy and ruthless. “Wholeheartedly assist Bengong? Do you think Bengong is a fool? Stepping on Bengong to advance your position and obtaining the Emperor’s favour will bring you one step closer to help Meng Yu’da snatch away Elder Brother’s title. That is your true intention! A few days ago you schemed to let Elder Brother run away form home – Bengong still hasn’t settled that score with you yet! If you want to enter the palace, that’s fine. Helping Bengong solidify Our standing is also fine. Once she drinks a bowl of abortion soup 绝子汤 (juézǐ tāng) A medicinal soup for infertility. Bengong will bring Meng Rui’zhu back to the palace with me today. Without a son, she’ll never be able to advance and can only obediently behave under Bengong’s control. Bengong only feels assured using that kind of person. As to whether or not you’re willing, think about it yourselves. Bengong can wait.”
Madame Lin’s furrowed brow relaxed. She calmly and composedly watched as Aunt Wen and her daughter’s faces turned pale. Her daughter was as tough as nails. When she was three years old, Aunt Wen already wasn’t her daughter’s match, let alone now. She had suffered so many losses yet she still hadn’t learned from experience. Aunt Wen deserved praise for her courage.
As expected of the legendary ruthless, vicious Virtuous Consort. Just like the rumours, she was ruthless and cruel, and yet still so frank as she slapped this mother-daughter pair’s faces resoundingly hard. Yan Jun’wei was speechless.
Emperor Zhou’wu clenched his fists and frowned as he struggled to repress a surging smile. Sangyu was still the same. She was wicked but yet so honourably wicked that one didn’t know what to say!
“Your Majesty, didn’t your honoured self used to loathe the arrogant and despotic, cruel and ruthless Virtuous Consort? Nowadays, how come……” Yan Jun’wei teased him in a low voice. He felt that this side of Virtuous Consort was great. Compared to Gracious Consort, it was simply the difference between heaven and earth. Even if she was wicked, she didn’t hide behind a mask. Rather than inspiring feelings of loathing, he thought it was extremely cute.
“Have you experienced the feeling of being brought back from the verge of despair? Have you experienced such hopelessness and panic where you have no choice but to depend on someone else to survive? Have you experienced being together with someone from morning to night, never leaving each other’s sides? You only have eyes for her, your nose is only filled with her scent, and your ears are riveted by the sound of her voice?” Emperor Zhou’wu’s voice was almost a growl. Its implications caused others to be fearful.
“No, I haven’t.” Yan Jun’wei shook his head. Imagining those feelings, they were obviously quite tragic but he didn’t know why he unexpectedly felt somewhat envious.
“When you’re feeling that low, how could you still be able to control your feelings? Zhen also never thought that We would fall into that situation but it was beyond Our control.” Emperor Zhou’wu smiled silently. His expression clearly showed helplessness but his eyes were full of delight. Yan Jun’wei measured the soft lines of his face with a strange expression. He felt that he wasn’t the same high and lofty monarch as before, just an exceedingly normal man, a mere mortal who experienced the joys and woes of life.
Inside the side room, Aunt Wen had recovered from Meng Sangyu’s utterly malicious proposal. She shrilly yelled, “Your Ladyship! How can your honoured self be so cruel? Rui’zhu is your honoured self’s blood-related younger sister!”
“Didn’t you say you would wholeheartedly assist Bengong? Hm? Can’t you even complete this trifling request? If you can’t do it then immediately remove yourself from Bengong’s sight and stop spouting such useless nonsense! Bringing you into the palace, helping you gain favour, assisting you in giving birth to a prince, and then using Bengong as a stepping stone – do you take Bengong for an idiot like yourselves?” Meng Sangyu tilted her head slightly and casually straightened out the hair around her temples. The dark red corners of her lips held a scornful smile.
Having their thoughts laid bare again and again, Aunt Wen and Meng Rui’zhu opened and closed their mouths repeatedly. They were speechless for a long time. Meng Sangyu was still the same as before: When she spoke or took action, she didn’t spare others’ feelings. Trying to scheme or use tricks against her was simply inviting humiliation.
“Alright, it’s almost time for breakfast. Please proceed to the main hall, Your Ladyship.” Madame Lin forcibly held back a grin as she gave Aunt Wen and her daughter a way out of the conversation. After all, it was her daughter’s joyous day to return home and visit her relatives. Causing such an unsightly fuss would be inauspicious.
“Your Majesty, Shen Hui’ru should have also departed. Let’s go to the East Main Road to prepare an ambush.” Yan Jun’wei reminded in a low voice as he raised his head to look at the faintly brightening sky.
“A pair of phoenixes flying together at 7:45 am? Hmph~” Emperor Zhou’wu smiled coldly, reluctant to rise. He glanced around at the secret guards and gave a hand signal to tighten up the protection. Together with Yan Jun’wei, he leapt out of the Imperial Duke’s manor in the direction of the Grand Preceptor’s manor by the East Main Road to prepare a long-ranged ambush.
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Two hours later, the tightly shut palace gates opened once again. Shen Hui’ru and the Fake Emperor sat side by side in the Emperor’s imperial carriage and greeted the wintery light of dawn. They majestically and mightily set out for the Grand Preceptor’s manor.
Slightly lifting the carriage’s curtain to look out at Great Zhou’s citizens who were clustered on both sides of the street, kowtowing and shouting “Long live His Majesty!”, the corners of Shen Hui’ru’s lips couldn’t help but rise in a smile. The gazes of thousands of people focused on her in such a lofty, prestigious position – this sight more than satisfied the void in her heart.
The Grand Preceptor’s manor was right in front of their eyes. Grand Preceptor Shen led everyone in the manor to stand outside the main gates to welcome them. With Chang’xi’s support, Shen Hui’ru descended from the carriage first. She stood beside the carriage and bowed at the waist waiting for the Emperor to debark from the carriage.
The Fake Emperor stood with his hands folded behind his back and under the eyes of all, strode down from the driver’s seat of the carriage in an impressive and dignified manner. It was at this moment that there was a sudden unexpected turn of events. A group of people clad in black swooped down and separated into two directions. One group put their all into charging towards the Fake Emperor in a surprise attack. The other group brandished their broadswords and ruthlessly reaped the lives of everyone from the Grand Preceptor’s manor.
The Imperial Dragon Guards who had followed them were slow in responding. While shouting, “Protect the Emperor!”, they tried to surround the group of black-clothed people. However, the street was already narrow and the imperial carriage took up more than half the space. Moreover, the Imperial Dragon Guards were mounted on horses that weren’t able to be put to good use at all before they were slaughtered a moment later in the chaos. Luckily, the Grand Preceptor’s manor’s guards showed up in time to protect the lives of Grand Preceptor Shen’s family and Shen Hui’ru. Although the Shen family had prepared in advance, the imperial family’s hidden guards had imparted and inherited skills from generation to generation. Each and every one was a master who could fell a hundred foes, let alone these small fry soldiers.
The Fake Emperor hadn’t stepped down from the carriage. When the black-clothed people appeared, his face revealed an aghast expression. He warded blows while leaping off the carriage backwards to dodge. He was soon isolated away from Shen Hui’ru. Originally within the hidden guards, his skill in martial arts was not the best but he was definitely not weak. Even though he was thoroughly surrounded and forced into a dead-end but he could still fight on for a while.
Under the heavy protection of the hidden guards, Yan Jun’wei and Emperor Zhou’wu, willingly entered the alley. Yan Jun’wei raised the broadsword in his hand. Like lightning, he launched a surprise attack on the Fake Emperor. After exchanging several swift and fierce strikes, he cleaved the sword in the Fake Emperor’s hand into two.
“Commander?!” Recognizing his opponent’s moves, the Fake Emperor’s expression showed utter hopelessness. Taking advantage of his momentary lapse, Yan Jun’wei used the back of his sword to knock him out in one blow.
“Your Majesty, quickly change clothes. The Empress Dowager’s army will arrive soon. They’ll help us finish acting out this show.” Yan Jun’wei quickly untied the Fake Emperor’s imperial robe and helped Emperor Zhou’wu put it on. He used the black clothes to bind the Fake Emperor and handed him over to two hidden guards to take away.
Emperor Zhou’wu swiftly fixed his clothing. Meanwhile, outside the alley, the sound of clattering hooves could be heard as the army stormed in. His expression turned cold and without the least hesitation, he brought Yan Jun’wei’s blade to ruthlessly towards his own shoulder. Blood immediately splattered and dyed half his body red. It looked horrifying.
Just at this moment, a troop of valiant soldiers wielding swords charged into the alley. Their armour had the Empress Dowager’s maternal clan’s insignia. Yan Jun’wei pulled out his sword and feigned surprise, quietly whispering, “Empress Dowager.” Immediately after abandoning the Fake Emperor, he shouted, “Stop! Everyone’s on the same side. I have an urgent matter to report to the Empress Dowager!”
At that moment, the Shen family’s guards promptly arrived. Taking advantage of the fact that the Empress Dowager’s soldiers hadn’t heard his shout clearly, they tried to overwhelm him with their greater numbers. Yan Jun’wei pretended to not be a match for them and swiftly withdrew from the scene with his subordinates. Noticing that the Fake Emperor wasn’t dead and that the opposite party also hadn’t had the chance to contact the Empress Dowager, the Shen family’s head guard couldn’t help but let out a sigh of relief. He quickly stepped forward to carry Emperor Zhou’wu, who was on the verge of death, to the imperial carriage and dashed back to the palace.
The Empress Dowager’s imperial phoenix carriage was stopped fifty meters away and guarded heavily by soldiers. Seeing that the Emperor was saved, she immediately turned around and returned to the palace. Shen Hui’ru was in the centre of a circle of Imperial Dragon Guards and wasn’t injured. With the support of a senior palace maid that the Empress Dowager had sent over, she mounted a carriage and turned around to head back to the palace.
Grand Preceptor Shen had been cut by a blade. His right hand was wounded deeply. The bone was visible but he had to wait for the Imperial Physician to come and diagnose him to know whether or not his hand was crippled or not. Everyone else in the Shen family was either injured or killed. It was an absolute disaster. In the chaos, Shen Xi’Yan had been struck down by a stray sword. Not one of his several concubine-born sons and daughters had escaped. Only Shen Xi’Yan’s two-year-old youngest son remained. Since he wasn’t able to stand the fierce wind, they hadn’t brought him outside to welcome the imperial procession and he had avoided calamity.
This was supposed to have been a magnificent and glorious visit to one’s relatives but in the end, it had turned into a tragic bloodbath.
Oof… I apologize for the delay! School packed a harder punch than expected! I’ll be buried in readings for the next while 🙁
Yay!!! Emperor ZW is on his way back to the palace~!!!!! \(> w <)/ What are your thoughts?! What do you think will happen next?
Hnnng > ~ < Rui’zhu is so young!! My goodness! 14?! I forgot that Meng Sangyu is still a teenager too. The way the author describes her makes her seem way older – though I guess she technically is since she’s lived two lives. Also, how old is the Emperor again? He’s been ruling for 10-odd years now but he ascended the throne when he was in his early teens, right?? That makes him ~20-something??? (hopefully??) This… @_@ I get that it was normal in ancient times but it still rubs me the wrong way! Trying not to think about it! (> . <)
JimmyfromIT is working on editing previous chapters. He’s finished revising chapter 27, chapter 28, and chapter 29 for your reading pleasure if you’d like to reread while you wait in between chapters! His picture has been added as well if you’d like to take a look~
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Until next time,
“Alright, it’s almost time for breakfast.” I found it hilarious how all the drama happened before the day even started! They’re in for a long day…