Why Harem Intrigue When You Can Just Raise A Dog Instead? (Chp 45)
Chapter 45: Nursing the Sick 1 (侍疾1)
Translation checker and Editor: Nyamachi
English proofreader: JimmyfromIT
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It was midnight and Qian’qing Palace was still brightly lit. Emperor Zhou’wu sat behind the imperial desk and perused the memorials and imperial decrees issued by Shen Hui’ru in recent months. Because of the heavy workload, Yan Jun’wei and two subordinates helped on the side. Gripping the handle of the knife in his hand, The guard outside the door stood upright in dimness of the night, guarding Qian’qing Palace like a wall of stone. 铁桶一样 (tiě tǒng yīyàng) “Like an iron barrel”, an analogy for being unbreakable and having no weak points.
The servants of Qian’qing Palace were killed indiscriminately by the secret guards during the outing to visit relatives. When the Empress Dowager returned, she used the fact that the Emperor was injured as a pretext to clear out the servants on the grounds of poor service. The present Qian’qing Palace was under Emperor Zhou’wu’s complete control.
As he looked through the memorials and imperial decrees, Emperor Zhou’wu made notes on a sheet of paper. Finally, he picked up the list of names he had written and sneered.
“In five months, there have been so many officials who have been misled. Should Zhen be ashamed of Our poor governance or should Zhen lament that Shen Zhong’liang’s methods are so skillful?” Putting down the list, he grabbed a red brush 朱笔 (zhūbǐ) is a red brush used to review official documents. and circled specific names, then handed it to Yan Jun’wei.
“These people occupy important positions and need to be removed as soon as possible. Do it discreetly, Zhen will slowly take care of the rest. The future of this place depends on it. Without this rebellion, Zhen would not have been able to know this court so clearly. From now on, other than Shen Zhong’liang, the court must be replaced by new blood so that Zhen can further weaken the influence of the prominent noble families. Oh~ When Zhen looks at it this way, Zhen ought to thank Shen Zhong’liang.” He leaned back in his chair with a murderous grin on his face.
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It looked like a bloodbath would happen in the future! Yan Jun’wei hid a sigh, took the list, then took out two imperial decrees and placed them in front of the Emperor. “These two imperial decrees have not been issued yet. Your Majesty needs to look over them.”
Emperor Zhou’wu picked up the first imperial decree and quickly read it through.
This was the imperial decree that Shen Hui’ru had drafted to eliminate the Li family, execute Chancellor Li and Imperial Noble Consort Li, and demote the Second Prince to a commoner. Although most of the charges she used to bring down Chancellor Li were true, many were also fabricated out of thin air. Chancellor Li and Imperial Noble Consort Li’s crimes did not merit death, but the Second Prince had been badly beaten by scores of planks because the executioner had dealt his own cruel punishment in secret. Afterwards, he had not received medical treatment and his legs had become deformed. Demoting him to a commoner would be tantamount to cutting off his means to survive.
Although he didn’t like the Li family, he hated the thought of Shen Hui’ru’s poisonous scheme succeeding even more.
After pondering for a moment, he said to Yan Jun’wei, “Tomorrow you will leak the news of the Empress Dowager’s return to Imperial Noble Consort Li in the Cold Palace. Then, clear out the guards and let her escape. She is a smart person and will definitely run to the Empress Dowager to demand justice. Zhen will borrow the Empress Dowager’s hand to reopen Chancellor Li’s case. What kind of punishment the Li family and Imperial Noble Consort Li ought to receive will depend on the Investigation Bureau’s verdict after due process.” For those who don’t know, due process is the requirement that legal matters be resolved according to established rules and principles, and that individual cases be treated fairly under the law.
Yan Jun’wei nodded in acknowledgement and watched him pick up the other imperial decree with anticipation.
“Hmph!” The imperial decree was violently slammed against the imperial desk, causing an alarming and oppressive noise. The subordinates who were organizing the official documents jumped in surprise. Yan Jun’wei raised his eyebrows as if he was watching a performance.
“That black-hearted woman! She intends to destroy Yan’zhou and the Meng family! It’s a pity that Shen Xi’yan is dead, otherwise Zhen would make him divorce his wife to marry another and give the Shen family a taste of their own medicine!” Emperor Zhou’wu burst with rage. He picked up the imperial decree and threw it into the brazier at his feet. His pair of pitch-black eyes glinted darkly under the light of the fire.
This was Meng Yan’zhou’s Marriage Proclamation! The other party was Huai’nan Wang’s second daughter from his first wife, whom he had left behind as a hostage. This woman was licentious by nature and had deceitful methods. She had caused countless scandals before she was even married! Beating her servant to death was one of the lighter scandals, and there were even rumours that she had been pregnant before marriage!! Even if she was a high and noble Princess of the Third Rank, there were few people interested in her by the ripe age of nineteen. Nineteen was considered old to not yet be married.
A marriage bestowed by the Emperor could not be annulled. If this imperial decree was issued, Meng Yan’zhou and even the entire Meng clan would have become the laughing stock of the capital and would have never been able to recover their reputation. Emperor Zhou’wu closed his eyes, his heart pounding. It was lucky that he had returned before this had been issued, otherwise, who knew how bitter and furious Sangyu would be!
Exhaling a tense breath, he sullenly looked at Yan Jun’wei and prudently instructed, “Go and find out what kind of person Fu Guang’da’s eldest daughter is, as well as all of the capital’s meritorious noble families’ unmarried daughters of the right age. Pick out a few good ones. If Sangyu asks about this in the future, then Zhen will be able to explain Ourselves.”
You’re the Emperor, yet you still need to explain yourself to Her Ladyship Virtuous Consort? Yan Jun’wei inwardly questioned while he acknowledged the order.
At this moment, Chang’xi swished his horsetail whisk as he entered and softly greeted the two.
“Get up. What did she call you over for?” Emperor Zhou’wu asked in a low voice. Recently, the servants in Zhong’cui Palace and Qian’qing Palace were all Empress Dowager’s people. Shen Hui’ru was unable to pass through the secret passageway to manage governmental affairs, so in the afternoon she would hand over a slip of paper asking Emperor Zhou’wu to send Chang’xi over as she had an important matter to discuss.
Chang’xi took out a small porcelain bottle from his clothes and half-kneeled in front of Emperor Zhou’wu. His voice returned to its deep timbre, “Gracious Consort handed over the bottle of medicine to this subordinate for this subordinate to secretly hand it to Nian’ci tomorrow. She will add it to the incense that the Empress Dowager lights for Buddha every day.”
Emperor Zhou’wu opened the cork and sniffed lightly. A murderous look flashed across his pitch-black eyes.
Yan Jun’wei took the porcelain bottle, smelled it, and said coldly, “It’s Soul Resting incense. The smell is exactly the same as Buddha incense. If you keep lighting it for ten days, a person’s vitality will wane and they’ll die.” Shen Hui’ru really dared to think and go this far. A woman like this once pleased him, but how did the Emperor feel now?
Emperor Zhou’wu showed no emotion. He took back the porcelain bottle, placed it in his palm and played with it carefully. The corners of his mouth raised into a smile, looking very satisfied. The harder it was to tell what he was thinking, the more apprehensive Yan Jun’wei felt.
“Give the medicine to the Empress Dowager and let her take care of it herself. Then go fetch a bottle of Jealous Woman incense and light it for Shen Hui’ru tomorrow.” He spoke indifferently and threw the bottle to Yan Jun’wei.
Jealous Woman incense was colourless and odourless. If added with other perfumes, it would kill the fetus inside a pregnant woman and render her infertile. This incense was so potent and effective that it was banned in the Zhou Dynasty.
Yan Jun’wei nodded solemnly. Those who jump into the pit of death can’t be pulled back, even by ten horses 人要找死，十匹马也拉不回来 (rén yào zhǎo sǐ, shí pǐ mǎ yě lā bù huí lái) Horses are seen as strong animals, and one of their uses used to be to pull people out of pits. Shen Hui’ru shall be left to face her own consequences.
“Did she say anything else?” Emperor Zhou’wu tapped a finger against the table.
“Replying to the Emperor, Gracious Consort sent this subordinate to give this to your honoured self.” Chang’xi handed over a few sheets of paper.
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The papers detailed the government affairs that the Fake Emperor had to deal with in the next ten days. Shen Hui’ru had written a detailed explanation and attached a list of names, asking him to draw up the imperial decrees as soon as possible and assign these people to her designated positions. They had been hastily assigned a post a year ago.
Seeing this, Emperor Zhou’wu laughed and handed the list to Yan Jun’wei, “Deal with this together as well. Shen Hui’ru is really generous, handing out such high positions. Serving under her must be so glorious.”
“Indeed, it’s glorious, and it’ll become even more glorious after crossing into the underworld.” 黄泉 (huáng quán) The Yellow Springs, the underworld of Chinese mythology. Yan Jun’wei revealed a murderous smile. It was still like the old saying, those who jump into the pit of death can’t be pulled back, even by ten horses!
After all the urgent documents were dealt with, Emperor Zhou’wu dismissed his subordinates and went to bed full of excitement. He closed his eyes, thinking that when he woke up he would get to see Sangyu! He squeezed the sachet in his hand and thought about it in silence.
The next day, Meng Sangyu was also full of anticipation as she made her way to Qian’qing Palace. Although she had had her suspicions yesterday, without any close interactions, she couldn’t be certain.
At 6 am, 卯时 (mǎo shí) Between 5 to 7 am. the sky was only dimly lit and there were still a few hazy stars in the sky. The bone-chilling wind scraped against people’s cheeks painfully and even an exhaled breath could freeze instantly. Qian’qing Palace was lit with an orange hue, giving one warmth from afar.
Meng Sangyu held the small hand brazier in her hand and stood outside Qian’qing Palace, looking into the distance for a while before walking in slowly. Yin’cui and Bi’shui followed behind her with lowered eyes and bowed heads. They didn’t dare to carelessly look around.
“Her Ladyship Virtuous Consort seeks an audience!” Twenty meters away from the palace doors, the eunuchs who guarded the entrance chorused in unison.
“Granted!” called a deep male voice.
Meng Sangyu paused. She detected a hint of urgency in that voice. She shook her head, brushed the thought aside, and leisurely walked in. She curtsied with the utmost reverence and paid her respects. Her knees had only bent halfway before she heard that voice again, speaking quickly, “No need for the formalities. Come over and help Zhen change.”
“Yes,” replied Meng Sang’yu softly. She walked to the side of the bed to help the man up. She met the man’s deep eyes and was momentarily stricken with fear. Those eyes were as unfathomable as an abyss. When they looked towards her, they seemed to be fixed on her as if they wanted to absorb her entire person whole. There was no coldness, no indifference, only a pitch-black darkness that she couldn’t recognize. It was as if some kind of intense emotion was surging within.
Was this the real Emperor Zhou’wu? She lowered her head, feeling a little uncertain.
“Sang-…What’s wrong, Beloved Consort? Will you not help Zhen change?” Emperor Zhou’wu extended his arms and brought her into his embrace. He wanted to hug her tightly but endured because he felt Sangyu go stiff for a moment. She was rejecting him!
“First, Your Majesty, please release his concubine, then this concubine will immediately help Your Majesty change. It is cold in the morning, so be careful of catching a chill.” Meng Sang’yu smiled softly and broke free from Emperor Zhou Wu’s embrace very naturally.
The corners of his mouth are clearly smiling, but his eyes are cold; He is obviously looking at me attentively, but his eyes are empty.
Emperor Zhou’wu suddenly remembered these two sentences that Sangyu once used to describe him, but in reality, when did Sangyu ever treat him any differently? The curves of his smile gradually flattened into a straight line and he stared at the beautiful smiling woman in front of him with cheerless eyes.
“Is something the matter, Your Majesty?” Meng Sangyu’s heart jumped slightly when she saw his unfathomable, gloomy gaze, and she immediately cast away her doubts. Was this the real Emperor or not? For a moment, she actually couldn’t tell the difference.
“It’s nothing, help Zhen get dressed.” After stroking the corner of the woman’s slightly curved eyes, Emperor Zhou’wu smiled again and spread his arms. One day, his eyes would reflect his true self.
Meng Sangyu blinked and suppressed her unsettled feelings. Carefully avoiding the wound on his shoulder, she changed his clothes. She wrung a wet handkerchief to clean his face and hands. During this time, the man’s deep and serene gaze kept encircling her, making her scalp tingle.
A steaming hot breakfast had been arranged just as they finished. Meng Sangyu helped Emperor Zhou’wu to his seat at the table while standing beside him, preparing to serve him the dishes. In case anyone finds this strange, this was normal, expected behaviour of wives in ancient times arguably until ~50 years ago.
“Beloved Consort, sit down and feed Zhen.” Emperor Zhou’wu pulled the woman to sit down beside him.
“Ah?” Meng Sangyu’s eyes widened as she desperately tried to clear her ears.
“Beloved Consort, feed Zhen. Zhen is injured and cannot move easily.” Emperor Zhou’wu stared at her and opened his mouth. Sangyu used to quite enjoy feeding him food.
Jeez, you hurt your shoulder, not your hand, okay?! You must be doing this to me on purpose! This man is definitely the Fake Emperor!
Meng Sangyu forced a stiff smile, but the voice inside her was roaring.
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Well, it looks like the Emperor is preparing to clean out the traitors. More importantly, though, he finally gets to spend some alone time with his beloved Meng Sangyu! Will he get to show his attractive qualities to her? Or will he mess up royally (ba-dum-tss) and offend her? Find out next time on WHI.
Hope these translations are good enough to understand the story (credit goes to the editor), it’s hard to translate certain idioms and culture-specific nuances. This was a fun experience.
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