Why Harem Intrigue When You Can Just Raise A Dog Instead? (Chp 61)
Chapter 61: Seducing (勾引)
TL assistant: Saltnpepper
English proofreader: Nyamachi
After the melancholy in her heart had mostly subsided, Imperial Consort led her close confidants back to Zhao’chun Palace.
Seeing his master approach with an imposing air, a eunuch hurried forward and anxiously said, “Reporting to Your Ladyship, the Eighth Prince suddenly broke into a fever and hasn’t stopped crying. Your honoured self should quickly go and see him.”
Imperial Consort’s walking speed was neither too fast nor too slow. She entered the bedroom, removed her cloak, and warmed her hands by the brazier, casually asking, “Have you called for an imperial physician?”
“This servant already called for one. Presently, they are inside offering treatment,” replied the eunuch respectfully.
“Mm,” acknowledged Imperial Consort. She received a cup of tea from a maid and leisurely took a sip, seemingly having absolutely no intention of going over to take a look.
In the past, this child often fell ill, causing her to be mentally and physically exhausted. She was always frightened and restless, fearing that he wouldn’t survive until adulthood. Now, knowing that he had been heavily poisoned and would die sooner or later without any chance of ascending the throne, the last of her patience was finally depleted. This child was simply a burden and she needed to make other plans.
After a short while, the imperial physician came out to make his report. The little prince’s fever had slightly subsided and he was sleeping soundly after drinking medicine.
Imperial Consort wore a grateful expression as she saw him out. After he had walked far away, her genial smile disappeared in a flash. She ordered the head maid by her side, “Go to Qian’qing Palace and ask to see the Emperor. Tell His Majesty that the Eighth Prince is seriously ill and ask him to quickly come see him!”
“Understood.” The maid acknowledged the order and hurried towards Qian’qing Palace.
“Make yourself presentable. In a moment, it will be your turn to shine.” Turning her head, Imperial Consort gave instructions to a palace maid with a gorgeous appearance and impressive figure.
Last time, when she had sent the Emperor soup, he didn’t even bother to spare her a glance. Even though the maid named Chu’xue had felt somewhat disturbed, in the end, she was still quite young and couldn’t completely hide her feelings.
“Wear this perfume sachet. It will benefit you.” Imperial Consort smiled faintly and took a pink sachet from a trusted elderly maid and passed it to her.
The scent from the perfume sachet was really strong. Inside contained a multitude of floral scents. The scent would intoxicate a person if they took a whiff of it. If they smelled it for a long time, one would even become infatuated with the scent. The elderly maid beside Imperial Consort supported Chu’xue, who had a red face, blurred eyes, and a slack figure. She pinched her arm and the sharp pain quickly jolted Chu’xue back to her senses. Only then did she realize the perfume sachet’s effect.
“Place it on the windowsill to cool it down. Put it on again when the Emperor arrives. When this perfume sachet is warmed, the scent will be even stronger and it will be of assistance to you.” Imperial Consort’s gaze swept over Chu’xue’s face which was brimming with desire, and her eyes slightly revealed a satisfied expression.
“Did you drink the medicine for today?” Walking back into the hall, she couldn’t help but ask.
“Replying to Your Ladyship, this servant drank it.” Chu’xue replied with great deference.
“Very good. If you can become pregnant with a prince in one try, Bengong will treat you well in the future. Go and dress yourself up.” Imperial Consort waved a hand and Chu’xue withdrew with cheerful steps.
“Idiot!” Imperial Consort sneered at her retreating figure. She casually fiddled with her luxurious nail guards. After having swallowed that strong medicine, though Chu’xue would definitely bear a son, her lifeblood would be consumed by the fetus and result in her dying from blood loss. Ultimately, Imperial Consort would effortlessly gain a prince.
Hehe~ Thinking until here, Imperial Consort covered her mouth with her embroidered handkerchief, looking like a cat that got the cream.
In Qian’qing Palace, after hearing Chang’xi’s report, the Emperor originally planned to send over Imperial Physician Du without personally going himself, but he changed his mind after thinking of something.
“Bring that flask of celestial water that you obtained two days ago.” The corners of his lips curved upwards as he smiled thoughtfully. He donned his cloak and headed towards Zhao’chun Palace with his hands clasped behind him. Chang’xi took out a small black porcelain bottle from the antique shelf in the secret room and stored it within the folds of his clothes. His face showed some reluctance. He hadn’t amused himself enough with this thing yet!
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“This concubine greets Your Majesty!” Having been repeatedly craning her neck to look to see if the Emperor was coming, Imperial Consort’s eyes reddened when she caught sight of the Emperor striding over with large steps. Two lines of hot tears streamed down her face as she keenly portrayed the image of a concerned, loving mother whose son was as precious as her own life.
When it came to the women in the palace, each and every one of them was an outstanding actress, including Sangyu! While Sangyu was in the habit of publicly portraying herself as cruel, ruthless, domineering, and bossy to conceal her soft personality, these women were in the habit of using gentleness to hide their cruelty and ruthlessness. The former caused one to feel tender affection, while the latter caused one to feel hate and disgust.
Emperor Zhou’wu’s sharp eyes swept over Imperial Consort’s face. He didn’t permit her to rise and directly headed into the inner hall.
Imperial Consort wore an embarrassed expression. She quickly wiped her tears and stood up to hastily follow after him.
There were quite a few braziers burning in the inner hall and the temperature was considerably warm. Despite removing his cloak and only wearing an unlined garment, he still felt hot. The prince’s cheeks were red as he breathed strenuously. He could still be said to be sleeping soundly. His condition was nothing at all like what the palace maid had described while incessantly crying and making a fuss. A young maid wearing a pink uniform kept watch by the bedside. Her elegant brows were slightly knit, her small mouth was slightly pursed, and her face showed an anxious expression.
Seeing the Emperor come in, she hastily knelt by the bed and quietly paid her respects. Her voice was delicate and lovely, and was rather pleasing to the ear.
“Has the imperial physician seen him yet?” asked Emperor Zhou’wu in a low voice. He sat at the edge of the bed and placed a hand on the Eighth Prince’s forehead, addressing the maid in an indifferent manner.
Chu’xue was a bit disappointed, but roused herself and replied, “Reporting to Your Majesty, Her Ladyship was extremely anxious and immediately called for an imperial physician to take a look. The Eighth Prince went to sleep after finishing his medicine.”
“How could he have a fever without cause?” Emperor Zhou’wu coolly looked sideways at her and his voice took on a slightly heavier tone. His line of sight paused for an instant on the pink perfume sachet hanging from her waist. He had smelled that nefarious scent since he had entered the room. It was as if someone had put fresh flowers on top of rotting corpses – one couldn’t help but feel nauseous, no matter how good it smelled.
“This servant also doesn’t know. Please forgive this lowly one, Your Majesty.” Chu’xue kowtowed. Her sorrowful expression added a sympathetic charm to her tender and beautiful face.
“If you can’t even look after your master properly, how do you expect Zhen to forgive you? Someone come, drag her away and cane her 80 times.” Emperor Zhou’wu’s manner of speaking was the same as usual, but the words he spoke caused others’ blood to run cold.
When Virtuous Consort ordered for those imperial guards to be flogged as punishment, ten of them died. If eighty strikes could do in these courageous iron-willed men, what would happen to a sweet and delicate woman? Even if she didn’t die, she wouldn’t escape becoming half-paralyzed!
Imperial Consort paused as she entered the inner hall and looked at the seated man with eyes full of shock and terror. What happened to His Majesty? In the past, whenever she frowned, he would be distressed for quite a while. Teasing him a little would cause him to burn with passion. But seeing him now, how could he have become so callous?
“Please spare this servant’s life, Your Majesty!” cried Chu’xue in fear. She crawled forward on her knees, begging for forgiveness.
“Shut her up and drag her away!”
Inside, the scent was even thicker. An impatient heat began to spread in his lower abdomen. Their son was lying on the bed seriously ill, yet these women still tried to seduce him to the point of engaging in the act right in front of the sickbed.
Thinking up to here, Emperor Zhou’wu’s expression turned cold. He sent Chu’xue outside with one kick and turned his dagger-sharp gaze towards Imperial Consort.
Imperial Consort’s breath hitched. She forced a smile and walked forward. Her voice had a slight tremble, “Your Majesty, please spare her this once for this concubine’s sake. Imperial son is heavily ill and mustn’t see blood.”
“Do you think that the air in the hall smells nice? What will happen if you let the Eighth Prince smell it? Hmph! ‘Mustn’t see blood’ – What a warm and caring mother!” Emperor Zhou’wu sneered sarcastically and beckoned Chang’xi, “Open all the windows and call Imperial Physician Du over. Order the people outside to strike without holding back!”
In the past, the Emperor had also smelled this scent often. Each and every time, he had taken advantage of the situation for his own benefit. In front of his son’s sickbed, he repeatedly resisted against his more primal instincts. I’m not 100% sure what ‘抵-死-交-缠’ means. Usually when there’s a hyphen between words, there’s another implied meaning. This was what I got based on context. If anyone is more knowledgeable about this, kindly let this cat know in the comments.
Why was he so angry today? Imperial Consort was terrified as she stammered a reply, “Your Majesty, imperial son has already seen an imperial physician. Given that he is still asleep, why not call for Imperial Physician Du to treat him on another day?” If Imperial Physician Du came over, her tricks would likely be exposed.
Emperor Zhou’wu glanced down at her and continued to hold the Eighth Prince’s hand without saying a word. A suffocating pressure spread throughout the hall. Imperial Consort’s blood had completely run cold. Her heart beat wildly, almost as if it were about to jump out of her chest.
A few moments later, Imperial Physician Du arrived in a rush. Upon smelling the leftover scent lingering in the room, his brows furrowed. However, he didn’t say anything and advanced forward to grasp Eighth Prince’s hand to take his pulse.
Emperor Zhou’wu strolled outside to wait for the results and Imperial Consort promptly followed suit. Before she was 100% confident that she could win back the Emperor’s love, but now she felt at a loss like never before. Was this man before her, who was radiating authority with his frighteningly lofty manner, truly the same person as the incredibly romantic Emperor from before?
Imperial Consort took a sharp breath and replied in a trembling voice, “How could that be possible?”
“Not unless Buddha descended to the mortal world, right?” Emperor Zhou’wu’s smile deepened as his long and slender fingers lightly touched the flower buds on the Bodhi tree. Layer upon layer, the furled petals gradually bloomed. It was an incredibly beautiful sight.
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The servants were stunned speechless. Only the expressions of Imperial Consort and the elderly maid by her side turned deathly pale.
“Buddha has descended to the mortal world and Heaven is watching over Great Zhou – Does this sound familiar to you?” Emperor Zhou’wu turned around and arrived in front of Imperial Consort. Each word was enunciated slowly.
Imperial Consort’s breath hitched and she looked at the man, aghast. One thought repeated over and over in her mind: He knows! Somehow he knows everything!
This budding Bodhi tree was something she had found with much difficulty. She had sent many pots to the Empress Dowager’s Ci’ning Palace. Then, she had obtained a special medicine from her father, Marquis Yong’an’s Manor. One only needed to moisten their fingertips with a few drops and touch the flower bud in order to make it bloom.
Imperial Consort originally intended to invite Master Huineng Actual historical figure; Huineng (638-713), the Sixth Patriarch of Chan Buddhism to the palace to accompany the Empress Dowager and discuss Buddhist dharma. She had wanted to use the miracle of the Bodhi flower blooming and Master Huineng’s prestige to coerce Virtuous Consort to become a nun. However, she never imagined that the Emperor would unexpectedly know everything – he was even able to obtain the special medicine! It was too frightening!
Imperial Consort couldn’t suppress her trembling.
Emperor Zhou’wu glanced at her indifferently and sat down in the seat of honour. His handsome expression didn’t seem suspicious, but it was precisely because he didn’t demand an explanation or take any action that caused others to become more fearful of impending disaster.
Imperial Consort tried her best to stand firm with the help of her trusted elderly maid. There was a fine layer of cold sweat on her forehead. It was at this moment that Imperial Physician Du came out of the room. He bowed and reported, “Reporting to Your Majesty, the evil wind 风邪 (fēngxié) Traditional Chinese Medicine lingo for a pathogenic influence. has entered the Eighth Prince’s body. Since he already drank the medicine, he will be fine. However, his body had just recently regained quite a bit of vitality, only for him to fall ill again. In the future, he will need to take extra care.”
“He was completely fine before – how could the evil wind have entered his body?” inquired Emperor Zhou’wu gravely.
“Replying to Your Majesty, either the Eighth Prince had been exposed to the cold for a long time, or the quantity of medicine he was drinking every day was reduced. Recently, the weather has been colder so this humble official adjusted the prescription and deliberately added several different medicinal ingredients to guard against the evil wind. If his highness took the fixed quantity of medicine at a fixed time and reduced his exposure to the cold, he wouldn’t have fallen ill to this degree.” Imperial Physician Du spoke confidently. He was the Empress Dowager’s exclusive imperial physician and had lived at Thousand Buddha Mountain for years on end. He had no need to mind the imperial concubines’ pride and spoke frankly without hiding anything.
“Prescribe medicine. We will have to trouble Imperial Physician Du to take great care in the next few days.” After saying this, Emperor Zhou’wu had a gloomy expression in his eyes as he glanced at Imperial Consort. She was on the verge of collapsing.
Imperial Physician Du pondered for a moment and wrote out a prescription. He handed it over to one of Zhao’chun Palace’s maids. Emperor Zhou’wu didn’t say anything else and passed by the ashen-faced Imperial Consort, directly heading towards Qian’qing Palace.
“Your Ladyship, what does His Majesty mean?” asked the trusted elderly maid worriedly. After everyone left, she supported her master, who had gone limp, to sit in the seat of honour.
“No idea. For the time being, let’s wait and see!” Imperial Consort’s teeth chattered. It was a good while before she could spit out this reply.
In the main hall of Qian’qing Palace, Emperor Zhou’wu’s eyes were closed as he leaned against the back of his chair in thought. She could even use this treacherous method on her only child.
He was again taken aback by the ruthlessness of the women of the Inner Palace. After all, he was a monarch. Apart from Sangyu, had he ever tried to understand another woman’s thoughts?
As he was walking back to Qian’qing Palace, he began to understand their thought process. The imperial concubines were planning to make use of a palace maid or low-ranked concubine as a surrogate. Once they had a healthy child, their frail child naturally became useless, and they wouldn’t hesitate to discard or even poison them.
“Haha, as expected, it’s the mindset of the most malicious kind of woman.” He gave a cold smile and picked up his imperial brush to quickly draft an imperial decree:
Imperial Consort was negligent in looking after Our imperial offspring. From today onwards, she will be demoted to the rank of Imperial Concubine. 嫔 (pín) rank. Her living quarters will be transferred to a side hall of Zhao’chun Palace so that she can atone for her sins by caring for Eighth Prince day and night. In the future, if Eighth Prince falls seriously ill, she will be caned ten times. If he dies prematurely, she will be demoted to the lowest rank of palace maid and sent away to the Laundry Department as punishment.
“After you issue the imperial edict, make the rounds. Inform the other princes’ mother consorts that if a prince encounters a mishap due to their negligence, they will be punished in accordance with this precedent.” Laying down his brush, Emperor Zhou’wu massaged his temples and added, “In the next few days, plant several people by the princes’ and princesses’ sides. Give Zhen an account of their circumstances at all times. Go on then.”
Chang’xi acknowledged the order. He silently expressed sympathy for Imperial Consort. Being demoted by nine ranks didn’t matter much; the tragedy lay in the last sentence. The Eighth Prince had been poisoned. It was normal for him to be under the weather for three days or seriously ill for five days. Then adding on today’s incident, of course his core vitality was weakened even more. Even if Imperial Consort treated him with the utmost care in the future, she wouldn’t be able to avoid the beatings every three to five days! Without waiting for the Eighth Prince to die of illness, after many days of this, it was entirely possible that Imperial Consort would die before the Eighth Prince. Even if she was lucky enough to not die, she would be unable to escape the fate of being demoted to a palace maid. The Emperor was using a soft knife to kill her without shedding blood!
In Zhao’chun Palace, Imperial Consort fainted and collapsed on the ground after receiving the imperial decree. She wouldn’t wake no matter how much her maids called out for her. When the rest of the imperial princes’ mothers heard the news, each and every one of them refrained from thinking unnecessary thoughts and wholeheartedly focused on caring for their child. The imperial physicians were incredibly busy for a while.
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Here is chapter 61~ Some updates for you:
- Nyanovels has a new banner, courtesy of JimmyfromIT! It suits us cats, deshou? Do you like it?
- I’ve updated the Ancient Setting Glossary and Chinese Idiom list for those who are interested~
- Saltnpepper’s bio has finally been added to the team’s about page! Please check out their stylish avi! Unfortunately, they will be on hiatus for the next while.
- Therefore, Nyamachi is in need of another translation assistant~ Please find a description of the role here and use the contact page to get in touch if you’re interested! The only change to the recruitment post is that even though this role is voluntary for now, thanks to everyone’s support, we may have enough to split ad revenue & donations at the end of the year.
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Until next time,