Why Harem Intrigue When You Can Just Raise A Dog Instead? (Chp 62)

Chapter 62: Er’Bao (二宝)

Translator: Nyamachi
TL assistant: Tygris
English proofreader: Umiyuki


✿.。.:*{  This chapter is dedicated to Austyn~
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In Qian’qing Palace, the piles of memorials stacked on the imperial desk increased again. At 6 am, [1]卯时 (mǎoshí) 5–7 am in the 时-刻 timekeeping system. Read more about Ancient Chinese Timekeeping~ the Emperor held imperial court to handle government affairs. After adjourning court, he rushed to Ci’ning Palace to visit the Empress Dowager and Virtuous Consort. He only relaxed for one shichen [2]2 hours before returning to continue his work. Often, he could only relax by midnight. [3]子时 (zǐshí) 11 pm–1 am After no more than three or four days under these conditions, the black circles under his eyes darkened considerably again and his appearance became extremely haggard.

Chang’xi was quite concerned about the Emperor’s health and stepped forward to say something, but hesitated. Just as he had finished carefully choosing his words, he was interrupted by the man’s cold laugh. A memorial was immediately hurled towards the ground.

Chang’xi picked up the memorial and placed it to one side. He carefully inquired, “Your Majesty, was it another memorial impeaching Imperial Duke Meng?”

“Mm.” Emperor Zhou’wu closed his eyes and rubbed his temples. He solemnly said, “In the great victory at the frontier, our troops trampled the Ye’lu Emperor’s imperial palace. Originally, it should’ve been something for everyone to celebrate, yet these ministers insist on fixating on the borderland troops’ faults. They fear the further advancement of the military officers!”

The Late Emperor had favoured the civil officials while putting restrictions on the military. The civil officials prided themselves on their superiority. On the surface their criticisms seemed to be justified, however in reality, the root cause was but a petty rivalry between factions.

Chang’xi pursed his lips. He disapproved of these pedantic officials. Who knew what they would think if they were to know that the crime of beheading a hundred thousand prisoners of war for which they were impeaching Imperial Duke Meng was actually something directly incited by the Emperor. The act of impeaching Imperial Duke Meng on the grounds of heartless injustice and brutal cruelty was just like indirectly impeaching the Emperor!

Chang’xi observed a moment of silence for these civil officials.

“Your Majesty, since your honoured self is upset, why not rest for a moment? That puppy has already fully recovered. Shall this servant bring it to Her Ladyship Virtuous Consort?” Chang’xi bowed as he made the suggestion.

“Oh? It’s recovered already? Bring it here. Zhen will personally make the trip.” Emperor Zhou’wu stopped rubbing his temples and delight leaked from his expression.

Every time Her Ladyship Virtuous Consort was mentioned, His Majesty would always become incredibly relaxed. He could even put aside important matters to prioritize Her Ladyship.

Chang’xi sighed inwardly, brandished his horsetail whisk, and dispatched a eunuch to the Taming Enclosure.

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Emperor Zhou’wu came around from behind the imperial desk and stooped down to observe the cutie in the cage. It was curled up and whining incessantly. Whether it was its appearance or its build, the puppy looked exactly the same as A’Bao. They were nearly indistinguishable.

When Sangyu sees it, she’ll definitely take a liking to it! He inwardly pondered. Deliberately ignoring the discomfort in his heart, he instructed Chang’xi to bring the cage to Ci’ning Palace.

In Ci’ning Palace, Zhao’yi Li and the Empress Dowager were in the middle of chanting sutras in the prayer hall. Both had lived through significant ups and downs and these experiences had made them impervious to life’s woes. As a result, they got along splendidly. Having been inspired by the Empress Dowager, nowadays Zhao’yi Li wore a monk’s robe when meeting with others and believed herself to be detached from worldly affairs. Whenever he saw her like this, it always caused Emperor Zhou’wu endless post-traumatic stress. If he hadn’t found her as a replacement, then the one wearing a monk’s robe with her heart set on becoming a nun would have undoubtedly been Sangyu.

Since Meng Sangyu had to take over managing palace affairs within five days, she had no time to accompany the Empress Dowager. Presently, she was in a side hall looking over the palace account books from previous years. If there was something that she didn’t understand, she would make a note of it. Then, when the Empress Dowager had some free time, she would go over to ask her. Thankfully, she had a lot of management experience in her previous life and was great with numbers. She didn’t feel like there were any difficulties at all.

“Your Ladyship, His Majesty has arrived.” Nurse Feng, who was standing guard at the door, noticed the man approaching with large strides and hurried inside to announce his arrival.

Meng Sangyu closed the account book in her hand and stuffed it under the pile of account books in order to hide her bold and powerful calligraphy. In tacit understanding, Yin’cui and Bi’shui brought over a wet handkerchief to wipe clean the ink on her hands.

Last time she had played the part of a fierce tigress from a military house who wasn’t knowledgeable in the literary arts and had the Emperor teach her calligraphy. This time, there was too big of an improvement. The vigour in her brushstrokes was strong and solid. The Emperor wasn’t a fool – she might even be charged with the crime of deceiving the Emperor.

“This concubine respectfully greets Your Majesty.” Quickly walking to the doorway to welcome the Emperor, she had just started bending her knees to curtsy when she was energetically pulled into the man’s bosom for a hug. Meng Sangyu was calm and collected as she wrapped her arms around the man’s powerful waist and settled into his arms. When it came to intimate activities with the opposite sex, she was beginning to slowly get used to it.

“How did your studies go today?” The man’s low voice echoed in her ears. There was an indescribable tenderness in his tone as he pulled her over to sit together on the divan. At the same time, he conveniently tidied the hair around her temples and swept a part of it behind her ears. Finally, he intimately massaged her earlobes.

Meng Sangyu leaned her head to the side to evade him while glancing sideways at him. Her clear phoenix eyes were half bashful, half coquettishly feigning anger, causing the man to give a low chuckle. His sexy laugh made Meng Sangyu’s heart tremble. To be honest, this man’s looks were impressive. He had a soldierly build and a deadly charm emanated from his whole body. It wasn’t something the average person could resist. Luckily, Meng Sangyu had experienced two lifetimes and her heart was as strong as steel. Otherwise, she would have yielded much earlier against his gentle offence, abandoning all her defences.

“Replying to Your Majesty, this concubine’s studies went fairly smoothly.” Meng Sangyu came back to her senses and composed herself enough to answer. The days in Ci’ning Palace were very relaxing. The vegetarian food was also quite delicious. She felt a bit reluctant to leave and wanted to extend her stay by a few days.

“Mm, it’s been four days already. You better not have forgotten our agreement.” Emperor Zhou’wu grasped her hand and gently reminded her. He seemed to have remembered something and his voice deepened, “Has your body recovered?”

Can’t you focus on something else? Meng Sangyu put on a bashful act and nodded her head. In reality, she was secretly rolling her eyes and replied in a voice almost too soft to hear, “Replying to Your Majesty, it’s almost completely recovered.” It seemed like she wouldn’t be able to avoid the days of rolling around in the sheets after all.

“Then that’s good.” The man’s voice roughened and his grip on the woman’s small hand unconsciously tightened.

“Look at what Zhen brought over for you.” Striving to control his longing, the man beckoned Chang’xi with his hand. Chang’xi rushed to call over the eunuch who was waiting outside the doors, holding the golden cage.

“A’Bao?!” Staring at the brown puppy inside the cage, Meng Sangyu couldn’t help but stand and walk forward a few steps. Since she was too emotional, she didn’t notice that when she called out for A’Bao, the man by her side shivered and even unconsciously responded.

Looking at Sangyu, Nurse Feng and everyone’s attention shifted to the puppy in the cage and no one noticed his loss of self-control. Emperor Zhou’wu let out a sigh of relief. The Heavens knew that when Sangyu called out his name with her voice full of pleasant surprise, he almost couldn’t control his impulse to throw himself into her bosom and lick and kiss her delicate lips.

Picking up a teacup to hide his somewhat stiff expression, Emperor Zhou’wu gaze moved from the table to look at Sangyu. He watched as she repeatedly urged the eunuch to open the cage, hugged the small puppy to her bosom, and was unable to resist the urge to kiss and pet it gently. The sudden jealousy that arose in his heart nearly caused him to crush the teacup he was holding into pieces.

That loving embrace was something that only belonged to him. How could he let a puppy, a mere lookalike at that, steal it away from him? He set down his teacup with a loud thud and took a deep breath, making a supreme effort so that his facial expression wouldn’t seem too hostile.

“Your Majesty, where did your honoured self find A’Bao?” Meng Sangyu hugged the small pup and returned to sit by the man’s side. Her voice brimmed with joy.

“In the Cold Palace. When We found it, it was almost dead from an illness and didn’t have the strength to return.” Gripping the teacup in his hand, Emperor Zhou’wu smiled as he replied.

Behind him, Chang’xi’s ears twitched and he subtly eyed the teacup in His Majesty’s hand. He could have sworn that he had heard the sound of porcelain shattering just a moment ago.

No wonder they were unable to find A’Bao’s body before. That eunuch must have made a mistake! Meng Sangyu inwardly pondered while holding the puppy under one arm. She called out “A’Bao” between raining kisses on its damp little nose.

The little pup’s watery eyes were full of happiness. It whined and extended its tongue, returning its master’s affection. It had been trained and understood that “A’Bao” was its new name. Whoever called its name was its new owner.

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“Stop!” A man’s palm suddenly swept between them and interrupted their kiss. Her tender lips collided with the center of his palm. The supple feeling caused his jealousy to somewhat abate.

Meng Sangyu confusedly stared at the Emperor who seemed to be giving off a cold aura.

“It only just recovered from its illness. Don’t rush to shower it with affection.” The man ground his teeth and made an effort to adjust his tone of voice to sound a bit warmer. He was now very regretful and wished he could toss that eyesore to the ends of the earth!

“Mm!” Meng Sangyu nodded in understanding and lowered her head to look at “A’Bao” who was fussing in her arms. Using her fingertips, she poked his little head while smiling dotingly.

Emperor Zhou’wu’s eyes darkened. He handed his teacup to Chang’xi behind him and barked, “Bring Zhen a new cup of hot tea.”

Chang’xi bowed and answered in the affirmative. He held the teacup, walked out of the palace hall, and calmly threw away the teacup that was split into halves. He then brought back a fresh teacup that looked exactly the same.

Emperor Zhou’wu expressionlessly sipped the tea. Meanwhile, Meng Sangyu had completely tossed him to the back of her mind and was continuously using her fingers to play with the “A’Bao” in her arms. “A’Bao” lost his patience over her teasing and tried his best to avoid her fingers while whining. He looked extremely pitiful and adorable. Meng Sangyu’s smile grew more and more shallow, fainter and fainter until it disappeared completely.

“Your Majesty, thank you very much. This concubine really likes this present, but your honoured self should still take it back.” Meng Sangyu poked the puppy once more and spoke with a lonely and desolate tone.

“Why?” Clearly, he was secretly overjoyed, but his face was full of doubt. Emperor Zhou’wu’s expression stiffened.

“This pup is not this concubine’s A’Bao. Your Majesty probably wanted to make this concubine happy and found it for me. Thank you, Your Majesty.” Meng Sangyu roused herself and faintly smiled at the man. She was very touched by the man’s thoughtfulness, but it was only a sense of gratefulness.

“How could you tell?” Emperor Zhou’wu spoke hoarsely. The dog was trained extremely well: it would run over to pour affection on anyone who called out “A’Bao”. Its outer features were also the exact same as A’Bao, but Meng Sangyu was still able to differentiate between the two. On the one hand, Emperor Zhou’wu was somewhat happy, but on the other hand, he was somewhat bitter. He couldn’t help but admit that he was even jealous of himself.

“When this concubine teased A’Bao, A’Bao always liked to hug and suck this concubine’s finger. He would be very calm the minute he entered this concubine’s arms, and would never fuss about randomly. A’Bao loved to lick this concubine’s wrist and lips…” Meng Sangyu put the puppy back in its cage. Suppressing the choked-up emotions in her voice and hiding the sorrow in her eyes, she stated, “This is not A’Bao. Your Majesty should take it away.”

“It’s just a small beast. Why do you remember it so clearly?” Emperor Zhou’wu looked gloomy and pulled the woman firmly into his arms. He spoke in a sombre manner, “Since you don’t like it, Zhen will order people to send it back. It’s just a small dog. If it’s dead, then it’s dead. Don’t ruin your health over it, hm?” Saying this, he gave the woman a tender kiss on her cheek.

Meng Sangyu forced a smile but didn’t reply.

Chang’xi saw the Emperor’s raised hand and rushed to call over a eunuch to take the cage away. Almost as if it knew it was about to be abandoned, the puppy whined distraughtly and ceaselessly clawed at the cage, staring hopefully at Meng Sangyu with both eyes.

Puppy dog eyes aren’t something that just anyone can resist. [4]Atk power 1000 At the very least, Meng Sangyu hadn’t reached that level of asceticism. Her heart softened with each passing moment. Just as the puppy was about to be taken away, tears seeped out of those watery black eyes, and it looked awfully pitiful. Seeing this, she tugged at the man’s sleeve and cried, “Wait!”

“What is it?” Emperor Zhou’wu’s tightened as he asked through gritted teeth. That wretched eunuch! Why did he have to leave so slowly?!

“Why not leave it here, Your Majesty! This concubine will raise it.” Meng Sangyu spoke resolutely.

“You aren’t scared that you’ll raise another one, only for it to die again?” warned Emperor Zhou’wu in a low voice.

“Then this concubine will have to trouble Your Majesty to write a dog tag for it.” Meng Sangyu pulled on the man’s arm, swinging it back and forth in a lovable manner.

This man controlled the Imperial Court and Inner Palace. His methods were increasingly more ruthless, intimidating others with just a glance. With an imperially bestowed dog tag from him, if anyone dared to try and hurt her dog again, she would let them experience a slow, painful death!

Facing the woman’s slightly imploring phoenix eyes, even if Emperor Zhou’wu felt so regretful that he felt like singing the blues, he had no choice but to nod his head, “Alright. What should Zhen write?” He pinched the woman’s nose and his deep voice was full of helplessness.

“How about ‘Bi’xiao Palace’s Er’Bao’ then.”[5]Er’Bao (二宝) means “Second Treasure”. Meng Sangyu picked up the puppy again and rubbed her cheek against its fluffy head.

Er’Bao? The corners of Emperor Zhou’wu’s mouth twitched and he turned to look at Chang’xi, “Prepare the ink!”

Chang’xi bowed his head and assented. He called for someone to quickly bring over the Four Treasures of the Study [6]文房四宝 (wénfáng sìbǎo) The Four Treasures of the Study refer to calligraphy and painting tools: the calligraphy brush, ink, paper, and inkstone. The Four Treasures of the Study specifically refer to the Xuan brush, Anhui ink, Xuan paper and Taohe inkstone. Held in the Lonely Castle features a chapter all about inkstones~ and wondered: The dog was clearly something His Majesty personally sent over, but why do His Majesty’s eyes look so grim when he looks at the dog? It’s almost as if he wants to swallow it alive! Ugh, the Emperor’s whims are truly hard to fathom!

 


TL Thoughts:

~❁ꕥ❁~

Thank you Mons & Loretta for your kind donations!

~❁ꕥ❁~

Hello readers~

I hope your summer is going well! I’m still settling into my new residence.

Like I mentioned in our August goals post, we have a new member! Tygris has joined the Nyanovels TL team as a Translation Assistant (and perhaps future Translator!) Please give her a big welcome!!

Her bio will be up soon once JimmyfromIT finishes his exams. He was studying, so I got help from my lovely TL friend Umiyuki to proofread the chapter.

If you’d like to help us out, I’m still looking for one more TL assistant for Held in the Lonely Castle. Here is the role description 🙂

Last year around this time (August 10, 2020), Austyn made their first donation to Nyanovels. It’s been the most generous donation to date. I still remember looking at the amount, thinking that it was a mistake! Thank you so much for supporting us towards the end of 2020!

The team and I feel so happy and honoured to see that people enjoy our work enough to donate! We will continue to work hard to make sure that the quality of our chapters continues to stay at the level that everyone has come to enjoy. 😀

Last but not least, I have a question for you: When it comes to timekeeping, I’ve been taking the average of each shichen and directly translating it to our modern way of telling time. Does that break your immersion in the story? Please let me know what you prefer~

Option A: The actual shichen name (e.g. hour of zi) – [1 vote]

Option B: Use the pinyin (e.g. zishi)

Option C: Continue using the average in modern timekeeping as I’ve been doing and explain the shichen in a footnote – [2 votes]

Until next time,

Nyamachi

 

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11 Comments

  • “Why?” Clearly, she was secretly overjoyed in her heart, but her facial expression was full of doubt. Emperor Zhou`wu’s expression stiffened.

    “为什么?”明明心中暗喜不已,面上却还要露出疑惑,周武帝的表情更显僵硬。

    This sentence. I can’t help it but to think that it’s describing Emperor Zhou Wu’s feelings. He is actually secretly overjoyed but his expression was full of doubt.

    He is secretly overjoyed because Sangyu rejected the puppy which he considered as an eyesore. However, he was still in doubt because he thinks that Sangyu really likes Abao( the real one)but why she rejected the fake “Abao”.

    • Hey Youdidnotseeme! Ah, thank you for pointing that out!! You’re right, it does make more sense. I’ll fix it now. ^ ^

  • Option c is best. Using unintelligible measurements is more immersion breaking than units we instinctually understand and accept such as hours.

    • Hi RandomDude~ Thank you for answering <3

  • Thanks for the chapter!

    And I would prefer A 😉

    • Hey Aiza, You’re welcome, as always! I really appreciate you always taking the time to comment <3
      Thanks for taking the time to answer as well!! So far, 1 vote for A and 1 for C 🙂

  • The sichen name (opt A) might be too difficult for beginner, since I read quite a lot of ancient china based novel I don’t mind option B or C. It also depend of your preference, Tler, would you prefer keeping notes or not ? Thank you for the update !

    • Thanks for commenting, Hetbasile~ Do you have a preference between B or C? As a translator, I don’t mind either way. If I were to read WHI, option C is the easiest to understand, but options A or B have more cultural nuance~

      • Then I’ll choose C, hoping it will attract more reader, since it is easier for beginner to understand.

  • So….. No update .T.T

    • Yeah 🙁 Sorry, Youdidnotseeme. September has been rough irl for the team. Hoping to pick things up again soon once things settle a bit.

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