Why Harem Intrigue When You Can Just Raise A Dog Instead? (Chp 67)
Chapter 67: Monopolizing Favour (独宠)
Translation assistants: Lazilily, [redacted] & 247Reader
English proofreaders: 247Reader & JimmyfromIT
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It was 3:45 the next morning, and the sky was still dark. The frigid wind blew, causing snowflakes to whistle past in a swirl; the chilling wind’s touch resembled the dull ache of a knife scraping against one’s face. Even though he had internal energy and could protect his face, Chang’xi still donned a thick cloak and firmly pulled down his hood to cover his head and face as he watched the little eunuchs take a long bamboo pole and light the lanterns hanging from the palace eaves one by one.
The tangerine yellow-coloured candlelight scattered over the ground and added a trace of warmth. Chang’xi stamped his feet, entered the side hall of the palace, and cast a glance at the hourglass in the corner. It was almost 5 am 卯时 (mǎoshí) was one of the 2-hour units of time used in the shi-ke system of timekeeping. Read more about it in my post! but the emperor had still not awoken.
As it was nearing the time for the Imperial Court to begin, Chang’xi hesitated a moment before quietly tiptoeing inside the inner chamber to call the Emperor out of bed. In the past, the Emperor had always promptly woken up at 3:15 am. After midnight, he would also toss and turn, finding it difficult to fall asleep. It was truly unprecedented to encounter a day like today, where he showed no signs of waking up even though Chang’xi had already arrived by his bedside.
“Your Majesty, Your Majesty? It’s time to wake up,” Chang’xi called out softly, standing slightly bent over five meters away from the bed.
The lavish purple bed curtains completely enshrouded the decoratively carved bed, allowing nothing to be seen of the inside. However, Chang’xi was a secret guard; his five senses were keenly sharp. As soon as he had entered the inner chamber, he smelled a strong musky scent mixed with a faint floral fragrance. He couldn’t help but pause and catch his breath. It seemed as though the intensity of last night’s battle had far exceeded his imagination.
Faintly hearing someone’s call, Emperor Zhou’wu opened his eyes. He caught sight of the familiar purple bed curtains, then turned his head to see Sangyu calmly sleeping in his arms with a quiet and contented expression. His lips parted to reveal an extremely satisfied smile. Since his soul had returned to his body, it was only today that he genuinely felt he had ‘revived’.
“Zhen heard you, leave.” His deep voice sent Chang’xi outside. Emperor Zhou’wu lowered his head and pried open Sangyu’s pink lips, applying pressure as his tongue entangled with her slippery, fragrant tongue. Back when he was still A’Bao, every time he had awoken in Sangyu’s embrace, he had always wanted to kiss her like this. Now he could finally realize his wish, and it felt surprisingly good.
“Wuu~” The stifling feeling caused Meng Sangyu to awaken. Seeing the man’s narrowed eyes as he indulged in kissing and licking her, she couldn’t help but stare blankly.
The man released her crimson lips and used his large hand to brush away stray hairs from her cheeks. He spoke hoarsely, “Good morning, Sangyu.” This was the necessary phrase she’d always greeted A’Bao with in the morning and he had long since wanted to reply.
“Good… Good morning.” Meng Sangyu’s phoenix eyes were still clouded by a dense layer of mist and her foolishly blank expression appeared lovably naive and adorable, causing the man to smile incessantly. He cupped her cheeks and gave her another passionate kiss.
Her barely conscious mind was once again addled by the man’s excellent kissing techniques. Meng Sangyu unconsciously pressed herself against the man’s strong, sturdy shoulders and reacted languidly. The space inside the bed curtains was narrow and cramped. This made the sound of their intertwining tongues even more distinct, causing Chang’xi’s earlobes to turn bright red as he waited outside.
He waited and waited. Soon, the hourglass showed that it was 5 am. Only then did he enter the chamber, wearing a confused expression: “Your Majesty, it is approaching 5 am. Take care not to be late for Imperial Court.”
“Zhen understands.” The man’s exceptionally rough voice was transmitted through the bed curtains and one could also sense the anger hidden within.
Chang’xi shrunk back and quietly tiptoed out of the hall. He could seriously take no more of this job. Commander, where are you?! the little person in his heart yelled loudly.
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Inside the bed curtains, Meng Sangyu awoke from her impassioned state. She promptly pushed away the blanket and said, “Your Majesty, this concubine will assist your honoured self to dress.” If she let this person skip morning court, it was hard to say whether or not the label of a nation-destroying demon consort would fall on her head. With her father’s reputation on the line, who knew how many eyes were fixed on her? She could not afford to put a foot wrong.
Only once she had lost the warmth of the bedding did she become aware that her body felt strangely cold. Following the man’s scorching gaze and looking down, she cried out in alarm and quickly bundled herself back up in the blanket. Her ears turned red to the point of almost dripping blood. What the-? How come she wasn’t dressed?
“Haha~” The man was also completely naked; he calmly put on some underwear while giving a throaty chuckle. He sighed: The still-groggy Sangyu is still just as cute as in the past!
“Zhen will call someone in to attend to Us. It’s still cold outside, you should sleep a bit more.” He instructed, hugging the woman who was bundled up like a silkworm cocoon as he planted a kiss on her cheek.
“No, this concubine shall immediately get up to wait upon Your Majesty.” Meng Sangyu grabbed the undergarments beside the pillow and pulled them under the blanket, intending to put them on. However, her watery pair of eyes revealed her troubled predicament.
“No need, Zhen says you will sleep for longer, so sleep.” Emperor Zhou’wu tossed aside her undergarments and tucked her in snugly. He kissed her drooping eyelids, his tone filled with unspeakable love and pampering.
A wise person accepted their circumstances. Seeing his insistence, Meng Sangyu withdrew into her blanket cocoon and hesitantly closed her eyes. Perhaps she felt too apprehensive about the man’s pampering attitude. Once she heard that there were no sounds inside the bed curtains, she stealthily opened one eye to check; however, she ended up directly facing the man’s pitch-black, abyss-like eyes.
He had never left. Just then, he came over to gaze at her sleeping face. The passion burning in his eyes could cause one to feel alarmed. Meng Sangyu’s hand trembled where it clutched the blanket, resembling a small, frightened animal.
“Haha~” Emperor Zhou’wu smothered another smile and sat up. He held Sangyu’s fingers in his and kissed and licked every single one of them as he prudently said, “Sleep a bit longer. However, once it is 7 am, you must get up. Be sure not to miss breakfast.”
Since winter had arrived, Sangyu had grown fond of sleeping in. Sometimes she would sleep until the sun had risen high in the sky, and she often missed breakfast. She would only awaken once her stomach was so hungry that it hurt.
“This concubine understands.” Meng Sangyu blinked her groggy eyes and replied, feigning cute obedience.
Tricking Zhen again! The man helplessly shook his head and bit her lips. Only when she closed her eyes again did he pull open the bed curtains and call someone to serve him.
Meng Sangyu craned an ear to listen to the movement outside. Recalling the ‘joy’ of the previous night, her ears started to faintly heat again. The man’s attitude had been enthusiastic to the point of weirdness. He had continuously asked whether or not she liked it and repeatedly called out her name. His actions had been very sentimental, gentle, and cherishing, as if he treated her like a treasure. It was to the extent that after the event, he had even helped her to wipe her body and held her to sleep. This was leagues apart from his previously indifferent and estranged, half-hearted attitude. She was even under the illusion that this man was trying his best to please her and win her over.
She rubbed her earlobes, pulled herself back from her derailing thoughts, and sank into a deep sleep. Illusions, how could there be so many illusions? Other people didn’t matter to her; she only needed to live her own life and it would be fine.
Emperor Zhou’wu had finished changing and opened the bed curtains to check up on her. He noticed that the woman’s breathing was even and that she had a quiet and content expression. Her cheeks were slightly red and her overall appearance especially drew out one’s pampering instincts. He couldn’t help but smile, move his head close to the bed, and give her a kiss on her cheek.
“Wake up your master at 7 am on the dot, and don’t let her miss breakfast. It’s not good for her body.” Walking outside the palace hall, when he passed by Nurse Feng and the rest, he gave instructions in a low voice. He gave the instructions in a low voice upon passing Nurse Feng and the rest as he left the palace hall.
Nurse Feng, Bi’shui, and Yin’cui nodded and agreed. The man gave a satisfied nod and departed with large strides.
The officials, who had been oppressed for over a month, happily discovered that the Emperor’s mood was especially good today. The dark circles under his eyes had waned considerably, and it seemed like he was full of vitality. The menacing aura covering his whole body had vanished, and a warm smile hung on his lips.
Several ministers were aware that this was an opportunity and rushed to present their memorials regarding the snow problem. Still, the Emperor barely frowned, and ordered relevant personnel to do their utmost for disaster relief without flying into a terrible rage at all. The morning court session concluded in a harmonious atmosphere. Over the last few days, every day there had been some official who was executed or whose clan was destroyed, yet today was unexpectedly as quiet as a breeze.
It would be great if the Emperor’s good mood could continue like this! Many officials wiped the cold sweat from their foreheads as they exited the Hall of Supreme Harmony and silently prayed in their hearts.
Emperor Zhou’wu walked briskly back to Qian’qing Palace and dealt with the memorials piled high like a mountain on the Imperial Desk. A faint smile had hung on his lips since he had gotten out of bed, and it showed no sign of fading.
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“Has Virtuous Consort risen out of bed?” He inquired with a smile, placing the memorial he had finished reviewing to the side and looking towards the hourglass in the hall.
“Replying to Your Majesty, Her Ladyship has already gotten up and has eaten breakfast. She is presently in the middle of handling palace affairs.” Chang’xi gave a responsible and diligent reply.
Luckily, Commander Yan had suggested that he be aware of Virtuous Consort’s movements at all times in anticipation of the Emperor’s inquiry. Truly, the Commander had great foresight!
“Summon her over to the Imperial Study to accompany Us and tell her to bring any palace-related work along with her.” Emperor Zhou’wu waved his hand, urging him to hurry.
After leaving Sangyu for only two hours, he felt ill at ease from head to foot. It was hard to put into words just how much he cherished the memory of the days where they had been inseparable from one another. He hated that he couldn’t hug Sangyu close at all times and keep her close by his side, just as Sangyu had treated A’Bao.
“Of course, this servant will go right away.” Chang’xi didn’t dare to delay and promptly went to Bi’xiao Palace to pass on the Emperor’s summons.
Sangyu had just opened the account book and hadn’t even read two words before Chang’xi arrived, passed on the Emperor’s message, and transported both herself and all of the account books over to the Imperial Study.
Nurse Feng, Bi’shui, and Yin’cui followed at either side of the palanquin. They always felt that His Majesty treated their lady differently from the past. Even if she said that their relationship was a sham, this kind of ‘fake relationship’ was far too much. It was even more genuine than being wholly sincere. They couldn’t help but feel somewhat confused.
Meng Sangyu didn’t actually think that much of it. Her present strategy was to take no action to counter all actions.
“This concubine greets Your Majesty.” Upon entering the Imperial Study, Meng Sangyu started to curtsy to pay her respects, but the man had already put down his brush and stepped forward to pull her up. He traced a finger along the red markings on her neck and revealed a gratified smile.
“Zhen will deal with governmental affairs while you handle palace affairs nearby. In the evening, we will return to Bi’xiao Palace together.” The man held the woman’s ice-cold hands, brought them up to his lips, and blew gently. He continued until both of her hands were slightly warmer before reluctantly letting go and pulling the woman down to sit beside him.
Only then did Meng Sangyu discover that another desk had been added to the Imperial Study and placed side by side with the Emperor’s. Everything she needed was already arranged: her own account books had been set up on top, and there were brushes, ink, paper, and an inkstone. These and her seal were all engraved to match the man’s utensils, forming pairs.
What is he up to? Is he making a public display of affection?
Emperor Zhou’wu pressed Meng Sangyu down to sit, so she picked up an account book to browse while pondering absent-mindedly. She turned her head and looked towards the man who was immersed in reviewing memorials. Her meaningful glance suggested that she was subtly taking his measure.
The man sensed her gaze. He raised his eyes to meet hers and gently smiled. That smile was candid and genuine. His relaxed countenance seemed to have been lit by sunshine, while an abundantly clear desire to please shone in his eyes, resembling a large dog.
It seemed to Meng Sangyu as though there was a tail cheerfully swaying back and forth behind the man’s body. She closed her eyes and forced herself to concentrate on her work.
Concealing the mad beating of her heart, she pondered: Goodness~ I must be so tired from last night that I’m even hallucinating. 艾玛 = internet term used to express a deep sigh, surprise, or a helpless feeling like 哎呦 or 妈呀.
After a short while had passed and her heartbeat had calmed down slightly, she couldn’t help but raise her head to look at the man again. Once more, he gave her a smile like a large dog’s. She unconsciously responded with an extremely sincere smile and saw that the man’s eyes suddenly brightened. At that moment, she faintly felt like she was being affected by something beyond her control.
It’s December 15th, meaning that it’s been 2 years since I started translating~ Time has just flown by! Thank you again for all your kindness, support, and patience over the last year, especially those who’ve supported me since the beginning on my smol WordPress site, Nyamachi Translations. My wrists are still mending, but with everyone’s help, translating has become a lot easier~
As always, I appreciate any feedback you might have about my translations, big or small <3 There’s still lots to learn for Chinese and translating in general, so I’m very grateful for your comments. Held in the Lonely Castle has been a good challenge. I’ve learned a ton more about Chinese culture in the Song dynasty and sometimes feel like an ancient scholar doing research. Please check out the series if it interests you!
I’ll work hard to bring you more quality chapters :3 This cat bows in thanks!!