Why Harem Intrigue When You Can Just Raise A Dog Instead? (Chp 71)
Chapter 71: Returning to Court (回朝)
Translation assistant: 247Reader
English proofreaders: 247Reader & Nyamachi
In the end, Virtuous Consort’s ‘Haven’t had Our fill’ vulgar remarks didn’t attract the Empress Dowager or the Emperor’s attention in the least. Additionally, Imperial Duke Meng would withdraw his troops from the front and return to court very soon.
At this point in time, the Meng family’s reputation was temporarily unmatched. All the imperial concubines gradually let go of thoughts of striving for favour and secretly comforted themselves: The only reason that the Emperor favours Virtuous Consort is because of Imperial Duke Meng. After this matter blows over, his favour for her will surely wane!
All of the imperial concubines silently endured the resentment in their hearts and further vented their feelings upon Shen Hui’ru. They used all kinds of inhuman punishments in succession, leaving her alive but in a state worse than death.
Seeing that her fingernails had all been torn off her badly mangled fingertips and that no place on her body was left unscathed, she curled up on top of the unbearably filthy, repulsive bed. Her eyes shone with a crazy yet bitterly resentful light.
These days, the citizens of Great Zhou had their heads raised in expectation, hoping that the Meng family’s army would finally enter the capital. In the large camp stationed in the suburbs of the capital, the people lined the streets in welcome everywhere they passed. Emperor Zhou’wu himself even ascended the city gate tower to personally welcome them.
This campaign had established Imperial Duke Meng as Great Zhou’s most valiant general. Moreover, the Emperor’s move of beheading a hundred thousand barbarians, nearly to the point of wiping them out entirely, had left an indelible impression on the officers and soldiers.
After numerous violent battles, no one hated the Barbarians more than them. They were gladly willing to submit to this iron-blooded and unwavering young monarch.
Emperor Zhou’wu’s eyes flashed as he caught sight of the black box in Imperial Duke Meng’s hands. He said indifferently, “Pass it over.”
Imperial Duke Meng agreed and handed the box over to Chang’xi. His gaze quickly swept across where his son stood amongst the row of military officials, apparently in high spirits and trembling with excitement, and his mood suddenly became indescribably complicated. He didn’t know if he ought to be pleased or concerned.
Chang’xi opened the black box. The officials who were sitting, particularly the civil officials, all rose, sucking in a cold breath. The box did not contain any rare treasures – it was actually a lime-covered head. Both of the head’s eyes were still open, and it bore a warped expression. It was Yeluhan Wang, who had been beheaded in front of all the troops.
All of the officials’ expressions were filled with horror and shock as they lowered their heads. Meng Yan’zhou and the other military officers who had just returned felt excited and proud from head to foot. Their bloodlust could clearly be felt.
Emperor Zhou’wu’s eyes darkened as he stared at the head in front of him for a good while before finally breaking into a hearty laugh.
The sound of his laughter was bold and impassioned as he praised, “Excellent! Zhen once vowed that as long as We are alive, We must trample Yeluhan Wang’s palace and offer the barbarians’ blood as a sacrifice to the vengeful spirits of Great Zhou’s million tragic dead. This vow has finally been achieved today!”
“Your Majesty is brilliant, therefore the Heavens assisted Great Zhou!” Imperial Duke Meng replied, stepping forward to give a cup-handed salute. This young monarch had more than enough ability to earn his respect.
“It’s not that Zhen is brilliant, it’s that Zhen’s soldiers are valiant! Without all of you, how could a hundred years of peace be achieved for Our Great Zhou?” Emperor Zhou’wu smiled brightly as he hinted at Chang’xi to issue the imperial edict rewarding the entire army.
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Imperial Duke Meng stood quietly with his head bowed. His expression was very grave.
He was already ranked as an Imperial Duke, in control of a massive military force. Even if the Emperor wanted to reward him, what more could he give? Now that his prestige had risen even further, regardless of whether this was a blessing or a curse for the Meng family, it ought to be the right time for him to honourably retire.
Thinking of his daughter, locked within the depths of the palace, he recalled the rumour saying that she had been rather favoured by His Majesty recently. Imperial Duke Meng gave a bitter smile and waited for the imperial proclamation to end.
As expected, he had only obtained a few valuable items. He stepped forward again, giving a cup-handed salute, and said, “Reporting to Your Majesty, this humble official encountered misfortune by chance and suffered a deep injury. It will be hard for this subject to assume the office of the Jian’wei Great General. May Your Majesty grant this subject’s sincere request to retire from this one’s government post. Here is the military seal. May Your Majesty please take it back.”
Emperor Zhou’wu took the military tiger tally as Chang’xi presented it, and said nothing for a long time.
It was unusually silent in the Great Hall. Everyone, without exception, tried to guess the young monarch’s thoughts while secretly admiring Imperial Duke Meng’s decision. There was no doubt that right now was his best opportunity to retire from his post.
The secret guards had long since received detailed intelligence that other than mild frostbite, there was nothing wrong with Imperial Duke Meng’s body.
Emperor Zhou’wu stroked the ice-cold tiger tally in his hand with an unreadable expression. This was something he had always longed to obtain from Imperial Duke Meng, but now that he had truly obtained it, he found that his desire for it had disappeared long ago.
To command an army, one depended on the will of the people and the resolution to lead, not some mere object.
Examining the anxious expressions of the seated high-ranking military officials, Emperor Zhou’wu gave a mocking smile and handed the tiger tally to Chang’xi before slowly opening his mouth to speak.
“Imperial Duke Meng possesses a sturdy physique, even better than a young man’s. How could a bit of frostbite make you go as far as to retire from your post? Zhen will dispatch a few imperial physicians to help you recover. You’ll be able to lead the troops in battle in no time. Imperial Duke is the soul of our Great Zhou’s army. So long as Imperial Duke is present, Zhen can feel at ease and our citizens of Great Zhou will also feel at ease. Take back this tiger tally.”
Accepting the tiger tally offered to him by Chang’xi, Imperial Duke Meng looked up at the monarch with eyes full of disbelief.
Wasn’t military power something he had always coveted dearly? How could he just give it back?
At this moment, Imperial Duke Meng thought of innumerable plots and machinations, and he couldn’t prevent a shiver from running down his spine.
Seeing the guarded expression in Imperial Duke Meng’s eyes, Emperor Zhou’wu sneered. He waved his hand at once and announced the closing of court.
Imperial Duke Meng walked out side by side with his son. He still wore a hesitant expression and didn’t expect that he would be called to stop by Chang’xi, who told him that the Emperor had given special permission for him and Her Ladyship Virtuous Consort to meet. His heart couldn’t help but feel joy. Meng Yan’zhou also accompanied them eagerly.
The father and son pair entered Bi’xiao Palace, but they were immediately startled because the interior design of Bi’xiao Palace was extremely similar to Sangyu’s boudoir. Only the surface area was enlarged.
The furnishings and decorations in the palace hall were by no means luxurious or refined, but the plain and simple designs couldn’t hide the preciousness of the materials.
Many green potted plants were placed in between the furniture, making the main hall overflow with the feeling of spring. The light scent of vegetation superseded the strong smell of incense, causing one to unconsciously relax.
Meng Sangyu sat upright in the host’s seat, wearing a luxurious court dress of the highest rank. Looking from afar, her imposing manner forcefully captured one’s attention.
The father and son pair came to a stop, silently enduring the emotions swelling up within them, and prepared to kneel and pay their respects.
“Quickly rise!” Meng Sangyu couldn’t wait anymore and rushed forward to support her father’s arm.
Seeing the frostbite that was exposed on the back of her father’s hand, her eyes immediately reddened as large teardrops fell down her face. No matter how much she stood in the public eye, before Imperial Duke Meng, she was still that small girl who had yet to grow up.
“Silly child, why are you crying? Didn’t father return safe and sound?” Imperial Duke Meng frowned, wanting to wipe his daughter’s tears, but catching sight of his own coarse fingers he paused again.
His daughter’s rosy-cheeked appearance had grown even plumper compared to before she entered the palace. She was clearly living very well, making him feel even more assured. The rims of his eyes also slightly reddened.
Nurse Feng hurried forward to hand over a handkerchief. Meng Yan’zhou immediately cracked a joke, finally coaxing the father and daughter pair to calm down.
After briefly inquiring about the challenges her father had experienced to return and her brother’s situation in the Embroidered Uniform Guard, Meng Sangyu took a sip from the teacup in her hand with a grave expression. “How could the Emperor not accept your honoured self’s tiger tally?”
“Father has just returned to court in triumph. If His Majesty immediately took away Father’s military power, I’m afraid it would look like I was cast aside, 诟伯飞鸟尽良弓藏 (gòu bǎi fēiniǎo jìn liáng gōng cáng) is a Chinese expression that means casting someone aside after their services are no longer needed. Literally it means, ‘when all the birds have been shot, the bow will be set aside’. There is a longer version: 鸟尽弓藏, 兔死狗烹 = when all the birds have been shot, the bow will be set aside; when all the hares are killed, the hounds will be stewed and eaten. chilling the hearts of many military officers and soldiers. Father has already clearly shown to him that I do not covet power, so his reservations towards the Meng family ought to have lessened.” It’s pretty common for ancient Chinese people to speak in the third person when referring to themselves i.e. 为[relation that’s of higher status than yours i.e. father, teacher]. The humble way is [last name]某.
Meng Sangyu nodded. “That’s likely to be the case.”
“How can that be? His Majesty has such a heroic character. If he says he trusts Father, then that must be true! In my opinion, he decided not to withdraw the tiger tally this time because His Majesty has no plans to ever withdraw your honoured self’s military power. Both of you are thinking too much into it!” Meng Yan’zhou waved a hand unconcernedly. His expression was full of reverence for His Majesty.
He trained you into such a loyal dog so quickly. Calling you a muscle-brain was truly correct!
The veins in Meng Sangyu’s temples pulsed, but she didn’t say anything more. She knew that her brother was simple-minded and pure-hearted. He was the kind of wholeheartedly loyal subordinate who could satisfy his superior the most. His official career in the Embroidered Uniform Guard was sure to be successful with this kind of personality. Teaching him how to plot would go against his nature and put him in a bad light.
It was evident that Imperial Duke Meng thought the same. The father and daughter pair glanced at each other and avoided the subject in tacit understanding.
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Seeing that her father’s expression hadn’t changed, she turned the teacup in her hand and confidently began to speak. “I presume that Father had not received the letter I sent before you were trapped in the Muddy Shores?”
“Letter?” Imperial Duke Meng’s brows wrinkled as he muttered, “Indeed I did not. After I was rescued, I was busy with the battle situation. The administrative official also did not mention this. It must have been mixed with the official documents. Father will look for it when I return.”
Meng Sangyu’s tightly coiled heart immediately relaxed. It was fine if her father hadn’t seen the letter. Private matters concerning frightening days in the imperial household ought to be left alone to rot. The fewer people who knew of it the better.
She waved a hand and said carefully, “Father should burn it after Father finds it. Please do not read it by any means.” Fortunately, she had used a secret code to write the letter so there would be no harm if others saw it.
Imperial Duke Meng’s expression slightly changed, but due to his trust in his daughter, he didn’t inquire further and just nodded in agreement.
Since Father agreed, he will definitely follow through on his promise. Meng Sangyu smiled slightly, feeling completely relieved.
Meng Yan’zhou was at a total loss, 丈二和尚摸不着头脑 (zhàng’èr héshang mōbuzháo tóunǎo) To be completely in the dark, puzzled, or at a loss. Literally ‘you can’t touch the head of a ten-foot-tall monk’ a.k.a. You can’t make heads or tails of something. but knew that there were many things his father and younger sister were hiding from him. Even if he asked, it would be no use.
The three of them chatted for a while. Imperial Duke Meng hesitated for quite a while before finally telling his daughter about the worry he had kept in the back of his mind.
“Yu’er, this time when Father was almost killed, there were traces of your Second Uncle’s There are specific names for relatives of each side of the family denoting their relation to you. In this case, Second Uncle (二叔) refers to Duke Meng’s younger brother since the Duke is the oldest. The number two indicates birth order. If it was MSY’s mom’s younger brother and she was the eldest child, he’d be referred to as 二舅 or 大舅, depending on how the family organized the numbering order. In some families, the numbering order was separate for boys and girls (so he’d be 大舅 as the firstborn son) while in others, like in The Story of Ming Lan, the birth order for both genders was combined. handiwork. If he hadn’t tampered with my mount, Father wouldn’t have been trapped in the Muddy Shores to nearly perish. He joined forces with Xie Zheng’hao, wanting to get rid of Father and Han Chang’ping and seize my noble title and military power.”
Meng Sanyu’s eyebrows twisted as her eyes lit up with fury. In contrast, Meng Yan’zhou nearly slapped the table, rising out of his seat on the verge of losing his cool.
Their second uncle had been spoiled by Old Madam Meng from a young age. Since he was also a legitimate son of the family, he strongly coveted his elder brother’s title. It wasn’t the first time that he had pulled strings on the battlefield. If he hadn’t had Old Madam Meng’s support, Imperial Duke Meng would have long since wanted to separate their households. 分家 (fēnjiā) Separating the household was a BIG DEAL in ancient times. Traditionally families would live all together so if one family separated from the rest, they would also need to split the family assets accordingly (or not because of schemes) and then each would live their own lives.
No one would have guessed that not only had he not exercised restraint after Old Madam Meng passed away and he lost his support, but he had also intensified his actions, never comprehending who he had depended on to obtain his meritorious military service, high position, and wealth.
Meng Sangyu’s hands balled into fists and she spoke coldly, “Colluding with Xie Zheng’hao? This is treason! If His Majesty were to know of this, all of the Meng family’s nine degrees of kin would be implicated!” Meng Sangyu’s only emotion towards this Second Uncle, who wholeheartedly wanted to stab his own family in the back, was loathing. Not the slightest bit of familial affection remained.
“Mother and Younger Sister were right! MSY talks with her mother in Chapter 58 about her father’s disappearance – there’s no uncle reference, but it’s plausible they discussed him off-panel and the author’s just establishing it here. – 247Reader Second Uncle is a scourge [to our family!] We ought to have separated our family from theirs and tossed him out long ago!” Unsure if the last part of this sentence is in past or future tense. Chinese: “还是母亲和妹妹说得对, 二叔就是个祸害, 早该分家出去!” Meng Yan’zhou was indignant at the injustice towards his father and audibly ground his teeth.
Upon seeing that his son and daughter were on his side, Imperial Duke Meng’s solemn expression slightly loosened and he said gravely, “Father already dealt with him before we marched back to the capital. Death still leaves him a good reputation as a martyr who sacrificed himself for the country. It’s just that Father does not know how to make arrangements for your Second Auntie and her two children.”
As the Commander-in-Chief of an army, how could Imperial Duke Meng be someone who was soft-hearted? He would always put the big picture before familial affection, but if one touched his bottom line, he wouldn’t yield even an inch. Choosing between the entire Meng clan and the second branch of his family, Imperial Duke Meng chose his clan without the slightest hesitation.
In retrospect, apart from feeling a weight off his chest, he actually didn’t feel any grief. His patience for his younger brother had long since run dry. He was convinced that in the Nine Springs below, 九泉 (jiǔquán) is the underworld of Chinese mythology. Here is a great article on this in detail with pictures! the Meng family’s ancestors would understand his actions.
“Buy a villa outside and let them move in.” The main offender was already dead. Meng Sangyu let out a breath of relief, but her tone was extremely cold and detached.
Imperial Duke Meng muttered to himself for a moment before shaking his head and saying, “The second branch still hasn’t been separated from the family. In any case, now they’re also a martyr’s widow and orphans. The entire Capital has eyes on us, making it inconvenient for Father to cut them off too coldly. It would be better to bring them back to the manor first and put off the decision until after the New Year.”
“This way is fine too.” Meng Sangyu nodded, expressing her agreement.
Meng Yan’zhou had no room to cut into the conversation. No one would listen to his opinion anyway, and he could only sigh with boredom.
It was at this time that the announcement of the eunuch outside could be heard. Emperor Zhou’wu lifted the beaded curtain and entered with large strides.
Hello dear readers,
Sorry for the wait! We have a bit of a backlog of chapters waiting to be TLC’ed and edited. We will do our best to publish them before the end of the month~
Yay!! Duke Meng is back and gets to reunite with Sangyu~ Do you think the Second Uncle’s widow/child will start something??
In case anyone is interested in vocabulary for calling one’s family in Chinese, this article has a great list and organizes the terms well! 🙂
Thank you very much for your patience, as always!
Until next time,