Why Harem Intrigue When You Can Just Raise A Dog Instead? (Chp 79)
Chapter 79: Ambition (野心)
Translators: Tygris & Nyamachi
Translation assistant: 247Reader
English proofreaders: 247Reader & Nyamachi
Meng Rui’zhu blindly followed 亦步亦趋 (yìbùyìqū) To blindly follow suit, to imitate someone slavishly. behind her legitimate elder sister. As she watched Meng Sangyu in her bright yellow, luxurious court dress, surrounded by a crowd of servants. Her heart was filled with envy and jealousy.
“There is one more day until the selection. You should stay in Chu’xiu Palace. Do not easily accept others’ offers of friendship, thoughtlessly touch their belongings, and especially make sure not to eat food that others have brought to you. Watch what you say. Bengong has sent Chang’gui to serve you, have you met him yet?” Meng Sangyu asked slowly as she held the listless 没精打采 (méijīngdǎcǎi) also written as 没精打彩 To be listless, dispirited or washed out. Er’bao in her arms.
Chang’gui is Eunuch Chang’xi’s top disciple and the Assistant Manager of the Inner Palace. Having the ability to order him around shows just how powerful the Imperial Noble Consort is.
Meng Rui’zhu nodded as she thought, and yearned more strongly for the luxury and beauty of the inner palace.
She could not prevent herself from thinking: If I could remain in the palace, could I also one day reach such a high position?
Emperor Zhou’wu, followed by Chang’xi, finally caught up, but his face turned dark upon seeing Er’bao in Sangyu’s arms. “Why are you still holding that beast?! Throw it away!” He could pretend not to see Er’bao taking advantage of others, but if he took advantage of Sangyu, the Emperor felt compelled to chop that little beast into eight pieces.
Meng Sangyu smirked. She hurriedly passed Er’bao over to Yin’cui, then voluntarily took his arm and said lovingly, “Your Majesty, doesn’t your honoured self think Er’bao’s listless face is very pitiful? Why don’t you find a wife for him?”
Emperor Zhou’wu raised his eyebrow. “Since the Taming Enclosure has no appropriate match for the dog, then instead of letting it suffer, why not remove the source of its suffering from the root?”
Neuter Er’bao? Meng Sangyu’s phoenix eyes widened, and on impulse, she raised a pale fist and punched the man’s arm. She cutely shouted, “No! I absolutely don’t agree!”
Several months of deliberate indulgence had quite the effect. Unconsciously, Meng Sangyu had begun to lower her defences and would frequently make these adorable little actions. She would also forget to address herself humbly as “this concubine.” Her natural and candid demeanour matched the one in A’Bao’s memories, making Emperor Zhou’wu’s heart burst with love.
He grasped Sangyu’s little fist in his palm and gave a small smirk, saying, “Zhen was joking with you. Tomorrow, Zhen will send a letter to Gaul and ask them to send a few more foreign dogs over. Er’Bao will be able to marry a wife by next year at the latest, but in the meantime, we’ll have to ask it to wait.”
“That’s more like it.” Meng Sangyu says: “这还差不多.” Please let us know if you have a better translation in the comments! Meng Sangyu widened her lips and showed the man a dazzling smile. He tenderly caressed her cheek, his pitch-black eyes shining gently.
Watching her legitimate elder sister actually go so far as to beat the Emperor, Meng Rui’zhu was alarmed at first. Then, after seeing the Emperor’s indulgent attitude, pampering [her sister] in every kind of way, her pulse quickened and she hurriedly lowered her head to hide her twisted, envious expression. Anyone would yearn for this kind of doting affection from the most honourable ruler under the heavens! She really, really wanted it, too! What was she to do?
Entering the main hall of Bi’xiao Palace, Meng Sangyu and Emperor Zhou’wu sat in the hosts’ seats.
Meng Rui’zhu sat in a guest’s seat off to the right. Shedding her reserved expression, she showed a quiet and contented attitude. When set against her plain blue silk skirt, it truly made her appear as elegant and refined as a magnolia flower. In the language of flowers, the magnolia flower is a symbol of purity and nobility. It represents a love for nature, nobility, perseverance, and dignity.
Sensing the shift in her attitude, Meng Sangyu glanced at Meng Rui’zhu, one eyebrow arched in interest.
On the other hand, Emperor Zhou’wu acted as if he didn’t see it. He brought his teacup to his lips and took a sip.
Noticing the light blue floral design [on the cup] he frowned and said, “Originally, there was a bright pink teacup that was a pair with yours. Why did you change it?” He shot a glance at the mismatched tea cup in Sangyu’s hand, appearing unconcerned.
A grown man who likes pink! The corner of Meng Sangyu’s mouth curved upwards. She laid down her teacup and said, “This concubine accidentally shattered that teacup. Please bear with this for now, Your Majesty.”
Emperor Zhou’wu arched a brow, and his tone of voice became thoughtful. “Was it you who broke it, or was it Er’Bao?”
Meng Sangyu clenched her teeth and resolutely replied, “Replying to Your Majesty, it was this concubine who broke it!”
Emperor Zhou’wu stared fixedly at her for a long time before suddenly leaning in close to her ear. He murmured, “That teacup is Zhen’s beloved possession. Since Sangyu smashed it, then you need to accept Zhen’s punishment!” After saying this, he threw away his and Sangyu’s mismatched teacups and commanded Chang’xi, “Go and bring a new pair over.”
Hearing the deliberate emphasis placed on the word “pair,” a blood vessel pulsed in Chang’xi’s temple as he bowed and accepted the command.
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The new set of teacups was quickly presented to them. Sure enough, they were a pair. Meng Sangyu picked one up and glanced across at the man, softly whispering, “How does Your Majesty wish to punish this concubine?”
Emperor Zhou’wu composedly sipped his tea. The way Sangyu arched her brow and let her gaze wander, clearly unable to speak her thoughts, was so charming that it brought heat to his lower abdomen. He pressed close to Sangyu’s ear and said, “You’ll know tonight.”
Sangyu’s earlobes were quickly turning red as the temperature [between them] rose to a scorching heat, yet her face still showed a noble, beautiful, yet aloof expression. He couldn’t hold back a low chuckle. This little minx can truly act! She’s too amusing!
Seeing the man’s widening grin, Meng Sangyu couldn’t help but feel somewhat flustered, and coquettishly glared at him. She shoved at him with embarrassed fists, but the man took the opportunity to grab her hands and draw her into his embrace before bowing his head to nip at her cheek.
The couple was so used to flirting with each other that they actually forgot that others were still present. Chang’xi’s face greyed with embarrassment, and he couldn’t help but cough loudly. 满头黑线 (mǎntóuhēixiàn) describes black lines all over the head, commonly seen in anime or manga when a character is depressed or speechless about the behaviour of others. See image and further explanation.
Meng Sangyu immediately pushed the man away from her seat. Without showing the least bit of embarrassment, she indifferently said, “Sorry to let Younger Sister witness such unsightliness. Let’s continue drinking tea. Bi’xiao Palace’s tea cakes are not bad. Later, you can bring some back with you.”
Meng Rui’zhu cheerfully agreed, and unhurriedly sipped her tea, a twinkle in her lowered eyes. She didn’t expect that such an aloof emperor also could show such a gentle and intimate side. She felt intoxicated gazing at those deep eyes filled with dense passion.
If she were the one in his embrace… Her eyes couldn’t help but reveal a hint of ambitious hope at the thought. Who wouldn’t want to be doted on by the most supreme and respected monarch?
After composing herself, she lifted her head and carefully asked, “Elder Sister, are there any taboos in the Grand Selection?”
“Your makeup should be simple yet as elegant as possible, and by no means should your clothing be excessively lavish. The more natural your look is, the better. It’s fine if you make a mistake due to nervousness, but you need to maintain your smile so as to not lose your demeanour.”
Meng Sangyu provided some simple advice. Though she wouldn’t play favourites by reserving a spot for her younger illegitimate sister, after the Grand Selection, she planned on selecting a suitable match for her sister and asking the Emperor to bestow marriage on the couple. This was also her parents’ intention. Her father’s memorial to the Emperor requesting this had long since sat on his desk. It was merely that Aunt Wen and Meng Rui’zhu were still unaware.
Meng Rui’zhu nodded, attempting to prevent her gaze from drifting over in the Emperor’s direction. Emperor Zhou’wu leisurely played with the teacup in his hands, listening with a faint smile.
Meng Sangyu reminisced as she narrated, mostly speaking from experience. Meng Rui’zhu noted the words down secretly, and after her words fell, she opened her mouth with feigned worry. “The selection also requires one to showcase one’s talents. This younger sister wants to play the zither Likely refers to the 古琴 (gǔqín) but could also refer to the 古筝 (gǔzhēng) – Both are types of zithers, traditional Chinese plucked string instruments. Read more about them. but am somewhat uncertain. Could Elder Sister please help this younger sister decide?” From the corner of her eyes, her gaze quietly probed at the handsome yet unmarried emperor. Unmarried because he does not yet have an Empress, his official and legal wife.
Meng Sangyu glanced meaningfully 意味深长 (yìwèishēncháng) Profound, thoughtful, meaningful. at her, and ordered the frowning Nurse Feng, “Nurse, bring over a zither for Rui’zhu.” If someone wanted to entertain her, she would never refuse.
Meng Rui’zhu secretly rejoiced. Once the zither was properly placed in front of her, she knelt with immaculate etiquette in the center of the hall. Plucking a series of moving and pleasant notes with a light hand, she slightly glanced towards the man on the seat above.
It seemed as though Emperor Zhou’wu was staring intently at her, but his eyes were actually empty. He was putting all his energy into remembering what talent Sangyu had displayed, what she was wearing, and if she was nervous during the Palace Selection back then. At the time, she was only fourteen years old, exactly Meng Rui’zhu’s current age, but had no one to remind her or help her. She must have been exceedingly panicked in her heart, yet he himself had not even the slightest impression of it.
At the thought, he turned his head towards Sangyu, and quietly asked, “Was Sangyu nervous during the Concubine Selection back then? Which talent did you showcase?”
Meng Sangyu shot him a dark look and indifferently stated, “Even Your Majesty has forgotten, so how could this Concubine possibly remember?”
How could she have been nervous back then? She already knew long before that no matter how disastrous her performance was, this man would still select her to stay. He hadn’t seen her for herself as an individual, only the Imperial Duke’s manor behind her. In his eyes, she was just a simple chess piece.
Sensing Meng Sangyu’s cold indifference, Emperor Zhou’wu felt mildly suffocated and a trace of bitterness rose to the tip of his tongue. It seemed as if he had said something wrong.
With one arm around her, he gently patted her delicate shoulder and said softly, “What happened in the past has already faded like passing clouds; there is no need to remember it clearly. We still have a very long future to walk together.”
Exactly, there indeed is still a long future, but there is no need to be together with you! Just me by myself is enough! Meng Sangyu smiled superficially and did not reply.
That indifferent smile was like a wisp of smoke; regardless of how far or close you were, you would never be able to touch it.
Emperor Zhou’wu’s eyes darkened, and his heart began to ache again.
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Sangyu still hasn’t truly accepted me; what should Zhen do? For a moment he felt hopeless, but as he glanced toward Sangyu’s stomach, he cheered up again. It’s fine, as long as there’s a child, will Zhen still not be able to capture Sangyu’s heart?
The two each had their own hidden thoughts, but their bodies were intimately leaning together, as though they could not hear the melodious music in the hall. Poor Meng Rui’zhu’s charming eyes were made for a blind man to see, and she grew more and more irritated towards the end of the song, leading to her playing several wrong notes in a row.
When the sound of the last note faded into the hall, she slowly retracted her hands and bowed, her face completely pale.
Meng Sangyu gave her a lot of face 面子 (miànzi) is a cultural concept that roughly equates to honour and self-respect. Read more about it in our Glossary of Ancient Chinese Terms~ and applauded, while Emperor Zhou’wu only frowned and said, “Not bad.”
Meng Rui’zhu’s face became even uglier, and she left in a hurry after only sitting a little longer.
Since this was her own younger sister and they were in front of outsiders, Meng Sangyu was obligated to support her so as to not lose face for her family.
Meng Sangyu sent her to the palace gates before turning back. However, Meng Rui’zhu suddenly pulled on her sleeve and tremblingly asked, “Elder Sister, are the words you said previously still true?”
“What words?” Meng Sangyu raised her eyebrows.
Meng Rui’zhu clenched her teeth, making her decision. “If Rui’zhu is willing to drink the abortion soup, you will allow Rui’zhu to stay in the palace.” As long as she could stay next to the Emperor, what did it matter if she could not have children? Wasn’t it still possible to adopt?
Meng Sangyu covered her mouth and smiled. In a victorious tone laced with sadism, she said, “Silly child, that was just a joke! Bengong will never do something as stupid as bringing in wolves 引狼入室 (yǐnlángrùshì) To show the wolf into the house. To introduce a potential source of trouble. and raising tigers. 养虎为患 (yǎnghǔwéihuàn) To nurture a tiger invites calamity. To indulge one’s enemy is asking for trouble. You should peacefully wait to be married out. Bengong will choose a good family for you.”
Once the words landed, she turned and left, leaving Meng Rui’zhu standing there stupidly.
Entering the main hall [of the Buddist temple], Meng Sangyu caught sight of the man languidly reclining by the window with a book in his hands. With the golden yellow sun rays spilling onto his well-sculpted face; he was as handsome as a god.
An evil flame ignited in Meng Sangyu’s heart as she walked over and ambiguously 不阴不阳 (bùyīnbùyáng) Hidden intentions, indirect means. said, “Your Majesty has good fortune. It’s unclear just how many women would be willing to live and die for your honoured self.”
Emperor Zhou’wu raised his eyebrows in astonishment before immediately tossing away the book in his hand to take Sangyu into his arms, laughing heartily.
He attentively trailed kisses along her cheeks and neck as he happily said, “Is my Sangyu jealous? What a strong smell of vinegar!” 吃醋 (chīcù) Lit. Eating vinegar. A metaphor for jealousy in romantic relationships. The phrase stems from the Tang Dynasty. In order to win over people’s hearts, Tang Taizong wanted his minister Fang Xuanling to take a concubine, but his wife was against it. She was very stubborn so he gave her the option of choosing between drinking poisoned wine or accepting the concubine. Unexpectedly, Mrs. Fang decided to drink the poisoned wine, but only after did she realize that it wasn’t in fact poisoned wine, but thick vinegar. Since then, consuming vinegar has been a metaphor for jealousy. His heartache and loneliness from a moment ago were completely cured by Sangyu’s actions. He brimmed with vigour from head to foot.
“You’re the one who’s jealous!” Sangyu fiercely jabbed at the man’s chest with her fingertips.
“Alright, Zhen is jealous! Zhen is willing to live and die for you!” He captured Sangyu’s naughty fingertips and kissed them. His voice deepened sexily, making his words appear more solemn and earnest, as if he were swearing an oath. Meng Sanyu’s ears reddened and her heartbeat quickened as he spoke.
TL Team Thoughts:
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