Chapter 8: Disappointment
She suddenly felt unfamiliar. Thinking such, A’Bao moved his front paws, wanting to leave these arms.
Shen Huiru tightened her grip secretly, clasping his disobedient paws. She dug her cold gleaming artificial pinky nail into A’Bao’s chin. Because of the angle, no one saw her hidden action.
The little puppy’s delicate skin was cut open and fresh red blood immediately gushed out. But because of the dark brown fur, it was undetectable on the surface. A’Bao yelped in pain and reflexively scratched Shen Huiru.
Shen Huiru cried out and threw A’Bao into the distance.
The fake emperor and Meng Sangyu both stood up, one went to hold Shen Huiru, one ran toward A’Bao who harshly fell onto the ground.
“Love, what’s wrong?” The fake emperor asked in a worried and anxious voice with his arms around Shen Huiru’s shoulder.
Meng Sangyu gently carried the unsteady A’Bao in her arms. For the first time, anger overtook her usually calm expression. “The gracious consort, what’s wrong with you?” Disregarding that the emperor was present, her voice was interrogatory. Although their official standing was the same, but among virtuous, able, gracious, and pure, virtuous was the head of the four consorts. Her standing was still half a step higher than that of the gracious consort. She was qualified to question the other.
The eyes of the concubines watching the show brightened. This domineering personality is how the virtuous consort should be! They had thought the virtuous consort’s personality had changed!
“Your Majesty, this rascal scratched this concubine!” Ignoring Meng Sangyu, Shen Huiru hugged the back of her right hand and complained with teary eyes.
The fake king carefully lifted Shen Huiru’s right hand. Seeing that there was a line of a red scratch mark, anger appeared in his handsome face.
“Virtuous consort, how dare you bring an untrained rascal before us. Do you know your sin?”
“This concubine knows her wrong, please punish this concubine.” Seeing A’Bao opened his eyes and whimpered as he pawed at her clothes, Meng Sangyu regained her reason and unhesitantly heeded. She didn’t have time to be dealing with the emperor, A’Bao’s wound was more important.
“Then take this rascal back. When you have him trained is when you can come out again.” The fake emperor swung his sleeves, with impatience on his face.
So this is a different style of house arrest, not only that but without time limit. Meng Sangyu’s heart was clear, under the mocking and jesting looks of the crowd of concubines, she left.
Shen Huiru gave a hard to detect nod to the fake king while rubbing her wound. If you were to ask which woman she hates the most in this palace, it’s not the empress, not the noble consort, no other than Meng Sangyu. Even though she clearly was Shaoze’s true love, she had no choice but to quietly stay in Zhong’cui Palace, watching Meng Sangyu steal away the honor, pamper, status and power that should have been hers. Why? What right does she have? Shaoze said that everything was for her, but was she really happy? Every time she sees the free spirited Meng Sangyu, these kind of questions always surface in her mind.
But no matter how discontent, she would not touch Meng Sangyu. Because she knew, what Shaoze loved was her gentleness, pride, purity. The more ostentatious Meng Sangyu was, the deeper Shaoze’s guilt and cosideration would be. As such, she could only bear through it, she could only quietly lay dormant inside Zhong’cui Palace. However, Shaoze was now unconscious and her patience has reached its end.
After spitting out that air of discomfort, Shen Huiru signaled to the fake emperor with her eyes. The fake emperor took note, gave the excuse that he needed to take care of political matters, and left with his entourage to Qian’qing Palace, leaving Shen Huiru to face the suddenly ethusiastically subservient concubines.
Today was only a practice round Shen Huiru arranged for the fake emperor. If he wanted to act out Emperor Zhou’wu well, the first thing he has to do is to deceive past the eyes of the concubines of the inner palace. It seems that he did very well.
The real Emperor Zhou’wu was currently curled up in Meng Sangyu’s arms. If it wasn’t for the blanket covering him, his depressed and lost appearance would certainly bring about the suspicious of others.
What happened just then happened too fast. He just slowly realized now that he was used as a tool by Huiru to attack the virtuous consort. This situation was slightly flipped from his impressions. Although the virtuous consort never harmed Huiru, other than bullying her with words, Huiru’s prideful so she never lowered herself to bother with the virtuous consort. It was exactly this kind of understanding of hers that made Emperor Zhou’wu feel more guilty.
But all of Shen Huiru’s actions today dissipated a large half of that guilt in his heart. So she also speaks with double meaning in her words, also attacks with insinuations, also inverts the black and the white. Even more, she also uses any method possible to frame another, no different from those concubines. If this was normally, seeing that Huiru had the ability to protect herself, he would feel comforted. But now that the person being used, being hurt changed to himself, he could not feel anything positive no matter what.
Feeling pain coming from his chin, Emperor Zhou’wu tightly furrowed his brows. Thinking again about the body double keeping the self-reference ‘us’ in his mouth and even punishing the virtuous consort with house arrest, his discomfort quickly became burning anger. A counterfeit dared to touch our woman, the day our soul returns with be your death date!
Emperor Zhou’wu, in his burning anger with flames touching the skies, clearly ignored the scene where the fake king embraced Shen Huiru. He was unaware that the justice in his heart was slowly shifting drop by drop, biasing towards his owner.
Meng Sangyu carried A’Bao, fast as a wildfire, back to Bi’xiao Palace. She hadn’t even got in the door when she rushed the servants repeatedly to go to the imperial clinic to call upon an imperial physician.
“Your Ladyship, it’s only a fall, there’s no need to make such a scene. The emperor just put you on house arrest because of A’Bao and now you are calling an imperial physician especially for him. If His Majesty hears, he will be unhappy.” Head Nurse Feng advised, full of worry.
“A’Bao is still little. Being thrown like that by the gracious consort, I’m afraid he may have internal injuries. Only if the imperial physician comes take a look can I be at ease. I’m already under house arrest, so it already doesn’t matter if His Majesty is happy or not.” Meng Sangyu carefully felt around A’Bao’s body, her furrowed brows showed her worry and pain.
Meeting this pair of water-like gentle phoenix eyes, Emperor Zhou’wu’s chaotic emotions slowly calmed and the negative feelings that flooded his heart were swept away. He nudged himself into her soft and fragrant embrace. He didn’t understand, this type of incomparable assuring and incomparably comforting feeling right now was called ‘healing.’
It was still that imperial physician from last time. He hurriedly payed respects then came up to the couch where A’Bao laid to treat him. Getting hurt so often, what a bumpy fate this puppy has! The imperial physician exclaimed in his heart while inspecting even more carefully in his checkup.
“Your Ladyship, A’Bao doesn’t have internal injuries. He only has a half inch would under his chin from being cut by a sharp object. With some Jin’chuang powder, he will be better in just five to six days.” The imperial physician bowed and answered.
[TN: Jin’chuang is actually a term used in TCM for metal-inflicted wounds. So, jin’chuang medicine is used to treat metal-inflicted wounds. It comes in many forms, but typically as a powder.]
“What? His chin was cut?” Meng Sangyu furrowed her brows, the sound of her voice had surprise and anger. When the imperial physician finished applying medicine for A’Bao, seeing A’Bao’s naked neck, she couldn’t have felt more pain in her heart for him. She continuously kissed A’Bao’s head murmuring, “I knew that A’Bao would not attack anyone for no reason, so it was because of the gracious consort’s secret scheming! Hateful!”
After she finished cursing beneath her breath, as if she remembered something, she let out a helpless expression on her face. If it was someone else, she would certainly get justice for A’Bao. But when this person is Shen Huiru, she can’t do anything.
“The gracious consort usually stays quiet, it’s hard to believe that she was this kind of person!” Head Nurse Feng angrily opened her mouth, “Your Ladyship, you typically have no relations with her, why would she suddenly target you?”
“Typically no relations? Did you forget? Half a year ago, big brother just seriously injured the gracious consort’s elder brother. He even scarred his face. This grudge is a big one, it would be strange if she didn’t target me.” Meng Sangyu sighed and rubbed her throbbing forehead. Actually, there are other reasons in this. It’s just that she can’t tell Head Nurse Feng. Head Nurse Feng can’t hide what she’s thinking, if she lets her know too much it wouldn’t be good.
[TN: If you scar your face you can no longer receive a position in the court. So the guy basically has no future now.]
So there was this issue, we also almost forgot! Seeing the virtuous consort had a tired face, Emperor Zhou’wu also got annoyed at that brother of hers that has shown no growth.
Meng Sangyu put down the hand that was rubbing her forehead, she worriedly added, “Nowadays Shen Grand Preceptor has returned to the court, with heavy power in his hands. You all remember to stay away from the gracious consort, do not get entangled with her.”
Speaking of the master’s good-for-nothing brother, Head Nurse Feng also felt helpless. She sighed and muttered in a low voice, “For His Majesty to be able to successfully get enthroned back then, Shen Grand Preceptor is his biggest partisan. Everyone thought the Shen family would have quickly rose to the top, but Shen Grand Preceptor suddenly sent a memorial retiring from all his positions. He is such a person that cares little for power and name, why would he suddenly return to the court?”
“The emperor is resting from heavy injuries and doesn’t have anyone he trusts beside him, he naturally would return. Also, even if he doesn’t return this time, he would always be able to find another opportunity to regain power. Nurse do you really believe Shen Grand Preceptor is so honorable and doesn’t care about power and reputation? Wrong! Of all the military and civil advisers in the court, if we speak of shrewdness, who can beat him at it?” Meng Sangyu stroked A’Bao’s soft fur as she snorted.
Emperor Zhou’wu suddenly opened his eyes, and turned an intent gaze to her. He wanted to see, to the loyal Grand Preceptor who had no desire for power, how Meng Sangyu would say such a thing.
Not detecting A’Bao’s unnaturally passionate gaze, Meng Sangyu continued, “Not caring for reputation and being drunken to nature, this is but just Shen Grand Preceptor’s tactic of taking a step back as a move forward. If he did not follow the flow to hastily retire back then, Shen family’s power would definitely rise above that of the empress’s family, jumping to the number one family in Zhou. But if you take a look, what had once been the number one family in Zhou, the empress’s family, what kind of ending did they have? It is but because their reputation and achievements capped that of their master’s that they were held in suspicion and repressed by the emperor. Ever since they have not gotten back up. He had predicted the emperor’s attitude since long before and used power to exchange for the emperor’s trust. And in doing so, he also secured a straight path to success for the descendants of the Shen family. If the gracious consort’s big brother had not scarred his face, he would have been able to debut in court after the Autumn Imperial Examination this year. But it’s too bad that his luck is clearly not that great. He just had to meet my big brother at this important gateway, and also get scarred from it, crossing paths with a political career since then. This generation of Shen family has no other presentable talented individual. And thus, Shen family’s path to prosperity was broken. How would Shen Grand Preceptor be able to accept such a result? He naturally would come out himself. Have you all not realized? Ever since half a year ago, Shen Grand Preceptor stopped traveling and began remaining in the capital and also frequently visited the palace to deepen his relationship with the emperor. What he is doing here is paving a path for his restatement into the court. The gracious consort also changed her previous low-key behavior and began currying favor. Royal offspring and imperial favor is the Shen family’s hope to change their fates, they will definitely fight for it. Today’s act is only just the beginning. The grudge between the Meng family and Shen family are deep. At this time we must be cautious. We cannot be half a point off mark in our behaviors. You all remember this!”
Head Nurse Feng and the rest all had a solemn expression and quickly lowered their heads and heeded.
Emperor Zhou’wu, on the other hand, had his mouth wide open, his shock hard to hide. In this half year, Grand Preceptor has, in fact, frequented the palace, conversing together with him about matters of the state. Huiru also really started changing her usual attitude since half a year ago, becoming especially attached to him.
Because of his trust for the Grand Preceptor and his love for Huiru, he never thought elsewhere, but Meng Sangyu’s words were too sharp, too reasonable, he couldn’t even find the right words to rebuff it if he wanted to. Once he thinks about how the Grand Preceptor’s loyalty and Huiru’s love all had so much greed for power and benefits mixed in, he feels an incredible disgust. His determination to gain contact with Huiru also began faltering.
His heart throbbed in pain. Emperor Zhou’wu had no place to vent, so in one bite he got a hold of Meng Sangyu’s finger tip, using his teeth to harshly grind on it. This woman is just too smart, too clear-minded! She stabbed through the truth that he hadn’t wanted to think deeply about nor accept — so hateful!
Wait! If she can see clearly the positions of the empress’s family, the Li family, and the Shen family, there is no way she wouldn’t see through the Meng family’s situation! It can’t be, it can’t be that she knew everything this whole time, but has just been pretending to be ignorant?
Thinking of this possibility, the anger and frustration in Emperor Zhou’wu’s heart immediately disappeared, replaced by a thick and heavy guilt.
The little puppy’s teeth hasn’t even all grown in yet, so when he bites there isn’t even a bit of pain. Meng Sangyu thought A’Bao was playing with her and lightly scratched his tongue with her finger tips, pamperingly scolding, “Naughty!”
Emperor Zhou’wu reflexively started wagging his tail while he was feeling guilty. Even if his mind wasn’t really there, he could fully bring out the stance of wishing to please his owner. Unknowingly, he already had one foot on the path of becoming a loyal dog with no return.