Chapter 22: Perceived 1
Nowadays Imperial Physician Wen has already become A’Bao’s personal physician. Whenever something happens to A’Bao, the Virtuous Consort’s head maid always catches him, not letting go. It’s good that he has both patience and kindness, not once taking light of the matter because A’Bao is just a dog.
When Imperial Physician Wen arrived, the Virtuous Consort had A’Bao in her arms as she sat by the window waiting for him. Seeing him arrive, she quickly walked up to greet him. Imperial Physician’s heart beat out of his chest, what was it this time?
“Imperial Physician Wen, quick, come take a look. A’Bao barked for an entire two hours, he even spat out blood!” As she impatiently cut off Imperial Physician Wen’s formal greeting, Meng Sangyu quickly waved him over to hurry and diagnose.
Imperial Physician Wen straightened his body, gesturing for the Virtuous Consort to put A’Bao into the basket, then opened A’Bao’s mouth towards a row of candles to inspect in the light. After a moment, he sighed, “Your Ladyship, A’Bao’s throat is damaged, he needs to take medicine for a few days to recover. Why did he bark for so long? Did he get frightened again?”
It’s all our fault. We didn’t know that he hasn’t recovered from the frightening experience last time and can’t easily leave us. We had left him by himself for two hours.” Meng Sangyu squeezed A’Bao’s little ear, her saddened voice full with self blame. A’Bao licked her jade white wrist, his little nose shaking as he whimpered, as if to comfort her.
“I see.” Imperial Physician Wen nodded, with a flick of his wrist he wrote down a prescription for throat recovery and passed it to a Bi’Xiao Palace servant. He then instructed some important points to notice on how to brew the medicine, leaving only after all that was done.
Being a favored consort is not easy, being the dog of a favored consort is even more not easy! He contemplated as he stroked his beard while walking down a little path in Bi’Xiao Palace.
Just after Imperial Physician Wen left, Head Imperial Physician* Lin arrived. He respectfully greeted the Virtuous Consort and passed on that he was sent by His Majesty to check-up on Her Ladyship.
Humph! They’re sure careful and thorough! Meng Sangyu lowered her eyes with an insulting laugh. She openly reached out her hand for Head Imperial Physician Lin to inspect.
After a moment of careful inspection, Head Imperial Physician Lin wrote down several prescriptions for maintaining good health*, said some groundless nonsensical words and left. When he walked far, Meng Sangyu immediately ordered the excess servants to leave, leaving only Bi’Shui, Yin’Cui, and Nurse Feng.
“I have something to tell you guys, you guys listen carefully, don’t pass this around.” She gently stroke A’Bao’s back again and again, trying to calm herself.
The other people in the hall, including A’Bao, all lifted up their ears.
“This current emperor is fake!” Without any accessories, she plainly laid out the truth.
Bi’Shui, Yin’Cui, Nurse Feng all froze, stupefied, completely unable to react to the shocking words of their master. I must have heard wrong! They all coincidentally thought in unison.
Emperor Zhou’wu’s heard shook, looking toward Meng Sangyu with eyes of disbelief. He never thought that just with one meeting, a short, not even two-hour, timeframe, Sangyu could determine whether that person was real or fake! Such intellect, as expected of our Sangyu! He was anxious that his beloved would be tricked, be stolen, but now he doesn’t have to worry. His heart that practically exploded returned to normal in a flash.
“Can’t, can’t be! That brow, those eyes, that body shape… that’s His Majesty!” Nurse Feng stuttered after a long moment, Yin’Cui and Bi’Shui nodded furiously in agreement.
That person’s exterior really is exactly like myself, whether it be height or body shape. Even the smallest details and characteristics Yan Junwei made careful adjustments to make it seamless. Even when Emperor Zhou’Wu saw he thought it really was another of himself, much less others? Hearing Nurse Feng’s rebuttal, his heart that just relaxed again tightened, fearing that Sangyu would be convinced by their words and give up her own determination.
“He’s fake, I can’t be wrong!” Meng Sangyu said firmly.
For these people of ancient times, the emperor’s power is given by the gods. The old idea that the emperor is determined by the skies has long since been carved in their bones. In their heart and eyes, the emperor’s existence is equivalent to that of a god. To look straight at the face of the emperor is a form of disrespect worthy of the death penalty. Holding this type of respect and fear, how could they understand their Majesty? If their Majesty changed, how could they tell?
But Meng Sangyu was different. First off, deep down she doesn’t feel that type of inferiority and fear, she looked at the emperor as just a normal person; next, she has an out of the ordinary family background. Her entering the palace is walking on a tightrope, a slight carelessness and she would fall to her death – her body to pieces and her bones shattered, further dragging down her family. So ever since she entered the palace, she has researched her boss, Emperor Zhou’wu, as an important study subject to study. It is essential for her to have a handle on all of his emotional expressions. Having carefully researched a person’s every move for three years, in this palace the person who understood Emperor Zhou’wu most could be none other than Meng Sangyu. Even the Empress Dowager who has not returned to the palace for many years may not be able to compare.
Then comes the question, how could she not be able to tell whether he was fake or real?
“His Majesty’s expressions and behavior, no one knows more than me about that.” Seeing Nurse Feng and the others still hesitant, she slowly opened her mouth, “Every time His Majesty sees me, although he seems happy on the surface and his lips are smiling, but he actually is not happy at all deep in his heart – because his eyes are cold; although His Majesty laughs and converses with me, but his heart and mind has long since not been with me – because his eyes are empty; although His Majesty passionately entangles with me, but his body is not burning for me – because his eyes are dark…”
Explaining up to this point, she paused, letting out a mocking smile, she pointed to her eyes and emphasized, “If you want to truly understand a person, what you need to look at first is not his outside, but his eyes! Eyes are windows to the soul, they will not lie! Even if it’s hidden well, there will always be hints of it.”
The hesitant expressions on Nurse Feng and the others faded, replaced by solemness. They were already convinced by their master’s words.
Emperor Zhou’wu deeply buried his head, forcibly bearing the waves of twisting pain in his chest. So unbeknownst to himself, Sangyu had already seen through him. His pretentious and heartless self, how could she possibly come to like? It was already the biggest gift from the heavens that she doesn’t hate him!
Meng Sangyu was still continuing, “Just then when that person saw me, the joy in his eyes were real, the softness in his eyes were real, the pampering affection in his eyes were real – I even saw in his eyes hints that his heart was moved. How could a person who has felt disgust for you for three years suddenly change his attitude? There must be something suspicious!”
Her words immediately supplemented a sharp cut* on Emperor Zhou’wu’s heart, his HP dropping continuously*.
“Of course, I wouldn’t just make my judgement based on this. I carefully observed him after. Although he purposely carried himself nobly, but guilty diffidence and uneasiness were hidden in his eyes. When he was met with things he weren’t sure about he couldn’t help but look towards Chang’xi, as if he was asking for Chang’xi’s opinion. Doesn’t this seem very odd for His Majesty who is very decisive?” Meng Sangyu continued frankly, “After that, I purposely tested him, asking him to write a dog tag for A’Bao. Look…”
She pointed to the writings on the table, “This was left by that person just now, this is from His Majesty from before, what can you guys see?”
“Your Ladyship, these writings are clearly from the same person, where do you see something off?” Bi’Shui had some knowledge of calligraphy, she came close and looked for several moments, speaking hesitantly.
“They all say a person’s writing is a reflection of himself. A person’s writing is as himself, with a unique personality. His Majesty’s writing is strong and decisive, his running script* fierce, his vertical and horizontal lines well structured, his hooks and strokes sharp. With one look you can feel the majestic atmosphere of the writer.”
Emperor Zhou’wu’s bleeding heart felt a little better. At least, in Sangyu’s eyes, he still had something good about him.
Yin’Cui and Nurse Feng quickly came forward to examine. Having listened to their master’s explanation, they indeed felt the power inside.
Meng Sangyu nodded her head, pointed to the writing of the person just now, “Then take a look at this one, his brush is hesitant, his ink uneven, his running script has pauses, and although his hooks have some sharpness to them, they are not natural enough. From such, it can be seen that this person had previously practiced a more generous and softer style of writing, only recently changing to a writing style he is not yet used to. As such signs of it shows in the details of his writing. Although one person can learn many styles of writing, but he would not be unnatural in using a style he uses most often. We can see from this that this writer is suspicious.”
Bi’Shui and the others lightly nodded, already pretty convinced.
Meng Sangyu again pointed to the teapot that has not yet been put away, “Even after seeing the handwriting I still could not be completely certain, so I brewed a pot of tea to continue testing. His Majesty favors elegant activities, understanding and appreciative of the art of tea, refusing to drink any that is not brewed with the best tea leaves and water. But take a look, I mixed Junshan Yinzhen and a very similar Linyun Baihao together in the filter, but His Majesty completed did not taste the difference, even complimenting my abilities. Normally, he would have tossed the tea and left!” Finishing, she solemnly concluded, “Seeing these differences in behavior, the person just now definitely is not the original Emperor! His Majesty wouldn’t be unable to decide on such a small matter of bestowing a marriage, His Majesty would not be forced by Minister Li and Noble Consort Li to such an extent, His Majesty would be so weak, allowing for such dissonance in the Imperial Court and Inner Palace.”
Her words completely rid Bi’Shui and the others of their hesitance. Nurse Feng’s face went pale white, her throat dry, “Then Your Ladyship, where is the real His Majesty?”
“I’m afraid he may have not woken up from the comma from the previous injury. The current Emperor is but a substitute, but has already become a figure to control the court and inner palace manipulated by the father and daughter of the Shen family. We’re in a dangerous position now.” Meng Sangyu replied gravely.
“His, His Majesty couldn’t have died could he?” There was only fear and panic in the expression on Yin’Cui’s face. Bi’Shui also lost her usual calm.
“No, if His Majesty had died, the father and daughter of the Shen family would not be peacefully living right now. Have you all forgotten about the hidden guards beside His Majesty and the end of the Shao family?”
The alarm in the heart of Bi’Shui and the others slowly calmed as the realized.
A concubine from the Shao family had once caused the death of an Emperor that came after Founding Emperor Zhou. The family then was subjected to the crazed vengeance of the hidden guards, the entire family of more than three thousand was washed by blood. The oldest was an eighty-some-year-old, the youngest was just an infant, even the animals were not spared. The leader of that generation of hidden guards committed suicide after. Word had it that he had been given some sort of poison. If the Emperor had not died of natural causes, had not bestowed the cure to him before death, he would not be able to live on alone. Because the Emperor of that generation had taken the throne for not even half a year, and the events of the story are too shocking and unheard of, the story had purposely been forgotten by the people of Zhou.
“So His Majesty must still be alive. The hidden guards are only leaving the fake Emperor alone to allow him to first take the place of the throne, not giving the Grand Duke of Huai’Nan and the Grand Duke of Xiang’Bei* an opening to take advantage of. If the two grand dukes were to hear of any rumors they would surely bring their armies to the capital, the barbarians would then once again invade, and Zhou would face the danger of destruction! The hidden guards cannot take on the treasonous responsibility of ending the country, naturally they would choose to face all changes with no change*, waiting for His Majesty to awaken.”
Meng Sangyu’s analyzed the situation point-by-point, her train of thought clear with precise predictions thoroughly impressed Emperor Zhou’wu. He only now knew that Shen Huiru’s ‘knowledge not losing to a man’ compared to Sangyu was laughable.
“Then Your Ladyship, what should we do?” Nurse Feng’s heart squeezed together.
“The palace has the hidden guards watching, we just need to pretend we don’t know anything. If we were to drop any hints, not only would the hidden guards be suspicious of us, the father and daughter of the Shen family would also do anything to harm us. In a bit I’ll write a letter, have someone send it to the border to father. Tell father to be prepared to assist and protect the Emperor at any time. As for the specifics of what to do, he would have his own decision. We just have to keep in contact with him at any time.”
Meng Sangyu’s voice was strained, not because of fear, but because of excitement. If the Emperor wakes up, the Meng family would count as having made important contribution to the country, even after father retires, the Meng family would not fall and her own life would be easier. If the Emperor doesn’t wake up, that’s even better! Then the Meng family has hundreds of thousands of soldiers, how would the Grand Duke of Huai’Nan and the Grand Duke of Jiang’Bei be able to compete with the Meng family? To escape from this cage and return to the sky would no longer by just an unreachable dream! Thinking of this, her hand started to tremble.
But Emperor Zhou’wu thought she was afraid, his heart filled with love and care, and even more with appreciation. To think of him even as she is in danger, helping him although she is in fear, this kind of Sangyu deserved all of his heart and love even more! He couldn’t help but hug the woman’s hand, licking every inch with his tongue. Currently, he had no other way to express his emotions.
Nurse Feng and the others had all already lost their calm, naturally they listened to whatever their master said. But after calming down, they couldn’t help but think more.
“Your Ladyship, for soldiers at the border to return to the capital is a treason that would lead to the death of the entire family! If His Majesty does not wake, wouldn’t the Duke be convicted as attempting to usurp the throne?” Nurse Feng looked even more worried than before.
“Are we going to watch as those sly people steal and ruin our country just because of that? Father is loyal to His Majesty, his will definitely take this risk, and I will definitely support him. As for mother and brother, they tend to share the same thoughts as father. Do you think Shen Huiru would let me go, let the Meng family go? No she wouldn’t! Things are already at this point, we cannot hesitate because of this matters. We can only go forward. His Majesty is blessed with good fortune, he has the heavens protecting him. He will definitely wake up, there is no need for you all to think so much.”
Meng Sangyu did her all to comfort everyone, but the thoughts in her heart were in a completely different direction.
Although Father Meng’s has a headstrong personality, he isn’t unbendable. He is indeed loyal to the Emperor, but his family weighs much more. If the two can co-exist, he would choose loyalty; if the two cannot, he would absolutely choose his family. It naturally would be good for the Emperor to wake, and the Meng family would be honorable and have been of great service to the country and Emperor. If the Emperor unfortunately passes, Father Meng would definitely tightly grasp the power over the army to protect his family. That is the heaviest and most significant card, no matter if it’s to follow a new master or if it’s to become independent, the Meng family has the most absolute decision making power. And she could take the chance of getting rid of this dark and endless cage known as the forbidden palace.
Before, because she saw no hope, so she had never even thought of the possibility of gaining freedom; but now that the chance is waving at her just before her, she could not ignore the call in her heart no matter what. Of course, although she yearns for it, she still has her logic intact, she definitely would not express her thoughts to anyone. To Nurse Feng and the others, this would be no different from plotting treason, they definitely would not be able to accept it.
Also, it’s best for this to happen naturally. She can’t carelessly interfere, like killing of the comatose Emperor Zhou’wu and the such. She definitely will not do that. Not only can she not do that, she has to actively try to rescue him. Because only if they stand on the side of righteousness, of protecting the Emperor, the Meng family would be in the most advantageous position. They could both go forward and attack, or fall back and defend.
The pitiful Shen father and daughter, thinking that victory awaits them, but leaving the biggest card for herself. The days of the future may be unsteady, with difficulty and perhaps even the danger of death, but it will still be much better than the depressing stagnant days now!
She went out in a daze thinking to herself, her face serious because it was difficult for her to suppress the excitement in her chest. Nurse Feng and the others had never seen such a serious master, they all quieted and suppressed their breaths, afraid to disrupt her.
Emperor Zhou’wu thought she was worried for his safety, he quietly whimpered with his nose to comfort her, his heart filled with waves of sweetness. Like the Shen father and daughter, he was also a pitiful person. If he knew the thoughts actually in Meng Sangyu’s heart, he may even cough up three liters of blood.
*Head Imperial Physician
Explanation: Not quite sure if this is an appropriate translation. To my understanding, it’s a position that is in charge of managing the department and conducting examinations for imperial physician positions.
*Maintaining good health
Original: 养生 = 养身 [Yang Sheng = Yang Shen]
Explanation: Basically same concept as a healthy diet but medicine – kinda.
*supplemented a sharp cut
Original: 补刀 [Bu Dao]
Explanation: To add an extra cut with a knife. Typically used to describe finishing someone off.
*his HP falling continuously
Original: 唰唰飙血 [Shua Shua Piao Xue]
Explanation: 唰唰 is an onomatopoeia to express continuity and flow. For instance, the sound of a bristling sound of a brush may use this onomatopoeia. 飙血 means “drifting blood.” The verb 飘 is usually used for snow in the phrase 飘雪, also pronounced [Piao Xue]. The entire phrase 刷刷飘雪, to my understanding, a more modern creation used in online gaming to describe constantly dropping HP/health/blood – like damage from poison or some other sort of debuff.
Original: 行书 [Xing Shu]
Explanation: A writing style in Chinese calligraphy.
*Grand Duke of Huai’Nan and the Grand Duke of Xiang’Bei*
Original: 淮南王 & 湘北王 [Huai Nan Wang & Xiang Bei Wang]
Explanation: These grand dukes are relatives of the Emperor, they may or may not be the Emperor’s brothers or children. Their titles are based on the name of the land they are given to manage. These grand dukes are only in line for the throne in the condition that the Emperor does not have any offspring to take the throne. And if they become in line to take the throne, it also depends on the support the have in the court and their relationship with the Emperor. For example, if a grand duke is the brother of the deceased and childless Emperor, he likely has a bigger chance of taking the throne than, say, the third cousin twice removed of the Emperor.
*face all changes with no change
Original: 以不变应万变 [Yi Bu Bian Yin Wan Bian]
Explanation: A very common phrase in Chinese. I believe this was originally a Daoist concept. It doesn’t necessarily mean to face changes with no change, but rather to express that one should carefully observe and analyze a situation and treat each situation with calm judgement.
Author seemed to have typo-ed for one of the two: Grand Duke of Xiang’Bei or Grand Duke of Jiang’Bei. It’s definitely referring to the same person though.