TL’ed by snowflake_obsidian
 The Chinese emperor is sometimes referred to as being a dragon.
 小胗; Xiao Zhēn. In chapter 7 it was 小郑, Xiao Zhèng. There is a finite number of Chinese surnames. One source I looked at said there are 4-500 different Chinese surnames, another had just over a 1,000. 胗 does not appear in either list so the name in the text was translated as Zheng as in chapter 7.
 Clouds and rain; sexual intercourse.
 Fish playing in water has become an euphemism for sex. The mention of fish hidden at the bottom of the water may be intended by the speaker to be a suggestion of things to come.
This novel has several different covers with one showing a pair of fish playing.
 抚额; Clap his hand to his forehead, comfort his forehead with/in his hand, face-palm.
 匾; Initially 块匾 is mentioned which would point to a wooden placard that generally is hung over a door or on a wall.
The other form generally is a silk banner that is embroidered with words of praise. The chapter goes on to mention rolls of paper so I’m unsure whether these are editing mistakes or perhaps the shifts illustrate the personality of the speaker. It’s also possible that the placard was meant to be something like this.
 都穷的叮当都不响了; This essentially comes out to “completely broke no clattering/jingling sound at all.” I thought about mentioning shaking an empty piggy bank though non-native English speakers might think that, a monarch shaking a piggy bank, is an odd image.
 小腹; This is literally lower abdomen. Chinese terms for various parts of the body do not always correspond to the English. An example sometimes seen in Chinese love and romance novels is 腰 which is often translated as waist. But if I told a Mandarin speaker that my 腰痛 then (s)he would understand that my lower back is bothering me. A Chinese person generally would not say the literal words for lower back. Anyhow in this chapter, 小腹 refers to male genitalia.
Ch 12 – This Emperor is Very Deceptive
It was said that Su Tang went out of Fu Rui court supported by Xi Que, and was laden with anxiety throughout the walk back.
“Miss, afterward you’ll be in charge of this general’s manor!” Xi Que unexpectedly was very excited.
Su Tang with a bitter face said, “Xiao Xi Que, you know that you just serve as my dowry maid servant. Do you feel that life is very dark?”
Uh…. should I say the truth? Xi Que felt this was making things difficult for her.
However, Su Tang did not wait for her reply, and merely said with a deep feeling of grief, “Now-a-days, my mood and yours are alike.”
Su Tang looked at this large general’s manor, and pondered what should she do in the final analysis. Her line of sight swept a circle and fell on that extremely fine building on the west side. Her eyes narrowed and asked Shao Yao who followed in back, “That is Xi Yuan.”
Shao Yao inclined her head. Trembling with fear she replied, “Answering shao furen, yes.”
Su Tang nodded her heard and had an idea — had better first pay lip service, being the mistress of the house she will first engage and exert a little bit to show some strength. That will work. As for these four …. Su Tang was unable to make sense of what lao taitai meant in the final analysis. First, just abide one’s time – you don’t provoke me, I also won’t provoke you. Otherwise, you’ll learn the bad consequences of living. This old lady has the honor of keeping you company to the end!
Figuring things out, an easy-going smile again appeared on Su Tang’s face. She turned her head to look at Shao Yao. Her eyebrows wrinkled — does this maid see a demon when catching sight of her (Su Tang)?
Su Tang already was greatly tired and, consequently, all during the trip and returning to her own courtyard, her mind again and again was verbally abusing Song Shi An. All along, she thought about talking with him regarding the affair that lao taitai spoke about. Unexpectedly she found a circle of people whom she had never seen before, and then found a servant maid to ask;
“Ok, you all are from the general’s manor?”
“Answering furen, a moment ago the emperor’s official messenger summoned the general to enter the palace.”
Su Tang nodded her head. She couldn’t help but once again start to silently curse His Majesty, who eats his fill to the point of bursting, whose edict threw her into lifelong turmoil.
Thereupon, in that north side of Song country’s largest imperial palace, the little emperor who was in the midst of eating pastries was hit hard by a sneeze.
The child emperor wrinkled and wrinkled his nose. “Yesterday evening Zhen was excessively diligent, looking at memorials to the throne until midnight. Could it be that the imperial body caught an ailment?”
On the side, the mouth of the eunuch drew out. He thought to himself, yesterday evening you indeed were holding memorials, but they were used as wrappers. So, for the entire night you looked at erotic pictures!
At this time, outside the door was passed on — “General Song has arrived!”
The little emperor heard what was said and hastily tidied the wine cups on the desk, sat erectly and assumed a govern the country appearance. Hah, cannot let him see me eating sweets. Otherwise again there will be some long-winded lecture — boo hoo. This country’s monarch wants this crowd of scoundrels to stop presenting memorials to the throne saying that loving to eat pastries is bad. What, what detriment to the dragon body’s  development. What, what detriment to tooth development. Really is a bunch of nonsense! A life without pastries is not a complete life. These cabinet ministers, your lives all are ruined! Snort!
Song Shi An came and finished bowing. He saw the young emperor sitting upright, eyes betraying a gratified look. However, Song Shi An began to frown again (after) getting a glimpse of the residue on the child’s mouth.
Seeing Song Shi An this way, the emperor knew where the small slip was. His eyesight darted to the eunuch on the side who gestured. A faint trace of something was on his mouth, sure enough proof of guilt. The young emperor was quite clever. Seeing Song Shi An whose mind wanted to instruct and guide, begin to speak. He was hastily interrupted. “You are not allowed to not talk about the matter of eating pastries!”
Song Shi An’s lips moved and his mouth again closed.
The little emperor rolled his eyes. Without losing time he again said, “Neither are you allowed to talk about the matter of going to war with Yan country. Also, you cannot reject peace talks! Eh, and, and, also not permitted to blame Zhen for the medicine you were given….”
“….” This confession was made without duress.
He waited a long time and didn’t see Song Shi An open his mouth. The young emperor took advantage of Song Shi An’s uncertain feelings and asked, “Ah. Xiao Song, why aren’t you saying anything?”
Song Shi An’s face was expressionless, “The emperor has already forbidden what this official wanted to say.”
The young emperor jumped down from the soft golden yellow divan, a smiling expression all over his face. “Aiya, Xiao Song shouldn’t you thank your lord for his special favor! In order to let Xiao Song have children earlier, Zhen had Xiao Zheng  work hard for one month developing it! Ha, ha, ha. Seeing your countenance Xiao Song, (your) state of mind being fresh and free from anxiety, wasn’t last night painstakingly too brief?”
The emperor absolutely couldn’t help himself, a wily smile covered his entire face. Song Shi An looked at his face, grit his teeth and said, “The emperor has gone to a lot of trouble.”
“Sure thing! You’re most welcome.” The young emperor’s smile had to be called hugely magnanimous. “Xiao Song is a pillar of the nation. Zhen is supposed to expend a bit of bother.”
“….” You really didn’t need to be troubled!
“However, Zhen’s mind is also at ease. Formerly, you were not married, so you were given a present of four beauties whom also were never touched. Still, Zhen mistakenly thought Xiao Song (that) your body had an unmentionable disease. Now at long last (I) feel relieved. Ah, ha, ha.” Speaking, the little emperor had already moved close to the front of Song Shi An, and said in a low voice, “I heard this thing makes one insatiable after the first advantage. It causes somebody to be aroused and unable to stop even though one wants to. Is that true?”
Song Shi An looked at the face of the child emperor, immature and with very life little experience. He just wanted to blow his top. In the end, he could only say in a low voice, “This year the emperor is 14 years old, probably can make somebody the queen!”
“No no no no no,” The little emperor promptly gestured in disapproval. “Zhen is young (so) this matter is not urgent.” By no means did he want people to know that he was unable to raise! The last time with the palace maid, Yan Er, was OK. That matter of clouds and rain  actually was a flop. Too humiliating!
“Xiao Song, you’re at the age of being as ferocious as wolves and tigers. Isn’t one furen not enough? You don’t like Ji Xiang, Ru Yi, Ru Shi, or Ru Hua. Zhen still has this pair of concealed fish at the bottom of the water  whose beauty outshines the moon and put the flowers to shame! Do you want Zhen to confer them to you?” The young emperor winked with sparkling big eyes, an expectant look all over his face—simply want you to not press Zhen to go to war, so bestowing all the women in the imperial harem to you is alright. Uh, that’s not right. The queen mother must still stay behind!
However, Song Shi An choked, “Only one furen is enough for this subject!”
The little emperor eyes opened becoming round. “So, you wish to maintain your integrity for only one person?”
“…” Song Shi An really did not want to talk nonsense with him. “This official wished to ask Your Majesty one thing. How does Ru Yi know about the matter of Xuan Zi’s biological mother?”
“Zhen told her. She wrote a letter asking Zhen. Zhen told her right away. What’s going on, what’s wrong?” Innocence was all over the young emperor’s face.
Of course it was wrong! Still privately sending messages now that all those people were bestowed to him, what’s this all about! Oh wait, this is not the main point. “Your Majesty, clinging to this matter, which already is in the past, for the sake of Xuan Zi, this official and his grandmother do not wish to recall these past events. I ask the emperor to help achieve my aim.”
The spoiled child stroked his chin, deeply pondering. “Zhen understands. You’ve now taken a wife. General Wan has already died. Xuan Zi should have a new mother and a new life…. Oh, Zhen in a moment will compose a letter to Ru Yi and make her not bring it up again. Set your mind at ease!”
…. Still write a letter! Song Shi An’s face was dark.
“Oh, right. Look, you’ve been idly chatting with Zhen. Zhen almost forgot the proper business!”
Listening to the young emperor unflinching grumble, Song Shi An almost sprayed out a mouth of old blood. Who really is continually speaking nonsense! Keeping calm, (he) continued to grit his teeth. “Your Majesty please speak.”
“I heard that yesterday you encountered assassins? Who in this way really dares to brazenly assassinate my senior General Song!”
“It was the young highness of Yan country.”
“Pei Rui He, that pretty boy?” The young emperor did not have a deep impression of him.
“Exactly.” Okay, anyway Pei Rui He also can’t hear this sentence.
“But according to the intelligence report, didn’t the diplomatic mission peace talks recently enter a critical juncture, and may be finished next month. How can this be so quick? Also, he came and didn’t even bother to say hello to Zhen. This is really too outrageous!” The little emperor was filled with indignation.
“Your Majesty, Pei Rui He is a complicated person. He has decided to do a devious trick during the diplomatic mission. After that, he will leave the delegation. But also, although the diplomatic corps has only a hundred people, it’s obvious that some Yan country persons have disguised themselves and snuck into pivotal areas. Those assassins encountered by this humble servant were all experts. The number of people should be more than a hundred.”
“Oh.” The little emperor nodded his head, turned around and asked, “Heard that you were lured away and after that (you) single-handedly dealt with these men. Presumably it was extremely hair-raising. Come, come, come, tell Zhen!” He finished speaking, his entire face expectant. Because of a foe, the perfect hero saved a beauty and what not. He loved hearing about this sort of thing the most.
Song Shi An wished to straightforwardly face-palm . But he had no choice and still talked about that day’s affairs, speaking one by one about the things which occurred.
The little emperor listened, frowned for a while, glowered for a while, and was astonished for a while. Reaching the end, he was wide-eyed and tongue-tied, “You say, that new furen of yours grabbed the phoenix crown and smashed the pretty boy so that he was a dog biting mud?”
Song Shi An blushed some with shame. “The matter suddenly arose and also my humble wife had no alternative but to act. Still, I ask the emperor to pardon the offence!” That phoenix coronet was custom-made at the emperor’s command. Song Shi An also didn’t know whether the emperor was upset or not.
Who would have expected that quite a while afterwards the young monarch faintly sighed and said, “Your wife is really capable!”
The little emperor’s head again turned around. Beaming with joy, he said, “Zhen must confer some rewards to your wife. Hee hee, what to write for a heroine’s wooden inscribed placard ?”
Song Shi An’s eyes completely brightened. He hurriedly said, “Perhaps this time Yan country does not have good faith in the peace talks. Your Majesty, (we) should still fight. Your servant will certainly succeed in carrying out the assignment.”
The little emperor listened to this impassioned phrase with a suffering face. “I said that you cannot mention it again! A man of fortitude and courage went back on his word!”
When did I promise? “If the emperor permits this subject to go to war, this official also can easily obstruct that base person. It will be no bother!”
“Xiao Song, it’s not that Zhen won’t permit you go to war, but the national treasury is truly empty. Also, the emperor has no money!” The spoiled boy couldn’t help but let go. “Zhen is completely poverty-stricken. There’s no jingling sound at all . Why are you this persistent to the end. These few years you’ve fought to the point that Yan country is completely afraid. Everyone ran over for peace negotiations. Let them off! Friendly interactions and peacefully dealings are much better!”
Seeing Song Shi An wanted to cut in, the little emperor hurriedly said, “Zhen understands. You want to avenge General Mo and General Wan. From the perspective of personal feelings, Zhen stands by (your sentiments) but after all this is a national affair. (I) cannot tolerate you avenging personal wrongs in the name of public interest. You look. Yan country has fought to the point where they are now struggling while their dire condition continues to worsen. Also, where has the good of Zhen’s Song country gone. Continuing to fight will, in the same way, give (our) populace no way of getting by. The whole world is socially and politically unstable. Xiao Song, you need to empathize with Zhen!”
These spoken orderly phrases had a clearly understood meaning. Gratitude secretly grew in Song Shi An; he couldn’t help it. Although young, the emperor’s heart in the end kept in mind the common people. Contrary to what one might expect, just now Song Shi An only wished to say a few sentences of praise and did not have very selfish motives. However, he saw the young emperor’s head completely twist around to face the palace eunuch at the side and ask, “Xiao Quan Zi, the queen mother taught this to Zhen. Has Zhen divulged anything?”
Xiao Quan Zi looked at General Song Shi An whose face was dark in an instant. Really should answer, also shouldn’t, don’t answer, and also shouldn’t. Emperor, sigh. Why do you have to ask this once more!
The young emperor also realized that what he himself asked was quite deficient. He forced a smile and said, “Xiao Song, rest at ease, recuperate for a few years, wait for Zhen to have money again. Certainly, you will again be permitted to go to war!” He spoke again though it was (more like) talking to himself, “Nevertheless, I ought to write a wooden placard for your wife. Zhen’s calligraphy these few days ought to have immensely improved….”
Song Shi An held a pile of fine quality paper in his arms as he left the palace. The young emperor was unprecedently in high spirits as he wrote. Wrote one roll and again one roll, and finally (he) wrote one line of verse, “Zhen is extremely satisfied. Xiao Song, you take it back to your wife so she can choose her own mounting” — Song Shi An looked at the crooked characters. (He) really didn’t know where it was possible to be satisfied….
It was already midday when he returned to the general’s manor— in order to save money, the young emperor didn’t even retain having noon meals. Song Shi An wanted to change clothes and go dine. (He) entered the bedroom. However after passing the screen he saw a person, lying on one’s side, situated in the middle of the bed.
A luxuriant scarlet brocade quilt covering gave prominence to exquisite curved lines. (When) Song Shi An saw that halfway exposed wrist which was as if (it was) bright and clean jade, last night’s fragmented scene burst into his mind. The lower abdomen  couldn’t help but tighten up.