The Fourteenth Year of Chenghua

CH: 成化十四年
Alternate Title: The Sleuth of Ming Dynasty
Author: Meng Xi Shi (梦溪石)
Chapter total: 151 (+ 19 Extras)
Pairing: M/M
Rating: Young Adult (murder, gore, morbid subjects)
JJWXC raws ~ NovelUpdates ~ Google Docs

In the fourteenth year of Chenghua, the imperial harem had one Consort Wan, just as the Western Depot had one Chief Eunuch named Wang Zhi. Crown Prince Zhu Youcheng was barely eight years old, and it was uncertain whether he could grow to adulthood without a hitch.

The Emperor was mediocre, and feckless. Eunuchs deceived those above them and kept those below them in the dark. Court officials patched up leaks left and right. Those doing evil were arrogantly savaging, and those doing good were helplessly sighing.

With the ways of the world like this, how could the ways of the Heavens possibly be just?

That year, Tang Fan transferred into Shuntian Prefecture from Hanlin Academy, taking up a post as a sixth-rank Judge.

[T/N: Character Guide is at the bottom. The posts below are truncated; see Google Docs for full.]

Table of Contents

[Arc 1: The Case of the Marquis Wu’an Estate]

Ch. 1: Floating Like a Roaming Cloud
Ch. 2: Twists, Turns, An Odd Death
Ch. 3: Known Across the Realm
Ch. 4: A Minor, Sixth-Rank Official
Ch. 5: Mister Tang, Shocked Speechless
Ch. 6: Disparity in Treatment
Ch. 7: The Beauty-Rescuing Hero’s Skill in Mockery
Ch. 8: Mining Pan Bin’s Corner
Ch. 9: A Love for Reading Melodrama
Ch. 10: Caught in the Act
Ch. 11: A Respectable Man
Ch. 12: Scaring Something Dreadful
Ch. 13: Final Piece of Cake
Ch. 14: Are You Interested in Him?
Ch. 15: Feng
Ch. 16: An All-Nighter
Ch. 17: The Culprit
Ch. 18: Consider Actions, Not the Core

[Arc 2: Days Living with the Brocade Guard]

Ch. 19: Blooming Luck with the Peach Blossoms
Ch. 20: What an Inside Story!
Ch. 21: A Startling Event in the Li Family
Ch. 22: How He Would Compliment Someone
Ch. 23: Are You Still Human?!
Ch. 24: Unable to Let it Go
Ch. 25: Like a Pig
Ch. 26: A Tad Excited
Ch. 27: Found Himself Two Moms
Ch. 28: Not Ashamed
Ch. 29: From Now On
Ch. 30: Getting a Wife is Terrible

[Arc 3: The Case of the East Palace]

Ch. 31: Infuriated by Tang Fan
Ch. 32: The Sun is Rising in the West
Ch. 33: Mister Tang Does Evil and Can’t Escape From It
Ch. 34: They’re Done For
Ch. 35: The Mad Tyrant, Eunuch Wang
Ch. 36: The Han Family
Ch. 37: Every Man for Himself
Ch. 38: Don’t Eat Nuomici On an Empty Stomach
Ch. 39: Traitors Get All the Luck
Ch. 40: To the Little Prince
Ch. 41: A Bonafide Glutton

[Arc 4: Into the Ministry of Justice]

Ch. 42: A Temper
Ch. 43: Getting Teased
Ch. 44: Popular
Ch. 45: Somewhat Helpless
Ch. 46: Woof! Woof! Woof!
Ch. 47: Seeing a Ghost
Ch. 48: Insider Information
Ch. 49: Pain
Ch. 50: Knocked Out
Ch. 51: A Den of Thieves
Ch. 52: A New Nickname
Ch. 53: Worked to the Bone
Ch. 54: Someone Else’s Business
Ch. 55: Seen Bare
Ch. 56: Angering Someone to Death Again
Ch. 57: Is He Nuts?
Ch. 58: With Different Eyes

[Arc 5: The Case of the Ancient Coffin in Luo River]

Ch. 59: Wanting to Run Away From Home
Ch. 60: This Trip Was the Wrong Decision
Ch. 61: Not a Bad Size
Ch. 62: Lacking in Brain
Ch. 63: Implicit Understanding
Ch. 64: Good Job, Boss
Ch. 65: Getting Slapped
Ch. 66: Heavily Valued
Ch. 67: Pig’s Head
Ch. 68: Upended Bowl
Ch. 69: Repay Each Other for a Lifetime
Ch. 70: The Hegemonic Count
Ch. 71: Another is Angered to Death
Ch. 72: Old Friend

[Arc 6: The Case of Xianghe County]

Ch. 73: Dark Road
Ch. 74: Fluffy
Ch. 75: Someone Says Hi
Ch. 76: A Deserved Face-Slapping
Ch. 77: Dear Fluffy
Ch. 78: Too Hungry For That
Ch. 79: I Refuse
Ch. 80: Someone Staring
Ch. 81: Your Plan
Ch. 82: The Immoral Mister Tang
Ch. 83: Can Anyone Else Do That?
Ch. 84: The Favor of Beauties
Ch. 85: Mister Tang’s Enforcer

[Arc 7: The Case of Weining Sealet]

Ch. 86: A Difficult Question at the Banquet
Ch. 87: Sui Zhou’s Secret Lover
Ch. 88: Being Superstitious
Ch. 89: You Want to Study the Dao, Mister Tang?
Ch. 90: You Want Some Chicken Blood Sprinkled On You, Too?
Ch. 91: A Chance Encounter with a Lady
Ch. 92: The Art of Drinking Vinegar
Ch. 93: Jewels Attack
Ch. 94: An Even Worse Evildoer
Ch. 95: Unfriendly Fire
Ch. 96: Someone in Mind
Ch. 97: Skilled at Evasion
Ch. 98: Unsophisticated and Crude
Ch. 99: The Gent’s Heart
Ch. 100: Achievements in Insults
Ch. 101: Sweet and Sour
Ch. 102: Rumors About Mister Tang

[Arc 8: Into the East Palace]

Ch. 103: Getting Married
Ch. 104: Sometimes Clever, Sometimes Stupid
Ch. 105: The Deep Affection of Siblings
Ch. 106: Fine Jade Strung By Beaded, Silken Thread
Ch. 107: Call Me Runqing!
Ch. 108: Sui Guangchuan, the Bastard
Ch. 109: Gnawing on Bones

[Arc 9: The Case of Suzhou]

Ch. 110: Soft Outside, Tough Inside
Ch. 111: A Pretty Youth Descended from the Heavens
Ch. 112: Can’t You Be More Reliable?
Ch. 113: Wujiang
Ch. 114: The City’s West
Ch. 115: Another Admirer
Ch. 116: Those Two Bastards
Ch. 117: Acting School, and Villain-Eats-Villain
Ch. 118: No Hugs Allowed
Ch. 119: Layers of Progress, Facing Off with the Enemy, and the Footman, Sui Zhou
Ch. 120: Tang ‘The King’ Fan
Ch. 121: No Free Lunches

[Arc 10: The Case of the Imperial Exams]

Ch. 122: Eunuch Wang, Ever Fond of Adding to Others’ Troubles
Ch. 123: Mutual Smiles…
Ch. 124: A Different Attitude Towards Him
Ch. 125: Sui Zhou Isn’t In This Chapter
Ch. 126: Illicit Relations in Bed! (Not Really)
Ch. 127: You Couldn’t Breathe?
Ch. 128: Just Spit It Out
Ch. 129: Mister Tang’s Bedmaid
Ch. 130: Uncovering the Truth
Ch. 131: A Luck With Women Only Mister Tang Can Enjoy
Ch. 132: Iron Guarantee
Ch. 133: Stubble
Ch. 134: In Peril
Ch. 135: How Lucky

[Arc 11: The Case of a Capital in Crisis and the Authenticity of the Crown Prince]

Ch. 136: The Hedong Lion at Home
Ch. 137: Stranger or Partner?
Ch. 138: Wei Mao Goes Blind
Ch. 139: Extra Domineering
Ch. 140: No Shame to Speak Of
Ch. 141: Thigh-Hugging (For Real)
Ch. 142: Tied to the Belt
Ch. 143: Prefer to Break, not Bend
Ch. 144: The Start of a Conspiracy
Ch. 145: Runny Nose
Ch. 146: Bothersome Junk
Ch. 147: Eunuch Wang’s Special Act
Ch. 148: Holding Up Half the Sky
Ch. 149: Still Pretty Warm
Ch. 150: The Dawn
Ch. 151: Epilogue

[A Gentleman of Extras That Hasn’t Yet Expressed Himself Fully]

Transition ~ Lone Pining ~ Insta-kill ~ Comprehension ~ Out with the Old, In with the New ~ Ah-Dong’s Bethrothal ~ The Sui Family ~ Drinking Vinegar ~ Miscellaneous Stuff ~ The Sea ~ Hoist the Sails ~ The Stars ~ Wang Zhi ~ The Emperor ~ The Truth ~ The Crown Prince ~ Education ~ Sui Zhou

Character Guide


Tang Fan’s Acquaintances and Family

Tang Fan (唐泛) – Protagonist
Courtesy: Runqing (润青)
Sixth-rank Judge of Shuntian Prefecture. Very smart, very pretty. All hail.

Pan Bin (潘宾)
Courtesy: Zibin (子斌)
Prefect of Shuntian Prefecture. Tang Fan’s shixiong.

Qiu Jun (丘濬)
Of the Hanlin Academy. Pan Bin and Tang Fan’s teacher.

Ji Min (汲敏)
Courtesy: Ziming (子明)
Tang Fan’s exam-failing friend.

Wei Yu (魏玉)
Courtesy: Xuanzhang (玄璋)
A Magistrate of Shuntian.

Du Jiang (杜疆)
Courtesy: Xiaohu (小湖)
A Verifier of Shuntian.

Xie Qian (谢迁)
The Prime Scorer of Tang Fan’s year.

Wang Ao (王鏊)
One of Tang Fan’s Hanlin buddies.

Tang Yu (唐瑜)
Tang Fan’s older sister, married into the He family.

Liu Jian (刘健)
One of Tang Fan’s peers, and tutor for the Crown Prince.

Brocade Guards

Sui Zhou (隋州)
Courtesy: Guangchuan (广川)
A Brocade Guard, seventh-rank Gonfalon (later higher) of the Northern Bastion Office. An ice sculpture.

Xue Ling (薛凌)
Courtesy: Shaobing (少冰)
One of Sui Zhou’s associates in the Guard.

Pang Qi (庞齐)
Courtesy: Jianxian (见贤)
Sui Zhou’s other closest assistant.

Wan Tong (万通)
Consort Wan’s little brother, head of the Guard. A Commanding Envoy.

Yuan Bin (袁彬)
One of the Commanding Envoys.

Yan Li (严礼)
A Gonfalon under Sui Zhou’s command.

The Ministry of Justice

Zhang Ying (张蓥)
The Minister. Allied with Consort Wan and Wan An.

Liang Wenhua (梁文华)
The Left Assistant Minister. Controls most things, is probably going to be the future minister.

Peng Yichun (彭逸春)
The Right Assistant Minister.

Lu Tong’guang (陆同光)
Chief of the Jiangxi Department.

Dai Hongming (戴宏明)
Executive of the Henan Department.

Yin Yuanhua (尹元化)
Deputy Chief of the Henan Department.

Cheng Wen (程文)
One of Henan’s clerks.

Arc One

Zheng Cheng (郑诚) – Deceased
Son of Marquis Wu’an. A dead pervert.

Zheng Ying (郑英)
Title: Marquis Wu’an (武安侯)
His son got murdered.

Zheng Fu (郑福)
Zheng Cheng’s boyservant.

Ah-Lin (阿林)
Maidservant of the Marquis Estate.

Lady Sun of Zheng (郑孙氏)
Zheng Cheng’s primary wife. Niece of Count Yingcheng.

Miss Wan (婉娘)
The oldest of Zheng Cheng’s concubines.

Miss Hui (蕙娘)
The second of Zheng Cheng’s concubines.

Miss Yu (玉娘)
The youngest and most favored of Zheng Cheng’s concubines.

Lin Chaodong (林朝东)
The one that made Zheng Cheng’s prescription.

Arc Two

Li Man (李漫)
Patriarch of the Li family.

Lady Zhang (张氏)
Li Man’s primary wife.

Li Lin (李麟)
Li Man’s only son. Born of a concubine.

Ah-Xia (阿夏)
Maid of Tang Fan’s neighbors, the Li family.

Ah-Chun (阿春)
A slightly older maid.

Ah-Dong (阿冬)
An eight-year-old maid.

Lady Chen (陈氏)
The newest concubine.

Arc Three

Han Zao (韩早)
The Crown Prince’s studybuddy.

Han Hui (韩晖)
Han Zao’s adopted older brother.

Han Fang (韩方)
Han Zao’s father.

Lady Lin (林)
Pet name: Miss Xuan (萱娘)
Han Zao’s mother.

Lady Zhou (周)
Han Fang’s mother.

Junior Lady Zhou (周)
Han Zao’s paternal aunt, some degrees removed.

Arc Four

Liu Zhili (六指李)
A capital gang leader.

Boss Lai (赖老大)
Another capital gang leader.

Ding Yimu (丁一目)
Leader of the Southside Gang.

Deng Xiucai (邓秀才)
Second-in-command of the Southside Gang. A bad man.

Arc Five

Qian San’r (钱三儿)
A once-member of the Yellow River Gang, and only survivor of a thief’s expedition into Eternal Deep.

Arc Six

He Lin
Tang Yu’s poor excuse for a husband.

He Ying
The He patriarch.

Arc Seven

Guo Tang (郭镗)
Datong’s Provincial Governor.

Meng Cun (孟存)
A Corporal of Datong.

Ding Rong (丁容)
Wang Zhi’s subordinate.

Chunyun-zi (出云子)
A Daoist priest from Longhu. Kind of a wacko.

Du Gui’r (杜瑰儿)
A doctor from Datong.

Shen Gui (沈贵)
Rich merchant from Guangling. Works with the White Lotus Society.

Turbolat (图鲁博罗特)
That one Tartar prince.

Sui Family

Old Madam Zhou (周)
The younger sister of Empress Dowager Zhou.

Sui Zhou’s mother
Daughter of Old Madam Zhou.

Sui Zhou’s father
A Brocade Guard of an empty position.

Sui An (隋安)
Sui Zhou’s older brother. A Centarch of empty position.

Sui Bi (隋碧)
Sui Zhou’s younger sister.

Lady Jiao (焦氏)
Sui Zhou’s sister-in-law.

The Imperial Palace

The Chenghua Emperor (成化)
A poor ruler.

Zhu Youcheng (朱祐樘)
The Crown Prince. Chenghua’s only surviving son.

Consort Wan (万)
Chenghua’s favorite concubine, who’s also sixteen years older than him (hurk).

Wang Zhi (汪直)
The eunuch acting as Director of the Western Depot. Close to the Emperor and Consort Wan.

Wei Mao (卫茂)
Wang Zhi’s underling. Specializes in torture.

Huai En (怀恩)
A Sealwielder eunuch.

Liang Fang (梁芳)
Another Sealwielder eunuch.

Yuan Liang (元良)
The Crown Prince’s attendant.

Fu Ru (福如)
Consort Wan’s maid.

Shang Ming (尚铭)
Director of the Eastern Depot. Doesn’t like the Western Depot.

Zhu Yong (朱永)
Title: Duke of Bao
Fighting on the frontlines.


Li Zilong (李子龙) – Deceased
A legendary, supposed fox spirit that came to kill the imperial offspring by infiltrating the palace. Haunts Chenghua’s nightmares.

Yu Zijun (余子俊)
The Minister of War.

Wang Yue (王越)
A man that fights in wars.

Lady Ninth (九娘子)
White Lotus Society woman, from Arc Four.

Wan An
Courtesy: Yuan Weng (元翁)
Head Vizier of the Cabinet.

Liu Xu
One of the Viziers of the Cabinet. Chenghua’s old teacher.

Liu Ji
One of the Viziers of the Cabinet. Known as a cottonflower, because attacking him is like punching cotton.

Li Zhisheng (李孜省)
Treacherous official that introduced Ji Xiao to Chenghua.

Ji Xiao (继晓)
The State Master of whatever. A ‘Daoist’ swindler.

Peng Hua (彭华)
One of Wan Tong’s cronies.


世子 – Heir (the specific son that’s going to inherit a noble title while not being royalty)
公子 – Don (a generic term for any young man of higher status than the speaker, freq. ‘Young Master’ in other works)
少爷 – Junior/Young Lord
推官 – (Prefectural) Judge
总旗 – Gonfalon, lit. chief flag
小旗 – Pennon, lit. small flag
成祖 – Adept Ancestor
太祖 – Great Ancestor
提督 – Director
千户 – Millarch, lit. leader of a thousand men
百户 – Centarch, lit. leader of a hundred men
校检 – Verifier
内臣 – Insubject, lit. subject inside (the palace)
秉笔 – Brushholder
掌印 – Sealwielder
巡抚 – Provincial Coordinator
总教 – Overseer, lit. ‘chief (of) the Society’
教主 – Leader, lit. ‘Society owner’
坛主 – Vicar, lit. ‘Lord of the Altar’
堂主 – Cleric, lit. ‘Lord of the Hall’
河南清吏司郎中 – Chief of the Henan (Clean-Workers) Department
庶吉士 – Hanlin entrant
都御使 – Capital Censor
副都御使 – Deputy (of the capital) Censor
佥都御史 – Metropolitan (lit. ‘all of the capital’) Censor
镇守太监 – Defending Supervisor (note: taijian, lit. Great Supervisor, is what one calls a court eunuch. ’Defending Eunuch’ just makes them sound like dogs, though.)
把总 – Corporal
总兵 – Commandant
教谕 – Official Mentor
赞读 – Orator


顺天府 – Shuntian Prefecture
欢意楼 – Jubilance
仙客楼 – Immortal Guest
中枢 – Pivot
北镇抚司 – Northern Bastion Office
诏狱 – Bastille
慈庆宫 – Palace of Celebrating Humanity
詹事府 – Court of Education, lit. ‘establishment of verbosity’
十二监 – Twelve Supervisories
御马监 – Supervisory of Royal Steeds
司礼监 – Supervisory of Ceremony Management
乾清宫 – Palace of Heavenly Clarity
昭德宫 – Palace of Manifest Virtue
都察院 – Inspectorate (lit. ‘capital examination institution’)
文渊阁 – Pavilion of Literary Profundity
通政司 – Office of Transmissions
威宁海子 – Weining Sealet
蛮汉山 – Barbarian Ridge
钦天监 – Imperial Observatory


富阳春 – Yang-Rich Spring (Yang is attributed with men(’s sexual health), spring is common euphemism for passion.)
绣春刀 – Spring-Gilt Sabre


shichen – one of the 12 two-hour time periods ancient Chinese folks used instead of hours
cun – the “chinese inch”, equivalent to 3⅓ cm
li – the “chinese mile”, equivalent to ½ a km
chi – the “chinese foot”, equivalent to ⅓ m
zhang – the “chinese yard”, equivalent to 3⅓ m
catty – the “chinese pound”, equivalent to 604.79g
tael – the “chinese ounce”, equivalent to 37.8g