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No matter how anyone else looked at it, Talented Lady Zhang was in an extremely bad mood tonight.
When she returned to Linhua Palace and sat in front of the mirror to remove her makeup, she said hatefully, “I wasn’t the one His Majesty was looking at tonight.”
Her palace maid, Chun’e, hurriedly rushed to console her, “Talented Lady, don’t let your imagination run wild1. If it wasn’t you that His Majesty was looking at, could it be that he was looking at Beautiful Lady Li? Just look at how shabbily she dressed.”
“It’s exactly her.”
Talented Lady Zhang gritted her teeth, “She deliberately dressed like that. Everyone dressed up grandly to the best of their abilities, yet she was the only one who was dressed frugally. How could she not stand out that way?”
As it slowly dawned on Chun’e, she said, “If it’s like you say, then Beautiful Lady Li’s mind is simply too deep.”
Talented Lady Zhang snorted coldly, “She even said that she wouldn’t go in the afternoon, yet when she went, she deliberately dressed like that. She really has good schemes!”
Chun’e quickly said, “As the saying goes, a biting dog never barks. This kind of character that has their mouth tightly sealed shut and doesn’t utter a word normally are usually the ones who are the most formidable characters!”
咬人的狗不叫 (yaorendegoubujiao): someone who will actually act on something will never warn you beforehand (derived from idiom, ‘a barking dog never bites’.)
What a good dog that never barks!
Upon thinking about the way she acted at the banquet once more, Talented Lady Zhang became even more resentful.
Well great, now she had made an enormous mistake that caused others to laugh at her, and had even almost been accused of the criminal charge of disrespect! However, His Majesty hadn’t even taken a glance at her, and only looked toward Yan Shu.
Li Yan Shu!
To think that a woman who came from such a remote and desolate town could unexpectedly have such great abilities!
But then she heard Chun’e say worriedly, “Then in this way, wouldn’t Beautiful Lady Li be the first to be favoured?”
Talented Lady Zhang quivered in shock.
If Beautiful Lady Li was favoured with that countenance of hers, would any of them still be able to have good days ahead of them?
She pondered for a while, then said, “Take a pouch of silver and go take a trip to the Laundry Bureau2.”
She beckoned for Chun’e to come closer to her and relayed her remaining orders in a low voice that no one else was able to hear.
pls do not share this anywhere or u will always stub ur toe when u walk past a door frame !! this translation has been stolen from mioscorner.com, pls only read there i’m begging u :kneels:
Having stuffed herself with delicious dishes at Rouyi Hall, Yan Shu’s body had warmed up and didn’t feel cold at all when returning to Yongning Palace. After washing up, she burrowed into her blankets for a good night’s sleep.
In her dream, she dreamed about the Lunar New Year’s Eve banquet once more, with mala hot pot, crispy roast pork, cream lobster, flame grilled fish — all foods that she had wanted to eat in her previous life, but couldn’t.
麻辣 (mala): lit. numbing and spicy / referring to a kind of spiciness that is used as a base in hotpot, soup (malatang), etc.
Drooling out a night’s worth of saliva, she woke up bewildered and dazed the next morning to a ding sound from the system.
[The melon from yesterday has had new progress. Marquis Xia Yi heard that Marquis Lin Wu had noisily broken off his relationship with his wife and plans to reminisce on his old dream with Marquis Lin Wu’s Madam.]
重拾旧梦 (chongshijiumeng): depending on the context, can refer to recalling past memories, and in this case, would be in reference to meeting one’s first/old love with the old dream being the past memories.
Yan Shu immediately came to her senses extremely energetically, [Then the future heir actually belongs to Marquis Xia Yi?]
Yan Shu’s eyes widened, [Even this isn’t true? Marquis Lin Wu’s Madam is truly too formidable!]
System, [Don’t worry so much about other people. Today, I have a melon of yours.]
Yan Shu, [My melon? What melon of mine?]
Before the system could speak, Ren Dong came into the room while carrying a bundle of clothes, saying from outside of the bed’s canopy, “Is master awake now? This servant has just ironed your clothes for you, so put them on while they’re warm.”
It was already extremely difficult to crawl out from underneath the blankets in the morning during the cold of winter, and it was even more so when she had to put on clothes that were still icy cold. Thus, in order to make her feel more comfortable, Ren Dong would iron out her clothes in advance every day.
Groaning, Yan Shu finally sat up and asked the system as she picked up her clothes, [What melon of mine?]
System, [There is someone who is trying to harm you.]
Just as those words had just been said, she suddenly sneezed as soon as those clothes were in her hands. She was suddenly stunned.
There was someone who was trying to harm her?
And in the next instant, she proceeded to sneeze again.
This caused Ren Dong to be startled, “Master, could it be that you caught a cold? It must have been that you didn’t have enough bedding last night. This servant ought to have given you another blanket…”
奴婢 (nubi): this slave/servant
“I’m afraid it isn’t a cold,” Yan Shu rubbed her nose and threw away the clothes in her hand, “It should be that the clothes were contaminated with something.”
Ren Dong stared blankly at it, “Don’t tell me it’s peach blossom powder?”
Yan Shu was allergic to peach blossoms. Just one touch would trigger all kinds of reactions, from constant sneezing and a blocked nose to rashes that would appear all over her body. She could even have anaphylaxis and find it difficult to breathe, which could be deduced that her allergy was quite severe.
Judging from her symptoms just then, it did seem that she was having a relapse in allergic reaction.
Thinking this, Ren Dong hurriedly threw the clothes far away, yet did not forget to say in confusion, “But right now it’s winter, and the peach blossoms shouldn’t have bloomed yet.”
Yan Shu thought for a moment, “Don’t know whether the few in the Department of Horticulture’s3 greenhouse have bloomed yet.”
Ren Dong understood in a flash, “That’s right! The Department of Horticulture’s greenhouse has all sorts of flowers!”
But how could this peach blossom powder appear on clothes that had just been washed without any rhyme or reason?
Ren Dong heaved out a sigh, “You normally don’t even venture outside the door and only know how to eat the whole day, so how could you possibly still provoke another’s annoyance?”
Yan Shu: “…These words, you make it as if I’m just a good-for-nothing.”
饭桶 (fantong): lit. a rice bucket / fig. a good for nothing
Ren Dong: “…You more or less are, ahem ahem…”
Meeting Yan Shu’s glare, Ren Dong quickly changed the subject, “That being said, in the end, just who in the world would hate you to that extent for them to even come up with such a poisonous idea?!”
Yan Shu thought it over for a moment, “There is no one else in this palace who would recognise me apart from Talented Lady Zhang.”
Hearing that, Ren Dong thought carefully, “Whenever the peach blossoms bloom in spring, you never go out, so it isn’t difficult for others to find out about the peach blossom powder after asking around. In this way, don’t tell me that it really is Talented Lady Zhang’s doing? But why would she want to harm you?”
Yan Shu was also unable to understand her, “Don’t tell me that I ate too much last night and caused her to be unable to eat her own fill?”
Ren Dong: “…”
What sort of outlandish motive did that count as? Did you think that everyone’s thought process would be like yours?
“Maybe it’s because she caused a fuss at yesterday’s banquet and felt as if she didn’t have any face left, so just wanted to vent her anger on you!” Ren Dong angrily said, “Whatever the case, you can’t have suffered for nothing, so let’s go and complain to the Empress Dowager!”
On the other hand, Yan Shu suddenly sobered up, saying, “Let’s not even mention whether or not I’ll be able to appear in front of the Empress Dowager first. At present, these are all merely our own speculations. Without even a shred of evidence against her, she could completely deny the whole situation, so why should I risk everything to have the Empress Dowager accept this as the truth?”
Ren Dong paused and said unwillingly, “Could it be that we can only suffer in silence for nothing? She’s only a talented lady, yet she’s capable of committing harm to others wantonly with that low status of hers just by relying on her natal family’s wealth and connections! Is there even any order in this palace anymore?!”
Alas, she was the only one who felt sorry for her beautiful and sweet-tempered master who neither strived nor fought for anything. She was made to suffer in vain within the palace, simply because her natal family was further away, her father more upright and honest than others, and her family a little poorer than others.
The world really was unfair!
Who would have thought that her master, who had never consistently strived nor fought for anything, suddenly smirked and said, “Who said we would only have to suffer in silence for nothing?”
Ren Dong was stunned, “Then what else could we do?”
“Come,” Yan Shu beckoned her over and leaned closer to her ear, “This is what you should do…”
At noon, Talented Lady Zhang was leisurely drinking tea when she saw Chun’e quickly come in through the palace door.
Seeing that no one else was around, Chun’e said, “Talented Lady, Yongning Palace has just invited over an imperial physician. They’re currently decocting the medicine right at this moment and the whole courtyard is filled with the strong scent of medicine.”
“An imperial physician was invited over?” Talented Lady Zhang raised an eyebrow, “That seems quite serious, don’t know whether or not she has rashes all over her face now.”
Let’s see just how she can gain favour now!
Chun’e hurriedly said, “This servant failed to make any inquiries on that, so how about we go and take a look?”
Talented Lady Zhang waved her hand in satisfaction, “Forget it. Who would want to see that ugly appearance? Even if we go, we’re bound to be unable to meet her in the end. How could she possibly face anyone like that?”
Chun’e nodded and went along with what she said, “This servant heard Ren Dong say that this illness would only go away after ten days to half a month. She won’t have any way to scheme then!”
This was exactly what she wanted, so Talented Lady Zhang nodded her head in satisfaction.
Nevertheless, she heard Chun’e say once more, “Right, this servant also just overheard a rather novel piece of news.”
“Apparently something happened in the manor of Imperial Concubine Li’s paternal aunt!” said Chun’e.
“Imperial Concubine Li’s paternal aunt’s manor?” Talented Lady Zhang said rather impatiently, “Why are you going around in circles like this? Just who is that?”
“It’s Marquis Lin Wu’s manor!”
Chun’e said, “The paternal aunt of Imperial Concubine Li is the Marquis Lin Wu manor’s Madam, so isn’t Marquis Lin Wu’s manor not her paternal aunt’s home?”
Talented Lady Zhang thought about it and then said, “What happened?”
Chun’e hurriedly leaned in closer, “Apparently Marquis Lin Wu brought in a little concubine a few days ago. This angered the principal wife so much that the Madam caused a ruckus, and in the end, the servants in the manor offered up evidence of Marquis Lin Wu Madam having had an affair for a long time with other people, and even having had one with a lot of people!”
“Unexpectedly there’s even such a thing?”
Talented Lady Zhang’s eyes widened.
Chun’e nodded vigorously. “There are already a lot of people in the palace discussing it, so do you think this matter could be false when this sort of shameful incident has already made its way into the palace?”
“That does make quite a lot of sense!”
Talented Lady Zhang snorted, “Serves her right!”
If it hadn’t been for Imperial Concubine Li’s deliberate provocation last night, then she wouldn’t have found herself in such an awkward situation.
Hmph, there was no one in the entire capital who was unaware of the fact that although Imperial Concubine Li’s natal family the title of Count Yong Liang, it was practically a household that was empty and lacked any power, with the whole family relying on their paternal aunt’s in-laws. So if these in-laws were to break up at present, Imperial Concubine Li would be the one that would be embarrassed!
Thinking of this, Talented Lady Zhang said, “Continue to ask around and update me if you receive anymore news.”
“Yes.” Chun’e nodded hurriedly.
At this moment, Imperial Concubine Li was sitting restlessly within Yimei Palace.
Upon seeing that Zhang Bao, the little palace eunuch, had hurriedly come to stop in front of her, she quickly asked, “Have you looked into it? Where did that piece of news come from?”
Zhang Bao said, “This small one has finished looking into it and found out that the first to tell people about it was a palace maid that came from Linhua Palace and was headed to the Laundry Bureau.”
小的 (xiaode): this small one (talking to superior)
Luxiu, a palace maid, said, “Isn’t that Talented Lady Zhang’s place of residence?”
“That’s right.” Zhang Bao nodded his head as well, “Apparently this Talented Lady Zhang’s natal family is the capital’s Weaving Bureau’s envoy, having bribed every department in the palace before, and thus, has quite a lot of acquaintances.”
“What a slut!” Imperial Concubine Li gritted her teeth, “I only said the truth yesterday, yet she unexpectedly dared to retaliate ah! Even having arranged to smear my paternal aunt and my Count Yong Liang’s innocence for no reason?!”
Lu Xiu and Zhang Bao hurriedly echoed her words, “Your Ladyship, this is a major issue and we must not let her off lightly!”
An insignificant little talented lady dared to offend her, an imperial concubine that was several ranks higher than her in status, this was simply just too daring!
Imperial Concubine Li sneered coldly, “Fine then, doesn’t she love to talk and sing? Then let her know just how formidable I am!”
For something like allergies, everything would go back to normal soon after throwing away the source of the allergy. Thus, Yan Shu pretended to be sick on the surface, but was actually resting within her palace and eating deliciously.
It was an entirely different story for Talented Lady Zhang though.
First, she suddenly had vomiting and diarrhoea in the middle of the night, then suddenly had a high fever and after taking bitter medicine for two days with great difficulty, finally recovered. However, her voice had become hoarse and gruff, seemingly able to picture a rough man with a beard and sideburns talking whenever she opened her mouth, truly quite frightening.
She wasn’t outstanding in the harem in terms of appearance, with the only thing she was able to rely on being her voice, yet now her voice was destroyed, causing her to be extremely hateful.
After gritting her teeth and spending a large amount of money, she finally discovered some clues4. It turned out that she was poisoned, and that the other party was after her voice.
Unable to get over her anger, she wanted to bring her complaint to the Empress Dowager. However, don’t know how many people already resented her for stealing the limelight at the New Year’s banquet, so they obviously wouldn’t allow her wish to be fulfilled…
When Ren Dong came to report to her, Yan Shu was sitting on the kang5 and writing something.
After Ren Dong finished speaking, she maturely lamented, “Shooting the first bird with a gun, as expected, it’s better to keep a low profile, that way you’ll at least be able to preserve your life!”
Ren Dong nodded vigorously, “Who told her to harm others first; serves her right!”
Then she asked curiously, “Master, what are you writing?”
Yan Shu said, “Since I have nothing to do, I’m trying to write a story.”
Having eaten so many melons left and right, all of them full of strange twists and turns and eye-catchingly bizarre as well, she didn’t even have anyone she could gossip over them with, so why not edit it a bit and make them into folk tales? Perhaps one day it would be able to be brought to the market and published, even maybe making her a sizeable amount of money.
After she finished speaking, she was about to start to write again when she saw the little palace maid, Lian Xin, come in to report, “Master, a decree from the Empress Dowager has asked for you to go to Ci’an Palace so she can have a word with you.
the author has something to say:
A certain emperor: Why did zhen not appear in this chapter?
A certain author: You’re banned from speaking for a chapter.
A certain emperor: You dare?!
A certain author: ??? Want to be banned another chapter?
A certain emperor: …Mother.
 胡思乱想 (húsīluànxiǎng): to indulge in flights of fancy
 浣衣局 (huanyiju): second of the eight bureaus in the inner palace, responsible for providing laundry services to the palace and imperial family
 司苑 (siyuan): department of horticulture is in charge of the produce and greenhouse of the imperial family
 蛛丝马迹 (zhūsīmǎjì): lit. spider’s threads and horse tracks / fig. traces or clues
 炕 (kang): a heatable brick bed
[ start typing here ]