this chapter is brought to you by mio
as translator, proofreader and editor!
Yuwen Lan walked into the hall and looked up, seeing something similar to an ocean of precious stones and pearls, the jewellery that was draped over these women’s heads and bodies almost dazzling him under the reflection of the hall’s light.
Noticing the fragrance of cosmetics in the air becoming stronger, he frowned slightly and said lowly, “All rise.”
All the women complied, returning to their seat one after another, each and every one of them seemingly putting on their noblest bearing in their formal attires, yet they all still quietly cast their gazes toward him.
“The hall seems to be brighter now that Your Majesty is here.”
The one who spoke was Noble Consort Zhou, who was seated near the very front of the banquet. Yuwen Lan knew her since she was the Empress Dowager’s niece, as well as his own younger cousin sister in name.
表妹 (biaomei): younger female cousin via the female line
Today, she was dressed like a big red lantern at the entrance of a temple. The smile on her face seemingly extremely appropriate, yet the voice in her heart was full of malice.
[Each and every one of these lowly sluts have unexpectedly dressed themselves up even more eye-catchingly than me. Seems like only after dealing with them properly will they properly understand the rules.]
—Ever since he started having the ability to hear other people’s voices three years ago, Yuwen Lan had already become accustomed to seeing all kinds of duplicity1, thus, he only said indifferently, “Zhen is not a lantern, so how could Zhen light up the hall?”
朕 (zhen): used by emperors to refer to themselves, (lit.) ‘subtle’
Yet there came a pfft sound, with a woman nearby saying laughingly, “Your Majesty is indeed humorous, however, Her Ladyship, the Noble Consort, has always previously been the most proficient in speech, so how is it that today she’s made such a blunder2?”
This was Consort Ning, the Grand Princess Consort’s niece, and had been sent into the palace by the Grand Princess. Yuwen Lan had seen her a few times, so he had an impression of her.
长公主 (zhanggongzhu): current emperor’s sister
Naturally, he could also hear this woman cursing at Noble Consort Zhou in her heart, [Hmph, did you think you could overwhelm me and trample me underfoot if you just draped your whole body in red? Why don’t you look for a mirror instead and see just how ugly you’ve become? If you want to compare, it’s still my ruyi3 phoenix hairpin that’s better, truly not a waste of my 2,000 taels of silver. See, isn’t His Majesty looking at me now?]
Seeing as this was probably the first time the Emperor had looked at her ever since she entered the palace, Consort Ning hurriedly straightened her back and raised her head with a smile to meet the gaze that came from above.
But who would’ve thought that the Emperor just took one glance at the top of her head and frowned, “The things on your head seem to be very expensive?”
Consort Ning paused, but Noble Consort Zhou said hurriedly, “In Chenqie’s opinion, I’m afraid Consort Ning’s hairpin can’t be made without producing at least 3,000 taels of silver. It’s just that in this past period, the harem has tightened its expenditures to show support for the snow storm that affected the capital, just don’t know where the Department of Treasures got the silver from?”
臣妾 (chenqie): this servant/concubine
Consort Ning could only explain in a hurry, “These things are all bestowed by my paternal aunt, the Grand Princess, not from the Department of Treasures.”
婶母 (shenmu): wife of father’s younger brother
After speaking, she was still a little panicked, not knowing whether the Emperor would still go and look into the Grand Princess manor.
Fortunately, Yuwen Lan did not speak of it again.
That was because in addition to the two women in front of him who were scolding each other, a multitude of various other voices were still pouring into his ears—
[Hmph, these two stupid women are usually accustomed to being arrogant, let them have a taste of their own medicine today.]
[Fortunately I can squeeze into this corset dress after starving for three days, and sure enough, this Jinling cloud brocade is indeed very good. How could these coarse and stupid village women enter into His Majesty’s dragon eye? Your Majesty, look over here!]
[What if these two idiots annoy His Majesty and drive him away? I’ve been diligently practising with my blood, sweat, and tears for three months, yet I haven’t even had the chance to present my dance to His Majesty! Fools!]
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:
Although mind-reading had a distance limitation, so Yuwen Lan could only hear the few that were close to him, these few were already noisy enough.
He took a sip of tea out of boredom, sincerely feeling that instead of watching these women act out such a boring play, he’d much rather return to the palace and look through more documents. He never would have come here in the first place if it wasn’t for the Empress Dowager putting so much pressure on him to come.
At this moment, Yan Shu, who was sitting at the end, was eating a new melon with the system.
[It’s even the Emperor’s melon? What is it?]
System, [The Emperor cannot participate in worldly affairs4.]
Yan Shu, [??? Cannot participate in worldly affairs? Doesn’t that just mean he’s unable to do it?]
System, [Exactly right.]
Yan Shu almost spat out a mouthful of hot tea, [Is that really true? You’re not joking, right?!!]
System, [? Are you questioning the level of professionalism of this system? Has this system ever joked before?]
Yan Shu, [But how could there be such a thing??? And he’s even the emperor of a country!!!]
System, [Men, there will always inevitably be various unspeakable secrets5. Is the emperor of a nation not a man?]
Yan Shu, […]
That’s true. In the past two years that she had been following the system in eating melons, she had encountered all kinds of weird men, some had a habit of liking to crossdress, cut sleeves6, violent lunatics, alcoholics, gambling addicts, and so on. She had caught a large majority of them in the imperial court’s civil and military officials, so comparing a simple, ‘cannot participate in worldly affairs’ already counts as one that isn’t too bad.
Isn’t this still the Emperor!!! Even her husband in name!
She was shocked once more, [Why did you only inform me of such an important matter now?]
System, [This system has also just now received the news.]
Yan Shu, [Then what did I even enter the palace for??? Could it be that I should observe being a widow for a lifetime???]
System, [In any case, you don’t have much ambition anyway, so just live as a widow. A lifetime passes by extremely quickly, just one blink and it’ll be all over.]
Yan Shu, […]
Are these human words? She had finally managed to obtain a healthy body with much difficulty, could it be that this one would also pass with a blink of an eye as well?
System, [It’s better to know than not to know. It’s already set in stone, so just take it easy.]
Yan Shu, […]
Having eaten melons for so long, yet this was the first time she had eaten a melon of her own; and it was even such a big one, of course it was natural for one to be caught off guard and somewhat bewildered.
It was to the extent that she wanted to take a sip of tea, but failed to hold it properly, causing the cup to fall to the floor and make a clanging sound.
At this time, the Empress Dowager had not yet arrived, so the banquet had not started, the hall still quiet. Thus, this sound inevitably attracted the attention of many people.
The women at the front of the table all looked sideways, and upon seeing the way that she was dressed without any sense of presence, unable to even measure up and be as eye-catching as the palace maids of Noble Consort Zhou, Consort Li, and the rest, they all didn’t take her seriously and turned their heads back one after the other in succession.
Only Talented Lady Zhang, who was sitting at the same table as her, whispered, “Is Sister Li already drunk before the banquet has even started? Just that I’m afraid His Majesty didn’t hear you.”
Yan Shu paid her no mind.
She finally realised why the Emperor had never entered the harem—wasn’t this wanting to fucking enter, but also couldn’t?!
At this moment, she felt as if she had just gone through the ups and downs of seeing through the affairs of this world.
Rather than struggling and exerting all one’s strength in giving it all to pursue an impossible goal that required her to be irreconcilable adversaries7, it was indeed more comfortable for one to give up earlier.
Everything returned to normal after the serving maid brought a new teacup, and Yuwen Lan, who was seated in the distance, also retracted his gaze.
Compared to the women near the front who resembled flowers and birds, lanterns, and even chicken feather dusters, he felt that that clumsily dressed girl seemed more easy on the eyes.
The only thing was, just why did she drop the cup? Was it just to draw his attention too?
It was just a pity that he couldn’t hear her thoughts at all since he was seated too far away.
After a while, the sound of an announcement rang out from outside of the hall, “The Empress Dowager has arrived!”
Yuwen Lan stood up in greeting, and the hall packed full of concubines also followed busily in saluting, the hall ringing out with the sound of, “Respectfully greeting the Empress Dowager.”
The mother and son met in the middle of the hall, Yuwen Lan stopping and saying respectfully, “Respectfully greeting Imperial Mother.”
母后 (muhou): “imperial mother”, used by the emperor’s children to refer to his main wife, the empress. despite having their own concubine mothers, the emperor’s children were not allowed to call anyone but the empress ‘imperial mother’.
Let alone the fact that the voice sounded deep and resonant, clear and extremely easy on the ears, being this close to the Emperor was also a rare opportunity. Yan Shu seized this opportunity and hurriedly stole a glance, finally seeing that face more clearly.
What dragon and phoenix-like appearance, pure and upright, white like jade, a brilliant ray of light…
The lines of poetry that she had known for two lifetimes all gushed out at this moment, lingering in her mind.
The rumours weren’t false, truly a beautiful man!
But what a pity!
Yan Shu silently let out a sigh. So good looking, yet can’t be used—truly the highest degree of wasting natural resources8!
Yuwen Lan paused.
‘Good looking, yet can’t be used’?
‘Wasting natural resources’?
What did that mean?
He attempted to seek out the source of these thoughts out of the corner of his eye, and discovered that it was that clumsy girl from just now.
At the close proximity of this moment, he could clearly tell that her countenance was indeed delicate and pretty, her face not having applied a thick layer of makeup.
“Aijia has arrived late, must have made you all anxious from waiting, huh?” The sound of the Empress Dowager’s laughter came from beside his ear.
哀家 (aijia): (lit.) “This grieving one”; used by a widowed empress/consort dowager
Yuwen Lan could only control his expression, saying, “Imperial Mother has had it tough, quickly, please sit.”
[Tch, you better speak clearly. Why is he impotent? Was it congenital? Or was it because he suffered some sort of trauma, leading to this result?]
Yuwen Lan paused again.
He heard it extremely distinctly this time. That girl had used the word ‘impotent’.
That’s right, that’s exactly how Yan Shu described it. Since she was currently shouting at the system right now.
Normally it was okay if she ate other people’s melons, but this huge melon had blown up beside her, and was even related to her own fate. Coupled with those startling looks that resembled a celestial’s, how could she possibly remain indifferent?
She felt that there could definitely be a solution to the situation, so she should understand the root cause clearly first and then discuss more in depth later.
System, [The root cause is temporarily unknown, however, it shouldn’t be congenital.]
Huh, if it wasn’t congenital impotence, then that indicated that perhaps there was still a chance?
Yan Shu’s eyes lit up, having not perceived the surging killing intent that rushed forth from not too far away.
That’s right, the moment he heard that word, a wave of killing intent had already welled up in Yuwen Lan’s heart.
No one else in the entire place had known about this apart from himself.
So how did this woman know?
Then, in the next moment, he heard her mulling over it to herself again, [Maybe he can try ‘The Plain Woman’s Sutra’, ‘A Concubine’s Remarkable Methods’, and that sort of thing, and if that indeed doesn’t have any effect, then he can also try ‘Heaven and Earth’s Intersection of Yin and Yang9, Endowed with Bountiful Joy and Happiness’!]
Yan Shu, who is the so-called phenomenon that hasn’t eaten the pork but has seen the pig run10, has in any case, eaten so many melodramatic and obscene melons over the years, these precious books had only been picked up in passing. As if remembering the melon in ‘General Xuan’wei and the Little Widow’, that skillful position, the lustful little widow precisely using ‘A Concubine’s Remarkable Methods’, inviting the brave man and great general, firmly accepting him in her pomegranate skirt.
Tch, it’s truly sentimental beyond words, so heart wrenching yet erotic, thinking about it now still made one overwhelmed with excitement.
“All rise. Today is a holiday, no need to stand on ceremony too much.”
The Empress Dowager’s voice interrupted her beautiful memories. Yan Shu hurriedly rearranged her expression, following everyone in thanking the Empress Dowager for her favour and getting up.
Yuwen Lan hid his turmoil in his heart, calmly leading the Empress Dowager to her seat.
The banquet officially began, with the palace servants finally serving food such as sliced chicken with lotus flowers, braised duck simmered in bird’s nest, assorted shark fin soup, roast lamb head, golden shrimp, stuffed crab, and so on. At this time, all sorts of delicacies filled the banquet table, causing people to be dazzled by the sight.
The biggest advantage that this person, Yan Shu, had, was precisely her ability to adopt a light-hearted attitude. Now that things had already become a foregone conclusion, it was useless to be at a loss, so she put her whole mind into focusing wholly on the delicacies in front of her and started to eat seriously.
Because the Emperor had never attended in the past, there was never anything like a New Year’s banquet in the palace. She never had the chance to attend normal banquets either, so today, she would count it as eating until she was satisfied. The chicken slices with lotus flowers were silky and tender, the stewed duck with bird’s nest fresh and fragrant, a mouthful of the assorted shark fin and it seemed to exceed the bounds of immortality, while the roast lamb head was simply too good!
No need to even mention the crispiness of the golden shrimp or the plump stuffed crabs…
Both the cold and hot dishes were amazing, coming today was indeed not in vain!
Happening to look up, she saw Noble Consort Zhou, Consort Ning, and Consort Duan, all competing with one another to either speak eloquently in front of the Empress Dowager, or propose a toast to the Emperor. Imperial Concubine Li, and Wang zhaoyi, were also taking the initiative to present music and dance, each and every one of them attempting to outdo one another11, making the atmosphere of the banquet extremely lively.
嫔 (pin): mid rank concubine title, ‘imperial concubine’, typically six positions
昭儀 (zhaoyi): slightly lower than ‘imperial concubine’. i’m just going to leave this one as the pinyin since writing ‘lady of bright deportment wang’ will seriously be a mouthful
Only she hid in the corner, eating and drinking thoughtlessly.
Not even noticing that the Emperor, who was the centre of everyone’s attention right now, was completely focused on her.
the author has something to say:
Yan Shu: Hold on, eat first as a sign of respect.
A certain emperor: Is Zhen not even as important as these few dishes?
Yan Shu: Brother, who are you?
A certain emperor: …
 口是心非 (koushixinfei): (lit.) for the mouth to wrong the heart / (fig.) to say one thing and mean another, two-faced
 马失前蹄 (mashiqianti): (lit.) the horse loses its front hooves / (fig.) sudden failure through miscalculation or inattentiveness
 如意 (ruyi): an s shaped object that’s usually made of jade and symbolises good luck
 人事 (renshi): euphemism for sex
 难言之隐 (nanyanzhiyin): a hidden trouble hard to mention / an embarrassing illness.
 短袖 (duanxiu): (lit.) “cut sleeve”, derived from when an emperor was unwilling to wake his male lover, who was sleeping on his sleeve, so cut it to avoid waking him up. / euphemism for homosexual
 你死我活 (nisiwohuo): (lit.) “you die, i live” / (fig.) two parties cannot coexist
 暴殄天物 (baotiantianwu): to waste natural resources recklessly, not to know how to use things sparingly.
 阴阳 (yinyang): ‘yin’ normally refers to females, and ‘yang’ usually refers to males. ‘yin’ and ‘yang’ are often used to refer to the sexual properties of the two genders, so ahem, you can take this ‘intersecting’ of ‘yin’ and ‘yang’ as an allusion to sex.
 没吃过猪肉也见过猪跑 (meichiguo zhurou yejianguo zhu pao): (lit.) “hasn’t eaten the pork, but has seen the pig run” / (fig.) a person who hasn’t done the deed, but has seen it been done
 争先恐后 (zhengxiankonghou): (lit.) striving to be first and fearing to be last / (fig.) outdo one another
sorry for the wall of footnotes, it’ll probably get better after most of the titles are out of the way and stuff.