MBCEM Ch 2

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.”

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. 

But wait… 

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. 

Oh…

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: …

[1] 口是心非 (koushixinfei): (lit.) for the mouth to wrong the heart / (fig.) to say one thing and mean another, two-faced

[2] 马失前蹄 (mashiqianti): (lit.) the horse loses its front hooves / (fig.) sudden failure through miscalculation or inattentiveness 

[3] 如意 (ruyi): an s shaped object that’s usually made of jade and symbolises good luck

[4] 人事 (renshi): euphemism for sex

[5] 难言之隐 (nanyanzhiyin): a hidden trouble hard to mention / an embarrassing illness.

[6] 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

[7] 你死我活 (nisiwohuo): (lit.) “you die, i live” / (fig.) two parties cannot coexist

[8] 暴殄天物 (baotiantianwu): to waste natural resources recklessly, not to know how to use things sparingly.

[9] 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.

[10] 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

[11] 争先恐后 (zhengxiankonghou): (lit.) striving to be first and fearing to be last / (fig.) outdo one another

golden shrimp

sorry for the wall of footnotes, it’ll probably get better after most of the titles are out of the way and stuff.

MBCEM Ch 1

The cold wind swirled in the courtyard and plucked away the last dead leaf from the old tung tree. 

Ren Dong carried a food box, trotting away, and finally returned to the hall of Yongning Palace.

Compared to the other palaces in the harem, this place was secluded and remote, and the furnishings in the hall were rather simple. 

A charcoal bamboo basket made the room just barely warm. 

Seeing her coming back, Yan Shu, who was warming herself by the charcoal basket, immediately asked, “What are we eating today?”

this chapter is brought to you by mio
as translator, proofreader and editor!


The cold wind swirled in the courtyard and plucked away the last dead leaf from the old tung tree. 

Ren Dong carried a food box, trotting away, and finally returned to the hall of Yongning Palace.

Compared to the other palaces in the harem, this place was secluded and remote, and the furnishings in the hall were rather simple. 

A charcoal bamboo basket made the room just barely warm. 

Seeing her coming back, Yan Shu, who was warming herself by the charcoal basket, immediately asked, “What are we eating today?”

Ren Dong took out the contents in the food box one by one, and said, “We have stuffed mushrooms, roast duck with bamboo shoots, an assortment of stir-fried vegetables, eight treasure tofu, right, today is the eighth of the twelfth lunar month, so we have Laba porridge as well!”

Yan Shu then came to the table, “I like stuffed mushrooms the most, the Laba porridge in the palace is also delicious, not bad, not bad!”

With that, a mushroom stuffed with three different kinds of minced meat entered her mouth.

Oh, it was delicious and juicy, the fragrance of the minced meat in the glutinous rice didn’t lose to the delicate feel of the shiitake mushrooms, really the best pairing with rice!

Of course, this was also thanks to the nimble feet of Ren Dong, since if she had taken her time in coming back and caused the food to cool, the flavour would have been greatly reduced.

The hierarchy within the harem was strict. The imperial concubines with high ranks often had their own servants sent from the Department of Palace Delicacies1 that were in charge of their meals. However, Yan Shu was only a Beautiful Lady2, so she could only have her own people go. 

There are no more than eight eunuchs and palace maids in Yongning Palace, and from the few that had been brought from her maternal family, only Ren Dong really understood her tastes, thus, the person who brought her meal every time was always Ren Dong. 

“Right, master,” Ren Dong said again, “I heard that there would be a New Year’s banquet tonight. Just now, De Wang, who manages the Department of Treasures3, went to Talented Lady4 Zhang with something bundled in a cloth. Don’t know what they’re sending her again.”

At the mention of this, Ren Dong felt that this was unfair for her master—

The concubines had rules on how much they ate, and a budget for the spending allocated for their clothes as well. Yan Shu’s rank was low, so naturally she couldn’t be compared with the concubines above her. However, that Talented Lady Zhang was clearly of an even lower rank, yet stubbornly relied on the fact that her maternal family was wealthy to bribe the palace’s eunuchs so that from time to time, they would find some good quality clothing, jewellery, rogue, foundation, and so on, all wanting to step on her master’s head. 

“I don’t think any of the other Ladyships5 are as good looking as you,” she lowered her voice wistfully, “If we had the spare money to dress you more extravagantly, you would definitely outshine them all.”

Yan Shu couldn’t even care less about that, “That’s all just useless, dressing up like a fairy, yet His Majesty still won’t come tonight.”

Tsk, this is her third year in the palace, yet she has never glimpsed even a corner of the Emperor’s robe.

Speaking of him, he could be called a legendary figure today. Back then, the previous emperor’s prestige and bloodline were weak, and the imperial clan’s various kings were all eyeing his position covetously. At a young age, he killed his way out of a siege, unifying and succeeding the throne in the midst of a bloody rain and violent winds, and took just three years to stabilise the country and organise the imperial court, which could be said that he actually had some amount of ability.

What was most important was that his looks were rumoured to be incomparable to that of mortals.

Yet within these three years, the Emperor had never set foot into the harem, not even showing up easily to festival banquets.

Yan Shu was of low status, not qualified to go and pay her respects, so she had not yet had the opportunity to verify whether the rumours of him being a celestial being were true or not. 

But in spite of this, the concubines in the palace still didn’t give up hope, banding together and lining up one after the other, and like Talented Lady Zhang, doing their best to enter the Emperor’s sight first; all except for Yan Shu.

Hearing what she said at this moment, Ren Dong hurriedly persuaded her, “Even if His Majesty doesn’t come, it’ll be fine as long as you show your face to the Empress Dowager. If the Empress Dowager takes a liking to you, and often asks for you to chat with her in Ci’an Palace, wouldn’t you have a better chance of meeting His Majesty?”

Yan Shu was currently putting a yellow piece of eight treasure tofu into her mouth as she said perfunctorily, “Forget it, isn’t that Noble Consort6 Zhou still the Empress Dowager’s niece, yet isn’t she still the same as well? Oh, this tofu is seriously crispy on the outside and soft on the inside!”

Ren Dong, “…”

Ai, just by judging from her master’s appearance, if she had even a tiny smidgen of ambitious spirit, afraid she would have already made a name for herself! Yet all she cares about all day long is what she should eat and all the gossip she hears out of nowhere.

At this time, she heard her say again, “Right, I heard that Noble Consort Zhou’s parents have been having a couple’s quarrel over these past two days, don’t know if she and the Empress Dowager have heard of it yet.”

Ren Dong’s eyes lit up, “Could it be that Madam Cheng found out about Benefactor Cheng’s sixth concubine that he raised outside?”

“That’s right.”

Yan Shu nodded as she ate, “This little six does indeed have some small schemes, taking advantage of the fortunate timing of her pregnancy to spread the news and provoke Madam Cheng into making a fuss. However, Benefactor Cheng would still anyhow be distressed for his own flesh and blood, and Madam Cheng’s cannot possibly override him, so he will most likely demand for little six to be accepted into the manor and become a proper concubine.”

 胳膊拧不过大腿: (lit.) arm cannot pinch one’s thigh / (fig.) the weak cannot overcome the strong

Ren Dong clicked her tongue, “If little fifth had been this scheming last time, then the she wouldn’t have passed away. That said, just how old is Benefactor Cheng already, yet he’s still got such a bellyful of trickery, isn’t he ashamed?”

 香消玉殒: (lit.) fragrance vanishes and jade crumbles / (fig.) a beauty passes away

“He’s a man, most of them are like that.”

Yan Shu gulped down a mouthful of Laba porridge, only feeling that it was sweet and dense, so appetising it reached all the way down to her stomach. 

Try another taste of a piece of duck, oh, the imperial kitchen is very skilled in controlling the heat, the duck meat is soft and delicious, the flavour of the bamboo shoots had even seeped into its texture, the meat was fragrant yet not greasy, salty and delicious.

She had come from a modern world and traversed through time to get here. In her previous life, she had been in poor health, hugging herbal decoctions and medicine ever since she was a child, and could not eat this nor that. Despite all her efforts, she had barely managed to survive to her youthful years, yet she had still died under the torture of her illness. 

Although in this life, she had somehow passed through to the ancient era, for her to possess a healthy body that didn’t make her worry about what she could eat or drink already made her cherish this opportunity, and grateful to the heavens. 

Furthermore, she gained a melon eating system after she entered the palace. From time to time, she was able to eat all kinds of novel melons, with each family’s harem having some juicy love history told to her everyday, she was constantly overwhelmed with excitement. 

吃瓜: (lit.) eat melons / (fig.) derived from eating melon seeds when watching entertainment, it figuratively means listen to gossip (a western equivalent would perhaps be eating popcorn)

 Right at this moment, the voice of the system once again reappeared in her mind, [New melon, Marquis Lin Wu’s heir isn’t his own son.]

Yan Shu almost choked on the Laba porridge, [There’s even this?]

The entire capital was well aware that Marquis Lin Wu only had this one son, who was normally the apple of his eye, yet unexpectedly it isn’t his?

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:

~~

After lunch, the cold wind outside howled even more severely.

Yan Shu was currently eating Marquis Lin Wu manor’s huge melon, then heard someone outside the door say, “Is Beautiful Lady Li inside?”

Hearing that voice, it was exactly that Talented Zhang that Ren Dong had just spoken of. 

Yan Shu’s rank was low, so the other concubines disdained to deal with her, thinking it was beneath their own honour, nor did she also show herself in front of others either. This Talented Lady Zhang, however, was very different. Although she was the lowest-ranking concubine in the palace, she often came to the place of her, the second-to-last ranking concubine, to make her presence known.

It wasn’t polite to not see her when she was already at the door, so Yan Shu had Ren Dong open the door.

Sure enough, she saw Talented Lady Zhang step into the room and greet her, “Sister Li must have already had her meal, so having nothing to do, I came over to your place to chat.”

Yan Shu smiled politely, “Please sit down, is it cold outside?”

“It’s alright. I dressed warmly, so I didn’t notice either.”

With a smile, Talented Lady Zhang unhurriedly removed her brocade cloak that was line in ink, seemingly worth a fortune at a glance, and even intentionally smoothened out the snow white animal down that lined the brim of her cap. Only after that did she settle down in her chair, “There’s a New Year’s banquet tonight, and I even heard that His Majesty will be attending. Has Sister gotten ready yet?”

As she spoke, the plum blossom dangling hair ornament that was crafted of pure gold at her temple continued to sway, and borrowing the afternoon sun that poured into the room, the bright light was so dazzling that it blinded people’s eyes.

Ren Dong’s heart seemed to harbour a fire. This Talented Lady came here wearing a new cloak and jewellery, wasn’t she just here with the aim of deliberately making fun of her poor master?

However, Yan Shu frowned and rubbed her forehead tiredly, even covering her mouth and coughing twice, pretending to be weak as she said, “Unfortunately, I caught a cold yesterday, so I don’t feel too well today. I’m afraid I won’t be able to go tonight.”

Ren Dong, “???”

Not feeling too well? Didn’t you just swallow one bowl of rice and two bowls of porridge?

Zhang cairen’s eyes lit up, but she tried to cover it up and said, “What a pity, it’s such a rare chance to see the Emperor’s face. I was even thinking that if Sister didn’t have any jewellery, I could even lend you two!”

Yan Shu covered her mouth and coughed twice, “Thank you for your good intentions, I’m afraid that I won’t be able to make use of it now.”

Probably out of fear of getting sick as well, Talented Lady Zhang hurriedly got up and said, “Then I’ll let Sister rest well, I won’t intrude on you any longer.”

With that, she put on her newly made mink cloak and led her palace maids out the door. 

The room became quiet again. Ren Dong cast a grieving and lamenting glance toward Yan Shu, “Didn’t you hear that His Majesty will be there tonight? What a great opportunity, so why are you pretending to be sick?”

Yan Shu didn’t pay that any mind, “Even if I go, I’ll be seated at the bottom, separated by dozens of people in the middle. His Majesty can’t even see past other people, yet can still see me?”

Rather than watch those bored concubines strive for his favour, it was better for her to stay in her room and continue to eat melons, just halfway through digging up Marquis Lin Wu Madam’s relationship history, yet it was already so thrilling!

But Ren Dong said, “You’re the hope of the entire An De County’s common people! In any case, our county has never before produced an imperial concubine, so how could you be so unambitious and abandon yourself to despair?”

Yan Shu, “…”

She just wanted to be a happy salted fish, can’t afford to carry such heavy moral shackles, okay?

咸鱼: salted fish refers to someone who wants to laze around and do nothing

However, before she could speak, the little palace maid, Lian Xin, entered the room and said, “Beautiful Lady, the Empress Dowager’s palace maid has just come to deliver a decree. His Majesty will be there in person tonight, so all concubines must be sure to attend the New Year’s banquet in Rouyi Hall. 

Yan Shu, “…”

Great, I can’t even be lazy when I want to.

~~

Twilight descended, the lanterns were lit at the first signs of darkness, the entire palace shrouded in splendour.

Living in a remote area of the palace, her status too low for her to ride a palanquin, Yan Shu struggled all the way to Rouyi Hall, her little face having already turned red from the cold. 

Fortunately, the warmth of the hall soon faded her two spots of blush, making her complexion look quite good.

Because they received news of His Majesty personally attending today, the concubines all arrived particularly early tonight, decked out in gold and silver, having all applied powder and cinnabar, all exceptionally gorgeous. 

Even Talented Lady Zhang was dressed even more extravagantly than when they had met in the afternoon. Adorned in a palace dress clustered with gold plum blossoms, a gold hair pin with precious gems and blossom and butterfly pearls, lips painted bright red with rouge, she looked extremely eye-catching.

In contrast, Yan Shu was wearing a lotus coloured coat and skirt, only a pearl dangling hair ornament in her hair that had been coiled up, her plain appearance seemingly extremely pitiful.

Ren Dong was completely helpless, wanting to dress her master up prettily, yet Yan Shu insisted on the light makeup, so light that it didn’t even have any sense of presence, thus, she had no choice to do so.

At this time, Yan Shu was sitting almost near the end of the banquet, and compared with the concubines in front of her with their heavy makeup, she really had no sense of presence. 

However, it was different for Talented Lady Zhang, who was sitting at the same table as her. Ren Dong could clearly feel that Noble Consort Zhou, who was in the seat of honour, Consort7 Ning, and the others, were all intentionally or otherwise shooting daggers at her with their eyes.

In an instant, she suddenly had a flash of insight, finally understanding her master’s intentions—to stand out in such an occasion was clearly seeking enemies for oneself; and furthermore, they were all extremely powerful enemies!

This Talented Lady Zhang really has the guts.

Talented Lady Zhang, however, did not seem to sense it herself. At this time, she was sitting upright, assuming her best bearing, patiently waiting for His Imperial Majesty to come. 

By contrast, Yan Shu was exactly like an extra, listening to the system’s melons while looking at the pastries on the table, wondering when they can start eating.

Oh, the pastries for this huge banquet are truly different at first glance, this lotus cake really looks too alluring. 

Not long after, with a “His Majesty has arrived…”, tonight’s main character finally appeared on the stage.

Everyone saw a figure wearing a black dragon robe enter into the hall. He was tall and imposing, the face underneath the golden crown seemed to be carved like a knife, with wind billowing with every step.

The mood of the concubines in the palace hall began to stir in excitement, getting up to salute him, each and every one of them calling out in a lovable and coquettish voice, “Respectfully greeting His Majesty, long live.”

Yan Shu copied their usual practice, after all, it was a rare opportunity for her to sneak a peek. But unfortunately, she was too far away and could only vaguely make out that the other party had a straight nose, thin lips, and strong jawline. It seems that he was indeed quite good looking.

At this moment, there was the sound of a ding in her ear, and the voice of the system rang out, [There is a big melon of the Emperor’s.]

——

the author has something to say:

System: There’s a melon of the Emperor’s.

Yan Shu: What melon?

System: Your husband is very handsome.

Yan Shu: …

[1] 尚膳监: managed by eunuchs. the department provides the food for the imperial household

[2] 美人: a low ranking concubine title, titled ‘beautiful lady’, quite low on the hierarchy, below the noble consorts, consorts, and imperial concubines. an unlimited amount of people can possess this title.

[3] 司珍: department that is responsible for making or purchasing the imperial household’s share of jewellery and treasure and is under the ministry of revenue

[4] 才人: a low ranking concubine title, titled ‘talented lady’, even lower than beautiful lady. an unlimited amount of people can possess this title

[5] 娘娘: seniority appellation that’s used for empress or imperial concubines 

[6] 贵妃: high ranking concubine title, titled ‘noble consort’, ranked only below the empress. there are typically only two people who can hold this title.

[7] 妃: high ranking concubine title, ‘consort’. typically only four positions of this title are open.

mushroom stuffed with minced meat
eight treasure tofu
roast duck with bamboo shoots (closest i could find)
assortment of stir fried vegetables
laba porridge

just thought i’d try my hand at tling chinese novels since this doesn’t have a translation! please do go easy on me, i’m not fluent in chinese and this is mostly with the help of a dictionary as well, so don’t expect fast updates,,,

this novel is so good though, mc is a foodie and just wants to laze around all day while the emperor can read minds HGLSDFKJDFS 100% a chaotic novel LMAOSDKSDFJ

on another note, i got hungry translating this chapter, haven’t eaten yet GHSDFLJSDF