Pampered Into Being the Empress – Chapter 10
We’re finally in the double-digits!
Translated by: Cozy Translations
Chapter 10 – Calamitous Beauty
Any important banquet in Yongxi Palace would be held in Zirui Hall. Night had just fallen and the lanterns were lit. The hall was filled with dancing and singing, full of joy and celebration.
It was Zhuang Emperor’s birthday, and so all the people in the palace became more careful than usual when carrying out their duties. In a short time, the hall was filled with seated concubines, princes, and imperial relatives. Zhuang Emperor’s newest jieyu1 was talented in the art of dancing and performed for Zhuang Emperor during the beginning of the banquet. Stepping barefoot onto the emerald jade plate, her sleeves flew about, her dance as graceful as a swallow2
The other concubines sitting in the hall all had their hair beautifully done, each looking as soft as jade, as tender as fresh flowers.
The empress sat beside him, the two were polite and respectful to each other like guests, but the empress’ complexion looked slightly wan and sickly.
Noble Consort Li had a higher ranking and naturally sat in the seat closest to the empress’. Her beautiful eyes carried some pretentiousness as from time to time, she glanced at the little court ladies who were ranked lower than her yet looked more fresh and youthful than her.
Mu Qian and Mu Ji gave Zhuang Emperor their birthday congratulations together. Noble Consort Li felt pleased, the more she looked at her son and daughter, the more she liked them.
A eunuch presented a carved coral sculpture made of gold that was carefully picked by Noble Consort Li. The craftsmanship was excellent, this gold sculpture looked extremely lifelike.
The Mu clan was a part of Emperor Gaoxin’s descendants, and gold sculptures were a symbol of the clan. Sending this unique gift was very precious.
Zhuang Emperor had a warm and generous personality, but towards Noble Consort Li’s birthday gift, he only gave a lukewarm compliment, as if he was dealing with an errand.
Maybe he was used to seeing all sorts of precious treasures.
Noble Consort Li comforted herself in her heart.
Until the eunuch presented Mu Huai’s birthday gift. Noble Consort Li felt as if a bucket of ice water poured on her, her expression froze.
Mu Huai presented a hundred-longevity drawing that was personally penned by him. Although the paper used was a slightly more expensive gold-flecked paper, it was still only worth half a silver. His birthday congratulations could not be more ordinary, wishing Imperial Father a long life. To her, these words could only be described as perfunctory and brushing the emperor off.
Yet Mu Zhen’s eyes immediately showed happiness. In front of all the concubines and princes, he praised Mu Huai’s hundred-longevity drawing as exquisite and unique, even immediately ordering the eunuch to frame the hundred-longevity drawing and hang it in his resting quarters.
What joke is this, does it need to be treated so preciosuly?
Noble Consort Li was upset inside but did not display any emotions outwardly.
The birthday banquet had been underway for more than an hour already, but Mu Huai felt increasingly bored. The food was boring, the songs and dances were even more boring.
But it was Mu Zhen’s birthday, no matter how crazy he is, he would not leave early. He cast his gaze downwards, thinking about how when he returns to Quyun Palace, he will grab Rong Xi to grind ink for him in the study.
He didn’t really want to study tonight, he just wanted to see her squirm in embarrassment in front of him.
Mu Huai originally didn’t like Rong Xi’s saccharine voice, but somehow or another, if he doesn’t go a day without hearing her call out ‘Your Highness’, he would feel unhappy now.
Late autumn was when the crabs were at their fattiest. The palace kitchen used them to make some fresh sweet pastries as well as directly steaming a few hundred fresh crabs. The cooked crabs still had steam rising from them when they were placed in front of Zhuang Emperor. He could not help but recall that Virtuous Consort Yin loved eating crabs when she was alive, and Mu Huai also followed her as well.
Every time the crabs were at their fattest, Mu Huai would want to eat a lot of it. This was a cold food3 so Virtuous Consort Yin did not allow him to eat too much. Remembering the times he spent many years ago with Virtuous Consort Yin and Mu Huai, Zhuang Emperor’s eyes carried some warmth in them as he personally took eight crabs and slowly peeled them.
Many years ago, he had also personally peeled crabs for Virtuous Consort Yin like this.
A short while later, the crab meat and roe were perfectly separated. Zhuang Emperor called for a eunuch that was close by, “Give this to Man…”
Before “Ya” could be uttered, Zhuang Emperor halted. He almost called out Mu Huai’s pet name4 just now. This pet name was given to Mu Huai by Virtuous Consort Yin, called Man Ya. But ever since she passed away, Mu Huai was longer as close as before to his imperial father, and he had not called him Man Ya in a long time.
Last year when he [Mu Huai] had his capping ceremony, he [Zhuang Emperor] personally gave Mu Huai a courtesy name: Zhi Yan. But to call out ‘Zhi Yan’ in front of so many concubines, it was not very convenient.
Zhuang Emperor spoke to the eunuch again, “Reward this to Fourth Prince.”
The Empress glanced over though her expression was plain. Mu Zhen had always favored Mu Huai the most, no one in the palace was surprised anymore. Even though she sat on the seat of the empress, she did not give birth to a son nor a daughter for Zhuang Emperor. Which prince Zhuang Emperor favors, it did not concern her.
Noble Consort Li was originally attentively peeling crabs for Zhuang Emperor, but did not realize that Zhuang Emperor would actually reward the crab meat he personally peeled to Mu Huai. Seeing this situation, a venomous intent flashed through her eyes.
She slowly put down the crab in her hand, her hand shaking imperceptibly.
A few moments after Zhuang Emperor’s crab meat was placed in front of Mu Huai, Noble Consort Li stood up and saluted, speaking to Zhuang Emperor in a soft voice, “During late autumn, it is most suitable for fatty crab to be paired with chrysanthemum wine. Chenqie5 coincidentally brewed some recently, it’s the perfect opportunity to share some with Sisters.6 This crab, served with this chrysanthemum wine, the food will taste even fresher.”
Zhuang Emperor nodded after hearing this. Since Noble Consort Li took the initiative to bring this up, he did not want to pull down her face7 and accepted Nobel Consort Li’s suggestion.
The palace maids presented a mellow chrysanthemum wine to Zhuang Emperor, yet Noble Consort Li’s gaze was focused on the palace maid serving Mu Huai.
Mu Huai clearly did not have a good appetite. His brows were furrowed as he ate the crab meat personally peeled by Zhuang Emperor.
The more Noble Consort Li looked at Mu Huai, the more anger she felt.
The food that the emperor personally rewarded, he was supposed to feel honored and grateful, how could he show an expression that implied the food was tasteless?
Although Noble Consort Li felt angry, her heart hung in her throat. She was afraid that Mu Huai would not drink the wine. If he did not drink it, then she would have wasted today’s efforts
Soon, Noble Consort Li’s red lips slightly turned up.
The food served at the banquet must undergo numerous tests for poison before being presented, except for her chrysanthemum wine. Since she took the initiative to present it to everyone present at the banquet, then no one would expect that she would do something to Mu Huai’s wine.
Mu Huai must not have been suspicious either as he followed Noble Consort Li’s wishes and drank the cup of chrysanthemum wine. Noble Consort Li’s smile became deeper. A while later, she saw Mu Huai’s brows knit tighter and tighter, his hand coming up to hold his forehead.
Zhuang Emperor also detected Mu Huai’s abnormality. Just as he was about to open his mouth to ask, Noble Consort Li stood up, “Fourth Prince must be a little drink. How about Your Majesty let some palace maids take him to a side hall to sober up.”
Because the majority of the people sitting in Zirui Hall were the imperial concubines in the back palace, the bodyguards that followed Mu Huai every day were left to wait at the entrance of the hall. The only people available to serve Mu Hai currently were the palace maids in Zirui Hall. The side hall was normally used for officials who were drunk or relatives of the royal family to sober up. Zhuang Emperor followed Noble Consort Li’s wishes and let that palace maid push Mu Huai’s wheelchair to the side hall.
Mu Huai only felt his blooding seemingly flowing backwards, ready to burst from his skin at any time. There was a faint probing coming from a certain part of his body as well.
There was definitely a problem with the food he just ate.
Mu Huai tried to calm himself down, but the drug that person gave him was one that did not allow people to calm down. At this moment, Mu Huai’s eyes were red, his handsome face was so dark it was scary.
The little palace maid that was pushing his chair was so frightened she was trembling all over, not even daring to breathe loudly. The moment they reached the side hall, the little maid immediately ran away.
Mu Huai parted his lips. With much difficulty, he spoke out, wanting to call that palace maid to push him outside of Zirui Hall, he needed to hurry and return to his palace to find a physician.
But that maid had long disappeared.
Mu Huai could only force his right arm to move, which had long had veins protruding from it, wanting to push the wheelchair himself.
At this time, someone blocked his way.
When Mu Huai clearly saw the person’s face, he could not help but sneer. The person who came was actually the eunuch from that day at Hanlin Academy that he let Rong Xi hit. The eunuch had red lips and white teeth. Born a man but looking like a woman, at this moment, he currently had a smile on his face looking at him.
That smile was extremely irritating. Mu Huai felt his insides erupt in anger as he scolded, “Scram farther, don’t be a thorn in my eyes.”
The little eunuch used his hands to press on the handles of Mu Huai’s wheelchair and spoke in a weird voice, “Your Highness, do you know what medicine you were drugged with? You are a cripple, then being drugged with this medicine, only this servant will be able to save you.”
—“So don’t act so high and mighty anymore!”
That effeminate little eunuch seemed to roar out this last sentence.
Mu Huai’s forehead was filled with cold sweat as his gaze grew darker.
The person who harmed him wanted to use the method of humiliation, then dosing with an aphrodisiac, then use a eunuch to disgrace him.
He guessed that in a little bit, there would definitely be some people coming by here to catch him in the act. Then tomorrow, the rumors in the palace will be how the fourth prince sure was perverted, not only where his legs crippled, he was also a broken sleeve8 who liked men.
Mu Huai laughed coldly. The little eunuch saw that Mu Huai didn’t seem to have any trace of panic, still domineering and arrogant as usual, and couldn’t help but angrily gnash his teeth.
As the drug’s effects became stronger and stronger, Mu Huai could slowly feel that his legs that usually felt as heavy as lead were not quite right either.
The eunuch had a dark smile on as he went to untie his clothes, “You don’t have any bodyguards near you, what difference is there between a useless…”
Before he could finish his sentence, the little eunuch’s eyes suddenly widened.
His throat was suddenly violently strangled by Mu Huai. His arm strength was shocking, just when that eunuch felt he was about to be choked to death, something even more astounding happened.
Mu Huai actually stood up from his wheelchair!
He was very tall. The right hand strangling the eunuch’s neck was the hand that would push him towards death.
The little eunuch’s feet had already left the ground. He kept on kicking the air, trying to escape from Mu Huai’s clutches.
His eyes slowly turned white, only to hear Mu Huai speak in an extremely cruel voice, “What do you count as, just you, you dare to covet this old man? Think I’m a cripple so I can’t kill you piece of trash, that day at Hanlin Academy, this old man should’ve just killed you!”
Outside the hall, rain began to fall.
Mu Huai’s bodyguards arrived only to see their master standing as straight as a pine tree in the hall, wiping his hands on his clothes.
Next to him lay a eunuch. That eunuch seemed to have died an extremely miserable death, the strangulation marks on his neck were a clear indication that he was choked to death.
The bodyguards didn’t seem to be surprised at the sight of mu Huai suddenly standing, only asking Mu Huai in a low voice how they should dispose of this eunuch’s corpse. Mu Huai forcibly suppressed the effects of the drug and stared at the dead eunuch’s body; he already knew who harmed him this time.
In a hoarse voice, “Tomorrow morning, carry this eunuch’s body to Jihua Palace. It’s my first big present for that bitch.”
The bodyguard saluted him and obeyed.
Inside the hall, the sounds of music continued to ring out. Noble Consort Li thought that the eunuch must have already made his move by now. Anyways, Mu Huai was a cripple so it was not like he could run away. When this banquet was over, she wanted to show Zhuang Emperor exactly what type of person his most favored son was.
After leaving the hall, Mu Hui had a dark expression as he took a side path towards Quyun Palace. The bodyguard wanted to hold an umbrella over him, but he threw it on the ground. He originally thought that being soaked in the rain would cool down the heat in his body, bu the more the rain drenched him, the hotter he felt.
In a short while, the group of people reutrned to Quyun Palace.
All the bodyguards had on a fearful expression the whole way as they followed behind Mu Huai. When they reached Rong Xi’s room, they saw him directly walking in without knocking.
Usually, palace banquets would last until late at night. Rong Xi took the opportunity while Mu Huai was away to take a bath.
At this time, she did not conceal her pretty appearance, but she was still cautious, afraid that if Mu Huai came back early, everything would be exposed.
Wearing a thin outer robe, she was humming a little tune from Jiangnan as she box preparing to draw freckles on her face.
Outside the rain was falling softly. Although the woman’s elegant singing was at a low volume, if one listened closely, it was light and delicate.
Mu Huai had already entered the room, his burning eyes were currently staring at Rong Xi’s slender back.
Just like a predator watching its prey.
He had thought before that if she were to sing, it must be very moving.
Mu Huai slowly walked towards her.
Rong Xi suddenly felt that the atmosphere around her wasn’t right and turned around.
As soon as she turned around, the box in her hand fell to the floor.
Following, her beautiful eyes dilated.
Mu Huai was actually in front of her!
His body was drenched in rainwater, yet did not look haggard at all, still handsome and proud.
When Mu Huai clearly saw her face, he was also stunned. He didn’t know if he was hallucinating.
The woman in front of him had a bewitching face only about the size of a palm. The five features were exquisite, the eyebrows held a little bit of shyness, making her look somewhat pitiful.
She wore a plain white robe, her bodying emitting a fragrant acacia scent. A spring color could be vaguely seen on her willowy figure.
The most surprising was that stunningly beautiful face that could overturn countries.
Mu Huai recalled how history had once recorded two countries that had muddle-headed leaders. For the beauty, they did not hesitate to sacrifice their soldiers and fight wars that lasted for years. In the end, both countries fell.
The woman in front of him was exactly a calamitous beauty.
Rong Xi was so frightened she backed up a couple of steps. The appearance she had concealed for many years was actually discovered by Mu Huai…
And Mu Huai, he…was definitely not a crippled prince.
The two people both found out each other’s secrets. Right now, she was currently at a complete loss, not knowing what to do.
When Rong Xi’s lips slightly trembled, Mu Huai had already lost the ability to think, his reasoning ability had disintegrated.
With quick steps, he walked until he was just in front of Rong Xi. Using both hands, he cupped the woman’s warm face, leaned over and sealed her lips with a kiss.
The kiss was overbearing and domineering, with a little bit of unfamiliarity.
Rong Xi lightly gasped and the thin outer robe on her body landed on the ground.
Her heart fell into a panic, wanting to pick up that piece of clothing to cover up her body, when Mu Huai finally released her.
He looked at her beautiful eyes that were panicked, and with an extremely hoarse voice—
“Rong Xi, save me.”
Translator’s comments: Aiyaya, look at this cliffhanger 😏 So, I’ve belatedly realized that I write “Noble Consort” or “Virtuous Consort” a lot, and I know a lot of other translators tend to keep these titles in their pinyin form (fei, guifei, xianfei, etc.). I try to translate with as little as pinyin possible, since I think too much pinyin tends to break up the flow of the story, but since you guys are the ones reading, tell me what you think! If you prefer the translations, I will keep them for the future, or if you prefer the pinyin for the titles, I will use that in that the future (and edit the past chapters).
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- A concubine title that is the same rank as Lady Yu (Rong Xi’s previous master)
- History usually associates this dance (description) with Empress Zhao Feiyan who is one of the four most famous beauties in ancient China
- Chinese traditional medicine has foods that are categorized as hot and cold, not because of the temperature they’re served at, but due to the effects they would have on the body. For example, chili peppers are considered hot food because they bring cause the body to heat up.
- His pet name is 满牙 which means ‘full of teeth’
- What imperial concubines use to refer to themselves
- In the imperial harem, concubines refer to each other as jiejie (older sister) or meimei (younger sister) since they all serve the same man
- Giving face is meant to treat someone with respect and dignity. Not giving face would be equivalent to shaming or embarrassing them.
- Comes from an old Chinese story where Emperor Ai of Han, seeing his lover Dong Xian fall asleep while laying on his sleeve, chose to cut off the sleeve rather than wake up Dong Xian.