Pampered Into Being the Empress – Chapter 23
Translated by: Cozy Translations
Chapter 23 – Moving Into the Eastern Palace1
The market next to the royal temple was opened ahead of the new year. The young maiden inside wanted to take advantage of this time to earn some money, and had set out the silk flowers, embroideries, etc. that she had crafted to sell. The market was full of people selling various goods, ranging from common household pets such as cats and dogs to exotic animals such as roe deer and martens.
The smell of live animals made Rong Xi nauseous, and she hurriedly passed through the market. Up further north was Tianshui2 Alley, Nanny Huan’s sugar water stall was set up just past here in City Wa.
The restaurants in Tianshui Alley were famous, and the multitude of brothels in it are even more famous.
Under the restaurant eaves in the alley, there would always be many prostitutes sitting there promoting their services. Their makeup done gorgeously, they had on a thick layer of foundation, making their face look extremely fair. Their lips were always dyed bright red.
When the glow of the lanterns from the restaurants lit their faces as they smiled, they looked a little strange.
The private rooms in the restaurant were separated by curtains. Some prostitutes would be invited by the customers to sing for them, and from time to time, the men could be heard shouting ‘good’ inside, along with the sounds of copper coins hitting the ground.
Relying on her memory, Rong Xi quickly walked through Tiansui Alley, and finally founding Nanny Huan’s sugar water shop near Zhuque Gate.
The business of the shop was very good at this time. Even though Nanny Huan had hired an extra hand, her daughter and son had to help out too. Because it was winter, the customers all came inside to drink the sugar water.
Nanny Huan’s husband had set up a fish stall by Maxing3 Road. He usually wakes up early in the morning to sell fish fresh from the river. By noontime, most of the fish would already be sold, and he would pack up his stall to return home to rest.
For a shop like Nanny Huan’s that sells candy and other sweets, the commoners liked to eat it in the afternoon. As such, Nanny Huan would be busy all the way from the afternoon until the night curfew. Only then, would she close up and return home.
The married couple had a hard life, but they passed their days by feeling quite satisfied.
Rong Xi saw Nanny Huan’s two kids were born both chubby and cute. The clothes they wore were very refreshing as well.
Just now, she bought some toys and pastries for the two kids. Seeing how Nanny Huan was busy with her shop, she didn’t bother her and found a tea shop across the street to sit and ordered a cup of hot tea and a plate of fried cherries.
Just as she sat down, Nanny Huan’s daughter hopped up to her and spoke to Rong Xi, “Big sister Rong is here, why not go to my mom’s to eat sugar water?”
Rong Xi was slightly startled. Her gaze towards Nanny Huan’s daughter was very gentle as she asked, “You still remember me?”
Nanny Huan’s daughter nodded her little head, “Remember.”
The little child held Rong Xi’s hand and led her over to Nanny Huan’s sugar water shop. Nanny Huan’s hair was pulled up with a purple bandana as she skillfully boiled the sugar water. Her husband saw her forehead was full of sweat and told her to take a break, and he took over her spot.
Rong Xi saw how Nanny Huan’s husband was both honest and reliable, but when she looked at him again, he seemed to also be a little silly, not at all like a regular middle-aged man.
When Nanny Huan stopped what she was doing, she raised her arm to wipe away the beads of sweat gathered at her forehead. She looked at Rong Xi with a slightly sullen expression, “I’ve neglected Young Miss, every night at this time is when business is most busy.”
Rong Xi faintly replied, “It’s good to be busy. Also, don’t call me Young Miss anymore.”
Nanny Huan snorted, “Young Miss will always be Young Miss in my heart…coming out of the palace this time, is it some niangniang who tasked you with an errand?”
Rong Xi didn’t reply right away.
Nanny Huan naturally didn’t know what happened in the palace.
She didn’t know that Concubine Yu passed away, and neither did she know that she switched masters.
Rong Xi’s voice was very calm as she told Nanny Huan, “The niangniang I was following before had passed away, and after I switched masters, I made a mistake in the palace and was expelled…”
Nanny Huan’s expression changed before she immediately reverted back to normal as she smiled, “It’s good as long as Young Miss is unharmed. It may be a good thing to leave the palace earlier. In the future, Young Miss can just live with our family. Right now, our husband and wife’s business is considered quite fruitful. Although it’s not as easygoing as the days when Old Master was still alive, Young Miss will definitely be able to pass the days comfortably.”
Rong Xi nodded and replied gratefully, “Many thanks to you two.”
Nanny Huan let out a sigh, “It’s just that I didn’t know you would leave the palace so early, so I haven’t found a suitable husband yet for Young Miss. After the new year, Young Miss will soon turn seventeen, so I must hurry and find a matchmaker.”
Rong Xi smiled and said she wasn’t in a hurry, and she handed over the gifts she bought for Nanny Huan’s two kids.
Nanny Huan’s family lived in a small house by the street. After closing shop and returning home, Nanny Huan’s husband used the leftover fish he didn’t sell in the day and made a fish tofu dish.
Nanny Huan filled up a bowl for Rong Xi first, “Young Miss, eat this while it’s hot.”
Rong Xi accepted it, but when she smelled the fishy scent, she suddenly wanted to throw up. Unable to suppress her nausea, she quickly backed away from the table and stepped outside the house to vomit. Nanny Huan hurriedly followed behind Rong Xi and asked about her condition with much concern.
Seeing Rong Xi’s bitter smile, along with her perfuse apologies, Nanny Huan suddenly had a guess.
With a startled expression on her face, she probingly asked Rong Xi, “Young Miss…you are…pregnant.”
Rong Xi helplessly nodded her head and didn’t speak.
Nanny Huan asked again, “Then this child…”
Rong Xi’s countenance grew heavier by a few degrees, “It’s not convenient for me to tell you that person’s identity, however that person doesn’t know I’m pregnant…I can only stay in Bianjing for a few days. The day after tomorrow, I will board the boat for Hongdu early in the morning.”
She counted the days until Mu Huai would return from Qinzhou.
It was not safe for her to stay long in Bianjing. With Mu Huai’s personality, he would definitely move his people to search for her within Bianjing. But if he could not find her, given how vast Qi’s territory was, he would naturally not know where she went and would thus quickly give up.
Nanny Huan did not dare ask Rong Xi what happened. All she knew was that her Young Miss was seeking refuge and her Young Miss had undergone much hardship.
Recalling how many years ago when Rong Xi was still a pampered young miss from an upper-class family, she had possessed an exquisitely beautiful face and was very intelligent despite her young age. In her heart, she had always viewed her Young Miss as a fairy, but now she had fallen to the mortal world.
Even becoming a slave, a servant to others.
Looking at it now, she must’ve been bullied and shamed by someone in the palace. Now she’s even pregnant before marriage.
Nanny Huan felt upset for Rong Xi and her eyes were full of tears as she held Rong Xi’s hand, “Then I will accompany Young Miss to Hongdu. After Young Miss has settled down, I will return to Bianjing.”
Rong Xi waved her hand and persuaded, “You cannot abandon your business.”
Nanny Huan: “It’s not a big deal to close up shop for two days. Plus, my husband is here, and it’s not a problem to earn enough money from selling fish. Young Miss doesn’t need to worry.”
A few days later, a big change happened inside Yongxi Palace.
After knowing that Noble Consort Li’s palace had been burnt, Li Rui had called in sick and didn’t attend court for many days. In secret, however, he was preparing for a rebellion.
In the middle of the night, Li Rui led his troops and infiltrated Yongxi Palace. He felt unresigned, hating how cruelly Zhuang Emperor treated his daughter. At the same time, taking the opportunity while Mu Huai and Yin Cheng were both at Qinzhou, he wanted to force Zhuang Emperor to abdicate and make Mu Ji emperor.
Outside of Ganyuan Hall, the guards were extremely vigilant. The concubine4 who was serving Zhuang Emperor tonight caught wind of what was going on from a frightened palace maid and her heart jumped.
Crying like the pear blossoms in the rain5, she asked Zhuang Emperor, “Your Majesty…what to do now? Do we run away?”
Zhuang Emperor’s black eyes were glowing. Looking at the young concubine, he stretched his hand out to wipe away her tears as he calmly replied, “No need to run, they won’t be able to enter Ganyuan Hall.”
After the concubine heard this, although she didn’t truly believe him, she could only trust Zhuang Emperor’s words.
In the end, when Li Rui and his soldiers neared Ganyuan Hall, he suddenly realized that the atmosphere wasn’t right.
Surveying his surroundings, his expression suddenly changed.
There were actually soldiers laying in ambush in all four directions around him!
Li Rui realized that the situation was not good, but it was already too late.
The soldiers around him were already falling from the falling arrows as they collapsed around him.
Even though there were soldiers holding shields in front of him, his arm was still struck by an arrow. Bearing the pain, Li Rui pulled out the arrow. The wound wasn’t very deep, but under the light of the palace lanterns, he faintly saw that the fresh blood pouring out was black.
He knew that this arrow was a poisoned one.
Suddenly, the marksmen on the eaves jumped down, and the soldiers guarding Zhuang Emperor poured out from who knows where. The soldiers Li Rui had brought had long been poisoned by the arrows and were not their opponents.
After he was subdued by two strong soldiers, Mu Huai walked towards him, cladded in black armor.
Mu Huai’s brows were heavy as he raised his voice, “Those who willingly surrender will be exempt from the death penalty.”
Some of the rebel troops that were hesitating considered this offer. Seeing how the opponent’s forces and their own were vastly different in strength, they surrendered to Mu Huai.
Li Rui let out a cold laugh, “Good boy, luring the tiger from the mountain6, it turns out that you never when to Qinzhou!”
Mu Huai’s eyes were clear as he drew out his knife and placed the blade by Li Rui’s neck. In a chilly voice, he said, “Now that things have come to this, you can only blame yourself for being foolish and harboring rebellious thoughts.”
Finished, Li Rui’s eyes widened.
Following, the scent of fresh blood pervaded the air, causing people’s hearts to tremble.
Mu Huai didn’t even blink as he chopped off Li Rui’s head. When Li Rui’s head landed on the ground, Mu Ji who had been captured by the soldiers cried out sorrowfully, “Grandfather!”
After the hoarse voice yelled out, wearing a black fur cape, Zhuang Emperor walked in front of everyone with the help of his concubine. Nowadays, whenever he walks, he must have someone holding him up, as well as a cande.
The soldiers all knelt on the ground as they saluted the emperor: “—May Your Majesty live for ten thousand years.”
Zhuang Emperor stopped in front of Li Rui’s head. Without looking at Mu Ji, he spoke to the eunuch behind him, “Second Prince Mu Ji plotted a rebellion. Taking into account the father and son relationship, I do not want his life. In the future, he will be imprisoned for life in Taiqing Palace, never to step outside.”
Mu Ji’s lips trembled as his eyes were full of panic.
Without Li Rui, without his consort mother, he no longer had a clan to rely on.
Mu Ji’s eyes burst into tears as he gritted his teeth, “This subject-son will obey. Thanking Father Emperor for the grace of not killing.”
Finished, Mu Ji was dragged away by the soldiers.
Zhuang Emperor coughed a few times and then spoke to Mu Huai who was kneeling on the ground, “Fourth Prince Mu Huai had much effort in protecting this time and was heroic. As a reward, he will become the crown prince. Tomorrow, he will live in the Eastern Palace and follow the traditions.”
Under Zhuang Emperor’s proud and approving gaze, Mu Huai respectfully accepted the decree. Behind him were the soldiers’ jubilant cries.
After tonight, he will be the Eastern Palace’s Crown Prince, the future monarch of Qi.
Such a big and joyful event, he had gotten the seat that he wanted, and he had also beheaded the cruel and greedy enemy.
Yet he felt extremely tired.
Mu Huai’s body was stained with the blood of his enemies, and he wanted to reutrn to Quyun Palace to find that woman.
He wanted to hug that woman, without any passion7, and have her soothe his exhaustion and loneliness.
After getting this idea, Mu Huai secretly mocked himself inside. When did he become like this? He was actually affected by a woman. Even as he was thinking how women were troublesome and annoying, his footsteps were quicker and quicker as he walked towards Quyun Palace.
He’ll be able to see that woman soon.
Since he was now the Crown Prince, then no matter what, tonight he wanted to tell that woman, that he will make her a liangdi8, make her officially and legitimately his woman.
What expression will that woman have when she hears this?
As Mu Huai was imagining what expression Rong Xi’s face would be, his lips had also curled up into a small smile.
He finally arrived at Quyun Palace. Tomorrow, the people in the palace will no longer call this place Quyun Palace.
Instead, they will call it Eastern Palace.
However, when he arrived in the hall, Mu Huai saw the group of guards kneeling in the dark. His expression changed as he briskly walked towards him, a bad feeling rising in his heart.
Mu Huai saw the hall was shrouded in darkness and lightly coughed. Deliberately sounding calm, he called out, “Rong Xi?”
His mellow voice disappeared into the empty and spacious inner hall.
No one answered him.
Mu Huai’s gaze grew colder by a few degrees as he went to the room where Rong Xi would usually stay.
The bottles and jars that women usually used were still placed on the boudoir. The blanket on th ebed was also folded neatly.
Yet there was no trace of that woman in th eentire room.
Mu Huai’s heart seemed to have stopped.
He rushed out of the room with a gloomy countenance as he spoke in an extremely icy voice towards the guards, “Where did that woman escape to?”
This author has something to say:
Just persevere for two more chapters. I promise it will be sweet and our old dog will pamper Rong Rong to high heavens.
Translator’s comments: Apologies for the late chapter! I got sick last weekend (and just so happened to run out of stockpiled chapters), so I wasn’t able to update. To make up for it (and also thanks to donations from some lovely readers), I will be releasing updates every day this week!
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- The Eastern Palace is traditionally the residence of the Crown Prince (aka future Emperor)
- Literally sweet water
- Literally horse way/road
- The official rank is 婕妤 jieyu which means Lady of Handsome Fairness. A relatively low-ranking concubine, this title is not specific to a person.
- An idiom that was used to describe how Yang Guifei (one of China’s most famous concubines) cried beautifully
- Military strategy that essentially means to execute a feint so as to put your enemy in a disadvantageous position that’s easily exploitable.
- Not sure if it’s clear, but he means this in a non-sexual way
- Low-ranked concubine position