Pampered Into Being the Empress – Chapter 31
Translated by: Cozy Translations
Chapter 31 – Indulgence
Di Shiyin, was after an aristocratic young miss, not some naive little girl. She quickly adjusted her attitude and after calming herself down, she walked to the mysterious woman.
Rong Xi glanced at Di Shiyin from the corner of her eye and saw that she was getting closer. Rong Xi pretended she didn’t notice as she continued to pluck the winter plums. When Di Shiyin drew close, she realized that this woman not only had a palace maid accompanying her, there were also four to five well-built guards wielding swords nearby as well. Those guards all had their heads lowered, not daring to take even a single glance at Rong Xi.
Di Shiyin had seen some of these guards before and knew that they were Mu Huai’s people. At this moment, she had already confirmed that this woman was the commoner woman Mu Huai had brought in from outside the palace. Yet the more she looked at this woman, the more she felt familiar, but she couldn’t say exactly where the familiarity came from.
Just as she was about to draw near to Rong Xi, those guards formed a circle around her, not letting Di Shiyin get close.
Di Shiyin’s expression didn’t change as she spoke gently, “Why are you guys blocking me, I came here to pluck some winter plums for the Empress, to put in her tea.”
Rong Xi heard Di Shiyin talk and and put on a surprised expression, as if she had just noticed Di Shiyin was here. She turned around and looked at her.
When Di Shiyin looked at Rong Xi, she felt she was even more beautiful up close. Di Shiyin’s jealousy in her heart grew even stronger.
Rong Xi decided to play dumb and confusedly asked Di Shiyin, “You are…”
The moment Di Shiyin heard Rong Xi’s voice, she felt that familiar feeling again. This tender yet sweet voice was very similar to that palace maid named Rong. Did Mu Huai have a fetish for women with this type of voice?
Like a little sparrow, her voice was too tender and too sweet, eliciting goosebumps from others.
Di Shiyin controlled her facial expressions, secretly realizing that this vixen-like woman was destined to just be a concubine. She (Rong Xi) was unsuitable to be shown in public, unable to show any elegant bearing.
Di Shiyin controlled her mood, her face still showing a breezy expression.
Di Shiyin redundantly asked Rong Xi, “I am the Minister of Rites’ daughter, also the Empress’s niece. My name is Di Shiyin, this miss is?”
Hearing this, Rong Xi just let out an ‘oh’ in response, then replied, “Young Miss Di, is that right…It hasn’t been long since I entered the palace. His Highness the Crown Prince did tell me about some noble personages in the palace, but did not mention Young Miss Di.”
When Di Shiyin heard this, she felt her heart stop. Mu Huai actually didn’t mention her to this woman?
How could that be possible?
The Empress had discussed this with the Emperor countless times, wanting the Emperor to bestow a marriage. The Emperor didn’t reject, which meant he implicitly agreed.
Zhuang Emperor must have told Mu Huai about this.
Di Shiyin’s expression became ugly.
Rong Xi hid a smile in the depths of her eyes, but purposely put on a concentrated expression as she picked the plums, totally ignoring Di Shiyin. Today she was wearing a white fox fur cape. With the fresh snow as background, her fair skin looked even more radiant than usual. As the cold wind blew, her exquisite ears were a little red. When she raised her head, the palace maids behind Di Shiyin fell into a daze looking at her.
Di Shiyin detected the abnormalities in her palace maids and turned her head to glance at them before restoring her peaceful and calm expression.
Rong Xi had already walked to another plum tree. Di Shiyin follow, but was blocked by the guards. Even so, she still warmly asked, “This is Miss’ first time in the palace, are you used to living here?”
Di Shiyin secretly thought that this commoner woman conducted herself very vulgarly, totally ignorant of the rules. It seems like this was just a flower vase1 with no schemes. She really wasn’t afraid of offending anyone, not even putting on a polite pretense to outsiders.
Naturally, she would become Mu Huai’s legal wife sooner or later, therefore she had to show off the virtuousness and magnanimity befitting of a legal wife. She definitely could not lose her composure in front of a lowly concubine.
Rong Xi’s lips hooked up into a shallow smile. Without looking at Di Shiyin, she continued to pick plums as she answered, “My first time in the palace, although everything feels unfamiliar, thankfully His Highness is here…”
When she finished, she purposely showed a radiant smile before continuing, “His Highness is very caring and explained to me many things in detail. Naturally, there is nothing I am uncomfortable with.”
The words were spoken with some timidness and shyness, fully revealing the young maiden’s thoughts and feelings. Just a glance and one would know that she and Mu Huai must be in the sweet stages of love.
Di Shiyin’s face turned from green to pale. It looks like Mu Huai really favored her.
Rong Xi stopped what she was doing and looked at Di Shiyin, asking, “You…are not going to pick plums? Didn’t you want to pick some for Her Majesty the Empress to steep tea? Why do you keep asking me questions?”
Di Shiyin saw that Rong Xi’s voice carried hints of coquettishness and her originally gentle voice cooled by a few degrees, “Miss, you should know that Her Majesty the Empress has already told the Emperor about my marriage with His Highness the Crown Prince. In the future, we will meet each other often. If you don’t understand the palace rules right now, you can come find me, and I will teach you.”
When Rong Xi heard this, she raised an eyebrow and asked, “Oh? There’s such a thing? His Highness never told me this.”
Di Shiyin wanted the woman in front of her to realize that no matter how favored she was, she would forever be a just a concubine. Di Shiyin had already made her words and intent very clear, yet this woman still did not show an ounce of respect towards her.
Di Shiyin’s expression slightly changed. She really couldn’t understand. Was this woman purposely acting naive, or did she really not understand?
Di Shiyin: “Is Miss purposely acting ignorant?”
Rong Xi’s smile deepened as she replied, “Why do I need to act ignorant, what does Young Miss Di have to do with me?”
Di Shiyin was speechless for a moment.
This woman had truly been so overly pampered and indulged that she was a difficult opponent.
Di Shiyin secretly cursed inside. The senior eunuch by Zhuang Emperor’s side encountered this scene when he arrived. He quietly adjusted his unsteady breathing and walked to the group, “I have finally found this palace, I’ve been looking for Miss for a good while now.”
Who knew who the ‘Miss’ he said was referring to.
Di Shiyin’s heart suddenly leapt. She saw a junior eunuch following behind the senior eunuch carrying an imperial decree. Therefore, they must’ve came to announce it.
Who knew, maybe it was the imperial decree announcing her as the Crown Princess Consort.
A smile appeared on her face again as she quietly waited for the eunuch to announce the decree.
The senior eunuch spoke up at this time, “Lady Rong, listen to this decree.”
Di Shiyin’s face froze.
When Rong Xi respectfully knelt on the ground, the senior eunuch continued, “This is the will of the Heavens, the decree of the Emperor. Zhen as the head of the palace, the leader of the nine ministries hereby makes this proclamation. Lady Rong is gentle and virtuous, of outstanding appearance, is hereby promoted to the rank of liangdi2. for the Crown Prince. Her fame will spread far and wide, and will be recorded in the geneology3
When he finished, Rong Xi was also shocked. She originally thought that at most, she would be the lowest-ranked fengyi4 and didn’t expect that Mu Huai would directly give her the position of liangdi.
Rong Xi calmed her heart and replied respectfully, “This subject-daughter receives the edict. Thanking His Majesty’s grace, may His Majesty live for ten thousand years.”
Di Shiyin was frozen stiff. Zhuang Di actually gave a commoner woman the rank of liangdi?
On what basis was this woman bestowed the rank of liangdi? Even giving those di8 daughters from the third-ranked or four-ranked officials’ families the rank of liangdi would be considered a great favor.
She swiftly recalled that when the eunuch was reading the edict, he called her Lady Rong.
Di Shiyin’s pupils shrank. This woman’s surname was Rong, and her voice was so sweet and tender, could she be…
But how was that possible?
After the eunuch reading the edict left, the palace maid next to Rong Xi was congratulating her on becoming Rong liangdi.
Di Shiyin forced herself to calm down, and pretended to pluck the winter plums. On the other hand, Rong Xi walked towards her. When Di Shiyin saw that woman’s peach blossom eyes carrying hints of provocation, her heart couldn’t help but turn cold.
Rong Xi observed Di Shiyin’s reactions. Since she liked to pretend to be virtuous and dignified so much, then let her pretend to her heart’s content.
Rong Xi had followed Concubine Yu for a long time and was most familiar with how the women in the inner palace fought for favor. On the other hand, the methods that Bianjing’s noble young misses liked to use the most was to pretend to be easy-going and nonchalant on the surface, while being calculative within.
What would elicit a woman’s jealously and hatred, on the contrary was exactly the way Concubine Yu would always act arrogant and domineering. When Concubine Yu was still alive, many people hated her, their teeth itched.
Especially towards women like Di Shiyin who stubbornly wanted to show that they were virtuous and magnanimous, only by acting this way would sh ebe able to anger her until she was half dead.
The scent Rong Xi’s body gave off grew closer and closer to Di Shiyin. Di Shiyin felt a little panicked, not knowing what this woman wanted to do.
She wouldn’t be brainless to the point where she wanted to show off in front of her, right?
Rong Xi halted as she spoke to Di Shiyin, “Young Miss Di, perhaps you forgot something.”
Di Shiyin forced herself to stay calm as she asked, “Which matter?”
Rong Xi’s voice was as soft and tender as ever, though it carried some coldness within, “Since I have been made into liangdi, then in this palace, I am a proper third-rank official9. On the other hand, Young Miss Di has no ranking or title, therefore it’s appropriate to have you kneel to salute me. Since Young Miss Di proclaims herself to understand the rules, then why don’t you salute me?”
Di Shiyin finally showed an angry expression, but she was just as Rong Xi said, she currently had no ranking nor title.
She bit her teeth and bent her knees, saluting Rong Xi, “…Is this fine? Rong liangdi.”
Rong Xi indifferently swept her gaze over her. Without saying anything, she left with her maidservants and guards.
Di Shiyin watched as Rong Xi’s figure grew smaller and smaller. She felt as if today’s events were as if she encountered a ghost. Was this Rong liangdi really the Rong gugu she had schemed to expel from the palace?
The bright moon lit up the clear night skies. The lantern glows in Yongxi Palace’s Forbidden City wove a picturesque landscape.
Recently, Mu Huai had been busy dealing with the bandits. After court ended, he would run towards the Privy Council courtyard, very busy.
Rong Xi quietly sat at the table, thinking of Mu Huai who had yet to return to the palace. After this man had been made into the Crown Prince, he was truly diligent, a good monarch who thought of his people.
Today she had been promoted to liangdi, and her thoughts towards Mu Huai had changed. In the past, he was the master and she was the servant. But now, she was liangdi, and although it was ultimately just a concubine, he had become her husband.
Although she didn’t dare to call him husband, and would still call out Your Highness, but…
Thinking of this, Rong Xi’s gaze turned tender as she looked at her belly.
Mu Huai was her husband, and was now related to her by blood. Since that was the case, then starting from today onwards, he was her family.
Rong Xi rubbed her stomach. The time was late, but she still had the palace maid heat up the dishes. She wanted to wait for Mu Huai to return so they could eat together.
When Mu Huai returned to the palace, he carried in the chill from outside, but didn’t look haggard. On the contrary, it was those officials in the court hall who were unable to withstand it. One by one, they revealed bitter expressions when they saw the time. Although he wasn’t finished, in the end, he allowed them to leave the palace to return to their residences.
He originally wanted to find an official from the Supreme Court10 and investigate the records, especially the case of Rong Bing losing his job. But since it was late, he could only push it aside for now.
After living a life, Mu Huai was not as confused as he was in his last life when he had just started taking over government affairs. After governing for more than a decade, he had a much clearer insight now that he was standing in this position again.
The Ministry of Justice inside the Department of State Affairs and the Supreme Court seemingly had separate jurisdictions and powers.
During the Qi dynasty, the Supreme Court usually only judged important and urgent cases in Bianjing, while the punishment would be determined and meted out by the Ministry of Justice. This had unknowingly decreased the efficiency of Great Qi’s judicial process by a lot.
Great Qi’s judicial process and justice departments must change.
Mu Huai wanted to find Yan Juxu and discuss this with him, but ever since he had brought Rong Xi back to the palace, he had yet to meet Yan Juxu.
He recalled in his past life that at this time, Yan Juxu’s wife seemed to have fallen ill. Although he had just taken up the position, he still applied for absence.
All the commoners had priased him for sharing tribulations with his wife.
On the journey back to the Eastern Palace, Mu Huai was still contemplating about government affairs, and it was late. He suddenly realized that this life was different from the one before.
In this life, that woman was still alive.
She had just been promoted to liangdi and was his woman. He couldn’t focus solely on government affairs, he needed to find the time to accompany her.
Thinking of this, Mu Huai’s lips hooked up.
After entering the hall, he discovered that woman was sitting at the table, and the chopsticks were placed on the chopstick holder. None of the dishes had been eaten from.
Rong Xi sensed Mu Huai had returned and rose up from the table.
He was wearing a yuanyou crown11 and wore a double leather belt around his robes. Looking regal and eye-catching, he was in high spirits. It seemed to contradict the aura around Mu Huai, yet also seemed to be in harmony.
A strength seemed to come from within his bones, and his methods were cruel and ruthless, but he was also a brave warrior. On the other hand, his face was as clear and handsome as a scholar, and when he wore his simplistic inner robes, he had an air of elegance about him.
Just as Rong Xi was thinking about how outstanding he was, this man’s expression turned dark.
Mu Huai coldly rebuked her, “Why didn’t you eat dinner?”
Rong Xi replied, “This slave…concubine wanted to wait for Your Highness to come back to eat together.”
Seeing an aggrieved and slightly timid expression on her face, Mu Huai’s face was a little dark. He thought, if he were to return late in the future, he would definitely send someone to notify her so she wouldn’t wait like this again.
The dishes had just been reheated and were still steaming.
These past few das, Rong Xi’s morning sickness had gotten much better. She saw Mu Huai’s appetite tonight was quite big and asked, “Did Your Highness not each much for lunch?”
Mu Huai answered, “I never eat lunch.”
After Rong Xi died in his past life, he had only eaten one meal a day and was completely uninterested in food. Eating was just to sustain him.
Now it looks like his early demise in his past life was related to this habit.
Rong Xi raised her slim wrist and scooped some soup for the man, speaking with concern, “In the future, when Your Highness is dealing with government affairs, you still have to eat lunch, otherwise your body will not be able to handle it.”
Mu Huai received the soup and stared at Rong Xi for a while. Rong Xi felt her face heat up under his gaze, and her cheeks turned red.
Mu Huai finished the soup Rong Xi had scooped for him.
After being busy for a whole day, there was a soft and tender woman waiting for him in the Eastern Palace, he had warm food to eat.
All of this was different from his past life.
Actually, before he rebirthed, he also had these warm days before.
When Rong Xi was his servant, she had also accompanied him for dinner, kindly and attentively taking care of him. But the him at that time didn’t realize he was living in happiness.
Only in his past life when that woman had left him did Mu Huai realize that the seemingly peaceful and calm interactions everyday was actually so precious to him.
Thankfully, he had the chance to make it up now.
Mu Huai replied in a low voice, “En.”
After finishing dinner, Mu Huai took a bath. His robes were half-open and his body was still hot as he gathered the delicate woman on the bed into his arms. Since she had been promoted to liangdi, then tomorrow he needed to take Rong Xi to Weiyang Palace to greet the Empress.
Mu Huai pointed some things out to Rong Xi, afraid she would make any mistakes. Before the ceremony occurred, he needed to find some people from the Ministry of Rites to teach her the ceremonial rites.
Rong Xi was already very sleepy at this time, and her eyes were half-closed as she lay on the man’s broad chest. When Mu Huai saw this, he lightly poked her forehead, “Lazy woman, I’m talking to you, did you listen?”
Rong Xi naively nodded her head. Mu Huai had already forgot how she had followed Concubine Yu for so many years and had helped her fight for favor. Towards all the noble personages in the palace, even Zhuang Emperor’s personality and likes and dislikes, she understood them very well.
Still, she replied in a thin voice, “What Your Highness has mentioned, this concubine has taken note.”
When Mu Huai heard her still calling him Your Highness, his thin lips pressed together. This woman had become his little liangdi tonight, but was still calling him Your Highness.
Mu Huai tightly gripped the woman’s pair of soft hands, then intertwined her fingers together, holding them against her waist. Following, he gently raised the woman’s warm and palm-size face and saw her lazy and sleepy appearance.
Mu Huai helplessly lowered his head to peck her soft lips.
Rong Xi closed her eyes, and felt the man kiss her lips as they slightly curved up into a smile. Afterwards, she sprawled out her small body against the man’s embrace.
Mu Huai’s usual apathetic eyes had a hint of laughter in them as he asked, “Still calling me Your Highness?”
Rong Xi’s voice was tender and sticky as she asked in a puzlled manner, “Then what do I call Your Highness?”
Mu Huai kneaded the woman’s chin as he gently commanded, “You should call me Husband.”
Translator’s comments: Credits to Wikipedia for the definitions/explanations about the different concubine ranks for the Crown Prince’s harem.
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- Describes someone with good looks but no talent/skill
- liangdi 良娣 aka Lady of Excellence; the top-ranking consort of the Crown Prince aside from the Crown Princess Consort (2 can hold this title)
- The author took this from Kangxi Emperor’s imperial edict when he made his empress and consorts, so it’s very convoluted and scholarly, all of which my translation did not do justice. If anyone has a better translation, please feel free to comment and let me know! Original: 奉天承运，皇帝昭曰。朕惟典司宫教，率九御以承休。咨容氏温良性贤，品貌出众，着册封尔为太子良娣。誉命惟新，荷殊荣于简册
- fengyi 奉儀 aka Lady of Decorous Service; the lowest-ranking concubine for the Crown Prince (24 can hold this title
- zhaoxun 昭訓 aka Lady of Clear Instruction; Second-lowest ranking concubine in the Crown Prince’s harem (16 can hold this rank)
- chenghui 承徽 aka Lady of Inherent Excellence; third-ranked concubine in the Crown Prince’s harem (10 can hold this rank)
- liangai 良嬡 aka Filial Lady of Excellence; the rank below liangdi in the Crown Prince’s harem (6 can hold this rank)
- The daughter of the legitimate wife
- 正三品 most commonly refers to an official’s rank, but can also be used in the context of the harem. Usually if two ranks are similar, but one is slightly lower than the other, then there would be a 下 denoted in front, meaning lower (i.e. lower third-rank)
- da li shi 大理寺 is the department in charge of prisons and prisoners, and served as judicial court
- The second one in this picture