Pampered Into Being the Empress – Chapter 52
WARNING! Explicit/suggestive content and language ahead!
Translated by: Cozy Translations
Chapter 52 – Coquettish
Although Rong Xi’s little tricks she played on Mu Huai last time made him feel very satisfied, she also knew when to stop while she was ahead. One cannot go too overboard. It was alright to change things up once in a while, but if one were to always act spoiled or throw tantrums, men would also begin to feel annoyed.
Rong Xi very quickly reverted back to her usual delicate and soft personality, earnestly serving Mu Huai to make sure his daily needs were fulfilled.
Ever since she returned to the palace, due to Mu Huai overly spoiling her, sometimes she would forget that he was actually a cruel and ruthless person. This morning, Mu Huai had accompanied her for breakfast like usual. Originally, Rong Xi was drinking the sweet and greasy red bean porridge without any problems. However, she suddenly overheard the sound of a woman crying from outside the palace.
The cries were sad, even a little heart-wrenching.
Just as Rong Xi was about to send Dan Xiang out to investigate the situation, Mu Huai stopped her. He picked up the bowl of porridge and personally fed her as he said, “Don’t worry about it, just a palace maid that was punished. Don’t go outside later, wait until the servants have cleaned up the body.”
Rong Xi felt a sudden bout of panic. As the cries of the palace maid grew fainter, her lips trembled as she became frightened. She was secretly guessing the reason why Mu Huai had that palace maid executed. He sensed her intentions and explained, “That lowly slave was bribed by outsiders to smuggle information from the Eastern Palace to outside. How could I still keep such a person?”
When Rong Xi heard this, she only nodded her head in response. After all, there was nothing she could say.
Rong Xi guessed that when Mu Huai was still just a prince in the past, those other executed palace maids most likely had died due to this reason as well. The one called Bi Wu had been punished by Mu Huai to sixty strokes. The manservants didn’t even show a shred of leniency as they heavily landed blow after blow. In addition, now that it was summer, it didn’t take long before the palace maid’s back had begun to shred and rot. The junior maidservant wasn’t very old and was very skinny. After enduring around fifty strokes, she had stopped breathing.
The manservants were very clear on Mu Huai’s cruel way of doing things. They knew that even if that palace maid had stopped breathing, they still needed to finish out the remaining number of strokes. Mu Huai went outside of the palace at this time, his indifferent gaze sweeping over the palace maid’s corpse as he coldly ordered, “Carry her out of the Eastern Palace and clean away the blood on the ground. Don’t let the Crown Princess Consort see it.”
The manservants obeyed.
After Mu Huai went to Jiazheng Hall for court, Rong Xi still felt some lingering fear when she recalled what happened in the morning.
Maybe it was because she was also a palace maid in the past. Hearing the tragic cries of that palace maid today, she couldn’t help but feel sympathetic. When she had first entered Quyun Palace, her greatest fear was to end up like that palace maid, being sentenced to death by Mu Huai, then being carried out horizontally out of the extravagant Eastern Palace. What frightened Rong Xi even more were the servants in this Eastern Palace.
Even the usually calm Dan Xiang was shivering unconsciously when she came back from outside the palace. When the rest of the people in the palace heard the news of that palace maid’s miserable death, they completely abandoned any ideas they had towards the Eastern Palace. After leaving the palace, they must keep their mouths tightly shut.
Perhaps he sensed Rong Xi’s uneasiness, Mu Huai returned early tonight.
After court ended, he had discussed several statues with Yan Juxu in the Political Affairs Hall. Because he knew that Great Qi would encounter a natural disaster in three years, he paid special attention to one particular clause. Yan Juxu had proposed that the government should encourage the provinces to build hydraulic projects. If an area didn’t have the conditions to build any, then the court should finance it.
The court would use the national treasury to hire farms to build dams, and the hired farmers would also be exempt from paying taxes as a result. Other than the farmland hydraulics statute, there was also the land tax statute.
Yan Juxu proposed that starting from this year’s fall harvest, there should be an inspection of Great Qi’s farmlands. Farmlands of different qualities should be distinguished into separate categories, and taxes will be collected corresponding to the category they’re in. Thus, it will not only lessen the tax burden on the farmers, it will also help Great Qi prosper.
However, the last law mentioned regarding Bianjing’s merchants and business was a little difficult to implement. Mu Huai understood that a majority of people in Bianjing were businesspeople. If he wanted to change the law, it would be difficult to avoid offending different groups and inciting their opposition.
Zhuang Emperor was very reserved in his actions. If the officials in court rejected it during court, he would often become indecisive.
Mu Huai considered this for a long time until he felt his neck had turned a little sore. He frowned, wanting to ignore the discomfort. Suddenly, he felt a cool sensation on the back of his neck. The woman’s soft fingers began to massage the area for him.
Mu Huai’s lips curved up into a smile. Shutting his eyes, he was silent as he enjoyed the service of the beauty. Because Rong Xi’s belly was big, there was a distance between her and his chair. The longer she interacted with Mu Huai, the more she felt that this noble Crown Prince of Great Qi was a really boring person. Indulging in official business was just his duty, governing the country cannot be counted as a hobby.
Rong Xi blinked and secretly felt that Mu Huai’s sole hobby was probably indulging in sexual acts with her. After all, he never got tired of doing such things.
She looked down as she continued to earnestly knead the man’s neck. Although Great Qi was in a peaceful era, Mu Huai always had an air of a troubled monarch around him. He was decisive yet cruel and ruthless. His thoughts were also as deep as the ocean. For example, even the wedding ceremony that was to take place by Jinming Pond where he would take her as his Crown Princess Consort was not done wholly out of love for her.
This move of Mu Huai’s had a deeper intention behind it.
Both she and Mu Huai were born with outstanding appearances. This move of his was done more so to let the citizens of Bianjing witness the might of the imperial family and leave a good impression on the citizens so as to lay the groundwork for his future enthronement.
Mu Huai opened his eyes and placed his hand over hers. He turned his head and said, “Your hands are probably sore, take a break.”
Rong Xi warmly assented. Walking to his side, Mu Huai took her hand in his, not letting go. He played with her lithe and jade-like hands as his callused fingers lightly caressed hers. Seeing Mu Huai’s focused expression, Rong Xi felt a little helpless. Whatever. It looks like playing with her hands was counted as one of Mu Huai’s hobbies.
While Rong Xi’s thoughts wandered off, Mu Huai suddenly bent down and kissed the back of her hand as he asked in a low voice, “Are you going to sit in lap all night?”
When he looked at her, his gaze carried some hints of ambiguity. Rong Xi’s cheeks turned red. Recently, the man had discovered that this position was the most convenient to do it in. Not only would it not touch her belly, it was also easy for him to suck on her jade neck. Best of all, he could also knead her nipples as well.
Rong Xi bashfully looked down and said, “Then…Husband don’t do it for so long. This concubine still has to go to Jiaoyue Palace tomorrow to discuss the wedding with the two consorts…”
Mu Huai tugged her arm and Rong Xi immediately understood. After she sat on his lap, Mu Huai looped his arms around her as he whispered into her ear, “I want you do something for me.”
Puzzled, Rong Xi asked, “Husband, please say it. This concubine will definitely do her best to do it for Husband.”
Mu Huai kissed her forehead then said, “Tomorrow, not only will Consort De and Consort Shu be present at Jiaoyue Palace, there will also be one more person. I don’t want you to overthink it and be anxious, just get to know that person for now.”
Rong Xi nodded her head. She felt a small spark of joy in her heart. Mu Huai was finally willing to give her things to do like before. Otherwise, if she were to be spoiled rotten by him int he Eastern Palace, she would really turn into a golden sparrow, becoming useless.
The next morning, Rong Xi headed out to Jiaoyue Palace with Dan Xiang after dressing up. She was in the later stages of her pregnancy now, and it was good for the baby to walk around the palace as exercise.
Zhuang Emperor originally wanted to let the Empress attend the ceremony and had released her from house arrest. However, the Empress felt unwilling to attend Mu Huai’s wedding ceremony. Thus, the Empress continued to hide inside Weiyang Palace under the pretense that she was ill. As his di mother, if the Empress did not attend the ceremony, it would inevitably make this marriage seem faulty.
However, Rong Xi did not care about this at all. Even if this whole extravagant wedding ceremony was done away with, she didn’t care. As long as she was Mu Huai’s wife, the rest was extraneous.
Like what Mu Huai said, there was indeed an extra person in Jiaoyue Palace today.
That person was Zhuang Emperor’s biological2 brother, Mu Quan’s, eldest daughter. Her name was Mu Rao.
Mu Quan and Zhuang Emperor Mu Zhen were born from the same parents and were very close. It was just that Mu Quan had a weak body and was prone to getting sick, so he had passed away several years ago. Mu Rao had lost her father at a young age and had lived with her mother in the prince’s estate3 all this time.
Speaking of which, Mu Rao’s mother, Lady Wang’s background should not be underestimated either. The Wang family were a family of generals, their positions were much higher than Mu Huai’s mother’s Yin family. It was just that in recent years, Yin Cheng had shown exemplary performance in the military, and Mu Huai had the intention to promote him. As a result, the Yin family had also quickly risen in prominence.
However, Mu Rao’s maternal family still wielded a good amount of influence in Great Qi. As Great Qi’s junzhu4, her status was naturally extremely lofty and noble. In all of Bianjing, only few noble women could compare to her.
Yesterday night, before Rong Xi could question Mu Huai further, he could not endure any longer as he directly had sex with her in the study. Being tugged and pulled, she was bullied to the point of tears.
Rong Xi slowly stopped her train of thought.
Mu Rao was wearing a light green juyi. Her face looked delicate and gentle. Her voice was not too delicate nor sweet, the words she spoke were magnetic and very feminine. Her voice and appearance were exactly the type that Rong Xi envied. It was different from Di Shiyin’s pretentiousness and deliberate virtuousness. Mu Rao’s elegance came from within her bones, she naturally carried the noble aura of the imperial family. Although she looked gentle, there was a sense of pride and arrogance that came from deep inside, giving off an impression of an ice beauty.
Seeing Rong Xi secretly sizing her up, Mu Huai slightly nodded as she warmly said, “Imperial Sister-in-Law, ten thousand blessings.”
Rong Xi nodded at her to receive her greetings.
Mu Rao was around the same age as her and was both educated and respectful. Her attitude was also very cordial, so Rong Xi felt very comfortable interacting with her.
Although Mu Huai didn’t explain to her why he wanted her to curry favor with Mu Rao, she had already formed a guess. With the identity of an imperial princess, Mu Rao’s marriage was definitely not up to her mother to make the decision. Rong Xi guessed that Mu Huai had his own plans for Mu Rao’s marriage. However, she couldn’t guess who Mu Huai wanted Mu Rao to marry.
Once the officials from the Ministry of Rites had finished discussing the wedding ceremony, Consort De had a warm attitude as she gave Rong Xi some pointers. Rong Xi was very respectful when facing Consort De. Although it wasn’t a difficult thing for Rong Xi to remember what the official from the Ministry of Rites said, she still pretended to listen attentively.
Consort Shu quietly sipped her tea.
Rong Xi originally thought that Consort Shu would continue to stay silent today. However, she did not get her wish. Consort Shu raised the tea cup and pulled out a handkerchief from her sleeves. As she dabbed at the traces of tea from the corner of her lips, she spoke in a strange tone, “It hasn’t been long since the Crown Princess Consort entered the palace, and there are many rules of the imperial household that she doesn’t understand. Why don’t we have the official from the Ministry of Rites repeat it again, otherwise if she makes a mistake during the wedding ceremony, the Crown Prince would lose his face.”
Consort De’s expression change when she heard this. Mu Rao also blinked hard when she heard this.
Neither of them said said anything.
Rong Xi’s expression didn’t change as she shallowly smiled back at Consort Shu, “Naturally, I have remembered it. Many thanks for Consort Shu’s concern.”
Seeing Rong Xi’s unfazed attitude, Consort Shu suddenly had a foreboding feeling. This type of woman was the scariest. This Lady Rong was able to perfectly conceal her emotions, not taking her barbed words to heart at all. Since she didn’t accept and pretended to not care, it made it very difficult for Consort Shu to find her Achilles heel, making her lose her composure for a moment.
Consort Shu calmed down. She didn’t believe that Rong Xi who came from such a humble background could stay so indifferent.
Consort Shu pretended to be concerned, “Crown Princess Consort, don’t take offense. Bengong was also saying it out of consideration for you, afraid that you would commit a mistake in front of the citizens. Since you say that you’ve remembered it all, then do tell, what did that official form the Ministry of Rites instruct you on?”
Rong Xi’s smile deepened as she languidly replied in her sweet and soft voice, “That official said that since my maternal family is not in Bianjing, then the welcoming rites can be conducted on the Three Fairies’ Bridge above Jinming Pond, and the commoners will be allowed to watch. Great Qi’s elite soldiers will be guarding the surroundings of Jinming Pond, so there’s no need to worry about my and the Crown Prince’s safety. Other than the welcoming rites, the meeting rites, bathing rites, and temple rites will be performed in the palace. After all the rituals have been completed, we will go to Zirui Hall to receive the greetings of the court officials.”
When she finished, Consort Shu’s expression immediately turned ugly.
The official from the Ministry of Rites couldn’t help but clap as he spoke to the noble personages through the curtains, “Crown Princess Consort has a great memory, not leaving a single word out from what this official said.”
Consort Shu grudgingly replied, “…Crown Princess Consort indeed has a good memory.”
Mu Rao couldn’t help but cover her mouth with a handkerchief to hide her smile.
Rong Xi looked over at her. Today was the first time these two people had met but they smiled in tacity agreement.
After staying at Consort De’s palace for a little longer, Consort Shu left first while Rong Xi and Mu Rao left Jiaoyue Palace together.
After exiting the palace gate, Mu Rao saw Rong Xi’s pregnancy bump and asked in concern, “Imperial Sister-in-Law is pregnant, why don’t you ride a palanquin back to your palace?”
Rong Xi gently caressed her stomach as she lightly answered, “The imperial physician said that it was good for the baby to walk around some more.”
Seeing Mu Rao’s enlightened expression, Rong Xi continued, “Coincidentally, you’re heading in the direction of Changning Gate, and I also want to walk around some more so I’ll send you off at Changning Gate. Does Princess mind?”
Mu Rao shook her head and answered, “I don’t mind at all, I’m very happy to have Imperial Sister-in-Law send me off.”
Rong Xi had a sweet voice and a beautiful appearance. Since she was her Imperial Sister-in-Law and wanted to get closer to her, Mu Rao naturally felt very happy.
Ultimately, Mu Rao was a descendant of the royal family so her words were quite straightforward. She also didn’t put up any pretenses in front of Rong Xi as she took the initiative to bring up Consort Shu, “Imperial Sister-in-Law is young and beautiful, not to mention pregnant with the royal offspring. Consort Shu lost her son early on so she loses her composure when she sees someone pregnant. Imperial Sister-in-Law, please don’t take it to heart.”
Rong Xi smiled and replied, “I didn’t.”
Mu Rao didn’t explicitly say it but actually the reason why Consort Shu kept provoking her was due to jealousy. Those who were smart could her the implicit meaning behind her words. Thus, how could Rong Xi not be able to see that the reason Consort Shu kept finding trouble with her was because she was envious of the little descendant in her belly.
Thinking of this, Rong Xi couldn’t help but shake her head. As long as Consort Shu didn’t touch her bottom line, it didn’t matter if she’d say some sour words.
Not long after, the group reached Changning Gate. Mu Rao was leaving the palace to return to the estate. When Rong Xi bid her farewell, she purposely looked at the necklace Mu Rao was wearing and asked, “Princess’s necklace is so exquisite-looking, I wonder who crafted it?”
Mu Rao was a little surprised as she answered, “I made it myself. The workmanship is quite crude, I’ve embarrassed myself in front of IMperial Sister-in_law.”
Rong Xi had long seen that the necklace Mu Rao was wearing was different from the rest of her attire. Given her noble status, she should be wearing a jade pendant instead. However, Mu Rao only wore a metal necklace, so she guessed that this necklace must have a special meaning for her.
Rong Xi spoke up again, “This is considered crude? I want the clothing department to also craft me a similar-looking one.”
Seeing her handcrafted necklace being admired by Rong Xi, Mu Rao felt very gratified inside and she answered, “Since Imperial Sister-in-Law likes it, I will make another one after I return to the estate. I’ll send someone to the Eastern Palace to give it to you.”
Rong Xi deliberately showed a very happy expression then suppressed as she replied, “That’d be even better. I’ll let you in on a secret, Princess, but the sweet ginger and sugar water in the Eastern palace is the best, even better than the ones outside. If Princess is free, you can come often to my Eastern Palace to sit, and I will definitely treat you well.”
Just now in Jiaoyue Palace, she saw that Mu Rao had used quite a lot of sugar, so Rong Xi guessed that Mu Rao was like all the other ladies, a sweets lover. As expected, Mu Rao’s voice also carried some suppressed happiness as she said, “Many thanks to Imperial Sister-in-Law. If I’m free, I will definitely go to the Eastern palace to sit.”
The color sof sunset blended together.
After Mu Rao left, Rong Xi watched her fading back as she resumed her normal calm expression. On the way back to the Eastern Palace, Rong Xi was thinking how nice it was that Mu Rao was a mild-mannered and good-natured young lady. Although she looked dignified and graceful on the outside, she was a person that was full of sincerity. If she were to have Mu Qian’s personality, it’d be difficult to pull her over.
Rong Xi and Dan Xiang had returned back to the Eastern Palace when the last rays of the sun were almost gone. Greeted with a large redwood chest in the main hall, Rong Xi was confused as she asked the eunuch in the hall, “Who brought this?”
The eunuch respectfully answered, “It’s a wedding gift to Crown Princen and Crown Princess Consort from Kingdom Gu’s heir.”
Rong Xi’s curiosity was piqued as she asked again, “Kingdom Gu’s heir?”
The eunuch: “Replying to Crown Princess Consort, yes, Kingdom Gu’s heir.”
The eunuch also pulled out a letter and handed it to Rong Xi, “This is the congratulatory letter that Kingdom Gu’s heir personally wrote.”
Rong Xi somewhat doubtfully took the letter. The wax seal on the letter was Kingdom Gu’s unique seal. After opening the letter, she saw the congratulatory words written in gold calligraphy. The congratulatory words were full of cliches, nothing much to see. Just as she was about to toss the letter onto the small desk, she found an anomaly in the letter.
Rong Xi picked up the letter again. After looking at it more closely, she realized that there was another layer in between this letter. She sent all the servants away, then secretly opened that concealed layer.
The words inside were not congratulatory blessings at all, but instead–
“The wild lands of Northern Gu are depressing and full of clouds. This younger brother has left home for many years and would think of Elder Sister’s smiling face every year the galsang flowers bloom. Although Elder Sister is not here, with the galsang flowers here, it’s as if Elder Sister is by this younger brother’s side. This younger brother misses Elder Sister, hoping Elder Sister is well.”
Rong Xi felt her heartbeat quicken. The name “Ah Hui” was scrawled in the corner. She felt moved, but also knew that this letter could not be kept. Just as she was about to search for a brazier to burn it, Mu Huai had unknowingly returned already.
His large hands snatched the letter in her hands away. Rong Xi panicked and frantically wanted to grab it back when Mu Huai had already held the letter up out of her reach. Mu Huai was originally taller than her by a lot, and now that he lifted it up, Rong Xi couldn’t grab it even if she jumped.
Mu Huai glanced at Rong Xi then looked at the letter. He didn’t read it too closely before he let out a snort, “Who wrote this? The handwriting’s so ugly.”
Rong Xi pursed her lips and didn’t say anything.
Mu Huai turned his head and raised an eyebrow, then took a closer look at the letter’s contents. When he saw the name ‘Ah Hui’, his originally smiling face turned dark.
He angrily threw the letter onto the ground.
What kind of bullshit was this. He didn’t expect this little wolf cub to be so coquettish.
Translator’s comments: Next chapter is the long-awaited wedding! It will be broken into 3 parts, FYI, due to the massive word count.
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- Formal wear meant only for ceremonial purposes worn by empresses and crown princesses in the Ming dynasty (cred to Wiki)
- Brother born from the same mother. I used biological here because I felt like saying the former was a big mouthful
- Because Mu Quan was not Emperor, he is considered a prince despite not being the current emperor’s son.
- Princess of a third rank; the daughter of a qingwang (son of the Emperor). I will be using Princess to address her from here on out unless some other princess comes into the picture.