Chapter 3: A Penny

As Concubine Wan finally walked off into the distance, Ning Chen lifted his head and squinted at her tiny back. This was the scariest person he had met since entering the palace. Not only because of her background but also because of her veiled emotions. She kept her anger and joy hidden beneath her poker face as she schemed against you. This woman was dangerous.

The palace was fraught with danger at every corner, one small misstep and you might find yourself in some unknown conspiracy. He grimaced as he thought to himself, “The future ahead is bleak… However the palace is still under lockdown, escaping is not an option.”

“I wonder how ‘s that girl faring. I hope she’s behaving and staying put.”

Feeling bored once more, he began his slow and painful limp around the area. On the way he met another teenager who like him, was simply bored as well. With a smile, he greeted him and exchanged some pleasantries.

However, his injuries had gotten much better since yesterday. As the saying goes, you get what you pay for. The palace’s medicine was a lot more effective than the crappy plasters he had on Earth.

While his injuries were now a minor issue, the girl’s injuries were still a problem. She seemed to be severely injured the last time he saw her, and due to her unique circumstances she couldn’t seek treatment either. Furthermore, hiding in the purification room wasn’t a long term solution, she could be exposed at any time.

The purification room was located in a remote corner of the palace where there weren’t much patrols, but this did not mean that there was none. Plus, the palace was known for being heavily guarded on the outside with the inside being more relaxed. You would be in for a rude awakening if you underestimated the security just because you didn’t see many patrols. Ning Chen was certain if someone tried to escape at this moment, what awaited that person would be a fate worse than death.

Ning Chen did not dare to return to the purification room as this was a sensitive period for the palace. That stupid girl stirred up a giant hornet’s nest when she tried to assassinate the emperor. If one wasn’t too careful, those troubled waters might just splash onto him.

As the saying goes, happiness is being able to scratch an itch, misery is when you can’t scratch that same itch. That was Ning Chen at this moment. He was itching to go check on the purification room but just had no way to do so.

“Heads. I’ll go. Tails… I’ll still go. If it’s upright, I’ll head back to sleep.”

As he said this, Ning Chen took out a copper penny, muttered a prayer and flicked his thumb. The copper coin spun into the air, forming a copper ball as it spun away in a perfect arc. *ding* The coin landed on the floor and started rolling away.

Seeing his baby roll away, Ning Chen panicked. This was his sole remaining property!

If at this moment someone were to ask him, “ Which is more important? Your life or your money?”, he would definitely say, “My money!”

As expected, with the prospect of losing his money, his injuries were completely ignored. He gritted his teeth and hobbled after the coin.

The sages once said, “Fortune did not come in pairs but Misfortune certainly did.”

The sages also once said, “If one is unlucky, even drinking cold water would give you a brain freeze.”

The sages even said, “If one wasn’t an idiot and courted death, death couldn’t be bothered with you.”

Ning Chen was just the sort the sages talked about, an idiot courting death with a major brain freeze. He desperately chased the coin, his eyes never leaving its seductive round metallic body, and rammed into the embrace of something warm and soft. Oh s***… were his famous last words.

He panicked as he slowly raised his head. That something was a mature lady wearing an extravagant phoenix dress with a pair of gentle eyes that seemed to be smiling at him, freaking him out even more.

“Whose slave is this? Such gall, to startle the empress’s phoenix body. Even if you had 10 lives, it wouldn’t be enough to pay for this offense.”

“I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” He immediately retreated in shock and profusely apologized. However just as he finished apologizing, he wanted to slap himself in the face. He did it again.

Saying “I’m sorry” to the empress… How stupid can he be. “It’s all that stupid girl’s fault, being with stupid people makes you stupid as well.”

“Audacious!” The old eunuch attendant’s face turned cold. No respect for the rules.

“Such consternation. What troubles you?”

The empress Zhang Sun asked in a gentle voice, lightly chuckling at the bumbling teenager. Seemingly she was not put off by this display, and even stopped the eunuch’s admonishment with a raise of her hand.

Hearing this question, Ning Chen looked at the copper coin on the floor. It had finally stopped rolling but he sorely wished to bang his head against that coin.

The ancestors used to say, “To chase money, one had to discard his life”. Was it because of him?

Zhang Sun followed his gaze to the copper coin and swiftly leaned over to pick it up.

Ning Chen anxiously watched the empress pick up his copper coin. He wanted to say something but didn’t dare to. The matter of ramming into the empress was evidently forgotten in the midst of his mulling.

To be fair, expecting a person from the modern era like Ning Chen to show reverence to imperial authority was impossible. Even with his best efforts at reminding himself, he slipped up from time to time.

Zhang Sun carefully inspected the coin, “There seems to be nothing special about it.”, and turned towards the teenager. Looking at his puppy dog eyes which seemed to say “I want it but I don’t dare ask for it” , she couldn’t help but chuckle to herself , “How long has it been since I’ve met such an interesting kid.”

“Be careful, the palace is just as treacherous as the outside world, you must remember to obey the rules.” Zhang Sun kindly reminded him and gracefully walked off.

“My copper coin.”

Ning Chen helplessly looked on as his baby left him once more. Stretching out his hand in a futile attempt to grasp it before dejectedly lowering it. I can’t believe the almighty empress would stoop so low as to swindle my copper coin. The rumors were true after all, even the politicians at the top  are corrupt.

“Your majesty, he’s still staring at you.” A delicate looking palace maid reminded her in a soft voice.

“Ha ha, I think he still wants his penny back, such an interesting fellow, since this one has taken his penny, I’ll do him a favor. Send out this order. Give him a position in Weiyang Palace.” [1]

Unbeknownst to him, Zhang Sun’s one word just decided his entire future. If he had known of this, he would have opposed it no matter what, begging her to rescind her favor. He was a man who aspired to become a fugitive one day, if he went to Weiyang Palace, this dream would be dashed forever.

His penny was gone and his mood went with it. He face had an expression that said “I’m not happy, strangers piss off!”. The result of his fateful coin toss was to go to bed. If only he had listened to it instead of chasing after the upright copper coin as it rolled into the unknown future.

Stupid girl, you’ve ruined me!

After a series of shocking events, Ning Chen was thoroughly convinced. The palace was full of monsters and it’s not a place normal humans could live in. Escaping was his only option.

The attempted assassination of the Xia Emperor was an earth shattering event with the palace at the center of that maelstrom. Ning Chen’s encounter with the two most powerful women in the empire was not mere coincidence, but a foreboding of bigger things to come.

While he looked calm on the outside, deep down he was pulling his hair out and wracking his brains. The palace was not a safe place for that girl nor for him.

The imperial concubine and the empress were both outstanding women in their own right. The former had an unnerving sharpness to her while the latter an all-encompassing gentleness and kindness in her. Two very pretty faces and two very different auras but neither of them was as simple as she looked.

The fact that the concubine was able to maintain her aura under the pressure of the empress speaks volumes about her sharpness while the empress’ genuine kindness which withstood the concubine’s sharpness was even more unfathomable.

The fact that these diametrically opposed personalities were able to maintain such a balance seemed miraculous to Ning Chen.

Up to till now, the only people Ning Chen came into contact with were either ladies or trannies and not one was a minor character. One misstep and they would swallow him whole.

Heading to the purification room was out of the question right now. He was better off laying low in case he encounters another event while attempting to escape.

As soon as he hobbled into his “dormitory”, he found the room full of “boys” in make up. His mood instantly soured and he went off to sleep.

Only allowed on

Perhaps it was due to the blood loss from that girl’s handiwork, since slept deeply through the night and into dawn.

The next morning…

The dormitory doors repeatedly flung open as various officials came to pick up the eunuchs. With two full days of rest, most of the boys were able to hobble around. The quicker ones didn’t even require a support and could follow the officials unaided into their new lives as eunuchs.

Ning Chen was chosen as well by a graceful palace maid. She had pretty features and painted an ethereal picture as she sashayed towards their destination.

However, this heavenly sight was frequently interrupted by Ning Chen’s crass mouth.

“Hey sister, can you slow down?”

The palace maid known as Qing Ning was in a foul mood at the moment. Each time Ning Chen called out to her, her face fell even more, in contrast, her desire to kick him rose even more.

“Hey lady, where are we headed?”

“Hey woman, I’m injured, can you slow down?”

“Hey sister, are we there yet?”


Ning Chen’s incessant badgering accompanied her throughout their journey, her fist clenched and released with every step she took. By the time they reached Weiyang Palace, she was on the verge of exploding.

This was Zhang Sun’s territory. While Ning Chen was ignorant of palace affairs and knowledge, common knowledge such as this was still known to him. His heart jumped into his throat as he thought, “Is this revenge for colliding with her?”

Ning Chen was slightly peeved at her. What kind of an adult would bully a kid like him.

“What’s the matter. Not satisfied?”

At this moment, a familiar voice rang out.

“No, I wouldn’t dare.”

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His face did a 180 as he flashed her a winning smile and replied in a respectful tone.

“As long as you are satisfied. From now on, you are assigned to Weiyang Palace. There are less rules here so it should suit you needs.”

As she said this, Zhang Sun’s signature gentle smile made her seem even more affable, the matter of Ning Chen’s nonsensical etiquette thoroughly ignored.

“Qing Ning has followed this one since birth and is very familiar with the matters of Weiyang Palace. If you have any questions, you may direct them at her. Alright, this one has matters to attend to, I’ll take my leave.”

As she finished her sentence, she took off with her two palace maids leaving behind Ning Chen and Qing Ning to stare at each other.

Once she left, Ning Chen immediately felt a chill run down his spine while Qing Ning felt the complete opposite. After enduring for such a long time, she could finally repay his “kindness” during the journey.

“Killing Intent!”

This was the two words he got from Qing Ning’s eyes, raw unbridled killing intent.

“Mercy! We can talk things over in a civilized manner.” Ning Chen pleaded as he retreated backwards.

“Not a bad attitude, Too bad it’s too late.”

With a nimble step forward, she reached out and grabbed onto her “enemy” before he could escape…


[1] Weiyang Palace (未央宫) – Palace roughly 11 times the size of the Vatican. Built in 200BC in Chang’an (Xi’an). For more information visit wikipedia.

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