Volume 1, Chapter 10: Ghost Panic (1)

Today as well, Infa(桜花, Ying Hua), a maid serving the Favoured Consort, Gyokuyou, will work with whole-hearted devotion.
The other day, she committed the disgrace of sleeping in the middle of work, but Consort Gyokuyou, her master, did not even reprimand her.
If that’s the case, she has no other option than to personally serve – she will thoroughly clean every single window frame down to the handrails.

Originally, this sort of act is unworthy for a maid, but even so, Infa will conduct herself as a maidservant. After all, Consort Gyokuyou had said that she loves hard workers.

She entered the kitchen to organise the tea utensils. The new maid was making something. Her name is Maomao. But since she rarely spoke, Infa wasn’t sure what kind of person she was.
Only that, hearing that the girl had scars on her arm from abuse, sold and was now employed as the poison expert was unbelievably unbearable.

Infa had increased the girl’s meals to fatten up her skinny body and didn’t allow her to sweep, seeing how pitiful it was to see her exposed scars. The other two maids also thought the same way. As a result, Maomao didn’t have many jobs to do.
This is fine, Infa thought.

The head maid Honnyan said that this wasn’t enough, and assigned Maomao to do the washing. As washing only required her to carry the basket, the scars on her arms won’t stand out. It seems she was also entrusted to do other small tasks.

“What are you making?” Infa asked.

There were herb-like things boiling in the pot.

“Cold medicine,” the new maid replied.

She stated the absolute minimum of what she needed to say. Surely, she is probably not good at socialising due to the after-effects of abuse, Infa thought to the point of tears.

As the new maid’s knowledge of medicine was deep, she made it this way sometimes. Infa had nothing to say about that as the girl cleans after herself perfectly, and Infa had recently received medicine for dry skin that was useful. Occasionally, it seems that Honnyan requests her to makes medicines as well.

Infa took out the silver teacups and meticulously polished them with a dry cloth.

Maomao didn’t speak much, but she’s a good listener; someone worth talking to. Infa told her about the strange rumour that had been going around recently.

The rumours of a white woman who danced in mid-air.

○●○

Maomao headed for the medical office, bringing along the laundry basket and the cold medicine she finished making with her.
Just in case, she wanted to get the doctor’s judgement, even merely for form’s sake.

(An incident from a month ago?)

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Maomao tilted her head at the conventional bizarre tale.
This was yet another rumour she has never heard of before coming here. Shaoran had told her everything she had known as far as rumours went, so Maomao knew that this was a recent one.

The inner palace was surrounded by a wall. There was a deep moat on the other side of the wall and the only way to traverse the place was through the four directional gates. It was impossible to escape or raid the palace.
It was said that the consort who had attempted to break out of the inner palace was still sleeping under the deep moat even now.

(Near the castle gate huh.)

There should be no buildings close by, only a pine forest.

(It was from the end of summer yeah.)

It was the harvest time for seasonal items.

As bad thoughts came to her head, she heard a detestable voice as if she was being targeted.

“Good work.”

Maomao maintained an expressionless face at the gorgeous peony-like smile. “No, not really,” she replied.

The medical office was close to the central gate in the south. The parlours of the three departments that govern the inner palace were also set up here.
Jinshi usually appears there.
As he is a eunuch, he should be in the Department of Inner Servants. But this man was not attached to any room. Rather, he looked over everything like an overseer.

(His position is higher than Palace Official Chief huh.)

It was possible he was the guardian of the current emperor, but it was hard to imagine that for a young man who looks around twenty. There’s no reason for him to specially become a eunuch if he was the emperor’s son either.
It was also thinkable he was the guardian of Consort Gyokuyou, seeing as they are close. Rather….

(The emperor’s mistress?)

Whenever the Emperor visited, he looked straight as far as what Maomao saw with him being friendly with Consort Gyokuyou, but you can’t judge a person by their appearance.
It was troublesome to think of such things, so let’s settle it with him being the emperor’s lover for the time being.

“You look like you’re thinking of something extremely rude.”

“Are you sure you’re not imagining it?” She bowed once and turned around.

When she entered the medical office, she saw the loach moustache quack doctor rigidly grinding the mortar. Maomao knew that in this case the doctor wasn’t making medicine but wasting time.
Otherwise, it would be pointless for him to give away half the medicine he made every time.

At the start, it seemed that he thought that Maomao was a little girl who didn’t know what she was doing, but his attitude gradually eased after he saw the medicines she made.
Nowadays, he takes out tea snacks and it reached the point where he gives portions of essential ingredients to her, but that wasn’t a very good thing for a medical office to do.
He really doesn’t have confidentiality or whatever it is.

“Can you look at this medicine for me?” she asked.

“Oh, if it isn’t the lass? Wait a sec.” the quack doctor said.

He prepared tea snacks and blended tea. There were rice crackers instead of sweet buns.
Maomao, the drinker(辛党 usually means one who enjoys drinking, but can also mean one who likes savoury foods, or spicy foods), was happy.
Recently, it felt like she had been forced to eat various things.

Although he is a quack, he is a good person. Though his personality is good, he is the type who is bad at his job.

“I want a share of that too.”

It was a sweet, willowy voice. Even without looking back, for some reason, it felt like the air around her completely brightened up.

The quack doctor, with a look of surprise and elation, replaced the long-awaited rice crackers and blended tea, and bought out white tea and mooncakes.

(Not the rice crackers…)

The one with the brilliant smile sat beside her.
She refused to sit with him because of their difference in social status, but he forcibly pinned down her shoulders.
Maomao winced. That overbearing action that was completely unlike his gentle appearance.

“Doctor, I’m sorry but can you get this for me?” Jinshi handed over a scrap of paper. Even from afar, Maomao could see that there was a considerable number of ingredients written on it. It’ll take a while to collect.

The quack doctor squinted and went into the back room in disappointment.

(He planned to do that from the start.)

“What do you really want to talk about?” Maomao, who was good at guessing, asked that as she rocked the teacup.

“Do you know about the ghost panic?” Jinshi asked.

“As far as rumours go.”

“Then, do you know about sleepwalking?

Jinshi did not overlook the glint that settled on the edge of Maomao’s eyes.

There was evilness mixed in the celestial maiden’s laughter.

His large palm stroked Maomao’s cheeks.

“How would you go about curing that?” he inquired, voice like sweet, sweet cider.

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