The three days of her homecoming passed by in a blink of an eye.
From meeting the people she missed, her feeling of wanting it to always stay like this was strong, but there was no way for her resign from her job in the inner palace, so she had no choice but to again trouble Rihaku, her identity guarantor, to return.
Above all, her back was being pressured by the madam who was wondering what kind of sad*st Maomao’s first sell came out as.
(It looks like he saw a good dream.)
Seeing an excessively glowing Pairin-neechan, and Rihaku, whose eyes were sagged in the corners, changed into a honeyed apricot, she regretted that she overpaid her reward to him.
As a result, the next person to sell her body was determined.
Well, she somewhat sympathised with Rihaku, who, having known of heavenly nectar once, will come to find the ones on earth unpalatable.
The madam will surely make a killing of him.
Beyond that was not Maomao’s responsibility.
And so, she was going to return to the Jade Palace with her souvenirs, but there was a celestial maiden-like young man who was cloaked in an excessively dangerous air right there.
She felt an ominous poisonous air from the direction of the gentle smile.
Why is he excessively glaring at her?
No matter what his character was, a beauty was a beauty. Besides, when he glared, there was an intensity to it.
As it was bothersome, she only bowed her head as much as she was required to, and headed for her own room, when he firmly grabbed her shoulders with the force of his nails digging in.
“Wait in the parlour.” A honey-like voice flowed into her ears. Honey was honey, but it was wolfsbane honey.
Gaoshun, who was at the back – his eyes told her to give up.
Consort Gyokuyou, who looked troubled – her eyes were shining.
Honnyan, who was, for some reason, looking at Maomao with blaming eyes.
The three maids too, were more curious than worried.
Maomao would probably be thoroughly interrogated after this.
(Just what is happening?)
She put down her belongings, changed into her maid clothes and went to the parlour.
“What do you require of me?” Maomao asked.
There was only Jinshi in the room. He was elegantly dressed in simple official attire, legs crossed on the chair, elbows on the table. Somehow, she felt his attitude was worse than usual. Was it her imagination? She wanted it to be her imagination. Let’s take it as imagination.
There was no Gaoshun, the breath of fresh air.
Consort Gyokuyou was nowhere to be found.
Well, in other words, they couldn’t bear to stay.
“It seems you returned home,” Jinshi said.
“Yes,” she answered.
“How was it?”
“Everyone was good.”
“Is that so?”
“What kind of man was this Rihaku guy?”
“Yes. He’s my identity guarantor.”
(Why the name?)
He will be a regular customer from now on. An important source of income.
“Do you not understand what I mean? In that meaning.”
“Yes. He has to be a high official to be my guarantor who can properly maintain my identity.”
Jinshi, for some reason, looked extremely tired. Was it because she said the obvious?
“Did you get a kanzashi?”
“He distributed many of them. I received one out of obligation.”
Now that she thought about it, he was generous. Though it was a simple design, it was a finely made kanzashi.
“So you mean, even though you got one out of obligation, I(Jinshi starts using 俺 ‘ore’ to refer to himself from here. So you know, he usually uses 私 ‘watashi’, which is a gender-neutral way of referring to oneself. ‘ore’, on the other hand, is masculine…. I’ll put it in italics to denote it.) lost?”
She tilted her head at the (first-person) pronoun she wasn’t used to hearing.
“Even though I gave you one too, you didn’t come to me at all.” He looked sulky.
Without his celestial smile, he looked about the same age as Maomao. Rather, he looked even younger.
She admired that he was a person who can change her view of him up to now with a single expression.
It turns out that Jinshi was unable to stomach the fact that she relied on Rihaku and didn’t come to talk to him. How mysterious. Even though it’s a given that people would be happy to be not be concerned with troublesome things. Was it because that guy was a leisurely person?
“I sincerely apologise. It did not occur to me that I was to give a satisfactory compensation to Jinshi-sama.”
(Would inviting a eunuch to a brothel be rude?)
It may be possible to go to a place only to tea drinking and poetry recitals, and then go on to indulge in sensual affairs. It was awkward to invite people who were no longer men to a place like that.
Above all, people like Jinshi. It would be a mummy hunter become a mummy(English equivalent: Many go out for wool and come home shorn – A plan backfiring.)for the courtesans everywhere.
“What do you mean, compensation? Did you pay this Rihaku guy with that?” He was making a dubious face for some reason.
It was an uneasy expression, combined with displeasure.
“That’s right. I pleasured him with a dream of one night,” she told him.
(Like this, he probably won’t return to reality for a while.)
Even a gallant military personnel would become a kitten when they look at Pairin-neesan.
Would he come carrying gold coins to her from now on?
She looked at Jinshi. All the blood had drained from his face.
The hand holding onto the teacup was quivering.
(Did the room get colder?)
Maomao added charcoal to the brazier and stirred the flames with a fan. “It seems he was greatly satisfied. I think I worked hard.”
(I also need to work hard on finding new customers.)
As she made a fist at her new resolve, there was the sound of a teacup shattering behind her.
“What are you doing?” she said.
Shards of ceramic were scattered about.
Jinshi stood up with a pale face. His clothes were soaked through with tea.
“Ahh, I’ll bring you something to wipe up now.”
She opened the door, and right there, was Consort Gyokuyou, who was clutching her stomach in laughter.
Gaoshun, with an extremely tired face.
Honnyan, who was struck speechless with shock.
Maomao, who had no idea what was going on, went to the kitchen to look for a dishcloth for the time being.
“How long are you going to be irritable?” Gaoshun asked.
Jinshi rested his face on the table even though he was already back in his office.
Gaoshun sighed deeply. “Don’t forget you are in the middle of work.”
“I get it already,” Jinshi said.
He didn’t get it.
The person called Jinshi doesn’t reply like a child.
He doesn’t get overly attached to his toys.
He suffered hardship even though he heard the details from Consort Gyokuyou who was convulsing with laughter afterwards.
As a collateral for undertaking her identity, the man was granted a meeting with a star(popular courtesan) he had longed for. That the girl helped in such a way, was completely not what they had imagined.
However, Gaoshun wondered what his master imagined. Ahh, it was scary to be young.
Jinshi was somewhat back to normal, but he was still disgruntled.
Well, quickly finishing his work to go meet her, only to find that she returned home with an unknown man came as a bolt out of the blue.
Gaoshun had no free time to soothe children indefinitely.
He placed a lacquered box on the table and took out a correspondence from the inside. “The report from a couple of days ago has finally arrived.”
To look for a court lady with burn scars. It had been a month since.
“That took way too long.” When he looked up, Jinshi’s face returned.
“I sincerely apologise.” To not make excuses. That was Gaoshun’s principle.
“Just who was it?” Jinshi asked.
“Yes. Surprisingly, it was a big shot.” He spread out the correspondence on the table. “Garnet Palace, Fonmin(風明, Fong Ming). The Pure Consort’s head maid.”
Synopsis: Somewhere in the universe, there was an altar. On it, laid a bloody eye as big as the sun itself. It burst with light and bathed the entire star system in red.
"The aura of an ancestral artifact!" Someone's voice rose in surprise.
The Great Galactic Era had begun.