“They’re at it again.” Jinshi’s(壬氏, Ren Shi) handsome face was suffused in gloominess. He had almond shaped eyes, delicate features that could be mistaken as a woman. His hair was wrapped up in a silk cloth, with the rest flowing down his back.
It is improper for the flowers of the palace to raise a commotion in such a place. It is one of his jobs to bring that to a close.
While he was in the middle of dispersing the crowd, there was only one person who walked over with an air of disinterest.
She was a short maidservant with freckles that densely covered her nose to her cheeks. Though she didn’t have features that stood out, she left him the impression of one who was talking to herself without noticing him.
He didn’t expect there would be any more to it.
The talks on the crown prince’s passing came about not even a month after.
The sobbing Consort Rifa was skinnier than she had been a couple of days ago. She had no traces of time she was called the Large Rose. Was it because she had been ravaged by the same illness as her son, or was it that her mental breakdown was severe?
From that, her hopes for another child were probably gone.
As for Imperial Princess Rinrii(鈴麗, Ling Li), the crown prince’s older half-sister, her condition improved after an hour of poor health. The mother and child consoled the emperor who had lost the crown prince.
With the emperor coming often, the next child might be near.
The imperial princess and crown prince had been inflicted with the same illness of an unknown cause. One recovered, one fell.
Their ages may be different, but the three-month difference might have had a big influence on the infants’ physical conditions.
However, what about Consort Rifa?
If the imperial princess recovered, Consort Rifa might recover as well. Otherwise, she might be emotional from the death of her son.
As Jinshi parsed over the documents and stamped them, his mind spun as he thought it over.
If there was something different, it would be Consort Gyokuyou.
“I’ll be away for a bit.” After he finished stamping the last document, Jinshi left the room.
The imperial princess with cheeks like steamed buns had the innocent smile of a baby. Her small hands made fists and grabbed onto Jinshi’s index finger.
“There there, please let go.”
The red-haired beauty gently took her daughter back into her arms and went to put her to sleep in the basket.
The baby pushed the hot blanket aside and babbled happily as she looked at the visitor.
“You have something you want to ask.” It appears that the wise consort had sensed Jinshi’s anticipation.
“How did the Imperial Princess-dono recover?”
At the point-blank question, Consort Gyokuyou let out a small laugh and took out a piece of cloth from her bosom.
There were clumsy words written on the ripped piece of cloth. It wasn’t that the words were written messily. The blotted text was hard to read because it had been written with plant juice.
‘The face powder is poison. Don’t let the baby touch it.’
Had the writing been messy on purpose?
Jinshi tilted his head. “Was it the face powder?”
Consort Gyokuyou entrusted the princess to the wet nurse and took out something from a drawer.
“The face powder?” he asked.
“Indeed, this is the face powder.”
He pinched the white powder wondering what could be in it. Come to think of it, Consort Gyokuyou didn’t use the face powder as she originally had beautiful skin. Consort Rifa heavily covered her face to hide her bad complexion.
“The princess is a glutton. My milk alone hadn’t been enough for her. I only let her drink from the wet nurse when mine wasn’t enough.” She had employed a wet nurse who had lost her child soon after giving birth. “This was what the wet nurse had used. She liked to use this as it was whiter than other face powders.”
“How is the wet nurse?”
“She took a break when her physical condition deteriorated. I planned to give her sufficient retirement money.” Those were the words of the intelligent, overly kind consort.
What would happen if there is poison inside the face powder?
If the ones who used it were mothers, their foetuses would be affected. Even after birth, the infants could get it in their mouths too.
Jinshi and Consort Gyokuyou didn’t know what it is. Just that this is the poison that killed the crown prince.
“Ignorance is a sin. We should take more care in what the infants are putting into their mouths.”
“I agree with that,” she said.
As a result, four of the emperor’s children were lost. If they included those still in their mother’s wombs, there might be more affected.
“I want to inform this to Consort Rifa as well, but I think that anything I say will backfire,” she added.
Consort Rifa was still coating her bad skin complexion with the face powder. All without knowing it was poison.
Jinshi looked at the piece of unbleached cloth. He had a mysterious feeling that he had seen this before.
The messy words also looked like it was to obscure the handwriting. However, where had he seen this feminine script? “Who could have done this?” he asked.
Consort Gyokuyou replied. “It was the day I got the doctor to look at my daughter. After all, this had been left by the window after I troubled you. It was tied to an azalea branch.”
So, could it have been that they figured something out when they were at the commotion and wanted to leave some advice?
Just who could it have been?
“The palace doctor wouldn’t do such a roundabout thing,” he said.
“Indeed. It seemed he didn’t know how to treat the crown prince even till the end.”
The commotion from that time.
Come to think of it, he recalled an unconcerned maid from the group of onlookers.
What had she been muttering about?
What did she say?
‘What can I use to write?’
Suddenly, everything in his head clicked.
He burst out with an evil snicker. A beautiful smile, like a celestial maiden’s, appeared. “Consort Gyokuyou. The owner of those words, what shall we do when we find them?”
“Of course, they are our benefactor. I want to give my thanks to them,” she said.
“I understand. Please wait for a bit.”
“I await your good news.”
Jinshi followed the memories of the cloth that was embedded with feelings. “If the Favoured Consort so wishes, I will certainly find then.”
The celestial maiden smile gained the innocence of a treasure hunting child.