Volume 1, Chapter 34: Dismissal

“What shall we do?” The taciturn attendant passed the documents over to his master.
It was on a mind-bogglingly troubling subject. “These are the register of the names of everyone, including her family, related to the Fonmin incident from the other day.”

Fonmin was due for execution. Although family extermination will not be performed, her relatives will have all their assets dispossessed. There was a difference in severity, but all will be sentenced with physical punishment.
It was a blessing that Consort Ah Duo, her master, didn’t get any sentence.

Clients of her family’s trade were also included among the parties concerned. It had been assumed that they were mere beekeeping farmers, but it seemed they operated on a considerably extensive scale.

“Eighty of those girls are in the Inner Palace,” Jinshi said.

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“What, eighty among two thousand people? That’s quite a hit ratio,” Gaoshun replied.

“I suppose.”

Gaoshun asked his master who wrinkled his brows and came close. “Shall we do a cover up?”

“Can you do it?” Jinshi asked.

“If you so desire.”

If you so desire.

Gaoshun will abide as Jinshi says.
It didn’t matter whether it was correct or not.  As Jinshi says it.

He sighed deeply.

A familiar name was reported among the parties concerned.
The party who was kidnapped and sold seemed to be a person related to the said-incident.

“Well then, what must I do?” Gaoshun mused.

It would be good if he could just simply decide.
Because of the action he chose, he was very scared of what kind of face that girl will make.

 

○●○

“A massive dismissal?” Maomao asked.

“Dat’s right.”

Shaoran was eating dried persimmons when she said that. The dried persimmons were something Maomao had made from stealing from the orchard and secretly hanging them under the roof.

“It’s kiiinda like a family execution or something. That the girls from merchants who had dealings hafta quit or something,” Shaoran said.

(I have a somewhat bad feeling about this.)

Maomao’s intuition was often right.
Her family on the official papers was a merchant that deals with trade.  [T/N: i.e. the kidnappers who sold her.]

(It would be quite worrisome if I get dismissed now.)

She was pleased with her current lifestyle as is.
Obviously, she would be happy if she could return to the pleasure district, but it would be a downer to be caught by the madam who managed the money even if she returned.

After Rihaku, she had yet to send in honoured guests.
That was a problem.

(I’ll certainly be sold.)

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After Maomao parted from Shaoran, she decided to look for the person who she wouldn’t think to normally go meet.

 

 

“How unusual. You’re breathing roughly,” the lovely eunuch told her casually at the main gate of the inner palace.

This was after Maomao went through to all the residence of the Four Madames, not just the Jade Palace.

“…–“

“Calm down. Your face is red.” Jinshi looked at her somewhat impatiently with his celestial maiden face.

“I-I have, s-something to ask you.” Maomao stuttered.

Jinshi narrowed his eyes. For some reason, his face was suffused with gloominess. “I got it. Let’s talk inside.”

 

 

She was shown into the Palace Official Chief’s room. She felt bad for the Chief who was stuck with waiting in vain outside as usual. She bowed once and went inside.

“In any case, you must be wanting to hear about the current massive dismissal,” Jinshi said.

“Yes. What will happen to me?” Maomao asked.

Instead of replying, Jinshi got her to look at the documents. Maomao’s name was also among what was written on the high-quality paper.

“This means you will be dismissed,” he said.

(What should I do?)

She wasn’t in the position to tell him to please stop calling it a dismissal. She repeatedly acknowledged she was a palace lady at most.
She resisted looking at him with flatteringly, keeping her face expressionless. As a result, it became the usual face where she eyed him like she was looking at a pest.

“What’s wrong?” His inquiring voice was missing its usual sweetness. Rather, he sounded a little young instead. Contrary to his tone, only his face was firm with seriousness.

“I am just a palace lady. As you say, if you command me to be a maidservant, a cook, even a food taster, I will do it.”

(That’s why, don’t fire me.)

She intended to say employ me to the best of your ability.
The young man’s expression remained firm. He suddenly averted his eyes and gave a small sigh.

“I get it. I’ll give you a generous redundancy bonus.” The youth’s voice was cold. She couldn’t read his downcast expression.

Negotiations have failed.

 

○●○

 

How many consecutive days has it been till today has he seen his master lost his nerve?


There was no problem with the current job. But he was so done with him sitting in the corner of the room, bringing about a gloomy air when he returned to his office.
Even spores have more energy to fly.

The young man with a lovely celestial maiden’s smile and a honey voice wasn’t there.

Maomao left the following week with the dismissal notice. She wasn’t social, but apparently, she had politely gone door to door thanking people for their help.
Consort Gyokuyou was hesitant, but when she heard it was what Jinshi decided, she withdrew. “What’s done is done,” she courteously left as a sharp parting remark.

“We should have held her back,” Gaoshun said.

“Don’t say anything,” Jinshi replied.

Gaoshun folded his arms, the wrinkles on his brows deepening.

What was it like when he lost his favourite toy?
Even though he was given an even more new and unusual toy. How much has he troubled over it?

It was probably no good for him to be with the toy.
Jinshi didn’t want to treat the girl as a tool and let her go. Even if he was assigned a new girl with a different disposition accordingly, what would become of it?

This was, as a matter of fact, a bother.

“If a substitute is no good, then we’ll have to prepare the real thing, don’t we?” Jinshi muttered inaudibly, and suddenly recalled a certain person.

It was the military official that the girl’s family knew very well.

“It will take some work,” he said.

Gaoshun, the worldly-wise person, scratched the back of his head.

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