Review from the Previous Chapter
Jinshi → Maomao → mushroom
Maomao was bewildered at the mysterious sensation. She could hear thumping sounds. She was pressed up against his bare upper body; his heart was beating close to her ears.
(What could it be, this?)
However, it was more important for her to get up. When she tried to stand up again, she put her weight onto something inscrutable. She was in a hurry to obtain the Ten Thousand Year Mushroom that was right before her eyes.
She heard a groan from below her.
Jinshi was below her. He was grasping into Maomao’s left hand, and his other hand was around her back. It seems he sheltered Maomao when she was about to fall.
Maomao looked at the spirit herb that was growing on the old tree in regret, then dropped her gaze to Jinshi.
Jinshi turned his face away from Maomao. For some reason, his face was covered in cold sweat. His brows were knitted, looking somewhat pained.
“Come on, your fever is back again.”
Maomao held out a towel to wipe his face. Jinshi released his hold around her back and held up his hand at Maomao.
“No, before all that, can you move aside?”
Still turned away, Jinshi glanced at Maomao’s face.
“…you’re touching, the, the position of your hand-”
Jinshi pointed at Maomao’s left hand. Jinshi’s hakama was under that hand. She felt she was pressing down on something soft(ぐにょん (gu nyon) now. Think still limp, but not as limp as last chapter.).
No, it gradually wasn’t getting soft—.
Maomao flew off him. Eyes wide, she looked at the sprawled eunuch.
No, could he even be called a eunuch?
The part that eunuchs must not have, was right there.
Jinshi sighed deeply as he brushed up his bangs. Then he looked at Maomao.
“In a way, you can say you eliminated the labour?”
The beautiful celestial maiden’s face was tinged with sorrow. But, this guy wasn’t a celestial maiden. While he possessed the face that could topple the country with just a smile, this guy wasn’t a woman.
And, he wasn’t a eunuch who threw away the symbol of a man.
A bare upper body with his outer garment off. There wasn’t any sign of flabbiness. It was a slightly tensed, trained body. Certainly, his looks were like a celestial maiden, but his body was no different to a well-trained warrior.
He might not actually be a eunuch, it was mystifying that never came to her mind.
No, it might actually be that she had subconsciously tried not to notice it.
“I did mention that there was something I wanted to tell you.”
Maomao had reflexively wanted to stuff her ears. She mustn’t hear any more than this; Maomao had perceived that in an instant. But that was exposed when her ears were stuffed.
There was a man in the inner palace that wasn’t a eunuch. What would happen if that was made public? Supposing that man laid his hands on a consort, what would happen if there were offspring that were not the emperor’s mixed in there?
Maomao’s eyes narrowed.
(Stop it. Don’t involve me in something troublesome.)
Up until now, she had been utterly used by Jinshi. No doubt they had all been more or less troublesome matters, but if it was that much, she didn’t not think.
However, this was different.
If she ended up knowing about this, she needed to carry it with her to the grave.
(I don’t want to accompany you to the grave!)
For that reason, Maomao-
Maomao cut over Jinshi’s voice.
“Just then, it seems there was a frog under your clothes.”
Jinshi’s face twisted in doubt. That is still fine, let’s overcome this no matter what, Maomao thought.
“Indeed. A frog. My apologies. It is damp and humid here.”
That soft feeling was a frog. Maomao persuaded herself it was a frog. There was a swamp nearby. It wouldn’t be strange to even have one or two frogs that come out in summer.
“No, it wasn’t-“
“My apologies. I was sloppy. For Jinshi-sama to quickly cool down your fever, it would be better if we returned to the party.”
Maomao was going to leave the cave very naturally, but she was stopped, of course.
Jinshi, with a conceited expression, barred the entrance. Even if Maomao tried to avoid him and leave, she couldn’t leave.
“Jinshi-sama, can you step aside?”
“Who is a frog?”
Maomao momentarily felt like flinching at Jinshi whose face drew oppressingly close. However, she couldn’t lose here.
Maomao also looked at Jinshi undauntedly. She closed in until there was a two sun(寸, unit of measurement. 3.03cm, about an inch) distance between their noses.
“If that wasn’t a frog, what could it be?”
That was a frog, that was a frog, Maomao reminded herself. The soft feeling on her left hand was a frog.
“Wasn’t it big for a frog?”
Jinshi inched towards Maomao’s face by another sun.
“No, during this season, there are a lot of decently large frogs.”
Jinshi winced. He looked like he received an impact, but Maomao readily slipped closer.
She stopped when their noses were about to touch, and delivered the finishing blow.
“That’s right, it was decently sized. If it wasn’t a decently sized frog, what decently sized thing could it be?”
It truly wasn’t decently sized though, but decently sized was good here. Decently sized was adequate.
They glared at each other for several seconds, no several tens of seconds. And it was Jinshi who lost.
Jinshi froze, his lips in a zigzag shape. Maomao slipped through Jinshi’s side in that interval.
(I, I won.)
Maomao squeezed a fist with her right hand.
It wasn’t good to know too much about anything. It was better for Maomao, who was suited to be a maidservant, to live obliviously within her means. If anything were to happens, if her superior were to do something, Maomao can just say “I know nothing.”
Before she went to the stream to wet the towel, she sat down in front of the old plum tree. The precious, glossy mushroom that had a parasol was growing at its roots.
Maomao looked at it absorbedly.
When she did so, a shadow hung over her from behind.
“Just one question. You’re fine with touching frogs, yeah?”
Jinshi said in a tired voice. It sounded like he was just barely moving.
“Yes, commoners eat it.”
It had a plain taste that was like chicken. Maomao also handled it often.
“I guess so. Then you’re fine with touching it, yeah?”
A faint smile appeared on Jinshi’s face.
Maomao found herself getting chills. She leaned against the old plum tree.
Jinshi pointed at Maomao.
“In that case, why were you wiping your left hand some time ago?”
Jinshi said, looking like he was going to crumble over.
Maomao stealthily dropped her left hand that had been wiping her hakama to forget the soft feeling. It seems she had been subconsciously wiping her hand all this time.
Seeing that action, Jinshi displayed a look of terrible misery.
“Hey, why did you do that?”
The fully wounded Jinshi mustered his final strength.
Maomao lost at that blow.
The party ended not long after the guest of honour’s return.
Gaoshun was concerned about his tired appearance but shook his head. That wasn’t his position now.
‘Gaoshun’ who was the attendant of the eunuch ‘Jinshi’ had no reason to be close to the guest of honour. In the end, he had no more than come here on behalf of his master ‘Jinshi’.
It was better if he didn’t project too much.
And Gaoshun had a job right now.
It was planned that tonight’s party will be on a boat on the lake. With wine that will never run out and a gathering of beautiful women, it had to be based on an ocean of wine and mountains of meat.
Oh dear, Gaoshun thought.
Even if he went awry, Gaoshun was a eunuch. He wasn’t interested in getting infatuated with women, and it would become scary if he did so. When he thought about the woman who gave birth to his son Basen, his wife, in other words, he couldn’t think of even lifting one finger.
“For a eunuch, this is a boring plan.”
An official approached Gaoshun who was only drinking wine. This boat had girls who were younger than his child waiting on them.
“No, there’s good moon viewing wine.”
Gaoshun said only that, and looked up at the moon. The half-moon was beautiful. He could enjoy it as it is without the bragging of noisy men and the coquettish voices of women.
“At any rate, he won’t be participating tonight either, right?”
“That’s the case.”
He knew who he was referring to.
Without the participation of the guest of honour, the night party could go on.
Gaoshun dripped wine onto the surface of the water and watched the ripples. It would be good if it ended earlier, he thought.
“The emperor is also worried for that, right.”
The official pinched his beard and sighed.
“If that became the crown prince.”
There was no sign of respect within the words ‘that’.
It was true, he hardly ever leaves his room, and if he ever goes to a public place he wears a mask. This kind of Imperial Brother shouldn’t be able to rule, everyone thought.
The guest of honour of the falconry this time, was the Imperial Brother.
The high officials gathered today had to be here half in jest. All to see the crown prince who rarely goes out in public.
Just what kind of person is he, there was no mistaking that they considered that it was important to ascertain that.
And so, this official must have decided that the crown prince was incompetent.
“I wonder if there is a consort who is expecting since the passing of the Imperial Prince last year?”
So the main topic is this, Gaoshun thought.
Who is expecting? Which consort is that? Is the child a boy or a girl – depending on those, that would greatly change the image of influence in the Imperial Court.
Gaoshun slowly shook his head.
“Unfortunately. As there are many consorts, I think eventually someone would be expecting.”
“Is that so? If it’s that way.”
The official glanced at the gazebo. A plump official was standing there. He was watching to see if the guests were enjoying themselves. It was the person who held the party, Shishou.
Gaoshun sent off the official who saw through his brown-noser companion of a brief period, and poured the wine from the sake bottle with a sigh.
“I wonder if I explained it properly?”
He murmured and shook his head in negation.
When he saw his worn-out look when he returned then, he was convinced that it was impossible. At the very least, that he didn’t pass it until the main point.
“What is he doing?”
Gaoshun looked at the estate that was illuminated by the moon. On the highest storey, there was only a single room that had lights.