Volume 3, Chapter 3: Caravans

The inner palace was large. Way larger than a run-of-the-mill town.

The palace ladies who are there exist to simply serve the consorts, to maintain the buildings of the inner palace, and – at an equal nil chance – to become the emperor’s chosen.

Due to this special environment, their lifestyle differed from living normally in town. The palace ladies’ duties are allotted between cleaning, washing and cooking. It might be correct to think it as akin to living together in as one gigantic family, more so than a town.

Due to that, such a large place was supposedly ideal, but it wasn’t like that at all.
That is—-.

“Looks really fun.”

Maomao returned a question mark to what the palace lady who still retained some childishness, Shaoran, said.

At the square, palace ladies were walking gleefully in front of the tents. There were several large tents lined up, but as the palace ladies of the inner palace numbered two thousand people, there wasn’t room for low-ranked palace ladies to get in, so while they couldn’t even look at the goods, they could only watch the high-ranked palace ladies who look like they were enjoying themselves.

The low-ranked palace ladies – Maomao and Shaoran included – were watching from the balcony of their rooms. Since the high ranked palace ladies, with the consorts included, were in high spirits, they were working while doing nothing at all.

“How nice. I want new clothes.” With her chin on the railing, Shaoran said while pouting.

“You won’t be able to wear it anywhere,” Maomao said.

“I still want it!”

Low ranked palace ladies are only provided three sets of work clothes in the summer and two in the winter as a standard. They are only provided with replacements in the case it becomes very worn out. Additionally, hair cord and underwear, daily necessities are all provisional items.

Meals were daily. They didn’t need to make it themselves since they were provided in the dining hall.

Palace ladies who were slightly wellborn receive packages along with letters from their family.

The maids of consorts are bestowed clothes and accessories from their consort, and snacks too.

Shops. That was what the inner palace didn’t have.

Shaoran, who had no backing whatsoever, only had the clothes on her back. With the way things are now, it was rare for her to have the chance to increase her personal belongings, assuming she even does. She could only look for whatever things she could attain out of her own pocket after other palace ladies had rummaged through and bought their own things.

There were no usual shops at the inner palace. It feels somewhat strange.

(There’s only the quack doctor for doctors too. There’s not even a pharmacist either.)

And yet, if they contract some disease in such a large family, it seems like it’ll end up spreading.

The hygiene management was reliable. A large ratio of the palace ladies’ jobs comprise of cleaning, and on top of that, they deal with a lot of garbage disposal. They use the water in the moat, and the garbage flows down there. Like that, the moat would start to start to smell, but since it was designed so the water wouldn’t stop flowing, the smell doesn’t build-up.

It seems to a piece of architecture introduced from the West that makes use of the water supply technology, built during the time of the previous emperor.

If the hygiene aspect was done properly, just that would prevent against most disease outbreaks. Palace ladies who get severely ill don’t need to wait for their term of service and are able to leave the inner palace.

(Even so, they’re kinda cheated.)

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Maomao thought as she absentmindedly watched the palace ladies who were having fun shopping.




When she returned to the Jade Palace, she was met with palace ladies with content faces.

While Maomao was slacking, no, working while doing nothing, it seems the merchants have come to the palace. Rather than the high-ranked consorts going out of their own way to walk to the tents, the merchants have directly turned up to their places.

Perhaps they were setting foot into the inner palace, all the merchants were women. Even so, considering the worst case, there were more eunuchs posted as guards.

“The emperor said to pick what you like,” Infa said like she was talking about herself.

She placed a necklace the same beautiful colour as Consort Gyokuyou’s eyes on the table. She also placed glass cups and a box decorated with mother-of-pearl as well.

The tottering Princess Rinrii looked extremely delighted with a beautiful silk ball in hand. Aside from the consort’s clothes, small clothes for the princess were hung up along the wall.

“Didn’t you splurge a little too much?” Consort Gyokuyou tilted her small head.

“No. Buying more would have been fine too,” the head maid Honnyan said a little excitedly. “The others must have bought more.”

Honnyan spoke in a reserved way, but Maomao could readily imagine that.

At the Crystal Palace, Consort Rifa’s maids who were only skilled with talk must have shopped in style. Consort Rifa’s bosom/pocket was large someway or other, so their shopping was a given.

At the Diamond Palace, Consort Riishu would be made to buy even things she likes with a bit of flattery.

As for the Garnet Palace, Consort Rouran liked showiness to that degree. It goes without saying.

Thinking that, Maomao thought that Consort Gyokuyou who finished shopping what could fit in one room, although she was the favoured consort, she was very economical.

The consorts have a ‘duty’ that the consort receive their respective wages from, but that is taken away as necessary expenses in the inner palace as clothes they wear and their supplies.

Consorts, high-rank, middle-rank, low-rank included, make not even a hundred. Would the national treasury be okay? It was Maomao who ended up needlessly worried.

“For now, new places will come tomorrow too, so we’ll put away today’s share,” Honnyan said.

Since Honnyan was rapidly taking down the clothes on the wall, Maomao went to take those. All of them felt nice, and the dyes were beautiful.


Maomao suddenly realised. She noticed the style of the clothes were different to what Consort Gyokuyou usually liked to wear. The consort liked to match a sleeveless long skirt with a large-sleeved outer garment, but this time there were a lot of outfits with tight sleeves and a hem that is fastened with a sash directly under the chest.

Not like she didn’t know the reason. It is around the time where outfits, where you tie the sash at the abdomen, would get tight for Consort Gyokuyou.

“…Were there any other types aside from these outfits?” Maomao asked.

“Eh? We were told these were popular.”

There were only just these, the maids faced each other doubtfully.

The maids of the Jade Palace purchased the clothes after thinking about Consort Gyokuyou. But normally, wouldn’t they choose a more different design?

Basing on that, if it happens that these clothes were what the merchants brought over.

Maomao could be over thinking.

(I want to believe that I’m overthinking.)

That they purposely brought over this sort of clothes for Consort Gyokuyou to select. She had a very unpleasant premonition concerning that thought.

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And so, Maomao’s premonition was right on the mark.

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