Jinshi and Consort Riishu.
I see, Maomao thought.
In terms of age, it was perfect. Jinshi was twenty and Consort Riishu was sixteen. Appearance-wise, Jinshi was a little older, no, he’s grown up, but it was all within the level of tolerance.
Jinshi was the imperial brother. Although the crown prince was currently Empress Gyokuyou’s imperial prince, his right to succession was still high.
Rather than being in the emperor’s inner palace where it was intense with the added competition, it might be better for her to have Jinshi who still hasn’t married anyone.
Though she won’t be able to become the empress dowager in the future, she could become the wife of the prime minister.
Of course, she might become the enemy of the country’s women as well as a portion of men though.
As a no-risk choice, he was a partner that was too good to be true.
Those called powerful people must regard marriage with a clear-cut attitude. The freedom in romance that Pairin-neechan endorsed was equivalent to a fantasy.
Maomao stared at the person next to her.
Basen, Jinshi’s milk sibling, would have to understand that as well. However, it seems he has some irritation that he couldn’t relay properly in his heart.
To put it frankly-
(He resents his sister in law.)
It seems he wanted to verify with his own eyes whether she was appropriate for the beautiful, capable noble he served.
“Father didn’t make a good face.”
And it seems he got uneasy from that.
(I suppose so.)
To see it from the emperor’s perspective, he didn’t lay his hand on Consort Riishu who was like a daughter, and from Ah Duo’s, she had moved her to a place that was safer than the inner palace. For Consort Riishu, on top of the noble she admired being not a eunuch, as he was becoming her husband, she would have to be over the moon.
From Jinshi’s perspective, he wouldn’t mind it anyway with Consort Riishu herself. She was pretty, and in a couple of years she will grow up. She had no capability to speak of, but she probably won’t untactfully intrude on him. However, their blood relationship was slightly a bother, but that was something that more or less happens even when you get a wife from anywhere else.
“Don’t tell me, she might have some defect.”
Basen said, breathing roughly.
(Don’t call it defect.)
It’s a word that will have people gang up on you if they heard.
“That reminds me.”
Maomao looked at Basen, recalling.
“If you’re that interested, why don’t you go see her directly?”
Basen returned a displeased look to Maomao.
“I am not a eunuch.”
“No, that’s not what I meant.”
When she talked about Consort Riishu being at Ah Duo’s place temporarily, Basen’s face changed before her eyes.
He punched the shack.
(Don’t break it.)
Even if this house was this run-down, Maomao had an attachment to it. If it broke now, she would have to repick all the medicinal herbs she had gathered.
“Don’t s*** with me! Do you think you can leave the inner palace this easily!”
“Even if you say that, it seems she got permission from his majesty.”
That saying, the inner palace wasn’t supposed to be a place you can freely come in and out as you will. It was more so for high ranked consorts. She should know that from recalling the incident with Consort Rouran.
On top of that, Consort Riishu said that she will be going shopping on the main road today. Honestly, even Maomao thought that the consort was going overboard, but that was also allowed by his majesty, and it seems there were guard coming along with her.
(They’re over pampering her.)
Therefore, Consort Riishu’s father must be getting cocky.
(Let’s shut up about that.)
So she thought, when Basen’s eyes zeroed right at her.
“Are you hiding something?”
“Could I be?”
When Maomao feigned ignorance, Basen pursed his lips and covered his eyes with his hand.
It was in an unnatural monotone.
“Because of that poison, my eyes, my eyes are weird.”
He said and his eyes flickered over to Maomao.
She was irritated from being looked at.
“No, that wasn’t poison.”
“No, my eyes are useless. I’ll be going blind at this rate.”
‘course not. She only put some bitter component in his eyes. It was fundamentally harmless since she had only just made it as a diversion. If she wanted to make him blind, Maomao would have compounded something nastier.
As he continued playing the ham actor, he glanced at Maomao.
It seems he has some playfulness in his straight-lacedness. However, he hadn’t reached the limits of his father Gaoshun. There was quite a bit of shyness. Rather, it was more embarrassing to watch him.
Maomao scratched her calf with her toes in a bother.
Since she made a mistake and pressed herbs into his eyes, she decided to confess honestly. Rather than that, Maomao was getting embarrassed from watching the cheap, overblown drama.
And so, she meant to voice that she was going out to shopping, but it goes without saying that she got caught up in something troublesome.
“What a consort! Geez.”
Basen stomped along the main road.
Maomao, with a clear expression of “Can we end this quickly?” followed three steps behind him.
Maomao had thought that she would be relieved from her post if she only spoke when she spoke, but it wasn’t the case.
Maomao was acquainted with both Ah Duo and Consort Riishu, but it wasn’t so for Basen. He had seen Ah Duo at the garden party from a distance, but he told her that he was never acquainted with Consort Riishu. It seems that during Consort Riishu’s attempted assassination incident, he was far away by chance and didn’t see her.
Also, he has never seen Ah Duo in her male disguise, so he will have a hard time finding her so he took Maomao along.
“Oi, what about the two people over there?”
“Don’t point at people.”
Not them, she shook her head, and Basen searched for the next people.
The main street becomes crowded in the afternoon from the market. Searching for Ah Duo amid that would be hard to do, and above all, Maomao was unmotivated.
(Rather, did they really go out?)
Since she heard that they are going out, Maomao had told Basen that. It’s because it is Basen that she did so, but normally, it wasn’t something you could freely talk about.
That went for Maomao, and for Ah Duo too.
The inner palace was safer compared to town to dally around. There might be envy between women and quarrels between consorts, but it won’t develop to the extent of killing and wounding. Rather, if there were even fights, the eunuchs would quickly rush in to break it up.
And if there were, there were harassment and poison, but there were countermeasures in place so it would rarely lead to something serious. The possibility of getting food poisoning from a food cart in the market was higher.
(There would be guards coming along though.)
You don’t know where there are eyes and ears.
“Don’t walk so loudly. Other people will pick up on it.”
When Maomao spoke, it seems his footsteps calmed down for a little. Basen only scrutinised his surroundings with his eyes.
If he were to look this bad, he could only look like a pathetic pickpocket who’s looking for things to steal.
“We need to buy something in the market, otherwise people will think we’re weird.”
Saying that, Maomao pointed to the kushiyaki shop. “Okay,” Basen went to line up at the cart.
Basen bought two and gave Maomao one.
“This is delicious, you know.”
Even though he ate it one bite, Basen went to line up again for another one. He truly had an easy to understand personality.
Seeming that he was opposed to eating while walking, they sat on the makeshift seats made from barrels on the site of the shop and ate.
“Are you thirsty?”
Maomao pointed to the shop that sold fruit juice next.
It was a bullseye, but as he seemed to dislike following Maomao’s words at this rate, he passed that shop and went to buy fruit juice from the other beverage shop.
However, the moment he drank that, Basen’s face twisted violently, paled, and he hurried into the alleyway.
Maomao bought fruit juice and water from the shop she pointed to the first time, and entered the alleyway.
Basen had his hands on the wall, vomiting out what he just drank.
“Shall I stroke your back?”
“Do you want to drink water?”
Basen chugged it all down, water dribbling down the side of his mouth.
“What the heck was that?”
Basen, who finally calmed down, asked her.
“The owner of that food cart is stingy. He acquires rotten fruit cheaply and makes juice from that. And it was also mixed with the leftover from the previous day and the day before that as well.”
The squeezed juice had started to ferment, partly turning into something like wine. The whimsicals would find that tasty, but it wouldn’t match the tastebuds of the elite like Basen.
“Close down that shop.”
“If you close it down, it’ll just move elsewhere.”
Basen, suddenly tired, let out a sigh.
“Do you want to go back?”
“What are you talking about!”
Since he was still motivated, Maomao helplessly passed him another bottle of fruit juice to remove the bad taste from his mouth.
Though Basen took it, he squinted and sniffed it before he drank it slowly. It seems to be fine this time; his throat moved as he swallowed.
When he drank it all, Maomao took the empty bottle from Basen.
“What are you going to do with that?”
“The price of the beverage is included with the bottle. You get money back when you return it.”
Basen didn’t understand the money sense of the town, so it seems he didn’t realise that the fruit juice was expensive.
“This too,” Basen also gave her the bottle from the unappetising one. Rather than saying give me back my money, he disliked throwing it out as it is, so he must have given it to her.
What a profit, Maomao took that to get money from it, when Basen firmly grabbed her wrist.
“…I can hear something.”
She could hear fine, but she couldn’t hear anything. She looked at Basen, thinking that he misheard, but he was already gone.
“I’m going to see what’s up!”
Only saying that, he dashed to the back of the alleyway.
T/N: Two parter. Next chapter will be fun :>