No more than a hundred women hold the position of consort in the inner palace.
When high ranking consorts leave, they spur various rumours, but it is not uncommon for consorts of lower positions to remain unnoticed. Even when they get bestowed, they can also get returned to their families without getting a visit from the emperor.
There are many palace ladies who snort about leaving the inner palace, but Maomao thought that too was fine.
The room had a tag with a flower and a number. It was the room of a low ranking consort, but there was a black cloth hanging on the door.
A black cloth had the significance of mourning, that is, it signified that the consort, the owner of this room, had died. It was done the same way as the time the previous crown prince had passed away.
Maomao’s group had her dad, the quack doctor, and then Yao and En’en going around the inner palace together. This was their second visit to the inner palace.
“Could it be from illness?”
It was Yao who suddenly spoke. If it was from illness, her dad would have examined her the last time he came. The fact that it wasn’t the case meant—
“It would have to be suicide, huh.”
It actually wasn’t unusual. If this was clearly a suicide without incident, there won’t be a fuss in the inner palace. She won’t say that it was an everyday occurrence, but it wasn’t something that would cause a stir.
Although their kind of flower is different, many a consort who enter the inner palace come in boasting of their beauty being greater than anyone else. Thus there are also many who have high self-esteem, and there are not few who get stricken from the difference of their dream of after entering the inner palace and reality.
“I heard that she was dependent on alcohol.”
Maomao heard palace ladies chatting. They were so engrossed in their chatting, they didn’t seem to have noticed that they had walked close to the court physicians. When they noticed their white outer garment, they panicked and returned to their station.
(It is indeed a woman’s graveyard, no, battleground.)
Those who lose the battle could only disappear.
In a certain meaning, it is the overworked maidservants who still don’t have a defined term of service who have more freedom.
Today’s plans were that they will be going around to the low ranking consorts’ rooms and then head to Airin’s place last. Was it because she wanted to know the answer to the puzzle? It seems the consort had taken it upon herself to tell them that she’s feverish so she wanted them to see her
“There are no issues in particular.”
The consort who smelled strongly of perfume said as a maid fanned her. It was already summer, so when they got here they wanted to pinch their noses from the heavy fumes. Of all things, the room was closed up, so the stench wasn’t going anywhere.
(Even though her body shape is the emperor’s tastes.)
She possessed a full body—even with her collar completely done up, it was noticeable. Her features were a little sharp, but she didn’t seem dim-witted. It was probably within the His vigorous Majesty’s defensive range.
Maomao snuck a glance at the notebook the quack doctor was holding. The name of the low ranking consort who stunk like perfume, who was currently before them, was written on the page. The consort’s medical history was also noted there. And not just that, there was also a memo of the number of visits she got from the emperor.
(Ah, I knew it. She is his tastes.)
It was written that he had visited her once. He probably didn’t return because of the overwhelming stench of the perfume.
She thought it was frank and vulgar, but the records of the rooms in the inner palace were taken in detail. They were also obligated to report it to the court physicians. Rather than an obligation, it was honestly stringent.
(Yeah, like Empress Gyokuyou’s time and such.)
When Maomao was in the Jade Palace, his majesty came once every three days.
On whether they actually did it, they had to be on alert outside the room. The head maid Honnyan normally did it, but in the cases where it was tiring when he came in consecutive days, Maomao took over.
(Nah, I’m just used to it from the pleasure district.)
Even for Maomao, who got used to his majesty and Empress Gyokuyou’s lovemaking to a certain extent, they were considerably advanced. Even just the sound through the walls was quite tough. She always thought it would probably be mortifying for Honnyan, the single woman in her thirties.
During that occasion where they noted it down several times like so, she thought that this place was already different from the outside world.
He probably wouldn’t visit this low ranking consort again if this present situation were to continue. Perhaps due to the fact that she had been chosen, she was strangely lofty, but Maomao, on the contrary, felt that was pitiful instead.
By being chosen, leaving the inner palace becomes distant.
(If she didn’t have this smell at least.)
Wouldn’t your nose go strange with this much perfume? Maomao thought.
No, she didn’t think wrong, it looked like it was that in actual fact.
The consort opened her small shapely mouth widely. Rather than a habit, it seemed like she breathed through her mouth.
Normally, living beings breathe through their noses. Cats, dogs, and so on. Humans too, also breathe that way, but.
Could her nose be blocked the reason she was breathing through her mouth? If she had a habit of breathing through her mouth since young, it could influence the shape of her teeth.
Just that moment, her dad opened her mouth. The rows of her teeth weren’t bad. It seems her dad had the same thought as Maomao.
“Do you sneeze often?” he asked.
“Yes,” the consort replied.
“It is common from Spring to the beginning of Summer. It’s gotten quick bad since coming to the inner palace.”
“Is it difficult to sleep well?”
“I can sleep if my nose wasn’t blocked.”
He noted it down with a flourish.
The quack looked dazed, so Maomao passed the medicine box to her dad.
What her dad took out was medicine for nasal inflammation. “Please use this. Stop using it when it gives you insomnia. Also, it may increase the amount of urination, but that shouldn’t be an issue.”
Also, her dad added. “I believe the incense you are currently using isn’t good for the body. If you are to use it, it would be better to light a small amount. Your physical condition will improve.”
“I understand.” As if the consort was relieved that it was sinusitis, she answered meekly.
It was what Maomao had noticed; it wasn’t that her dad didn’t know. Furthermore, he had gently pointed out that the incense was strong. If she didn’t have a stuffed nose, how would she have known how strong the stench was herself?
When they left the consort’s room, her dad studied the tree. It was blooming with a lot of brightly coloured summer flowers.
“Where was the consort from?” he asked.
“It seemed she hailed from the north-west. It’s close to a desert, so the climate must have also been intense,” the quack said as he flipped open the notebook.
Her dad slowly turned around to Maomao and the others. “Well then, shall I ask you a question while we’re at it? What did you think is the cause of the consort’s nasal inflammation?”
He proposed them a riddle, eyes squinting gently. Maomao was going to raise her hand, but her dad stared her down so she slowly lowered them. The question wasn’t directed to Maomao, but Yao and En’en.
The one who raised her hand slowly was Yao. “Could it be the fact that her room was sealed shut?”
Certainly, the room was tightly sealed. That was why the smell didn’t leave and it stunk.
(There’s that too.)
The room looked clean, but it wasn’t known if it was properly ventilated. They didn’t see her bedroom, but it might have been dusty.
“If the bedroom is filthy, bugs will grow and it can harm the body.”
That certainly wasn’t impossible. However, Maomao had a different opinion.
(I wouldn’t think that consort had given up on his majesty’s visits.)
The consort wouldn’t be negligent on maintaining her bedroom. In a certain meaning, her strong incense can be taken as a form of personal grooming. She couldn’t measure it with her blocked nose, though.
Maomao looked at the plants growing in the garden.
(A bad nasal inflammation from Spring to the beginning of Summer.)
She crouched down and picked the grass growing on the side of the road. Mugwort—a herb she often used for moxibustion. It’s a ubiquitous plant, but it probably didn’t grow in the consort’s hometown.
Maomao made a bored look, and as if her dad was saying, “What an impatient child”, he took the mugwort she picked off her hands.
“The consort’s bedroom is pristine,” he said. “She should be maintaining her room, so it wouldn’t be an issue whenever his majesty comes. Especially in the case he were to visit even once.”
Being told that her answer was wrong, Yao made a look of discontent.
Her dad praised her to put her into good spirits. “Your perspective was good. You can get ill from unsanitary conditions. This is especially important in the bedroom.”
Like she was not as dissatisfied as she would have them believe by being praised, but then she was praised by a eunuch, Yao made a mixed expression.
(I would’ve given the correct answer.)
Maomao was being childish towards someone younger than her, but her dad was one of the few people she behaved like a spoilt child towards.
“The reasons for her sneezes could be related to the plants and flowers,” he said.
It was different from a cold. When you breathe in the pollen and spores of plants, you can sneeze and your nose would run.
“Pollen can have a detrimental effect to your body, so you sneeze.”
Her dad had stated clearly, but normally, wouldn’t he say this to Maomao: Can you think about another reason that can harm your body? But, it was probably easier for the two to understand if they are told that here. Aside from Yao and En’en, even the quack doctor was in awe.
(No, you should be the one that’s teaching that.)
Maomao’s thoughts reached the back of her throat; she held it back.
It was Yao who raised her hand again. There was a part she was bothered about, but Maomao had to approve of her enthusiasm for her studies.
“If pollen has a detrimental effect to the body, then why isn’t everyone sneezing?” she asked.
Her dad smiled. “You have a point. But, like how there are people who catch colds and those who don’t, there are people who are affected by pollen and those who don’t. Also, there are those that suddenly get affected one day. For example, when a person’s constitution happens to get worse. Like when you live in a new place after you journey from a distant place.”
In other words, that consort.
(I already knew that.)
Maomao frowned. Her dad gave her a troubled expression.
Court physicians would arrogantly declare that people were trying to steal their skills, but her dad was different. He would explain it nicely to anyone.
It was a little vexing, but Maomao was also an adult. Reluctantly, she fixed her expression and headed to the next consort’s place.
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After visiting around ten consorts, the last place they went to was the aforementioned Airin’s building. It was somewhat difficult to call that foreign woman as a consort. It wasn’t because she was a foreigner. If there was such a distinction, the barbarian princess Empress Gyokuyou would also be the same.
The reason Maomao couldn’t see Airin as a consort was only that she couldn’t consider that she had entered the inner palace with the position of a consort.
A friendly exemplary maid opened the door and led them to the same room as last time.
Before they went inside, En’en nudged her sleeves.
(Yeah, yeah, I know.)
It was said that Maomao was an accomplice and the main offender was done by Yao.
As for Maomao, En’en thought that she could support by improvisation, but that cannot do. So En’en was just supporting Yao.
And so, it was about when they would propose the issue.
Because she had been purposely called out, Airin showed up with a feverish expression. Was it an act, was it true, there was no way of knowing. However, her flushed cheeks had a strange charm.
(Her chest is huge.)
Maomao subconsciously made grabby hand motions. As her physical condition was bad, the consort was wearing an outfit that was close to nightwear. One maid’s gaze wavered as if she was saying that it was immodest.
“Well then, I’ll take your pulse.”
No matter how sexy her outfit was, the men here don’t have their important thing. There was an elderly man and an old man; they were already withered, so seductive techniques don’t work on them.
Seeing her symptoms, her dad prepared her medicine. The area around her neck was stiff, so the medicine had arrowroot mixed into it.
Maomao looked at unsettled Yao next to her. It looked like she wanted to catch a chance to speak to the consort. At this rate, it would be better to say nothing.
However, the one who skilfully helped out was her reliable subordinate.
A crisp sound could be heard in the examination room.
It was the sound of someone eating the lightly baked crackers, the tea snacks, that had been prepared on the table. En’en was eating the cracker with a deadpan expression.
Yao scolded En’en. Yao had spoken out, so her dad and the quack no longer had any part to play. However, the usual En’en probably wouldn’t be doing such a rude and wanton thing.
“My apologies. This looked really delicious,” En’en said.
“It’s fine. That’s why I took it óut,” Airin said, her expression languid.
Did you bring that? En’en exchanged looks with Yao. The latter finally noticed that it was her cue.
“It certainly does look delicious. The sweets we received last time was also very delicious. They were very unusual white sweets,” Yao said.
The cookies had a slightly unusual shape, but it wasn’t white. In other words, Yao was teasing that they had solved the secret message.
Airin’s expression was unchanged, instead, the maid gave a mysterious look. She might not have known that there were pieces of paper inside those cookies. Or it could have probably been explained away as lots to her.
“That’s good to hear. I actually have an interest in making sweets. I also have some today, so if you like please take some back with you.”
Airin made a light smile. Whether she had read Yao’s hints or not, it was hard to judge with her expression. It was a sight to see what kind of sweets she was going to give them.