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Near the imperial court, there was another large villa close to the one Ah Duo resided in. It was primarily a place to offer hospitality to foreign guests. It seems the priestess and her entourage were staying there this time.
Maomao, Yao, Ruomen and a couple of escorts showed up at the villa to see the priestess for a medical interview. Maomao recognised the escorts’ faces. They were the eunuchs she met last time in the inner palace. With the priestess being the other party, this villa became half forbidden to men.
“It’s a slightly peculiar place.”
Although it was close to the imperial court, it was in the opposite direction to the dorms where Maomao and Yao were living in. Maomao never really had the chance to scrutinise it. She had seen it every time she went to Ah Duo’s place, but now that she looked at it properly, it was certainly an unusual structure.
Could she say that it had the air of a foreign country? Atmosphere-wise, rather than Sha’ou, the impression it gave was closer to western architecture. It wasn’t something that Maomao had personally witnessed, but it resembled the illustration in a borrowed book she had read a long time ago. It was built from timber and had bricks in various places; the top half of the windows were a semi-circle. Glass was used here and there; it could certainly be deemed as luxurious. In the garden, there was an arch fashioned out of roses, surely a sight to be seen during the flowering season.
While the servants’ outfits were slightly peculiar, they all had black hair and eyes like the people of Rii.
(Since they won’t employ foreigners in a place that has an important person from a foreign country.)
If there were spies, it won’t turn into a simple matter. Even the old gardener lady who was covered in dirt would have had a thorough background check.
When they entered the building, a woman with foreign features came forth to greet them. She was tall, and her hair was a light shade of brown. The colour of her eyes resembled olives, a hue in the middle of dark green and yellow.
“Thànk you for waiting.” It seems this person was no different with her characteristic pronunciation. “Cóme in.”
They went inside as they were told.
The interior was more refined than the exterior. The floor was paved with stone and there were carved stone pillars here and there. What seemed to be imported ornaments were arranged symmetrically. Dropping that would probably amount to turning a commoner’s lifetime of gold into bubbles, she thought as she gave them a sidelong glance.
It quickly got darker the deeper they headed in. The curtains at the windows were drawn, shutting out the light from outside.
(Which reminds me, she’s an albino.)
White hair, white skin and red eyes. Some among them have light blue eyes, gold hair, but all are weak to sunlight. According to her dad’s words, albinos lack the colours people are supposed to have and because of that deficit, are completely subject to the brunt of sunlight.
Along with obstructing the light from the window, light sources were set by their feet. Candles were being used in the daytime, set equally spaced along the floor of the corridor. They released a sweet fragrance. How extravagant, Maomao thought.
“Wé are here. My apológies, but can the men wait here?”
“Understood.” Her dad, Ruomen, and the escorts stopped in front of the entrance.
Maomao and Yao went inside the room. The interior was dim and filled with a sweet fragrance. Orange lights wavering, they would see a figure on the canopied bed.
“I have brought thém.”
A woman who seemed to be the attendant stood by the bed. She had dark skin. When Maomao tilted her head at the somewhat familiar face, Yao reacted first.
“Ah.” Yao’s stupid voice resounded.
Maomao nudged Yao. As she did so, she recalled why she recognised the attendant. It was the foreign woman who brought along the foreign girl called Jazuguru from the other day. She had an inkling that the woman was wealthy from the embroidered cloth they had received from her as gratitude for bringing back the lost child, but to think that she was the priestess’ attendant.
(So Priestess-san also eats frogs.)
From the fact that killing was condemned and stuff, Maomao had thought that the priestess wouldn’t eat meat and fish. When she heard that the priestess was ill, she had also thought that she would have malnutrition from not eating meat, but could that be wrong?
The dark skinned woman also seemed to remember them; surprise flittered across her face for a moment. She returned to her former serious expression. That’s right, they were here for work, so they had to keep official business separate from their private lives.
The priestess’ accent was stronger than the attendant. The one who pulled away the curtain to show her face was certainly an albino beauty. Maomao heard that the priestess was in her forties, but she had laugh lines befitting her age. The woman was lying down so it was hard to see, but she was probably quite on the tall side. If Maomao had to say it, she seemed plump, but she didn’t look fat with her arms long.
(If she was a lot younger and skinner…)
She was the spitting image of the foreign woman drawn by the artist who only drew beauties. And–.
(If you say they look similar, they do.)
Speaking of who to, it was Lady Pai.
Maomao had a secret task from Rahan.
(Whether that this priestess really has the qualifications of a priestess, or…)
That she has already lost the qualifications of a priestess by giving birth to the child called Lady Pai.
Maomao was here to ascertain that.
(To probe whether she had given birth is somehow…)
The fastest way to do it was to take a quick look at her abdomen, but that was probably impossible. Maomao might be able to do it if she gradually questioned the priestess about gynecological disorders, though.
(If I can’t, there’s one other way.)
During pregnancy, the abdomen will suddenly grow during the tenth month. It will swell up like it is about to burst and then contract following childbirth. The stretch marks from that occasion are known as pregnancy stretch marks. Speaking of why this occurs, the skin cannot catch up with the rapid swelling of the abdomen, so it tears.
(Neither Empress Gyokuyou and Consort Rifa have it, though.)
There is a higher possibility to get it from normal childbirth. Of course, there is also the possibility that there isn’t, but checking for it was one method she can use.
(At the very least, I wonder if I can have her show me her abdomen.)
Maomao slowly dipped her head and approached the bed. They had already allocated their roles. Yao will be the one recording and Maomao will be the one doing the medical examination. It seemed as though Yao wanted to conduct the examination herself, but based on other court physicians, Maomao’s technique for pulse measurement was more accurate, so she relented.
Maomao also understood in many ways why En’en doted on Yao. Yao is too straightforward, and for someone contrary, an existence that is sometimes irritating and sometimes dazzling.
Like how Yao understood why En’en had been chosen as Jinshi’s maid, she accepted the evaluation of Maomao’s ability as well.
Beforehand, they had the other party to show them the book that had the condition of the priestess and what treatments she had gotten recorded down. Maomao had conferred with Dad and guessed a number of illnesses.
“May I take your pulse first?” Maomao spoke slowly in a way that was easy to understand.
Maomao touched the outstretched hand. It was soft to touch. Due to the priestess’ white skin, the location of her blue veins was conspicuous, easy to trace.
Maomao placed three fingers on the priestess’ wrist. She felt the heart beats. How many beats within a single timeframe, she counted. Maomao told Yao the heart rate with her fingers, wherein the latter noted it down on portable stationery.
“Are you a little nervous? Your pulse seems a little fast,” Maomao said.
Apparently, there were words she couldn’t understand, the priestess tilted her head. When the woman next to her translated in a foreign language, she replied with a smile. “Yéh, á líttle.”
Her heart rate wasn’t out of the ordinary, so it shouldn’t be an issue.
“May I touch your face? I want to check your eyes and tongue.”
Maomao touched the priestess’ cheeks with both hands. She had laugh lines, but aside from that, her skin was very supple and beautiful.
She pulled down her lower eyelid, examined her eyes. Opened her mouth and had her stick out her tongue.
(In a way, it’s good fortune.)
Maomao thought about their meeting with the girl called Jazuguru from the other day.
(Pomegranate, and hasma.)
That time, a lot of what the attendant had bought had been ingredients for medicine. However, there was nothing written about it on the document that had been passed over to them.
Maomao glanced at the attendant who was standing by the bed. The attendant who had been surprised just then now looked like she was unsatisfied with something.
(Could that be prescribed medicine? Or was it all a coincidence?)
There are cases where you can harm your body by taking too much medicine.
“Excuse me, but about what you normally prefer to eat and stuff, can you record it down in detail?” Maomao asked.
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The one who replied was the attendant.
She smoothly wrote it down, but the problem was that it was in a foreign language. In various places, there was vocabulary that Maomao didn’t understand, so she had to consider that whilst translating it afterwards. Either way, Dad will be the one to hand down the diagnosis in the end, so she will wait for that.
“Then, can you open up your outer garment?” Maomao asked.
It seems her worries about whether she’ll get a reply was unfounded.
Maomao got the priestess to slowly open her outer garment. The sleepwear was because the other party had known that they would be coming to give her a medical examination, so it was fastened at the front. A pair of breasts came into view, the navel as well.
“…may I touch?” Maomao asked.
“Go ahead,” the priestess said.
Maomao touched directly, and while weighing the differences in sound, looked at her abdomen.
(There are no pregnancy stretch marks.)
With her plump belly, it might have been hard for her to get stretch marks in the first place, or she might not have given birth. There was the possibility of being mistaken starting from her presumption.
She had been quite slender in the drawing. If she slimmed up, it would be easy for her to get stretchmarks for how much her skin stretched.
Above all, it might have been that there was nothing strange from the start.
And speaking of why Maomao thought that…
(Her breasts are tiny in proportion to her body fat.)
For those whose menarche never came, there was the possibility of their gender being intersex. Male, female, and not either. That possibility was there due to her small breasts, but it could also be that she originally had small breasts.
Whether she had given birth or not, there was no way of knowing for certain. Even her illness, depending on whether she had her menstrual period or not, can change.
Maomao examined as her brows twitched up and down.
She examined but she didn’t know, she didn’t know, but she felt gloomy for some reason.
(I wonder if I overlooked something.)
She felt out of sorts, but without noticing what, the medical examination ended.
(If she would show me what’s below as well…)
No, let’s stop. This was the first examination. Just having her show the top half of her body was enough. Even among the consorts in the inner palace, there were those who are against showing their skin to strangers.
“You can put your clothes back on,” Maomao said.
The world wasn’t that optimistic to have everything finish in one go. It can’t be helped even if she kept tugging beyond that, so reporting the contents of the examination to Dad took precedence.
“We will speak with the court physician about what we’ve asked and examined today,” she said.
“Únderstood.” The attendant draped the outer garment over the priestess.
Maomao and Yao excused themselves and retired from the room.