“We’ll take it out altogether.”
Apparently, they were able to borrow the lounge room immediately. The room could fit around ten people, so it was spacious for three. They faced each other on the long table and took out the baked treats with aplomb.
Maomao looked at the three pouches. The number of baked treats totalled seven, seven, and six. Only one had less. The one who put out the lacking one was Yao. The court lady looked away awkwardly. “I-I kind of bit into it.”
“I see,” Maomao said, looking at the torn piece of paper with smudged letters. There were exactly seven pieces of paper. Like Maomao’s, there were one or two letters written on it.
En’en’s didn’t have any paper despite having the treats.
“Have you not taken it out yet?”
“No, mine didn’t have any at all.” En’en showed her the tube-shaped treats. There was nothing stuffed inside. If Maomao believed her words, seven pieces plus seven pieces, what kind of meaning could the letters in those fourteen pieces of paper make?
(Will the meaning come out if we line them back up together?)
Like she had the same thoughts as Maomao, Yao scrambled the papers and lined them back up. To know whose was whose, Maomao’s papers had a crease.
They lined up the letters, but not just Yao, even Maomao and En’en tilted their heads.
“En’en, you understand it?” Maomao asked.
“My apologies. I only know a smattering. It’s not conversational level yet,” En’en replied.
So it appears that she could read and write somewhat of what her dad had written. Looks like Yao doesn’t know it at all.
Yao looked at Maomao in displeasure. “What about you?”
“I’m the same. I can still understand some if I line it up with vocabulary.”
She was probably not much different from En’en. However, when they lined up the letters somehow, they weren’t able to get any meaning. She felt she would somehow get it if she did it straightforwardly, but it would take an extraordinary amount of time. Unfortunately, one piece was chewed so the letter couldn’t be deciphered anymore. As if she knew that, Yao was a little quiet.
“Do we have anything else that we can use as a hint?” Maomao looked at the baked treats. The treats were all shaped the same way. Of course, they weren’t completely identical, but it wasn’t something that she could differentiate with her eyes.
“What about the flavour?”
Maomao sniffed them. They all have the same scent, so even if she were to try one, it would be the same. And besides, at this point in time, there was no more knowing which piece belonged to which treat.
“Does it truly have no particular meaning, then?”
En’en tilted her head. “Come to think of it, didn’t some temple put lots inside treats to tell the fortune?”
If these were lots, then would the letters here mean fortune? It didn’t seem to be the case as far as Maomao could see.
“If these are lots, then why does one of ours have nothing inside them? That’s the part I’m concerned about.”
At Maomao’s insight, the both of them also nodded.
When they were given the baked treats, it didn’t look like the consort was looking at anyone in particular.
“!?” Maomao looked at the cloths that had wrapped the treats. Maomao’s and Yao’s were plain; only En’en’s was patterned.
Maomao studied the patterned cloth. It looked like there was colour on the back of cloth; there were a lot of angular patterns.
“Could this be?” Maomao spread out the patterned cloth. Then she compared the patterns with the pieces of paper. She stacked the papers on top. She stacked them as she tilted her head. All the papers sorted nicely.
“In other words…”
The letters lined up side by side. Several words appeared. It looked like it became a sentence.
“Umm, how do you read that?”
“White, followed by question mark.”
“And then it’s know, right? Could this be real identity?”
One letter was gone, so it couldn’t be read. However, when they compared it with the rest of the words, they somehow got the meaning.
“Could this be maiden?”
“Looks like it.”
When Maomao considered them together…
“Do you want to know the real identity of the white maiden?”
She got goosebumps.
(Give me a break.)
Isn’t this already over? It’s troubling that it’s come back up again? Too insistent, much too insistent.
“What is this white maiden?”
It was Yao who tilted her head. Unlike Maomao, it seems she doesn’t know about the Lady Pai who had stirred up the capital. En’en was silent, looking at the row of words.
As for Maomao, this made her recall the matter about reporting to Jinshi as soon as possible. As she got up, someone grabbed her wrists.
“Where are you intending to go?”
It was En’en who caught her.
“Even if you ask me where. Isn’t this something you should report?” Maomao answered honestly. She was cautious. She wanted to be excused from carrying a bothersome secret on her own.
Let’s say that her actions were exemplary.
“I don’t think it’s wrong to report it.” Unusually, Yao also supported Maomao. If Yao said so, Maomao thought that En’en would stay silent, but…
“What kind of person would suddenly give out such a puzzle to mere court physician apprentices?” En’en looked at Maomao. It was as if she was saying that Maomao knew Airin.
(No, I don’t really know her.)
However, she understood that the consort was a somewhat suspicious person. A person who entered the inner palace alone to escape from her country. And even if they were to report this, there was a high possibility that she was well versed with the art of escaping.
“Could this also be some exam?”
Now that the court lady mentioned it, it seemed so. It was harsher for court physician apprentices to get shaken off compared to other court ladies. You can get cut on the spot when they think you’re incapable even if you had passed the exam.
It wasn’t entirely outside of the realm of impossibility.
Maomao felt that it was indeed outside the realm of responsibility for court physician assistants. Firstly, to solve this puzzle, you have to understand some semblance of western language. Moreover, it was not necessarily the case that the three of them own the information from the baked treats.
It was like they were seeking for talents who can compare various composite sides and apply it in a wide variety of uses.
It’s like a spy.
She can’t say it’s nothing if Jinshi were to get involved with this role.
If that was the case, it was not about reporting everything and anything, but also discretely asking Airin.
It was, but…
“I’m reporting this,” she said.
“Listen to me! What if this is an exam!?” Yao flared up at Maomao.
If it was an exam, it would be limited to a fail. Maomao already got the qualifications to be court physician assistant. Still, it’s not like the numbers of assistants would decrease any more than this.
“Please be at ease. You two get in touch with the consort,” Maomao said.
It was enough to have these two pass the supplementary exam. If they were to take the supplementary exam, she didn’t know what else they had to do.
(Can they do it?)
As for Maomao, she only thought of doing odd jobs like cleaning and serving tea while learning medicinal compounds from her dad and other court physicians and occasionally trying new medicines on sturdy military officials who show up at the office. This would have been a slight happiness, and yet…
However, the two’s expressions were scary.
Grabbing firmly onto Maomao, and glaring. It was mostly Yao though. “This thing can’t be solved without the three of us together. If you are reported alone, consider us the same.”
“Is that so?”
And speaking of what they wanted to say:
““You are an accomplice too.””
Yao and En’en’s voices overlapped.
Maomao raised her hands slightly and smiled wryly.