Volume 7, Chapter 24: Summon

Something strange has happened again, hasn’t it?

It wasn’t that she was gloomy and couldn’t sleep at night from the sky falling, but could she be feeling this way because she became much too used to irritating matters?

Maomao cleaned up the medical office while lost in thought. The three court physician assistants’ work ended with this. Let’s cook a warm dinner once they’re back at the dorms.

“Ahhh, since today was such a breeze, it would be nice if tomorrow’s the same. If I have time after this, I can even go out for a meal—“

The young court physician asked En’en out when they finished work.

“You didn’t write a report. Court Physician Ryuu will be back soon, so it’s better if you do.”

En’en set the logbook before the court physician, then took out a jacket to drape over Yao.

“Milady, it’s chilly so please warm up.”

“…I know.”

A scarf was firmly wound around her neck.

Maomao put on her padded garment, then sidled over to stand before the young court physician. By the way, he is called Court Physician Ri, but they don’t really call him that as there were two other people with the same surname. His first name is Tenyuu, but Maomao and the others have never called him that. The reason being that Tenyuu had told them at the very beginning to, “feel free to call me by my name”. Maomao, Yao, En’en—considering the three’s respective personalities, they will never do so.

(T/N: The same Tenyuu as the Go lover employed at Jinshi’s office. They seem to be different people though. The LN equivalent of the document sorter is called Sei [静, qing] fyi.)

“Well then, excuse me,” Maomao said.

“Excuse me,” Yao said.

“Milady, what shall we have for dinner?” En’en said.

(Completely ignored, huh.)

It seems he had been persistently speaking to En’en today. Tenyuu waved from the medical office, but En’en didn’t wave back.

(Pork is good. Pork. Pork.)

Since it’s cold, I want to eat fatty pork—Maomao sent her thoughts to Yao. Once they left the medical office, the cold air bit into their ears.

“Hmm yes, I feel like chicken. Something grilled with a crispy exterior,” Yao said.

Maomao’s thoughts didn’t reach Yao. But chicken wasn’t bad either.

“Then we’ll need something that goes well with it.”

Maomao inserted herself into the conversation.

“Hmm yes, I might feel like namasu too,” Yao replied.

En’en looked at Maomao. “In that case, Maomao. We don’t have enough vegetables, so please go buy some.”

En’en’s eyes were saying, “Those who don’t work don’t deserve to eat.”

No other choice, Maomao nodded as she drooped her shoulders and shivered.

She decided to part ways with Yao and En’en and head to the market.




As the sun had set, more than half the vendors in the market had closed. The street stalls were already closed, so she looked for shops even though they were somewhat expensive.

(I wonder if there are any seasonal gourds. Carrot and daikon.)

She found a shop laid out with plump daikons and approached it. She looked at the price. It was expensive since it looked appetising. Was the price double the street stalls?

(I wonder if he’ll give me freebies.)

She tried to haggle with the vendor, but when the old man saw Maomao’s face, he took off a sorry fraction of the price. He might give her a better discount if Yao was here with her.

“Here, the money,” she said.

“’kay, gimme a moment.” The old man scrutinised the money he got from Maomao.

“I don’t think they’re iron coins though.”

(T/N: 鐚, bita, the lowest value coin that is made from iron.)

The value of money decreases when chipped. He may have given her a small discount, but she wouldn’t be able to take if he found fault with her.

“Ahh, my bad. There’s been bad guys about. There’s been a lot of impure coins lately.”

“They wouldn’t mix anything in such small change, right?”

Gold and silver aside, it would rougher if there were impurities in copper coins.

“Ahhh, my bad, my bad. I’ve been deceived before, so it seems like I got nervous. I’ll comp you with this.”

The old man skilfully tied up the carrot with the daikon, and added a turnip.

(If you do this, I guess I’ll forgive you.)

The leaf, picked in salt, will go well with congee. Let’s add the root to the namasu.

“It’s not just money. It seems that even stuff like kanzashi has things mixed in them. I hear it a lot, people buy it thinking it’s made from gold, only for it to be plated. You should be careful too, lass.”

It was a common story in open air markets. Shops can be immediately closed down, so these vendors call over customers with eloquent words, sell them inferior goods, and disappear before they realise it.

“Money aside, when it comes to jewellery, you can’t tell them apart. You can’t yell at them to take off the plating, and they use similar coloured metals so you can’t tell them apart,” the vendor explained.

“…there is a method to discriminate between the metals without needing to yell at them, you know.”


She gave the old man with a “suspicions will raise bogies” look. “Real gold is heavier than other metals, so—“

Fill a container to the brim. Put in the thing you want to measure in the container. Check the amount of water spilt out and prepare a metal that takes out the same amount of water.

“If they are made with the same materials, the weight will not change. If it has a lot of impurities in itself, it will be lighter,” she said.

“Ooh, was there such a method?”

“Yeah. It works for gold since it’s extremely heavy. It might be difficult for other things though.”

The old man understood it, so Maomao no longer had any business with him.

She decided to return quickly since it’s cold.




(Yesterday’s chicken was truly delicious.)

Maomao worked as she recalled yesterday’s dinner. While she was crushing medicinal herbs in the mortar, she swallowed her drool.

En’en’s cooking skill was quite good. Maomao planned to cook some too, but she was no match for the other court lady.

En’en had said that her older brother is a chef, but she was comparable enough to him.

The pale pink meat under the crispy grilled skin. The meat juices overflowed when you bit into it. It was seasoned with salt and black specks–that couldn’t have been pepper, right? En’en’s meal for Yao wasn’t half-rate; Maomao felt that, just for the meal expenses alone, most of their wages were slipping right through their hands.

Moreover, Maomao had recently been joining in with a lot of their meals, so their expenses probably increased.


Now that I think about it, I should pitch in for food expenses, Maomao reflected. It was more delicious than eating at an inferior shop. She should pay for the cost of materials.

“Yup, yup.”

“What are you nodding about?”

Before she realised, Yao was next to her.

“Court Physician Ryuu has been calling for you since a moment ago,” Yao said.

“Is that so?” Maomao packed away the medicinal herbs and mortar.

“I’ll do it, so please go. What did you do?”

“Nothing at the moment.”

Ahh, Maomao hasn’t done anything yet.

From Yao’s expression, she was probably making a joke. There was even some envy in it.

Maomao had more experience as a doctor than Yao and En’en, so the other two were commonly given other jobs. Maomao was usually recruited to pick medicinal herbs and such.

Apparently, Yao was vexed that she wouldn’t get the same job as Maomao. Her joke from just now also stemmed from there.

(She’s more gentle compared to before)

Did Yao change, or was it Maomao’s feelings that changed?

“Court Physician Ryuu, you called for me?” Maomao said.

“Yes, for this.”

The court physician passed a letter to her. Maomao recognised the seal pressed on beeswax.

(Empress Gyokuyou.)

Normally, the empress would do it in a different way through letter exchanges, but with Court Physician Ryuu bringing it, could it mean there was some urgent business?

“It seems she wants you to go to the palace immediately.”

The contents of the letter was the same. There were no details.

“Then, Ruo—”

“No, you alone.”

If it were to see the empress, the qualified one should be her dad, the eunuch. To have called Maomao alone–she tilted her head.

“You probably have questions, but as far as what the other party said, I wasn’t told anything. Come on, get a move on.”

Court Physician Ryuu had some thoughts about it as well, but the other party was the empress. Even if he’s in the position that manages court physicians, he cannot talk back to her.


Maomao decided to do as she was told.




She brought by carriage from the medical office to Empress Gyokuyou’s palace. It was also inside the imperial court, but since it moved from the outer court to the inner court, it was bad form to have Maomao totter over alone on foot.

She passed through many gates and reached the empress’ palace.

The palace in the inner palace was also plenty magnificent, but Empress Gyokuyou’s current palace was probably over triple in size.

She alighted from the carriage and stood before the door. The door opened on its own. It was a slender beauty who opened it.

(Was it Haku’u?)

(T/N: 白羽, Bai Yu, White Feather. )

Maomao remembered. Haku’u was a co-worker whom she had worked with in the Jade palace for a period of time. She was one of the three maids who came from Empress Gyokuyou’s hometown. The three maids were sisters born in consecutive years, and looked similar, but they were easy to tell apart through the colours of their accessories. The current maid was wearing a white hair cord, so it meant she had to be Haku’u.

She remembered that the other two were called Seki’u, and Koku’u.

(T/N: 赤羽, Chi Yu, Red Feather. 黒羽, Hei Yu, Black Feather. The names of the three sisters were introduced when they first appeared in volume 3 of the LN, so it’s nice to finally see them named in the WN.)

“Thanks for waiting. Please come in.”

Unlike the talkative three old-timers, Infa and the others, the three new girls were silent and mature.

Normally, when Maomao came here, Infa and the other would be raring to come greet her, but it was quiet today.

“…did something happen?”

And to summon Maomao alone like this—

“This is the room. Please ask directly.”

Haku’u guided Maomao to the parlour, and quickly left.

Maomao entered the room. Empress Gyokuyou was sitting on the couch, and Honnyan was beside her.

Maomao bowed her head. “It’s been a while.”

“Yes. We haven’t seen you in a long time.”

That said, the previous visit was the doctor’s visit, so has it been around a month?

“Do you know why I called you?”

Maomao shook her head.

Empress Gyokuyou’s voice was lower than usual. Even though the empress is usually cheery, eyes shining with the expectation for fun things.

(This facial expression—)

Maomao felt like she had seen it before.

When Maomao saw Empress Gyokuyou for the first time. She recalled the wary expression the empress had when she was confronting Consort Rifa,  when they were being menaced by an illness of unknown cause.

“It’ll be faster to explain without the indirectness, Honnyan.”

The empress looked at the head maid.

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Honnyan set a cloth pouch on the table. She unravelled the cloth to show a kanzashi.

The kanzashi was made from silver. It was an interesting make; a cage that looked like ground cherry dangled from it. The cage design was flashy, so Maomao understood it wasn’t made by a run of the mill artisan.


(It’s blackened in various places.)

Silver tarnishes quickly, but the blackened parts lowered the kanzashi’s charm by half. Also, the design itself was splendid, but as a whole, it looked like it was missing something for some reason.

Maomao tilted her head. “This is?”

“What I wore at the garden party.”

“At the garden party?” Maomao knitted her brows.

“I know what you want to say. There’s no way she would wear it at the garden party with the way it looks now,” Honnyan cut in.

(I know right–)

There was no way that Honnyan, who was quite fussy among the maids, would stay quiet and let the empress wear the accessory that even Maomao found lacking. Was there was something attached to this kanzashi?

“It was something I rushed the artisan to make, but it was made nicely. It’s blackened now though. Also, there’s a decoration inside the cage. It’s half the size of the cage.”

“Decoration, you say?”

A decoration inside the cage that looks like a ground cherry. It certainly looks good. It might jingle like a bell when you’re walking.

“Not that either, huh.”

The cage had thin gaps. It doesn’t look like it had fallen out.

“I wore this kanzashi at the garden party. It was already missing when I left my seat once to change my clothes at noon.”


Going by the course of the garden party during their days in the inner palace, there was no time to change clothes. However, there shouldn’t be any people who would approach the consorts.

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“Could a sticky fingered maid be mingled in?

Of course, not a maid who serves Empress Gyokuyou, but the maids who came to wait.

Empress Gyokuyou shook her head. On behalf of the empress, Honnyan opened her mouth.

“The kanzashi came back today slipped in among the gifts to the empress.”

Maomao took it that the maid who took the kanzashi had tried to return it out of a guilty conscience. Or could she have been made to hide the kanzashi among Empress Gyokuyou’s gifts?

(That’s impossible.)

This was a threat.

It meant that they could go near Empress Gyokuyou and could sneak into the palace’s goods.

Empress Gyokuyou had been served poison by other consorts during her days in the inner palace. She is now the mother of the crown prince and moved palaces, so Maomao felt that there wouldn’t be as much danger as before, but.

You can come back whenever.

The words that had been said countless times. It was about coming back to work for Empress Gyokuyou.

That wasn’t something said out of familiarity, Maomao realised belatedly.

“Maomao, can you catch the perpetrator?”

Empress Gyokuyou smiled anxiously as her fist quivered.

- my thoughts:
Two chapters left.
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