Volume 8, Chapter 21: Life on the Ship (3)

Written on the log:

Seasick: three 

Injured: two 
In poor health: one 

“Ahhh, how busy.” The quack doctor wiped away from his forehead the sweat that didn’t come from simple medical examinations and medicine dispensing.

They had been on board the ships for several days. There were still people who have yet to get used to the swaying of the ship. Even so, with the wind picking up, the rocking had lessened.

“You think so?” Maomao found the medical office near the military section much busier, but it must be bustling for the quack who worked in the inner palace medical office that was deserted more often than not.

A lot of seasick medicine had been prepared beforehand. That being said, they were to soothe, nothing more,  so she thought it would be more effective to give the people who come to the medical office with green faces a bucket and guide them to a well-ventilated place.

(This is why Rahan didn’t come.)

That miser has terrible seasickness. With the wierdo tactician brought along, it would be more convenient to have that guy come too, but he must have turned it down with some excuse. Despite being the way he is, he is the scion of the clan, so it’s not like he can leave the house empty.

She had thought that the weirdo tactician might have noticed Maomao and would come on the ship she was on, but there was nothing at the moment. He’s likely out of commission from seasickness.

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“Well then, shall we have some dim sum? Lass, call him over.” When there were no patients, the quack prepared tea. That being said, they can’t boil water as there was hardly any fire being used. He had been steeping the tea in cold water.

There were three cups. Three pastries too. The pastries were high-class on ship, but they were what they had received from Jinshi’s doctor’s visit. Since that time, they had been prepared pastries each time, and were given souvenirs each time.

(Are they trying to curry favour?)

Sighing, Maomao looked outside the medical office.

“What is it, Lass?”

There stood a man that was around two heads taller than Maomao. It was Rihaku. She was told the man will be guarding them, but he was carrying two weights. He had free time just by standing around, so it seems he was training.

“It’s time for dim sum,” she said.

“Thankee for that.” After setting down the weights, he entered the medical office. When the large man came in, the room couldn’t help feeling a little cramped.

“Rihaku-san, you okay with sweets?” the quack asked.

“I can eat anything,” the military official answered.

“Is that so? Want sugar in your tea?”

“Eh? That’s a thing?”

“Apparently they do that in the south.”

“Sounds interesting! Put in a whole heap for me!”

While excited by the prospective taste, the quack was going to put precious sugar into the cold brew tea. Maomao snatched the sugar away from him. “You can’t do that. It’s a high-class item.”

“Ehhh,” the quack pouted.

This eunuch had been using the unused medicine from the medical office for tea for a long time, and had started to do something bad. She must hide away the sugar and honey.

(There is no such thing as sweet teas.)

Maomao had a savoury palate. She liked salty things and wine. She cannot forgive sweetness in tea.

“Just a little bit should be fine, right—?” Rihaku also pouted.

The talkative eunuch and the good-natured military official. They look incompatible, but they immediately got along.

It wasn’t a mistake to pick Rihaku.

That being said, the quack doctor was made to be dad’s substitute without his knowledge. If he were to know of the truth, how would he take it?

(Is it the best to keep silent?)

It would be a failure to tell careless information to this type of person. That was what Maomao thought.

(If Jinshi also treated me like this…)

So Maomao thought as she immediately denied it.

No doubt Jinshi had told Maomao, believing that it was better for her to know. For Maomao too, the choice of her knowing or not was easy to choose.

That gorgeous imperial brother is a capable man. At the very least, his actions are based on thought, not reflex.

Since he had thought deeply about it, even if it wasn’t perfect, it was an answer Maomao could roughly understand, so she had no complaints either.

Was she angry that the quack was being used as a decoy?

Or—

“Lass, are you not eating?” Rihaku asked.

“I am.” Maomao picked up a dim sum.

There were pickles in the mochi. As a way to preserve it, the flavouring was a little rich, so it was just perfect diluted down with tea.

She spat out a keh as she ate. Tasty.

“It’s not sweet, yeah?” The quack looked dejected.

“It’s delish. It looks simple, but this pastry is not half bad,” Rihaku said.

“That was what the Prince of the Moon had handed down to us.” The quack looked prideful for some reason.

As Maomao poured herself another cup of tea, she looked out the small window. “I can see land.”

“Oh, really?” The quack also looked out the window.

“I heard we’ll reach the port at noon, but we’re running a little late. Well, it’s probably within the margin of error.” Rihaku checked the notebook. “We’ll be really busy since we’ll be departing in the morning after one night of rest.”

Maomao made a dubious look. “Which ship is that old man on?”

“That old man is on the leading ship.”

Rihaku understood who that old man was.

(He might come here when he’s not seasick anymore.)

Maomao twisted her face. It would be a pain if he boarded the same ship as her, even as a mistake.

“If it’s about that old man, I think you can rest assured that he will be taken to a banquet once we disembark. The imperial clan is on a long voyage after all. There has to be diplomacy,” Rihaku said.

“I heard about the banquet. There will be one court physician going, but since I won’t be going, lass doesn’t need to go either. Rather, who is that old man?” The quack doctor looked at her blankly, but Maomao ended up ignoring him as there was something else on her mind.

“Diplomacy. I see.”

“That’s right. Here, can you see?” Rihaku took out a simple map from the notebook. He pointed to the ships’ route and the coastline. “Although it’s under Rii, it is another country.”

There was a border drawn on the simple map as well.

“The princess of this country was in the inner palace a couple of years ago. I heard she got bestowed though.”

The story was really familiar.

“That would be Consort Fuyou. No, she’s not a consort now,” the quack said.

“Ahhh, that person?”

At the quack’s words, Maomao clapped her hands. The consort who had danced on the inner palace wall before. She heard that the consort is a princess of a vassal state.

“Then, would Fuyou-san be present as well?” the quack asked.

“Ahh, I don’t think so.” Rihaku refuted. “It’s her, right? The princess who was bequeathed as a medal of merit when a military official rendered distinguished services, right?”

“I guess so. Although it’s a vassal state, I find it improper that a princess from another country was freely offered.”

(There has to be more than meets the eye about that part.)

Upon hearing that the military official originally knew Princess Fuyou, there is a high chance that their relatives are also acquaintances.

If Princess Fuyou hadn’t fulfilled her duty as a consort, they might have thought that it would be favourable for her to immediately leave the inner palace.

“A man with a deed of arms cannot simply return to his own country,” Rihaku said.

“Ahh, is that so,” the quack said.

“However, he got a bride from the inner palace, huh. If I got the deed of arms, I would prefer cash on hand though.”

“Rihaku-san, that’s surprising. You don’t look like the type to be greedy for money.”

“I have a number of things too.”

(Like wanting to redeem an uber high-class courtesan and stuff, yeah.)

How much has Rihaku saved up at this point of time? His career seemed to be going well, but honestly, if he doesn’t strike it rich soon, Pairin-neechan will turn into the madam.

Maomao looked out the window again.

(If we’re arriving in the evening, the shops would probably be already closed.)

It was quite south from the capital, but they probably can’t immediately leave the ship as soon as they arrive.

It would be nice if there were night markets, but those shops probably didn’t really sell what Maomao desired.

(Like baked pastries, grilled skewers, and fruits.)

No, if it’s like that, it would be fun though.

“Is someone coming?”

Outside the medical office was the sound of approaching footsteps that halted. There was a knock on the door.

“Come in,” the quack answered.

It was Chue who came in. “Excuse me.”

“What is it? Is the Prince of the Moon unwell?”

“No, I came with a request.” Her small eyes looked at Maomao. “I want to borrow a person to be a food taster for tonight’s banquet.”

The quack and Rihaku also faced Maomao.

(No, I’m not against that job.)

However, she was against going to places where the weirdo tactician will be. When she wondered how she should evade it, Chue was showing her something.

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“…”

She was showing Maomao dried mushroom. Dried shiitake mushrooms, from the looks of it.

(Nggggh.)

Was it Jinshi’s suggestion, or Suiren’s?

Shiitake mushrooms are a high-class mushroom. It is rare to find them growing in nature.

(If they can be cultivated, they’ll sell really well, though.)

It is known as Koushin (香蕈, xiang xun), a medicine that is beneficial for anaemia and high blood pressure.

It is good as medicine, and when rehydrated, delicious for cooking as well.

The attendant called Chue, was she teasing Maomao? The attendant hid the shiitake mushroom she had flashed at Maomao, and then fluttered it with the back of her hand. Her hands went out of sight, then it increased by two or three. It was like she was doing magic.

“What shall it be?” Chue spoke politely, but Maomao had no options.

While looking apologetic, she was forcing Maomao into it. It can be said that was exactly how Jinshi does things.

“…understood,” Maomao said.

“In that case, take this.” Chue immediately produced some clothes out of thin air and presented it to Maomao. “Please change into these clothes. If you like, I’ll put make-up on you too.”

Makeup brushes and brushes for rouge were held out between Chue’s fingers. Her movements were like a villain concealed weapon user from a play.

(What do I do? She’s inteeense.)

Her simple introduction as Baryou (Basen’s older brother)’s wife wasn’t sufficient.

(Even under normal circumstances, there are a lot of intense people around me.)

Was it because of Chue’s plain face, that her insides were steeled? Does she need the mental fortitude to just go against the headstrong women of the Ma Clan?

(I might get buried.)

Should I show some character so I won’t lose to her, Maomao thought, but she didn’t have a need to stand out.

“No thanks with the makeup. Please give me that.” Maomao pointed to the shiitake mushrooms.

“Is that so?” Being treated normally, Chue looked a little sad. She passed the dried shiitake mushrooms to Maomao.

(From the looks of it, how many types of herbal medicines did he bring?)

While thinking that, Maomao gazed at the shiitake mushrooms.

 

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