Translator’s notes: I’ve reset the sponsored chapter bar for the week since I’m expecting some more free time in the next few days. I’d like to thank Kimmy G. for donating despite the bar being filled up. I had previously said such donations wouldn’t count towards the next sponsored chapter, but for her I am going to make an exception. She was the one who requested this novel be translated on Novel Updates, so please join me in thanking her for making this happen, as well as for the progress towards the next sponsored chapter.
Four palace maids were kicked out in a row, making Eunuch Fu’s mood indescribably bad.
He had tried to knock some sense into them on several occasions, but it was in vain. His highness’s aura was too much for these palace maids who had just entered the estate. They weren’t like those who served the prince year round. Even those who were used to serving his highness would unavoidably make some occasional mistakes. Normally if it was harmless, his highness would disregard it.
Yet for some reason when it came to the low-ranked palace maids he arranged, a little mistake ended up getting them kicked out. It wasn’t like he could accuse the prince of being intolerant. He could only keep his depression to himself, narrowly avoiding spitting out a mouthful of his old blood in frustration.
Sensing that the remaining two before his eyes were also in imminent danger, Eunuch Fu felt like his heart couldn’t take it anymore. He needed to go find his “old buddies” for a chat. After going around, it turned out they were all busy with their work so he could only go find his old comrade Auntie Qi.
Eunuch Fu who was normally full of style in front of the low-ranked palace maids and low-ranked eunuchs now walked with his head lowered dispiritedly, his face collapsed as though his parents had passed away.
Auntie Qi saw his appearance and couldn’t resist covering her mouth, laughing a little and saying: “Isn’t this appearance a little exaggerated?”
Auntie Qi and Eunuch Fu had both served the Jing Prince’s mother the Venerated Concubine1 and watched the Jing Prince grow up. They also moved together with him to the vassal state and could be counted as veterans amongst his servants. The two worked together for a few decades and their relationship was extremely good. Therefore they didn’t have to care about their appearance in front of each other. Auntie Qi was naturally not surprised when seeing a side of Eunuch Fu that he wouldn’t reveal in front of others.
Hearing Auntie Qi’s teasing, Eunuch Fu nodded his head and spoke with a great deal of emphasis.
“It’s not exaggerated at all!”
Auntie Qi normally seemed as though she was imitating the Jing Prince’s apathetic expression, but at this moment her expression was lively, laughingly saying: “Enough, enough. You’re already old enough to be a grandpa. Is there a need to throw a child’s tantrum?”
This “grandpa’s age” was calculated based on the year and month Eunuch Fu entered the imperial palace. If he had remained in the palace, and continued doing well for himself, there would have been many low-ranked eunuchs calling him Grandpa Fu. The few low-ranked eunuchs in the Hall of Splendor also addressed him in this manner.
Eunuch Fu coughed a couple of times before resuming his normal expression, but it wasn’t long before he once again sighed and collapsed his waist.
“It’s getting harder and harder for me to accurately perceive master’s personality. Every time, it’s always right as I feel blessed by the heavens when he puts on such an episode. Six low-ranked palace maids –” Eunuch Fu wrote out a six in midair, his face as though he was mourning, “This year I even specially added an extra two, and now he’s already kicked out four of them.”
Regarding this situation, Auntie Qi’s head also hurt quite a bit.
Based on past ‘experience’, if all six were kicked out then Eunuch Fu would not be able to replace them for at least half a year.
Even if he brought it up the prince would not agree to it.
This would waste over half a year again.
If things dragged on, the prince would already be twenty-six. Which prince didn’t marry early and hold a child the very next year? Some had hard working wives and concubines and could be holding several in a year. Only the Jing Prince had no results up until now.
It wasn’t as if the few of them hadn’t hinted at this issue, but his highness either disregarded them completely or didn’t understand their meaning. After all, they couldn’t say it loudly and clearly. That’s why in their helplessness, those old buddies who had served for a long time got together to think of a plan.
Auntie Qi had also spent a lot of effort on this. Otherwise, would someone of her status personally train a bunch of little newcomers?
“How long has it been since his highness spent the night at the three eastern pavilions?”
Mentioning this made Eunuch Fu’s face look listless, and it was a while before he responded, “At least half a year.”
Auntie Qi wanted to complain about him not bringing it up to the prince a couple times, but knowing Eunuch Fu’s urgency regarding this matter, she was sure he would’ve mentioned it. Instead, due to his highness’s personality, all the words in his heart would be converted into a sigh in the end.
After a long time, Auntie Qi sighed and spoke a single sentence, “If the Venerated Concubine knew his highness would end up like this, would she have regretted her decision?”
Speaking of this was going far off topic.
Before the Jing Prince was born, his mother was not the Venerated Concubine yet, but was attendant Li instead. At that time, Senior Concubine Xu and the empress were struggling against each other, causing the situation in the palace to be tense and poised to explode.
Within the palace there would always be pregnant concubines who ended up miscarrying, or the baby would end up being stillborn. Within the few years, apart from the empress and the senior concubine, no one had been able to give birth to the emperor’s offspring.
Attendant Li was innately timid. After a coincidental coupling with the emperor, she found herself pregnant and became scared and on edge. She was scared of miscarrying, scared of complications arising during birth, scared of various things. She made the absurd decision to hide her pregnancy.
If it were anyone else it wouldn’t have been possible. But attendant Li lived in a remote location, and due to her timidity she rarely interacted with others. She didn’t have many acquaintances inside the palace, and was one of those attendants who the emperor went to once a year at best.
Therefore being invisible had its benefits. It was quite easy to keep hidden from people.
And so she secretly gave birth to the fifth prince. The difficulty and suffering in the meantime naturally didn’t need to be said.
After successfully giving birth to a prince, attendant Li was ecstatic, many times wanting to announce it. But at this time the struggle between the empress and the senior concubine at reached the boiling point. Concubine Xu had miscarried once and the empress’s two year old infant had died prematurely2. Attendant Li saw the situation and didn’t dare speak up anymore.
Afraid of the fifth prince’s cries being heard, she used a cloth to gag his mouth, only leaving his nose free to breathe. She kept the infant prince hidden in a dark room, never taking him outside.
The state of the imperial harem was grim and attendant Li had a timid nature. Keeping this secret made her jumpy and nervous. Before, when she needed to breastfeed, she would still go to the hidden room. After he was able to eat, she herself would almost never go anymore, letting her trusted palace maids and eunuchs do the feeding.
She kept a close watch on the situation outside, deeply afraid someone would suddenly come in. She didn’t trust others to do so, and could only be at ease if she were the one keeping a lookout. At that time Eunuch Fu and Auntie Qi could feel that Attendant Li’s mental state wasn’t quite normal anymore, but they were only servants and didn’t dare speak up. When they tried to hint at it they would be severely reprimanded by Attendant Li.
At this point attendant Li had been forgotten by everyone. She wasn’t favored to begin with and her position didn’t require her to go pay respects to the empress. She was a shut-in during her pregnancy, only allowing her trusted aides to serve her.
Originally the residence had a few other common palace maids and eunuchs but they had all left. After all, people walked uphill while water flowed downhill. This Attendant Li was either bed-ridden or neurotic during the day, and wasn’t favored. No one wanted to waste their time staying by her side.
The only people who would come were the palace maids and eunuchs who delivered the daily necessities. Only these people remembered there was an Attendant Li who lived in a corner of the palace.
The trusted aides by Attendant Li’s side were precisely the current Eunuch Fu and Auntie Qi.
Towards the increasingly on edge Attendant Li, the two of them were also at a loss but were unable to do anything about it. Furthermore, the two understood the situation in the palace clearly, and since their mistress stubbornly insisted on this manner of living, they couldn’t say anything about it and could only do their best to help keep the secret.
Six years passed.
The fifth prince remained by himself in the hidden room from a young age. Attendant Li was so afraid of the prince attracting people’s attention by speaking that she never taught him how to speak.
During this time, watching the seemingly wooden prince who couldn’t even speak, Eunuch Fu and Auntie Qi had also felt sorry for him. But Attendant Li seemed to have gone crazy and hiding her son had become the only thing on her mind. Apart from giving him food, no one was allowed to enter the hidden room for any reason.
The Jing Prince was discovered when he was six years old. He was still unable to speak and he was extremely apathetic in nature, as though he were a log of wood.
When the current emperor found out he suddenly had a six year old son, he discovered the origin after questioning and investigating. Although he was a little angry, he didn’t have the heart to scold the mother and son pair.
He even conferred Attendant Li the title of Venerated Concubine. But after gradually entering people’s perception, everyone realized that this concubine seemed almost insane and the fifth prince was a mute who couldn’t talk.
For the fifth prince’s hidden disability, Emperor Xi invited many famous doctors to treat it. They all said he was physically healthy but mentally scarred, and having not spoken since he was born he turned out like this.
Afterwards, the emperor also put his heart into getting people to teach and instruct the prince, but things had already been set. The prince was never able to speak.
An insane concubine and a mute wooden fifth prince. These two completely stabbed the current emperor’s sore spot in his heart. At first he felt a little guilty that his son turned out this way, but over time the guilt became disgust.
The Venerated Concubine passed away not long after. Within and without the palace, rumors spread that the fifth prince was a mute.
Hearing these rumors, Emperor Xi hated the fifth prince even more, feeling like he was losing his face, and normally didn’t bother with him, putting him in the back of his mind.
This was maintained as the prince slowly grew up, was conferred the Jing Prince title as he came of age and was sent far away to the Jing Province.
Regarding the struggles in the past, Eunuch Fu was just as clear as Auntie Qi, so hearing her words he could only sigh deeply.
Asking whether or not she would have regretted it was already too late. The Venerated Concubine had already passed away, and his highness’s personality had never changed. Especially since the reason he was allowed to slowly grow up back then was due to his status as a mute.
Although the prince was suddenly cured without the help of medicine and could speak after coming to the Jing Province, his personality still had no changes. It was even more apathetic than back at the capital.
Time and fate remained outside the grasp of understanding.
Auntie Qi also understood the reasoning and so she only sighed.
After a while, Auntie Qi picked up her spirits and said: “Forget it, don’t think too much. Aren’t there still two remaining?”
Eunuch Fu glanced at Auntie Qi. That’s right, there are still two remaining. That means he shouldn’t give up hope, right?
Thinking from this perspective, he was filled with energy again. Eunuch Fu stood up, patted his robes and said: “I’m heading out. Let’s keep up the good fight.”
His words made Auntie Qi laugh incessantly despite herself. She impatiently waved him off.
“Then get yourself going and fight.”
Eunuch Fu laughed and left.
With renewed spirit, Eunuch Fu returned to the Hall of Splendor. Remembering that his highness hadn’t spent the night in the eastern three pavilions in a while, he decided to paint using two brushes, tackling the problem from both sides.
That night after dinner, the Jing Prince went to read in the study.
Eunuch Fu stood at attention to the side, mulling over how to broach the subject.
There were only two people in the study, the silence making it seem time was frozen.
Eunuch Fu couldn’t think of a good excuse and decided he might as well just break it out. He was already old, excessive worry and excessive fussing was a normal thing, right? Right?
“Your highness, it’s been a while since you went to the eastern three pavilions. How about you go hang out at one of the madams’ places tonight?”
The room was still extremely silent, as though no one was there.
Eunuch Fu let out his usual sigh in his heart, and awaited the arrival of destiny. Based on the usual convention, the prince respond after a while. If he didn’t move or speak, then it meant he wouldn’t go.
Another while passed when the prince suddenly stood up and walked towards the outside.
Eunuch Fu’s face immediately bloomed in a smile, and he followed behind.
Reaching the alleyway before the three eastern pavilions, the prince’s steps stopped.
Eunuch Fu knew the prince was unsure of which place to go to. The Jing Consort’s health wasn’t good and they also didn’t get along well in the past, no need to consider that option. As a servant he had to be considerate, and think of everything before his master and resolve difficult situations for him. Especially since his highness was giving him face today, Eunuch Fu definitely didn’t want his hopes dashed.
“Your highness, how about going over to Senior Concubine Qiao’s place?”
The Jing Prince didn’t speak, his footsteps heading towards the direction of Rong Xi Pavilion.
Eunuch Fu’s heart immediately filled with tears, even giving birth to the idea that the prince was still as cute and obedient as he was when young.
The whole estate knew of the prince’s apathetic and taciturn character, and that he didn’t enjoy the charms of women and rarely visited the rear court. After a while, the three eastern pavilions all stopped leaving the door open at night. Senior Concubine Qiao also didn’t sleep well the night before and had gone to bed early.
What greeted the Jing Prince and Eunuch Fu were a pair of tightly shut pavilion doors.
Eunuch Fu silently cried out ‘not good’, and was about to disregard his own status and start pounding on the door but saw the prince pause before turning and leaving. Eunuch Fu followed behind, his heart weeping.
Why did things have to be so hard? He was finally able to convince his highness for once. Normally when he mentioned it several times, even succeeding once was worth burning incense over but they ended up running into this situation.
Eunuch Fu muttered in his heart that Senior Concubine Qiao really had no luck while saying with his mouth: “Master, how about going to the two madams’ place instead?”
He was mentally prepared. His highness would probably not listen this time.
As expected, even after the prince returned to the Hall of Splendor, read a little and went to bed, he had yet to respond to him.
Cruel, cruel cruel, these situations really happened in history and weren’t made up. This author merely borrowed it for use, after all we’re telling a story.
Speaking of secretly giving birth to the prince, we have to bring up the badass story of Senior Concubine Wan from the Ming Dynasty. Everyone felt that she and Zhu Jian Shen were truly in love. She was older than the emperor by 17 years, and was solely favored for over ten years. From palace maid to senior imperial concubine, her status skyrocketed in a short period of time. She was arrogant and despotic to the point of not allowing the emperor to have other sons. If a concubine got pregnant, she force fed her abortion medicine. Afterwards her own son died prematurely, but she still didn’t let the emperor have a son. Therefore, the reason Zhu You Cheng who came after was able to survive was because he was born in secret and kept hidden for six years. Since the emperor tolerated all her actions, it was why they called it true love. Of course, this novel doesn’t have anything to do with Senior Concubine Wan or Zhu You Cheng. This author is just lamenting how nice it would be to get to concubine Wan’s level of badassery. Done with the off topic discussion. I’m guessing everyone is worriedly watching that damn Eunuch Fu’s meddling right? This author definitely won’t tell you, that damn eunuch is actually this novel’s biggest goldfinger3, cough, cough. Next chapter the male and female leads interact, please look forward to it….