The Jing Prince was someone who kept track of time really well. If there was no official business, he would often return around dinner time.
As expected, Xiao Hua had yet to stand for half an hour before the prince returned with Eunuch Fu.
The first thing he did was to change his clothes, washing his hands and face afterwards. Of course this wasn’t done with the help of Xiao Hua and Xiu Yun, but instead by the low ranked eunuchs that usually served him.
After he washes up, the Jing Prince would always sit for some amount of time before eating dinner. During this time, Xiao Hua and Xiu Yun would serve tea followed by the meal, and otherwise would stand there as pillars.
During her days at the Hall of Splendor, Xiao Hua had realized a few things. The Jing Prince didn’t favor them at all, whereas Eunuch Fu paid an abnormal amount of attention to them. Xiao Hua even had the feeling that the reason they were able to enter was due to Eunuch Fu’s arrangements. But why would a servant go against his master’s wishes like this, and why did the prince acquiesce in the end? Xiao Hua couldn’t figure it out.
However, she knew that she wasn’t particularly quick-witted, and thus stopped thinking about it. She could only take things as they came, as per usual. When gods battled, mortals could only suffer the calamity.
After the prince finishes his meal, he would wash his hands and rinse his mouth before going to read in the study.
Usually he wouldn’t need them at this time, and since the sky would be dark by then the two of them could be done with their shift. Normally around this time, Eunuch Fu would wave his hands and let them leave. Today for some reason, he didn’t make the motions.
After the prince went to the study, the pair had been forgotten. They didn’t know whether to leave or continue standing. Remaining in place seemed to be the safer option, so Xiao Hua continued to stand. Xiu Yun saw Xiao Hua not moving, and also didn’t move.
The hall was extremely silent. After a while, Eunuch Fu came out and called for Xiao Hua to steep some tea.
Xiao Hua steeped the tea and brought it into the study, placing it on the table and prepared to leave. She suddenly heard a muffled voice say: “Shoulders.”
For a brief moment, Xiao Hua wasn’t sure who was being addressed.
She snuck a glance at the Jing Prince. Today he wore a matte black robe, his jade-like side profile almost sparkling with luster under the candle light. His thick eyelashes formed a faint shadow under his slanted phoenix eyes. His hairline was sharply etched as though with a knife, his nose as though carved by an axe, his ink-black eyebrows slanting upwards towards his temples.
The Jing Prince was very handsome, Xiao Hua had always known this. After serving him for so long she also knew about his extremely taciturn personality, and expected him to never speak to her. Adding on the fact that the side of his face showed no expression, not even giving her an extra glance, made Xiao Hua think that what she just heard was in her imagination.
Just as she thought this, she saw Eunuch Fu motion towards her from the side. She looked at him in bewilderment. Eunuch Fu’s expression was very strange, but Xiao Hua still understood his meaning.
Turns out it wasn’t her imagination just now?!
Xiao Hua half lowered her head and walked behind the prince, not daring to delay. She rubbed her hands together for a ten count to warm them up and placed them on his shoulders.
The second time she massaged the prince, Xiao Hua realized he was much harder to massage than the 4th young master. The shoulders had a lot of bones to begin with, and the Jing Prince’s muscles were very firm. Xiao Hua originally wanted to use only half her strength, but slowly felt it wasn’t enough, increasing it to eighty, and then a hundred percent of her strength.
Last time due to her anxiety and being afraid to speak, Xiao Hua hadn’t said a word. This time there still wasn’t anyone telling her to stop, and Xiao Hua had already massaged for almost half an hour. Not only were her hands tired, but she was also feeling some anxiety in her heart.
After hesitating several times, she quietly spoke: “You highness, the same place cannot be massaged for too long. It will injure the bones and muscles.”
After speaking, her heart thumped loudly. This was her first time speaking to the apathetic and imposing Jing Prince. She didn’t know if his highness would think that it was an excuse for her to stop massaging, and whether he would punish her.
Actually Xiao Hua had already started regretting her words the moment she finished speaking. She cursed herself silently: Who asked you to make a fuss. If the master didn’t say anything you should just keep going. Fussy. Since when were you so fussy!?
But Xiao Hua was an honest person in the end. She kept in mind the warning written in the book, which was that the same spot couldn’t be massaged for too long because the acupressure techniques could be harmful if done in excess.
Because no one responded, she also didn’t dare stop. The study was scarily silent. The prince also didn’t move and she wasn’t sure if he had heard her.
The shoulders under her hands suddenly pulled away. Xiao Hua thought the Jing Prince was angered and plopped down onto her knees.
Having never served by his side in the past, Xiao Hua had only thought the prince was apathetic and spoke little. Only when she approached him did she feel that he radiated a powerful pressure. When she came into contact with him, it made her feel even more on edge, her heart nervously pounding nonstop.
Xiao Hua’s head was half lowered, her hands tightly clenched, awaiting the imminent storm. She even thought that the prince would ‘have her leave’.
She thought about it for a bit. Actually, that wouldn’t be so bad. It was just a change of jobs. Furthermore, she wouldn’t have to live with the quarreling over so many things. As long as she wasn’t beaten with the plank or expelled from the estate, she felt like she could accept anything….
Who knew that what came instead was the prince relocating to the soft couch next to the study window, lying prone and saying two words: “Keep going.”
Eunuch Fu smiled so widely his old eyes became slits. He pushed Xiao Hua a little, urging her to quickly go over.
The prince’s current position easily stirred the imaginations of others, and it was at this time that Xiao Hua truly felt his physique was superb.
His figure was tall, without seeming too sturdy or too frail. It was just right. His broad shoulders and muscular back tapered down to his waist and his long slender legs.
The Jing Prince was wearing the leisure outfit he normally wore inside the hall. The light silk purple robe clung tightly to his body1, and combined with his current pose made Xiao Hua’s heart skip a beat all of a sudden. However, she didn’t have the time to stare blankly at the moment, and could only walk over with a reddened face, bending over and starting to massage him again.
She didn’t dare touch the more sensitive areas, focusing her movements on the upper half of his back.
Xiao Hua could clearly feel her panicked breathing, though she wasn’t sure if she was just imagining it.
She was scared that the nearby prince would hear it, and snuck a glance at him. Only after seeing that his long and slender eyes were shut did she feel slightly relieved.
The skin of her palms were very sensitive, and despite the layer of clothing Xiao Hua could clearly feel the firm muscles underneath his supple skin.
In her two lives, Xiao Hua had only massaged two men at this distance. One was the 4th young master. One was the Jing Prince.
She remembered in her past life the 4th young master would often ask her to help him loosen up while lying on the couch. Massaging on the couch was more convenient, and she wouldn’t be as tired from standing in the same position the whole time. After a couple times, the nature of the massage would change. The 4th young master was unrestrained and had many tricks. He could always find some way to mess with her.
At the time, her thoughts had never been innocent to begin with and she gladly went along with it. Every time her hands would start teasing him until he couldn’t endure any longer and pulled her down, pressing himself on top of her….
How could she be so shameless to have these kinds of thoughts at this moment? She had an urge to cover her face in shame, but didn’t dare stop moving her hands.
This period of time passed by in an embarrassingly torturous manner.
Eunuch Fu’s old eyes were squinted as he smiled. Turns out the older ginger is spicier after all. Three old cobblers can overcome one Zhu Ge Liang2. His highness hadn’t allowed any palace maids to serve him closely since leaving the capital, only using low-ranked eunuchs. Didn’t things turn out well in the end? Looks like our highness is a man after all. All men fall for this kind of scheme!
As he looked at the low-ranked palace maid whose crimson face made her appear even more tender and beautiful, it wasn’t just a matter of being satisfied, he was so satisfied he hated that he couldn’t conjure up a mustache to rub a few times in satisfaction.
Eunuch Fu felt that he had great foresight, and was really good at picking people.
Looking at the girl’s crimson-faced appearance, even his rootless3 self felt his heart stirring. Unfortunately his highness was prone and couldn’t see it. If he could have, Eunuch Fu would have immediately flipped the prince over to let him take a couple looks. Perhaps after a few glances, his highness’s mundane heart would be greatly moved.
Eunuch Fu’s stood there with an ordinary expression, looking very upright, but in reality his head was filled with all sorts of rubbish.
He looked and looked, and felt that this girl still had her shortcomings. Her appearance was decent, her face also exquisite, but it still felt as if she hadn’t fully grown yet. Especially her chest area, which if called a flat expanse of land wouldn’t be an exaggeration.
Eunuch Fu was still aware of what type of women men usually preferred. Although he was without root, it didn’t prevent him from making inquiries. He had specially pretended to casually ask a few of the estate’s guards, asking what kind of women these men preferred.
Those guards had thought that he had started to feel some worldly stirrings, and started to vulgarly describe things in detail.
They said the breasts needed to be large, and that it’s best if the butt is perky and the waist is narrow as well. During this time they had also listed various flirtatious behaviors. This typical trash talking amongst men made Eunuch Fu embarrassed to think about, but he had still obtained the information he wanted.
The prince on that side had his eyes closed in comfort, but still didn’t change his apathetic expression. Xiao Hua continued to move her hands with a reddened face. On this side, Eunuch Fu’s thoughts were all over the place, even considering whether he should go find that Grandma He and have her properly fill Xiao Hua up. Best to fill her up until her chest and butt were big to better catch his highness’s eye.
Thinking of this, he decided to quickly get things underway. Anything can be delayed except for his highness’s intimate affairs.
If the Jing Prince and Xiao Hua had known that under that damn eunuch’s calm expression was an assortment of dirty thoughts, perhaps they would have spat a mouthful of blood onto his face.
Another half hour passed, and right as Xiao Hua felt her arms were about to fall off, the prince suddenly spoke.
Xiao Hua immediately stopped her hands, straightening up and standing to the side.
The Jing Prince sat up and rolled his shoulders a little, feeling much more relaxed all over. He glanced at the low palace maid standing to the side before standing up and leaving the study.
Eunuch Fu’s face was full of smiles, “En, little lass, your skills are pretty good. You can consider your shift ended.” After speaking he followed the prince out.
Xiao Hua sighed and rolled her arms and shoulders, gently rubbing her sore arms as she left the study. Seeing Xiu Yun still standing in in the hall outside, she paused and spoke: “Eunuch Fu said we can leave now.” Then, without waiting for Xiu Yun, she walked out of the hall by herself.
Xiu Yun’s gaze was fixed on Xiao Hua’s departing figure, and she remained unmoving for a long time. Only when Xiao Xia Zi came over and asked her why she hadn’t gotten off yet did she hurriedly curtsy and walk out of the hall.
The next day, Eunuch Fu went to find Nana He without delay.
This Nana He could be counted as one of his old buddies. She had served the fifth prince in the imperial palace, and also left the capital along with him. Afterwards, due to her age and loyalty, she was placed in the Hall of Splendor to be in charge of the Jing Prince’s meals. Not only did she make excellent food, her skills with medicinal herbs and spices were even better. Otherwise Eunuch Fu wouldn’t think of coming to find her.
Eunuch Fu’s character was usually very upright and honest, but those old fellows that had known him for many years knew that he was often not upright in private. Therefore when Nana He heard his thoughts, she didn’t say anything and only squinted her eyes as she smiled.
Hearing that it was Xiao Hua who needed to be filled out, she thought of the little lass who had left a good impression on her. She also thought that her body looked a little frail, and so promised to properly fill her out.
Xiao Hua didn’t know about this exchange. All she knew was that Eunuch Fu suddenly seemed to give her preferential treatment.
The meals of the palace maids in the Hall of Splendor usually came from the meal management center. The small kitchen usually only provided meals to a few people. Mainly it was the Jing Prince, though of course Eunuch Fu was also included. As for who the few others were, since they didn’t eat inside the hall Xiao Hua didn’t know.
This sudden difference in treatment made those in the same room incessantly jealous, but since Xiao Hua had caught Eunuch Fu’s eye they didn’t dare openly mock her anymore. Only Qiao Lian was occasionally unable to control her mouth and said a few words. Of course, the atmosphere in the room had grown even worse.
Xiao Hua increasingly didn’t feel like going back, and therefore had started eating in the small kitchen. She started getting familiar with Nana He, and when she wasn’t on duty she would stay in the small kitchen before returning to the room to sleep.
Nana He’s medicinal meals were well made. Xiao Hua hadn’t noticed anything off about her meals, only that it was more nourishing than before. However, Nana He also told her that the food in the small kitchen was definitely better than the communal meals by a lot, so Xiao Hua didn’t think too much of it.
Nana He would occasionally give her a bowl of mystery soup. Xiao Hua assumed it was just Nana He being nice and saving her some food.
Only after Xiao Hua stayed in the small kitchen for a while did she find out that Nana He was actually the Nana4 in charge of the small kitchen. There weren’t many people working in the small kitchen, just Nana He, a few older Aunties and four low-ranked eunuchs.
As she got to know the kitchen workers better, Xiao Hua was also diligent and often helped out with the work. Gradually, even those Aunties who were usually unsmiling and silent would speak a few words with her when they saw her.
Xiao Hua gradually became like a fish who had been given water during her days in the Hall of Splendor. The smiles on her face had also increased.
- Not sure what happened to the matte black robes, maybe it’s two layers or maybe the author forgot.
- Chinese military strategist known for his intelligence
- Referring to a eunuch’s defining characteristic. The word in Chinese means root, but is also the word used to count long, slender objects…
- Looks like it can also be used as a title, so think like “Auntie” but older.