Chapter 26: New Guy in Shouning Palace
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
Li Mu frowned and handed the basket to the eunuch, saying, “If I don’t get to go inside, please take this inside for me. It’s a gift from my mistress after all.”
“Umm…I’ll notify my lady.”
The eunuch turned around and left.
Li Mu then waited at the gate.
He was able to sense that things in the place felt tense.
The eunuch came out and took the basket after a while, leaving Li Mu outside.
Xiuren Palace was surrounded by guards two days later.
No one inside was able to escape. Every eunuch and court lady inside were taken away.
They were locked up by the secret police and interrogated separately.
“I want to see his majesty!”
“Your majesty, won’t you have mercy on me at least?”
“You’re heartless! I wasn’t the only one who did harm to the royal family.”
Concubine Wan shouted at the top of her lungs in Xiuren Palace.
A look of pity could be seen in the emperor’s eyes from afar.
Yet that look turned steely and cold before long.
“Relay my orders. Concubine Wan and her cohorts have been doing harm to the royal family. All of them shall be executed.”
The emperor closed his eyes as he made the pronouncement.
“Your Majesty, Concubine Wan…”
“Say no more. Make sure her body is in one piece. Everyone else, bisect them at the waist,” the emperor said coldly.
He was afraid that he would regret sparing her so much that he didn’t even dare to condemn her into a “cold” palace.
He was afraid that he would become soft one day.
There was no way he could make things up with Concubine Zhang and all the other children that Concubine Wan had had a hand in killing unless he sentenced her to death.
The intendant of the Ceremony Directorate left.
The emperor then ordered the seal-director eunuch to look into all concubines who had participated in harming others and the infighting.
Both Concubine Wan and that red-robed eunuch confessed.
The investigation was a smooth one.
The results were frightening.
He learned just how extreme the lengths the consorts had been willing to go in order to gain his favor.
“I hereby order all consorts in the harem to observe the execution of Concubine Wan and her cohorts. This shall be my warning to you all.”
The emperor then threw his brush on the ground of the Imperial Study Room.
He was furious.
He had never imagined just how disgusting the women sleeping right beside him could be.
He killed several consorts regardless of ranks, along with the eunuchs and court ladies who served them. Blood was spilled in the royal palace like it had never been before.
The people in the harem were all very frightened.
No one dared to bring up anything about the infighting.
All items and medicines capable of causing miscarriages were put under strict surveillance.
A good number of eunuchs and court ladies were lost during the ordeal.
It was especially so with the head eunuchs in red robes from the various palaces. Over a dozen of them were lost in the ordeal.
More than five consorts were gone as well.
The Imperial Household Department decided right away to recruit more eunuchs.
Li Mu was promoted yet again at that moment.
His robes remained emerald.
However, a sliver stripe was embroidered on his robes.
He was considered to be of quite a high status among those wearing emerald robes.
All the other eunuchs had gotten themselves promoted through hard work and sucking up to the rich and the powerful.
Li Mu, on the other hand, got promoted by practically doing nothing instead.
Yet, he was never after any of that.
A eunuch from the Imperial Household Department came to Shouning Palace one day.
It was one wearing an emerald robe with a stripe on it.
“Eunuch Li, does Shouning Palace require menial labor eunuchs? I’ll leave one for you if there’s such a need. It is rather unbecoming for you to work all on your own in the place. You’re someone wearing emerald robes after all.”
That was just a roundabout way of saying that he was bringing shame to all the others wearing emerald robes.
Makes sense, I guess.
Someone wearing emerald robes yet still doing menial work would bring down the prestige of all eunuchs wearing emerald robes indeed.
He took a look at the one who was currying his favor.
He answered, “All right, get me one then.”
There was finally someone new working in Shouning Palace after so many years.
“Right, just wait for a bit, Eunuch Li.”
The eunuch from the Imperial Household Department waited for a bit, standing up and saying something in an awkward manner, seeing that Li Mu was keeping his hands to himself.
That eunuch frowned after leaving the palace.
“He’s already wearing emerald robes, and yet he still knows nothing about the rules, huh?”
That eunuch didn’t believe that one wearing emerald robes like Li Mu wouldn’t have a bit of money on him.
All eunuchs from the Imperial Household Department learned several days later that the emerald-robed eunuch from Shouning Palace was a stingy person.
A grey-robed eunuch was assigned to Shouning Palace two months later.
“Pick any room you like. Your task is to clean the two compounds every day. You need to do nothing else.”
He repeated what the old court lady had told him when he first got there all those years ago.
The new eunuch was named An Mu.
Concubine Jing called him Xiao’anzi.
He was the same age as Li Mu had been when he first came to the palace.
The new eunuch seemed rather dull.
However, he was nonetheless hardworking.
Li Mu was able to tell that the new guy came from a poor family, judging from that point alone.
Concubine Wan was dead.
Things had gotten considerably quieter in the royal palace.
Many consorts began to get pregnant, and, nine months later, the consorts gave birth one after another.
Concubine Wan had said quite a lot of things before she was executed.
She had taken a lot of other consorts with her.
It was only then that Noble Lady Zhen had learned that it was really Xiaotao who had poisoned the princess.
She was thoroughly frightened.
As a result, she no longer resented Li Mu and came to trust him instead.
In the lord’s residence…
The prince fumbled with the identification jade before deciding to put it in his undergarment.
He had come to have a rough idea about the status of noble clans isolated from the world after looking into them for over a year.
He had decided to head out.
“Huang Wei, come with me.”
The girl named Huang Wei was none other than the girl who Li Mu had rescued from the dungeon all those years ago.
She had become a warrior at the late stages of the Acquired Realm at the moment.
She could be in charge of some smaller branches of the noble clans out there.
Both of them changed into the clothes of common people and sneaked outside the city.
Back in the Imperial Study Room…
The emperor’s gratitude to that mysterious man deepened as the number of his offspring grew.
“Great Friend Yu, where do you think that mysterious man could be?”
He had searched all over the royal palace in secret throughout the years.
He had even assigned people to spy on the door leading to the underground palace.
He had yet to find anything.
Three years passed…
Ruirui was in her early teens by then.
Her love for musical instruments grew along with her age.
She would come to play tunes with Concubine Jing when she had the time.
Li Mu got some tunes from his past life into Shouning Palace.
He would play something whenever he got homesick, just so to make himself feel a little bit better.
Someone followed behind Ruirui one day.
It was a little boy who was not even three years old yet, who always had snot hanging from his nose and looked rather dumb.
The two of them headed into Shouning Palace.
Ruirui played gomoku with Concubine Jing as she always did, while talking about music.
The boy who had followed her just stood at her side and watched.
Concubine Jing would wipe the snot from the boy’s face with her handkerchief every now and then.
Her handkerchief became all slimy in less than half an hour.
“Xiaolizi, get me another handkerchief and wash this, please.”
That boy came to Shouning Palace often.
Initially, he’d just followed Ruirui around, but he gradually took to coming alone to Shouning Palace, running into Concubine Jing’s arms all the time.
The boy looked rather slow and dumb.
Concubine Jing was worried about him.
She wiped his snot, gave him toys, and even fed him.
It took a while for Li Mu to learn that the boy’s mother was a consort as well.
The mother had been, like Concubine Jing, condemned to a “cold” palace.
In the royal palace, a child’s status was dependent on their mother.
The little prince was often shunned and bullied in the royal palace.
His diet consisted naturally of the worst food found in the royal palace.
When Ruirui saw him, she would give him something good to eat.
Because of that, the little prince became something like an underling to her, and she simply couldn’t chase him away.
Li Mu later learned that the child was the fourth child of the emperor.
It was a position that was easily overlooked by his father.
He took to staying in Shouning Palace after Concubine Jing showed him affection.
Any toy that Li Mu happened to get when he was checking in had basically been given to the little prince.
To his surprise, he actually found that the boy, who was not even three years old, played gomoku with Ruirui.
“Is he a genius or is he just smart?”
The boy kept surprising Li Mu with his surreal antics for the next couple of days.
The baguenaudier puzzle that he’d gotten from checking in had been easily solved by the boy.
The boy learned how to do it so simply by watching Ruirui do it once.
He’d even managed to solve a Klotski puzzle in a matter of minutes.
“This is chess. Let’s try it out, shall we?”
Li Mu got the boy a chessboard and briefed the boy on the rules.
The reason why he picked chess was because the rules were simple.
Yet, the changes were practically limitless.
It was a perfect way for testing a person’s intelligence.