Chapter 21 – Prelude
“Mother Empress, there’s no need. I still have to nurse my health for another year or two. I’m afraid it’s not appropriate to take a concubine right now.” Xuan Yuan Han Cheng shook his head.
“Why do you need another year or two? A year has already passed. What is Imperial Physician Qian doing? Didn’t he follow the army to help nurse your health?” The empress was a little angry.
“Mother Empress, don’t blame Imperial Physician Qian. He was very diligent in helping me detoxify and taking care of my health. But, going to battle outside, inevitably it will be hard to manage sometimes. The poison has already been cleared from my system, but in terms of recuperation of my health, it is still somewhat lacking.” Xuan Yuan Han Cheng replied.
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“Then what should we do? You went to war for close to a year, this doesn’t matter, but now you’ve come back. If you don’t get near female charms for another year or two, and don’t have any sons, like this, I’m afraid there will be rumors about the crown prince having some sickness again, ah.” This was what the empress was concerned about.
“But right now, I’m not fully recuperated. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. Although I could force myself to go to bed* with someone, there still won’t be any sons.” Xuan Yuan Han Cheng continued to mess around with the empress. Actually, his body has already recovered, but for his baby, he would rather drag things out for another year or two than to get close to another woman.
[*T/N: 行房 xing fang – he used a word that was a euphemism for sexual intercourse, so that it wouldn’t sound vulgar]
“How is this good in any way?” The empress worried.
“Don’t worry, Mother Empress, I thought of a way.” Xuan Yuan Han Cheng said to his mother.
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“I want to concentrate my favor* on one ger. I will dote on this ger in particular, and don’t go to any other concubine. And it’s harder for a ger to get pregnant, compared to a woman. Then even if I don’t have any heirs for a year or two, it would be very normal.” Xuan Yuan Han Cheng elaborated his plot.
[*T/N: 专宠 zhuan chong – the words he used here are telling. 专 zhuan means “for a particular person / focused on one thing / concentrated / specialized” and 宠 chong means “to love / to pamper / to spoil / to favor”]
“Specifically favoring a ger, this kind of reputation for favoring beauty…” The empress heard him out and thought that this idea was okay, but it would still hinder the crown prince’s reputation.
“Mother Empress, this is the best method. Compared to the rumor of the crown prince having an illness, this rumor is already much better. I’m still young. It’s not a big deal to say I adore beauty.” Xuan Yuan Han Cheng continued to lobby his idea.
“Ai*! Then it can only be this way. Do you have someone in mind?” The empress asked the crown prince.
[*T/N: 唉 ai – an interjection or grunt of agreement or recognition. Can also be a sigh (of defeated consent).]
“Not yet. Requesting Mother Empress to help me look for one. It’s best if it’s someone from mother’s palace.” Xuan Yuan Han Cheng said, calm and collected, without batting an eyelid.
“Zhou momo, you heard what the crown prince said. Tomorrow, give me a list of suitable candidates within Yong Shou Palace.” The empress looked at her trusted aide, Zhou momo, who was standing to the side, ready to serve.
Whenever the empress chatted with the crown prince, she only left Zhou momo in the vicinity. She trusted Zhou momo.
“Rest assured, empress niang niang, I will have the list of names ready by tomorrow.” Zhou momo patted her chest confidently.
Xuan Yuan Han Cheng listened to Zhou momo’s words, and his face revealed a joyful expression.
At the same time, Lin momo of the Royal Snack Kitchen received a message from His Royal Highness through his secret guard. After Lin momo heard the message, her brows furrowed together, and she sighed.
After receiving the empress’s order, Zhou momo went back to look through the roster of Yong Shou Palace’s personnel.
Translations by Vanilla Muse.
Zhou momo took a look and became muddle-headed. There were only five ger palace attendants in Yong Shou Palace! Two of them were already over twenty years old. One of them was only thirteen years old. Only two of them were of appropriate age: fifteen and sixteen years old. These two gers looked after the gardens within Yong Shou Palace. Zhou momo specifically went to take a look at these two people.
Both of them were average in looks, and did not stand out at all. How could the crown prince “specifically favor” either one of them?
Zhou momo walked around her room in circles. How was she supposed to report to the empress tomorrow?
Zhou momo heard the knock on her door and opened it to see Lin momo standing there. “Elder Sister*, what brings you here?”
[*T/N: 老姐姐 lao jie jie – she called her 老 lao “old (as in age)” 姐姐 jie jie “older sister,” which might sound rude in English, but I doubt that was her intent, so I opted for “elder” instead.]