Chapter 80.1 – Concubine Selection and Carrier Pigeon
Pleading to the little bun was the biggest mistake of lao wang ye’s life.
Translations by www(.)vmnovels(.)com, if you’re reading this anywhere else, then it was stolen.
That’s because the little bun couldn’t talk. Even if he wanted to forgive him, he couldn’t say it out loud.
In the end, the lao wang ye was still grounded. For two months, he was not allowed to leave the prince’s palace, and he was not allowed to touch a single finger on the little bun, even a little pat on the head was not allowed. An Zi Ran watched over his little brother like a hawk, ensuring that the little bun and the lao wang ye would never be in the same place at the same time.
The next day, the number of servants in the prince’s palace was reduced by a fraction.
Adhering to Fu Wu Tian’s orders, Fu Yi identified a dozen people who were talking bad about An Zi Ran behind his back. Among them was Xi Mei. She was the one that Fu Wu Tian caught gossiping before. He had demoted her from an upper servant to a lower servant and was sent to clean the toilets.
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Afterwards, Xi Mei still did not restraint her tongue. Instead, she would often cloister herself in a corner and curse An Zi Ran. Some servants happened to overhear her when they went past, otherwise no one would’ve known.
After this incident, the rest of the servants in the prince’s palace all settled down and knew to not gossip idly.
They no longer dared to hold An Zi Ran in contempt, and truly regarded him as the third master in the Imperial Fu Palace. They treated him respectfully, as if he were Fu Wu Tian or the lao wang ye.
At the An Palace next door…
Wang Qing Lan waited for several days, but could not chance upon the little bun at all. Later she heard about what happened over at the Imperial Fu Palace and finally found out that An Zi Ran had played her.
An Zi Ran never had the intention of bringing the little bun back from the prince’s palace. She had actually believed that he would take the little bun back, and had bustled about like a fool to make preparations. An Zi Ran must’ve been laughing at her behind her back!
“Madam, dissipate your anger, otherwise you’ll harm your health.” Qi Qiao advised.
Wang Qing Lan said coldly, “How can I not be angry? An Zi Ran never relaxed his guard towards me at all. But there is still one point that I can’t understand. Since he is so suspicious of me, why did he bring me along to Jun Zi City. Wouldn’t it be better to just leave me behind in An Yuan County?”
Translations by Vanilla Muse
Qi Qiao also did not understand. “Madam, Since you don’t understand no matter how you puzzle over it, then don’t think about it. As a matter of fact, Qi Qiao thinks this is a good opportunity.”
“What do you mean?” Wang Qing Lan wondered.
Qi Qiao replied, “Although the An Palace and the Imperial Fu Palace are next to each other, Qi Qiao thinks that if nothing big happens, the young master will not come over. We can seize this opportunity.”
Wang Qing Lan thought that what Qi Qiao said was very reasonable, so she nodded and said, “You are right. An Zi Ran would never let me interfere with anything happening in the An family. If it’s like that, I might as well use this opportunity to plan a way out for myself. I have to think about what is the best thing to do!”
Once the goal was determined, the master and servant pair stopped setting their sights on the little bun.
Two days later, a sensational piece of news swept through Jun Zi City.
The annual talent selection* was about to start up again. The talent selection was held every year, but this time the talent selection was being held several months earlier than in past years.
[*T/N: 选秀 xuan xiu – talented, noble young ladies enter the palace to be chosen by the emperor for his harem. When a lady is chosen she is granted the title of “talented lady” (in certain dynasties). She is not considered an official “concubine” yet until she’s slept with the emperor and he bestows a higher-ranked title on her.]
Some people speculated that the reason why the talent selection was moved up ahead of schedule was due to the jun wang’s merits in punishing those greedy officials in Hong Province and his governing of Chang Province. By using the wealth confiscated from the officials of Hong Province to manage the situation in Chang Province, he ended up not needing to use a single coin from the empire’s treasury, thus saving a lot of expenses for the emperor.
The emperor was lascivious by nature. He had a harem of three thousand with all different types of beauties in it, but no single beauty was ever favored for more than half a month.
Even so, every year when the annual talent selection began, there would still be a large group of women seeking for status, fame, and fortune, and they would all try their best to enter the palace. Some wanted to get close to the emperor, some wanted to collide with the emperor. If they could gain the emperor’s interest, then they could live in wealth for the rest of their lives.
As soon as the news spread, beauties from everywhere began to stir.
Da Ya’s talent selection was very strict. Both the beauty’s family background and appearance was very important, but the most important thing was still the face, because not only the children of noble families could participate, but children of the four classes of ancient China: scholars, farmers, artisans, and merchants could also participate.
[T/N: There’s so much contradiction in the above paragraph, I can’t even… >_<]
The talent selection process was rather cumbersome. Except for residents of Jun Zi City, who could sign up directly, ladies from other places must report to their local government office to sign up. But just signing up did not mean that they automatically got to enter, because the local officials would first screen the contestants. Only those who were beautiful and age appropriate would have their names forwarded to the capital. Lastly, people were then sent to escort these ladies to Jun Zi City.
This was the first talent selection.
[T/N: I’m guessing first time for this emperor…? The sentence did not elaborate. Some readers suggested it might mean the first phase or first round of the talent selection, which also makes sense.]
In order to cut down on time, the Chong Ming Emperor only allowed seven days for each location. If they were unable to send the participating ladies to the capital within that time period, then those ladies would be disqualified from the selection.
Because the talent selection was moved up schedule this year, many local official did not have the time to prepare. If they caused delay, the local officials might be punished by those higher up. In order to avoid that, they made the rules more flexible. As long as the participant’s looks were good and their background was clean then they were directly sent to the capital.
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