Did Concubine Li eat the pill?
While Shi Qing was worrying, she was leaning back on her couch, staring at the little pill.
She was burning good spices in her censer, so her room not only smelled good, but it also provided recuperating effects. These spices were some that Madam Li Er had specially brought from the South, worth thousands of gold—calling them expensive was not adequate. However, because Emperor Xuan Cheng favoured their scent, Concubine Li would burn them year round, never stopping.
It was already late in the day; she knew that the Emperor would not come see her today, and could not help but feel a little gloomy.
Presently, one of the palace servants came in, so Concubine Li took the opportunity to inquire after the whereabouts of Emperor Xuan Cheng. The small eunuch whispered, “The Emperor went to the Chu Xiu Palace1.” When Concubine Li heard this, her mood turned gloomier. When she gave it some thought, the Emperor had spent many nights recently in the Blue Jade Palace—she had been spoiled. She had even said many malicious things about the Empress and the Crown Prince. The Emperor listened to her earnestly, and had seemed inclined to revoke the Crown Prince’s status as heir.
How could she have suspected that Concubine Cheng Xiang, that slut, would actually manage to charm her way into the Emperor’s company? It seemed like the Emperor had suddenly changed his heart, and in only two days had moved his favour to her!
Concubine Li was also aware of the possibility of a newcomer; how could she avoid being concerned about that when it comes to looks? Whether it was the fresh complexion or a pair of large, beautiful eyes revealing the vitality of youth, it was truly difficult to compete with those tender, flower-like girls.
While she entertained those thoughts, Concubine Li twisted the handkerchief she held. She glanced again at the Zhu Yan Pill, and was filled with a strong impulse to just consume it.
Madam Li Er was very astute, and her conduct was always reliable; she would not risk harming the Imperial Concubine. As for the man who made the pill, he would not risk the lives of his entire family to hand over an unsafe pill. Even the Imperial physician claimed that there was no toxicity…
After these thoughts had crossed through her mind, Concubine Li had finally reached her limit. She picked up the pill and smelled its cold and fresh aroma. She thought of the Emperor warming nephrite2, steeled her heart, and popped the pill into her mouth.
Once it entered her mouth, the pill immediately slid down her throat, and the taste was actually very good.
Concubine Li waited for a while, but she did not feel like there was anything strange happening. Just as she went to get up, she suddenly felt like her whole body was on fire. It started from her stomach and began to spread, and the heat caused her to sweat profusely.
Her heart began to feel unwell, and she began to consider calling out to her servants. It was at this moment that she glanced at the mirror, and suddenly froze, her eyes widened in shock.
The woman in the mirror was also holding the edge of the screen. Her hair cascaded down like black silk, and a pair of large, beautiful eyes looked back—mellow yet romantic. Her skin was once again smooth and lustrous; it resembled delicate flower petals—even music could not capture this beauty…
Concubine Li hurriedly walked in front of the mirror to get a closer look, and her heart was wild with joy. She actually looked the same as she did at the age of 17; her looks had reverted to the most magnificent age.
Unexpectedly, this medicinal pill; not only did it work, the results could only be described as miraculous!
Concubine Li was emotionally overwhelmed. Her face was blooming like a peony—extremely beautiful. Her eyes darted around for a moment, and her mind was starting to form plans.
She called her maidservants to come in and attend her in the bath, rinsed off the sweat that had come with the heat, applied her face cream, and then put on the pale yellow kimono she had not touched since her youth. Once she was finished, she gently turned around in a circle; she was truly alluring—the calibre of beauty that would topple a country.
She was overjoyed, and whispered a few words Yuxiang before reclining on the royal couch, lightly caressing her forehead.
At first glance, Yuxiang was completely dumbfounded by the change in Concubine Li. She knew that Madam Li Er had sent her some medicine, but she did not expect that it would have such a miraculous effect.
Concubine Li ordered Yuxiang to call Emperor Xuan Cheng. If this was normal day in the past, she would not dare dream of disturbing him, but after see the new appearance of Concubine Li today, she was not worried. Her heart knew that as long as the Emperor came and saw her, that the Blue Jade Palace could immediately look down on the harem. If the Blue Jade palace gained benefits, it would naturally mean numerous benefits for all those within. In order to gain those benefits, Yuxiang vowed to work hard, and paid a eunuch to deliver the Imperial Concubine’s words to the Emperor.
Emperor Xuan Cheng was preparing to spend the night with his new favourite within the harem, Concubine Chen Xiang. At this time he received the news that Concubine Li was sick, and he could not help frowning.
He knew that this was a small means that concubines employed in the struggle for his favour, and he found it somewhat repugnant, but he had loved the Imperial Concubine for decades. His feelings towards her were still there, so when he heard the eunuch speak so anxiously, he thought that there may be some seriousness to those words.
Concubine Chen Xiang wanted to spend more time with the Emperor to gain benefits. However, at this time, the 77-year-old Emperor Xuan Cheng was actually reminded of second prince—Rongxiang. Rongxiang is Concubine Li’s son, very clever and sensible. He was proud of him, and had even considered declaring him the official heir. For this reason, he could not ignore the Imperial Concubine, so he waved his hand, got up, and headed to the Blue Jade Palace.
Once the Emperor came at the Blue Jade Palace, his arrival was announced by the attendants, and he then entered Concubine Li’s chamber. When he saw her reclined on the couch, his entire body suddenly froze.
Concubine Li was wearing a yellow kimono that perfectly complimented her creamy, white complexion. She was obviously near middle age, but her peach-skin smooth skin was comparable to even the most exquisite young lady in the kingdom.
Emperor Xuan Cheng had always liked Concubine Li’s appearance, but as she had aged and left behind the prime of her youth, he found that his adoration had dimmed. However, when he looked at her today, he was suddenly brought back to the strong feelings he once had for her. His cooling heart had fluttered once again.
Concubine Li watched the Emperor’s facial expressions, smiled weakly, and then spoke in a soft tone, “Your majesty…”
Emperor Xuan Cheng felt his heart melt upon hearing her soft voice, and quickly approached, “Do not get up, I have come to see, where do you feel uncomfortable?”
Concubine Li took the Emperor’s hands, drew them towards her chest, and fawned, “My heart is so melancholy, it’s unbearable…”
With such an obvious hint, how could Emperor Xuan Cheng not understand? He groped her a few times, and was shocked by how good she felt; he immediately felt aroused. Concubine Li let out a delicate laugh, and the two of them went to bed.
It was a warm spring evening in the Blue Jade Palace. It was the middle of the night, but suddenly a loud bang broke the silence. It was actually the sound of someone falling to the ground. The noise was quickly followed by Concubine Li’s sharp shouting, “Come…Servants!”
Yuxiang, who was stationed outside the door, heard the sound and immediately rushed in. No sooner had she entered the room, and her face instantly turned green, good heavens! What a smell! It stinks horribly!
The very next day, Shi Qing woke up early. He was quietly counting days; two days have passed, and if they do not hurry and finish their task, those seven days will be gone with the wind.
He was worried that Concubine Li would not consume the medicinal pill. It was at this time that certain news reached Qin Mo. Last night the Blue Jade Palace was brilliant and very lively.
Concubine Li once again made a name for herself. In her younger years she was the beauty of a generation amongst women of the Daqing Dynasty. Now she was leading the generation in foulness. Even the Emperor had a dizzy spell and fainted; how could her stench be so repulsive?
The palace eunuch who brought the news spoke very quickly, and his tone was very excited. Shi Qing actually felt discomfort from the pain of trying to withhold his laughter.
He waited until there was no one around, and then he laughed aloud, but then immediately felt he had become a fool. Even with this, Qin Mo bore no trace of a smile, and suddenly he could not laugh anymore…
So awkward, @ host with facial paralysis was the real tragedy.
He cleared his throat and asked, “What do we have to do afterwards? Concubine Li certainly has a foul smell, and it is affirmative that she has fallen out of favour, but it’s unlikely the old Emperor will abdicate in such a short period of time.”
Qin Mo glanced down at him, and then asked a completely unrelated question, “If we finish the task ahead of schedule, will there be any additional incentives?”
When he heard Qin Mo’s words, Shi Qing was completely caught off guard. He really did not know. He quickly flipped through the manual and found the pertinent information, so he informed him, “Yes. With a time-limited task, for each day that it is completed early, you will be awarded an additional 100 bonus points.”
Shi Qing reacted swiftly to Qin Mo’s words, and quickly asked, “Will you actually be able to finish the task ahead of time?”
”How much in advance…How will you do it? Don’t take risks ah; life first, reward second. You can’t be rewarded if you’re not alive…”
Shi Qing: QAQ, the way this expressionless guy communicates…
Concubine Li felt like she was insane; she was on the brink of dying from anger. She had not expected that the pill would have this kind of side effect! Stinking like this; what was the use even if she was the world’s most beautiful woman? Who would dare to approach her?
Seething with rage, she called Madam Li Er to see her. Madam Li Er immediately fainted due to the stench, and only woke up after a long period of time. Yuxiang kindly handed her a damp cloth, and when she covered her mouth and nose, she was just barely able to hold on.
As soon as she saw Concubine Li, she knew that there had been a mishap, and immediately said, “Imperial Concubine, don’t be anxious. The pill maker is still in my hands, I will immediately bring him over, he would not dare refuse to help the Imperial Concubine in this matter…this smell could kill someone!”
Although Concubine Li was angry enough to cut Madam Li Er to pieces, their conversation had allowed her a glimmer of hope. The Imperial Physician did not have a method to deal with this stench, but chances were that the pill’s maker would have a way.
After a little while, the pill maker was brought in. He was a middle-aged man, and although the horrible smell assailed his own nostrils, he held it at bay by clutching a damp cloth to his face, and then said, “Imperial Concubine, this is actually a good thing.”
Concubine Li flew into a fit of rage, “A good thing? If I cut off your head, would that also be a good thing?”
The man begged for mercy, and desperately tried to explain, “Imperial Concubine, you have completely absorbed the Zhu Yan pill, so your body is currently detoxifying. It will emit this foul odor until the detoxification is completed. Then you will always have your current looks.”
“Can you take my words seriously?” The man asked this last question with a tired, old-sounding voice.
The people in the hall suddenly knelt down, and shouted long live the Emperor.
Emperor Xuan Cheng waved his hand as he walked in, indicating that everyone was to stand up. His face did not look well, but he had also ceased holding the wet cloth over his nose and mouth. He just stood there, stared at the pill maker, and then asked several questions in quick succession. When the pill maker saw the Emperor’s face, he could help but get a little bit excited.
“Do you, by any chance, have a second medicinal pill like this one?”
“Reporting to Your Majesty, your lowly servant…originally saved one pill for personal use.”
The pill maker immediately pulled a box from his bosom without raising any further objections. Emperor Xuan Cheng took the box containing the pill, held it up to examine it carefully, and then turned around, frowned and asked Concubine Li, “Is this the same pill?”
Although the stench coming from Concubine Li was unbearable, she looked absolutely gorgeous. Her tear-filled eyes truly drew out the affection in others, and the Emperor could not help but glance at her frequently. Unfortunately, if he remained this close to her…he was going to vomit up every single meal.
Concubine Li looked at the brown pill resting in the box, and felt that it looked identical to the pill she had recently taken. She held it up and took a quick sniff, and found it carried a cool, pleasing fragrance. She cautiously answered, “It’s the same.”
As she spoke, the smell that she was producing grew even more unbearable. Emperor Xuan Cheng, who had moved even further away from her, asked the pill maker, “Can this stench be remedied somehow?”
The pill maker kneeled on the ground, and respectfully answered, “Yes. If she can soak in a spring that originates from the heart of the earth, three hours will be enough to remove the smell.”
“Heart of the earth?”
The pill maker continued to explain, “Answering Your Majesty, this is referring to a hot spring. With its constantly renewed source of water flowing up from the heart of the earth, it will definitely be able to remove the undesirable body odor from the Imperial Concubine.”
After hearing the explanation, Emperor Xuan Cheng suddenly realized, “Are you referring to the hot springs at the Luofang Palace?” The pill maker nodded hastily.
Emperor Xuan Cheng thought deeply for a while, and finally gave out orders, “Prepare to head to Luofang Palace.” Upon hearing his words, Concubine Li could not help being happy; surely this meant that the Emperor wanted her to soak in the hot spring? If you removed the disgusting smell clinging to her, along with her unparalleled beauty, how could anyone question that she would be the one to receive the Emperor’s favour?
Originally, she had thought it was completely hopeless. She could never have expected to be given this chance!
At this time, the eunuch stepped forward and announced, “Emperor, Imperial Concubine, His Majesty the Second Prince is outside, requesting to meet with you.”
This was longer than previous chapters, and took me a little longer than I intended to get it finished. I would have liked to get more of our mains, but there is lots coming. There may be spelling/grammar errors because I’m literally falling asleep as I try to edit.
- Where the harem resides ↩
- Nephrite is a name for Jadeite. You can look it up. I can’t find any info on why someone would be warming it up. It was apparently used as treatment for kidney stones at some point? It is suggested that this is some sort of euphemism for having sex with the ladies of the court. Let’s go with that. ↩