Chapter 266: A Familiar Stranger
The emperor truly did have many concubines. It would be difficult not to, since there was a selection held every three years to identify the most outstanding beauties in the city. But how could there suddenly be a new Noble Consort Su when there hadn’t been any selections held recently? Can this person actually be Su Yun? But why did she send me an invite to the palace so openly? Is she going to take revenge by finally dealing with us head-on? Or maybe… she has some sort of scheme lying in wait that only a transmigrator could think of.
Long Heng even sent someone to investigate that noble consort surnamed Su, and found out that she was a refugee from Shu County. The emperor had seen her beside the road and decided to bring her back to the palace. She was then given the title of noble consort due to the love and favoritism she received from the emperor.
Wasn’t this just like a Cinderella story from olden times? How could she have caught the experienced emperor’s eye if not for her beauty or innate coquettishness? Apparently her name was Su Luo, not Su Yun, and she truly was as beautiful as a goddess.
“There’s a hole in this story!” Bai Xiangxiu exclaimed.
“Oh?” Long Heng quirked an eyebrow.
“Just think about it. How could a lady as beautiful as a deity walk the distance from Shu County all the way back to the capital without being accosted by some man? Can she possibly be that lucky?”
“But I’d personally ruined her looks. Can it really be her?”
“It seems I have no choice but to go take a look for myself. I want to see what her face really looks like and see if it’s fake.”
“No hiding from this, I suppose. Still, you must be extremely careful. Take an antidote before you leave.”
Long Heng was prepared for all sorts of contingencies. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Bai Xiangxiu also felt that extra precautions were necessary, and entered the palace with heightened awareness. Men weren’t allowed to attend this particular banquet because the host was a noble consort. The old madame wasn’t in the list of attendees either, because Noble Consort Su had written clearly that only young wives and ladies were invited. However, Bai Xiangxiu had brought along another maid called Ah Song today. She might seem slender and beautiful, but she was actually a man.
Of course, Xiaoshi wasn’t told about his true identity. She just knew that this new maid was sent by the prince. So, she kept staring at him curiously. Bai Xiangxiu soon realized that this well-respected hidden guard, a man amongst men, was feeling shy from the blatant staring. He seemed to be blushing and his eyes wouldn’t stop darting around. Even though Bai Xiangxiu was supposed to be all tense and nervous before entering the palace, she couldn’t resist the urge to laugh when she saw the poor bodyguard’s discomfort.
“Princess Consort, why does your mouth keep twitching like that?” Xiaoshi asked curiously.
Bai Xiangxiu touched her mouth and said, “Did I? You must’ve been mistaken.” However, she was almost going crazy from all the laughter inside. Their interaction was incredibly funny to her.
The palace. A place which could drive a person insane. Bai Xiangxiu felt very uncomfortable here, even if she’d already gotten used to the life in the Prince Li Manor. As a very eye-catching beauty, she’d received all sorts of odd stares from all sorts of people. It was almost like they all thought that she was here for the sole purpose of seducing the emperor.
Truth be told, even if one ignored the fact that her own man was ten years younger than the emperor and much more capable than him, she would rather marry a scholar than go for a man like the emperor. He had too many concubines. Way too many to even begin counting. Which woman wasn’t his in the palace? He probably couldn’t keep count of how many or whom he’d slept with. There was no way a man like him could possibly be faithful, and Bai Xiangxiu wasn’t the type of woman who could accept the separation of love and pleasures of the flesh. Women have their own needs too! We’re not wooden dolls, alright?
This was a modern person’s way of thinking. Therefore, Bai Xiangxiu felt that if that Noble Consort Su really was Su Yun, she likely wasn’t really in love with the emperor. The emperor was probably just another character for her to use as a tool for her ambitions, like what most female leads did in many palace harem novels. He probably wasn’t even viewed as a person. After arriving at the palace, the guests were allowed some rest before being taken to Noble Consort Su’s residence.
Unexpectedly, it seemed that Noble Consort Su was pampered by the emperor. In fact, her banquet looked even grander than those held by the empress. Moreover, nobody seemed to be talking about the empress from start to the end. The distribution of power in the palace harem seemed to be really askew!
Everyone entered the hall, and was soon seated at their respective seats. Moments later, many types of food and fruits were served. It was exquisite! The guests weren’t able to exchange many words before someone announced the arrival of the noble consort. The hall quieted as a lady slowly walked in. About twenty years of age, her looks seemed to be on par with Bai Xiangxiu. While twenty was still young, it was considered quite old when compared to the usual age of marriage in ancient times. However, this was definitely the age where a woman was at her peak. Younger women were all too immature in comparison.
Bai Xiangxiu looked down at her own breasts. Even though they’d grown quite a lot after she’d given birth to Xiao Lin, she was still young, so it seemed like there was still some room for growth. And because of that, they weren’t as big as the melons attached to the beautiful noble consort in front of her.
Unfortunately, this woman didn’t resemble Su Yun at all. Perhaps she’d undergone plastic surgery? But what technology did they have in this day and age that was capable of turning someone into such a beauty? She almost seemed like a painting, painstakingly brushed onto a canvas by an artist. However, her beauty didn’t seem to match with the beauty standards in this time period. Instead, her face seemed to match the beauty standards of modern days more with her sharp jawline and her tall nose and her eye-…
Wait. Why do her eyes seem so familiar? I seemed to have seen them before?
“I thank everyone for coming. I’ve prepared some wine and some performances.”
Her voice seems a little familiar too, but I just can’t seem to remember who.
“Thank you, Noble Consort Su.”
The dance performance began immediately after everyone thanked her. Her silhouette seemed a little familiar, but things seemed a little strange too.
“Princess Consort Li.” Noble Consort Su suddenly spoke up.
Bai Xiangxiu lifted her head and smiled, “Yes?”
Noble Consort Su laughed. “Rumors say that Princess Consort Li is a beauty loved by everyone. Now that I’ve seen you with my own eyes, I can honestly say that you are so so beautiful that it’s heartbreaking.”
“Surely you jest, Noble Consort Su.” What the hell is ‘so so beautiful’?
“Not one word is spoken as a jest. I felt like we were old friends the moment I laid my eyes on you. You genuinely seem so so likeable, just as you are so so approachable. Why don’t we become sisters?”
“I-I’m afraid that I’m unqualified to be a sister for a person of your stature.” Honestly, why does she keep on using ‘so so’?
“Nonsense. The only person that’s unqualified in our relationship is me. Doesn’t everybody think so as well? With everyone else as witness, I hereby announce that this female Zhuge Liang will be my younger sister from henceforth!” After that, she stood up in an excited manner. “Serve the wine! I wish to give my younger sister a toast!”
After being served wine, Noble Consort Su then personally approached Bai Xiangxiu. Bai Xiangxiu had no choice but to stand up. She ‘so so’ wanted to reject this Noble Consort Su, but she didn’t have much of a choice anymore. Especially now that Noble Consort Su had already arrived in front of her. Bai Xiangxiu could only accept a cup of wine from her and say, “The noble consort is being too courteous.”
After the two finished their wine, Noble Consort Su grabbed her hand and they began to talk intimately about some unimportant things. Bai Xiangxiu was even beginning to think that this woman had no association with Su Yun. However, Bai Xiangxiu still wanted to make sure. So, she began to knead her forehead like she’d drunk a little too much. “Noble Consort, I’m terribly sorry. I’m afraid that I’m not too good at holding my liquor.”