Chapter 18 – The Empress (5)
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A few days later, one of the competing courtesans in the small courtyard was found to have red dots all over her face. The imperial physician was called for consultation for this matter. However, she was only diagnosed with a seasonal allergy and therefore, only time could heal it. After giving her ointments to soothe the itchiness, the physician promptly left.
This was a pure nightmare for all the competitors. A less impressive appearance would mean a lesser chance to perform in the banquet. It was just how things worked; beauty was the golden card in the competition. By the time the rashes disappears, there’s a strong underlying possibility that the woman’s face wouldn’t be as flawless as before. The rashes would most likely leave unwanted scars, thus it would surely be the end of the road for her.
A long, arduous day had ended and Su Xin returned to her chamber waiting for a show that was about to happen. This time, she had revealed her hand. All that was left is to wait for her prey to come knocking at her door. As usual, Shu Juan fixed her dinner and helped her prepare for sleep, oblivious to Su Xin’s schemings.
Candle lights were turned off and only the moonlight seeping through the partially draped window illuminated Su Xin’s bedchamber. Su Xin was sitting on her bed when suddenly, an incessant knock rang through the calm night, disrupting the silence.
A wry smile formed on her lips.
Languidly, Su Xin made her way to the sound, schooling her face in an impervious look. She opened the door to see a fuming, disorderly woman. It was none other than Qing Lian. Out of the four courtesans, this woman was the most frivolous, owing to her skills that was unrivalled by the three other courtesans—except for Su Xin. Thus, she made it her mission to be the ringleader of Su Xin’s daily harassments.
“Can I help you?” Su Xin asked sweetly.
“It was you! Wasn’t it?” Qing Lian shoot an accusatory look at Su Xin.
“What do you mean?” Su Xin answered in mock bewilderment.
“You little…give me the antidote!”
Su Xin remained impassive to the angry women in front of her, and she looked at her with cold eyes.
“Oh? Antidote? I thought the imperial physician has already left an ointment for you. Or, perhaps you have mistaken my humble abode for a clinic?”
“Let’s cut to the chase, how about we just form an alliance?” Qing Lian proposed, her words stuttering and body trembling in anger.
Su Xin smirked. Although as much as her cruel self wanted revenge on Qing Lian, her task remained first priority; there was no room for personal vendettas. As it turns out, this woman was not as shallow as she initially thought. She was almost on par with Su Xin in skills. Eliminating her to weed out the competition could be good, but having her as an ally would be much better.
In her poorest shape, Qing Lian was somewhat gnashing her teeth[note]咬牙切齿 (yǎo yá qiè chǐ) – gnashing one’s teeth (idiom); displaying extreme anger; fuming with rage between gritted teeth[/note], her body was shivering visibly and forehead was laced with cold sweat. The rashes had drastically worsen. Small amount of disgusting liquid leaked from the wounded spots which indicated infection—it was surely not a seasonal allergy.
She couldn’t fathom what exactly was happening to her. But she was certain of one thing: Xue Yao was responsible for the mishap she was having.
It seemed like Qing Lian underestimated this lone wolf. She became too comfortable in her pedestal surrounded by her minions and fell right into her trap. Now, she was going to lose her precious game if she didn’t bargain properly with this vicious courtesan.
Not to mention, this sickness was too despicable! The imperial physician was aghast on how to treat her infection and clumsily prescribed her common medicines, only then to leave hurriedly. She was dumbfounded, at the very least. And those medicines didn’t do a thing to get rid of the worsening spots on her face. Most shameful of all was Qing Lian also felt that her female genitalia was very itchy. This was not the kind of itch from lust, but rather like an uncomfortable sting.
Her body was in agony and it was all because of the woman standing in front of her.
Su Xin was naturally a dangerous person and these methods were only of the norm back in her past life. She had to play dirty, especially when she didn’t have Miss Mary Sue’s support at this time. There was no room to ponder morality, and this woman had this karma coming for her.
It was her little payback, nothing more.
From the outside, a low grumble could be heard from the sky lit by a dark purple hue. It seemed like that even the heavens was aware that a sinister deal has been unfolded between these two women.
One year later, before the start of the banquet, Miss Mary Sue had seized full control over the the prime minister’s residence. Her concubine mothers and sisters were futile in their attempts of robbing her of her deserved place in the residence. She arrived as a storm and disrupted the serene, ignorant lives of her scheming family. The victor—she took what was due and paid retribution.
All of them was now at her mercy.
Not only this, she even had several relations with princes at the court. Slowly but surely, she was building her way to the top of the society.
While reflecting the success of her agenda, He Yunshu was invited to attend the Banquet of the Four countries. It had been so long since she had last saw Xue Yao and she was excited to see her once again.
Su Xin was put in custody to the palace for her training. Not a day had passed without Su Xin occupying her mind and she fretted over her friend’s welfare everytime. The palace was a new territory to Su Xin after all. However, the training was closed off to spectators, and thus, outside help wasn’t possible. It all depended on the participants’ skills and wit.
Nonetheless, she’d already foreseen that Su Xin will be one of the chosen performers— her eyes inflamed with such determination told He Yunshu that she could make it.
It was the night of the Banquet; another phenomenon that would fill the herald’s paper and would be remembered in the rich history of this world.
As of the moment, He Yunshu was sitting among the honorable individuals, her eyes kept on darting at every direction, in vain hopes of having a glimpse of her friend.
At least three tiers above them, the four emperors sat on the seats of honour. Afront was the extraordinarily huge stage where performers slowly started to gather. The whole place was made lively with thousands of candles placed on candelabras carved from the finest golds and silver of ancient China.
The event commenced and series of exquisite performances was delivered to the crowd consisting only of highborn individuals. All of a sudden, the ambience of the place took a significant change.
Two women adorned with the finest silks came out of the heavy expensive draperies of the platform.
He Yunshu’s breath was taken away from her. One woman out of the two was no other than her dear friend, Su Xin.