Consort of a Thousand Faces

CHAPTER 3: REBIRTH
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CHAPTER 3: REBIRTH

“Su Xi-er, wake up! Don’t goof off and pretend you’re sleeping!” The caustic voice of a woman frightened the birds in the trees away. When she saw that the little bitch was still not awake, the woman immediately took a bucket of water and emptied on top of the petite woman on the ground.

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Mu Tao, the woman who dumped the water, was clad in a coarse yellow palace attire. Her hair was rolled up with a wooden hairpin, and her manner of dressing was very nondescript.

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Splash! The petite woman’s body was drenched. Her slender eyebrows were tightly knitted and her hands involuntarily twitched a few times.

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“I knew you were feigning! See if you dare to pretend!” Mu Tao squatted and seized the petite woman’s ear, ruthlessly pulling it outwards.

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Ning Rulan had just regained consciousness when she felt her ear being firmly gripped by someone. The soreness all over her body caused her to furrow her brow tightly. The incessant yelling from Mu Tao only served to worsen her discomfort.

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When she opened her eyes, her field of view was filled by a woman with a plump face and especially small eyes. When she narrowed them, they were almost indiscernible.

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“You have finally woken up. If you pretend to faint again, I’ll beat you to death!”

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Ning Rulan was perplexed as she surveyed her surroundings. This woman is wearing coarse palace attire. This indicates that I am currently located in an imperial palace.

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But am I not already dead? Why did I come here? Where is this imperial palace?

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“Su Xi-er, continue scrubbing the chamber pots. If you misbehave again, I’ll report to Old Maidservant1 Zhao. You just suffered a beating with the plank a few days ago. Have you already forgotten?” Mu Tao continued to swear as she berated. I have the worst luck. I actually got dispatched to watch over Su Xi-er. This woman has offended Old Maidservant Zhao. No one dares to approach her.

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Su Xi-er? Why is she calling me that? Ning Rulan knitted her brow. Then, she proceeded to inspect her own body.

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This body was petite to a fault, gaunt and weak to the point where she barely had any strength to speak of. She lifted her sleeves and found that her arms were wreathed in red marks from being flogged.

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Ning Rulan’s heart abruptly jumped. A ray of light suddenly flickered across her mind as scenes flashed across her mind one by one.

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Beimin’s imperial palace. The third year of the Jiaqing Period. The body’s owner is Su Xi-er, a servant girl in the side quarters of the palace. She had been frequently bullied by others.

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“Oh! So you’re not pretending to be unconscious, but pretending to be silly, is that it?”

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The flow of memories stopped with the shrill shriek of the woman’s voice. It seemed that she would only be taking over this bit of memories.

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When she saw that the woman was about to seize her ears again, Ning Rulan immediately tried to block it with a hand, only to fail with her fragile stature. Thus, she could only allow the woman to grab her wrist.

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“Rebelling?! I see that you’re tired of living. Beimin’s imperial palace is unable to tolerate a woman like you. You’ll be killed sooner or later!”

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She was currently in Beimin’s imperial palace and living in a body that was not her own. While Ning Rulan did not believe in the occult, the current situation was simply too strange to be explained.

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“Has your brain gone silly? Didn’t you hear me calling you? Su Xi-er?”

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“I haven’t gone silly.” She inhaled a deep breath of air and stood up.

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The Ning Rulan of the previous lifetime has already become the past. In this lifetime, I shall live properly in Su Xi-er’s body!

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“Quickly go and get to work!” Mu Tao looked at her with suspicion. Finally, she pointed to the chamber pots beside the well.

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“I have to finish scrubbing clean all of these chamber pots?” Su Xi-er shot a glance at the side of the well. There were too many chamber pots and the sky was also getting dark. Moreover, her clothes were also soaked.

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“Aren’t you spouting nonsense? Your duty now is to scrub the chamber pots until they are spotless.”

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Su Xi-er’s countenance appeared calm. The original owner of this body had lived an abominable life. She was a palace maid scrubbing chamber pots in the Palace Side Quarters2, somehow managing to get to the point where even other maids of the same position were disdainful of her and bullied her.

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“Quickly get to work! Haven’t you heard what I said!”

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The clamour could be heard again. Su Xi-er raised her head and glanced at her indifferently. When Mu Tao received such a look, she was unable to suppress a panicked feeling in her heart. Why do I feel that Su Xi-er has become strange after waking up? She has always accepted insults meekly in the past, but the look she gave me just now was full of coldness. The Su Xi-er of the past wouldn’t have such an expression in her eyes at all!

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“I will scrub these clean. Where do I put them after I am done?” Su Xi-er squatted down, took a brush and started to scrub.

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“Place the chamber pots in the room at the southwest of the Palace Side Quarters. The palace maids from the various palaces will come to collect them. This well is at the most extreme east side of the palace quarters. After you’re done scrubbing, go and sleep.”

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Su Xi-er raised her head to look at her. Directly sleep without anything to eat?

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Mu Tao did not know why, but when Su Xi-er stared at her in such a manner, she felt like she was anchored to the spot. She was so nervous that she almost shuddered.

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“Where is the place I sleep at? Where is the place for eating meals?” Her eyes were slightly narrowed as she gazed at Mu Tao silently.

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Mu Tao swallowed some saliva. Has Su Xi-er been possessed? The expression in her eyes is so cold that it looks like she can see through everything.

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“Where is it?”

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The ice-cold voice entered her ears, causing Mu Tao’s calf to stiffen. “The room you sleep in is at the back of the Palace Side Quarters. The third room, the third bed. As for meals, they’ll be two hours from now. There’s no waiting for people, so if you show up late there won’t be anything left.” Only when she was done elaborating did Mu Tao realise that she had done something stupid. Although they were both palace maids of the palace Palace Side Quarters, Old Maidservant Zhao had dispatched her to supervise Su Xi-er. Su Xi-er should be listening to me!

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“Who allowed you to use such a tone to talk to me?” Mu Tao was extremely furious. She was about to reach out a hand again to seize her.

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“If you continue to talk here, I won’t scrub the chamber pots anymore. If I can’t finish all of them, will Old Maidservant Zhao let you off?”

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Her words caused Mu Tao to put down her raised hand. What she said is right. If these chamber pots aren’t scrubbed, Old Maidservant Zhao won’t let me off either. Hateful Su Xi-er! When did she become so eloquent! Resentment rose in Mu Tao’s heart but she could not do anything. Forget it. I’ll just sit on the rock to the side and watch Su Xi-er scrub.

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Su Xi-er didn’t pay attention to Mu Tao. Too many things had happened and she needed time to rationalize them. Although her current situation wasn’t sanguine, at least Heaven had given her a chance.

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Living once again in this lifetime, I will no longer be Ning Rulan. I had been too careless in my previous lifetime. Even if I had formidable means, I was still stabbed in the back by the person I trusted the most. The Heart-Piercing Arrow and Lü Liu’s death were like brands that seared her brain. She could not forget them.

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While observing her from the side, Mu Tao felt that something was amiss. Su Xi-er’s disposition is too strange. I can see the rancour in that pair of eyes. I must report to Old Maidservant Zhao. With such a thought in mind, she promptly ran ahead.

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Su Xi-er ignored her and continued to scrub the chamber pots. As she gradually went through about half the pots, her drenched clothes were also blown dry by the wind. Right at this moment, she heard women discussing.

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“Look at Su Xi-er. Her looks are better than those of He Xiangyu, but now instead of sweeping the palace path, she’s scrubbing the chamber pots.”

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“She and He Xiangyu were close sisters, but look at the difference between the two. Prince Hao took a fancy to He Xiangyu and took her into the Beauty Palace.”

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“He Xiangyu rose in honour, but didn’t come to help Su Xi-er. Looks like that’s all there is to their friendship. Su Xi-er’s efforts in taking the blame for He Xiangyu in the past were in vain.”

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No words from the discussion escaped Su Xi-er’s ears. Prince Hao? Is it the Pei Family’s foster son, Pei Qianhao? I have heard of this man in Nanzhao before. This man is callous and blood-thirsty. He also likes to collect beauties. Any woman he takes a fancy to will be taken into the Beauty Palace. Rumours have it that there are 72 concubines in the Beauty Palace.

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1. I’ll be using this term for the elder and senior female servants in the palace. They are usually older palace maids and have higher positions than the average palace maid. Some of them may also be wet nurses. https://www.volarenovels.com/novel/consort-of-thousand-faces/ctf-chapter-3#footnote-ref-b7dd

2. It’s part of the imperial harem and is where the palace maids reside.

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