Consort of a Thousand Faces

CHAPTER 4: THE FINAL STRAW
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CHAPTER 4: THE FINAL STRAW

When one of the other palace maids saw the lack of expression on Su Xi-er’s face, her meekness made the palace maid jump at the chance to provoke her. “Su Xi-er, Prince Hao likes your close sister very much. Your looks are better than hers. Are you feeling sour inside?”

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The remaining few palace maids immediately understood her intention and jeered, “You feel very upset in your heart, right? If you hadn’t taken the blame for He Xiangyu, you would have been the one sweeping that palace path. Yet, the one who snatched that opportunity away was He Xiangyu. She so happened to meet with Prince Hao and the two of them took a liking to one another!”

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Su Xi-er rolled her sleeves up and smiled faintly. “That’s her good fortune. With how bad my luck is, I should at least give my blessing to her. Why would I feel sour inside?”

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She was well aware of the danger of the imperial palace. It was lonely when one was in a high position.

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In her previous lifetime in Nanzhao, Yun Ruofeng and her stayed in the Official Discussion Tent during times of turmoil to discuss stratagems to deal with the enemy. At that time, there were numerous people who flattered her. After peace had come, however, the people who had formerly flattered her changed their behaviour and attitude. Even the person she loved most was no different, being the one who ended up seizing her life.

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When the palace maids at the side heard her, they burst into laughter. The tallest palace maid voiced out first, “If you feel upset in your heart, you should just directly say it out. You absolutely wish that you can kill He Xiangyu, right? Taking the blame so easily; did you even know who you had offended?”

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Su Xi-er listened curiously as she scrubbed the chamber pots. Exactly what blame had I taken for He Xiangyu? Who had I offended?

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Just when she had finally gotten to the crucial part, an old woman’s strict voice rang out. Although she didn’t speak particularly loudly, the woman’s voice resounded through the air. “He Xiangyu is no longer a person of the Palace Side Quarters. She’s currently being favoured. She’s not someone you all can casually fabricate lies about and make fun of.”

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All the palace maids immediately trembled in fear. They lowered their heads one after another and softly replied with an affirmative.

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Su Xi-er raised her head and saw a tall woman clad in an old maid’s dark yellow attire. Her pair of eyes were sunken deep into their sockets, and the look in her eyes was sharp and deep. It looks like she’s the Old-Maidservant-In-Charge of the Palace Side Quarters, Old Maidservant Zhao.

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Old Maidservant Zhao carefully sized Su Xi-er up. This lass is unexpectedly very composed. In the past, she was timid and got flustered when she encountered problems.

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Don’t tell me she’s really been possessed like what Mu Tao said?

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“Mu Tao, come here and speak. What is different about Su Xi-er’s behaviour today?” Old Maidservant Zhao looked towards Mu Tao.

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The corner of Mu Tao’s mouth raised imperceptibly before she immediately swapped to a terrified expression. “She was extremely audacious today and looked down on you Old Maidservant. She said that, as the one in charge of the Palace Side Quarters, your position is the lowest in the imperial palace. She even said that you were the Old-Maidservant-In-Charge with the least qualifications.”

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Su Xi-er watched on quietly. This little mouth can really babble all kinds of things. If I don’t teach her a little lesson and display my power a little today, she will still bully me to my death in the future.

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“Old Maidservant Zhao.” Su Xi-er raised her head, her pair of eyes looking straight at Mu Tao. The coldness in her eyes caused Mu Tao to tremble.

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“Go ahead and say whatever you have to say.” Old Maidservant Zhao strolled over and stopped in front of Su Xi-er. This lass is very different today. That pair of eyes. That deportment. It’s as if her soul has been replaced.

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Su Xi-er shifted her gaze and it landed on Old Maidservant Zhao. She slowly said, “In the imperial palace, the ones with the lowest position are the palace maids in the Laundry Service Bureau and the palace maids who scrub the chamber pots in the Palace Side Quarters. Old Maidservant Zhao, do you think that someone like me still has a chance to free myself and bring about a change in fortune?”

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All the palace maids exhaled a breath of cold air and widened their eyes. She actually dared to ask Old Maidservant Zhao such a question. She doesn’t wish to live anymore! Old Maidservant Zhao carefully examined Su Xi-er before shaking her head. “You’re unable to free yourself. You have no chance to meet the masters of the various palaces at all.”

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“This servant is already in such a plight. If I still offend you, Old Maidservant, do you still think that I can continue living?” Su Xi-er smiled. She continued immediately, “This servant has always been timid and it’s simply because I’m forced into a corner now. If you believe Mu Tao’s words, this servant would have no way to survive. The reason for my abnormality today is so that I can keep on living.”

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Living is better than anything. Even if one has to live like a puny ant, it is still better than dying. Once you are dead, you would have nothing at all. This is a compulsory course for all palace maids when they enter the palace.

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Old Maidservant Zhao furrowed her brow. In the end, she looked at Mu Tao.

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Mu Tao’s heart suddenly jumped. Then, she knelt down. “This servant didn’t lie. Su Xi-er did indeed utter words that offended you. Old Maidservant, don’t you feel that her calm disposition today is abnormal? This servant thinks that she has been possessed.”

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After mulling over it for a moment, Old Maidservant Zhao ordered, “Mu Tao, you are to scrub the remaining chamber pots in Su Xi-er’s stead.”

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No words could come out of Mu Tao’s gaping mouth. Old Maidservant Zhao has let Su Xi-er off, and even pushed her punishment onto me!

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The corner of Old Maidservant Zhao’s eyes contained a trace of a smile. “I do look forward to how you will walk your path in the future.”

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The Palace Side Quarters was too dreary and devoid of joy. Perhaps Su Xi-er’s sudden change would bring about change. As for Old Maidservant Zhao, she really hoped that there would be a little change in the future.

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The situation had changed too fast. Old Maidservant Zhao had already left, but Mu Tao still hadn’t recovered from her shock. She clenched her fists tightly. In the end, she stood up and bellowed, “Su Xi-er, you little bitch!”

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“Little bitch, who are you lambasting?” Su Xi-er immediately responded.

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Mu Tao was in the middle of her rage and did not notice the trap in her words. She directly replied, “Little bitch is lambasting you.”

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The surrounding palace maids could not refrain themselves from giggling at the situation. Only then did Mu Tao realise what was happening, becoming angered to the point of being unable to utter anything.

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Su Xi-er pointed at the chamber pots at the side of the well. “You dare to not listen to Old Maidservant Zhao’s words? Quickly scrub the chamber pots clean! If you don’t scrub them clean, you won’t be able to sleep tonight.”

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“You!” Mu Tao’s breathing was uneven. Although she loathed listening to Su Xi-er, she had no choice but to head for the well as she did not dare to disobey Old Maidservant Zhao’s orders.

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After sorting Mu Tao out, Su Xi-er looked at that tall palace maid and asked, “Who did you say I offended just now?”

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The tall palace maid paused for a moment before buckling under Su Xi-er’s stare. “It was originally He Xiangyu who offended the person but you took the blame for her. The person you offended is Commandery Prince1 Xie.”

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“Commandery Prince Xie?” Su Xi-er knitted her eyebrows. I have never heard of this person before. Is he a hedonistic son of wealthy aristocrats or is he someone with actual power?

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“Let’s quickly leave; she’s too scary today. We shouldn’t get too close to her. Furthermore, you wouldn’t want to be mistaken as her acquaintance by everyone who looked down on her in the past and get ostracised, right?” At this moment, a palace maid tugged on the tall palace maid.

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In the end, those few palace maids disappeared like a wisp of smoke. Su Xi-er smiled. They had been putting on such airs when speaking ill of me, but now they are avoiding me like the plague.

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“Su Xi-er, all of the palace maids snub you. You’ll have plenty of hardships in store for you!” Mu Tao swore while she berated her.

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“Do your own things properly.” Su Xi-er then walked ahead, leaving Mu Tao irate until she gnashed her teeth loudly.

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While Su Xi-er walked, she wondered, exactly what kind of person is Commandery Prince Xie? Why would He Xiangyu have offended him?

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As she was pondering, she heard a woman’s anxious voice. “Flower, where are you?”

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Su Xi-er stopped in her tracks and looked in the direction of the voice. The woman was wearing green silk palace attire which meant that she wasn’t a servant girl of the Palace Side Quarters.

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1. Prince of the Second Rank. They are usually heir apparent to imperial princes who are brothers of the emperor.

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