Consort of a Thousand Faces

CHAPTER 5: A TABBY POUNCES ON SOMEONE
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CHAPTER 5: A TABBY POUNCES ON SOMEONE

“Flower, come out quickly! Don’t scare me!” A woman’s voice was getting increasingly anxious as she rounded the corner, fear clear on her face.

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Su Xi-er was bewildered. Who is Flower? This woman’s palace attire doesn’t look ordinary. Don’t tell me that Flower is Beimin’s little imperial princess?

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“Meow~~~” Suddenly, Su Xi-er found a huge tabby cat with large eyes pouncing towards her. This cat was extremely unbridled. It reached out its sharp claws and swung them towards her face as if it wanted to scratch her.

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Su Xi-er spun and dodged the tabby’s claws. The cat spun around and glared at her ferociously once it had landed, it’s tail sticking straight up in the air.

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“Flower, I have finally found you!” A woman’s pleasantly surprised voice could be heard. Soon, she was carrying the tabby in her arms.

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So it turns out that Flower is the name of a cat. This woman is so nervous about it. It looks like its the pet of some imperial consort in the palace.

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“Flower doesn’t like you very much.” The woman took a few steps back as she carried the tabby, her eyes full of loathing.

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Su Xi-er didn’t comment. I need a cat to like me?

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“Miss He, why did you come to the Palace Side Quarters?” Old Maidservant Zhao was perfect with her timing, though still appearing very deferential to the woman before her.

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He Ying smiled. “Old Maidservant Zhao, Flower is mischievous. It actually hid from the Empress Dowager and ran here alone, making her worried sick. I’m going to carry it back now.”

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Su Xi-er finally understood. So Flower is the Empress Dowager’s pet. With the master as the Empress Dowager, as long as the Empress Dowager likes it, the status of this tabby is even greater than those of the imperial consorts.

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At the moment, she still didn’t know that there were no imperial consorts in the palace at all. The Emperor had yet to even come of age, much less marry.

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“If that’s the case, Miss He should quickly return to the Compassionate Peace Palace. The Empress Dowager must be concerned.” Old Maidservant Zhao’s face was wreathed in smiles, and her tone became even more deferential.

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He Ying nodded, only taking a few steps before she turned around again. “Old Maidservant Zhao, Flower doesn’t like this palace maid.” At the same time, she looked at Su Xi-er’s direction, the profound meaning in her eyes very obvious.

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“I'll bear what Miss He has taught in mind.”

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Only after obtaining Old Maidservant Zhao’s assurance did He Ying leave with Flower in her arms. Flower’s eyes kept looking at Su Xi-er with the hair all over its body standing straight up.

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Animals are said to be psychic and sensitive. Is it possible that this cat has discovered that the soul in this body doesn’t belong to Su Xi-er herself?

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“From tomorrow onwards, you will wash the chamber pots at night. If you see Flower again, you must avoid it immediately.”

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Su Xi-er looked at Old Maidservant Zhao and nodded. “This servant finds Flower very adorable. Why did it behave like that when it saw me?” She purposely revealed a puzzled expression, hoping to gain some useful information from Old Maidservant Zhao.

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“Flower was given to the Empress Dowager by Prince Hao. After the Empress Dowager saw the cat, it was love at first sight. Regardless of whether it’s Prince Hao or the Empress Dowager, they are people you can’t provoke.” Old Maidservant Zhao gave her a meaningful look. If she died due to this matter, what other good show can I still watch in the future?

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“Thank you for your advice, this servant will keep that in mind. However, are all servant girls serving the Empress Dowager as young as Miss He?” She deliberately asked in such a manner. Normally, those serving near the Empress Dowager should be the more experienced senior maidservants. Since Miss He was allowed to carry the tabby given to the Empress Dowager by Prince Hao, she is definitely someone who serves near her. This is inconsistent with the regulations.

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“Are you too calm or is your brain simply silly? The Empress Dowager is young and is eighteen years old. Of course the palace maids serving beside her would be young. In the future, you don’t need to mention such things again.”

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Su Xi-er instantly understood. The Empress Dowager is only eighteen years old. Prince Hao is the Pei Family’s foster son, and is only around twenty-five years old. Beimin’s Empress Dowager is rather young. It’s lonely in the inner palace so it’ll be strange if she actually observes widowhood! It looks like the relationship between the Empress Dowager and Prince Hao isn’t simple.

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“Return to your room right away. In the future, you will come out at night to scrub the chamber pots.” Old Maidservant Zhao turned around to leave.

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Her work was originally in the day but now it was at night instead. Still, there are advantages to this as well. At least the night is peaceful.

~~~

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Su Xi-er’s whirlwind thoughts had prevented her from falling asleep that night, resulting in her waking up only once the sun was already high in the sky. Despite the fact that she was up so late, none of the four palace maids sleeping in the same room had bothered to wake her up.

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She changed into a clean palace attire and went out. Quite a few palace maids had congregated at the courtyard in front of the door and were discussing animatedly.

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“Something big has happened in Nanzhao. The Eldest Imperial Princess, Ning Rulan, who wielded immense power, has actually died!

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“Exactly! I even heard that it was General Yun who bestowed her with death.”

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“Change is the only constant. Back then, Ning Rulan and General Yun were a well-matched couple thought highly of, yet they fell out with each other just like that.”

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“If I were Ning Rulan, even if I died, I wouldn’t find peace underneath.”

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Su Xi-er stopped in her tracks. The news has travelled to Beimin so quickly. Ning Rulan has truly died. Really really died.

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“Speak softer. She has come out.” The palace maids immediately lowered their voices upon seeing Su Xi-er.

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“I have no intention of disrupting you all. Continue your discussion.” She smiled. She then turned around and walked in the other direction. After doing a bit of exploring in this part of the Palace Side Quarters yesterday, she was very clear about where she was to eat her meals and clean up before the day started.

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“Old Maidservant Zhao actually allowed her to be so arrogant.” As they looked at Su Xi-er’s retreating figure, a palace maid started to complain.

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“Mu Tao has a crafty personality but, she still lost to her tricks. In fact, Su Xi-er got to eat her dinner while Mu Tao didn’t get to eat because she was scrubbing the chamber pots.”

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These palace maids started to gossip about Su Xi-er again. After talking about her for a while, they moved back to Ning Rulan and Yun Ruofeng.

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Su Xi-er walked towards the freshening up area. After she was done with washing her face and rinsing her mouth, she took a damaged wooden comb.

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Lü Liu’s appearance involuntarily emerged in her mind. “Your Highness, let this servant comb a Peach Blossom Bun1 for you. You look the best with this hair bun. General Yun also likes this the best.”

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As she looked at the wooden comb, her vision gradually became blurry. Lü Liu is no longer around. No one will comb my hair for me ever again.

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Unconsciously, she gripped the wooden comb tightly.

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A loud shout from far away finally pulled her out from her memories. “A major event! He Xiangyu has come to the Palace Side Quarters!”

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Su Xi-er’s eyebrows furrowed. How can a woman taken into the Beauty Palace enter and exit the imperial palace at will? Is it because she angered Prince Hao and is demoted back to the Palace Side Quarters, or is she favoured to the extent that she’s permitted to enter and exit the palace?

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However, no matter what it was, she wanted to meet He Xiangyu.

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1. There seem to be quite a few variations of this hairstyle so I have included a link to a website which supposedly shows three types of the hairstyle.

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