“Your Excellency, didn’t you reject the Empress previously? How come this time…” Dai Yue helped Shi Sheng out of her court attire.
Shi Sheng casually jerked the official’s hat off her head and flashed a wicked smile at Dai Yue. “My relaxed future rests on their shoulders.”
“Eh?” ‘What’s she talking about?’
Shi Sheng sent the Empress a letter stating her body wasn’t feeling too well and so needed time to recuperate. If there was anything really important, she could just deliver a message to Shi Sheng’s residence.
I’m(lz) not going to court anymore. Don’t bother me with trivialities. I’m not giving up my authority though.
The Empress was unable to guess what her Prime Minister was thinking. So she could only allow her to take leave first, while getting her seven spies to help find out what was going on.
But the seven couldn’t even find a chance to meet Shi Sheng.
“Dai Yue, how are those few doing?” Shi Sheng drank porridge as she questioned Dai Yue, who was serving her.
“I sent people to keep an eye on them. No news will get out.”
Shi Sheng placed the bowl down and wiped her mouth. “Let’s go over to have a look.”
Dai Yue, “!!!” ‘No, Your Excellency! Don’t give in!’
Ying Yue had settled the men in a large courtyard. Their daily routine was like that of women in a normal ancient setting.
They ate, they drank, they slept. Basically, they were very idle.
As Dai Yue looked at Shi Sheng, who was standing in the shadows, she suddenly felt like she couldn’t tell what her Mistress was thinking anymore.
“They look rather idle.” Shi Sheng rubbed her chin as she concluded after observing. Schadenfreude appeared on her face. “Give them something to do.”
“Your Excellency…what should they be doing?” Ying Yue felt like she really wouldn’t know what to do if she didn’t ask.
“The servants ought to have a holiday.”
Ying Yue, “…” ‘It’s not what I’m thinking it is, right?’
Shi Sheng used a very serious gaze to tell Ying Yue her guess was correct. “Go and tell them that if any of them perform exceptionally well at chores, they’ll have a chance to meet me.”
Ying Yue dazedly went to announce Shi Sheng’s new ‘policy’.
When they heard that they’d have to do chores if they wanted to see Shi Sheng, their faces fell. Ever since they were young, they only learned the four arts and how to please people. When had they ever done any sort of manual labour?
But that reward was really enticing. If they had a chance to meet the Prime Minister, it meant there was a chance she’d take a liking to them.
Thus, a new form of fighting for favour was born in the Prime Minister’s residence.
However, it was still much too tiring for them to do manual labour. There were some who couldn’t carry on past the first day. Over the next few days, more gave up.
“Your Excellency, only one of them is persevering…”
“Oh. Seems like this one’s exceptionally loyal to the Empress.”
The tasks Ying Yue had set these past few days were rather tricky, yet that one still hadn’t given up.
Dai Yue and Ying Yue exchanged glances. ‘Your Excellency, your method of sorting by loyalty…is very unique.’
“Your Excellency, just what are you planning?”
Ying Yue felt like she was going crazy. She couldn’t guess her lady’s thoughts at all.
‘And it seems like Her Excellency recently has turned more… Hm, how do I put this? Though her expressions are more varied, I feel like she’s even more indifferent than before.’
Shi Sheng propped up her jaw as she stared into the darkness outside the window.
‘I(bbb) wasn’t thinking of doing anything. Just too bored, so I decided to toy with them.’
The Empress had always wanted to plant a spy at her side. If she kept rejecting the Empress, the latter would continue trying to do so. Shi Sheng was merely too lazy to keep finding excuses to reject her.
Not everyone had a deep motive behind their actions.
It was merely the tendency of humans to overthink things.
Perhaps someone was merely doing something on a whim, but you just had to think of a million-word plot behind their motives.
Shi Sheng had no intention of explaining to Ying Yue and Dai Yue that she was merely toying around with them, causing them to believe even more that their Mistress might be planning something big.
Not only the two Yues thought this way, the Empress did as well.
“What is Jun Liyou playing at?” The Empress frowned and looked at Jiang Zhi, who was standing below the dais.
The Empress hadn’t liked this daughter of hers much before. But recently, the latter had displayed ability that changed her view.
To have been able to conceal herself for so many years meant she had the potential to achieve great things.
Jiang Zhi was silent. ‘How would I know what she’s playing at?’
The Empress sighed and changed the topic. “How are the preparations for the Heaven’s Ritual?”
“All that’s left is to invite the priest from Mt. Wanyuan.” Jiang Zhi lowered her head, hiding the disdain on her face.
‘They’re just a bunch of conmen. The ancients sure are a superstitious lot.’
“Go invite him personally. You must be respectful!” The Empress was meticulous with her orders.
“You may leave.” The Empress dismissed her with a wave.
After kneeling and saluting the Empress, Jiang Zhi left the palace.
As she stood atop the stairs to the palace, a cool night breeze blew past, causing goosebumps to pop up on her skin.
She’d already been here for half a year.
‘Time sure does fly.’
Jiang Zhi shook her head and begun heading back to her residence.
Before she had even entered, a human figure dashed out and pounced on her, huffily tugging on her sleeve as he tattled, “Your Grace, you’re finally back! You must side with me on this! Duan Qingyun broke my most favourite hairpin! It was a gift from you; I couldn’t even bear to wear it normally…”
“Your Grace, I didn’t! He’s slandering me!” Duan Qingyun popped out at some point and defended himself.
Jiang Zhi rubbed her temples to relieve the headache that was building up. ‘Just why can’t these two get along properly?’
In the end, she managed to pacify both of them with much effort. As for how she did so? Use your own imagination.
While Jiang Zhi was busily preparing for the Heaven’s Ritual, Shi Sheng used various ways and means to torment those boytoys.
Even Dai Yue and Ying Yue felt pity towards them after seeing their miserable appearances.
‘As expected, Her Excellency has no intention of treasuring the fairer sex as always. Wonder what kind of person she’ll take a liking to…’
In the end, someone finally couldn’t take it anymore and raised the matter of leaving.
But how could Shi Sheng be willing to allow them to go? If they left, a second wave would come!
As quoted directly from Shi Sheng:
“You want to leave this residence after entering? Sure! Get out horizontally!”
What was the meaning behind this? Horizontal = lying down dead!
The seven had been utterly terrified. ‘So it wasn’t groundless that the Prime Minister is rumoured to have violent fetishes! Just why did we have to take this mission? Running into a lustful woman is way better than a cruel one!’
“Your Excellency, did you hear?” Ying Yue rushed in from the outside.
“What?” Shi Sheng was currently holding onto a brush and writing some very crooked words onto paper.
She’d been in ancient worlds several times before and had stayed several years there, but her calligraphy…still looked like dog scratchings.
Ying Yue stared at the paper, unable to make out the words that had been written there. She was puzzled. ‘Since when was Her Excellency practising a new calligraphy method?’
Shi Sheng’s expression remained unchanged as she crumpled up the paper and tossed it to the ground.
Ying Yue shifted her gaze. “Didn’t I report that the Ning Princess went to Mt. Wanyuan to invite the Taoist priest for the Heaven’s Ritual?”
“En?” ‘What? Don’t tell me the FL took a liking to him?’
“She somehow managed to offend him and thus failed her mission. None of the people the Empress sent afterwards could invite him either, so Her Majesty has flown into a rage.” Ying Yue swiftly reported.
Shi Sheng drew a turtle on the parchment.
Ying Yue, “…” ‘Your Excellency, are you even listening to me?! Also…what are you drawing…? Your Excellency, just what kind of strange calligraphy style are you practising? How come I can’t recognise anything?’
 To play the zither, to play (Chinese) chess, to be well-versed in poetry and painting. It was too lengthy to fit in the text so I gave their shorter form despite it not being what the raws said.
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