Grand! So grand!
Luxurious! So luxurious!
One two three four, five six seven eight, nine ten eleven…… Although history books recorded that the Princess of Shanyin Liu Chuyu had thirty male concubines that were granted to her on one order by the emperor, the truth wasn’t so. Chu Yu had asked You Lan before; there were only a total of twenty-four male concubines in the Princess’ palace, and although half of them were granted by the emperor, the other half were carefully selected and plundered here from all kinds of places by the Princess of Shanyin herself.
Among them was Rong Zhi, who was the earliest one brought into the palace by the Princess of Shanyin.
All kinds of beautiful youths and handsome teenagers appeared from the courtyard entrance, that Chu Yu couldn’t stop exclaiming in her heart. And she once again confirmed that the aesthetics of the Princess not only had a very noble taste, but it also inclined towards diversity: almost every type had two or three, and there still were differences in specifics among a type. The variety of styles contributed to such a colorful scene.
The Princess of Shanyin was like a picky collector, continuously collecting artworks lacked in her home. She only wanted two or three of each style, but made sure that each type was complete while at the same time having a diversity of styles.
She had thought that Rong Zhi was very beautiful, but after seeing the other male concubines, Chu Yu finally understood the proverb of there’s always mightier people and broader skies1 . Ignoring the their temperaments and just talking about physical appearances, there were more than a few that were better looking than Rong Zhi.
The ages of these men ranged from teenagers to a little over twenty. Among the numerous, Chu Yu spotted a child that seemed to be only eleven or twelve. that child was cute and adorable, with long and raised eye lashes; his round black eyes glistened, and his cheeks looked tender enough to squeeze water out of it. Her head buzzing, Chu Yu forced herself to stay calm, and nonchalantly asked Rong Zhi, who was still beside her, “By the way, how old is he this year?” Her hand pointed towards the child.
“Twelve.” Rong Zhi’s reply made Chu Yu’s head buzz again. How could the Princess of Shanyin be so inhumane! This child was just twelve, yet she still shamelessly ruined him…… Although this child did have the face that attracts people to ruin him, and although the Princess of Shanyin was young too, as she was only seventeen or eighteen, but twelve years old, twelve…… By doing so she is destroying the young sprouts of her mother country!
Looking at all the others, they were all pretty young. Chu Yu shaked her head: apparently the Princess of Shanyin wasn’t fond of all ages; she had a strong habit of eating new grass2 .
Including Rong Zhi, there were twenty-four male concubines; two said they were sick, so Rong Zhi told Chu Yu they couldn’t come. But whether it’s they really couldn’t come or they didn’t want to for some other reason, Chu Yu had no way of knowing. She could only laugh in her heart and note their names in her head. The Princess of Shanyin’s husband, He Ji, wasn’t at the palace either. It’s kind of a shame that all these days since she came here, Chu Yu didn’t even get see her new body’s true spouse. But considering the facts from this point of view, it is obvious that the Princess of Shanyin and her husband weren’t close — of course, no matter what man, if his wife was intimate with other men in his presence, they wouldn’t be close or affectionate with each other.
Poor He Ji…… Staring at the two rows of beautiful youths and handsome teenagers, Chu Yu couldn’t help but pity that man she never met. The green hats3 on his head probably stacked up to the height of a building.
The ones who arrived last at the banquet were two coquettish and pretty youths. One of them wore fuchsia garments, and the other was clad in Harlequin clothes. They walked towards Chu Yu side by side. At this time Chu Yu had just reached for her cup to taste some fruit wine, but not giving her time to savor the drink, this red and green pair approached, leaving her almost choking. She hurriedly lowered her head, forced herself to gulp down the wine, then lifted it up to face the crowd again.
Chu Yu licked her lips. Giving up on drinking, she looked at the two youths with those dazzling colors: both were absolutely gorgeous beauties. But…… red with green, whoever could have made up that match?
The coquettish youth dressed in Harlequin was the one who begged Rong Zhi to go see the Princess, Liu Se. When he heard that the Princess was going to host a banquet in the woods, he hurriedly showered, dressed up, and even applied make-up, leading to his slightly late arrival. The other slightly late guest just happened to be Mo Xiang, the male concubine whom he was always fighting with over the Princess’s attention.
The two came from two different paths. When they met at an intersection, seeing the other was also elaborately dressed, they shot hateful glances at each other. Unwilling to lag behind the other, both increased paces and arrived at the banquet at almost the same time.
If someone were to ask Liu Se who in the Princess’s palace he disliked the most, it would be neither the Princess’s husband, He Ji, nor the Princess’s favorite, Rong Zhi, but this Mo Xiang.
He Ji was a hopeless husband, posing no threat whatsoever to them. While Rong Zhi was extremely favored by the Princess, he was usually graceful and pretty low-key. Except sporadically asking the Princess for a couple of books, he never asked or fought for anything. Everything he had was given voluntarily by the Princess. Rather than hating and resenting, Liu Se’s attitude towards Rong Zhi was more of an unreachable, unattainable feeling plus despair and envy.
On the other hand, Mo Xiang could directly threaten Liu Se’s interest. Therefore he hates Mo Xiang the most.
Everyone in the palace knew that when the Princess of Shanyin picked out male concubines, she disliked having too many repeats. Therefore the more special or unique one was, the more favored he would be. Liu Se and Mo Xiang were both a very good sight for sore eyes. Although Liu Se was somewhat more good-looking, Mo Xiang had one distinguishing feature that he didn’t possess. This became Mo Xiang’s most useful weapon and his greatest capital.
At this time, there were still two empty spots. Yet both youths saluted Chu Yu without even glancing at the spots, then split two ways, went around the table and sat down besides Chu Yu.
The instance the two neared her, Chu Yu detected a soft and sweet aroma. The fragrance was different from her incenses; it contained no smell of smoke or fire, and it was longer and more good-natured than the smell of flowers. It even carried a vague warmness.
After thinking for a bit, Chu Yu suddenly thought of a possibility. She tilted her head and glanced at Mo Xiang. Probably because of hurrying on the way here, Mo Xiang had small droplets of sweat on his forehead and the tip of his nose; as the breeze blew past, it brought a burst of aroma with it.
During the Qing Dynasty, there was a stunningly beautiful girl in Xinjiang who had delicate fragrance coming from within her. She fascinated the emperor QianLong, and was known as the fragrant imperial concubine. What Chu Yu didn’t realize was that more than a thousand years ago, during the Southern Song Dynasty, there was also a such, except in male form and residing in the harem of the Princess of Shanyin.
Chu Yu now begin to admire the Princess of Shanyin a bit: due to the difference in physique and constitution of human bodies, very very few were born with the ability to emit fragrance. Yet such a rare person had been found by the Princess of Shanyin, the handsome-male-collector, and placed into her harem.
1. There’s always mightier people and broader skies: 人外有人天外有天, Chinese proverb that means there will always be somebody greater than one or better at something than one.↩
2. Eating new grass: 啃嫩草, means dating or having a relationship with a younger person; usually in the case of an older girl with a younger boy.↩
3. Green hat: a symbol of spouse’s unloyalty.↩