The Power of Beauty
Sheng An Huai thinks Tian Qi is very promising.
Let’s not talk about his thick-skinned face and his ability to flatter people; he has done so many stupid things while he is in the front-line of imperial duty yet he managed to dodge all the troubles one by one. Any other eunuch would have died a thousand times already. He even managed to earn a pleasant expression from the emperor. Not everyone can do that.
Honestly, Sheng An Huai cannot understand this. Even though the emperor appears affable like spring breeze, he is not soft-hearted at all. He can order the death of a servant by planking without even batting his lashes. Why is he so continuously patient when it comes to Tian Qi?
Even though he does not understand it, he remains alert as the head of eunuchs. As for his treatment towards Tian Qi, it has changed a lot. He no longer lets her wait in the side-room and instead allows her to directly serves Ji Heng.
Ji Heng is reading memorial in Yang Xin Palace and Tian Qi is standing nearby, waiting for orders. This kind of work seems idle, but it is actually really tiring. You have to be on your toes all the time, you cannot lower your guard for even a moment. Sheng An Huai is old now, he is not as alert as he used to be. He is worried he will commit mistakes when he is too tired, so he kind-heartedly relegates that task to Tian Qi. With that, he can be less tired and gives Tian Qi face at the same time; it is akin to shooting two birds with one stone.
Ji Heng closes the memorial he has in his hand and looks down, his eyes relaxing a bit. He is very pleased with what Sheng An Huai did this time; it is a right move to place Tian Qi here. Even though that young eunuch is not useful, he has a good appearance; very pleasing to the eyes. Beautiful people gets a lot of perks in their life; Ji Heng thinks the reason he keeps enduring Tian Qi’s fallacies is because he thinks he looks good. Had an ordinary looking eunuch been the one who let rainwater drenched his neck, that eunuch would not even have the chance to leave the imperial mausoleum. He would have been turned into fertilizer for the trees there.
Ji Heng finally understands why Tian Qi likes men. With this appearance of his, if he is not in the receiving end, he will become a pretty little husband. He is not like him, handsome and heroic. It is more than suitable for Tian Qi to have a broken sleeve. If you put him in a woman’s hand, he probably would not know how to react.
(TN: Broken sleeve refers to homosexual men.)
After thinking about that for a while, Ji Heng finally realizes he is being perverted. He coughs, trying to hide the embarrassment he feels in his heart.
Tian Qi who has always been paying attention to Ji Heng’s movement thinks he has something to say when he coughs earlier. She turns to look at him.
Being looked at by Tian Qi makes him feels uncomfortable. He glares at her fiercely.
Tian Qi: “……..”
No wonder people says that being with the emperor is like keeping a tiger company. The emperor’s temper is too uncertain; it changes without a single sign. She uneasily lowers her head; whatever, it has nothing to do with her.
At that very moment, two eunuchs come in. One of them carries a tray while the other picks up a bowl of tea from the tray. He gently places the bowl on the table. “Your Majesty, please drink this tea.”
Ji Heng nods and the two eunuchs retreat.
Tian Qi outstretches her neck to peek into the bowl. She sees Ji Heng picking it up and scraping the lid. Thin white smokes floats out of the bowl and curls into the air.
Tian Qi takes a deep breath, smelling the clear scent that is now lingering in the air. It smells like medicines and incense. She narrows her eyes, reveling in the scent; the chance to make money is here. Things will not go wrong this time!
This tea must have been sent by the empress dowager.
Whatever the emperor eats or drinks is taken very seriously by all the consorts in the palace. How much did he ate, how did he look like when he drank it, did he like it, how much did he like it; she can get money by relaying all those infos to the concubines. This is one of the income sources for the eunuchs in the front-line of imperial duty.
Now, Tian Qi is witnessing him drinking this with her own eyes. As long as he does not hate it, she can earn money by praising it in front of the empress dowager later. Even if the emperor does not like it, she can just say, ‘Even though the smell is a little thick, His Majesty could feel Your Ladyship’s motherly love. He was touched and drank it all up.’ After all, people have mouths for a reason. As long as you are willing to be shameless, your money bag will definitely be thick. The empress dowager is so generous, she ought to reward handsomely.
After Ji Heng drinks a mouthful of the tea, he looks up and finds Tian Qi in her own world, looking stupidly happy. He asks her, “You are a tea expert?”
Tian Qi regains her mind, “Answering Your Majesty, this servant is not. Just, this tea smells so nice, it ought to be a high-grade material.”
Hearing that, Ji Heng pushes the cup towards her, “Since you thinks so, zhen will bestow this tea to you.
Tian Qi: “………..”
It is normal for masters to bestow their servants with foods and drinks; occasionally, they even bestow things that they have eaten half. Some servants will take it as an honor, but Tian Qi really cannot get used to that ‘honor’. She likes cleanliness, she will not touch things that other people have eaten. So what if he is the emperor? An emperor has a human mouth too. She cannot bring herself to drink the tea that he has drank. It is disgusting.
She naturally does not dare to say the word ‘disgust’ out loud. Even the expression of disgust must not be shown; instead, she has to appear grateful yet humble. Tian Qi moves towards him and picks up the bowl. After a long contemplation, she decides not to drink it. She laughs flatteringly, “Your Majesty, you bestowed this servant with such a good tea, this servant could not bear to taint them. I would like to bring it back and offer it incense for one whole day in appreciation of Your Majesty’s grace.”
She acts really well. Normal people wouldn’t have seen through her, but Ji Heng is not normal. The unwillingness that flashes in her face for that one second cannot escape his eyes.
Ji Heng is a little upset now; this servant does not know how to appreciate other’s kindness. He is actually disgusted by him. After thinking for a while, he is now determined: the more you don’t want to drink it, the more I will force you. So he says, “That is not a big matter. Just drink this up. It you want to offer it incense, zhen will bestow you with another bowl.” After he says that, he stays true to his words and orders people to bring in another bowl.
Under Ji Heng’s careful observation, Tian Qi has no way slither her way out of this. She can only bite the bullet and drink the tea.
“How is it?” Ji Heng purposely asks.
“It is really a good tea. This servant is so blessed today.” Tian Qi replies with a bitter face.
Seeing her unhappy, Ji Heng is happy. He smiles happily at her, “Since it is so, drink it all up.”
Tian Qi lifts the bowl and raise her neck, drinking it in one go.
Ji Heng’s eyes falls on her neck. Her neck is long and slender, fair and delicate. As she is drinking tea at the moment, her throat moves smoothly, resembling an elegant swan singing a song.
Ji Heng coughs, a little uncomfortable. “Alright, alright. Who drinks tea like you? Like a cow chewing a peony.”
Tian Qi has already finished the tea. She puts down the empty bowl, her red lips moist from the tea.
Ji Heng turns his eyes to look elsewhere. He picks up the new bowl of tea, drinking as he asks, “Why did you become a eunuch?”
“Answering Your Majesty, this servant aspires to be a eunuch since I was little.”
‘Poof—-‘ Ji Heng cannot stop himself and sprays tea all over the memorials on top of his table. He looks at the damp files with a darkening face, “If you continue saying nonsense, it will be considered as a crime of deceiving the monarch!”
Tian Qi uses a handkerchief to wipe Ji Heng’s chest that has been drenched with tea while saying, “This servant does not dare to lie.”
“Who on earth would want to be a eunuch since young?”
“Your Majesty may not know, this servant is weak since young. My mother said that it was very unlikely for me to reach adulthood and even I do, I will not be able to live long.”
“Your illness sounds a little like insanity.”
“…. My mother said our family was poor. We have no money to rear idle people. She said if I cannot depend on myself to live once I get older, I can only starve to death. Since I was young, I had began calculating on what I should be once I get older. Since I was frail, I decided to become a eunuch after contemplating on my choices. No maidens would be willing to marry me anyway…..” Tian Qi is really impressed with herself. How can she tell blatant lies like that without a single change in her face? Her heart does not even jump.
Ji Heng is still half-suspicious after hearing her, “Why don’t you take government’s exams?”
“Your Majesty is joking. This servant does not even have enough money to eat, how can I have the spare money to study?” She retrieves her handkerchief. “Your Majesty, your robe is drenched by tea. Let me call for someone to help you change.” After saying that, she turns around and leaves to call for someone.
Ji Heng is a little stunned as he sits on his seat. He feels sympathetic towards Tian Qi’s sad background. That kid is actually pretty clever, he ought to have a bright future had he had the opportunity to study when he was younger.
As for Tian Qi, she has long thrown this matter out of her head. Now that she is taking a break from her duty, she happily runs towards Ci Ning Palace to generate more income.