“I’m looking forward to the Lantern Festival.”

Since that day when Ji Yue had rushed out of the Zhongling Palace twice, he stopped visiting the younger man for several days. There were rumours flying around the palace saying how after his Majesty tasted him for a month, now Wei Gongzi was discarded because the freshness had passed. 

Chang Sheng and Chang Shou both rejoiced that their Gongzi did not have to serve the Emperor every day. At the same time, they worried about whether their Gongzi would suffer now that he had lost his Majesty’s grace, one that could result in death. 

Wei Lian was the only one who remained calm from the start. 

He knew how thin-skinned a certain someone was. Having almost gone through with the deed, the other must not have the face to see him after coming to his senses and had been hiding from him these days. 

The Qin Emperor was still the same old person, making absolutely no progress at all. 

When that thought crossed his mind, a light smile appeared on Wei Lian’s lips. 

On the seventh day of the Lunar New Year, the Qin Emperor suddenly issued a decree, which put an end to the rumours spreading in the palace that Wei Lian had lost favour. 

“Under the Divine Right of Emperor, it is hereby announced: Wei Lian Shijun, gentle natured, humble and virtuous individual in the most respectful way is hereby granted the title of Guijun貴君 I might as well keep all of Wei Lian’s fancy titles in pinyin. Noble lord is how I would translate it in English.—of similar position as Imperial Consort. He is presented with the Luan Seal鸞 A mythical bird related to the Phoenix. The phoenix seal is for the empress. as well as the authority over the six palaces. By order of the Emperor himself.”

Wei Lian quietly listened with an unmoved expression. At the end of the decree, he said, “Thank his Majesty for his grace.”

Gentle natured, humble and virtuous individual in the most respectful way’.

None of these adjectives fitted him. 

So the Qin Emperor knew how to spill nonsense. 

The Qin Emperor dared not come to find him, so the older man simply crushed all the rumours about him losing favour by presenting him with the Luan Seal. 

The other man was pretty thorough in his ‘playing dead’. 

Li Fuquan finished reading the Imperial Edict in a deafening voice and handed the tough silk fabric to Wei Lian with a smile. “Congratulations, Guijun.”

“Many thanks to Eunuch Li for his trouble in passing the decree.” Wei Lian got up, took the fabric that contained the Emperor’s words away. “His Majesty has ordered to address this one as Gongzi originally, and Eunuch Li can continue to address this subject as such.”

Whether he was addressed as Shijun or Guijun, he still preferred the Gongzi title the most. 

In the final analysis, he did not like to be anyone’s subordinate. 

Li Fuquan was stunned and immediately replied, “Understood.”

As soon as Li Fuquan left Zhongling Palace, the news of Wei Lian receiving a title had spread throughout the palace, discrediting all the rumours that had been flying around. 

Losing what favour? He was particularly being spoiled to death!

Usually, the Qin Empire harem contained one empress, four noble consorts, three consorts, followed by countless concubines. Unlike the self-given title the Chu Empire’s four noble consorts had the privilege of, the Qin Empire used the assumed name of Gui, Shu, Xian, and De. Among them, the noble consort with the Gui address was the most respected and second only to the empress. 

It was self-evident how much respect Guijun held. 

More importantly, his Majesty even gave the young man the authority over the residences for all the harem members, or six palaces. Generally speaking, the empress was in charge of the harem with her Phoenix Seal, the noble consort was in charge of the empress, consort, and concubines’ residences with the Luan Seal. But without an empress in the palace, her power would be given to the next candidate, Wei Lian. In name he was Guijun, but the empress in terms of power. 

This honour was much heavier than the previous rewards. 

Being responsible for all the harem member’s residences was not an easy job. Under normal circumstances, not only did the noble consort have to get up and be presentable to greet the concubines before dawn, but also manage every affair in the palace regardless of their importance as well as memorising three thousand palace rules.

She had to deal with members who had committed a crime within the palace grounds. If there was conflict between the imperial concubines, they would bring it up to the noble consort for her judgement. The noble consort must be unbiased, fair, as well as exquisite in all aspects. The noble consort must not act without care as well, so as to prevent offending the wrong person. Even worse if it resulted in someone’s death, she must admit to her crime as the matter happened under her jurisdiction, even if she had nothing to do with the original conflict. 

In addition, any large-scale banquet for a high-ranking imperial concubine’s birthday, a noblewoman who came to the palace to request an audience with the Emperor, or during any a festival, this must be handled by the noble consort. The length of the process is innumerable. If there was any mistake anywhere in the middle, the noble consort had to be the first to apologise humbly. 

This was such a strenuous, unrewarding, and yet lucrative job that the imperial palace’s concubines madly scrambled to seize it. There was nothing wrong with this troublesome job. All their eyes were on the power the position held, something that could make people feel at ease. 

However, these problems were non-existent in this dynasty. 

There was no one else in the back palace except Wei Lian. This was practically an idle job to gild him with. 

…But not necessarily.

Wei Lian stared at the extremely long bamboo slips…no words could describe its length, but it reached from the desk to the door. He asked calmly, “And this is?”

The female minister, one of the twelve supervisors who oversaw the court eunuchs and internal management, replied, “Palace rules.”

Wei Lian raised his eyebrows. 

Holding the bamboo slips in his slender hands, he sloppily scanned the ink on them before slowly rolled them up to close them. “What is the intention of this?”

“There are a total of three thousand and sixty-one palace rules.” The female minister stated sternly, “Gongzi, with the title of Guijun, you should be an example for the back palace and remember all the rules by heart.”

Wei Lian looked down and made an affirmative noise but with an indifferent attitude. 

The female minister instructed solemnly, “This subject hopes Gongzi can memorise these three thousand palace rules within one month, as this subject would conduct random inspections after that time period.”

This was a traditional rule. 

Anyone who possesses the Phoenix Seal or Luan Seal must memorise the palace rules by heart to set themselves as an example to members of lesser status. In ancient times, concubines were eager for the golden seal and memorised the rules in secret throughout the night to engrave in their memory even if they did not care for reciting these things. 

Three thousand palace rules were too many for people to remember in a short time, so they were usually given a month to recite. No one dared to call this task impossible as they need to remember word by word by any means. 

Wei Lian continued to roll up the bamboo slips, his movement neither too slow or too quick. “But I am the only one who resides in the back palace. Who am I to set an example for?”

Concubines would be one of the members with lower status he needed to set an example for. But the Qin Emperor had none, was he setting an example for the air?

Without hesitation, the female minister replied, “Your Majesty will choose abundant members to fill the harem in the future. Once that time arrives, Gongzi will be in charge of selecting the candidates.”

Wei Lian’s hands paused slightly, so subtle that one without a sharp sense could not detect it. His tone remained very light, “Oh, really?”

There seemed to be a slight chill contained in these words, which turned the female minister's back cold. 

When she glanced over again, the young man was still looking down, focusing on rolling up bamboo slips extremely gently. 

She breathed out slowly and calmly, continuing, “His Majesty has given Gongzi the authority to govern the back palace’s residences. The matter regarding the selection is naturally going to be handled by Gongzi. You will also teach the rules to your future household members. Therefore, you have to—” Memorise the rules. 

Wei Lian had finished rolling up the bamboo slips into a thick roll and put it aside on the table. 

Creating a loud thump

The startled female minister’s blood started pumping and she almost did not want to continue talking. 

She had been working in the palace for many years, and she had many years of experience to see through insignificant commoner’s thoughts. But she could not grasp the young man before her, so much so that she felt a small amount of fear. 

This feeling…She had only ever felt it in his Majesty

She lowered her head and thought the young man was angry. To be fair, the reason why she dared to act so presumptuously was because she was counting on Wei Lian following the palace rules. But if they really started an argument, it would be an effortless manner to deal with a female minister like herself. 

What she did not expect was Wei Lian saying, “I have memorised it all. You can test me.”

The female minister: “?”


Memorised what?

She uttered in shock, “You are referring to?”

Wei Lian glanced at the file on the table and replied, “The palace rules.”

The female minister: “?”

When did he get the chance to commit them all to memory?!

“But you have never read them before…”

“Didn’t I just read it through just now?” Wei Lian gave her a questioning look. 

The female minister was even more puzzled: “???”

You were rolling to put the bamboo slips away! How is that reading?!

During that action, Gongzi would only have time to glance over them. How could he retain the three thousands and sixty-one palace rules?

He was even distracted by talking to her!

When Wei Lian saw that the female minister did not believe him, he recited casually, “One, must not violate the laws of the empire.”

“Two, must not disrespect one’s superiors.”

“Three, must not stay out all night.”

“Four, must not…”

Wei Lian listed twenty-six rules, and the female minister’s expression gradually changed from disbelief to shock then to doubt. 

Doubt in doubting her existence. 

“Wait.” She halted him, “May this subject be so bold as to ask Gongzi for the seven hundred thirty-first rule?”

With the number of rules in the three thousand, they would be here the whole night if going down in order one by one.

Drawing a random number from the middle was the best way to test. 

Wei Lian replied instantly, “The punishable crime on deceiving the superiors is removal of the offender’s tongue.”

She asked quickly after, “Palace rules, number nine hundred and two.”

“The punishable crime for those staying out all night is thirty strokes.”

“Number one thousand one hundred and fifty-nine.”

“The punishable crime for speaking rudely to either superior or subordinate is twenty whip with bamboo strips.”

“Number two thousand eight hundred seventy-four.”

“The punishable crime for engaging in an illicit sexual relationship between a palace maid and another is death by their own hands.”

No matter which number she asked, the young man was able to answer it without hesitation. 

In the end, her face became stiff as a piece of wood. 

Wei Lian politely asked, “Is there more you would like to ask?”

The female minister: “...”

These were the palace rules in name, but it was actually a comprehensive collection of criminal laws. The first seven hundred lines were the regulations and restrictions, and the rest were the penalties for violating those regulations and restrictions. 

Everyone in the palace was subject to these restrictions. 

In Wei Lian’s eyes, it was like a blank piece of paper. 

To be honest, he did commit rule number two, disrespecting his superiors. While the Qin Emperor violated rule number three, staying out all night. 

There was no reason for him to remember these rules not working as intended. 

It would only take up space in his brain. 

Judging from the female minister’s expression, she had not collected her thoughts yet. 

With a daydream-like expression, she carefully asked after a long pause, “Did you work on memorising these palace rules in advance?”

To memorise everything at a glance was too frightening to comprehend. 

Wei Lian returned her look gently. “I thought taking in ten lines at a glance and highly retentive memory are essential skills for everyone.”

The female minister: “...”

Although Wei Lian’s tone was very gentle, she still felt that she was mocked. 

She overcame her shock and wisely chose to skip the topic of palace rules. “Gongzi, the envoys from six empires are expected to arrive in Yongping on the seventeenth. At that time, a state banquet will be held to welcome each land’s envoys. You can start preparing now…”

Wei Lian raised his eyebrow slightly. “Oh?”

With arrogance in her eyes, she explained, “His Majesty pacified the entire lane under heaven. All five empires are under his Majesty’s jurisdiction. At the beginning of each year, envoys will come to deliver tribute. This year, there is another empire, the Chu—” She suddenly kept silent and realised that the man in front of her was one of the princes from the Chu Empire. 

“This subject made a slip of the tongue.” Her voice went quiet suddenly and a panic-stricken expression filled her face. 

While Wei Lian remained unmoved. 

As if the defeated empire was not his home empire. 

The state banquet was no more important than the family reunion banquet. Wei Lian couldn’t interfere much, so his main role was to sit next to the Qin Emperor and look pretty. 

Seeing that Wei Lian didn’t react, the female minister felt relief and gestured to the other palace maids to present some gorgeous palace clothes. “On the day of the state banquet, Gongzi is required to attend in this attire. These are the outfits the palace’s clothing workshop tailored tirelessly. You will find these outfits to meet your identity and specifications. Please forgive this subject’s comment, the plain white dress does not symbolise anything in the Chu Empire, but in the Qin Empire, it represents the colour of mourning and is viewed as ominous. Each empire has their own culture. Since Gongzi has entered the Qin Empire, it is only right for you to follow the Qin Empire customs. You must not wear these outfits against the standard.”

Wei Lian inspected the gorgeous outfits unfolded by the palace maids. They were in the colours of the rainbow, missing only violet, the colour the Qin Emperor disliked. 

The palace attire had fine stitches, precious silk, and gorgeous styling, but it was too exaggerated, like a colourful peacock. 

Wei Lian flat out refused to wear them inside.

He shook his head and sighed, “But his Majesty likes me wearing white.”

Ji Yue naturally never said that, but what was the female minister going to do? Ask his Majesty?

The Qin Emperor made no comment even after wearing white clothing for so many days. It could be seen that the older man himself did not care much for these minor details. Then why should he obey it?

The female minister uttered, “...Then there is no need for you to change.”

Using his Majesty as an excuse, all the rules became weightless like floating clouds. 

Days passed as they reached the tenth day of the first month. 

Wei Lian leaned on the couch, losing interest in a book he was reading and sighed with utter boredom.

“Gongzi, why are you sighing again?” Chang Shou was concerned. 

Wei Lian changed to laying down, a much more comfortable position as he covered his face with the book. His lazy voice came out from under the papers, “I am so bored.”

This whole palace was so boring. 

There was only one interesting person in this whole place, who he had not seen for many days. 

That was not good, why did he call the dog-of-an Emperor to mind?

“You are often absent-minded these days, as if you are expecting someone.” Chang Shou asked in an odd tone, “Who are you waiting for?”

Expecting someone?

Wei Lian was caught off guard. 

He never had expectations for anyone, how would he be waiting for anyone?

He was definitely not looking for someone.

Wei Lian sat up, put down his book, pondered carefully for a while, and finally found a reason to convince himself. 

He replied, “I’m looking forward to the Lantern Festival.”

Authors Corner

The author has something to day:

When people hit the books for the final exam—

Wei Lian: “I thought taking in ten lines at a glance and highly retentive memory are essential skills for everyone.”


1 Comment

  1. Muggelschmuggel

    As someone who is a slow reader and with with a buggy memory… WL all my envy xDDD

    Thx for the ch ٩( >ヮ<)۶

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