Big Boss – Chapter 22

Mysterious “dan medicine”

In fact, Ci Ke doesn’t seem like a delicate woman at all, but rather full of charm. However, it is precisely this charm in her every move that makes it easy for her to soften people’s hearts.

One can’t help but wonder what she looks like when she smiles.

When Ye Youqing felt her gaze sweep over her, her heart subconsciously skipped a beat. But in the next moment, the woman seemed to lose all strength, releasing her hand and lying back in the messy blankets.

Her slender, attractive arm emerged from under the covers, rubbing her face as if trying to banish the torment of cold and heat.

Ye Youqing looked at her wrist, still warm, for a moment, shook her head, stepped back from the bed, picked up the disheveled blanket, covered Ci Ke again, and tucked her restless arm back in.

Finally, fearing it wasn’t secure enough, she bent down again, rolled the blankets tightly around Ci Ke, patted her hands, and left the bedside.

Why did Ci Ke always look so irresistible every time they met? It’s as if she was designed that way. Ye Youqing sighed inwardly.

But she couldn’t just leave her like that.

Luckily, it wasn’t Qin Wang who was here now, nor anyone else, Ye Youqing even felt a bit relieved.

The woman on the bed kept moving restlessly, and it wasn’t a good idea for her to continue burning like this. Ye Youqing sighed again, turned and walked towards the wooden door that was securely closed, coincidentally hearing a faint knock.

“Who?” Ye Youqing asked coldly.

“Eldest Miss, it’s me, Qin Xin,” came Qin Xin’s voice from outside the door. “Madam has been worried since you haven’t returned for a long time, so she asked me to come and check on you.”

“I’m fine.” Ye Youqing breathed a sigh of relief upon hearing Qin Xin’s voice, then immediately added, “Go ask a eunuch for some medicine for treating cold for me.”

“Eldest Miss, are you sick?!” Qin Xin’s voice outside the door suddenly raised in alarm, sounding flustered and about to push the door open, but Ye Youqing quickly held the wooden door to prevent any further commotion that might attract attention.

“It’s not me! It’s that fox.” Ye Youqing urgently whispered, lowering her voice. Only then did Qin Xin outside the door stop her attempt to burst in.

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“Fox?” Qin Xin was puzzled, “Can a fox with a cold drink human medicine?”

Ye Youqing rubbed her forehead vigorously. It was just a slip of the tongue, but looking back at Ci Ke’s appearance, it wasn’t entirely inaccurate to call her a fox spirit. Moreover, if she explicitly mentioned Ci Ke, considering Qin Xin’s hostility towards her, she would surely find ways to barge in, causing even more chaos.

“No worries, listen to me. Get some medicine, another quilt, and a basin of cold water. If anyone asks, say I caught a chill and am resting here. If no one asks, keep it quiet!” Ye Youqing quickly instructed, “Do it discreetly!”

Upon hearing this, Qin Xin rushed off in a panic, and not long after, she returned panting.

Ye Youqing opened the door slightly, took the items, ignored Qin Xin’s determination to squeeze in and help, pushed her out, closed the door securely, and returned to the bed, sweating profusely.

The night grew darker, and the sounds from the distant stage became much fainter. Ye Youqing placed a towel dampened with cold water on Ci Ke’s forehead and added another layer of bedding for her before finally sitting down at the table to rest.

The Guizhi soup brought by Qin Xin was only partially consumed and could not be forced down any further, so it was left on the side steaming.

Fortunately, Ci Ke finally stopped trembling and peacefully fell asleep, everything sinking into silence.

Perhaps due to the dim and hazy candlelight, Ye Youqing’s eyelids soon began to droop, and after falling asleep for the third time and hitting the table, Ye Youqing finally couldn’t take it anymore. Disregarding any concerns, she kicked off her shoes, rolled over Ci Ke, and lay down on the other side of the bed.

It felt strange to sleep beside someone else for the first time, but the fragrance of cosmetics on Ci Ke’s body was too pleasant, and Ye Youqing felt no aversion at all.

Soon, she drifted into a dreamy and fragrant slumber.

At some point, the fifth watch bell rang, and the woman wrapped in two layers of blankets suddenly opened her eyes. The lingering haze in her eyes was quickly replaced by clarity as she gazed steadily at the burning candle stubs in front of her, blinking her eyelashes.

A dried towel fell from her forehead with a soft thud, landing beside the porcelain pillow.

What did she do last night? She remembered.

Following her aunt’s instructions, she had approached Ye Youqing.

Just as lies contain a grain of truth, acting also requires a touch of truth. It’s just that she hadn’t expected her body to be weakened to this extent. Just a splash of cold water and exposure to the night wind almost led her to burn out in confusion.

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After escaping from Qin Wang, she remembered following Ye Youqing to a secluded side room. Afterwards, she was plagued by a splitting headache.

She pursed her lips, feeling the dryness and flakiness on her face. The skin on her cheeks rested on the porcelain pillow, sensitive to the touch, indicating that the chill hadn’t completely dissipated, although some heat seemed to have dispersed.

Ye Youqing should have left by now, she thought, then tried to get up painfully. Suddenly, she was shocked to find herself bound by some kind of rope, unable to move. She struggled fiercely.

But staying still was better; with this movement, the “rope” seemed to tighten, pulling her towards a warm and soft place.

Ci Ke was stunned for a moment before realizing that the “rope” was actually a person’s two arms.

A refreshing breath came from behind her, and a prominent nose suddenly brushed against her, nuzzling the back of her neck, causing her to break out in goosebumps.

Ye Youqing was not a very honest sleeper, especially after falling deeply asleep, mistaking Ci Ke for a pillow to hug.

Ci Ke swallowed and, under the dim light of the dwindling candle, lowered her head to take a closer look. Indeed, there was a slender white forearm horizontally across her chest, close enough to see the fine hairs on it.

She cautiously shifted her shoulder and whispered softly, “Ye Youqing?”

Unexpectedly, the call didn’t wake her up. Instead, Ci Ke was pulled by the arm and quickly turned over, facing Ye Youqing, who once again pressed her into her embrace.

Ci Ke’s face was once again closely nestled against Ye Youqing’s shoulder.

Suddenly, she felt a wave of heat spreading through her body, causing the sweat to stay trapped.

Had she slept with Ye Youqing last night? A sense of confusion washed over her as she recalled her initial intentions, feeling both absurd and ashamed.

“You are being absurd, Zhou Ci Ke,” she closed her eyes, almost in pain.

But the warmth of Ye Youqing’s embrace was comforting, so warm that it made her body involuntarily relax, ignoring the octopus-like hug. This embrace held no ulterior motive, bringing some peace to Ci Ke’s heart.

“Just make her care about you,” her aunt’s words echoed in her mind, refocusing Ci Ke and reminding herself to stay calm. She then raised her hand, moved Ye Youqing’s forearm away, sat up, and only then did she realize she was covered with two layers of blankets.

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Gently touching the bedding, she noticed the cooled medicine bowl placed on the bedside. Bringing it to her nose, she recognized the Guizhi soup, now chilled in the middle of the night.

Had she really taken care of her all night? Ci Ke’s hand trembled slightly as some of the brown medicine spilled out of the bowl.

With a clouded gaze, Ci Ke turned to look at Ye Youqing. The woman slept deeply, her lips redder than when awake, still adorned with makeup, displaying a cold and gentle beauty.

The familiar sense of being torn apart engulfed her once again as she picked up the medicine bowl, ignoring the coldness and bitterness, and drank it down in big gulps.

Suppressing the flutter in her heart at the memory of last night’s embrace.

Then, she put down the medicine bowl, unlocked the door, and quickly disappeared into the darkness of the early morning.


When Ye Youqing woke up, the sky had already turned a faint white, with the cloudy day hiding the sun, making the entire sky blurry and misty blue.

She yawned, pulling back the hand that had inexplicably stretched out in front of her, and when her gaze fell upon the messy bedding next to her, she propped herself up quickly.

There was still a faint scent of rouge lingering on the bed, causing Ye Youqing to furrow her brows slightly as she glanced at the empty medicine bowl on the floor.

Had Zhou Ci Ke already left? Not surprising, but probably she had gotten scared upon waking and discovering Ye Youqing next to her. Ye Youqing thought as she efficiently got out of bed.

The fox on the bed also woke up, blinking its sleepy fox eyes and using its large, fluffy tail to curl around Ye Youqing’s legs.

Ye Youqing squatted down, slid her hand through the fox’s armpit, picked up a long tuft of cotton and shook it, smiling wryly, “Today’s birthday banquet, the highlight will be all on you.”

Unnoticed for sneaking to sleep, Ye Youqing tidied herself up and returned to the crowd, looking around with clear eyes amidst a series of yawns.

If Zhao Qingrou had not been needed to accompany Duke Liang as the main wife of the Duke’s Household, Ye Youqing would have pulled her along. Ye Youqing thought, then stood by Zhao Qingrou’s side and, guided by several eunuchs, walked to the Chengshou Palace where the Empress Dowager was.

The main hall was the Nine-Ridge Hall, with nine ridges intersecting, sharp angles clearly defined under the sky, exuding a majestic and solemn atmosphere. There was a golden eave under the roof, with a hundred steps leading up inside, layer by layer, towards the main hall.

Inside the hall, there were several incense burners, and the scent of aloeswood permeated the vast and airy main hall, like entering a Buddhist temple.

Ye Youqing looked around as she walked, thinking that this was the extravagance of the royal family. She lifted her gaze and saw a solid and smooth sandalwood chair with a phoenix pattern at the end, surrounded by seats where people were taking their places.

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This time, Ye Youqing followed Zhao Qingrou and sat behind Duke Liang, with Concubine Xiao and Ye Chengzhu, beautifully dressed with silver hairpins and coronets, on her side. All the maids stood in the corner of the main hall.

Pretending not to see Concubine Xiao’s smug smile, Ye Youqing pursed her lips discreetly, exchanged a few words with Zhao Qingrou in a low voice, and when she raised her head again, she saw an elderly woman seated on the sandalwood chair. She wore a deep blue brocade robe with dark red cloud patterns hanging from her shoulders. Though not adorned with much jewelry, she exuded great solemnity and dignity.

Beside her sat the Emperor seen yesterday, sitting upright and composed.

“…Today, on the Empress Dowager’s birthday, witnessing the auspicious rising of purple qi, the heavens bless Daqi, hearing that the pines and cranes never age, celebrating together with the entire world!” A lengthy court official who emerged from somewhere read aloud from a scroll, and the main hall resounded with hearty birthday wishes.

“Pines and cranes never age, celebrating together with the entire world!”

This was repeated three times before a pause.

“Today, offering blessings for the Empress Dowager, all guests shall present their congratulatory gifts!” the court official declared loudly, and people brought in several boxes wrapped in red cloth, containing the gifts piled up in the side hall from last night.

“Grand Minister Ji, presenting a millennium-old ginseng root!” the court official counted loudly as gifts were announced.

“Lady Song, Marquis of Qingyuan, presenting a pair of night pearls!”

After several announcements, Ye Youqing felt a bit bored and picked up a small handful of brown preserved fruits from the table in front of her, chewing slowly.

Normally, Concubine Xiao was not supposed to attend such events, but since her son, Ye Chengfu, had recently inherited the ancestral title, she had been elevated to the status of an official wife.

“…Consort of Duke Liang, Concubine Xiao…” Suddenly, the court official’s voice seemed to falter, as he picked up an exquisite wooden box and examined its contents closely.

“What is this?” he looked perplexed, glancing at the other attendants beside him who shook their heads in confusion.

“Why is this item so difficult to identify? Let me see it.” The Empress Dowager spoke slowly after noticing the lack of movement.

“Could it be some kind of medicine?” the official asked uncertainly, holding up a silver needle, “It seems to be non-toxic and gives off a scent of herbs. Perhaps the Empress Dowager should wait while I have it tested first.”

Seeing this, the Emperor raised his hand to stop the official and with a slight beard shake said, “Since it’s non-toxic, and I am quite knowledgeable about herbs, let me see it.”

Meanwhile, Concubine Xiao beside them had turned as pale as a dead person.

As the Emperor lifted the respectful official’s hand and took the “dan medicine”, he held it under his nose to sniff.



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dweeb

I just hope they don’t taste it to know what it is 😮‍💨

kinnlm

I have never understood why the Chinese find coprophagia humorous.

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