Consort Wang was surprised to hear that Grand Consort Shu was awaiting her return in her welcoming room. After her rejection from the emperor, entertaining someone so late was one of the least of things she would like to do.
"Greetings to Her Highness," she bowed and sat on a smaller zubaton. It was custom to give up her own elevated comfy zubaton to her elder or those ranked higher when visited.
"Consort Wang, I want my maid released this very night!" Grand Consort Shu did not waste her breath on formalities.
Wretched woman! She, Consort Wang had spent months being turned away from the woman's quarters and being slain for Dowager Empress Wang's sins. Even some of her exquisite gifts that she got for the Grand Consort had been labelled as poisonous and witchcraft talisman.
She lowly clicked her tongue in disgust, 'The first time this woman decides to visit me, she demands for things like she is entitled to anything.'
"What is her Highness talking about?" Consort Wang spoke calmly to pacify the situation.
"Don't be a fool! You know full well that your villainous mother-in-law locked up my maid for no reason." Grand Consort Shu was angry about Dowager Empress' tactics and the one who she could throw her fits at was her? That was good.
If Grand Consort Shu could swallow her pride and visit her to ask for something maybe she might as well utilise this rare opportunity and get what she wanted most.
"Your Highness, bengong is worn out because His Majesty has kept her busy these past few hours. Why doesn't Her Highness go back to her quarters for tonight then bengong will visit tomorrow." She rubbed her neck and sighed like the emperor had been devouring her, though the opposite was true.
"Heh? Consort Wang, if you and that Dowager Empress do not release my maid this very night, you will face my wrath." Grand Consort Shu continued to threaten, simmering like hot water.
"Your Highness should seize her anger so we could solve this matter." Consort Wang did know about the story of the maid that was imprisoned due to her mistake of delivering her assigned letter to the wrong person. This had worked the emperor wrongly and caused a great loss of life in the palace. Dowager Empress had then instructed her to issue out an arrest warrant for the girl to provide some sense of justice to the blood shed. However, the grand consort didn't need to know that. Consort Wang was going to seemingly be a righteous and upright confidant before the emperor's beloved mother by listening to her problems then providing a way out.
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"How dare you lowly consort tell me how to feel? Shall I report you to the emperor and have your status stripped to a toilet cleaning maid?"
Forget it. Having the grand consort soften towards her in order to get the emperor's attention had taken years and proved to be an unrealistic strategy. It was time she changed her ways slightly by biting a little harder.
"The matter of the maid has nothing to do with bengong."
"It is the Dowager Empress Wang who handles the matters of the inner court, Her Highness knows that."
"Ridiculous! We both know that you are her puppet."
"Is that what Her Highness thinks?" She had a haughty look on her face. She just imagined how life would be so much easier if the Dowager Empress Wang was the real mother of the emperor. She wouldn't have to bare with such an unruly mother-in-law. "Alright. Bengong shall solve the issue on one condition."
"I knew that a wolf cannot parade to be a sheep forever," Grand Consort Shu ridiculed. "What do you want?"
Consort Wang knew that if she released the maid so easily, the Dowager Empress wouldn't be so happy. She had to monopolise her limited options wisely.
"A minute, please" she apologised and rose. This frustrated the Grand Consort a bit, although she attempted to seem unaffected to be made to wait.
"My lady." Her court lady that stood on the outside porch made obeisance.
"Go to the dungeon and order them to start the interrogation on that lowly maid," Consort Wang whispered into the court lady's ears, her hand masking the movement of her lips. "Hurry." She hastened her lady who pulled up her ruqun skirt to easily run.
Consort Wang sniggered in pure relishment. She would keep the Grand Consort a while more by riling her up while her worthless maid paid for her sins.
"What is the condition Consort Wang? You dare waste my time?" Grand Consort Shu complained as Consort Wang sat back.
"Of course not, Your Highness."
"What bengong wants is simple."
"And what may that be?"
Everyone knew of the Grand Consort's power over the Dragon palace as she was in charge of maintenance and welfare of the place. Consort Wang had heard of the rumor on how concubines that pleased her the most with precious gifts were able to get to be next in line, if the emperor desired to spend the night with one of his imperial women.
Consort Wang smugly smiled before responding, "One night with the emperor." It was all her heart yearned for.
Bengong = I, used by the females of the emperor.
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