Yo people. The fourth chapter is here. This one was a pain. Once we’re in the harem a lot of terminology comes into play which you just can’t translate into English directly so there are quite a number of notes in this chapter, but I tried to keep it to minimum.
Btw, just to let you know, I’ve been under a lot of stress lately with the bachelor thesis, but I hope it doesn’t reflect on the translation quality. There might be a bit more mistakes in the grammar though.
清華宮（せいかきゅう）Seika palace – the palace Sekka lives in. Just for reminders, since I’m sure most of you have read at least one Ancient setting Asian novel, the Imperial Palace is made up of lots of separate buildings for living each of which can also be referred to in English as a ‘palace’.
武恵妃（ぶけいひ）Blessed Consort Bu – one of Kishoh’s concubines, mother of the Second Prince.
劉恒毅（りゅうこうき）Ryuu Kouki – Kishoh’s second cousin, the High Steward.
紫微宮（しびきゅう）Shibi Palace – Emperor’s residence
Like the last vestiges of spring, raft-like flower petals drifted on the surface of the pond.
On the nearby Sakura trees there already remained only the new leaves, and the faded flower petals sometimes fell as if dancing, blown by the wind.
Sekka had climbed to the top floor of the palace tower  and was gazing at the garden that was waning with the colours of late spring.
[1. 楼閣-the word the dictionary gives me is multistoried building. In this setting, think something like Pagoda, but not for religious purposes.]
There was a pond and artificial hills constructed in the extensive park, producing scenery overflowing with rustic charm. The many trees on one side were perfectly trimmed taking into account the modeling of the garden.
Surrounding the park, there were numerous Palaces lined up as if in competition. Separated by gates in front, the conspicuously grandest group of buildings was the Imperial Court where the Emperor performed his official rites and duties. However, the Palace gates far in the distance could not be seen from here.
Today there will also probably be a great number of people coming and going on the main street, and the vendors will have lined up never seen before merchandise, arguing back and forth with their customers as fiercely as the sound of clashing and blocking swords.
Yoh’s capital, Einei.
As the capital of midlands largest country, it had delegations and merchants visiting from every country and was full of liveliness. People of various hair, eye and skin colours mixed in Einei as if it was a common sight. In this country the Western merchants that had the tops of their heads covered with twined cloth, and were hard to catch sight of in Ka, also seemed not to be rare.
Sekka sighed as he recalled the appearance of the main street they had passed upon entering The Palace a few days ago.
There was a whole wide world outside the splendorous and magnificent Imperial Palace. Also, this sky was still connected with the faraway lands of Ka.
But for him, who was imprisoned in the Inner Palace like a birdcage, things like leaving the Imperial Palace were beyond his wildest dreams.
He wondered will there come a day he could leave this place…?
In this state, even carrying out revenge seemed doubtful. Reflecting on his worthless self, Sekka heard his name whispered quietly by Shohen, who was standing nearby. Inside the room with Sekka there was only Shohen and Baigyoku, but outside the door there were two eunuchs awaiting orders.
“The wind has become colder lately. Staying near the window is bad for the body.”
“That is true. Isn’t it about time we should return?”
“We also have to prepare for tonight…,” Baigyoku added shyly in consideration of Sekka’s feelings.
Making the two maids worry too much was also not Sekka’s intention. “I understand,” Sekka smiled a little, shaking off his melancholy state of mind and rose from the windowsill.
It had been ten days since he had entered the Inner Palace on Kishoh’s order. Tonight too Sekka has been summoned to the Emperor’s sleeping quarters. If it was a thing he could refuse, he would want to refuse. Because he has been ordered to attend to Kishoh every day and was so played with persistently till he swooned, there was a sense of fatigue lurking within his body.
Even if the amount of times has piled up, it did not also mean the sense of bashfulness and aversion had faded. Same as hatred towards Kishoh. But despite that, what also happens is that the pleasure just kept heightening.
“Even if, no matter how much you resist us, you cannot match our strength, you really don’t know when to give up,” Kishoh laughed at him and calmly made him yield. From the start, since he held Ka’s soldiers’ lives in his hands, Sekka could not resist him in any meaningful way. Every day when he came to his senses he fell into self-hatred once he recalled the shameful behaviour with which he yielded to the pleasure given by Kishoh.
If it had been pain given, he could bear it. He lamented his own self of being weak to pleasure.
Kishoh was an arrogant tyrant or so he thought, but unexpectedly Kishoh preferred giving pleasure to Sekka rather than chasing his own desire, he seemed to like to make Sekka disheveled.
That all the more made Sekka’s humiliation grow. At present, he had narrowly managed to preserve the chastity of the organ that gave the indication he was also a female. Whether it was Kishoh’s whimsy or that part of Sekka held no interest to him, he did not know the reason.
Be that as it may, it being violated was also just a matter of time. Because, though at first when Kishoh inserted just a fingertip he had felt pain, now it had got to the point that it got moist immediately and dripped honeydew.
“You have to enter the Inner Palace as Our consort.”
During the three days they stayed at the Imperial Villa, he was tormented by Kishoh day and night. That frightening sexual intercourse full of lewdness probably changed his pure body.
Three days later, when Sekka finally saw Shohen and Baigyoku, both cried sorrowfully in front of him and apologized for their powerlessness. They did it because they clearly understood what had happened with their master.
When they heard that though it was discovered that he was the prince, he had to enter the Inner Palace as Princess Shungetsu, the both of them were shocked and indignant at Kishoh coercing him by force, and grieved at their master’s misfortune. It was a situation they probably found hard to accept, but still they continued to serve him.
Be that as it may, as for Sekka he had no reason to take Kishoh’s words seriously. Till the last moment, he had thought he would be a consort only in name and probably confined to a corner of the Inner Palace.
He had been currently passing as a woman, but he had no idea what would happen from that point on. The Inner Palace that clamored with the Emperor’s women , his discomfort would be noticeable, if he joined the real women there. Naturally, the danger of his real identity being discovered would also increase.
[2. 妃嬪-according to a chinese-japanese dictionary, this refers to all the Emperor’s women regardless of rank]
From the start it was obvious to Sekka that Kishoh humiliated him to relieve his boredom during their stay at the Imperial Villa. So to say, it was no more than a moment’s caprice. When they returned to the capital, Kishoh would take no notice of him.
However, Sekka’s expectations fell completely flat.
The end result was that as soon as they arrived at the Imperial Palace he was imprisoned in the Inner Palace and given the rank of Consort, and ordered to attend to Kishoh before even two days passed.
Honorouble Consort Li -that was Sekka’s new title in the Inner Palace.
[2. 李貴妃- as usual harem titles don’t really translate to English, but the middle kanji has an honorific meaning in Japanese, so I rolled with that.]
Yoh’s ‘Harem of three thousand people’ was famous in the neighbouring countries, and apparently was composed of the Empress, four Consorts, nine Princesses, twenty seven Wordly Ladies and eighty one wife . Even though things may appear this way, during Kishoh’s reign the number of concubines and eunuchs has been reduced.
[3. 皇后四妃九嬪二十七世婦八十一御妻 – from what I understood this refers to the Tang Dynasty China Inner Palace ranking system. Except for empress, the rest don’t exactly have corresponding words in English, so I improvised based on base kanji meanings.]
In Ka it did seem that the previous empresses have had a lot of lovers, but there was no precedent for the existence of such an institution as a harem. As one would expect there were not three thousand people here, but Sekka still found the thought of a world where some hundred concubines fought for just one man’s affection bizarre.
Currently, as Kishoh had no Empress, Honorouble Consort was the highest ranking among the concubines. It was probably a position given in consideration of his status as the princess of Ka, but to Sekka it was a trivial thing.
Although he entered the Inner Palace reluctantly, he at least wanted to live quietly without attracting notice. Such a desire of Sekka’s was crushed by the continuous summoning.
The princess of an enemy country the Emperor had caught himself. The favoured Consort who received affection for three days and nights when they stayed at the Imperial Villa and after entering the Inner Palace pushed aside all the common concubines to reach the highest position.
In Yoh’s Inner Palace right now, The Honourable Consort Li, Princess Li Shungetsu was the hot topic of conversation.
Thus when he went out for a stroll, he expected to feel the glances full of interest and see the whispers of the maids who were burning in curiosity. If he unluckily met one of the concubines, it was common for him to receive glances heavy with hatred and for words as sharp as chestnut shells to be thrown at him.
But then, it was not impossible for the women to not bear a grudge against him. Since Sekka entered the Inner Palace not a single one of the other concubines had received Kishoh’s favour. The other day, when he heard what Eishun revealed while sighing, Sekka also finally realized the abnormality of the situation.
Ten days were ten days. There was no doubt the other consorts were certainly anxious whether ‘Honourable Consort Li’ had become pregnant with the Emperor’s child. Putting their families’ fate on the wager, the girls were sent into the Inner Palace, commanded to gain the Emperor’s affection and give birth to a prince.
However, the anxieties of the concubines will probably end up being needless. Because Sekka’s body that was defective both as a male and a female could not bear a child.
From the start, Kishoh treated him like a rare novel animal he had gotten hold of that he was going to discipline. Right now his below average body was still just a rare thing.
Sooner or later, Kishoh will definitely lose interest in him. Even if he did not take notice of Sekka, there were a lot of concubines overflowing with beauty and ready wit in the Inner Palace.
Sekka had persuaded himself to be patient till then. No matter what it takes he had to bear this humiliation and wait for the appearance of an opportunity for revenge. As long as he was not allowed to die, he could only survive.
Outside the room there were two Eishun’s subordinate eunuchs waiting. They were ordered by Kishoh to guard and escort him so when Sekka left the palace they would definitely accompany him. As long as he did not call out for them, they would not speak.
Since he came to Yoh, he also learned Eishun was a eunuch.
He came from a family lineage that had for generations produced a great number of high officials, but during the time of the previous Emperor, dragged into political strife, his granduncle had lost his standing. Although they were implicated in crimes worthy of capital punishment, the penalty of Eishun and his father who were close aides of Kishoh was reduced and they were punished by castration.
“The fact that I am alive today is all thanks to Kishoh-sama saving me. My life is in his majesty’s hands. I will serve him for my entire life.”
The always calm and rather easy going Eishun had said so in some respects boastfully with no hesitation in his eyes.
Sekka could not comprehend Eishun’s feelings, he who was born wholly male, but who’s his life had become distorted thanks to unreasonable fate. That included Eishun’s loyalty towards Kishoh.
However, it was a little surprising that a cold-blooded person like Kishoh had human emotions as well.
The Emperor of Yoh was an absolute monarch endowed with immense amount of political power. It was a dangerous gamble for Kishoh who was at that time no more than a prince to go against the Emperor’s intentions and apply for the reduction of penalty for his close aides.
Since he had been brought to Yoh, Sekka had been learning the country’s history to kill time and he knew that although one might have the position of the Crown Prince, there were lots of examples of dethronement at Emperor’s own discretion. The amount of princes sentenced to capital punishment was even larger than that.
It wouldn’t have been strange for Kishoh to have become one of those unfortunate princes.
Applying for the reduction of penalty for the sake of a father and son who were his close aides without considering his own position…
Thinking at length, Sekka left the palace tower and began walking through a path in the garden. Then a bizarre thing leapt into his field of vision.
A chicken’s head. Several steps ahead it was scattered about carelessly detached from its body. And the body could not be found.
Shohen and Baigyoku were also startled and could not move when they noticed the head of the chicken.
Their shock was not surprising. When they had gone through this path to the palace tower a short time ago, there had not been such a thing. From the start, it was not something you normally see falling down in the garden.
“Who would harass us like that…”
“Don’t say such thoughtless things.”
Chiding Baigyoku who had turned pale and was shaking in anger, Shohen gave orders to the eunuchs following them with a firm attitude.
“It seems a careless person dropped it while carrying ingredients from the kitchen. Get rid of it quickly so it doesn’t fall into Honourable Consort’s eyes. Just to be sure, please also inform Lord Eishun.”
The ashamed eunuchs got on their knees to receive the order. One of them remained to deal with the head of the chicken while the other accompanied Sekka.
Just as they were passing it, Sekka caught a glimpse of the chicken head.
It was probably a chicken raised in the Imperial Court. It seemed to have been drained of blood, as very little of it spilled out.
This path was the shortest road from Seika palace where Sekka lived to the palace tower. It was not unreasonable to think that somebody had placed it there while they were at the palace tower, knowing that Sekka and company would pass this road.
The possibility that this was not a coincidence or an accident, but an intentional action was high. Since Sekka had entered the Inner Palace, this sort of harassment had continued.
“Goldfish, insect corpses and now the head of a chicken. What the hell would come next? Maybe a pig, or better yet a cow, I wonder. Yoh’s Inner Palace is a really strange place.”
“Calm down Baigyoku.”
Shohen pacified her, but Baigyoku’s anger would not settle as she took a dig at the eunuch walking behind them. The youthful eunuch just curled himself up and earnestly begged pardon.
Just as Baigyoku said, it started with the goldfish. In the Seika palace a goldfish bowl made of porcelain had been knocked down and the goldfish abandoned on the floor had died. The bowl was an armful, so, for example, even if a cat had gotten in, it was impossible for it to have knocked it down.
One of the maids had probably knocked it down by mistake. Whereupon he had thought it suspicious, next, remains of insects were discovered scattered about in the hallway. What’s more it was the hallway leading to Sekka’s living room.
The goldfish were a pity, but other than having to clean up the insect corpses, there was really no real harm done. Sekka tried to shut his eyes to it, but since Baigyoku had informed Eishun, this and the earlier case with goldfish had become known to Kishoh.
“Why did you keep this from Us?”
With Kishoh being indignant at what happened, that entire night he was played with even more intensively. To the degree that the following day he could not get up from the bed for the entire day.
Immediately he had ordered Eishun to investigate, and furthermore two of his subordinate eunuchs had been made to stay close to Sekka and escort him. As a result, the next day two lower maids had confessed their actions themselves and from there on out one after another 3 more maids were caught.
As the girls were interrogated, the participation of one more maid was confirmed, but before Eishun could take her in for inquiry, she hanged herself and died.
The other maids were subjected to punishment and on top of that expelled from the Inner Palace, but after that the harassment still continued. The girls were merely perpetrators. The true culprit who handed down the order was somebody else, and there were probably several of them as well.
At any rate, Sekka’s surroundings were full of enemies. Such as maids and concubines, and Kishoh.
That things had turned out this way was also Kishoh’s fault.
Putting him who was not a woman in the Inner Palace, he keeps behaving in an exorbitant way. While he was walking along the road consumed with aggravating thoughts, he could see a party dressed in a showy way turn up from the opposite side.
“Ah, isn’t this Honourable Consort Li?”
“Good morning ,” Blessed Consort  Bu greeted him with an elegant gesture, a voice as sweet as molasses coming from her red lips. Sekka also returned the greeting without a fault, stifling a sigh at how bothersome this was.
[4. ご機嫌麗しゅう- Apparently an old formal greeting used mostly by women that can be literally translated as ‘I believe you are in good mood’.]
[5. 恵妃 –again I’m referring to the base meaning of the first kanji for the translation of the consort title, since leaving it just as Consort seems a bit boring.]
Consort Bu was somewhere around twenty but her demeanor was full of self-confidence. Her expression always held the peculiar arrogance of women who had been born beautiful.
Actually, Consort Bu was bewitching beauty, looking pretty in her gorgeous outfit and luxurious accessories. Adding to that she came from an ancient and honourable noble family, her father served as the Prime Minister so her backing could not be sneezed at.
Kishoh had three princes, but the mother of the First Prince Graceful Consort  Go had already died when her recovery after childbirth had taken a turn for the worst. Because of that the mother of the Second Prince Blessed Consort Bu was deemed as the prime contender for the position of the Empress and seemed to dictate everything in the Inner Palace like she was essentially the mistress. For the woman who was scheming for the Empress position and the investiture of her own child as the Crown Prince, the sudden appearance of ‘Honourable Consort Li’ was an unexpected nuisance.
[6. 淑妃-same deal as before with Consort Bu’s title]
As for Blessed Consort Bu, up till now Sekka had only met her at events like banquets. During that time he was appraised with a rude glance, her indirect or frank expressions speaking of her disagreeableness.
Right now too, he suspected that she had been lying in wait to make sure of Sekka’s and his company’s reaction when they found the chicken head. Judging from her words and deeds up till now, it would not be strange if this was Blessed Consort Bu’s deed.
“I can see that, as usual, you are wearing that veil.”
Blessed Consort Bu spoke, feigning innocence. Those eyes assessed Sekka ill-naturedly. The maids waiting behind Blessed Consort Bu were also awaiting Sekka’s reaction, exposing smiles full of hidden meanings.
In Yoh just as in Ka white was the colour of mourning. Sekka was not wearing mourning clothes, but to conceal his face when he went out he wore a white veil.
“Yes. I am mourning my family.”
Feeling Shohen and Baigyoku growing angry behind him, Sekka answered dispassionately in a quiet voice.
When he came into contact with Consort Bu or any other concubine, although he did become anxious that his true identity would be discovered, because from the start there were prejudices against him as the Princess of Ka, his current actions would not seem suspicious.
“Your filial devotion is commendable.”
Blessed Consort Bu said in what seemed like real admiration while calmly shaking her folding fan. When she moved about the smell of clothes perfumed by incense wafted in the air, and her ornate hairpin and jeweled necklace made a clear sound.
“However, I do hope you are not planning to wear mourning clothes for the rest of your life? If we added up all the members of your family, would not a hundred year pass, I wonder.”
The maids accompanying Blessed Consort Bu giggled at her words. The mourning time for a parent was three years, for a sibling it was one year. If one added to that his aunt and cousins, like Consort Bu said it would probably be around hundred years.
“Besides,” Blessed Consort Bu continued in biting tone.
“His Majesty seems to be overlooking it for now, but how long are you planning to wear your country’s clothing? If the person who is the Honourable Consort wears the clothing of a different country, it sets a bad example for the common people.”
Kishoh had not once ordered him to wear clothing in the style of Yoh. When he entered the Inner Palace, because Kishoh had handed over fabric as a gift with the words ‘make what you like with this’, his handmaids had guided the other maids to make clothes in the style of Ka.
Thanks to that Sekka wore the same style of clothes he had when he had served as his older sister’s substitute in Ka. He also wore the usual hairpin he had received from his mother and the necklace he had received from Shohun.
The hairpin that was a memento of his mother was returned to him along with the small knife by Kishoh. It was probably because Sekka understood that it was of no avail, even if he held it in his possession.
It was vexing, but he was relieved that things ended without his mother’s memento being snatched away. Except for the hairpin, he had no items that would remind him of Yougetsu.
“Don’t you think it would be better if you put a bit more effort in growing accustomed to our country’s customs? You might harm His Majesty’s interest in you, if you continue flaunting your Ka clothing and wearing a veil, even if be it as it may you are mourning.”
“I’m only saying this for Honourable Consort’s sake,” Blessed Consort Bu added earnestly, while wickedness oozed beneath her smiling face.
“Thank you for the advice. I’ll bear Blessed Consort Bu’s words in mind and from here on out exert myself.”
Be it as it may that they both had the rank of Consort, Sekka expressed the respect that was due to Blessed Consort Bu who was about three years his senior. However, he had no plans to wear Yoh’s style of clothing.
Yoh was located more in the south than Ka so its climate was warm. That difference could also be seen in women’s clothing.
Women in Yoh preferred vibrant tones, and the shape of the collar in fashion was bold and loose. Because, of course, it not only showed the back of the neck, but the area of the chest, Shonen and Baigyoku thought them vulgar with a scowl. If Sekka wore such clothing, the fact he was not a women would be exposed.
“My, my, that is an admirable answer.”
Instantly, Consort Bu’s face became ashamed. Probably she thought her words had no effect on Sekka’s attitude. Just when she was about to open her red lips to say something again, a cheerful voice forced its way through.
Ahh, the hard life of a favoured concubine~ Poor Sekkums.
The other half will be out next Sunday. Also I’m gonna upload the summary of another novel today or tomorrow, we’ll see.
Btw, guys, as I’ve mentioned I’ve been having it tough, so I’ve been relaxing by getting back into art. I made a deviantart last year, but forgot about it, and now I’ve been uploading my entire portfolio (only the good shit though) up there every other day. I’m not the world’s greatest artist, but I can get my way around Sai and stupid human anatomy if I use a reference, and my preferred subject is original BL art, which I thought might be something people here liked, so I’ll put a link below and one of my drawings as an example.
My deviantart – I’d love it if you gave it a look. If I find the time I might do a fanart piece on this novel at some point.
Then, as always if you like my work and wish to support me so I can continue to bring BL stuff to you my lovely readers, consider supporting me on ko-fi~