TOTLS Chapter 71: Arc 5.1-1

Arc 5: Harem Competing Strategies Chapter 1 Part 1

“Xiao Lang 1, Xiao Lang.”

Tao Yuan heard the call and slowly opened his eyes, turning his head to look at the person standing beside the bed.

“Xiao Lang, it’s time to get up. We’re going to the palace today, so you should prepare early.”

“Daddy Wu 2…” Tao Yuan sat up from the bed, looking sleepy.

Behind Father Wu stood seven or eight maidservants 3 with trays in their hands containing washing utensils.

Seeing Tao Yuan sit up, Father Wu stepped back sideways. Two servants stepped forward to serve Tao Yuan to help him wash up.

After washing his face and rinsing his mouth, Tao Yuan stood up and walked to the dressing room. The maidservants retreated while Father Wu and two attendants followed. They entered the dressing room together to serve Tao Yuan in changing clothes.

The two attendants opened the cabinet and Father Wu brought out the light red robe with silver thread patterns and prepared to help Tao Yuan to put it on.

Tao Yuan looked at the garment and said, “I won’t wear this robe.”

Father Wu was taken aback momentarily and said, “This robe is Xiao Lang’s favorite. It was chosen two days ago. Why don’t you wear this one?” 

“This robe is not suitable for a flower-viewing banquet. It’s too grand.” Tao Yuan said.

“For the Empress Dowager’s flower viewing banquet, it is natural to wear something grander. Not to mention no one is more suitable for wearing red compared to Xiao Lang. The ladies and young men of officials’ families from the imperial city and other places will go. Xiao Lang’s clothes will be more eye-catching. It’s also more conspicuous, isn’t it?”

Tao Yuan shook his head and said, “Although it’s the Empress Dowager’s flower-viewing banquet, it’s too much. Besides, being too conspicuous might make people have a negative impression.. Open all the closets. I want to choose other clothes.” 

The person mentioned in Tao Yuan’s words is naturally Empress Dowager, who doesn’t like overly colorful dresses.

The two attendants had no choice but to open the wardrobe full of formal clothes and ask Tao Yuan to choose again.

Tao Yuan chose a warm orange formal suit with moiré 4 patterns. Although this robe is not as grand and conspicuous as the one just now, it is formal yet bright. It is just right to wear to the flower viewing banquet. Moreover, the warm orange color added a soft glow to the original owner’s snow-white skin.

Tao Yuan ate something to fill his belly after getting dressed. 

After rinsing his mouth again, he walked to the dressing table, sat down, and let the attendant comb his hair.

Song Zhi, one of his attendants, opened the large and small wooden boxes on the table. He was about to put makeup for Tao Yuan when Tao Yuan said, “I will do it myself.”

Most of the ger 5in this world have a more neutral appearance. Only a few of them are more masculine or more feminine-looking.

Tao Yuan looked at his face in the mirror. The original owner’s appearance was a little more feminine because his outline was soft, his features were delicate, and his appearance was more charming. However, the original owner was born into a general military family, so his behavior was more masculine. But because this face is so beautiful, as long as he sits still, he looks like a woman, but when he talks and moves, it can be seen that he is a ger.

The owner will only occasionally put on light makeup — after all, he is not some girl who wears makeup when going out. Not to mention formal occasions such as the Empress Dowager’s flower-viewing banquet, it would be disrespectful if he were to go bare face. 

The face of the original owner had a natural makeup effect. His face was pink and tender, his lips rosy red as if it was bleeding, his eyes were deep, and the bridge of his nose was straight. Tao Yuan only needs to put on a little makeup so that people can see that he is wearing makeup.

After everything was ready, Tao Yuan walked outside the gate of the Marshal’s Mansion, got into the carriage, and took Song Zhi and Zhu Ying to the palace.

Along the way, many carriages were also heading toward the imperial palace. The carriages were filled with noble daughters and gentlemen 6 of officials from the imperial city and officials from other places. The empress dowager’s banquet purpose’ this time was a large-scale blind date event because the emperor had just ascended the throne, and the harem was empty. The harem still needed to be established, and many concubines and princes were still required to be chosen. Several unmarried princes are among the officials in the imperial city and other cities. As long as they are of the right age, the unmarried noble daughters and young men of officials above the sixth rank can all enter the palace to participate in the flower-viewing banquet.

There are many carriages already parked outside the gate of the palace. Since the carriages were not allowed to enter the palace, people attending the banquet had to get out of the carriages one after another. They entered the palace on foot with their maidservants and attendants. In this world, men have the largest population, followed by women, while gers have the least population. Therefore, in this flower-viewing banquet, the number of noble ladies is higher than that of noble gers.

After entering the palace, everyone went to the imperial garden to wait. Compared to the costume dramas, the garden of this imperial palace is huge. It has a larger yard with some flowers and plants. The Royal Garden of the Imperial Palace has a water and promenade pavilion, terraces, long corridors, and lotus and fish ponds.

They were taken to the place where the banquet was held by the maidservants. Then, they waited for Empress Dowager and the concubines 7 to appear.

Although many people attended the banquet, Tao Yuan and another person were not overshadowed by the crowd. They were the most outstanding regardless of their appearance and temperament.

Ye Rong walked up to Tao Yuan and bowed slightly to salute “Mu Xiaolang.”

Tao Yuan also bowed slightly to return the salute, “Ye Xiaolang.”

After greeting each other, they looked at each other calmly.

Ye Rong is wearing a light yellow robe today, with a white jade sachet on his waist. Compared with his usual cooler-colored clothes, today’s outfit fits the current warm spring colors, and it can be seen that he has put his heart into it.

When Ye Rong looked at Tao Yuan, he was surprised. He thought Tao Yuan would wear a red robe because the charming and vivid red was the original owner’s favorite color. But today’s warm orange formal robe, although it still sets him off brightly and dazzlingly, it doesn’t look too ostentatious. Even the full-bloomed flowers in the garden have become his foil. Not to mention, his appearance and temperament are not as good as the noble daughters and ger in the place. 

There were a lot of people attending the flower-viewing banquet today, but behind Tao Yuan and Ye Rong, there were a small number of people standing, respectively. The two sides were clearly separated.

After the Empress Dowager and several concubines came over, everyone quickly stood up and saluted. Tao Yuan and Ye Rong stood at the front.

The original owner’s father was a marshal with a heavy army in his hand, so the original owner was born into a family of generals 8. Ye Rong’s grandfather was the prime minister, so he was born into a civil servant family of a scholarly family 9. Just like civil servants and generals look down on each other in their hearts, these noble ladies and men are divided into two factions, looking down on each other.

 The Empress Dowager looked at the two people standing at the front. She was delighted with their decent attire today. She nodded and said, “You may rise.” 

“Thank you, Empress Dowager.” Everyone said in unison and then went back to their respective position.

Although the folk customs in this world are open, unmarried women and ger can walk all over the street. There is no rule that unmarried noble women and noble men cannot see foreign men, but even if they can meet, they have to be on different occasions. On an occasion like today, everyone knows what they are here for, so even the emperor and princes could be better at showing up.

This flower-viewing banquet is to select beautiful girls and servants to enter the palace. HHowever, the children of these officials were in a completely different category compared to commoners who entered the palace as entertainers or attendants.

After entering the palace, the common beautiful girls and servants are to be palace servants and palace entertainers, that is, servants who serve others. If someone has a very good appearance, he may be lucky enough to become a concubine in the harem by the emperor, but they are only small number.

After entering the palace, the beautiful girls and servants from ordinary families are to be palace servants who serve others. If someone has an excellent appearance, they may be lucky enough to become a concubine in the harem by the emperor, but this is rare.

On the other hand, when the children of these officials enter the palace, they will become high-grade concubines 10. Or be betrothed to the prince as the main concubine or side concubine. 

So, they become high-grade female officials and servants. Still, after staying in the palace for a few years, most of the servants will be brought back home and betrothed by their parents.

The members of the royal family are naturally the most honorable existence, and they are here to be selected. The others knew very well that the selection of Empress and Imperial Noble Consort 11 had already been decided. It would definitely not be their turn. However, being chosen as a consort or noble consort, and especially giving birth to a prince, would bring great fortune.But if you can be selected, as long as you can give birth to a prince in the future, you will be fortunate to be a concubine or a prince. If you are confused, it basically means that there are ranks in harem. Since they can birth to a prince they can have a higher position in the harem.; Also I finally found the right terms QAQ.. I think ;-; Even if you can’t enter the imperial harem, you can be regarded as a noble member of the royal family if you can become a princess or side concubine.

Moreover, the court is full of turmoil. The harem is even more turbulent. If one was fortunate, they might even benefit from the changing tides.

At the pavilion opposite the Lotus Pond, the Emperor and several princes sat in the topmost room. Through the open windows, they could clearly see the others, but because of the angle, others could not see the Emperor and those princes.

Although it was nominally a flower-viewing banquet, it was actually a selection process for entering the palace. Naturally, they couldn’t just sit idle and chat. Performances were indispensable. Moreover, with the presence of the Empress Dowager and the imperial concubines, not everyone had the qualifications and opportunities to showcase their skills in front of them.

Those who had the chance to perform were either exceptionally talented in their own right and already renowned among the noble ladies and gentlemen, or they were favored because their fathers or grandfathers held important positions in the government.

After watching the other noble ladies’ dances and the gentlemen’s flute and xiao performances, the Empress Dowager looked at Ye Rong and said, “It’s been a while since I last heard A-Rong 12 play the guqin. Today, the spring scenery is beautiful, with flowers in full bloom. A-Rong, why don’t you play a fitting tune?”

Ye Rong immediately stood up and bowed, saying, “Yes.”

His attendant placed the guqin, and a palace maid brought water for him to wash his hands. After rinsing his hands, Ye Rong dried them with a cloth and focused his mind to begin playing.

The sound of the qin was light and melodious, like the warm sun in the cold, bringing a sense of comfort to people’s hearts, harmonizing perfectly with the bright spring scenery.

The Empress Dowager was extremely pleased and smiled as she watched him, enjoying the captivating melody.

Others may have felt envy or jealousy in their hearts, but they had to admit that he played exceptionally well. No matter how hard they practiced, they couldn’t achieve such mastery of the qin. It was no wonder even the Empress Dowager praised his guqin playing.

TN: And we’re on a new world. Still debating if I’m gonna go with Raiders of Harem, Harem Competing Strategies or  Strategies for Competing in the Harem. Still went for the second one though. How about you guys, what do you prefer?
Next chapter release will be this Wednesday.

EDITED. Rereading this gave me a heart attack QAQ. How were you all ok? I mean some parts were fine, some just made me wanna hide in a hole forever T.T

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If there are any mistakes/error, feel free to comment it down below.

  1. Lang 郎 – young or denotes a status[]
  2. 吴爹爹 diēdiē or Daddy Wu/Father Wu – Still him and TY are not blood related at all, but more like a butler. So don’t be surprise if it says Daddy Wu is helping/serving TY; Can also be Uncle Wu[]
  3. maid(s)/maidservants/servants/attendants are all the same which you will read throughout the arc. However it must be noted that females servants (maid/maidservants) are or most likely to be bedwarmers. Or in short term, male lords can intercourse with them anytime they want; like the master own these (slave/master relationship). While attendants, mostly are male from what I gathered. This does not exclude the fact that their masters might want to intercourse with them.[]
  4. moiré pattern is like this

    ; may also be called cloud patterns[]

  5. ger tropes; these are males who can get pregnant[]
  6. Not to get confused, author wrote gentlemen/young men/ prince interchangeably with ger. This means whoever are in this banquet for the purpose of getting into the emperor’s harem can get preggo. []
  7. may also be called imperial consorts[]
  8. a.k.a military family[]
  9. a.k.a civilian family[]
  10. a.k.a noble consorts[]
  11. queens and emperors; I finally found the right answer QAQ. Empress was indeed higher than Imperial Noble Consort.[]
  12. the a- is a form of endearment[]

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