TOTLS Chapter 76: Arc 5.6

Arc 5: Harem Competing Strategies Chapter 6


The Empress Dowager led the court concubines and attendants to the lotus platform in the center of the lotus pond. They admired the lotus flowers while reciting poems, playing drinking games, and performing dances and musical instruments.

They concealed their scheming and mutual dislike, engaging in a lively and harmonious atmosphere, trying to please the Empress Dowager with jokes and laughter.

“The Emperor has arrived!”

Upon hearing that the Emperor had arrived, everyone became even more excited. Their faces couldn’t hide their joy, thinking that they must perform well in front of the Emperor later. Perhaps they could seize this opportunity to earn the Emperor’s favor.

They paid their respects to the Emperor, who then paid his respects to the Empress Dowager before taking a seat beside her.

Next, it was their time to shine and show their abilities.

The Empress Dowager specifically summoned the Emperor. She was well aware of his physical condition due to the poisoning. He was like a tall tree with numerous internal wounds. Although it was not advisable for the Emperor to favor the harem excessively for the sake of his health, the Empress Dowager wanted him to favor other women to ensure the birth of more imperial sons and to prevent Tao Yuan from becoming too dominant and favored.

Therefore, the Empress Dowager created opportunities for them to showcase themselves in front of the Emperor, implying that he should favor others as well.

In particular, Ye Rong, who had not yet been favored even once while Tao Yuan had been favored multiple times, made the Empress Dowager a bit anxious. So, the purpose of this lotus appreciation feast was mainly to give Ye Rong a chance to show himself.

Xiao Junye naturally understood the Empress Dowager’s intentions. Due to the frequent outbreaks of poison in his body, he was tormented and had little thought for such matters. However, he also wanted to have an imperial son as soon as possible. Although he didn’t know how long his body could hold on, as long as he was alive, he would make more plans for his child. Even if he died, the throne must be inherited by his son, born to the Empress, and as the legitimate eldest son.

With these thoughts in mind, Xiao Junye couldn’t help but gaze at Tao Yuan. Every time he held Tao Yuan’s soft and fragrant body in his arms, he couldn’t control himself. After each intimate encounter, he felt immense satisfaction in his body and mind. At this moment, seeing Tao Yuan sitting there dignifiedly, both in appearance and temperament, surpassing the others, just by sitting like that, he already exuded the aura and style of a future Empress.

Tao Yuan felt the gaze of Xiao Junye and turned to meet his eyes for a moment. After their gaze met, Tao Yuan immediately averted his eyes, pretending to be shy and avoiding eye contact with him.

Xiao Junye noticed Tao Yuan’s slightly flushed cheeks and felt even more fondness for him, finding him both alluring and adorable. But in bed, he became bewitching to the bone, captivating his heart and soul.

Ye Rong put in a lot of effort to perform, but seeing Xiao Junye constantly looking at Tao Yuan without glancing at him even once, he couldn’t help but feel more anxious. Since he entered the palace, he only found opportunities to have secret rendezvous with Yu Wang a few times. However, he had never had the chance to be alone with the Emperor, and the Emperor had never summoned him for an intimate encounter. With the wedding approaching, he couldn’t help but worry.

The identity of the person the Emperor would visit on the wedding night was an important task in the game. If he couldn’t complete this task, it would be much more difficult to capture the Emperor’s favor in the future. However, since he had already transmigrated into the world of the game, he couldn’t see the favorability points and didn’t know how much favorability the Emperor had towards him. In any case, he had to work harder to get the Emperor’s attention.

Ye Rong played the Qin and composed poetry, and when he finally caught the Emperor’s gaze, he felt slightly relieved, thinking that this should increase the Emperor’s favorability towards him. He wondered if he would be able to have a successful intimate encounter tonight.

Others also envied his talent and the Empress Dowager’s favoritism, believing that he would surely win the Emperor’s love.

Xiao Junye endured the throbbing pain in his head and had no mood to listen attentively to Ye Rong playing the Qin. He hadn’t taken Tao Yuan to his chambers in the past few days, and Tao Yuan hadn’t brought him any refreshments for two or three days. Right now, he only wanted to catch a whiff of the sweet fragrance on Tao Yuan’s body to alleviate his pain.

The Empress Dowager was very satisfied with Ye Rong’s performance. She believed that with his peerless appearance, temperament, and talent, the Emperor should like him more. She also wondered why the Emperor had favored Tao Yuan multiple times but had never favored Ye Rong.

The Empress Dowager glanced at Tao Yuan, who remained composed without trying to stand out. He sat upright throughout the event. The Empress Dowager couldn’t help but nod in approval, feeling even more favorable towards him.

Tao Yuan knew that if he were to eagerly seek the limelight and showcase himself at this moment, it would definitely displease the Empress Dowager and lower her favorability towards him. As the only person who had intimate encounters with the Emperor, especially multiple times, if he were to seize the opportunity for others to perform, the Empress Dowager would certainly think that he wanted to monopolize the Emperor and gain his exclusive favor, which would make her unhappy.

Although he did have such thoughts, he absolutely couldn’t let anyone else, especially the Empress Dowager, know about them.

The Empress Dowager, feeling a bit tired from sitting for a long time, decided to rest for a while and let them enjoy themselves. The Emperor stood up and escorted the Empress Dowager to her resting place.

After the Empress Dowager got up, she said to Ye Rong, “A-Rong, accompany this palace to rest.”

“Yes.” Ye Rong immediately walked to the Empress Dowager’s side and held her other hand.

Others looked at Ye Rong with envy. Such treatment, where the Empress Dowager personally created opportunities, was not something that everyone could enjoy. Among all of them, they believed that only Ye Rong could receive such treatment.

Once the Empress Dowager and the others left, everyone dispersed. Some gathered together to chat, while others sat alone, admiring the lotus flowers in a daze.

Tao Yuan also sat by the railing, enjoying the sight of the lotus flowers. It was rare to see such beauty, and he wanted to fully appreciate it.

Sun Yuan sat down beside him and whispered as he looked at the lotus flowers, “With the Empress Dowager creating opportunities for Ye Rong like this, it seems that no matter what happens today, he will definitely go to the Emperor’s chambers.”

Tao Yuan calmly replied, “He must be anxious as well, but who knows what the Emperor is thinking?”

Sun Yuan glanced at the others and said, “Not only is he anxious, but most of the people here are anxious too. After the wedding, he will definitely have the opportunity to be intimate with the Emperor, but it’s hard to say for the others.”

In fact, if Xiao Junye hadn’t taken Tao Yuan to his chambers, they wouldn’t be so anxious. Since everyone was in the same boat, none of them had been favored, indicating that the Emperor simply didn’t want to favor anyone temporarily. But with Xiao Junye repeatedly taking Tao Yuan to his chambers, they couldn’t help but be anxious.

 However, whether they were anxious or not had nothing to do with Tao Yuan. Everyone had to rely on their own abilities. Besides Ye Rong, no one else even had the qualifications to compete with him.

Due to the gradually increasing heat, although there was a roof over the lotus pavilion, shielding them from the sun, it still made people sweat.

Everyone seemed preoccupied with their own thoughts. Some continued to drink tea while admiring the lotus flowers, some went to other places for a walk, and some found a place to rest and change their clothes. However, no one left the imperial garden because after the Empress Dowager rested, she would come back to have a meal with them.

Tao Yuan also felt a bit sweaty, so he took the palace attendants and maidservants to find a room to change his clothes.

Xiao Junye escorted the Empress Dowager to the Yuexiang Pavilion 1. After the Empress Dowager sat on the bed and spoke to Xiao Junye for a while, she suddenly said, “Emperor, go and rest for a while. Let A-Rong serve you in changing your clothes.”

“Alright.” Xiao Junye stood up, about to take his leave, but suddenly furrowed his brows and said, “Mother, I suddenly remembered some important matters that I need to attend to in my study. I won’t be able to have a meal with you later 2.”

The Empress Dowager observed his expression and knew that he was about to have a headache. She immediately said, “Since there are urgent matters to attend to, then go quickly.”

“I will take my leave now.” After Xiao Junye bowed, he turned around and left in large strides.

Ye Rong, who was standing by the side, stiffened for a moment. He couldn’t hide the expression of disappointment on his face. The Empress Dowager glanced at him, sighed inwardly, and then said, “A-Rong, go and rest for a while too.”

“Yes.” Ye Rong respectfully bowed and withdrew. But as soon as he walked out, a flicker of anger flashed in his eyes. He thought to himself, why couldn’t he compare to Mu Xi? It should have been him who received more favor. No matter what, it shouldn’t be Mu Xi who received exclusive favor. Whether in the game world or the real world, no one had the right to monopolize the Emperor’s favor. He hadn’t even thought of monopolizing the Emperor’s love for himself.

In the Shangchun Pavilion of the imperial garden, Tao Yuan asked the palace attendants and maidservants to wait outside while he entered the inner room to take off his clothes and wiped his body with a damp cloth. His fair chest was covered in numerous red marks, all left from Xiao Junye’s uncontrollable kisses. Tao Yuan felt embarrassed to let anyone see these marks. Last time, Ye Rong accidentally caught a glimpse of them, which was completely unintentional.

After changing into clean undergarments, Tao Yuan wanted to lie down on the bed and rest for a while with his eyes closed. After he rested a bit, he would let someone come in to help him put on his outer garments. But as soon as he turned around, he saw someone standing behind him.

“Your Majesty…” Tao Yuan was startled, but he managed to maintain his composure and respectfully bowed to him.

Xiao Junye walked over, lifted Tao Yuan in his arms, and carried him to the bed. He gently placed Tao Yuan down on the bed.

Xiao Junye pressed down on Tao Yuan’s body, pinched his chin, and kissed him passionately. He explored his mouth, claiming the sweetness within.

Tao Yuan was kissed for a long time, his tongue almost numb from being sucked on. This domineering way of kissing drained his strength, leaving him feeling weak and powerless.

Finally, Xiao Junye ended the prolonged deep kiss, but immediately pulled apart Tao Yuan’s garment, exposing his pale skin adorned with red marks, and passionately continued to kiss him.

Tao Yuan tilted his head and bit his lip, enduring it. He had become accustomed to these days. After all, resisting and struggling were futile and only served to excite Xiao Junye further.

Xiao Junye had only kissed his chest before, but this time, he kissed lower and lower.

As if unable to get enough, Xiao Junye forcefully sucked on the sweet scent emanating from Tao Yuan’s body, his actions becoming increasingly unconscious as he moved further down.

Tao Yuan had been kissed by Xiao Junye for a long time, but when Xiao Junye buried his face between Tao Yuan’s legs, Tao Yuan had to push him away and sit up. He fastened his garments, his face flushed, and said, “Your Majesty, it is almost time. This servant should return to the lotus pavilion.”

Xiao Junye smelled the fragrance on Tao Yuan’s body, feeling much more comfortable, but upon seeing Tao Yuan’s tempting appearance, his body grew restless again. Unable to control himself, he reached out to unbutton Tao Yuan’s pants.

Tightly gripping his pants, Tao Yuan looked at him nervously and said, “Your Majesty, if this servant is late, the Empress Dowager will punish this servant.”

“I’ll just take a look, nothing more,” Xiao Junye removed his hand and then took off Tao Yuan’s pants.T/N: Remember people dont let this happen in rl. Consent is always the key to whatever goes in a relationship.

Tao Yuan felt a chill between his legs and couldn’t help but let out a low cry, then tightly closed his legs.

“Be good, let Zhen have a look,” said Xiao Junye as he spread apart his legs.

Tao Yuan knew that Xiao Junye definitely wouldn’t just look, but after his legs were opened, he realized he couldn’t stop him anymore.

Tao Yuan tried his best not to make any sound, fearing that his cries would be heard clearly by people outside.

 …

Tao Yuan felt weak all over, lying on the bed with his legs wide open. His teary-eyed expression was blurred, as if he had been forcibly violated. After Xiao Junye finally got up, he closed his legs and hugged the thin blanket, looking both aggrieved and ashamed.

Xiao Junye was born a crown prince and now he was the emperor. He had never imagined that one day he would be unable to resist doing such things. He tidied his clothes a bit and saw Tao Yuan’s distressed and tearful state, so he sat at the edge of the bed to comfort him. “The Empress Dowager won’t return to the Lotus Pavilion so soon, you don’t have to worry…”

“After we entered the palace, Your Majesty has always allowed only me to attend to you intimately. The Empress Dowager must not be pleased about it,” Tao Yuan said, his eyes cast down.

“Zhen is the emperor, don’t Zhen have the right to choose who attends me?” Xiao Junye helped him up and pulled him into his arms, embracing him. “Are you saying that because you’re afraid the Empress Dowager will be unhappy, you don’t want to attend Zhen?”

Tao Yuan leaned against his chest and said, “It’s not only that I’m worried about the Empress Dowager’s displeasure, but also that I’m afraid Your Majesty will tire of me too quickly in the future…”

“Zhen can’t be separated from the scent on your body. You have captured all of my weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Are you worried that Zhen will neglect you in the future?” Xiao Junye lowered his head and looked at him.

“With Your Majesty saying that, I am filled with fear and trembling. It is my fault and I deserve a thousand deaths,” Tao Yuan said in a frightened tone. 3

“You cannot die even once,” Xiao Junye pinched his chin. “You must live well to serve me. In the future, you must be more proactive and not resist me.”

“Yes…” Tao Yuan was kissed again by him, and then he cautiously kissed him back.

His response made Xiao Junye very happy and excited. The two of them kissed passionately for a long time before parting.

After Xiao Junye left, Tao Yuan quickly tidied himself up and hurried back to the Lotus Pavilion ahead of the Empress Dowager.

His face still had a slight flush, but the weather was hot, and his fair complexion naturally had a rosy tint, so others didn’t notice anything unusual about his blushing. Only Ye Rong noticed.

The reason Ye Rong noticed was that he had been involved with Yu Wang more than once, so he could recognize the flush on Tao Yuan’s face and the expression in his eyes as a post-engagement state, not something caused by the heat.

Ye Rong quickly contemplated in his mind. He hoped that Tao Yuan was having an affair with someone else, as that would give him leverage to control him and leave him with no room to turn the tables. However, today, the most likely person he could have engaged in something secretly with was the Emperor.

Ye Rong thought to himself that he had tried so hard to impress the Emperor but never got the opportunity to attend to him intimately. What did the Emperor say earlier about having important matters to attend to? Were those “important matters” actually spending time with Mu Xi?

The more he thought about it, the more unwilling he became and felt that things couldn’t continue like this. No matter what, he must fulfill his mission on the night of the grand wedding. Since the Emperor showed no interest in him, he would have to leverage the power of his family.

On the night before the selection, almost all the court officials and the chosen maidens couldn’t sleep. This nervous state of mind persisted until the next day.

Even before dawn, some people couldn’t sleep and got up. They changed their clothes, slowly groomed themselves, and after earnestly preparing, they had nothing to do but pace around their rooms. Although they knew that Xu Shiguan wouldn’t announce the decree so early, they simply couldn’t sit still.

Because today, they would officially stay in the imperial palace. And for some of them, they would become the Emperor’s companions from today onwards. What made them most nervous was the announcement of their respective ranks. They were currently equal, but after receiving their ranks, equality would be a thing of the past.

Tao Yuan slept peacefully until dawn and then calmly got up to wash and change his clothes.

After changing his clothes, Tao Yuan glanced at Sun Yuan, who was sitting there in a daze, and asked curiously, “What’s wrong with you?”

“I’m very worried. What if I don’t become a court official in the end and have to stay in the palace for the rest of my life?” Sun Yuan thought he wouldn’t be nervous, but at this moment, he couldn’t help but feel anxious.

Among them, there were also a few people like Sun Yuan who only wanted to serve as court officials or palace attendants for a few years and then leave the palace for marriage. They didn’t want to stay in the palace for their whole lives.

“But didn’t you say your father has already made arrangements?” Tao Yuan said.

“My father said he has made arrangements, but I’m afraid something might go wrong.”

Tao Yuan sat down to comfort him and said, “Don’t worry. The Emperor is only accepting a small number of people into the palace this time. Since your father has already made arrangements, it’s unlikely that something will go wrong.”

“Why aren’t you nervous at all? What if you don’t become the Empress?” Sun Yuan looked at him and asked.

“If I don’t become the Empress, then so be it. It’s not something I can decide. If being nervous could guarantee that I become the Empress, I would be more nervous than anyone else.” Tao Yuan thought to himself that even if he couldn’t decide whether he becomes the Empress this time, the position of Empress will definitely be his in the future.

“Whether you become the Empress or the Imperial Noble Consort, I want to be a court official in your palace.” Sun Yuan said.

“Okay.” Tao Yuan agreed and then patted his hand, saying, “Go have breakfast.”

Finally, the time came for the announcement of the decree. All the court officials and chosen maidens were brought to the square of the Chuxiu Palace and waited for Xu Shiguan to announce the decree.

Tao Yuan and Ye Rong naturally stood in the front row.

“The decree has arrived!”

Everyone knelt down respectfully to receive the decree.

There were a total of ten decrees, including one decree for the appointment of the Empress, one decree for the appointment of the Imperial Noble Consort 4, and the rest of the people of the same rank were listed on a single decree. Those who didn’t appear in the decree would become court officials in the future.

“Thank you for the grace of the Emperor, long live the Emperor!” After Xu Shiguan finished reading all the decrees, everyone expressed their gratitude and Tao Yuan received the decree appointing him as the Empress, while Ye Rong received the decree appointing him as the Imperial Noble Consort.

After Xu Shiguan left with his entourage, everyone began to discuss among themselves. Some were happy with their ranks, while others felt disappointed with their lower ranks. Some desired to become concubines but could only serve as court officials, making them feel even more downcast. There were also those who initially only wanted to become court ladies but became concubines due to family reasons, feeling complex emotions.

Tao Yuan turned to look at Ye Rong, and Ye Rong turned to look at him. The two exchanged glances.

Tao Yuan smiled ambiguously and said, “Imperial Noble Consort Ye?”

Ye Rong, no matter how unwilling he was in his heart, could only kneel down and bow, saying, “I pay my respects to the Empress.”

“No need for formalities,” Tao Yuan said, then turned and walked back to the Xuanmo Courtyard.

The court officials from the military families looked smugly at the court officials from the civil families and immediately followed Tao Yuan.

They had never expected that it would be Tao Yuan who became the Empress, especially the children of the civil families who couldn’t accept the fact that someone from a military family would become the Empress. Moreover, it was clear that Tao Yuan was now more favored than Ye Rong. With the one who received favor and became the Empress not being Ye Rong, they couldn’t help but feel some concerns about their future lives in the harem.

Tao Yuan returned to the Xuanmo Courtyard, but there was nothing to pack as there was nothing here to be packed. He was waiting for Feng Han to come and take him to the Fenghua Palace.

Sun Yuan finally became a court official as he had wished. He would later go to the Court Attendant Bureau to study before being assigned a position.

In any case, Tao Yuan was determined to stay in the palace. He was most pleased that he became the Empress, especially for Sun Yuan. Although the Imperial Noble Consort was slightly lower in rank than the Empress, being a consort still required paying respects to the principal wife. So strictly speaking, the Imperial Noble Consort was still a concubine, and it was better to be the principal wife.Yep I only found this when I was translating it. Like daamn, all those brain cells and here it was all along!

Tao Yuan and Sun Yuan were bidding farewell to each other, reminding each other to take care, when Xu Shiguan arrived with palace maids and attendants to pay their respects to Tao Yuan.

“Greetings to the Empress.”

“No need for formalities,” Tao Yuan said with a smile. “Thank you, Court Official Xu, for taking care of me during these days.”

“I dare not.” Xu Shiguan bowed once again.


4/4 NOTE: Huang Gui Jun and Imperial Noble Consort are used interchangeably. Or would you all prefer just use one? And if so what do you all want? Huang Guijun or Imperial Noble Consort?

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


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  1. 月Yue: moon; month; monthly

    香Xiang: fragrant; sweet smelling; aromatic; savory or appetizing; (to eat) with relish; (of sleep) sound; perfume or spice; joss or incense stick[]

  2. For context: Xiao Junye still speaks politely but he’s not saying ‘Zhen’ but 儿臣 (Er Chen) which means children. So whenever his answer its like “this child wiill not be able to–“[]
  3. Note: TY is using the formal me, “This subject–“[]
  4. Huang Gui Jun[]

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