In a pavilion situated in a beautifully arranged garden with various beautiful flowers arranged in the Lei manor, a young girl stood dressed in simple white robes with her hair tied loosely behind her. She was facing the little pond, dropping some bits of a bun into the pond and absently watching the fish inside scrambling for the food. After the bun was finished and fish vanished from the surface of the pond, she sighed and looked at the clear blue sky.
It's been about a week since I died and came here...I'm not even sure where "here" is, it seems to be ancient China, as to where exactly I have no clue...I suck at history, my knowledge base is limited to dramas and novels and little bits and pieces I researched on when something from those piqued my interest...but I definitely didn't bother to retain the knowledge so....
I apparently transmigrated into the body of the defense minister's 17-year-old daughter, that's not too bad I guess...at least I didn't end up in some beggar on the street, I wouldn't be able to fend for myself at all if that happened...There's a mother, a brother name Lei Yong, who I think is 22 who is a general in the army and a 14-year-old little sister called Lei XiaoTing, she is quite adorable and honestly little annoying, she's a crybaby...I never had a little sister or a sister at all, can't say a wanted one but I guess it is a new experience...They seem to be a very loving family and I feel somewhat awkward with it all, I guess that's to be expected as I'm not great with overly familiar strangers...
...weirdly enough she also had the same name as me, well I guess the name isn't exactly unique, but what are the odds though...maybe this is some sort of an alternate reality or parallel world...no can't be, as she doesn't look like me, and the family members are different people as well so it's not...
...Other than the time when I woke up I didn't mention anything about my past life or give away anything that could hint I wasn't their daughter...there's no point of causing them misery and me trouble so I explained that I was muddled-headed when I woke up and so could not differentiate dream from reality and that it seems I hit my head so I have forgotten some things...they easily bought that explanation, and conveniently attributed any changes in behavior to the "near-death" experience and memory loss, making my life easier...
...for most of the time, I silently observed the people around me to get an idea of the relationships they had to me to get an idea of how I should respond so to them, I didn't try to mimic the former miss, not that I could anyway, never knew her, I just responded appropriately to them, I've always been especially good at conversing with people and have always known the right words to say to continue conversations when I was in the mood to anyway...for the most part, I always tend to keep to myself and was never one to seek the company or friendships of others as I often get tired of dealing with people... and I'm bad at keeping up pretenses, more like I hate it actually...
"jiejie!" XiaoTing screamed as she tapped Lei Xing's shoulder.
"What are you screaming for? my ears are highly functional, you know." Lei Xing said a bit irritated as she massaged her ear.
"I have been calling you for a while, but you weren't responding...I thought something was wrong...sorry, I didn't..." Lei Ting murmured under her breath apologetically with tears starting to gather in her eyes
"It's okay, it's okay. I'm still alive." Hearing this XiaoTing immediately brightened up and smiled and hugged Lei Ting's arm.
...Don't you think you recovered too fast? She reminds me of my younger brother's deviousness when he was a child...I wonder how he is? do they know I'm dead? they probably will not find my body...the crew might notice my stuff when they reach my destination, there were about 2 months left...so they won't know for two months...
"Jiejie, so what do you think?"
"Huh? About what?"
"About becoming empress?"
"Why would I care about that?"
"You don't? But didn't you like the emperor? The emperor is handsome, brave, loyal and brilliant and there is no one better than him." XiaoTing's eyes gleamed as she praised the emperor.
...haah, a classic idiot wanting to jump into troubled waters...
"It seems that you are the one who likes him..." Lei Xing said with a smirk, watching the array of emotions flick across XiaoTing's face was an entertaining sight. She went from starry-eyed to shock then embarrassment and finally an aggrieved expression with tears ready to spill.
"Jiejie, don't make fun of me how can you and I share the same husband." XiaoTing said with a pout.
"It's okay, the emperor is to be shared with many." Lei Xing said with a delighted smile on her face. Teasing this younger sister was one of the only things she enjoyed lately.
"...even then...it's not right...I...I...I" XiaoTing confused, stuttered trying to think of what to say.
"It's okay, I'm just playing with you...You can have him, I'm not interested."
"eh, but you already on the selected list of candidates for concubines...Jiejie will definitely get selected, how can you say you are not interested?"
Lei Xing's eyes widened in shock.
What? Since when? No, No...the palace is the worst place to be in ancient stories, I am not interested in dealing with scheming women or vying for some asshole's attention...I'M NOT GOING!!
"What do you mean?!"
"eh, jiejie you must have forgotten, the competition begins in a few days."
"Yes for the concubine selection."
"I've never heard of it being a competition before..."
I don't think I've seen that anywhere before...wasn't the main point of concubines political connections... if it's competition based how can they ensure the intended targets win...it's probably rigged anyway and is just a show...
...I really have to get out of this, as the defense minister's daughter as long as I show up I will definitely be chosen because of my family...maybe I should fake an illness on that day, but considering how worried this family gets they could summon an imperial physician and I'm not sure if I could fool them...and because of this concubine thing, the royal family may be notified, if it is somehow discovered that I faked an illness, it could be paramount to lying to the royalty, which I know from my vast experience of dramas and novels is a crime that requires my severed head...so...I couldn't exactly ask this family to cooperate with me on the "illness" because of the reasons I just mentioned...so...
...maybe I should run away, but where do I go? The world out there is a dangerous place and even more dangerous during this time period, especially for a woman. I know nowhere outside the walls of this compound even if I could gather money and valuables from the house to pawn to finance my escape...but what about life after the escape? How do I live? I don't even know how to start a fire to keep myself warm and journeying from city to city will take days...frankly I lack the idiot's courage necessary to run away...so...
"XiaoTing ah, since you like the emperor so much, jiejie is willing to give you her position to help you fulfill your dream as a good elder sister..." Lei Xing held XiaoTing's hand lovingly as she smiled at her sweetly.
"Ah?! Jiejie but I am not old enough to marry, plus jiejie has to marry first before me." XiaoTing explained with a panicked expression...
...ah, that's right, she's just 14...what was I thinking? Even if I want to save myself, how can I attempt to throw her under the bus, she will get torn to pieces in the palace. I'm not a saint though, and I never try to be one either...who knows she could grow from it and emerge as a scheming viper as well...haah...
Lei Xing frowned and turned and walked away from the pavilion with determination. Xiao Ting ran after her...
"Jiejie, are you okay? where are you going?" XiaoTing asked as walked beside Lei Xing.
"To speak to father..."
"Jiejie, are you serious about not wanting to enter the palace?"
"Do I seem like I am joking?"
"Jiejie, wait, let's talk about it a bit..." XiaoTing grabbed Lei Xing's arm stopping her movement. Lei Xing released an irritated breath and stared blankly at XiaoTing showing her irritation about being interrupted. "Jiejie, even if you ask father, there's nothing he can do. The candidates have already been approved by the dowager...there's really nothing anyone can do now...."
Lei Xing frowned, debating her words.
...it makes sense, but...is there really nothing...wait...
"That's right, you mentioned a competition right?"
"Yes, the competition was the dowager's idea to test the personal qualifications of the candidates rather than choosing them based on their status to ensure a more peaceful harem for the emperor...at least that's what I heard"
"Then I could just fail then." Lei Xing moved closer to XiaoTing and whispered in her ear, "is there any chance father would bribe the examiners to get into the harem?"
"No way! Father hates bribery more than anything...he would never!" XiaoTing said firmly, "also even if he wanted to, he couldn't. The dowager and the emperor are personally deciding on the result and the competition is to be carried out in front of the other officials, plus the dowager and the emperor don't know any of the faces of the noble young ladies so there is nothing but fairness."
Lei Xing brightened suddenly feeling relaxed and turned to walk back to the pavilion.
I should really thank the dowager, she must been very bored and wanted to mess with the officials to do this...I'm sure the high ranking officials were against this, but she definitely gained the support of lower officials who otherwise may not have had the chance...
"Jiejie, you can't seriously be planning to fail are you?" XiaoTing asked as she followed behind Lei Xing.
"That is the only way."
"Jiejie, you can't do that!"
"Can't do this, can't do that...what's the problem now?"
"Jiejie, if you don't give it your best and intentionally fail then you could be accused of ridiculing the royal family and the whole family could lose our lives!" XiaoTing pulled Lei Xing and looked at her with eyes wet with tears.
...Is this girl a fountain? she would do well in the acting business, crying on demand is truly a skill...
"Don't worry, I'm not stupid, I won't make it obvious...don't worry trust me..." Lei Xing smiled at her and pat her shoulder.
"Jiejie..." XiaoTing whimpered.
"Now tell me about this competition, what is it based on? Lei Xing pulled XiaoTing to sit at a table nearby.
"The competition is based on three sections; musical skill, embroidery and literary skills."
hahahahaha, guess I won't have to try hard to fail or try at all really...I automatically fail 2 out of the 3 tests...I have never embroidered anything in my life, I mean I have sewn little splits on a skirt badly back together, but I doubt that qualifies as embroidery....musical skill? The only instrument I can play is the recorder, which I learned in elementary school, I remember zero from that experience....The literary skill test I could pass as long as it is freestyle, I used to write poetry while I was in high school, it was the only thing I could do then - it was useless though and I tried so hard too...anyway, as long as I am not expected to regurgitate anything then I could probably dig up the long-buried poet in me to pass...
...either way, it seems I am bound for failure, hahahahaha I have never been pleased to be so incompetent before....