In the dimly lit room of the cold palace, there is a sudden cry that resounded from its cobweb infused walls. Intermittent cries broke through the usually silent nights at the palace. Two servants holding basins of blood mixed water scurried to fetch more clean water for Concubine Zhou.
The situation inside the labour room was dire with a middle-aged midwife multi-tasking between giving instructions to the scarce servants and preparing the expecting mother for labour. A young servant is seen wiping down the trails of sweat from the Concubine Zhou's forehead by the bedside.
"Push a bit more niangniang. The head is coming out." The midwife continued to guide. It has been three hours since the amniotic sac broke and it has been a difficult birth.
The only servant in the room was also perspiring, her face pale from seeing the river of blood flooding the bedsheet. A mechanical voice broke through her concentration. "Host, ah, host, the target is coming out! Finally after three years of waiting and manual labour. I'm so touched I could cry. Jiayou host! Fighting!"
Fighting your head ah. Why are you the one who's touched? Did you have to walk five kilometres before the sun rises every day to fetch fresh water for the concubine to use? Were you the one who stayed awake all night for fear of mice and roaches climbing the bed? Or was it you who had to carry charcoal on your back while wearing a paper-thin garment during winter?
This sister has been single her entire life and had only seen cats give birth before but never a person. Ever since this sister has met you this broken system, all sorts of bad luck came one after another.
"Baobei ah, was there supposed to be this much blood when someone gives birth?"
"How am I supposed to know. I'm not a person." Indeed a broken system.
Concubine Zhou continues to scream in pain. Her shrill screams sounded at shorter intervals as time ticked on.
The midwife is deafened to the conversation between this pair of system and host, only seeing the personal maid's face laden with worry as she dutifully attends to her mistress. In her heart, she felt somewhat sorry to this young lady who has barely reached fourteen years of age yet had to serve an unfavoured master in such a dilapidated courtyard.
The midwife called out to her. "Xiao Mei. This… I'm afraid… Concubine Zhou is losing too much blood. We might not be able to save both the lady and the baby. This…"
Xiao Mei was Feng Mian's identity in this world. 555 was also fretting.
"Host, the target must be born successfully. Without him, we can't start our mission. If we can't start our mission, we'll fail this world. If we fail this world, it won't be the cold palace's yard you'd have to sweep, it'd be the yard of the Gates of Hell."
She felt her heart drop to her stomach. "I know. Can I exchange points for medical skills?"
"Negative. Not enough points for exchange."
"Buy on credit. Credit. Baobei, Honey, Darling, little ancestor ah, help me this once."
"Aiyo host. It's not that I don't want to help but the system shop has a no buy-on-credit policy and this system is also dirt poor ah. Medical skills aren't cheap, they cost 100,000 experience points. There's no way to help even if I want to."
"How about a blood replenishing pill?"
"That's 1000 points host. You're short by 500 points"
"Then what can I buy?"
The system went silent for a moment. "… Fifty bonsai trees."
Feng Mian felt a sharp pain from her wrist. Concubine Zhou had clawed the skin around her wrist, nailing her hand in place. Her eyes were blood-red as she croaked out her words, "Save. My. Child." Hours of labour had taken much of her strength and after saying these three words she had immediately passed out.
The midwife panicked. "Oh no! Wake the mistress up! The child will die in her stomach!"
Feng Mian grabbed a fistful of fresh water and flicked the droplets directly to Concubine Zhou's face. She lightly slapped the side of her mistress's face with her wet hands. "Wake up niangniang, The child is almost here."
She slapped a couple of more times before Concubine Zhou woke up with a start.
"Breathe," Feng Mian encouraged.
She then lifted the concubine's torso and made her drink half a cup of water.
"Push niangniang! Push!" instructed the midwife.
Concubine Zhou grabbed a fistful of the bed cover and gathered all her remaining energy into pushing. She let out an excruciating scream.
"The head is almost out!" The midwife gave an excited cry and continued pushing slightly on the bulging stomach to aid the delivery process. "One more push niangniang! One more!"
"I can't anymore." Concubine Zhou was gasping for air like fish out of water.
Feng Mian felt a lump in her throat. "The baby's almost out niangniang. Bear with it for a bit," she said.
" I. Can't. Ahhhhh!" Snot and tears ran down Concubine Zhou's pallid face and she shook her head fiercely.
"Do we have ginseng? The madame's too weak to push the baby out." The midwife looked worriedly at Feng Mian.
This was a problem. How could the cold palace have precious herbs stored anywhere here? It's even considered a blessing that the candle stands had not been stolen by the previous servants who had long run away to serve at other departments. But as she looked at the weak and fragile Concubine Zhou and the struggling midwife, she said instead, "I'll get it."
"System ah, you don't happen to have ginseng in your store do you?"
Unreliable. Absolutely rubbish system.
Feng Mian scurried outside, making her way past the sliding doors of the inner room swiftly before she started sprinting. It had started raining some time ago and as she pushed past the pathway with overgrown weeds, there is a heavy scent of fresh grass lingering in the air. Feng Mian lifted her soaked ruqun skirt made heavy by the downpour as she held a lantern with her other hand.
The Yonghe Palace was the nearest to the Cold Palace where the Noble Consort lived. For now, Noble Consort Wen was the only option they had left.
The palace guards stationed at the Yonghe gates were missing, probably seeking shelter from the rain. Feng Mian pounded heavily on the wooden gate.
"Your Highness Consort Wen! Please open the gates! Your Highness!"
Feng Mian pounded and pounded until her palms blistered from the dispensed debris. She continued making a ruckus until she saw two maids holding an umbrella opening the gate by a slit.