One of the maids frowned, annoyed. "Are you crazy ah? Do you know whose palace you're causing a ruckus in? Whose servant are you? Impudent!" she spat.
Feng Mian pushed on the door gate to widen the gap. "Please tell Her Highness that Cold Palace's servant Wan Mei wishes to seek her help. Concubine Zhou is giving birth. She might not make it through the night."
"Our Highness is resting. What does your Concubine Zhou have anything to do with our mistress? Who cares about some concubine who's fallen out of favour? Go back! Our niangniang doesn't want to see her." The maid shoved her away from the front gate.
Despite being shoved like a pervert who's taking liberties with an unmarried maiden, Feng Mian continued to unabashedly pull on the sleeve of the bickering maid.
You push, I pull.
"Aiyoo pretty jiejie don't be so rough. Just tell Noble Consort Wen someone's here to seek an audience. Whether she wants to or not is up to Her Highness." The tug of war at the Yonghe Palace gate was so hardcore that Feng Mian was short of using her face as a door stopper.
"Your face is sure thick. Some unnamed servant dares to force their way inside the Yonghe Palace. You think this is the marketplace? If you don't scram, I'll make sure to have the guards beat the hell out of you!"
"Can you tell them to beat me later? For now just tell your niangniang I need to see her."
The maid was seething. "Pei!" she spat. "Is the Noble Consort someone you can see when you want to see?" Like a fly, Feng Mian's face was swatted away with one mighty smack, the inertia making her fall backwards. "Beat it!" The gate was swiftly shut with a thud.
System 555: "Wu wu wu, what to do now host?"
Feng Mian: "Shut up."
Feng Mian gritted her teeth. She gathered her skirt, and amidst the torrential rain, knelt in front of the gate. A new dam is left incomplete due to the lack of one basket of earth.
"SERVANT WAN MEI BOLDLY REQUESTS PERMISSION TO SEE HER HIGHNESS NOBLE CONSORT WEN! NOBLE CONSORT WEN PLEASE GRANT THIS ONE AUDIENCE!"
Feng Mian repeatedly yelled this sentence over and over again like a broken recorder. She was gambling. Gambling on the fact that the Noble Consort Wen would care enough about her reputation not to have a servant passing out, or possibly dying at her front gate.
Around the time it takes to finish ten cups of tea, finally, there was a sound of movement coming from the other side of the gate. From where she knelt, a pair of finely crafted shoes with pearl embellishing came into view. She raised her head and felt like she was blinded by the sight; the saying of a goddess descending on Earth came into mind. This Noble Consort Wen was particularly beautiful, garbed with a multi-layered hanfu with Su embroidery, she had the appearance of a flower and a face like the moon.
Or it might just be her hallucination from being out in the rain for too long and her eyes were heavily filtered.
Noble Consort Wen stepped out of the Yonghe Palace gate and her dozen entourage followed in two neat lines. The beautiful woman met her eyes. "You, follow bengong." Noble Consort Wen spoke and without waiting for her, left with her procession.
Feng Mian jogged to keep pace and walked silently behind this noble personage.
As they arrived at the door of the Cold Palace, Feng Mian grew worried. Worried that Her Highness's two feet long hair updo, a cocoon for some of the Tang dynasty's treasure, would not make it through the sliding door.
She silently measured Noble Consort Wen's added height to the length of the door.
System 555: "Host, you might need to carry her in horizontally."
Feng Mian fought to keep a straight face. Do you think she's a piece of furniture or what?
Noble Consort Wen made it past the door without having to crouch. Barely.
"Hong mama, Wei mama, go see the situation inside." She sat herself on one of the chairs in the receiving room. The two mamas who were called out strode into the inner room carrying a vermillion box with haste. Feng Mian decided to make herself useful by brewing a pot of tea for this consort who made herself at home.
The screams inside the room resounded more vigorously and several well-dressed servants that the noble consort bought with her were scurrying to and fro carrying basins of water and clean towels. Noble Consort Wen was like a swan amongst a crowd of ducks as she sipped on her tea with ease. She frowned at the bitter taste soon after and put the cup down.
Noble Consort Wen gave her a passing glance. "What's your name?"
Feng Mian made a bow. "This one is called Wan Mei Your Highness." Three long years stranded in this world and she had long gotten used to bowing and conducting herself appropriately when addressing her superiors. Here, there were no labour laws or worker rights.
"How long have you been serving Concubine Zhou?"
"This year should be the third year Your Highness."
Noble Consort Wen gave an approving nod. "Loyal servants such as you are rare. Those that are truly willing to accompany their masters through thick and thin are one in a million."
Well, it's either here in the Cold Palace or hell. Feng Mian covered her mouth with her sleeve and let out a bashful giggle. "You're exaggerating Your Highness, it's not as uncommon as you may think. At most I'm one in five hundred thousand."
Noble Consort Zhou paused. Her maid was right, this woman had an exceptionally thick face.
The Noble Consort shooed her away. "Go check up on your mistress."
Feng Mian curtsied and left for the inner room.
Concubine Zhou was flanked on all sides by the attending mamas and the midwife. Feng Mian grabbed a fan by the bedside and swung air eagerly at the red-faced Concubine Zhou who was biting at a piece of snow ginseng.
"Is he out yet?"
The midwife answered her. "Almost."
Sure enough, soon after Hong mama cried out, "The baby's finally out! Congratulations niangniang." Hong mama passed the baby unto Wen mama.
"It's a little prince."
The maids in the room stopped where they stood and kneeled. There was a chorus of blessings inside the room that smells heavily of blood. "Congratulations niangniang."
A smile blossomed on the weary face of Concubine Zhou. "Let me see him." Her voice had been hoarse from the long labour.
Feng Mian, however, felt something amiss. One of the maids whispered loud enough for everyone to hear, "Say, why is the prince not crying?"
This one comment set the room in a chilly pervasive standstill. Concubine Zhou frowned as she looked at her newborn that had not made a sound and implored the experienced mamas with her eyes.
"Son?" Concubine Zhou called out to her baby as she gently smacked his bottom. There was a heartbeat but the prince remained silent. At this time the Noble Consort Wen had been informed and had made her way inside the room.
Feng Mian stood standing. "Call on the imperial physician," she said instantly. She had a bad premonition in her heart.
"Wait." Noble Consort Wen intercepted a rushing maid.
"Summon the emperor here too."