BAI SHEN HONG
IMPERIAL WAR ROOM
"Grand General, the North Border is getting restless because Gurio won't stop overstepping their boundaries. Please allow one of us to go and settle this impending matter!" General Feng hit his fists together above his forehead, "Grand General, please reconsider your orders."
"Your Majesty, please reconsider your orders!" The other three generals joined in, speaking in unison.
Shen Hong exhaled, contemplating in his mind. It was like he was tending to little children who were throwing tantrums to get attention. He straightened out his body and sat up straight on his big golden chair, his arms resting on the mahogany table. He looked at the four hopeful men. They actually thought that getting selected to go on this mission would stipulate the trust and confidence he held for that person—which was far from the truth. There was no one he trusted but himself.
Ever since his father, the previous emperor, died, things had changed. The men had become ambitious, desiring his position of grand general. Due to his demanding obligations as the current emperor, it was equitable for him to step down for one of his generals sooner or later. However, if he gave it up he would be degraded to be like any other puny ruler, rulers that could only control one person while the Grand General ruled over millions.
Military power was the foundation of his throne, the reason why he was feared and respected. His father was wise, as he had him sent to be part of the military at just eight summers with strict instructions for him to be treated like a commoner. Of course like any spoilt and pampered child who had started to get used to the lifestyle of being royalty, this was the worst thing that could happen. Shen Hong was then compelled to learn what it meant to sleep with an empty stomach, to survive on unappetising discolored food and to persevere through the extremity of pain. He had to work hard right from the bottom, with no fancy privileges to elevate him above the others.
"Your majesty, the time to visit the training grounds and check on the royal guards' progression has come." His eunuch reminded him from outside.
Again, he looked at the generals in front of him. General Feng was his most skilled general; if he sent him away, it could create an unfortunate situation if Furia started causing trouble while he was far away.
"General Chen, you shall leave tomorrow." The emperor rose up and walked out, Luo Meng shadowing him from behind. The renown imperial bodyguard stout-heartedly followed his master, sword in hand.
The generals lamented their kind regards while the Minister of Law on the other side, scribbled the decree.
Outside, his entourage was waiting for him, lined into two rows of palace ladies and eunuchs, the seniors in front. They looked down the moment he stepped out and whatever the junior palace maids were gossiping about was hushed.
Palace gossip did not interest him any bit; at most, it was just lies made up to entertain their bored minds. However, whatever the matter was this time, it had to be something big. The whispering had been going on for two days now.
He was curious, but not enough for him to question. He led the way, and they trailed behind, leaving a short distance in between. Any workers, maids or royalty, that met him on the way would bow down respectfully while others trembled for their lives.
He sighed and stopped in his tracks.
"Eunuch Nam, what is the matter?" It had been a while since he publicly killed any servant; well, eight days, to be exact, was considered long in his books.
"Your majesty…" Eunuch Nam rushed to his side and lowered his head. Whenever he said these words, it signified his unwillingness to say anything further.
"Do you wish to die?" His short temper was not going to hold for that long.
"Your majesty, please forgive me. They are shaken by your presence because they are under the assumption that you are in a foul mood." He was nervously fumbling with his dark green gown.
"What has happened?"
"Your majesty… "
"Eunuch Nam!" he roared, feeling irritant.
"A woman, the Lady of Wei… Virtuous Consort… the birthday..."
Although the Emperor loved to be feared and fed from it sometimes, it was unbearable to be stuck with stuttering personages.
"Your majesty, this servant is willing to explain the matter." Court Lady Nam stepped forward with valiance. How they were twins, he didn't understand when they seemed to be from two different worlds.
"A Lady of Wei danced beautifully, and the Virtuous Consort asked the Grand Dowager Empress for permission to have her dance for her birthday. It is a rule in the harem for a lady not to serve in the palace so the Lady of Wei was asked to choose between losing her title or becoming your concubine. She chose losing her title."
A lady choosing to lose her title over becoming his? That was unheard of, vacuous and dense. Every clan wanted their children to be his concubine because the Empress seat was vacant. It was no sub rosa that vultures surrounded him be it in his politics and the military, right through into his bedroom.
The Wei clan was not of much significance, but they belonged to the South, the wing he had so many doubts about when it came to measuring against credence.
"Would his majesty like to see the blooming flower?" Her face mellowed with a naughty look.
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