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23 Blood For Blood




"Would his majesty like to see the blooming flower?" Court Lady Nam's face mellowed with a naughty look. She, only, was aware of the rendezvous he had with foreign women when he went on trips, leaving his concubines untouched. He had no desire to touch women offered on the platter as pawns for power—who were also far from his taste—thus why he settled to have his needs satisfied somewhere else.

He enjoyed fooling around with women who didn't know who he was, who didn't look at him like he owned the world, who didn't waver in his presence but were gallant mistresses of seduction.

"Your majesty?" Court Lady Nam gently probed.

He hesitated for a moment before saying, "We will pass by the Women of Art quarters." The case was intriguing on its own, and it was his priority to be aware of everything that took place in the palace—be it the harem—that he, the emperor, did not traditionally have control over. It was the empress' responsibility to manage it but due to one not existing, his grandmother (Grand Dowager Empress) and adoptive mother (Dowager Empress Wang) were in charge.

He frowned, surprised by the noise that grew louder and louder the more he approached the quarters.

'Do they think this is an animal farm?'

When he took a turn, he was stunned to see two ladies brawling like animals, palace maids offering them audience.

Shen Hong couldn't believe it. Such mayhem in his palace? Such uncivilized unladylike-like behavior in his presence? Unacceptable.

"What's this ruckus?" he roared. Leisurely, Luo Meng drew closer to him, ready to offer his sword. It was predictable what came to follow next. Realizing who he was, they all fell to the ground and ushered their greetings, terror resonating from their voices.

"Answer the Emperor!" Court Lady Nam yelled from behind.

"Greetings and blessings to his majesty." A voice he was familiar with started, "Your majesty, this servant was just trying to have the palace maids repent on their mistakes but the Senior Lady was unwilling."

It was her.

The woman who drove him into insanity a week ago. How could he forget? Just her voice was enough to confirm her identity. It was confident, sultry and provocative. Did she do that on purpose or was she born voluptuous?

He blinked his eyes. The fact that she was right before his eyes was unbelievable, like a dream, but more innocent compared to the ones he had been having about her recently. She wore a decent blush pink hanfu, and like the other times he had seen her, her face was half covered. He had thought the reason behind that was their situation but another reason appeared to stand.

"Your majesty, that's untrue. That servant is cunning," the Senior Lady retaliated. "She owns clothes of nobility when she is nothing but a servant. According to our class system, this is improper and shaming, so this subject found it right to instruct the palace maids to get rid of them and avoid any problems, but she started throwing fits of rage and slapped me. Your majesty, what is this lady supposed to do when she is disrespected like that?" She started sobbing.

"How dare you impose a question on the Emperor?" Court Lady Nam admonished harshly.

Emperor Huizhong cast a glance at the previously known lady of Wei who did not waste her breath defending herself. She was recoiling in quietude, and strangely, he understood her tactic. She was one to choose her battles.

"Your majesty, please forgive this servant for being disrespectful and impudent," she regretted. One would be fooled and think she was sorry but he knew an act when he saw one.

"Luo Meng." Shen Hong instructed his bodyguard on what to do next by the browbeat tone of his voice.

On cue, the domineering guard sheened the sword which whistled through the air and rested on the Lady of Wei. Gasps broke out as the palace maids frantically shuddered in fear and started to cry uncontrollably. However, the so called Lady of Wei did not flinch. Despite the threatening sword on her neck, she stayed unmoved.

Huizhong smirked.

'How intriguing,' he thought.

He knew she was one of a kind from the moment they met, and perfectly, she was doing a good job concerning that. The emperor eyed Luo Meng as a signal, and deftly, he sheathed the sword away.

Sighs of relief lightened the atmosphere, a bit. The possibility of them walking away alive was next to nothing as the emperor was not one to forgive, but still they petitioned the heavens for mercy.

Emperor Huizhong stared down at the Lady of Wei, not knowing what he felt towards her. Was it lust or pure frustration that there was a woman that existed with no desire for him?

"Eunuch Nam," he called as he took a step forward.

"Yes, your majesty." Eunuch Nam scurried next to him.

Blood for blood was what Huizhong believed in. The last time they were together, she was brass-necked and dared to kick him. Her head was respectfully lowered, her eyes cast to the floor. He wondered what she would do if she found out that he was the Dura Mountain Camp General, the person she so desperately sought far and wide for, unaware that he was so near.

He vacantly looked down at her delicate fingers that were poised on the ground. They were the hands that once attempted to steal from him, but then, days later, they had softly stroked his chest and made him lose his mind. What a conundrum.

Hers were the most almond shaped nails he'd ever seen on petal soft fingers, dainty with youthfulness. Vengefully, he placed his boot on her fingers and balanced his weight on her. He salvaged at how she breathed in deeply, a small sound elapsing from her lips. Watching her squirm in pain brought him much delight.

But… why was she not afraid of him? What made her not shake in his presence? Exasperated by her reaction, he heavily lifted his leg off her fingers and mercilessly kicked her, causing her to topple over. The palace maids covered their mouths in pity, knowing that they could be next.

The Lady of Wei dejectedly coughed in pain, and strangely, her hands protectively flung to her back, though he had roughed up her ribs instead.

This was a deja-vu moment for him that had him sway backwards in confusion. The emotions that always swarmed over him after his troubling dreams nestled in his heart, stinging him all over.

"Your majesty, are you alright?" Eunuch Nam lightly held him.

Shen Hong shrugged the eunuch's hands off him and staggered away before stopping. How could a girl he met four summers ago have such an effect on him every time he saw something that reminded him of her?

"Send them to the Ministry of Law for canning until they are pertinent," he said, his voice rid of emotion. He had wanted to warrant dismissal and order them to maintain peace on this matter, as someone who held his interest was involved. However, that was divergent from his personality and who he was.

He was Emperor Huizhong and no woman was above his rules and principles.