ROSE FLOWER PALACE
Rain is a cultivator of life, the evidence of a new season.
On a rainy night, he was rescued from the horror that he called life. It was the turning page of a new chapter, the end of torture and turmoil.
So was today a turning page. An end to deceit and the beginning of faithfulness.
Luo Meng shook the rain drops from his dark coat as he exposed himself from his covering. A maid ran out with a lamp to welcome him and take his coat. He looked around to ensure that no one was watching then followed the maid inside the Rose Flower palace.
The Rose Flower palace was magnificent like the empty Phoenix palace, despite the fact that the latter was the wealthiest building after the Dragon palace. The welcoming chamber had a small throne that glittered in gold, and black granite that shone in the darkness of the night. Beautiful paintings of different tea plants were stuck on the walls.
"I bow to honor the Grand Dowager Empress of Wu clan." Luo Meng went on his knees before rising and going down again before the alluring throne.
"Make yourself comfortable and drink this warm tea," her hand waved for her court lady to also pour some for him. "It's a new kind that Prince Kuan Hui grounded a few weeks ago."
"Her Highness is kind," he sat and took the tea. Refusing would be rude but he was not going to drink it to risk his life. Behind the palace walls you could not be sure of what the other person was secretly planning, especially for those who worked closely with the emperor.
He pretended to take a sip then placed down the sea blue ceramic cup. "This slave has come to sever his ties with Her Highness," he did not waste time going around the bush.
She gazed at him intently while he dropped his eyes to the ground to avoid her. He could sense her resentment that was coming in waves. "First you chose to be Shen Hong's shadowing guard when I had you trained to serve me. And now this?"
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"This can be avoided if Her Highness confesses who this slave's real mother is," he reminded her.
"You dare give me an ultimatum?"
"The person who abused me was not my real mother, you said." He ignored formalities, anger trickling in. "Then who is my real mother? And why did you care to rescue me from that hell hole?"
She grew quiet. He could tell she was hesitating. She had kept the truth from him for so long and he didn't think that tonight would be any different, so he moved on.
"I found Elora."
Lightning struck, then the sky screamed as if rebuking him for his betrayal. Even nature was wailing for the dragon's heart. Light shone into the room again before it darkened.
"Elora?" She gave her court lady a silent glare, an unspoken language. "Where is she?" She took another sip of her tea as if to calm herself.
The rain started pouring on the roof vigorously, making the atmosphere more tense than it already was.
This was the length of deceit he would not reach against His Majesty. According to his knowledge if the Grand Dowager Empress was to know where Elora was, she was going to have her killed. It would be like child's play for her considering that Elora was within palace walls. For a long while the Grand Dowager Empress had waited on a certain girl from the Wu Clan to become of age so she could enter the harem and seat on the phoenix seat. If Elora was found, she could possibly ruin these plans.
"Answer me," she pressured him.
"I am a shadowing guard, responsible to protect His Majesty's body, which includes his heart."
"You have become unfilial."
"Not telling His Majesty about this to honor your plans is the last thing I will do to show my gratitude towards you." He got on his knees and lowered himself. "May Her Highness act like I never belonged to her. Release this slave."
"Luo Meng," her voice begged.
"This is my last time being here." He started to bow for leave. Now, he could fully be faithful to his master and not be held back by his past.
"Wait," she commanded.
"Here to save Her Highness for the last time," he emphasized the 'last time' part.
"Tell me everything that transpired between Elora and Shen Hong, and I will release you."
Luo Meng did not think twice. He had hungered to be completely loyal to his master without compromise for a long time. It was time the restraining chains became a thing of the past.
"I know Shen Hong trusts you with much more than any other person." He saw the court lady place a scroll in front of her with some ink. It was not of coherence why it was important for her to know about Elora and the emperor. Had the Wu Clan changed their strategy of attaining the phoenix throne into something else he was not aware of?
Never mind that. He just needed to be out of the place as soon as he could.
"If Her Highness is ready, this slave shall begin." He started recounting what he knew and she also began to record his every word. She wrote every detail with much enthusiasm, nodding her head in approval.
He narrated to her everything he could remember; how, where and when they met, then how they separated. The court lady teared a little and excused herself as listening to the story made her emotional.
'Women,' he thought. What strange creatures they were.
He also told her about how they recently almost found her at the Capital Bridge. By the end of everything, Grand Dowager Empress was smiling and he was leering while he received the signed scroll that was evidence of his freedom. He was no longer a slave to her, the scroll stated with a stamp.
From there on, Luo Meng was not entitled to do her side jobs. It was a sickening job to silence ministers who were against the Wu Clan, kill palace maids who bore witness to Wu Clan secrets and shutting up rebellious concubines. He was done doing the dirty work for the Wu clan.
If the emperor was to find out about all that, he would be deeply hurt. It was in plainsight that Luo Meng was trusted and treasured by him. Many people betrayed and let the emperor down in the past and Luo Meng didn't want to be one of them, well he was already, but he wanted to still be the one that stayed true in His Highness' eyes.
The dragon would not understand his actions. He would not behold what it was like being a slave. So heaven knows whether he would manage to save his life if the beans spilt.
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