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63 A Day With The Dragon



BAI SHEN HONG

EMPEROR HUIZHONG

THE PALACE

The dreams concerning Elora stopped, they didn't haunt Shen Hong any more. However, in their stead a new problem arose. After that love bite he got from Little Fox, it was her he dreamt about, sometimes even resulting in him having nocturnal emissions(wet dreams). The more time he spent with her, the more he wanted her.

It agitated him. And he wanted her out of his system as soon as possible.

"Your majesty, the rooster crowed an hour ago," the eunuch spoke from outside the bed chamber. Bai Shen Hong stirred and pulled the covers over his head. Too much work and lack of rest was beginning to catch up to him. His body ached, his eyes heavy and head pounding.

"Bring me something for the headache and my tonic herbs," he instructed and there was some shuffling. He checked his bed and was glad that it was dry. Little Fox was a vixen even in her absence, now he was wetting his bed like a boy that just became of age.

He got up half an hour later and drank what he had asked for. They then put him in his dark robes for practise.

"Good morning to his majesty, the emperor of our Great Nevoria." On the Dragon palace entrance stairs was a mass of green, yellow and brown uniforms in order of seniority. "Did his Royal Highness sleep well? If not, what can we do to appease him?" They were the selected retinue that was to serve him for the day that welcomed him out on his way to the grounds. It was a total of fifty of them that trailed behind him wherever he went, an equal divide between palace maids and eunuchs.

On their way to the practising grounds he told Eunuch Nam that he was granting his entourage a break when he left for YiYuan. They had worked tirelessly for twelve moons and he thought it was right that they were excused from the palace to visit friends and family. YiYuan servants would serve him.

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Luo Meng awaited for him with the rest of the generals and palace guards at the Imperial training grounds. The palace guards were less vicious compared to the servicemen at the camps, because of their lack of experience with the battlefield.

"Luo Meng, where were you last night?" He already knew the answer but was curious to see if his loyalty still lay with him.

Shen Hong unsheathed his dragon sword and swung his free arm in circular motions, preparing himself to battle.

"I was with the Grand Dowager Empress to request release."


That was good news. It was high time Luo Meng became a free man. Shen Hong remembered the first time he spotted Luo Meng in the Imperial gardens. He was a closed soul who practised fighting with great skill and zeal he had not seen in someone. Whenever he would approach him, Luo Meng would shut off, answer what he was asked dutifully then kindly ask for permission to leave. It took a while to build a friendship with him and though he desired to serve him, they couldn't really manage to attain a release from Grand Dowager Empress.

"What did she say?"

"Her Highness gave this slave manumission."

Shen Hong smiled, glad about the news.

"Now Luo Meng is enslaved to you, Your Majesty."

"No Luo Meng," he patted his back affectionately but Luo Meng stiffened, "we are friends. You are a free man."

All his generals, Luo Meng included, got their share of twenty palace guards to surround them and battled them using blunt swords. Shen Hong kept to his dragon sword, taking great care not to hurt the men who opposed him. His sword master taught him that a true swordmaster did not practise with fake swords for convenience.

'Swords don't attack people, it's people who attack people. They are just instruments that fulfil what a person desires, so they cannot be a mistake in which a swordmaster accidentally stabs a person,' were his master's words.

Every surrounded person was supposed to take down all the guards. If any of his generals failed to do so, they were not worthy of their position and therefore would have to give it up without further notice. It was harsh, but what Shen Hong wanted was quality over quantity.

Around the hour of the rabbit―between 5am and 7am― training ended and Shen Hong was back in the dragon palace to wash off the sweat and dirt. Because of the previous night's rain, the training was filthy and muddy. The eunuchs alongside Eunuch Nam helped him wash while the palace maids and Court Lady Nam dressed him.

After his morning meeting with his officials, he would entertain envoys from Furia, so they put him in gold robes that gleamed in light to show off grandeur. The crown that had strands of gold and crystals hanging was tied tightly to his knotted hair.

He only drank water before leaving as he would later have a heavier breakfast with the envoys. Serious matters were better discussed over food.

When he entered the dragon court, everyone inside went on their knees as he made his entrance. He saw new scholars that had recently been titled as scholars shake anxiously for their first morning meeting.

"Long live! Long live for tens of thousands to the Emperor of Nevoria!" They all shouted the minute he sat.

"Stand." he casually commanded.

The morning meeting consisted of him throwing away scrolls. He refused to discuss about the empty phoenix seat, the lack of an heir, Prince Kuan Hui acting out of line, and the list went on. He did approve the discussion of countries that were being rampaged by an epidemic, the oncoming attack on Gurio and the welfare of captured Furia and Huticah slaves. They agreed on not giving back the slaves unless they attained peace with the two countries.

That is what Shen Hong told the envoys of Furia as he met them for breakfast. They were unwilling to free the Furian slaves unless Furia stopped protecting Huticah and gave any evidence they had on Huticah assassinating the fallen dragon.

The breakfast presented to them was fried mutton, fried goose meat, fried and steamed pork with mustard, steamed pork leg, fried fish, chicken soup, rice; the food was endless. Shen Hong ate something of each and took extras too. Food was something he enjoyed and it was essential for a man who overworked himself.

He afterwards sat in the Dragon Studying Quarters and read through petitions, proposed policies and reports sent from countries within his empire.

At lunch his feet led him to Grand Consort Shu's quarters and he found two palace maids standing in front of her quarters, which meant she was not around.

"Grand Consort Shu has left for the Fashion Bureau to choose fabric samples for her birthday celebration." They answered Eunuch Nam when asked where their mistress was.

"Where is her sick maid?" Shen Hong inquired. This was what he sought to know because truthfully, he was there for Little Fox.

S.V