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68 Li'er, She Said?




The last night before leaving for YiYuan, Shen Hong withdrew to his palace and had his entourage change him to plain cotton white robes. He enjoyed slumbering in the darkness of the garden at night so as to clear his thoughts.

Seated there on a wooden bench, he watched the moon and enjoyed the tranquility the place possessed. Owls hooted and insects chirped noisily. It was serene for his tired self.

"Push over," a female voice demanded.

He scowled, surprised someone could speak so rudely to him, the dragon.

"What?" Probably he heard her wrong.

"I said push over and make space for me, idiot."

A palace maid boastfully held her hips. He subsequently noted that he was not wearing his dragon attire, lowering him to be a servant of the palace. This he did, to wander around anonymously without his entourage and having every person bowing in front of him when they cited him. He just wanted to be normal, sometimes.

When he made no move, she arrogantly bulldozed him. And he let her push her.

She then threw herself next to him tiredly and pulled a book from her sleeves. "Mmhhh… This is strong."

"What is?" He was curious.

"Sshh," she held her lips with one finger. Then grinned as she plastered the book to his face. In it was a drawing of a nude couple being intimate.

"This is the latest edition I recently got!" she squealed excitedly. "It's strong isn't it?"

"Strong?" He was not familiar with slang.

"Makes my insides stand in awe. So strong," she moaned.

He glared at the drawing with the help of the full moon. Shen Hong didn't get it. Nothing about the profane drawing made his manhood hard.

"Aiyah," she laughed. "It's so strong he has no words for it." The palace maid took the book back and opened another page.

It was interesting how she was sexually poised by what he dimmed 'weak'.

"If you want one, just give me the money and I will get it for you," she offered.

He stifled himself from laughing. "No. Thank you."

"No? This book has the kick, it's really strong."

Strong was having a shameless courtesan bent over for him and moaning his name in ecstasy, not these weak images. Though the art was fine, he gave it that.

"The concubines also have this edition," she advertised. "They look at these and satisfy themselves in the middle of the night, you know?"

"Right." He contemplated finding out the truth behind her words by sending palace guards into Hougong the next morning. That would have him kill half the harem.

A concubine belonging to the emperor couldn't delve into such things, plus promoting such material through their purchases was disturbing at best. Then lusting over other men than him... Hmm he would charge them with treachery.

But it was not a good idea as that would diminish his power. And what had he to care about them having explicit books when he barely slept with most of them.

"Well, it's your loss," the girl grumbled. She rested her back on the hand of the bench and hauled her legs up, facing him. The light signified her features on her new seated position. She had a slim body and delicately soft features.

"Lucky girl," she finished dreamily.

"Which girl?"

"The one who drew this."

The palace maid flicked through the pages, her attention not wholly on him. It made him itchy that she barely focused on him. He was not used to people treating him as insignificant. Wherever he went, he always held a presence .

"The person who drew this. She is a courtesan that spends nights with a handsome general." The girl brought him back to earth. "After every encounter with him she is inspired to release a book. I wish they could draw them faster though, it took time to get this because I was at the bottom of the waiting list."

She got his attention when he heard about the courtesan. Shen Hong also had encounters with them. He snatched the book from her.

"Excuse me?" she snapped.

He flipped the book around and checked the cover. It was written, 'The Grounds Camp Encounter'. He became quite suspicious as he paged through the sexual images. They were a replica of what he had with the stunner at the Grounds Camp. The conniving woman displayed what they did privately for the world to see. "Bloody hell."

She was using him and easily, it could be found out that it was him with her. His enemies would have reason to refute his position as Grand General and why he should step down. Losing his position would destroy his stance on the throne.

"Give that back or I will report you," the girl grabbed the book back.

"Report to who?" He was accountable to no one.

"To my lover, he fights really well and would have you licking the ground."

"Palace maids cannot have suitors," he brooded. "They are women who belong to the emperor." They belong to him.

"I belong to no one," she stubbornly  challenged.

"Let's see what the senior court lady will think about that. I heard she killed dozens of palace maids recently." Because he made her. But she didn't need to know that.

"That's a threat?"

"Whatever you would like to call it, swain."

"He is... just someone I like... not a lover."

He did not know her, but he was riveted to know. "Who?"
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She drew close to him and looked around before whispering, "Do you know the emperor's bodyguard?"

"Luo Meng?" He burst in surprise.

"Sshh!" She hit him on the head with her book and checked around to ensure no one was spying on them.

He smirked. How interesting. The girls were also attracted to his bodyguard.

"He is just so handsome, so lean, so good looking." She was back to using that dreamy voice of hers. "First time I met him was here. I was crying since I was new in the palace because my mother dumped me here and refused that I become a courtesan like her."

He tried to imagine her as a courtesan. She fit the profile.

"He came from nowhere. Stared at me with those deep wonderful eyes and gave me this to wipe my tears." She took out a white cloth from her sleeves and sniffed it happily. "That was eight years ago."

Shen Hong laughed loudly. Eight years ago? Luo Meng definitely did not remember her.

"I have come here for him ever since, hoping to return it but I have not seen him yet."

"He doesn't remember you or care for that piece of cloth, move on." He stood to leave.

"Imbecile, who gave you permission to talk down on matters of my heart?"

He grinned. "What is your name?"

"I will not tell you."

"Because I know Luo Meng personally-"

"Dao," she shouted her name within seconds.

"I was lying," he hooted with laughter, leaving her.

"Heh? Come back right this moment, " she screamed after him.

He laughed to himself. Dao had a captivating personality. How sad that Luo Meng did not want anything to do with women.

He yawned, feeling sleepy. The day was a good one, especially with Dao in it. Then he also wished he had the opportunity to see Little Fox, it would have been an excellent day.

Funny enough, though he had only  met Li Lian twice. He missed her. Just seeing her brightened his day, and his time at YiYuan was going to be a good one because of her.

Li Lian. Aha, Wei Li Lian? Her clan was not in his bad books. So they could work something out for their relationship.

But then Li'er? Although her mother pronounced her name with low tones. The word was still the same, Li'er meant 'disloyal'. If his mother loved her as she claimed, couldn't she nickname her Lian'er? That nickname had good color.

Something was out of place, and the fact that it was his mother involved had him take a few steps backwards from Little Fox.

He thought of questioning his mother the next time he saw her, but then decided against it. Shen Hong was not going to use Li Lian long enough for it to be of importance whether she was a disloyal person or not.

Also, taming her wouldn't be hard because currently, she was just acting hard to get.

'She has been feigning not wanting me while also throwing tantrums like a girl that is still to become of age.'

'Give it time,' he boasted to himself. 'She will be crying for me to bed her, soon.'

Shen Hong was exiting the Imperial gardens when his entourage came out from the shadows.

"Your Majesty," Eunuch Nam ran to him.

"What has happened?"

"News have come, Your Royal Highness. They say they have spotted Elora in the capital, and it's a matter of time till we find her."