“Ah-Li.” Only she. Only she dared call him in such an intimate manner. To his other women, to the Empress Consort herself, he was His Majesty, the Xinlong Emperor. The Empress Dowager, in an upsurge of tenderness, might have called him Your Highness, in remembrance of the days when he had been but a fourth Prince. But she, she would always trample his dignity underfoot. She, she would always flaunt her dominance in the Inner Palace. “Ah-Li, always remember the source from which you drink.” A cold shiver ran down his spine. She knew. He had come to ring the death knell for her. As he had rung it for so many before her. For his own flesh and blood. She knew. He hovered over her outstretched silhouette, looking down on her. Desire whipped his mind, fear grabbed him around the throat, making it ever so difficult for him to swallow the saliva that was accumulating in his mouth. Before he could even extend a hand, he felt a palm squarely setting against his abdomen. Pushing at it without ceremony. “It is Imperial Concubine Qin’s great honor to be attending His Majesty, the Emperor, in his chambers tonight. He better take his leave not to make her wait. This humble court lady is tired and wishes to rest.” ¤¤¤ Those Hūna brutes had been stricken dumb. They pillaged, they raped, they tortured, they killed. However, never had they seen a woman, a Hua woman at that, calmly coming out of a tent after having been stripped naked. Her spine straight, her chin kicked up high, her eyes glistening with contempt, she treaded forward. They took a step back as if they had seen an evil spirit. Deep laughter broke through the reigning silence. Right in front of her was he. Seated on a stool at the head of this little congregation, wiping the blade of his sword clean. The man whose eyes were like mother-of-pearl. Heyan Yu. She advanced towards him with all the confidence in the world. As if she were not about to be violated by a group of sordid barbarians. As if she were still the grand Noble Imperial Consort Huihuang. He observed her with those eyes she admired jealously. His smile was as full of contempt as was her posture. When she finally came to him, the expanse of her white skin blocking anything else from his view, he lifted his head. His voice was deep and reverberated through her whole body. “What does the beauty want from this humble one?” That is when her palm made contact with his face. Igniting a fire that would not be extinguished in their lifetimes. Stupidity deserved punishment. Heyan Yu truly was young. So young he had fallen into Ah-Li’s more than obvious trap. But she would set everything to right. His face contorted in shocked anger as his men let a horrified gasp escape them. Everyone who was the least familiar with his character would have known at that moment that blood would flow. But that Hua wretch simply turned around, her jet black hair twisting about her calves, and asked in a sing-song voice: “Well, who wishes to go first?” ------------------------------------------------------------------- [The magnificent cover was made by none other than the very talented, the all-conquering, the supreme Jenjibread. Check out her story "Crocodile Tears", I guarantee you will like it.]
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