Emblem of the Phoenix

Emblem of the Phoenix

Chapter 3 - Blatant Debauchery in Broad Daylight

Seven days later, Xia Zhaoyi suddenly fell ill and passed away.

Prime Minister Xia wailed inconsolably. The Empress, taking pity on him for losing his daughter, personally visited to offer condolences. Xia Rubing, Minister Xia's second daughter, served tea and water to the Empress. The Empress, seeing her natural beauty and intelligence, was deeply pleased. She bestowed a jade pendant as a reward.

These were all details that the secret guard Shangguan Mingde later reported to the Emperor. The Qianwan Emperor sat in the inner chamber of the imperial study and said casually, "Didn't you say the Empress planned to take Minister Xia's daughter as the Crown Prince's consort?"

Mingde replied, "Yes."

"Then why wasn't the betrothal made this time?"

"This subordinate believes that with Xia Zhaoyi's recent passing, setting a joyous occasion now would be inauspicious."

The Qianwan Emperor laughed, "Mingde, you handle matters very meticulously."

Mingde's face remained expressionless, "It's all due to Your Majesty's proper guidance."

The Qianwan Emperor stood up from his seat and slowly walked over to Mingde. Kneeling on the ground, Mingde stared at the corner of the golden dragon robe in front of him, spread heavily on the thick carpet.

The carpet had been changed, made of silky fabric, soft and comfortable even when kneeling on it.

"Mingde," The Qianwan Emperor said slowly, "This morning, the imperial physician found safflower in the tea the Noble Consort drank."

Mingde gave a faint "Oh."

"I think," said the Qianwan Emperor, "in this entire palace, those capable of evading the notice of other secret guards and putting an abortion drug in the Noble Consort's tea number no more than five. You, Shangguan Mingde, happen to be one of them."

Mingde said, "Your Majesty overpraises me."

"You seem to have quite some opinions about the Noble Consort's pregnancy?"

"This subordinate does not dare comment rashly on matters of Your Majesty's family."

Suddenly, his chin was lifted. Mingde's brows furrowed intensely as the Qianwan Emperor gripped his jaw and forcibly pulled him up from the ground.

"If you wish, I can also make you one of the Emperor's 'family'! I can even lock you up here for life, never letting you step foot outside the palace again!"

Many emperors have the dream of locking a beauty deep in the palace. The Qianwan Emperor had a penchant for beauties, but only for peerless ones. Although his harem was full of lovely women, regrettably, none could be called unrivaled in looks.

It was at this time that the Qianwan Emperor obtained Shangguan Mingde. He easily got his hands on this orphaned fifteen-year-old youth. The incomparable beauty he had longed for many years was captured by the hunter as effortlessly as a fledgling bird without parents to teach it to fly.

Shangguan Mingde struggled violently a couple times before the Qianwan Emperor grabbed his waist, lifted him into the air, and pressed him against the wall. It felt like the bones in his jaw would shatter. Mingde wanted to turn his head away, but the Qianwan Emperor forced him to look at him.

"Shangguan Mingde, you schemed to protect the Empress and Crown Prince. In order to find the Crown Prince such a powerful maternal clan in the Xia family, you even went so far as to poison Xia Zhaoyi to death and frame the Noble Consort! Poor old man Xia Zheng, without any objection, completely believed your lies. From then on, he resolutely stood on the side of the Empress and Crown Prince, viewing the Noble Consort and the dragon seed in her belly as thorns in his side!"

Shangguan Mingde's eyes were very clear, possessing a purity and elegance unique to youth. The Emperor's angry face was clearly reflected in his eyes, but he showed no sign of fear. Although the places gripped by the Qianwan Emperor hurt, he even laughed.

"Your Majesty, you blame me?"

The Qianwan Emperor's voice seemed forced out from between clenched teeth, "You demon..."

"This is all your own fault, Your Majesty," Mingde said lightly. "If not for your favoritism, Xia Zhaoyi would not have incurred the Noble Consort's jealousy; if the Noble Consort herself did not harbor jealousy, I also could not have so successfully framed her. If the Noble Consort was not scheming to seize the Empress' position, why would I scheme to suppress her and the child in her belly? I'm not so idle as to spend all day plotting against the women in the harem."

He said this in a tone that implied "I had no choice."

The Qianwan Emperor was almost laughing from anger, "In other words, you plotted against everyone, yet in the end still want to blame it on me?"

Shangguan Mingde's smile suddenly resembled the old palace maids, "...Your Majesty, with the harem, you must spread your favor evenly."

The end of his words disappeared into his own throat. Mingde only felt his vision blur as the Qianwan Emperor lifted him into the air and flung him onto the huge dragon throne.

That dragon throne was very large, almost wide enough for two people to lie side by side. Although cushioned with thick, soft yellow padding, Mingde still let out a muffled groan. He raised his hands in a futile attempt to block the Qianwan Emperor.

The Qianwan Emperor easily twisted his hands behind his back. With a crack of joints, Mingde let out a soft moan, then felt a thin, cold chain lock around his wrists. He managed to turn his head to glance at the door, but there was no movement outside. The Qianwan Emperor pressed a knee between his thighs and chuckled, "Waiting for someone? The Empress?"

Mingde suddenly thought of something and his expression changed slightly.

"Don't bother waiting, I already had people intercept her halfway," The Qianwan Emperor raised a hand and slowly slid it along the youth's smooth thigh to his most private area, toying with it maliciously. "You better pray she doesn't rush over. Otherwise, I'll immediately depose her as Empress right now...Mingde, just try me!"

Shangguan Mingde's face drastically changed, but he still managed to keep his voice steady, "This subordinate is terrified. If Your Majesty wishes to indulge in broad daylight, this subordinate is willing to summon beauties on Your Majesty's behalf."

The Qianwan Emperor smiled faintly. With a slight force of his hand, Mingde suddenly cried out in pain. The slender upper body of the youth bounced up like a fish out of water, caught around the waist by the Emperor and roughly pulled into his embrace. "...Since you killed Xia Zhaoyi, you can personally replace her duties!"

Mingde suddenly realized what was about to happen next. He was not actually fearless of everything. He was terrified to the bone of this man who was much more dominant and powerful than him. Even a slight touch from him would make Mingde tremble in fear all over.

From the moment he was born, he had countless close calls of being casually killed by this man. Later, this emperor no longer wanted his life, but wanted his body instead. This person had countless novel and terrifying ways to toy with him. All the interesting methods that could not be used on the imperial concubines, he had tried them all on Shangguan Mingde. This man seemed to have an endless interest in tormenting him in bed. It was as if watching him toss and turn, moan, and beg for mercy was the most fulfilling thing.

After all, Mingde was still young, and the fear immediately showed on his face. He clumsily avoided the approaching strong body of the Qianwan Emperor, and pleaded in a low voice: "...I was injured on a mission a few days ago and haven't recovered yet..."

The Qianwan Emperor's hand had already felt its way to the bandages wrapped around his chest.

Under the bandages was bare flesh and blood, but it was hard to imagine that the person underneath could also feel pain. It was difficult to believe that such a cunning, selfish, cold-blooded, and vicious person would truly moan from pain.

The Qianwan Emperor leaned over, pried open the boy's soft lips, and forced him to accept this kiss, "...Be good, endure it."


Just then, there were two light knocks on the door, and a person outside said in a low voice: "Your Majesty, urgent report from the secret guards."

The Qianwan Emperor's movements came to an abrupt halt. Mingde paused for a moment, then lightly exhaled: "...Your Majesty, an urgent report."

His entire body was forcibly pressed down between the dragon throne and the Qianwan Emperor's body. His old white robe was roughly pulled down to his wrists, exposing the boy's delicate and soft arms to the man's eyes above him. The Qianwan Emperor took a deep breath as reason battled with fierce impulse for a moment, and then desire clearly gained the upper hand.

Mingde let out a slight moan, futilely turning his head to try to avoid the intimate kiss, "...Unless it's a matter of utmost urgency, the secret guards would not report to Your Majesty out of turn...Your Majesty! Indulging in sensual pleasures in broad daylight is not the conduct of a sage!"

The person outside probably realized something and knocked on the door twice more. The muffled voice of Rong Shiba, the captain of the secret guards, came through: "Your Majesty! Urgent report from the front lines!"

The Qianwan Emperor stared at Mingde for a while, thinking to himself, what sage-like conduct? The lofty and aloof manner of the Son of Heaven was for show in front of others. In front of this boy, did he still retain even half the appearance of a "sage"?

Probably because the desire in his eyes was too obvious, Mingde shrank back a little. Seeing him like that, the Qianwan Emperor felt both pity and adoration. So he draped his outer robe over the boy's body and then abruptly stood up: "Come in!"

Rong Shiba could probably guess that inside was some noble person from one of the palaces. He kept his eyes lowered cautiously as he entered and prostrated himself on the ground: "This subject deserves death. The secret guard spy that Your Majesty dispatched to Xiwan earlier has sent an urgent report from a thousand miles away. Xiwan has decided to cease hostilities on the front lines and is sending an envoy to deliver a state letter to our dynasty. This is the content of the secret report."

Rong Shiba carefully kept his head lowered and raised both hands to present a scroll of the secret message. The Qianwan Emperor unrolled it, glanced at it, and casually handed it to Shangguan Mingde behind him.

Mingde was lying on his side on the dragon throne. He unfolded the letter and quickly scanned it, then said in an almost inaudible voice: "The undercover agent in Xiwan is the most experienced secret guard in the squad. This letter is most likely true. Displaying magnanimity will demonstrate the might of our Celestial Dynasty. Your Majesty, please consider and decide."

The Qianwan Emperor silently stared at him for a moment. Shangguan Mingde respectfully lowered his eyelashes. He looked very thin, with long eyelashes casting fan-shaped shadows on his face, giving the impression at first glance of being so heavy as if he lacked energy, exceptionally weak and gentle.

...This person actually had great talent and could probably be put to great use in the future.

The Qianwan Emperor thought this indifferently, but immediately cruelly rejected the idea.

There were many talented and ambitious young people in this capital city, and no shortage of those who could be put to great use. But so-called peerless beauties, so-called those who could often make the emperor smile - how many could a monarch encounter in a lifetime?

Rong Shiba vaguely heard the voice of his subordinate, but it passed in an instant, so faint that it seemed like an illusion. Then the Qianwan Emperor's voice rang out: "Send orders to the front lines to withdraw troops and prepare to receive the Xiwan envoy."

Rong Shiba kowtowed: "This subject receives the decree!"

The decree was received, but the person was slow to withdraw. The Qianwan Emperor impatiently asked: "Is there anything else?"

Even an idiot could hear the heavy warning tone in that voice. A chill ran up Rong Shiba's spine, but he still persisted: "Your Majesty, this subject has a matter to report."

"What matter?"

"This subject's subordinate Shangguan Mingde was injured a few days ago while investigating assassins in the capital city and is running a high fever that won't subside. The secret guards are in dire need of manpower. This subject boldly requests Your Majesty to have the imperial physicians treat him, in hopes that Shangguan Mingde can recover soon."

The Qianwan Emperor stared at the back of Rong Shiba's head for a while: "...Granted."

Rong Shiba rose and withdrew: "This subject thanks Your Majesty for your grace."

Alas, as the captain of the secret guards, Rong Shiba's senses were very keen. He could clearly feel that the emperor wanted to wring his neck, but there was no way around it. The words had already been spoken and could not be taken back.

It wasn't long before a thin figure hurriedly walked out from inside. Seeing Rong Shiba, he bowed deeply and said, "Subordinate thanks Captain Rong."

Rong Shiba said with a bitter smile, "Mingde, I have offended His Majesty for your sake."

Shangguan Mingde respectfully lowered his head, "That is why this subordinate thanks you, Captain Rong."

Rong Shiba almost didn't know what to say. He had been a secret guard for eight full years and it was time for him to transfer to an overt position.

In the rankings of the palace's top experts, Shangguan Mingde was in the top three. He was young and intelligent, so the position of captain would be his sooner or later. If he could not take over this position, Rong Shiba would probably have to stay in this role for several more years. He didn't want to stay in this line of work any longer.

With his qualifications, he could easily become a cavalry commander if he left; even if he didn't stay in the capital, he could still be a regional governor or a high-ranking frontier official. What was the concept of being a local overlord? Holding the power over salt and iron in a region, enjoying endless glory and wealth, this life would be considered the pinnacle of honor. Why wouldn't it be better than living in the imperial palace with his head on the line?

Rong Shiba said, "You don't need to thank me, I'm also considering for myself... Mingde, you're still young. The so-called imperial favor is actually a very unreliable thing. It's proper to plan well for your future."

Although these words had some misunderstanding of Mingde's character, they were ultimately heartfelt. Mingde nodded and said, "You're right, sir."

He and Rong Shiba walked out along the small path outside the Zhengtai Palace. When they were halfway through, they suddenly saw Minister Shangguan walking towards them from a distance. Just as Rong Shiba was about to go forward to greet him, Mingde patted his shoulder and said in a low voice, "I have something to attend to first, please excuse me."

Rong Shiba turned his head and saw Mingde's robe fluttering, and he had already disappeared without a trace. Mingde's lightness skill was superb, and among the secret guards, there was probably no one who could surpass him.

Rong Shiba thought of the rumor that Shangguan Mingde, as an illegitimate son, was not very favored at home, and it must be true. Shangguan's first wife, Madam Zhang, was a sharp-tongued and jealous person, and he himself might not be a good person either. How did they give birth to such a handsome son? Thinking this way, Rong Shiba saw Minister Shangguan walking over in a hurry, so he also leaped up the tree with his lightness skill and left.

Rong Shiba, the eighteenth son of the Rong family, was also considered a romantic figure. If it were a princess or a beauty, he would be willing to greet them and get close to them. As for an old man who didn't even want to pay attention to his own son... he really couldn't muster up any interest.


Heya! I'm Leafy. My passion for stories is matched only by my love for the outdoors. As I translate, I draw inspiration from the tranquility of nature. Whether I'm translating or tending to my garden, I'm always finding new stories to share with you.

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