Phoenix Ascending

Chapter 14

Chapter 14: The Crown Prince Grounded

“Get out! All of you! Have your best lady come see me!” Jun Huang could hear Qi Yin’s wounded roars of wrath as soon as she approached the door.

Clang! The door suddenly opened as a prostitute hurriedly scrambled out. She was tripped by the doorstep and stumbled, almost falling over.

“Is it done?” Jun Huang caught the girl by the arm, helping her regain her balance, before asking noncommittally.

The girl hurriedly snuck a peak at Jun Huang and responded lowly, “In response to the gentleman, it’s done.”

Jun Huang nodded. “Go on. I’ll buy your freedom on the morrow.”

“Thank you, sir!” Gratitude flashed through the girl’s eyes.

The door was still open, so Jun Huang could see clear into the room. Apart from Crown Prince Qi Yin, there were also a dozen cowering prostitutes within. All of them were in various stages of undress. “What a coincidence, Crown Prince. Fancy bumping into you here.” Jun Huang affected an expression of surprise and tsk’ed at the crown prince. “It looks like the crown prince has high standards indeed. None of the dozen here catches your eye?”

“Feng Baiyu!” Qi Yin’s eyes went bloodshot with rage when he got a clear look at who was at his doorstep. Qi Chen had risked his life to save the emperor a few days ago and won deep imperial favor as a result. Qi Yin’s status as crown prince in the palace had taken a deep plunge, and even his own royal mother had laid a blistering lecture into him this morning. Qi Yin had been harboring a belly of barely suppressed rage and had wanted to forget it in the arms of pleasure, so he’d called for a dozen women. But none of them had stirred his interest! He wouldn’t harden, even when the women stripped themselves naked and posed on the bed! Whether it was the oppressive feelings he’d suffered in the palace or the irritation at Ladies of the Lake, he was firmly placing it all on Prince Chen’s shoulders. And now that he saw Qi Chen’s only strategist in front of him, his rage soared to new heights.

“Why does the crown prince not make good use of the night with such beauties in his arms, and spend his time raging instead?” Jun Huang knew full well what was going on, but continued to purposefully poke the tiger. She’d bought the maid at Qi Yin’s side a while ago, who had secretly dosed Qi Yin with a powder that rendered him flaccid before he did his business with the prostitutes. It would seem that the powder was far more effective than she’d thought.

“When was it your turn to remark on this seat’s business! Get out!” Qi Yin’s face flushed red and white in his rage, and he started huffing heavily from the exertion of his emotions.

“The crown prince still thinks of the leading lady of the Lake even with so many beautiful girls in your arms… can it be…” Jun Huang looked at the crown prince with a supercilious smile. “The crown prince… isn’t man enough?”

“Feng Baiyu, I’m going to kill you!” One could almost see steam erupting from Qi Yin’s orifices when Jun Huang hit her target dead in the black. He grabbed the teapot on the table and hurled it viciously at Feng Baiyu.

Jun Huang dodged adroitly, the smile on her lips deepening. “Is the crown prince so incensed because of a guilty conscience? Has this commoner hit upon it?”

“Feng Baiyu, I will see you dead today!” Reason evaporated from the crown prince’s mind with that last jab. He drew the sword by his waist without another thought and swung it down on Jun Huang.

Jun Huang smirked coldly but stayed right where she was. Her gaze contained nothing but disdain and scorn. This was a dandy that would bully the weak and fear the strong, and had nary a thought in his head! How did I ever possibly think before that this crown prince had some ability to him?

“Stop!” A group of people suddenly surged through the door before the prince’s sword could slash down, their eyes all fixing unfriendly stares on the crown prince. Lord Li swiftly strode in, seizing the crown prince’s sword with one hand and surveilling the room with a quick turn of his head. His expression was particularly ugly. “Your Highness, you are, you are simply ludicrous!”

Their room had been just next door, with only a thin wall as a partition. They had all heard the disturbance when the crown prince had thrown the teapot earlier, and everyone had clearly heard him later on when he had voiced his desire to kill Feng Baiyu. They had all come over and immediately taken in the situation in the room. There were a dozen indecently clad women, the crown prince waving his sword and declaring his desire to kill the second prince’s strategist… They’d seen and heard all of this for themselves, and so now everyone believed that the crown prince’s lewdness and ludicrous behavior was without parallel!

Color instantly drained from the crown prince’s face when he saw the dozen or so great officials who’d rushed into the room. “Lord Li, I… I…” He tried to stammer out an explanation.

“Your Highness.” Jun Huang didn’t feel like the flames were quite hot enough and decided to add a dash of oil to the fire. “As the noble crown prince of our Northern Qi, you should lead by example. It’s truly inappropriate to act in such a lascivious manner.”

It wasn’t uncommon for noble scions to come out and make merry, but the act of demanding ten girls in one go wasn’t something that could be simply described as lewd. The officials’ expressions all darkened as they looked at the crown prince with identical expressions of disappointment and disgust. “Your Highness, how can you do this as the successor to Northern Qi!”

“I…” Qi Yin was at a loss at how to respond to the condemnation. Would he say that he hadn’t been hard enough to do the deed? How could he possibly do that?! No man would ever admit that!

Jun Huang knew with a single glance what the crown prince was thinking of. She looked at his lower body with sudden enlightenment. “Your Highness summoned so many girls but didn’t take it further? Could it be… Your Highness is unable to do so?”

“Feng Baiyu, just you wait!” Qi Yin flushed hot and cold as he viciously spat out these words. Gathering what shreds remained of his dignity, he left without another glance. This Feng Baiyu’s wrecked my plans before even arriving in the capital. I’ll get him for this if it’s the last thing I do!

The next day, the Prince Chen Manor.

Feng Baiyu had just set out some tea when Qi Chen came striding in with great fanfare. “Wonderful plot, what a simply marvelous plot!” Glee was written all over Qi Chen’s face as he looked at Jun Huang with utter admiration.

“Please have some tea, Your Highness.” Jun Huang smiled faintly and handed a cup of the prepared tea to Qi Chen.

Qi Chen quaffed it in one go and continued, his voice betraying his excitement. “All of the officials in morning court today gathered behind Lord Li to present a singular petition denouncing the crown prince’s ludicrous actions and character. The crown prince has been grounded! This is all thanks to you!”

“It’s too early for Your Highness to be happy.” Jun Huang shook her head with a slight smile.

“Why do you say this?” Qi Chen blinked, taken aback. He was in the throes of royal favor at the moment. Wasn’t it a great opportunity to advance now that the crown prince had been tripped up?

“Your Highness forgets that the Northern Qi crown prince is still Qi Yin.” Jun Huang spoke slowly, “Even with a dozen officials uniting behind a petition, the emperor has merely grounded him. Does this commoner still need to point out the crown prince’s importance in the emperor’s heart?”

Qi Chen finally came back to himself as a wry knot rose in his heart. He’d finally won his father’s favor after risking his life, but the crown prince hadn’t done anything to be met with such deep-seated protection. Yet he’d only been grounded after such a large hubbub. Father is truly biased.

“Your Highness has no need to worry. I wonder, does Your Highness know what rumors are currently flying around in the capital?” Jun Huang was well aware of the need to offer something sweet after a stinging rebuke. She’d slapped the prince some, so it was time to reward him.

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