Chapter 1: If not a woman, then a eunuch...
Ning Xiaoyao sat on a chair, surrounded by a circle of anxious people. All of them were shouting Your Majesty at her, their clamorous voices raising soundwaves strong enough to topple mountains and overturn seas. Ning Xiaoyao felt a bit faint from all the noise, but she had enough presence of mind to touch her lower body with her hand. Something was missing there, which meant she either had to be female or a eunuch emperor!
The racket ceased when Ning Xiaoyao groped herself. Doing this in public made for a wretched appearance, even if the culprit was the monarch of an entire country.
After brushing past the area by her hips with her hand, Ning Xiaoyao proceeded to feel her head. There was something sticking up from the top of her head like a big meatbun. She grimaced at the crowd around her, before deciding that silence was golden.
Half an hour ago, Ning Xiaoyao was still fighting on the battlefields of humanity’s apocalypse. As a young military surgeon and major of the army, she saw her drill instructor and comrades-in-arms fall in battle. Finally, Ning Xiaoyao used the last anti-tank grenade on her body and perished with the oncoming zombie hordes.
In the blink of an eye, she discovered that not only was her heart still beating, but she was surrounded by men and women dressed in ancient garb. Ning Xiaoyao wasn’t even frightened when facing zombies, but now she was scared. By the time half an hour had passed, she finally figured out that she must have transmigrated!
Someone forced open the door before a young man dressed in armor rushed in towards Ning Xiaoyao. He knelt on the ground with a thump and shouted, “Your Majesty, Supreme Commander was falsely accused!”
Ning Xiaoyao leaned forward from her seat, wanting to help the youth up. Why did he have to talk whilst kneeling?
When the youth saw Ning Xiaoyao reach out her hand, he straightened up to grasp it with his own, shaking it as he shouted, “Your Majesty, Supreme Commander’s heart is wholly dedicated to the country. It's impossible that he'd betray it, this is all an evil plot by the Grand Preceptor, you can't believe his words!”
Her head was already dizzy, but being shaken around by this guy only made her dizzier. A single thread of doubt crept into her mind: who’s this Supreme Commander? Right after that, Ning Xiaoyao fainted.
In the darkness, Ning Xiaoyao saw a nearby stream of light shining down upon a woman. She stood next to a youth of about 14 to 15 years old, while across from them was a figure dressed in imperial dragon robes.
“Your Majesty, your little brother’s already grown up to be a man. You can take off those dragon robes and return to your female identity,” the woman said to the figure.
“This is all I am to you, is it?” the figure in dragon robes had a dreary, desolate voice.
“When your Imperial Father died, your little brother was still in swaddling clothes,” the woman’s eyes were cold. “How could an infant sit on the throne? None of your imperial brothers would agree to it, much less the ministers and officials. Fortunately, your maternal grandfather had the foresight to raise you as a boy after This Dowager gave birth to you.”
“Relying on your favored status, you left the palace to visit family and drank medicine to induce early labor at home,” the figure in dragon robes also had an icy gaze as she spoke in a low voice. “After you gave birth, you poured chicken blood on the bed and said it was the result of your labor. Then you found an eminent monk to say our relationship should be restrained and checked, and left me at the Grand Preceptor’s estate for fifteen years.”
The woman lifted her hand to touch the head of the child beside her before she spoke again, “Who told you to be a girl?”
“Imperial Father favored you like the most precious thing in his life, while I respected and loved you. How is this treating anyone fairly?!” the figure in dragon robes suddenly cried out.
A smile revealed itself on the woman’s lips. “Someone come, send Ning Yu on her way.”
A few men emerged from the shadows, forced the figure in dragon robes onto the ground, and poured liquid down her throat. Ning Xiaoyao opened her mouth wide upon seeing blood dribble out from the youth’s lips. This mother was killing her own daughter?!
“The armies of Northern Hu[1. Hu (胡) - refers to ethnic groups in the north and west of ancient China, commonly considered barbarians by the more civilized east.] have already broken through the pass,” the figure in dragon robes spat out a mouthful of blood as she pointed towards the mother and son pair. “The country can't sustain itself anymore. I'd like to see how long you can hold onto Heaven and Earth!”
Ning Xiaoyao took a step and prepared to dash forward. Now wasn't the time to watch all this drama, she had a life to save! Unexpectedly, when Ning Xiaoyao ran to the figure in dragon robes, something tripped her. The figure vanished along with the woman, the child, and the woman’s subordinates.
Ning Xiaoyao felt her body sinking down endlessly, as if she'd tumbled off a bank of clouds to an eternal abyss below...