The small, but powerful, province by the Chinese coast was a rich such; a flowering centre for trading and happy people serving the imperial family. Yes, happy people who worshipped the imperial palace… the huge masterpiece behind high walls of pale stone, beyond the flowering garden - cared by hundred of keepers. Who else would keep the huge peach trees growing towards the bluest of skies? Truth to be told, the whole thing was a mere scar over the beautiful face of the province. Even so, a place of dreams in gold and red. The palace with it's endless passages in constant peace, in contrast to the constant flow of servants in the smaller corridors. All those rooms without a better purpose than existing. As the numbers of people in the royal family decreased over the years as life took its toll, the number of unused rooms grew. But the size of the imperial power or land never reduced. This was the year of the snake, a year -according to the sayings- which would be lined with mystery and wealth. Though the new year, as well as any other year, could have been greeted by more beautiful things than the anniversary of the deceased Emperor. 3 years had gone by since that dreadful day. 3 years since the Empress had got hold of the throne. 3 years since madness had broke loose in the imperial palace. Which from behind the high walls seemed as peaceful as ever, but once in once could sense the turmoil. There was no question that the many counsellors of the imperial family often criticised the ruling Empress, for the woman in charge was nothing but mad. A disgrace towards everything that the province and the imperial power stood for! Just take her servants as an example; they were dressed in ridiculously few clothes and were far to many for them all to have anything to do. And the ones closest to her she dressed in jewellery, collars and such - just like animals! The small amount of clothes, the excuse for it, could only be compared to the ones of barbarous creatures. The ones who could be found in many of the books in the imperial library, too huge to be placed in the actually palace but had a whole annex to itself. As well as the dormitories of the servants was in another annex, a much smaller one. …Was this only of his imagination? Had perhaps this been the case for all this years, only that he had not come to see this before now? That could be the case, but it didn't make it less disgusting. A deep sigh emerged as he put his pale fingers to his pounding temples. The ache in his head had been coming and going since the sun had set the day before. He could not get rid of it, regardless what he did. As for the breathtaking heat, it did not make things easier; as it was now, with the cooling breezes coming with longer gaps, nothing helped. Not even could he, unlike the servant girl who just had passed him, enjoy the coolness from the marble floor. For his feet, as the rest of his body, was covered in thick silk. In contrast to the servants he was everything but shallowly dressed. His gown built by, gods know how, many layers. Indeed his chest was slightly exposed as the fabrics were a bit pushed to the sides, baring his pale skin beneath. People like himself was not to wear the same sun-brown-hue as the servants, no that was not even thinkable. If that had been the case than, gods forbid, you could as well get mixed up with one of those people! However, the small area of exposed skin did not make his body cooler; the heath constantly reminded him about its presence, every time the lovely breezes drew away. As for his dressed feet, there was not a change someone like him could take the footwear of, that was not a respectable things to do but something left for the servants - a nicer word for what they truly were, slaves. Nothing more.