I didn't believe the Chujen, and I was confused. I was being trained for clouds and rain at the spring festival, as was Bao. My training and preparation had been exacting, and I had already pleasured with the kiss of the yangchu act most of the important and famous men who would be bidding at the seed sowing ceremony to take me into my first clouds and rain. But all contact with these jen had been under the watchful eyes of the master of the House of the Green Dragon, the Chujen, to ensure that I remained pure of the clouds and rain and did not lose my chenchieh, my chastity, until the ceremony. The Chujen had said I had done admirably well with the wiles and enticements that had been taught me and that the bidding and the bidders themselves were in a frenzy of anticipation.

But one night, weeks before the spring festival, the Chujen said my time had come early...and that of Bao as well...and I had been roused before dawn the next day and bathed and shaved clean of everything but a silken skein of pigtailed hair at the back of my head. I had also been perfumed, powdered with the enticement powder, and...when what I thought was just one of Chujen's cruel training exercises and teases turned to the horror of possibility...shown that I would be clothed in the shimmering red brocaded robes of my cloud and rains ceremony.

Chujen had told me of the Kueilo, the foreign ghosts, who had appeared off Haikou inside a monstrous chu'an, floating beneath a billowing cloud. But I didn't believe him or understand what this had to do with me and Bao.

'This is far greater than the spring festival, Gaopu,' he had said. 'This spreads the renown of the House of the Green Dragon all the way to the feet of the Shengchang of Hainan.'

I knew nothing of the governor of our island province and cared even less, but the Chujen slapped me for my pouting insolence and continued.

'The Shengchang has been put into a quandary, and he has come to me for a solution. This is an opportunity of generations. And you could not be more honored if your chenchieh could be renewed every spring for the highest bidder. In fact, with the favoring of the Shengchang, the bidding on you should go up now, although I will have to do some fast training and preparation of another for the spring festival.'

I opened my newly rouged lips to speak, but, seeing the expression on my face, the Chujen slapped me again, sending clouds of white powder into the air and a flurry of house servants scurrying about to repair the damage to their hours of work on my face. As luck had it, I still was naked in the wake of the powdering. I would have had better luck if I already had been wound into my red robes. Chujen wouldn't have dared ruin those with the spray of white powder. As it was, he was wasting a fortune. The intoxicating, yangchu-hardening powder was a dear commodity.

'If you are successful, I may send you to Haikou, to the Shengchang, who has made certain requests. He is the one who selected you for this assignation. If not, I will turn you out into the streets of Xinzhou, where the fishermen of the town will know what to do with you.'

I remained unimpressed. He often threatened me with the randy fisherman of the town below our cliff. He had invested too much in me for that to be a real threat. At the worst, he would sell me to some dried-up ancient with no seed, flatulence, and a limp yangchu.

'We are to provide delay,' Chujen informed me. 'You are to make the Kueilo who appears for you to dally as long as possible. the Shengchang does not know if the vessel is a shangchu'an or a chunch'an, a merchant ship or a war ship. There have been rumors of these Kueilo appearing at the fringes of the Central Kingdom, but never here. In either case, they must be made to turn away or go down to the depths of the sea. The Shengchang has sent queries to the emperor, but the situation is momentous; he must know if he can simply kill them or not.'

I adopted my humblest look and kowtowed at the Chujen's feet. 'But I don't understand, Chujen. Why are they coming here to Xinzhou? We are simply the pleasure resort for Haikou. What do we have to do with such momentous affairs?'

The Chujen patiently tried to explain, which in itself made me worry. Such reasonableness was not in keeping with the Chujen's nature. 'Panicked for delaying tactics, the Shengchang saw the eyes of the Kueilo's Ch'uanchu, ship's captain, light up at the offer of a respite of clouds and rain. And he chose the House of the Green Dragon over other pleasures. And the Shengchang insisted on purity...in short, our spring offerings for the seed sowing ceremony...you and Bao.'

Still I did not believe the Chujen. Still I thought this was some sort of conditioning joke he was having. That it was all part of the ritual. What did the outer world have to do with our small pleasure house high on the cliffs over the Xinzhou lagoon?

But later that afternoon, as I reclined on pillows on the veranda of the Vermilion Pavilion overlooking the sea, trying my best not to transfer any of the enticement powder to the red brocade of my ceremonial robes, I began to believe. I could not believe what I was seeing at first. A giant sea bird slowly appeared from around the eastern point of rocks and glided toward the lagoon, guided in by a red barge of the Shengchang that I recognized from his earlier visits to the House of the Green Dragon. A towering, black-wood vessel driven by billowing clouds of white gossamer.

Bao was by my side, in robes of darkest emerald blue. He shrank from the sight of the giant, floating bird and began to breathe heavily. But I was mesmerized by the sight. And aroused. I had always been scolded for my fantasies and attraction to danger, but these were the same traits that had me here, at the pinnacle of empowerment. There was no more luxurious life or power over powerful men than the life of a clouds and rain master.

As Bao's nervousness grew with the far-off vision of figures in strange, black, close-fitting clothing roping down into the House of the Green Dragon launch that had been sent out to their vessel to fetch them, my interest and curiosity grew.

For what seemed to be hours but was only a short time, we could hear the Kueilo being ceremoniously welcomed in the reception rooms below us. We heard the wheedling, smooth tones of the Chujen, covered by a raucous cacophony of hard, guttural sounds from the Kueilo. It was obvious that neither understood the other, but as the voices of the foreign ghosts grew louder and their speech slurred, we understood that the Chujen had managed to place them under the spell of our special wine, spiced to loosen nerves and cares and enervate the yangchu.

And then two of them were there in the entrance to the Vermilion Pavilion, one on each side of the Chujen, and with a semicircle of slack-jawed and murmuring tunic-clad house servants behind them.

They were both monstrous. The taller of the two, quite evidently the Chu'anchu, was a Hungmao, a red-haired devil. I had read of such in the classics, but they were monsters from beyond the pale. He stood there, a full head taller than the Chujen. And such a head it was. Fully encircled with bright red, curly hair...on top and down the sides and under his chin and his nose. Broad shouldered and thin waisted, he was swathed in clinging sweat-soaked, rough black coat, under coat, and leggings and heavy black, shiny boots, which were not just exotic, but they also must be stifling in the heat of our subtropical island province. I could smell him from here. A meat eater. Underneath the hair and clothing, I could see that the man was of palest hue, the source of the name that had been given to these recent interlopers on our world...THE world: ghost.

The other man, not much taller than the Chujen, but much thicker, all hard muscle, in the body and similarly clothed to the other Kueilo, stood beside and slightly back from the Hungmao, another signal of who was the most important. This second foreign ghost had hair of the tawniest gold, not an auspicious color. We had legends of other such golden-haired men visiting from the outside side, across the deserts to the west, in times past. But they had been famous for their cruelty, and we had absorbed and destroyed them as they deserved. This Kueilo standing before us, one step back from his Chu'anchu, exuded this sense of cruelty. He had a gold ring in one ear and a black patch over one eye, and a leering stare that bore right through Bao and me.

Bao shrank against me, but I looked out at the Kueilo with disdain and with a haughtiness that I had been taught drove some men wild with wanting. I felt all tingly, ready for the challenge of my Shengchang. But the men smelled to high heaven. Before I could stomach even pleasuring either one of them in a kiss of the yangchu act, they would have to be cleaned. And I told the Chujen so in no uncertain terms. His eyes flashed, but he realized, I am sure, that there were limits to what I could do with an unwashed meat eater. Besides, as I was soon to find out, he had already anticipated that need.

As soon as I had spoken, the eyes of both Kueilo focused on me and both smiled that smile I had already seen a hundred times at the House of the Green Dragon. They both wanted me. But it was the pale blue eyes of the Hungmao Ch'uanchu that I met with mine, and I knew in an instant the pairings were settled.

If I had known beforehand what happened then, I would have acted differently. But the future, even the immediate future, is not for solitary Chungkuojen...Chinese man...like me to know...this is knowledge reserved to the emperor or at least one of no lower in the order than the Shengchang.

The Chujen motioned for Bao and me to rise and part. I was waved toward the eastern chamber off the Vermilion Pavilion and Bao toward the western chamber. The Chujen nudged the Hungmao toward the east and the golden Kueilo toward the west, which they both immediately acknowledged and acceded to. The house servants split behind the Chujen, one half gliding toward the eastern chamber and the other half toward the western chamber.

I heard Bao mutter a cut-off exclamation as he and the golden Kueilo both reached the entrance to the western chamber. This was unheard of...for a clouds and rain master to say anything at this stage of the act...and my head snapped around at the sound. The golden Kueilo had already laid hands on Bao. When Bao involuntarily shrank away from him, the golden Kueilo backhanded him across the cheek with such a mighty blow that Bao was propelled through the entrance of the eastern chamber. The golden Kueilo turned and gave the house servants moving in his direction a menacing look that stopped them dead in their tracks and they retreated, backing away from him and bowing low at the waist.

My eyes went to the Chujen for reaction. Under normal circumstances, he would have used his martial arts skills to neutralize such a crass and out-of-control patron. But, though I could see that Chujen's jaw was set and his body tensed on the edge, he did nothing. That's when I knew this was a reality. That all he had said about the directive from the Shengchang and the importance of delaying the Kueilo's return to Haikou was true. True and necessary. Important. Perhaps vital to maintaining civilization as we knew it.

The sounds from the western chamber were rending. The tearing of cloth...which I could see was tearing equally at the Chujen, something I could well understand, knowing the price of a spring ceremonial robe...the crude gruntings of the Kueilo in immediate and full rut, and the cries of Bao, cries that were unthinkable in the House of the Green Dragon, told me in no uncertain terms that the clouds and rain had already started in the western chamber and that Bao' chenchieh...his chastity...was as good as undone already. I knew that any delay was now entirely mine to provide.

At the doorway to the eastern chamber, I turned and looked up into the pale blue eyes of the Hungmao and tried to convey with every fiber of my being that he would have me but not in the way and at the pace that the golden Kueilo was having Bao. He seemed to understand, and I was heartened to get the impression that he took his pleasures at a much more easy pace than his compatriot did.

At the interior end of the eastern chamber was a bathing tub with steaming water in it. At the open end overlooking the Xinzhou lagoon was a pallet of red silk with mountains of red silk pillow cushions, the home of the clouds and rain, where I would lose my chenchieh.

The Hungmao stood in the center of the room, an amused look on his face, and his arms outstretched and legs in a wide stance, as the house servants slowly but methodically figured out how to unclothe him. The Chujen stood in the doorway from the Vermilion Pavilion, watching the Hungmao being disrobed. He would stand there and observe until the completion of the first clouds and rain. It was his duty to do so...to observe and record the time and place of my loss of chenchieh. It would be marked in vermilion ink, the highest honor...at the pleasure of the Shengchang. Even higher than a link to the spring festival seed sowing ceremony would have been. It added stacks of hsienchien, cash, to my worth for each subsequent clouds and rain assignation.

The Chujen obviously could not observe the moment for Bao, which, from the sounds from the other chamber had already taken place and was moving into a second taking, but the Chujen was a modern jen of practicality. He would simply record what he hadn't actually seen and he knew that I would not naysay him, even though it was my duty to do so; he knew that I would not subject Bao to that dishonor and loss of future status.

My eyes were also on those of the Hungmao. His eyes were focused on me. He wanted to see my reaction to his nakedness. And, trained as I was, I was already prepared to respond with embarrassment and awe. I was trained to do this for a eunuch or castrati, if faced with that in this situation and they had been given access to me by the Chujen. I needed no training to fall back on, though. The Hungmao was huge in ways I had never seen before. His body was well formed and hard and bulging in muscles, obviously from hard, honest work. He was covered in red, curly hair everywhere. And his yangchu was the heaviest and longest I'd ever seen.

I gulped and my eyes went wide open and my jaw slack...all movements I'd been trained in but movements that came naturally under these circumstances. And my reaction pleased the Hungmao, which I could readily see as his yangchu rose parallel with the matting under us and filled out impossibly larger.

He went into the bath with the help of the house servants. A couple of these carried off his clothing, undoubtedly to be double boiled, and the other house servants began scrubbing him in earnest. The past year's spring festival master, Wangan, glided into the room with willowy stride and knelt beside the tub. His hands went into the soapy water, and I watched the Hungmao's eyes slit and the pleasure fan out across his face as Wangan enclosed his hands around the Hungmao's yangchu and began to stroke.

It was my time then. I stood there, between the tub and the sea, between the Hungmao and the pallet of my chenchieh farewell and untied my obi and began to slowly unwind my red ceremonial robe and the deep purple under robe. I took a long time doing this, and the Hungmao's eyes were glued to my form the entire time. I could hear him sighing from where I stood from the ministrations of Wangan's delicate, expert hands and fingers on the Kueilo's yangchu. Almost as if not realizing what he was doing, the Hungmao had one hand searching inside the folds of Wangan's robes, where he obviously found what he was looking for and was stroking it. His other hand was lifted above his head and had snaked into the tunic of one of the house servants scrubbing at him and had exposed and was tweaking a nipple.

After a slow, orchestrated, long-practiced performance of revealing myself, I stood there before him, the folds of the red and purple robes swirling around my feet, my hands on my hips and swaying ever so imperceptively from side to side. I was perhaps half his size. Lithe and willowy, but muscle hard from years of ever-higher-level tai chi practice. Naked and completely shaved. The pert little yangchu and ball sac that Chungkuojen so highly prized in their clouds and rain masters. I worried briefly if this would please a Kueilo as well, but the look he cast on my revealed body left no doubt that he did. As was wanted in a spring festival master, I had the years of an adult but the body of a youth.

The Kueilo lost all interest in Wangan and the house servant and, indeed, in his bath, although, happily he had been scrubbed sufficiently already. He rose up and stepped out of the tub. Wangan had done well. That and the effect of my own disrobing had caused the Hungmao's yangchu to rise and fill out to rival the most virile of the stud horses in the House of the Green Dragon's stables.

I moved breathlessly to him, kneeling before him and gently enclosing the base of his yangchu in my small fists, one above the other, and still leaving more than I thought my mouth could accommodate. In a rustle of naked feet and soft silk, I sensed more than heard Wangan and the house servants evaporate beyond the bamboo screens.

For the next several minutes, as the Hungmao sighed and growled and rocked back and forth on the pads of his gigantic feet and breathed heavily and noisily, he moved my head between his enormous paws while I entertained him with everything I had learned in the art of the kiss of the yangchu.

He was getting bigger and bigger and was pumping ever more rapidly with his yangchu inside my mouth. My hands went to his heavy orbs. I could hardly enclose them in my hands, they were so large and tightly balled. None that I had handled before now were anything like this size. The Kueilo was a monster of a man, and I was wondering if he was typical of his people or a monster among them as well as I felt his bulbous knob pressing against the back of my throat.

I lightly squeezed on the orbs, wanting him to drain himself now, before the clouds and rain, to delay that. Every moment of delay was precious time. I understood that now.

But, with a roar, the Hungmao, pulled me up and off his throbbing yangchu. He turned me and pushed me down on all fours, and I understood that he was going to invade me right there and then.

That could not be, though. Our customs and rules were quite explicit. I must lose my chenchieh on the red pallet across the chamber. I heard Chujen quietly exclaim, obviously making the same point. But I didn't need him to remind me of the ceremony requirements. I had been studying these for four season cycles.

I broke free somehow and half crawled and half scuttled toward the red pallet. The Hungmao misinterpreted, assuming, I'm sure, that he had frightened me too much and that I was trying to escape. The renewed cries from the other chamber across the Vermilion Pavilion only added credence to this thought. Bao was being plowed hard and rough now, as he was loudly and plaintively complaining of...just like a stable boy, completely wiping away his dignity and social status. I could only hope that only the Chujen and I remained to hear of his dishonoring...that the house servants were well beyond hearing. But I knew that was hopeless thought. All that comforted me was knowing that any house servant heard gossiping about this night would lose his tongue...and maybe his yangchu as well.

The Hungmao reached me and toppled me down on my belly in a cloud of white powder as I reached the red silk pallet. I did, manage, however to pull up onto the pallet on my hands and knees as the Hungmao encased my hips between his strong knees.

I heard the rustle of the Chujen's robes as he decorously approached with a pot of scented clouds and rain ointment and calmed the Hungmao long enough to convey that he was trying to aid the inevitable act. The Hungmao held me down on all fours with one arm wrapped around my chest as he crouched over me and invaded my tight and virginal anus with lubricated fingers as the Chujen worked ointment on the Hungmao's prodigious, throbbing yangchu.

I had the sense then of being in the embrace of a silken-pelted bear as the Chujen faded back to the entrance of the chamber and the Hungmao held the bulbous head of his yangchu to my back entrance in an encasing, directing fist.

The Hungmao panted hard as he worked himself inside me, and I panted even harder and suppressed my groans and moans as best I could as he did so. The groaning and moaning was meant to be saved for later, when the patron was fully saddled and was stroking and needed to hear that he was the master of the Central Kingdom.

But I could not help it. I cried out in pain and invasion, nothing like this having been part of what I had learned over the last four season cycles. Although, to rights, no one involved in my training could have been known that I was destined to lose my chenchieh to a monster horse foreign ghost yangchu.

'I must not faint,' I kept repeating to myself. 'I must pleasure him with my body for as long as possible.' I gritted my teeth and took him inside me and clenched my entrance muscles as I had been taught and listened in triumph to him gasp in pleasure at that. And then, as he sank in and in and in, I tried, through the wall of pain, to conjure up all of the exercises I had learned to control the muscles inside me. To make them ripple around and across his yangchu, to make internal love to his manhood as I had been taught to do. The clouds, the important clouds before the rain...the beating of one cloud against the other, the friction that brought on the rain, with the greater the cloud beating the greater the rain.

He groaned and gasped in pleasure and his lips went to the hollow of my neck, where they ingested the enticement powder. He murmured and sighed and moaned and I felt the powder working in the impossible reality that he grew even larger inside me.

His horse yangchu slid back and forth, shallow and then deep, to the surface and then diving down, down, down and holding as my muscles contracted around him and worked on his yangchu.

I could hear Bao screaming out that he was being split asunder and that his insides were being flooded...again...from the other chamber, and I began to wiggle my hips, no longer in as much pain as at the beginning. Something else was moving inside me now. Wanting. Actually wanting this clouds and rain. I was working the clouds...the touching and the sighing and the moaning and the movement under him and back against him as he thrust, meeting him thrust for thrust now. Listening to his ragged breathing. Giving him the best clouds he had ever received. Living up to the reputation of the House of the Green Dragon.

Then the rains came. The Hungmao cried out in ecstasy and the rains came. Deep inside me. He collapsed on top of me, pushing me down on my belly on the red silk pallet, and I heard the rustling of the Chujen's robes as he left us, his official duties finished...back to his dark room and is vermilion ink and his triumphant collection of a favor from the Shengchang, a favor that could sustain the House of the Green Dragon for generations to come.

I heard Bao crying out from the other chamber. That his wrists had been tied and he was doubled over the rim of the unused tub and was being roughly entered again and again and again. That the golden Kueilo smelled vile and cruelly bit and had a yangchu thicker than the pillars in the Vermilion Pavilion. That his rains were a flood. But there was nothing I could do for Bao now. I had to delay the departure of the vessel. And I knew it would not leave without its captain. Perhaps if I could detain him even for a night.

The Hungmao rolled off me and he lay on his back, still panting. Gathering all of the resolve and resources I could, I sat up and moved my head over his heaving chest and started to lick his nipples and set his red chest hair aswirl. My hands danced over his torso and down to his yangchu, still huge but now in repose. I needed to coax him into clouds and rain again. I needed him to believe that only with me could he accomplish rapid recovery and multiple clouds and rain. Wanting to stay with me as long as possible. I knew this was vital to the pride of any man, Chungkuojen or Kueilo. All the same in the vanity realm. Entice three clouds and rain in an assignation, and the man is yours forever.

I put an arm around his neck and lifted his mouth to my nipple. He sucked and licked while I worked my other hand across his cheek. I moved his mouth around the nipple, coaxing him to ingest more of the enticement powder, which he did. This had the desired effect, in consort with my stroking, on his yangchu. He was regaining virility. I stroked the slit in the head of his yangchu with the tip of my finger and he gasped and began to writhe in pleasure, his life's fluid beginning to bubble up onto my finger. I would feel him trembling at the knowledge that there would be a second clouds and rain so soon after the first. He already was nearly mine.

After I'd heard the last gurgling cry from Bao from across the Vermilion Pavilion, followed by an ominous silence, I felt more than saw the presence of the golden Kueilo at the entrance to the eastern chamber. I could hear his ragged breathing. I knew he was watching the Hungmao and me deeply entering our second clouds and rain.

The Hungmao was kneeling, sitting back on his calves and facing out toward the sunset over the Xinzhou lagoon. He was holding me, like a small doll, in front of him, me facing the lagoon as well, my knees leveraging off the surface of the red-silk pallet, body arched out, and my anus sliding up and down on the Hungmao's rejuvenated yangchu. Up and down, endlessly. I no longer was in pain. I was enjoying the taking. I wondered if I would ever be swallowing a member this large ever again. Stretching for him. Perfecting the skills of internal muscle massage of a throbbing horse yangchu of impossible size and strength.

The Hungmao was sighing and groaning contentedly.

A shadow fell on me and I no longer could see the lagoon. What I saw now was a short, thick yangchu jutting out of a thick thatch of golden hair. I almost gagged at the thickness and smelliness of the second Kueilo's yangchu as he pushed it between my lips. But this was no time for niceties. I gave him quite satisfactory kiss of the yangchu attention too. I was determined to keep them here as long as possible. If Bao had failed, I could only try to succeed.

The golden Kueilo grabbed my pigtail and forced my head back and he pushed hard down inside my mouth with his yangchu. The Hungmao, between pants of his own spoke sharply at the golden one in that ugly guttural language of theirs, though, and the golden Kueilo released my pigtail.

The virile Hungmao was still sliding me up and down on his yangchu when the golden one released his seed inside my mouth. He brought his mouth down to mine and sucked his fluid from inside my mouth in a lips-on-lips invasion that we almost never performed between men at the House of the Green Dragon. But if it delayed their parting for even a moment, I would do it. I returned his kiss and stifled my surprise and pain when he bit me on the lip.

The golden one knelt down before me and I felt his fingers forcing their way inside my anus alongside the sliding yangchu of the Hungmao. He was stroking his own yangchu back to thickness with his other hand, and for a brief moment I panicked at the sure knowledge that he intended his yangchu to join that of the Hungmao's inside me.

But the Hungmao spoke gruffly to the golden one, and he pulled his fingers from me and stood and moved toward the door. I knew from what he was saying that he was telling the Hungmao it was time for them to return to the vessel in the lagoon.

I tightened my internal muscles on the Hungmao's yangchu inside me and turned his lips to mine and gave him lip-to-lip attention for the first time in our clouds and rain. He reacted with surprise and pleasure, and then I took his head and buried his lips into my shoulder, where there still was some enticement powder lingering. He was lost to me then.

He and the golden Kueilo exchanged hurried and angry words. As they spoke, I performed the fan movement of the clouds and rain. In one deft, lithe movement, I turned on the Hungmao's yangchu to where I was facing him and, at the same time, pushed him down onto his back, with his muscle-bulging hairy legs now stretched out toward the lagoon.

With the golden Kueilo still angrily talking and gesturing and the Hungmao groaning loudly in ecstasy and his pale-blue eyes revolving wildly in their sockets, I began to ride his yangchu hard with revolving hips and rippling internal muscles. The golden one gave up in disgust and departed, while his captain writhed in deep lust under me. The Hungmao flooded me with his essence soon thereafter.

He drifted off to sleep hours later after the third clouds and rain, in which I lay on my back, my hips raised by red silk pillows, my legs flared out wide, and the Hungmao on his knees on the red pallet between my legs, looking out at the now-furled sails of his vessel riding quietly in the lagoon and moving his hips back and forth, rhythmically and forever while I sighed and moaned for him, letting him know he was the most masterful jen in the Central Kingdom. Holding him enthralled with every trick I had learned.

I performed clouds and rain, each time in a different position and ever more intricately, holding the Hungmao's total attention between replenishment meals supplied by a delighted Chujen, for the next three days and nights.

When the Hungmao finally descended to his vessel, stiff legged and humming, on the fourth day, I was at the edge of the veranda of the Vermilion Pavilion, only slightly happy to see him go. He had a yangchu such as I would never again ride, a yangchu that the Chujen would have expertly measured in length and thickness in his mind and in his handling during the clouds and rain ointment application and would record on my record of capability. But it wasn't just the size of him, which enhanced my value to the House of the Green Dragon; as my clouds and rain became more inventive, he had become more and more gentle and lost to me. If the Shengchang had instructed that he be held here forever, I could have managed that...and would have been content doing it.

I could part from him with the knowledge that my fortune and legend was now made, not just in the house of the Green Dragon, but beyond the pleasure resort of Xinzhou...perhaps even beyond the province of Hainan. I could dream of being lionized to the emperor himself. Perhaps I could dream of serving the yangchu needs and desires of the son of heaven himself.

But as much as I had come to enjoy the Hungmao's horse yangchu churning inside me, I was Chungkuojen to the very fiber of me. I sensed that these Kueilo, these foreign ghosts, were devils to be avoided and kept away from the purity of my land. At least I could rest in the knowledge that my four days of delay had given the Shengchang the time he needed to devise plans to eradicate this threat...to ensure that no Kueilo ghost ships would enter Xinzhou's lagoon or the bays of any other city in the Central Kingdom ever again.



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