Ki had been a part of the Huo Empire three centuries ago but this past century, there was nothing but fighting and seceding. Rebellion after rebellion in the past century, six states broke away from Huo, and in the past two decades, formed its own kingdom: the Kingdom of Ki. Presently, Huo and Ki were at war with each other, constantly fighting over states and land. If they wanted a man from a Ki prison, that most likely meant that he was a soldier. Maybe someone important? Either way, it was one of the most dangerous missions she had ever gotten. Trespassing into the enemy kingdom was suicidal.
“There is a man we finally found,” Manchu grumbled, as if he didn’t like that he had to talk to her. He barely looked her in the eye. “We had thought that he had perished at the hands of Ki but we discovered him in the Ki State Geru, in village Loa. It’s a small village that houses a prison and torture chamber. As soon as we found out, we made plans to break him out. The warden of the prison is notorious and will cause many problems. We need him distracted, which is where you come along. He has a great love for women and pleasure. We need you to distract him as we sneak in and retrieve the man.”
Meifen was silent. There was no way she could refuse. With something as dangerous as this, the profit would be immense. Most of the earnings would go to Lord Hongqi but she would get a good chunk of it. She nodded slowly. This could very well be a mission she could die in. “I see,” she murmured. “And this warden . . . I need to sleep with him or just seduce him?” she asked Lord Hongqi. “Or should I kill him?”
Manchu snorted. “You wouldn’t be able to kill him. You’re no match for him.”
“Sleep with him,” Lord Hongqi said simply. “If you simply seduce him, he may still hear the ruckus they might cause. If you’re pleasuring him, he’ll be too distracted to even notice. Do not kill him, because that might cause problems with the mission. This is a very delicate matter, so you must do all you can to pleasure him and distract him. If you accidentally kill him too early and a guard comes to ask of him and receives no reply, he’ll know something is wrong. This is a stealth operation by the rest of the soldiers so we need to keep him alive so that if someone tries to come to him, he can give them some sort of reply that he’s alive and well. You are one of my best seductresses, after all. I know this will be easy for you.”
Her expression didn’t show it, but she was displeased with this mission. Not only did she have to travel to Ki of all places, but she had to sleep with a man like a lowly whore. It wasn’t even like she was retrieving information in the process or making him accidentally spill secrets. No, all she was going to do was distract him and pleasure him. “I see,” she said. “When do I leave?”
“Tomorrow morning. The soldiers that are going on the mission, including Lieutenant General Manchu, will come pick you up. You should pack your riding clothes and a few pretty dresses. The ride to State Geru will take roughly a week on a wagon. You will be back by the end of the month, so no worries.”
“I understand,” she said with a nod.
Manchu rose to his feet, as did Lord Hongqi. They both clasped hands and shook. “You will be very pleased with Meifen. She is simply one of our best. Her appearance alone will be enough to distract that warden.”
Manchu glanced down at her. “Ah, I suppose so. Though, I’m a bit skeptical to hand such an important mission to a petty whore.”
She wasn’t even angry; she was used to it. Although she wasn’t a prostitute anymore, being a seductress wasn’t much different. She killed people, she seduced people for information, she slept with a few in order to better fulfill her mission, and she worked for the Huo Empire in those sorts of ways, and yet she was always going to be known as a prostitute masquerading as an assassin. She was helping in this war too; how else did the Generals get certain types of information? Yet, she was always going to remain in the shadows, forgotten by history while the glory of the Generals shone bright.
Manchu left soon after that, leaving Lord Hongqi and Meifen alone in the room. Lord Hongqi picked up his brush and scribbled on his open scrolls. His dark eyes flitted over the papers. “Are you nervous?” he asked.
“A little,” she said with a shrug. “Travelling to Ki has me rattled to the bone.”
“You’ll manage fine. Your only role is to sleep with the warden.”
“You should probably go prepare.”
“Yes, I probably should,” she said with a sigh as she clambered to her feet. She forced a smile on her face. “I’m a bit mad that—” that you didn’t stand up for me when he called me a petty whore, “—he didn’t think I’m capable enough to kill the warden.”
He smiled. “You and I both know that you’re just as skilled with a blade than you are with the art of seduction. He will know sure enough during your travels. I’m sure one or two of his soldiers will try to fling themselves at you, thinking you’re nothing more than a whore on the mission, and then you’ll toss them aside.”
She brushed her hair behind her ear. Lord Hongqi had plucked her from the brothels when she was fifteen, and for the past six years, trained her to be a seductress. As the years wore on, the stronger and better she became in her trade. Now at twenty-one, she was one of the best in the field, and yet she couldn’t shake off the hollowness in her chest. She was grateful towards him, but she still felt like a whore. She wasn’t a prostitute anymore, but the old feeling was hard to shake, especially when she was given missions like this.
“I’ll be off then,” she called out as she spun on her heels and exited his room.