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The Emperor's Shadow

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For all its shortcomings, at least my new home was accepting of me as I was. It didn't matter what gender you were so long as you performed your job properly. It took only a decade and a half for me to reach the top. Unfortunately, I believe I did my job a bit too well. A/N ~ This is the MxM version of the story.

Romance / Erotica
5.0 3 reviews
Age Rating:

Chapter One

The Emperor was a kind man. Perhaps a bit intense at times but only to those who had already overworked his patience. As a servant in his palace, I heard nothing but praise for him even in the backrooms and pantries among even the lowest of slaves.

The palace was an excellent place to be employed. The wages were generous; the boarding was fair; even the uniforms left little improvement to be desired. Rules were rigid, and reprimanding was ruthless, but I’d never had harsher punishment than relentless scolding of the Head Eunuch.

I worked as a eunuch for the Emperor. Previously I had been assigned to his younger brother, but after the incident, I was reassigned to His Majesty’s entourage. Days were long and hot, and my back ached constantly from the necessary bowing, but otherwise, my situation could not have been better, especially not for someone of my origin.

I was not born in the Empire. I was captured and enslaved at a young age in one of the many conquests of the former emperor. I was brought to the palace where I worked tirelessly to improve my situation. By the time I turned 16 I was able to buy my freedom, and through recommendations, I received a job working as a servant until I was able to climb my way to my current occupation. As it turns out, they were all too welcoming of eunuchs with no need to be castrated. However, everyone could know my past just by looking at me. My strange hair texture and skin tone were easy to pick out in a crowd, and the way I was addressed showed for it. The Empire may be advanced in technology, but their superiority complex towards foreigners was prevalent. Thankfully, after I had shown my work ethic and prowess for my age I was typically regarded with more pleasant attitudes.

My job usually consisted of remaining in a permanent bow unless I was given explicit orders. We made the Emperor’s bed, dressed him, fixed his hair, checked for poison in his food, and otherwise acted like his shadow from the moment he rose to the first snore every night. Despite our constant presence, he generally did not pay attention to us. I couldn’t blame him. If I were to have not a single moment in solidarity I would likely lose my sanity. At least he never regarded us rudely. I knew that the eunuchs and handmaids of other imperial family members were not so fortunate.

I had been his eunuch for all of twelve days before our encounter.

I was carrying the Emperor’s robes to be washed while he bathed as per the Head Maid’s instructions when someone ran into my back, causing the basket and myself to fall to the wooden floor of the bathhouse.

My first concern was obviously the priceless ceremonial robes I had been carrying that thanks to my meticulous folding and careful placing were still safely nestled in the basket. I sighed in relief after realizing that I wouldn’t be whipped for ruining the Emperor’s clothes. My attention quickly turned to the person who had accosted me with fiery wrath and the intent to give a stern scolding.

“Do you have any idea what I was carrying? The Head Maid and Eunuch would tan both of our hides if-”

Only then did I look up from my precious basket to search for the culprit. My brow furrowed as I swept the room only to come up short.

“Where did you-” I was cut off by the sound of a desperate whimper from a corner in between a pile of towels and the wall.

The furrow deepened as I cautiously moved to see who was hyperventilating so desperately as if the whole earth didn’t have enough air to satisfy them. With silent steps, I finally was able to poke my head behind the towels to see a very naked man dripping in soap, water, and terror. His long dark hair was a stringy mess all around him as he tried to cover his head with his giant arms. If the poor soul hadn’t been shivering in both fear and chills I would have snickered at the sight of such a large human trying to cram himself in such a small space.

Without moving closer, I knelt down and placed my hands on my lap where he could see them. I wasn’t thinking of my work or the priceless robes I should be guarding with my life. I could only see a person who desperately needed someone to talk them out of the most horrifying place imaginable.

“Hello,” I tried in the softest voice I could muster.

He flinched violently as if he hadn’t even known how close I was. Tremors wracked through his body as he slowly rose his eyes until I could see one beautiful honey orb watching me warily from underneath a curtain of dark wet hair.

I knew I was likely the least intimidating creature on the planet. I was minuscule compared to others on a good day, but next to him I might as well have been an infant.

“I’m sorry I frightened you,” I kept my voice low and soft, “I should have been more aware of my surroundings,” I said knowing damn well the collision was not my fault but also recognizing that was not what he needed to hear.

“You look cold, sweet one. Can I put a towel around you so you can warm up?” He stared at me, clearly not comprehending what I was saying. I smiled gently, “I’m going to come closer, alright? I’m only going to get a towel from beside you.”

Slowly, as though standing in front of a rabid wolf, I rose slightly to reach for a towel. His eyes darted back and forth from my hand to my face, and his breathing had only slowed slightly, but he didn’t flinch away. Thankfully the towel was fit for an Emperor and would be both large enough to cover his nudity and thick enough to warm him up. He was curled into a ball, and I kept my eyes level with his so I remained ignorant of what separated women and men, but his bare arms and chest were still far more than anything I’d ever seen on a man, and I wanted to keep it that way.

I moved with the speed of the earth’s turning as I brought the towel down so he could see it in front of me, “I’m going to put this around you, alright?”

Still, no response as I gently wrapped the towel around his wide shoulders. He didn’t even flinch as I touched him. He only kept his gaze locked with mine.

“There you go, sweet one. All better now, see?” I smoothed my hands over the towel in soothing movements.

Suddenly something heavy dropped in the other room, and both of us jumped, except he lunged towards me. I didn’t even have the time to be terrified before I realized that he had wrapped himself entirely around me.

Not only had I not been touched by a man since my father last held me as a babe, I had not even brushed fingers with another man in passing in my recent memory. I couldn’t even remember if I had been embraced like this since I was captured. Not to mention that any physical contact interchanged between two persons was done after marriage behind the closed doors of the home. This interaction would have gotten me fired. After all, every eunuch was seen as the property of the Emperor, and any man seen touching one had his hand cut off. Not to mention my entire job revolved around my lack of sexual companionship. All this raced through my head as I remained awkwardly stiff until he nuzzled his nose into my neck and whimpered.

May the gods help me, I thought as I bit my lip. Why did he have to go straight for my neck? The one place...

I shook my head and shakily brought one hand to the back of his head and the other to rub his back. Miraculously the towel had stayed around him as he lunged, only now it was wrapped around both of us and the was nothing between me and his very nude body. Not to mention I was practically in his lap. I thanked the gods that my robes were so thick and left me unable to feel anything.

“Shh, it’s alright. I’m here. You’re safe, sweet one. You’re safe,” I murmured over and over again. His breathing gradually slowed against my neck leaving my thoughts to become more coherent. The tremors lessened and ebbed until the only movement was his deep breathing. He was very warm...

Before I could try to push myself off of him, my worst fear became reality. Multiple footsteps and voices could be heard in the next room.

“Your Majesty?! Sire! Where are you?” at least ten voices called out frantically. The Head Eunuch was certainly one of them.

Frantically I began struggling against the man who retained his death grip around me and only burrowed his head deeper which did not help my situation. Before I could even hiss that this could get us both killed, the doors to the room burst open.

My face paled in horror as I looked at the terrified face of the Head Eunuch and waited for him to tell me the executioner would see me at dawn. But he was far more concerned with the man under me who had clutched me impossible tight and close as soon as the door opened and began whimpering again.

Just as I thought the situation couldn’t get any worse, the old man cried, “Your Majesty!” and rushed to our side.

Why is he... my mind finally caught up as I look down in horror to the man underneath me. I still couldn’t see his face, but I now recognized the impossible build of the man I was sitting on. I was the newest eunuch so I was never the one to dress or bathe the Emperor. Typically I ran to deliver messages or fetch meals or other less direct tasks. This left me relatively unfamiliar with the Emperor other than what he looked like in all his regalia and formality. The man beneath me couldn’t possibly be that man. That man was the most reserved and unmovable person I’d ever met. He was a mountain I could never imagine quaking.

Clearly, I was wrong. As the Eunuch continued calling to him with no response, the Emperor only clung tighter. When the Head Maid tried to pry me off of him, my lungs were compressed to the point that I couldn’t breathe properly and the Eunuch hastily slapped her away from us.

“What are you doing?” she hissed at me.

“I’m sorry, miss! I didn’t recognize him and he ran into me and then I thought I should help him calm down-”

“So you touched His Majesty?” she screeched.

“No ma’am! Well only to put a towel on him, but then something startled him, and he just reached and now I’m here, and I can’t breathe-”

“Calm down boy or you’ll further upset him!” cried the Eunuch.

What a mess.

“What happened? Why is he in this state?” the Eunuch tried to calm all of us down.

“I don’t know,” I tried to reply evenly, “He was like this when he ran into me, and I didn’t see him before then. I was only supposed to fetch his laundry-”

As I was speaking, the man underneath me abruptly took my hand which was pushing against his shoulder in an attempt to break free and placed it back on the back of his head.

The room was silent, and every maid and eunuch looked in horror and awe.

I turned my gaze to the Head Eunuch to tell me what to do with frantic eyes. He only nodded at me furiously as though the obvious answer was to carrels the Emperor in a way only a concubine or queen should.

With trembling fingers, I resumed stroking the back of his head. Silence surrounded us. Personally, I felt suffocated by the judgmental stares of my peers, but I suppose he just ignored their presence as he always had. He calmed down much faster this time. Within a minute his breathing was regular if still not jarring against my incredibly sensitive neck. His clinging, however, remained ever steady.

“I want everyone out.”

His words against my neck and the deep rumble in his chest made my mind go blank and my body numb for far longer than it should have. I had heard him speak before of course, and even then it had done unspeakable things to me, but that wasn’t when it was uttered right by my ear.

After regaining my bearings, I moved to get up, but yet again he tightened his hold on me. “Not you,” he growled.

I actually shivered that time. Then I mentally kicked myself, the Emperor is about to kill you for laying a hand on him without permission, and you’re creaming your skirts from a damn imperial order.

In all seriousness, I quickly sobered up, and soon I was the one quivering in fear in his arms. How could I have been so stupid? How had I not recognized him? Even though all the steam and shadow, I should have clearly singled out the Emperor as he was by far the largest man I’d ever seen.

I didn’t even register when he began using his thumb to rub circles against my hip until it was too late. I had to somehow communicate that my skin was far too sensitive for him to be doing this right now.

Everyone quickly filed out save for the Head Eunuch who remained by our side.

The man under me sighed with his face still deeply nuzzled in my neck, and this time I couldn’t stop the shiver that tore through my body. He chuckled, and my face flared in humiliation. He finally brought his face out to look at me and carefully took me in. I kept my eyes closed and my head down as there was nowhere to look and not be met with bare skin. How is he so comfortable like this?

“Look at me, Little One.”

Horse shit. That pentane did unmentionable things to every corner of my body. With dread, I rose my head and opened my eyes. How had I not recognized him?

His eyes searched mine with gentle intrigue, “Why are you afraid, Little One?”

I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to answer so I looked to the Eunuch for guidance. He nodded to me as if I clearly was supposed to answer directly to the most powerful man in the Empire.

“I-I touched Your Majesty without permission and invaded your privacy at a very inappropriate time, Sire.”

He hummed and brought a hand up to my still simmering cheeks and gently stroked it with his thumb, “And I’m so glad you did.”

My cheeks grew impossibly warmer, leaving me no choice but to bow my head and close my eyes again.

“Your Majesty,” the Eunuch interrupted by the grace of the gods, “What happened? I left only for a moment to take your robes away, but when I returned you’d vanished!”

The Emperor’s body stiffened. “I saw a shadow. Probably just a servant walking by. But My head got the best of me.” His grip on my cheek tightened slightly, but not enough to be painful.

“I’m sorry I was not there, Sire!” The Eunuch bowed with his forehead to the floor.

“It’s alright. Something very pleasing came out of it.”

My body tensed. So was he not going to cut me down where I stood?

“Little One,” his hand lifted my jaw until I was looking at him again, “How would you like to become my shadow?”

I blanched, “S-Sire-?”

He sighed again and brought his head to rest on my shoulder, startling me, but fortunately, he wasn’t against my neck so I was able to bear it.

“Ever since I watched my brother’s assassination, I haven’t been able to look at a shadow, a stranger, or even my advisors without panicking. It has become unbearable and unfitting for the Emperor. I cannot lead the country when I cower at the sight of a silhouette. No one can calm me, not even myself, but you, Little One, did it effortlessly. I think I’d like for you to be my personal shadow from now on. Someone who never leaves my side and is there whenever my own mind turns against me.”

“Sire!” the Eunuch exclaimed, apparently as shocked at the proposition as myself, “Surely we could find a noble lady or lord to become your concubine and perform this task! I’m sure the Royal Court would be pleased to hear you finally took a partner-”

“No.” It was so firm I was surprised when the Eunuch didn’t put his forehead to the floor again. “I want him. I don’t want a stranger who is only there to speak lies and take up space in my bed. I want this man. He will be treated as a Court Lord, though; I do like that idea. He will be given a wing in the inner court. It hasn’t been used in years so I’m sure it will need some repairs...”

“But Sire! He’s- he’s a foreigner!”

This time the Emperor rose his head but only to glare at his loyal servant. The old man whimpered pitifully before correcting himself, “It will be done as you wish, Sire! So help me, it will be done!”

He grunted, satisfied with the answer before returning his gaze to me, “What say you, Little One? I will triple your current salary, just tell me what I want to hear.”

With trembling lips and fogged conscious I replied, “Anything for my Emperor.”

Immediately after I answered, I was ushered out to my former peers who waited with bated breath and jaws slack only to collectively gasp when the Head Eunuch informed them of where I was to go and what they were to do. Despite being utterly amazed, they quickly sprung into action, and I was dragged to the Inner Court - the residence of the Emperor’s partners. It was a beautiful court, but entirely empty. Despite ruling for at least five years and being a grown man for seven, the Emperor had never taken a woman or man, not even a whore.

Despite its vacancy, the building was perfectly prepared for any new residents, so I was quickly assigned the room of the Emperor’s favorite - but not the queen - and handmaids suited for a concubine were summoned. Soon my old peers had deserted me to return to their post and I was left to the mercy of the new women I was to be prepared by. They were given orders that the Emperor wished me to be treated as a Court Lord despite the fact that I was not his spouse. I believe they became a bit overzealous after being left without a mistress for so long.

By the time I had been thrown into the Inner Court bathhouse, a messenger from the Head Eunuch delivered instructions that I be prepared for my new post for the remainder of the day and return to the Emperor’s side at dawn after a night’s rest in my new residence. I paled at the prospect of these women having their way with me until dawn.

I collapsed onto the bed many hours later after endless scrubbing, oiling, perfuming, waxing, and brushing only to lay awake and stare at the canopy.

I’d never slept on a bed before.

We were given mats to sleep on in the eunuchs’ quarters. Even most noble’s slept on silk cushions but did not have beds. A bed was a sign of royalty, the top of the hierarchy. I also had never slept alone before. For years I had slept surrounded by women and men I worked and sweat with. Now I was alone. There was no one beside me. I had always been a foreigner, but now even my occupation was something never before seen.

Then I began thinking of my interaction with the Emperor. This time the day before I had never touched a male, and here I was laying in humiliation after being embraced by a fully nude man.

Before I could ponder it further, I forced myself into a deep slumber.

The next morning I stood outside of the Emperor’s chambers, exhausted and pampered. I had been accosted hours earlier by frantic Ladies in Waiting who insisted on preparing me to meet His Majesty. I was dressed, made up, and styled to look like a perfect concubine. Now I Bowed next to the Head Eunuch as he called to wake up the Emperor. I felt vulnerable in this position, away from the safety in numbers of my former peers, but my spot had already been filled. I hadn’t even made it two weeks.

Finally, after ten minutes of the Eunuch calling for the Emperor, we were summoned in by the same low, groggy voice that answered every morning. We promptly filed in, and while everyone else was performing allowed tasks, I stood awkwardly by the Head Eunuch’s side as he tended to the freshly awoken Emperor.

Hazy eyes flickered up to meet mine, and I remembered being pulled out of slumber in a similar fashion not too long before.

“There you are, Little One,” he gave a small curve of his beautiful lips, and I struggled to remain unaffected by both his deep, sleep-heavy voice and beautiful smile, “Come, stand next to me. I don’t want you further than two feet from my side at all times.”

I moved to do as he said, and so I spent my time as he was getting ready for the day.

“Little One?”

“Yes, Your Majesty,” I bowed as I stood next to him as he was dressed. I stood far enough that I wouldn’t be in anyone’s way but close enough that I obeyed his orders.

“You look beautiful in silk and the makeup is excellently done, but you seem a bit uncomfortable with all that regalia,” he looked at me through his mirror.

“Sire?” I said, a bit confused. I was uncomfortable with all this makeup and the new, tight hairstyle meant for a hair texture I did not have, but it was customary for courtesans. Perhaps he was saying that I looked distasteful in all this finery? Or perhaps he did not believe I deserved all the finery of an Emperor’s wife.

“I will send a Eunuch to your handmaids to instruct them to let you dictate your appearance for the future.”

Oh, so he really did want me to be more comfortable.

“Thank you, Your Majesty,” I deepened my bow.

“Perhaps you will find yourself more comfortable in fewer layers...”

He said it quietly, but I nearly choke on my own air. The eunuchs around him only let their shock show for a moment before ignoring the comment as though it were commonplace. I may have only been near him for thirteen days, but I knew that the Emperor did not make lewd comments. Ever. Perhaps I’d only misheard him.

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Christine: Ich finde es eigentlich ganz gut, viel Sex und auch etwas Subtext. Leider verdirbt die katastrophale Rechtschreibung einem die Freude am lesen, das kann man sich fast nicht anschauen

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