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Backstory

        The court opened. Officials lined up in two rows and entered the hall. Cao Song, Cao Cao’s father, and Dong Zhuo, who was a high-ranking official at that time, were walking in the forefront. They went to their own place and smiled, but deep down they were hostile towards each other.
        “Oh! Master Cao Song, you’re in high spirits today. Since Your Majesty delegated me to teach the prince, it has dramatically reduced your workload.”
        “You’re right, Master Dong Zhuo. Your Majesty gave me a royal plaque recently, and there was a title “Man of Integrity” marked on it. I look at it everyday and appreciate the compliment of the emperor, which indeed makes me proud of myself.”
        Dong Zhuo was being sarcastic, but eventually had egg on his face; he held Cao Song in contempt. At this moment, a eunuch called: “The emperor arrived!”
        The old emperor slowly came up to his throne and sat down, then all the officials in the court gradually kneeled down.
        “You may stand up.” The old emperor gently raised his hand; the officials began to stand up and discuss politics. The court echoed with Dong Zhuo’s and Cao Song’s words. They were arguing over some political issues, but no other officials dared to respond.
        “Every household now has to pay five hundred tael a month. If we increase taxation, it will only create heavy burden on the people.” Cao Song said.
        “Humph! If not, how can we have the fund to invest in arms? How can we make our country stronger? Moreover, five hundred tael is not that much. Don’t you think our people are obliged to contribute to the country?” Dong Zhuo retorted.
        “To you, five hundred tael is of course a drop in the bucket; but to normal people, it’s a monthly remuneration for their hard work.” Cao Song paused, then continued: “People form a family, and families form a country. Therefore, people are fundamentally important to a nation. If we’re unable to help their livelihood, how can a nation be strong?”
        “The country——”
        As the old emperor coughed, Cao Song and Dong Zhuo immediately shut their mouth. “Your quarrel gives me a headache. Just follow Cao Song’s will!”
        “Understood.”
        “Your Majesty, please take care of your health.” Dong Zhuo was worried about him, as if he had already forgot the fight with Cao Song. The meeting ended as the old emperor left. Cao Song was immediately flattered by the ministers; Dong Zhuo left the court without saying a word. As his servant approached, Dong Zhuo promptly kicked him in the stomach.
        After leaving the court, Dong Zhuo got on a palanquin to go home…
        “Man of Integrity!” Dong Zhuo mimicked the tone of Cao Song and murmured: “People form a family, and families form a country. Therefore, people are fundamentally important to a nation. If we’re unable to help their livelihood, how can a nation be strong...Humph! What a glib-tongued man! Disgusting!”
        At this time, the palanquin stopped suddenly. Dong Zhuo almost fell out of it!
        “Useless! I’ll punish you all——” As he spoke, he was stunned by a flirtatious beauty kneeling down in front of him, which immediately soothed his anger.
        “Master Dong Zhuo, it’s all Zhang Jue’s fault. I shouldn’t have blocked your way.” The beauty’s voice was as pleasant as music, echoing in Dong Zhuo’s ears. He calmed down and listened quietly. “I heard that Master Dong Zhuo was puzzled by something. That’s why I come to help you.”
        Dong Zhuo was fascinated by a charming scent all over Zhang Jue’s body. Then, he invited her to the palanquin. Bewitched by her fragrance, Dong Zhuo unfolded everything he thought to Zhang Jue——The old emperor was a useless old man; Cao Song was a thorn in his flesh; he wanted to be the strongest man in the court and so on.
        Listening to all his thoughts, Zhang Jue showed a charming yet cunning smiled: “They’re hateful, and totally don’t understand you. Come, take it. This is a gift for Master Dong Zhuo…”
        Dong Zhuo kept staring at her gorgeous face. Zhang Jue grinned: “We will meet again soon. I wish you every success, Master Dong Zhuo.”
        As Zhang Jue left, her fascinating fragrance faded gradually; Dong Zhuo finally came to himself.
        He looked at the gift in his palm——a cursed doll! There was a name and a horoscope of the old emperor on it...The doll was a forbidden thing. If someone found out, the owner would definitely be sentenced to death. However, Dong Zhuo treated it like a treasure.
        Dong Zhuo discovered that every time he hit a nail on the cursed doll, the health of the old emperor was getting worse and worse. Soon, he would die of an inexplicable disease. Dong Zhuo solicited other ministers and seized the opportunity to nurture the prince, and to succeed the throne as new emperor.
        Since then, all policies must be approved by Dong Zhuo. The new emperor was just a puppet, and a nose of wax; however, Cao Song made use of his own power in the court to confront Dong Zhuo with the other old ministers. Although Dong Zhuo was already the most powerful man in the empire, Cao Song must be eliminated before he truly became the man who took full charge of the court. Dong Zhuo controlled the new emperor and told him the death of the old emperor was actually caused by a curse. He put the finger on Cao Song and demanded to search his residence.
        “Suit yourself! Find it!” Cao Song shouted.
        Dong Zhuo ordered the soldiers to enter Cao’s residence. He was excited as he could not wait to revenge on Cao Song. The soldiers kept searching for the evidence. After a while, a soldier found a cursed doll with the old emperor’s name and horoscope!
        Cao Song was completely stunned. Then he yelled: “No! Impossible! Someone planted it on me!”
        “Get him! Take away all the people in the residence!” Dong Zhuo said. Cao Song responded as he was numb with shock: “It’s...you…”
        At this moment, Cao Song learnt that he was well and truly set up…
        Cao Song’s family was taken. The new emperor wanted to give them death sentences, but all the old ministers, and even Dong Zhuo were begging him to have mercy on Cao Song, because a death would be too easy for him. Dong Zhuo wanted to see him suffer. At last, Cao Song was demoted as a civilian and his wealth was completely forfeited. After hearing his sentence, Cao Song kept yelling that he had been set up, and his voice echoed in the hall.
        Everybody was aware that the new emperor was just a puppet. No one dared to defy Dong Zhuo because they were afraid of ending up like Cao Song. Since then, Dong Zhuo had truly become the most powerful man in the court, and eliminated all the dissidents, taking full control of the entire empire...

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