The political situation at court has changed: the birth of Gyokuyou's son has seen her elevated to the status of Empress, and meanwhile Jinshi is no longer able to continue his pretense at the rear palace. Although all seems peaceful after the destruction of the Shi clan, threats continue to loomnot least a potential plague of insectsand Maomao, as ever, somehow finds herself caught up in them.
When Jinshi orders an expedition to Gyokuyou's homeland, Maomao heads west. But is there something lurking in the shadows of the glittering city? And will Maomao be able to discover what it is before it's too late?