A Glimpse of Royalty.
The light sound of a chime woke me up. At the foot of the bed was a little maid standing with a decorated metal ornament. It consisted of a series of tubes like a wind chime connected to little bells. Each bell was of different sizes producing a different melody.
I relax and gather my thoughts. When I am ready I move to the bedside and get up. After I stretch and get the blood flowing, I sit back down. What a great sleep in a summer afternoon.
I move my eyes towards the bedside. Yi Zin stands ready at the side. Bowing he recites the schedule slowly, while gesturing for the maids to help in dressing me. I am sponged off with warm water and dressed in clothes befitting the Emperor in all splendors.
- Yi Zin. We have heard your request.
- Yes my Emperor. The Gardens are cool and perfect for your Highness to contemplate. The lake pavilions are the most serene on the Continent, and the birds exist to sing at his Emperor’s fancy.
- Yi Zin description is accurate. We have an inquiry.
- As you will! Your servant will obey!
- Can the Emperor dress himself in the future?
I asked that question to the prostrating Yi Zin.
Big, big mistake!
Yi Zin banged his head on the marble, begging forgiveness for any wrongs. The maids dropped to the ground kowtowing and pleading forgiveness for their families.
- Stop! Listen and understand Our words.
- We, the Emperor wishes to bath and dress for himself. We have done so within the Palace. WE are pleased with Our servants’ attention.
Yi Zin remained with his head bowed. The maids stopped the crying and kowtowing.
- I understand my Lords wishes. Within the palace it is fine for the Emperor to do such task. But in the Imperial Court residence, all servants will rather die than allow his Highness to even touch a button.
- Once we draw breath, all servants will make sure their Emperor is always displayed in all his Magnificence.
- Please your Imperial Majesty, I beg you to allow us the privilege of performing this menial task. These maids have experiences worth centuries trained into them, just to serve you. Never will even a thread be out of place when you are taken care of.
I listen to Yi Zin as he poured the affections of the maids into his reply. Satisfied I extended my wishes for their continued support and assistance. With a relief I saw the smiles return to their faces. My clothes were fitted perfectly; I felt I was the object of even more scrutiny, like a polished gem being perfected.
Note to self; never, never ever make a casual statement like that again! Something like that done on the outside may result in people heads rolling before could correct myself!
This evening I am to display myself, I mean; take a walk in the Imperial Gardens. The Imperial Gardens begin at the front of the Imperial court and stretch out in front like a large rectangle. Paved brick roads meander within it splitting into numerous tributaries leading to lakes, small pagodas, towers, pavilions and small forested areas.
Around this rectangle is the Imperial Way. A wide road circumnavigated this park connecting the Royal Court on one end, and the Offices of the Imperial Government on the other. Along the sides minor roads lead to the residences of Ministers, Dukes, Nobles and persons of importance.
I check myself in the large mirror and give a satisfied Hmmn. This is more for assuring the maids than for me. I walk out of the house towards the carriage area followed by my Guards.
The carriage is located in a covered area not far from the Emperor’s quarters. This ease of access is good considering the large layout of this place. For information, a smaller carriage is used to service the palace interior. This carriage is to display the might and wealth of the Empire.
Think of it as riding a helicopter to work when everyone is on bicycles. Yea, it’s that impressive!
With a four horse power pulling capacity for small runs in the city and the ability to add up to eight horse power for movement between cities, this baby is full of possibilities. With a solid gold plated enclosed hood, studded with gems and inlayed with jade. This girl is designed to be an eye catcher.
Velvet covered seats, satin curtained windows, full suspension and large five spoke wheels complete this outfit.
I’m describing my ride too much like a boy at an auto show. You get the picture. Sweet!
I hop on this baby for the test ride. No way in hell is my driver and bodyguards going to allow me to drive this metal. Yi Zin follows me inside with two waiting maids. The carriage is large and roomy. I think it could comfortably seat ten people. I guess that for long distances when I have a lot more guards and staff.
The carriage moves slowly out of this area into a private roadway that crosses into the Imperial Gardens. Since I am going to walk on reaching the Gardens, the Captain and his troops are walking at the side and back of the carriage. Imperial Knights, the protectors of the area outside of the Royal court are on patrol.
With them on the outside and the Royal Guards on the inside, no wonder no one dares to steal the gems on this carriage.
On entering one of the many roads in the Garden, the smooth mobile stops near a small walkway.
- Your Majesty, this is the path chosen by He Jingguo for your evening walk. The Prime Minister himself said that in all his years, this one was the best to gather the essence of this beautiful place.
- Very well, We shall grasp that which He Jingguo has offered to Us.
What the Hell! Am I a fool?
That old bat choosing a path is too suspicious. Maybe it is for easing my security detail as pre planned monitoring, but this person is not that simple.
- This path is known as the Way of Life. It runs throughout the park, passing over the small hills, crossing bridges and nestling near the serene lakes. It ends at the Enlightenment pavilion, which is located in the middle of the Crystal Pond.
- ..We understand the comparisons. One seeks enlightenment their entire life, but only reaches it at the end. The way of life is fraught with obstacles and problems to cross and climb, but if one does not spare time to look at the beauties along the way. It is fleeting and cannot be experienced again.
- My Lord! My Emperor is wise and just! To contemplate such thoughts at a young age, truly remarkable!
Remarkable my A@#! That old clown can really carry the spite of a cat. He picked the longest and hardest route!
I offered a dignified smile to Yi Zin and proceeded along the Way. Of course it was common knowledge that the young Emperor was in the Imperial Gardens contemplating the future of the Empire. What was not known was his actual contemplation on how to get back at the Prime Minister. Those who came to glimpse their liege were awestruck and marveled at the concentrated look on such a young man burdened by countless souls.
I walked around admiring the beauty while sneaking glances at the crowd slowing building behind and to the far side. The cool breeze made this long walk enjoyable. I stopped to admire the lake; it was calm without a hint of ripples.
- Captain, We inquire, how skilled are the Royal Guards?
- My Master, this one is among the best of the Royal Guard. The Royal Guards though smaller in number, surpass the Imperial Knights in skills. The Royal Guards are dispatched by the Prime Minister, but are loyal and serve the Emperor alone.
- We understand. Then your families will be rewarded for your bravery and loyalty.
I walk up a small hill on the path. You could see it was man made through the stones and slabs that were clearly not indigenous to this area. Think of a flat plain that had a concrete structure dropped in the middle of it.
- Yi Zin!
- Here lord.
- Is this rocky outcrop the symbol of life’s uphill battle?
- Yes this hill was constructed under the third Emperors wishes. It was rumored that His Grace wanted this hill to look like the rocky slopes of the Northern Mountains.
- If We desire it to be changed how soon it can be done?
- As the Emperor wishes it becomes a reality. A project of this nature is only dependent on the time to procure the stone slabs and rocks.
- Then We wish to make this hill into a steeper climb. We wish for the ones in power to truly understand the hardship in life. This is to keep them on the path of the people and not on personal gains.
- Oh! The Emperor is wise and merciful. It shall be done as my lord wishes.
- We await its completion, it must be remain with its original splendor but larger and a steeper path.
- Your servants will obey.
- Additionally, when it is completed it will be wonderful if all government officials, regardless of position transverse this path every month for enlightenment. What do you say Captain?
- This servant hears and obeys. The Emperor is merciful in his treatment of his guards. Such a plan is brilliant in the meaning behind it. I swear under Heaven even the Royal Guards will perform His Majesties wishes. The people will praise their Emperor for placing them in His heart.
I continue to move on, taking in the breathtaking views, so few enjoy. Of course I am smirking inside; I want to see the look on that old bags face when he is informed about my ‘thoughtful’ plan. He is after all the head of all government officials, walking this path is his duty to lead from the front. This is payback for making me walk the longest route.
A wooden bridge crosses a shallow but wide stream. I walk across and stop to admire the clean rushing water. This lake is fed by underground spring; the stream here is like an overflow that meanders across the Garden supplying other lakes and ponds. The water is channeled in small stone drains that feed the landscape around the Garden to maintain its fresh and vibrant look.
I marvel at the simple engineering that creates such large scale beauty. I move my hands along the smooth wooden surface of the bridge rails, walking slowly.
- Does his Majesty find displeasure in something?
- We have just stopped to admire the scenery. Will not this place look good in twilight?
- My lord is wise, it is said the beauty of this place will increase tenfold during dusk. Many people have admired this place from the pavilions.
As I carry out my conversations to reassure Yi Zin everything is ok (before he decides to start breaking this wooden structure with his head by kowtowing), I move my hands on the railing. Faintly visible, carved onto the wood was a simple statement. This is after all the Imperial gardens; none would dare to write graffiti here. In the faint light the words reflected outwards.
“Those who are BLIND long for a thousand sunsets, those who can SEE are bothered by one. Sunset over water”
I look across the bridge to the west. In exactly this position the setting suns cast a reflection on the clear stream before me. The suns seem to align themselves perfectly descending between these two towers. It was like seeing them dropping one by one into the horizon. We walk along and come to the Enlightenment pavilion. I sit in a prepared place gazing at the sunset.
- My lord, as you can see during sunset this place is remarkable.
- We agree, Yi Zin what are those two buildings behind those trees.
- They are the towers of the planning division. It was built by the third Emperor in conjunction with this Garden. Since then the City planning division have been housed there.
So the Garden was built together with the towers.
- Where is the best place to view the sunset here?
- My lord asks a very difficult question. The sunset is a beautiful time in the garden; most intellectuals are of the view that here in the Enlightenment pavilion is the best place. The true sunset cannot be seen from anywhere in the garden because of the trees and buildings.
- Captain? Surely you have been around a few officials and circles, what is your opinion?
- I share the same view my lord. This is known as the best place.
Those words were etched quite recently and not centuries before. Some soul must have stumbled on that place.
- My lord, I remember that those buildings have a strange plaque board at their entrances. What was it? Yes, it was ‘Through me the Suns set over water’
- We understand.
Whoever made the connection between the buildings and the bridge is obviously someone with intelligent thinking and great powers of observation.
I spend a little time here at the pavilion. I believe I had enough enlightenment for the day. It was already getting dark and was a long day. Reading my mood, Yi Zin organizes everything and was ready on my queue to leave. The carriage was brought along one of the adjacent roads I didn’t have far to walk before I jumped into my sweet ride.
Everything had proceeded as planned, the nobles and officials got a glimpse of their Emperor and rumors will spread throughout the City of the Emperor’s sighting.
On returning to the Royal Palace I was escorted to the Palace under maids carrying poles with oil lanterns. At the pillars my escorts all bowed, waiting for my departure. Accompanied by Yi Zin and the dedicated maids from the Palace; the maids of the Palace are forbidden from stepping outside and vice versa, I returned to my bachelor pad.
Yi Zin allowed me to have a little personal time in the bath and after cleaning up I was dressed by the maids. In a simple gown and pants I returned to the dining table. Yi Zin had already organized for a fresh meal to be brought.
Ahhhhhhh! This is the life; everybody should come home to this after a hard day’s work. I ate my belly full and drank some wine to wash down the meal.
Yi Zin had the maids escort me into the bed room. I haven’t been tucked in since a kid. The schedule for tomorrow is light since it’s an off day for me. I tell Yi Zin to talk to He Jingguo to include the thing we talked about.
I dismiss him until tomorrow. Yi Zin and the maids leave me to rest. There is a bell at the side table; I know there are maids on shift next door waiting at my call. I also know somewhere in the darkness the palace guards maintain a watchful eye. I am safer than gold in the hands of a miser.
I end my day with a blissful nights rest.