Way of the Shan
I wake up to the chirping of the Cardinal. I turn around on my back and spread out my hands and legs. This bed is big for spite! This is the life I dreamed about, now I am living it.
Today does not require me to attend the Royal Court. The days, months and years are different from Earth. With three suns rising to the east, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out. Suffice to say, thirteen days make one week, everything else is different.
I am scheduled to work 5 days, have one day off, work 5 days and get 2 days weekend rest. Depending on the situation I may have to work every day, including nights like my warmongering old man.
No wonder he kicked the bucket early!
It’s not as bad as it sounds. Like any huge business or organization, once you have the right people for the job the head honcho has life easy. My position is simple; just oversee their task, listen to request for new projects, keep informed of all activities, bring the fear of death to prevent skimming of public funds and execute those found guilty of any corruption.
The biggest problem I have is that I don’t overdo the execution bit. It becomes a pain in the a@@ if you kill off everyone with skills you know!
As soon as I sit on the bedside, Yi Zin enters with the maids. Before my feet land on the rug, it is placed into warm furred slippers. I was told late that these slippers are warmed by the heating stove in the maids’ waiting room. The bedroom has one on the other side of the bed for me to use during the night on visit to the bathroom.
Yi Zin is as competent as the best professional butler/official can be. Within the space of a few minutes I am washed, cleaned, dressed and rolled out to move. I get the vague feeling like being passed through a carwash back home. I am still a little red from embarrassment; this will take a while to get used too.
I look at Yi Zin; this guy will rather die in boiling water than be the first to speak. My old world is sorely lacking in persons of this caliber.
- Speak, We listen.
- My lord, the world awaits your presence. Today the Royal Court functions only by your thoughts. The Prime Minister has requested your presence at the Palace boundary. He awaits you hoping to accompany you.
- Ohhh………ahem, (cough, cough) We ask how long has he been waiting?
- Since the sky has turned grey by the rising suns.
Hehehe, I think I will take my royal time eating breakfast, let that old fowl wait. Given the chance I am sure he would do the same to me. Good thing I am Emperor!
- We shall have a light meal, and then grant the Prime Minister his wish.
- As you command my lord.
I went into the dining room and seated myself on that humongous decorated table. The maids arrived promptly with a hot meal and freshly picked fruits. This meal consisted of a light soup, eggs and a kind of cream cheese on soft bread. Delicious, everyday is a different type of food. Of course if I want something I can get it anytime. This is better than fast food delivery and much taster too!
I take my time enjoying my meal. When I was finished, I was passed through the car wash again and rolled out in a casual yet exquisite gown and pants. I then made my way out the palace and onto the Way. The mornings are cool and the flowers and plants still maintain their freshness, dewdrops still glistening on them.
I meet He Jingguo, the Captain of the Royal Guards and my two shadows, as I now call them. Gen Fu is presiding over the Royal Court in the absence of He Jingguo. I cross over the invisible marker that separates the palace compound from the rest of the world. My retinue now changes, only Yi Zin remains from my palace entourage.
- We are here, rise and follow. He Jingguo! We have decided to award you the pleasure of our grace. Speak your wishes.
- Your Majesty, this one humbly accepts your bounty. Today, by your will we shall visit the Tomb of the Emperor to pay our respects. It is customary that the newly crowned Emperor visit to gain blessings from the guardians long gone.
- We understand, let us seek this enlighten without delay! The suns will not slow their course unless We will.
The palace compound is located to the north of the Royal Court. South of those buildings are the Imperial gardens and the governmental offices. The Palaces, private gardens and subsidiaries are enclosed within a rectangular block. Beyond the high walls are walkways for patrolling guards and watchmen.
Anyone outside the high walls cannot even glimpse inside this area. Besides the patrolled walkways the houses and estates of the City Generals and Imperial Guards are located. To the north lies the homes and training area of the Royal Guards. Since the majority work shifts and walk south to the Royal Court the walkways outside the palace walls are busy with commuting persons.
My new home is safer than an army base. Don’t forget these are just the ‘official’ guards. The hidden assassins and members of my two Shadows are all scattered around. Not to mention if anyone succeeds in scaling that wall, they have to contend with the Palace guards and assassins. I have the best home security money can buy!
North of the Royal Guard headquarters lies a hill that is surrounded by well kept gardens. This is done by retired members of Royal and Imperial guards. A single road lined with peach trees connects it directly to the Palace and Royal Court. No one passes on this 20km road. At the base of the hill stands majestic wooden arches’ leading to two gigantic doors large enough to fit a jumbo jet through.
This old bat! Only the Emperor and the two highest ranked officials in the land can walk this road. He Jingguo can only walk here in my company. So much for the pumped up carriage ride. My guards disperse; they will accompany us using the walkway exterior the palace and keep us in sight. Once we reach the Tomb, we are protected by those standing guard there.
I walk out into this path, He Jingguo walks slightly behind me. The morning is still young, good thing I didn’t delay to long with breakfast. This old dude surely knew of this rule, no wonder he came early. Instead of passing on this message he just bore the pain of waiting on me knowing I would be pissed and have to suffer in the sun.
This though was confirmed by the slight snickering coming from my side. I can’t argue or vent since I am being watched by my entourage. Well played old crow, well played!
We arrived at the secured area around the Tomb. The guards at the entrance prostrate before me.
- Rise servants of the Past and Present Emperors, you and your families are blessed by the Empire.
- Your Majesty, we thank you for these gifts.
- We are here to gain the blessings of Our Forefathers. Continue your service to Us.
- Yes we obey!
I pass these guards and make my way to the base of the hill. The magnificent arches tower past me. The wood painted blood red and carved with numerous writings. We come to the foot of the massive doors. Both made of wood and carved with pictures depicting the story of the Empire’s history. A scholar can deduce the entire life of the Empire here without need for books.
I have walked the roadway and am sweating underneath my clothes like a gushing mountain spring. If not for my clothes removing moisture from my body like silica gel and drying quickly, they would be drenched. One look at He Jingguo and I nearly started ranting like a madman. This old man is normal as can be, not a drop of sweat. Catching my look he smiled pleasantly at me.
I really want to strangle this old coot!
The doors are tightly fitted and sealed, not even a flea can enter here. On our level is a picture of a celestial dragon with three Suns, one in each hand and the last in its mouth. He Jingguo moves forward and gently touches the Suns, right claw, left claw and then mouth. The dragon’s eye opens, with a space for a normal sized key.
He Jingguo then checks his sleeves, first right then left gradually frowning. I heard him mumbling to himself.
- Seems I left the key back at the office, looks like we will have to walk back…..
Screw you! You want to play with MEEEE!
Like hell I am walking to the Royal Court then back, for some key because of your mistake. I give that crow the best contorted frowning face I could muster. I make sure there is no one there to see except him. I mumble so only he can hear.
- Old bean, you BETTER find that key, or else this country is going to need either a new Emperor or Prime Minister!
- For a brat now learning to walk, you sure can talk big! You can’t take a leisurely walk without breaking into a puddle of sweat. Seems like you really did dilly dally your life breezing away in the Palace gardens.
The Prime Minister removed an ancient looking rusted key from his breast pocket. Even though this thing looked like it would fall apart, from my inexperienced glance I could tell this object had an indomitable aura.
Looking at me he held the key out reverently.
- For the Rite of Passage only the Emperor can open the door. Only you can then go inside. You will know when you enter what to do.
- Hey are you telling me I alone first have to push open those gigantic big a@@ doors, and which year I am finally done I have to go inside that dark burial site and magically find my way? Do I REALLY look like a prick to you?
- All in the City know that the Way of the Shan is that 20km walk we just did. Only few know that the Way of the Shan begins in the Tomb.
- Hey, hey! Are you listening to me?
- Well good luck my lord!
He Jingguo gracefully prostrated to the side of me. This bastard conveniently uses etiquette to serve his own purpose. I am beginning to think I will have to fight many battles with this sucker.
I walk forward and insert the key into the eye. I feel like the eye is alive and gazing all over me. I swear I saw one of the claws holding the Sun orb move as if re-tightening its hold. I turn the key with this jittery feeling.
CLACK! CLACK! CLACK! WHIR!
With that turn the hard noises resounded from the door. It started from my level and gradually moved upwards as if a series of locks were being opened from the bottom to the top. Only after awhile did it finally stop.
The dragon stared at me intently. I know this thing is not alive but the fear is real and keeps sending shivers down my back. I feel like meat on an all you can eat buffet table.
I reach my hands out and push the door lightly. I am sizing up this things weight to throw my back into it.
The door opens slowly as if on well oiled hinges. And I MEAN WELL OILED!
This thing opens as if it’s an ordinary door. Inside the dark entrance into the hillside greets me like a bad omen. With the scare from the dragon, I am beginning to feel really anxious about venturing into that blackness. I look towards He Jingguo, no help there, that guy has more respect for the dead of this place that to risk helping me.
I ban my belly and walk inside; these are the resting place of my ancestors. What can happen here anyway?
As soon as I enter through the door, that traitorous piece of wooden structure automatically closes leaving me inside surrounded by total darkness. I literally scream.
WHAT THE F%#$!!!!!