Chapter 2: Destiny
Edited by Asa
In the next few days, Qi Mingyue did what most babies did, except for the fact that he was quiet most of the time and only cried to let others know when he needed something. But he’d always look around, seeing the servants come and go. He was always in his own thoughts.
Who wouldn’t like this type of kid? Consort An would always hold him herself, singing songs to comfort him, while Qi Mingyue would always stare quietly at his mother, his soft lips curving into a smile.
As the days went by, with the servants and Consort An’s thoughts out loud, Qi Mingyue understood his surroundings.
This place was called CangHe, one of the biggest countries. Surrounding it were multiple smaller countries and two other strong countries. In the north was AnChang and in the south was LianTong. Between the three countries, there were centuries of peace and with little to no conflicts.
His mother’s name was An Ruolan, General An’s daughter. Her beauty was famous in this time. Gentle, quiet, intelligent, beautiful and organized,she was one of the people who were most cared for under the Emperor. Because of the fact that the Empress was not able to give birth to a child, in the harem, her life was considered the best.
His father, Qi Xutian, on the other hand could be considered a good man. Apart from his unpredictable and loose temper, there was almost nothing else unusual about him. Even his military strategies were often praised.
Listening to other people talk about his father was like listening to a song. But there was something very odd about it. All these praises were after Qi Xutian acquired the throne; before that, everything from what he did or where he went was never mentioned.
Did no one know? Or is it because no one dares to talk about it?
Once, a quick-mouthed servant girl accidentally mentioned, “that year… the grandmaster…” making a few people turn pale as they remembered His Majesty’s request for the grand-master. That was the reason for everyone’s unsettling feeling.
Since then, he never saw that servant girl again, almost no one noticed either.
Qi Mingyue understood, no matter which Emperor it was, no matter if they were happy or upset, those people were merciless. Even each concubine from each estate would look gentle and kind, but that did not mean they didn’t know how to be cruel. His mother for example…
He knew a lot, but he didn’t really bother with it. Within the walls of the palace, survival was the only thing that mattered the most.
This day, Consort Ann put him down gently onto the bed, and slightly played with the hair on his forehead, her eyes were full of worry. “The hundredth day is within sight, and my son will meet the grand-master…” then, An Ruolan’s voice softened, whispering: “I hope nothing bad happens…”
The grand-master again. This, however, made Qi Mingyue look forward to that hundredth day celebration.
“Your Highness, Chief Liu came with two people, they’re waiting for you,” Zhi Lan announced quietly. Everyone knew that Consort An loved the second prince very much and that anyone that entered the room must be very quiet, so as to not disturb the second prince’s rest.
Chief Liu came with the people, meaning it was under the orders of the Emperor. Ann consort got up and tucked Qi Mingyue in, “bring them out, I’ll be there soon.”
The two servants that Liu brought were about the age of 10, Hong Xiu and Ying Ran. Hong Xiu had a very outgoing personality, and would always talk to Qi Mingyue nonstop. But when there were people around, she knew what to say and what not to say. On the other hand, Ying Ran was more introverted, and didn’t talk much. But when it comes to taking care of Qi Mingyue, she puts out a gentle expression, never making a mistake.
Consort An was very pleased with the two, seeing her son grow up day by day. The hundredth day celebration was soon before them.
Of course, the closer that day came, the more quiet people became. Never talking, they only did what they were told to do.
That night, it was finally Qi Mingyue’s awaited hundredth day celebration. Before the sun even rose, Mingxi Court became busy. After a bath, Ying Ran dressed him in a blue and silver robe as Hong Xiu did his hair. Consort An dressed up for this formal event, and looked as beautiful as a painting. The two, mother and son, ate lunch and went to the ChiXi Hall.
In the hall, there were already hundreds of officials in their seats, even the ladies of the harem were seated in the order of their title. Among the ladies, Qi Mingyue also saw a man Thinking back to the person that Hong Xiu told him, he must be his father’s male concubine1. Most male lovers were of such a low position that they weren’t allowed in the ChiXi Hall. If he could even sit amongst these people, it meant that he shouldn’t be underestimated .
Other than Qi Mingyue as today’s main character, there was also Qi Musheng, who was born only moments before him. However, it seemed that everyone was talking about Consort Hua who was cradling the eldest Prince, sitting not too far away from Consort Ann. She wore a beautiful dress, her skin as clear as crystal, her beauty was just like her dress: attracting others. Of course it was the first time that Consort Ann had met her, so she greeted her first before going to her seat.
When the time came, Qi Xutian finally arrived 2, he looked at the positions in which Consort Ann and Consort Hua were sitting, then complained to Chief Liu, “Liu Yi, why are my two lovely concubines sitting so far away from me?”
Under normal circumstances, the positions weren’t wrong, but Liu Yi didn’t say much, “My mistake, does Your Majesty want to…” he didn’t know if he was getting punished.
Instead, Qi Xutian laughed out loud, “Make them sit beside me then, along with my two sons, I haven’t seen them in a while.”
Qi Mingyue quietly analyzed. In these hundred days, other than the first time they met, he didn’t really care for his sons at all. Unless, he had other plans for today?
As he was deep in thought, Consort Ann and Consort Hua thanked the Emperor, and sat by his side. In a moment’s time, Qi Xutian was already embracing the both of them, his face flushed red.
Looking over at the two kids, Qi Xutian asked a few questions in concern, then gave each of his sons a jade talisman, before changing the topic, “Why hasn’t the Grandmaster arrived?”
Qi Mingyue was waiting for that sentence, and he opened his eyes, but noticed that the man in the seat was already looking his way. Was he found out already? With that guess, he didn’t want to make any mistakes, and pretended to be the child that he was and gave him a bright smile.
Qi Xutian already knew that this child was like no other, seeing him smiling just like the Eldest Prince, even though his smile was natural, there was a slight waver in his eyes.
It seems that his second son is definitely special.
His thoughts took a turn, but he continued to ask: “Did anyone request for the grand-master?”
Qi Mingyue noticed that he wasn’t looking at him anymore, and finally let out a breath. Seems that in order to hide from this man, it wasn’t going to be easy.
“I apologize for making your Majesty worry. I, Tan Wu, has arrived late, please grant me your forgiveness.” Just as the word landed, an old man with a vine like staff, wearing a loose grey robe walked into the hall with the sound of metal chains.
Looking over, on his ankle, there was a thick shackle. Its chains extended over to where he appeared, how far it actually extended was not known.
“What mistake? You were merely a bit late, am I the type of man to be hung up over small mistakes like that?” His face was still filled with satisfaction, and gestured for him to take a seat.
“Of course, your Majesty is forgiving, if not so, why would I be still alive? I’m only being confined to my room.”
“The grandmaster wants to thank me?” Qi Xutian held the cup of wine, drinking its contents slowly as he asked.
Tan Wu stood up, picking up the chains, “Normally I would only be allowed to roam in my own room. Today, I was able to come out, so I must thank your Majesty, for allowing me to see this abnormal star.”
Qi Xutian put down the cup of wine in his hand, not indicating any emotion, “What do you mean?”
“When your Majesty was born 20 years ago, I calculated your destiny. The previous emperor was enraged and imprisoned me till this day. Your Majesty has ascended the throne for four years and for four years I was chained. All because of that calculation those years ago. I want to ask, if today should be the day to verify it?” The old man held the staff made of vine, with his face showing a hint of a dark smile.
In the ChiXi hall, there was an odd silence, since not many people knew the things that happened in the past. But everyone still understood that, this was considered a taboo to talk about. No one dared to either. Today, in front of hundreds of officials, the emperor asked for the grandmaster and allowed him to speak of the past. Did the emperor have other plans or did the grandmaster not want to live anymore?
Qi Mingyue thought to himself, so Qi Xutian’s past is related to the grandmaster. This was indeed complicated.
Seeing that Qi Xutian only closed his eyes, his cold smile lingering, his sharp gaze and his powerful presence dominated the ChiXi hall. No one dared to move an inch, everyone wishing that they weren’t in the hall. Only Qi Mingyue dared to look back at him, only to see that his eyes were even colder than before, “Tan Wu, I allowed you to live till this day wasn’t for you to just chit chat.”
The cold voice held an untamable murderous intent.
“But it seems like Tan Wu isn’t just fooling around…” Qi Xutian muttered, “Tan Wu, you have lived for so many years. Did you come just to say that to the ChangHe Emperor?” He said as if it was to himself as he looked up, “How would Tan Wu’s words shape the future?”
Those words hung an ominous feeling in the air, as he furrowed his brow and stated, “The reason I requested the grand-master today was to bless my sons.”
From start to finish, no matter what Tan Wu talked about, Qi Xutian still referred to him as grand-master. Seeing that he trusted Tan Wu’s predictions so much, one could infer that his words from those years ago had become a reality. But what Qi Mingyue was more curious about was what exactly did he predict? And today, what was he about to say?
Tan Wu laughed lightly, “Even if I weren’t being requested, I would still request to see your Majesty.”
“Oh?” In a hunch, Qi Xutian looked at Qi Mingyue who lay in Consort An’s arms, then said to Tan Wu: “The grand-master has something to say.”
Tan Wu walked towards the front of the hall, everyone in front knelt with their heads on the floor for Qi Xuntian.
Everyone in the mass was slightly confused on why the grandmaster did not have to pay his respects to the Emperor. They didn’t understand why he only kneeled, then raised his head towards Qi Xutian, “Recently in the night sky, I have found an abnormal star, it became unexplainable, its potential…. But as the days went on, the emperor’s star had a change in its shape…”
Qi Xutian cut him off, not really caring, “So?”
Han Xu then shouted these words, “This abnormal star has the power to bring calamity! Taking the life of its mother! Never to have a descendant! And at this moment, he is in this hall, born a hundred days ago!”
His every word made the people around him suffocate, but his last few made people take a deeper breath. Does that mean, one of the two princes is this abnormal star?!
Qi Mingyue looked at Tan Wu, his eyes remained calm but in his heart, he was slightly conflicted. Looks like he is the before mentioned ‘abnormal star’. Bringing calamity, he wasn’t too sure about. Never having a descendant was just like what Deer predicted. And about killing his mother…… Feeling that his mother trembled as she heard that, he couldn’t help but sigh.
After that, Tan Wu gave another bow, almost as if nothing had happened, then continued: “I have said everything, please allow your Majesty to grant me this wish.”
Qi Xutian listened to those words, unchanging, until Tan Wu begged for his death, then he nodded, “You may leave.”
The chains in the quiet hall was loud, no one really cared about the grandmaster’s coming and going. Instead everyone was looking at the two Princes, deep in thought.
Qi Xutian poured himself another cup of wine, then elegantly brought it to his lips. Looking at the crowd, he then spoke coldly, “Humph… what does everyone think of today’s events?”
“We ministers do not dare to guess, we beg for your Majesty’s explanation.”
“From tomorrow onwards, the first and second prince will move to Zixia Palace, and will be taught by myself personally.” Just as Qi Xutian was about to leave, Qi Mingyue accidentally met his eyes. He then realized that his quiet and peaceful life was about to come to an end.