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Chapter 7 [S]
Receiving the news about her being transferred to the front line of imperial duty, Tian Qi can hardly believe the situation. She did not bribe anyone nor does she dish out any money. She has been in a streak of bad luck lately, so her first thought upon receiving that big heaven-sent pie is, 'is that pie poisoned?'
And then, Sheng An Huai says, "The emperor personally decreed this. There are so many eunuchs in the palanquin procession but very few receive this honor. What are you waiting for, you brat? Hurry and thank His Majesty's grace! Come and follow me!"
Tian Qi quickly gives him a smile, "This little person thanks His Majesty's grace….. Thank you Grandfather Sheng."
Sheng An Huai is over forty but he does not keep any beard, so he only appears around thirty. Despite that, a lot of people in the palace call him 'Grandfather.' The 18 year old Tian Qi isn't overboard, there are even thick-skinned 38 year olds calling him that. After all, he is the head eunuch of the imperial procession; buttering him up is a must.
Because of that, being called 'Grandfather' by Tian Qi does not invoke any bad feelings from him. He uses his whisk to gently tap her head while laughing, "This brat. You sure are capable."
"I do not. I do not. I owe it all to my shifu's teachings." Tian Qi scratches her head, "This….. I have to ask, why does His Majesty place me on the front line?"
Sheng An Huai finds it strange, "You do not know?"
Tian Qi shakes her head. Receiving suspicious look from Sheng An Huai, she quickly cooks up some excuses, "How much authority do I wield? Can I directly seek His Majesty's attendance without passing through you? In the emperor's eyes, you are this—" She points up her thumb, "There is no way you do not know."
At her flattering words, Sheng An Huai gives his suspicion a little rest. He gives her a few instructions before telling her to go to Gan Qing Palace.
Because he does not know Tian Qi's background and the emperor did not give him a clear instruction, Sheng An Huai does not know how to make her arrangement. He placed her in an unoccupied room, doing odd jobs. It will be easy for the emperor to order her around later.
The front-line eunuchs are divided into two different categories: one is they are aware of their responsibilities, they know what they ought or not to do. The other kind is the ones like Tian Qi, they have no fixed jobs and run on errands.
On the first day, Tian Qi only meets the emperor once. She pays him respect and waits in that empty room. There is no errand for her at all.
Alright, idleness is idleness. However, no errands means no money. The ones who runs all around the palace to send news or decrees will never be allowed to walk away with empty hands.
Tian Qi is an opportunist who has a sweet mouth; she is an expert when it comes to courting money. Now that you tell her to sit still and watch others getting rich; she is getting restless!
Actually, Sheng An Huai doesn't have any ill-intent by not assigning her any duty. Sheng An Huai is a smart person; since the emperor personally ordered to have her brought here, he must be quietly looking for her too. He is waiting for the emperor to personally summon her, that's why he hasn't assigned her with any other duties these past few days.
She waits for a couple more days until the Qing Ming Festival. There are a lot of things to do today from cleaning mausoleum to sweeping tombs. Early in the morning, Ji Heng takes his personal servants, guards and officials in charge of the ancestral worship to the imperial mausoleum. It is located 80 li north of the capital, in Tian Shou Mountain. It is surrounded by picturesque mountain and has excellent fengshui. Ji Heng's father, grandfather and ancestors are all laid to rest here.
Tian Qi and the rest of the eunuchs follows the procession cautiously, they doesn't even dare to take heavy breaths. Things related to dead people are handled really meticulously.
Tian Qi's mood is actually a lot brighter than her expression because she finally receives an errand today; holding the umbrella for the emperor.
There are spring rains descending from the sky, enveloping the world in a thin mist. Sheng An Huai is always busy and always has to deal with unexpected circumstances, so he is unable to always stay within Ji Heng's eyesight. Things like holding the umbrella can only be handed over to Tian Qi.
Because of the difference of height between her and the emperor, Tian Qi has to lift her arms high to properly shield him. Even though her arm aches, she doesn't dare to even consider feeling annoyed.
Since they are the imperial family, the tombs are much more extravagant than regular peoples'. The ceremony is very complex as well. After all kinds of ceremonial respect, they also have to recite funeral oration.
Ji Heng has a nice, clear voice. His tone is warm and rich; all the ceremonial officials behind him unanimously agree that hearing him reciting the funeral oration is a pleasure.
But that pleasure soon turns into a strange affliction.
The hearts of many people are curious, why is the emperor's voice trembling as he speaks?
Every once in a while, he will pause and the end of his sentence will float, as though it is having a wave of jitter. They are listening with their eyes closed and from the sound of it, the emperor seems like he is doing some kind of exercise.
A lot of them are starting to get restless, is the emperor getting disturbed by his ancestor's spirit?
Ji Heng isn't getting possessed; in fact, his mind is very clear, and also very upset. Because his neck is currently being pelted by droplets of rain. It flows inside his collar; do not even start about how that sensation feels.
Some instincts cannot be controlled, so when the water flows inside his robe, his voice falters.
He gives the perpetrator a look and the other party maintains an innocent face.
Tian Qi does not know that the umbrella she is holding is slanted and that the rain water has accumulated in Ji Heng's collar. Her arms are already numb at the moment.
She is not aware, but some others are. A couple of people underneath the platform can see that scene. Some of them are soft-hearted, praying for the little eunuch's life.
To tell the truth, for a brief moment, Ji Heng really wants to directly ends this eunuch. He is an emperor; if he wants to end somebody's life, he doesn't even need to raise his hand. A look from him will already suffice.
After he finish reciting the funeral oration and pays his last respect, Ji Heng snatches the umbrella from Tian Qi, personally keeping it properly above his head before striding away in large steps.
Tian Qi does not understand why; she can only follows him in hurry.
Sheng An Huai already knows the situation and isn't planning to beg for mercy on behalf of Tian Qi. He hasn't consider her his people at the moment and does not plan to go through any trouble on her behalf.
Ji Heng puts on a heavy face the entire journey back, secretly contemplating on how he should deal with this eunuch. If he kills her, it will show that he is a merciless emperor who does not care for the lives of other people. But he is not willing to spare her either. After thinking for a while, he turns his head around and sees Tian Qi cluelessly following after him with her head lowered down. It is a miserable sight. That little eunuch does not dare to walk underneath his umbrella and can only chase after him with her short legs. Her shoulders are already soaked from the rain. Her headgear too is drenched while she occasionally wipes her face from the droplets of rain.
Ji Heng harrumphs, though the umbrella unwitting moves a good distance towards Tian Qi's head. He feels like he is such a benevolent and generous ruler.
He does not order them to return straight to the palace and instead decides to take a little break in a resting palace not far from the imperial tombs. His back is already drenched; returning to the palace like this is a little inconvenient.
Some of the servants already went to the resting palace beforehand to prepare everything necessary. When Ji Heng gets there, a hot bath is already prepared for him. A couple of palace maids are carrying things that are required to serve Ji Heng but he points at Tian Qi instead, "You. Come here." He decides to give her another chance.
Tian Qi obediently follows him into the bathing chamber while the maids put down everything they are holding and retreats away.
Ji Heng stands near the bath tub and raises his arms, waiting for Tian Qi to help him disrobe. He really wants to know if there is a single thread of competence in this little eunuch.
Tian Qi naturally does not realize his intention. This is the first time she is helping a man disrobe, she is panicking like hell. With every single article of clothing she takes off of him, her face reddens even more. After she finishes taking off all layers of clothing on his upper body, her face is already as red as a tomato.
Ji Heng: "……….."
He has never seen a eunuch who is as easily flustered as this, before. As the emperor, all the servants close to him are trained to perfection. Not just the eunuchs, even the maids are unperturbed when facing a naked him.
His pants are still on, what is this neither-man-nor-woman thing shy about? Does this eunuch respects him too little or too much?
Don't tell him this eunuch is a queer and likes men?
As that thought flashes in his mind, Ji Heng's body tenses up. At that very moment, Tian Qi has made up her mind and resolutely unfastens his belt. Just like that, his pants fall to the ground.
Tian Qi crouches and wants take off Ji Heng's pants but he continues standing there without moving. She touches his leg with one hand and grabs his pants with the other, "Your Majesty, please raise your…."
Ji Heng moves his leg to shrugs her hand off, "Get out."
Tian Qi follows his order and leaves the room without hesitation. After she is out, she heaves in relief. Her heart feels uneasy. This emperor's temper is a little unpredictable; she has no idea why he was so angry just now in the imperial tombs. And now this….
Inside the chamber, Ji Heng personally takes off his remaining article of clothing before entering the bath tub. He gives his legs a good wash. The spot where that pervert touch tingles a little. He does not understand the feeling; he doesn't hate it but he doesn't particularly like it either. That eunuch's fingertips are soft and smooth, and a little cold. Like silk that comes from silkworms. The moment the eunuch's fingers touches his skin, the cool sensation travels from his leg to his chest. It is unbearable and makes him want to immediately shrug those fingers away.
His mind is suddenly overcome by a strange feeling and Ji Heng promptly forgot about the matter of dealing with Tian Qi.
serene: Chapter 7 is sponsored by Bonnthanak!