There are two kinds of eunuchs; the one that works during the day, and the one that works during the night. The latter is the emperor’s confidante; they have their works fixed for them. They are not in the same league as the ones who work during the day. Tian Qi works in the morning, starting from 3 am to 11 pm.
After eating lunch and resting, she knows that the empress dowager’s day nap ought to have ended. She heads over to Ci Ning Palace and seeks the empress dowager’s personal servant to chat her up. The maid naturally knows why she comes. She finds a time to report her arrival to the empress dowager. Hearing that, the empress dowager ordered for her to be brought in. Seeing how good-looking and sweet-mouthed she is; knowing how to entertain her, the empress dowager orders people to reward Tian Qi.
Tian Qi comes out of Ci Ning Palace with a mouth-splitting grin. She looks at the four pieces of gold in her palm; the color glittering oh-so-brightly. It is in the size of a little peanut with ‘good luck’ inscribed on it. From the weight, it should total to about 3 to 4 liang. She carefully puts the money back to her own bag. The moment she raise her head, she sees a young child walking about, surrounded by maids and eunuchs. The child seems to be around 3 to 4 years old, wearing bright red clothes with clouds embroidered on it. The child’s face is fair and smooth; his facial features are not developed yet, though the child’s eyes are bright and clear.
The child is being led by someone and when they are near to each other, Tian Qi kneels on the ground, “Greeting Your Highness.”
This child is none other than the current emperor’s eldest son; he is also the only child. His official name is Ji Bing De and his nickname is Ruyi. Little Ruyi is the son of the late Empress Xiao Zhao. She married Ji Heng when he was only the crown prince and had given birth to a son before passing away. Little Ruyi is now under the empress dowager’s care.
Tian Qi kneels there, waiting for him to pass. Who would have known that the prince would stop next to her instead of walking away. The prince turns around to face her.
Tian Qi continues staring at the ground. She can only see the edge of his red robe from the corner of her eyes. And suddenly, the crisp sound of a child’s voice can be heard, “Mom—–“
The milk mother quickly pulls the prince away.
Later, one of the maids explains this to her. She says that is the newest word the prince has learned. He would seize random women and call them ‘mom’. Since his mother died early, the empress dowager and the emperor does not have the heart to scold him.
When she hears that, cold sweat breaks out on Tian Qi’s forehead. Her eyes trails after the figure of the prince who by now is far away; he is indeed the emperor’s son, they are both weird. She has to admit though, the child is really cute. His cheeks are so round, it makes people wants to pinch them.
When she returns to Shi San Suo, she finds her shifu, Ding Zhi, peeping around on her door.
Tian Qi calls for him. When he sees her, he pulls her over and pats her on the head, “I heard you are now serving the emperor?”
Tian Qi nods before inviting him in.
Ding Zhi is a little unhappy, “Why didn’t you tell me you have gotten such a good job?”
Tian Qi lowers her head, not answering. She still has a little grudge on this so-called shifu of hers after that belt incident. She does not have the guts to be near him but also does not have the guts to directly ask him.
Ding Zhi is weirded out by her reaction, “What is wrong with you? Don’t tell me you now refuse to acknowledge this shifu of yours now that you had spread your wings and fly….”
After thinking for a while, Tian Qi decides to cheat him a little, “Actually, it was the emperor who forbade me from talking to you….”
“Why??” A feeling of bewilderment can be seen in Ding Zhi’s eyes.
“The emperor already knows about that thing you did. He originally wanted to weed you out, but after thinking for a while, he decides to catch the perpetrator off guard. I am your disciple, so he especially instructs me to not disclose it to you….”
Ding Zhi’s face immediately turns ugly, “His Majesty…… His Majesty already knows?”
Tian Qi nods solemnly while eyeing him.
Ding Zhi becomes antsy. He gets up and paces around the room, “What do I do…. What do I do….. I am so done for!”
Tian Qi’s heart turns cold, “Shifu…. That person is really you?”
“It is me…. It is really me!” Ding Zhi looks at her with a complicated look on his face before asking in a secretive manner, “How did His Majesty found out?”
Tian Qi feels like he is purposely asking even though he clearly knows everything. She points at her belt.
Ding Zhi fists his hand, “Aiya, I knew it! I knew I shouldn’t have given Xiu Yi that belt! I should have given her an ornament instead! Or an antique! Even two gold ingots are better than that belt!”
“Huh? Wait a minute, what does this has anything to do with Xiu Yi?” Tian Qi is bewildered. Xiu Yi is a female official on the front-line of imperial duty; why did her shifu sent her a belt?
Ding Zhi freezes, “It’s not Xiu Yi? Don’t tell me the thing between me and Xiu Chun is also discovered by His Majesty?”
“……..” Tian Qi finally understands what Ding Zhi is saying. Xiu Yi and Xiu Chun are both maids from Gan Qing Palace. Seems like her shifu has something going on with both of them.
She slaps her forehead before sighing, “Shifu, I am not talking about that. Have you given someone belt, other than Xiu Yi and Xiu Chun?”
“There is also the one is Ci Ning Palace…..”
Tian Qi finally cannot take it anymore. She cuts him off, “What about me?! Have you given me a special belt?”
Ding Zhi looks at Tian Qi in fear, as though he is looking at someone who is absolutely perverted.
(TN: In Chinese culture, giving someone belt means you are interested in them.)
Tian Qi helplessly sighs, “Shifu…..”
Ding Zhi suddenly says, “Tian Qi, so you are secretly in love with me……”
“It is okay that you are not in love with neither women nor men, and are instead attracted to eunuchs. But, no matter what, I am your shifu…..” Ding Zhi looks earnest when he says that. Eunuchs, more or less, have their own degrees of perversion, but this disciple of his actually takes that to a whole new level.
(TN: In Chinese culture, your shifu/teacher is like your father.)
Tian Qi can see that Ding Zhi is completely focused on his affair with those ladies. He probably isn’t gutsy enough to involve himself in a murder.
Once Tian Qi calms down, she explains the general gist to Ding Zhi.
When Ding Zhi hears her, he is so frightened that his hair almost stands. He secretly feels scared for Tian Qi. Unfortunately, he cannot come up with anything that can help her; she doesn’t expect him to, anyway. Now that everything is said and the misunderstanding has been lifted, Tian Qi has reached her goal. No matter what, the killing of the emperor’s son can no longer be traced back to either her or Ding Zhi.
After sending her shifu off, Tian Qi takes out her new gold pieces and toys with them. She then, decides to take the gold to show off to Wang Meng.
Tian Qi stands in front of Wang Meng’s quarters, knocking on the door. A little eunuch with a bruised face opens the door. Tian Qi courteously speaks to him, “I am looking for Wang Meng, please.”
That eunuch replies her, “I am Wang Meng.”
Tian Qi: “…….”
She holds Wang Meng’s face, eyeing it carefully. It is as though he has transformed from Sun Wu Kong into Zhu Ba Jie. When she finally recognized what is left of Wang Meng in this person in front of her, she is surprised. “What happened to you?”
Hearing her question, tears suddenly flows from Wang Meng’s eyes as he sobs in grievance.
Turns out the 100 liang that Tian Qi gave him was stolen. He asked the person who shared his room and he was told that the eunuch in charge of tending to imperial horses, Sun Da Li, came once. Wang Meng decided to be mindful. He gave the little friend some money and after much probing, he found out that Sun Da Li walked out of here with 100 liang richer.
Wang Meng went to Sun Da Li to inquire about that matter, but it the end, Sun Da Li made a fuss and accused Wang Meng of stealing his money instead. He got beaten and return without managing to get his money back.
That is how he turned this way.
Hearing all that, Tian Qi shakes her head in exasperation, “Why are you so useless!” When she says that, she looks like she is going to hit Wang Meng as well. She fists her hand and aims for him, but in the end, couldn’t find the place where she can hit. She can only lowers her hand back.
Wang Meng lowers his head, “Sorry…..”
“What use does your sorry has!” Tian Qi angrily glares at him. Her heart does not ache for the person, her heart aches for the money instead. 100 liang….. She saved for it for so long, and now she cannot even hear it echoing in her money pouch. To find out that it has been robbed away like that….
She knows that Sun Da Li. He is notorious for his gluttony and his fixation for gambling. His shifu is a close confidante of Shu Fei, so he uses that fact to trample over others.
This Sun Da Li’s real name isn’t even Sun Da Li. He is very strong, so people simply calls him that.
(TN: Da Li (大力) means strength.)
To put it simple, he is a bastard who gets power by leaning onto other people!
Tian Qi scratches her chin; looking at Wang Meng before looking at herself. She comes to a sad realization that both she and Wang Meng combined cannot take on even one of Sun Da Li’s hand.
Wang Meng, going to find him to inquire about his lost money was him being extremely courageous already.
Just, his method was a little problematic. Tian Qi shakes her head. He clearly knows the other party is arrogant and strong, Wang Meng was basically seeking death.
Amongst the people in the Forbidden City, Tian Qi can be considered pretty resilient. But that still depend on who her opponent is. The most important thing right now is the 100 liang.
Sun Da Li does not really have a strong backing. What is Shu Fei when compared to the emperor whom Tian Qi is serving?
Tian Qi paces in the room while giving herself moral boost.
In order to deal with a shameless individual, one must be even more shameless than him.
Wang Meng asks her at just the right timing, “Then, what do we do now?”
Tian Qi stops in her pace, “Let’s get the money back, first.”
Wang Meng cannot understand what Tian Qi means by that, but when he sees the dark expression on her face, he stops himself from asking further.
After the two of them eats dinner, they goes to where Sun Da Li lives. That jerk is actually busy gambling with a crowd of people.
When he sees Wang Meng walking in, he thought the little weak chicken is here to look for trouble. It does not matter, he is not afraid. He will just give the brat another beating if he asks for it. Tian Qi does not want Sun Da Li to know about her friendship with Wang Meng, so, she purposely walks a step slower. The moment she walks in, her eyes falls on the table that is full of little tablets. She laughs happily before squeezing herself between the crowds, wanting to join in. Afraid that the others will not take her, she puts the four gold pieces she has, on the table.
Sun Da Li’s eyes twinkles and he immediately asks people to give way to Tian Qi.
Tian Qi actually does not like gambling; win or not, it will only make her lose money. If she lose, she will want to bet more to gain back the money that she lost. If she wins, the money is easily-gained and she will not hesitate to bet more to gain more.
Besides, one cannot win all the time in gambling. First, it depends in your ability to assess things. Then, it depends on your luck. She has the first one, but not the second one. When she is unlucky, the more she analyze things, the more she will lose.
As she sits in front of the desk, her main purpose isn’t to win money.
There are four people in a table and the game they are playing is Pai Gow. Sun Da Li has won a couple previous rounds and the people he plays with has changed twice. All of them anxiously looks at the table, yearning to make a comeback.
But the more Sun Da Li plays, the better he becomes. Not long later, he pulls a ‘Tian Pai’.
The ‘Tian Pai’ is the second best tablet in Pai Gow, second only to ‘Zhi Zun Bao’. It consists of two twelve points tablets. Sun Da Li turns the tablets while smiling happily, “Sorry, brothers.” He outstretch his hand, waiting for money.
“Wait a minute,” Tian Qi stops him. All eyes falls on her.
“What’s wrong?” Sun Da Li asks.
“There is something off with you. Are you cheating?”
Sun Da Li angrily slams the table with his hand, “Don’t play if you can’t play! Crying foul the moment you lose money…. You actually dares to accuse me of cheating? Everyone else here has clear eyes; tell him, did any of you sees me cheating?” he looks around as he says that, waiting for everyone to speak.
Nobody answers him. Instead, they look at him suspiciously. The person who gets the good tablets are bound to receive everybody’s envy; all of them are inclined to believe that Sun Da Li has been using secret method to obtain the good cards.
Sun Da Li is even angrier now. He grabs Tian Qi, intending to hit her. Tian Qi purposely shake the table. A few tablets that has not been overturned, turns over. One of them reveals six red dots and six white dots, counting up to twelve points.
There are only two tablets with twelve points and both of them has been picked by Sun Da Li; where does this comes from then?
Doesn’t this means he is cheating?
The previous suspicion now becomes conviction. Everyone is now sure that Sun Da Li is cheating. Gamblers always use their fists to solve problems. When they found out that the reason they lost was because the other party was cheating, the crowds are angered. They gather around and beat Sun Da Li until he is lying on the ground.
Tian Qi gives Wang Meng a look and both of them immediately takes Sun Da Li’s money before running away.
Sun Da Li, on the other hand, finally realizes everything. He lives up to his name, managing to dash out of the crowd despite being attacked by so many people to chase after Tian Qi.
“Tian Qi, I will **** your uncle!” Sun Da Li bellows as he chases after her.
Some of the people who are watching the fanfare shouts back, “What will you **** him with?”
“You ******* stop right now!” Sun Da Li bellows again.
Tian Qi secretly says, I will not ****** stop. She and Wang Meng does not dare to return to their own room for now. Instead, they runs out of Shi San Suo.
Shi San Suo and the imperial palace is separated by a road. Sun Da Li chases after them until they reaches the gate. When he sees where they are going, he angrily throws a chair at them. The wooden chair narrowly passes Tian Qi’s head. When she sees that chair coming, she purposely slows down so the chair can safely pass her.
The chair fly passes Tian Qi and instead goes straight for a young man in white robes who is coincidentally coming from the shoulder of the road.