Ji Heng does not see Tian Qi from the moment he wakes up until after the morning court.
This is not normal. From what he hears, even though Tian Qi is a little smooth and sly, she is not lazy. Besides, she is working directly for the emperor. She needs to be abnormally courageous to skip work for fun like that.
Because of that, he thinks that she is running an errand for Sheng An Huai. While criticizing memorials in Yang Xin Hall, he asks Sheng An Huai, “What errand has you given Tian Qi?”
Sheng An Huai is a little worried too, “Answering Your Majesty, Tian Qi did not even report for work, today. This servant has sent people to look for him in Shi San Suo, but the eunuch who shares the room with him says that he already went out for work long ago.”
This is weird, why didn’t she come to work? Don’t tell him she was abducted by other people? But who would be so bored as to kidnap a little eunuch?
Perhaps, it is for revenge.
With that in mind, Ji Heng narrows his eyes, “Did he offend anyone lately?”
“Answering Your Majesty, Tian Qi is quick and smooth, he has good relationships with pretty much everyone. He had a fight with only one person lately, a eunuch in charge of taking care of imperial horses, Sun Da Li. You had personally inquired about that before.”
“Go and get Sun Da Li.”
As Sheng An Huai walks out to instruct his people, the little prince walks in.
“This son greets imperial father.” Ruyi greets Ji Heng with a light voice.
“You can get up, son.” Ji Heng wants to laugh upon seeing how his small son tries to act like a grown-up.
Ruyi hugs his legs and looks around before asking, “Where is mom?”
Ji Heng knows who he is referring to. He strokes his son’s forehead, feeling a little helpless, “He is not your mom. Remember, his name is Tian Qi.”
“Oh.” Ruyi nods.
At first Ji Heng thought the reason Ruyi goes around calling everyone ‘mom’ is because he lacks love. Everyone else thinks so too. But after a while, he finally understands that to Ruyi, the term ‘mom’ refers to women in general. If he sees a cat, he calls it a ‘cat’, if he sees a bird, he calls it ‘bird’. And now, if he sees women, he calls them ‘mom’.
Ji Heng occasionally gets headache because of this son of his. He wonders who Ruyi takes after. Ruyi does not like to talk, but he is not like those introverted kids who hate talking, his personality is very lively. Words are like gold to Ruyi, he is simply too lazy to speak. He speaks very clearly, but if he can sum everything up in four words, he definitely wouldn’t bother to make it five. He never really thinks before speaking and everything that he says are straight to the point.
At first, when Ji Heng saw how slow his son was in speaking, he thought he was dumb. However, he later realized that his son is actually very smart. He recognizes Chinese characters faster than other children his age.
After hearing what his father says, Ruyi asks him, “Where is Tian Qi?”
Ji Heng finds this really weird, “Why do you like Tian Qi so much?”
Ruyi replies him, “He smells very good.”
Ji Heng laughs, “You like his smell? Why? Are the rest of the people smelly?”
Ruyi earnestly replies him, “A lot of moms out there are smelly.”
“You just said eight words in one go. How rare!” Ji Heng pats his head, “How are they smelly?”
Ruyi frowns, as though he is reminiscing an unpleasant memory, “They are just so smelly.”
“Five words, very good! Very good!” Ji Heng’s attention is completely on another thing.
He does not take what his son says seriously. Later, Tian Qi will discover why so many ‘moms’ are smelly. Some children does not like the smell of powder and rouge. Ruyi smells it a lot because he is surrounded by a lot of women since he was born. He does not like the smell but does not know where it comes from. He thought it comes naturally with those women. Tian Qi does not put on powder and rouge, that’s why Ruyi says she ‘smells good’.
When Ruyi did not manage to find out where Tian Qi is, he returns to his palace in disappointment.
When Sheng An Huai walks in, he reports his findings towards Ji Heng, “Your Majesty, Sun Da Li has committed suicide.”
“He was silenced down,” Ji Heng says. “Things does not seem well for Tian Qi. Look for him. Even if he is dead, zhen wants to see his corpse.”
After Sheng An Huai goes to relay his order, Ji Heng sits in front of his desk, looking a little helpless before going back to criticizing memorials.
Tian Qi’s face floats up in his mind. He lets go of his brush and sighs a little.
What a pity.
The Buddhist master says that everything that happens happens because it is destined to. There are a lot of servants around, but it is very hard to find one who suits the master.
It is not easy for him to find this one, but she is actually harmed by other people!
That pitiful little pervert. Ji Heng will avenge her so that she can actually die in peace.
Sun Da Li’s motive is not strong enough. It is not surprising for him to target her after they fought, but killing her is too much.
Tian Qi is a eunuch who directly serves the emperor, at that.
It is even more unlikely for him to kill himself once the rumors starts to spread. If he is really that much of a coward, he wouldn’t have killed her on the first place. Things are not adding up.
There must be another motive behind everything.
Ji Heng thinks the room is really suffocating. It makes him feel a little uncomfortable. He gets up and walks out of Yang Xin Hall. He can see Sheng An Huai exchanging words with another eunuch underneath a tree.
That eunuch looks anxious while Sheng An Huai appears solemn.
Ji Heng asks them, “What is it?”
Sheng An Huai walks over to him, “Your Majesty, we seem to have found Tian Qi.”
“Oh. Where is he? Is he alive or dead?”
“This….. this servant does not have the guts to say it. This servant would like to beg Your Majesty to see it yourself.”
Ji Heng listens to Sheng An Huai and is led to Tai Ye Lake.
There are already a large number of people gathering at the banks. Ji Heng looks over and sees Tian Qi’s body floating in the middle of the lake.
His heart unknowingly tightens, “Why didn’t you send people to pull him to the banks? What are you standing here like an idiot for?”
Sheng An Huai quickly replies him, “Please forgive us, Your Majesty. They….. They didn’t have the guts to…”
“Please look carefully, Your Majesty. Tian Qi, he—- he is being carried by the divine turtle on it’s back.”
Ji Heng gives it another look and discovers that Tian Qi is indeed a little above the water level. The turtle under her is half-submerged and hidden under the water, making it hard to be seen.
Since the turtle is huge in an abnormal manner, none of the eunuchs dare to approach it.
Ji Heng’s head aches at their idiocy. A turtle is just a turtle. No matter how big they are, they are just turtles. What is there to be afraid of?
He orders people to row a boat to where Tian Qi is so they can safely bring her to the banks.
Tian Qi’s entire body is drenched while her hands and legs are tied in dead knots. The ropes have been soaked in water and are hard to unravel, so Ji Heng simply cuts them off with a dagger.
A couple of eunuchs press Tian Qi’s chest to pump out the water that had entered her body.
Tian Qi spits out a loach and a little shrimp before she coughs violently.
The crowd sighs in relief. The turtle did not help her in vain.
Tian Qi opens her eyes and sees so many people looking at her. Perhaps she was hit too hard; her head feels muddled and her sight seems blurry.
She can see the emperor looking down at her from above. His body seems to be swaying as the winds blow his bright yellow robes. The color of his robe hurts her eyes.
Tian Qi squints, not saying anything. She is still trying to comprehend what just happened.
Ji Heng gives her a careful look. Her face seems pale and blank. She does not look alert and spirited like she used to. She looks like an idiot.
He raises his brows lightly before saying, “You sure are lucky.”
Sheng An Huai looks at the emperor carefully. His clenched fists are now relaxed. When he puts his hands behind him, his left hand leisurely taps his right hand. That body language shows that the emperor’s mood is good.