We’re Guarding the City Gates Today
The next early morning was the day of the imperial martial arts tournament.
The small vendor hawkers selling breakfast had yet to awake to prepare for the day. We on the other hand, were already making our way to the palace since we had a royal decree to follow despite our sleepy look.
Needless to say, I was the one with sleepy looking eyes while everybody else had bruised and swollen faces. Even Song Ou’s face was pale as a sheet of paper as if he didn’t sleep at all
After the ruckus Long Zaitian caused, they had to tidy up which took until nightfall on top of their frustration which would’ve gone way into the night. I bet they didn’t even get two hours of sleep.
Why was I fine you ask?
Well, I left to go and sleep when they started tidying up. How could I not prepare early when we had to rise early the next day? What a stupid question.
“Oh, if it isn’t the gentlemen from Liu Shan Men.”
A group of troops held lanterns as they stood outside the palace gates awaiting us. The inner servant standing at the forefront was smiles all over as he welcomed us: “I am here to welcome you all and arrange your jobs. Greetings, Captain.”
Captain Song responded: “Thank you, Eunuch Wang. We have fifty-two men here in total. This is the entirety of Liu Shan Men. We will be at your command from the start of the imperial martial arts tournament today up until the end. I have matters to attend to, so if you would excuse me.”
“Please take your time, Captain Song.” Eunuch Wang waited for us to leave before saying: “It has been tough on you all. You are all here early.”
“Not at all, this is something we must do.” I stepped up to greet him and continued: “I wish you the best of luck and health, Eunuch Wang.”
“Uhm, you have good manners, young man.”
In that moment, I could seemingly see countless gazes of contempt from my comrades from Liu Shan Men standing behind me. Stupid bunch. You have to kiss up to the eunuchs if you want to enter the palace. How else do you think you’d survive in there?
“My surname is Wang, my name is Wang Tushui. Please remember it.”
What the fuck?
I was bewildered. I barely made out: “Sir, could you repeat your name one more time?”
Eunuch Wang gave a puzzled response: “My name is Wang Tushui.”
I wore a completely deadpan look: “……”
His naming must be a deliberate prank!
The manager at Liu Shan Men is called Sui Tuwan, and you’re called Wang Tushui? Are your names English names or Chinese names?
You must’ve been raised separately by divorced parents or something. How else would you explain such a weird naming sense?!
Eunuch Wang gave me a confused look then to the people around and then his eyes suddenly lit up. I don’t know what wrong nerve got struck or if some spirit suddenly possessed him, but he twisted and turned his waist flirtatiously like a girl and catwalk-ed two steps, finally arriving at the side of one of our members.
Eunuch Wang then “shyly” asked: “Hey~ young man, you look really manly. What’s your name? How old are you this year?”
Tang Ye was dumbfounded….
“Sir, his name is Tang Ye, courtesy name Yan Ling. He is eighteen this year.” I had to help Tang Ye who was either dumbfounded or startled.
“Nice, nice, nice. I have heard the name Tang Ye before. Captain Song strongly recommended you. A true genius you are, a genius!”
Eunuch Wang looked at Tang Ye with merrier than before. He checked him out from side to side, and top to bottom, scanning him from every direction.
No matter how Tang Ye runs, I must say that this is the starting point of a romance.
“Sir, are you done checking me out?” However, Tang Ye destroyed Eunuch Wang’s lustful dream without any empathy, “How dare you delay the emperor’s orders if he has orders. Are you not going to hurry up and assign our roles?”
Eunuch Wang went red in the face. He cleared his throat to hide the awkwardness: “You have no sense of humour, young man. Please follow me inside everyone.”
We entered the imperial city’s main gates.
They said that they wanted us to guard the city gates, but it wasn’t like there was only one fan-door. Outside the imperial city gates, there were three gates, another three inside the imperial city, and there were another three doors be section in between the palace and the Forbidden City.
The country’s lands and rivers are vast while the imperial city has nine gates. The emperor’s residence is solid, the emperor is well protected? How could our homes compare to his majesty’s?” Eunuch Wang looked at me and revealed an evil but mesmerising smile which disgusted the shit of Su Xiao and I. Tang Ye was also disgusted to the point he shut his eyes. It was only then that he was satisfied and erased the death-inducing look off his face.
In a tone as gentle as water, Eunuch Wang said: “Young Tang, you were the strongly recommended new recruit, so I shall leave you in charge of this outer city gate.”
“Understood. Thank you, Eunuch Wang.”
After he finished speaking, Tang Ye couldn’t wait and ran off with a few comrades.
Eunuch Wang shook his head and sighed.
The despair he must’ve felt….
He then led us around the inner imperial city to look around.
The emperor wants to watch the imperial martial arts tournament, but he definitely won’t watch it from inside the palace. He’s going to bring his entire family, which includes his empress, concubines, princesses and princes to the inner imperial city to watch it live at the venue. That’s where events for the royal family are specifically held.
Otherwise, all those stinking martial artists would come into the royal family home. Even if the emperor were to allow it, his women behind him would destroy his ears with complaints and drown him in so much saliva it’d be enough to take two baths with.
And hence, the most important lines of defence are the outer city gates. As long as that gate is well-guarded, there will be no concerns regarding people causing trouble at the imperial martial tournament. That’s a logical arrangement. I mean, I can’t afford to lose…
“Young Su, oh wow. Look at you, how handsome~.” Su Xiao quickly lowered his head to avoid Eunuch Wang’s clutches. Eunuch Wang pursed his lips into a “seductive” smile and said: “You are like a girl. You even blush.”
Sir, aren’t your tastes a tad too diverse?
Aren’t gays and lesbians really loyal in love? Ah, same sexes? Does…this eunuch count as being gay…?
“Since that is the case, you shall guard these inner city gates with these gentlemen, young Su. You will see many princes, princesses and nobles, so this is a good job, you know~”
Su Xiao was startled by the smile Eunuch Wang revealed at the end and nearly puked, but he managed to hold it in. After thanking him, he quickly escaped to the inner city gates with a few constables.
“What about me, sir?”
There were only about ten people left now, myself included.
“Where do you want to stand guard, young man?”
“I do not mind the location as long as the job is laid back, the breaks are longer than the work periods, and I can sleep six hours per day.”
“Young man, the conditions you named are only available for the best job. You need connections if you want such a good job.”
Eunuch Wang’s gaze suddenly stopped on me like they were glued to me. I got frightened thinking some sort of newly invented weapon shot out from his eyes…
“Hmm, your body is quite tough. It’s just that you’re too tall. You’re virtually a tower. Bend over so I can check.”
An exchange?! How can I shake my hips for you?
But I don’t want to go with Tang Ye either. What do I do, what do I do…? An idea suddenly popped into my mind.
“Sir, I look crude. I’m not good looking. I can introduce you to someone if you want someone to look at.”
“Oh? You have a candidate?”
“Look over there!” Eunuch Wang then looked in the direction I pointed.
“Hmm… Nice! Handsome. Truly handsome. He may not look as pretty as young Su, but he is more masculine than young Su. He is not as rough as young Tang, but compared to young Tang, he looks… He looks…”
Seeing how Eunuch Wang was struggling to find the right word, I quickly added: “Suave!”
“That’s the word! You are completely right. Suave! Who is that? What is his name?”
I wore a sly smile and said: “His name is Liu Yuan. He looks…like a match made in heaven next to you.”
“That makes so much sense!” Just as he was about to go and hit on Liu Yuan, I pulled him back.
“Sir, you haven’t told me which gate I’m in charge of yet.”
“Heh, that’s simple. You’re a smart guy, so it’d be unfair to make you stand in the hot sun. How about this? You go and guard the South gate of the Forbidden City. Nobody usually goes there, so you will virtually have nothing to do.”
“Thank you so much, sir.”
I thanked him countless times and took the token. I then sent him to go bite scared Master Liu. I then was led by a low rank eunuch to the South gate.
The so-called South Gate shouldn’t even be called a gate.
It was just a hole dug out from the wall and then decorated. I only found out after that the door was for meal deliveries to the cold palace where concubines who lose favour are sent to. The cold palace was currently empty for no concubines had lost favour, therefore it was essentially an abandoned gate.
Praise to Eunuch Wang. I got him to thank for finding me this job.
I took a look around the area surrounding the small South gate.
I’ve been to the Forbidden City, but when I came in the past, it was under the veil of the night and I had to travel on the rooftops. I’ve never had an opportunity to take in all it had to offer like this before. I never expected to have the opportunity this time. There were no pavilions in sight, but there were towering places of solace. The city walls were incomparably high. The wall by the small South Gate I was at was unbelievably high and thick. It was completely different to the other locations.
But that was all there was to it. There was nothing else aside from a few walls around me….
I tossed the sword on my belt away to a random spot and sat down on the steps to rest. Being free is better than guarding the main gates. The imperial martial arts tournament is just beginning today so I don’t think there’s anything to be anxious about.
The sun is so bright. The sunrays were really warm and comfortable.
I had no idea that dark clouds were forming over the palace in order to welcome the coming thunderstorm as I fell asleep.