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Across 300 Years, I Love You

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A boy genius!

23 March 1745

[Fuk’anggan’s POV]

Today is the 5th Birthday of the 5th Prince of the Emperor Qianlong of the Great Qing dynasty of China. Dignitaries and officials wanting to make use of this opportunity to gain favors from the Emperor, lined the entire main hall of the Noble Consort Yu’s residence with rare gifts and tributes.

Showing great promise of talent at a young age, the 5th Prince has already mastered the basics of Math calculations, Calligraphy and Astronomy. All the other capable Princes in all of the history of the Great Qing would master these skills at 7 years of age. The 5th prince is speculated to be the favourite son for the Emperor is well known to be a lover of great talent.

Coming from a family of Generals, I was instructed by father to enter the palace today, to be introduced to the 5th Prince as his study companion and martial arts sparring partner since the Emperor has instructed father by way of an imperial edict to be his personal martial arts tutor. Father’s position as the Chief Grand Counsellor further cemented the speculations of the 5th Prince’s status as the hot favourite.

“ A boy genius!” exclaimed one of the bootlicking court officials. “ Your Noble Consort must be so proud of the Prince”

“ It is mainly due to the great fortune of His Majesty” Noble Consort Yu replied stoically.

“ A thousand blessings, Noble Consort Yu”, father kneeled on one knee, breaking the awkward conversation. “ I present to you, my son, Fuk’anggan.”

Taking the cue from father, I got onto my knees and greeted the Noble Consort with the appropriate formal manner that I was taught by my private tutors with regards to the correct way of addressing royalty - especially for the first time. It is always better to be overly polite which would be viewed positively than to be seen as rude.

“ Right on time, Fuheng, you may rise.”

With delight and a sigh of relief, she signalled for her maid servants to serve us seats and tea as a gesture of welcome while she dismissed the rest of the court officials.

After waiting for Noble Consort Yu to take her seat and for Father to take his seat, I served my tea to Father after the servants served tea to the Noble Consort before taking my assigned seat. With that small gesture, Noble Consort Yu nodded in agreement with Father that I would make a fine companion to the 5th Prince.

“My! What a polite young man. Come closer and let me take a good look at you”

That was the sentence that cemented the deal with the arrangement of my position as a royal companion. Father glanced at me approvingly, nodding for me to go nearer forward, towards the Noble Consort with a formal bow. I knew that I had lived up to Father’s expectations and gained the favor of the Noble Consort.

[Yong qi’s POV]

The moment I saw K’anggan, we instantly clicked. Nothing can be a greater gift than to have a friend that you know is going to be genuine. It is a refreshing escape from the fake niceties and superficial curry favouring of ambitious officials towards those who are perceived as hot favourites of the Emperor.

Standing at 2 inches taller and 2 years older than me, I grinned at him when I saw through his eyes, shining of earnestness. Further tightening his already thin lips, K’anggan broke into a sheepish grin.

“FuK’anggan” he clasped his hand in the form of formal courtesy.

“Hide and seek?” I asked.

“Yeah, just as I was thinking” he replied. “I know a perfect place.”

“The Southern Imperial Garden!” both of us said at the same time. “ The last to make it there is a horse!”

As we broke into a fit of laughter, I threw a pebble at him and bolted towards the walkway that leads to the Southern Imperial Garden.

“Cheat!” K’anggan sprinted behind me.

“Horse!” I shouted cheekily.

The Southern Imperial Garden boasts a great variety of carefully manicured foliage and artistically constructed stone and wooden sculptures for a great hideout. In the centrepiece of the garden, features a pond with 1 thousand carps and beautiful lotus flowers bloomed painstakingly with meticulous care. Towards the right most of the pond, it is linked to a small raised platform that leads to a magnificent pavilion aptly named as “ The Pavilion of the Silent Heart”, it is made out of slate stone flooring, supported with red pillars with elaborate carvings. The roof is constructed of bamboo interlaced with gold adornments. Mythical creatures made of pure white marble sitting at each corner of the rooftop.

Being the faster of us both, K’anggan reached the Southern Imperial Garden before me. I felt satisfied that he did not slow down purposely for me due to my status as 5th Prince.

Accepting defeat, I would be the seeker while K’anggan hides. I called for an eunuch to serve us some water at the pavilion.

“Ready?” K’anggan asked.

“On the count of 10” I replied, closing my eyes with my forehead leaning against one of the pillars of the pavilion.

By the count of 5, I could no longer hear any sounds that might have suggested K’anggan’s movements. At least, I knew that he moved westward towards the manicured bushes. It would be beneficial for me as any slight movement at the manicured bushes would be easily heard since the sounds of water from the pond would have been absorbed by the nearby stone and wooden sculptures.

After counting to 10, I remained very quiet. Moving stealthily, I made my way towards the west of the garden.

“Shh….shh…” the sounds of moving bushes could be heard towards my left. Instinctively, I followed the movement of the bushes which led me through an entrance of what has been designed like a maze.

“Shh shh shh” the sounds started to feel closer to me and I thought to myself that K’anggan is very clever to choose a place like this as a hideout but foolish to fail to consider the ease of leaving behind a sound trail. This felt almost too easy.

After a few turns to my left, a repugnant scent of sand and urine hit my nose. “Damn!” I wriggled my nose in disgust. “I am going to report this to Mother Consort and have her punish the eunuch that failed to do his job well”

That was then, I was greeted with an entirely different scenery that I am sure, is not of this world. Children, boys and girls of probably a year older than me, wearing ridiculous short sleeved white shirts with a red logo spelled in a language that is entirely foreign printed at the back of the shirts. They are all dressed in red shorts that would be considered improper and embarrassing in society.

They are all running around in all directions, screaming at high pitches and laughing in a place that appears to be a play area with a weird looking stone slide and a rusty swing structure.

It was then I saw a girl running towards my direction and a boy chasing behind her. Our eyes locked for a few seconds and in that instant, she tripped over a fallen tree branch and fell on her fours.

“Ouch!” she took her attention away from me and looked at her bleeding knees and scraped elbows. Quickly, she reached out into the side pockets of her red shorts to fish out a packet that looked like folded paper.

“Elizabeth! I’m going to go get Mrs Pereira.” the boy caught up to her and said in a language unknown to me.

She nodded in response and began unfolding the paper to clean her hands and pressing some on top of her bleeding knees.

“Are you ok?” I said in Guan Hua [*Author’s note: Guan Hua is a term for official language used during the Qing dynasty in China. It is equivalent to modern day Standard Chinese *]

She looked up at me wide eyed in shock.

“You must be badly injured.” I concluded from her reaction. “I’ll go summon the Imperial Physician to treat your injuries.”

“Your Highness! Where are you!” I heard K’anggan calling out for me.

“Your Highness! Are you hurt? Your humble servant is getting worried for you!” a familiar voice of eunuch Li, Mother Consort’s chief steward called out for me.

“Wait here. I’ll be back soon.” I told her.

Not taking her gaze away from me, she crooked her head from side to side, then gave a slight nod.

I turned around back into the maze to follow K’anggan’s voice to reunite with him and eunuch Li.

“Where have you been, Your Highness? Young master Fuca has been searching for you for more than an hour.” eunuch Li’s voice escalated into a high pitched croak.

“Quick, K’anggan, there is a girl over there looking badly injured. We must go help her!” I grabbed K’anggan’s right hand, breaking into a run.

“Wait up!” eunuch Li panted heavily, struggling to keep up behind us.

After turning around the maze in circles for 15 minutes, confusion set in.

“It can’t be!” I exclaimed in exasperation. “I am rarely wrong with directions. There should be a stinky sandy area over there with a giant dragon and many foreign children running around.”

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