Chapter 1324: [Beiyue] The capital city

Great Qin's capital city was built on the foundation of the original Tianning capital. Of the former imperial palace, only Long Feiye's Changding Palace from his youth remained, while the rest was razed and rebuilt. 

Changding Palace itself was preserved and expanded into a sizable residence. Tang Zijin, who was responsible for construction, had no idea what the emperor intended by leaving the place intact. 

Before Princess Yan was born, the people of the capital spread rumors that this was reserved by His Majesty for a second prince. After all, all except the crown prince were forbidden from living in the palace after reaching adulthood. But once Princess Yan was born, people's opinions changed. They claimed this place was for the princess and would be the Eldest Princess Estate when she grew up.

Great Qin's palace was located in the old site of the Duke of Qin's estate. The new buildings occupied much of the land from the old palace grounds, facing north and south with a Yonghe Gate in the center to split it into halves. The area north of Yonghe gate was the inner palace while the south made up the outer palace.

The "outer palace" had Tianxuan Hall in the center, where the emperor held court sessions to deal with state affairs. On both sides of the hall were offices such as the House of Internal Affairs that looked after the palace, Wenyuan Pavilion that looked after the royal book collection and other function instructions, and the Imperial Physician Courtyard. 

The "inner palace" was the residential area of the imperial family. The former site of the Duke of Qin's estate was here and changed into "Leisurely Cloud Palace." Other areas of the old estate were also remodeled, but Long Feiye and Han Yunxi's residence in Hibiscus Courtyard remained untouched. The bedchambers in Long Feiye's personal rooms and Han Yunxi's Leisurely Cloud Pavilion remained the same. Even Han Yunxi's poisonous plants were still alive and well. 

Besides Leisurely Cloud Palace, there were also a few other palaces in the harem that were currently vacant. There were plenty of rumors about the future owners of those halls, but those with brains knew they were destined to be vacant for good. A few years ago, people still tried to coax Long Feiye to choose a concubine for the imperial family and expand his bloodline. No one dared to in the past two years, because the advisors never came to good ends. 

Even more intelligent people would have long given up the idea of claiming a consort position. Instead, they would aim for the positions of crown prince's consort or crown princess's husband instead. However, this matter seemed even more difficult to pull off. 

The crown prince was almost five years old. Under the tutelage of his parents and Grand Tutor Gu, his mind was far more advanced than other children his age. More importantly, he had inherited his father's personality to be calm and reticent. It was impossible to read his thoughts, much less get a word of conversation in. Thus, the people of the capital who loved gossip over state affairs had a new speculation that the crown prince would grow to be like the former Duke of Qin in the future. Unless he was forced to marry, no girl would ever enter his eyes.

So, the gang of nobles, civil and military ministers all aimed for the position of "prince-in-law" to the princess instead. But they soon gave that up too. The emperor protected the princess to the point that it made others speechless. Only a handful of people were even allowed to see the princess's face!

In the end, it was still up to the emperor to decide the crown prince's consort and princess's prince-in-law. Everyone busied themselves in a circle before realizing it was most effective to simply please the emperor. The harem was huge, but so far only housed four masters. Even the servant girls and eunuchs were few, and one could rarely see any guards. However, everyone knew that trespassers would only die. 

The imperial city was divided into an inner and outer section. The inner section was home to the nobles, and senior officials. Gu Qishao's King Yu Estate, Gu Beiyue's Grand Tutor Estate, Tang Li, and Jin Zi all had residences in this area. The outer section was were the common people lived. Long Feiye and Han Yunxi officially entered the palace on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month. However, they had arrived at the imperial capital itself several days earlier to attend uiq te a few worship ceremonies. 

The very day of the 15th, Long Feiye had held his first court session at Tianxuan Hall. Afterwards, he finished the day's duties before heading immediately for the inner palace, though no one knew whether he was eager to join the empress or the little princess. Only the empress would be sure.

Gu Beiyue and Qin Min arrived at the capital city that afternoon. Both Qin Min and little Shadow were scared by the sheer scale of the Grand Tutor's Estate. When they entered the gates, they were even more stunned. Although this residence took up a lot of land, there were only two courtyards inside, one big one small. The bigger courtyard was for everyday living while the smaller one contained the study and a place for storing books. The rest of the land had been left vacant.

"You two go rest, I'll be going into the palace," Gu Beiyue intoned.

"Dinner is up to you, but don't come back too late," Qin Min declared. She knew Gu Beiyue's vacation was over once they came back to the capital, so he would be plenty busy with other affairs. It wasn't proper to bind him to three set meals, but his medicinal baths couldn't be interrupted.

They should have arrived from Ningzhou ten days ago, but she insisted on following the route she chose. Everyday, he was guaranteed to stay overnight at an inn. Thus, this ensured little Shadow got one hot meal a day and Gu Beiyue had his bath. Gu Beiyue didn't object and did as she wished. The two of them were less formal with each other than before, but weren't particularly intimate either. They even talked a little less than the past. However, as long as she requested something, Gu Beiyue would always nod.

"Mm," he nodded again and prepared to leave when he glanced at his right. Very quickly, Shadow noticed something on the roof as well.

"Father, someone's there!" Shadow murmured under his breath.

"Go." Gu Beiyue spoke and Shadow flew towards the roof. Over the past period, Gu Beiyue's personal instruction had improved his lightness techniques with godly speed. 

Gu Beiyue knew he was talented, but Shadow's persistent talents still surprised him. What was more valuable than this was the boy's willingness to stay diligent without resting on his laurels. As Shadow raced over, the guards lurking around them also emerged from all directions. Gu Beiyue simply stood next to Qin Min without moving.

Qin Min grew worried as Shadow disappeared to the other side of the roof. "Will it be dangerous?"

"Don't worry," Gu Beiyue said earnestly. Within the estate, especially at such short distances, he could still ensure Shadow's safety. Although Shadow had trained in martial arts since his youth, he was now five and had never interacted with others, much less understood the dangers of the human heart. Gu Beiyue was planning to send Shadow into the jianghu next year so he could experience the world.

Very soon, a guard returned to their position and muttered, "Master, it's His Highness Crown Prince."

Both "His Highness Crown Prince" and "Long Feiye's son" were enough to make anyone nervous. That child was too precious! Qin Min grew tense, not for herself, but Shadow's sake. She was afraid he'd cause trouble for the crown prince. 

Abruptly, Shadow reappeared on the roof and flew into the air. Very soon, a dark figure chased after him, not as fast but with eye-catching momentum. Shadow landed on another rooftop and had hardly stood still when the black-robed child caught up and landed too. Shadow was about to speak when the black-robed child suddenly thrust out with a powerful palm strike before him that sent his hair rippling.

"Shadow!" Qin Min could only see the black-robed child's back and his strike, not her son's condition. Her heart nearly stopped from fright, but little Shadow only cocked his head and turned to give her a smile. 

"Mother dearest, don't be afraid. His Highness Crown Prince showed mercy."

Of course, the black-robed child was the current imperial son Xuanyuan Rui. Although he was only four and half a year younger than Shadow, he was a little taller. His lightness techniques weren't as good as Shadow's, but his martial arts were far superior. After all, he had been training with his grandpa Han Chen every year since he was three for about three months at a time. Now he had taken three lessons and had recently rushed back to the palace from Clearbreeze Peak. 

Little Shadow straightened up after grinning at his mother, then cupped his hands in a very proper bow. "Gu Nanchen greets Your Highness Crown Prince."

"How did you know who I am?" Xuanyuan Rui asked. He had been practicing martial arts when he heard the grand tutor was back. He didn't even change out of his black practice robes. 

"Because all of the guards just then ran away," Shadow replied.

Xuanyuan Rui examined Shadow from head to toe before complimented, "Excellent lightness techniques."

Shadow immediately bowed again with a faint smile, "Your Highness has praised overmuch."

Xuanyuan Rui arched a brow and looked at Shadow in surprise. He didn't say anything else, nor did Shadow panic or grow curious. He allowed the crown prince to study him while maintaining a slight smile, as serene as a monk. 

Xuanyuan Rui was secretly pondering a question. How could this little Shadow be adopted? He's too similar to Grand Tutor Gu!

Shadow kept smiling that same small, gentle, beautiful smile. Xuanyuan Rui was left feeling restless instead. No one his age had ever dared to face his scrutiny like this and grin for so long. He broke eye contact first and turned around. At this, Qin Min and Shaoyao were both stunned.

His face is heavenly! 

His features resembled the emperor's but also had his own angles, aura, and nobility. At only four, he was still tender but also had a heroic slant to his brows. Moreover, those pair of dark eyes held an innate indifference and mystery that made one wonder how deep and fascinating they'd look after he grew up. 

Xuanyuan Rui flew down from the rooftops and landed in front of Gu Beiyue. He respectfully bowed to him. "Grand Tutor."

In terms of status, Xuanyuan Rui was the master and Gu Beiyue his minister, but as the Grand Tutor he was also Xuanyuan Rui's teacher. Gu Beiyue could accept the bow. It was rare for a crown prince like Xuanyuan Rui to willingly lower himself before others, too.

"Your Highness," Gu Beiyue bowed back. What used to be the emperor's title was now this young master's instead.

Once both of them straightened, Qin Min prepared to bow when Xuanyuan Rui bowed towards her first. "Madam Qin."

As the Grand Tutor's wife, she was his teacher's spouse and technically speaking, his shimu (teacher's wife). Although he did bow, it lacked the previous reverence or formality. His high and lofty nobility was still present.

This bow was simply a product of his cultured upbringing.

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Ruyi's Thoughts

man it's like mini GBY meeting mini LFY.

dude i can think of a bunch of danmei novels starting with a similar childhood acquaintance