World of Crystals > The Legend of Ming Wu Jen... 1
The Legend of Ming Wu Jen... 1
Indeed, the wealth and power, they would hold an allure for any mortal man of even slight ambition. But in reality the Emperor -- even an energized and enlightened one such as Kai Tsao Shou Lung Xsia Chin -- was more a symbol of power. His numbers of handlers and advisors coddled him and cared for him like a child. And, following that, the Emperor was almost always the last person to ever know anything.
The first person to know anything was Ming Wu Jen, the Court Astrologer and the Emperor's Prime Minister. In many ways, Mindu (as the Court Astrologer was styled) was the real power in the Imperial City. He was the Emperor's most important, most trusted advisor, and beyond that he was a powerful magician (in the civilized tradition of Xsian Astrologers, naturally) and gifted strategist (aided by his Astrological divinations).
So it was that when the messenger from the port watch arrived at the palace, he did not go to see the Emperor himself (who would he have been to presume he was worthy of entering into the Emperor's presence unannounced?), but rather he rushed to the Court Astrologer. He found Lord Ming in his study, where he was practicing at calligraphy.
"My lord Prime Minister," the messenger said, taking a moment to catch his breath before remembering himself and genuflecting appropriately before the Court Astrologer, "There is a strange ship has landed in the Imperial Harbor. It is no ship we have seen before, and its people are likewise foreign to us."
Mindu stopped mid-stroke, failing only just to allow his surprise to spoil his calligraphy. With cultivated grace, he delicately set down his brush and gave the messenger his full attention.
"Are we being attacked?" the Court Astrologer asked.
"No," the messenger said, "Though the sailors do appear to be armed. A fishing boat discovered them and guided them into berth -- that alone saved them from the Harbor Dragons."
There were not any actual dragons guarding over the harbor; merely several batteries of short-range shore cannons that were carved to resemble dragons. The Harbor Dragons had never had to be fired, and Ming Wu Jen was thankful they weren't tested here (not many knew so well, but Ming Wu Jen suspected these experimental weapons were just as likely to explode and destroy a good chunk of the harbor as they were to deal any damage to an invader).
"I see," Lord Ming said, as he drew out a blank sheet of paper and began to quickly write. "Has anyone talked to them?"
"No, my lord," the messenger said, "They speak no language that anyone in the Harbor recognizes."
Being that the Imperial Harbor was a major economic center for the Xsian Empire, with ships from all corners of the world docking there each day, it was curious that these sailors could find no way to communicate with anyone there. Curious and, Mindu admitted to himself, more than a touch exciting.
Quickly finishing his note, he pressed the ink dry, folded it carefully and affixed his seal on the outside. With the first messenger following after him, Lord Ming descended to the main level of the Palace and found one of the Palace's messengers. "Go and fetch me Surine," he told the messenger, "Have her meet me at the Great Lighthouse." He then turned to the original messenger. "Go and tell High Protector Zong and Grand General Ren of what has happened, if they do not know already. Advise them not to worry, that I am taking care of the situation, and that they should not mobilize except with a direct order from myself or the Emperor. One or the other of these men will then see an opportunity to ingratiate themselves at my expense and ask you to rush to the Emperor to give permission to mobilize. Follow whatever commands they give you, but then be sure to give this letter to the Emperor, and *only* to the Emperor himself. Give it to him after you have relayed whatever message given by the High Protector or the Grand General, and then proceed as the Emperor may direct you."
The messenger was ecstatic to be included on one of the Court Astrologer's schemes. He thanked Lord Ming profusely, kissed the hem of his robe, and rushed off to carry out the request. Lord Ming then boarded a palanquin and was taken directly to the Harbor to meet with the sailors of the foreign vessel.
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