A Step into the Past Chapter 187

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Chapter 17 Chapter 05 – The Beginning Of The Five Elements Theory

Pa.s.sing by the Qin Residence, Xiang Shaolong can feel his entire body itching to see its owner. Finally, he succ.u.mbed to his desire.

Every family warrior guarding the gate knew about his special relationship with Qin Qing and invited him to enter the residence without announcing his arrival.

The housekeeper Uncle Fang escorted him into the main hall and was about to inform Qin Qing when Xiang Shaolong smiled: “I am just pa.s.sing by. Let me just say Hi to her.” After enquiring about her whereabouts, he entered the corridor and walked towards the rear chambers.

A few pretty maids were playing with the snow in the garden. Chancing upon Xiang Shaolong, they whispered and giggled among themselves before pointing him towards Qin Qing.

Crossing over the door ledge into the eastern chamber, he saw Qin Qing leaning towards the table at an angle. Dressed in a pale green dress and a purple shawl embroidered with phoenixes, her hair was tied up neatly in a bun with a few strands of hair hanging loosely. The loose strands of hair made her even more mesmerizing coupled with her flawless beauty. Even with Xiang Shaolong’s strong willpower, he was stunned at this display before him.

With one hand holding a piece of cloth and the other sewing with a needle and thread, Qin Qing was fixated in her work.

Never in her wildest dreams did she expect Xiang Shaolong to appear suddenly before her. Shocked, she frantically tidied her hair and sat upright, chirping: “Ai, it is you!”

Witnessing her enchanting movements, Xiang Shaolong was aroused and stepped forward, sitting down beside her. Almost touching her lap, he leaned forward and greeted: “h.e.l.lo Grand Tutor Qin! Please forgive me for visiting you after such a long delay.”

Qin Qing leaned backwards and put more distance between their two faces but did not find fault with him. She almost wanted to whine out but held back, making her even s.e.xier.

Xiang Shaolong noticed the embroidery in her hands and she somehow tried to hide it from his prying eyes. Curious, Xiang Shaolong asked: “What picture is Grand Tutor embroidering?”

Qin Qing’s neck became burning hot instantly and she lowered her head, whining: “Will Official Xiang please watch your own behaviour? How can you sit right beside me at the same table without asking for permission? ” Xiang Shaolong guessed that her embarra.s.sment came about because the embroidery is possibly linked to him. His heart filled with sweetness, he gently coaxed: “I am only here to pay my respects and have to take my leave now. If I have offended you, it is just for a short period anyway. Please forgive me for this temporary rudeness.”

Qin Qing seriously state: “You! You had to barge in like this and caught me in a dishevelled state.”

Xiang Shaolong leaned forward slightly to enjoy her body fragrance and smiled: “I beg to differ. Had I not barged in, I would not be able to see the intoxicating side of you.”

Qin Qing regained her usual icy composure but her face is still slightly red. Standing up and away from the other side of the table, she placed her embroidery into a painted box near her. She carefully and delicately arranged everything in the box neatly before shutting it. Xiang Shaolong came up to her side and imitated her posture, softly asking: “I have returned safely. Are you happy?”

From his angle, he can enjoy the features of this ancient beauty and was swept off his feet. Naturally, his words carry a hint of teasing.

Qin Qing kept quiet for some time before turning around to shoot him a look. She slowly sighed: “I thought Official Xiang has something else to do? Don’t waste your precious time here.”

These two sentences are as good as pouring a bucket of ice water over Xiang Shaolong’s head. Xiang Shaolong immediately snapped out of his stupor and his pa.s.sion fizzled out. After a short daze, he can no longer stand the awkward silence between the two of them and with some anger; he nodded and paid his respects. He furiously strode towards the door and swore to never step into the Qin Residence again.

Before he can cross the door ledge, Qin Qing softly whistled: “Xiang Shaolong!”

Xiang Shaolong stood still and coldly snorted: “What else does Grand Tutor Qin want now?!”

Footsteps sounded softly as Qin Qing came up to his back. Her gentle voice filled his ears: “Are you angry?”

Xiang Shaolong bitterly smiled: “If it was you, would you be happy?”

Qin Qing went around him to his front and plainly state: “Of course not but do you realise that your behaviour is simply disrespectful!”

Xiang Shaolong had a big revelation. All along, Qin Qing had misunderstood him. As she has many spies in the palace, she must have thought that he and Zhu Ji share a special relationship which makes Zhu Ji support him wholeheartedly. She was mistaken that he had used his charm to seduce Zhu Ji and despised him for that. Therefore, she becomes cold and unfeeling towards him.

He shook his head and smiled bitterly: “Grand Tutor Qin thinks too lowly of me. Forget it! You are free to believe whatever you wish. I am used to being misunderstood by you anyway.” Ignoring her wailing, he left the Qin residence in a huff.

Just as he left the Qin Residence with the Eighteen Guardians, he ran headlong into Ying Ying and several of her female warriors.

Both their entourage stopped beside the main road. With a guilty conscience, Ying Ying awkwardly greeted: “h.e.l.lo Official Xiang! Why didn’t you visit me despite having returned such a long time ago?”

Xiang Shaolong is in a bad mood and he knew that Ying Ying is still fooling around with Guan Zhongxie. Unwilling to humour her, he coldly replied: “Will you be free if I visited you?” Paying no further attention to her, he slapped his horse and left.

Back at the Wu Residence, he quickly searched for Ji Yanran.

Talented Lady Ji had just completed her two favourite tasks: Taking a short nap and having a hot water shower after the nap. Smelling sweetly, she was seated on a small armchair and leaning on a soft cushion. She was slightly covered by a light blanket and was reading quietly. A jade flute was resting on her bosom and it was a sight to behold.

Seeing her, Xiang Shaolong forgot all the unhappiness he encountered today and slipped into her blanket and her bosom without her consent. Ji Yanran smilingly put down her book and allowed Xiang Shaolong to soak in her fragrance. She slowly asked: “What problems did you have today? You have such a long face.”

Xiang Shaolong let out a comfortable sigh and explained to her about Lu Buwei hanging a thousand taels of gold at the City gates.

Ji Yanran furrowed her brows slightly and crossed her legs. Pushing some loose strands of hair behind her ears, she simply replied: “This is a powerful method by Lu Buwei to create the impression that he is the new saint. It is not impossible to counter him. Ai! Can you please stop kissing me there? How can I think straight with this distraction?”

Xiang Shaolong moved his greedy lips away from her neck and sat upright unwillingly. Scrutinizing her well-defined eyes, he cheered: “I knew you would have a good plan.”

Ji Yanran shot him a look and her eyes twinkled with joy. She added: “I have read the Spring-Autumn Annals of Lu and it is truly a masterpiece. Its only loophole is that it is heavily plagiarised from the works of others. Compared to G.o.dfather, he is way below. Its weakness is its impracticability. If I recite his Five Elements theory, Lu Buwei’s work will seem like child’s play.”

Xiang Shaolong frowned: “I thought G.o.dfather’s work is just something used to predict the future? How can it be used to counter the Annals?”

Leaning into his bosom, Ji Yanran cutely giggled: “Hubby is so muddle-headed and adorable at the same time. Lu Buwei is promoting his Annals to portray himself as a new saint and suppress the influence of the Qin King over the population. All we need to do is to explain the theories of the Five Elements. For example, Zhou is Fire Element and Qin is Water Element. Water extinguishes Fire so Qin will unite the world for sure. We will immortalize Crown Prince into the Leader of the era and Lu Buwei can only pale in comparison.”

Xiang Shaolong was ecstatic and carried the fragrant and helpless Ji Yanran in his arms, laughing: “Talented Lady Ji shall now accompany me into the palace.”

Ji Yanran protested: “I am so relaxed now; can we enter the palace tomorrow instead?”

Xiang Shaolong laughed: “No! The wife should follow her husband. Talented Lady Ji must leave with me immediately.”

While they are still bickering, Tian Zhen came to report that Qin Qing is here.

Ji Yanran struggled out of his bosom and kissed him: “You go ahead and welcome Sister Qin. I need to get changed in order to enter the palace with you! After all, it is just my luck to marry a husband like you!” Laughingly, she slipped away.

When Xiang Shaolong stepped into the main hall, Qin Qing is seated with her back to the scenic garden that was covered with a blanket of white snow. It was an elegant portrayal that highlights her aristocracy and purity.

Coming up to her back, Xiang Shaolong was feeling apologetic, knowing that he had been too narrow minded, causing her to come all the way here to find him. He lightly apologised: “I’m sorry!”

Qin Qing’s delicate frame trembled slightly and she took two deep breaths to suppress her emotions. In a peaceful manner, she declared: “Xiang Shaolong! The reason I come all the way here today is to clarify something with you.”

All Xiang Shaolong wanted to do was to grab her tender shoulders and pull her into his bosom but Qin Qing has this aura of innocence and purity that creates an intangible gap between them, forcing him to resist this temptation.

He sighed: “If you are here to appease me with some insincere words, you can save it. I will not deceive myself any longer. I hope you will do the same. Ha!”

Qin Qing turned her body around. With her eyes shining, she wailed loudly: “When did I say anything insincere to you?”

Xiang Shaolong knew that they are now even closer to each other after the last misunderstanding. Qin Qing is easily offended by his gestures because she has been chaste for a very long time. He suitably offered: “That’s good. Yanran and I are entering the palace to visit the Crown Prince. Does Grand Tutor Qin want to come along?”

Forgetting about her own affair, Qin Qing was taken by surprise: “What is it that requires you to get Sister Yanran involved?”

Ji Yanran happened to come up to them in her outdoor clothes. Speaking as they walked, they boarded the horse carriage and entered the palace.

Everyone of importance in Xiao Pan’s circle of trust was a.s.sembled in the Imperial Study. They include Xiang Shaolong, Li Si, Lord Changping, w.a.n.g He, Qin Qing and of course Ji Yanran. Together, they are here to listen to Talented Lady Ji’s explanation of the Five Elements Theory.

Seated at the head of the seats on Xiao Pan’s right, Ji Yanran spoke out in her usual charming manner: “The Five Elements are in continuous motion and each has its own strengths and weaknesses. They submit to the Chosen One. The person who unites the world will possess one of the elements. The Five Elements are Metal, Wood, Water, Fire and Earth. Each element will shine for some time before it diminishes and be replaced by the rise of another element. The Yellow Emperor is Earth Element. Wood counters Earth. Xia Yu is the Wood Element. Metal counters Wood. Shang Tang is the Metal Element. Fire counters Metal. King Zhou Wen is the Fire Element. Now, the Zhou Dynasty is in decline. The next element to come into power is the Water Element which counters the Fire Element.”

His eyes shining with curiosity, Xiao Pan repeated: “Water counters Fire! Water counters Fire!”

Playing on the safe side, w.a.n.g He questioned: “I acknowledged the brilliance of Zou Yan’s philosophies but it is still a theory that is only professed by him alone. Is there any other evidence?”

Ji Yanran’s eyes rotated with charm. Every man in the room including Xiao Pan and Xiang Shaolong were intoxicated.

As if she is stating a fact, Ji Yanran explained: “The Five Elements have already been mentioned in the Book of Shang; Water nourishes, Fire burns, Wood crafts, Metal tools, Earth constructs. Since the ancient times, there have been six gases and five solids. The five tastes are spicy, sour, salty, bitter and sweet. There are five musical notes Do, Re, Mi, Fa, So. The five main basic colours are white, black, red, yellow and green. The other colours are a mixture of the basic five and they affect one another.”

Seated beside her, Qin Qing mused: “Mencius did mention that a new King will rise every five hundred odd years. The period between Xia Yu and Shang Tang is around five hundred years; the period between Shang Tang and King Zhou Wen is also five hundred years. Now, the rise of Confucius is about five hundred years after Zhou. This must be the rise and fall of the Five Elements.”

Li Si guessed: “Confucius is only a scholar and is not worthy of being referred to as an outstanding King. I believe Crown Prince is the new Ruler of this era.”

Xiao Pan was overjoyed but was concerned that he may not be the New Saint. He frowned: “It is difficult to pinpoint who is the new King every five hundred years. How can we turn this into an argument against Lu Buwei’s propaganda?”

Xiang Shaolong smiled: “Of course we will employed our own propaganda and stake it on the widespread influence of Talented Lady’s G.o.dfather Zou Yan. Who is a better person other than him to pinpoint the New Saint? I am certain everyone will be convinced by his prediction.” Pausing, he seriously added: “We must use the Five Elements and Official Li’s Three Premier Nine Ministers recommendation to overhaul the power of the Qin court. This will stabilise the Crown Prince’s authority and prevent Lu Buwei from abusing his power.”

Ji Yanran smiled: “This is called ‘using one’s weapons against oneself’. The Spring-Autumn Annals of Lu is a compilation of works from different philosophers and also contain certain chapters that support G.o.dfather’s Five Elements Theory. During the reign of the Yellow Emperor, giant earthworms were sighted and the Earth Element is strong. Earth is yellow which became his nickname. The Water Element will replace the Fire Element. The matching colour of Water is black. We can make use of Lu Buwei’s propaganda to turn the tables around and put him down. When that happens, he can only wallow in self pity.”

Xiao Pan slapped his armrest and praised: “This is great news indeed.”

Still having reservations, w.a.n.g He questioned with suspicions: “Talented Lady Ji mentioned that during the reign of the Chosen One, there will be some auspicious sightings. During the Yellow Emperor reign, giant earthworms are sighted and the fire phoenix is sighted during King Zhou Wen’s reign. If there is no auspicious sighting for Crown Prince, it is hard to convince the Qin people.”

Xiang Shaolong is from the 21st century and knew better than anyone else the powerful effects of marketing and brainwashing the population. Everything can be manipulated to create a sensation. Inspired, he suggested: “This is easy. When the Crown Prince is crossing a river, we will create a Black Dragon that will appear in the water. It will be exactly like the Loch Ness Monster… Hei! It’s nothing. The Dragon only needs to reveal its head and back to be regarded as an auspicious sign for the Crown Prince. After that, everything impossible will become possible.”

Lord Changping frowned: “Talk is cheap. If we are discovered, we will be the laughing stock of the world.”

Xiang Shaolong recalled that Zhou Wei’s elder brother Zhou Liang is a boat expert and the mechanical experts of Ji Yanran’s State of Yue. He laughed: “Leave this to me. The Black Dragon only needs to move a bit and sink back into the water to accomplish our mission. I guarantee that no one will see through this ruse.”

Xiao Pan burst out laughing: “I shall have to bother Grand Tutor then.” Facing Ji Yanran, he continued: “If I am the chosen one, there must be other accompanying evidence. Please help me see to this and act according to plan.” His expression turning serious, he declared: “This information is limited to everyone present today. If this is leaked, the offender will be executed with his household.”

Everyone accepted his order.

Xiang Shaolong is feeling crazy. He did not expect his conflict with Lu Buwei to involve propaganda and marketing. This is going to be a public relations battle.