Sulyong, 4th moon, year 688
Sulyong and its government
"Name?", the silver guard in charge asked.
"Kun Xui", Cao answered calmly, although the mare he was holding kept pulling at her rope aggressively.
"State your business."
"I am a scholar from Kungteh. I passed the state examination, so I am here for a position as junior Official"
The guard eyed his simple bronze Paofu and the carefully packed scrolls on the horses back. He turned towards a guard behind him, "Accompany this scholar to the Chancellor. We will take care of the horse"
The young man nodded and positioned himself formally next to Cao, his chest stretched forwards. The studded iron gates between the two imposing towers were opened for them. They marched through the tunnel like gateway. As they emerged on the other side Cao had to restrain himself from whistling in impressment. The sight was overwhelming. Along the palace walls stood rows of housing halls, tiny in comparison to the vast courtyard. Across it stood the towering main hall, several stories high, painted white and scarlet with a tiled roof of inky black. They crossed it and walked up the broad stone steppes. Out of the double winged doors emerged a group of colourfully clad Lordlings. They let them pass before entering themselves. Cao had never seen anything that emanated such level of riches. Every brick, every brush stroke of paint was surely worth more than a peasant’s home. No wall was left blank, no beam colourless. Everything was decorated with colours and valuable stones. In the corners stood statues of golden monkeys with jade eyes. The ceiling was green and blue, depicting great birds and the floor was white with patterns filled out with red lacquer. Only then did Cao realise that this was only the entrance. The passed between silk curtains and found themselves in a bright room, lit by sunlight that flooded through the large windows. On a raised platform sat an old man in deep purple robes, his face etched in 40 years of worry. Below him sat a row of officials on cushions, in front of small desks in identical lavender robes. They bowed, the guard spoke first, "Chancellor Fen, this scholar, by the name of Kun Xiu claims he is here for a position as a Junior official." The Chancellor nodded warily, "Yes, I am expecting him. Thankyou, return to your post" The guard bowed hastily before leaving.
"Come closer", Fen ordered. Although his voice was aged and slow, it still held the tone of power that expected obedience. Cao stepped forward, careful to keep his face still, yet friendly and open. The Chancellor snapped his fingers and an official handed him a Bamboo roll. Fen unravelled it slowly, his eyes darting up and down as he read, then he looked up again. "Can you confirm that you are Kun Xiu?"
"Born in Kungthe the 11th lunar moon in the 4th year of Queen Mi-Su-Lengs reigning period?"
"That is correct."
"So you'll turn 20 this year?"
Fens eyes wondered back to the writing, "You have scored very highly in the exam I see your teacher wrote a personal note and Lord Dông added his own recommendation", He sounded slightly impressed, "we haven't taken anyone from Kungteh for a while now, but I'm sure you will be able to raise the image of your hometown concerning their intellect."
"I hope so. I will do my best."
Fen rolled up the scroll again. "No less will be expected"
"You're hired then. Xue here will lead you to the hall of office, where you will work under minister Ho in the military department."
"Thank you truly, my Lord, a dream has come true for me."
The Chancellor made a noise that might have been a doubtful snort.
The hall of office was busier than any other part of the Palace. The officials, easily recognisable through their lavender Paofus, rushed back and force carrying scrolls, letters, coins, and writing supplies. There were also servants in grey-blue Paos, carrying trays, laden with Tea and pastries. Minister Ho stood in the middle of her room, flanked by an official and a Man that seemed to be a General, barking at two soldiers in matching black armour. When she saw Cao and Xue she put her hand up, to make them wait.
"I hope I made myself absolutely clear", she said to the soldiers. They nodded bashfully.
"Get out then." they turned around and as they passed him Cao answered the lingering look of the female one with a smile.
"Ah," Ho said, "You are the new junior official."
Coa bowed "Yes Minister. My name is Kun Xiu"
Her sharp, small eyes glanced him up and down.
"Good. Let me present to you Fa Guang, a senior official," Guang, who grew a proud, fluffy moustache, gave a polite nod. "And this is Yin QiLun, General official." The muscular man gave a slight smile, his droopy eyes blinking.
At that moment a squeaky servant came rushing inside, "Begging you pardon", she panted, bowing randomly at people, "The King has called for the small council. All Ministers are expected immediately in the jade hall."
Ho raised a thin eyebrow, "I see he has finally come to that notion", she looked as if she were holding back more bitter words. Interesting, Cao thought, her dislike for the new King is obvious. He glanced towards the others, they probably felt the same. Cao was eager in meeting the other Ministers, to get clues about their opinions.
"Very well. I will not have any need of you today. So if-", She starred at Xue, apparently trying to remember her name.
"My name is Xue”, the young woman said, going slightly red.
"Yes, Xue to show you around."
"Of course, Minister."
"And I expect that report finished wen I'm back, Guang." Then she hurried of towards the jade hall, without another word.