There is a world far beyond any earthly creature’s capacity to reach, still young and bestowed with the grace of the it’s spirits. Every human on this planet beard horns upon their crowns. These appendages were not used for frivolous constructs, but means to communicate subconsciously. Thus, everyone, at least vaguely, understood eachother’s joys and strifes. Unfortuantely, that never thruly stifled conflict, for, these people had as much problems as any earthly man.
Within the vast lands of this world lies the illustrious country of Feng Lan. Legends have long sang that the country sprung from the emotions of love and care, and dubbed it the first country to recognise romantic affection. And from a stretch of time, cherishing such emotions, the country prospered. However, much has changed between now and ancient times. Philosophies regarding logic and reason have grown popular. And thus, the instinctive and emotional basis of Feng Lan slowly waned until the traditional practices of love became scarce.
Regardless, as time went on, Feng Lan continued to prosper. The army slowly grew in size and skill, and the technology and scholarly work have become quite renown. Of course, the government did not lack in strength and power. The emperors of Feng Lan were, well knowns as, some of the best. One of the most notable is the current emperor, Cheng Wang Yu. He was the third pronce out of three and, for a long time, was thought to be the least likely to inherit the throne.
The capital of the country was known as Xin’an. And from it’s name one can suspect that it was peaceful. However, this peace was unnatural. The people, especially those of royal lineage, try their best not to ensconce in chaos. Long has it been established that if the city was placed in a state contrary to it’s name, a large tragedy will befall the royal family and the whole country will have to bear with a change in dynasty. And for such a reason, Cheng Wang Yu, as the last prince, had to give up his hope of ever sitting on the throne at a young age. He grew into a person without a clear purpose in life, eventually adopting lazy habits. As he rarely showed his true potential, he was widespreadly known as the dimwitted and blundering prince.
However, one day he left home in a mission to the northern regions to prove himself to be, at least, competent. He had told no one what he was questing for and, in the end, returned empty handed. But, there was a visible change in him. He began to exhumed an air of confidence and strength, befitting of a ruler. He started to prove himself intellectually and physically, until, his father and brothers admitted his excellence. And, soon enough the throne was bestowed upon him with out any hassle or complaint.
So far, Cheng Wang Yu’s reign was far prosperous in comparison to his predecessors. The emperor’s wise decisions have nearly doubled the size of the country with not a single military campaign failing. The government was also remarkably stable, with not even a breath of possible treason. At least within the court.
As of late, there has been numerous reports about the bandit of Bai Gong mountain. Most of such documents complained that he has become somewhat of an acting king to the lands surrounding his home. Not to mention, a major trading route passes by Bai Gong; a trading trading route he horribly brutalizes. His primary crime though was treason as it is assumed that he brought the garish royal lifestyle. To a certain extent, the reports convinced the king that the bandit was such a horrible character.
His highness was in his study. He segregated the proposals and reports into two: those regarding Bai Gong mountain; and miscellaneous. The two piles were almost equal in thickness. The emperor’s face, from afar, exhibited his usual empty, stoic expression. However, with closer examination one will notice lines of disappointment on his face. He felt somewhat betrayed.
Wang Yu gave out a huge, uncharacteristic, sigh. He had always thought highly of the man who lived in Bai Gong. He even knew his name, Ma Zhe Ming. What ditraut the emperor the most was not that the other was suspected of treason, but what all his crimes imply. He was greedy. From what he remembered, Ma Zhe Ming lived an economically stable life. Why would he need to steel? Why would he want to encroch plotical power?
Regardless, he always knew that Ma Zhe Ming was trouble. The praise and high regard the people around his mountain gave him was nothing new. Wang Yu even, once, went all the way to his mountain to quell his growing power for in this country there can only be one ruler. But, when he met him, he could not help but feel respect for the other. He can practically remember their first conversation in verbatim. With that thought in mind, a wide smile crept into Wan Yu’s face.
However, the fond memory also carried one of his most dreaded actions along side it; the mistake he committed in attempt to capture the mountain kingThe emperor’s lips twitch a bit, remembering what careless deed he did back then. He had left the mountain cursed by his own carelessness.
Then, all of a sudden the room filled with unreasonable, unfathomable, indiscernible anger. “The audacity of this person to become a criminal! To treat himself to the luxuries of royalty! How could he betray my good faith in him?! I, the emperor, spared him and his mountain because I trusted his judgement! How could I have made the mistake to have let such a pest run wild?!” he thought. The emperor felt deceived. With his anger, he decided to take a stroll in the outside garden to cool his head with the breeze of the early morning air. Immediately, the guards and eunuchs gave him some space. It was a regular habit for him to take walks when he was angry and they refused to be caught in his line of fire. The guards, to remain doing their jobs, observed the emperor from afar. And, for some reason unknown to the onlookers, it looked as though he wore the expression of one who just realised that they have been living a lie.
Up on the mountain of Bai Gong in Bei Tian, a place north of the capital, lies a palace. It was old; a remnant of a previous regime of a long since conquered country. Regardless of it’s age, the castle still maintained it’s moon white colour. However, it’s marble walls were being eaten by vegetation to the point that it is almost difficult to differentiate between the castle and the outdoors. It was the ruins of a royal building of a fallen country widely known as the White Palace. It had long since been lost in myth and vegetation.
It was not empty, however. At least it has not been so recently. Ma Zhe Ming found it when he was a child and had worked real hard to bring it back to at least half of it’s former glory. Currently, he resides there with his fellow mountain bandits. Regardless of how he intended for his friends to seem him as an equal, such a hope is too far out of reach. Ever since he formed this tiny group of bandits, they had continuously worshiped him until such attitude spread to the nearby towns until he became somewhat like their king.
Ever since, he step foot on the ground below the mountain, the people looked at him in awe. He had no idea why so, but if one asks the population they would reply saying, “He appeared out of nowhere wearing an aura like that of a god that stepped down from the heavens.” He had no idea how so either. Even with the people’s common answer, he questioned how he looked heavenly. He found nothing special about himself physically. His hair was a strange light, odd, pinkish, shade of red, one he believed not to be desirable, and his skin had always had an undesirable slight tan. He had always failed to see that his physical features gave him a very majestic appeal, like seeing a phoenix walk on the clouds.
Never the less, his physical appearance had little to do with his aura. His gait, gestures and facial expressions have always depicted a sense of otherworldliness. But may be it wasn’t his actions at all, but the shape of his horns. In this world, horns typically faced forward, or backward. However, Ma Zhe Ming’s pointed straight up at the heavens. This orientation may have made it difficult for him others to understand him and vide versa, as he was not psychologically connected to them. Thus, he was bound to a life of ethereal loneliness. No one will be able to understand him. He will never be their equal, just a creature either superior or inferior.
He had long since pushed such lamentations to the back of his mind and continued dreaming of one day being someones exact equal. For a short time such wish was fulfilled when the third prince, now the emperor, climbed up the mountain just to have tea with him. He had never been invited for tea before. That was the single happiest moment in his life. After that day, he was never the same. His mind filled with hope that, one day, he will find his equal, the person who would, at least vaguely, understand him.
After that day, he adopted a friendlier attitude, hoping it would sponsor familiarity between him and his people. And, to a certain extent it worked as this fellow bandits began to treat him almost like a regular brother. However, for the folk at the foot of the mountain, his position reached higher and higher depths. Eventually, farmers offered him their daughters in hope that they would stand a chance to be by his side, like some sort of empress. Eventually the status of such the people offered him increased to the daughters of provincial lords and even princesses of small tribes and countries. His harem grew almost as large as the emperor’s. Things have gone out of hand and he was well aware of it.
He has long ago went along with his role as the “Pseudo King of the North Skies.” He didn't have a court but he deliberated problems among people, and allowed others to seek audience with him. And he listened and recommended solutions. He acted, almost, like a king of a small kingdom. He did not like it, but he cared for his people and wanted to help them, believing that this is the only way he can do so. Also, by being a bandit, he believed that he can earn enough money for the poor citizens to live comfortable. He himself had no problem with comfort. He lived in a palace, he was exposed to material luxuries, regardless of how outdated they were.
On this faithful morning, he was indulging in one of his habits. After meeting Cheng Wang Yu, he acquired a magnifying device meant for the stars and pointed it straight at the imperial palace from his balcony. The White Palace was latched to one side of the mountain, only surrounded by land in a small portion around the building. Thus, from the balcony, the ground was not even visible. Luckily, one of the balcony’s of the palace was facing Xin’an’s forbidden city.
After, Cheng Wang Yu left his home, many years ago, Ma Zhe Ming was very keen to see his progress and watched him for at least an hour everyday. This stalking habit became less frequent when the other became the emperor. As far as he knew, Wang Yu’s reign was, so far, successful. And, each time he would see him through the telescope Ma Zhe Ming would smile brightly. But, today, however, was an exception.
Upon seeing Wang Yu’s disturbed expression, the onlooker tilted his head and furrowed his brows, “Wang Yu what’s wrong?”