A/N: The traditional Imperial Chinese calendar (Marking from the years of an emperors reign) is used in this story. Date really isn't important, but if it truely bugs you: Year I of the Yongzheng Emperor is 1723. Year VII is 1730. "Bo" expressed by the Chinese symbol 伯 is a noble title, roughly meaning "Count".
Nanjing, The Chinese Empire
The City Harbor,
Janurary 1st, Year I of the Yongzheng Emperor
"It's always quiet here," Said an aged man, sitting in an oaken chair. He rocked slowly, observing the setting sun. "There are a few ships, yes. Mostly Junks. But nothing astounding. It was probally more exciting centuries ago."
A young boy who sat next to the old man was curious why the man had said such things. Nanjing was always busy, atleast to him. He could remember the days where hundreds of ships pooled into the harbor. Yet there was something greater? Impossible! The boy looked up at the old man quizzically. He certainly didn't believe the old coot; how could MORE boats than there were now of been in this place?
"Grandfather Bao, you are silly. Did you drink your herbal tea? You know how you get if you don't take it.."
"Shush Lok. Let me speak. Ages ago, before the great Qing dynasty took this land, it was ruled by the Ming. They were not a great dynasty in terms of culture, or strength. But they were well known for Zheng He, the jeweled Eunuch. He had a very large fleet, known as the Treasure Fleet, full of huge massed ships which sailed all through Asia, taking tribute from all the petty kingdoms. Yet China was unstable back then, and the the Treasure Fleet was disbanded. It has never been the same since."
The boy known as Lok looked at his grandfather for a moment, then turned to look at the wanning sun. For some reason, he felt the sun calling for him, the Celestial Empress and various dieties calling for Lok to take up the mantle, to be destined for something great. But, he was only a Han; and at that, his family only possessed the rank of ibo 伯/i. Both of these were handicaps..but how could he overcome them?
Nanjing, The Chinese Empire
The Bao Manor,
March 19th, Year VII of the Yongzheng Emperor
Young Lok had grown. He was no longer a child who watched the harbor with his grandfather, but a man. It was actually quite a happy day for the family of Lok. He had returned from Beijing, and with that, he had based the examinations. He would be entering the service of the Imperial government. It was indeed a great day for the family of Lok; he was the first son of the entire family to be given such an honor.
"Oh, I am so happy for you!" Said his mother. "I remember when you were born. You always cried so much. But look here, now you will be going off to to the capital to serve the emperor! I shall miss you little Lok, but I shall remember to pray for you everyday, so that you may achieve your dreams."
"I think we are all happy," Said his father. "Lok is the first man in our family to have taken the exam and passed. Big things wait for you. You will have wealth beyond your imagination! But, you must remember that China, and the emperor comes first. Money and fame is always a second opinion."
Lok beamed at the comments. Yet his mother and father soon left the central room on the manor, to go finish up for the feast to honor Lok and his passing of the the exam. It was just him and Bao; his grandfather. Grandfather Bao was getting on in years, rocking in his chair as always. But he still had that spark alive within him. And Bao had never forgot that day at the harbor.
"Grandfather Bao," Lok stated. "Do you remember the voyages of Zheng He?"
"Of course young one." Bao stated. "One could never forget Zheng He. What is wrong? Why do you bring up the jeweled Eunuch now?"
"Grandfather, please, listen." Lok replied, obviously distressed. "I have big ideas for China. I may be but a lowly official now..but I will rise the ranks. I will make something of myself. I am destined for great things. I will become Grand Councillor to the Emperor, and I will make changes. The Treasure fleet will rise again."
"Yes, Bao, yes. That is nice. But I must sleep now."