The distinction between children and adults, while probably useful for some purposes, is at bottom a specious one, I feel. There are only individual egos, crazy for love.
-Niccolo Machiavelli

39 years

"Why are you still by me, Zhongda?"
Yi glances past his scroll, his dark brow rising in a perplexed and fearful manner.
"My Lord Cao Pi?" is spoken in that softer gentle tone Yi wields only when he sees no consequence in whom is hearing us.
"I am asking why you are still within my chambers at this late hour; after all I do not intend on dying tonight."
I nearly succumb to laughter at realizing that my last phrase makes the hand Zhongda had unknowingly been running through my hair tremble, and go stiff.

Earlier, Yi had decided to invite himself into my chambers, and took my bed as his seat. When I retired, I used his lap for a pillow. He left me no choice, really; as he has insisted on staying here to read his notes and memorandums aloud to me.
Zhongda's hand withdraws to lightly tap my forehead; I had been trying to rest. (I want that too much as of late.)
"Hmph. What sort of fool's jest was that Cao Pi?"
Yi looks on at me with a scrutiny that would be harrowing if I could just find it in myself to be surprised. As I have said, I am tired and truly must get sleep.
"I was asking, Zhongda, why it is that you insist on having me make these decisions for you?"
Zhongda's hand softens again, and wanders off to rest lightly on my forehead. (Is that affectionate gesture on purpose, or has he just forgotten whoI am to him and decided to rest his hand on my face?)

"I do not understand that complaint, My Lord. What your choices are being solicited for is to rule your kingdom. Why complain to me of that?"
I take Yi's hand into my own, very briefly. It is cool and and smooth; whatever illness it is that grips me has not been transmitted to him, despite his insistence on granting me his company.
"Zhongda no one who is still living will believe that you are honestly conveying my will."
"But I am. I want to. So what is your point in telling me what I already know?" Yi wraps his hand about my own. Now I can't catch the laughter as it escapes my throat.
"Yi, if even you feel the need to resort to sincerity, then I must be very badly ill indeed."

He lets go of my hand in order to cross his arms.
"Zihuan, you are mocking me again." I let my laughter finish dying down.
"Do not blame the wolf when you enter his cage."
Yi sighs and sees the position of the moon through my chamber's window.
"Very well, Zihuan. You have won. Lift your head from me so I may leave."
From his voice I can tell his fatigue is finally catching him.

Yi speaks from the door frame, "Zihuan... tomorrow I will return to finish going over these scrolls with you. And whatever new information arises, as always."
"Very well, Zhongda." Yi stands there, lips pursed.
"This... hectic schedule of ours could be over with once you return to the throne, Zihuan."
Idiot; I scoff: "You assume any of this is my choice, dearest Zhongda."

Darkness is a harsh term, don't you think?Yet it dominates the things I think. Seems that all my bridges have been burnt, but you say that's exactly how this grace thing works. It's not the long walk that will change this heart, but the welcome I receive at the restart.

14 years

This is obnoxious, not the lesson, the tutor. The idiots father insists on having watch me, while he is off somewhere, elsewhere: ruling, conquering or with one of his other sons . And because he's always busy with his other sons. My latest tutor keeps droning on. The old man is annoying. But, he seems unused to being pushed or prodded. He's the type that it won't take much to run of. I keep starring out the palace window, at the court yard where military training and ceremonies are held, where I should be. If it weren't for the fact that grooming two heirs only invites insurrection, my tutors have said. I should find a way to rebel against this tutor, but the old fart is too senile to even notice that I've been staring out the window instead of listening to him this whole time. Maybe my luck will change, and something interesting will happen.

"Hey! Look out the window! Someone new is here. And they're escorted by soldiers!" The tutor walks over to the window, having lost his train of thought at my interruption. He asks who, where. I point to them (by now just outside the window), a decently pretty figure in purple with long jet hair, a delicate face and dusty lips.
But their chest's flat, so it's a guy or a really unlucky chick. The tutor finally speaks up, stroking his white beard and squinting into the distance thoughtfully.
"That lad seems familiar... could I have seen him, or his father perhaps, during my old days in Luo Yang? That was back before we had our administration done here at Xu Chang, prince." There the pompous old man goes again, but I think I can get rid of him now.
"Maybe she looks familiar because you got her as a mail order bride?"
"Prince Cao Pi! Learn to behave as one of your station ought to!"

I exhale and quickly turn back to the study hall's window. The figure's robes are a fine enough silk, their hair and skin well kept.
"He doesn't look like the sort of criminal whom is usually led into Xu Chang by guards. Do you know why my father could have brought him here?"
The old tutor stands behind me at the window, scrunching his eyes to better see.
"I believe your father has been recruiting talent to serve as officers and officials for him, and..."
The old man pauses to tap his chin with a worn finger before he resumes speaking.
"I believe I may recall that young man now, from back in Luo Yang. The descendants of the scholar Sima Quin lived there at the time; they had some bright sons. Your father must have recruited one of their clan." Well, at least now I know what he's here for, probably.
"Hmm. I don't think recruit's the word to use if he has soldiers escorting him."
"Certainly it is for his protection, prince. The roads are too dangerous these days."

I could alternatively title this "Cao Pi is a Passive Aggressive Bitch for Loooove"
Ah... I had planned to finish my other stuff first, but it seems this deleted them for inactivity. And I have to try and remember what I may've written.
So I'm prematurely posting this brain storm from some months back. Hence why the tutor's an unnamed and poorly written framing device.
Why dose it seem that things are always tragic when I try to write these two (head)cannon? What a bother.

Did I mention I know nothing about Ancient Chinese history beyond Wikipedia and Dynasty Warriors? :)

Lyrics from Roll Away Your Stone, by Mumford and Sons