Liu Shan Men Divided in Three - Yiren Has Hope
“A man departs with no hopes of return in the harsh and gloomy weather,” was a poem originally used to illustrate the scene of a fearless warrior venturing out on a journey for the greater good in spite of the sorrow he felt deep down. Recently, though, hawkers used it to describe a rash individual who wasn’t exactly a valiant warrior. The poem shot to fame in the capital when it was used to depict the order to execute Gold and Silver Sect’s new patriarch for his bold act of treason.
The traitorous patriarch secretly practised an unorthodox style and absorbed his loyal subordinates' energy via a cruel mean. Then, he used the unorthodox style to brutally slaughter the imperial court's warriors. News of his deeds spread throughout the city.
Had the Seventeen Hidden Dragons not arrived on the scene in time alongside Mount Daluo's renowned disciple and The Seventeen Wyrms' top ranked warrior, Ten Thousand Mile Dragon Rider, Hong Shiba, also known as Hongjiu, nobody present would've been able to subdue the carnage. The treacherous and villainous Patriarch Jin would've harmed the capital with a great calamity. Unfortunately, the villain was sly enough to escape after suffering critical wounds.
Jin Wangsun's family slave, A-Hu, gained acclaim for his deeds during the coup d'état, as he retaliated against Jin Wangsun's tyranny. He, too, wounded up with an injury, but he did manage to snatch Gold and Silver Sect's heirloom, Golden Crow Moon Eater and offered it to the reigning Emperor.
The Emperor accepted the blade; however, he then handed it back to A-Hu as a reward for prioritising the greater good and justice. He had A-Hu's status as a family slave revoked and insisted on nurturing him into a hero to be remembered. With the imperial court supporting him, the orthodox sects in the martial world were blessed with another hero. Martial artists in the capital were elated to hear the decision, deeming the Emperor as a wise man.
News of Jin Wangsun's treason was widespread, because it happened not long after the Emperor Chengkong Incident. People conjured up different ideas due to the two events happening so closely one after the other.
Some claimed it was because the Emperor refused to marry his daughter to Gold and Silver Sect, leading to Jin Wangsun retaliating. Some claimed Jin Wangsun was in cahoots with the Orange Prince; the only difference was that one struck after the other due to poor teamwork, apparently.
Some claimed Jin Wangsun conspired with the Demon Sect to fulfil his ambitions. Others claimed it was the Emperor's scheme to put Gold and Silver Sect in their place. Regardless, the rumours spread comparably to wildfire; nobody knew what the truth was. The imperial court was also divided in two, with both factions tending to opposing extremes.
The rebellion came as a shock given the Seven Champion White Princes relationship with the imperial court.
The Seven Champion White Princes' reputation had been rooted in Jiangnan's martial world for a century. Every single one of the White Princes maintained armies of their own and collected taxes autonomously. They were essentially Princes with fiefs. Patriarchs even had the authority to execute the people within their domains of their own volition. Their domains were not large enough to impact the imperial court's politics; however, they were geographically linked to the imperial city. In other words, as far as military strategy was concerned, they played a major role.
The imperial court, as the world knew it, might've fallen victim to rebellions years ago had it not been thanks to the Seven Champion White Princes' support. So accordingly, the latter was an extolled entity in the martial world and from the perspective of the citizens. As a matter of fact, they were almost placed higher on the hierarchy than the imperial court.
The Seven Champion White Princes' power was always called into question. Their arbitrations and ruling power in Jiangnan was absolute. Even if one was to disregard the warriors under their banners, the seven patriarchs were legends to the people. The people would celebrate if they had the fortune of meeting one of the patriarchs.
The lauded patriarchs placed above the clouds always were a thorn in the imperial court's side. They didn't need to do anything; they could deal a blow to the imperial court purely with their plaque with golden text. After the recent fiasco, nevertheless, the seven plaques lost their gloss. They were dragged down from the clouds and buried in the mud. In essence, their reputation took a critical blow. Jin Wangsun's fall produced a domino effect; it impacted the martial world in Jiangnan's domain and further beyond. The best evidence was news of Jin Wangsun being removed from the patriarch seat and an arrest warrant being issued for him.
The same afternoon, five sects that were part of the Seven Champion Princes received letters. That was despite the seven having always ignored the imperial court during New Year. They were quick to call Jin Wangsun out on his shameless deed and sent their courteous wishes to His Majesty. They even insulted Jin Wangsun's father for failing to raise his son properly. When they switched the subject afterwards, though, they all agreed it was Gold and Silver Sect's business; they stood unified, arguing that the imperial court shouldn't get involved. They classified the removal of a patriarch to be a major matter; consequently, they believed it was best for the Emperor to stay out of it and to leave it to Gold and Silver Sect to sort out by themselves.
Unsurprisingly, the Emperor was livid. At a conference, he snickered: "See? Look at this? How long has it been since the incident? See? They've already managed to put their letters on my desk. When I need to deploy them, they take ten to fourteen days to respond! Removing a patriarch is a major matter, and I should not be involved? They're putting the pugilistic world on the altar, huh? I'm the Emperor, yet a patriarch from a martial arts sect is held in higher regard? They ask for money to train soldiers annually. Whose soldiers were they again? Are those soldiers there to protect me or them when we're in dire straits?"
Nobody dared to piggy back off what the Emperor said. Most importantly, the letters were there on the table. It would be reasonable to assume someone planned it. The Emperor had reasonable grounds to be irate. The only two sects that didn't submit a letter was Gold and Silver Sect, since they were too ashamed, and the other was the Dark Robe Brotherhood, the Emperor's in-laws. They were part of the imperial family, and they decided to play along with it.
All that said, the Seven Champion White Princes' response was expected. They were able to maintain power and influence through the years thanks to the Emperor lacking the ability to involve himself with their domains in any capacity. That being the case, their domains became the most precious domains in the pugilistic world. Think about it: nobody could lay a finger on you if you were up to something shady.
The Seven Champion Princes - minus Gold and Silver Sect itself - didn't care that Gold and Silver Sect's patriarch was kicked off his throne. All they cared about was whether or not the Emperor could harm them.
The imperial court debated the topic for days but didn't reach a conclusion. The reformist faction, led by The Secretary of the Bureau of Military Personnel, wanted to leverage Jin Wangsun's case to undermine the Seven Champion Princes' influence, promoting the belief that the Emperor couldn't allow there to be anyone who could rival the imperial family's power.
The peace advocates, led by the Secretary of the Ministry of Personnel, on the other hand, expressed it was impossible for the imperial court to replace such a powerful entity at the snap of a finger. The three law enforcement government offices, namely Liu Shan Men, Qilin Guards and the Emperor's Entourage, were unable to begin managing the pugilistic world so abruptly. Thus, the two factions tried to shove their opinions down each other's throats.
As for Prime Minister Li Si, who took a neutral position and played Tai Chi, he never offered any plausible ideas. The enraged Emperor's was so irritated with everything he heard that he needed to pay the prime minister a visit for a bowl of tea to calm his nerves.
Emperor Yuansheng sat on his throne to discuss the matter with the six ministries' heads and Prime Minister Li Si again today. Seeing as they couldn't reach a conclusive decision after so many days, the Emperor planned to discuss another topic.
The Emperor stated, "Today's discussion isn't about Jin Wangsun anymore. I want to promote some talented individuals to help those lagging behind. I'd like to hear your opinions."
I’ve changed “A Hu” to A-Hu in consideration of the future. In the manhua, all text is in capitals, which means “A Hu” might be mistaken. “Ah Hu” would be Cantonese style, but we’re not using Cantonese. The other options were “A-Hu” and “A’Hu”; I picked the former just for ease on the eyes.