Sha Po Lang

Chapter 117: Heavy

Don’t let the Marquis of Order go back to the capital. ____

In the period that Yan Wang was absent, the contradiction between the new officials and the aristocratic forces in the dynasty became more acute. One group trying to preserve their nobility and righteousness, while the other raised up with the wind. Sometimes, the gap between those from the social classes and those from all walks of life was no less than that between the Barbarians of the Eighteen Tribes and the Great Liang people.

The aristocratic family has been handed down from generation to generation. Almost every family owns a large area of land. Since the price of grain kept falling in the year of Yuan He, for the sake of their income in the future, aristocratic families had dipped their hands in doing business, changing from carrying it out in secret when under Emperor Wu’s ruling to a well-spread trend. On one hand, it gives the merchants who used to be the lowest rank in society a chance to step up, on the other hand, it also had a bad effect on private merchants.

Since Emperor Tai Zu’s generation, there have been laws and regulations in Great Liang — any renowned individuals, or anyone with the status of princes and nobles, and the like, were not allowed to compete with the people for profits, because once the word ‘official’ was involved in business, it will no longer be purely business. Even if they did not actively bully others, there would be villains who would ride on their coat tails.

The feud between the old aristocratic family and the new officials had a long history and was not a matter of one generation or dynasty.

At this time, the new nobles came to power, just like a salted fish turning over*. Whether be it the east wind prevailing over the west wind or the west wind prevailing over the east wind, of course, the old aristocratic family would spare no effort to suppress it. New hatred and old hatred stacked together. They could hold their noses and work together when the country was in a mess. At this time, the Barbarians had already bowed down and Jiangnan could free up their hands again. The war situation was not so urgent, their conflict immediately broke out once more.

*idiom for ‘reversal of fortune’/’underdog achieves success’

Yan Wang did not even have time to ease things up when he returned to the court, what was waiting for him was the noisy fighting in the Grand Court Meeting.

They argued from whether to abolish the Feng Huo tickets to the malpractices of the new administration of officials, then at last, attacking the Canal Office. Then, from imperial power to the civil rights, from civil and commercial order to the patriarchal clan system, finally the argument has somehow even moved to the army. From the current expenditure of the garrisons on all four borders, breaking out like a wild horse and going straight to the question of whether Jiangnan should continue to fight or not — the Fang Qin party had grasped the root of Yan Wang. If not for the huge war expenditure in recent years, the Treasury crying out in poverty, Yan Wang would not be able to seize the opportunity to make money the priority, plunging the court in chaos like this.

A certain noble family member came out to pick a fight: “Your Majesty, the Eighteen Tribes had surrendered, from now on we will have rich Ziliujin sources. The vitality of the country is slowly recovering, it is really not suitable to fight again within three to five years. I think the peace talks presented by the Westerners recently are very sincere. They can withdraw from Changjiang, give up the occupied land, we can allow them to open up western ports along the East Sea and disperse the garrison to ports along the coast, which can not only provide peace for the people, but also serve as a transit place for our maritime trade in the future. Marshal Gu, regardless of reason, is always provocative. Continuing to add more conditions, it is quite heartless. ”

Naturally, someone from Yan Wang’s Party retaliated: “Why should we give up the fertile land along the East Sea to a group of Western monkeys? Can’t we open ports ourselves? Don’t we have our own merchant caravan? The lands that the ancestors passed down, you’ll just give them up to the Westerners just like that. Looking at the entire court, there is no one more generous than you!”

Fang Qin went to the battle in person, casting the ‘betraying the country’ topic aside and said without hesitation, “The Westerners came from a long distance, most of their resources needed to be supplied from thousands of miles away. The soldiers they brought were only tired people far away from their home country. In my opinion, we do not have to overreact like facing off a formidable opponent. We can pretend to negotiate with them. In ten or eight years, it would be difficult for them to continue. Marshal Gu devoted himself to Great Liang, these years he had been continuously injured, never had a few comfortable and reassuring days. For the sake of hundred thousand soldiers bathed in blood on the front line, I also agree it’s time to stop fighting and rest — this matter can be discussed later, I don’t know if Your Highness Yan Wang has any…plan for the Feng Huo tickets?”

Yan Wang, who had been listening on from the start was dragged out by him at this time, he looked up at Fang Qin and said, “There’s no need to discuss it again later, after all, Feng Huo tickets has ‘Feng Huo’* as its name, it is closely related to the war. Since you gentlemen want to cut off the land to feed the wolves and tigers, the third batch of Feng Huo tickets has no reason to be issued. The court can always repay the debt with the tax revenue of the next five years as guarantee.”

*reminder that feng huo literally means ‘fire beacon’, which was a fire lit to give warning to local people of the approach of an enemy

Fang Qin shook his head and said with a smile, “Yan Wang had spoken from temper. Can a truce be called ‘feeding the wolves and tigers’? The Westerners have been losing day by day, this is a defeated enemy seeking surrender! When they arrive at sea, they are nothing but a group of rootless duckweeds, not adequate enough cause any serious trouble.”

Chang Geng also smiled and said: “It’s really impressive that Master Fang knows everything in the world without leaving home. He knows that the Westerners are rootless duckweeds from thousands of miles away. Such far-sighted ability, people truly cannot catch up to your shadow.”

Seeing that the two people were getting acrimonious in the tone of greeting each other, Li Feng had to come forward and say, “Matters of the army, there are soldiers in the army to decide, I called you all here to discuss the urgent matter of the Feng Huo tickets. Why are you arguing about the Liangjiang battle? Can’t calculate a few meager account books, but brought up so much troubles instead —— A Min, you should also talk less.”

An assistant minister of the Ministry of Revenue came out at the right time and continued the Emperor’s words: “Your Highness Yan Wang has just returned from Jiangbei. I’m afraid you haven’t figured out the reason why the third batch of Feng Huo tickets are delayed.

“As you know, although the salaries of the civil and military officials in our dynasty are rich compared with those in the previous dynasty, but everyone has their families to take care of, this little salary is just enough to maintain a little face, how dare anyone be rich and powerful when the country is in trouble? How many people have gone bankrupt since the subscription of Feng Huo tickets was included in the official inspection? At present, we can’t get any more money. Your Highness has always had intimate relations with the merchant alliance tycoons and Du Wan Quan. Do you think you can come out to ask them for their donation once more?”

Of course, Chang Geng refused to fall into this trap with a hidden meaning, he said: “On the way back to the capital, I have visited Master Du and the others. Now, factories have been built all over the country. As a righteous businessman, sometimes he also has to take care of refugees, which costs a lot of money. Now, most of the resources had been poured into the Canal Office, even if they are willing to go bankrupt to help the country, could they also abandon the refugees that had taken a lot of effort to settle? To tell you the truth, Master Du’s original words to me was that right now, he could not find another coin.”

Fang Qin refused to let him go. “Why didn’t Your Highness think of leaving a way out back when you pushed forward the Feng Huo ticket?”

Chang Geng looked at him coolly: “Master Fang, I said clearly at the beginning that the money should be borrowed first. When it is due two years later, when the Treasury is no longer in a tight spot, there will be a solution, if not, we can use the third batch of Feng Huo tickets to solve the urgent problem — at the time of counting the income, Master Fang had already taken charge of the Ministry of Revenue, you yourself didn’t raise any objection. Now, you come and ask me. On the contrary, I would like to ask you, where did the money flowing in and out of the Ministry of Revenue in the past two years go to? Why are we lacking so much?”

Fang Qin finally couldn’t help but say angrily: “The account books are all there. If Yan Wang has doubts about this official, you can go to check them!”

Chang Geng’s gave an unamused laugh: “True, how can the masters in the Ministry of Revenue not be able to calculate a few account books, it must means that during that year, Master Fang had lost his mind, making a miscalculation?”

Li Feng: “Enough!”

Fang Qin hurriedly apologize while Chang Geng bowed slightly and stood on the side stubbornly. He was very silent most of the time in the court meeting, even if there was something needed to be said, it was always done by his underling, he seldom went head to head with others. Fang Qin couldn’t help looking at him and had a feeling that something was wrong.

Yan Wang must have prepared a solution for the situation of the Feng Huo ticket. Why would he rather fight in front of the Emperor than say it properly to ease the crowd? What was he planning?

The Grand Court Meeting was dismissed in displeasure. Yan Wang was kept behind, walking silently with Li Feng. Although Li Feng’s broken leg has recovered, it was all along an incompletely cured illness. If he walked a bit too fast, he would appear a little unbalanced.

“Take a walk in the garden with me.” Li Feng said.

It happened that the Crown Prince had just finished studying and was playing with the Third Prince in the garden. As he saw his father and young uncle, he hurriedly came to greet them. The Crown Prince grew different each year, he already had the appearance of a young teen. The Third Prince was only five years old and was still changing his teeth, his words were a little leaky when talking.

When Li Feng met the Crown Prince, of course, he would want to display his father’s prestige. First, he scolded the Crown Prince out of nothing, then interrogated him about his studies.

The Crown Prince replied well at first, but continuously glanced at his younger brother near the end. Li Feng followed his gaze, suddenly not knowing whether to laugh or cry.

The toothless Third Prince was not old enough to be interrogated by his father. He was standing on one side silently at first then was waved away by Yan Wang. He took him to sit on the ground with great carelessness, grabbed several grass stems and weaved it into a grasshopper. When have the children in the Forbidden Palace ever seen this kind of countryside playthings? The Third Prince’s eyes were wide open, watching dumbly. Soon, the little child had a grass grasshopper in his left hand and a grass cricket in his right hand. He was so happy that he didn’t care to cover up his missing front tooth.

Li Feng scolded: “…Losing ambition from playing too much, where is dignity!”

He stared at Chang Geng with a straight face, then sent away the two children reluctant to leave. Li Feng saw the Third Prince tiptoeing to place the grasshopper into the Crown Prince’s hand, the Crown Prince then held his little brother’s empty hand. The eldest child led the younger child, looking like a pair of little brothers from an ordinary family.

The Crown Prince was gentle, like his grandfather.

Li Feng rarely felt moved. When he turned to Chang Geng, his face also softened a lot. He asked, “After such a long time, you still do not want to get married?”

Chang Geng’s smile faded immediately.

Li Feng saw that he didn’t like to mention this matter, he sighed, “Or big brother can be an initiator, choosing a child from within the family for you to adopt. When you become older in the future, there must be someone to care for you.”

Chang Geng paused and twisted his hands together, as if there was still grass juice left on his fingers. He looked at the direction of the Third Prince’s departure, his face seemed quite moved. But after a while, he still did not nod.

Chang Geng: “Thank you very much, Royal Brother, There is no need.”

“The child that follows you can inherit royal title, in the future, even if he does not have any merit, he will be at least be a Jun Wang with a promising future. There are many people willing to leave their child in your care.” Li Feng said, “You don’t have to worry about feeling guilty of robbing people’s children.”

Chang Geng suddenly bowed, “Your Majesty, Your Subject is willing to follow the footsteps of Lord Shang. I do not want to drag down descendants.”

Li Feng’s eyes twitched a little, he turned to look at him in silence.

Chang Geng bent over and refused to straighten up. He seemed young and powerful at first glance, but he was lonely and bleak.

Willing to follow the example of Lord Shang — to reform by any means, to be hated and despised by the world, to be split open in the market, become the cinders that burn themselves for the era.

*Lord Shang — Shang Yang was an ancient Chinese philosopher, politician and a prominent legalist scholar. He pushed for a lot of reforms that affected the nobility. Due to this, when a new king was appointed, he was punished by dismemberment and all of his family and relatives were executed

On that day, all the eunuchs and palace attendants were dismissed far away. No one knew what the Li brothers had said in the garden. From noon until dark, Yan Wang finally left the palace by himself.

There were only a few grasses that have been pulled out and made into insects, laying bare.

The next day, Jiang Chong received an instruction from Yan Wang — Don’t let the Marquis of Order go back to the capital. We might not fight this battle, but he must stay in Liangjiang.

The heavy rain in Jiangnan was cruel. A few days ago, it was still too hot for people to sleep. Suddenly, a strong wind and rain changed the sky, the humidity could penetrate into people’s bones.

Master Ja wiped away the moisture from his face and walked up quickly. He climbed to the top along the iron steps protruding from the ugly and terrifying shell of the Western sea monster. An old man with dazzling white hair was leaning on something with his back facing him. His waist was like a piece of bamboo bent from being burnt.

Master Ja gave a slight cough: “Your Majesty, it’s already late, why are you not resting?”

“When you get old, you will be abandoned by sleep,” the Pope said, waving his hand. “Come here, look at this.”

There was a ‘Qian Li Yan’ on the top of the sea monster, this was not a small gadget that can be clipped on the bridge of the nose. It’s three feet long, made of copper, with circles on the surface like the trace on a bamboo joint, firmly fixed on the ground with a triangular leg. There was a circle of complicated carvings on the long copper cylinder, written in all Western characters.

This was the true ‘Qian Li Yan’*, which can see a thousand miles.

*reminder than Qian Li Yan is literally ‘thousand-mile eye’

Through this long tube, they could see the territory of the other side of Great Liang from the sea monster floating in the East Sea.

In just a few years, the quiet fertile land from a thousand miles on the opposite side began to burn under the night. The brightest and most concentrated light was the watchtower of the garrison, then much softer in the area behind. Those were the lights of many new factories working and keeping watch at night. It was not very bright, but it was distributed everywhere, like a handful of tiny stars.

“What is Your Majesty looking at?” Master Ja asked curiously “Has the enemy moved? ”

“The enemy has always been moving,” the Pope murmured. “Those people in the Holy Land first succumbed to their greed, then put their unrealistic expectations on the peace talks. We have lost our best chance, making retreat after retreat. Now the ship has to move back to the sea. After a while, the Great Liang people are likely to send troops to cut off the supply line we have contact with. When it comes to that, there is no telling how it would end.”

Master Ja: “Didn’t we make a careful calculation as to why we retreated to the coast? By now, the Dong Ying Islands can be used as a special supply channel. We can move on the open sea. Although the Great Liang people imitated our fast-moving tiger shark Jiaos, the overall fleet design is not suitable for the open sea operations.”

“The Dong Ying people are like a pack of wild dogs. When you have an advantage, they will not hesitate to come for a piece of rotten meat. Once you lose power, don’t expect to get their loyalty.” The Pope sighed in a low voice, “Besides, is the conclusion that the Great Liang navy can’t adapt to the operation in the high seas certain? A few years ago they didn’t even have a decent Navy — how can we base our victory percentage on the assumption that the enemy is weak? ”

Master Ja was silent for a moment: “But Your Majesty, the messenger…”

“That’s why I’ve come to you,” said the Pope, drawing a letter from his arms, his hands shaking like autumn leaves, but his expression was cold and hard, with no sign of his usual gentleness. “Letter from home, read it.”

Master Ja quickly picked it up, then his face paled: “Is…Is this true? ”

The pope said in a low voice: “The Holy Land is changing.”

The Conservative Party detested the Liberal Party, making them sit in office without any real power, hence they had decided to borrow tens of thousands of people from affiliated countries, attacking the Holy Land in the name of protest, creating riots, deposing the king, executed more than thirty old nobles, including the first successor in line, and pushed a pitiful child from very distant relatives on the throne.

A few days later, the Royalists fought back, the new king was forced to step down after only wearing the crown for seven days.

Now the political arena of the Holy Land was very unclear. Anything could happen. The holy messenger who was loyal to the old king had, of course, lost his power. However, the Royalists were trying their best to appease to the Holy See that had been neglected by the old king for half a lifetime. They would not be a hindrance for them for now.

Master Ja’s thinking was very sharp, he has figured out all the key points in a moment.

The Pope suddenly turned around and stared at him like a falcon. “This is an opportunity, do you understand?”

Master Ja lowered his voice excitedly: “Then the messenger…”

“He is no longer the messenger,” said the Pope, with a slight nod of his head, his attitude was both dollice and cold.

Master Ja took a deep breath and clenched his fist under the complicated cuff: “I’m going to prepare now.”

“Jacques,” said the Pope, with his old hands folded in his sleeves and standing in the night wind, “If we lose this chance, we may never be able to set foot on this land again. It has awoken.”

Master Ja looked back at the distant shore, recalled the lights he had just seen, his heart shaken, he left in a hurry.

While the Great Liang people were unaware, there was a violent ‘rebellion’ in the Western army.

From the time when the messenger received the news from the Holy Land to when he decided to flee, it was less than an incense time. It was not that he was indecisive. Unfortunately, he did not know that the news sent for him had been intercepted by others.

From his escape to his secret arrest by the Pope’s elite guards standing by in wait, it was also less than an incense time.

The messenger and his underlings were killed on the spot by Master Ja. A ship was then set up, pretending as if the messenger had departed after finishing his business, hiding the information about the internal chaos in the Holy Land. In the peaceful Western military port, ordinary soldiers were still making routine inspections. They only knew that the messenger was called back to the Holy Land, from now on, they would return to having only one leader.

The Pope did not change his soft attitude towards the peace talks with the Great Liang people. On the surface, he continued to retreat little by little until the autumn equinox of the ninth year of Long An.

*Starting from September 22nd to September 24th

A batch of Western supplies arrived at the Western military port by sea. A large number of military supplies and Ziliujin were like a dark mass of a group of demons, landing on the coast of Jiangnan.

If you find any errors ( Ads popup, ads redirect, broken links, non-standard content, etc.. ), Please let us know < report chapter > so we can fix it as soon as possible.

Tip: You can use left, right, A and D keyboard keys to browse between chapters.