Sha Po Lang

Chapter 71: Authority


We can’t work for them in vain. When that time comes, I should request the Emperor to grant me a hilltop with the best scenery where I can plant a peach blossom forest on the hill, enjoy flowers in spring, eat peaches in summer. There must be a hot springs under the hill.


Zhang Feng Han, whose praises seemed to have failed him, stared at the note for a long time, his face changing, “What does this mean? What… what is the hidden danger of the Bone of Impurity?”

Liao Ran frowned as if not knowing where to start. After a long moment, he hesitantly said: “It is a poison from the North. His Highness Yan w.a.n.g strayed to Yanhui town in his childhood and was harmed by the Northern Witch. Up until now, the Chen family is still trying to find a cure to thoroughly treat it…”

Zhang Feng Han could not believe it: “Is there such a thing? Are all the hospitals dead? This… ”

“Don’t be impatient,” Du Wan Quan interrupted him. “In the past few years, because of the Silk Road, I have often been around the northwest area and heard about the witchcraft of barbarians. I heard that this Bone of Impurity seems to be harmful to the human mind. I think General Zhong is concerned about this as well, he’s only worried that His Highness might have to think too much.”

“In the face of national disaster, the Marquis of Order is still going to the northwest despite his injuries, how could Yan w.a.n.g be the type that would try to save himself, Master Du’s words could not help but make people feel disheartened,” Zhang Feng Han said solemnly. “Moreover, Master Liao Ran said that he was poisoned since he was a child. But even now I can’t see any abnormality in him and it may not have much influence in the future. If General Zhong cannot believe in Yan w.a.n.g, can he still find someone else to take over the Lin Yuan emblem?”

Since the siege of the capital city, Zhang Feng Han had fully become a loyal supporter of Yan w.a.n.g. The umbrella on his hands was just taken from the other’s. With the mentions of Yan w.a.n.g, he had immediately become hotheaded, wishing that he could say aloud ‘my Royal Highness is the best in the world’.

After finishing these words, the old Ling Shu Master still had not relieved of his anger, he continued: “At this time, unlike two hundred years ago, when the imperial court levied aggressively and lost the hearts of the people, only then did the people on four sides rise up. But now it is a foreign enemy who entered the country, the Emperor… although some measures and decrees of the Emperor are too fierce, he is still a hard working man who loved the people, he could not be blamed.

“In this troubled world, if the Lin Yuan emblem falls into the hands of someone else, who can guarantee that he will not grow ill intent? His Royal Highness Yan w.a.n.g was originally of high n.o.bility. He could have succeeded the throne in this crisis and fled to the east of the capital, yet he did not go to Luoyang, but he was on the city tower instead. If such a person is not worth entrusting the Lin Yuan wooden emblem to, who else could be?”

Du Wan Quan was long used to being keen and flexible, he did not argue with him. He only laughed and said, “I truly believe that His Highness Yan w.a.n.g’s personality and talent are beyond reproach, but matters concerning the body, we outsiders are not very well-versed, are we? Let’s all listen to Miss Chen. First, order some wine and food, we will then make a decision after Miss Chen’s letter arrives. alright?”

Zhang Feng Han’s face eased up a bit, he shook his head and mocked himself: “Already so old but still so hot headed, Master Du please do not take it to heart.”

Before he finished, the three of them heard a flutter of wings coming from the window at the same time.

Du Wan Quan laughed and said: “Speak of the devil.”

Du Wan Quan pushed open the window, a lively little wooden bird came in and gently pecked two times on the table, then laid down motionlessly. This wooden bird was even more special than General Zhong’s. The latter was sent over by trusted people, while Chen Qing Xu’s bird flew from where she was accompanying the army to the northwest.

The wooden bird’s abdomen was sealed by special means, unlike General Zhong’s seal that was only for show, but by a series of closely seamed secret locks with 27 holes which needed to be penetrated in the right sequence with fine needle. Otherwise, it will ignite the Ziliujin left in the wooden bird’s abdomen, and those who do not know the key to unlock it would not be able to obtain anything.

This special wooden bird’s craftsmanship was extremely complex, Lin Yuan inst.i.tute only had a few, even Chang Geng did not know of them – when Westerners besieged the city, he was once concerned about the safety of wooden bird communication.

Du Wan Quan took out a silver needle and two other’s eyes fell on his hand at the same time. For a moment, Zhang Feng Han suddenly felt an unspeakable tension.

“Wait a minute.” Just before Du Wan Quan opened the wooden bird seal and took out the letter, Zhang Feng Han suddenly stopped him.

Du Wan Quan and Liao Ran looked up at him in unison.

Although they all belonged to Lin Yuan Pavilion, but Zhang Feng Han who was stuck in the Ling Shu Inst.i.tute all the year round and Chen Qing Xu who was a younger generation were not at all close, they have never seen each other, let alone understood one another. But somehow, his heart raised a kind of feeling that the result might not be what he hoped for.

Zhang Feng Han, with his face tightened, said slowly, “At present, the coast of the East Sea is in the hands of foreigners, General Zhong himself is guarding the front line, but he is only guarding it. He dares not rush into action. With his troops and combat readiness, it is not enough to cross the river at all. I hear that the foreigners are brutal and cruel, they have burned Jiangnan Academy in a rage – that is nothing, books can be reprinted if lost, but if the people are gone, there is no way to save them.”

When the old Ling Shu Master said this, his voice trembled for a moment: “This land where ‘sweet-scented osmanthus blossoms in the mid-autumn, fragrant lotus are in full bloom in ten miles’* has now become a scorched earth, our treasury is empty, Ziliujin is running out… there is leakage on all sides, if Lin Yuan Pavilion stands by idly, we might as well separate, go home to take care of your children, what is the point in entering the Pavilion?

*quoting Liu Yong, a Song dynasty poet

“Since we can’t be silent and the wooden emblem must reappear, although we are only p.a.w.ns, we do not want to entrust it to the wrong person either. In today’s world, the court has Yan w.a.n.g, the frontier has Marshal Gu. Marshal Gu… I say, although he had contact with Lin Yuan Pavilion for a long time, he had never expressed any intention of getting closer. The man holding the Black Iron Camp did not even want to look at or have time to deal with our disorderly resources. If you gentlemen use… this kind of unnecessary and uncertain reason to overlook His Royal Highness, what are we going to do next?”

He spoke sincerely, trying his best to pull Du Wan Quan to their side, even Liao Ran was slightly touched.

But Du ‘G.o.d of Wealth’ was an experienced person, he was not so easy to get hot-headed. After listening, on the surface, he appeared enthusiastic, but his mouth was still avoiding the subject: “In fact, His Highness Yan w.a.n.g have good friendship with Lin Yuan Pavilion while growing up, he could even be considered to be a member already. When the communication network of the capital was besieged, didn’t His Highness start building his own using Lin Yuan Pavilion? In the face of national calamity, wherever we can be of use, there would be no objection to it. It is not quite a necessity to perform the ritual of entrusting the wooden emblem, is it?”

“No, Master Du is mistaken,” Liao Ran shook his head. “Without this emblem, Lin Yuan Pavilion would only offer some bits of aid in case of an accident. Only with this emblem could it make the Pavilion’s members use all their resources and strength to support. It is not the same.

“Lin Yuan Pavilion has been silent for two hundred years, it all depended on this wooden emblem for a.s.sembling and communicating. In troubled times, everyone would want to keep to themselves. Without the Lin Yuan emblem, even for those of us, the manpower we can use would only be limited to only a few underlings delivering news. I am afraid it is not even as useful as some relatively large groups from the pugilist world.”

At Liao Ran’s words, Du Wan Quan’s face changed slightly.

The G.o.d of wealth was different from Zhang Feng Han who was so poor as to be accompanied by a dog. He was a real man with a big family business. The barefooted had no burden, they only had themselves to feed, but those wearing shoes were different.

If there was anyone here who did not want Lin Yuan Wooden emblem to reappear in the world, it was undoubtedly Du Wan Quan.

Surely, Liao Ran wanted saved face for him, so far, there was no direct confrontation – Lin Yuan emblem could mobilize the most mysterious ‘Dao Fa Hall’ in Lin Yuan Pavilion. Anyone in the Pavilion who refused to obey the command of the emblem and fled, Dao Fa Hall would chase that person to the ends of the earth. That was to say, without the wooden emblem, Du ‘G.o.d of Wealth’ might only need to pay a little pocket money, but with this emblem, even if it ruined his family business, he must accept it.

Liao Ran put his beads together again one by one. “Master Du, please bring out the wooden piece of Chen’s family.”

Du Wan Quan was silent for a while. He opened the wooden bird’s belly. The last wooden piece fell down. Once it dropped on the table, it automatically gathered with other wooden pieces to complete the word ‘Yuan’.

Chen Qing Xu’s seagrain paper rolled out. He saw that the note was very short: “Chen family will give it our all.”

Zhang Feng Han was a little overwhelmed for a moment: “Was that it?”

However, Liao Ran smiled helplessly. Chen Qing Xu was the quiet type, it was slightly better when communicating orally. When using the paper and pen, she had no patience to write a long story. If it could be done, then it could be done. Large matters coming to her hands would be no more than one sentence.

“Now that Miss Chen has said this, the chronic poisoning in His Highness body should not be a problem,” Liao Ran then turned to Du Wan Quan: “What does Master Du say?”

The Lin Yuan emblem was divided into five pieces. No one was qualified to veto it alone. At this time, it was three-against-one. Du Wan Quan knew that no matter if he agreed or disagreed with it, the outcome was already established.

Du ‘G.o.d of Wealth’ smiled bitterly and said, “Master, you are being too overly courteous. I heard that His Royal Highness Yan w.a.n.g is carrying out the Feng Huo ticket recently. If this Du can be of any use, please just say so.”

Zhang Feng Han euphemistically advised, “Master Du, there is no good egg under the overturned nest. When the world is in turmoil, human in chaos is not as good as dogs in peace time. Countless wealth is no different from quicksand and flowing water. Isn’t this the truth?”

Du Wan Quan, who was forcibly tied onto this ship by a group of poor demons, was still very distressed. He perfunctorily put his hands together and said: “Yes, Master Feng Han had good faith.”

The three men each with their own thoughts, had a quick simple meal then scattered before even touching the drinks.

Just when they made this decision, Chang Geng returned to the Marquis’s Manor.

Ge Chen was waiting for him in his study. Chang Geng instructed the others not to disturb them. He stepped in quietly and closed to the door.

The manor was empty with very few people. The old servants were either deaf or moved slowly. There was no telling whether they were serving at their master’s house or retiring at their master’s house, often not coming when they were called. Sometimes even serving tea or pouring water must be done by one’s self. But there were also convenient points, for example, one did not have to always be on guard against eavesdropping.

Ge Chen stood up at the sight of Chang Geng, his natural baby’s face was slightly nervous.

Chang Geng, however, was as calm and natural as ever, waving at him: “Have you intercepted it?”

Ge Chen responded and drew a piece of seagrain paper from his arm.

“As you said, by using the excuse of repairing the anti air net, I secretly intercepted the wooden bird. The note inside was changed and the seals were guaranteed to be seamless,” Ge Chen said, licking his lips. “When Xiao Cao went to the north at the end of the year to find Miss Chen, he saw her collect and release the wooden bird herself. He then stole it and replicated the seals with a mold, there should be no problem – Big brother, why must we intercept Miss Chen’s wooden bird? What is the meaning of her note?”

Chang Geng did not reply for a moment and unfolded the crumpled note.

The handwriting on it was the same as the one Liao Ran and the others received, but the content was completely different.

This note read: “This Chen is inexperienced, after searching for many years, I could not find a cure for the Bone of Impurity, I had failed the expectation. The matter concerning the Lin Yuan wooden emblem, I hope the gentlemen will be cautious.”

After Chang Geng saw it, he was not at all surprised, thinking: “Sure enough.”

According to his understanding of Lin Yuan Pavilion after many years, for the leaders, if it was not three people, then it would be five people, although there was a higher percentage for it being five. There were many unique and exquisite steel armors in Lin Yuan Pavilion. Therefore, there must be someone from the Ling Shu Inst.i.tute.

The Chen family who treated Gu Yun’s ears at that time was also under the name of Lin Yuan Pavilion. Gu Yun could not trust them unconditionally, there must be an old member of the previous Marquis faction recommending them, thus there must be a representative for the army.

Liao Ran had been acting as an informant for all four sides. He could be one of them, representing the Hu Guo Temple. Then one of the other two are probably in control of ‘wealth’, the other was the Chen family in Taiyuan.

Among these five people, he only had a bigger grasp on Ling Shu Inst.i.tute and Liao Ran, while the other three parties were still uncertain.

In addition to Chang Geng himself, only Miss Chen knew the most terrifying part of Bone of Impurity. She had always been the type who a.s.sessed the situation rather than the person, she would not support him because of her personal feelings. But the people who controlled ‘wealth’ tend to be burdened by their family business. Under this circ.u.mstances, they were more likely to take a step back.

Representing the military… if Chang Geng’s guess was correct and it truly was General Zhong, Zhong Xian would not necessarily vouch for him. The latter two had their own ways, it was very difficult for him to make contact. Only Chen Qing Xu who accompanied the army in the northwest, when the moment came, would definitely use a wooden bird to send her message which would provide him with an opportunity.

Chang Geng put the seagrain paper in the basin and burned it. The gloomy light illuminated his young and handsome face, making him look a little unreal.

“Big brother…” Ge Chen hesitantly called out to him. Although this little round face was loyal to his Yan w.a.n.g, but he was not foolish. He could probably guess that Chen Qing Xu’s encrypted wooden bird might be related to Lin Yuan Pavilion’s final decision. Although he had followed Chang Geng’s instruction to switch the papers, he was always doubtful – Chang Geng had always been straightforward and open-minded, he had never done such a shady and disgraceful thing. But he used such means this time for Lin Yuan Pavilion… was it for power?

“It is not that I must obtain Lin Yuan Pavilion at all cost.” Chang Geng seemed to know what he was thinking, casually explaining to Ge Chen, “But my time in the court was too short. Although I had the support of the Emperor temporarily, plus Master Jiang and other new followers, but after all, this foundation was still too shallow. There are many things that could not be carried out. Others can wait, but Ziliujin and money for the front line can not afford to wait. At this time, I can only retreat to seek the power of Lin Yuan Pavilion. If there is time, all problems can be solved fairly and slowly. My only fear is that the foreigners will not give us this time.”

Ge Chen straightened his back as he heard these words, all his doubts disappeared. Instead, he felt somewhat embarra.s.sed: “Both Xiao Cao and I understood this, um… Big brother, you must also pay more attention to taking care of yourself. Otherwise wait until the Marquis returns to the court, if you would fall ill again, then wouldn’t he come to pick a fight with me?”

After that, he seemed to imagine the specific process of the Marquis coming to trouble him, ending up frightening himself.

Chang Geng’s face softened a little. “I will only manage until this dangerous situation, when the world is at peace. Who is willing to do such a tiring job with no benefit? We can’t work for them in vain. When that time comes, I should request the Emperor to grant me a hilltop with the best scenery where I can plant a peach blossom forest on the hill, enjoy flowers in spring, eat peaches in summer. There must be a hot springs under the hill. I plan to raise some chickens and ducks, if they lay eggs then I’ll throw them directly into the hot spring to boil…”

Ge Chen’s stomach grumbled, Chang Geng was stunned, then the two laughed at the same time. Chang Geng jumped up. “It is already too late. Don’t disturb Uncle w.a.n.g, let us brothers make some dumplings for ourselves to eat.”

Ge Chen was rather embarra.s.sed and said, “No, it can’t be, brother, how can His Highness personally roll the skin and make the stuffing…this is really..”

Chang Geng looked at him and said: “Do you want to eat or not?”

Ge Chen firmly responded: “Eat!”

Thus they blindly sneaked into the kitchen of the manor under the dim lights and dismissed the sleepy old cook back to sleep. They thrashed around for a moment, at the sound of the night patrol, one held the lid, and the other was holding the spoon. The two then ate about sixty dumplings right in the kitchen. Ge Chen cried out from the hot dumplings. It seemed as if they had returned to their childhood days in the countryside.

The good moments only stayed in the middle of the deep night. At day time, danger still lingered in every step.

A month later, the Feng Huo ticket was still not implemented. Just as Emperor Li Feng had run out of patience by the noisy commotion, a quiet cleansing gradually began.

First of all, the inspector’s office immediately sent forth three reports accusing Yan w.a.n.g of abusing his authority, that the Military Office secretly withheld the papers of the court’s officers, leading to the complaints of the people not reaching the ears of the ruler, that the so-called Feng Huo ticket was a hoax, that it threw on the ground the face of the court and trampled on it, causing disaster to the country and the people.

Yan w.a.n.g ordered people to bring all written record about all reports that the Military Office had sent out and returned from the establishment of the office until now. When and why were they returned were all written down and explained in details, even in the summarized report sent to the Xinuan Pavilion. There was no discrepancy between them. The court was momentarily speechless.

Yan w.a.n.g then asked Emperor Long An to retract all his authority, for him to step down from his post on the grounds of ‘ignorance of knowledge and difficulty to please the public’. As usual, Li Feng did not approve. His Royal Highness, who had just reached the age of twenty, who was still young and vigorous, turned his head and claimed that he was sick, running back to the Marquis’s Manor and closed the door.

Even the court filled with old fox spirits who were experienced in adapting have never seen anyone who displayed such a blatant temper.

Li Feng did not know whether to laugh or cry for a moment. However, without even waiting for him to come out of the palace to coax his younger brother, something instantly happened in the court as soon as Yan w.a.n.g left.

Firstly, the Military Office with its head lost became a chaotic mess. The papers presented to Li Feng’s desk every day resembled snowfall. From everywhere were requests for money, for Ziliujin, causing him to be at a loss.

Then the two ministers of Housing and Military almost started getting into a physical fight on the court. Li Feng ordered an investigation in anger and found that even as it had already come to this, some people were still cutting off military fund. A major case was discovered that shocked the court and the countryside. From the second rank top officials to the meager seventh ranks, a large number of people were implicated. Even the talkative bunch of the inspector’s office fell by a half.

In September, an autumn rain washed the desolated capital. Jiang Chong personally went to the Marquis’s Manor with a decree to invite Yan w.a.n.g back to the court. At this point, it seemed that the people with their own intention had started to understand the situation. Yan w.a.n.g raised the Feng Huo ticket matter again and this time, it was pushed forward with little resistance.

At first, some people were worried that the first batch of Feng Huo tickets could not be sold. But just after the first batch of Feng Huo tickets came out, Du Wan Quan, the richest man in Jiangnan, contacted a group of folk charitable businessmen to provide support. Within three days, the first batch of Feng Huo tickets were all cleaned out.

Real gold and silver poured into the treasury. At this point, no one could talk anymore.

At the end of the seventh year of Long An, the two armies in Jiangnan still confronted each other. Along the way, the Marquis of Order joined forces with the Central Plains garrison to clear up the rebellious mobs and finally returned to Jiayu Gate. The next day, the allied forces of the Western Regions occupying the city withdrew thirty miles.

At the end of this year, Gu Yun wrote fourteen personal letters to the kings of the Western Regions countries for New Year’s greetings. At the same time, he sharpened his knife and prepared to kill whenever the next batch of supply was sent by the court.

This year, there was no lantern or decoration hanging outside Jiayu Gate. The situation was tense. The long awaited supply from the court finally arrived.

It’s just that the person escorting was of special status.

Gu Yun came back from scouting with a group of Light Cavalry. Before he got off his horse, as he heard that Yan w.a.n.g was coming, he was stunned for a moment. Then, not even bothering to unload his armor, he threw behind the horse’s reins and ran off.*

*T/N: he’s running to meet Chang Geng, not running away from him.

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