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Book 15: Chapter 10
Hail on a Dragon’s Parade
By the time Ming Feizhen set foot outside of Taishu Hall, a lot of things had changed without his knowledge. There was finally an aperture in the figurative dark clouds, and a defined path to travel.
His Majesty had finally hit the drum to begin plans to revoke rights from the White Princes in the morning. There were no more officials arguing for peace, pestering him to reconsider, or pressuring him with the founding Emperor’s oath. Those who accepted bribes had fallen from their pedestals thanks to Quan Woshuang. There was no longer any room for turning back.
Everyone knew Emperor Yuansheng wanted to have all the court officials supporting him; he couldn’t allow fence sitters to continue sitting on their fences. If they did, then they weren’t on either side. His reaction to the event proved that he had thought it through long ago. The compa.s.s already pointed in the direction he wanted before the mess, but he gave the White Princes’ supporters a chance. He didn’t publicise his intention to them or the world, but he stressed the importance of the endeavour numerous times. Therefore, n.o.body knew the specifics of his plan. Before they were dismissed, he instructed w.a.n.g and Xie Clan’s seniors to share a meal with Song Chi in order to bring them closer.
Emperor Yuansheng gave out a warning and showed his last act of good will in the morning. He was able to have Quan Woshuang put up with all the stress until Cold Mountain Temple sabotaged themselves to use the card he planted, which indicated he had been planning for a long time. Two things were self-evident from his decision to keep a lid on the specifics of his plan.
Firstly, Emperor Yuansheng no longer trusted some people in the imperial court. While they weren’t demoted, they had to now show that they were loyal in order to win back his trust.
Secondly, and most importantly, Emperor Yuansheng was giving them ample time to sever ties with the White Princes before he made his move. Anyone who didn’t realise or didn’t accept his olive branch was going to be mercilessly run over. It went without saying that the White Princes would strive to create disorder and discord inside and outside of the imperial court first and foremost. More than likely, the first thing they’d do would’ve been to publicise the list of officials who accepted their bribes. Unless handled pre-emptively, Emperor Yuansheng would’ve had to scramble for a solution instead of focusing on taking them down. Of course, those on the list would’ve faced miserable ends.
The wise officials started doing what they had to while their superiors got started on their tasks. For those who were in too deep, Emperor Yuansheng already gave them an obvious hint. w.a.n.g and Xie Clans – Dark Robe Brotherhood – was an ent.i.ty they could form a pact with. In other words, allying with a White Prince that he accepted was fine. In essence, his goal was to get rid of the enemy within before thwarting external aggression. In the case anyone tried to switch later, his fellow faction members would likely have dealt with him without Emperor Yuansheng needing to take any action.
The third big change Emperor Yuansheng triggered was instructing the Three Chief Military Commissions that had been given the cold shoulder for years so start training soldiers again. Calling on them signalled war was imminent. Secretary Lie gave a loud kowtow as soon as he heard the order and walked out with the three commanders, chatting merrily. The decision was concrete evidence that Emperor Yuansheng was set on stripping the White Princes notwithstanding not mentioning it.
The special imperial exam indicated that Emperor Yuansheng was searching for talent and would use those who placed. Daren Academy would be rewarded for nurturing talent. By extension, it was a sign that the civil servants were seen as valuable, something they were all happy to celebrate. Within the celebrations around the matter, though, there was one more aim that they weren’t yet aware of. Just because he was going to tackle the White Princes, it didn’t mean he gave up on pus.h.i.+ng for the military and civil departments’ progress. They were both valued, and that wasn’t changing.
Fourth, the three offices overseeing the martial world contributed enormously in thwarting the attack last night. Emperor’s Entourage took the biggest prize as they arrested culprits, correctly predicting the enemy’s plots and slaying intruders. They didn’t care too much for all the material wealth they were rewarded, however.
Many officials showered Liu Shan Men’s Song Ou with praise. Shen Yiren saved Prime Minister Li, which was a huge deal, except Prime Minister Li said, “She did save this old one, but the villain escaped.” Bai Ju was gone by the time Yi Ya and Shen Yiren returned to Prime Minister Li’s abode. The duo was perplexed as to why Bai Ju took off and left Prime Minister Li. Frankly, it was concerning to think there was someone stronger than Bai Ju lurking in the capital. Once the silence had time to ferment, Prime Minister Li added, “And tore up half of this old one’s abode.” His Majesty consoled Prime Minister Li and promised to repair his home. As for Yi Ya and Shen Yiren’s contributions, they were written off for the meantime, so only Song Ou’s contribution counted towards Liu Shan Men’s credits.
All officials were in support of rewarding Song Ou for his “loyalty” and contribution. Had his two buddies not stabilised him and pushed him forward to accept the praise and the whole spiel, he would’ve collapsed from joy. On account of the officials’ support and Song Chi subduing Xun Feng, Emperor Yuansheng granted Liu Shan Men the liberty of training a new team that operated outside of conventional military boundaries. Song Ou was elated he was put in charge of the new unit and safeguarding the capital.
“No way.” Walking behind w.a.n.g Tushui, Ming Feizhen frowned.
After finis.h.i.+ng with the imperial exam, Ming Feizhen had to go through the body search and similar procedures. Subsequently, he went to abuse the Hanlin Academicians, picked his bone with Tiangou, then talked to Zero before leaving. The imperial guards waiting by the entrance were bewildered when they saw him step out from the toilet. As soon as he exited Taishu Hall, w.a.n.g Tushui summoned him. w.a.n.g Tushui told him that Emperor Yuansheng had been summoning a number of people since morning court and rewarded them with a banquet. Needless to say, Duke Ming wouldn’t turn down the opportunity to attend a banquet.
“He can build his own unit now?”
The imperial court had its limits on how many employees it accepted. After all, they had to account for weapons, salaries and food. Who’d work without those rewards?
Liu Shan Men chose to focus on building a force of elites, resulting in their shortage of manpower compared to the Qilin Guards and Emperor’s Entourage. There was no reason they couldn’t change their approach, having said that. Shen Yiren already began and planned numerous plans. She covered the costs of raising the recruits from Nanjiang. Now that Song Ou was allowed to raise a unit of five hundred constables without having to pull a penny out of his pocket, it was an actual meaningful reward compared to positions such as Hanlin Academician or Duke Daluo. Since Emperor Yuansheng personally appointed Song Ou to captain the squad, the squad wouldn’t have to obey Liu Shan Men’s traditions. No matter how incompetent Song Ou was, Song Chi would be there to make sure his elder brother didn’t blow it. As such, the privilege was equivalent to Emperor Yuansheng personally giving Song Clan an army of five hundred soldiers.
“What about the Qilin Guards?” queried Ming Feizhen.
Ming Feizhen looked in the direction of the yell he heard. “Long Zaitian?”
Long Zaitian “drifted” past Ming Feizhen as if he was too depressed to see anything. Every few steps, he’d cry, “My G.o.d!”
“As you can see,” w.a.n.g Tushui sighed, “Captain Long has been demoted just after being promoted.”
“Again?!” Ming Feizhen examined Long Zaitian. “Who did he wee on this time?”
“n.o.body, and that is the source of the problem.” w.a.n.g Tushui heaved another breath. “This one feels sorry for Captain Long. He rushed to put out fires for civilians, but he failed to capture a significant number of arsonists and offended almost all officials instead.”
Long Zaitian had a team of elites and plenty of them – enough to fight a war. There was no doubt plenty of loaded people gave him presents on the day the White Princes mobilised their armies to protect themselves. When h.e.l.l descended, though, he took his men to the residential district. Had it not been for Song Ou’s intervention, there probably would’ve been thirty less officials compared to before. It’d have been weird if they didn’t hate his guts for his decision.
“Captain Yi Ya’s contributions have also been written off, so he…”
Ming Feizhen: Poor guy… Really poor guy.
“Eh?” It finally occurred to Ming Feizhen that he still had no clue what Emperor Yuansheng summoned him to the imperial palace for. After all, it was unrealistic to a.s.sume it was just to treat him to food.
Ming Feizhen: Wait, He s.h.i.+ mentioned three issues being discussed the most at the councils. There’s a plan for Seven Champion White Princes now. The friction between civil and martial servants seems to have been settled for the most part. Does that mean this is about the Crown Prince?
“Duke Daluo has arrived!” announced w.a.n.g Tushui.