Yan Wang was injured in Jiangnan. Xu Ling stepped forward to handle everything. Master Xu was someone who did not eat either hard or soft, and no one knew where he managed to find Du Long, the son of Du Wan Quan. Young Master Du did not speak much, but he was not at all easy to fool, the difficulty in bribing him was also too high. Their family was so incredibly rich that even the Emperor owed a lot to them, a few meager gifts were not worth bringing up to this man.
At the end of September, Xu Ling, under the guidance of Yan Wang and the full support of Jiangbei Camp, calmed the mob rebellion and resettled refugees in Jiangbei. Then, as Yao Chen was serving as a temporary governor of Liangjiang, Xu Ling returned to the capital with the papers from Yan Wang.
At this time, the curtain of this nationwide case came to an end.
Yan Wang himself still lingered while recovering his wounds and strolled back to the capital without appearing. The vigorous campaign of ‘Canal Corridor’ initiated by him had already taken root. His papers only stayed in the palace for two days when the Grand Court Meeting arrived, and the Grand Council tried their best to support. The two departments were rarely quiet, several great families were busy gathering together their internal forces. They had no mind to pay attention to anything else. Fang Qin was temporarily dormant, and Emperor Long An gave his approval on the same day.
The Grand Council that quickly predicted this situation showed their incredible display of efficiency. In two days, a complete plan was worked out, making people suspect that they already prepared everything beforehand.
Less than a month later, a Canal Office was set up outside the six ministries. The Canal Office fully represented the court and contacted Du Wan Quan and other members of the trading group. Du God of Wealth transformed himself into a true imperial businessman.
Various resources and materials that had been privately allocated were sent to the area for factory building endlessly. The entire court up and down did not sleep or rest for an entire month, exhausting a large number of civilian officers who could only lean on their desks on regular days. The whole Great Liang was set ablaze by a fire, as if they were going to make up for the two dynasties they spent idly eating salary.
Finally, before the deadly cold of mid-winter, the refugees from Liangjiang were gathered under the tents of the preliminary factory buildings.
Only then did Yan Wang Li Min return to the capital.
The reason for this delay was that although Gu Yun had rushed back and forth between the capital city and Jiangbei, there were still many things to be done in the front line. It took just enough time to let Chang Geng rest until his daily routines were no longer hindered by the injuries, only then did the two men depart for their return.
On the way back, they happened to run into a busy area along the canal.
The factories under construction were always not very pleasant-looking, dust was everywhere. Coming in and out, whether it was the craftsmen working hard, or the officials and merchants who were sent down, everyone's faces were dirty, but they were still in order.
The workers had two meals a day. After noon, a group of young and vigorous refugees who had just laid down their butcher knives gathered together and fished out cakes from a tin cart to eat.
Gu Yun once wore disguises and walked around anonymously. He saw that after being broken apart, the filling of those cakes was very good, with proper millet and felt heavy in the hand. It was not comparable to the precious and rare delicacies on Qi Yuan Tower from the capital city in that year. It could not even be described as a simple meal, but a group of strong men who had just finished their work gathered together, each holding one piece of dry food, dipped in soy sauce brought from the foreman's home, eating together, it could make one feel a peace of mind.
Near the outskirts of the capital, Gu Yun rode along with Chang Geng's carriage and chatted about this along the way. Chang Geng laughed and said, "The craftsmen may be invited from outside. They come to work as foremen to lead everyone in working. Most of the remaining workers are directly recruited by Master Du from the refugees. In the future, where they had carried the bricks is where they will make a living. For this reason, I heard that Master Du asked for a decree from the Canal Department, guaranteeing in the name of the court that unless one wanted to go, the factory would not drive people out. They will belong to this place for the rest of their lives."
No one was more eager to take root and build their own new homes than the refugees who had drifted away. In order to build their new families, they could do their work steadily and quickly without any trickery. Du Wan Quan only needed to manage their meals, even saving a lot of money for labor. Oftentimes, there were old grandmothers who would call him 'Charitable Du' behind his back, when they worshipped Bodhisattvas, there was always a share for him. This God of Wealth was truly smart.
"This is a good thing," Gu Yun thought for a moment, and asked, "except for not reducing taxes, it's a bit like a military household. It's just that civilians are not the same as the army. What if there is someone who doesn't do their job or commits a crime?"
"Regulations have been issued by the Grand Council," Chang Geng said. "Before I left, I had instructed Jiang Han Shi. It has been sent along with the imperial decree. There are thirteen rules in it. After they finish their work every night, someone in charge will come to explain this to them. If the evidence proves to be correct, the local branch of the Canal Department can fire them... Why, do you still worry about workers being bullied in case of collusion between government and business in the future?"
Gu Yun was dumbfounded, then laughed and said, "What, there is even a solution for that?"
"Yes," said Chang Geng, "For people who have worked for the factory for over ten years, if half the amount of workers are willing to guarantee, the person can stay, moreover, they can bring it up to the Canal Department at the next level. In fact, even if we do this, after a long time problems are inevitable. When that happens, we can slowly make changes, it is impossible to finish it in one go."
Gu Yun: "How long have you been planning this?"
"It was not me who came up with it," Chang Geng laughed. "It's only when I first came into contact with Master Du that I had a vague idea. After a long time of paving the way and discussing, negotiating nonstop with them, it took me more than a year to polish it. Master Du and his group have traveled south and north all their lives, taking many trips across the Western Ocean. Their knowledge is vast and they are quick in reaction, they only lack a ladder. I only needed to set up a ladder for him, he can handle the rest."
Scholars have the meticulousness and sentiment of scholars, businessmen have the cunning and skills of businessmen. Essentially there was no good or bad, one could only see which way the upper people were willing to lead them according to the situation.
"By the way, Zi Xi, I also heard Master Du say that Westerners have this type of very long and large car," Chang Geng said excitedly, looking out from the window of the carriage. "It runs very fast on metal rails, but it is unlike the Large Eagle and the Giant Kite, it can pull many sections behind it. Won't it carry as many things as you want? It's much better than the canal waterway, but its size is rather large and as it runs through a long distance, it is not easy to coordinate. But, it's just in time for us to use the opportunity of land acquisition for factory construction to leave a space for that thing."
"I really have to thank the Yang-Lu Party for its diligence in buying houses and land, saving me a lot of work. Master Du planned to start with the path along the canal and invite someone to build one for trial. Right now with the struggle in Jiangnan's frontline, rations, Ziliujin, and machines from the capital being troublesome to transport, if it could be built one day..."
Gu Yun did not have much bright ideas on the matter of the national economy and people's livelihood, but he was extremely keen on defense and military affairs. He understood Chang Geng's meaning with just one word and quickly said, "Can you elaborate more on it?"
But Chang Geng did not continue, he waved at him as if he intended to whisper. Gu Yun urged his horse to catch up a little, bent down slightly and asked, "What's the matter, is there something that can't be revealed now?"
"It's not that I can't tell you, just..." Chang Geng hesitated slightly.
Gu Yun was at a loss for a moment. He didn't reflect on the reason for this confidentiality. At that moment, Chang Geng popped his head out of the carriage and quickly took advantage of his lips.
Gu Yun: "..."
Chang Geng swept a glance around and saw that with the carriage blocking, nobody was paying attention. He whispered, "After we are home tonight, go along with me once more and I'll show you the drawings."
Gu Yun took the reins and leaned back gently. "How many times have I gone along with you? If it wasn't acting spoiled using the injuries then it is playing tricks on me — no way."
Chang Geng was good in every aspect, only that he had a strong desire for control, especially towards Gu Yun, wishing that he could do such things as changing his clothes for him and feeding him. On regular days, he would deliberately restrain himself and try not to make Gu Yun uncomfortable. But when they got to bed, he was no longer able to pay that much attention.
Chang Geng whispered softly, "Yifu, if I did not serve you well, I can put my heart into learning more."
Gu Yun: "... Son, you don't have to work so hard."
Having passed where Jiangbei Camp was stationed, Gu Yun did not wear armor, he only had a casual gown on: the sleeves were even wider than his waist.
Chang Geng grabbed his sleeve and shook it silently from side to side.
On their way through a village, they happened to see a three or four-year-old child pulling its parents sleeve, crying for candy. Ever since then, no one knew which nerve of Chang Geng was fried, he copied the action exactly, seemingly wanting to bring it to the next level.
When he was a child, there was no sleeve in the world for him to pull. Now, even if he was already a grown man standing tall, he always seemed to have regrets and wanted to make up for all of it with Gu Yun.
Gu Yun laughed and felt goosebumps raise up: "I already said no, just let go. Your Highness, do you not want your dignity anymore?"
Chang Geng refused to let go, and there was a tendency that he would not rest until his sleeve was served in public.
When Shen Yi and Jiang Chong led people out of the city to welcome them, they saw Yan Wang sitting in his carriage, poking his head out and talking to Gu Yun. Gu Yun let his steed wander lazily, with a little hint of a smile in his eyes and lips tightened in indifference.
Yan Wang first said something. Gu Yun knocked on the back of his hand, forcing him to release his hold involuntarily.
Yan Wang seemed to have not given up, he said something again. Gu Yun pulled down the curtain of his carriage as if to put him out of sight, out of mind.
The third time Yan Wang lifted up the curtain and poked his head out, Gu Yun finally could not help but burst into laughter, waving his hand as if already defeated, he seemed to have compromised.
Jiang Chong was stunned.
Shen Yi sighed, "It is fortunate that the Marshal has no blood-related children. Otherwise, he would have created a mischievous devil from his spoiling. I don't think he can say no three times to His Highness Yan Wang. If he does not agree the first two times he's asked, he will by the third."
Jiang Chong had not yet returned to his senses, "I thought that since the Marquis was not in the capital for a long time, there is only the title of adoptive father and son between him and Yan Wang, but it seems that their affection is really deep."
When Shen Yi heard the word 'affection', his train of thought deviated, his feelings as to how Gu Yun was unable to act as a strict father had made a turn. He scolded in his heart, "This Gu Zi Xi blinded by beauty could never be proper for his entire life, what on earth is he doing in broad daylight?"
Gu Yun 'blinded by beauty' felt his nose itch, he twisted his head and sneezed. As soon as he turned back, he saw Master Jiang with a face full of the sentiment 'watching the two officers* at peace, my heart rejoices', and Governor Shen with the words 'paying attention to your image, are you not afraid of losing your dignity' written angrily on his forehead.
*referring to the two highest positions in civil and military.
The once again dignified Yan Wang was invited into the palace before he could get out of the carriage.
Shen Yi constantly gave Gu Yun a condemning glare. Gu Yun, who had just promised a very humiliating and disgraceful deed, was currently regretting it. He asked angrily, "What are you looking at?"
Governor Shen, an old scholar, reproached with righteousness, "It's not that I want to be lengthy, but you can be so improper sometimes!"
Gu Yun: "What's wrong with me?"
Shen Yi: "Like a lecher who had his soul hooked by a fox spirit."
Gu Yun: "..."
It was a general injustice of 'thunder rumbling in winter' and 'snow falling in summer', it was impossible to justify himself even with a hundred mouths...he truly wanted to sever ties with this Shen.
Fortunately, before he had time to lay a murderous hand against Governor Shen, Shen Yi had blocked his mouth with business: "I thought you would arrive here in a few days, so I didn't send a messenger. There are two important things needed to be said to you. First, Jia Lai Ying Huo of the Northern Man sent an envoy."
Gu Yun's face changed.
Since the Black Iron Camp slowed down and calmed the western turmoil, it had been stationed eagerly northward, which had largely relieved the pressure of defense in the Northern Frontier. The Black Iron Camp was a lifelong nightmare of Jia Lai Ying Huo. With them there, the Wolf King of the Eighteen Tribes dared not move recklessly.
But the Northern Frontier had always been barren, even raising cattle and sheep had to depend on the gods. In this battle, even Great Liang used up all their resources, let alone that Jia Lai whose thoughts were full of vengeance and neglected producing.
In the long run, it was natural that they could no longer hold on.
Gu Yun: "Came for a peace treaty?"
"Yeah," said Shen Yi, nodding, "This matter had not been brought up to the Grand Court Meeting yet. The Emperor called us into the palace to discuss the terms of the other side. Do you know how I feel?"
Gu Yun eyebrows twitched.
Shen Yi said, "It was the same as when the old Wolf King offered Ziliujin and proposed to be the hostage back then. It was well-spoken, humble, and sincere. The conditions are very pleasant. Zi Xi, do you trust them?
Gu Yun was silent for a moment and slowly said, "I don't. The Barbarians are different from the Westerners. The Westerners are just greedy, but the Barbarians have harbored hatred for generations — especially Jia Lai."
Shen Yi asked hurriedly, "What do you mean?"
"Since Jia Lai took over the Eighteen Tribes, he has done nothing but seek vengeance on the Central Plains," Gu Yun said. "There are only two possibilities for them to come for a truce now. Either Jia Lai has been usurped by someone from inside their Eighteen Tribes, or he has ulterior motives."
Shen Yi: "We can't rule out the possibility that the Eighteen Tribes can no longer survive..."
"No, it's not winter yet. I don't believe they're on their last leg," Gu Yun said. "Listen to me, Jia Lai is a mad dog. Mad dogs don't care whether they eat meat or grass. They only bite people. By the way, what did the Emperor say?"
"The Emperor..." Shen Yi paused and lowered his voice. "This is the second thing I want to tell you. The Emperor has not seemed very healthy recently."
Gu Yun was stunned.
"Now the Grand Court Meeting has been changed to be held once every fifteen days, on the first and fifteenth of each month, all the other important matters that need to be discussed are to be taken to the Small Court Meeting and handed over to the Grand Council to be brought up to the West Warm Pavilion and wait for the Emperor's approval. I feel that the Emperor can no longer stand the loudmouth people arguing in the court meetings."
Shen Yi said in a small voice. "In the court meeting this month, as soon as the servant announced that the court was dismissed, the Emperor stood up and stepped on his own dragon robe, almost rolled down from the throne hall on the spot and was quickly caught by the attendants. As a result, here..."
Shen Yi pointed to his leg: "Directly broke it and has not been able to get up from bed even now. I think that might be the reason why he hurried to call Yan Wang into the palace."
Gu Yun was surprised: "Can one fall break a bone? How fragile. This is too much of a coincidence."
"The doctors dared not speak. Later, they asked Miss Chen to come take a look. Miss Chen said that after many years of overwork and irregular diet, the bones have softened, breaking easily with just one fall. Some people said that the former emperor was also..."
No wonder the doctors kept silent. Only Chen Qing Xu, who often traveled to the border, dared to tell the truth.
The country had truly worn a person out.
Shen Yi looked around and saw that all the people and horses who came to greet Yan Wang had followed after Jiang Chong, Gu Yun left his guards in the Northern Camp. There were only a few generals around him. He lowered his voice and said to Gu Yun in an almost whisper, "Because of the Lu family incident, the consort was also implicated and was directly stripped of her position. There was nothing wrong on the outside, but in fact, she was basically sent to the Cold Palace. The prince is so small, his mother's family is not of much help, if the Emperor really... say, what is he eagerly calling Yan Wang into the palace for? Is he entrusting his child or..."
Gu Yun looked at him, Shen Yi shut up automatically.
When the imperial city was about to break down, Li Feng did mention the matter of passing on the throne, not to the prince, but to Yan Wang.
In the case of the collapsing country of that time, the little prince truly did not have the power to undertake the responsibility of the Li family. Now, although the country had not yet recovered, the Man had sent an envoy to seek peace. After several years of recuperation, they could go out to battle. Would the Emperor still pass on the throne to his brother and not his son?
Gu Yun suddenly remembered the unrelated words Li Feng suddenly mentioned to him when the imperial army rebelled — "Yan Wang was abused by the barbarian woman when he was a child"——
Li Feng didn't seem to be the type of person who would take the initiative and ask him, there's a chance that Chang Geng told him of his own will. What kind of occasion would it be?
Although Chang Geng and Li Feng were brothers, they were not close. Gu Yun understood that wolf cub Chang Geng well, if it was not a loved one, he would not let anyone pet even a hair. It was impossible for him to take the initiative to confess his childhood wounds to win sympathy, unless...
Gu Yun's mind flashed and suddenly thought of a possibility: That's right, Yan Wang had come of age and had been crowned for several years, why did nobody care about his marriage? Even if it was inconvenient for others to mention it, would Li Feng also forget?
So the second half of Emperor Long An's mindless remark on that day may have been: "He's not willing to marry a wife and have children due to this problem."
If Yan Wang had no offspring, it would mean that no matter what happened in the future, nothing could shake the position of the little prince, there was a possibility that Li Feng would truly entrust his orphan child to Chang Geng.
And Li Feng had always let the little prince interact with him. On one hand, it was to ease their relationship, on the other hand, it was to pave the way for his son!
The minds of these people…
Shen Yi: "Do you think it is possible for the Emperor to pass on the throne to Yan Wang?"
"Shh - don't mention it anymore," Gu Yun said. "Don't get mixed up in this. Remember what our job is."
Shen Yi hurriedly agreed, "In fact, I have one more thing... uhm, it's a private matter."
Gu Yun looked at Shen Yi in surprise. "What?"
Shen Yi scratched his head for a moment. "Are you close with Miss Chen?"
Gu Yun was still immersed in Li Feng's broken leg and the Man's envoy. He momentarily did not realize and answered in confusion, "Miss Chen? I can't say I'm close to her - she doesn't talk to people very much, why?"
Shen Yi said with discontent, "She doesn't mind exhaustion serving as a military doctor for you in that godforsaken Northwest area for so long, yet you can only say one line of 'not very close'?"
The words 'coldhearted and fickle' were vividly visible on Governor Shen's face.
Gu Yun: "... Huh?"
Shen Yi looked at him angrily.
Two people - one with his thoughts in the clouds, one furious - did not understand one another, staring at each other for a long time, Gu Yun finally reacted a little, giving Shen Yi a strange look: "What do you mean?"
The usually chattering Shen Yi in the past suddenly closed his mouth, his cheeks were tight, appearing like a martyr who would rather die than speak up. He met Gu Yun's hostile eyes with great vigor and became a mouthless gourd.
Gu Yun raised his eyebrows innocently, stretched out a finger and poked Shen Yi's chest: "I said, Lord Shen, did the wisemen not teach you not to ask about improper things? In broad daylight, you and me, two single men, gathered together to inquire about the affairs of a grown woman from another family, where is your dignity?"
He remembered Shen Yi's rude and merciless remarks from just now, immediately taking the opportunity to give him a stab in return: "Despicable!"
Shen Yi: "..."
Gu Yun managed to catch a large weak point of Shen Yi from out of nowhere. He was in a very good mood, his waist was no longer sore and his back was no longer painful. He ushered his horse forward, whistling a tune that sounded not much different than his flute playing ability.
"Gu Zi Xi!" Shen Yi gritted his teeth, catching up with him. "You... You..."
In broad daylight, to avoid insulting his superior on the open street, Shen Yi used all his strength to suppress the latter part of the sentence.
After Gu Yun had entertained himself enough using Shen Yi, they dismissed their family guards and walked to the Imperial City together. Only then did he say with seriousness: "Miss Chen's character is not bad, she also has a lot of ability - as for the likes of you, I guess she should have no problem beating three or five at a time."
Although this sentence asked for a beating of its own, Shen Yi did not feel offended at this moment, he listened with relish - especially when Gu Yun talked about the first time he met Chen Qing Xu on the traitor's ship many years ago, Shen Yi sighed with grief and regret, wishing that he could insert himself into that moment.
"As for her temperament, likes and dislikes... I don't know very well either. Maybe Chang Geng is even closer with her." Gu Yun said, "But there is one thing, I need to tell you about her family background."
"Chen family of the Shanxi manor, I know," Shen Yi answered. "With many generations of doctors, practicing medicine to save people. Their family style is very clean and honest."
Gu Yun gave a slight huff: "You investigate so thoroughly, are you planning to come and ask for her hand in marriage?"
Shen Yi said, "Three letters and six etiquettes*, of course, cannot be lacking."
*traditional Chinese pre-wedding custom
Gu Yun: "..."
This brother of his was an odd person. In his early years, he read a basket of books and was deeply poisoned by the family traditions. However, people only teach etiquette to outsiders, and act proper and decent towards outsiders. After closing the door, they each showed their dirty side only to themselves, not affecting anyone, they all understood each other's false image of decency.
Only this Shen was different. From an outsider's point of view, he abandoned Han Lin to enter Ling Shu, and later degenerated into the rank of soldier, infamous for 'deviating from the classics and betraying the Tao'. But inside, he was a true upright and proper man of 'see no evil, hear no evil', to the point of even though he had been mingling with a group of veteran soldiers all day long, he was not stained with their mud for over ten years.
During this period, Chen Qing Xu stayed in the capital, experienced both great and minor disturbances together, Miss Chen of Lin Yuan Pavilion probably had a lot of contact with Shen Yi. However, throughout all these interactions, this Shen did not dare to say anything to her in person, he could only dare to come and inquire Gu Yun about it behind her back.
It seemed that he might not have even understood the involvement of the Chen family and Lin Yuan Pavilion and still felt that Chen Qing Xu was simply dedicated to serving the country!
Gu Yun sighed. Shen Yi, this type of wooden block truly did not have the manners of being his underling even the slightest.
"Then let me tell you something you don't know, don't tell anyone. The Chen family in Shanxi is not an ordinary doctor family. They are the strong beam of Lin Yuan Pavilion," Gu Yun whispered. "I heard Old Zhong mention once that Miss Chen is the head of the Chen family in this generation. If that's the case, she's unlikely to be able to marry you as a governor's wife."
Shen Yi was stunned immediately.
Gu Yun thought for a moment: "Otherwise, I'll go and find someone to express it on your behalf, to see what she thinks inside..."
"No, don't," Shen Yi said quickly. "That is too abrupt!"
Gu Yun: "..."
He felt that he was like a eunuch in a rush while the Emperor remained leisurely. According to Shen Yi's character, he probably could not get a wife in this lifetime, thus with his vast experience, he gave advice: "This kind of thing can not be done without hurry, brother Ji Ping, if someone else were to come before you, at that point, you would have no room left to talk."
But Shen Yi thought for a moment and shook his head and said, "Let's not. I'll think about it again."
Gu Yun shook his head after hearing this. He knew too well that if a man hesitated after hearing the identity and background of the woman, it most likely meant he was just 'a little interested', not to the degree where it had to be her. However, it was not convenient for him to comment on how the involved parties felt. He only said, "Alright, you can think about it first, whatever you need my help with, just say the word."
But this sentence did not enter Shen Yi's ears. He was still immersed in his own thoughts and seriously analyzed to Gu Yun. "I really didn't know of this situation before, but after hearing you say so, I also feel that it's not appropriate."
Gu Yun nodded: "Mm."
Shen Yi: "Then, there's no other choice. I have to wait until this battle is over. I will then resign and no longer serve as a general."
Gu Yun: "..."
He almost fell head first off his horse.
Shen Yi looked sorrowful, "But proposing before the battle is finished, I feel that it is quite unlucky. People like us, if we are too concerned for someone, we would easily tie our hands and feet on the battlefield. On the contrary, it's even more dangerous this way. In case something happens, won't we waste a lady's lifetime?... but I'm afraid after the war, both the flow of time and her will no longer wait for me. It's really a dilemma. Zi Xi, do you have any way to keep those miscellaneous people far away?"
"... You don't have to worry about that. As far as I know, Miss Chen herself possesses this ability." Gu Yun paused for a moment, narrowed his eyes slightly, then suddenly laughed.
Shen Yi wondered, "Why are you laughing?"
Gu Yun: "Laughing at you, graduated in literary, but running against the way of Han Lin the next day to enter Ling Shu. After making some achievements in the Ling Shu Institute, just as some people were speculating that you would be the next successor of Master Feng Han, you bid farewell to Ling Shu Institute and entered the Black Iron Camp as a mechanic. Now, step by step, you have achieved great military achievements. In the end, you are ascending into the sky in the eyes of others. Relieving the siege of the capital city and saving the Emperor, there's a chance you will achieve higher ranks. Others think you have made very thorough calculations, but you are different, you'd rather resign for the sake of marrying a wife."
Shen Yi continued to grin in sorrow. He had no ambition. He had been following his heart of a wet nurse all these years, watching over this, taking care of that. He was only following Gu Yun around. Unfortunately, there was too much bloodshed in Gu Yun's life, causing him to accidentally become famous. What he got was not what he wanted, hence why it was nothing that he couldn't let go of.
Some people were easily changed, becoming entirely different in only a few years. While others resembled quiet waters, going through a hundred and eighty thousand miles, yet their hearts remained the same.
Gu Yun looked at him and suddenly felt emotional. The feelings accumulated after hearing about the court affairs all vanished. He affectionately grabbed Shen Yi's shoulder and gave it a pat.
"In the future, whatever you need Miss Chen for, you can ask me." Shen Yi did not realize the ups and downs of the mood of the Marquis of Order. Still immersed in his worries, he unconsciously started his routine of endless chattering. "But... I have no status, continuing to seek her out like this, is it alright? Would she end up thinking that I am improper in the future? Zi Xi, tell me - no, you don't need to say anything, you're originally not very proper in the first place, I feel that..."
General Shen had entered the process of repeated self-argument and self-doubt.
Gu Yun: "..."
Although his heart need not be changed, this habit of endless nagging would be better if it could be changed.
Gu Yun felt his head ache with Shen Yi's chatter. Unable to bear it any longer, he whipped Shen Yi's horse's buttocks and took this opportunity to run away.
At the same time, the news that 'Yan Wang was invited into the palace as soon as he arrived in the suburbs' grew wings and quickly flew into the perked up ears of the capital. Fang Qin was at home, a few of his staff and confidants were sitting around him. With the Jiangbei upheaval this time, Fang Qin had the feeling his action was all for the profit of someone else.
For Fang Qin, the Lu-Yang party was a bit like a rotten tooth. Although it grew in the same mouth, it suffered from inflammation and caused pain from time to time. Not only did it cause difficulty in chewing, but it was often a hindrance. It was not a bad thing to have it pulled out. But he did not expect that Yan Wang would have so many tactics ready, the aftereffect of the pulled-out rotten tooth was too wide. Although Yan Wang was not in the capital, he had taken advantage of when Fang Qin had not come back to his senses to gather the canal into his own pocket.
Now the Canal Office had been set up, factories were sprouting like mushrooms everywhere, it was already an irreversible fact. With the senses that the old fox Fang Qin honed after going through ups and downs for many years, the next step would be a series of reforms, such as farmland tax, civil and commercial trading, so on and so forth.
He was about to use the tactic of 'the mantis caught the cicada, but the bird was preying from behind'. Unexpectedly, when struggling with him, Yan Wang had already 'built a warehouse in the dark and built a warehouse in the open'. Thinking ten steps ahead before moving, in the end, Fang Qin still made a wrong move.
Before, when he had just taken office as the Minister of Housing, they once had a honeymoon period with the Grand Council. At that time, when the rivers and mountains fell into captivity, it was difficult to move, a pile of rubble waiting for someone for it to be rebuilt once again, no one had the mind to fight with anyone. The entire court withstood this disaster together, they were once anxious to find the slightest hope and a way out for the nation, they once respected and admired each other's talents. Who would have known that their moment of separation would come so fast?
Fang Qin sometimes couldn't help but admire and envy Jiang Han Shi. If they were to switch places, he thought he would be much more talented and dependable than that Jiang Chong and Xu Ling bunch. If he didn't bear the surname Fang, even if he was only a student who had been painstakingly studying for ten years to achieve a lowly official position…
But life had many ironies - there was no use thinking about such things now. Yan Wang was determined to exterminate the old forces. After the upheaval in Jiangnan, this butcher knife was already revealed. Now, they resembled water and fire.
An aide opened his mouth carefully: "Sir, I heard that when foreigners invaded, the Emperor once mentioned the matter of passing on the throne to Yan Wang. This time, he called him into the palace in such a hurry... even after the country was at peace and the Emperor no longer had this intention, still, the position of being an important subject to support the young prince remains. Perhaps we should think of a plan to deal with this?"
Only then did Fang Qin come back to his senses and squinted.
Another said, "Last time Yang Rong Gui rebelled using the name of Yan Wang, the Emperor must undoubtedly have had this thorn in his heart. But Yan Wang played the victim like this and took advantage of his injuries to temporarily avoid danger. Staying silent for so long... now, the Emperor's doubts seem to have all been dispelled, he also took this chance to return to the capital to resume his position, I'm afraid he will soon make a big move."
In fact, Fang Qin was still a little hesitant. He stroked his beard lightly. "The Man sent their messengers, Jiangnan is still ready for war. We will still need to go out to battle for the next two or three years. The canal is on the path of growth and refugees all over the country have settled down. If we were to touch Yan Wang at this time, would it affect the country's fate? If that's the case, I will become a sinner who will be denounced for generations."
The chief executive laughed, "The Master's loyalty towards the court is as clear as day, inspiring admiration in others. But it is not certain that the court could no longer function if it left Yan Wang. Lowly businessmen, even the bunch calling themselves merchants will not be able to escape their greedy nature for profit. As long as it does not affect their profits, there is no need for them to care about whose hands the court is in?
With Master Fang's love for the country and the people, even if Yan Wang is absent, we can still smoothly settle the refugees and continue to go out to battle as usual - you must think carefully. Yan Wang's ambition is as clear as day. With his high status, sooner or later, he will try every method to oppress us, planting his own people in. If we continue to let him run rampant, eating and devouring, one day, you and I, and all of our families will be in danger of losing our lives."
The crowd immediately echoed this sentiment.
"Yan Wang, though talented, acts too radically. If he is allowed to go on like this, I'm afraid it will be a disaster to the country and the people."
"Master Fang cannot be lenient anymore. If he is allowed to take office once again, I'm afraid he won't be able to tolerate us..."
Fang Qin sighed, stretched out his hand to suppress the murmur of the whole room, turned to the trusted confidant beside him and said, "Go and fetch 'that man'."
A brewing storm was gathering once again.
Completely unaware of this, Chang Geng left the deep palace and returned to the Marquis' Manor. It was unknown what Li Feng had said to him, but he looked to be in a good mood. As soon as he got home, he found Gu Yun to glue himself to, refusing to let go and delightfully eating his dinner.
Gu Yun did not ask him what Li Feng said when he invited him into the palace. He could guess from his observation. He knocked off Yan Wang's hand that wasn't paying attention to carrying his bowl and chopsticks but climbed on his thigh. He inadvertently said, "When are you going to return to the court to work?"
Chang Geng rubbed the back of his hand and picked up more food for Gu Yun in an effort to please him. He looked at him absently and said, "I will after a few days rest. The Emperor said that he does not have much energy right now and wants me to return to my position as soon as possible. Zi Xi, you should eat more."
Gu Yun waved his hand: "It's already too late, only have a few bites. It would be uncomfortable to eat too much. Have you heard about Jia Lai Ying Huo sending someone?"
"Mm," Chang Geng nodded. He stopped him from fetching the teacup and gave him a bowl of soup instead. "How to negotiate, it still needs Marshal Gu to have the final say."
"When a beast is seriously injured, it often pretends to be dying, luring the enemy to lay down their defense, then delivering a violent attack. Be careful." As Gu Yun said this, he looked at Chang Geng, blowing the vegetable bits in the soup bowl away and drinking it.
Chang Geng was stunned, he suddenly felt that Gu Yun's words were not only about the barbarians but also seemingly to warn him about something else.