Inside of a small yellow earth courtyard was a grape trellis.
Below the grape trellis was a woven straw mat.
An ordinary looking scholar who had a thin beard was currently sitting on the woven straw mat, his age in his thirties, eyes shining as he sifted through some bamboo slips.
The clothes he wore had already been washed to the point where they were bleached white, with quite a few areas that were patched. In the bowl next to him was a piece of half eaten dry bread. The small courtyard made from yellow earth only had a single water jar filled with clear water, inside of it floating a gourd ladle. The two huts in the courtyard that were similarly made of yellow earth didn’t seem to have much wealth either, clearly an underprivileged household.
However, from time to time, he was entranced, occasionally smiling, extremely calm, not at all unsatisfied with this type of livelihood.
With a groan noise, someone pushed open the batten door.
It was an elder dressed in an ordinary sackcloth gown, in his hands an old wooden walking stick.
This elder’s figure was short and small. The right side of his face seemed to have had its cheekbones shattered, and even though it already recovered, it was slightly indented, leaving behind a sunflower-like scar. In addition, his left leg was limp, even with the wooden walking stick’s help, his gait was still a bit unsteady.
When he turned his head and saw that it was this short, elderly man who entered, this poor but upright scholar immediately stood up, greeting him with a smiling face. He first showed the other party a bow of respect, and then supported this elder onto the straw mat, at the same time saying with a smile, “Teacher, you came late today!”
The elder’s outer appearance was quite miserable and pitiful, he clearly experienced a life filled with bitterness, but his muddled yellow eyes were instead filled with a carefree gentleness and pride. His eyes looked around this courtyard’s surroundings, and then he also chuckled, saying, “There were a bit more matters that needed tending to than normal, so that’s why I was a bit late. Did you finish all of the homework I gave you yesterday?”
“Student has finished everything, but I don’t know if I understood as much as teacher, so there are some small issues I want teacher to help me clear up.” The poor scholar said with a calm smile. He really wasn’t born with all that amazing of a face, his skin a bit yellow, eyes not big enough, brows not thick enough either, face a bit too long. However, his smile was exceptionally amiable and humble, giving others a comfortable feeling.
After placing the wooden walking stick in front of his knees, the elder nodded and said, “Let’s hear them.”
The poor scholar continued, “From an outsider’s perspective, with Yunqin’s fifty years of unchanged structure of one emperor, nine elders, and eight sector heads, the nine seniors and eight sector heads should be in complete servitude of the long lived and powerful Yunqin Emperor, but in reality, this isn’t the case at all. Those nine seniors, apart from the vice general leader, who controls Central Continent Guard and Imperial City’s experts, being absolutely loyal to the emperor, the original purpose of the other eight senators is to supervise, as well as keep the emperor and Green Luan Academy in check. The reason these eight old senators can sit in those positions behind the curtains is because they have all types of powerful strength hidden themselves. As for the eight sectors, this is the political chessboard where these nine elders face off, plant their own people, struggle for a balance of power against each other.”
“Since ancient times, there has never been an empire that has had so many people and ways of keeping the emperor in check, moreover maintaining this type of subtle balance. That is why I hold quite a bit of admiration for the past Yunqin old emperor, to actually come up with this type of arrangement… At the same time, in the past few decades of play at politics and smoothing out the edges of this balance, these nine senators and the eight sector heads’ wisdom and methods have also definitely become extremely terrifying. Everyone would be scared of a power with the ability to govern an entire country. That is why regardless of how weak Yunqin looks to be on the surface, that is still only on the surface… as long as these arrangements aren’t ruined, Yunqin’s enemy will always be itself. Regardless of whether it is Tangcang or Great Mang, they can’t compare.”
“Judging from what has happened in the past few years, these nine elders struggled against each other, but they have a common ‘enemy’, which is Yunqin’s emperor. As such, even though normally, their opinions defer, they will definitely join forces to ensure that the upper senate’s structure continues to exist, find successors they all approve of. During these past few years, these nine senators have always been looking for a candidate to replace the old senator who is about to fall to his illness. According to the trajectory of how the eight sectors and various areas’ officials are being promoted… the final opportunity will most likely be given to either Wen Family or Leng Family.”
After listening seriously, the hemp garment elder’s brows furrowed slightly, saying, “Why do you feel like Western Border Army’s well-known Cang Yue doesn’t have a chance?”
“Even though those senators are terrifying, because they are always keeping each other in check, their way of doing things always has some set patterns to adhere by. From their past way of doing things, normally, if they wish to be arranged to enter Imperial City’s center of highest authority, they must first accumulate enough military merit in the border army, and then be brought into Central Continent Imperial City to undergo their nurturing and influence. Afterwards, they will head to the local armies, manage some governmental affairs in the various provinces, work as a high official of local areas for two to three years, and then they would be transferred back to Central Continent Imperial City, enter the Justice Sector and wait. However, Cang Yue has previously already been transferred to Justice Sector, serving as a local commander. According to those elders’ customs, what comes afterwards will inevitably be to serve as a provincial head, gaining some achievements there before being transferred back to Imperial City.” The poor scholar looked at the hemp garment clothed elder, still modestly explaining his own viewpoint. “However, he was instead sent to Jadefall Border Army to serve as a mighty great general. Even though he is already equivalent to a vice sector head in authority, he has already lost the opportunity to become a senator. The conclusion I reached is that it is because he is too smart, his way of conduct is too fierce, too ambitious to achieve extraordinary things.”
After a slight pause, he looked at the hemp garment clothed elder and added, “His nature and the current Yunqin emperor’s shares some similarities. If this type of person were to advance further, even if the other senators could keep him in check, it is unknown just how great of a price they would have to pay. The most crucial part is… he might have taken the lives of more than a thousand innocent civilians to exaggerate his merit, this even more so touches the bottom lines of a few senators.”
“You’ve completed your homework quite well, most of what you said is not far off.” The hemp garment elder took a deep breath, and then after slowly releasing it, he looked at the poor scholar with a look of warning, saying, “However, you still overlooked some things. The ‘enemy’ of these nine senators and eight sector heads isn’t Yunqin emperor, but rather Green Luan Academy. It is because Green Luan Academy, for both the emperor and themselves, is too powerful, which is why during these past few years, they have gone through the extra effort to support Thunder Academy and Immortal Academy, wishing for them to take Green Luan Academy’s place. It is precisely because of this type of cooperation that there are so many experts existing in such a tangled, complicated, and inconceivable manner, making this empire exceptionally powerful and frightening. It is because for both Tangcang and Great Mang, what they have to face isn’t a single power, but rather nine undercurrents that are hard to get a clear feel of. Also, in the past, it wasn’t because Yunqin’s old emperor was formidable or unimaginably wise and capable, but rather because there was Principal Zhang. Only with the existence of such a prestigious and unmatched individual will so many powerful individuals be willing to accept this type of arrangement.”
The poor scholar became silent for a bit, and then said, “What teacher says makes sense, this reasoning isn’t difficult to understand.”
The hemp garment elder nodded warmly, asking, “There is new news. Yan Shaoqing, Feng Qianhan, and Ye Shaofeng have set out from Imperial City for Green Luan Academy, with Yan Shaoqing taking charge of this affair. What kind of thoughts do you have towards this matter?”
The poor scholar became a bit quiet once more, but then he quickly replied, “After receiving teacher’s guidance just now, this student understands that Yunqin Empire’s foundation is still in Green Luan Academy. Apart from Principal Zhang, those elders in Green Luan Academy, and the numerous lecturers all form an extremely terrifying force. The most crucial point lies in that it is precisely because there is the powerful and scary threat that is Green Luan Academy weighing down on the emperor and senator’s heads, that regardless of whether this threat really exists, it is precisely what ensures that Yunqin’s highest authoritative figures cooperate. However, Yunqin’s current emperor is too young and too red-blooded, feeling like he can control Green Luan Academy and the senators alone, that they would make Yan Shaoqing the leader, wishing to have Green Luan Academy express its absolute loyalty and devotion to Yunqin Empire. However, there is no way those nine senators won’t understand this reasoning, which is why the final result of this matter will be that they will make Green Luan Academy make a few concessions, force Green Luan Academy to make some changes, weaken a bit of their influence, Thunder Academy and Immortal Academy don’t lack outstanding students… Meanwhile, some of Green Luan Academy’s lecturers wanted some change to begin with. I believe that there are some people in the academy who are loyal to Principal Zhang, while some will always hold the interests of Yunqin above the academy, loyal to Yunqin Emperor and the empire itself. That is why in conclusion, it might still be Green Luan Academy who steps back for the emperor and senators, handing over some of the pill medicines and cultivation methods they desire the most.”
The expression of the hemp garment elder didn’t change, but he was inwardly full of praise. To reach this type of conclusion only through their exchange, the sight of this student of his might already not be below his own.
“Then, what do you think Great Mang Dynasty can do right now?” He looked at this poor scholar, continuing to ask.
The poor scholar looked at the hemp garment elder and said, “Right now, Great Mang has two clear opportunities, the first is Yunqin’s western front. Venerable Cang Yue is too smart and too ambitious, someone like him definitely won’t be able to accept this type of defeat. With those senators’ methods, the Bronze King Heavy Armor will definitely be associated with his Western Border Army, so he will definitely feel irritable. With his strength and nature, a bit of irritability can lead to making a huge mistake. Those senators’ goal is merely to make him lose the right to enter the senate, so for Great Mang, this naturally presents more benefits. The weaker Green Luan Academy becomes, the more severe their own differences in opinion will be. Yunqin Emperor will most likely use Yunqin Empire’s critical situation as an excuse to act out against Green Luan Academy, the nine elders will play along… our Great Mang, if if we push with a bit more might, we can give Yunqin Emperor even greater justification. Either way, Great Mang’s harvest this year hasn’t been bad, the general situation also unprecedentedly stable. Moving out the dynasty’s army a bit and fighting a few small battles can increase the strength of some of our forces.”
“Very good.” The hemp garment elder nodded again, and then asked, “What other small problems do you wish my help with?”
“Recently, I’ve always been trying to research the natures of those nine senators. I wish to ask teacher, the reason they always sit behind layers of curtains, apart from giving off a type of powerful and authoritative pressure to others, is it also because they don’t wish for others to see their current exact situation?”
“That is correct. However, apart from the two points you stated, they perhaps don’t even wish for other senators to see their own faces, because what is between them is like a mirror. If they see each other, they might recall some things they did before that they weren’t willing to do, recall many unhappy things, make themselves feel extremely uncomfortable.”
The hemp garment elder and this poor scholar chatted for a long time. Only when the moon was high up in the sky did the hemp garment elder get up to leave.
After passing through a pitch-black alley, under the support of an old servant, he got on a luxurious carriage that was waiting for him, slowly leaving this alley filled with impoverished families, heading towards the distant brightly lit and bustling city region.
“My great self really has taken in a good student… I fear that the student might overtake the master soon, this really is a gratifying feeling…” When there was already some distance from that village, the elder who was resting on the carriage’s soft couch, perhaps because he felt that the journey was a bit boring, couldn’t help but speak out in admiration, releasing a sigh.
“Ah… ah…” A big smile appeared on the face of the old servant who was driving the carriage, releasing yi ya noises while moving his hands; he was a mute.
In this Great Mang King City, the only one who dared call himself ‘great self’ was naturally Great Mang Dynasty’s emperor, Zhan Taimang.
If one didn’t see it with their own eyes, no one would think that the one who started off as an ordinary border army soldier, but ultimately established the Great Mang Dynasty… was actually this elder with such a miserable outer appearance.
This illustrious old emperor who was famed for his military glory didn’t have the slightest bit of domineering or imposing aura. His relationship with this mute old servant seemed to be extremely good. When he saw the other party’s sign language, he smiled and said, “You are asking me why I’m not welcoming him into the palace? … that is because it is still not time… with his ability, just from the things I gave him, from hearing some teachings I passed on, how could he not have deduced my identity… since he knows my identity, he will naturally have expectations… meanwhile, the more patience one has in living a quiet life, the more one isn’t affected by honor and disgrace, the greater the responsibilities one can take on.”