When Su Mu woke up, he found himself entangled with another naked person, but his body was feeling clean and refreshed. When looking for a lover, he always preferred the other to be willing, so when he saw Yun Feiyu’s quiet sleeping face, he felt a bit guilty.
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Carefully, he pulled away the hand that Yun Feiyu had placed on his waist, and lifted the quilt as gently as possible to get up.
Dawn had yet to break. Su Mu casually put on the single robe that he wore yesterday, and summoned the servants outside the door to serve him in washing and dressing. As early as when she heard that the Crown Prince was staying at Feiyu Pavilion, Yuzhu had his court clothes prepared and waiting in Feiyu Pavilion.
After Su Mu left, Yun Feiyu slowly opened his eyes. This person was completely different from what he remembered. Even Yun Feiyu almost believed that they were completely different people, but the Crown Prince’s bare body was completely exposed to him and he could tell clearly that this was indeed the same person.
The passionate scenes from last night appeared in his mind, and he once again stifled the budding emotions in his heart.
Su Mu sat on the icy chair and looked down on the officials, saying: “Ben Gong is unwell. During this period of two months, the six Ministries will jointly discuss the affairs of the government. When making major decisions, more than half must agree……”
After Su Mu had explained everything, the officials underneath were all shocked and confused. The Crown Prince wanted to suspend morning assembly for two months. What was the Crown Prince planning to do?
Unwell? The Crown Prince had been poisoned so many times in assassination attempts and yet was still alive and kicking. That he would feel ill, who would believe this completely unreliable excuse!
An old official came out, and it was the Shangshu of the Ministry of Appointments, Yun Jing: “If Your Highness is unwell, then certainly there is a need to call the imperial doctor. But the imperial court can’t be without Your Highness!”
Other officials also spoke up in agreement. The Crown Prince had just moved towards a change for the better so naturally, some people wanted him to keep it up. But there were more flattering sycophants with bad intentions.
“His Royal Highness is unwell, and just wanted to take a break. What intentions are you people harboring for not allowing His Highness to rest? Could you be trying to plot and bring harm to His Highness?”
“You! Making deceptive remarks to delude the public, according to this crime you should be put to death. Your Highness, chen implore you to see clearly.”
Su Mu looked at the chaotic hall that resembled a vegetable market, and his face darkened. Suddenly he shouted, “Shut up.”
As if the pause button was pressed, everyone in the hall fell silent immediately.
A sharp gaze swept over the officials with their heads bowed and saying nothing, and said: “What do you take this place for, look at yourselves and see whether you are any different from the market shrews.”
After a pause, Su Mu said: “If Ben Gong must do everything personally, what is the use of feeding you? Ben Gong has set up a supervisory department that will be operating unseen, and if you know what’s best, all of you should avoid making any trouble.”
After Su Mu dealt with all matters, he took his attendants and departed the city overnight.
The sweet singing of birds accompanied by the fragrance of flowers awakened Su Mu. He lifted the curtain and asked Shi Nuo who was driving the carriage: “Where are we?”
“Answering Your Highness, we are already close to Jinyang City, and it is expected that we’ll arrive at noon.”
Su Mu nodded. He returned to the carriage and closed his eyes to rest, a simple world map appearing in his mind.
Suddenly the carriage stopped without warning, Su Mu poked out his head and asked, “What happened?”
Shi Nuo’s whole body was on complete guard and said: “Answering Your Highness, several corpses have appeared in the front of the road, seeming to have starved to death.”
Although he had ordered the distribution of food and disaster relief, but with the pitiful savings in the treasury of Qing kingdom, it was only a drop in the bucket. Traveling the whole way and being witness to the situation of the people, Su Mu felt both chilled and horrified.
No matter how much skills he had, he had just been a young man living in a peaceful world. He had never seen so many deaths in front of him, and these people were his citizens.
Su Mu took a deep breath and said, “Cremate them.”
Towards corpses found on the road, Su Mu passed the order for corpses that were left unhandled to be cremated.
Su Mu didn’t want the people to face a plague as well when they were already tormented by hunger.
After a while, Shi Yan appeared in front of Su Mu, with a serious expression: “Your Highness, there is a large number of refugees’ bodies in the woods. There are probably thousands of them, and there are also many corpses piled up in several places deep in the woods.”
Su Mu’s face darkened and he said, “Go and find out what’s going on.”
It was definitely not just because of hunger that so many corpses were all concentrated here. Su Mu ordered to continue onwards and to meet in the next village.
The golden sun was high up in the sky, shining down on the old leafless trees in front of the village. A few naughty children could be seen throwing mud under the trees.
A child covered in mud suddenly stopped and pointed at the village entrance: “What is that?”
Hearing this, the other children followed where he pointed.
A chubby child exclaimed: “It’s a carriage!”
The small village was right next to the official road and often there would be travelers staying the night. The children were not afraid of strangers and several pairs of bright eyes stared at the carriage curiously.
Su Mu’s refined and flawless face appeared in the eyes of this group of mud children. But in the eyes of a group of children, Su Mu was only slightly different from other people. They were more concerned about the amount of mud on their companions.
“Children, are your parents here?” Su Mu asked with a genial smile.
A sturdy, dark-skinned child replied loudly: “Yes, I will call the village head.”
After finishing talking, he disappeared in front of Su Mu like a gust of wind, and the other children also ran into the village.
Su Mu watched the group of children rushing away, and couldn’t help but think of his childhood. He was once just as innocent. It’s just that people cannot avoid experiencing misfortunes along with the blessings. He wondered if anyone was still going to sweep the graves of his parents.
Yun Feiyu, Liu Xi, and Qin Ye also got out of the carriage one after another. When they saw Su Mu’s pleasant behavior to a group of children their reactions were all different.
Lan Lan pulled at her eldest son and signalled at him. Liu Xi felt rather awkward but then remembered what Lan Lan had said before departing so he walked towards Su Mu.
Lan Lan looked at her son’s slender and straight back and smiled bitterly. How could she not want her son to start a family, marry a wife and have children. But in their situation, having completely offended the powerful figures of Shi kingdom and Wu kingdom, who else could they rely on but the Crown Prince?
However, the most important thing was that the Crown Prince’s martial prowess was formidably strong and his methods cruel and vicious. It was likely that Liu Xi would not be able to escape the Crown Prince’s “devilish claws” in this life, so Lan Lan could only make such a decision.
The bright smiling face was like a coquettish flower. Liu Xi looked at the beautiful scenery of the village and said, “Is Your Highness thirsty? Would you like to drink some water?”
Su Mu shook his head and said: “No need.”
Qin Ye stood by Yun Feiyu and looked at Liu Xi trying to please Su Mu and let out a disdainful snort, immediately looking away.
Yun Feiyu didn’t have any other expressions from beginning to end. He still had that calm smile, as if nothing could shake his heart.
After a while, a group of children led an old man over fifty to Su Mu.
Although the old man was small and thin, he was full of vigor, and his dim eyes occasionally hinted at shrewdness.
“This old man Zhang Datong pays his respects to Gongzi.”
Su Mu smiled and said: “Laorenjia, please, rise. I am Su Mu and want to spend the night after passing by this area. I ask laorenjia for the convenience.” (TN: laorenjia=polite term for an old woman or man)
The surnames of the people in this village were all Zhang and belonged to the same clan. The old man was the head of the clan and after he invited the newcomers into his home, the old man took out all his provisions to entertain the guests.
In the simple wooden house, Su Mu sat at the main seat and made polite talk with the old patriarch. Thinking of the corpses not too far away from here on the way, he asked: “Laorenjia, when we passed by a mountain forest earlier, we saw many people who died in tragic circumstances. What is going on?”
The old man’s complexion changed and he frowned: “This old man doesn’t know exactly what’s going on, but it’s rumored to be the work of bandits.”
Su Mu frowned and said: “Bandits?” Bandits generally ransacked villages and towns. Why did they deliberately throw those bodies into the woods?
Late at night, Shi Yan, covered in dust, returned to Su Mu.
Su Mu, who just woke up, put on an outer robe at random and asked: “Did you find out?”
“Yes, Your Highness.” Even the usual non-expressive Shi Yan showed a look of anger: “Those people were killed by Prince Su Nian of Jinyang. For this year’s drought, Your Highness gave orders to open a warehouse for disaster relief, but the Prince of Jinyang did not comply to Your Highness’s will. Jinyang City did not produce a grain of rice to help the disaster, but killed the disaster victims who tried to rob the food instead.”
Tens of thousands of disaster victims, thousands of unjust deaths, Prince of Jinyang, you are quite capable!
Su Mu sat on the edge of the bed with a dark expression and clenched his fists.
“Shi Yan, go convey Ben Gong’s will, order the Prince of Jinyang to open a warehouse for disaster relief, otherwise Ben Gong will kill him!”
“Yes, Your Highness!” Shi Yan’s figure disappeared from the cabin in a blink of an eye.
Su Nian was the son of Taishang Huang, Su Mochi’s grandfather. So he was the uncle of Su Mochi and was granted lands and the title Prince of Jinyang before Su Mochi was born. This was actually Su Mu’s own diligent supplementing of his knowledge, as for the idiot Su Mochi, he didn’t even know that Su Nian existed. (TN: Tsishang Huang=father of the reigning emperor)
When Shi Yan brought Su Mu’s will to Su Nian, the Prince who had always done whatever he pleased in his own lands threw away Su Mu’s decree on the spot, glaring and angrily saying: “It’s just a bunch of lowlifes, as inconsequential as grass, what’s the big deal if they are dead. This Prince is the Prince of Jinyang personally proclaimed by Taishang Huang, and a younger generation dares to be disrespectful to this Prince……”
Shi Yan calmly looked at the furious Prince of Jinyang: “My Prince, the will of His Highness has been delivered, please consider carefully……”
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“What do you think you are, this Prince will have you executed now!” When Su Nian drew his sword, Shi Yan had already disappeared without a trace.
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