*Edited by LazyCat
Don’t know if Jia Fuqing was too stupid, or Hong Xiu had too much skills, but after Jia Fuqing passed the news to the court, the court did not act at all for more than half a year. But Lin Yuan also knew that this calm was only temporary. If he didn’t expand his territory further then the game of chess with the court would become more difficult for him.
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Unless there was someone who stole the limelight, and was even more conspicuous than them.
However, it seemed that Lin Yuan would be the most conspicuous person for the time being.
Fang Guozhen would no longer rebel after he accepted the court’s recruitment. He was a standard vile character who liked to speculate. Wherever the wind blew, then that would be the direction he would go. He had no righteousness in his heart, no care for the people, only his own personal interests.
And he was a duplicitous two-face. Historically, he accepted Zhu Yuanzhang’s offer of recruitment and at the same time accepted a position as an official from the imperial court.
He would not offend either party, but would find a way to protect himself as the powers competed against each other. His ambition was not big enough, his actions timid and cautious, therefore he lived to see the very end. Although he died of illness, but, he died in the seventh year of Hongwu. Although he had no real power, but, he was still an official. (TN: Hongwu was the reign name of first Ming emperor Zhu Yuanzhang)
Lin Yuan sometimes felt that Fang Guozhen was not suitable to be a leader of an uprising. If he was a businessman, he might be more successful than Chen Wansan.
But the most superfluous thing in this world were speculators, such as the rats that were now mixed in among the people of Gaoyou.
“Why are you arresting me!” The man who was dragged in by his arms cried out with an indignant expression, “Even if you want to torture me, you have to say what my crimes are! Isn’t it said that the South Bodhisattva has the heart of a Buddha? Is it just an act done for the world to see?”
“You are right.” Lin Yuan walked out of the back room with a smile on his face. The servants tied the man to the chair with a rope before leaving the room.
The man stared at Lin Yuan. He probably had guessed who Lin Yuan was. His eyes flickered and decided to be straightforward with Lin Yuan. He said, “You are the South Bodhisattva?”
Lin Yuan sat on the chair opposite the man, and the two faced each other. But one was neatly dressed and the other was disheveled and tied up.
“Can I ask, why did South Bodhisattva bring a small fry like me here?” The man looked indignant.
Lin Yuan still had a smile on his face: “An Laosi, what’s your real name?”
The man snorted coldly: “A man never changes his name wherever he goes, nor his surname whenever he sits. My name is An Laosi, no matter how many times you ask me, I only have this name.”
Lin Yuan nodded: “Okay, An Laosi, the reason for inviting you to come is that you and your friends have been too eye-catching recently. Originally, I looked the other way no matter what you inquired about. We make it easy for each other, right?”
An Laosi stared into Lin Yuan’s eyes: “I don’t know what you are talking about.”
“To put it another way.” Lin Yuan picked up his teacup and took a sip, “Let me guess who sent you here.”
Lin Yuan looked at his face: “I didn’t expect provincial governor Fang to be this idle. I heard that he is doing well now and that the court values him very much. It is a pity though, the court offered me the title of a Wanhu, which is quite higher than a provincial governor, am I right?”
An Laosi was practically gritting his teeth as he looked at Lin Yuan and said, “I don’t understand what you are talking about. What provincial governor?”
Lin Yuan asked him: “Are you thirsty?”
An Laosi was arrested two days ago, and he was detained in a prison for the whole of these past two days. He had not been offered any water or food. Currently, his lips were dry and peeled, his complexion sallow. Only his pair of eyes appeared bright and alert.
This person was quite good, and Lin Yuan felt some pity. If this was his subordinate, how good it would be.
Daring and loyal.
So long as he had some smarts, then he would be of great use.
“I changed my mind.” Lin Yuan said suddenly.
An Laosi didn’t understand, so he stared at Lin Yuan.
Lin Yuan smiled and said, “I no longer want you to die.”
An Laosi looked at Lin Yuan. He thought that if he was discovered by Lin Yuan, he would die without question. After all, he was inquiring about the weapons armory. As long as it had something to do with the weapons armory, no matter who it was, they would definitely not let him go.
“Isn’t it strange, you obviously have done enough to make me chop your head off hundreds of times.” Lin Yuan had a smile on his face, and he really did look like a merciful Buddha, making people think he was sincere and trustworthy, with a bit of intelligence as well.
An Laosi swallowed: “What do you want to do?”
“Come in,” Lin Yuan shouted towards the door.
The servants outside the door walked in.
Lin Yuan: “Bring An Gongzi away, and make sure to serve him well.”
The servants dragged An Laosi away.
Song Shizhao, who was in the back room the whole time, only walked out now. He sat on the chair next to Lin Yuan. It was the first seat on the right hand side of Lin Yuan. Song Shizhao asked, “Boss thinks this person is still useful?”
Lin Yuan: “Everyone is useful.”
Song Shizhao stroked his beard: “But he looks rather tight-lipped and uncooperative.”
Lin Yuan smiled: “The people in this world all like three things—— money, power, and beauties. He will not be an exception.”
“No matter how much Fang Guozhen can give him, I can give more.” Lin Yuan smiled and said, “You give him a sum of money and a cart of food, and then send someone to escort him back to Fang Guozhen.”
Song Shizhao was taken aback: “Isn’t this sending him to die?”
Lin Yuan: “If he can escape alive, then I will definitely use him.”
An Laosi had yet to understand what had happened. When he finally realized, he had already moved from the cold, damp and dark prison to his current house. Every day he ate exquisite delicacies, and there would always be beautiful women who approached him at night. While he was vigilant, he couldn’t help but develop an illusion——that it would be great if such days could be longer.
The longer the time had passed, the more he felt at ease. He believed that this South Bodhisattva must have a use for him. Maybe he wanted to find out the provincial governor’s information. So long as he could hold out, he would get even greater benefits. Maybe he could even succeed in finding out what the provincial governor had tasked him to inquire about.
And when he returned to Huizhou at that time, he would be able to get the glory and wealth that he didn’t even dare to think of before.
He was one of the few thousands of people who rebelled alongside Fang Guozhen back then. He was willing to follow Fang Guozhen because he had had enough of living the hard days.
He wanted money, power, and beauties.
He was very vigilant, no matter how gentle the beauties were in bed or how delicious the food was, he knew that this must be an elaborate conspiracy.
After enjoying in Gaoyou for nearly two months, An Laosi was pulled up from the bed one morning, a curvaceous beauty still lying in his arms, slender arms still around his neck. The weather was already cold and the people had already begun putting on cotton layers. After being dragged from the warmth of the bed, An Laosi shivered at the chill.
“An Gongzi, South Bodhisattva was afraid that you are not happy living in Gaoyou, and therefore has ordered us to send you back to Huizhou.” The person who would be escorting An Laosi back was Li Da, who now managed thousands of people under his command. He was not very smart, but he was loyal to Lin Yuan, and sincerely believed that Lin Yuan was a god descended from the heavens.
Li Da looked at the stunned expression of An Laosi and said amiably, “I imagine An Gongzi also misses your parents? I wonder how your wife is doing?”
An Laosi: ”What are you planning to do?!”
Were they really going to send him back to Huizhou? For what purpose? He had been here living the good life for so long, was this just to ingratiate themselves to the provincial governor?
After he was put on the carriage, An Laosi was finally sure that this was not a trick of letting him loose in order to capture him. They really wanted to send him back to Huizhou.
The woman who had been accompanying An Laosi during this period was called Tian Xiang. She was a very ample and curvaceous beauty. She sat beside Lin Yuan, her fingers white like onions, and the corners of her mouth lifted in a smile. Her tea-pouring movements were also extremely elegant and her voice was like a songbird’s: “He’s smart. This slave asked everything according to your instructions, but he didn’t say anything. Not even anything about taking this slave as a concubine. It can be clearly seen that he is a heartless man.”
Tian Xiang covered her mouth and smiled: “Sister Hong Xiu was at least promised a concubine position. Ai, this slave’s heart is as if it had been clawed by an eagle, so painful.”
Lin Yuan drank a sip of tea that Tian Xiang brewed and patted her hand: “You have suffered a grievance.”
Tian Xiang smiled and slipped into Lin Yuan’s arms, and said with a sweet smile: “Not aggrieved, he is great in bed, and this slave was satisfied.”
Lin Yuan: “Then treat it as if it was just visits to a free male prostitute.”
The corners of Tian Xiang’s eyes curved from her smiles: “You said before you would give it to me……”
Lin Yuan lightly tapped the tip of her nose: “I remembered, go to your sister Hong Xiu to ask for it. The wardrobe of the provincial governor’s lady is all yours.”
Tian Xiang: “You are so generous to me. What did you promise sister Hong Xiu?”
Lin Yuan shook his head and said: “Nothing at all.”
Tian Xiang held Lin Yuan’s hand and played with Lin Yuan’s fingers. She said coquettishly: “This slave doesn’t believe it.”
Lin Yuan bowed his head and said in Tian Xiang’s ear: “Your sister Hong Xiu said that she wants to sleep with me for one night.”
Tian Xiang widened her eyes, mouth also opened in surprise: “This is, this is really……”
Lin Yuan smiled and said, “But I refused. It can be seen that your sister Hong Xiu is sincere towards me.”
Tian Xiang became anxious: “This slave is also sincere towards you, this slave does not want that wardrobe anymore.”
“It’s alright, I am just playing with you.” Lin Yuan, “silly girl, you must learn to be more mature, otherwise you will suffer a loss. Don’t tell me you want to do this business for a lifetime?”
Tian Xiang sighed: “This slave doesn’t know how to do anything else. My fate is to serve men. What can I do if I don’t do this? Like those women, marry a husband and become a housewife? It’s much easier like this. With money in my hands, isn’t it better than to lean on a man?”
Lin Yuan also understood the thoughts of these women. They have been practically serving men since they were young. They have seen all kinds of men in this world, and they knew the way men thought and acted, so they believed in money more than men.
And the reason why they even think about giving up the job was because they knew that they would get old one day, and before that, they needed to find a way out.
From the perspective of a modern man, this was to find and settle down with an honest life partner when one got tired of playing around.
But from the perspective of ancient men, these women were lucky to be even accepted as concubines, and those who were not lucky could only be a kept female entertainer. Both kept female entertainers and concubines could be sold and exchanged like slaves.
For example, Bai Juyi once wrote, “Ten springs of nightingale song, thrice the old and ugly have been exchanged for the young and beautiful.” (TN: Bai Juyi is a renowned Chinese poet and Tang dynasty government official. Many of his poems concern his career or observations made about everyday life, including as governor of three different provinces)
Essentially, it meant that my kept song girls will get old and ugly soon. I have changed three times in the past ten years and replaced them with new beauties.
At that time, Bai Juyi was already one foot in the grave.
Except for the wife, if a concubine was a gift from an important or influential person or had a good background herself, they may be able to escape the fate of being sold away.
However, most concubines were bought. Although they could be called half mistresses, they must be favored by the master in order to receive any respect from the servants in the manor.
Concubines could be exchanged as gifts, not to mention kept song girls who had no status at all.
In a patriarchal society, women do not have a say, to the extent that the vast majority of women could not control their own destiny. They follow the society’s trend throughout their lives and have no choice in much of anything.
Lin Yuan lifted Tian Xiang’s chin: “As you like, with me here, I can at least guarantee the peace and safety of you and your sisters.”
Tian Xiang became happy, and kissed Lin Yuan on the cheek: “You are a good man, all the men in this world cannot even compare to your little finger.”
“Yes, yes, you praise me some more and I’ll really get a swelled head.” Lin Yuan said to her, “Go to your sister Hong Xiu.”
Only then did Tian Xiang reluctantly leave.
After leaving the room, she said to herself: “I wonder who will be lucky enough to snag such a good man.”
If South Bodhisattva hadn’t explicitly rejected them, she would have climbed into his bed already.
Tian Xiang sighed.
After traveling on the road for more than a month, the closer An Laosi approached Huizhou, the more anxious he got.
The people who escorted him back to Huizhou left him at the gate of the city and then left. An Laosi could only enter the city alone. He first went home to see his old parents and his wife. As for the money and food, he was reluctant to throw it outside so he could only find a porter to pull it all the way back to his house.
His wife and parents hadn’t seen An Laosi for a long time. When An Laosi came back, they were all overjoyed and prepared a table of good wine and food to celebrate his homecoming.
He didn’t know why, but An Laosi did not go to see Fang Guozhen immediately.
He stayed in the room with his wife at night. His wife, a daughter from a landowner’s family, asked him: “Why do you have such a troubled look? What happened?”
An Laosi told his wife his experience of being arrested and then released in Gaoyou.
He also asked: “Say, what does that South Bodhisattva mean? If he wants to recruit me, why did he send me back?”
But his wife had on a complicated expression: “Let me ask you, if you go to see the provincial governor, and the provincial governor asks you why South Bodhisattva treated you like this, what would you say?”
An Laosi: “I don’t know, maybe he has a problem with his brain?”
His wife sneered: “You made the trip there and didn’t find out anything. Then the South Bodhisattva gave you food and money. Even if you had ten mouths can you explain your innocence? Or do you think that South Bodhisattva is interested in men and fell in love with you?”
An Laosi did not speak.
His wife: “Besides, even if he really is interested in men, that would not explain why he sent you back.”
An Laosi had originally felt that something was off, and so when his wife said this, he finally understood.
The South Bodhisattva wanted to kill him using the provincial governor’s hand.
An Laosi pursed his lips: “I’m going to see the provincial governor, and explain this clearly.”
His wife said coldly: “Pack up the things.”
An Laosi looked at her.
His wife: “While no one has yet to notice you have come back, we will leave overnight. You know the soldiers guarding the city. We go out after the curfew, and you think up an excuse.”
An Laosi was speechless: “Had it already reached this point?”
His wife had already begun to pack up her baggage: “Since the South Bodhisattva has bothered to go through so much effort, then when we go over, it will only be better than here.”
An Laosi sometimes really did not understand his wife’s thinking process.
The family packed their luggage and slipped out of the city in the middle of the night.
They didn’t ride in a carriage. Lady An was very calm, but An Laosi was anxious: “We don’t even have a horse. Don’t tell me we’ll be walking over on our legs? It might not affect the two of us, but what about my parents?”
Lady An sighed: “You are usually smart, so why are you suddenly so slow.”
They waited for more than an hour in the place where the An Laosi was dropped off before they saw someone coming with a carriage not far away.
An Laosi looked at Li Da and the others with wide eyes.
This group of people stayed here for a day and haven’t left yet?
Li Da had on a different face this time, and said respectfully to An Laosi: “An Gongzi, Lady An, please get in the carriage.”
An Laosi looked at his wife: “You already thought of this.”
Lady An has already helped her parents-in-law get into the carriage. She said to her husband: “Hurry and get on.”
Li Da drove the carriage, and the people who came with him followed behind on horseback.
Li Da said to An Laosi in the carriage, “An Gongzi, South Bodhisattva said, this is your only choice, and you don’t have to be angry. What the South Bodhisattva says is never wrong.”
An Laosi finally accepted that he had been tricked completely.
If he wanted to continue living, he could only go to Lin Yuan, and he could only recognize Lin Yuan as his new Lord.
There was no other choice.
Lin Yuan smiled when he learned from the person who hurried back first that An Laosi was already on his way back. Song Shizhao laid on the flattery next to Lin Yuan: “Boss has made a really beautiful calculation.”
“Unfortunately, there are no more people like this.” Lin Yuan shook his head with regret.
After having caught so many “rats”, only this one was not bad.
The others were all fools. After some threatening and temptation for a period of time, they all revealed everything. Just with a glance, he knew that they had not been trained for their job. With some of them, torture didn’t even have to be used. When they heard the screams from the cell next to them, they were so scared that they revealed everything, hoping to save their life through betraying their masters.
These people were all beheaded in the end. After the people of Gaoyou learned that they were here to spy on Gaoyou, they all felt that these people deserved it.
Song Shizhao smiled and said, “But there is good news.”
Lin Yuan raised his eyebrows: “Since it is the good news from Mr. Song, I am afraid it is not a trivial matter at all?”
“There is a family surnamed Wu here to support Boss.” Song Shizhao said, “This family’s ancestor had been a Grand Master of Remonstrance.”
Lin Yuan: “An official of the Song Dynasty.”
Song Shizhao nodded: “Exactly, I think they also have some skills, so I settled them here privately to wait for news.”
“He really must be extraordinary to get Mr. Song to say such a thing.” Lin Yuan, “I happen to be free, so I will go see him with you.”
Song Shizhao smiled and said, “I can’t ask for more.”
Wu Changqing had settled and lived in the house arranged by manager Song for nearly half a year. At the beginning he was very confident, often sending gifts to Song Shizhao. But while Song Shizhao accepted the gifts he did not express anything else. Now the confidence had turned into uneasiness, and it only took half a year.
He understood what Song Shizhao was thinking. Song Shizhao was afraid that he would shake Song Shizhao’s current position and status.
But Wu Changqing could only bear it.
He originally thought about joining the Red Turban Army, but the Red Turban Army of now could only hole up in a corner.
In desperation, he chose Gaoyou.
After all, in his opinion, Taizhou produced salt and Gaoyou was the land of fish and rice. Having captured these two places, it would not be difficult to cultivate elite soldiers and subordinates. What worry was there about the great cause not succeeding.
He was full of ambitions, believing that he would become the second Wolong or the second Fengchu. (TN: nicknames for Zhuge Liang and Pang Tong respectively that literally mean hidden dragon (wolong) and phoenix fledgling (fengchu), which are used to describe hidden geniuses)
But reality gave him a slap.
He believed in his intelligence and talents in strategizing, but he was not regarded in any significance by anyone at all.
Just when Wu Changqing was about to send someone to invite Song Shizhao, Song Shizhao suddenly came by himself. Not only did he come, but he also brought a young man with him.
“They have been here for half a year, and you just leave him hanging like this?” Lin Yuan asked Song Shizhao on the way.
Song Shizhao said: “This person does have some abilities, but he is also arrogant. This subordinate was afraid that he will be disobedient and unruly so I left him hanging for half a year. It shall be very simple for Boss to recruit him at this time.”
Lin Yuan glanced at Song Shizhao. He knew Song Shizhao’s real intentions for leaving the newcomer hanging but didn’t point it out bluntly.
In addition to this given reason, the reasons why Song Shizhao did not introduce him in half a year, definitely included Song Shizhao’s own scheming.
But forget it, there was no need to make a fuss on this.
Lin Yuan: “Received a lot of benefits?”
Song Shizhao smiled cunningly: “This subordinate practically emptied his pockets.”
Lin Yuan sighed: “Truly an old fox.”
Song Shizhao: “Boss is praises me too much.”
Lin Yuan held out a hand.
Song Shizhao coughed slightly: “All things have already been handed to manager Jiang to take inventory.”
Lin Yuan nodded: “That’s more like it.”
The lean camel is still bigger than the horse. With a background like the Wu family, even if the money was not much left, they would still definitely not be lacking in valuable things.
Despite this, Song Shizhao was able to practically empty the other’s pockets. Lin Yuan had to sigh at what a wily old fox he was.
Wu Changqing walked quickly to the door. He rushed out when he heard from his old servant that manager Song had arrived. He had a lot to say, but when he saw the young man next to manager Song, he didn’t want to say any of it anymore.
The young man dressed simply, without any silk or expensive fabrics on his body, but still his whole appearance was extraordinary. And when walking he had a different presence from others, casual and relaxed, with a smile on his lips.
Wu Changqing’s eyes lit up.
After sitting on the bench for so long, spring had finally reached him.
He would definitely not let go of this opportunity to show his loyalty. If he missed this time, he did not know when the next time would come.
“Manager Song!” Wu Changqing walked down the stone steps.
Song Shizhao nodded at Wu Changqing, and said, “This is my Boss.”
Lin Yuan smiled at Wu Changqing and said, “Wu Laoye.”
Wu Changqing tried his best not to beam with joy, and in a restrained manner he invited the two of them in, saying to the old servant: “Tell the madam and young master not to go to my study.”
The old servant answered affirmatively.
Wu Changqing walked in with suppressed excitement.
His fingers were shaking uncontrollably.
Others study to pass the imperial examinations, become an official and live a good life, but Wu Changqing’s ambitions went far beyond that.
The realm has talented people with knowledge and experience, and who among them did not cheer for the troubled times.
As long as one could stir the clouds and wind in the realm, any fame, fortune, money and beauty could be forgotten. (TN: expression for influencing the state of affairs in the midst of unrest and turbulence)
Wu Changqing dusted his robe, put on a smiling face, and took a step forward.
He, Wu Changqing, had always been smarter than ordinary people since he was a child, and he believed that he was not at all lacking when compared with the advisors and strategists in history.
On the contrary, he felt that he was stronger than them.
Compared with them, he only lacked a little luck, and a Lord worthy of allegiance.
Wu Changqing pushed open the door to the study, and as he looked at Lin Yuan’s smiling face, his heart was full of lofty ambition.
You c an fi nd t he la te st cha pte rs at ( th e ir on tr ee bl oo ms. c o m )
One day, he would be known to everyone in the world.
Not as the oldest son of the Wu family.
But as Wu Changqing.
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