*Edited by LazyCat
The Jiang family was a large local family in Changshu. Almost every generation stayed and took root there. When the Yuan army captured the city, they were the fastest group to kneel and therefore also obtained the position of sub-prefect, which was passed on from generation to generation. Compared to the prefecture magistrate sent by the imperial court, they were the local tyrants of Changshu. Perhaps not many knew that the prefecture magistrate was called Sukhbaru, but they definitely knew that the current sub-prefect was called Jiang Zheng.
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A family that had hundreds of years of history was like a huge lumbering monster. In-laws and branch families were spread all over Changshu. Most of the families with a little face had wives surnamed Jiang. After giving birth to children, they would continue to connect by marriage with the Jiang family and practically every generation would possess half of the blood of the Jiang family.
Jiang Zheng, as the successor of the family and this generation’s sub-prefect, once his plan gained support from his family his call to action would be extremely effective and powerful.
They all wanted to take a gamble. If the gamble was won, then the Jiang family’s influence wouldn’t only be limited to Changshu. If the gamble was lost, then it was not a big deal either, just accept the court’s persuasion to surrender. Currently, the court wanted to display an image of benevolence. The imperial court would not completely take punitive action so long as they had yet to truly rebel and claim kingship.
The whole family was mobilized. Most of the small officials in Changshu had more or less ties to the Jiang family. After Jiang Zheng persuaded the family, they naturally belonged on Jiang Zheng’s side.
Jiang Zheng was now sitting in the courtyard. He watched a soldier place Sukhbaru’s head on the table in front of him. Jiang Zheng covered his mouth and suppressed his desire to vomit.
It was not that he had never killed anyone, though they were not personally killed by himself, but this was the first time he saw such a bloody and gory scene.
The people he had killed were either strangled or beaten to death with a board and there was no beheading.
“Throw his head out.” Jiang Zheng frowned and couldn’t even swallow down the tea in his hand.
An Laosi rushed over from the outside, practically jogging all the way to where Jiang Zheng was. After the table was cleaned, Jiang Zheng finally suppressed his nausea, and smiled at An Laosi: “Brother An, as expected, this Sukhbaru is not a powerful character either.”
Jiang Zheng said in self-satisfaction: “I made so many arrangements in vain.”
Of course, An Laosi would have to lay on the flattery again.
Jiang Zheng was not a smart person. After all, he was young and had limited experience. He had all the bad habits that young people might have.
A high self-esteem, carelessness, and a penchant for listening to flattery.
But he had a family that allowed him room to make mistakes.
There were always wise men in such large families.
Jiang Zheng’s expression changed, and said to his servants, “Tie him up.”
An Laosi’s eyes widened. He knew that he couldn’t run away now, so he could only surrender obediently. He was pressed on a chair and couldn’t move. Jiang Zheng sat opposite him.
“Did Brother An consider me a stupid person this whole time?” Jiang Zheng looked at him expressionlessly.
An Laosi smiled: “Sub-prefect Jiang is the smartest person I have ever met.”
Jiang Zheng was so angry that he shot up and shattered the teacup beside him.
“Don’t say these useless sh*t anymore!” Jiang Zheng paced violently on the spot, “I know what you think of me!”
Jiang Zheng grabbed An Laosi by the collar: “Who sent you here?!”
An Laosi said with a look of fear: “Sub-prefect, I am just a merchant, so naturally it is for money.”
Jiang Zheng sneered: “I was almost fooled by you, if it wasn’t for……”
He cut himself off.
An Laosi lowered his head. He knew that escaping now was just a foolish dream. He could only hope that Lin Yuan and the others would enter Changshu as soon as possible. Before that, so long as he refused to reveal the person behind him, Jiang Zheng wouldn’t kill him yet.
This was not only a plan to protect Lin Yuan, but also to protect himself.
“You will speak.” Jiang Zheng sat back again and he looked much calmer.
He said: “This official can already guess who sent you.”
“It’s……” Jiang Zheng was just about to speak his guess when An Laosi suddenly said in a loud voice, “Since Sub-prefect has guessed it, then I won’t hide it from you. I came here this time under the orders of governor Fang to pursuade Sub-prefect to join in this grand cause!”
Jiang Zheng frowned. Obviously this was completely different from what he had guessed: “Fang Guozhen?”
“Isn’t he in Huizhou?” Jiang Zheng obviously didn’t believe it.
After all, An Laosi used to be Fang Guozhen’s person and he knew very well about the affairs of Huizhou. Although he was not Fang Guozhen’s confidante, he could say something insignificant without even having to think much.
Jiang Zheng found that there was no flaw in what An Laosi said, causing him to half-believe, half-doubt the other.
Just when An Laosi began to sweat on his forehead and didn’t know what to do, a loud noise came from outside. An Laosi even felt like the very ground under their feet began to tremble.
Jiang Zheng was also taken aback and almost slid off his chair. He shouted, “What happened outside? What happened?”
The people in Jiang Zheng’s house were thrown into a panic and it took nearly a quarter of an hour for a report to arrive.
“My lord! Someone is attacking the city outside! They have trebuchets!”
Everyone had heard of this thing and knew that some people have used it before. But this was a very huge mechanism that could not be carried over long distances at all. There was simply not such a large wooden cart to carry it on. Unless the materials were collected on the spot, but that would require a certain amount of time in which both sides were stuck in a confrontation.
Were these people already outside the city?
Impossible! He had only just sent people to chase Sukhbaru two days ago. If there were people in the vicinity, with so many people and troops, they could not be unaware.
Jiang Zheng looked at An Laosi. He gritted his teeth and asked, “Who is it?”
At this point, An Laosi didn’t have to conceal it anymore: “Gaoyou.”
Jiang Zheng raised his fist, seeming to want to punch An Laosi in the face. An Laosi smiled and said: “Sub-prefect, I advise you to think carefully before you make a move. Now that the army has surrounded the city, with me in your hands perhaps you can still be able to guarantee your life when the city falls. If you kill me or hurt me, then you will have a hard time in the coming days.”
Jiang Zheng: “Do you think I’ll believe you?”
There was another sound of huge boulders being thrown into the city. Jiang Zheng held onto the table to maintain his balance while An Laosi fell to the ground together with the chair. He looked quite proud though: “If you found out earlier, maybe the situation today will be reversed. “
Jiang Zheng: “Didn’t that quack in Gaoyou present himself as kind and merciful? Using a trebuchet? So the people in Changshu are not people?”
“My lord.” An Laosi said loudly, “It’s useless to say this to me!”
“The people under the South Bodhisattva’s rule are his people. When he takes Changshu, he will naturally love the people like his children.”
Jiang Zheng laughed: “Love the people like his children?”
An Laosi: ”You don’t believe it? I didn’t believe it at first.”
“Then lord Sub-prefect, let’s wait and see.”
Luo Guanzhong was currently in a tent at this time. The furnishings were simple and it was already quite good that there was even a table.
A total of three trebuchets were brought. The carpenters tried their best to make assembly easier after disassembling it according to Lin Yuan’s requirements. Now, a trebuchet only required ten men to assemble and it only took six hours.
Although it still seemed to take time, compared to before it saved more than half of the original time.
Sometimes efficiency was also very important.
Although Luo Guanzhong had read a lot of military books and felt that he knew a lot about trebuchets, it was the first time he had seen a real trebuchet, standing before him like three indomitable behemoths. He spread out the map of Changshu and discussed with Zhu Yuanzhang and the others.
This time Lin Yuan did not come with them.
This had Luo Guanzhong breath a sigh of relief but at the same time also feel slightly disappointed.
Although there wouldn’t be as much pressure, it was still regrettable that Lin Yuan could not see the victory with his own eyes.
“The sound of the stones alone will scare him to death.” Brother Dao slapped his thigh and said very contentedly, “I have never seen such a thing before. It is even more powerful than those explosives.”
The boulders had taken a lot of manpower and they could only obtain the material locally. They had arrived and set up camp last night before searching for the boulders overnight. After finding the boulders they also had to find a way to transport it all back. It took a lot of time.
But the results achieved were also amazing.
Changshu was now thrown into chaos and the city walls were also crumbling. In addition to huge stones there were also many smaller loose stones and throwing them could also cause chaos within a certain range.
After Luo Guanzhong discussed with them, Zhu Yuanzhang, Chen Baisong and Li Congrong each led a team out.
By now the soldiers of Gaoyou have completely transformed. The arrival of merchants had brought a better life and also brought more money and military equipment——these sly merchants always had their own ways and means.
Now, the Lin family soldiers all wore helmets.
And the most shocking thing was that Lin Yuan finally trained a team of cavalry.
The money to raise one cavalryman was enough to raise three infantrymen.
The consumption of horses was very large.
However, the combat capability of the cavalry was also worthy of these expenses.
The Mongols relied on the cavalry to conquer an empire, even leading expeditions into Europe, becoming a famous scourge of God.
They were a standard example of knowing how to conquer the world but not knowing how to rule the world.
Just like Li Zicheng, but Li Zicheng was even more unlucky and only managed to remain emperor for forty-two days.
There were still very superstitious rumors among the people.
There was an old saying back then, “Eat meat at every meal, everyday like a New Year celebration.”
People could only eat one meal with meat a year.
The fortune teller told Li Zicheng that he could be emperor for forty-two years.
But the result was that when Li Zicheng became emperor he ate meat every day, so forty-two years became forty-two days.
This rumor was more like a joke.
But one could imagine how unlucky Li Zicheng was.
He ended the rule of the Ming Dynasty and was also an excellent leader of peasant uprisings, but eventually lost his original popular support because of arrogance and extravagance.
In the end he became a stepping stone for the Qing government to settle in the Central Plains.
In contrast, the Yuan Dynasty at least had 98 years of rule.
The Yuan could already be considered to have rather good luck.
Changshu was up in chaos. The people fled in all directions, but they didn’t know where to flee. The soldiers also had never experienced such a battle before either. They were at a loss and could only climb up to the city wall with their weapons.
The archers just raised their bows, but the other party had already set up their crossbows.
Whether it was experience, combat ability, or physical fitness, the Lin family troops were much better than them.
This was a one-sided beating.
An Laosi was now completely at ease. He said to Jiang Zheng standing on the side, too afraid to go out: “Sub-prefect, surrender now, and with me in your hands you can definitely save your life.”
Jiang Zheng was now completely panicked.
He ran out trembling.
He had to go ask his uncle and his family, what should they do now?
Should they continue to fight or surrender……or seek help from the court?
Jiang Zheng clenched his fists and all he could think was: I cannot die, I must not die.
Either seek help from the court, surrender, or find a way to escape.
There were only these three roads.
And these three roads were accompanied by huge risks.
They must find the path that was most beneficial to them.
At this time, Lin Yuan was looking at the ledger Song Shizhao gave him. The method of accounting was taught to Song Shizhao by Lin Yuan. The ledgers left by Gaoyou and Taizhou in the past were practically a complete mess of scribbles and it was very troublesome to organize it all. Lin Yuan had no choice but to take the time to teach Song Shizhao how to keep accounts in a more easier and efficient way, and then let Song Shizhao sort out the account book.
It was now much easier to check the accounts when different expenses were recorded in different books.
The bulk of Gaoyou’s expenditure this year was still on the people. At the beginning, Lin Yuan took out all the grains in Gaoyou and Taizhou to support the people as well as the influx of refugees. This expenditure was the largest, and then came the military expenses with the salaries of officials coming in third.
Song Shizhao said to Lin Yuan: “Boss, there is no money.”
Lin Yuan: “The salt in Taizhou hasn’t been sold yet?”
Song Shizhao nodded: “It has not been sold yet.”
Lin Yuan stood up from his chair: “Call the merchants over, it is time to sell it.”
If they continued to not sell then they would die from being too damn poor.
The salt was to be sold by bidding with a big merchant bidding all the salt at a single price and then selling it at a price that he decided himself.
Lin Yuan was too lazy to sell the salt separately to separate merchants which was too much trouble.
The merchants were also very excited. They were finally able to do a big business.
There were also people who tried their best to find out other people’s bid prices. Lin Yuan had set the lowest bid price. If it did not exceed the price set by Lin Yuan then the bid would be invalidated and then the bidding would be carried out again the next time. In this way, the merchants could not join together to lower the bidding price.
The small merchants planned to pool their money and bid together, while the big merchants bid on their own.
Zhou Fu had prepared the bidding money. He felt that apart from himself, Xie Zichang was the only one who had the ability to compete with him. He spent a lot of money trying to pry the mouths of the people working for Xie Zichang. It was a pity that it was just using meat buns to beat the dog. The bribe money was accepted, and although the amount of money revealed was quite a lot, it was obviously impossible that Xie Zichang had set the price. It was clearly nonsense just to fool him.
“Laoye!” The servant stood at the door, “The carriage is ready.”
Zhou Fu opened the door: “Why are you still standing? Let’s go!”
The salt was placed on the ground in baskets. The salt was ground very finely and was very high-quality fine salt. When the salt people brought the salt over, they were all shocked. They obviously felt that their lives and working hours were easier than before so why was the salt not getting less? Not only did the salt output not decrease, but it increased?
The merchants sat on chairs. They could bid openly and everyone was issued a small wooden sign, raising their wooden sign would be increasing their bidding price.
Lin Yuan watched from the side.
He wanted to see what the current salt market was like.
It was Zhou Fu who won the bid in the end. He and Xie Zichang simply increased their prices and frightened the small merchants next to them away.
It was almost impossible for ordinary people to imagine the financial resources of big merchants.
After the auction ended, Lin Yuan took the time to see Zhou Fu.
“South Bodhisattva.” Zhou Fu had a big smile on his face.
Lin Yuan had him sit down first before asking strangely: “Chairman Zhou put out such a large price, are there even any profits to be made?”
Although the current salt price was high, it was not only Xinghua that produced salt. There were not many salt-producing places in the country but there were not too few either.
Zhou Fu sighed: “South Bodhisattva doesn’t know the price of official salt now.”
The Yuan Dynasty’s financial crisis caused the price of salt to double several times. Now even some well off families could barely afford salt. Not only was the price expensive, but sometimes it might not be possible to buy it with money.
Zhou Fu said: “I can sell this batch of salt before it even completely leaves the area of Gaoyou.”
Small merchants could only buy from Zhou Fu, and naturally Xie Zichang could only buy from Zhou Fu.
Not only could he make a profit, the profit was also not small either.
Other merchants could not afford such a huge amount, but they could afford it in smaller quantities.
Lin Yuan nodded and said to Zhou Fu: “It is hard work.”
Zhou Fu hurriedly waved his hand: “No hard work, no hard work.”
“It’s the South Bodhisattva, having to be in charge of so many things, who really have the hard work.”
Lin Yuan looked at him with a smile, thinking in his heart: If it weren’t for the fact I couldn’t find many helpers, do you think I want to manage it all?
In this era, reading and literacy couldn’t be achieved in one or two months. Lin Yuan stipulated that as long as one learned 300 characters, then that would be considered half illiterate. Only those who learned 800 characters could leave the illiterate ranks.
The people in Taizhou and Gaoyou who have left the illiterate ranks add up to less than 1,000 people in total.
Among these thousand people, most of them were children with strong learning ability, and most of them were under 15 years old.
Lin Yuan already had those over ten years old begin to do work.
Those under ten years old……Lin Yuan could only ask them to continue spreading literacy to their little friends.
Lin Yuan now very much wanted to look for a school, and then lead his troops over and capture all of the scholars in it.
But he could only dream about this.
Lin Yuan didn’t want to offend scholars. Sometimes the scholar’s pen was more ruthless than a knife, especially the ancients.
In the modern times most people came into contact with information not only through books but also from the Internet. The easy flow of information allowed modern people to accept a variety of thinking.
But for the ancients, most of their reasoning and knowledge came from books, and from these books they establish their three views. At the same time they would also inherit the thinking and ideas in the books.
So whenever there was a change of dynasty, the scholar was always the last to kneel.
Loyalty to the emperor and patriotism was also an education received by scholars.
Just don’t know if the scholars still love the Yuan Dynasty.
Zhou Fu suddenly said: “This humble one has an idea.”
Lin Yuan quickly said: “Chairman Zhou please go ahead.”
Zhou Fu smiled and said, “Since the South Bodhisattva is short of scholars, why not issue orders for talents?”
Lin Yuan frowned: “The court……”
The Red Turban Army was now slowly gaining a foothold, attracting most of the Yuan army’s firepower, but Lin Yuan still did not want to confront the Yuan army as of now.
Zhou Fu: “If the South Bodhisattva can trust this humble one, the matter will be handled by this humble one, and it will be done properly and beautifully.”
Lin Yuan looked at Zhou Fu. He didn’t trust him yet.
Zhou Fu also knew that now was the best time to show loyalty, so he quickly knelt down: “This humble one is a merchant, and I have no fixed place. My parents and brothers have all already been brought to Gaoyou at the earliest possible. On the lives of my entire family, this humble one swears that this matter will be done well for the South Bodhisattva!”
Lin Yuan only now realized that he was so busy recently that he didn’t even read the reports on the merchants’ family members.
Zhou Fu’s old parents and elder brothers were all in Gaoyou. He also recently married a local wife from Gaoyou, and she was even four months pregnant.
“Then I leave it to chairman Zhou.” Lin Yuan helped Zhou Fu up with a smile, “If this succeeds, there will be a great reward.”
Zhou Fu breathed a sigh of relief.
“One more thing,” Lin Yuan said.
Zhou Fu hurriedly bowed: “South Bodhisattva, please speak.”
Lin Yuan narrowed his eyes slightly: “I want to know Xishui’s military strength.”
Zhou Fu suddenly realized what he meant and said: “I will not disappoint my Lord.”
Xishui was now being occupied by Xu Shouhui. Xu Shouhui revolted against the Yuan in August last year and occupied Xishui. He established himself as an emperor with the dynastyic name Tian Wan and was also raising the banner of the Red Turban Army.
The reason why Lin Yuan paid attention to him was becuase Xu Shouhui would gain the support of a great general on the fifteenth year of the reign of Yuan Shun.
The name of that general would be carved in the annals of history forever——Chen Youliang.
Lin Yuan was thinking about whether or not Chen Youliang would show up if he sent troops to capture Xishui.
But he had not made a decision yet.
If he did not do anything about Xu Shouhui, then he would at least know where Chen Youliang would be in the future.
If he did then in the best case scenario Chen Youliang might not take part in the uprising. Lin Yuan thought that this was unlikely. Chen Youliang was not forced. He had been an official and had a family background. He chose his own path.
Even if there was no Xu Shouhui, and Xu Shouhui’s subordinates did not include Ni Wenjun, Chen Youliang would still revolt and become a rebel leader.
Or, he could wait until the fifteenth year of Yuan Shun when Chen Youliang’s uprising ocurred in Huangpeng.
And then kill Chen Youliang on the battlefield.
Lin Yuan had servants see Zhou Fu out while he sat at the table drinking tea.
He felt a little restless, and this feeling of restlessness had become stronger since he learned of Xu Shouhui’s uprising.
Compared with Fang Guozhen and Liu Futong, Lin Yuan cared more about Chen Youliang.
Chen Youliang’s military intuition and sensitivity to war were on another level from that of the ordinary people. And one could say that Zhu Yuanzhang had luck on his side when he beat him in history.
Moreover, he was cruel enough and had almost no weakness. Lin Yuan had reason to believe that if killing his family members was necessary in order to become emperor, Chen Youliang would do so without so much as a blink of his eyes. He was a natural creature of power and desire. His craving for power was to the extent it had become an obsession and neurosis, therefore he could not tolerate anyone questioning him or going against him.
Lin Yuan drank a sip of tea.
He could only wait until Chen Youliang’s name was known to the world three years later.
“Am I overly nervous?” Lin Yuan covered his forehead with a hand as he muttered to himself.
Er Liang re-poured tea for Lin Yuan.
He looked at Lin Yuan who seemed to be nursing a headache and asked in a low voice, “Young master, do you want to take a rest?”
Lin Yuan looked at Er Liang and asked: “Er Liang, how are you doing recently?”
A smile appeared on Er Liang’s face: “I live with my parents now, and I am having a good time.”
Er Liang also lowered his head and said, “My mother even found me a wife.”
Lin Yuan was taken aback: “Is it already decided?”
Er Liang smiled and said, “You know her too, it’s Xiao Yao.”
Xiao Yao was also a family servant of Lin Yuan’s family. Both her parents were family servants. Compared with the servants who were bought later, the family servants had a much higher status.
So when choosing a marriage partner, most of them also chose among themselves.
Er Liang also said to Lin Yuan: “My mother and her mother have discussed it. When the battle in Changshu is over, we will get married.”
Lin Yuan said in a daze: “Congratulations.”
Er Liang beamed stupidly.
Lin Yuan thought for a while: “I won’t be attending the wedding.”
Er Liang heaved a sigh of relief. He also didn’t dare to invite Lin Yuan, otherwise no one would be able to completely let themselves loose and enjoy the wedding.
Lin Yuan patted Er Liang on the shoulder: “Try to welcome two babes in three years.”
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Er Liang blushed.
At this time in Changshu, Jiang Zheng’s face was also blushed red, but it was not from shyness.
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