The Zhao family in Tongzhou was also a century old distinguished family. Although not every generation there was a member of the family who became an official, the family wealth was still there. Even if none of them held an official position, based on the reputation of their family over the generations, the Tongzhou officials would still give them a degree of respect. The head of the Zhao family now was Zhao Shoucheng. His name was very straightforward; his elders’ expectation of him was very simple, just to ‘guard the city’.
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But Zhao Shoucheng himself didn’t think so. He was the eldest son. He learned the Confucian Six Arts from a young age, studied the ways of Confucius and Mencius, and believed himself as having much talent.
The role of the gentleman, he could perform well, the role of the villain, he could also perform well.
Regardless of his family’s opposition, he gave Jiao’er to Lu Hui.
Lu Hui only believed that Jiao’er was his maidservant, but only the Zhao family knew that Jiao’er was his daughter.
Jiao’er was his youngest daughter whom he had when he was 40 years old. She was an obvious beauty since childhood. He spoiled her with exquisite clothes and food, and he also purposely showed her the difference between the big wealthy families and the poor commoners. Jiao’er also knew that one day she would always become the knife in her father’s hand, to be used to deal a deathly blow against unknown enemies.
No one would have thought that Zhao Shoucheng would give his biological daughter to someone else as a concubine, even if the other person was the Tongzhou senior provincial official Lu Hui.
“Madam!” Jiao’er knelt down on the ground, walking on her knees to the feet of the mistress, crying, “My lord…..my lord!”
The mistress helped her up and sighed heavily.
The matter having become like this, the mistress would not send this concubine away now. Her husband was dead, but the crisis in Tongzhou was still present.
The mistress said to Jiao’er: “Why didn’t you persuade my lord from it?”
Jiao’er’s head knocked on the ground, and she sobbed: “I persuaded, my lord won’t listen.”
How could women win against men?
The mistress sighed again.
Though her husband died, she was not sad, only anxious instead.
She also felt hatred, why did her husband have to leave without leaving a son behind.
Even if the son was that of a concubine?
Whether the son was that of a maid or a concubine, it was better to have a son than not!
He himself has left, and the method of dying was that from overindulgence in women, but now that Tongzhou was in this state, should she be asked to preside over the overall situation?
The mistress took a deep breath, and she said to Jiao’er: “I remember, you were originally from the Zhao family?”
Cold sweat beaded on Jiao’er’s forehead, and she quickly said: “This slave only knows that the rice is given by the mistress and the clothes on my back are given by the mistress. This slave has had no relationship with the Zhao family for a long time!”
The mistress: “Go and ask someone to invite Lord Zhao to come. But don’t reveal anything about our lord husband, go!”
She must conceal the news of her husband’s death. Tongzhou was in upheaval now, and if news of Lu Hui’s death was made known at this juncture, certain people would force them to die as well.
Zhao Shoucheng had been waiting since dawn.
When his confidant brought the news of Lu Hui’s death, Zhao Shoucheng finally couldn’t help standing up, clapping his hands and exclaiming “excellent”.
“As expected of my Jiao’er.” Zhao Shoucheng wiped away the pretentious tears at the corners of his eyes with his fingers, and said to his confidant, “Madam Lu hasn’t sent someone to send a letter?”
Several years ago, he had his wife go and befriend Madam Lu.
After several interactions, they naturally figured out Madam Lu’s temperament.
Madam Lu was a lady from a distinguished family, a lady that was raised too naive and stupid. She regarded her husband as her sky, whatever her husband said was the truth, whatever her husband loved she loved, and whatever her husband hated she hated, so even if Lu Hui didn’t love her, he still respected her. No one could rock her position in the Lu family.
But after a long time like this, she would naturally become a puppet. Once there was no one to make the decisions, she was no better than a headless fly.
The confidant said lowly: “The messenger is on the road, Madam Lu wants to suppress the news of Lord Lu’s death.”
Zhao Shoucheng’s eyes lit up: “The right time has come!”
If he made the right bet now then in the future, his Zhao family would have the only say in Tongzhou!
In this world, it was either the east wind overwhelming the west wind, or the west wind overwhelming the east wind. His Zhao family had been cautious, why couldn’t they take a gamble?
Victory, the entire family would ascend to paradise, but if it was defeat, only Jiao’er would have to die.
“The Zhao family killed Lu Hui?” Lin Yuan’s expression became a little more complicated when he received the report from a spy. He turned to look at Song Shizhao, “Is this man so stupid?”
With Tongzhou’s current state, without Lu Hui, there would be no leader. What’s more, Lu Hui was the senior provincial official appointed by the imperial court. He could only rely on the imperial power in order to maintain a hold on the military. If it was changed to another person, how could they have the same control and prestige as Lu Hui? And now that Tongzhou had become an isolated island, it was impossible for the imperial court to appoint another senior provincial official. When the Zhao family killed Lu Hui, did they think they could keep the news of Lu Hui’s death from leaking? Wasn’t this treating all of the Tongzhou officials as fools?
Song Shizhao chuckled and said: “Zhao Shoucheng is the head of the Zhao family. This man is short-sighted and likes to use underhanded means. It is not surprising that he did this. I imagine the news of Lu Hui’s death will definitely be suppressed.”
Lin Yuan: “Then that saves us much trouble.”
Song Shizhao: “Exactly, offending people will naturally be left to him.”
“How did the Zhao family gather Lu Hui’s soldiers?” Lin Yuan asked, his brows furrowed, “I can’t think of the reason for this.”
Song Shizhao also felt a little puzzled: “If the Zhao family killed Lu Hui for fear of Lu Hui’s military strength, but even without Lu Hui, the soldiers still need to eat, unless they plan to demobilize the soldiers?”
Lin Yuan shook his head: “Then the soldiers will rebel.”
Would the Zhao family be willing to pay a sum of money to demobilize the soldiers? This was not a small amount of money after all.
To be precise, this was not a small amount of food.
Zhao Shoucheng of Tongzhou was also having a headache about this.
“There are actually hundreds of thousands of people!” Zhao Shoucheng originally thought that Lu Hui had no more than tens of thousands of soldiers, but he did not expect that there would be 100,000. Although many of these 100,000 consisted of old men and young boys under 15, he did not dare to underestimate them.
One hundred thousand soldiers were soldiers in Lu Hui’s hands, but in his hands they became hot potatoes instead.
Jiao’er walked out of the room. Since Lu Hui’s death, Zhao Shoucheng took her back to the Zhao manor.
She sat opposite Zhao Shoucheng, completely without any of the gentle facade she kept up in front of Lu Hui. Her expression was solemn and her eyes were serious: “Laoye.”
Zhao Shoucheng had not allowed her to call him father since she was a child, but only ‘laoye’.
“Jiao’er…..” Zhao Shoucheng looked at his daughter. She had grown up. Jiao’er as a child was spoiled and willful which was why he named her Jiao’er. He sighed, “Do you blame me? For giving you to Lu Hui?”
Jiao’er shook her head: “No, Jiao’er’s surname is Zhao.”
She was a member of the Zhao family, the honor and disgrace of the family was her honor and disgrace, and the future of the family was her future.
Zhao Shoucheng took Jiao’er’s hand: “Jiao’er, there is one more thing you need to do.”
Jiao’er pursed her lips: “Laoye only needs to give me the orders.”
Zhao Shoucheng: “Gaoyou.”
Jiao’er slowly bowed: “Jiao’er will definitely help Laoye with any worries and difficulties.”
“Good, good!” Zhao Shoucheng embraced Jiao’er, “As expected of my daughter! Jiao’er, after going to Gaoyou, carry out the scheme slowly and gradually.”
Jiao’er nodded: “But now Tongzhou is besieged, how can I get out?”
Zhao Shoucheng paused.
The Tongzhou of now was like a prison.
Even if his daughter was a phoenix, how could she utilize her abilities in the cage?
Tongzhou was already chaotic enough, the soldiers had no food, the doors of the big households were closed tight, and the common people faced crime and danger.
After being hungry for nearly a month, the soldiers finally rioted. They killed their own commander, charged out of the barracks and to the doors of the big households. When Lu Hui was still there, the soldiers only asked for food. Now there was no Lu Hui, the soldiers began to openly and brazenly commit robbery.
The Zhao family was also robbed.
Zhao Shoucheng issued decrees under the guise of Lu Hui. Unfortunately, under the current chaotic environment in Tongzhou, the new decrees simply could not be implemented.
The big households were overwhelmed, and Zhao Shoucheng finally found something to do.
He began to use those soldiers to put pressure on other big households.
The big households fell apart, surrendering their family property in order to survive.
The Zhao family also annexed other big households.
The news of Lu Hui’s death could not be kept secret for too long in the end.
After the officials in Tongzhou found out, they also knew that Zhao Shoucheng was behind this. They and Zhao Shoucheng began to scheme against each other, worsening the turmoil in Tongzhou. Lin Yuan was able to capture Tongzhou almost effortlessly.
——The people of Tongzhou opened the city gate by themselves.
They couldn’t stand living like this any longer. If it was peacetime, the common people of Tongzhou would not have the daring to do such a thing.
But now there were rebellions blazing across the entire empire.
Therefore, the people’s mentality was easy to understand.
If no one was doing this, they would not dare to step out of bounds, but if someone already did it, and even succeeded, then they dared to follow along.
When Li Congrong entered Tongzhou, he found that the situation in Tongzhou was better than that of Wujiang before.
At least he didn’t see tragic scenes of starving people fighting for corpses on the road.
But the good were limited. The people were practically skeletons and even the soldiers were no better off. They were like savages. They had no uniforms and their weapons were badly rusted. It was difficult to use it to cut through skin, let alone kill people.
The worst off was the Zhao family.
The Zhao family mansion was full of corpses, and Zhao Shoucheng’s corpse was also thrown out onto the streets. His situation was similar to raising Gu, eventually suffering the consequences of backlash. (TN: Gu=legendary venomous insect)
There was not one living person left of the Zhao family.
As for who did this?
No one in Tongzhou would admit to anything.
So Li Congrong took over the Zhao family’s wealth as a matter of course.
This saved a lot of trouble. After all, the Zhao family had searched and seized the wealth of all the big families in Tongzhou, and even if they missed anything, it would not be much.
As a result, Li Congrong no longer needed to fight verbal lawsuits with those big families.
However, Li Congrong also found the only living person in the Zhao family.
She had hidden in the stables, under the haystacks, and was covered with horse dung when she was found.
She was only recognized after she was cleaned up. She was once Lu Hui’s concubine.
Only then did the arrested Tongzhou officials realize that Lu Hui’s death was originally manipulated by the Zhao family.
Jiao’er revealed everything she knew.
But she didn’t know who charged in in the middle of the night and massacred the more than one hundred people in the Zhao family.
“I first heard someone shouting there was fire.” Jiao’er was a little dazed. “The servants were all up in chaos. When I saw shadows of people outside, I jumped out of the window and fled to the stable.”
Li Congrong found that he couldn’t pry anything else out of her mouth, so he shut her in the room and asked people to keep a look on her.
But the result was that in a moment of carelessness, Jiao’er bit her tongue and committed suicide in the middle of the night.
The only meaning of her existence was for the Zhao family.
Now that the Zhao family no longer remained she had also lost her meaning of life and chose to die.
“The Zhao family…..has done evil.” Li Congrong couldn’t help but sigh.
Actually giving away their daughter as a plaything to Lu Hui. And at that time Tongzhou was not as precarious as it had been in the past few years.
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Raising his own daughter like this, Zhao Shoucheng was a rare cold-hearted person.
Since then, Tongzhou also come under Lin Yuan’s rule.
Because of Zhao Shoucheng, the remaining forces in Tongzhou were left without much power to resist.
Despite taking such great pains, in the end it all benefitted Lin Yuan.
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