The common people had a simple life. They worked from sunrise to sunset. They busied themselves in order to put three meals a day on the table and support their livelihood. If they could marry a wife and give birth to two plump babies, that would be even wonderful.
Most of the people in Pingjiang were the same, but Pingjiang was wealthy, so besides farming, the people could find a lot of other work in the city.
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Doormen or gatekeepers, manual workers, they could always find a bite to eat. Even climbing up the mountains to chop firewood to sell or being a porter of goods, they did not have to worry about dying of starvation.
If those who were extra lucky and earned some money, they could buy a few servants, and there would be people to serve and wait on their family.
But these people all had one thing in common, that was, they were completely illiterate.
Although the common people were obedient, if they were too ignorant, they could easily be incited by those with ulterior motives.
Especially in times of turmoil and chaos and people were in panic all day long. In such times, the common people even more so needed to find spiritual sustenance.
Thus countless cults were conceived. These cults wantonly recruited followers, asking them to provide money, food, and their own daughters. They accumulated strength in order to get a share of the pie during troubled times.
Pingjiang now had a few small forces. Although they had yet to make much impact, Lin Yuan was not ready to watch them grow big.
On the surface, Song Lian was spreading literacy among the common people, but in fact he was going to suppress and eliminate these forces. It would also be a good opportunity for Lin Yuan to measure his ability. If Song Lian could not do these things, Lin Yuan could only have him go repair books.
“Lord Song.” Wu Changqing came to visit Song Lian with a gift. After all, he was a newcomer who had been in the limelight recently and Wu Changqing was not willing to offend him. As fellow officials it was not a bad thing to maintain a superficial friendship.
Song Lian had already heard the doorman report his visit early. He put down the book in his hand and greeted him with a smile: “Lord Wu, it’s an honor to meet you at last.”
Wu Changqing: “Lord Song came from afar, have you become used to here yet?”
Song Lian smiled and said: “Naturally, the land south of the Yangtze River, paradise on earth.”
Song Lian waved his hand: “Lord Wu, please have a seat.”
Just as Wu Changqing sat down, a servant brought in a pot of warm wine. The two of them sat and drank together, the moonlight shining from outside the window.
“It is often said that Lord Song has a good and gentlemanly character. Seeing you today, it is indeed well-deserved.” Wu Changqing smiled and spoke praises. He was always like this, able to appear natural and righteous when flattering others, making people unable to feel any hypocrisy at all.
Song Lian didn’t say anything to that. He just said: “Song has just arrived and doesn’t know the current situation of Pingjiang, so I have to trouble Lord Wu.”
Wu Changqing waved his hand and said: “What difficulty is this, how can it be called trouble? Since Lord Song asked, I will naturally answer. Pingjiang is rich in water and food and the people are honest and loyal, but there is no lack of treacherous villains who want to take advantage of the people’s simple nature.”
Song Lian personally poured a cup of wine for Wu Changqing.
Wu Changqing raised his cup and drank it in one swallow: “Although those people are contemptible, water droplets can still drip through the rocks and gather into rivers. If they are allowed to run freely, they will one day become a calamity.”
Song Lian understood. He looked down and it took a while before he raised his head back up again. He said to Wu Changqing, “Thank you, Lord Wu, for clearing up my doubts.”
Wu Changqing also cupped his hands: “As officials serving the same ruler, naturally we must stand against the same enemies. What our Lord hates most now is the surrounding people having constant suspicions of each other while the foreign enemies are yet to be dealt with.”
This was a reminder.
Regardless of their personal thoughts and interests in private, they had to maintain harmony on the surface.
Those who cause trouble to their superiors would be the unlucky ones in the end.
Wu Changqing left Song Lian’s manor and got on the carriage. The old servant handed over the sobering tea that he had prepared earlier. Wu Changqing drank a sip of tea and felt discomfort in his throat. He lifted the window curtains of the carriage to look up at the sky. Dark clouds blocked the moon, signaling that tomorrow might be a rainy day.
He had a smile on his lips as he sighed leisurely.
Newcomers would always come one after another, and old officials like them would always have to show a generous spirit.
How many officials below wanted to kill Song Shizhao? If Song Shizhao was not cautious, he would not have enough lives to lose by now.
Song Shizhao was now like the most beloved concubine in the harem. The emperor had only him in his eyes and only loved him. If other concubines could not kill him then they would be unable to rise up the ranks. They were all serving the same person, so while they did not seek equal treatment, they did seek a share of the favor.
Others could not be blamed for hating him.
Wu Changqing smiled.
“The moonlight is just right tonight!”
The driver who drove the carriage looked up at the sky, was there something wrong with his master’s eyes? The moon was covered with clouds, where was there any moonlight?
In a dark alley late at night, a man in commoner attire stood anxiously outside the house. Only then did the voices of men and women inside the house came to an end.
The simple wooden door was pushed open from the inside, and the man who appeared with his clothes open wide, revealing a chest covered with red marks. He was tall, with a square face and a wide forehead, possessing a magnanimous appearance. At this time, his brows were furrowed and he said to the person at his door, “What’s the matter? Can’t you come to find this Leader tomorrow? This is the middle of the night, even if you don’t want to sleep, this Leader needs to sleep.”
The coquettish voice of a woman in the house called out: “Leader!”
The man said impatiently: “Go back to sleep!”
He strode out, and the man in commoner attire followed behind him. The two went to a secluded house. After lighting the candles, the man in commoner attire said, “Leader, since that South Bodhisattva occupied Pingjiang, he has used a lot of scheming and manipulation. Many members of the sect are not as they used to be.”
“This subordinate went to investigate today, and found that many already want to leave the sect!” The man in commoner attire bursted into tears, “Leader, if we don’t do anything, I am afraid that that South Bodhisattva will confuse people. Now it’s one or two out of ten people, but I’m afraid that after some time, not even one will remain.”
The name of this religious sect was the Little White Lotus Sect, which was not the same as the White Lotus Sect. It was just borrowing the name of the latter. However, the common people thought that this Little White Lotus Sect was also a branch of the White Lotus Sect.
In Lin Yuan’s history back in his previous life, this Little White Lotus Sect had already become quite big in Pingjiang, which gave the original government a headache.
The Leader pressed his lips tightly. It was an accidental occurrence that he established this Little White Lotus Sect. He was originally just a porter, relying on transporting goods to make a living. At first, he just wanted to live a good life. Although working as a porter in Pingjiang would not have him go hungry, his social status was very low. Anyone could step on him with their feet. When he bumped into a nobleman on the road, it was common to be spit on and beaten. He could barely eat any meat a year. At that time, his wish was to one day be able to eat all the meat he wanted.
Slowly, under the guise of the White Lotus Sect, he gathered a group of people. He eventually accumulated believers, offerings, and beauties.
He liked days like this, eating, drinking and having fun every day, with beautiful women on his left and fine wine on his right. He didn’t want to fight against those in power. He knew very well that a few thousand believers were no match for tens of thousands of trained troops——He was just an ordinary commoner. Although he was doing well now, he still feared those in power.
He wanted to say: “We are doing well now, and our days are going well. So why do we have to fight against those people who control heavy military power? Isn’t it good to be content with what one has?”
But he couldn’t say that.
The people who followed him have ambitions. If he said so, he had no doubt that these people would kill him and support someone else who agreed with them to become the Leader.
He looked at this person who was crying in front of him, and he had no doubt that if he said that he did not want to be an enemy of the South Bodhisattva, this person would be able to take his life immediately.
So he could only say: “That South Bodhisattva is sinister and vicious, and his methods are fierce. Why don’t we take it slowly? If we become his enemies right now, I am afraid that with our current strength, we will just be sheep under the tiger’s mouth.”
The man in commoner attire hurriedly said: “Leader needs to know that it has just been a month since the South Bodhisattva took over Pingjiang, and even the king of heaven would have difficulty gaining the people’s loyalty in such a short time. At this time, he is not yet standing firmly so we still have a chance. If we really take things slowly, I’m afraid we won’t even be able to stand against a single hit by that time.”
“Don’t say anymore!” The Leader said angrily, “Am I the Leader or are you the Leader? Do my words matter or yours do? You actually want to order me around now? It seems that you no longer want to obey others, in your eyes, even the Leader holds no regard. How about you take the seat of the Leader instead? I see that I have been sitting in your seat for too long, making you restless and discontent this whole time!”
The man in commoner attire knelt down quickly, walking a few steps to the front of the Leader on his knees, and then prostrated himself: “Leader! Don’t miss this opportunity. This is our last chance. If we don’t fight hard, we will become the fish under the South Bodhisattva’s knife. Leader!”
“Get out!” The Leader shouted, “I tell you to get out! Get out!”
The man in commoner attire looked at the man in front of him incredulously. He still remembered how pleasant the words this man spoke when he was invited to join the sect by this man. He had thought he was following a broad-minded and ambitious master, but he didn’t expect that at this moment, this person was still too timid and afraid to act.
Was this the master he chose for himself?
“Leader…..please think twice!” The man in commoner attire knocked his head on the ground a few times before leaving the house.
The Leader sat alone in the house, and when the person left completely, his disguised anger disappeared without a trace.
He personally watched Pingjiang being trampled down by the iron hooves of the South Bodhisattva. It was the first time he saw real warfare. The imperial court’s forces were unable to resist at all. He still remembered the huge explosions he heard and remembered seeing the huge trebuchets, that organized and rigorous army, the sharp blades in the soldiers’ hands. Those people didn’t break into the city of Pingjiang, but he was in the village on the edge of the city. He knew exactly what behemoth he was facing.
He was afraid, he was afraid of death. He could hide in the corner and dominate those weaker than him, but he never thought of really fighting against authority.
Even when the imperial court was weak, he dared not do anything. What was more, this South Bodhisattva was more powerful and more popular than the imperial court now. He just wanted to live a good life, wear luxurious clothes, have servants waiting on his needs, and beauties accompanying by his side. He was already very satisfied.
But the people around him always forced him.
They wanted to be prosperous and wealthy, so they pushed him forward. And he also needed their strength to consolidate his position.
But now, they were going to push him to his death.
They all want to make a last struggle, but the Leader knew very clearly. This was no last struggle but an obvious offering of their necks to commit suicide.
But he couldn’t speak the truth to them yet.
The Leader sat awake all night. He looked at the sunlight as dawn broke and the sky lightened.
After thinking about it all night, he thought of a way.
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He wanted to live, he wanted to live a good life, so he would not listen to those people.
“Prepare a carriage!”
“Where does master plan to go?”
“Go to Wu Manor.”
He heard that Wu Changqing was a good person. Whether it was true or not, at least his reputation was there. For the sake of his reputation, he couldn’t kill someone like him who went to surrender.
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