The Little White Lotus Sect was one of the Pingjiang cults that was neither high nor low in terms of influence. There were three thousand believers and these three thousand believers included both men and women, but most of them were poor, not even any slightly well-off commoners. But this had one advantage. That was, people at the upper echelons of the sect actually didn’t receive many offerings. Probably enough to eat and drink, but it was impossible to buy weapons and raise soldiers.
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It took a huge amount of financial resources to raise soldiers, and even if it was just a few hundred soldiers, the money and food consumed was still not a small number.
After all, people who were willing to exchange their lives for a bright future would only be convinced if they could see the benefits. Even if they caught and dragged the people into the barracks, if these people wanted to run, they would always find a chance to run.
But the thing to be most afraid of was not that they would run, but these group of soldiers uniting together in the face of a common enemy, their capturers, and thus putting them in a dilemma.
Wu Changqing was quite proud and self-satisfied these days. He was originally just a county magistrate but after being transferred to Pingjiang he became the district head.
How can one not be unhappy about the joy of being promoted and getting rich?
Only now did he know what it was like to be flattered by others.
But the more he was flattered, the more serious he became. After all, he was an old official who had followed Lin Yuan since Gaoyou, and he knew Lin Yuan’s temper better than others.
The South Bodhisattva did have the heart of a Buddha, but this heart was only for the common people, and not for officials like them.
He still remembered what Lin Yuan once said to them: “If you do a good job, I can give you money and power. If you don’t do a good job, I will cut off your head. There are countless heads who want to take your places, and I can always find the next suitable one.”
At that time, those officials who heard this were all terrified and struck with fear.
The South Bodhisattva was not a monarch one could control. He was not a weak monarch, on the contrary, he had the potential to be a tyrant.
The biggest feature of tyrants was that they always meant what they said, their methods cruel and vicious.
It was just that the viciousness of this tyrant was used against the enemy and his officials.
Wu Changqing had his servant pour a cup of tea for the man in front of him, and asked with a smile on his face: “Little White Lotus Sect?”
The surname of the Leader was Bao, Bao Shisan, but he changed his name after becoming the Leader to Bao Jianghe. Wu Changqing sighed in his heart when he first saw this person. People with such a righteous appearance were very rare indeed.
He had a wide face, big eyes and thick eyebrows, his aura righteous. No wonder he could attract believers. If he was crafty-looking and shifty-eyed, people would suspect that he had other intentions, let alone gain any believers.
At this time, people believed that a gentleman had the appearance of a gentleman, and a villain had the appearance of a villain, and each person’s appearance was a reflection of one’s heart and nature.
Bao Jianghe carried himself with magnanimity. Even if he was not such a person, he had been put on a pedestal for so long, so while the inside might not have changed all that much, the outside would still show a trace of change.
At least he exhibited no timidity in front of Wu Changqing.
Bao Jianghe said: “If my lord can protect this humble one, this humble one will tell you everything I know.”
Wu Changqing smiled: “Have some tea.”
The two of them just sat like this, and Bao Jianghe soon did not appear as at ease as before, as if there were needles under his buttocks.
Wu Changqing looked at Bao Jianghe and knew that the time had come. He said, “Recently, His Lord can’t tolerate even a speck of sand in his eyes. Even if you didn’t come here, the Little White Lotus Sect will not last much longer.”
Bao Jianghe’ breathing stopped for a moment. He could feel the threat, and this threat made him shudder.
Wu Changqing also said: “However, there is something you can tell me so that I might be able to help you be spared.”
Bao Jianghe did not dare to speak, he was afraid that if he said, those people would try to kill him no matter what.
Wu Changqing also seemed to see his worries, and said softly: “If you want to surrender, then don’t leave any retreat route. If you do then neither of the two sides will be pleased, and you will be put in a difficult situation.”
The cold sweat on Bao Jianghe’s forehead fell, and after a while, he said with shaking hands: “This humble one knows the identities and addresses of the Leaders of other cults and their capable subordinates.”
Wu Changqing: “Very good, virtuous brother, those who act decisively are wise men.”
“Come in, send this virtuous brother to Lord Song’s manor. Serve him well the whole way, no slacking off.” Wu Changqing had someone send Bao Jianghe out. He knew that Lin Yuan valued Song Lian, so being able to effortlessly express his goodwill in such a way, why not? It was not like he would lose a pound or two of meat.
He expressed his goodwill, and no matter how much it was worth to the other, he still got some advantage.
Thus, Bao Jianghe was sent to Song Lian’s manor. Song Lian was one of the literati, cultured and refined, his mannerisms and gestures polite and with a hint of a scholarly air. But at the same time he wouldn’t give people an aloof feeling. Bao Jianghe didn’t even know what he was saying, but after coming back to his senses, he realized that he had given away everything he knew.
Then Bao Jianghe was locked up in a courtyard residence. He knew that he might not be able to get out of this place, but his mistress was also sent in with him. He had food and drink every day, and he didn’t have to work to support himself. Being kept and fed for free, he was also content enough.
“Leader Bao is missing!”
“He hasn’t been seen for a month.”
“Quickly, go to Zhang’s Teahouse!”
“That Leader of the Little White Lotus Sect is telling his life story in the teahouse!”
“What a rare novelty, nobody actually cares to stop him?”
“How do I know, maybe the big lords above also discovered the benefits of the Little White Lotus Sect?”
The common people and the sect believers flooded into the Zhang’s Teahouse. There were so many people that it couldn’t fit in anymore. They could only watch from the windows, crowds against crowds. There was not even such a big scene during the New Year’s. The owner of the Zhang’s Teahouse smiled so much that his eyes disappeared and all of his teeth could be seen. When today was over, his Zhang’s Teahouse would be known throughout Pingjiang!
This was also the first time Bao Jianghe also saw such a big scene. He had never been so nervous when facing believers in the past as he did now facing this crowd.
He remembered what Song Lian said to him last night.
“Leader Bao must also not want to remain here all the time. If you want to go out, you must share the worries for our Lord.”
He had come here to share in His Lord’s worries.
Bao Jianghe swallowed.
“My surname is Bao, and I was originally the Leader of the Little White Lotus Sect.”
The believers cried: “Leader! Leader! We are here!”
Bao Jianghe looked at the believers, his feelings conflicted. Those who came here were all ordinary believers. They didn’t know the twists and turns inside. Those who hadn’t come were probably thinking about how they could kill him before he could tell the truth.
Having already reached this point, there was no turning back.
“A few years ago, Bao was just like everyone else, just an ordinary commoner. My parents and brothers died early, and all I had to worry about was just feeding myself. I supported myself by working as a porter and the days were difficult.”
Bao Jianghe’s emotions finally calmed down. He remembered the days before, busy running around everyday for a living. He used to feel bitter, but now that he thought about it, it was not all that bitter really. While he was looked down on, he could still fill his stomach.
Life was simple, even just a single dish of meat had him feeling content.
“Later, I heard that the White Lotus Sect in the north was so powerful that they lived a life of lords, so my thoughts slowly turned.”
“I borrowed the name of the White Lotus Sect to create the Little White Lotus Sect. At that time, I just wanted to accept some believers who would give me some offerings, so that I could live a better life and save up enough money to marry a wife.”
“But for some reason, there were more and more believers, and the number of people who followed Bao became more and more. Like being driven to join the Liangshan Mountain rebels, I had no choice but to move forward.” (TN: driven to join the Liangshan Mountain rebels=to force sb to desperate action)
“The subordinates around me also have their own thoughts and interests. Since Han Shantong could establish himself as emperor and Han Lin’er can claim to be the emperor, they also felt that I could do the same. At that time, everybody could be an official and enjoy glory and wealth.”
Speakimg up to here, the believers listening below had already gone half crazy.
“Leader! Someone must have forced Leader to say this!”
“Don’t say anymore, don’t say anymore!”
Bao Jianghe remained unmoved: “The sect believers offered virgin boys and girls. I didn’t keep any of them. My subordinates took them away and kept them instead. After playing them to death or disability, towards the believers they would say that the gods had taken their children away to live a good life.”
“You beasts in human skin!” The woman was in her forties, her face malnourished and thin. She wore a cloth attire and had a look of bitter sadness. In the beginning she was just listening numbly but at this time, she screamed like she had gone crazy, “I know! I already know everything! I saw the bones of my son! They just threw him in the wild! I saw it when I went to pick wild vegetables! My son was only twelve years old! How can you do such a thing, how can you do such a thing! You beasts!”
The person next to her who was not a believer asked her: “Then why didn’t you tell others?”
“That’s right, your son died, but as the mother you didn’t seek justice for him?”
The woman was too skinny, so thin she looked like a skeleton, her eyes protruding out and her lips trembling as she said, “I did, I told my family…..”
The others asked the man standing next to her: “That was not only her son, but also your son. You, as the father, actually don’t care about your son’s life?”
The middle-aged man with a crouched back looked like an old man, his temples white. If one didn’t know his age, he would be taken as a person in his sixties. His lips trembled slightly and he didn’t dare to look up at the people: “How can that be spoken? The people in our village are all followers of the Little White Lotus Sect. They all believe in the Leader, who will believe me? A scholar in the village said that the Little White Lotus Sect was just pretending and deceiving us, and then died in the middle of the night. My family…..my family can’t even compare to that scholar…..”
“I still have two daughters and three more sons…..” A tear fell from the man’s eyes. “With one already dead, how could I let the whole family join him below?”
The people looked at this family with pity.
Some believers also shouted: “Where is my son?”
“Where is my daughter? I even prepared a dowry for my daughter!”
Bao Jianghe continued: “Most of those who are good-looking are still in the houses of my subordinates. Those who were not either died or were sold to the brothel.”
Those young boys and girls thought that they could live a good life when they were sent to the Leader.
But only when they went there did they know that it was hell on earth waiting for them.
Bao Jianghe: “Bao has sinned.”
He looked at the tearful believers and the ignorant commoners, and then slowly bent his knees and knelt in front of them.
He was originally just one of these people.
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Since when did he stop treating human lives as human lives?
When did he begin to feel that it was natural to give away the offered child virgins to his subordinates?
Bao Jianghe lowered his head.
After he was dead, would he go down to the 18th level of hell?
TN: bonus chapter coming up!
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