As the New Year arrived, Su Mu was still very busy. In the war with the Jin Kingdom, the Qing Kingdom relied on explosives as a weapon to win. Shen Wei pursued and occupied a large area of the Jin Kingdom with their victory. Wu and Yang, who were allied with the Qing Kingdom, saw that the Jin Kingdom was on its last legs and about to be swallowed up by another country so they eagerly sent their troops out. Today’s Jin Kingdom was only left with the imperial capital city and the moat surrounding it. At this time, two powerful countries neighboring the Jin Kingdom, Chen and Zheng became involved under the banner of “recovering justice” for the Jin Kingdom by launching a war against the Qing, Wu and Yang. Su Mu rubbed the bridge of his nose and still could not come up with a good solution so he threw this memorial aside and picked up another one.
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When Su Mu opened it, it turned out to be a “confession letter” from a son placing righteousness before family and exposing his father’s corruption and oppression over the common people. It was mainly about a good young man “being upright”, “finding a conscience” and “petitioning for the people”. Although it was not clearly and straightforwardly written, Su Mu still detected the deep grievances and dissatisfaction between the lines. Su Mu was not interested in understanding the story behind it. He just picked up the brush and wrote a blood-red “investigate”, then closed the memorial and continued to look over the next ones.
However, it was this simple word that set off a huge wave in the small city of Lin. First, the county magistrate He Xianrong was dismissed from his post and sent to jail to await a trial with the provincial government. Then there were many more of his relatives who became implicated at some degree or another. Only the second son of the county magistrate, He Jingxi, was rewarded instead of being punished. According to rumors, he had contributed to the report?
There was also a major earthquake in the Xiao family. With a new official taking office an establishment of prestige was to follow. The county magistrate who came from the imperial city directly brought an army with him. Anyone who dared to hinder the law enforcement of the new county magistrate was directly arrested and sent to prison. At this moment, this gentle and cultured looking middle-aged man brought hundreds of people to the Xiao Manor.
Kong De sat in the main seat in his official robes and looked at Xiao Hai, who was obviously trying to suppress his anger, and asked lightly: “Landlord Xiao, someone has accused you of forcibly occupying land and hiring thugs to carry out beatings. Why did you not come to court when this official passed the order? Do you know that this is defying the court, defying the law!”
Xiao Hai’s old face flushed red in anger, and he defended: “This is a false accusation. What wrong is there for taking back the land that belongs to my family? That group of uneducated commoners are trying to take my land so can’t I even fight back?”
“Your land?” Kong De stood up and looked serious as he said: “All the lands in the world belong to the monarch, Landlord Xiao, do you have intentions for a rebellion?”
Xiao Hai was so frightened that he hurriedly denied in a cold sweat, “No, no, my lord, you have misunderstood! How could caomin dare to be so disgraceful.”
Kong De continued to say calmly: “If this is the case, then I won’t bother Landlord Xiao to worry about that batch of fields, the tax will be collected by this official, and the rent will be paid to you without a coin less.”
Xiao Hai was so anxious that sweat began running down: “No, no, no, my lord, how can you…..how can you…..the land, the land…..it was bought by my ancestors!” As he spoke towards the end he even sounded a little bit like crying, looking very pitiful indeed.
However, Kong De was indifferent and continued to say unhurriedly: “Bought it? Bought it from whom? His Highness? Or His Majesty? Or a certain Prince or Princess?”
“I, I…..you bully people too much…..” Xiao Hai pointed his finger and yelled at Kong De.
Kong De held his hands behind his back and his tone was calm: “Xiao Hai, you hired thugs to hurt others and looked down on the law by forcefully occupying the land. Now, you must follow this official back to the county office for investigation.” Immediately after speaking, two soldiers forcefully grabbed Xiao Hai away. Kong De also soon left, and thus Xiao Manor was plunged into chaos.
Xiao Wu, who was reading in her room, was approached by the angry Madam Xiao and her son. Madam Xiao looked at Xiao Wu as if she wanted to kill her.
Xiao Wu calmly got up and bowed over slightly: “Xiao Wu greets Mother.”
Madam Xiao directly gave her a slap over and yelled: “You unfilial girl, you still have the leisure to read here, your father has been arrested and sent to the county office! The land property has also been expropriated. Let me see what you will eat and drink in the future!”
After finishing talking, she slapped Xiao Wu’s face fiercely again, but the other was still calm as if she didn’t feel any pain at all, and she lowered her head slightly and said with no change in tone: “Daughter knows my wrong.”
“You waste of money! We raised you for more than ten years and this is how you repay your parents for our kindness! You dare to hook up with the county magistrate’s gongzi to frame your own father, has your conscience been eaten by a dog?” Another slap.
But Xiao Wanran, who rushed in and stopped the last slap from landing: “Mother, why are you hitting fifth sister?”
Madam Xiao was currently at the height of her anger at the moment and no matter who she saw at the moment all she wanted to do was to give them a good beating. And so she was even more furious when she was stopped by Xiao Wanran. She pushed the thirteen-year-old Xiao Wanran to the ground, pointing to her nose and scolding: “It’s all your fault, you jinx, if you had married the magistrate back then there would be no problem at all right now! Now those sons of that group of bitches are clamoring about dividing the inheritance, and it’s all because of you two waste of money! Bitch!”
Xiao Wanran was pushed to the ground and when hearing her mother’s accusations, she was so stunned she forgot to get up for a while. In her heart, her mother had always been dignified. Even though she knew that her mother preferred her brother, she also treated her very well. She never thought that one day when there was a conflict of interest with her brother, she would become so worthless in her mother’s eyes.
“Mother…..” Xiao Wanran cried weakly with tears in her eyes.
“Shut up! Your brother’s future is all ruined in the hands of you two jinxes!” Madam Xiao said fiercely to the equally fierce looking son behind her: “Zhicheng, throw this bitch out, I want to see just how long they will live without this home!”
After that, Xiao Wu was stripped of her jewelry and then thrown out of the door with only two layers of robes left in the cold winter. The last scene in her eyes was Xiao Wanran calling her name loudly, only to be ordered to be locked up by Madam Xiao.
Xiao Wu stood outside the door for a while, looking at the closed door of the Xiao Manor, and then dragged her thin, nearly frozen body and bruised cheeks forward, her eyes firmly fixed towards the distance. The footprints behind her were quickly lost as they were covered with the heavy snow, leaving no trace as if she had never been here before.
In the imperial city, Su Mu sat on the dragon chair in Taihe Hall, listening to the report from the official underneath, his eyes cold and without a hint of temperature.
Having heard no response despite a long time passing, Sun Wei could feel sweat beading on his forehead, making the already cold weather even more freezing. He cautiously said: “Your Highness, fewer people have died from freezing this year than in previous years…..”
Su Mu swept him with a faint glance, and immediately made Sun Wei feel like a cold blade was pressed against him, his voice unconsciously becoming quieter.
Su Mu sighed inaudibly: “Let the local governments build refugee camps to accommodate refugees through the winter.”
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A large number of people had been lost, and now a large amount of money would be lost as well. Su Mu’s heart was nearly bleeding with the pain. Truly, one wouldn’t know how expensive the expenses were without being the breadwinner of the family. Even the monarch of a country could be faced with being on the edge of being broke.Previous