With less and less harassment on the borders, Lin Yuan felt a lot more at ease.
Over the years, he had focused his attention on the borders, in order to make the common people more stable and prevent the borders from being harassed all the time. With the borders being harrassed all the time, the common people couldn’t live a peaceful life, and merchants couldn’t do business with peace of mind, forced to bring many armed escorts everytime they traveled, which in turn brought the cost of business up. Even Lin Yuan felt a little distressed when he collected taxes——if the merchants hadn’t hired so many armed escorts, he could still collect a bit more tax.
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Since the borders had been stabilized, both the court and the public have been singing praises.
Praising Lin Yuan as a heroic leader descended from heaven.
But in addition to the good news, there was also bad news, that was, Song Shizhao was dying.
In recent years, Song Shizhao’s physical condition had been deteriorating.
He was in his fifties when he first followed Lin Yuan, and now he was quite an old man of advanced age.
These days, Lin Yuan had been keeping an eye on Song Shizhao’s situation, and sent the best imperial physicians of the palace over, but there was still no improvement. The imperial doctors had also said that Song Shizhao was not ill, he just had a sickness everyone would eventually get——old age.
Being born, growing old, sickness and death were hurdles that mortals could not escape.
Er Liang walked in from outside the door and reported Song Shizhao’s situation. Lin Yuan hurried to the prime minister’s residence.
Song Shizhao was a very peculiar person. He seemed to have no selfish desires and did not indulge in any pleasures and vices. Although he lived in the Prime Minister Manor, the Prime Minister Manor was the residence of an official of the Yuan Dynasty. He just simply refurbished it and moved in. There were no servants in the manor, only an old servant who was always by his side.
After so many years, Song Shizhao did not marry a wife either. In fact, there were no other women in the house except the cook and the maid in charge of procuring groceries. He lived like an ascetic monk. He heard from the old servant that even when Song Shizhao ate, it was just one dish of vegetables and one bowl of rice.
Occasionally he would even forgo white rice for yellow wheat buns.
When Lin Yuan arrived, Song Shizhao’s breath came noisily like windpipes as he lay on the bed. He was thin before, but now he was even thinner. But when Lin Yuan appeared, his eyes suddenly lit up with a brightness that contradicted his advanced age!
“Your Majesty…..Your Majesty…..” Song Shizhao stretched out his hand and said with difficulty, “Excuse this official, this official cannot…..salute you…..”
Lin Yuan walked to Song Shizhao’s side, sat down, and held Song Shizhao’s outstretched hand.
He found at this time that he could no longer keep Song Shizhao. God wanted to take Song Shizhao away, and there was nothing mortals could do.
Song Shizhao looked at Lin Yuan, he grinned, the teeth in his mouth had almost all fallen out, and only a pair of front teeth were left standing.
This emperor was assisted by him.
To this day, Song Shizhao felt that he was the luckiest person. When times were in upheaval, there were so many advisors and aides, but how many of them really managed to assist the person they followed onto the throne?
No one else did it, but Song Shizhao did it! With this alone, even if he died, he should die with a smile!
But he was reluctant. He watched the growth of this emperor with his own eyes. He watched the young boy who had lived secluded in a small farmstead, and then he watched that young boy’s ambition ignite, conquering cities and land step by step, and becoming the emperor he was today.
He was really reluctant. He felt that he could live for a few more decades and then die with his emperor.
But God would not give him that much time.
Song Shizhao’s fingers twitched, and when he spoke his words were a little lisped, but he still tried to articulate each word clearly: “Your Majesty, the Mongolians should continue to be appeased, now is not the right time. We can do business with the barbarians and foreigners, but they must not be allowed to get whatever technology we have.”
This time, Lin Yuan didn’t refer to himself using “Zhen.” He looked into Song Shizhao’s eyes and said seriously, “I know, Mister.”
Song Shizhao coughed desperately, Lin Yuan stretched out his hand to pat him on the back, and Song Shizhao said, “Your Majesty, after I die, Zheng Qingfeng will be a good fit. He is a pure official and has worked in the Court of Censors. He has no roots in the imperial court, which is for the best as prime minister.”
“Other…..other people, there is no need to consider them. They, they either have inadequate temperament, or they have the habit of trying to benefit from both sides.”
Lin Yuan: “I know.”
Song Shizhao smiled at Lin Yuan.
Oh, His Majesty. He looked at His Majesty whom he had watched grow, was he already this old?
But he felt that he was still young, and he still had a lot of things he wanted to do.
Song Shizhao’s eyes looked into the distance, he thought back to a long time ago, when he was still living on the mountain.
There was no time in the mountains. He and his brothers and cousins read and write every day. They couldn’t afford paper and ink, so they used their fingers to write on the soil, or carved words like in ancient times, carving until blood dripped from their hands and still did not stop.
The elders told them that only by learning a lot could they restore the orthodoxy and reestablish the Song Dynasty in the future.
At that time, like his brothers and cousins, he hoped to go down the mountain one day, find the remaining legacy of the imperial family, and make use of what he had learned, so that he could live up to a childhood of hard work.
If the current Song Shizhao were to say, there was no need to lift up a fallen dynasty again.
Only new, new dynasties, new people, and new emperors could truly allow people like him to show their worth.
But as time passed, the elders died one by one, and the hearts of his brothers and cousins became restless.
They were all young and energetic, why must they continue to live in such a deep mountain and old forest? The first cousin to make a move sneaked down the mountain at night. Even to this day Song Shizhao had not found him, and it was likely that he was dead.
With the first one, the rest left one after another.
If it weren’t for the fact that he was the only one left in the end, he still didn’t want to go down the mountain.
Because the state of affairs below the mountain was not chaotic enough.
Only when it was chaotic to the extreme, would his appearance have more weight.
Song Shizhao recalled the past with a smile on the corner of his mouth. Lin Yuan didn’t speak, just looked at him quietly.
Later, he had no money, no food, and was caught by a merchant in the wilderness. At first, he didn’t know where he was going to be brought to, and he didn’t know what he would do in the future. That was the first time Song Shizhao felt fear.
He was not afraid of death, he was afraid that his death would be worthless, dying without anyone knowing Song Shizhao, without anyone knowing that he had prepared for this chaotic world for nearly a lifetime!
If he died, he wouldn’t be able to go down in history, not even as a laughing stock.
Song Shizhao breathed a sigh of relief when he was brought into the farmstead. He was willing to be a forced laborer and do manual work. So long as he didn’t die, he still had hope.
He survived, he didn’t starve to death, he didn’t get beaten to death, he could eat his fill as long as he worked, and he didn’t have to work all day long, because he was old, and the people in the farmstead took good care of him.
It was also at that time that he noticed the owner of the farmstead.
In his eyes, the naive, weak and young Lin Yuan.
But at that time, Lin Yuan’s innocence held a trace of strange cruelty.
Song Shizhao looked at the various orders issued by Lin Yuan, and speculated by himself, and found that these orders could be described as “the obeyer lives, the violator dies”.
Ruthless like a mask of iron, with no room for even pleasantries.
Even the laws of the imperial court have never not considered favors and emotions.
Towards such a farmstead owner, Song Shizhao only felt his blood boil in excitement. He urgently needed to find a master for himself, assist him, achieve his potential, and realize his own self-worth at the same time. He saw Lin Yuan, discovered Lin Yuan, and that impulsive feeling was uncontrollable. So he made a risky move on the chessboard.
Then he was caught by Lin Yuan, and that was the first time he had spoken to this young farmstead owner.
There was scrutiny and suspicion on the face of the young boy.
His eyes were cold and emotionless, as if he was not looking at a person, but at an item, to see how much the item was worth, whether it was worth reaching out and taking it within his grasp.
Perhaps Lin Yuan himself didn’t know what kind of expression he had at that time.
But Song Shizhao remembered it clearly. After so many years, he had never forgotten it.
Then he followed at Lin Yuan’s side and became an advisor and strategist. At the beginning, Lin Yuan used him, but he did not trust him.
At that time, he was full of confidence, and felt that Lin Yuan would soon come to trust him, because he truly and sincerely served Lin Yuan as his master.
Song Shizhao felt that the relationship between monarch and minister was a lot like the relationship between husband and wife. The husband could be unfaithful, but the wife must be loyal and dependable.
Although he felt that this reasoning was really unreasonable, it was useful, because wives depended on their husbands to live, and ministers depended on emperors to live.
He must be more loyal and dependable than a wife who loved her husband deeply.
Only in this way could he climb higher and gain Lin Yuan’s trust.
Song Shizhao thought of the past and even felt disbelief. He actually helped Lin Yuan to become the emperor, and he himself became the prime minister. Even when he was young and frivolous, he never dared to imagine such a day.
If he hadn’t met Lin Yuan at that time, perhaps he would have died long ago, either death in body or in heart.
Talent was talent only when it could be used, if not, it was just bullsh*t.
He watched His Majesty change from a young boy to a tough young man, from innocent cruelty to mature ruthlessness. Every change in His Majesty made him happy.
“Your Majesty…..” Song Shizhao opened his mouth and said, “After I die, bury me in the capital, I…..I want to be here, to watch Your Majesty…..”
Lin Yuan said softly, “Yes, don’t worry.”
Song Shizhao said again: “Zheng Qingfeng, will be suitable, suitable as prime minister.”
Lin Yuan held his hand: “After you leave, I will remove the position of prime minister. You are my first and only prime minister.”
Song Shizhao opened his mouth wide, gasping for breath. Tears fell from the corners of his eyes. He opened and closed his mouth many times before he said, “This official, thanks, thanks Your Majesty…..”
“This official’s life…..” Song Shizhao looked at Lin Yuan, “Has been worth it.”
Lin Yuan added: “I will build a university in your name, your family wealth will serve as a scholarship, and countless students will receive your grace. A hundred years later, someone will still remember you.”
Song Shizhao’s hands trembled violently, and he finally couldn’t help crying: “Your Majesty…..Your Majesty…..this old official doesn’t want to die…..”
“Your Majesty, this old official still wants, wants to follow you.”
Lin Yuan: “In the next life, you will be my prime minister as well.”
Song Shizhao’s look of laughter appeared more ugly than his crying expression: “Your Majesty, at that time, don’t, don’t dislike this old official for being too old.”
Lin Yuan smiled and said, “When you followed me in this life, you were not young either, you were as old as pickled vegetables.”
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Song Shizhao looked at Lin Yuan’s face, gazing deeply as if he wanted to engrave this face into his own soul, so that he would be able to remember it in the next life.
Lin Yuan said softly, “Mister, be at ease.”
Song Shizhao’s hand, which was held in Lin Yuan’s own hand, twitched and he said, “Your Majesty, this old official shall go ahead first…..”
TN: bawled my eyes out at this chapter. Seriously, if Song Shizhao was 20-30 years younger I would have shipped him with Lin Yuan (sry Chen Baisong >.<)
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