Pei Qianxue stood outside the hall, with his both arms leisurely hung on both and fingertips motionless under his wide sleeves.
Such a behavior, to him, was considered hesitation.
In a distance, soldiers in heavy armor wild long halberds guarded around the Zhang Palace in solemn silence.
Farther away, crimson palace walls stood tall, and early plums with yellow stamens were pitched on glazed tiles.
The weather was just right and the sun was shining.
The Great Shaman Temple made some annotations this morning. It was said that this would be the last scorching sun before the first snow, which also seemed to reflect Pei Qianxue’s good mood.
Yesterday, he met his best friend that he had yearned for day and night in his mansion.
Thinking about it carefully, he felt like it was a dream.
Before that, Pei Qianxue never believed in any gods, Buddhas, or witchcraft. But after the great war at Hangu Pass, he would visit the Great Shaman Temple almost every morning. He would light an incense stick in the huge black incense burner at the entrance, and quietly watch the white smoke swirled around while listening to the shaman’s chants playing in the background.
People may really have to lose something first before they can understand what they have missed.
Just like Pei Qianxue, who had been avoiding being repressed, always covered in a layer of fog, not wanting to be seen clearly.
It wasn’t until he received the news of that person’s death that he suddenly realized that the pain was unspeakable.
However, although Zong Luo came back, some things became more and more unclear.
Why is it that in that dream, the sword Jin Yu used to kill himself was Zhanlu?
Pei Qianxue found it very strange.
Only a few people had seen Zhanlu.
It was a treasured sword brought back by Emperor Yuan from the Yue Kingdom in the early years. It was said that when the sword was formed, an anomaly descended from the sky, its light was chilling and sharp, mighty and irresistible, a legendary sword of righteousness and that whoever wielded it would win the world.
Zhanlu accompanied Emperor Yuan, who was still a prince, through nearly ten years of his military life, until that sudden change during the Sheri Festival, where it was stained with the blood of the Emperor’s relatives. After he ascended the throne, it was shelved away.
(t/n Sheri Festival, a traditional Chinese festival, also known as Land Birthday, a traditional folk festival originating from China. In Shang Dynasty and the Western Zhou, it was a carnival where lovers could date. Gradually, it became a sacrifice ritual to appease/in honour of Tudishen (God of the Soil and the Ground)
Pei Qianxue was 100% sure that Zhanlu had always been placed atop a wooden shelf inside the Zhang Palace.
How could such a sword appear in the dream and be used by Jin Yu to kill himself?
He hesitated and delayed his time informing Emperor Yuan about it.
Others may not know, but Pei Qianxue understood very well.
Back in the days, the Kingdom of Wei was the hegemon of all the nations, and it was thriving day by day. On the other hand, in Great Yuan, the previous emperor doted on his imperial concubine and youngest son, while he ignored the Emperor Yuan who had made great contributions. After the Shaman ceremony, there were rumors that he wanted to abolish the old and establish the young, thus forcing Emperor Yuan to rebel.
(t/n Abolishing the old and establishing the young refers to the practice of abolishing the inheritance rights of the eldest son and transferring the right to other sons except the eldest son in ancient hereditary feudal society.)
After Emperor Yuan successfully ascended the throne through a bloody experience, the country’s full scale reconstruction began, and after all the princes and their henchmen were eliminated, no one was left in the upper and lower court whom he could use it to.
Afterwards, the Wei’s iron cavalry oppressed the Great Yuan’s border, and as a last resort, he had no choice but to send the Third Prince to be a hostage.
The time of childbirth between the Third Prince and the Fourth Prince was only a few months apart. If he really loved the Third Prince, why send him to Wei Country to be a hostage?
Furthermore, after Jin Yu returned to Great Yuan from Wei Country, he still lived in the palace for half a year.
However, in the past six months, he never said anything to him, at least a sentence of indifference, he never did. Later, when Jin Yu asked permission to fight in the battlefield, Emperor Yuan happily let him go. Even when he selected his own soldiers and formed the Xuan Cavalry, he didn’t care.
Moreover, afterwards, when there were generals in the court going to battle, Emperor Yuan would be in high spirits and go to the city gate to see them off. The King of Beining and General Wei Shan both received this honor, only Jin Yu did not.
Originally, Pei Qianxue was appreciated by Emperor Yuan, thus he directly ascended to heaven in one step, and became the Prime Minister in commoner clothes.
At that time, there were so many people in the court who wanted to curry favor with the new prime minister, and at that time, the Fifth and Sixth Princes’ tendency to seize the crown prince position had begun to appear, and they all sent followers and advisers to lobby him in private. It’s funny to say, their words only went around and around, they all say that the Third Prince was not appreciated and valued by His Majesty, and that there was no future in following him.
Pei Qianxue was quite puzzled at that time.
To say that Jin Yu was not valued by Emperor Yuan, yet why was he the only one among so many princes who had the right to form personal soldiers, and the only one who held a military power. Even the Fifth Prince, who was also obsessed with Martial Arts, was only given the right to lead a troop in small-scale battles, and would obediently turn it in after coming back.
However, to say that he was valued by Emperor Yuan, then why did Emperor Yuan ignore him for many years, which was no more than being indifferent towards him.
That one year, when he went to war in the enemy country, the Third Prince got ambushed by the opposing army and was seriously injured. After he came back, Emperor Yuan didn’t even look at him, he merely asked if he was dead or not, and when he got the answer, he sent an Imperial physician back, and nothing more.
Even if he did this to train his future crown prince, temper his will and courage, it shouldn’t be done like this.
However, if it wasn’t for what happened that night, Pei Qianxue might not have believed it.
It turned out that for so many years, Jin Yu was the prince that Emperor Yuan cared most about, and the heir apparent in his heart.
He hesitated, not sure whether he should tell Emperor Yuan about Jin Yu’s amnesia and blindness. Yet, he was eventually provoked by the King of Beining in front of his mansion, and finally made up his mind, got in his carriage and headed towards the palace.
Pei Qianxue was recognized as the confidant of Emperor Yuan.
Although most of the time, even he couldn’t figure out what the above person was thinking, yet Pei Qianxue still knew better than others that Emperor Yuan was by no means as cruel as the person condemned in both speech and writing by the people.
There were even times when Pei Qianxue, contrary to what was expected, felt that Emperor Yuan’s brutality was just an appearance he used to maintain his prestige and ruling.
Back then, when the Rong family plotted a rebellion, it was seen as such a serious crime even to any emperor sitting on the throne, what’s more, there were witnesses and material evidence. No one could be blamed if their family up to its ninth generation was killed, all there was to say was that since they rebelled then they’re also prepared to fail.
Afterwards was Pei Qianxue’s political reform. Looking at other countries, which country’s reform was successful? Reform meant getting rid of the old ministers, and showing no mercy when safeguarding one’s own interests. What’s more, although Pei Qianxue was an official Prime Minister, he had no background in the court. Also, he stood firmly on the Third Prince who had no background as well. It was like a swaying grass amidst the raging storm, being looked down by anyone.
At this time, Emperor Yuan suddenly summoned him secretly, and said something straight to the point.
“Prime Minister Pei, the reform is imperative. Zhen will stand behind you, don’t hesitate and just do it.”
Pei Qianxue’s reform, without doubt, offended the interests of many aristocrats, but on the contrary, it gave preferential treatment to students from poor families, recruited talents widely, increased income and reduced expenditure, and truly implemented benefits for the people. If he was really a tyrant, it would have been impossible for him to support his reform, and for the decentralization of power to be so straightforward. It would also have been even more impossible to be so discerning, to go one’s own way when almost the entire court was opposed to it.