Chapter 154 – Poisonous Scorpion
Original and most updated translations are from volare. Please don’t read elsewhere and stop supporting theft.
The precarious situation at the empire’s borders had pressured everyone in the hall into a heavy silence. The emperor, in particular, was the one who felt that pressure the most. His expression was overcast in gloom as he hammered his fists on his table while caught in deep pondering. Then, he looked at the people present in the hall before bursting out in anger, “It has been five years since the end of our war with Qujiang, but in recent years, they’ve been restless. They still aren’t content with what they have and have sent soldiers to invade our territories and harass our borders! Do they even put our Great Lin in their eyes?!” His fist loudly pounded the table.
While no one spoke, the crown prince, Jing Hua, took two steps forward, clasped his hands per imperial etiquette before speaking with extreme confidence, “Imperial father, the war five years ago ended with Qujiang’s defeat. This is nothing but a final struggle before they expire. They are no threat to us. Imperial father, let’s send a general with a few thousand soldiers to handle the situation at the borders. We just need to behead some of their generals and a few soldiers to set an example. As they retreat, we press forward and eradicate Qujiang at the same time, weeding out future troubles at its roots.”
Vicious and merciless is how he presented his speech! Then again, an idiot is an idiot! His speech, far from impressing his father, only earned him his disappointment.
Jing Yi caught the fleeting disappointment on his father’s expression. He wordlessly sneered before stepping forward in turn. “Imperial father, I admit that the crown prince’s strategy is good… However, your son thinks that Qujiang’s infringement on our borders must be an act of mature reflexion. They won’t easily be captured or halt their plan following the Crown Prince’s plan. Please consider it again.” While Jing Yi analyzed the overall situation out loud, many ministers behind the princes showed signs of approval. His explanation also caused the emperor to become pensive.
Jing Hua became annoyed and snarled at Jing Yi, “Jing Yi, no need to overthink too much on this matter. Even if Qujiang had prepared themselves, our Great Lin has prevailed once and will prevail again. Are we going to wait until we lose our border before sending the army? It will be too late at that time!”
“This isn’t my meaning.”
“Then what are you trying to say?” asked Jing Hua.
Jing Yi glanced coldly at his brother before shifting his eyes to his father. “Imperial father, I want us to be prepared for the unexpected. We currently have 80,000 soldiers defending our borders whereas Qujiang only sent an army of 30,000 to harass us. This disparity is clearly suspicious. Thus, we must first assess the overall situation before sending any reinforcements to attack.”
The emperor hummed thoughtfully. His sharp eyes shone reflecting everything like two bright mirrors.
One side was his favorite son, the other side was Jing Yi. As expected, amongst all his sons, only Jing Yi resembled him the most with his good temper and decisiveness!
“This Son thinks that by understanding the key point of their intentions, we can grasp their plan.” Jing Yi continued to explain.
However, Jing Hua didn’t share the same thoughts. He hastily argued, “Jing Yi, Qujiang’s 30,000 army is not enough to constitute a threat to us. We have enough soldiers to suppress them as long as the order to dispatch reinforcements is sent. This is simply laughable to even think that this situation is suspicious.”
“I know crown prince is anxious, but we have to look at the bigger picture for our empire. For the good of our empire, shouldn’t any matters be treated with the utmost caution and be thoroughly considered before reaching for a decision?”
“You want to think everything through thoroughly? Qujiang is but a tiny country. Our empire has strong soldiers and sturdy horses; Whereas, they only have a measly 30,000 soldiers. Even if there is something suspicious about it, do they even have the ability to overthrow our strength?”
Jing Hua turned to the emperor without waiting for Jing Yi to defend his point, “Imperial father, this Son thinks that we should immediately dispatch an armed force to sweep through them, eliminating the troubles before it brews bigger.”
The crown prince and the second prince firmly hold onto their opinions, reaching a deadlock in this battle of arguments.
It wasn’t the first time they disagreed with each other. Since ancient times, princes of each generation all have a different personality which strongly clashed with each other.
“What Jing Yi said is reasonable. It’s illogical for Qujiang to start stirring things now without any reason after five years of calm. But the crown prince’s arguments also hold true.” The emperor was deeply torn, but then, his gaze shifted to the taciturn and silent Jing Rong. “What do you think about this situation?”
Jing Rong didn’t even flinch from his father’s question since he was already warned by Ji Yunshu earlier inside the carriage. Under the hostile stares of Jing Yi and Jing Hua, each harboring an ulterior motive, Jing Rong remained firm. He raised his eyes and stated, “This Son agrees with Jing Yi’s words. A deeper scheme hides under their blatant invasion.”
‘Eh?’ Jing Yi was surprised as he never expected his brother to stand on his side.
“Hmm… Tell me your intake on this.” asked the emperor.
Jing Rong replied, “If Qujiang truly intends to start a war with our Great Lin, they won’t send 30,000 soldiers as the vanguard. Besides, they are merely harassing our army at the borders and didn’t start any massacre. Although they are wantonly plundering in our territories, our people didn’t suffer many casualties. From this, we can suppose that Qujiang’s target is not to start a war with us.”
“Five years ago, the war between us and Qujiang has brought misery to the common people with mountains of dead. I believe that imperial father doesn’t want to see such a heart-wrenching scene again. If I didn’t guess wrong, the King of Qujiang is also unwilling to see it again. Therefore, he only dispatched an army of 30,000 soldiers. However…” Jing Rong paused before continuing, “That vanguard is enough to harass our 80,000 soldiers at the borders. For such a feat, the person leading them is absolutely far from ordinary.”
History has always proven that the victory or defeat of a military campaign depends heavily on the ability of their general. ‘This time, I wonder who is the leading general that Qujiang appointed?’ Jing Rong’s analysis of the border situation was accurate and detailed.
The emperor became curious and gestured at him to stop his explanation, “Whoever their general is, do you have a good countermeasure against them? We need to settle this issue.”
Jing Rong stepped forward and replied, “Since the other side doesn’t want to start a frontal confrontation, there’s no reason for us to send reinforcements. What’s clear is to use a roundabout but efficient method to resolve this and I only have one method – a pourparler. By doing so, Imperial Father can demand to meet them and invite the general who led the 30,000 soldiers into the palace. Then, we find out his real intentions at that time. It won’t be too late to settle the issue if both sides can reach an agreement. That way, the common people would not be plunged into the dreadful fire of war once again. I believe this is also the reason why the King of Qujiang has delayed starting a full-blown war with us.”
As soon as Jing Rong was done, Jing Yi immediately stepped in, “Imperial father, this Son and Jing Rong are of the same opinion. We feel that Qujiang provoked us this time for a reason. As Jing Rong said, pourparler is a good plan which I also thought of. It would be better if we summon that Qujiang General to our palace. There are two benefits by doing so, first, we can see who is the general behind such schemes, and second, we can find out Qujiang’s true intention and a remedy to it before a war starts.”
This move of Jing Yi suspiciously reeked of an attempt to seize merit.
On the side, Jing Hua’s expression was very ugly. ‘Since when did these two have that much of tacit understanding?’
Qi Zhen Emperor thought for a moment before questioning the ministers in the hall, “What do you think?”
The ministers looked at each other before looking at Lord Liu, a minister from the Ministry of War, stepped forward and spoke after saluting the emperor, “This minister feels that Prince Rong and Prince Yi are correct.” At this moment, all the ministers understood very clearly that the crown prince was facing Jing Rong and Jing Yi alone. Thus, it was better if they sided with the stronger side instead of supporting the crown prince.
The emperor pondered again before he determined the plan to follow. “Since most of you agree, we will send a decree to summon Qujiang General and must treat him courteously as a guest.”
“Yes, your Majesty!”
Tired, the emperor rested his elbow on the table while massaging his temple. With his other hand, he waved to everyone, signaling the end of this meeting. After everyone retreated, calm reinstated inside the hall. The emperor couldn’t stop the worry and vigilance gnawing at his heart. The way that Jing Rong acted earlier had reminded him of someone.
That person was… intelligent, yet hid himself very deeply; sharp but remained collect and unperturbed. That kind of person was akin to a scorpion, seemingly barely menacing but when stung by it, death will come fast.