Prepare a Dowry for Your Daughter-in-Law
Zhang Yuan could understand the hidden meaning. Tugging at the Emperor’s sleeve, he quietly said: “His Highness may mean that he wants Qian Zhou?”
The Emperor smirked: “That is someone else’s country! Although it is Da Shun’s vassal state, I cannot make that final decision!”
Zhang Yuan pulled on his sleeve once more: “Just take it over and you can.”
“Scram!” The Emperor angrily raised his foot and kicked Zhang Yuan, “Get away from me!”
Zhang Yuan looked at the Emperor then took a couple steps back, not moving very far.
Feng Yu Heng pushed Xuan Tian Ming’s wheelchair forward slightly, and Xuan Tian Ming began to brainwash the Emperor: “I know that you are older now and are no longer as passionate as when you were in your youth. But just because you can’t do it anymore, don’t you still have us? Our Xuan family has its roots in fighting wars. We must continue to expand our roots.”
The Emperor could understand the hidden meaning of Xuan Tian Ming’s words. He had become interested in Qian Zhou’s matter. He suddenly recalled the moderately sized fire that had been started in the Xiang Palace not too long ago. A hidden guard that had been keeping watch over the Xiang Palace had come to report that before the fire broke out, eldest princess Kang Yi had secretly entered the Xiang Palace while wrapped up tightly. After that, county princess Ji An also stealthily entered the Xiang Palace. Even later, Prince Chun also entered. At that time, he felt that there was something odd about this. Unfortunately, his hidden guard was unable to tell what exactly had happened. The hidden guard was also unable to find out because nobody could enter Xuan Tian Ye’s secret room. Could it be…
The Emperor slightly squinted his eyes and looked at Feng Yu Heng. This girl had whipped Xuan Tian Ye because he had harmed her mother. Now, however, the matter of Qian Zhou had been brought up. Could it be that this girl had heard something on that night?
The Emperor’s direct gaze entered Feng Yu Heng’s eyes. She knew that Xuan Tian Ming suddenly and clearly expressing his desire to eradicate Qian Zhou would lead to the Emperor having doubts. That was, in the end, still a country. If they did not provide a good reason, Da Shun suddenly dispatching troops would be unreasonable.
She helped Xuan Tian Ming’s hand and said: “At this point, I will not hide it from father Emperor.” She turned to look at the Emperor, “At the time that his Highness Prince Yu was injured, does father Emperor know who did it?”
The Emperor was startled. He did not think that Feng Yu Heng would suddenly mention this. Xuan Tian Ming’s injury had always been the most painful thing for him. At the beginning, he had promised his beloved imperial concubine Yun that he would protect this son, but who knew that he would become so severely injured. At the very beginning, he thought that a man should be bold and valiant. Leading soldiers out to fight and ending up injured was a helpless matter, but it was still a matter of great glory. But after that, as time went on, he felt more and more that something was off. There were not many casualties or fatalities among the soldiers, but their lead general had been injured to this degree. What sort of logic was that?
The Emperor had once sent people to investigate, but they could only find that Xuan Tian Ming had been surrounded in the mountains of the Northwest. He had been injured by an arrow, but they could not find any further clues.
Now that Feng Yu Heng brought this up once more, he could not help but feel gloomy: “What exactly did you find out? Could it be… that this matter is related to Qian Zhou?”
Feng Yu Heng nodded, “Daughter-in-law once heard his Highness the third prince talking with eldest princess Kang Yi. The group responsible for attacking his Highness Prince Yu was the divine archery squad from Qian Zhou. Their information came from informants planted inside the Northwestern Army by his Highness the third prince. Also, the divine archery squad entered Da Shun using Feng Jin Yuan’s relations.”
The Emperor slightly closed his eyes. This sort of chain of events was something that he had expected, but he had never found any proof. Now that Feng Yu Heng had said it, there was proof.
Xuan Tian Ming asked him: “Say, should Qian Zhou be eradicated?”
The Emperor nodded, “It should. To harm my Ming’er, even if the entirety of Qian Zhou is exterminated, it would not be enough to quell the anger in my heart.”
Xuan Tian Ming laughed, “What is the point of exterminating a country! If they’re all exterminated, who would be left to be ruled?”
Feng Yu Heng smirked, “It should be said, if they’re exterminated, who will we collect taxes from?”
The Emperor facepalmed: “You two have even begun thinking of things like collecting taxes?”
The two nodded in unison, “Yes.”
“Then after that?” The Emperor became intrigued. Zhang Yuan was also intrigued, skirting forward to listen.
Feng Yu Heng said: “This is a slow process, but daughter-in-law was thinking of doing this. First, steel needs to be produced. Only after we have weapons do we truly have a foundation for power. Otherwise, if we only rely on numbers and tactics to fight, it feels a bit too much like bullying. It seems too detrimental to a large country.”
Zhang Yuan was unable to hold back and interjected: “Don’t all large countries do things like this?”
Xuan Tian Ming very shamelessly said: “Then we will act differently from other large countries.”
The Emperor was even more shameless: “Ming’er is right!”
Feng Yu Heng felt that this father and son pair was very similar, thus she continued: “After the weapons have been produced, there is no need for us to rush to take action. We can take care of the enemies from within. Cause a great deal of trouble for them from within. When Qian Zhou is on the verge of collapse, we can intervene in the name of saving the citizens of Qian Zhou from extreme misery… no, that’s not right. From extreme suffering.”1
Xuan Tian Ming nodded, “The walls of cities in Qian Zhou are all made using ice as their foundation. If we do not start from the inside, attacking would be very difficult.”
The Emperor became interested: “Then do you have the ability to deal with their divine archery squad?”
Xuan Tian Ming pointed at Feng Yu Heng and said: “Your daughter-in-law has trained a Divine Intent Army. If given more time, it will definitely be much better than Qian Zhou’s divine archery squad!”
“Good!” The Emperor suddenly slammed the table, scaring Zhang Yuan. “Then let’s just do it as you’ve said! But…” He was a little puzzled, “Didn’t you say that you wanted reparations? How is it that you not only did not ask for reparations, you are thinking of gaining territory for Da Shun?”
Xuan Tian Ming coldly snorted, “Gain territory for Da Shun? You sure are optimistic.”
The Emperor became furious: “How are you speaking?”
Feng Yu Heng was helpless, patting Xuan Tian Ming, “Speak properly with father Emperor.”
Xuan Tian Ming organized his thoughts for a while then said: “Put properly, Qian Zhou as a territory will not be given to Da Shun. It will be given to Heng Heng.”
For a while, the Emperor could not react. He had misunderstood, “Give my daughter-in-law a country? Hah, is that not the same thing? Ming’er, the country will belong to you sooner or later.”
“I know.” Xuan Tian Ming rolled his eyes, “Let’s not talk about whether or not I want your country, let’s just first talk about our Heng Heng. As her father Emperor, how can you not provide her with a bit of a dowry? Also, that will be paid for you!”
Zhang Yuan immediately understood, “Your Highness’ meaning is after Qian Zhou is acquired… it will be given to county princess?”
The Emperor was dazed from hearing this. How could things be done like this? He glared at Xuan Tian Ming. Brat, if you want to dote on a girl, don’t do it like this! He then glared at Feng Yu Heng. What sort of bewitching drug did she feed his son?
Xuan Tian Ming understood his father too well. Upon seeing this look, he immediately knew that his old man was unhappy. That was also true. It was a perfectly fine vassal state. Just giving it away for nothing was quite unreasonable. But he had his own reasoning: “In truth, for Da Shun, Qian Zhou will have just changed its ruler. Also, this new ruler is more stable than the previous ruler. The previous ruler put on a kind expression but schemed behind one’s back. This new ruler would be entirely aligned with Da Shun. Think about it, when you hand over the throne to me, and I marry the ruler of Qian Zhou, Feng Yu Heng, would these two countries not become one! No matter how you think about it, it would be our Da Shun that benefits.”
The Emperor’s teeth itched with anger, “Is there anyone that would be in such a rush to worry about things that would happen after their own father passes?”
“Was it not you who said that this country would become mine sooner or later!”
The Emperor had been rendered completely speechless. In truth, he understood this reasoning. Even if Qian Zhou was given to Feng Yu Heng, in the future, it would be given over as a dowry. The vassal state would become part of Da Shun. For Da Shun, it was a good thing, but… “Using Da Shun’s soldiers to fight then the land will be given to your wife? Thinking about it, it feels like a losing deal.”
“Huh?” Xuan Tian Ming became angry, “Who is doing business with you? This was originally you paying reparations. Have you forgotten?”
The Emperor was startled, as Zhang Yuan reminded him: “His Highness is right. They are reparations.”
The Emperor wanted to hit Zhang Yuan for his words. Was he a eunuch or was he here to cause trouble?
He was unreconciled. Looking at Feng Yu Heng, he asked her: “After Qian Zhou changes rulers, can you guarantee that the situation will be better than it currently is?”
Feng Yu Heng pondered a little then said: “We can write up a draft now to plan out what will happen with the yearly tribute for Da Shun. Also, Qian Zhou and Da Shun will be able to engage in trade. A place like Qian Zhou is far more undeveloped than Da Shun. There are still a large number of things to do. I trust that there will be plenty of profit left for Da Shun.”
The Emperor liked hearing these words. The three gathered together and began to investigate how they could make money from Qian Zhou in the future.
The corners of Zhang Yuan’s lips twitched from listening. They handled it as if it was the real deal. The war had not even been fought, yet you three have already begun to discuss how to split it? Is this good? Is it?
Reality proved that the three felt that things were very good. The three discussed things until it was time for the morning court session.
In the end, the Emperor slapped the table: “Let’s just set it like this! I will leave the handling of this to you. Ming’er’s Northwestern Army will be the main force. If there is a need for other armies to cooperate, We will do our best to provide support. When the day comes that the problem of Qian Zhou is handled, We will act and give it to A-Heng.”
Feng Yu Heng quickly kneeled and solemnly kowtowed to give thanks for the imperial grace.
Zhang Yuan had accompanied the Emperor through the night and did not sleep. He was already extremely sleepy, but he was still a little moved by the gesture. But he had to remind the Emperor: “Your Majesty, it is time for the court session.”
The Emperor nodded, “Alright, you two…. go to Winter Moon Palace to take a look. Don’t let your imperial concubine mother worry.”
The two agreed then retired. The Emperor watched Feng Yu Heng and Xuan Tian ming leave then quickly asked Zhang Yuan: “Say, if We go with them, will We be chased out?”
Zhang Yuan shook his head, “No.”
“Un, you won’t be chased out. You will be kicked out.”
“Scram!” The Emperor once again raised the idea of bringing in a new eunuch, waving his hand in irritation: “Start the court session! Perfect timing, We can use that old thing to vent a little!”
Zhang Yuan helped him around the table then helped him get changed into his dragon robes. When putting on the hat, he asked: “Prime minister Feng is still kneeling outside. How does your Majesty plan on dealing with him?”
The Emperor crinkled his nose, “Have him stand up to attend court!”
“Prime minister Feng has kneeled for a night. Having him attend court…”
“So what if he kneeled for a night!” The Emperor spoke in a matter of fact manner, “His daughter also kneeled for a night. Was she not quite chipper? He is the court’s prime minister, right? Can he not even compare to a young girl?”
Zhang Yuan knew that this was the Emperor being unreasonable. Thinking about what Feng Yu Heng had said earlier, he could not help but begin to hate Feng Jin Yuan. “This servant will have someone help Prime minister Feng to court. Your Majesty, do not worry.”
The Emperor nodded then briskly walked out of Heavenly Hall.
On the other side, Feng Yu Heng and Xuan Tian Ming stood in front of Winter Moon Palace’s gates. A palace maid smiled and said to the two: “Our imperial concubine slept late last night and has not woken up yet. Before sleeping, she advised this servant to tell county princess and your Highness to take a bath then sleep for a while first. Once you have woken up, imperial concubine should have woken up.”
Feng Yu Heng facepalmed. Imperial concubine Yun slept for really long periods of time! She looked at the room being pointed at by the palace maid. It was the room that she had slept in before, thus she said to Xuan Tian Ming: “Then I will listen to imperial concubine mother. I will take a bath first then sleep for a while. You should go do whatever you need to do!”
The palace maid corrected her: “His Highness rushed back from the military camp and also has not slept for a night. He will also be taking a bath then sleeping.”
“Oh.” Feng Yu Heng nodded, “Then just take him and go.”
The palace maid was puzzled, “Go where?”
“To where he will be sleeping!”
The palace maid pointed at the bedroom: “Is that not right there?”
Feng Yu Heng finally understood: “We’ll be sleeping together?”
1: The original phrase was “water and fire” then “ice and extreme cold.” Both of these mean misery/suffering.