Collapse of Heaven
The army set up a temporary camp in Bin City. The most important matter was to acclimatize to Qian Zhou’s weather.
The citizens were never too against Da Shun’s soldiers. After Feng Yu Heng’s discourse, the citizens of Bin City were very welcoming of Da Shun’s soldiers. They could occasionally bring some hunted animals over to Feng Yu Heng’s side. There were also some that wished to join Feng Yu Heng to learn more about medicine.
Xuan Tian Ming formed a small group with Qian Li as its leader. They were to head toward the second city to the North in order to observe the temperature but without engaging in any battles.
Like this, the army remained in Bin City for ten days.
Feng Yu Heng woke up early on that day. She had made an arrangement with Xuan Tian Ming. They would be visiting the city lord of Bin City that they had put on ice for ten days.
Because Xuan Tian Ming favored winning over Qian Zhou with words rather than force, aside from spending the first day at the city lord’s manor when that scene had unfolded first, the other days were spent in the posthouse. Apparently, that posthouse was used by the officials of Qian Zhou that visited. There were specific people that looked after that posthouse, and it was a bit like an inn. As for the city lord’s manor, it was left to be inhabited by the city lord of Bin City, Wu Jun Xian, and his family.
When Xuan Tian Ming’s group arrived, city lord Wu had already come out to receive them. The womenfolk of the family were also kneeling in the courtyard, all of them with their heads lowered with fear and trepidation.
“This subordinate official, the city lord of Bin City, Wu Jun Xian, greets your Highness the ninth prince.” The city lord bowed deeply in the same way as when the army had marched in on the first day, very respectfully.
Xuan Tian Ming nodded, gesturing for Bai Ze to help him up. Only then did he say: “There is no need for you to refer to yourself as this subordinate official. Qian Zhou still does not belong to Da Shun, and you are still one of Qian Zhou’s officials.”
City lord Wu trembled and repeatedly shook his head: “With the city being breached, Bin City already belongs to Da Shun.”
Hearing him say this, Xuan Tian Ming did not continue hold back. He just stepped straight into the city lord’s manor.
Feng Yu Heng and Bai Ze followed behind him. When passing through the yard, they deliberately took a look at the woman kneeling furthest forward. That person had a bit of a heavier build and was wearing a peony-colored winter coat and a fox fur scarf. With her eyes occasionally taking a couple glances in their direction, it was not hard to see the rude thoughts that she had. This caused her to resemble Chen shi.
City lord Wu was also a little on the heavier side. His large belly was visible, but his face looked to be far more decent. At this time, he was kneeling on the stone floor of the hall while facing Xuan Tian Ming. He kept his head lowered and did not speak.
A city lord that had lost his city would normally be killed.
Feng Yu Heng had entered a little slower. Upon passing through the doorway, she immediately said: “I am calling the women in the courtyard to return to the inner courtyard. It’s a cold day and continuing to kneel there isn’t proper.”
City lord Wu’s body visibly trembled. He quickly turned around and kowtowed to Feng Yu Heng, saying gratefully: “Many thanks, imperial daughter for the sympathy.”
Feng Yu Heng laughed and said, “There’s no need to thank me. This is all his Highness’ intention. This is a strategic offensive. It’s not a slaughter. There’s no need for the citizens and women to suffer.”
While she spoke, she walked over to Xuan Tian Ming’s side and sat down. A faint smile lingered on her face, but she no longer spoke.
City lord Wu took a look at Feng Yu Heng and sighed internally. They were all women, yet there were some that dressed richly and acted arrogantly and others that were more subdued and refined. She was also able to save people while going onto the battlefield to kill enemies. This sort of girl was only suitable for Da Shun’s ninth prince.
Xuan Tian Ming, however, did not know what he was thinking. He just evaluated him and said: “Get up to speak. This place is not a court, and you are not a criminal on trial. The reason that this prince has not come to see you over the past few days is that the army has been busy. Second, it’s also to allow you to see how the situation would be with Da Shun taking care of Bin City.”
City Lord Wu was startled and did not dare stand; however, he asked: “Your Highness, there was a rumor that has spread among the citizens. They said that after Da Shun has taken over Bin City, you will bring them to live in a warm place?” He looked at Xuan Tian Ming, a look of expectation filling his eyes.
Xuan Tian Ming nodded, “There was indeed this sort of discussion, but it’s not something that can be realized in just a year or two.”
City lord Wu let out a long sigh, repeatedly saying: “It would be good if it’s true. Regardless of sooner or later, as long as Da Shun has these sorts of thoughts, it’s good.”
Xuan Tian Ming managed to gain a bit of an understanding, gesturing to Bai Ze: “Help the city lord up and find him a seat.”
Bai Ze quickly went forward to help him up then supported the wobbly city lord Wu over to a seat. City lord Wu still had a look of expectation on his face while looking at Xuan Tian Ming from his seat. He was waiting for him to continue speaking.
Xuan Tian Ming asked him: “City lord, do you feel that this matter is important? Do you know what it would mean for Bin City’s people to enter Da Shun?”
City lord Wu immediately nodded his head: “This subordinate official understands. It’s impossible for Da Shun to set up an independent city for us, and the people of Bin City will end up being separated and settled in different cities. This would end up meaning that a city lord has no use.” He laughed in a straightforward manner, “It’s fine. Whether or not I am the city lord does not matter. What does matter is that the citizens are able to have a warm and safe place to live without needing to worry about dying every day. Moreover…” He paused for a moment, his expression becoming heavy, “Moreover, even if Da Shun did not fight its way in, this Bin City might not have had many more days of peace.”
“Oh?” Xuan Tian Ming and Feng Yu Heng looked at each other, both seeing looks of inquiry in the others’ eyes. He asked the city lord: “Why would you say that?”
The city lord sighed heavily then looked at the door. Seeing that there were no suspicious people present, he finally said with a solemn expression: “Your Highness does not know this, but Qian Zhou has gotten colder over the past ten years. Not to speak of the parts even further North, but even the first city after the Northern Pass, Bin City, there have been some cases of people freezing to death that have appeared over the past few years. Normally speaking, people raised in the North are very accustomed to this sort of weather. Aside from those that fall ill, they will not freeze to death, but over these few years, more and more are dying from the cold. When this official went to the capital last year to report, I heard that aside from the wolf horses bred by the imperial family, the cities further North could no longer keep their horses alive. Even people are freezing to death in a single night. Also…” His expression became even more solemn, “Also, the annual beginning of year report was canceled by the court. This subordinate official had traveled three cities North before being informed to return.”
“The reporting was canceled?” Xuan Tian Ming furrowed his brow tightly. He always felt that something had happened to the imperial family of Qian Zhou or in Qian Zhou’s capital, but what exactly could that be? He and Feng Yu Heng had once guessed at it; however, they could not figure out the essentials. Now, it seemed that they could get some sort of answer from the city lord.
This Wu Jun Xian was also willing to go for broke. He was hoping desperately to try and escape from Qian Zhou. He wanted to have Xuan Tian Ming save the citizens of Bin City, and he revealed everything about Qian Zhou without holding anything back. He did not wait for the other side to ask before saying: “The court’s intention was that Da Shun would be sending its soldiers over this year in an offensive, and we had to do our best to hold out. But as this subordinate official sees it, it’s not just because of this. This battle is not even 30 percent of the reason. The reason that the officials from the outer provinces have been turned back is that something big happened in the capital!”
He took a deep breath: “Not to hide anything, but this speculation is something that this subordinate official has wondered for a long time; however, I never dared to say it, nor did I know who to say it to. Regardless of whether or not what I said was accurate, it would always cause panic in the hearts of the public. But today is different. Your Highness and imperial daughter have come to the city, and Bin City belongs to Da Shun. The citizens can be brought to Da Shun to live, and this subordinate official can finally release this burden on my heart.” He looked at Xuan Tian Ming and finally said: “This subordinate official feels that a heavenly collapse will occur in the capital.”
“Heavenly collapse?” Feng Yu Heng was startled, “What do you mean by heavenly collapse?”
City lord Wu told her: “Qian Zhou is built on a foundation of ice and snow. The so-called heavenly collapse is really just an avalanche. It does not mean that an avalanche has already occurred in the capital. It just means that more and more people from the North are running in our direction. They said that it was too cold. It was so cold that as long as people went outside, they would end up freezing. Among these people that are escaping, there are also some from Qian Zhou’s imperial family. They are all running away. That means that the North is about to be lost. Everyone knows that the snow and ice are Qian Zhou’s heavens. Once the heavens collapse, Qian Zhou will cease to exist.”
City lord Wu’s words finally resolved some doubt that had lingered in Xuan Tian Ming and Feng Yu Heng’s hearts. They finally understood why Qian Zhou’s imperial family was desperately digging for that dragon vein and why they were so desperate to begin fighting with Da Shun without worrying about the end result. They had already burned the bridges that they had crossed!
City lord Wu’s words continued, as he said: “This subordinate official will not ask for anything else. I just beg your Highness to provide Bin City’s citizens with a way out. Provide them with a warm place to live and avoid this immense crisis in Qian Zhou. All of the money in the city has already been taken by the court. Da Shun launching an offensive is actually a good thing for us.”
Xuan Tian Ming stood up with a solemn expression. If Qian Zhou really met with a heavenly disaster, their plans would need to be changed. At the very least, if they could not go North and charge into the capital, they would not need to consider changing the dynasty to have Feng Yu Heng take over this territory.
This place was dangerous. He could not put this girl in any sort of dangerous situation.
City lord Wu personally escorted the two out of the hall toward the front yard. His request was that Xuan Tian Ming help relocate the citizens of Bin City. Feng Yu Heng looked around and saw the woman wearing the fox-fur scarf standing on a small path to the inner courtyard. She was stomping her feet and had a look of disappointment on her face.
She felt that it was entertaining and wanted to stop and ask a few things. At this time, she saw a group of carriages stopped in the entrance. It had a mighty appearance and looked to have a strong backing.
City lord Wu’s expression immediately became ugly upon seeing the carriage. He stopped sending them out and frankly said to Xuan Tian ming: “Your Highness, how about going to the guest hall to sit for a while. This subordinate official will send someone to prepare wine and food. We should provide your Highness and imperial daughter with a welcoming dinner.”
Xuan Tian Ming smiled and exposed the matter: “Is the person outside someone that does not wish to see this prince? What sort of holy person is it?”
City lord Wu had an embarrassed expression, “It’s not anyone holy, it’s just…”
Just as he was feeling tangled about how he should introduce them, it was at this time that the curtain of the carriage was lifted by a servant, and a woman wearing a large red dress walked out. Wearing a phoenix crown on her head and a thick layer of makeup on her face, she had her chin raised in a very proud look.
As for the servant that had helped her out of the carriage, she gritted her teeth and shouted: “Princess Lian has returned to the manor!”
Feng Yu Heng nearly choked on some saliva…