"Chen Tianchi, do you need Zhen to bestow a marriage?"
Editor(s): juurensha, namio
Chen Xing quickly said, "It is our duty to eliminate Fu Jian's drought fiend army. It has nothing to do with the Hu-Han conflict; it's something that we must do."
"No, no, no," Pu Yang hurriedly spoke. "Whether this drought fiend army is really that powerful, nobody is quite sure yet. Chen-xiansheng was invited to come here because His Majesty wants to ask about…"
Chen Xing: "?"
Xiang Shu frowned.
Pu Yang's expression turned very awkward. Sima Yao made up his mind and said, "Let Zhen finish it. Chen-xiansheng, Zhen wishes to consult with you. Since you are all exorcists, is there a way to…"
"...take Fu Jian's head from a thousand li away?"
Sima Yao earnestly answered, "Zhen can provide everyone with bodhimandas to perform magic. Zhen has heard that exorcists can move unobstructed through both the sky and on land, and are omnipotent. Since it's like that, use a flying sword, activate it from Jiankang, and shoot it towards Chang'an, then bring back Fu Jian's head and use it to establish prestige. This way, the army will collapse by itself…"
Chen Xing: "Your Majesty, you…"
Xiang Shu took a deep breath; he was likely trying not to laugh. After analyzing things for such a long time, in the end, this illogical suggestion was what had come out. It was really breaking the cognition of everybody on the scene.
Sima Yao said, "Pu Yang-xiansheng has also told Zhen that a thousand years ago, the exorcists…"
Chen Xing said in sincerity, "Your Majesty, it really can't be done. This is truly impossible."
"Oh," Sima Yao got his confirmation, and he answered with a hint of disappointment.
After a long moment of awkwardness, Pu Yang consoled, "This subject has said it before, Your Majesty, so you just… Think of some other way?"
Sima Yao still wasn't willing to give up. "Well, Zhen doesn't need a human head then. Does Chen-xiansheng have any spells that can make Fu Jian die all of the sudden in one night?"
"Not at the moment," Chen Xing said. "Think, Your Majesty, if there were such a spell, wouldn't the world turn upside down?"
Sima Yao said, "A few days ago, a great master came from Jiaozhou and told Zhen that as long as Zhen's heart was sincere and prayed to heaven every day, heaven would make Fu Jian die a sudden death…"
Chen Xing said, "Oh yes, actually, I think Fu Jian might also have some experts by his side. If he wishes to use magic on Your Majesty, Your Majesty… well, that will save him some trouble; if he knew it would work, why didn't he do it? But Your Majesty, you're still alive and well right now, no?"
Sima Yao sighed and said, "Zhen has almost gone bald out of worry. Chen-xiansheng! For the past three months, Zhen has been waiting patiently for you to awaken exactly because of this matter. Yet in the end, you're saying it's impossible?"
Saying so, Sima Yao smoothed out his own hair, letting Chen Xing and the others see his hairline before speaking again, "See? Zhen can't sleep at peace every night and can't eat during the day…"
Chen Xing said, "Actually, I really need to write out a calming dedoction for Your Majesty to drink."
Sima Yao's face was grim as he said, "Zhen wants to ask once again, if you can't make Fu Jian die a sudden death, that… can you make Zhen's hair grow back?"
Chen Xing: "I can't… but I can write a prescription for Your Majesty. But I suggest Your Majesty also don't eat too much fleeceflower root, it's toxic."
Sima Yao: "..."
"That's it!" Chen Xing had finally said what Sima Yao had been thinking in his heart. "I can't do anything except to wait for it to grow, what?"
Sima Yao had to drop the subject.
Chen Xing said, "The situation in Luoyang…"
Sima Yao said, "Chen-xiansheng, there's no need to worry about Luoyang. The so-called drought fiend army, whether they're good or bad for us, it's still difficult to tell. Zhen and the court officials have seen those living dead, and they don't listen to orders at all. If Fu Jian wants to bring those living dead into his army, Zhen feels that it would instead cause trouble for him first."
Chen Xing frowned. "How could you say that? Your Majesty, in case the drought fiend army goes out of control, all living people will be dead! We've spared no effort controlling this drought fiend chaos. If the problem spreads, and Fu Jian somehow manages to control those living dead and put them into his ranks, do you think the Jin army would be able to withstand them?"
Sima Yao said, "Chen-xiansheng, Zhen knows that no matter if they're Hu or Han, they're all people in your eyes, and there's no difference between them. But, you also have to understand Zhen. The Han people of Jiangnan are all Zhen's people. Zhen must protect them from being trampled on by the Qin."
Chen Xing said, "So, Your Majesty is unwilling to help us sneak into Luoyang, am I right?"
Chen Xing's goal in meeting with the emperor this time was to persuade Sima Yao to send a delegation and have them hide among the group, then go to Luoyang and investigate the matter of Dinghai Pearl. Unexpectedly, there was such big news. Looking at the result of discussion with Sima Yao and his ministers, it was clear that they would balk at the enemy's plans first, then prevent the junction of the enemy's forces, and only engage them at war in the end. "Don't fight unless you have to," he also could understand this point, after all, Jiangnan was still recovering from the event of the Disaster of Yongjia a hundred years ago. The common people were unwilling to start a war and had a tacit agreement about the ways the government was split into the North and the South factions.
So, in Sima Yao's plan, the most important things were: drive a wedge between the Murongs and Fu Jian, sow discord inside the Qin court, and split up the Five Hus from within, making them fight one another so they didn't have time to march south. If possible, maybe they could even let the scouts release the drought fiends in order to cause more chaos for the Qin.
Maybe Sima Yao had tried sending his spies to open the military camp before, but it failed.
Sima Yao said, "It's hard to say, Chen-xiansheng…"
Chen Xing said, "Your Majesty, look at the four characters at the top of your head."
Sima Yao smiled but didn't look up. Xiang Shu followed Chen Xing's gaze and saw that four characters written by Wang Dao were hung above the Nymph of the Luo River's painting.
"The country still remains."
Wang Dao was an official who had done a great service during the Southern Crossing and had also been the head of the prominent family that gave birth to the phrase "the Wangs and the Mas share the world" after the Disaster of Yongjia. Though he had been dead for 42 years, his writings still served as a reminder to the Sima family.
"Every year, every month, every day," Sima Yao said, "there's always someone who reminds Zhen of it. There's no need for Chen-xiansheng to spend another try."
"The people of the Central Plains, no matter Hu or Han, are also your people," Chen Xing said. "If the old hatred between the two countries makes Your Majesty sit back and watch innocents die in this drought fiend chaos, on the day Your Majesty restores the homeland, wouldn't Your Majesty be restless upon thinking of all the departed souls of the Central Plains under the dragon throne?"
Chen Xing had said this in a very serious manner, but Sima Yao just smiled. "You really are a great scholar; you managed to shut the mouths of those prominent families' younger generations during the light intellectual conversation, your reputation doesn't lie. But, Chen-xiansheng, even if Zhen wants to treat the Hus as Zhen's people, the Han people in Jiangnan, would they do the same?"
Xiang Shu carelessly said, "So you all just made a ruckus, failed to recapture the Central Plains, and now have become fish on the table."
Sima Yao said, "The Great Chanyu is exaggerating. I've actually thought about this question more than once. If during my lifetime I got away only through sheer luck, how could I face you outsiders?"
Xiang Shu looked at Sima Yao, but there was no trace of anger in it at all, just because his identity was now different. Previously, when he was still the Great Chanyu, every time he heard about the dispute between two races, even if he didn't start teaching them a lesson, in no way would he let them have an easy time.
"According to what Zhen has seen so far," Sima Yao said, "the place where people come from is the place they will return to. Your clansmen will still return to you, because the Great Wall is their boundary. Let's stop talking about this. The road ahead is full of hardships, and Zhen still doesn't know what path to choose in the future…"
Saying so, he turned around and said to Chen Xing, "Zhen understands what Chen-xiansheng means, and Zhen will seriously take it into consideration. You want to go to Luoyang and need Zhen's help to do so, but Zhen is also having his own difficulties. However, considering the exorcists' feat in pacifying the chaos in Kuaiji, Zhen will try his best to assist and show you my Great Jin's sincerity. After all, Zhen and Fu Jian are not the same; we take care of our own people. Chen-xiansheng, as long as you have a chance, Zhen wishes you to also remember your own people."
With that, Sima Yao spoke once again, "If the information Zhen has received is to be believed, the Great Chanyu is half Han like us?"
Xiang Shu didn't reply. Chen Xing knew that at this point, it was equivalent to everyone spreading the news out, so he just said, "Maybe we will still have a chance to carefully talk about the matter of Hu and Han after we've pacified the drought fiend problem, but for now, we really shouldn't dwell on ethnic differences."
"Yes, what Chen-xiansheng said is very true, indeed, very great." Sima Yao nodded, and Chen Xing knew that this meant he was sending them off. However, just as he was about to ask to withdraw, that diviner named Pu Yang said, "Chen-xiansheng, please stay for a moment. This humble one has one thing I want to confirm with Chen-xiansheng."
Chen Xing raised his eyebrows. Pu Yang hesitated for a while before asking, "Can Xiansheng divine one's fate?"
"A little bit," Chen Xing said, "I've learned to look at the natal chart, why?"
Pu Yang said, "Could Chen-xiansheng please read about His Majesty's personal fortune and the country's fate?"
"This is actually possible ba?" Sima Yao smiled as he said so.
Chen Xing observed Pu Yang's expression; it indeed looked like he had asked on behalf of himself, so Chen Xing just replied, "Yes, but about His Majesty's birthdate characters and birth star… it's really not good to reveal it to people on your own accord, is it?"
Chen Xing actually didn't want to have anything to do with this thing. A moment ago they were just talking about how to make people die a sudden death, so if the emperor gave him his birthdate and some unexpected accident happened one day, wouldn't he be looking for trouble for himself?
"There's no harm." Pu Yang fetched a yellow paper and said, "I've prepared it. I only want to show Chen-xiansheng some part of it."
Chen Xing thought in his heart, You've prepared it, so why did you tell me it belonged to His Majesty? If you had casually just said a person, I also wouldn't have suspected a thing, so why did you mention the monarch of the country's life, Sima Yao's personal fortune, and also the country's fate? Thinking that, he took the paper and looked at it.
Seeing that the paper was just a part of the natal chart, Chen Xing just looked at it and could barely hide the shock in his eyes.
Pu Yang said, "I've looked at it once, three years ago. But this humble one has little talent and shallow understanding. Now that I've met an expert, I wish to ask for a bit of advice or two, so I can feel at ease."
"Oh…" Chen Xing looked up from the paper, exchanged a meaningful glance with Pu Yang, and all of a sudden, he understood.
According to what was shown in the natal chart on the yellow paper, Sima Yao wouldn't live beyond the age of 40. He would die an unnatural death because of his own arrogance in his 30s. From what this partial natal chart revealed, Sima Yao would be able to live for around a decade to come, but he also could only live for around a decade more.
"With all due respect, Your Majesty, this year, you're…" Chen Xing asked.
Sima Yao was two years younger than Xiang Shu and just turned 20. He smiled and replied, "Just in time for the coming-of-age ceremony."
Chen Xing thought that Pu Yang must've not told Sima Yao about this matter yet. Probably, when he had first looked at the natal chart, Pu Yang had also been in quite a shock, and so, to confirm the truth, he gave it to Chen Xing. Then, in order to prevent Chen Xing from bluntly speaking once he had looked at the natal chart, he informed him in advance that this was Sima Yao's fate so he wouldn't say it out loud.
"Your Majesty… be careful, don't be too arrogant and willful," Chen Xing replied after he had finished looking. "Although it is not appropriate for me to say this, but as long as Your Majesty acts magnanimously, in this life, there won't be too much disaster."
Sima Yao smiled at Pu Yang and said, "It's actually the same as what the State Teacher has told Zhen."
Pu Yang nodded, and from the words, he deducted that Chen Xing had also seen what he had seen, and he said nothing more. Chen Xing asked to withdraw, but Feng Qianjun said, "If this commoner may be so bold, this commoner wishes to ask for a favor, requesting Your Majesty to bestow a marriage."
"Oh?" Sima Yao had clearly heard about it from Xie Daoyun and asked, "That girl from the Gu family? It shall be done."
Feng Qianjun actually didn't expect for it to go this smoothly. His tone relaxed at once, and he hurriedly kowtowed and thanked Sima Yao for his kindness in bestowing a marriage. As a prominent family in Jiangnan, the Gu family had always looked down on the Feng family who had money but no ranked officials. But now, with the imperial edict, Feng Qianjun could propose marriage to the Gu family. Since the royal family still owed the Xifeng Bank 700.000 tael, they must also give him some face.
Sima Yao said to Chen Xing again, "Chen Tianchi, do you need Zhen to bestow a marriage?"
Chen Xing: "Ah?"
Sima Yao switched from calling him "Chen-xiansheng" to "Chen Tianchi," and it sounded a bit more intimate. He laughed again and said, "If you're willing to consider Zhen's proposal carefully, Zhen can actually consider recognizing you as my blood brother. After that, the Prince of my Great Jin should be on an equal footing with the Great Chanyu…"
When he heard this, Chen Xing immediately thought of Fu Jian and couldn't help but say, "Why on earth do you all like to arrange marriages for me so much? This is already the second time an emperor wants to act as my matchmaker!"
Xiang Shu still didn't understand at first; he just gave a blank stare —— and then his expression morphed into something extremely strange. Sima Yao burst into laughter. Chen Xing always didn't treat Sima Yao the same as how he treated Fu Jian, and so, he seriously said, "I'm going back. Study well about the idea of taking Fu Jian's head from a thousand li away. Your Majesty, asking permission to withdraw!"
On equal footing with the Great Chanyu, huh?
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