I Rely On Beauty To Stabilize The Country (Chapter 11 - onwards) - Chapter 036
- I Rely On Beauty To Stabilize The Country (Chapter 11 - onwards)
- Chapter 036 - His Majesty cheers his enemies on
These were sturdy, healthy soldiers Gu Yuanbai had raised with sufficient meals, and they were very strong and had good endurance. Naturally, it was a piece of cake for them to fish in the river and hunt game in the mountains.
Xue Yuan didn’t let them go deep into the forest. A group of soldiers caught some pheasant and hare at the foot of the mountain, and with some fish and shrimp from the water, the soldiers had a delicious meal.
Xue Yuan looked around. “That’s quite a big meal.”
The officer beside him laughed and said, “The Emperor has been feeding them well so they have a big appetite. The soldiers in the capital alone need to eat and drink this much every day!”
The officer stretched out both hands.
“The food now is good.” Xue Yuan turned around and looked at the fire. The flames flashed before his eyes, just like the fire in the snowy borders. He said in a light tone, “Some years back, while defending the border against the nomads, the soldiers I led were so hungry that they would eat the dried grass padding their clothes.”
In the winter, the border was so cold that it could freeze people to death. The nomads had no food either and crossed the border repeatedly. Xue Yuan had to lead troops stationed at the border with thick snow covering the entire ground. There wasn’t even a single blade of grass peeking out, and one step would ice half a leg.
Standing outside in the wind and cold for less than a quarter of an hour would be enough to cover anyone’s face with ice and snow. Even going out to take a damn piss was to be avoided, less any future offspring would end up frozen as well.
But they were soldiers from the Great Heng, so, naturally, no matter how hard it was, they had to protect the poor people’s food in the winter.
Xue Yuan remembered clearly that the food and winter clothes from the imperial court had been late back then. After they had used up their provisions, unlike the nomads, they couldn’t take their own people’s food. Hungry enough to eat snow, thirsty enough to drink snow, Xue Yuan’s stomach was full of snow.
Even if they filled themselves with snow, it would turn into water nonetheless inside their stomachs. It was impossible to hunt in the winter, and they were reluctant about eating the horses they had gotten from the nomads. When they got extremely hungry and wanted to eat them, they would have to hand them over to the court in the blink of an eye.
On a cold day like that, the soldiers took off their clothes and ate the hay inside out of hunger.
Dry grass didn’t solve things, either. They were to either freeze or starve to death. At that time, Xue Yuan thought, what the fuck is the capital doing?
Where is the Emperor? Where are the ministers?
Are they all fucking dead?
They remembered to ask us for horses and cattle and sheep, but what about our food?
It was really uncomfortable for a leader to watch his soldiers starve and freeze like that.
Back then, Xue Yuan hated the ruler in the capital.
People who eat meat with a mouth coated in oil and never know what it’s like to be hungry.
The officer was interested in Xue Yuan’s experience at the border. “My lord, you should have some military merits, right?”
The corner of Xue Yuan’s mouth went up. “I’m very useless, I have no military merits whatsoever.”
The officer glanced at him strangely. It was obvious that he didn’t believe it, but he didn’t continue to ask. He passed the roasted rabbit meat to Xue Yuan. Xue Yuan gulped it down, devouring it with no difference between the soldiers next to him.
There was a lot of movement at the foot of the mountain. A minion who had been constantly watching for movement at the foot of the mountain, notified Liu Yun the moment the pile of heads was set up. Liu Yun personally walked to the side and looked down the mountain, and saw this group of Imperial officers and soldiers around the fire. They were eating, drinking, talking and laughing, their expressions were extremely relaxed, looking like they were celebrating.
What are they celebrating? They haven’t caught me yet, what are they celebrating?
Liu Yun’s face sank, he couldn’t help but think, could these people already have a way to deal with me?
How can this be!
The more he thought about it, the more he panicked, the more he believed it was just as he feared. The group of men eating and drinking at the foot of his mountain was just showing off and celebrating their victory over the bandits in advance. They had to have a way to break through Xiguang Mountain, and they planned to go up to kill him.
Liu Yun’s gaze landed on the pile of heads that was like a small mountain and his entire body shook, a chill surging through his body. He couldn’t help but think that, if they ran out of food within a month, wouldn’t his head also end up on the pile?
Xiguang Mountain would only last for a month at most.
“Keep an eye on them constantly.” Before heading off to talk with the people in the camp, he repeated his instructions several times. “Notify me if there are any changes, anything at all!”
The minion watching the situation at the foot of the mountain was also terrified, and he stammered, “Y- Yes, yes.”
Soon, the men at the foot of the mountain had a full meal. They were summoned by the official leading them. After telling them who knows what, the Imperial soldiers and cavalry lined up at the foot of the mountain. Seeing this, the young minion cried out, “Leader! It’s not good!”
When Liu Yun heard this, he hurried over, and his eyelid twitched when he saw the situation below. He sent people to investigate what the officers and soldiers were doing and finally received news that they were stacking firewood at the foot of the mountain.
Liu Yun was dumbfounded. “They want to… to set the mountain on fire?”
Naturally, Xiguang Mountain had more than just Liu Yun in charge. When the lower level leaders heard these words, they looked horrifically shocked and they personally went with their followers to check the mountain. Sure enough, the court officers and their soldiers were cutting firewood, and there were already several piles of wood down the mountain road.
It was to burn them alive!
After reporting to Liu Yun, Liu Yun’s face was grave. Finally, he touched his face and said, “It’s late at night and there’s dense dew, so they can’t light them up, and they don’t have time to gather that much firewood. Let’s pack our bags and take advantage of the enemy sleeping to flee in the middle of the night!”
As soon as this was said, many of the leaders agreed. They knew in their hearts that they would die sooner or later if they stayed on the mountain. It was better to escape at night and have a chance to survive.
And Xue Yuan happened to be of the same opinion.
The soldiers’ camp was quiet at night, and the bandits on the mountain waited until late to make sure that the group of soldiers waiting at the foot of the mountain was asleep before carefully walking down.
Darkness concealed their shapes, and it also concealed the shapes of the soldiers, hiding in the dark while watching them. Xue Yuan had hid there with some soldiers and cavalry, the archers lurking for an ambush. After all the men from the mountain camp had stepped onto flat ground, Xue Yuan made a gesture and the archers shot a rain of arrows on them, causing them to fall over screaming.
Someone cried out, “We were tricked!”
The arrows rained nonstop. After the entire group had been made to scatter by the archers, Xue Yuan made a quick decision. “Charge!”
The foot soldiers that had been hiding in the forest showed up just in time to stab the bandits that wanted to run back, the bodies slipping down the mountain. They wanted to resist, but they had already been surrounded by the enemy.
A cluster of torches suddenly lit up, the loud drums were violent and oppressive, and the entire base of Xiguang Mountain was illuminated with bright lamps.
Banners fluttered majestically and the expressions on the faces of the soldiers were imposing and terrifying. Xue Yuan approached the bandits with five hundred cavalry units, and the sound of the horses’ hooves, falling one after another, seemed to be almost hitting the bandits’ hearts.
The light of the torches swayed in the wind. Xue Yuan looked down at the crying bandits and spoke, “Surrender, and your lives will be spared.”
His sturdy horse shook its tail and neighed powerfully.
Xue Yuan hadn’t even changed his clothes, and there was even dry blood on his armor. He had killed a lot of people that day. With a furious aura, his eyes reflected the light of the fires, as horrible as a malevolent ghost’s.
“Surrender, camp leader!!” Someone unknown cried out, and then, continuous cries of “Surrender!” rang out.
The mountain of heads was the best deterrent for them. If they didn’t surrender, they would be beheaded and would die.
“Leader!” the voices cried out, “we don’t want to die! We have to surrender!”
Liu Yun slumped to the ground, shivering uncontrollably, and his teeth rattled as he said, “Lord, we surrender.”
It took a total of three and a half days to wipe out the bandits on the three mountains, of which three days were used to get there and back. The soldiers were extremely fast. Who knew how many of the capital officials’ jaws would drop to the ground over their speed.
While the other soldiers were resting, Xue Yuan had already hurried back to the capital on a fast horse.
When he entered the capital, the sky had already gone dark. It wasn’t an appropriate time to go to the palace to disturb the young Emperor, so he headed straight back to the Xue Mansion.
General Xue was taking a walk in the courtyard with Madam Xue. Hearing that he had returned, he went to take a look, his face dark. “Why are you looking like this?!”
His entire body was bloody and reeked, and his armor was still covered in God knows what. Had this sinful son of his gone on a crazy killing rampage again?
Xue Yuan took a towel a young servant handed him and wiped the dust off of his face. “Prepare a bath, this master wants to wash up.”
He ignored General Xue and was about to walk around him to leave when he suddenly took a step back and looked at Madam Xue. “Mother, where are the clothes?”
Madam Xue was surprised and asked him, “What clothes?”
Xue Yuan pressed his jaw. His nose was full of the scent of blood on his body. He said patiently, “The clothes that His Majesty wore.”
Madam Xue suddenly realized. “The clothes that were worn by His Majesty would naturally be taken away by the palace attendants. Why would they still be in our house?”
Xue Yuan was silent for a while, then suddenly he laughed, unable to suppress it. He turned around and walked towards his room, and then he abruptly said, “They didn’t even give us money for those clothes.”
The young servant behind him asked, puzzled, “What are you talking about, young master?”
The corner of Xue Yuan’s mouth went up. “I have to find a way to get something from that little ungrateful to compensate for the value of the clothes.”
The servant felt confused when he heard it and didn’t ask anything else. After they returned to the room, another servant and him took off Xue Yuan’s armor. The set of armor weighed over twenty kilograms. Without a tall body, it wouldn’t be possible to support the armor, and without a lot of endurance it wouldn’t be possible to wear it to battle.
And Xue Yuan had wore that armor even beheading at least a hundred people, spilling blood in Wangtu Mountain and defeating Xiguang Mountain, and then rushed back in the middle of the night on horseback. He had stayed vigorous even then, which showed how much energy he had. After the servants removed his armor, Xue Yuan stretched his muscles, the ones at his back bulging with strength.
“Young master, the hot water is ready,” called someone from the outside. “Will you take your bath now?”
Xue Yuan nodded and walked out with big strides.
In the Imperial Palace, Gu Yuanbai was also getting ready to rest.
He had just finished bathing, and a palace maid was drying the last bit of water from his head when he learnt of Xue Yuan’s return.
“Half a day.” Gu Yuanbai didn’t know whether to sigh or exclaim. “Tian Fusheng, did you hear that? It only took him half a day to take care of all the bandits in the three mountains.”
Tian Fusheng nodded and said, “Your Majesty, Guard Xue is excellent at strategy.”
Gu Yuanbai closed his eyes and nodded. After a moment of pause, he said, “Tomorrow, tell Qin Sheng to come over to see Us tomorrow.”
The Emperor understood Xue Yuan’s hard work and praised his good efforts to suppress the bandits, so he granted him many rewards, along with two days of rest and a position.
The Emperor gave Xue Yuan the official position of Inspector in chief.1
The rank of Inspector in chief was a senior officer in the army, a commanding officer of the fifth rank. Considering Xue Yuan’s previous military service, it was necessary to give him a position of the fourth rank or higher that went with a noble title. However, General Xue had suppressed Xue Yuan’s military merits, and Gu Yuanbai gave him an official position as high as possible from the current positions.
The General’s mansion was overflowing with joy, including General Xue, who had been suppressing Xue Yuan and couldn’t help but reveal a bit of his joy. Although he had been suppressing him, now he felt proud that his son had received a reward from the Emperor.
Not everyone would be able to eliminate three mountains in half a day of work!
It was a shame that, after acquiring an official position, he wouldn’t be able to participate in the military examinations.
While Xue Mansion was lively and full of activity, Chang Yuyan showed up at the door.
Seeing Xue Yuan, he gave him an once over and then said with a smile, “Want to come out for a walk?”
Xue Yuan walked out of the Xue Mansion with him, and Chang Yuyan couldn’t help himself. Halfway through the walk he found a restaurant, booked a private room and asked when no one was around, “Xue Jiuyao, why did you go fight the bandits?”
It was a day off. Xue Yuan touched the wine cup with a careless gesture. “Why, can’t I go fight bandits?”
“I just didn’t think that you’d have to work for the Emperor one day,” Chang Yuyan said with a smile. “I heard that last time His Majesty also sent you to the Hanlin Academy to give Chu Wei and Kong Yilin the inkstones that he gave them as a reward. Why don’t you come and talk with me?”
Xue Yuan replied impatiently, “It’s all men, what’s there to say?”
Chang Yuyan felt amused. “Then, since you stand before the Emperor all day long, won’t you become a saw mouthed gourd?”2
Xue Yuan scoffed, can standing in front of His Majesty be the same as standing in front of you?
Having spoken of the Emperor, Chang Yuyan had a glass of wine in silence and then sighed. “Xue Jiuyao, you’re still lucky despite your mad dog of a temper. To be honest, even I, as an historian of the Hanlin Academy, have never spoken before His Majesty, and you can speak to the Emperor everyday.”
Xue Yuan also smiled and narrowed his eyes, “Chang Yuyan, what do you mean by that?”
“What else can I mean?” Chang Yuyan smiled bitterly. “I envy you for being able to see the Emperor every day.”
Xue Yuan drank a sip of wine, feeling happy. He thought not only do I get to see the Emperor, I even touched the Emperor’s thighs, but what’s the benefit? I don’t like men either.
What the fuck would he envy him for? The Emperor was so feeble, even Xue Yuan with his mad dog temper wasn’t able to go overboard with.
Riding a horse would rub his skin raw, and touching his hand would make it red. Xue Yuan didn’t dare mistreat him.
“Xue Yuan?” Chang Yuyan called him twice. “What are you thinking about?”
Xue Yuan swirled the bottle. “Say, how can some people be so soft?”
Chang Yu asked, “Soft?”
Xue Yuan touched his chin, and an unreadable smile appeared at the corner of his mouth. “Like a piece of tofu, breaking from just a pinch.”
He looked like a bandit. Chang Yuyan couldn’t understand what he was talking about. He shook his head and sighed. “Let’s not talk about that. Tell me about how you dealt with the bandits. I heard that you suppressed the three mountains in three days and a half. How did that happen?”
At the same time, in the palace, Qin Sheng was also talking to the Emperor about the campaign against the bandits.
Gu Yuanbai listened carefully, and while reviewing the memorials, he pictured the terrain of the three mountains in his mind. Qin Sheng spoke methodically. Although he had never read a book, he was born with the sense of a Confucian general. At that time, his words were clear, and even the sentence Xue Yuan had said to him, “Do you want me to compliment you?” was brought up.
Same as Xue Yuan, Gu Yuanbai felt that Qin Sheng could easily become an excellent commander to carry out orders.
He was very good, also good at learning, and if sent to lead a number of soldiers and cavalry on his own, after being instructed he’d complete his task to perfection. But Qin Sheng couldn’t be a leader.
As a chief commander, the most important thing was being able to control his subordinates. Qin Sheng was too honest, or too sincere. A person like that could not be the one issuing orders, but it was easy for him to gain the trust of whoever did.
Gu Yuanbai liked people like that.
He stopped reviewing the memorial and said, “Did Xue Yuan only take the head of the leader of Wangtu Mountain?”
“Yes,” Qin Sheng replied, “Master Xue said bluntly that he only wanted that man’s head.”
Gu Yuanbai smiled slightly and instructed him, “That’s the way to control subordinates.”
Qin Sheng’s expression was solemn, and he bowed. “Asking Your Highness for guidance in this matter.”
“The keys of managing subordinates are ‘leniency’ and ‘strictness’,” said the Emperor slowly. “‘Leniency refers to gold, silver, fame and fortune, and having men follow you to gain benefits. As a general, the soldiers have to be rewarded and praised for a good job. The benefits are to gain their obedience and have them be useful to you.”
Higher ups always thought the same sort of things. Qin Sheng had always followed orders before, so standing in a high position to understand these words left him suddenly at a loss.
Gu Yuanbai looked at his expression, smiled, and asked him to step back and think about it slowly.
The government affairs had started to be dealt with and memorials sent had started to implement templates, tables and diagrams. As far as tables and diagrams went, Gu Yuanbai was confident that no one could compare to him. He could see at one glance what points weren’t right, what points were falsified or full of loopholes, giving serious critique and even demotions and reassignments. After dealing with a few people like that at first, the remaining officials were much more honest.
Seeing that there were no outsiders in the palace, Tian Fusheng stepped forward and said in a low voice, “Your Majesty, the head of Lu Feng’s men who were previously found at Qi Manor were sent on a fast horse to Jinghunan and Jiangnan.”
“Good!” Gu Yuanbai laughed and said maliciously, “We’d really like to see their expressions.”
Tian Fusheng followed suit and chuckled. “The other spies found by the Imperial army in at the homes of the other members of the Imperial clan were also put up for transportation,3 but there’s too many of them, and it’s estimated that it’ll take a month to send them to Jinghunan.”
“Not too slow-” Gu Yuanbai touched his chest and felt the slow beating speed of his heart under his hand, and sighed. “Hopefully they’ll fight.”
If it’s dog bites dog then it’s dog bites dog, and a rebellion is a rebellion. No mercy.
Those mighty men, after he was done looting them Gu Yuanbai would be able to praise them.
He silently encouraged his enemies.
Don’t let me down!
Two days later, Xue Yuan, who was full of energy and smiling, stood in front of Gu Yuanbai.
Gu Yuanbai was discussing matters with the Imperial Historian. After he had left, Xue Yuan respectfully stepped forward and saluted. “Your Majesty, this official4 did not let you down and returned victorious.”
In the few days when Xue Yuan was absent, the guard captain had healed and returned to the Emperor. The tall guard stood straight like a mountain and did not move from his position.
His position was the one where Xue Yuan usually stood.
Xue Yuan glanced over with a smile,
Xue Yuan glanced at him with a smile on his face and darkness clouding his eyes.
What was this? After fighting the bandits for a few days for the Emperor, someone had taken over his position?
The corner of Gu Yuanbai’s lips went up and he looked at him with a smile. “Guard Xue has been all the talk these days.”
The young emperor smiled so brightly that his pale lips looked like flowers. The hostility under Xue Yuan’s heart was instantly smoothed out and he also grinned and replied, “It’s all thanks to Your Majesty’s blessing.”
Gu Yuanbai asked Xue Yuan to tell what happened once more. Xue Yuan explained briefly, and wrapped up suppressing the bandits in a few sentences. Things like that were really insignificant to his eyes. The opponents were too weak, and there really was nothing for him to say.
After discussing the bandits, Xue Yuan smiled. “Your Majesty, this official also has one more thing to offer.”
Gu Yuanbai raised his eyes and motioned for him to bring it up.
Then he saw Xue Yuan walk up with a head.
Xue Yuan was so unruly that he didn’t even put the head on a tray and instead carried it by its hair. The head, with a blank expression, swayed. Gu Yuanbai’s face remained expressionless, and Tian Fusheng, next to him, shrieked.
Xue Yuan didn’t pay attention to their expressions, and he held the head up and said with a smile, “Your Majesty, this is the head of the leader of Wangtu Mountain’s camp.”
Gu Yuanbai nodded expressionlessly.
Xue Yuan’s smile deepened, thinking to himself he wouldn’t make a bad trade exchanging this head for a piece of clothing that had been worn by the Emperor.
The head was still worth a lot of gold and silver at least.
But before he could make his request, Gu Yuanbai said, “Get out.”
Xue Yuan’s smile froze.
Gu Yuanbai’s face remained unchanged, neither angry nor happy. He didn’t look at the head in Xue Yuan’s hand and instead looked directly at Xue Yuan’s eyes, and said lightly, “Official Xue, either the head gets out or you get out.”
Xue Yuan let out a chuckle and threw the head at a guard smoothly, asking him to take it out.
When he turned his head back around, he was met with the guard captain’s glare, which seemed to condemn Xue Yuan’s behavior. Xue Yuan smiled fakely. “Does Your Majesty not like what this officer brought you?”
Why are you so picky?
You don’t like a meaty mouse nor a head worth a thousand gold, so what exactly do you like?
Xue Yuan thought for a while about the pieces of jade and unique books that his manor’s retainers had asked him to give as gifts.
He thought, what’s so good about that sort of stuff?
But with a glance, he saw the Emperor lift a hand and touch a piece of white jade5 on the table. Touching the soft white jade with a white jade-like hand, it was impossible to tell which one was more beautiful.
Even against the white jade, the Emperor’s nails showed a faint pink tone.
Xue Yuan looked at it for a while and looked away, but after a while, he unconsciously looked back at the Emperor’s hand.
…It’s quite beautiful.
If the jade were slimmer and longer, and it was held with his five fingers, it’d look even better.
*bows down* Apologies for the delay, I have been very busy this month! I’m starting regular classes and I hope for a steady schedule from now on! (In my defense this chapter is actually classified as “2×1” because of length, I insist on not chopping them up though T_T)
Remember you can join foxaholic’s discord to be notified of all schedule changes! Thank you everyone for your support!
Now let’s discuss. Is Xue Yuan thinking about the Emperor’s dick in the last line?
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- Following ‘Hucker, Charles O. (1985). A Dictionary of Official Titles in Imperial China’ because I despaired with this one and I couldn’t find an explanation on baidu.
- A metaphor for someone who isn’t eloquent or isn’t in a position to speak, it’s a gourd with simply a mouth sawed in therefore has no ability to speak.
- 刑车 Literally “torture car” which can mean prisoner transportation cars or it can mean… something rather pornographic that I’m not sure is historically correct, so I went with what seems the common options.
- Up to this point he has been addressing himself as laozi all the way, he went back to respectful phrasings now.
- Same type of “mutton fat” jade that was explained in a previous chapter.
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