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Chapter 39: Start of Calamity
In the morning, the wind at the peak of Deer Mountain was slightly cold. The ceremonial officials of the four dynasties had prepared for the conference for multiple years and rehearsed multiple times.
With the four dynasties existing together, it was akin to four tigers hunting a deer. They naturally were hostile towards each other. However, these ceremonial officials cooperated well, and did not even speak in raised voices.
In the imperial camp of the Qi Dynasty, the man in black robes walked out of the black-roofed sedan. He watched, as all kinds of banners, flags, golden axes, gourds, scepters and other items appeared.
Placed closer to the thrones were fly-whisks, golden cauldrons, incense boxes, wooden basin, spit-pots, golden vases of various colors along with other elaborate items.
“This kind of conference only needs a battle platform, but they have to make it so complicated. Such hypocrisy.”
He stated a cold judgement which landed in the ears of the emperor of Qi next to him.
The emperor of Qi smiled in an almost perverse manner. “It is not hypocrisy. The more complicated the ceremonies, the more dignity and gravity it will add. At least, it will remind us that governing the world is not a game, and we will be more cautious in our words and decisions.”
The beautiful man in black robes frowned slightly, thought for a moment and said, “This is reasonable.”
The emperor of Qi looked at the thoughtful expression of the man in black robes and was slightly happy. Then he immediately became worried and said, “There are at least two crucial people among the people of Qin who have followed Yuanwu here.”
The man in black robes glanced at him, but did not seem very interested.
The emperor of Qi continued. “Li Si and Hu Hai have followed Emperor Yuanwu out of Changling but they are not on Deer Mountain.”
“You do not need to worry about anything.” The beautiful man in black robes turned to glance at the tent of the Yan Dynasty. He said coldly, “Victory and defeat is not here. Even if one has to stand up, it will not be you.”
The emperor of Qi was shocked. He looked in incomprehension at the clear features of the man in black robes. As he saw the direction of the man in black robes, his eyes widened in disbelief, “Would it be …”
“Enough!” The man in black robes shouted coldly and interrupted his words.
The flutes and drums sounded in unison and up rose a purple smoke.
In the campsite of the Yan Dynasty, a man rose out of a steaming bath tub. The droplets of water rolled down his smooth skin, like dew from grass.
The two female palace attendants were extremely beautiful, youthful and pale. Seeing the man walk out naked from the bathtub with his flawless and perfect figure, the two palace attendants couldn’t help but blush. However, their eyes did not hold much bashfulness, but unusual respect.
The man was not shy at all. Helped by the two attendants, he put on a clean silk robe, and then he nodded slightly in thanks.
“Teacher Xie.” A general dressed in golden armor had been waiting outside the tent. Seeing this man walk out, he immediately bowed, and then led the way.
In front of a bright yellow canopy, the four emperors started seat. This man closely followed the emperor of Yan.
Emperor Yuanwu’s gaze collided with the other three emperors.
In the spring of Yuanwu Year Twelve, the Deer Mountain Conference formally started on the peak of Deer Mountain.
The four emperors were the highest existences in the world and did not exchange bows. Previously, ceremonial officials had sacrificed to the heavens, earth, ghosts, and gods. Each emperor had a personal attendant next to them. Huang Zhenwei sat next to Emperor Yuanwu. However, Consort Zhao Xiang did not sit next to the emperor of Chu, but the newly established crown prince Li Lingjun.
The person sitting next to the emperor of Yan was the man who had just bathed. Sitting next to the emperor of Qi was naturally the beautiful man in black robes.
All the formalities were complete. The field was completely silent.
Other than these four emperors and their four attendants, everyone present wore an extremely serious expression and were waiting for the emperor of Chu to speak.
In that great war in the third year of Yuanwu, the emperor of Chu and his Chu Dynasty had won against the Qin, forcing the Qin Dynasty to sign an agreement with the Chu, Qi, and Yan dynasties. Regardless of how old he appeared now, he was still the host of this conference.
The most important matter of the agreement was naturally the ownership of the Chu Dynasty’s war spoils, Yangshan Commandery.
“I need three years.” Previously, everyone had speculated to what the emperor of Chu would start with and what he planned. But he gave no opening speech and immediately answered the question.
He looked calmly at Emperor Yuanwu and said, “I need time to evacuate.”
The emperor of Qi frowned slightly. But when he thought of the words the man in black robes had previously said, he pursed his lips and did not speak.
Returning Yangshan Commandery was naturally the greatest guarantee to avoid war. However, the concession of three years of buffer, without any other conditions, seemed to be too immense.
Emperor Yuanwu nodded slightly.
The emperor of Yan, who Mo Shoucheng had described as the most cautious, was on the verge of speaking.
Everybody felt that Emperor Yuanwu would immediately agree.
“No need for three years.”
But Emperor Yuanwu spoke in refusal.
Before the first word fell, the emperor of Yan sensed something amiss and suddenly looked up.
“Yangshan Commandery has returned to the Qin.” Emperor Yuanwu calmly continued to speak, his voice landing like thunder on people’s ears.
With the gathering of the four emperors, no one else had to consider the matters. So the cultivators of the dynasties were all silent. When Emperor Yuanwu said the words, all of Deer Mountain vibrated with a warlike and murderous presence. All of the dewdrops were shaken off the grasses and were ground into fine mist by the chaotic presences.
Li Lingjun’s face was snowy white, his hands tightly clenched as he shook.
The ownership of the Yangshan Commandery was the most important matter of the Deer Mountain Conference. Who would have thought that Emperor Yuanwu would attack Yangshan Commandery before the Deer Mountain Conference.
At this time, no news had reached Deer Mountain. This meant that the great battle had occurred last night.
The emperor of Chu frowned slightly. His skin was covered in age spots and wrinkles. When he frowned, he immediately seemed much older.
But his expression was still calm and he said calmly, “We made an agreement in the past not to wage war on each other. You have broken the agreement.”
At the emperor of Chu’s words, clouds roiled and wind danced on Deer Mountain with more murderousness.
Emperor Yuanwu shook his head and said, “Yangshan Commandery was borrowed, not given. This was stated in the previous agreement. The agreement only stated we could not invade the lands of other dynasties. Yangshan Commandery belongs to the Qin. The army did not cross into Chu lands. How was the agreement broken?”
To everybody present, this was naturally chicanery and a forced argument. But everybody knew that Yangshan Commandery returning to the Qin Dynasty, was an established truth.
What shook everybody from the Chu Dynasty from within was that the Chu Dynasty had stationed a large number of soldiers in Yangshan Commandery. How had the Qin armies been able to conquer Yangshan Commandery so quickly?
A new voice sounded.
Just one word, but everybody present was shocked.
Only the emperor of Qi’s eyes shined.
He knew that the man in black robe’s words had become the truth.
The one who had spoken was the emperor of Yan, whose sitting posture was especially dignified and cautious.
“While all experts gathered here, you sent an army to take back Yangshan Commandery. This plan is spectacular.”
“Yet even if you managed to catch a loophole in the agreement, we have gathered here to discuss the ownership of Yangshan Commandery. You doing this beforehand is to mock all of us.”
Everybody present was aware that the emperor of Yan was the most cautious. Even if there were any objections, he would likely be the last to speak. No one had thought he would be the first to go on the offensive. When he spoke up, many people in the Yan Dynasty were unusually surprised.
As Emperor Yuanwu spoke, his expression remained unchanged. “I am not mocking, I have just taken care of a bother.”
“A mere brother, how many people have died in foreign lands?”
“I am an ordinary man, but I dare to die with my blood sprayed five paces wide. Please.”
The emperor of Yan did not speak but the clean man next to him stood up, and tore his sleeve.
This gesture, in the Yan Dynasty, was an invitation to a duel.
The sky above Deer Mountain seemed to dim. The air and the light seemed to freeze. Most people had completely stopped breathing.
While everybody knew that a scene like this would definitely occur, no one had expected it to occur so early; the first being the Yan Dynasty and their attitude so clearly declared.
In this kind of circumstances, this clean man represented the emperor of Yan. Emperor Yuanwu naturally could not refuse an invitation to a duel. In this heavy atmosphere, everybody wondered if Emperor Yuanwu would accept the duel in person.
Emperor Yuanwu did not pause. He only said calmly, “General Fang, accept for this Lonely One.”
Fang Xiang, who had been sitting silently at the rear, was not surprised. He leaned slightly and said, “Yes!” Then he methodically stood up.
A cracking sound pealed.
The ceremonial officials of the four dynasties had prepared for this event for many years. Naturally, they had prepared for a scene like this too.
The musical instruments quickly moved away. A clearing appeared a hundred paces next to the four emperors.”
“It’s the Yan.”
On the mountain where Ding Ning was, Pan Ruoye turned to look at Mo Shoucheng, saying coldly, “The Yan Madman Li Caitian.”
Mo Shoucheng sank into deep thought.
The first on the offensive was the Yan Dynasty and they had chosen such a direct method. There must be extraordinary meaning behind all this.
He started to speculate of all kinds of possibilities.
Ding Ning focused on the peak of Deer Mountain, also speculating about the possibilities.
Unable to contain his shock, Fu Su said, “The top seal master of the Yan Dynasty, how is that possible!”
Translator Ramblings: When one is powerful, they can be aggressive and break the spirit of the law.