This chapter has been brought to you by me, and larkspur.Chapter 18: As King
“What are you thinking?”
In the largest tent of the Wuzhi, the old woman was personally making butter tea again, and asked Ding Ning who was silently looking at the wind and snow. While she was the ruler of a country, and they were like grandmother and grandson in age, this old woman who possessed ultimate power in Wuzhi treated Ding Ning like he was a teacher.
“Thinking how to not hurry for success,” Ding Ning turned his head and said with a faint smile.
The old woman said seriously, “In a hurry?”
Ding Ning looked at her and said, “Back then in Changling, things were too hasty.”
“Changling now is also hasty.” The old woman nodded.
Ding Ning said, “The Qi is weak, and can just send some grandmasters. The Yan just quelled their rebellion. Your Wuzhi has no power to fight. But the Qin is sending large amounts of grain towards the Yin Mountain. So in the next spring, they will definitely attack Chu.”
The old woman changed expression slightly. She grew silent, and her hands could not help but trouble as she poured tea.
She knew this was a conclusion that Ding Ning had made after judging the military news. While she did not believe that Changling would be so aggressive, the more she was in contact with Ding Ning, the more she believed that his conclusions would have a basis.
They would attack Chu in the spring. She thought intently, Yan and Qi were incapable at this time. Even if the Qin Dynasty would be in a more difficult state when they attacked Chu, the Yan and Qi were not much better off.
“Use war to feed war. The Qin military and all of Qin is very good at this.”
Ding Ning was still thinking of a previous military map with the food supply lines, and the movements of the thirteen marquises. He took a deep breath and slowly exhaled. “Unless the Chu Gold Dagger-Axe Army can reach the Wu Mountain in time, the Chu will lose.”
The old woman took a deep breath. She poured a cup of tea in front of Ding Ning and said, “The Gold Dagger-Axe Army is in the northmost part of Chu. They will not be able to reach the Qin-Chu barrier by spring.”
Ding Ning drank tea and was silent.
Now, it was his turn to be silent. The old woman sighed. “Use power and wealth to tempt the court officials. Create chaos in other dynasties to reduce strength…she fought along with the people of the Ba Mountain Sword Field around the world, and learned many moves. If I think about it, everything fits. Li Lingjun returned to the Chu. The death of the old emperor and the ascension of the new is a wave of chaos. Both the new emperor and the rebellion are her left and right hands. She uses her left and right hands to play chess, but on someone else’s board. Consort Zhao Xiang’s means have surpassed my expectations, and the rebellion was put down. But the territory beyond the Chu north has a drought this year. The barbarians have flooded into the Chu in the fall and winter to raid. She must have guessed that the main Chu army would go to defeat the bandits, so she attacked Wuzhi first, and will turn to attack Chu in the spring. The chaos of Yan and Qi was just her gilding the lily. Such moves are really farsighted. Only a person like you can match her.”
Ding Ning finished the butter tea. He was not humble and said, “She really learned a lot.”
“She learned quickly. Even if the Qin suffers great losses in battle, as long as the enemy dies, she will still reach her goals.” The old woman grimaced. “Other than the Gold Dagger-Axe Army returning, are there any other ways?”
Ding Ning shook his head. “I cannot think of one.”
“Then we can only fight for time.” The old woman considered for a moment. “I fear having the Gold Dagger-Axe Army return immediately is not hard. What is hard is how to delay the Qin army.”
“Back then, due to haste, many mistakes were committed. Some of those were created by him and Ba Mountain Sword Field, but some others were blamed on him and the Ba Mountain Sword Field,” Ding Ning looked at the old woman and said, “some of the things of the past have yet to be uncovered.”
The old woman stilled and said, “Then we will uncover these things.”
“This is not what I am worried about.” Ding Ning looked at the wind and snow outside the tent and slowly said, “Right now, Zheng Xiu is not acting like the Zheng Xiu of the past. Her previous brutal means of forcing the Changling cultivators to follow the orders of the court, and attacking the Wuzhi right after looked like madness in most people’s eyes. But now, it appears that every step is going according to her plans.”
“Her response is too calm, it does not seem like the true her. She had not yet started a true counterattack. This means that she is not in a hurry at all. This means that she still has hidden pawns that reassure her, she has trump cards left in her sleeve.”
Ding Ning grew silent.
The wind and snow outside the tent caused him to recall the true coldness of the woman from Jiaodong. What do you have … that even I do not know of? A cold voice echoed in his mind.
When Ding Ning was looking at the snow, someone in the Chu imperial palace was looking at the thin snow between the eaves. The capital city of the Chu Dynasty, especially the buildings of the palace were refined and thought of as the best in the world. Dotted by snow, every part looked like a beautiful scene. But compared to the beauty watching the snow, this beauty seemed to think it was not enough.
The world knew, Consort Zhao Xiang of the Chu imperial palace had a strong beauty, she blossomed like the most beautiful flowers in the world. She had a natural fragrance and warmth.
The fire basin in the imperial study had charcoal burn without smoke, so red they were blinding. Yet the air still rippled with coldness.
Li Lingjun looked at her stunning side profile. For some reason, he could not help but think of winter plums. His hands, in his sleeves, unconsciously tightened.
“You set up new army tokens.” When his fingernails were biting into his palms, Consort Zhao Xiang’s voice finally sounded. “Even I need the army tokens to move the armies.”
Li Lingjun’s tightly pressed lips opened slightly. But before he spoke, Consort Zhao Xiang laughed. She said, “There is no need for any false words between us. Do not say that you made new army tokens so that others cannot command the army with the excuse of preventing rebellion.”
“Only this way will I know.” Li Lingjun’s breathing grew heavy. He looked directly at Consort Zhao Xiang, his voice growing louder. “Even with the army tokens, if you want to move the army, you can get the army tokens. If you want the army tokens, who dares to refuse you. But at least, I will immediately know what you want to do.”
Hearing the anger in his voice, Consort Zhao Xiang did not even turn around as she said slowly, “The world knows that the Chu Emperor liked thin waists. But do you know why?”
Li Lingjun sneered. “How will I know how a preference formed.”
“This is not a preference.” Consort Zhao Xiang turned around and looked directly at him. Coldness started to rise on her face. “The Chu emperor likes thin waists, the Chu women dislike food. That started at the rise of the Ba Mountain Sword Field. The ruler likes thin waists, then all others copy him. Over time, in the Chu, the women are beautiful if they are thin. The Chu women are on diet. And even the scholars think so, that thin is beautiful. But when the Chu chooses soldiers, they measure height and waist. One inch bigger is one bit more of salary. This is rationing the dynasty to strengthen the army!”
“The Chu emperor likes thin waist, and even the craftsmen will follow and pursue thin and refined. The finer the craft, the more it demands better craftsmanship. The Chu Dynasty is the best in the world at making weapons. There are even many craftsmen among the common people. If they pursue thinness, then how much material would be saved?”
“Have you ever thought, the Qin succeeded in the reformation and were strong while our dynasty was weak at the time, when we fought the Qin when we did not have enough food, we won, and took over Yangshan Commandery. Each household did not get much grain, but not many women or children died from starvation. The materials for making weapons are valuable. If a military weapon is made finer, how much material would be saved?”
“Each action of the ruler has meaning.” Consort Zhao Xiang looked at Li Lingjun and sneered. “You set up army tokens, and when the army needs to be moved in an emergency, there will be another extra way of doing things. What is the meaning?”
Li Lingjun paled and said coldly, “You are saying that I am not enough to rule?”
“From the start, you lack the feeling of safety. You have never stood in the position of the ruler.” Consort Zhao Xiang’s smile faded. She looked sympathetically at him, and said gently, “What are you afraid of and worried about? You are worried about me? Do you still not understand what the relationship between you and I mean?”
“That is what protects you.” Consort Zhao Xiang shook her head and laughed at herself. “You always worry that one day, I will depose you. Yet there is this relationship between you and I. If I depose you, as long as our relationship is known by the world, who will allow me, the demoness, to rule as emperor?”
“You and I have the same fate. There is no meaning in you worrying about me.” Consort Zhao Xiang looked at Li Lingjun whose head was slowly lowering. She slowly said, “Ever since you were crowned at Deer Mountain, there were more than seventeen rebellions of various sizes in Chu. Eleven of those were because these people felt you and I were not of one mind.”
“These rebellions originally could have been avoided. No matter the thoughts of those people, they were people of Chu. Even if they die, they should die of the battlefield. I do not care what agreement is between you and Zheng Xiu. But since you have come here, and you are the new emperor of the Chu, you are the true ruler of Chu. I have never seen someone who does not be a ruler and wants to be a servant.”
After Consort Zhao Xiang said this, she stopped speaking and looked quietly at him.
Li Lingjun trembled violently. He could not think what he should say.
“If there are no surprises, the spring will be good for marching. Qin will attack Chu,” Consort Zhao Xiang said.
“What?” Li Lingjun exclaimed. He even stopped breathing.
“If you want to know, then I will tell you why I am in a hurry to bring the army back.” Consort Zhao Xiang looked at him and said, “You just have to think carefully about what you need to do as a ruler that has meaning.”
Translator Ramblings: Li Lijun is probably not the best new emperor for the Chu … he needs to shape up.