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Chapter Sixty: Rusty Blade
In the evening, the Jinluan Hall of the Chu imperial palace was slightly open, and showed a dim yellow light, like the slightly ajar mouth of a monster. A palace maid with a thin waist walked out, and an official who had been standing outside with a respectful and gentle expression walked in.
The Chu were the best craftsmen in the world, and so were the imperial palace buildings. This Jinluan Hall did not appear very wide from the outside, just refined and beautiful. But inside, it was very wide and open, and the dragon throne at the front seemed very far away.
On the throne, Li Lingjun propped his chin on his hand. He seemed to be in deep thought, and not in a good mood. He did not look at the official.
This official had followed him from Changling to Deer Mountain, then became a retainer in the Chu capital. After Li Lingjun officially became the Chu emperor, this retainer was named “Qing Zang.” In the Chu Dynasty court, he was just an official responsible for inventorying books. While his rank was not low, this was actually just a position for retirement. An official like this should not be able to meet the emperor at a time like this for just any matter.
The slender palace maid left the hall. No one else other than the monarch and subject were in this large hall. There was not even a hint of wind, but the hanging bead curtains were moved by some presence, chiming lightly.
Li Lingjun’s hand left his chin. He slowly looked up at the seemingly weak official. He said expressionlessly, “Zheng Xiu’s intentions can reach here so quickly?”
This official kept on looking humbler and did not respond.
Li Lingjun’s expression did not change. After an unknown amount of time, he looked at the official and said, “What does she want to say to me?”
The official looked up quietly and said, “She asked me to tell you, she would give you another chance.”
Seeing him so calm, Li Lingjun thought of a certain person and felt irritation rise. But at the official’s words, his breathing stopped. He had thought of many things Zheng Xiu would say to him, but not something like this.
“What does this mean?” He said in a cool voice after a moment, “I have to change, or she will kill me?”
The official shook his head and said, “It is the literal meaning of giving you another chance. So after this time, you will have another chance.”
Li Lingjun did not say anything, but his hands on the throne imperceptibly started to tremble.
Big Hole Mountain.
That was a famous mountain in the Chu with beautiful scenery, and with peach gardens at the base of the mountain.The Big Hole Mountain did not have big holes. In the Chu lands, the so-called big holes were big sources of water. The water was not deep. In the other dynasties, there were many water sources that were thousands of hectares of water, even if the water was not deep, it could be called a lake.
On the south root of Big Hole Mountain, among the peach gardens, there was a bamboo forest. In the depths of the bamboo forest, there was a fence, and other than a few grass huts, there were many ginkgo and loquat trees.
A soldier was standing with awe in the courtyard. There were several people in front of him. There were many more people in the courtyard, all of them men, and upright in posture. Their movements seemed to be measured with rulers, very constrained. Even more importantly, they had a steely and bloody presence that could not be concealed. They were clearly military cultivators.
This soldier handed a letter to a middle-aged man sitting on a bamboo chair. He did not linger, and bid farewell.
The middle-aged man used two fingers to open the letter. When he read the letter, he smiled.
“General, Li Mu is not going, but recommends for you to go. I do not know his thoughts in sending someone with a letter.”
Seeing the middle-aged man’s expression, a man in black robes beside him could not help but say coldly.
“Look at what he wrote.” The middle-aged man called the general shook his head and sighed. Then he flicked, and the letter flew.
There were only four characters on the paper, “Go down in history.”
“Go down in history?”
The black-robed man stilled, and then frowned. He said with a hostile expression, “What does he mean?”
The middle-aged man exhaled, and stood up, his hands behind his back. When he stood, his body suddenly seemed taller, and his presence like he was directing soldiers on the battlefield, with an endless army standing in front of him.
He did not look at the subordinates behind him as he said slowly, “The world knows that I, Tang Mei and Li Mu are at odds, causing me to retire to the woods. But you should know that we are at odds because a mountain cannot hold two tigers. I am not willing to listen to his orders. Even more importantly, back in the battle at the Zhou Mountain Fort, he sacrificed an allied army and did not save them. While he won the battle in the end, there were many of my beloved commanders in the army, many brothers who fought beside us, so you hate him very much. But I admire the results of the battle. While we are at odds, I fear that no one in the Chu Dynasty understands each other’s character and personality better than the two of us. Since Li Mu is listening to Consort Zhao Xiang’s arrangements and staying in Ying, this means that he has great confidence in her arrangements and the results of the war. In his view, I am the strongest general, the best general next to him.”
After a pause, the middle aged man smiled with emotion. “Since he seems to think that this can be won, and he recommends that I replace him as the general, do you not know the meaning of these four characters?”
The many subordinates behind the man were changing expressions as the middle-aged man continued, raising his head. “Winning a battle where millions are fighting…my name will go down in history. He has given this chance to me. As to personal anger, in the face of the country, this is nothing. I will not refuse even if I die.”
The subordinates behind him shuddered, and inhaled deeply. They said, “Even if we die.”
When the voices sounded, the many people working in the backyard all stood.
“The blade is rusted, I need to sharpen them.” Someone complained.
“I fear there is not enough time,” a scholarly looking man who was picking leeks answered solemnly.
In Changling, when the first time winter jasmine started to bloom, while no decree had been announced saying that there had been treachery and the Deer Mountain Conference’s agreement would be disregarded, all of Changling, and all of the world, even the normal people on the streets knew that the Qin Dynasty starting to fight Chu.
Even ordinary people knew at the Yin Mountain area where Qin and Chu met, the Qin Dynasty had gathered over six hundred thousand troops, and there were even more in the Wu Mountain and Yangshan Commandery.
Also, the Chu Dynasty had more than a million troops along this long border. In the view of the ordinary people, the war looked hasty, but the numbers of troops likely surpassed any war in the history of the Qin Dynasty.
Even in the hardest battle to destroy the Zhao, it was five hundred thousand of the Qin Dynasty defeating the four hundred thousand of the Zhao Dynasty. That was far from this scale.
The Chu Dynasty had always won in the small battles against the Qin Dynasty in the past. But today, not only was the Qin Dynasty far stronger than in the past, the Chu Dynasty was also strong, and had not weakened because of the change in emperors, far greater than the Han, Zhao, and Wei dynasties.
On the Qin Dynasty side, they were led by the famous Sima Cuo of the thirteen marquises, Lian Bo, Fang Qilin, and Wei Wujiu to assist him. In total, there were four marquises. Each marquis of the Qin Dynasty was not just the symbol of military merit, they each represented a powerful army, many cultivators, death warriors, and retainers. Of these four, Sima Cuo had started as a military strategist, and was the best strategist next to Lin Zhujiu in the Qin Dynasty. At this time, he and Lian Bo were in the prime of their lives, while Fang Qilin and Wei Wujiu were the older generals.
The match up of the two young and two veterans. Fang Qilin was old but stable. Wei Wujiu was famed for being cunning, and was famous for attacking on multiple fronts. That was the best for a battle on such a long front line. Such a line up was stunning, and could be called perfect.
Yet to everyone’s puzzlement, the Chu Dynasty’s general in the end was Tang Mei, who had retired many years ago.
Before Tang Mei had retired, he had not been one of the highest ranking generals in the Chu Dynasty.