Translated by Shiny
55. The Path Forward
Yang Sheng and his brothers worked together and managed to clean up the house in one day. The roof was repaired with reeds and the wooden door was fixed back into place with a large lock installed, indicating that the house was under the ownership of its proprietor.
After returning to the city, Yang Sheng took out his reward money and took his brothers to a restaurant.
It was called a restaurant, but it was actually just a roadside stall. Several people crowded together as they sat at a low table beside the stall. They all had a bowl of spicy soup and two pieces of wheat cakes in front of each one of them as they ate with great relish.
This was the first time in their lives that they had spent money as they sat at tables and chairs and were greeted warmly by the stall owner as they had their meal.
Yang Lu Hou ate as he wiped his tears away.
“This is so fucking delicious, it’s like a dream. I feel like it was only yesterday that I was unable to get so much as even half a piece of stale and mouldy flat cake. How am I able to sit here today, eating an entire bowl of food?”
The brother sitting beside him slapped him on the forehead. “All right, all right. Look at you, with such bright prospects, yet you’re still crying. We have encountered a wonderful Lord now. So long as we follow Brother Sheng, sooner or later, you will be able to eat delicious food and drink good wine.”1
“I, I, this soup is too strong, that’s why.”
“Look over there.” Yang Sheng broke off a piece of wheat cake and threw it into his mouth with his gaze fixed on the street not far ahead.
There was a post station on the street with a line of people standing outside. They were all soldiers from the military camp, every one of them filled with joy as they carried one thing or another in their hands.
“That’s the post station.” The owner of the street stall had become accustomed to this phenomenon a long time ago and he explained to them as he brought out the freshly baked wheat cakes, “My Lord has newly built several post offices and they travel between Bianzhou and Jiangcheng. The soldiers in the city can send letters and parcels to their family in Jiangcheng. Several of them seem to be veterans. If you wish to send any messages or anything else to your family, you can go there. There are special officers in the post office who can help you write letters. If you wish to send any parcels, it will cost a bit more money.”
In the middle of that long queue, A’Yuan and his fellow villager A’Huang, as well as their commander, Han Shen, were all standing in line.
When they reached the front, A’Yuan and A’Huang politely gave up their places to Han Shen, who didn’t put up a front of modesty and stepped forward. He took out two thousand coins and placed it at the reception area of the post office.
The postal officer asked Han Shen for the mailing address and the quantity of goods to be sent.
Then, he took a sheet of paper and folded it in half, making two copies. After stamping a flower seal in the center, he had Han Shen press his fingerprint on both halves of the paper next to the statement of the sum of money before cutting the paper in two.
One half was given to Han Shen, and the other was filed in the records.
“Do you have any messages you wish to pass along?” The postal officer asked as he took out a pen.
“Thanks for the trouble. Please help me tell my mother that after collecting the money, there’s no need for her to save so much. Her son is a commander now and has the ability to earn a lot of money. And if her daughter-in-law is usually disobedient, she can just discipline her, she shouldn’t just bottle up all of her anger. Tell her to wait for her son to go back home and serve her in her old age.”
The postal officer wrote down his words and placed the letter alongside the two thousand coins.
Han Shen handed over the handling fees and stepped aside to wait.
A’Huang stepped forward and rubbed his head. “I don’t have anything to send, I want to send a message to my parents and my elder brother. Tell them that I have been conferred with the title of Officer of the first rank and have received 100 mu of farmland along with a plot of land to build a house in. Ask them whether they would like to move here and live together with me. And tell them that the Lord and the officials here are not fierce, so they will be able to live a good life here.”
The postal officer recorded his message before charging him with the processing fee and giving him his receipt.
When A’Yuan arrived at the counter, he blushed and took out a piece of blue printed fabric along with a small purse of coins. He hadn’t obtained a title so he had yet to receive a reward. He had managed to get these things by receiving two months of pay in advance. He hadn’t kept a cent for himself and sent all of it to his family.
A’Huang whistled and said, “Wow, sending a piece of printed fabric, this guy’s heart is only filled with thoughts of his wife.”
A’Yuan endured the shame as he spoke to the postal officer with a red face, “ Brother, please help me tell my wife A’Juan that I am living well in the military barracks. She has worked hard to take care of Mother and the children. After I obtain military merit and receive a title, I will go back to pick them up and bring them to Bianzhou.”
Yang Sheng observed the lively situation there before leaning back and saying, “Did you see, most of these soldiers are from Jiangcheng and the neighboring area. This time, My Lord is sending out troops in order to open up a pathway between Bianzhou and the capital of Jin. They must be even more desperate to win than us.”
He waved his hand, gesturing for his brothers to lean closer. “I don’t care how they do, but in this battle, our team must take first place. If nothing else, you all have to obtain titles of the first rank at the very least. When the moment comes, everyone will have a house and a wife and children. We will be people just like them.”
At this moment, Cheng Qianye was inside the government office.
She was sitting at the desk and listening to Xiao Jin’s report on the situation after the implementation of the new policy.
“Adult men over the age of 18 who have been forced into exile and come and settle in our Great Jin can receive a plot of land measuring up to 30 mu. Chen2 and the small officials have arranged a village for the refugees to settle down in. The houses are all connected through alleyways. We have arranged a Household Manager and a Pavilion Chief to supervise them, furthermore, the commoners do not relocate at will and they attend to their farm work in tranquility.”
Cheng Qianye inquired, “Won’t these 30 mu of land be too little? I went to the western mountain today and asked the old farmers at the wayside about the harvest situation, and it turns out that 1 mu of land can only produce 2-3 stones of grain at maximum. After deducting taxes, they won’t even have enough to eat. Bianzhou and its surrounding regions are so vast yet sparsely populated, so why can’t we give them more?”
Xiao Jin smiled and replied, “It is a good thing that My Lord empathizes with the circumstances of the people and shows them kindness. However, we are currently embroiled in the midst of war and we should consider the interests of the nation prior to anything else.”
“All of the soldiers in our army are recruits from our own country. In regards to the civilians who have migrated here from foreign states, Chen believes that they should be encouraged to do more farming and provide a large amount of tax revenue for our Jin Army.”
Cheng Qianye understood: “You want to attract them to Jin and give them smaller plots of land so that they will rent more land and pay more taxes?”
“My Lord’s new policy and military merit system have been put into practice and the results are becoming more and more effective. My Lord is a talented broad-minded individual with many wonderful ideas, hence Chen cannot help but be convinced. These two strategies are the real cornerstones of the prosperity of our country.”
“The soldiers have made great contributions and obtained titles and vast expanses of land. However, the majority of them do not have the time to cultivate their fields. And the new peasant households can just rent the fields belonging to these soldiers and cultivate them. If renting the land requires a large amount of rent and doesn’t leave much for their own use, they might not rent so much land at one time. Hence, our tax revenue will definitely be much less.”
“I couldn’t tell.” Cheng Qianye smiled and said, “Our Minister Xiao has a special talent with the matters of tax and accounts.”
Xiao Jin saluted and said, “My Lord is a person with great ambitions. After eating the salary from My Lord, Chen should also share the worries of My Lord. Chen believes that only a rich grain storage can ensure that our Great Jin Army can conquer all four directions. It will lay the foundation for My Lord to rule the land under the heavens.”
Cheng Qianye was stunned. When she had first crossed over to this world, Xiao Jin was the only person beside her whom she could trust.
However, he hadn’t been very reliable.3
At that time, she had circled around Xiao Jin every day, thinking up all sorts of methods to make him see her in a higher light and no longer regard her as a temporary substitute. However, it didn’t have much effect.
And now, a long time had passed since she had ceased clinging on to such matters and stopped focusing on how other people regarded her.
She was more concerned with doing what she could and walking the path she wished to take.
However, she had inadvertently wound up getting the sincere approval of this individual.
The first time they had met;
This man had stood in front of her and thrown a dagger at her feet, advising her to kill herself so that a weak woman such as herself could be spared from the fate of being humiliated.
Today, he was still standing before her, but he had lowered his head and begun to assist her with absolute sincerity as they both strived towards a common goal.
“Minister Xiao.” Cheng Qianye said, “From now on, you will be entrusted with the task of refining the new policy and the formulation of the laws and regulations. Although this is an arduous task, it is a crucial factor that will affect the livelihood of the people of our Great Jin for thousands of years to come. I hope you will not refuse.”
His eyes gleamed and he straightened out his sleeves before solemnly performing a ceremonial bow.
The screen window displayed the full image of the autumn moon. Cheng Qianye sat in front of the window as she tuned the guzheng before playing “General’s Order”.4
After walking forward, one step at a time, she had reached her current position. The vision before her had become wider and wider, and the people following behind her had increased one by one.
There would be no-one to lead her on the road ahead.
The path forward required her to explore and take each step on her own.
However, at this moment, her heart was very stable, without any fear or confusion.
Perhaps, it was precisely because of these trusted friends, the loyal ministers, and the countless people who looked up to her.
Her weak heart became stronger and steadier, day by day.
Mo Qiao Sheng lay within the shadows beneath the eaves.
The scene of the dark blue sky illumined by the bright moon was projected over his head
And the reverberating tune of the guzheng flowed into his ears.
The Lord was playing the guzheng.
He closed his eyes and his heart resonated with the passionate tune of the guzheng.
He understood the Lord’s noble ideals and aspirations.
The things that the Lord wished for were also the same things that he wished for. He would sit astride his horse with his spear in hand and cut through the dark night to usher in the bright world that his Lord hoped for.
Mo Qiao Sheng opened his eyes and stretched his head out from beneath the eaves.
That person stood in the corridor, looking up at him with a smile.
“Why are you up there?” Cheng Qianye waved at him. “Come down quickly and come to my side.”
Mo Qiao Sheng recalled his great shame that day when he had lost it in the hot springs due to being unable to control himself.
He swiped his hand across his reddened face and dawdled for a moment before slowly climbing down from the roof and standing in front of Cheng Qianye reluctantly.
Cheng Qianye took out a piece of triangular, translucent tortoiseshell that had a small hole pierced in the middle with a black cord running through it.
“Come here.” She hooked her finger at him.
Mo Qiao Sheng obediently lowered his head, the blush on his face still present.
Cheng Qianye stretched out her hand and secured the black cord around his neck.
“I do not have anything that I have carried with me for a long time. This piece of tortoiseshell is what I use to play the guzheng. You can wear it and treat it as though I am always by your side.”
She tugged at the cord, pulling Mo Qiao Sheng’s head down a little before stretching out her hand and poking his nose, “What about you, do you have anything you want to give me?”
Gong Xinwen: Interviewing; Qiao Sheng, I heard that other than the nickname “Crybaby”, you have another nickname as “General Quickshot” as well?5
Mo Qiao Sheng: I, I was just too excited that time. Please give me another chance, I will definitely rectify my name.
Gong Xinwen: Rectify what name? Are you going to prove that you can also cry while you’re at it?
Mo Qiao Sheng: Q-Q
Cheng Qianye: Writer, don’t go too far, you dare to bully my person?
Gong Xinwen: Your Majesty, I was wrong.
1. Meaning to have a good life.↩
2. (臣 – Chen) – This Official/Subject/Minister / I, Your Servant [Form of self-address used when speaking to a sovereign.]↩
3. Okay this isn’t saying that Xiao Jin isn’t a trustworthy person, just that although he was loyal to her, just that the situation was basically very unstable and she was basically not his.. uhh first priority? Their situation was precarious and she was still very new to the whole thing and wasn’t really doing a good job of being the lord and they were both honestly just winging it at the time. Ugh why is this so hard to explain. Do you guys get what I’m trying to say? T-T ↩
4. (将军令 – jiang jun ling) Ancient chinese instrumental song which originated from the royal music of the Tang Dynasty and has been circulated for more than a thousand years. It expresses the majesty and solemnity of the ancient generals when they ascended their tents, the vigor and agility when they set off on expeditions, and the intense tension when fighting.↩
5. Okay, so here it says 秒SHE将军 in the raws and after looking it up on baidu I couldn’t really find what the SHE is supposed to stand for but the results pretty much clarified that it was talking about.. um.. fast shooters.. So the raws basically say smth like 1 Second Shot General, and I just went with General Quickshot…↩