Chapter 223: Coercion
The public hearing ended.
As soon as Su Chen refuted Sun Mo to the point that he was speechless, Lin Wenjun knew that he wouldn't be able to overturn Su Chen anymore. Even though he could continue to push Su Chen about the Three Yangs Medicine, he also knew that Su Chen would be able to easily find a way out of the situation.
He had somehow managed to cleanly deal with an actual witness, so how would he possibly pin something that no one had witnessed on him?
Actually, the most important factor was not how agile Su Chen's tongue was - it was how many people from the Flowing Gold Fort supported him.
In the system of authority for the real world, the truth was not actually so important. What was more important was having the right backers and sufficient influence.
As the hero who had saved the Heavenly Might Battalion, Su Chen had the deep gratitude of many of the generals within the Flowing Gold Fort. This gratitude and support would ensure that they would have done their best to protect him even if Su Chen was easily defeated by Sun Mo. On the other hand, without this kind of support, whether or not Sun Mo was here didn’t really matter. If they all wanted him dead, they could just find any old reason to finish him off.
Here, principles, justification, truth, and glib tongues weren’t useless, but their usefulness depended on how much the audience favored the user and how many contributions they had made, and these things were consumable.
If Su Chen had been rendered speechless by Sun Mo, he would still be able to find a way to escape. However, this would have depended on the generals banding together to protect him, which would be the same as using his contribution of saving the Heavenly Might Battalion to wipe away the punishment he should have received for allying with the Immortal Temple. As such, this would decrease their indebtedness towards him.
In any case, Sun Mo had been soundly refuted, and Su Chen claimed innocence. His contributions would not be canceled out, and his relations with everyone wouldn’t be very much affected. All he needed to do was probably thank everyone who had come for upholding the law.
Because of this, justice determined the cost, not the outcome - the later was determined by individual strength.
This was perhaps the tragic limitation of a trial by law of this time period - and perhaps not merely this time period alone.
However, this was not really all that important to Lin Wenjun.
He had never expected to be able to punish Su Chen in the first place.
Even though Su Chen had managed to save the Heavenly Might Battalion, invisibly slapping Lin Wenjun in the face in the process, everything he had done today was for a more important reason - despite his personal dissatisfaction with the situation.
Deep into the night.
At the Deputy Commander’s residence, Lin Wenjun paced around in his courtyard, staring up into the sky as if he was thinking about something.
Qiu Qingzhi walked over and said, “Your Majesty.”
“Mm. Did you get a chance to see clearly what happened today?” Lin Wenjun asked.
Qiu Qingzhi replied, “Yes, Qingzhi saw the situation clearly. Two generals felt that Su Chen had committed a crime, three were neutral, and five felt that he was blameless. More than half of the other officials also supported Su Chen. Your Highness’s support in the Flowing Gold Fort is not nearly enough yet.”
Lin Wenjun harrumphed. “He has his self-purported justice but no status. No matter how righteous he thinks he is or how much talent he has, does he really think he can do anything to me?”
Qiu Qingzhi immediately said, “Your Majesty, don’t be so agitated. You have not been managing the Flowing Gold Fort for very long. It will take a few more days for you to develop a solid foundation.”
“I am the Crown Prince. They should inherently be loyal to me, but I actually need to spend time and energy to rope them in?” Lin Wenjun said darkly.
Qiu Qingzhi sighed.
Lin Wenjun wasn’t an idiot, but just like most Crown Princes, he believed himself to be infallible, as if everything under the Heavens was destined to belong to him or something along those lines.
His questioning of Su Chen was in part to determine how many people supported him in the Flowing Gold Fort.
Truly reliable and staunch supporters wouldn’t care about things like right or wrong - they would only look at status!
And in Lin Wenjun’s eyes, the generals in the Flowing Gold Fort should have supported him by default.
Of course, that was not the reality of the situation.
The matter with Su Chen made it obvious that at least half of the generals didn’t care to show him respect, another fourth couldn’t make up their minds, and the less-than-a-fourth remainder stood on his side.
And even so, how much he could trust these people was yet another problem.
Lin Wenjun was naturally very displeased with this kind of a result.
Thankfully, he was still somewhat sober in his thinking. After complaining for a bit, he continued, “Of course, I also recognize that my actions were a bit too rash these past few days.”
This was somewhat of a confession regarding the matter of the Heavenly Might Battalion and was equivalent to a disguised acknowledgement of his mistake.
Unfortunately, this acknowledgement lacked sincerity and had only been spoken to Qiu Qingzhi alone, so it was totally pointless.
Qiu Qingzhi lowered his head and pretended as if he had not heard. He said, “Your Majesty is just extremely ambitious. You did nothing wrong.”
He sighed in his heart. No wonder this Crown Prince thought he was all that - he was surrounded by people like Qiu Qingzhi who only sang his praises. Even if the Crown Prince said himself that he was wrong, Qiu Qingzhi had to say that the Crown Prince was in fact right. It would have been a miracle if he had no arrogance in that case. On the other hand, he did not have the guts to tell the Crown Prince that he had in fact made a mistake. The people who had thought that they could instruct this Crown Prince and teach him how to be a decent human being had all eventually gone the way of the graveyard.
Lin Wenjun was very happy with the way Qiu Qingzhi phrased things. When he “modestly” claimed that he had made a mistake, what he wanted to hear was not “yes, you were wrong”, but “no, you did nothing wrong - you were only pursuing a greater goal......”
Qiu Qingzhi did this very well, which was why he had managed to accompany the Crown Prince for so long.
Lin Wenjun said, “What are your thoughts about Su Chen?”
Qiu Qingzhi thought for a moment, then replied, “If he could save the Heavenly Might Battalion, he cannot be a simple character.”
He knew that Lin Wenjun didn’t like Su Chen, but he also knew that he could not call Su Chen a weak chicken, so he was forced to use the Heavenly Might Battalion as evidence supporting his claim.
Following this boss of his was not easy. He had to be careful about every word he uttered.
Lin Wenjun sighed again. “He really is quite a powerful individual. He’s a problem, just like that instructor of his. I’m the one that needs to deal with this bother in order to appease those guys who just sit inside the kingdom all day.”
Lin Wenjun felt that his life was full of hardships.
He was the Crown Prince, but he was forced to try and get on peoples’ good sides and appease a bunch of nobles in order to obtain their support. This was why he had tried to deal with Shi Kaihuang, but this had resulted in him offending a bunch of generals in the Flowing Gold Fort. Then, Shi Kaihuang didn’t die, and the Heavenly Might Battalion returned alive, which was a slap in the face to him. Not only was he made out to be the bad guy, but the nobles back at home would also probably begin to complain.
How could Lin Wenjun possibly not feel uncomfortable?
Now that both Shi Kaihuang and Su Chen had returned, the pressure on Lin Wenjun was greater than it had ever been before.
He not only had to deal with Shi Kaihuang now but also with Su Chen.
News had reached him from the mainland that the Hemolytic Totem had been created by Su Chen. In the future, the technique for breaking into the Light Shaking Realm might end up passing through Su Chen’s hands as well.
The nobles did not wish for this to happen, so they could only continue bothering Lin Wenjun to deal with it.
Damn, if it weren’t for the fact that that damned third brother of his was starting to become a headache to deal with, how could he possibly be working for those nobles as the Crown Prince?
Countless thoughts flashed through Lin Wenjun’s head, and he wanted to die of frustration. His expression also became incredibly unsightly.
Qiu Qingzhi could tell that Lin Wenjun was not in a good mood. He hurriedly said, “Should we try to rope him in?”
Lin Wenjun shook his head. “Do you know how much money he made while selling the techniques for reaching the Blood Boiling Realm and Yang Opening Realm? Hundreds of millions of Origin Stones! The reason he could save the Heavenly Might Battalion was in large part due to the incredible amount of resources he possesses. You want me to tell him,
Hey, kiddo, if you don’t distribute the technique for reaching the Light Shaking Realm, I can promise you great benefits’? What can I give him? How much can I give him?”
Qiu Qingzhi was dumbstruck.
Shi Kaihuang didn’t want money at all. This was obvious based on the fact that he had handed his invention entirely over to his disciple to manage. On the other hand, Su Chen had too much money.
Not wanting money and having too much money both resulted in the same outcome: they were impossible to buy out.
At the very least, they could not be bought out with money.
This was precisely why Lin Wenjun wanted to directly bring harm to Shi Kaihuang at the very beginning.
It wasn’t that he hadn’t thought of using underhanded tactics before; it was that they were totally useless against Shi Kaihuang.
If money was insufficient, then he could only use orders.
As such, he would need to resort to some kind of forceful coercion.
The only problem was, how was he supposed to coerce?
With martial strength?
With his authority?
Lin Wenjun paced back and forth in deep thought for quite some time. Finally, he said, “Su Chen has made too many contributions. Forcefully suppressing him will only upset other people. There’s nothing we can do openly, so I think we can only rely on underhanded tactics from here on out.”
Qiu Qingzhi carefully said, “By underhanded tactics, Your Majesty means……”
If assassination techniques were enough to deal with Su Chen, there was no need for the Crown Prince to have even been involved. The large nobility clans would have been able to resolve the issue on their own.
Lin Wenjun could choose to take this route, but this was a clear sign that his authority and status meant nothing. For someone with as much authority as him to use a tactic like assassination was in and of itself a kind of defeat.
As such, even if Lin Wenjun managed to successfully assassinate Su Chen, that would be a kind of defeat as well.
A political defeat.
When he heard Qiu Qingzhi’s subtle reminder, Lin Wenjun felt his head begin to hurt.
He said, “This Su Chen is really not an easy opponent to deal with.”
Qiu Qingzhi replied, “Actually, there are more ways to get someone to acquiesce to us than just with money or with a direct order. There are some things that might not seem important to us that are very important to him.”
“Oh? What exactly could you be referring to?” Lin Wenjun asked.
Qiu Qingzhi said, “Has Your Majesty ever thought of utilizing the people around him?”
Lin Wenjun immediately shook his head. “The people around him? That won’t be of any use. He split with the Northface Su Clan a long time ago, and they are strangers now. The only person he cares about is his mother, who he secretly took with him a long time ago, and no one knows where she is these days…… This guy has been prepared for a long time.”
Qiu Qingzhi immediately said, “I wasn’t referring to these people.”
“You weren’t referring to them?” Lin Wenjun was taken aback. “Then who are you talking about?”
“The Heavenly Might Battalion.”
“The Heavenly Might Battalion?” Lin Wenjun was stunned.
The Heavenly Might Battalion had already been dissolved by Lin Wenjun. The newly formed Heavenly Might Battalion did not have many of the old guard present, so it took Lin Wenjun a few moments to realize that Qiu Qingzhi was referring to the old Heavenly Might Battalion.
Qiu Qingzhi said, “Yes, I’m talking about them. Su Chen was the one who saved the Heavenly Might Battalion. They have a deep appreciation for Su Chen, which is obvious just based on the way that they talk to each other. And this kind of a relationship is a two-way street; the Heavenly Might Army’s soldiers revere Su Chen, and Su Chen probably values their camaraderie. If they are put in danger……”
Lin Wenjun understood. “But when these people are together, it’s hard to deal with them.”
“That’s why I recommended early on to you to split them up. Dealing with a split up Heavenly Might Battalion is not nearly as difficult. We don’t need to do something to all of the Heavenly Might Battalion soldiers, just a group of them, and that will be more than enough to force Su Chen to bow his head to us.”