Within the heavily pouring Central Continent City, there was a simple and crude courtyard.
Sat within a hall in this courtyard were an elder and a youngster.
The elder had a blanket covering his knees, his eyes a bit muddled, his face full of black age spots. From time to time, he would cough, the noise coming out of his chest sounding like a workshop ventilator. However, despite this being the case, his face still looked rather vigorous.
This elder whose clothing was simple and unadorned, home also extremely destitute, was precisely an important Yunqin statesman, Justice Sector Imperial Censor Jiang Rui.
The youngster who sat on the other side of him was precisely the umbrella maker Wang Buping who followed him out of East Port Town.
“A few years ago, Religion Sector’s astronomical observatory already noticed that an entirely red sinister star flashed past the sky. Soon afterwards, there were cave barbarian movements behind Dragon Snake Mountain Range. At the time, his majesty deemed this matter was too strange, that there were definitely sinister things at work, stating that the cave barbarians in Great Desolate Swamp had a fiend ruling them.” Jiang Rui finished a bowl of medicinal soup, his expression rather bitter as he looked at Wang Buping. “From then on, my Yunqin has never been too peaceful. Wenren rebelled, the crown prince died, the emperor launched the war against the south, Grand Secretary Zhou went into seclusion, Hu Piyi suffered a great defeat, hundreds of thousands of Yunqin soldiers died in battle.”
Wang Buping didn’t know what kind of pressing matter Jiang Rui had in calling him over today. When he heard Jiang Rui talk about these things, he was only worried about Jiang Rui’s health.
According to the things some of some officials in the royal court and some old servants in this manor said before he entered, he knew that Jiang Rui’s condition was becoming worse and worse, things not taking a turn for the better even after using medicine.
After coughing fiercely a few times, a sorrow expressioned Jiang Rui breathed heavily, his face overcast as he looked at Wang Buping and said, “Recently, there were great moves in the royal court. Soon, there will be an Inspection Division formed outside the eight sectors, specializing in the correction of the eight sectors’ corrupt members.”
Wang Buping was already no longer that small town’s umbrella craftsman. With just this sentence alone, his expression immediately changed greatly. “In charge of correcting the corruption of the various sectors, yet doesn’t belong to any single sector, isn’t this Inspection Division’s authority actually extremely great?”
Jiang Rui didn’t reply to Wang Bu Ping’s question. In his opinion, this question wasn’t a question at all, it didn’t need a reply. He only slowly said, “A serious illness needs strong medicine, Yunqin’s governing has indeed already reached an extremely serious degree. His majesty is establishing this new division to treat the grave illness, so he definitely won’t use us old folk whose bodies are full of problems. That is why the one who will establish the new division is Sir Liu Xueqing. I already recommended you to his majesty and Liu Xueqing, so you will be transferred to Inspection Division soon as well, taking on an important position.”
Wang Buping immediately turned pale with fright, unable to help but cry out, “This student is of humble talent and shallow learning, how can I take on such great responsibility?!”
Jiang Rui released a heavy cough, saying with a deep voice, “Do not underestimate yourself. It is precisely out of worry that this division will already be rotten inside before it is fully established that his majesty is deliberately using new subjects, boldly and decisively promoting those who dare fight and stand up, youngsters who won’t submit to force. This corrupt enforcement is quite simply actually only needing upright and fearless individuals, both qualities things you possess!”
“The empire needs you to shoulder this great responsibility, so you must. I didn’t bring you out of East Port Town to have you shirk at this type of time.” Before waiting for Wang Buping to say anything, Jiang Rui coldly added this.
Wang Buping’s palms were completely covered in sweat. However, in the end, he only clenched his teeth and said, “This student will do everything he can.”
Jiang Rui’s expression became a bit calmer. After remaining quiet for a bit, he said, “I do not have much time left.”
Wang Buping’s breathing stopped momentarily again, his face becoming pale.
“I do not like to speak pretentious words. That day, when the court decided on the war against the south, I just happened to be doing things outside the province, not in the imperial palace, or else I would have already carried out a death remonstration, wouldn’t have been able to live until now.” Jiang Rui’s expression became extremely serious, looking at Wang Buping. “The reason I sought you out is only to warn you about something.”
Wang Buping took a deep breath, saying through clenched teeth, “Teacher, please speak.”
Jiang Rui narrowed his eyes slightly, his voice sinking. “I know you hold Lin Xi in high esteem. I will only ask you one thing. In the future, if Lin Xi and his majesty engage in conflict, will you selfishly be biased towards Lin Xi?”
Wang Buping’s forehead began to trickle with sweat. He looked at Jiang Rui, his voice trembling as he said, “Teacher, why would you ask me this type of question?”
“It is because my impression of Lin Xi is still not good in the end. He doesn’t seem to have much reverence towards his majesty. This type of person might very well be a huge disaster, someone ruthless and ambitious like Wenren Cangyue.” Jiang Rui coldly said, “Previously, apart from his status as a Green Luan Academy student, he wasn’t anyone too special. However now, his prestige among the people is climbing higher and higher, to the extent where he could affect some situations. In the future, this will naturally be even more dangerous.”
Wang Buping opened his mouth, momentarily unable to say anything, sweat drenching his clothes.
A hint of disappointment flashed past Jiang Rui’s eyes, saying with sorrow, “You have to understand one thing. His majesty, regardless of what faults he has made, is still the emperor in the end. If us subjects don’t have loyalty to our country, our humble selves not upright, then regardless of what kind of brilliant things we do, we are already acting with hearts that are not upright, merely using tricks to rouse the masses. It was his majesty who granted us this authority, to bring joy to the people, so this authority naturally needs to be used to defend his majesty. I know that the reason why you are unable to immediately reply is because you feel that there is no way Lin Xi will do the things I speak of, but what if he really does?! You do not need to speak any words defending him, you only need to promise me that you will punish rebellious ministers, regardless whether they are close or distant!”
Wang Buping still didn’t say anything, only nodding with a pale expression.
Jiang Rui was furious. “Don’t tell me that you are feeling hesitation even over serving the people as a subject?!”
Wang Buping’s entire body trembled. Jiang Rui erupted into a heavy burst of coughing. With a pu sound, he spat out a mouthful of blood, the clothing in front of his chest covered in blood.
“Teacher, please quell your anger! This disciple will definitely remember teacher’s instructions! I won’t give up even in death!” Wang Buping was immediately horrified, extremely worried. With a putong noise, he knelt down in front of Jiang Rui.
“Alright, that’s the student I know.” Jiang Rui revealed a smile. His body staggered, reaching out a hand to stroke Wang Buping’s head, but he discovered that no matter how he tried to exert force, he just couldn’t raise his hand. It was just these few feet of distance, yet he couldn’t cross it. “My lifespan has reached its limit…” This upright and plainspoken old subject who devoted his entire life to worrying about the country, worrying about the people, released a reluctant sigh under this Central Continent City’s violent rain. He looked at the endless rain outside the window, his body suddenly relaxing. He released one last exhale, and then spoke one last line. “Do not forget these words you promised me.”
Under the violent rain, yet another upright and honorable official left this world, a small courtyard was left full of voices of grief.
“These shortsighted civil officials, those so-called upright subjects, they are all rigid and inflexible in thinking. What do they understand?!”
Under the explosive rain, within a Central Continent tower, a Central Continent Guards officer dressed in cloth clothes sneered and cursed, “Unable to accomplish anything, but liable to spoiling everything!”
“Sir Lu, could it be that your respected self feels that the Inspection Division is not a good idea?”
Another silver-armored high ranking military officer looked at this furious superior in confusion, asking this in puzzlement.
“The Inspection Division is fine and dandy, but look at what kind of times we are in now!” This central continent officer dressed in cloth clothes said with a fierce voice, “A serious illness needs strong medicine, but it still needs to wait until the sick person’s body has been adjusted a bit better! During this time when two countries are fighting, if we want to boldly and decisively carry out a purge against corrupt officials, the worse Yunqin’s governing is, the more people will feel they are in danger, the more these corrupt officials cannot be wiped out in one go! Just how much more chaos is going to erupt because of this? Are we going to let the inside become chaotic before the front lines do?!”
“The property of corrupt officials can indeed subsidize military funding and provisions, but right now, our Yunqin still hasn’t reached the point where funding is hitting its limit. What our military needs is only smooth and unhindered support! There are some corrupt officials who, for better or for worse, can take care of some matters. If we are going to kill and seize them, we should wait until the war becomes calmer. If we fiercely kill and catch them now, the people will be satisfied, those civil officials comfortable, but our front lines might instead have many more people who will perish!”
“Wen Xuanshu, this Grand Secretary only knows how to agree with his majesty and receive the support of many officials, this matter even more so receiving the agreement of most officials. Even if those senators wish to object, under the rigidness of those upright subjects, excessive objection will only make others doubt them for not being upright! Grand Secretary Wen, you’ve really outdone yourself this time! However, when you perform too well, the others will feel that there are problems, that you are only good at flattering. How can you compare to Grand Secretary Zhou?!”
After continuously shouting angrily several times, this cloth clothed officer still seemed like he didn’t completely vent out his frustrations. He then said coldly, “Moreover, this new division, all of the promotions are through exceptions and breaking the rules, who knows what kind of filth is hidden inside?!”
The silver-armored officer seemed to also be of fiery temper. When he heard these words, he immediately felt a bit of anger, saying coldly, “Sir Lu, since you feel like this, also disapproving greatly of Grand Secretary Wen many times before, why don’t we just request a transfer? We can just go and follow Great General Gu Yunjing!”
“How can we do that?”
The cloth clothed officer released a sneer, “The more it is like this, the more we have to bow our heads as subjects towards Grand Secretary Zhou, properly obey his orders, tend to his comfort.”
The silver-armored officer’s brows furrowed. “Sir Lu, I don’t understand.”
“If we have any objections towards him and all of us leave, all of us those who are pushed off by him, leaving the stage, then who will keep an eye on him in Central Continent City?” The cloth clothed officer’s expression calmed down slightly. He looked at the silver-armored officer and said with a slight smile, “That is why the more it is like this, the more we have to appear respectful before him, as if we want to borrow his authority to climb up, remain loyal to him. Normally, when we are outside, don’t let him see even a hint of an expression of discomfort. We have to let everyone believe that we are absolutely loyal to him.”
The silver-armored officer stared blankly, understanding and laughing, but immediately afterwards, he became a bit resentful and distressed, “Doing this is a bit too hard for me.”
“You have to do it even if it is hard, even if others point at your nose and curse at you.”
The cloth clothed officer coldly said, “However, one day, others will know who is truly acting for Yunqin.”
After a slight pause, this city defense officer narrowed his eyes, saying firmly, “Principal Zhang used to say that time will always prove everything.”
1. The Imperial Censor who saved Lin Xi in East Port Town. He previously cut his own thighs in the pursuit of justice, shocking the whole court. He took Wang Buping, the umbrella craftsman, as a student.