Autumn was the season of an abundant harvest.
For this world that had cultivators and powerful military forces, yet its production capacity wasn’t much different from the cold weapon society Lin Xi was familiar with, this type of season possessed even greater significance.
This year’s autumn harvest, for some comparatively more impoverished Yunqin commoners, signified filled bellies for the coming year, some more meat on their tables, some more dried meat and salted fish hanging from their eaves.
For a massive empire, the abundant harvest of autumn was precisely the blood that supported the operation of an entire empire.
Continuous years of favorable weather could fatten a public purse, while continuous years of natural disasters and disorder could empty a public purse.
During the last three years, from Dragon Snake Border Pass’ Cave Barbarians chaos, Jadefall City’s disorder, and then to the defeat of the southern expedition… these successive great battles already put this empire in a staggering state. The financial support for families with soldiers who lost their lives, large amounts of military recruitment, consumption of stored grains and decrease in strong laborers already made the price of Yunqin’s grain increase considerably.
At this type of time, favorable weather was even more important for Yunqin empire.
Whenever autumn arrived, Yunqin Empire would carry out a great ceremony of sacrifice towards the heavens, their request precisely good weather for crops.
The location of Yunqin’s autumn sacrifice was precisely Heaven Offering Stage outside Central Continent City’s southern gates.
Heaven Offering Stage had three floors. There were no houses built on them, this offering of space called ‘open offering’. Only three li from Heaven Offering Stage was a temporary imperial residence named Fasting Palace. Since the heaven offering was carried out before sunrise, the day before, the emperor would sleep in this temporary residence, fast and bathe in fragrances. Once it was time, he would personally hold the ceremony.
Since this year’s favorable weather was exceptionally important for all of Yunqin Empire, that was why this year’s autumn season was also exceptionally grand. A few days ago, they had already completed enough preparations, the entire street connecting Central Continent City to this Heaven Offering Stage even had a great renovation carried out, its appearance as if new.
It was already close to when the ceremony was about to begin. The skies were still dark, but the lanterns hung from long poles made the road’s atmosphere grand and majestic.
The divine tents made from heavenly green satin were already all in place. The highest level was the high heaven position, the second level’s two sides were respectively for the sun, moon and stars tablet, as well as the clouds, rain, wind, and thunder tablet. Arranged in front of the deity position were jade, silk, an entire cow, entire sheep, entire pig, as well as alcohol, fruits, vegetable and meat dishes, as well as all types of other offerings. Just the containers used to hold the offerings and the various sacrificial vessels numbered more than seven hundred. Displayed at the lowest level were a bianqing, bianzhong, bozhong, and thirteen other types of musical instruments, more than sixty instruments in total. They were arranged in an orderly fashion, the scene solemn, respectful and magnificent.
Below the three leveled stage, civil and military officials were already moving towards their positions. Religion Sector’s general official already entered the temporary imperial residence to greet the emperor, because according to normal reasoning, the emperor should have appeared by the gates of Fasting Palace a while ago.
However, even until this time, the emperor still hadn’t shown his face.
Some officials who prepared to set flames to the sacrificial vessels and perform music already gripped the things in their hands for a long time, but despite their minds being tense and hands sore, they didn’t see the emperor show himself. Their faces were all filled with endless shock.
Religion Sector’s general official dressed in extravagant heaven offering clothing and the other welcoming officials had already stood outside the emperor’s Fasting Palace for a long time.
When they saw that it was almost dawn yet the emperor still didn’t appear, fearing that they might not make it in time, Religion Sector’s general official could no longer hold himself back, risking the danger of provoking the anger of the dragon authority, prostrating on the ground and yelling loudly towards the inside of Fasting Palace, “Your majesty, it is already time, the subjects are all respectfully waiting for your majesty to preside over the Autumn Sacrifice Ceremony!”
This Religion Sector general official’s hot blood already rushed to his head, his voice extremely loud, to the extent where even the Yunqin officials outside could vaguely hear it.
However, even after continuously shouting three times, there was still no response from the inside of the Fasting Palace.
In that instant, this Religion Sector general official’s body went rigid. He wanted to rush into the palace to investigate, but calling out for his majesty three times would at most bring him censuring and demotion. If he provoked the dragon throne, this would be a crime punishable by execution. Moreover, his majesty was a cultivator, so if a cultivator’s crucial bottleneck was abruptly cut short, it might bring even more severe consequences upon him.
The atmosphere in Fasting Palace immediately entered a deadlocked state.
Time passed minute by minute, second by second.
Many officials’ faces slowly turned white. Religion Sector’s general official could no longer hold himself back, shouting for two palace maids to open Fasting Palace’s gates.
“Where is his majesty?! Where did his majesty go?!”
The instant Fasting Palace’s gates were opened, this Religion Sector general official cried out in alarm.
Fasting Palace was completely empty. Where was the emperor’s figure to be seen?
“What? His majesty isn’t in Fasting Palace?!”
“His majesty isn’t in Fasting Palace! Where did he go?”
When news got out, an uproar erupted beneath Heaven Offering Stage.
Everyone under the sky knew that Yunqin Emperor was a powerful sacred level cultivator. There was no one in this world who could silently bring him away. If he wasn’t in Fasting Palace, then that could only mean that he left himself. However, if he left himself, who would know where he went?
“His majesty has issued an imperial decree ordering me to preside over the Autumn Sacrifice Ceremony in his place.”
A calm voice sounded amidst the confusion and disorder.
Everyone below the Heaven Offering Stage immediately became silent. The eyes of all of these officials gathered at the place in front of all of these officials, on the body of Yunqin Grand Secretary Wen Xuanshu who just spoke.
Many people’s eyes carried disbelief. If there really was a decree, why would it happen like this, only declared when the sky had already brightened, when the subjects were already in panic?
However, most of them believed that if the Autumn Sacrifice Ceremony was started and then discarded, it would be an extreme act of disrespect towards the heavens. Now that Wen Xuanshu had stepped out, there was at least a bit of remedy for the situation.
Only a few officials vaguely sensed a heart palpitating aura from the excessively calm face of Wen Xuanshu and several others.
“It is already time to start the ceremony!”
A Religion Sector official was still hesitating, but another Religion Sector official who was at his side already shouted out orders towards the Religion Sector musicians.
Bell noises sounded.
Drums and music sounded.
The firewood furnaces began to burn. To the southwest, three meters of giant red candles were lit, while a calf burned southeast.
The Autumn Sacrifice Ceremony officially began.
Wen Xuanshu’s expression was calm. He slowly walked up, entering through the Heaven Offering Stage’s left gates, stopping at the mid level stage’s worshipping position and offering incense.
Then, sacrificing to high heaven, offerings of jade and silk… all of the procedures were completed meticulously by Wen Xuanshu, everything carried out in a clear and orderly manner. Amidst the solemn and respectful atmosphere, many officials also temporarily calmed down, only restlessly guessing at what happened to his majesty, why he would miss out on such an important ceremony.
The offering ceremony was complete, now it was time for the prayer to the heavens.
Wen Xuanshu received the green jade heavenly prayer speech board from the hands of a Religion Sector officer, starting the prayer to the heavens.
“As of recent, outside evils rampage, Yunqin is not at peace. The outside evils are all caused by Yunqin Empire’s owner, Changsun Jinse. This humble and unworthy subject is grateful to be of service to Yunqin, stating seven great crimes of Changsun Jinse, asking the holy lord of the high heaven to give us your ruling.”
“The first great crime, lack of distinguishment between right and wrong, ruining the laws of our ancestors, slaughtering the ministers who have established our empire.”
“The second great crime, obstinate and self-opinionated, rejoicing in grandiose deeds, shunning advice, instead punishing good subjects.”
“Third great crime, colluding with enemy countries, exchanging and purchasing military goods, disregarding national prestige and grudges to establish a personal army, bringing shame to our empire.”
“Fourth great crime, forcing Green Luan Academy, inciting disorder through military force, disregarding glory.”
“Fifth great crime, not exerting himself, letting corruption and greed run rampant.”
“Sixth great crime, shrinking from responsibilities and guilt, blaming others, timely seeking false reputation, shifting the blame of a defeat due to his own orders onto the general.”
“Seventh great crime, disregard of ethics and morals of cardinal relationships, brother lusting after his own younger sister.”
“These seven great crimes I declare to high heaven’s holy lord. If there are any words that present a false picture, let divine thunder bring down heavenly punishment upon me. I ask high heaven holy lord to order Changsun Jinse to abdicate from the throne, order Changsun Muyue to succeed the throne, restore righteousness to Yunqin, bring stability to the nation.”
When Wen Xuanshu’s first sentence entered the ears of the subjects below, most people immediately became stupefied, shocked to a completely stunned degree. They became dumbstruck, their bodies continuously shaking.
What favorable weather prayer to heaven was this? He was clearly declaring the emperor’s crimes one after another, a document pleading for the heavens to abdicate the emperor!
Wen Xuanshu actually wanted to rebel!
A Religion Sector old official stood up in a confused and muddle-headed state. He felt a type of unreal sensation, at a loss, not knowing what was going on, how this type of thing could happen.
Then, he saw that many people hid their thoughts extremely well, only feeling nervous, not being shocked.
He saw that those colleagues he was normally incredibly familiar with, at this time, actually felt like strangers.
Then, he began to recall what the sentences he just heard were.
This official who was only fifth rank, normally a yes-man before Wen Xuanshu, in this type of situation where none of the other officials uttered a world, spread his arms and roared out crazily, “Wen Xuanshu, unbridled! You actually want to rebel!”
The shout of this old Relion Sector official freed many officials from a dizzy state. They also completely reacted to what was going on, realizing what kind of situation they were in. Their hands began to twitch slightly from shock and fear, but inwardly, they understood everything exceptionally clearly.
When they heard this old Religon Sector official’s roar, out of the corners of his eyes, Wen Xuanshu clearly saw many officials who normally showed him great fear and respect become filled with anger, resentment and killing intent. These normally timid and weak officials seemed to have become a pack of wild wolves, ready to tear him to shreds at any time.
However, his expression instead became even more calm. He only raised his head slightly, looking into the blue sky, and instead asking this old official, “Huang Zhongshi, you are saying that I have rebelled. Please tell me if anything I said isn’t true.”
“You… you rebellious minister!” The old Religion Sector official had a clump of air stuck in his chest, his entire face becoming purple-red, momentarily not knowing how to retort, only roaring out, “Of the things you said, how could any of them be true?”
“Let me tell you which were true.” Wen Xuanshu calmly looked at this old Religion Sector official, saying coldly, “The nine senators, the one who were bestowed the black gold carriages by his majesty, placed behind the heavy layers of curtains, the advisors of the late emperor, were all abolished in one go. Moreover, not were did Sir Jiang and the other senators killed after the late emperor passed on, they died in Central Continent City’s streets. Tell me then, this ruining the laws of our ancestors, slaughtering the ministers who have established our empire where is it wrong?”
“Everyone knows that the southern expedition was too rushed. The death remonstrations of several Government Sector old sirs showed no results, Grand Secretary Zhou produced an effective plan, yet he was removed from his position instead. Even if we do not mention how Changsun Jingse has always continued hostilities against Tangcang and Great Mang, tell me, obstinate and self-opinionated, rejoicing in grandiose deeds, shunning advice, instead punishing good subjects, what error is there with these words?”
“Everyone knows that Consecrator Zhang led a large group of Sky Devil Heavy Armors in Jadefall City. The past Mu Chenyun was merely Changsun Jinse’s puppet. Changsun Jinse contacted Great Mang to build his own private army. Tell me, where is this third statement mistaken?”
“He forced Vice Principal Xia to step down, to the extent where it instilled inner conflict in Green Luan Academy, the casualties countless, shaking my Yunqin’s foundation. Moreover, Lin Xi’s contributions are known by all under the sky, yet Changsun Jinse violently persecuted him out of a momentary joy and rage, tell me, was my fourth statement wrong?”
“These years, corruption and greed has run rampant, popular grievance rising from all directions. Tell me, where am I wrong here?”
“The southern expedition was unfavorable, there was clearly a lack of preparation, yet he didn’t listen to advice, instead sending countless Yunqin men to their deaths, countless commoners becoming destitute and homeless, this is clearly Changsun Jinse’s crime, yet he blamed Hu Piyi. Tell me, are my words incorrect?”
“The imperial princess has already been forced to flee Central Continent CIty, tell me, this seventh statement, is there any mistake?”
A pu noise sounded. Under his continuous questioning, the old Religion Sector official momentarily actually didn’t know where to begin retorting. A mouthful of blood gushed out from his mouth, his body falling down on his back.