Chapter 911 – Huge Public Outcry
"Yes… I agree with Lord Heng. Not only are lives at stake when it comes to this issue with Zhen Tian Chamber of Commerce but it has also caused huge public outrage and attracted a lot of attention. If we continue to dally, things might get worse. We can't afford any further delays."
"That's right. This has caused a huge public uproar and if the imperial court still doesn't issue a statement, I'm afraid…"
"But, recently, the director of Tian Zhen Chamber of Commerce had been sending us multiple letters and the tone of these letters have not been friendly."
All these officials expressed their own views and everyone had a different take on the situation. However, they all agreed that this matter had to be settled urgently.
Some nodded in agreement while others shook their heads and sighed.
Minister of the Right Lin Zheng did not stop them from arguing.
He was well-aware of the fact that this matter could no longer be ignored and any further delay might result in severe repercussions.
He picked up the scroll that recorded this matter and sank deep into thought.
The words on the scroll were as follows: The relative of the chairman of Zhen Tian Chamber of Commerce, Fu Yan, together with Hong Ruoqing, the young master of Hong Yuan Chamber of Commerce which was a local company at Snow Capital, had raped and tortured three women. which then resulted in their deaths. This news rocked the capital and sparked large public protests and outrage…'
Since the Domain Gate opened, the Empress brought the first batch of representatives from the foreign domains that had signed agreements with them back to Heaven Wasteland Domain. Thereafter, a total of sixty-two chambers of commerce and forces formally established representative stations within the city.
There were seven super chambers of commerce that were extremely powerful within the Vast Thousand Domains in terms of strength and reputation. They did not only trade in agriculture and forestry but also in heavy duty military weapons and military ships. Their words carried a lot of weight and they also were heavily influential in upper-middle domains. If these seven chambers of commerce were compared to horses, they would be considered a highly-prized breed of horses. Heaven Wasteland Domain stood to benefit a lot from these super chambers of commerce setting up representative stations.
Zhen Tian Chamber of Commerce belonged to one of these seven super chambers of commerce.
This was the heart of the matter.
The chairman of Zhen Tian Chamber of Commerce, Fu Tianao, had a nephew named Fu Yan. Fu Yan was a good-for-nothing playboy who had been born with a silver spoon, so Fu Tianao's intention was for him to shadow these few managers of the representative station to learn the ropes of commerce and grow from this experience. However, this playboy did not wish to learn and bandied his status around to go out about town with his new friends. He roamed around in all the red-light districts and ate and ran away without paying wherever he went but no one dared to come after him because of his status. He had only been here for two weeks but was already known as the King of the Red-Light District.
According to the rumors, Fu Tianao had children and was extremely trusting of and doted heavily on his worthless nephew. He was even trying his best to groom him to be the successor of one of his businesses.
If he was only involved in such immoral acts, it would not have caused such a headache for the officials at court since they would be able to settle this issue privately with the Registrars of Zhen Tian Chamber of Commerce. However, that bully Fu Yan together with his accomplice from Heaven Wasteland's Hong Yuan Chamber of Commerce raped three young and beautiful commoners which eventually caused their deaths. After these three women were tortured to death, their naked bodies were thrown onto the streets, which had made things worse.
"I think that we should handle this matter in accordance to the imperial laws of Heaven Wasteland Dynasty. Only then would we be able to soothe the public rage and ensure that justice is served. It would also be an effective warning to others," a young adviser who was also clad in the same navy robes with silver embroidery said firmly. He belonged to the new generation of officials who Lin Zheng was trying to groom. He was firm and determined with a youthful drive. He had a straightforward way of handling matters and was not cowed by power and authority, so he was the first to speak up.
The younger generation officials with this man as their leader were all of this view that punishment should be meted out harshly.
His voice suppressed the chatter by the surrounding officials and the side palace hall suddenly quietened down.
"What do the others think?" Lin Zheng said thoughtfully with a nod but did not make any further comment.
"I think that it would not be appropriate to handle this issue in that manner. The power and authority wielded by Zhen Tian Chamber of Commerce is not something that Heaven Wasteland Domain would be able to go up against. If we punish them in accordance to the rules of the land, Fu Yan would receive the death penalty and be beheaded. Although we would soothe the public outrage, we would also be forced to face serious consequences. If we're lucky, we'd only lose the support of the super chambers of commerce, but if we are not, Zhen Tian Chamber of Commerce might secretly join forces with the other forces to cause trouble for us. Then, we would be placed in an awkward situation," a cabinet elder said gravely. His beard and hair were both white and he was dressed in the crimson robes of an official.
This elder was a long-serving official of Heaven Wasteland Domain and was widely-recognized to be of good character. Everyone knew he said these words not because he had been bribed by Zhen Tian Chamber of Commerce, or because he was taking anybody's side, but he truly meant well for Heaven Wasteland Empire. As politicians, they would have to know when to compromise for the greater good and not be too focused on what was morally right or wrong.
"I agree with Elder Liu."
"I don't think so. Elder Liu might be overly cautious. I agree with Lord Luo and feel that we should use this matter to make a statement. Taking a step back, this method might work if we use it on the young master of Hong Yuan Chamber of Commerce since they are incorporated here locally. In my opinion, I no longer see why they should continue to exist. We could make use of this to soothe the public outrage and mete out some justice on behalf of the deceased. However, it would not be appropriate to apply these methods on Zhen Tian Chamber of Commerce."
"If we anger Fu Tianao of Zhen Tian Chamber of Commerce because of this, our problems will only grow bigger."
Heaven Wasteland Domain was developing quickly and if they lost the support of these super chambers of commerce, it would indeed have a significant impact on their future development. Furthermore, this chamber of commerce even controlled the production of heavy-duty military weapons, which was Heaven Wasteland Domain's weakest point. If they really decapitated this bully, they would also run the risk of Zhen Tian Chamber of Commerce secretly colluding with the enemy forces to stir up trouble for Heaven Wasteland Domain. If unnecessary wars and conflicts break out over this, they would stand to lose even more.
These officials were all the brains of Heaven Wasteland Domain who were adept in handling political affairs but this was the first time they had to manage affairs with forces that were not part of their domain, and so they seemed hesitant.
"Heng Weilin, what are your thoughts?" Minister of the Right, Lin Zheng, looked toward the warm and elegant young remonstrance official, Heng Weilin.
Heng Weilin had not spoken at all and listened carefully to his colleagues' suggestions. He nodded when Lin Zheng singled him out and walked to the front. He placed the scroll he held in his hand on the table and said, "In recent days, the imperial guards have stood guard outside Fu Yan's residence, temporarily restricting his access outside. Fu Yan has been cursing and swearing every day because of this but thankfully, he has yet to force his way out. We don't know how long he would be able to last cooped up in his residence. The victims’ families have also gathered outside his residence and wore only their mourning sackcloth to protest. After many members of the public heard about this, they quickly rushed over to support the victims' families. If this standoff continues, I'm worried that the situation would spiral out of control."
The situation was already very tense, like a string pulled tautly. They would need to come to a decision soon as to whether the string would snap or it would be loosened.
Lin Zheng remained silent.
The other officials also held their tongues.
If they left Fu Yan off, the public sentiment would turn against them and they would also be complicit in his crimes. This could set off even greater public disturbances.
If they punished him and offended Zhen Tian Chamber of Commerce, Heaven Wasteland Domain might face even greater problems.
Lin Zheng hesitated for a few moments before he finally decided to share the information he received recently, "According to the news I've received from the imperial guards, Fu Yan has already made a statement. He said… said that these were just the lives of a few common women, what was all the fuss about? The victims' families were only creating a fuss because they were after money and were trying to extort money from him. There isn't anything in the world that cannot be resolved with money and Zhen Tian Chamber of Commerce would be willing to settle this issue with money."
"That bastard!" Elder Liu who had still suggested looking at the big picture earlier could not hold back his anger.
Lin Zheng looked at the documents that piled up like a small mountain on his table and heaved a soft sigh. He looked at the gathered officials and said, "Please also take a look at the letter that the Chairman of Zhen Tian Chamber of Commerce, Fu Tianao sent us."
Then, he passed the letter to Heng Weilin for circulation.
The gist of the letter was that Fu Yan had acted rashly but because of his youth, Heaven Wasteland Domain should mete out a lighter sentence to teach him a lesson. If the domain agreed to mete out a lighter sentence, Zhen Tian Chamber of Commerce would give Heaven Wasteland Domain the profits from their brocade business. There were also several sentences at the conclusion which roughly hinted that Zhen Tian Chamber of Commerce was extremely powerful and influential, so if they couldn't reach an agreement, this might adversely affect the entire trade and business industry of Heaven Wasteland Domain, which would not bode well for Heaven Wasteland Empire. The contempt and threatening tone of the message were clear enough.
"This… This is obviously a threat!" another elder clad in a long black robe with dark red hair and beard said angrily after reading the letter.
The dozens of officials present realized that Fu Tianao would protect his nephew at all costs. If they dared to punish Fu Yan, he would definitely retaliate viciously.
"I don't know what that young master of Hong Yuan Chamber of Commerce, Hong Ruoqing promised them, but Fu Yan has also requested that Fu Tianao specially mention that Hong Ruoqing must be protected as well." Heng Weilin frowned slightly.
The price Hong Yuan Chamber of Commerce must have paid for Fu Tianao to make such a personal request was definitely very high. What exactly did Hong Ruoqing put on the table, and did it endanger Heaven Wasteland Domain?
This also set off alarm bells among Lin Zheng and the other court officials.
Then, this sparked off another round of discussions.
Dozens of court officials expressed their own opinions and after discussing for thirty minutes, they had yet to reach a suitable conclusion.
Lin Zheng rubbed at his temples and sighed. He knew that there would still be no outcome after this round of discussions. Therefore, he put down the scroll in his hand and thought for a moment before he said, "This is a matter of great importance. I shall report the pros and cons of this matter to Empress. Let's make a decision after that."
This concluded their discussion about the matter of Zhen Tian Chamber of Commerce.
None of the other court officials expressed any objection.
Everyone knew that there would not be an outcome even if they continued to discuss because the resulting consequences and responsibility would be too much for them to bear.
"Lord, there is still one more issue about that expert from a foreign domain, Wen Fusheng. He had created a big stir throughout the entire Heaven Wasteland Domain. From the way things stand at the moment, we'll need to settle it immediately." A young adviser passed the scroll in his hand to Lin Zheng. He then continued, "This is a list of people from several dozen sects who have been injured or killed by Wen Fusheng recently."Previous Chapter Next Chapter