What kind of joke was this? The real Fu Hao might have been some goddess of war, but it was Pei Mianman in the guise of Fu Hao right now, and she was just a young lady! In fact, she had just been under him begging for mercy a moment ago—how could she tolerate the trauma of a battlefield?
More than that, though, this trial was really strange. He didn’t know much about this Qiang Faction, but they had somehow managed to wipe out the Shang Dynasty’s entire army. Wouldn’t it be suicide to send Pei Mianman, someone who had never fought a war before?
Fu Shuo tried to persuade him. “My king, I know you care a lot about the queen, but now isn’t the time to act impulsively! The queen has subdued an internal uprising before, which shows that she is more than capable at handling military affairs. My king, you do not need to worry.”
Zu An did not like this idea at all. He couldn’t just explain what was really going on to Fu Shuo.
Seeing that he had not yet come around, Fu Shuo continued his efforts. “My king, we are at a critical moment of life and death! If either your uncles or cousins were to lead the troops, your position as king will begin to crumble once they return victorious!”
Zu An froze. “Why is that?”
A hint of uncertainty flashed across Fu Shuo’s face when he heard this question. “In our Shang State, one of the king’s brothers succeeds him upon his death. Once a king passes, his brother will take the throne, and so on and so forth. Only in a few situations will the throne be passed on to the king’s son.
“In the past, Pan Geng moved to Yin Capital, and when he passed on, his throne was passed on to his younger brother, Xiao Xin. When Xiao Xin died, the throne was passed onto his brother, Xiao Yi, who is your father. In theory, he should have passed on the throne to his younger brother or one of their older sons, yet he gave it to you, his own son. The rest of his brothers were obviously unhappy with this, and tried to usurp the throne. If we allow those men to lead the army and defeat the Qiang Faction, their prestige will rise sharply. My king, how will you deal with that, then? I know how much you treasure the queen, but if your throne is seized, you won’t have the strength to protect her.
“If this subject may be so bold, the queen is absolutely stunning. Once you fall from power, many may start to covet her. Once that happens, it will be too late for regrets.”
His careful explanation was all Zu An needed to understand the situation. This Fu Shuo was truly worthy of his status as a renowned ancient statesman. He had managed to dissect the situation so clearly, which marked him as an exceedingly competent individual. If the two of them had been Wu Ding or Fu Hao, it might have been enough to convince them. Unfortunately, they were both complete fakes.
He was just about to think of a way to refute him when Pei Mianman spoke up. “Fine, I will go.”
“Manman!” Zu An was shocked. He never expected her to volunteer herself like that.
Fu Shuo was confused. Why did the king address the queen as such? In the end, he assumed that it was a nickname that the king had given her, and dismissed the matter.
Pei Mianman pulled Zu An to the side and said through voice transmission, “Ah Zu, I know you are worried about me, but we came here to overcome a trial. It might seem safe for now, doing nothing but hiding in this palace, but it will only amount to waiting for a slow death. Once the opportunity passes us by, the situation will be beyond saving.
“This Fu Shuo is clearly sent by this trial to give us the information we need. I believe we can trust what he says. If I do not command the troops, there will only be two possible outcomes: either the Qiang Faction will invade, leading to the destruction of the Shang State, or your uncles and cousins will defeat the Qiang Faction and then seize your throne… Regardless of which one it is, we will definitely fail this trial.”
Zu An frowned. “But leading troops is just way too dangerous! You don’t have any experience in this field, so everything points to disaster if you head out.”
Pei Mianman smiled sweetly. “Please do not treat me as some spoiled and obedient daughter. I’ve faced all sorts of difficulties on the road to my current cultivation. I’ve even been to an army camp before…”
Zu An was shocked. “You served as a soldier before?”
He recalled the story of Mulan, a woman who had dressed up as a man to join the army. When his eyes landed on her chest, however, he immediately rejected this thought. There was no way she could pull that off!
“I was never a soldier, but I’ve been to an army camp, and I know my way around.” Pei Mianman smiled. “The Pei clan is a powerful clan in the Zhou Dynasty, after all. We have some influence in the military.”
She continued, “Don’t worry, Ah Zu. We cultivators seek our own path, and we believe that all things in this world come from a common origin. If I can reach the sixth rank at such a young age, I refuse to believe that I am a fool when it comes to matters of war.”
Seeing her overflowing confidence, Zu An reminded himself that she wasn’t just a pretty decoration, but a cultivation genius. She had definitely experienced unimaginable difficulties and overcome great challenges in order to reach her current level of accomplishment. She didn’t need others to worry about her at all.
“I was the one who was too closed-minded,” Zu An said in apology.
Pei Mianman blushed in return. “You care about me way too much.”
Zu An laughed loudly. “Then I wish you success!”
Pei Mianman grunted in agreement. “Do not worry, I will definitely complete my mission. This trial requires both a man and a woman to participate together, which means that both of them will have their own tests to overcome. You need to be careful as well.”
Zu An nodded. If the woman needs to defeat the Qiang Faction as part of the trial, then what do I need to do?
Despite pondering over the matter for a while, he couldn’t come up with anything concrete. As such, he let it go for the moment, and decided to help Pei Mianman with the issue of the Qiang Faction.
He wanted to help her out as much as he could, but the Shang Dynasty hadn’t left many historical records behind, and there were no records at all regarding how Fu Hao defeated the Qiang Faction. Feeling rather helpless, the best he could do was to give her a rough explanation of the terrain of Shanxi and Gansu. After all, Pei Mianman knew nothing about this world.
Zu An didn’t know if this would help. After all, he didn’t have a detailed military map of the terrain, and only had some rough knowledge about several mountain ranges and rivers in the area.
Fu Shuo was rather shocked by this. “My king actually knows so much about the Qiang Faction! How did you learn about this?”
Zu An was at a loss for words. He was about to say that he’d sent someone to scout it out, but Fu Shuo was his trusted aide, so this lie might not get past him. As such, he used a different approach. “I had a dream, and in this dream, a deity taught me these things.”
Fu Shuo was overjoyed. “Incredible, a divine dream! It looks like even the heavens are assisting my king and protecting my great Shang State. Our troops will surely return victorious!”
Zu An had a strange look on his face. He had been a little worried about this lie at first, but it seemed that the people of this period were extremely superstitious, and thus were very easily convinced.
After his initial joy, Fu Shuo suddenly remembered another matter. “There is one other issue right now. We need the high priest to pray to the heavens before our army sets out for battle, and await the deities’ decree. The high priest belongs to the old nobility. If they interfere in this process, Her Majesty might not be able to set out to battle so smoothly.”
Zu An sniffed in disdain. “I’ve already been blessed with a dream from the deities. The deities are protecting me. Let this information be known. Let’s see if they still dare to use these foolish tactics then!”
Fu Shuo’s eyes lit up. “Excellent! We can use the information my king has received regarding the terrain as further proof. The high priest wouldn’t dare hinder us then, and it will also boost the morale of our troops. This matter is already half-solved!”
A sudden thought occurred to Zu An. “A drawing itself might not be enough. Let’s make a sand table of the terrain for the officers and soldiers to observe.”
“A sand table?” Fu Shuo was confused.
Zu An explained the concept of a sand table, to Fu Shuo’s amazement. “My king is both wise and brilliant! Once we secure our victory, we can easily use this momentum to promote the queen to the position of high priestess! This way, even the divine right will be under our control. My king, I believe your ambitions will soon be fulfilled.”
Pei Mianman was looking at him as well, her beautiful eyes swirling with tender feelings. This man had brought her way too many surprises! A sand table was a wonderful idea that she had never heard of before, but she could easily imagine how useful it could be on a battlefield.
Zu An secretly knew that everything was going so smoothly only because he was a transmigrator, standing upon the shoulders of giants, and he just happened to be familiar with this period of history, which inadvertently negated a myriad of potential dangers.
No matter how brilliant the previous participants of this trial had been, they had known nothing about the Shang Dynasty. They might not have even made it past the obstacle of the high priest, let alone managed to defeat the powerful Qiang Faction.Previous Chapter Next Chapter