The empire had used every scheme at its disposal to seize the initiative on the void landmass, but it was becoming increasingly difficult to maintain this advantage.
The imperial capital, tens of thousands of kilometers away, wasn’t quite peaceful, either. A storm had risen in the imperial court regarding the organization of military and administrative affairs. Within a short period, many years of accumulated corruption, fake contributions, and supply embezzlement were exposed, and the supposedly nefarious feudal lords of lands big and small were swept clean.
The major clans restrained their own descendants while looking on with folded arms. The present emperor’s maternal family was hardly prominent, and the empress’ clan had been replaced many times. This major move—the first since his ascension to the throne—was undoubtedly just to consolidate his power. Centralizing in the name of resurgence wasn’t quite plausible. The cause became righteous enough only by borrowing the momentum of national fate.
Today was yet another court assembly. A solemn array of retainers, generals, and nobles were standing in neat rows within the Rising Cloud Hall. The aristocracy here was comprised entirely of dukes and clan lords, all of them serious, calm, and majestic.
There were many new faces among the government officials of the cabinet and generals of the military department. Although positioned closer to the rear, the sharp determination of those new powers in their forties was fairly eye-catching. Additionally, there was another common characteristic—they weren’t of high birth status. Many of them came from aristocratic side branches or even commoner families.
Despite being an imperial marshal, Zhang Boqian wasn’t in the general’s lineup. Instead, the man—clad in a gold and black prince clothing—stood at the head of the aristocratic group. As a heavenly monarch, Zhang Boqian was above all the other feudal lords. The other four heavenly monarchs had long since retired from military affairs and naturally wouldn’t appear in imperial court, either. It was only natural that he occupied the leading position for the aristocracy.
There was another just like him who wasn’t standing with the generals—that empty leading position in the civil officers’ lineup belonged to Lin Xitang. The marshal hadn’t appeared for several court assemblies in a row due to an exacerbation of old injuries. However, from all the new faces that had appeared in Rising Cloud Hall, it was obvious that the trusted confidant of the emperor was only absent from court but not from governmental affairs.
As the discussions in court went on one after the other, the atmosphere in the hall grew increasingly stagnant. Some of those who were sensitive to politics and statecraft had begun to sense that something wasn’t quite right.
The results of all the discussions today—involving civil, military, defensive, and territorial issues—appeared to be following a certain policy: ancestral law.
This principle wasn’t wrong in and of itself. The imperial court and the major clans had ruled the land together since the founding of the Great Qin Empire. The empire had prospered because they had laid down laws to govern their own areas and stabilize their own positions. But time inevitably eroded the human heart and whittled away at their integrity. No matter how good a legal code was, it was no different from being lawless if one couldn’t follow it.
Subjects who had pioneered new territory during the founding of the empire could shelter three generations of descendants. The law also stated that both aristocratic descendants and commoners would receive equal rewards for their accomplishments. But as for how practical this rule was, everyone in the hall had different opinions of it.
This, however, wasn’t the focus of this assembly.
“Heavenly monarchs have never led armies. According to this convention, we should begin reforming the empire’s command zones.” A young inspector closed the thick report in his hands after reading the last sentence.
Rising Cloud Hall was plunged into complete silence.
All the suggestions in court today seemed to be reaffirming the ancestral law. And those words at the end were directed at Prince Greensun, Imperial Marshal Zhang Boqian.
The tradition of heavenly monarchs not leading armies began during the founding era of the empire when the founder’s half-brother, Prince Whiteriver, gave up his military rights after ascending to the heavenly monarch rank. Since then, it became conventional for heavenly monarchs to oversee wars but not get involved in individual military affairs.
It was just that, during the Martial Emperor’s resurgence era, a sixty-year cycle was usually required for a human expert to reach the heavenly monarch rank. Moreover, administrative duties would interfere with cultivation. Hence, those with the potential to become a heavenly monarch would rarely take up duties in court. This tradition had also been more or less forgotten.
In truth, compared to the heavenly monarch not leading the army, it was the redistribution of command zones that caught everyone’s attention. That was a substantial redistribution of power.
The current imperial army command zones corresponded to the ten present marshals of the empire. A marshal was currently the highest military office in power and had power over the regional army’s recruitment, training, deployment, and resource allocation. That was more or less equal to the rights granted to the aristocracy. That was also why a clan lord couldn’t serve as a marshal at the same time.
Meanwhile, the inspector, who had just thrown out this huge bomb, seemed completely oblivious as to the waves his report would kick up. He turned around without fear and faced Zhang Boqian’s cold gaze head-on.
All eyes in the Rising Cloud Hall fell upon the two.
The right-envoy of the cabinet inspectorate, Fang Qingkong, was in his early forties and could be considered rather young amidst the nobles in the hall. However, his voice and future prospects were completely irrelevant to his appearance. This person looked refined and mild on the outside, but his methods were sharp and cruel. Even the military police were afraid of him. After joining the inspectorate, he had made a controversial announcement that he was going to serve as Marshal Lin’s rabid hound.
But such a person had survived for seven years and had even risen from a minor position to the third-in-power at the inspectorate. There might be more people after his life than Lin Xitang’s.
Zhang Boqian shot Fang Qingkong a glance before looking away as if he hadn’t seen anything. “It’s fine if you want my marshal’s seal, but have Lin Xitang come and take it himself.”
The entire Rising Cloud Hall was deathly still. Even the sounds of breathing were barely discernible.
Everyone knew Zhang Boqian’s character very well and that his reply would be shocking. But no one had expected him to agree so easily to such an important matter. The marshal had never feigned civility. If he said it was fine, then it was fine. For a moment, no one knew what kind of expression to wear—be it those who had chosen to stay out of this matter, those who wanted to take advantage of the situation, or those who had planned to pick a side.
Fang Qingkong reacted quickly. “What will we have left to do if Marshal Lin attends to everything personally?”
Zhan Boqian replied indifferently, “You’re not qualified to even court death.”
At this time, the voice of the emperor emerged from the mist behind the heavy curtain and reverberated throughout Rising Cloud Hall. “The cabinet shall submit a written report of today’s discussions. Undecided matters shall be negotiated by the cabinet, military, and imperial clan. Assembly dismissed.”
The officials performed their ritual bows and left amidst the tolling bell. Only at this point did they split into small groups and began discussing in private.
The twin pillars of the empire had different political standpoints since stepping into the imperial court. And their differences only grew deeper and deeper after Zhang Boqian was conferred the title of prince—things had eventually reached the climax during the bloody battle.
Many officials were clear that Zhang Boqian had no special orders when he arrived on Evernight Continent and was only there to restrain the imperial clan’s obvious intentions. Hence, Lin Xitang was also dragged over to Evernight. The situation broke down at that point and the imperial clan became divided—one of them even betrayed Lin Xitang. If not for the appearance of Giant’s Repose drawing the court’s attention to faction conflicts, there was no telling how things would’ve developed.
Most people had guessed that Lin Xitang would retaliate once he was free to do so. But no one had expected him to push Zhang Boqian into a corner by suggesting to remove the latter from office.
Upon deeper consideration, however, this matter was likely to receive little external obstruction. As usual, the Zhang clan had monopolized everything in the war at Giant’s Repose. Hence, even those aristocratic families on their side wouldn’t want to see the clan grow in power. At most, they would remain neutral.
As for the redistribution of command zones Fang Qingkong had suggested, this matter would have to be carried out sooner or later. Because the war against the Evernight faction was sure to be a drawn-out battle, the empire’s defense system would also need to be adjusted accordingly. But to bring up this matter together with Zhang Boqian’s dismissal was indeed an admirable move.
Fang Qingkong’s personality was indeed disgraceful, but how he had faced Zhang Boqian today was enough to impress many top powers.
Duke Wei sighed emotionally before Duke You, “Is the Art of Heaven’s Mystery that miraculous? Lin Xitang has always been an excellent judge of character. How rare is it for such a talented person to be so loyal.” He then thought of something. “Sigh, how unfortunate! That child from the Song clan is walking closer and closer to the Zhang clan.”
Duke You knew that Duke Wei liked Song Zining even before the latter had gained fame. When all of Blackflow City’s contribution points went to the Zhao clan, he had even made roundabout inquires as to whether they were looking to recruit the young man.
But Song Zining had risen too quickly and his separation from the Song clan caught everyone unprepared. There were also rumors that Zhao Jundu wasn’t on good terms with him. By the time everyone else had woken up from the confusing news, Song Zining was already holding a commanding position in Zhang Boqian’s administrative department. Recruiting him right now was no longer possible with simple benefits or threats.
At the mention of Song Zining, Duke You Zhao Xuanji thought of Qianye. The secret report he had received that morning made him thoroughly depressed. So what about geniuses? The Zhao clan had never lacked them. But looking at Zhao Weihuang’s sons and daughters—none of them spared one from worry.
At this moment, in the faraway Zhao clan camp, a secret report with the same contents had been placed upon the meeting table. Seated at the top of the table was the eldest among the Zhao siblings, Zhao Junyi. He was the one who resembled Zhao Weihuang the most. He had been living in the army since his coming of age, and his bearing was very much that of a soldier.
He glanced at his two younger brothers before holding his gaze on Zhao Jundu. “What’s going on? Why is Qianye’s name on the Jingtang Li Family’s guest officer list?”
The one who replied was actually Zhao Junhong. He flipped through a number of secret reports on the table and replied calmly, “Qianye is an excellent sniper who possesses superior visual range, so the geography of Misty Wood suits his skills perfectly. Moreover, he’s ranked so far up among the guest officers. The Li family must’ve given him much greater rewards than the norm.”
Zhao Junyi frowned deeply. His second brother’s reasoning was all fine and well for any other independent expert, but it was comical when applied to Qianye. Zhao Junyi himself had never met this half-brother before—neither was there anything to like or dislike. But it was different for Zhao Jundu who had stirred up great winds and waves in the clan for Qianye.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Well, that trump meme was something that popped up at the top when I googled "you're fired".
TL: Legion ED: Moxie
Teaser Source: https://medium.com/p-for-parenting/youre-fired-2523a28c3e6d