Book 17 Chapter 11 - Birthday Party at the Rong Mansion
Following Chen Changlin, Xu Ziling stood some ways away, always mindful of any changes around Wang Shichong. Although he was unable to change his height, he meticulously tied a red warrior band on his head, and the warrior clothing he wore also made him appeared swollen. Unless it was one was deliberately scrutinizing him, there was no flaw at all, particularly because everybody thought he had left the city early on.
However, it was not until after Li Shimin and Tuli came over and exchanged greetings with Wang Shichong that he was finally able to breathe a sigh of relief, because even Li Jing, who was always by Li Shimin's side, only cast him a glance and then no longer paid any attention to him.
He did not pay attention to what everybody was talking about; he also did not worry that Shen Luoyan might attack at this time. Lang Feng was in charge of setting up checkpoints and sentry stations along the way toward the Rong Mansion; only if the enemy launched a large-scale attack would they meet them head-on.
Due to Ke Feng's intelligence, Shen Luoyan would definitely take this opportunity to beat them at their own game, and would carry out the assassination when Wang Shichong was on his way back to the Imperial City. Therefore, this banquet hall was the safest place instead.
Soon after they started chatting, this group of politicians, military experts, and millionaires, who held the life and death of millions of people, immediately talked shop about monetary problems. It is thus clear that this was the most important matter concerning the economics and people all over the world's livelihood.
Someone was saying, "Currently everybody is minting new money to replace the old dynasty's Five-Zhu currency [1 zhu = 1/24 of a tael]. But the new coins are inferior; one by one the price of rice, cloth, and other daily necessities is rising, making one feel to have one's hands bound and is unable to do anything about it."
Wang Shichong said, "If the money came from official minting, there is no problem quality-wise; the problem is on money from private minting. On these inferior coins, even the inscribing is indistinct; practically it looks like just a silhouette."
Zhangsun Wuji, by Li Shimin's side, sighed and said, "Money from official mint creates another problem: since the Han dynasty, gold, silver, copper, iron, lead, mercury, and other minerals are gradually returned to the government to manage. But in order to ensure that there is sufficient Zhu money circulated in the market, while maintaining the quality, the old dynasty must mine these minerals in large quantity. At one time Yang Guang opened up more than twenty gold mines at Wuling and the others, twelve counties, with forced labor reaching six hundred thousands; the dead and the injured were countless, but they only produced fifty something tael of gold, while wasting hundreds of li of land. The mining officials became thieves who killed the people. Before any benefit was seen, the damage has already been realized."
Listening to this, Xu Ziling had a deep frown on his face; he was certain that Kou Zhong had never thought about this aspect. Only people like Wang Shichong, Li Shimin, and the others, long-term politicians, would think about this problem. This Zhangsun Wuji was worthy to be called an intellectual scholar; his words were indeed thought provoking.
At the same time he also noticed that Tuli was listening very attentively; his mind was churning, suddenly he realized why Tuli people wanted to carry out their invasion via the Central Earth people under his control, because to govern such a vast territory was simply not something that nomadic people was qualified to do. Therefore, while on one hand the Tujue people plundered the Central Plains' property and sons and daughters, on the other hand they also supported militias.
Li Shimin joined in, "The so-called new currency now is nothing more than the old dynasty's Five-Zhu money smelted into new ones. And the people's inferior money is just the Five-Zhu coins plus other iron and various bits and bobs, hence one wen could become several wen. Since it is so profitable, the process continues. The only solution is if the world goes back to be unified; by means of one powerful central authorities, this custom can be put to an end. Under current situation, there is nothing we can do."
Listening to him, Xu Ziling's heart was full of admiration; if Kou Zhong were not his brother, and he had to select one person, perhaps he would also choose Li Shimin to be the future monarch to govern all the people.
This thought made him feel so uncomfortable.
Between Li and Kou, regardless of who won and who lost, the other side would have only one destiny left: to be killed. What would be the best solution to this matter?
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Kou Zhong still wanted to tease this Qiuci beauty, who usually was as cold as ice and frost toward him, a bit longer, who would have thought that she quickly flew away? Fu Qian, Xing Mofei and two Tuyuhun beauties were heading his direction; it was unclear whether Linglong Jiao's abrupt departure was to avoid them. Under Fu Qian's introduction, he learned that the taller beauty's fragrant name was Li An, the other was called Hua Na [Leanne and Hannah?]. Both were brimming with exotic gracefulness, with wild and daring characters, which were rarely found on Central Earth beauties. When they were looking at Kou Zhong, their gaze was more absolutely unrestrained than his.
Especially Hua Na; her beautiful wavy maroon hair hung naturally across her shoulders, her pink fragrant lips, her beautiful brown eyes, the corners of her eyes slightly slanting upward, matching beautifully with her high and grand cheekbones, her thin, silky eyebrows, her warm and soft, as well as richly elastic skin, plus the attractive bearing of her forehead, the more he looked at her, the more he felt she had real character. Indeed she was not inferior to Shen Luoyan, Song Yuzhi, that kind of beauty.
Unsure of the relationship between Fu Qian and the two beauties, he avoided the two women's provocative gaze, and turned toward Fu Qian and said with a laugh, "It does not seem appropriate to fight tonight!"
Fu Qian swept the hall with his gaze; finally he fixed his gaze on Li Shimin, Tuli, Wang Shichong, and Rong Fengxiang's group. He responded casually, "Fighting can be done anytime, anywhere; I am sure Rong Laoban won't mind. But this is the first time I am attending your Han people's feast; I don't want to ruin the lively and peaceful atmosphere here."
Kou Zhong felt that his casual remark seemed to suggest something, some mysterious intention. He laughed and replied, "Therefore, if it were in the ring [orig. leitai - elevated stage on which martial competitions or duels were held] or on the battleground, Wangzi would unleash your expertise. Is that right?"
Fu Qian smiled and changed the subject, "So who's that man by Li Shimin who keeps looking at you?"
Kou Zhong looked; he smiled wryly and said, "He is Li Jing, Hong Funu's husband."
Fu Qian nodded and said, "This man is indeed remarkable; no wonder he was able to catch Hong Funu's eyes. I wonder why Hong Funu is not here tonight?"
Hua Na laughed tenderly and said, "Why don't Wangzi ask the question directly to him? Nujia guesses that he's coming this way!"
Her accent was not pure; she pronounced 'bu' [not/don't] as 'bo' and 'jie' [answer] as 'ze'; but it did not sound so comical. [As you can guess, it's difficult to translate word for word, so I altered the sentence as above. In case you are curious, the original is like this: Wangzi why 'bo' straight 'ze' ask him?]
Sure enough, Li Jing was slowly walking toward them. His gait was stable and powerful, carrying some kind of intimidating momentum.
Fu Qian praised, "This man is indeed a general or a minister material."
Kou Zhong was stunned, "Wangzi can tell just by looking at him? What do you think of Li Shimin?"
Fu Qian replied indifferently, "I am an expert in the profound method of looking at people. He saw that we were talking about him, not only he did not show the slightest bit of uneasiness, he took the initiative to come instead. Plus his steps are full of confidence; evidently he is a courageous and promising scholar, definitely not an ordinary man."
Xing Mofei joined in, "The man that Li Shimin is willing to employ can't be an inferior one."
This moment Li Jing arrived in front of the five; he saluted and said, "Li Jing pays his respect to Fu Qian Wangzi."
And then, turning to Kou Zhong, he said, "Is it possible for you to step aside to talk a little bit?"
Fu Qian laughed aloud and said, "Is it possible for Li Xiong to answer a question of mine first?"
Without any sideways glance Li Jing met Fu Jian's sharp-as-an-arrow gaze, and calmly replied, "Wangzi, please ask the question."