Affecting the Foundations of a Country
The words “this imperial daughter” caused magistrate Lu’s mind to explode with a “boom.” As a magistrate of He Tian Prefecture, which was closest to the capital, he expended a bit of effort to ask about the officials of the capital. He knew that Da Shun only had Qing Le and Wu Yang as imperial daughters in the past, but Qing Le was nothing more than the daughter of a powerless lord, and she had already been demoted to a commoner. There was only one proper imperial daughter. Later on, Wu Yang was promoted to the position of palace princess, and the position of imperial daughter was given to one that felt surging emotions for Da Shun and felt hatred as soon as Qian Zhou was mentioned, Feng Yu Heng.
The girl before him had referred to herself as this imperial daughter. Looking again at her appearance and age, there was a bit of difference from imperial daughter Wu Yang, but it was definitely consistent with imperial daughter Wu Yang.
Magistrate Lu finally realized that he had made a life-threatening mistake. If this girl really was imperial daughter Ji An, he had borrowed the courage of a pack of wolves. Not only did he treat her as a maidservant, he actually sent her into the palace to become a concubine?
“I-I didn’t know.” Magistrate Lu said with a trembling voice, “I didn’t know that you’re imperial daughter. Didn’t you say that you were from lord prime minister Fung’s family?” Once this was said, he immediately realized that he was exhaling more than he was inhaling. The fingers wrapped around his neck were like iron vices. The strangling nearly caused him to faint.
“If this grandaunty was in a good mood, I could even say that I am the Emperor’s daughter.” She smirked, “But father Emperor does not have any daughters. I fear that this lie would be too easy to see through.”
She called out father, and magistrate Lu’s heart completely froze. With imperial daughter Ji An’s identity out in the open, what hope did he have of living?
Magistrate Lu’s heart felt cold, and even a feeling of death began to creep in. But Feng Yu Heng did not pay any more attention to him, saying to Ban Zou: “This slavery system is truly no good. Hiring people to work on production and labor is not blameless, but if one just relies on money and can even buy the life of the laborer, allowing them to decide on things like marriage and life, this is truly too inhuman.”
Ban Zou asked her: “Then what do you feel would be good?”
Feng Yu Heng said: “Everyone should be their own entity, having freedom of love, marriage and work. Life must be free. Nobody is to have the right to control others. Even if they are the parents, they should only be able to provide the opinion, rather than having the sole right to make these decisions.”
Not to mention magistrate Lu, not even Ban Zou could fathom what was being said, but Feng Yu Heng’s servants felt that this was a good point. No matter what their master did, they were all firm supporters. Even if Feng Yu Heng was to rebel today, Ban Zou would be honorable and help her stab at Da Shun.
“Good.” Ban Zou nodded, “When there comes a day that you have the right to decide what happens in the world, let’s just try doing it.”
Feng Yu Heng nodded brightly; however, magistrate Lu was already wanting to kill himself from what he had heard.
That’s right, he wanted to kill himself. He understood the rules. He had seen something that he should not see, thus he would die. He had heard something that he should not have heard, thus he would die. Just now, they had said something about ruling the world. What exactly did imperial daughter Ji An want to do? Having heard this sort of grand plan, was there any possibility of surviving?
Just as he was thinking this, Feng Yu Heng finally remembered him. This time, she let go, throwing him to the floor with a “thump.” She then asked him: “I said earlier that I would make you a deal, but you have not answered me. Do you agree or not?”
Magistrate Lu coughed for a while before finally managing to begin breathing; however, he just trembled on the floor, not daring to say a word.
Feng Yu Heng sat cross-legged and asked him seriously: “I just want to ask you. What exactly was the gift that you brought to Song Zhou? If your answer satisfies me, I will allow you to live.”
Magistrate Lu was startled and quickly thought this over in his mind. He then asked uncertainly: “Imperial daughter saying that I will be allowed to live, is that in the North or…”
“Of course, that would be back in Da Shun with your family. With this imperial daughter present, Da Shun’s courts will not investigate you at all.”
Magistrate Lu’s eyes lit up but immediately dimmed once more, helplessly saying: “Imperial daughter is joking. The North is guarded very securely all around. I fear that not even a fly could get out. Moreover, we are people. Imperial daughter, if you have any matters, just give the order directly. This lowly official does not have the ability to refuse.”
Feng Yu Heng shook her head, “Force will not bring out the truth. I will only tell you that as long as I, Feng Yu Heng, could get into these three northern provinces, I can definitely get out. I could not get used to seeing that palace, thus I burned it down. What can Duan Mu An Guo do to me? Lord Lu, Duan Mu An Guo cannot possibly allow for you to live, yet you are still betting. I, on the other hand, can clearly give you a chance to live. You should have an idea of which side you should choose. Also, I must remind you that madam Lu will always be a thorn in Duan Mu An Guo’s heart. Accurately speaking, the relationship between you two is one of enemies. To work with him would be like asking a tiger for its pelt.
Magistrate Lu sighed to himself internally. He knew that Feng Yu Heng was telling the truth. This was also the reason that he had not gone immediately to find Duan Mu An Guo. As for why he could still live here, he felt that with the situation at the palace, he did not have a chance to take care of this.
Finally gathering the courage, he looked up at Feng Yu Heng. This girl had interacted with him for over two months in a carriage, but this sharp and clever look was one that he had never seen. It was as though she was a stranger, as she was no longer the timid Qian Xi.
Finally, he helplessly nodded, “Alright, I will trust imperial daughter.”
The corners of Feng Yu Heng’s lips curled into a smile. This smile carried feeling of having her plot succeed, and it was a very cruel look, but magistrate Lu could only bite the bullet and choose to agree. Ask Duan Mu An Guo for his skin? Why did he feel that working with imperial daughter Ji An was like asking a wolf for its heart?
“May I ask what imperial daughter was wanting in this deal?” He lowered his head and asked Feng Yu Heng while speculating internally. What did he have that she could want in a deal? Could it be that?
Just as he was thinking, Feng Yu Heng spoke, saying: “What I will give you in this deal are the lives of everyone in your family. What I want from you is the thing that you brought to the North as a birthday gift for Duan Mu An Guo. Although someone at Duan Mu An Guo’s side already came to the inn to collect the gifts, you two were not at the inn at that time. Thinking about it, that thing should still be with lord Lu, right?”
Magistrate Lu’s heart went “thunk.” He had guessed it. This imperial daughter really was quite something. That was his last line of protection for his life. He had already made up his mind. If Duan Mu An Guo was willing to disown his relatives and was willing to kill him, he would use this thing to coerce him. After he was brought out of the North, he would hand it over. He would immediately go to report. Even if he had to run the risk of being imprisoned, he would need to have the officials of Da Shun protect his life.
But now, Feng Yu Heng had demanded it.
Magistrate Lu was conflicted once more, but he was a straightforward person. This conflict was nothing more than a simple thought before he immediately made his decision. He stood up and turned away from Feng Yu Heng to pat his clothes for a while. Finally, he brought out an envelope. When he turned back to face Feng Yu Heng, he handed the envelope forward, saying: “The gift that this lowly official prepare for Duan Mu An Guo is this. Imperial daughter, please inspect it.”
Ban Zou rushed ahead of Feng Yu Heng and received the envelope. He then tore it open and glanced at it before handing it to Feng Yu Heng, saying: “This thing really can score you some points with Duan Mu An Guo.” Saying this, he looked again at magistrate Lu then sneered: “One surnamed Lu, a lowly magistrate from He Tian Prefecture has a name list. I really want to know where exactly you got such a thing.”
That’s right, the thing that magistrate Lu handed over was a name list. Feng Yu Heng received it and also had the same questions as Ban Zou, “Practically half of Da Shun’s officials guilty of bribery have been listed here. It even keeps a detailed account of how much each one received. Lord Lu, where did you get this thing?”
She could practically guarantee that this was definitely not something that magistrate Lu had gathered on his own. She only skimmed the list of names, and there were at least 30 on this list. This list clearly listed their ranks, and there were quite a few above the standard third rank. There were also some high-ranking officials with only five people above them. Just the amounts of these bribes were enough for her to click her tongue. Feng Yu Heng knew that if Duan Mu An Guo received this sort of thing, that would be the equivalent of these high-ranking officials’ lives being in the North’s control.
Although corrupt officials were the same as insects that ate books, even if they were to be treated, they had to be taken care of one step at a time. It was impossible to remove them all at once. That was something that shifted the foundation of the country. Moreover, she had seen this list, but did Xuan Tian Ming know about it? Did the Emperor know about it? Perhaps they knew a bit but not the full extent. The Emperor could turn a blind eye to these people. As long as they worked for the benefit of Da Shun, they could be kept and used. But what was feared was that Duan Mu An Guo took control of them. Like that, Da Shun would truly be in danger.
Feng Yu Heng took a deep breath, a cold look appearing on her face once more, as she looked at magistrate Lu. Just this one glance caused magistrate Lu to sweat all over. It seemed as though those eyes could see his very essence. This caused him to feel that he could not keep a single secret.
“If I say…” His voice trembled and his legs trembled. If it was not for Ban Zou supporting him, he nearly would have kneeled once more. “This name list was one that I secretly copied. The person that kept a record of it was the prefect of He Tian Prefecture, Zheng Huai An.”
Feng Yu Heng furrowed her brow slightly. Prefect of He Tian Prefecture, that was a standard second rank official. Based on his position, if he put in a bit of effort, he would indeed be able to find out such information to produce a list. Although she did not know what sort of goal Zheng Huai An had in writing this list, magistrate Lu had secretly copied it to deliver to Duan Mu An Guo. This sort of person that sold out their country for their own personal benefit, leaving him alive would be too good for him.
She sneered internally and made a decision; however, she did not reveal anything through her expression. She then asked magistrate Lu: “Aside from you and madam Lu, who else knew about this name list?”
Magistrate Lu quickly shook his head: “Nobody else! At least, this lowly official did not show anyone else. As for whether or not Zheng Huan An revealed it before, this lowly official has no way of knowing.”
Just as he said this, an uproar suddenly came from the main hall of the inn. Someone forcefully pushed a door open and stomped up the stairs. Very quickly, a familiar voice shouted: “People inside, listen up! On the first day of the new year, the 100 families of the three northern provinces will carry out their banquet as scheduled. The location will be lord Duan Mu’s Eastern Palace. When the time comes, a carriage will come to pick you up. Also, you will be given a quarter of an hour to get changed and gather outside the inn. This general will bring you to see what will happen to those that tried to escape!”