Chapter 90 part 1: The Emperor is Greatly Angered and Chen Wang is Punished
“Your majesty, please calm down.” Everyone immediately bowed and begged for forgiveness with a cupped-hand salute.
But Emperor Yu Qian was still in a temper right now, how could he listen to their apologies? He suddenly grabbed the booklet on the table and threw it towards the people below. Afterwards, he said with great anger, “Look at it yourselves. Look at what's written on it!”
All of them lowered their heads and looked at one another in dismay. Only Chu Fei Yang and Jiang Mu Chen raised their heads. But Chen wang definitely would not lower his pride and stoop to pick up a booklet, while Chu Fei Yang smiled and did not mind picking it up himself. He carefully read what was written on it then passed it to the others for them to read.
“Chu xiang, you've once lead troops to battle in war, do you have any comments?” seeing that Chu Fei Yang had read it, Emperor Yu Qian asked him first about his thoughts.
Chu Fei Yang kept his smile but turned serious. His eyes showed a hint of caution, before he cupped his hands and replied, “Your Majesty, winning and losing are common in military operations. Also, Rui wang and Hai junwang both do not have any experience in practical battle, losing some cities is actually quite reasonable. Moreover, Northern Qi's Crown Prince is also a master in the art of war, so their ability to get back some of the cities from Qi Jing Yuan is already impressive for beginners like them.”
“Really? If the situation was really as simple as what you've said, then I will also be relieved. But tonight, the Northern Qi's Crown Prince appeared in our capital. The time Hai junwang lost the city was exactly the time that Crown Prince appeared. At a time, even without the command of a master of war, Northern Qi was still able to continuously take two of our cities by surprise. I cannot help but doubt if Hai Chen Xi is really doing his best to win the battle! Huh?!” His words stopped here. Everyone trembled in fear after hearing Emperor Yu Qian's heavy question. No one else stood out to speak for Hai Chen Xi.
After all, if Emperor Yu Qian firmly believed that Hai Chen Xi did not lead the troop diligently, or even thought that he was disloyal, no matter what they said, Emperor Yu Qian would not listen to them. Instead, they might even get themselves into trouble.
As a result, the main hall remained silent. The sounds of frogs and cicadas could even be heard. This further showed that the main hall was empty and still, as well as covered in a dangerous aura.
“Chen wang, I ask you, how do you manage your subordinates? How were Northern Qi's Crown Prince, eldest Prince, and Tenth Prince all able to secretly enter the capital tonight and cause so many casualties? Would you be able to take responsibility for this crime? Look for yourself at the booklet the Imperial Censor submitted a while ago!” while speaking, Emperor Yu Qian threw the booklets to the eunuch beside him while he himself sat on the throne with a gloomy expression as he gave Chen wang a look of reproach.
Chen wang took the booklets from the eunuch with a sombre countenance. He only read one booklet and did not want to look at the others anymore. He gave then back to the eunuch and replied gloomily, “Emperor, Imperial Censors are only civil officials, how could they know the intricacies of deploying forces? Especially the city guards; they are of the utmost importance. If the opponent used this to trick the guards out of the base, I'm afraid the whole palace will be in danger. Since it's a rather hard decision, I can naturally only choose to be utterly loyal. If Your Majesty does not believe my words a while ago, you can go on and ask the commander on night duty at that time.”
Listening to Chen wang's excuse, Chu Fei Yang made a light smile with profound meaning and said, “Your Majesty, at that time, Norther Qi's eldest Prince and the others moved very quickly, we were caught unprepared. Who would have thought that at the time of war, Northern Qi's princes would dare enter the capital of the enemy country? Wangye originally set up a trap to catch that Crown Prince alive, but that he was rather cunning and managed to escape in the end.”
Chu Fei Yang's sudden act of speaking for Chen wang made the other officials feel puzzled. They could not help but think that maybe Chen wang and Chu xiang had formed an alliance; otherwise, why would Chu xiang, who never spoke for anyone, side with Chen wang today?
Only Chen wang understood the meaning of Chu Fei Yang's words.
Chu Fei Yang seemed like he was talking for Chen wang, but in reality, the words 'caught unprepared' that he mentioned carelessly pointed out that in Chen wang's management of the city guards for so many years, their response to emergencies was still too slow. And the matter of catching Northern Qi Crown Prince alive, if it was really like what Chu Fei Yang had said, Chen wang set up a trap but let the enemy escape. It only showed that there was not only a problem with Chen wang's management of the soldiers but his ability was also very limited because he could not even catch a turtle in a jar.
Emperor Yu Qian naturally understood the clear criticism. Yun Xuan Zhi was also aware of the overtones of what Chu Fei Yang was saying. The other officials also reacted quickly after seeing the expressions of the people in front. They all tried to lower their heads as much as possible to prevent Emperor Yu Qian from questioning them.
Chen wang and Chu xiang were evenly matched in power and were both people the officials could not offend. They naturally did not want to be cannon fodder.
“Based on Chu xiang's words, not only shouldn't I punish Chen wang, but praise him instead?” Emperor Yu Qian spoke after hesitating for a while. His voice showed his dignity as the Emperor, and caused the atmosphere to go even lower.
At Chu Fei Yang's act of framing him, Chen wang naturally would not fall behind. He spoke after a snort, “Chu xiang seems to have forgotten who seized the Tenth Prince at that time. Since you've already caught him, why didn't you immediately give him to the city guards instead of bringing him in front of that Crown Prince and given him the opportunity to be saved?”
After Jiang Mu Chen had spoken, all the officials were shocked. All of them looked at Chu Fei Yang, seemingly waiting for his explanation.
Chu Fei Yang lightly smiled. Facing everyone's doubt, he still remained calm and slowly said, “Wangye's words are self-contradictory. At that time, benxiang had yet to find wangye, and benxiang heard that the eldest Prince hostaged Hai Tian junzhu. For safety purposes, benxiang naturally brought the Tenth Prince along to prevent him from being saved by Qi Jing Yuan. I didn't expect that after I've brought him in front of wangye, wangye would still let him get away and even caused Hai Tian junzhu to be frightened. Hai junwang is currently fighting in war, if he knew that his sister was taken hostage, what does Wangye think the response of Hai wangfu would be? Hai junwang handles one hundred thousand soldiers. Do you think he can still lead the troops and fight for the country if he was bitterly disappointed?”
Chu Fei Yang did not mention the fact that Yun Qian Meng had also been kidnapped. He only mentioned Hai Tian's name to first, preserve Yun Qian Meng's reputation and second, to be able to analyze the pros and cons of letting the officials have an idea of how things stood. Currently, Hai wangfu was extremely important.
Not to speak of the large number of troops and horses Hai wang had, the one hundred thousand soldiers under Hai Chen Xi alone could already make life impossible for the citizens of Western Chu if he were to used them well. This fact caused Emperor Yu Qian great worry.
It was Emperor Yu Qian who had selected Hai Chen Xi as the general to go on the expedition. It was unreasonable for Emperor Yu Qian to pretend to not know that Hai Tian had been taken hostage.
But Hai Tian's reputation was already damaged. Even if Emperor Yu Qian wanted to promise her the position of guifei, he was afraid that perhaps not only the Empress Dowager and the Empress, but even the officials would not allow a woman who had been kidnapped by the enemy to enter the palace as a concubine.
“Wangye has the most direct connection with Hai Tian being kidnapped. A while ago, before we entered the palace, Yuan de taifei took the opportunity to send a carriage to pick Hai Tian junzhu and bring her to Chen wangfu to rest for a bit. With such intentions, why doesn't wangye follow Yuan de taifei and take this chance to forge a love story that everyone will extol. Moreover, there's an old saying that a man must get married before he embarks on a career. I believe that after wangye has gotten married, wangye's way of handling matters will surely be steadier and more careful than today.” Chu Fei Yang suggested when he saw that Emperor Yu Qian was thinking of a way to solve the problem of Hai Tian's situation.
Hearing Chu Fei Yang's scheme, Jiang Mu Chen frowned and immediately refuted, “Speaking of Hai Tian junzhu, I believe that Chu xiang the better choice more than anyone else. Today, if it was not for Chu xiang, I'm afraid that Hai Tian junzhu would already one of the dead souls under a sword. Afterwards, Hai Tian junzhu even personally came to thank Chu xiang. Benwang really admires such deep affection and will naturally not steal someone else's loved one.”
The two of them answered back and forth as if they were chatting. They looked as if they were not standing in the middle of the throne room and the reigning Emperor was not still sitting on the throne.
While Emperor Yu Qian was listening to their conversation, his knitted brows became smooth, but his look at the two contained vicious currents that were hard to notice and his eyes became colder. After thinking through the matter for a time, the Emperor said, “If you don't give an explanation for today's incident, I'm afraid that we also would not be able to explain and justify this to the officials, clans, and citizens of the country. Chen wang, although you are my blood-related brother, even the son of heaven needs to be punished accordingly when he commits mistakes. Today, you did not even notice that there were enemies sneaking into the city. Say it for yourself, what punishment do you think you deserve?”
When the incident happened, Jiang Mu Chen had already foreseen that Emperor Yu Qian would have make use of this opportunity to cause a fuss. The Emperor wanted nothing else but to have him surrender his quefu for the city guards.
This quefu was not given to him by Emperor Yu Qian but by Emperor Xi Jing before he passed away. For this reason, Jiang Mu Chen surely could not give up his quefu just to satisfy someone's wish.
Jiang Mu Chen's cold gaze moved from Chu Fei Yang to Emperor Yu Qian and coldly said, “I will voluntarily forfeit salary for half a year, but I beg the Emperor to please give me a chance to amend my crime by meritorious acts and let this be an encouragement for to better protect the safety of the capital.”
At Jiang Mu Chen's perfunctory request of forfeiting his salary, Chu Fei Yang could not help but coldly laugh yet he still did not open his mouth.
On the other hand, when Emperor Yu Qian heard Jiang Mu Chen's words, his expression suddenly changed, the madness in his face was so noticeable that people could not help but feel cold from their hearts, “Seventh brother, I had already said a while ago that even the son of heaven needs to be punished accordingly when he commits mistakes. I care for our brotherly affection and cannot bear to punish you; thus, I asked you to speak out your punishment. I did not expect that deep inside your heart, you are so reluctant to be punished that you even dare say such words that make things difficult for me. After so many people have died in the capital, how can you expect me to convince the masses by punishing you with only your salary? In the future, if someone else commits this kind of huge mistake, don't tell me that they would all just be punished by reducing their salaries.”
“Emperor, I have something to say, but do not know if you wish to hear it.” Suddenly, Yun Xuan Zhi had unexpectedly stood out and calmly said.
Emperor Yu Qian controlled his anger and said loudly, “Speak!”
“Yes!” Yun Xuan Zhi immediately replied, then slowly continued: “Emperor, the law should also have mercy. This time, wangye was late at saving the people because he considered the safety of the Emperor first. Why not just dismiss and replace some of the city guard generals? This way, we are not only able to warn the people, but also avoid their disappointment.”
Right after Yun Xuan Zhi finished speaking, Chu Fei Yang immediately turned his look at him with interest.
Chen wang coldly glared at Yun Xuan Zhi. Although he did not have any expression, a hint of surprise flashed through his eyes.
Emperor Yu Qian apparently also did not expect Yun Xuan Zhi to suggest this compromise. Not that Emperor Yu Qian did not know this method, but today was really a good chance to force Chen wang to surrender his quefu, so he naturally would not have suggested anything else.
After all, the city guards were the one obstacle in entering the capital and Chen wang steadily sat in such an important position. This fact caused Emperor Yu Qian to be so worried that he could not even eat and sleep.
Yun Xuan Zhi's proposal was rather reasonable and he barely sided with anyone.
In addition, Chen wang's attitude a while ago was very determined. If he forced Chen wang too much, he was afraid that it would make it more likely for Chen wang to revolt against him. At that time, Western Chu would be facing not only foreign invasion, but also internal trouble, and it was possible that it might cause the other people of the imperial lineage to also covet Western Chu. In this case, the loss outweighed the gains and it would be too late to repent when the unthinkable occured.
Yun Xuan Zhi's idea was very feasible. By dismissing and replacing important generals of the city guards, it not only gave the citizens an explanation, towards the city guards, they would be employing both kindness and severity, while Chen wang would suffer inwardly and be unable to speak of his bitterness. Even if he started a revolution, he would not have any reason to justify it.
And if the city guard generals consisted of all Emperor Yu Qian's people, it would not matter if he did not have the quefu. It seemed that from now on, Emperor Yu Qian would not have any worries.
“Then let's follow what Yun xiang has suggested. Chen wang, do you have any objections?” though he had made his decision, Emperor Yu Qian still bothered to ask.
Jiang Mu Chen did not have any expression, but inside his sleeves, he tightly closed his hands into fists. Only after a while did he coldly say, “I will follow the imperial decree.”
“Then you may all leave. The matters for compensation will then be managed by Yun xiang.” Emperor Qian stood up and everyone else stooped respectfully for his departure.
The next day, the people who came out early saw that more than half of the houses in the capital had white lanterns hanging on their doors. That half of the capital was deep into mourning. The sounds of people crying could be faintly heard in the streets.
This day, Western Chu's Emperor Yu Qian ordered imposed emergency measures in the whole country. He dismissed and replaced officials of the city guard who had positions higher than the rank of 4th Pin. Chen wang's salary for half a year was taken and the court would give funds to compensate the relatives of the dead. Within the capital, there would be no songs, dances, or feasts for one month to commemorate the dead.
[green is a link! chinese had this ranking system of "pin" they go from 1 to 9 with one being the highest]
When the imperial decree was given, everyone applauded for Emperor Yu Qian's decision. Only Jiang Mu Chen had a sombre countenance. He stayed in Chen wangfu for several days and refused to receive any visitors.