1269 Vexation of Officials
"Lord Tang is the God of Fortune in this world, and the representative of the Evil Monarch in the mainland! You naturally have the qualifications to speak like this. As long as the Evil Monarch exists in this world, as long as Lord Jun rules this world, Lord Tang's position is unshakeable! Even the Emperors of the countries of this world have to treat you with respect and be careful with you," Tie Huaili said bitterly. "And because of this same reason, I wish to become a person under Lord Tang!"
"What kind of reason is that?" Tang Yuan's voice was filled with rage. "Third Young Master Jun and I were brothers from youth, and it is the same way now. From the start, it was just a friendship between the two of us. What does it have to do with outsiders like you? So what if he is now the Evil Monarch? Even when he was contending with the three Holy Lands, the entire continent didn't think well of his chances. I stuck by his side. I'd never cared about his status or his abilities. I only value him as a person. Jun Moxie, as a person! Even if Jun Moxie is no longer the Evil Monarch, even if he's a mere beggar, or a cripple, he will still be my, Tang Yuan's, brother! This is something that will never change! And this is something that has nothing to do with the politics of you officials!"
"I will strongly reiterate one thing. I, Tang Yuan, am only a merchant. Whether it is Tian Xiang City, the Xuan Xuan Continent, or any other place, there are no factions that belong to me. This is especially the case for courts which are filled with schemes and strife! The reputation of the Evil Monarch is also not something that you people can use like a tiger's skin to drape over yourselves! Not only is this a taboo for the Third Young Master, it is also a taboo for me, Tang Yuan!" Tang Yuan snorted angrily.
Tie Huaili didn't seem to mind those words as he spoke in a calm tone. "Lord Tang is already standing at the peak of the world, so you can naturally set yourself apart from the affairs of the world and be completely unrestrained like this. But countless common people are still coiled among the mortal dust. Men are helpless in acting in spite of themselves as they live in this world! As a general for half my life, I have seen the families of many brothers who died in battle, being bullied by society with no one to turn to. Abandoning a bright future in the army, I returned to Tian Xiang, hoping only to do some good for those brothers and heroic soldiers who died fighting under me!"
Tang Yuan cocked his head and looked at him as he snorted in a ridiculing tone. "It sounds touching, but your current actions are clearly one where you are putting profit before conscience, being blinded by greed! Disregarding the costs, you're trying to cast your lot under a merchant's signboard. Do you still remember your original intentions!?"
"How would I not remember! I've never forgotten for even one moment!" Tie Huaili roared agitatedly. "Ever since I returned to Tian Xiang, it was Old Master Murong who personally made arrangements for me. He helped with the official registrar, made me an imperial censor, and after numerous setbacks and twists, I reached the position of a circuit intendant. But after Old Master Murong retired, I quickly dropped three ranks, finally become the Senior Supervising Official of the capital.
"Compared to those high ranking officials in the palace courts, this position of mine is not high at all. However, this position is the one I truly wished for the most! The Senior Supervising Official of the capital is responsible for overseeing the daily affairs of the common people. It belongs to the Ministry of Justice and can be said to hold a position of power. But what I value the most about this position is that the common people can bring all their grievances to me! And among these people, many of them are the descendants of those soldiers and brothers who'd fought under me or their widows!"
Tie Huaili laughed bitterly. "Lord Tang had been born to a rich family and was clad in silk and gold from birth, enjoying delicacies everyday. You would naturally not understand the difficulties of those underprivileged people who'd lost their fathers and husbands in war! But no matter how difficult life was for them, they still lived on with determination. The words 'live on' may seem easy to say, but it is an extremely difficult task to do!
"Especially those girls who have some beauty; their looks which were supposed to be a blessing from the heavens!. But it would instead become the very thing that became the tragedy for their entire family! Just because a child from the family looks pretty, it would be a reason for the family to be destroyed! Isn't this an extremely tragic and laughable joke? However, such tragedies are happening everyday, constantly!"
The more Tie Huaili spoke, the more agitated he became. Towards the end, he directly stood up and a heroic aura that had once accompanied him on the battlefield years ago once again surged from him.
Tang Yuan listened quietly, not interrupting him.
"Ever since I took on the position of the supervising official, I've placed especially great importance on this issue! However, after I'd been in the job for a while, I finally understood that things were nowhere as simple as I'd imagined. Back then, I'd naively thought that as long as I was in that position, I would be able to fully protect the families of those brothers of mine! But who would have thought that those people whom I could protect are those who are of insignificant status. In other words, I can only protect people who others allow me to protect! If somebody in power wants to stop me from protecting them, I cannot do anything!
"Those who dared to do those kinds of heinous crimes are mostly rich Young Masters of privileged families with great power! No matter which one of these families, none of them are entities that a mere official like me can offend! If I forced things and sought my own humiliation by confronting them, those prideful bastards would instead start an even more crazy revenge! The most abominable thing is that they would not carry out their revenge against me. Instead, they would target those innocent victims whom I was trying to protect in a harsher manner. And as for me, I can only watch powerlessly!"
Tie Huaili's voice rose with rage. "Countless times, the victims of such bullying came to look for me, hoping that I could help them. I've indeed become a person with authority, but I realized that the results of me wielding my authority to help them only caused their plight to worsen! I've escalated the cases to the imperial courts countless times, and even looked for the Minister of Justice. But all my efforts were akin to dropping a pebble into an ocean, having completely no effect. Without the imperial court to back me up, my position is nothing but a false reputation. I can't even deal with the son of a mere grain merchant!
"In the eyes of the aristocratic families and the rich merchants, my efforts are nothing but a joke! In fact, they've already taken me as a subject of ridicule now. Some of those bastards had even began to specially target the families of those soldiers who died in battle just to amuse themselves by looking at how I will react! These people will simply watch by the side with some wine in their hands as they observe how I run into walls at every corner!"
Tie Huaili beat his chest with grief. "I didn't lay a hand on the commoners, but the commoners are dying because of me! I, Tie Huaili, am a person who doesn't know my limits and am seeking my own humiliation. I'm just an object of amusement to them and that is fine. Some humans are born to be played with by other people. We're either played by ourselves, or played by our superiors, or even the world. However… what does this have to do with the innocent families of those brothers of mine?!"
He grew increasingly agitated as he spoke. "Those soldiers and brothers had shed their blood and sweat for years to protect their home and country. When they were killed in battle, the country only gave a mere 50 silvers to their families! Their widowed wives and children were then bullied and humiliated by the very people whom they died to protect! Even if they tried to quietly endure the sufferings and suppression, it was completely no use. Those bastards are only content when they see these destitute people bow and bend under the oppression, scraping under their feet for mercy to the point of sending their daughters to their doorsteps…
"Those who refused to bend and accept this hand that fate had ruthlessly dealt to them eventually all disappeared soundlessly from this world. God? Is there such a thing as God in this world?!"
"Could it be that the aristocrats of Tian Xiang are really all so inhumane? Don't they know any gratitude?" Tie Huaili's voice broke and grew hoarse.
Tang Yuan was also completely speechless.
To think that a simple question from him would actually uncover such a serious matter.
"Lord Tang, you'd once lived the life of a debauchee as well and visited your fair share of brothels!" Tie Huaili's breathing grew rough as he lamented bitterly: "But do you know how many of those girls that hundreds and thousands of men abused in those brothels that you'd once visited were daughters of men who'd bled and died to protect Tian Xiang!? How many of them were girls that had been sold to the brothels after the aristocrats had their fill of fun with them!
"Many of those girls had come from good families. They were the daughters of loyal subjects, knowing nothing but purity and innocence! They were precious daughters who were doted on and loved by their fathers!" Tie Huaili panted from the effort to voice the tragic emotions in his heart. Looking firmly at Tang Yuan, he roared: "God of Fortune, Tang Yuan! You are lofty and exalted, setting yourself apart from the affairs of the world. But are you able to hear the aggrieved souls of those soldiers in the underworld crying so loudly?!"
"I CAN HEAR THEM!" Tie Huaili hammered his chest again. "Every night when I lie on my pillow, I will dream of my departed brothers, begging me to take care of their family! But I can't do it! I am helpless to do it! I have sinned! I have sinned, ah!"
Tang Yuan drew in a breath of air, his lips trembling with shock. Standing up, he said. "Lord Tie, this Tang had been disrespectful with my words just now. Please, sit. Sit down, and let's talk slowly."
Jun Moxie listened from the side, his face as sullen as a stale pool of water. Killing intent leaked from his body.
Those things that Tie Huaili had said were undoubtedly the cold, hard truth.
The top families of Tian Xiang who wielded the highest authority perhaps would not stoop so low to do these kinds of things.
However, some of those middle ranking families indeed had this kind of perverse past time.
In the last several hundred years of Tian Xiang's history, the various influential families in the country had formed extremely wide connections. Even if a single small family was provoked, if the matter was not handled cleanly, all their backings would quickly come forward to retaliate!
As long as the offended party was not snuffed out quickly enough with a single stroke, they would have countless opportunities to strike back!
This heavenly web of connections was completely airtight! However, how could there be heavenly webs in the mortal world?!
As time passed, this web had become harder and harder to unravel, and the connections between the aristocrats grew ever more intricate. At the same time, their actions became more and more lawless, resulting in the lives of the commoners becoming harder and harder to the point where many people would not be able to continue living. In the end, the country would also devolve into a criminal state…
Tie Huaili sat down, his emotions still incredibly agitated. He'd already completely forgotten about the matter that he'd come to ask from Tang Yuan and had instead completely vented his emotions. His eyes red and bloodshot, he sighed. "Just like this, the people of the capital even began to hail me as a just and incorruptible official who's willing to serve the people. But in actuality, I'm just a useless person who cannot do anything for them. However, the people still become increasingly reliant on me, and my reputation as an official actually became better…"