Chapter 19 – Third Phase, Ministers’ Mourning Hearts

Song Capital, the entrance to the royal palace…

One by one, haggard-looking citizens knelt down and burst into sad cries.

“I beg Your Royal Majesty to take responsibility and return to the righteous path. Please arrest the bandits and return my property!”

“Your Royal Majesty, we common people have paid a lot of taxes every year, and now our family properties have been robbed. I beg Your Royal Majesty to take responsibility!”

“Your Royal Majesty, Imperial Tutor Pan instigated his servants to plunder my properties, I earnestly request Your Royal Majesty to uphold the law and punish Imperial Tutor Pang!”

“Your Royal Majesty, we common people have the evidence that Imperial Tutor Pang’s servant looted my property, his servants are robbers. I beg Your Royal Majesty to punish these bandits!”

At this time, all the merchants of the Song Captial holding written complaints in their hand knelt down before the entrance of the royal palace and cried out; awaiting the Song King’s declaration to take a stand.

——

Meanwhile, in an attic not too far away from the entrance…

Gu Hai’s and Gu Han’s eyes flashed coldly as they watched the congregation of merchants bringing their accusations before the Song King.

“Godfather, the ones in the front are our people!” Gu Han said, pointing into the distance.

Gu Hai nodded his head, “Let’s wait and watch! Next, many more people will come and bring accusations before the Song King, and it will not just stop at Song Capital. Even the rich traders from throughout the Song Kingdom would arrive and bring accusations.”

“Royal Tutor Pang deserved to be punished, he is basically a greedy pig! Over these days, he commanded his servants and subordinates to even rob the shops. He thinks he could fish in troubled waters? Ha, we have been long prepared and recorded everything!” Gu Han said with a smile on his face.

“Royal Tutor Pang? I had never expected for that shriveled old man to be so greedy!” exclaimed Gu Hai.

“It doesn’t matter if he is greedy; I can’t agree with the fact that this dirty old man at his age would continuously ravage young girls. Almost every three days, a young girl would fall prey to him. In the eyes of these rotten aristocrats, perhaps it is fun; but in my eyes, these motherf*ckers are damn nauseating, they don’t know a bit of shame. From what I have heard, a dozen or so young girls had been killed by this old man! He has committed grave sins!” Gu Han’s voice was filled with hatred.

“Serves him right!” Gu Hai sneered.

“Godfather, will the Song King truly behead Royal Tutor Pang? After all, he is the Song King’s teacher!” Gu Han said with a bit of worry.

“Ah, teacher? Song King even dared to behead his very own grandson for a crime, can a minister be spared?” Gu Hai’s face flashed with a cold smile as he replied.

“En!” With a frown on his glabella, Gu Han repeatedly nodded.

“Presumably, the Chen army crossing the border must have been relayed to the royal court!”

“It should have, I saw a messenger anxiously rushing into the royal palace!” Gu Han nodded.

“So, the news of a landslide defeat from the frontlines must have been relayed as well. All the cities simply don’t have anyone to oppose the Chen Army. The Chen army will meet with no resistance, just like entering an unpeopled land. The Song Kingdom’s citizens and soldiers simply have no intention to serve the country. Will the Song King remain fearless? At this moment, he should be dreading!” Gu Hai said with a laugh.

“If it was me, I sure as hell would be panicking. The Song Kingdom seems to have collapsed, their unity is only maintained on the surface; the Song Kingdom is facing a crisis!” Gu Han said anxiously.

“That’s right, the Song Kingdom is facing a crisis. The citizens are mourning; the Song Kingdom is beyond all hope! At present, the Song Kingdom is just like a sick adult encountering a child with a knife in his hand who has come to kill him. Although the adult is formidable, at present he is sick and unable to move. All he can do is wait to be slaughtered by the child. If given time to recuperate, the adult could restore some energy, but at present he simply doesn’t have any time!” said Gu Hai, taking a sip from his tea. 

“What the Song Kingdom lacks the most is time. The Chen Army is pressing at the borders, and with their current speed, they should arrive at the Song Capital very soon. The Song Kingdom will be surely destroyed!” Gu Han said thoughtfully.

“Therefore, at this moment, the adult can only hope to cure a part of his body as soon as possible, so that he could at least stop the child!” Gu Hai said with a smile.

“Cure? What can he cure? At present, the citizens who had taken ahold of the opportunity are simply averse to the Song Kingdom; even if they have the money, they cherish their lives even more. As for the citizens who had suffered losses, they simply hate and resent the Song Kingdom. How could they still save the Song Kingdom?” Gu Han said as a frown crept across his face.

“At this moment, the Song Kingdom is divided into two: the ones who have suffered. and the ones who have taken advantage. Both sides are unwilling to fight for the country. The Song King can only choose one side and appease them. But how can he appease the ones who have taken advantage?” Gu Hai seemed to be instructing Gu Han.

“Letting them block the Chen Army in exchange for a pardon?” The look on Gu Han’s face flickered with understanding.

“Is that possible?” asked Gu Hai again.

“Well, it seems impossible. If they are pardoned for their crimes, those who have suffered losses would rebel immediately, and the Song Kingdom would further plunge into chaos. Plundering and killing will continue; perhaps even without the Chen Army, the Song Kingdom would collapse on its own! Furthermore, the people who have taken advantage would not necessarily join the army. They have taken advantage of the situation, they have already lost their patriotism in their heart. As long as they remain safe, they can enjoy their new wealth; it doesn’t matter whether they are residing in Chen or Song!” Gu Han said thoughtfully.

“Since it’s impossible to appease the citizens who have taken advantage, then he can only appease the citizens who have suffered!” Gu Hai’s eyes flashed with a confident gleam.

“Appease those who have suffered? The merchants who are kneeling before the royal palace? Those who have either not robbed or those who had been robbed by citizens?” Gu Han turned his gaze towards the square.

“Right, but how should he appease them? Should he help them get their property back?” Gu Hai said with a smile.

“That’s absolutely impossible. Their belongings have been stolen and already hidden by the robbers, how can it be possible to make them spit out such a fat piece of meat? If the Song King prosecuted them forcefully, it would certainly result in even more chaos. The citizens who have taken advantage would certainly resist, the situation would get far worse!” Gu Han’s said as his expression changed.

“So how should it be done?” Gu Hai said in an instructing tone.

“Investigate the root cause and find the guilty person accountable!” The look on Gu Han’s face flickered.

“How should it be done?” Gu Hai burst into a laugh.

“By killing the guilty to incite the citizens’ morale, vent their anger!” Gu Han looked excited.

“Who should be killed?” 

“As long as it could vent their anger, Song King can kill anybody, no matter who! Even the Crown Prince could be killed!” Gu Han said as his eyes flickered with excitement.

“Therefore, the third phase is the most simple. Everything is already set in motion, and it can not be reversed. All we have to do is push the boat ahead and it will accelerate on its own!” said Gu Hai with a smile on his lips.

“Yes, I completely understand! That Royal Tutor Pang will face judgment!?” Gu Han’s eyes lit up bright as he said.

Gu Han nodded.

——

The royal court in the Song Capital…

“The Chen Army has already reached my Song Kingdom. The Border City could only hold them off for just one day before getting defeated? What about Gao Xianzhi?” Crown Prince Song shouted in anger and anxiety.

The Song King, seated on the dragon throne, had a constantly changing look on his face. The ministers were also getting restless.

The Song Crown Prince was shouting at the bunch of messengers angrily.

“Ran away, everyone ran away. The army of Commander Gao was also in a mess, they were simply unable to block the Chen. Everyone just ran away, no one resisted. Some meddlesome citizens even opened the city gates, allowing the Chen Army to enter with little to no resistance!” a messenger said in anguish.

“The citizens are mourning? The Chen Army has arrived, it’s one disaster after another, huh?” The face of the leader of the left row, Liu Chengxiang, was laced with an ugly look.

“What do we do? The citizens and the soldiers are simply unwilling to go to war. Are they disappointed with my Song Kingdom? This Gu Hai is truly terrifying!”

“The root cause of this is the previous decision. When the Gu Song Silver House was being robbed, it should not have been encouraged! Had it not been for that, this would not have come to pass!”

“That’s right, if we had not opened the gateway, we would not have lost the popular support!”

At this time, the congregation of ministers kept on complaining.

A sliver of anguish appeared on Crown Prince Song’s face as he turned his head and said, “Royal Father, This Child and Subject is guilty! At that time, my heart was filled with hatred for Gu Hai and came to believe in Merchant Tian Han’s fallacy. Later, This Child and Subject also came to regret, but when I went looking for Tian Han, he had run away. The Tian Mansion was also empty!”

“Tian Han? Tian Han? Tian Han? Damn!” Liu Chengxiang’s complexion looked even worse.

“En?” Everyone turned their gaze towards Liu Chengxiang.

“Your Royal Majesty, This Subject knows who Tian Han is! The Tian(田) character in Tian Han(田汉) consists of Shi(十) and Kou(口) characters overlapping each other, and Gu(古) character similarly consists of Shi(十) and Kou(口) characters overlapping each other. It’s just that former consists of ‘Shi(十) inside Kou(口)’, while the latter consists of ‘Shi(十) above Kou(口)’!” The look of Liu Chengxiang’s face changed again.

“Tian Han(田汉)? Gu Han(古汉)? Gu Hai’s second adopted son?” The congregation of ministers repeated with a crazed look on their faces.

“Plop!” Crown Prince Song looked worse as he limply slumped down on the ground.

From the get-go, he had already guessed that Tian Han was Gu Hai’s person, but how could he have ever expected for him to actually be the adopted son of Gu Hai? How could he have ever expected him to hide in plain sight right next to him?

“Gu Hai!” The Song King’s countenance looked extremely ugly.

“Your Royal Majesty, for the moment, we have to appease the resentment of one side so that they will go and block the Chen Army!” Liu Chengxiang said in an agonized tone.

“Prime Minister, tell me, how should we appease them? So long as we appease their resentment, we can encourage the citizens to block the Chen Army. We have to respond!” Song King anxiously looked at Liu Chengxiang.

After remaining silent for a while, Liu Chengxiang painfully said, “Your Royal Majesty, at present, it is absolutely impossible for us to return the stolen property, and we don’t have enough time, the Chen Army is constantly moving forward. Even if we used our entire national treasury to compensate, it would still be impossible to plug the gap. It is too difficult to dispel the popular anger!”

“I also don’t want to clarify the issue with the citizens. As long as we can win back the popular support, as long as the citizens are willing to resist the Chen Army, I’m ready to meet all of their requirements,” Song King said anxiously.

“In order to dispel popular anger, resentment, and disappointment, we need to eliminate the principal culprit. Beheading the principal criminal will boost the citizens’ morale. Only this can make the citizens trust our Great Song!” Liu Chengxiang said in a solemn tone.

“Principal culprit? The main culprits are Gu Hai and Gu Han!” Song King knitted his eyebrows.

“Yes, but we can’t find them, then how to behead the culprit?” 

“Yes, but if we can’t find them, then how to behead the culprits? Then, we would have to find the one who was responsible for the citizens acting like bandits! Or whoever angered the citizens! Or anyone who has been demanded by the public!” Liu Chengxiang said in a solemn tone.

“En?” The Royal Court, in the blink of an eye, was filled with a strange fury.

“Liu Chengxiang, do you want to kill me?” Crown Prince Song’s complexion suddenly changed.

“Liu Chengxiang, what do you mean?” Royal Tutor Pang also had his complexion change.

Liu Chengxiang replied in a slightly bitter and astringent tone, “Your Royal Highness, for the continuation of the Song Kingdom, we can’t just punish anyone; otherwise, it would bring forth more trouble. At that time, it was Your Royal Highness who proposed letting citizens rob Gu Hai’s properties, and Royal Tutor Pang, it was you who supported this proposal first. I believed that you were acting in the best interest of Song Kingdom, but how could I have ever expected you, Royal Tutor to be acting to serve your own self-interest? When the citizens were instigated to act as robbers, wasn’t it you, Royal Tutor, who was the biggest winner? You sent your slaves and subordinates to rob, and at the same time, you were the first to map out strategies, making your slaves and subordinates quickly spread throughout the city, and you made your disciples and old followers immediately start robbing. You, Royal Tutor Pang, have robbed the most and credited the most to the chaos of Song Kingdom today. You can hardly absolve yourself from blame!”

“Wow!” The royal court was suddenly sent into an uproar.

Liu Chengxiang wanted to fight with Royal Tutor Pang?

“Liu Chengxiang, you bastard, had it not for me guiding you, do you think you would be ever here? How could you have ever stepped foot in the royal court?” Royal Tutor Pang shouted in anger.

“Who else can be as greedy as you. Do you know, whose name the victims are shouting just outside the royal palace at this moment? All of them have all the crimes committed by Royal Tutor Pang listed on sheets of paper. You could not be clearer than anyone of the crimes you have committed. The citizens want you dead; only by beheading you can we dispel the popular anger. Royal Tutor Pang, please sacrifice yourself for the Great Song!” Liu Chengxiang suddenly bent down towards Royal Tutor Pang.

“We earnestly request Royal Tutor Pang to sacrifice for the nation!” a group of ministers humbly bent down and requested in loud voices.

“You…you…bastards!” An ugly look covered Royal Tutor Pang’s face as he pointed at everyone.

The Song King felt his eyes twitch. At this moment, watching Royal Tutor Pang, he didn’t know how to express his feelings.

“Your Royal Majesty, Your Subject indeed instigated his retainers, but it was not just This Subject alone, all the civil and military officers at the court had a hand in this. Everything is Gu Hai’s plot!” Royal Tutor Pang shouted at the top of his voice.

“Royal Tutor Pang, the citizens want you dead. If you remain alive, my Song Kingdom will not continue to exist. For the Great Song, I earnestly beseech Royal Tutor Pang to sacrifice for the nation!” Liu Chengxiang bent even more down as he said.

“We earnestly beg Royal Tutor Pang to sacrifice for the nation!” All the ministers, begged in high-pitched voices as they bent down their bodies towards Royal Tutor Pang.

“You…you…!” Royal Tutor Pang’s face flashed with fright as he looked towards all the ministers.

In the past, these very ministers supported him, as long as he issued an order, everyone would say “This Subject supports this notion!”. Many among these ministers were his disciples and old followers; but at this time, all of them were asking him to die?

Royal Tutor Pang was suddenly swept up into a trance. In his trance, he saw, Gu Hai, dressed in armor and with a double-edged long sword in his hand pointed at him, standing above the royal court. With an order of Gu Hai, all of the ministers became Gu Hai’s subordinates, awaiting Gu Hai’s order to compel him to die.

In the blink of an eye, goosebumps burst all over Royal Tutor Pang’s body.

Song King stood up and walked down from the dragon throne, stopping before Royal Tutor Pang. Suddenly, he bent down towards Royal Tutor Pang and said, “Royal Tutor, the nation is facing a crisis, I earnestly beg Royal Tutor to sacrifice for the country!”

Having heard this, Royal Tutor Pang was hit with a chill.

This Gu Hai not only had all the ministers wrapped around his finger, even His Royal Majesty was at his command; commanding Song King to compel him to death? Forcing him to die?

Royal Tutor Pang staggered a bit before he suddenly burst into a hopeless laughter, “Hahahaha, hahaha!

“This Subject has served three generations of the Song Kings. For the Great Song, I have worked hard for seventy years, experienced many ups and does, resolved many problems. For the Great Song, I have spared no effort, but after all this…!” Royal Tutor Pang said in a bitter and astringent tone.

“Royal Tutor!” Song King’s face was laced with pain and bitterness.

“Your Royal Majesty, This Subject doesn’t blame you. If I have to blame someone, then it should be Gu Hai, he is truly terrifying. This Subject’s days are already numbered, I am not going to live for long. I hope that my sacrifice may bring good luck to the Great Song!” Royal Tutor Pang said in an agonized tone as he took off his official headwear.

“Royal Tutor is too noble!” All the ministers saluted Royal Tutor Pang.

——

The next day…

At the Song Capital, under the gaze of thousands of citizens, the crimes of the Royal Tutor were listed one by one before he was bound at the market entrance.

In no time, all the residents of Song Capital arrived. And having watched the ‘chief culprit’, the morale that the citizens had lost suddenly showed signs of returning.

“This is but Royal Tutor Pang!”

“Serves him right!”

“All this was due to Royal Tutor Pang, he made me bankrupt!”

“I heard His Royal Majesty has ordered an investigation of Royal Tutor Pang’s house. All the stolen belongings will be returned to their owners!”

“Awesome, long live His Royal Majesty!”

——-

As Royal Tutor Pang knelt down on the scaffold, a faint but hideous look appeared on his face. “Gu Hai, my son will surely avenge me!”

Cut!

Puff! A stream of blood shot through the air. 

Royal Tutor Pang, the current generation’s Royal Tutor; someone who had only one person above him, the King; a man who was above the masses; a person who had disciples and followers throughout the world; a minister who had a monstrous level of influence, had been beheaded at the entrance of the vegetable market just to appease the populace.

In a short time, the Song Capital slowly recovered a bit of its energy. The populace’s anger and hatred were also dispelled to a great extent.

Gu Hai and Gu Han, who stood at the rear of the crowd, instead took in long, deep breaths.

“Alright, now that Royal Tutor Pang is dead, let’s begin. This phase is about to come to an end!” Gu Hai said with a trace of excitement.

 “Yes!” Gu Han was also excited.

——

The news of Royal Tutor Pang being beheaded at the entrance of the vegetable market quickly spread throughout the Song Kingdom.

The Dukes of each and every city received this shocking information!

Royal Tutor Pang had instigated his servants to rob the belongings of the citizens, and as such, he was beheaded in accordance with the laws of the nation!

——

At the main hall of the ducal mansion of Song Kingdom’s Rong City…

Looking at the news from the Song Capital, Duke Rong was dumbfounded.

“How is this possible? How could they behead Royal Tutor Pang? Didn’t he just steal the property of citizens? He is the Royal Tutor!” Duke Rong’s complexion became incomparably horrid.

“My Lord, we also…!” a steward said worriedly.

“What are you afraid you? No one knows, anyway. Royal Tutor Pang did in excess and was caught by the citizens, that’s why he was beheaded. We, on the other hand, did secretly, no need to worry!” Duke Rong’s eyebrows twitched as he said.

“My Lord, it’s bad, it’s really bad!” A retainer rushed into the main hall.

“What’s going on?” Duke Rong glared.

The retainer immediately handed a sheet to him and said, “My Lord, it’s bad. We don’t who handed these out, but they are now spread throughout the Rong City, Your Servant somehow brought back one!”

Snatching up the sheet, Duke Rong carefully read it. As he read, Duke Rong’s entire body broke into a cold sweat.

“How is this possible? This has all the stolen stuff that I took listed on it?! From whom I stole, what I stole, who I sent to steal, everything is meticulously recorded in it!? Even I don’t remember everything clearly, how is it possible that everything was recorded in such minute detail? Isn’t this clear evidence?” Duke Rong shouted in shock.

“I don’t know, I don’t know who is spreading this!” the retainer shook his head.

“Is it Gu Hai? Maybe he had long been prepared and was watching everyone we sent?” the steward asked worriedly.

“My Lord, I heard that many people have left the city and are taking the evidence to the royal capital to present it before His Royal Majesty!” said the retainer.

“What? Present it before His Royal Majesty?” Duke Rong staggered in shock.

In the face of hard evidence, even a nobleman like Royal Tutor Pang was beheaded at the entrance of to the market. How could he be any bigger than Royal Tutor Pang?

“My Lord, what do we do? The Chen army is also about to arrive!” the steward said in a worrisome tone.

Duke Rong’s expression was laced with uncertainty.

“Song Kingdom? It is no longer meaningful to stay in the Song Kingdom. Notify all the officials to come, we-we will surrender to the Chen Kingdom. We will take Rong City and beg to surrender to the Chen Kingdom!” Duke Rong said in a firm and determined tone.

“Ah?” The two were taken by surprise.

——

Leading the army, Chen Lianyi slowly marched towards the royal capital of Song Kingdom.

At the beginning, they encountered a bit of resistance, but later on, a strange scene took place.

When Chen Lianyi arrived, the city gates far away from them opened. Meanwhile, the city officials very graciously welcomed them. Not long after, they broke into tears as they cried their thoughts out. The tone revealed endless hatred towards the Song Kingdom and endless love towards the Chen Kingdom.

A scene, where listeners broke into tears, observers were broken-hearted, as the city official cried and wailed before prostrating before Chen Lianyi; giving off the impression that if Chen Lianyi didn’t receive them under him, they would cut their throats on the spot.

“What’s going on?”

Chen Lianyi was dumbfounded. At the beginning, when Gu Qin asked him to take troops to the Song Kingdom, he was a bit worried. However, after having entered the Song Kingdom and seeing and hearing everything, Chen Lianyi’s common sense was completely subverted.

At present, Chen Tianshan was also dazed.

“Is this really the Song Kingdom?” Chen Tianshan asked in a bewildered tone.

At the beginning, when they were taking back control of regions lost by the Chen Kingdom, everything was not so exaggerated. However, after a long while, even before they attacked the cities of Song Kingdom, one by one, the Dukes of the cities would rush out and hand over their rights.

Are we dreaming?

Chen Lianyi and Chen Tianshan were muddle-headed. Dumbfoundedly, they subdued a large part of Song Kingdom. How could it even be called subduing, it was simply taking everything for free. Even taking it for free would not be so fast. This was just like receiving a gift, and the opposite party swarmed over to forcibly present it to them.

Chen Lianyi’s entire conception of the world had been turned upside down.

En route, no matter whether it was the citizens, officials, or the soldiers, no one rejected them.

What had happened to the Song Kingdom?

The Chen army slowly marched towards the Song Capital.

At the Song Capital, when Song King heard all this information, he could hardly wait to bash his head to death against the wall. He had made the wrong move by imprisoning Crown Prince and beheading Royal Tutor Pang. At present, the Song Kingdom was quickly walking towards its destruction.

Unbeknownst to the Song King, the ministers at the Song Capital were also panicking.

Because each minister had received an anonymous paper, written upon which was how they had ordered their retainers to snatch the fortunes of the citizens, and it was even more detailed than the evidence for Royal Tutor Pang.

Each and every piece of evidence sent almost all the ministers into despair.

Even Royal Tutor Pang was beheaded. What about them?

Each piece of evidence was like a huge mountain pressing the heart of every minister. The entire group of ministers was in chaos. Every one of them quickly went to the other ministers’ houses to discuss this.

Outside the royal palace, more citizens slowly arrived and knelt down. Each of them was coming from various cities of Song Kingdom. At present, countless citizens were begging the Song King to take responsibility, and their numbers kept on growing.

Whereas the Song King, who was sitting alone at the royal court, was at loss as to what to do. 

Tap-tap-tap!

At this moment, Liu Chengxiang, along with a large number of courtiers, walked into the royal court.

“Liu Chengxian, why have you come? has the current situation improved? I heard that the Chen army will reach here in less than five days. Have they arrived?!” Song King powerlessly said.

The congregation of courtiers glanced at each other.

“Your Royal Majesty, I’m sorry to offend you!” Liu Chengxian said.

“En?” Song King’s complexion changed.

“Come, take Your Royal Majesty down, open the city gates, welcome the Chen King to the city!” Liu Chengxiang ordered.

“What are you doing? What are you doing?” Song King’s complexion worsened.

“Your Royal Majesty, I am also helpless. We can’t fight Gu Hai. We’re also forced to do this. We beg Your Royal Majesty to cooperate!” Liu Chengxiang said in a bitter and astringent tone.

“We beg Your Royal Majesty to cooperate!” the group of ministers humbly begged.

“You-you-you still act like courtiers? I am the King, I am the King of Great Song, how dare you!” Song King glared at them.

“Your Royal Majesty is ignorant and caused our hearts to mourn. The trend is set, Your Royal Majesty, your guards are already under our control, any more struggle would be in vain!” Liu Chengxiang said in anguish.

The ministers’ hearts were already mourning! Ministers’ mourning hearts!

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