Plundering the Dao of the Immortal Journey Chapter 82
Pei Zi Yun was not intimidated. He smiled, "Your excellency Governor, the dynasty remains as powerful as ever and has reunited all the cities under its command. They are gradually moving away from war priorities and transitioning back to normal civilian life."
"You've been to Ying Prefecture and encouraged ploughing of lands, and showed your support for planting of mulberry farms. You've appeased the population by visiting constantly, and even made several reforms regarding education and culture. Lastly, you've even opened up land for farming that amounted up to 100,000 mu. But now, these pirates have started roaming rivers, attacking counties and even committing murder. In order for the imperial court to save face to prevent a further escalation, they would need an extreme method to deal with these bandits, and thus would call on Ji Bei Hou. Your excellency, what do you think the imperial court will do with you then?"
"To cut down on military costs and returning to normal civilian time is normal procedure, especially now that we're in peace times. However, the imperial court knows that exterminating these pirates are war matters and thus would have utmost priority. After that issue is settled will they return to normal life." The Governor answered confidently.
"That's correct. However for Ji Bei Hou to fully exterminate these pirates would take him several years. In that time, pirates will still continue to wreak havoc all over the country. Who then will be responsible for that? With these pirates still causing problems, the imperial court would be unable to move forward with their policies and move towards normal, farming civilian life. Your excellency, how long do you think before we are able to proceed back on track with the imperial court's policies?"
"Optimistically, one or two years. Realistically three to four years. I'm just predicting." Pei Zi Yun said plainly.
The Governor already had such a concern at the back of his head. After hearing Pei Zi Yun confirm his fears, his face sank as he thought to himself, "Could it be that this man is really not working for Ji Bei Hou?"
He then walked up to Pei Zi Yun and asked, "Tell me more Top Scorer Pei."
Pei Zi Yun smiled, "This is easy. Please bring out the paper."
"Top Scorer Pei, if paper alone could solve it, why would I need you to help?" The Governor said suspiciously, eying Pei Zi Yun. He was wondering if this person was truly gifted, or was he trying to over sensationalize himself. He then said brusquely, "There's no need for all these nonsense. If you have a plan, please speak up!"
"Ha ha, that's easy. Can I trouble his excellency to bring some ink and quills." Pei Zi Yun's eyes flashed as he spoke.
'Does he really have a plan?' The Governor looked at him once more before ordering his servants to bring the quills and ink stone. Pei Zi Yun picked up a paper weight and placed them at the top of the paper.
The Governor stood by the side as Pei Zi Yun started writing, "Exterminating the Pirates!"
"Such big words!"
The Governor continued reading and had to admit his penmanship was flawless. He then watched as Pei Zi Yun continued waving his quill up and down, where many words started forming.
"During the reign of the previous dynasty, there were many protest strikes conducted by merchants due to to the restriction of trade along the seas. This caused trading routes between merchants and the Japanese to be blocked off. Hence, goods such as iron pots and silk cloth, gold and silver have risen in value and become much more profitable to trade illegally. Since trading such goods had become illegal, many people decided to go all out and started taking risks to earn profits. Many Japanese coastal farmers thus started plundering the seas in search for fame as well."
"And now if the imperial court decide to impose the same restrictions on sea trade, the same problems would occur. It's akin to adding firewood onto fire."
"These pirates originate from Japan, and it is meaningless to nip the problem from its source by attacking Japan. Besides, how much money would be required to sustain an attack on these pirates at sea?"
"Regarding the ploy to exterminate these pirates, the first step is to legalize trading routes so as to remove the benefits of plundering the seas and trading illegally. From this, our nation would see products such as silk, porcelain, tea leaves, pots and other goods being sold to Japan and we would receive silver and gold from this sales. This would prosper our country."
"This would cause those part time pirates to turn away from their illegal ways. Since a legal route for trade has been established, who would risk death to trade?"
"Doing this would reveal those pirates were only pirates in name but are actually bandits from our motherland. When they realized they had been revealed, they shall flee into exile for fear of being punished. Those that wouldn't flee are the true pirates, the vagrants from Japan."
"We should also despatch an official to Japan, and suggest that they control their vagrants. If they refuse, we then have the rights to act and annihilate these pirates from their sources, Japan's coasts."
"We should then deploy a navy to act accordingly. The navy only needs to be 3,000 men strong."
"Before long, the country will flourish, the people will prosper and the bandits will be annihilated."
"Doing this will mean the imperial court would not have to fork out unnecessary money to pay for their soldiers. Furthermore Ji Bei Hou would no longer be needed to restore peace to the nation."
The Governor was reading intently, completely immersed. When he had finished, he was astonished and was speechless. He was the Governor and clearly understood the viability of this plan.
Firstly, the dynasty has been established and since the Emperor was in poor health, the most important thing was to ease the succession of the Crown Prince to the throne. Priority was for authority of the military sector to be reduced and returned to education and literature sectors. Using Ji Bei Hou to deal with the pirates was the last resort.
Additionally, it's precisely because the dynasty had just been established that the population had just crossed over from chaos to peace. This also meant that the country's reserves were almost depleted from all that spending on military. Wasting more money on soldier's pays would be hard to settle for the imperial court. Even if they do permit it, it would generate ill will.
This plan thus stuck closely to the imperial court's policies with regards to the shift from military might to education and not wasting money on soldier's salaries and yet would be able to solve the pirates problems. In fact, the chances of this plan working was very high.
Looking once more at this plan, it was certain that this man was not a spy belonging to Ji Bei Hou. This was because Ji Bei Hou was banking heavily on the fact that the imperial court would deploy him to deal with the pirates. And this plan completely removed the pirate problem.
The Governor then sighed, "Just yesterday I was talking to my wife about this matter and was somewhat worried. Who would've expected Master Top Scorer to present me with a solution today. From the bottom of my heart, I am envious of your talents!"
Master Top Scorer was a way people who were junior to Pei Zi Yun would address him. Hearing the Governor address him this way caused Pei Zi Yun to pause. He didn't expect the Governor to be this humble. Just as he was about to reply politely, the Governor stood up and bowed to him, "Being a Governor and not being able to think of a solution to exterminate the pirates shamed me. However, with the plan devised by Top Scorer Pei, I can tell the pirates' days are numbered. I shall thank Top Scorer Pei on behalf of the masses whose lives I shall improve by ridding of these bandits."
Pei Zi Yun listened to Governor and was stumped too, although he was full of respect for him. It was indeed impressive that someone of his stature would actually dip his head and bow to someone else. Pei Zi Yun hurriedly returned the bow and said, "This student is from Ying Prefecture too. Doing my bit for the Governor is my job."
The Governor then added, "Should the Top Scorer have any requests that doesn't undermine the interests of the country, I shall do my best."
These words were sincere and Pei Zi Yun stood up still and replied, "My family owns 500 mu of land. I've enough for clothes and food, and I've joined a Dao sect. I have no requests on this regard. However, as for my sect, we were conferred the titles of Daoist Masters in the previous dynasty. If the imperial court would confer us the titles of True Sovereign, this student will be grateful beyond measure."
The Governor paused for sometime before clearing his throat and laughing, "This matter is slightly difficult to achieve. However if I act appropriately, it can be done. It's just that I would have to tell the imperial court of your contribution to this solution before we can share the rewards."
Pei Zi Yun laughed, "That is a small matter. This student is no longer of the secular world, what rewards shall I hope to acquire. Your excellency should take all the rewards the court has to offer. I shall just assist your excellency from the shadows."
As he said this, he bade farewell and retreated. Pei Zi Yun knew that by raising such a request, his reward in all these would be used up. However he knew that it was hard to keep up this sense of gratitude a superior would have for a subordinate. Hence he decided to use up this favor once and felt that it was a reasonable deal.
Feeling extremely free and at ease, the Governor escorted Pei Zi Yun to the exit where he watched as Pei Zi Yun's shadows drifted away. When he was out of sight, the Governor sighed, "What an extraordinary man!"
The night wind was someone cooling. The nights before had seen strong gale descend upon the city, where the leaves of trees were rustling, and windows were shaking. It seemed like rain was about to fall soon.
Within the study, there was a pot of steaming hot tea on the table. Ji Bei Hou was flipping through a book on military strategies.
At this point, a voice came from behind the study door, "Master Hou, Teacher Shen has arrived."
"Come in." Master Hou instructed.
The sound of the door opening could be heard as Shen Zhi strolled in. Seeing Ji Bei Hou with some tea on the table he sighed, "Master Hou, this is an elegant sight."
"So Teacher Shen is here, come and join for for tea." Ji Bei Hou's face was wall smiles. He stood up to pour some tea, as if in a good mood. Shen Zhi walked over to receive the tea and waited for it to turn slightly colder before taking a sip. Realizing that it was slightly sweet he said, "Master Hou, the tea is sweet."
"Master Hou, after the Governor came under attack and nearly lost his life, the imperial court would severely reprimand the him. In order to save face, they would have to deploy Master Hou to deal with the crisis."
"Ha ha, it's all due to the fact that Mister Shen planned and execute this well. Once this is done, we shall all be much relaxed. Now that the Governor has lost face, we shall see how he plans to deal with me." Ji Bei Hou said, smiling.
"Shen Zhi, it's just that the pirates have not replied since yesterday. When did the pirates coordinate and plan this assault?"
When Shen Zhi heard this, his body trembled slightly, "Master Hou, I've received word that over the past two months, the pirates have started coordinating this assault. They had been plundering and robbing the coastal counties in a bid to force the imperial court into making a swift decision."
Shen Zhi replied with a stoic expression. Ever since he received favour from Master Hou, his loyalty was unwavering. Even if he knew that the assaults would cost lives and people to lose their homes, he had no regrets.
"Good, I shall wait for further news then. Ha ha." Ji Bei Hou laughed loudly. He had thrown out the net of a trap and was now reeling it back in.
Along the river
The currents of the river were unabating and yet barely visible under the cloak of darkness. A warrior was standing atop a pirate boat, leading more than 20 pirates. Looking far ahead he said, "Move closer to shore. These wretched citizens. It's been harder and harder for us to steal valuable items from them. This time, with ten boats of bandits, we have come to attack their cities and rob from within. After we've entered their town, we shall slaughter our way and bring back valuable goods to feed our families."
"Hai, whatever Sir Warrior commands, we dare not refuse."
The warrior raised his machete and shouted, "This time, we shall attack the city and bring back gold and riches that will prosper us. Maybe our client will even give us true warrior statuses. A million victories for us! "
"A million victories." The rest of the pirates replied, raising their machetes.
The boat was approaching the coast and they could see faint lights from afar. Several of these fishing villages had indeed maintained secret pacts with the pirates and thus weren't alarmed by their arrival.
When the pirates disembarked from their boat, several villagers were on the shore. They said, "Brother Sang Tian, we've waited a long time for you."
"Brother Zhou, are you all ready?"
"We are all ready. 100 meters away resides the town. There are around 1500 households and they are about 8,000 people strong. There's a wall around the village, but we already have an insider within the town who has opened the door for us. We can just slaughter our way in."
"Good, that is very good." Sang Tian waved his machete and a line of people followed him as they started walking. Before long they arrived before the town.
Sang Tian looked around and realized that the town was being enveloped in a certain sort of stillness and tranquility. The entire town was asleep. He noticed something was off and replied, "Why are the entrance not opened?"
Before he could complete his sentence, someone said excitedly, "It's open now."
Sang Tian took several steps forward and true enough, the doors were opened. He then ordered, "Kill! Kill our way in!"
The vagrants acknowledged as they raised their machetes and rushed in. Several minutes in, the entire town was thrown into chaos. Someone shouted in the distance, "Hurry, gather all the men, resist them."
"Brothers, this is the time for us to defend our town and country. Do not let these pirates have their way."
"Not good, it's a huge swarm of pirates. Run!" Someone else shouted.
Another one shouted, "Not good, Ji San's crutch has broken."
Following that, fires and agonizing screams could be heard as many people fell to the ground dead.