Chapter 27: Seeking A Path
Evening. Qiu Xing and Dong Chen were pacing back and forth. A well rested Ye Yin was inspecting a map on a table. “What have you two discovered?”
Dong Chen responded, “Young master’s conjecture was correct. In a few days, Xihua county’s road inspections will become very severe, especially to outsiders. Unless they have a special identity, such as a merchant, there is no way to enter. I and Qiu Xing asked around inquiring for ways to Yue city without passing through Xihua county. If we are to make a detour, there are two choices. One is passing through Yun mountain, but passing through in two days is practically impossible because there are large numbers of troops stationed there, approximately ten thousand soldiers, and all roads are guarded carefully. Whether it be day or night, no one can pass. Even the nearby hunters are not allowed to go on the mountain to hunt. The second way is through the Scarlet Sand ravine that enters Xili and circumvents Yun mountain, but this path will also not work. It is too long and we don’t have enough time. Furthermore, there are massive numbers of soldiers on either side, so we are completely unable to pass through.”
After Dong Chen finished, Qiu Xing spoke. “Young master, what do we do now? There are still other ways, but they are all too long. There is no way to arrive on the sixth day of the sixth month. The fastest way to is pass through Xihua county, but it is sealed shut.”
“Who said it is sealed shut?”
Qiu Xing and Dong Chen shared a glance. Ye Yin laughed. “Since the two detours are dead ends, then we’ll just enter the county and pass right through.”
“Pass through? But young master, the county itself is also under thorough investigation. To outsiders with dialects…” Suddenly, Qiu Xing stopped. “Young master, are you able to speak in the local dialect?”
Ye Yin rolled his eyes. “I grew up in Dongling, how can I speak in the West Zhi dialect? And I’ve only been in West Zhi for less than a month. How could I learn to speak the local dialect in such a short time? It’s not like I’m gifted in languages.”
Qiu Xing pouted. “Then young master, how are we going to pass through? Even if we enter, we cannot leave!”
“Who says? Dong Chen already said that those with special identities can enter.”
Dong Chen frowned. “Young master, only merchants can pass through, and not just small merchants. Young master, you…”
Ye Yin smiled. “Am I not a merchant?”
“Ah! Right, young master, you are the master of “Fusheng”*, of course are you a merchant!” Qiu Xing suddenly realized. Suddenly, she thought of something. “But young master, why did you not decide to use your identity at the start? Otherwise we wouldn’t have had to travel such a hurry.”
*Fusheng was briefly mentioned in chapter 14
“What, are you angry?” Ye Yin took a sip from tea Qiu Xing handed over. His glanced at her heedlessly.
Qiu Xing paused, then bit her lip and said in a low voice, “No, I** only felt sympathy for young master. You have been too tired these past few days.”
Sighing, Ye Yin set the tea onto the table. “If possible, I did not want to. Fusheng has been established for seven years. It has only been successful due to brother Du and brother Jianli’s assistance. Of course, it is understandable to use this power to help brother Jianli, but I did not want to reveal this card so early.”
“Why? Young master, what are you worried about?”
Although faced with Dong Chen’s question, Ye Yin did not respond. The idiom “accompanying one’s sovereign can be like accompanying a tiger” was one he understood well. He was well aware what happened to those who accomplished great merits and threatened the emperor’s throne. Perhaps Wen Yuanbo would be a wise ruler, but people’s hearts are the hardest the fathom. He could not help but be on guard. Being abandoned after helping the nation reunite was a possibility, so he had to leave a trump card. He did not want to end up wasting his years in Wen Yuanbo’s harem. It seems it was time to let Chun Ri gradually hide Fusheng’s main power!
Ye Yin did not to say and Dong Chen and Qiu Xing did not dare to press. They knew if the young master was not willing to say something, they would not be able to wheedle it out of him.
“Young master, why does the West Zhi emperor interrogate outsiders so seriously, but treat merchants so graciously?”
“It is not just the West Zhi emperor. Of all the nations of Ziyun continent, all regents treat merchants graciously. Merchants are the force behind the economy. No monarch wants to block money from flowing in. If a country’s economy were paralyzed, that would be a grave situation.”
“Right, young master, the sixth young master is a prominent merchant of the higher ranks. If you use his identity, can’t you travel freely? Young master, if you don’t want to expose your identity as master of Fusheng, why don’t you use your brother’s identity? This way, the West Zhi emperor would not dare to offend you!”
“If I use sixth brother’s identity, it will clearly expose that I am alive and in West Zhi. Once he knows, he will definitely come looking for me. Also, little girl, you miss my sixth brother?” Ye Yin cast a sideways glance teasingly. “Once he comes looking for me, you can meet him too, hmm?”
Qiu Xing’s face reddened. She stomped her foot embarrassedly, but didn’t know how to retort. Dong Chen spoke instead. “Young master, you have such a good relationship with the sixth young master. Are you really not going to tell him you’re alive?”
Ye Yin paused for a moment. “I will. I will tell him, but not right now. If I tell him I’m alive and in West Zhi, he will definitely come searching for me. I cannot allow him to become involved.”
Hearing how serious Ye Yin was, Dong Chen remained silent for a while, then changed the subject. “Young master, are all the reports you have been reading the past few days from Fusheng?”
Smiling, Ye Yin did not answer. Instead, he asked, “Dong Chen, do you know how many branches Fusheng has in total?”
Dong Chen shared a glance with Qiu Xing, then shook her head. “No. Fusheng has always been Chun Ri’s responsibility.”
“Haven’t you two been curious how I knew Zhu Ziliang could be advised to surrender?” Ye Yin started to explain. “I was able to deduce he would through Fusheng intel. Fusheng has sixty-six branches across the continent, thirty four in Dongling, practically one for each major city, thirteen in East Zhi for each of the five cities and eight counties, nine in West Zhi for each of the three cities and seven counties except for Wutian, five branches in Xili, three branches in Beiqi, and two branches in Nanrong.”
Seeing Dong Chen and Xiu Qing’s shocked eyes, Ye Yin laughed and continued, “Doing business is not actually difficult. As long as you are diligent, you will not suffer losses. I founded Fusheng with the purpose of having a wide range of intelligence for when I planned on traveling the world. Three years ago, when brother Hua Jianli asked for me to assist him in reuniting Zhi nation, I started sending men to keep watch on every city and county in East and West Zhi, to keep watch on every major figure’s habits and circumstances. I did not ask them to delve deeply, for that could lead to false information, but to keep track of their daily lives instead. One’s daily actions mirror their nature, likes and dislikes, and weaknesses. Only then could I take the appropriate steps. Each attack will be a fatal blow!”
Dong Chen nodded. “I understand now. Through Fusheng, young master was able to determine Zhu Yiliang did not care who was the emperor, but for Zhi nation to reunite and strengthen, which was how you were able to convince him to surrender.”
Ye Yin smiled without a word. Qiu Xing praised, “Young master is very wise.”
“It is not that I am wise, but that sometimes humans are easy to understand and sometimes…” Ye Yin paused. “Right, his highness ascended the East Zhi throne yesterday, so we need to quicken our pace.”
“No wonder West Zhi is so heavily under guard! He’s defending against the new emperor!” Qiu Xing suddenly understood.
However, Dong Chen frowned. “That doesn’t seem right. The West Zhi emperor does not need to be so defensive. The troops stationed across the Yun mountains are not merely just ten thousand people. It looks as if he fears the new emperor will immediately attack, but if he truly was, then he would reinforce the defense at Yulongjiang. It’s not like the new emperor’s troops can fly. And reinforcing troops in Xihua could only defend against Xili at best, if we’re talking about outsiders.”
Ye Yin chuckled. “Correct. The West Zhi emperor is not defending against the new emperor, or Xili, but his own people.”
“His own people? Are you saying his subordinates will revolt?” Dong Chen said excitedly.
Ye Yin shook his head. “None of his subordinates are going to rebel. He is only preparing to quell internal struggles.”
“How can that be?”
“The capital of West Zhi is An city. To the north is Zhi (郅) city and to the south is Yue city. The Zhi (郅) city lord is relatively content, without any large ambitions. He will not take the initiative to cause trouble, so the emperor only placed one of his loyal dogs, the Xingjiang county lord, to keep watch on him and does not have to be concerned with the north. Maintaining checks and balances in the south is a little more difficult because the Lequan county lord and Jiangyou county lord are no ordinary men. But they both have one similarity: both eye the throne. This was why the emperor placed the two together to mutually keep each other in check.”
Ye Yin pointed at the map. “Jiangyou county’s base is here, while Lequan county’s base is here. Between the two is Yue city. The Yue city lord is a very cowardly person, but serves as a large buffer to keep the two apart, which is why the emperor is relaxed about the south side. But he has two subordinates that are mortal enemies with enmity as deep as killed fathers and stolen wives, earth shattering enmity. With no way to resolve this problem, the West Zhi emperor could only keep the two at his side. Although the emperor is there to keep the two out of trouble, they continue to fight quietly.”
“Young master, who are those two people?”
“Look at the map. Which three counties are under An city’s jurisdiction?”
“Xihua, Jilang, Tiandu. Is it two county lords from these three? With Xihua county so heavily guarded, is its county lord one of them?
“No, not the Xihua county lord. The Xihua county lord is one of the emperor’s loyal dogs. The emperor sent the two to become the Jilang and Tiandu county lords in order to keep an eye on them. Although they are not ambitious, if the two start fighting, West Zhi is bound to be thrown into chaos. Those with ambition would use this chance to appear.”
“So the West Zhi strengthened Xihua county to prevent the Jilang and Tiandu county lords from fighting?”
Ye Yin shook his head. “The true reason why he strengthened Xihua is to defend against the Xingjiang county lord.”
“Huh?” Xingjiang? Didn’t you say the Xinghua county lord is the emperor’s loyal dog?”
“Xingjiang will give the Jilang reinforcements because the Xingjiang county lord and Jilang county lord are best friends, lifelong friends, so the moment the Jilang and Tiandu war, Xingjiang will immediately dispatch troops to assist Jilang. The emperor stationed soldiers on Yun mountain to prevent Xingjiang soldiers from passing through secretly to assist Jilang. There are two paths from Xingjiang to Jilang, one east, one west. The path east passes through An city. The Xingjiang county lord is not brazen enough to dispatch troops right beneath the emperor’s nose. The path west passes through Xihua, which would also too brazen of him to go through. That leaves passing through Yun mountain.”
“Oh, is that so.” Qiu Xing nodded. Suddenly, she didn’t understand. “That’s strange. The two have been harmonious for all these past few years, why would they suddenly…”
A profound smile surfaced on Ye Yin’s lips. Suddenly, Qiu Xing understood. “Young master, did you…”
Ye Yin smiled. “Their enmity was already as deep as the ocean. As long as we fan on the flames, a tiny spark can envelope the entire sky!”
Dong Chen smiled. “Then let’s give the West Zhi emperor a fiery headache!”
Ye Yin smiled coldly. “This is just the beginning, only a mere distraction. Although the two have not started fighting yet, he is already dividing his attention. I already have the north in my grasp. Once I grab ahold of the south, the emperor will be in the palm of my hand, unable to run.”
Dong Chen and Qiu Xing shared an excited glance. Ye Yin laughed. “Alright, you two should go sleep. Tomorrow morning, we’re entering the city.”
The next morning, Ye Yin donned dazzling embroidered clothes. Qiu Xing and Dong Chen stared in shock. Qiu Xing muttered, “Young master, you look like a deity from a painting, so majestic, no one would dare to touch.”
Ye Yin flicked Qiu Xing’s forehead. “Little girl, what nonsense!”
“Heehee, young master, when you stood there silently like a statue, we felt..”
“Still wasting your breath? It’s time to go!”
Right after they entered the carriage, Dong Chen suddenly thought of something. “Young master, I tried looking for that man in black this morning, but he was nowhere to be found.”
“That means he left. What are you so alarmed for?”
“Young master, that person sure is ignorant and rude. You saved his life, but he didn’t thank you even once.”
“I didn’t save him for him to say thanks. Genuine thanks are never uttered.” Ye Yin’s heedless tone made Dong Chen sop. Dong Chen muttered a few words under her breath.
The carriage slowly started to enter the Xihua gates.