Chapter 44: Becoming a Tyrant
“Really?” Hua Jianli brightened up at Lan Zhi and Du Luo’s words. He happily clasped his hands together. “Good, good. Little Qi will be cured, right?”
However, Du Luo did not answer. Hua Jianli embarrassedly rubbed his nose. Suddenly, he frowned. “Little Qi, can this Nangong Piaoran be trusted? As far as we know, he could very likely be spying on Zhi nation for Nanrong.”
“He should be. Why do you say he is a spy for Nanrong?”
Hua Jianli seated himself, and slowly spoke. “Each nation has spies in Zhi nation, and when a new emperor appears, more spies are sent. This time, both East and West Zhi are establishing new monarchs at the same time. As a result, every country has sent more spies, like how Dongling dispatching Prince Dongfang Xi.”
“Dongfang Xi came?” Ye Yin raised a brow.
Hua Jianli nodded. “Yes, he is in East Zhi. Yuanbo already sent people to watch him closely. According to our intel, Nanrong’s spy is most likely the master of Xiaoyao, Nangong Piaoran, and as for Xili……”
“Yang Han?” Ye Yin gave Hua Jianli a questioning look.
“Perhaps, or perhaps not. The lord of Mangci rarely appears in public, so it is hard to spy on him. However, the relationship between him and the government Xili is not good, according to rumors. Mangci has eliminated many of Xili’s governors. Moreover, the lord of Mangci is a wanted man in Xili.”
Ye Yin raised a brow. “Yang Nan has an unordinary, supreme aura. Although his is supposedly a commoner, his bearing and actions are graceful, as if drilled into him from a young age. I suspect he is not only the lord of Mangci, but also the son of great nobility. How a great family’s son could become the leader of an assassination organization, I do wonder.”
After a moment’s silence, Ye Yin continued. “There are too many things in the world that are not what what they seem. If you regard everything by what you see on the surface, you will be deceived. Brother Jian Li, send me to spy on Yang Han’s habits, but careful to not let him notice. Assassins are more vigilant. You do not want him to feign and feed you false information. Alright, moving on, how is the emperor on the East side?”
“A lot has happened in East Zhi. All of your secretly transmitted government decrees have been carried out. The common populace has calmed down and sings Wen Yuanbo praises. He was able to carry out the government decrees quickly, unlike we, who have been unable to move a single step. East Zhi is now flourishing!”
Hearing Hua Jianli’s sour tone, Ye Yin smiled and said, “If you handled it seriously, you wouldn’t be too bad. The point of our brains is to think. Could it be that you simply quit the moment you run into difficulty?”
“You make it sounds so easy. How can you compare my side to Wen Yuanbo’s? Most of his men are loyal people who have followed him from the start, talent aplenty, along with Shi Xia. Perhaps they have unsuccessful in some areas, but me? I only brought people who knew how to fight, a bunch of crude men. They are only capable of fighting, nothing else. Can I count on them? For now, I asked them to become county and city lords, but each and every one of them declined, saying that they were not that kind of person. Therefore, I forcibly ordered them to take up their posts, or else it would be the death penalty. There still were a few that refused to leave An city, but I can’t actually kill them now, can I!”
Ye Yin lowered his head to hide his smile, thinking to himself, birds of a feather truly flock together. No wonder the position of Yue city lord had remained empty! He looked up at Hua Jianli, who had a dissatisfied expression. “Enough, stop complaining. Who told you only pick people similar to you! Didn’t Wen Yuanbo allow you to pick your own men? Only you are to blame for not picking talented people”
Hua Jianli grimaced. “But how could I anticipate this much? Did you not say that West Zhi needed to be attacked fiercely? That’s why I picked people who could fight to come, and you blame me!”
“Who else could be to blame? How pigheaded, is there no reconstruction after war? Forget it, once you return, force your men to take up their posts and take control of the situation. Tell them it is only temporary until I return and pick new men to replace them. In the future, they can still battle. West Zhi is always in chaos and cannot be suppressed without iron and blood. We can only rely on these veteran soldiers to quell West Zhi for now. As long as they do not harm the commoners or riot, it is fine. Also, you do not need to assign people to Yue city. You just need to visit the shopkeeper of Jufeng, Yue city’s true leader under the shadows. I already had a discussion with him, so you only need to appoint him as the Yue city lord.
Hua Jianli’s eyes brightened. He understood that the discussion Ye Yin spoke of was not just a simple chat. Perhaps Ye Yin had even already used this person. If Ye Yin said he was useful, then he was definitely useful. Thus, Hua Jianli nodded. “The royal court is currently the leftover old chancellors from when Qi Teng was emperor. Each and everyone of them is a slipper, treacherous snake. Even when Qi Teng was emperor, they secretly disobeyed him. Now they are becoming more disloyal. I ask them to propose suggestions, but no one makes any. Rather, they all take different positions. I cannot kill them all though.”
“Why not?” Ye Yin said indifferently. “If we cannot use them, then why are still trying to use them?”
Hua Jianli froze, then stammered. “I-isn’t that too……”
Du Lao, who had remained silent the whole time, interjected, “That won’t do. If we kill them all, it will frighten the people and cause a riot. The newly established dynasty will collapse.”
“Nope. If it were elsewhere, it might bring alarm, but West Zhi is different. West Zhi has been tumultuous for many years and changes emperors constantly. Whenever a new emperor ascends the throne, they eliminate the previous court chancellors, which causes the government to fall apart. The reason why no merchants assume governmental posts is because emperors change too quickly and brings disasters. The majority of West Zhi are businessmen, so killing a few high-level officials will not cause a commotion.” Ye Yin paused, then continued, “Moreover, I did not say to kill all of them at the same time. First, behead the most powerful one and make an example out of him. Kill one to warn a hundred. If they don’t get the message, then kill another. There are plenty of chancellors. They’ll definitely wise up. Killing all of them is not a problem, but you must please the common people. The people are those who truly dictate the land.”
Hua Jianli nodded. “Understood. I’ll follow your orders. I know just who to pick, he’s been annoying me for a while now. At court, he mocks me and even stirs up trouble among the other chancellors secretly. I’ll kill him first, but, Little Qi, what excuse should I use to kill him?”
“Do you need a reason?”
Hua Jianli froze. Ye Yin glanced at him, sipped his tea, then continued leisurely, “Does the person you want to kill have a powerful clan backing him?”
Hua Jianli nodded. Ye Yin hmphed. “Of course he would not be so bold to rile up other court chancellors, in a newly established court no less, unless he had an influential family backing him.”
Hua Jianli hesitated. “Should I pick someone else? He……”
“No, it must be him.” Ye Yin spoke in an indifferent, callous manner. “Not only will you kill him, you must cripple his clan! This will serve as a warning to the land-owning class and sly businessmen to not collude with the previous court chancellors. Otherwise, it may bring them disaster. This will break the ties between government officials and merchants. Once I return, I’ll handle those corrupt businessmen! Merchants without the backings of officials become small fries. But, in the end, we should still think of a pretext. If we kill someone from an influential family so casually, then it may scare other wealthy clans.” Ye Yin smirked. “Powerful clans are bound to break laws. A large forest is filled with many types of birds. Brother Jianli, when you return, immediately send men to look into that family’s history. Look for anything about oppressing or injuring people, and gather the evidence. Kill whoever deserves to be killed, imprison those who deserve be imprisoned, and adopt it as a policy. All parents and elders will be imprisoned and tell their clansmen to bail them out with money. If they are unwilling, then kill them. Weren’t you short on money? West Zhi’s money all lies in the hands of large families and corrupt businessmen. Weakening this clan should give you enough money to spend for some time.”
“This……” Hus Jianli and Du Lao looked at each other in dismay. This youngster had really changed. He treated lives lightly now, already able to dictate life and death without any change in expression. Was this kind of change alright?
Hua Jianli swallowed. “Isn’t that too ruthless?”
“Ruthless? No, I need you to be ruthless. East Zhi is currently developing very well. The emperor is very popular. Day by day, East Zhi will prosper and strengthen because they have a great, noble ruler. Do you know what the appearance of a great ruler means for the four other nations? A threat. Therefore, West Zhi cannot produce a great ruler, I need you to establish a ruthless image. Only then with the four other nations be relieved, which will allow East and West Zhi the opportunity to grow.” Ye Yin’s eyes flashed with grief before he continued on gloomily. “Truthfully, I do not want to kill people or bloody my hands, but…… I have already killed countless people, a few more people would not matter. If I am going to do it, then I will do it regardless of how difficult it may be, even if it offends the heavens!”
“Little Qi……” Hua Jianli and Du Lao began to say.
They could discern his hidden grief from his flat tone. Ye Yin carried many responsibilities. He forcibly changed his heart to become apathetic. He truly devoted his entire being to the Zhi nation to the point that he will not hesitate to bloody his hands. In the future, would Zhi nation approve of his actions?
Ye Yin looked at both people, smiling. “Actually, I have another reason why I want you to have a ruthless image. It is to contrast from Wen Yuanbo’s noble image. This way, when West and East Zhi reunite, Wen Yuanbo can sit comfortably on the new throne. At that time, Zhi nation should be less restless.”
Hua Jianli nodded. Ye Yin continued thinking to himself, Wen Yuanbo will feel less threatened if you maintain a ruthless reputation. No one will leave a threat to them alone. Now that you are the emperor of West Zhi, you will remain a thorn in the back of Wen Yuanbo’s mind, so your only choice is to act as a tyrant and be an unpopular ruler. There can only be one emperor.