Edited and Proofread by KitKat
Qi Wei and the others had matters to discuss with Xiao Zhige. Hearing that he had returned, they hurried over to the General’s Manor.
When Qi Wei saw the rarely seen smiling face of his General, he couldn’t help but wave his hand in front of him, “General?”
Xiao Zhige snapped out of his daze and withdrew his smile. He looked back at Qi Wei coldly and said, “Why are you guys here? Something’s up?”
Qi Wei was still curious regarding his previous appearance and pestered, “You looked happy. Do you have any good news for us?”
If there was good news, shouldn’t it be shared with everybody? Furthermore, they have never seen Xiao Zhige putting on such an expression. It must be some really big news.
Xiao Zhige already knew what Qi Wei was thinking without having to ask but since he was in a good mood today, he did not want to chide him. He glanced at him with some pity and said, “It’s indeed a happy event. But for someone who’s still single, you won’t be able to understand.”
Qi Wei, “???” What’s wrong with being single? What kind of happiness can only be obtained after marriage?
Qi Wei refused to agree. He was about to rebut Xiao Zhige when Xie Ling elbowed him, “Keep your mouth shut and talk less.”
Vice General Qi Wei stared at him begrudgingly. It suddenly dawned on him that in the whole of Yanzhou, it seemed like anyone could bully him!
As Xie Ling always seemed to have better insight, Qi Wei decided not to pursue this matter. He changed the topic, “Why don’t I see Wangfei today?”
This question poked right at Xiao Zhige’s heart. He partially wanted to flaunt his happiness to his subordinates but realizing that this was a private matter between himself and Nuo Nuo, it would not be appropriate to discuss with outsiders.
So Xiao Zhige answered Qi Wei with some ambiguity, “He slept late last night and is still tired. He’s resting in the room right now.”
The single dog Qi Wei of course wouldn’t relate this to anything else other than An Chang Qing being worn out due to the trip back from Liangzhou. He nodded in agreement, “It’s indeed tiring to ride on horseback all the way to Yanzhou.”
Xiao Zhige was speechless. He wanted to say something else but caught sight of An Chang Qing walking towards them.
When An Chang Qing woke up, he could still feel the lingering voluptuousness from last night. His temperature rose and his face turned rosy red. He left the yard to get some fresh air and happened to see Xiao Zhige chatting with his subordinates. From the look of it, it seemed that they weren’t talking about anything serious so An Chang Qing decided to come over and greet them.
At home, An Chang Qing only wore a simple light gown with his hair tied back, looking graceful and pleasant like an emerald sapling in spring.
Qi Wei saw Xiao Zhige go over to meet him and whispered to Xie Ling, “Why do I feel like Wangfei has become more charming after his return from Liangzhou?”
He looked at the couple talking and became envious of the General.
Maybe it was time he found himself a partner as well.
On the other end, Xiao Zhige went to An Chang Qing and asked with some concern, “Why don’t you rest a little longer? Is there anywhere that’s uncomfortable?”
“I was bored so I came here for a walk. There’s nowhere that’s uncomfortable.” An Chang Qing replied with some shyness.
Xiao Zhige was extremely gentle last night. Although there was some discomfort in the beginning, it gradually became enticing. Moreover, he had prepared his body specially for this so he was not injured in any way. They were perfectly in sync and other than feeling a little tired, An Chang Qing was immensely satisfied.
Xiao Zhige, on the other hand, was feeling slightly troubled. Previously, because he was worried for An Chang Qing’s body, he had done some research by himself and according to some texts, men with good skills could make their partner stay in bed for three days…
An Chang Qing saw his strange expression and asked, “What’s wrong?”
Any man would be concerned with his performance in bed. Seeing that they were far away from earshot, Xiao Zhige lowered and asked, “Last night… Was it not enjoyable for you?”
An Chang Qing never would’ve thought that Xiao Zhige would ask such a question right in public! If they were not in the presence of outsiders, he would’ve given the man a kick!
He snapped at Xiao Zhige, “What is Wangye asking in broad daylight!”
He then gave him a stern stare and stomped off angrily.
Xiao Zhige could not figure out if An Chang Qing was comfortable last night but he knew he had upset him and dared not follow. He coughed lightly and went back to the yard.
Qi Wei and the others looked at each other and agreed that only Wangfei dared to throw a tantrum in front of the General and on the other hand, the General was only this gentle in front of Wangfei.
Xiao Zhige went back to the pavilion and sat down. His smile had disappeared looking at the group.
“Speak. Why are you people here?”
Even though Qi Wei was usually dense, hearing the sternness of Xiao Zhige’s voice, he knew that he should not play with fire. He went on to report the matter at hand, “The Taifu temple had officially issued a new ‘welfare tax’ to fund the building of the 99 stories pagoda to bless Da Ye. Furthermore, each province has to send over 5000 soldiers.”
When they received the official documents, Qi Wei and the others were furious but since Xiao Zhige was not around, they could only wait for his return to discuss this matter.
As Qi Wei had always been straightforward, he complained without reservations, “After the severe winter came the war. The people haven’t had the time to get back on their feet yet. Now they need to pay more taxes and be sent off to do labor… His Majesty is simply…”
With his reasoning still intact, Qi Wei did not finish his sentence.
“At the moment, we can’t afford to pay that much tax,” Xie Ling interjected.
“Because of the severe winter last year, the commoners were not able to stock up enough grains. On top of that, the prolonged winter also delayed the wheat planting window. The harvest for this year is bound to be scarce. If we impose heavier taxes on the people at this time, I’m afraid many will be facing a hard time.”
Taxes were collected by the governors of each province before being sent off to the State Treasury. To fill up the depleting treasury, Emperor An Qing’s one simple decree would cause suffering for majority of his citizens.
If the local officials were not able to meet the tax quota, they could only oppress and exploit their citizens. This was simply scraping the flesh and blood of the commoners!
Thanks to Xiao Zhige and An Chang Qing’s timely rations delivery, Yanzhou was able to live through the snow disaster. However, this was not the case for the other northern provinces. Suzhou, Bingzhou, Qizhou, and several other States had suffered heavy casualties. The survivors were still struggling to live by and now, they had to face increased taxes and corvee.
It was fine that Emperor An Qing did not send out support to alleviate the people’s pain but to put out such a decree at this juncture just showed that he treated the people as nothing but dirt.
Although Xiao Zhige had been informed of this event, he still felt unbelievable hearing it.
In his younger years, although Emperor An Qing had loved to indulge himself, he still knew his limits. Ever since he pursued the methods of longevity and invited several ‘immortality masters’ into the palace to brew pills for him, he had become increasingly unscrupulous.
Maybe because he believed he would soon ascend to immortality that he cared so little for mortal lives.
Xiao Zhige thought for a moment and said, “Delay the payment for now. If the Taifu temple comes to collect the taxes, you can act pitifully and cry out that you’re too poor to pay. If they refuse and demand immediate payment, you can turn the tide and ask about the missing grains that they owed us.”
“The grains that were mixed with sand that were sent by the Taifu temple before have yet to be compensated. And as it stands, the Taifu temple was unlikely to be able to cough up even half of that amount.”
Qi Wei was immediately elated. He patted his chest and assured, “If it’s just begging for sympathy, let me handle it!”
Xie Ling asked with concern, “But we can’t stall forever…”
Xiao Zhige did not disclose much and simply said, “It’ll be fine. Just stall for now.”
After they all agreed on the plan, the two left while Xiao Zhige returned to the main courtyard.
An Chang Qing had already washed and changed his attire. He saw Xiao Zhige come in with a serious look and guessed it had something to do with Qi Wei and Xie Ling’s visit.
Xiao Zhige sat beside him and sighed, “Nuo Nuo’s dream, it finally happened.”
When he first arrived at Yanzhou, An Chang Qing had told him everything he knew from his previous life under the guise of dreaming. Although the reason for building the 99 stories pagoda had changed, the consequences remained the same.
An Chang Qing was worried, “That means Suzhou is about to get chaotic.”
In his last life, the riot had stemmed from Suzhou. The General of Suzhou was Shen Tu Xu, the son of the Great General Shen Tu Bei. Shen Tu Bei had always been loyal to Emperor An Qing, they couldn’t hope to get him to listen if they tried.
Xiao Zhige shook his head and said, “There’s no need to warn them. At this point, the more chaotic it gets, the better.”
He looked at An Chang Qing and said solemnly, “It might not be long before we have to return to Yejing.”
An Chang Qing’s eyes widened, “Is His Majesty…”
Xiao Zhige placed his finger on his lips and lightly shook his head.
An Chang Qing recalled what he had told him on the city walls – Emperor An Qing did not have long to live.
Obsessed with the crazy Taoist Priest that Xiao Zhige had made up, Emperor An Qing sent out a lot of people to find him. However, what he found was another Taoist who claimed to be a master alchemist. After entering the palace, he presented the Emperor with a bottle of ‘Youth Restoring Pill’, said to be able to return someone to their healthier, younger self. Emperor An Qing ordered for someone to try the pills and saw a sickly old man turning strong and energetic. Although he did not turn young overnight, it was good enough to impress Emperor An Qing.
As of now, Emperor An Qing had been taking the pills for almost three months now.
According to the report Xiao Zhige received, Emperor An Qing indeed seemed to have improved spirits and his visits to the harem were also more frequent.
Emperor An Qing thought that he had truly found a transcended Taoist Master who could prolong his life but Xiao Zhige’s spy was able to dig up a vital piece of information – this Taoist Master was inextricably linked to Shu Guifei.
3 thoughts on “TTBE 58”
Too bad that before the incompetent emperor finally goes to meet King Yama, countless people will perish.
Thank you for the chapter 💝
Oh my lord, so many innocent victims 😢
Thank you for the update
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Thank you so much 🙏❤️ I was missing these two !!