Chapter 60

Edited and Proofread by KitKat

In times of hardship, a well-led rebellion was infectious. Whether it was to survive or simply to vent their anger, many people were easily convinced to join the uprising.

The rebels first suppressed the local officers and took over the county governor’s office. They then went on to rob the rich and distributed food and gold among the poor. As they only robbed from people with a bad reputation and did not kill indiscriminately, many more supported their cause wholeheartedly. At the peak of their influence, the people had called them the “Common Men’s Army”.

When Suzhou’s General, Shen Tu Xu, received the news, he immediately deployed troops to contain the rebellion. However, many of his soldiers had relatives and family members who had joined the uprising. Furthermore, the rebel army had outnumbered his troops. Shen Tu Xu had no choice but to turn to Yejing for help.

Emperor An Qing was naturally enraged upon hearing the news.

Prior to this event, the Emperor was in high spirits. The newly inducted Taoist Master prophesied that he would face adversity this year. To resolve this, firstly, he would need someone close to him to ward off this misfortune and secondly, to build a 99 story pagoda to please the heavens. After that, he would be able to lead a long and prosperous life like that of the immortals.

Now that Emperor An Qing had fully trusted this Taoist Master, he certainly would not risk disobeying him. He enforced the construction of the pagoda under the excuse of praying for Da Ye but in fact, it was all for his own well being.

Now that a rebellion had arisen, an event which Emperor An Qing believed to be the foretold misfortune, only solidified his faith in the Taoist Master.

Although he had already followed his instructions to build the pagoda, Emperor An Qing was still not pacified. He hurriedly called for the Taoist Master to divine for him on who would help him ward off this disaster.

The Taoist Master who went by the name of Master Liao, had lived past the age of seventy; a longevity that earned him the respect of many. Although his hair and beard were all white, there was no weakness in his steps. He exuded divinity when walking into the room.

When Master Liao saw Emperor An Qing, he cupped his hands and bowed. Before the Emperor could speak, Master Liao started, “Your Majesty has nothing to worry about. I have counted the Eight Characters of the three princes: The Third Prince is protected by a powerful providence and whose eight characters best compliment Your Majesty. He is the most suitable to help you avert this disaster.”

Emperor An Qing was finally appeased but after a while, he hesitated and asked, “Will my son face any harm?”

Master Liao shook his head and said, “Your Majesty can rest assured. The Third Prince has the spirit of a dragon. Although his life force will be slightly damaged, it’s nothing irreparable. I’ve heard that he has always been close to Your Majesty. I believe he’s willing to sacrifice even more for your sake.”

Emperor An Qing readily agreed but some of Master Liao’s words caught his attention. “What do you mean by having the spirit of a dragon?”

Seeing that he had taken the bait, Master Liao smiled and only answered, “Such is heaven’s construct, I cannot divulge further.”


The words effectively stuck with Emperor An Qing. He impatiently summoned the Third Prince.

Moments later, the Third Prince arrived. He looked at the Emperor with admiration and greeted, “Father, I’ve come to see you.”

Emperor An Qing took a closer look at the Third Prince. Of his three sons, the Third Prince resembled him the most. And since Shu Guifei had been his favorite concubine all these years, he had also come to dote on the Third Prince the most. When the boy was young, he would often cause mischief and laugh childishly but in recent years, he seemed to have matured into a fine prince.

Master Liao stepped forward and explained to the Third Prince the current ordeal faced by the Emperor. He also emphasized that the Third Prince would be losing some of his life force in the process.

After hearing Master Liao’s explanation, the Third Prince bowed and said confidently, “I’m willing to shoulder any burden for you, father!”

“My good son.” Emperor An Qing personally went over to him and said with a smile, “Although you’re doing it out of filial piety, you should still be rewarded. Is there anything that you wanted?” 

“It’s an honor to be able to share some of father’s worries. I dare not ask for anything in return.”

The more he refused, the more Emperor An Qing insisted on rewarding him.

After the Third Prince pretended to refuse a few more times, he eventually hesitated and said, “I do have a small wish…”

Emperor An Qing smiled and said, “Speak.”

“I’ve always admired second brother’s leadership in his army. Now that there is civil unrest in Suzhou, I would like an army of my own to help father squash this rebellion.”

Emperor An Qing was hesitant, “These rebels are large in number, it’s not going to be a trifling fight.”

The Third Prince raised his chin and boasted, “I’ve already come up with a way to deal with it.”

“Oh?” Emperor An Qing was quite pleased, “Tell me what you plan to do.”

The Third Prince began to elaborate.

“These rebels are afterall, just a large group of uneducated peasants. There’s simply no way they can overcome the soldiers of our Da Ye Empire.”

Seeing that Emperor An Qing was happy with his flattery, the Third Prince continued, “But if a war breaks out, we will bleed money. Therefore, I’ve come up with a plan that will not shed a single drop of our soldiers’ blood.”

“Aren’t those rebels camped along the Sishui River? I have checked the area map and they are nicely situated downstream while the upper reaches of the river lie in Yuzhou. We could send someone to talk amnesty with them to lower their vigilance while we add poison to the upriver water. Since these people have camped along the river, this must be their main water source. After they have taken the poison, we’ll take this opportunity to eradicate them, as easy as a knife through butter.”

The Third Prince was only fifteen this year. A lack of empathy when he spoke about killing tens of thousands of people even caused Master Liao to shudder.

On the other hand, Emperor An Qing patted his shoulder in agreement. He laughed and said, “All is fair in war. This is indeed a very good idea. I will let you handle this.”

The Third Prince bowed and assured his father, “I will not let you down!”

This secret discussion was only known to the three people present. 

The next day, Emperor An Qing demanded that the construction of the pagoda to speed up and must be completed before the winter; the Third Prince was sent to Suzhou to conciliate with the rebels. Generals Shu Lin Ting of Yuzhou and Shen Tu Xu of Suzhou were placed under his command.

The officials of the Crown Prince’s party were taken aback while those from the Third Prince’s party praised the Emperor for his wisdom. Only a few people like Li An Min and Shen Tu Bei felt ominous about Emperor An Qing’s decision. 

It was a few days later that this news reached Yanzhou.

After his last conversation with Qi Wei, Qi Wei had gone back and gathered all the experienced farmers to brainstorm a way to increase Yanzhou’s agricultural output.

These old farmers had been working the fields for many years and had better knowledge than anyone else. After some substantial discussion, they really did come up with something.

One of these farmers had a son who once bought a cartful of something called sweet potatoes from the Yuze Empire. This crop grew in abundance in the Yuze Empire and was incredibly cheap. It was big in size and could easily fill the stomach. However, his son was not able to make any money from it and hence, brought it back to Yanzhou with him. Previously, during the war when they had donated all their food to the army, it was these sweet potatoes that had kept them fed.

Qi Wei was very intrigued and asked the old farmer to bring his son so they could discuss the sweet potatoes.

When Xiao Zhige got wind of the news, he brought An Chang Qing along to have a look.

Because the old farmer’s family was poor, his son had been trading goods from all over the place to earn as much as possible. When he heard from a traveling companion that the Yuze Empire could provide them with profitable products to sell, he was immediately tempted to make the trip. He and some friends had then sneaked across the border of Suzhou to the Yuze territories.

But once he got there, he found that it was not easy at all to trade there. The group had stayed for several days but hadn’t  managed to earn much. The trip back and forth had not been cheap. He did not want to go home empty handed and, since the price of these sweet potatoes had been so low, he had decided to bring a cart back.

The farmer’s son said that the sweet potatoes were everywhere in Yuze. He also heard that it was very easy to cultivate and the vegetable could be eaten raw or cooked. He even brought out 2 sweet potatoes to let them try.

Qi Wei and the others took a bite of the sweet potato and found that it had the texture of arrowroot and tasted like chestnut.

An Chang Qing also tasted a small piece. He took the sweet potato and studied it.

“I once read about this vegetable in a traveling journal on the Luzon Strait. The skin is clay red and the flesh is starchy. It is easy to cultivate and has high yield even if grown on barren soil.”

In his previous life, most of the time, An Chang Qing was cooped up in the Wang Manor. His biggest hobby was jade smelting and reading. Back then, he had read countless literature on traveling and miscellaneous subjects. He never thought that one day he would be able to hold in his hand an item which he had only used his imagination to grasp.

Xiao Zhige did not doubt his words, “Easy to cultivate even on barren soil, do you think it can be cultivated in Yanzhou?”

The lieutenants looked at one another with their eyes lit up.

Afterwards, Xiao Zhige exchanged provisions for the remainder of the sweet potatoes that the old farmer still had. An Chang Qing recalled all that he learned from the book and, together with the information from the old farmer’s son, drafted a method for cultivating the sweet potatoes.

By now, the potato eyes had begun to germinate. An Chang Qing was eager to see them sprout and went to the fields daily with Xiao Zhige to inspect.

Due to the warm weather and uncluttered land, the little buds had been growing rapidly in just a few days.

According to the journal, the sweet potatoes were best grown in April. Since they were a month late, they could only apply more fertilizer and hope for the best.

“If we can successfully cultivate this plant, our people will not have to worry about food shortage in the future. It can even cover the military rations,” An Chang Qing said excitedly.

Xiao Zhige too couldn’t hide his glee looking at the previously empty fields. The land in Yanzhou had never been able to yield much crops. If they could really cultivate this sweet potato then he can be confident about Yanzhou’s future.

“That’s right. This is a blessing. If possible, not only the people of Yanzhou but the rest of Da Ye will never have to face hunger again.”

An Chang Qing turned to look at Xiao Zhige’s face filled with aspirations. In spite of the many awful names that the people had been giving him, Xiao Zhige had always cared for their well being.

“En. I’ll go through the texts again when we get back. There may still be more useful information,” An Chang Qing said enthusiastically. 

He used to read those books to pass time but after this experience, he realized these were essential knowledge that could benefit the livelihood of many.

Xiao Zhige agreed, “I’ll have to trouble Nuo Nuo then.”

An Chang Qing smiled and pulled Xiao Zhige to check on the rest of the plantation.

By the time they had finished with the inspection, there was a report that a letter had arrived from Yejing.

The pair went straight to the barracks where Xiao Zhige went to receive the letter. Since Xiao Zhige did not keep any information from him, naturally An Chang Qing was allowed to see the contents. When he read the report about the Third Prince leading troops to Sishui River to squash the rebellion, something tugged at the back of his mind but he failed to put a finger on it. 

Xiao Zhige was also quite upset with the news. Although he had expected that his father would deploy troops to suppress this rebellion, he did not think that he would do so without hesitation. Be that as it may, those rebels were also of Da Ye birth who were pushed to the edge. This was their only path to survive. If the court was willing to negotiate a truce, there was no need for the army to be involved.

Emperor An Qing’s move will dye the Sishui river with blood.

Xiao Zhige sighed as he burned the letter. Seeing that An Chang Qing seemed absent minded, Xiao Zhige thought that he was concerned that war would break out and tried to comfort him, “There’s no use worrying now. We should instead focus on Yanzhou’s issues.”

An Chang Qing’s train of thought was disrupted and could only nod in agreement. 

When evening came, the two returned to the manor. After having dinner, An Chang Qing went to the bathroom to wash up. 

Xiao Zhige stood outside the room and beseeched, “Do I have to sleep in the study again tonight?”

Because Xiao Zhige had gone overboard with his second time with An Chang Qing, he was driven off to sleep in the study since the previous night. 

The Northern Warlord shamelessly took off his overcoat and sat boldly on the bed.

An Chang Qing finished bathing and climbed past Xiao Zhige, straight to bed with his back facing Xiao Zhige. Although he did not say anything, it was clear that An Chang Qing showed no intention to chase him out. 

Xiao Zhige was relieved. He pulled the blanket over them both and reached out to hug An Chang Qing. Having reconciled, the pair drifted into a good night’s sleep.


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