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EIF - Book 03 Chapter 082: Something from Nothing

A group of ordinary citizens sat in a teahouse in Silver Moon City, drinking tea and chatting.

“Do you know about the ‘Ying may be weakened, but Ying will destroy Qian’ words? I saw them for myself. Those words were dripping blood,” a yellow-clad man said.

“Is that true? The words were dripping blood? It must have been done by someone, right?”

“Whether it was done by someone or not, stone carvings appear every day. There’s that ‘Qian is dead, Ying rules now! The time has come, great fortune to the world!’ The time has come? So, it will happen soon?”

“The officials have been investigating for half a month already. However, there is still no news.”

“Just a group of dancing clowns wanting to cause trouble. Their thinking is too simple.”

“Indeed. I wonder who did this. What a joke! Who would rebel?”

“Hey, it’s still too early to say. These words of rebellion did not come out of nowhere. Perhaps you do not know about the Ying Imperial Dynasty. That is the imperial dynasty that Duke Lu Yang’s father ruled back then. At that time, the Qian Heavenly Dynasty did not exist yet.”

“Oh?”

“Back then, Ying Province was the Ying Imperial Dynasty’s territory. His Holy Eminence only just started out, far from comparable to Duke Lu Yang. At that time, Duke Lu Yang was the crown prince of the Ying Imperial Dynasty. His Holy Eminence and Duke Lu Yang became sworn brothers, and His Holy Eminence promised to rule together with Duke Lu Yang. That was why Duke Lu Yang handed over the Ying Imperial Dynasty to His Holy Eminence. However, so many years have passed. The Qian Heavenly Dynasty grew increasingly stronger, but His Holy Eminence only made Duke Lu Yang the ruler of a vassal state. Furthermore, this title is not hereditary.”

“Oh? You mean to say that Duke Lu Yang just wants to get back what belongs to him?”

“If it were you, wouldn’t you be angry? Had Duke Lu Yang not sworn to be brothers with the Qian Heavenly Emperor, he would at least have an imperial dynasty. Now, not only did the Qian Heavenly Emperor not rule together with Duke Lu Yang, but His Holy Eminence even made Duke Lu Yang a vassal. That is not comparable to being the emperor of an imperial dynasty.”

“So, you are saying that these seditious rallying slogans came from Duke Lu Yang?”

The teahouse suddenly fell quiet.

Everyone who had been discussing this with interest earlier suddenly stopped talking. They all looked at the person who just spoke. After all, if this guess were true, then would it not mean that Duke Lu Yang was really rising up in rebellion?

“It’s Duke Lu Yang? Duke Lu Yang sent people to write the words outside? He…he wants to rebel? Then, why did the city lord search for the culprit with everything they could?” 

“Is it just a cover-up?”

The discussion suddenly ceased. Many people thought that they had guessed something right and suddenly became worried.

Troubled times are coming?

The news reached the city lord’s official residence.

Sima Changkong and Prince Shenwu listened to their subordinates report the information they obtained.

“Oh? The ordinary citizens suspect Duke Lu Yang?” Prince Shenwu frowned.

“Yes. Although just a few people are guessing that, most of them suspect that Duke Lu Yang is going to rebel,” that subordinate said respectfully.

Sima Changkong smiled bitterly and said, “I had forgotten. Ha! Your Highness, I forgot that the way the ordinary citizens think is different from ours.

“When we received this information, our first reaction was that someone is sabotaging Duke Lu Yang. We believed that Duke Lu Yang could not possibly write such seditious rallying slogans. Even if he did, he would wait until he actually rebelled before bringing them out, not before. Hence, we immediately ruled out Duke Lu Yang.

“However, the ordinary people are different. Indeed, many ordinary citizens could guess that it was not Duke Lu Yang. However, even more ordinary citizens might not have that level of intelligence. Or rather, this matter does not involve them, so they did not think much about it. They just went with the flow.

“They just need to follow the speculation that it was Duke Lu Yang. Why think about such a complicated matter? Even if they did think about it, they would not figure it out.

“Following that, this speculation will spread, with everyone just repeating it. Once everyone guesses that it was Duke Lu Yang, they will also start believing that it was Duke Lu Yang. Only a few people will think further, but these thoughts will get buried by the consensus.”

“Even so, it is useless. Even if the ordinary citizens suspect this, they will just be a small portion. Most of the ordinary citizens will not take it seriously. It would not be possible for such rumors to shake up Duke Lu Yang. These are just baseless rumors and cannot be used as evidence,” Prince Shenwu said in a heavy voice.

“If it were me, I would campaign in secret, sending people to the various cities of Ying Province to continue vilifying Duke Lu Yang. However, that would require strong and influential people there. Furthermore, the various city lords are being very strict. Once we continued campaigning, we would definitely get caught. Countless people would get injured or die. There would be a great price to pay. However, what does Gu Hai have now? He has nothing. What can he bring out?” Sima Changkong frowned.

“We’ll just wait and see.” Prince Shenwu smiled faintly.

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Foundation Destroying City:

News from various places continuously arrived at Duke Lu Yang’s official residence.

In the study of the duke’s official residence:

The many advisers continuously analyzed the reports that came in.

“It’s the foundation rock golems. However, we couldn’t catch them? It has been half a month already, yet those good-for-nothings still cannot clear this duke’s name?” Duke Lu Yang said sullenly.

With Army Breaker’s hearing, he could tell that the culprits were the foundation rock golems. However, the ordinary citizens did not know that. Since they did not know that, they would just make blind guesses, resulting in Duke Lu Yang being vilified.

“Duke, I have already sent people to send word to the city lords of the various cities. I’ve told them to put in their full effort to catch those rumormongers. We must clear Duke’s name,” an adviser said seriously.

Duke Lu Yang appeared very sullen, feeling very upset. This was such a low-level framing. Any intelligent person would figure it out with one look. However, of all things, it succeeded.

Duke Lu Yang turned and looked at Mo Yike.

However, Mo Yike remained in deep thought.

“Mister Mo, do you have any ideas?” Duke Lu Yang asked.

The advisers all looked at Mo Yike.

Mo Yike shook his head and said, “Actually, I do not care much about these seditious rallying slogans.”

“Oh?” Everyone felt puzzled.

“The nation is at peace now. Most people will not believe that the duke will rebel. Only a few people are guessing it is the duke. As long as the duke does not admit to that, this will pass very quickly,” Mo Yike said, downplaying it.

“Huh?” The advisers gaped.

We have been anxious to death over finding the culprits. How many soldiers have not slept or eaten well over the past half-month in the one hundred cities, trying to find the culprits? How much effort have they put in, and yet you say that this is nothing?”

Duke Lu Yang’s expression changed. His sullen expression relaxed.

“Indeed. The ordinary citizens will not care about this. How long would they remember it? As long as this duke does not admit to it, what can those foundation rock golems do? After some time passes, the ordinary citizens will figure this out. At that time, these rumormongers will just be dancing clowns.” Duke Lu Yang smiled.

After thinking it through, Duke Lu Yang stopped worrying. There is no need to get upset over nothing. Why care about these unimportant rumors?

However, Mo Yike continued frowning heavily.

“What is Mister Mo worrying about?” Duke Lu Yang smiled as he looked at Mo Yike.

Mo Yike shook his head gently and said, “Going by the current situation, this should already be the limit. It should be coming to an end soon, now that half a month has passed. Any further rumor would achieve the opposite effect. I’m trying to figure out what Gu Hai will do next. Based on the information I have on him, his plots would not be this simple.”

“Oh? Has Mister Mo figured it out?” Duke Lu Yang asked, feeling curious.

Mo Yike shook his head and said, “I have ways to continue campaigning. However, what does Gu Hai have now? He does not have sufficient manpower or resources. All the city lords are keeping a firm watch. Such a plan would require many deathsworn warriors. However, Gu Hai has nothing. What is he going to do?”

“Grandfather! We found them! We found them!” Lu An’s excited voice came from outside the study.

“Huh?” Duke Lu Yang’s eyes turned cold. “Humph!”

The cold snort caused the excited Lu An to quiver outside the study, immediately dampening his excitement. He turned fearful.

“I said that no one is to interrupt when I’m in a meeting. Lu An, how bold of you!” Duke Lu Yang scolded coldly.

“Grandfather, this grandson does not dare. It is just that I got carried away at the great news and wanted to report immediately to Grandfather! Grandfather, please forgive me!” Lu An said fearfully outside the study.

“Great news? Come in and tell me!” Duke Lu Yang said.

Lu An immediately scurried into the study. “Grandfather, the foundation rock golems appeared again earlier. When they were carving the seditious rallying slogans, the entire city saw them. Now, everyone knows that it was Huangfu Chaoge creating rumors.”

“Oh?” This slightly startled Duke Lu Yang.

“It is on that tallest mountain outside the city. The entire city can see that mountain. Earlier, there was a loud sound coming from there. When Mister Army Breaker heard it, he extended a finger and shone some light over. He happened to catch a foundation rock golem carving words on the mountainside. It had only reached the part about ‘the time has come’ before getting illuminated. Everyone saw it!” Lu An said excitedly.

“That means that it does not matter whether we catch them or not? The foundation rock golems exposed themselves?” an adviser said excitedly.

Duke Lu Yang smiled faintly.

Mo Yike seemed to be muttering to himself as he frowned slightly. “Is this a coincidence?”

“What?” Lu An said, feeling confused.

Mo Yike remained silent for a while before saying, “Send people to investigate this to the fullest. Did they discover the foundation rock golems at the other cities as well?”

“Huh? It can’t be such a coincidence, right? We were just lucky here.” Lu An smiled.

“Mister’s words are my words,” Duke Lu Yang said.

It was as Mo Yike guessed. At nearly the same time, all the ordinary citizens of Ying Province’s one hundred cities saw the foundation rock golems at the most prominent place.

Everyone saw the foundation rock golems carving words and causing the rumors. As the foundation rock golems carved the seditious rallying slogans, they set the cities abuzz.

------

Silver Moon City:

“It’s a foundation rock golem! Hurry, look! On that mountain where the light is shining! Hurry! Hurry!”

“That foundation rock golem is really seeking death. To think that he went to do the carving where there are so many people? Hahahaha!”

“So, it is not Duke Lu Yang rebelling. It is the foundation rock golems, the Divine Foundation Royal Dynasty’s foundation rock golems?”

“The Divine Foundation Royal Dynasty is slandering Duke Lu Yang?”

“All these are just rumors? Duke Lu Yang was never thinking about rebelling? It was the Divine Foundation Royal Dynasty trying to incite trouble?

“Hahaha! This is going to be a big joke. Has Huangfu Chaoge gone mad? Why would Duke Lu Yang rebel?”

“Indeed. My Qian Heavenly Dynasty will forever be the Qian Heavenly Dynasty. How would an imperial dynasty replace it?”

Countless ordinary citizens in the surroundings discussed this.

Although no one captured the foundation rock golems, the ordinary citizens immediately understood what had happened.

The various city lords quickly made announcements and cleared Duke Lu Yang’s name.

“The city lord announces that when Duke Lu Yang led his soldiers to the Divine Foundation Royal Dynasty, the Divine Foundation Royal Dynasty felt that they could not win, so they took the despicable path and infiltrated Ying Province to slander Duke Lu Yang, trying to cause trouble. He hopes that everyone will not get fooled by the enemy nation’s scheme!”

Similar announcements took place in the various cities, clearing Duke Lu Yang’s name.

The ordinary citizens’ discussions instantly changed direction.

------

In that earlier teahouse in Silver Moon City:

“This Huangfu Chaoge is too sinister. He nearly led me to think that Duke Lu Yang was going to rebel!”

“Indeed. It is all the Divine Foundation Royal Dynasty’s fault. How could the duke rebel?”

“Right now, there is peace and security. The duke would not do anything rebellious. How can that be possible? Who would dare to go against His Holy Eminence?”

“What a joke! To think that Huangfu Chaoge actually sent people to create rumors. Hahahaha! How can there be internal conflicts in my Qian Heavenly Dynasty?”

“Indeed. A heavenly dynasty is a heavenly dynasty for a reason. It would never be destroyed by a dynasty that is not even an imperial dynasty. What a joke!”

“I am a citizen of the Qian Heavenly Dynasty. The Ying Imperial Dynasty is a thing of the past. What does it have to do with me?”

------

The ordinary citizens’ discussions reached the city lord’s official residence.

Prince Shenwu and Sima Changkong listened to the various reports.

“Did the foundation rock golems slip up?” Prince Shenwu frowned.

“Indeed. Since they are vilifying Duke Lu Yang, there’s no reason for them to expose themselves. Was this a mistake? Or did Gu Hai do this on purpose?” Sima Changkong pondered this.

“Your Highness, Milord, now that the foundation rock golems accidentally exposed themselves, they have become the joke of the entire city. Now, all the ordinary citizens are mocking Huangfu Chaoge for overestimating himself,” that subordinate who made the report said with a smile.

“Wait. What did you just say? Repeat that?” Sima Changkong’s eyes suddenly lit up.

“I said that the foundation rock golems accidentally exposed themselves and became the joke of the entire city. All the ordinary citizens mocked Huangfu Chaoge for overestimating himself,” that subordinate repeated.

“The joke of the entire city? All the citizens?” Sima Changkong’s eyes suddenly constricted.

Prince Shenwu’s face also sank. “Send people to the surrounding cities. This prince wants to know if foundation rock golems got exposed in the other cities as well.”

“Huh? Yes!” that subordinate answered and left.

“Your Highness, just from the Song Extermination Plan, this Gu Hai is incredible at influencing people. The earlier move was just to catch the attention of some of the citizens. Now, he managed to catch the attention of all the citizens. All of them? I don’t know what Gu Hai is trying to do. However, since Gu Hai managed to catch the attention of all the citizens, it means that Gu Hai’s knife is already pressed against Duke Lu Yang’s throat and is about to stab in,” Sima Changkong said.

“However, Gu Hai just imploded. The foundation rock golems’ exposure erased all suspicions about Duke Lu Yang. What can he do? Can he continue to push his knife forward?” Prince Shenwu frowned.

Sima Changkong pondered.

------

The foundation rock golems got exposed at all one hundred cities. The various city lords immediately worked to wash all suspicions off Duke Lu Yang. They continuously did this, getting all the citizens to see the Divine Foundation Royal Dynasty as a joke.

Just like this, the foundation rock golems got exposed, proving Duke Lu Yang’s innocence. Even so, they continued carving the seditious rallying slogans, resulting in more people mocking them.

This continued until ten days later.

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Silver Moon City’s city lord’s official residence:

Gasp! Sima Changkong’s eyes suddenly constricted. “I understand now. What an insidious Gu Hai!”

------

Duke Lu Yang’s official residence, Foundation Destroying City:

Mo Yike’s expression suddenly changed. “Oh no! Oh no! We fell for it! We fell for Gu Hai’s insidious plan! What an insidious plan!”

------

In a valley outside Foundation Deity City, Divine Foundation Royal Dynasty:

“That is all?” The Foundation Rock Deity looked at Gu Hai in confusion.

The Foundation Rock Deity sensed that the two hundred-odd foundation rock golems did not do much. They just started a rumor before purposely exposing their activities, making their rumors fail. What was Gu Hai doing? What was the point of this?

Gu Hai looked to the north and said coldly, “That is already sufficient. I have already influenced the people’s hearts. That is enough. This plan is ‘Making Something out of Nothing.’ There are three stages to it: Lesser Covert, Greater Covert, and Greater Overt. I have already completed the first two stages. We don’t have to carry out the third stage; Duke Lu Yang will complete it for me.”

DragonInWhite's Notes:

Chapters for October: 20 / 50

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Written by Guan Qi — Watching Chess. Translated by DragonInWhite. Edited by VampireCat.