EIF - Book 04 Chapter 059: The Army Returns on Arriving in the Han Nation
“Well, he arrived. Let’s go, then!” Long Wanyu said excitedly.
“Go? That’s fine. However, this trip might not go very smoothly. As of now, Mister Gu’s reputation is perhaps already in the gutters in Major Metropolitan City. Do take care of your safety there,” Li Shenji said with a smile.
“Oh? Take care of my safety? My reputation is in the gutters?” Gu Hai echoed in puzzlement.
“Mister Gu does not know yet?” Li Shenji smiled.
“The Yuan Nation’s Northern Expedition Army’s return should have been a triumphant occasion. However, the army suffered greatly in Chaoge City, especially the one million prisoners of war that the Han Nation captured. After they returned, they were completely embarrassed. However, Five Sacred Mountains Academy’s principal composed a poem of seven-character phrases to console them.”
“Xi Kang? A poem?”
“The poem is titled ‘The Army Returns on Arriving in the Han Nation.’ It is an excellent poem of trials and hardship. When he wrote this poem, the weather changed, and vast noble spirit came out of the paper. The one million defeated soldiers felt encouraged and spread the poem. Now, the entire Major Metropolitan City is reciting this poem,” Li Shenji said with a smile.
“‘The Army Returns on Arriving in the Han Nation’? What is its content?” Long Wanyu asked, feeling curious.
Li Shenji glanced at Gu Hai before reciting it.
“Why would a gentleman tussle with a vile person? A vile person is like a weed, returning after being pulled.
“A gentleman only needs to encourage themself. Why tussle with a vile person and waste one’s efforts?”
[TL Note: This poem is by Zhang Jiucheng, a Song dynasty politician. Here is a Wikipedia entry about him: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zhang_Jiucheng.]
The officials behind Gu Hai erupted in a rage.
“That darned Xi Kang!”
This poem is calling Gu Hai a vile person.
Then, the defeated army and the prisoners of war were gentlemen? They were the invading army, but they became gentlemen? They lost to His Majesty several times, but that was just His Majesty defending the Han Nation’s territory. Yet, Xi Kang claimed that it was the action of a vile person?
The officials immediately felt incredibly furious, rage blazing in their eyes.
“What is the meaning of this poem?” Long Wanyu asked, feeling confused.
Li Shenji looked at Gu Hai before explaining with a smile, “The poem is saying why does a gentleman have to fight a vile person? A vile person is like a wild weed, quickly returning after being pulled. The gentleman only needs to encourage themself. There is no need to fight with a mere vile person. ‘The Army Returns on Arriving in the Han Nation’ is written for the defeated army, which lost to Mister Gu. Thus, the vile person in this poem is Mister Gu.”
“What? That bastard Xi Kang is scolding my brother-in-law? That old thing!” Long Wanyu immediately felt furious.
Li Shenji looked at Gu Hai.
However, Gu Hai maintained a calm expression. “Many thanks for Battalion Commander Li’s concern. It is time for us to go.”
When Gu Hai did not appear angry, Li Shenji felt like his punch landed on cotton. Feeling upset about this, he nodded.
The Divine Strategy Battalion disciples stayed on Li Shenji’s flying ship.
Gu Hai’s flying ship carried Bing Ju, Ju Lu, some Han Nation officials, and Long Wanyu’s group.
As they left Chaoge City, the officials saluted the flying ships, “Respectfully sending off Your Majesty!”
One month later, in the palace on Nine-Five Island:
Gu Qin looked at a large model depicting the entire Nine-Five Island.
Many officials stood at the side as Gu Qin pointed to various locations on the model.
“Here, here, and here. Bury spirit stones in these places. Quickly send some men over,” Gu Qin said.
“This official promised Imperial Father to complete the ritual array in half a year and allow Nine-Five Island to float in the air and enter the Divine Continent. This is an urgent matter. We need to move faster. Nothing more can go wrong!” Gu Qin said coldly.
“Yes!” the officials answered.
Suddenly, rumbling came from outside the palace.
“Is it news from His Majesty?” Gu Qin’s expression changed as he walked out of the palace hall. The officials followed anxiously.
Eighty flying ships hovered in the sky. Gao Xianzhi stood on the foremost flying ship.
“Gao Xianzhi salutes Crown Prince!” Gao Xianzhi saluted.
“Lord Gao, you may dispense with the formalities. Did my imperial father send word?” Anticipation flashed in Gu Qin’s eyes.
Gao Xianzhi jumped off the flying ship and landed in front of Gu Qin. Then, he said with a faint smile, “Indeed. His Majesty told me to bring the First Corps back and station them on Nine-Five Island in case of any problems.”
“Oh? Eight hundred thousand soldiers?” Gu Qin looked up.
These eight hundred thousand soldiers all possessed extraordinary auras, severalfold harsher than those of the Thousand Islands Sea cultivators that Chen Tianshan recruited.
“Indeed!” Gao Xianzhi said with a smile.
Most of these eight hundred thousand soldiers were soldiers who had chosen to follow Gao Xianzhi after Prince Shenwu released them. Few of the Southern Suppression Army’s sixth battalion, which Baili Zhan previously led, had returned to Ying Province.
Now, they followed Gao Xianzhi to Nine-Five Island.
“What else did Imperial Father say?”
“His Majesty headed to the Yuan Imperial Dynasty. His Majesty instructed that you quickly finish setting up the ritual array. When he returns from the Yuan Nation, he will move Nine-Five Island to the Divine Continent and change the capital,” Gao Xianzhi said gravely.
“Alright!” Gu Qin nodded.
Major Metropolitan City, Yuan Imperial Dynasty:
Gu Hai’s group had not arrived yet. However, a messenger had already brought the information to Major Metropolitan City.
Many officials gathered outside the imperial court in Major Metropolitan City. These officials were split into four factions.
One faction was led by Chang Sheng, one by Mo Yike, and one by Qin Zibai.
The fourth faction had a middle-aged man in official robes, embroidered with golden thread, standing in the center of the group. This man had a wide face and long, flowing hair. He showed dignity and pride on his face, and a glint of pride flashed in his eyes.
“The Qian Nation’s envoy will soon arrive in my Major Metropolitan City?” Qin Zibai frowned.
“Lord Mo, what did that messenger say?” Chang Sheng frowned.
Everyone looked at Mo Yike.
Mo Yike showed a faint, bitter smile. “He did not say much, only that Princess Wanyu would represent the Qian Nation as an envoy to facilitate a good relationship between our two nations.”
“Princess Wanyu?” Everyone frowned.
“They are only sending Princess Wanyu? Not a crown prince? Isn’t the status of the Qian Nation’s envoy too low, just a princess?” Qin Zibai frowned.
Mo Yike shook his head and said, “Lord Qin, Princess Wanyu’s status might be even higher than a Qian Nation crown prince’s.”
“Huh?” Qin Zibai felt slightly startled.
Who was Princess Wanyu? That was the princess that the Qian Heavenly Emperor doted on the most. If her status was low, then no one had a high status.
“Who are the escorts?” the middle-aged man in official robes asked seriously.
“Li Shenji and Gu Hai,” Mo Yike gravely stated these two names.
As Mo Yike said those two names, his eyes narrowed slightly. Clearly, he was very familiar with these two people.
“Oh?” Chang Sheng and Qin Zibai raised their eyebrows.
The middle-aged man in official robes revealed a faint, cold smile. “Ha! Li Shenji? Gu Hai? A crafty scoundrel and a vile person?!”
The officials at the side laughed as well.
Mo Yike shook his head and said, “Archduke Xi Kang, I know that you wrote ‘The Army Returns on Arriving in the Han Nation’ not long ago, criticizing Gu Hai. However, this humble official still has to give you this reminder.”
“Oh?” The middle-aged man in official robes looked at Mo Yike with some doubt.
“Don’t underestimate Gu Hai,” Mo Yike said incredibly gravely.
“Hahahahahaha!” Archduke Xi Kang suddenly guffawed.
“Lord Mo, you are overthinking. You may have interacted with Gu Hai, but do you think this archduke has not read up on him? Indeed, this person is extraordinary. However, how am I wrong in calling him a vile person? Is he not a vile person for stealing the Divine Foundation Royal Dynasty? He took advantage of the time when the Yuan Nation and the Qian Nation were fighting a war, attacking from behind. Is he not a vile person for that? How am I wrong? True, he is somewhat capable. But so what? This is Major Metropolitan City, my Yuan Nation’s Major Metropolitan City. Even if he is a dragon, he will have to coil up obediently. Furthermore, he is not one,” Archduke Xi Kang said coldly.
Mo Yike felt slightly worried.
One of the officials at the side chimed in. “Indeed, Lord Mo. The archduke’s poem only exposed his true face. Gu Hai is a vile person. He might know two pieces and can play Go, but does he know the calligraphy Dao? He came from that impoverished Thousand Islands Sea; how many books has he read? Can he compare to the archduke? The archduke only wrote a poem and did not say anything about him. If Gu Hai overestimates himself, then he will just be humiliating himself.”
“Mister Mo is overthinking. The archduke is right. Gu Hai is a vile person, unworthy of his current accomplishments.”
“‘The Army Returns on Arriving in the Han Nation’ is well written. The archduke’s poem highlighted Gu Hai’s true character, allowing us to benefit a lot. The calligraphy Dao is not something for an ignorant child like Gu Hai. If he dares to act unrulily, he will only become a big joke.”
The various officials immediately chimed in, singing the same tune as Archduke Xi Kang.
Clearly, “The Army Returns on Arriving in the Han Nation” had a stupendous effect. Furthermore, as Archduke Xi Kang had written it, most of the officials stood on Archduke Xi Kang’s side, thinking Gu Hai to be a shameless, vile person.
Mo Yike only showed a faint, bitter smile, not trying to explain further.
The calligraphy Dao did have some unique aspects to it. At the very least, music, Go, and painting could not compare to it in influencing a person’s thoughts.
“How should we receive the Qian Nation’s envoy? His Reverence has been in closed-door cultivation, not coming out. What should we do?” Qin Zibai asked worriedly as he frowned.
Everyone waited patiently for a while.
Then, a eunuch stepped forward slowly in the palace hall.
“Milords, His Reverence seems to have made a breakthrough in his cultivation and will not be coming out for a while. Everyone, please return,” the old eunuch said with a bitter smile.
“His Reverence made a breakthrough?” The officials showed joy on their faces.
However, there was a major matter at hand. Yet, the emperor was in closed-door cultivation.
“Since His Reverence is in closed-door cultivation, then let the ministry of rites receive the Qian Nation’s envoy,” Archduke Xi Kang said indifferently.
“Alright!” Everyone nodded helplessly.
Only Mo Yike and Chang Sheng frowned slightly as they looked at Archduke Xi Kang.
The ministry of rites? Isn’t the Minister of Rites one of Archduke Xi Kang’s disciples? Then, this matter…
Mo Yike and Chang Sheng exchanged looks carrying a trace of bitter irony.
Since Archduke Xi Kang had interfered in this matter, the two were helpless and found it hard to interject. After all, this was the proper procedure in the first place.
“Archduke, this is a national matter. I hope you will prioritize harmony!” Chang Sheng said with a faint smile.
Archduke Xi Kang shook his head and said, “It is because it is a national matter that we need to remain unyielding. The envoy represents the Qian Nation in the meeting between our two nations. Naturally, we cannot downplay the prestige of my Yuan Nation. Furthermore, we have to make up for the humiliation we suffered in the Han Nation back then.”
“But…” Chang Sheng felt slightly worried.
“Do you think that I was just making assumptions? Haha! When I said that Gu Hai was a vile person, I had evidence to support it. Furthermore, birds of a feather flock together. Yesterday, I happened to catch two people who proclaimed to be Gu Hai’s friends—two backstabbing, scheming, vile people. Ha!” Archduke Xi Kang said coldly.
“Gu Hai’s friends? Two bushwhacking, scheming, vile people? Who?” Mo Yike said, feeling puzzled.
“One is called Purple Subtlety, and the other is called Longevity,” Archduke Xi Kang said coldly.
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