Book 01 Chapter 019.1: The Third Campaign: Killing the Officials’ Confidence, Part 1
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Everlasting Immortal Firmament Book 01 Chapter 019.1: The Third Campaign: Killing the Officials’ Confidence, Part 1

The palace’s entrance, Song City:

Many people with anxious expressions knelt there, crying sorrowfully..

“Your Majesty, I beg you to make a judgment and uphold justice for me. Capture the bandits and return the goods stolen from me!”

“Your Majesty, this humble citizen pays a large sum of taxes every year. Now, bandits robbed me of everything I have. Your Majesty, I beg you to make a judgment on this!”

“Your Majesty, Imperial Tutor Pang instructed his servants to rob me of my wealth. I beg Your Majesty to punish him according to the law. Punish Imperial Tutor Pang!”

“Your Majesty, this humble citizen has evidence that Imperial Tutor Pang’s servants robbed me. He used his servants for evil. I beg Your Majesty to punish him!”

The merchants of Song City knelt at the palace’s entrance, raising complaints and accusations as they cried for the emperor to make a judgment on this matter.

At a pavilion not far away:

Gu Hai and Gu Han showed cold looks in their eyes as they watched the merchants make accusations.

“Adoptive Father, look at the ones at the very front. They are our people!” Gu Han pointed to the distance.

Gu Hai nodded and said, “Just wait patiently. After this, there will be more people coming to complain and make accusations. It won’t just be Song City. All the wealthy merchants of the surrounding cities will come as well.”

“It serves that Imperial Tutor Pang right. He went too far. Over the past few days, he actually instructed all his servants and subordinates to rob the stores and take advantage of the situation. Ha! We were prepared long ago, recording all of this!” Gu Han smiled.

“Imperial Tutor Pang? He is just a shriveled old man. Unexpectedly, he is this greedy,” Gu Hai sighed.

“His greed does not matter. What this child hates about him is that he does not conduct himself with the honor of a senior. Even though he is already so old, he continues to harm young women. He does that practically every three days. Perhaps that is called entertainment in the eyes of those rotten nobles. However, in my eyes, it is plain disgusting and shameless. I heard that he had caused the deaths of ten-odd young women. What an evil person!” Gu Han said with strong hate in his voice.

“That’s why I say that his just deserts are coming!” Gu Hai sneered.

“Adoptive Father, will the Song Emperor really execute the imperial tutor? He was the Song Emperor’s teacher, after all!” Gu Han asked somewhat worriedly.

“Ah, teacher? The Song Emperor even executed his grandson, what more an official?” Gu Hai replied with a grim smile.

“Right!” Gu Han nodded with a frown.

“I believe that the news of the Chen Nation’s army invading the Song Nation has already reached the royal assembly, right?”

“The news should have arrived. This child saw someone rushing to the palace from four hundred kilometers away with great urgency!” Gu Han nodded.

“The news of the frontline soldiers suffering overwhelming defeat should have arrived as well. The various cities simply have no way of defending themselves. It was like entering uninhabited territory for the Chen Nation army. The citizens and the military do not care about loyalty to the nation, so how can the Song Emperor not be afraid? He should be trembling in boundless horror as we speak!” Gu Hai said with a smile.

“In his shoes, this child would definitely be panicking. The Song Nation has nearly collapsed, maintaining only a superficial unity. The nation is in danger!” Gu Han said worriedly.

“Indeed, the nation is in danger, and the citizens’ confidence is gone. The situation is hopeless. It is just like a child rushing in to kill a severely ill adult with a knife. Although the adult is strong, he is currently sick and unable to move as the young child kills him. If the adult had time to recuperate, he could still recover from the situation. However, there is no time for the adult now!” Gu Hai said while drinking tea.

“What the Song Nation lacks the most is time. With the Chen Nation army’s overwhelming suppression, they should be able to reach Song City and destroy the Song Nation soon at their current speed.”

“Hence, this adult can only do his best to treat a portion of his body. At least, he could stop the child then,” Gu Hai said.

“Treat? How is he to treat this? Those citizens who benefited rejected the Song Nation. Now that they are rich, they treasure their lives even more. As for the citizens who suffered, they already hate the Song Nation, resenting it. Why would they save the Song Nation?” Gu Han asked with a frown.

“Right now, the Song Nation’s citizens can be split into two categories: those who benefited and those who suffered. Both categories are unwilling to fight for the nation. So, he can placate only one of them. Do you think he can placate those who benefited?” Gu Hai guided Gu Han.

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“Pardon everyone’s crimes and get them to defend against the Chen Nation’s army?” Gu Han’s expression changed.

“Would that work?” Gu Hai asked further.

“Hey, that won’t work. If the emperor pardoned their crimes, the citizens who suffered would immediately rebel. This would plunge the Song Nation into chaos, resulting in more robbery and even killing. The Song Nation might even collapse before the Chen Nation army arrives. Furthermore, those who benefited might not join the army. After they benefited, they lost their loyalty to the nation. As long as they can keep their wealth, it does not matter whether they are in the Chen Nation or the Song Nation!” Gu Han concluded after some thought.

“Since the Song Emperor cannot placate the ones who benefited, then he can only try to placate the ones who suffered!” Gu Hai said with confidence in his eyes.

“Placate those who suffered? The kneeling merchants at the palace entrance, the citizens who failed to snatch anything, and the robbed citizens?” Gu Han asked as he looked at the palace entrance.

“Yes. However, how can the Song Emperor placate them? Can he help them regain their belongings?” Gu Hai smiled.

“Absolutely not. Now that those goods were snatched away, those people who benefited have already hidden the goods. How could they be willing to hand them over? If the Song Emperor tries to do it by force, it will only add to the chaos. The people who benefited would definitely rebel and cause an even larger commotion!” Gu Han replied, his expression changing.

“So, what can be done?” Gu Hai continued his guidance.

“Pursue responsibility!” Gu Han said, his expression changing again.

“How to pursue it?” Gu Hai smiled.

“Kill someone to shock everyone and vent the citizens’ anger!” Gu Han’s expression continued changing.

“Kill whom?”

“Anyone who can allow the citizens to vent their anger and hatred. Right now, the Song Emperor can kill anyone and will do so. Even if it were the crown prince, he would kill the crown prince.” Excitement flashed in Gu Han’s eyes.

“Hence, the third campaign is the simplest. The momentum is already in place; there is no changing that. We are just going with the flow and accelerating it,” Gu Hai said with a smile.

“Yes. This child completely understands. So, this Imperial Tutor Pang will get what he deserves?” Gu Han asked with a gleam in his eyes.

Gu Hai nodded.

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During the royal assembly, Song City:

“The Chen Nation’s army charged into my Song Nation, and the border cities lost after just one day? Where’s Gao Xianzhi?! Where is he?!” Crown Prince Song demanded anxiously and angrily.

The Song Emperor’s expression changed continuously as he sat on the throne. The many officials below also felt restless.

Crown Prince Song shouted angrily at the people who delivered the news.

“They scattered, they all scattered. Commander Gao’s army turned chaotic as well. There was no way to stop the desertion; everyone ran away, and no one defended. Some ‘helpful’ citizens even opened the city gates and let the Chen Nation army in without much resistance!” the messenger reported bitterly.

“The citizens’ confidence is already gone? The arrival of the Chen Nation army is like adding frost to snow?” Prime Minister Liu, who stood at the head of the right row, said with an unsightly expression.

“What should we do? The citizens and soldiers are no longer willing to fight. Are they disappointed in my Song Nation? This Gu Hai is too terrifying.”

“The crux was our judgment on the Gu Song Silversmith’s robbery. We should not have encouraged that. It started all this.”

“Indeed. If that did not start this, we would not have lost the citizens’ confidence!”

The officials complained endlessly.

Crown Prince Song revealed a bitter expression. He turned his head and said, “Imperial Father, your son is guilty of this. Back then, because I held hatred for Gu Hai in my heart, I listened to the temptations of the merchant Tian Han. This child is deeply regretful. However, when I went to seek out Tian Han, he had disappeared, and the Tian Residence’s people were all gone.

“Tian Han? Tian Han? Tian? Oh, no!” Prime Minister Liu’s expression changed drastically.

“Huh?” Everyone looked at Prime Minister Liu.

“Your Majesty, this old official knows who Tian Han is now. The Tian in Tian Han is written with the character for ‘ten’ inside the character for ‘mouth.’ However, if we take the character for ‘ten’ out of the character for ‘mouth’ and place it above, it becomes the character for ‘Gu.’ It is just a difference of the character for ‘ten’ inside and above the character for ‘mouth.’” Prime Minister Liu’s complexion changed.

[TL Note: This is a play on the Chinese characters, so there is no logical way to explain this but to show you the characters. So, Tian is 田, Gu is 古, ten is 十, and mouth is 口. Tian means field, and Gu means ancient.]

“Tian Han? Gu Han? Gu Hai’s second adopted son?” the many officials exclaimed as their expressions changed drastically.

Plop! Crown Prince Song fell to the floor as his expression changed.

Crown Prince Song had already guessed that Tian Han worked for Gu Hai. However, he had not expected that Tian Han was actually Gu Hai’s adopted son. Furthermore, Tian Han had remained hidden by his side all along?

“Gu Hai!” The Song Emperor’s expression turned extremely unsightly.

“Your Majesty, to deal with today’s situation, we need to placate the resentment of the people and get them to defend against the Chen Nation army!” Prime Minister Liu said, showing a bitter expression.

“Prime Minister, explain how. As long as it can placate the citizens’ resentment and encourage them to resist the Chen Nation’s army, we will agree to anything.” The Song Emperor looked at Prime Minister Liu anxiously.

Prime Minister Liu remained silent for a while before he said bitterly, “Your Majesty, as of now, it is clearly impossible to return all the stolen items. It is already too late. The Chen Nation’s army is rushing over. Even if we use the money in the treasury, we cannot make up for this. It is too difficult to placate the citizens’ anger.”

“How about to make things clear to the citizens that we did not want this, either? As long as the citizens are willing to be loyal and resist the Chen Nation’s army, we will fulfill every demand we can,” the Song Emperor said anxiously.

“To ease the citizens’ rage, resentment, and disappointment, we need to eradicate the mastermind—kill the mastermind, and we will regain the citizens’ confidence. That way, we can regain the trust of the citizens!” Prime Minister Liu replied solemnly.

“Mastermind? The masterminds are Gu Hai and Gu Han!” the Song Emperor said with a frown.

“Indeed. However, we cannot find them. How do we eradicate evil like that? In that case, we can only settle for the next-best solution. Back then, who suggested letting the citizens become bandits, agitating the citizens? Who would the citizens pursue responsibility from?” Prime Minister Liu continued in a solemn tone.

“Huh?” The atmosphere in the royal assembly immediately turned strange and hostile.

“Prime Minister Liu, you are trying to kill me?” Crown Prince Song’s expression suddenly changed.

“Prime Minister Liu, what do you mean by this?” Imperial Tutor Pang’s expression changed as well.

Novel Notes

Hey guys, you all probably have been seeing the occasional message about Patreon and how EIF isn't doing very well financially. So I held out as long as I can, and unfortunately, things are not looking up. In the interest of being able to keep up a sustainable income to pay my bills and pay the team sufficiently, I'm going to have to lower the release rates of EIF in favor of picking up another novel. As of now, I have not found another novel yet, but I will be decreasing the release rates from May onwards so that I have time to search for the next novel. For now, the rates will be lowered to 30 chapters a month, essentially daily chapters.

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