“Are you after that seat?”
This question was really penetrating and pratctical.
After saying these words, Yan Yan no longer spoke. She merely tensed up as she waited for the answer.
After a long time, Luo Huai Yuan sighed and said: “Trust me, I really don’t want that seat.”
Yan Yan turned and looked at him, “Then we are completely able to stay in place and live our lives. Why are you busying yourself for no reason?”
“You don’t understand.”
“What don’t I understand?”
He held her fast and said: “We don’t want that seat, and while royal father lives it’s still fine.However, once he’s gone, we need some capital to protect ourselves.”
“Capital to protect ourselves?”
“That’s right. That way we’d be able to advance or retreat. Preparing more in advance means we won’t have to panic when the situation is imminent.”
Yan Yan’s gaze froze, “You mean to say, once his majesty is gone, we might very well be swept into things?”
Luo Huai Yuan nodded, “You can put it that way.”
Yan Yan didn’t agree with his words: “Even if something happens to his majesty, he will definitely pass an edict proclaiming his successor. The rightful monarch will be the monarch and the officials will remain officials. How can things become chaotic? For example, as long as his majesty doesn’t demote the crown prince, he will remain the Grand Xi’s successor. No matter what the second prince and the rest think, they won’t dare do anything openly.”
Luo Huai Yuan patted her shoulder and said: “It’s not as simple as you think. If things were really that simple, that would also be nice. Look how everything appears peaceful and prosperous in the palace, but everyone knows Empress Xiao and Senior Concubine Xu don’t get along. However, is this apparent on the surface? They seem to be as close as sisters! Also, compared to the other three, old fifth and I are more miserable. Why is this the case? There’s a reason for everything. Also, is royal father really unaware of everything? He naturally knows. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been able to leave the palace smoothly using my clumsy methods when I was twelve.”
After that matter, Luo Huai Yuan had carefully considered it. He had thought his plans were extraordinary, but that was just his own assumption. After thinking about it, there were plenty of gaps. The reason no one suspected anything was merely because Emperor Xi had helped cover for him.
In his past life Luo Huai Yuan had thought Emperor Xi was an incapable ruler. Otherwise, he wouldn’t be manipulated in circles by the two women. After seeing more, he slowly understood. It turns out he wasn’t as obstinate and rash as he appeared on the surface.
To put it plainly, the world was unpredictable. Even as the monarch of a nation, there were many things he couldn’t control.
Everyone had their own schemes. The empress and crown prince had theirs, Senior Concubine Xu and the second prince had theirs and Emperor Xi had his own as well. The civil and military officials also had their own considerations. To put it more severely, even the lowliest sweeper eunuch in the palace probably has his own thoughts.
They were all depending on imperial authority to survive. When an emperor gradually ages, the younger generation gradually matures and becomes just as outstanding. At this time, various thoughts would involuntarily arise. They had to seize the initiative and take the biggest cake under the heavens. The saying a new emperor brings in new officials could apply to those above, and also to those below.
These hidden thoughts constantly collided underneath the surface. They weren’t visible but would effect everything. The two sides locked in struggle just had to control their own people and advance towards their goal. As for the person who seemed to be moving the pieces on the board, was he truly doing so? To put it plainly, he was merely someone trapped by the board long ago. Very often, there were very many things that he himself couldn’t control.
The struggle for the throne was like this. It was like a giant chariot rumbling forwards. Everyone in the vicinity would involuntarily be swept along. The winner is king and the loser the beggar.
Luo Huai Yuan used many extremely minor events as proof, making Yan Yan shiver after listening.
“Don’t be scared, we still have grandfather.” Yan Yan didn’t know if she was comforting herself or Luo Huai Yuan.
Luo Huai Yuan smield bitterly: “Don’t think of grandfather as all powerful, ok? At times like this, the Shen household is in the center of the maelstrom. If he had such authority, would he have to send all the juniors in the household away? Oh right. My trip to the Fu Province this time is also to check up on Shen Qi. Who knows how he’s doing over there.”
This matter truly seemed more important than expected. Yan Yan wasn’t able to understand the blades hidden within the palace. However, she could see a few things based on her grandfather’s household. Perhaps this matter was truly as little fatty was saying, and not as peaceful as she had thought. Everyone was making preparations. How could they not do so as well?
She suddenly felt she had been unreasonable. Yan Yan revealed a slightly ashamed expression.
“Alright, no need for you to overthink things. Don’t worry about the matters outside. Let your husband handle it.”
The two spoke a little longer before holding each other and falling asleep.
After a few days, Luo Huai Yuan took his trusted aides and secretly left the Yun Prince Estate.
This didn’t cause any waves, as though nothing had happened.
At this time, the Shen Qi who Yan Yan was worried about was doing rather well in the Fu Province.
After his depression from leaving his home faded, the Fu Province’s many wonders had attracted his gaze.
As soon as he arrived, Shen Qi went to rely on his cousin Shen Xuan. Afterwards he followed Luo Huai Yuan’s suggestion and considered starting “his own business”. However, he realized he didn’t have much interest in this and ended up entering the Fu Province’s navy.
Although this was also enlistment, it was very different from entering the military on land. Shen Qi took quite a while before gradually getting accustomed to it.
Since the Grand Xi opened its ports, the sea merchants entered the Fu Province for commerce like carp crossing the river. At the same time, the amount of troublemakers also increased.
After the envoy from Fusang was expelled that time, the court had a discussion over this matter the next day. They all felt the small nation of Fusang had been too daring and didn’t put the Grand Xi in their eyes. For the sake of punishing them, the city’s shipping office prohibited any trade with Fusang, and any goods from there were prohibited from being brought ashore.
Daimyo Kana didn’t expect the lofty Grand Xi whose reputation spread far and wide to be so petty. They actually placed such a prohibition just because of some minor conflict. But it was already too late. The diplomatic group he led was marched onto their ships and sent out of the Grand Xi’s waters.
He knew that if this matter got out of hand, he wouldn’t be able to escape responsibility. Daimyo Kana had a bright idea, and made sure to set the story straight with his group. Their excuse was that the Grand Xi had refused Fusang’s friendship and that they were humiliated and driven out. Actually the people with him also understood. For the sake of not getting blamed, they agreed to Daimyo Kana’s explanation.
After returning to Fusang, Daimyo Kana complained tearfully to the general of the Edoku Bakufu. Seeing the group of envoys he sent looking bedraggled and dispirited, the general didn’t doubt them.
The Edoku Bakufu’s envoys were humiliated, stirring up the various bakufus of Fusang. Since negotiations had broken down, the Fusang also cared about dignity and no longer thought about establishing friendly relations with the Grand Xi.
It was good to care about dignity but the danger Fusang faced was still present. The nation’s agriculture and craftsmanship was lacking and all their daily necessities were imported. Most of it came from the Grand Xi. Now that relations were cut off, how were they supposed to survive?
There was no choice. They could only go back to their old ways. Just like when the embargo was active, they went to plunder the seas.
But the Grand Xi wasn’t like before. After lifting the embargo, they became familiar with ocean trade. The navy was garrisoned by the coast. Since the Fusang weren’t able to plunder within the Grand Xi’s waters, they could only go plunder Korea, Ryukyu, Siam and other smaller nations, as well as merchant vessels sailing the ocean.
Fusang didn’t dare go too far. Even when they plundered, the spread it out and didn’t dare fly their own flag. They pretended to be people from other countries. This sort of venture required no starting capital and there was a lot of profits to be had. There would never be a lack of those willing to risk their lives or those who were exiled. Successfully robbing a single vessel would mean having enough to eat for several years. Many scattered pirates also got involved and the fleet grew stronger and stronger.
These people were afraid of the Grand Xi’s navy and didn’t dare enter their territory. However, the situation outside was awful. Many of the merchant vessels were robbed which gradually resulted in the Fu Province’s harbor becoming a little bleak.
How could the Grand Xi’s officials, who had tasted the benefits, permit someone to steal the food from their mouths? They unanimously passed a resolution to strike fear into the hearts of these snakes and rats, so they knew not to provoke the tiger.
The cannons on the Grand Xi’s ships were renowned. Back then when they sailed west as escorts, they had struck down many pirates. The pirates had come to rob merchant vessels and were like chickens in front of a dog, unable to take a single blow.
Shen Qi accompanied the navy and participated in a couple of raids against the pirates. Not only did he expand his horizons, he also matured very quickly.
Therefore, by the time Luo Huai Yuan arrived at the Fu Province and saw Shen Qi, he couldn’t believe this tanned person with white teeth, this tall and sturdy fellow, was that little second Shen.
“How did you get taller? What were you doing to get so tanned? Your cousin didn’t make you scrub the decks every day, did he?”
Luo Huai Yuan had hit the mark. Shen Qi was still a rookie in the navy and shouldn’t be able to ride the warship. He only managed to tag along on the raids because he made a fuss. Shen Xuan didn’t let him go, saying everyone had their duties aboard the ship. They wouldn’t take someone out for a pleasure ride. For the sake of going, Shen Qi found a job as a deck-scrubber.
However, his tan wasn’t entirely due to scrubbing decks. The Fu Province was hot year round and tanning was inevitable when just living normally, let alone for a soldier who drilled daily.
Shen Qi scratched his head and revealed his white teeth in a smile: “Are you very jealous that I got taller? Look, I’m taller than you now. How did you get fatter again? My poor little sis Ah Yan. How can she withstand your weight?”
Luo Huai Yuan rubbed his chin in embarrassment, “This brat has also gotten a glib tongue. You dare make fun of your little sis Ah Yan? Don’t make me go back and tell her, and have her come settle accounts with you.”
The barracks was a great forge. No matter how honest the child, they would end up getting corrupted. This was because there would be no women around for an extended period of time. It wasn’t clear if this was the case in the navy as well.
Luo Huai Yuan nudged Shen Qi with his shoulder and smiled vulgarly, “Little two, you’ve become bad. Have you popped your cherry yet? How about big bro take you to do it? I know this Fu Province’s city very well. I guarantee I’ll find you a pretty girl.”
Shen Qi’s tanned face turned looked embarrassed. Right as he was about to speak, Shen Xuan walked over.
“What’s this about finding a pretty girl? Bro Chen, you’re here.”
Shen Xuan slightly nodded his head. His cold gaze was stern and his face chiseled. It was clear he had a military background. His aura was solemn, making others involuntarily shiver.
He didn’t address Luo Huai Yuan by his actual surname. Instead, he called him by his alias “Chen Yun”, which he used back then in the Fu Province. The two hadn’t interacted much but could be said to know everything about each other. Now that Luo Huai Yuan was married to his cousin, the usually taciturn Shen Xuan gave a rare greeting.
Luo Huai Yuan was never proper, and feared an extremely proper person the most. He rubbed his nose and chuckled, changing the subject: “It’s nothing. Ah Yan is always concerned about Shen Qi’s marital matters so I’m helping her inquire.”
Shen Xuan nodded his head slightly, “You guys carry on. I still have some business.” After speaking, he left.