War Prisoner - Chapter 33

Published at 15th of January 2016 04:22:23 PM
Chapter 33

Xu Jinhua took a look at Su Yi's expression, before continuing indignantly: “Aii, an incapable ruler is the doom of his country, this saying is absolutely true . I never thought I would live to see the day I would have to witness my own sovereign digging the grave of his country, but who can I blame for that? However what astonishes me even more than that is that after the country fell into the hands of a foreign tribe, the people are actually enjoying better lives than before . Even ministers like me who had served the old regime, were released by the new ruler, Wanyan Xu . ”

Su Yi gave a bitter laugh and suddenly said: “Jinhua, since you have said that, does that mean you do not wish to restore the Great Qi?”

Xu Jinhua said loudly: “Of course I wish to restore our country . On the day I was released, all I could think of was that our country has been ruined and our home lost and my heart was full of worry and anger . As a scholar and intellectual [1], it is only right that I regard the recovery of the territories of the Great Qi as a sacred duty . But what use is that, could you or I really recover the territory? Once that Wanyan Xu conquered the Great Qi, he reduced taxation and ordered that grain and food should be released to the people affected by natural disasters . With his actions, a country that was seething with popular grievances was mobilized in a matter of days and a hundred things were done to recuperate and build up the strength of the people . Now, the common people have no worries when it comes to food or clothing, to them, they seem to have ascended to heaven from the eighteenth level of hell . What do they know, they have been living a hand-to-mouth existence for an extended period of time, and they cannot possibly have much moral integrity left . Instead, they feel grateful to the new ruler for his benevolence . I've passed through many places in past half a year, and have found that besides scholars such as myself, there is nobody else that cares at all for Great Qi albeit the regime had become decayed and corrupt . ” After this speech he gave a bitter laugh before continuing: “In these circumstances, scholars are utterly ineffectual . When we gather together, all we can do is whine and make a few harsh diatribes, how can that ever translate into useful action? Moreover, Jin Liao has a strong army, surplus grain and a surfeit of talented officials and commanders . With these advantages, we need more people like you to even have a possibility of overcoming them in battle, but where should we go to find such people?”

When Su Yi looked upon Xu Jinhua's inconsolable expression, he understood that although he had only spoken briefly of his own feelings, he must have endured much suffering at the time all these events were transpiring . Although Xu Jinhua had said that they required people of Su Yi's calibre to have a chance at success, but his current prospects were bleak and unbearably embarrassing . Thinking back, this situation was cause for his soul to break and be dejected . He could only grip his friend's hand tightly but did not say a word . Two pairs of eyes looked at each other, in each other's gazes they could see inexpressible depths of woe and sorrow .

Zi Nong had been standing quietly to the side, after a protracted silence, she felt that the atmosphere had become much too depressing . Zi Nong was frank and outspoken by nature, and she could not help interjecting: “Young Master Xu, since you are a scholar, don't tell me that you don't know that the most important quality for a scholar is to be reasonable? You can see that the people are reluctant to go back to the old regime, to return to the days of having to sell their own sons and daughters so as to survive, why must you scholars oppose our Jin Liao just because of your so-called fealty? In my view, this cannot be counted as righteous loyalty, it is merely blind loyalty . Aii, even a unimportant servant like me knows of the saying ‘the people are most important, the state is second, and the monarch is the least important’, so how could you not know of this principle? Besides, our Emperor values the common folk most highly, he has never forced the people of Qi to conform to the customs of Jin Liao, nor has he allowed us to scorn and oppress Qi people . When Young Master Su has become the Empress of Jin Liao, it would be just like being united through marriage, Jin Liao and Great Qi could then be considered one family . The relationship between our two peoples would be even more harmonious, what is bad about that scenario?”

The mood instantly became heavy and uncomfortable; Zi Nong's careless speech had finally brought up the sensitive issue of Su Yi's impending marriage and coronation . Su Yi's face immediately turned florid, and even his ears were reddened . Feeling deeply ashamed in front of his old friend, he couldn't help but to hang his head .

Xu Jinhua silently observed him for a long while but suddenly said: “Ruo Zhi, we entered government service at the same time, and have always enjoyed a friendly relationship . I have also always regarded you as a confidant . Now, I have something I would like to say, but I'm afraid that if I say it, you would accuse me of belittling you . If you won’t take offense, do you mind if I voice my thoughts?”

Su Yi smiled bitterly and said: “As matter stand, there is no harm done in speaking a sentence more or a sentence less . If you have something on your mind, please tell me, I won't blame you . ”

The words had almost reached Xu Jinhua's lips but he swallowed them back before hesitating again and finally deciding to say them: “Ruo Zhi, I feel that if you and Wanyan Xu indeed have feelings for each other, does it really matter if you do become his Empress?”
Su Yi had never expected to hear such words from Xu Jinhua, his head jerked up in amazement and he stared at Xu Jinhua . Xu Jinhua hurried to elaborate: “Ruo Zhi, I have said before, I do not underestimate you, and I am not disrespecting your dignity as a man . I only meant to say if you also have any affection for Wanyan Xu, even if only a little, and you do not utterly detest him, there is nothing bad about becoming his Empress . As this young lady has said, the people are the most important, as long as the people are free from oppression and can live peaceful lives, it is not important exactly who are the Emperor and Empress . Aii, if it wasn't because I have come to understand this, I would not be willing to utter such words . The person occupying the throne previously was indeed a genuine Dragon [2] of Great Qi and the Son of Heaven, but what was the result? Even people who lived on fertile lands could not get by with farming and had to resort to selling their children, not to mention those people who lived in the barren regions or lands struck by natural disaster [3] . I've even heard that even cannibalism had become commonplace . Although the current Emperor is of Jin Liao origin, the phrase 'love the people like his own children' can be applied to him . If I disregard my hatred towards him for destroying our country, I can honestly say that I admire him greatly . Ruo Zhi, I've always understood your character, since the situation is already like this, don't make life difficult for yourself, there is no need for it now . Strictly speaking, the person responsible for creating your present predicament, wasn't it none other than the Qi Emperor you vowed loyalty to and served with devotion?”

Before Su Yi could speak, Zi Nong had applauded with delight and said: “this Young Master's words are so intelligent, he fully deserves the title of scholar indeed . Even though I know of this principle, I am unable to articulate my thoughts so incisively . ” So saying, she turned to address Su Yi: “Young Master, even your good friend has this opinion, your heart should be able to feel more at ease, don't keep torturing yourself like this all day . Isn't it true that you have once said that if it wasn't for the fact that you are from enemy factions, you and our Emperor could really become life-long confidants?”

Su Yi was silent for a long time, finally, he gave a "humph" and said: “Even if I wish to refuse him, is the decision really mine to make? The fate of all my old friends and their relatives is in his hands, I have no room to oppose him . ” Having said that, he looked out the window and as if he were speaking to himself, he said: “Spring is coming to an end, the grand ceremony to crown an Empress . . . It will soon be the day, won't it?”