The Emperor Reigns Them All - LightNovelsOnl.com
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The youths of the Imperial Clan in the village soon surrounded and killed the attackers. There were masters such as Wu You's and Li Jing'an's attendants, so these cultivators in the low level of Qi-refining couldn't escape.
Because Li Ye was the main target of the attack tonight, the other youths of the Imperial Clan didn't suffer many attacks. Even Li Ji, who had been injured, survived by chance, but his injury worsened a lot.
After two fights in a day, these youths of the Imperial Clan gathered together again, without their previous indulgence. They started a bonfire and sat together in a slightly s.p.a.cious farmyard, not daring to separate again.
After Wu You introduced the real ident.i.ty of the attackers and Li Guanshu's sinister plot, these youths of the Imperial Clan were indignant and said that they were going to tear Li Guanshu to pieces.
They were specially privileged in Chang'an City, but this time they were used like fools by Li Guanshu. And all of them were deceived by him successfully, so it was inevitable that they became angry.
Li Ji was the angriest because he lost the most in the attack. He was injured and his attendant died. He scolded Li Guanshu all the time as if he was going to eat Li Guanshu.
After scolding Li Guanshu for a while, everyone thanked Li Ye one after another.
If Li Ye hadn't found out Li Guanshu's plot in time, they might have been used by Li Guanshu. If so, it would not be a disgraceful problem, but they would have helped Li Guanshu. And in the future, they would be coerced by him. After all, it was they who had confirmed that the Taoist priests were rebels.
Therefore, they thanked Li Ye sincerely, without holding back.
After taking the Cultivation Pill given by Li Li Jing'an, Song Yuanqiao finally survived, but he still did not look good. He just looked better than dying. Since he was rescued temporarily, they could interrogate him.
They were used by Li Guanshu, and inexplicably got into the struggle between Li Guanshu and the Taoist temple in Niushou Mountain. Of course, they wanted to make this matter clear.
"I won't say anything!" Song Yuanqiao's breath was weak, but his gaze was fierce. It seemed that he faced death unflinchingly. "If I speak, Li Guanshu will not let me off!"
Li Ye scornfully said, "If you don't say it, you'll be killed now."
Song Yuanqiao said, "If you kill me now, no one can testify against Li Guanshu, and the grievances you suffered will be in vain!"
He had a clear mind.
"d.a.m.n it! Torture him! I don't believe that he won't speak!" Li Ji shouted. Now he hated Song Yuanqiao and Li Guanshu to the bone.
Panic flashed in Song Yuanqiao's eyes, but he quickly calmed down and said grimly, "At worst, I'll commit suicide by bursting my Ocean of Qi. Everyone will lose out!"
Li Ji was furious and wanted to say something. But Li Ye waved his hand to stop him and asked Song Yuanqiao, "Tell us, what do you want?"
Song Yuanqiao was stunned. "Prince An, what do you mean? You want to bribe me?"
Li Ye laughed and said, "Don't be silly. Li Guanshu will die. Even if you die, there are witnesses in the Taoist temple in Niushou Mountain. Besides, we're Grand Princes, d.u.c.h.esses, and Heir Apparents, our words are more valuable than yours. When we go back to Chang'an City, Li Guanshu can't defeat us. We want you to confess because your words do have some value. But if you insist on threatening us with your life, we will not let you, the head of a county, offend us."
Song Yuanqiao's lips twitched.
Li Ye continued. "You also saw it just now. If I hadn't saved you, you would have died from the Sword Qi. You know that they were ready to kill you. They have abandoned you. After all, you're just an unimportant official. Now I'm still talking to you because you know what I want to know. It isn't because you're important. Li Guanshu can kill you at will, and so can I."
Speaking of this, Li Ye took out his Luke Sword. "Li Guanshu will die. If you honestly confess everything, all of us here are respectable, so it's easy for us to promise you a bright future. If you don't confess it, you'll die now."
While Li Ye was spoke, the Luke Sword fell.
"I'll confess!" Seeing that the Luke Sword was going to reach him, Song Yuanqiao shouted hurriedly, because he saw Li Ye's determination and indifference to his life.
The Luke Sword had reached his forehead and touched his eyebrows. If he had shouted a little later, he would have died.
Song Yuanqiao was scared to death. Li Ye's decisiveness made him frightened.
"Your Highness... can I really save my neck after this matter? Can you really promise me a bright future?" Song Yuanqiao swallowed his saliva. Of course he was afraid of death. He was not a sacrificial p.a.w.n. He said so much because he wanted to ask for more benefits for himself. To be direct, he wanted Li Ye to bribe him, but the payoff had to be higher.
Song Yuanqiao also understood. If Li Ye and the others could return to Chang'an, Li Guanshu would be screwed.
"I am the Grand Prince of the Tang Empire, do you need to doubt my words?" Li Ye slightly raised his jaw arrogantly. But soon impatience showed on his face. "Just say it, I've never been a patient man."
Song Yuanqiao had no room to struggle, so he had to obey Li Ye's orders. He quickly explained the whole matter clearly.
All of the officials in Hu County were promoted by Li Guanshu, so he was the real mastermind. He had a lot of land here. Li Guanshu was Wei Baoheng's right-hand man and had great power. He had been acc.u.mulating wealth and annexing land through unfair means.
Some time ago, Li Guanshu took a fancy to a large area of fertile farmland at the riverside of Lao River. This fertile farmland belonged to Rich Fang who was a landowner. Li Guanshu wanted to buy it for a low price, but Rich Fang refused and his att.i.tude was surprisingly tough. He even insulted Li Guanshu as a treacherous minister, which angered Li Guanshu. So he sent cultivators to a.s.sa.s.sinate several farmers under Rich Fang, and then colluded with the officials of Hu County. They planted the stolen goods at Rich Fang's manor and sent him to prison.
All these things were done by Song Yuanqiao. He thought that when he caught Rich Fang, his family would give in. It was unexpected that Rich Fang had a younger brother of the same clan who practiced in the Taoist temple in Niushou Mountain. After hearing about this matter, he rushed to Hu County and decided to go to Chang'an City with Rich Fang's family to sue them in the Imperial Court.
Of course, Li Guanshu and Song Yuanqiao would not allow such a thing to happen. So Li Guanshu dispatched a trusted subordinate of Level 5 Qi-refining, who was the officer in black, to ambush the Taoist priest of Niushou Mountain halfway. Originally, he would have succeeded. Unexpectedly, the Taoist priest was clever, and he asked his colleagues to follow him secretly. In the end, they got into a scuffle. Although the officer in black had killed many family members of Rich Fang, Rich Fang's wife ran away with the Taoist priest.
After that, Song Yuanqiao went to the Taoist temple in Niushou Mountain. Relying on Li Guanshu's power and authority, he asked the Taoist temple to hand over Rich Fang's brother and wife. However, the Taoist temple didn't yield at all. And they almost caught Song Yuanqiao and said that they would escort Rich Fang's wife to Chang'an.
There were several masters among the cultivators in Niushou Mountain. So Li Guanshu was not sure that he could kill them all, and not let a single one escape.
Li Guanshu was furious. So he sent people to negotiate with the Taoist temple while he sent people to block the way to Niushou Mountain and planned this conspiracy. He wanted to use the power of the Imperial Court to eradicate the Taoist temple, not giving them the chance to tell the truth. As long as they were considered as rebels, no one would believe them no matter what they said.
After hearing Song Yuanqiao's confession, everyone was indignant and condemned Li Guanshu's shameless behavior of corruption and disregard for human life.
"Li Guanshu is absolutely bold. He bought land at a low price and arbitrarily annexed other people's land. He even dared to send people to pretend to be rebels and to harm hundreds of lives in several villages! He really thought that he could run amok, distort the truth, and ignore the law with Duke Wei's support behind his back?! Death alone cannot atone for his sins!" Li Jing'an was so angry that his forehead showed his veins.
"He should be hacked into pieces!" Wu You clenched her fist and said angrily.
Everybody was filled with indignation, but Li Ye was very calm.
The struggle for power and profit was a common phenomenon. Which official had never benefitted himself at the expense of public interests, nor acc.u.mulated wealth by unfair means?
If it had been a time of peace and prosperity, the actions of the officials would have been monitored. But in the current Tang Empire, the Imperial Court was corrupt and authority was abused by both eunuchs and officials. Such a phenomenon had been appalling. If the officials and the people were at peace, the dignitaries and the civilians were in harmony, everyone would have lived well, and the world wouldn't have been in chaos.
"Prince An, why don't you speak?" Seeing that Li Ye had been silent and seemed calm, Li Jing'an felt somewhat strange.
Li Ye said, "If there were no land annexation in the world, the Equal-field Regime and Union of Soldiers and Farmers Regime would not be destroyed, there would not be so many refugees in the world, and there would not be so many unruly commanders and soldiers who gather to make troubles and expel the commissioners in the va.s.sal states. This matter has resulted from the forced sale of land, so it's not a surprise."
When he said this, everyone looked blank.
They were not officials and hadn't experienced much of the world's affairs. Of course, they didn't know that the soldiers in the va.s.sal states mainly were refugees. Their farmlands were occupied by the rich through unfair means, so they lost their livelihoods and were forced to leave their homes. So naturally, they felt resentful. After being recruited as soldiers in the va.s.sal states, they were not so kind and it made sense that they would become unruly commanders and soldiers.
Li Ye didn't want to tell them these things. That was a problem he would face when he became an official. At present, he said to everyone, "Let's discuss the matter of going to Niushou Mountain. I think that Li Guanshu will not give up."
In a valley which was about ninety miles away from Luoping Village, the officer in black who had followed Song Yuanqiao was standing behind a man respectfully. The man, with his hands clasped behind his back, stood on a rock and faced the valley, staying silent for a long time.
It was Li Guanshu.
"I really did not expect that Li Ye could gain an insight into our plan. And in a very short period of time, he set up a trap for us. The youths of the Imperial Clan were involved in this matter and stood beside him." The officer admitted his errors and asked for punishment. "I didn't handle it well, please punish me!"
Li Guanshu didn't speak for a while. He was angry and thinking.
After a long time, Li Guanshu said in a deep voice. "Wei Tianhe, I have always trusted you, so I sent you to Hu County to help Song Yuanqiao deal with things here. But more than a month has pa.s.sed, and you have failed successively, which makes me very disappointed. This time, I felt worried and decided to come, and the situation has already spiraled out of control!"
The look of Wei Tianhe who had disguised as an official slightly changed. He knew that he had failed to kill the Taoist priests in Niushou Mountain and Rich Fang's family members. This time he lost in Luoping Village again and needed to be rescued by Li Guanshu who was already dissatisfied with him.
"I'm sorry!" Wei Tianhe knelt on one knee.
Li Guanshu kept silent for a while, then he asked, "It is in the past now. What should we do next? What's your opinion?"
Wei Tianhe clenched his teeth. "I hope that the Duke can send several masters to help me. We'll kill Prince An, the d.u.c.h.ess of Li, the Taoist priests, and the other youths in the Niushou Mountain!"