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Chapter 258: Because of Greed, Hence Loyalty
Xia Tianqiong fell into silence because Lin Beifan’s words were undeniably logical. In the realm of Great Wu, Lin Beifan’s position could be described as reaching the zenith of a minister’s power. Moreover, he was young and held the Empress’s trust. If he continued to develop steadily, he might even ascend to the position of a marquis or a prime minister in the future. Following Xia Tianqiong to Great Xia wouldn’t necessarily lead to such heights.
After all, Lin Beifan would first need to consider the welfare of his old ministers. They had followed him for over a decade, some were even veterans from two reigns, respected and venerable, with deep qualifications. They had labored for years, and though their merits might be lacking, they had certainly contributed. They had to be taken care of. If newcomers were placed above them, how would others see him? How would the entire court view him?
It was inevitable that they would be greatly disappointed and resentful. If their loyalty wavered, it would be challenging to lead them. There were only so many positions available, and if they were given to the old ministers, there would be none left for Lin Beifan. Therefore, he had to accept this injustice.
Regarding wealth and prosperity, Lin Beifan’s current lifestyle – his food, his residence, and his indulgences – was already the pinnacle of his times, nearly on par with the emperor. In some aspects, it was even more extravagant than the Crown Prince’s. He himself couldn’t live such a life, so what could he offer Lin Beifan?
Even if he were willing, the other old ministers would likely not agree. It wasn’t about lacking resources, but about uneven distribution – a principle that applied universally. Xia Tianqiong’s last realization was a sorrowful one – he couldn’t provide Lin Beifan with what he desired. No wonder Lin Beifan was reluctant to leave Great Wu; he himself wouldn’t want to in such a situation.
However, Xia Tianqiong wasn’t entirely disheartened. In fact, he spoke confidently, “Sir Lin, your words are valid. However, have you considered one thing? Great Wu is deteriorating day by day and is on the verge of collapse. Treacherous ministers wield power, princes rebel, the martial world is in turmoil, and neighboring nations are watching closely, ready to invade the Central Plains at any moment. Chaos and downfall are inevitable for Great Wu. Its ruin is just a matter of time.”
“When Great Wu falls, as a mere courtier, where can you go?”
Seeing Lin Beifan’s silent expression, Xia Tianqiong believed he had shaken Lin Beifan’s thoughts and continued with a bright smile, “As the saying goes, a fine bird chooses a tree to nest in. You are an exceedingly rare talent, one that shouldn’t be wasted.”
“Join me in Great Xia. While I can’t offer you the same official position and wealth, I can ensure your safety and provide a platform for you to showcase your talents. Although you would start from a lower position, you are still young, as am I. We have time to establish a great legacy. When those old ministers leave, who will be able to obstruct your rise?”
“Ascending to power, standing above tens of thousands, isn’t that a matter of time? Don’t you agree?”
Lin Beifan clasped his hands and said, “Your Highness, your words make sense, but I’ve already decided to stay in Great Wu.”
Xia Tianqiong was taken aback. “Why are you so obstinate? You should know that Great Wu’s fate is sealed!”
“Your Highness, those words go too far. Although Great Wu is facing problems and decline, there are solutions. Even if, as you said, Great Wu’s fate is sealed, I will still be here.”
“Should Great Wu’s sky fall, I’ll hold it up. Should Great Wu’s backbone break, I’ll carry it. Should Great Wu’s fate exhaust itself, I’ll continue it. As long as I’m here in Great Wu, I’ll use all my might to prolong its existence!”
His voice was resolute, commanding attention, echoing in the high sky.
Golden sunlight bathed Lin Beifan’s face, making him appear so resolute, so pure. Xia Tianqiong gazed at Lin Beifan in a daze, as if seeing him in a new light. After a long while, he murmured, “I never expected that you, a grand corrupt official, would actually be a loyal subject.”
It was unclear whether it was admiration or sarcasm.
“Exactly because of greed, hence loyalty!” Lin Beifan declared righteously. “Otherwise, where would I find such fertile ground for embezzlement? In your Great Xia? Could you offer me a chance to embezzle tens of millions?”
Xia Tianqiong exclaimed, “Damn!”
You almost fooled me with your demeanor just now!
You’re still the same money-hungry youth, not an iota of change!
Xia Tianqiong snorted, “Great Wu is bound to fall. You alone can’t change anything; it’s just a futile struggle. However, I value talent. I’ll give you one more chance. When we meet next time, I hope you can make a wise choice.”
The conversation between the two concluded, and the hot air balloon began to descend slowly.
Back at the inn, Xia Tianqiong addressed his attendants, saying, “When I rode the hot air balloon today, I attempted to recruit Lin Beifan, but he refused.”
“Refused? Why would he refuse?”
“Can’t he see that Great Wu is on its last legs?”
“It’s such a simple truth – shouldn’t he understand?”
The old ministers expressed confusion one after another.
Xia Tianqiong fell silent, not revealing Lin Beifan’s reasons for refusal. However, a trace of urgency welled up within him.
“The time is almost right. We’ll set off for Great Xia tomorrow!”
He planned to return and prepare for war, invading Great Wu! He not only aimed to expand his territory and fulfill his lifelong aspiration but also to capture Lin Beifan and other talents to serve under his banner.
On the second morning, Xia Tianqiong’s party bid farewell to the Empress and set off for Great Xia. The Empress politely urged them to stay for two more days and eventually accompanied them on their journey.
Following this, in the court, the Empress inquired of Lin Beifan, “Sir Lin, for the past few days, you’ve been accompanying Great Xia’s Crown Prince Xia Tianqiong. How do you perceive this person? Does he pose a threat to our Great Wu?”
“Reporting to Your Majesty, I find this person to be a significant threat!” Lin Beifan bowed and continued, “Though we’ve only interacted for a few days, from observing Crown Prince Xia Tianqiong, he dares to take the lead, possesses sharp insight, is skilled at recognizing and utilizing talents, and harbors ambitious aspirations. He has the qualities of a monarch who could lead his nation to greatness. Under his leadership, Great Xia is bound to prosper, which would be greatly detrimental to us, Great Wu.”
The Empress nodded, as Lin Beifan’s viewpoint aligned with hers. Xia Tianqiong was a truly exceptional ruler—talented, ambitious, and possessing keen insight. If he were to ascend the throne, it would indeed pose a significant threat to Great Wu.
“My ministers, how should we handle this in the future?” the Empress inquired.
Various officials expressed their opinions, sharing their thoughts.
But just then, Lin Beifan voiced his opinion, “Your Majesty, I believe the best course of action now is to immediately apprehend him, place him under house arrest, and tightly monitor him, preventing him from returning to Great Xia.”
At this statement, the entire court was shocked!
“Apprehend the Crown Prince of Great Xia?”
“Our nation has always upheld etiquette and propriety. He visited our realm as a guest, and now we want to arrest him. How would this be viewed by the world? What will everyone think of us?”
“Lin Beifan, are you trying to harm our Great Wu? What if he launches a war? Will you step up to take charge?”
“Great Xia isn’t inferior to our empire. How can we lightly provoke conflict?”
“Our Great Wu is already chaotic enough; we can’t afford more chaos!”
“Lin Beifan, have you gone mad? How can you say something like this?”
The Empress urgently asked, “Sir Lin, why do you propose this? Have you noticed something?”
Facing the questioning gazes of the entire court, Lin Beifan remained composed. “The reason I suggested this is actually to prevent warfare and minimize losses for Great Wu. For a long time, Crown Prince Xia Tianqiong has held hostile intentions toward us. During his visit these days, he has traveled through our capital and witnessed its prosperity and resurgence. A sense of crisis has already taken root in his heart.”
“Our Great Wu’s development is increasingly unfavorable for them. The longer we delay, the worse it becomes for them. If they hastily return, it’s likely they will formulate strategies against us, possibly leading to war.”
“Thus, it’s better to take preemptive action to prevent future danger. By capturing him first, we can use him as leverage against Great Xia. With their heir in our hands, Great Xia won’t dare to act recklessly, ensuring the safety of Great Wu. I beseech Your Majesty to consider this.”
The Empress frowned, remaining silent. However, the officials disagreed.
“Sir Lin, everything you say is based on your suspicions, and it holds no weight! The Crown Prince might have had other reasons to return. After all, as the heir of a nation, having matters to attend to is quite normal.”
“The other party hasn’t taken any action against us that is detrimental. If we arrest him now, it might backfire, bringing disgrace upon us in the eyes of the world. Moreover, it might escalate tensions and trigger an unwarranted war.”
“We are a nation of etiquette, not bandits or robbers. How can we commit such a discourteous act?”
Finally, both the Empress and the officials rejected Lin Beifan’s suggestion. Lin Beifan nonchalantly took a step back. After all, he was just offering advice. If it wasn’t accepted, he had no loss.
After several more days passed, Night Fragrance, who had been missing for a few days, returned with a somewhat distressed expression.
Lin Beifan chuckled and said, “Judging by your appearance, I assume you weren’t successful?”
Before this, Night Fragrance had harbored the intent to retaliate against Xia Tianqiong, but it was suppressed by Lin Beifan. Only after Xia Tianqiong left Great Wu were they given the opportunity to take action. Night Fragrance had been missing for several days due to this reason.
Night Fragrance laid down and gloomily said, “Don’t mention it. Xia Tianqiong had a Grandmaster protecting him. I had just gotten close when I was discovered. I didn’t have a chance to properly teach him a lesson!”
Lin Beifan shook his head and smiled; he had long anticipated this outcome. There was an unremarkable old man dressed in black beside Xia Tianqiong, and he was a Grandmaster. With him around, how could Night Fragrance succeed?
“However, even though I didn’t succeed this time, there will be another chance. I refuse to believe there will always be a Grandmaster by his side!” Night Fragrance was determined.
Lin Beifan then asked, “By the way, have there been any changes in the border forces of Great Xia? Any mobilizations?”
Night Fragrance’s expression turned serious, “Indeed, there have been some changes. The defense is much tighter than usual. Also, there have been frequent movements in terms of provisions, troop training—more than before.”
Lin Beifan nodded thoughtfully.
“Is war imminent? Are Great Xia and Great Wu preparing to engage in battle?” Night Fragrance inquired further.
“It’s highly possible. We need to be prepared in advance,” Lin Beifan sighed, “One trouble hasn’t even settled before another one arises. Great Wu is truly plagued with difficulties.”
A week quickly passed.
Urgent: 800 miles!!!
News of border conflicts finally arrived!
The Great Xia Empire stationed an army of 300,000 troops at the border between the two nations and invaded the borderlands of Great Wu, launching an undeclared war!
“Great Xia… has come to fight!!!”.