Chapter 270

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Chapter 270: Stirring Up Trouble in My Territory, Did You Ask Me?

Payment can be made in installments. Whenever the payment is complete, the person will be released. Although it’s still very difficult, living frugally and economizing can still achieve it. Otherwise, they will never have a chance to bring back the Prince.

Mr. Wang gritted his teeth, “Alright, it’s a deal!”

On the second day in the court, Lin Beifan reported the negotiation results between the two countries to the Empress.

After the Empress finished reviewing the terms of compensation, she circulated it among the officials, remained silent for a moment, and then asked, “Minister, please share your thoughts!”

“Of course, Your Majesty!” Lin Beifan began, “First is the issue of the ransom for the 600,000 Great Xia prisoners of war. These 600,000 individuals are being held at Hulao Pass, requiring daily food and water, as well as manpower for strict supervision. Every day they remain captive results in a loss. It’s an enormous burden.”

“Therefore, I suggest taking the benefits and advantages now rather than later. By letting them leave, as long as Prince Xia Tianqiong remains in our custody, Great Xia won’t dare to act recklessly.”

“10 million taels is just the right amount. It will not only compensate for our court’s losses but also yield a slight surplus. Furthermore, the sum isn’t excessive, and Great Xia can certainly afford it. This way, we can immediately rid ourselves of this burden.”

The Empress nodded slightly, “Well said!”

“But why should we release Great Xia’s Prince Xia Tianqiong?”

Li Kaiguang, the Minister of War, puzzled, “Xia Tianqiong initiated a war against our nation, nearly leading to our destruction. Such a heinous crime, how can we hand him over easily? Moreover, he’s the Crown Prince of Great Xia. Holding him gives us leverage; it prevents Great Xia from making any rash moves.”

“Yes, I would never agree to handing over Great Xia’s Crown Prince either!”

“His capabilities are outstanding, and he possesses the aura of a wise ruler. If we release him, it’s akin to releasing a tiger back into the mountains!”

“What if he holds a grudge and starts another war? What then?”

“Our court can’t possibly commit such a foolish act!”

“Great Xia’s Crown Prince must not be handed over!”

The officials expressed their opposition.

Even the Empress herself wasn’t very inclined to release Great Xia’s Crown Prince. Holding onto him was the only way to threaten Great Xia.

However, she also understood that since Lin Beifan had decided to release Great Xia’s Crown Prince, there must be deeper considerations behind his decision. Many past incidents had proven that Lin Beifan’s judgment was accurate, and others were often mistaken.

“Minister, please continue.”

“Of course, Your Majesty.” Lin Beifan smiled composedly, “Your Majesty, honored officials, if we keep holding onto Great Xia’s Crown Prince, we can indeed continue to threaten the Great Xia Dynasty, making them cautious and unwilling to act recklessly. But, how long can this threat last? Have you all thought about that?”

“For one or two years, we can continue to exert pressure. For three or four years, we can still do the same. But what about after five or six years? After seven or eight years? Can we continue to maintain this threat?”

Everyone fell into contemplation.

“A country cannot be without a ruler even for a day, and the same goes for a Crown Prince. Once Great Xia loses patience and supports a new Crown Prince, the use of our held Crown Prince will fade away. A new Crown Prince would prefer the current Crown Prince dead rather than alive.”

Lin Beifan continued, “So, holding onto Great Xia’s Crown Prince, Xia Tianqiong, indefinitely is unnecessary. His significance will weaken with the passage of time and changes in Great Xia’s court. We should take advantage of his current usefulness, strive to secure sufficient benefits, and strengthen ourselves.”

Lin Beifan bowed, saying, “That’s why I promised to release him, giving them a visible opportunity and hope. But I asked for goods worth 30 million taels in return. Firstly, it can replenish our resources and deal with the uncertain future situation. Secondly, it’s an opportunity to weaken Great Xia’s power.”

“Goods worth 30 million taels, Great Xia can achieve this within three years without affecting the normal operation of the country by living frugally and economizing. During these three years, not only will our Great Wu be accumulating strength and growing silently, but it will also be the most intense period of struggle in Great Xia. The various princes will certainly be vying for the position of the Crown Prince, leading to internal strife and turmoil in their court.”

Lin Beifan chuckled, “At this point, if we were to release Great Xia’s Crown Prince, it will surely exacerbate their conflicts. Without us taking action, they will fall into chaos on their own. The threat from Great Xia will be resolved effortlessly!”

“Brilliant! Truly brilliant!” The Empress clapped her hands and laughed, “With this strategy, not only can we strengthen our power in Great Wu, but we can also sow discord within the Great Xia court, causing them to stumble. This greatly benefits our court! Minister, your foresight is truly remarkable. Let’s proceed with this plan!”

The officials in the court had no objections either. They believed that this approach was the best, as it would maximize the use of Great Xia’s Crown Prince.

After the morning court session, Lin Beifan brought the prepared compensation treaty and imperial edict to the Great Xia delegation.

“Mr. Wang, Her Majesty has agreed! As long as you pay 10 million taels, we will immediately release the Great Xia prisoners of war. As for the Great Xia Crown Prince… we will release him once the 30 million taels’ worth of goods are delivered.”

Mr. Wang and the others looked at the stamped and finalized compensation treaty and imperial edict, and a huge sigh of relief swept over them. As long as there was hope to save the Crown Prince, everything would be manageable.

While 30 million taels’ worth of goods was a significant amount, they could still manage it with some effort. Whether it took 3 to 4 years or even as fast as 2 years, it was doable.

They all expressed their gratitude, “Thank you very much, Lord Lin!”

Lin Beifan nodded in response, “You’re welcome. Just know that I put in a lot of effort and persuasion with Her Majesty and the entire court. It cost me a great deal of words and bargaining. But in the end, you’ve spent less than 20 million, and it’s well worth it.”

The members of the Great Xia delegation were twitching with displeasure. Well worth it? What kind of assessment was this?

Mr. Wang once again bowed and cautiously asked, “Sir Lin, after traveling such a long distance, could we have a glimpse of the Crown Prince? Otherwise, it will be difficult for us to explain back home.”

Lin Beifan nodded, “Certainly, 500,000 taels.”

Mr. Wang: “What the heck!”

Mr. Wang tried, “Could it be a bit cheaper?”

Lin Beifan retorted, “You can choose not to see him.”

Mr. Wang: “…”

In the end, Mr. Wang scoured funds from various delegates and even borrowed from moneylenders. Finally, he managed to gather 500,000 taels and handed them over to Lin Beifan.

Then, under Lin Beifan’s guidance, they followed him and had the opportunity to meet Great Xia’s Crown Prince, Xia Tianqiong, in the deepest part of the dungeon.

At that moment, the two sides stood hand in hand, silently gazing at each other, words caught in their throats. It was an emotionally charged scene.

Afterward, Mr. Wang’s face was filled with joy.

However, the other officials were puzzled, “Mr. Wang, why are you…”

Mr. Wang scanned the surroundings, lowered his head, and whispered, “Gentlemen, you are unaware of something! I’ve just received a confidential report from His Majesty. He has secretly dispatched a grandmaster to assist us! Once we determine the location where the Crown Prince is being held, we can stage a prison break to rescue him!”

“Fantastic!” Everyone was overjoyed. “When the Crown Prince is rescued, we won’t need to pay the ransom to the Great Wu court anymore! And we can ask that grandmaster to tear Lin Beifan into pieces! We’ll take back everything he swallowed!”

Mr. Wang ground his teeth in resentment as he continued, “Absolutely right!” The group was thrilled again. Mr. Wang murmured, “To avoid lingering in a dangerous situation, let’s leave the Great Wu capital immediately! Then, we’ll have the grandmaster come to rescue the Crown Prince!”

Everyone nodded and left the capital that very night.

Three days later, a powerful and mysterious grandmaster infiltrated the capital and rescued the imprisoned Great Xia Crown Prince.

Surprisingly, the Great Wu court deployed two grandmasters, yet they were unable to halt the rescue. The other party, holding the weakened Crown Prince, left the capital in a domineering manner.

They retreated into a secluded valley. The mysterious grandmaster gently placed the Crown Prince down and said, “Crown Prince, rest here for now. I am going to cause some trouble in the Great Wu capital and avenge you.”

“…”

Suddenly, the weakened Xia Tianqiong made a swift move, wielding a small knife and stabbing it towards the grandmaster’s chest. Despite the grandmaster’s timely reaction, the small knife pierced through, and blood spilled out.

The grandmaster was astonished, “You… you… you’re not the Crown Prince!”

Xia Tianqiong smirked, “Naturally, I am not that cuckolded Crown Prince. But do take a good look at who I am.”

The opponent removed the mask from their face, revealing that it was none other than the crafty Nightshade Thief, Night Fragrance.

The Great Xia grandmaster was so infuriated that his hair stood on end, his face crimson. He shouted in anger, “Fooled! I’ve been fooled! Damn deceiver! I’m going to kill you!”

“Then come and chase me if you dare!” Night Fragrance escaped for his life.

The Great Xia grandmaster pursued him relentlessly. A prominent grandmaster, one of the world’s top martial artists, had fallen into a trap! He had been duped by a mere thief, who had even managed to wound him. If this got out, it would be an unimaginable disgrace!

A grandmaster could not tolerate such humiliation! Today’s debt would not be forgotten until it was avenged.

“Night Fragrance, you little thief, don’t you run!” the Great Xia grandmaster yelled.

“I’m not stupid. Waiting around means death!” Night Fragrance retorted.

The two sides chased and fled, gradually moving far away from the capital. Due to Night Fragrance’s exceptional speed, the Great Xia grandmaster was gradually falling behind, angrily declaring, “If I can’t kill you, I’ll vent my frustration in the Great Wu capital!”

However, at this moment, he suddenly felt a spine-chilling sensation, as if he were being targeted by a primordial beast.

Following this eerie feeling, he looked in that direction and saw an otherworldly young man floating elegantly in the air. His movements were graceful, covering hundreds of yards in a single step, as if he were walking on the moon. In the blink of an eye, he appeared right before the grandmaster.

“Coming to cause trouble on my turf, did you ask for permission?” The Great Xia grandmaster was taken aback, stammering, “You… who are you?”

“A dead man doesn’t need to know!” Lin Beifan held an ice-cold knife in his hand, effortlessly stabbing it through the grandmaster’s body. Then, he turned and left just as swiftly.

Indeed, he came and left in a hurry, leaving nothing but a pool of blood behind.

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