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Chapter 332: The Army of Northern Hebei Approaches the City, Watch Me Convince Them!
“The imperial city, we’ve finally arrived!”
Prince of Northern Hebei looked at the towering imperial city in the distance and came to a stop, sitting on his large horse and gazing from afar. His eyes seemed somewhat distant, as if lost in memories.
The entire army came to a halt with him.
As the wind blew and banners fluttered, the army remained unusually quiet, an air of solemnity filling the air.
“Why, my lord, aren’t we moving?” Mr. Zhuge asked, puzzled.
Prince of Northern Hebei suddenly inquired, “Advisor, do you know why I must claim the throne?”
Mr. Zhuge blinked; wasn’t it obvious?
Who wouldn’t want to ascend to the throne as an emperor in all the world?
As a prince, you’d definitely be even more eager, with power almost within your grasp!
Yet, clever Mr. Zhuge understood that the king didn’t need an answer; he needed an audience.
So, he respectfully replied, “I do not know, please enlighten me, my lord.”
Prince of Northern Hebei cleared his throat and said with a heavy tone, “In the beginning, our father had four of us brothers. Among the four, I, the second-born, excelled in both literary and martial arts. Even my talents in cultivation were exceptional. I was the most outstanding among us four!”
“The third brother, Prince of Southern Jiang, was also clever and capable. Though lacking in cultivation aptitude and somewhat lazy and gluttonous, he had a knack for business. He amassed wealth in the tens of millions at a young age, making him the richest among us four!”
“The fourth brother, Duke Wuxi, might be headstrong and stubborn, but he was exceptionally skilled in leading troops and strategizing. He possessed remarkable martial talents and even achieved innate mastery at a young age!”
“Only the eldest, with average aptitude and no outstanding qualities.”
“In terms of strategy and tactics, he’s inferior to me! In terms of business acumen, he’s inferior to the third brother! In matters of military strategy, he’s inferior to the fourth! He lacks martial talents and is quite ordinary!”
Prince of Northern Hebei’s tone was full of disdain, a mix of scorn and anger.
“Yet, this mediocre individual, just because he was born a few years earlier than me, was favored by our father due to his status as the firstborn, supported by the officials, and became the crown prince. He later ascended to become the ruler of the country!”
“Hence, I am deeply resentful!”
“My other two royal brothers are equally resentful!”
“Why does the eldest get to be the emperor while we cannot? We are clearly superior to him. If we were in his position, it’s likely we would excel and perform better than him!”
“Therefore, upon receiving my own fief, I began plotting to seize the throne.”
Prince of Northern Hebei narrowed his eyes, gritting his teeth. “I swore that I would reclaim everything I’ve lost, bit by bit. The day I return will be the day I ascend the throne and control the world!”
“Now, after more than two decades of careful planning, the moment has finally arrived!”
“Congratulations, my lord! I congratulate you!” Mr. Zhuge immediately bowed and said, “Your perseverance has moved the heavens, and now the heavens are compensating you with this opportunity! Though it may be late, I assure you it will not be absent!”
“Yes! The heavens favor me, and the divine path is with me!” Prince of Northern Hebei laughed heartily. “March forth! The time for a change of dynasty is now. The era that belongs to me has arrived!”
The Northern Hebei army continued their march, heading towards the nearby capital city.
Inside the capital city, chaos had erupted.
“Prince of Northern Hebei has come to attack!”
“A 300,000-strong army is already at our gates, it’s truly frightening!”
“I wonder if the court can withstand this?”
“But what if… I mean, what if Prince of Northern Hebei succeeds? Should we flee?”
“Shame, shame! Don’t speak recklessly!”
The citizens of the capital were filled with fear and anxiety.
They didn’t want war to arrive, let alone Prince of Northern Hebei invading and disrupting their peaceful lives.
In the past, they might not have cared much. After all, it didn’t matter much who became the emperor; it was just a change of masters.
But now, life was improving, there was hope for a better future, and they didn’t want that to change.
The imperial city’s defending army, the Imperial Guards, the Embroidered Uniform Guards, the Six-Doors, the Eastern and Western Depots, and other institutions were all mobilizing troops and preparing for war.
Although Lin Beifan said there was no need to prepare, who would dare take his words seriously? What if they really break through, and without preparation, it would be too late for regrets!
Inside the imperial palace, the empress was feeling somewhat annoyed as she put down the memorial in her hand and asked, “What’s happening outside? Why is it so noisy?”
“Your Majesty,” the old eunuch said cautiously, glancing at the empress’s expression, “The Northern Hebei army has reached our gates. Various departments of the court are mobilizing troops and preparing for battle!”
“Hmm!” The empress nodded, “And what about Lin Beifan? How is he preparing?”
“Loyal and courageous Lord Lin Beifan has just finished handling state affairs. He’s gone up to the city walls, preparing for battle. However, what’s puzzling is that he hasn’t made any specific preparations up until now! Your Majesty, this…”
“Hmm!” The empress pondered for a moment and said, “I’m not in the mood to review memorials right now. I’ll go up to the city walls and take a look myself!”
The old eunuch was shocked, “Your Majesty, it’s dangerous!”
The empress shook her head, “With Lord Lin Beifan there, it won’t be dangerous! Lord Lin Beifan is skilled in war, but I’ve never seen it myself. Today, I’ll have a good look at how he fights!”
Shortly afterward, the empress arrived at the city walls and met Lin Beifan.
While everyone else was anxious like ants on a hot pan, he had an air of tranquility, contrasting with those around him.
“Lord, Prince of Northern Hebei has already attacked. How are you preparing?”
Lin Beifan bowed, “Your Majesty, I’m ready!”
The empress asked curiously, “What have you prepared?”
“I’ve prepared my mouth!” Lin Beifan smiled proudly, “Your Majesty, I’m not boasting, but as soon as I speak, I guarantee that the Northern Hebei army will become chaotic, leading to their own defeat!”
The empress laughed, “Is it really that magical? Then I’ll be looking forward to it!”
The two of them looked down from the city wall, and the Northern Hebei army had arrived.
Looking down, it was a sea of people with fluttering banners, a densely packed mass that brought a tremendous sense of oppression.
From within, Lin Beifan spotted the leader of the Northern Hebei army, Prince of Northern Hebei.
This was his first time seeing Prince of Northern Hebei. He was clad in black armor, riding a tall horse, exuding a dignified and imposing presence, the appearance of a wise ruler.
He noticed a somewhat cunning scholar, sporting a mustache and holding a folding fan – a figure reminiscent of Zhuge Liang – likely Prince of Northern Hebei’s strategist, Zhuge Xiansheng.
He saw a group with varying strengths among them, some born with natural talents while others were weaker.
He saw thousands of peak martial artists, forming a martial army that was no less imposing than an army of a million.
He saw two oddly dressed individuals, one with dark skin and a giant snake around his waist, the other a burly giant – both looking quite formidable, their threat comparable to grandmasters.
He even saw Zhao Kuo and others who were detained, exchanging glances with Lin Beifan, their faces filled with guilt, their gazes evasive.
As Lin Beifan surveyed the Northern Hebei army, King Northern Hebei was also looking up at the city.
First, he saw the extraordinary empress. Although she was a delicate woman, she wore imperial robes that radiated regal authority.
Although she was his own niece, he never regarded her as family.
He still needed to seize the kingdom and the throne from her.
Then, he noticed Lin Beifan beside the empress.
Although he had heard much about him and had secret interactions, this was Prince of Northern Hebei’s first time seeing Lin Beifan. He looked much younger than he had imagined, appearing like a student from a private school.
Even though he appeared young, he possessed remarkable talent. Proficient in poetry, prose, and articles, skilled in governance and administration, adept at leading troops in battles, and well-versed in many unconventional techniques… It could be said that there was almost nothing he couldn’t do! But starting from today, this unparalleled talent was now under his command, serving him. Just thinking about it, he felt a slight surge of excitement. Thus, Prince of Northern Hebei couldn’t help but show a smile of contentment and satisfaction to Lin Beifan. Lin Beifan returned the smile.
Their hearts connected, an involuntary bond.
At this moment, the empress spoke sternly, “Prince of Northern Hebei, you truly are an excellent uncle of ours! Instead of staying peacefully in Northern Hebei, you’ve brought an army of 300,000 to our imperial city. Are you planning a rebellion and usurpation?”
Having been emperor for several years, the empress carried a strong imperial aura. As she questioned, that aura overwhelmed the Northern Hebei army, evoking a hint of fear.
Rebellion and usurpation?
That’s exactly what Prince of Northern Hebei was thinking, but he absolutely couldn’t say it!
“Rebellion? Your Majesty, you’ve misunderstood me!” Prince of Northern Hebei bowed, righteously declaring, “I have always been loyal to Your Majesty! This uprising is not for rebellion, but to rid Your Majesty of corrupt officials and traitorous ministers by my side! These people have deceived your wise rule, exploited the people, and brought disaster to the kingdom. Their crimes are unforgivable!”
“Therefore, I implore Your Majesty to open the city gates, let me lead my soldiers in to kill the corrupt officials and traitorous ministers, safeguard the nation, and bring prosperity! After I’ve dealt with all the corrupt officials and traitorous ministers, I will immediately withdraw my troops without staying!”
“Kill corrupt officials, eliminate traitorous ministers!”
“Kill corrupt officials, eliminate traitorous ministers!”
The cries of the Northern Hebei army were deafening.
Prince of Northern Hebei spread his hands wide and said loudly, “Your Majesty, as you can see, this is the will of the people, the wish of the masses. I, too, am reluctantly doing this. I hope Your Majesty understands!”
“What a hypocritical scoundrel!” The empress’s chest heaved in anger. “Uncle, you claim that there are corrupt officials and traitorous ministers around me. Why don’t you tell me, who are these corrupt officials and traitorous ministers?”
“There are so many! For instance, the Minister of Personnel, Gao Tianyao…”
“The Minister of War, Li Kaiguang…”
“The Minister of Household, Qian Yuanshen…”
Prince of Northern Hebei enumerated them one by one, detailing their wrongdoings, inciting anger and clenched teeth.
The empress glared fiercely at the civil and military officials beside her. It was this group that had caused her to lose face and be forced to abdicate.
The civil and military officials were sweating profusely as they offered explanations.
“Your Majesty, it’s all false, completely fabricated, unworthy of belief!”
“It’s all Prince of Northern Hebei’s attempt to frame and slander us. When one desires to accuse, what shortage of accusations will they find?”
“We are all innocent, please, Your Majesty, see clearly!”
“After this matter is settled, I will deal with all of you!” The empress glared at them again, then turned to Lin Beifan and said, “Minister Lin, the next step is up to you. Don’t disappoint us!”
“Rest assured, Your Majesty. I’ll take care of it!” Lin Beifan squinted his eyes.