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Chapter 412, the Swallowing the Elephant Plan, is about to be realized!
This trip to the Northern Hebei Province went smoothly without any major incidents.
However, in the White Elephant Country, a small event with global implications occurred. In order to supply the tribute to Great Wu on time, the King of the White Elephant Country had to tax the common people heavily, causing widespread discontent. But now, since the discovery of immortality, the King of the White Elephant Country is eager.
Although he’s just the king of a small country, he also dreams of immortality! So, in pursuit of this grand goal, he had to collect various treasures like other countries. Unable to bully other nations, he resorted to oppressing his own people, leading to even more chaos and suffering within the country. The common people in the White Elephant Country are bitterly regretting their situation, wishing to escape this land of misery, but they are quickly apprehended by the king’s soldiers if they try.
They want to rebel, but they lack the strength. The most capable and daring individuals have already gone to Great Wu to farm, leaving behind those with limited abilities who can’t organize a strong resistance and are subjected to the king’s tyranny.
Their uprising is quickly suppressed, and life becomes even more arduous, with no end in sight.
Finally, some passing martial heroes couldn’t stand by any longer.
They stepped in to help when they saw injustice. With their martial prowess, they managed to kill some imperial soldiers, saving the suffering people of the White Elephant Country.
“Now, you’re free. Get out of here!” said the heroic figure. However, the people of the White Elephant Country showed no intention of leaving, appearing completely numb.
The martial hero was puzzled: “Why aren’t you leaving? If you don’t go soon, the imperial soldiers will catch up!”
One elder, with a bitter expression, took a deep breath and said, “The world is vast, but where can we escape to? We’re just ordinary people. No matter where we go, we can’t escape the White Elephant Country. In the end, we’ll be captured by them. And when they catch us, life will become even worse!”
“Yes, many of us have tried to escape, but we were all caught!”
“After being caught, life was even more unbearable!”
“Some people tried to escape twice but still couldn’t evade the government’s net. In the end, they were beaten to death, screaming in agony all night!”
“Oh, what a cruel fate! If only we had run to Great Wu in the first place!”
“Indeed, now there’s no way to escape; we can only wait for death!” The martial hero was even more puzzled: “Are you just going to stay here and do nothing?”
“Otherwise, what can we do?” the elder said with a sigh. “We’re not like you, with strong abilities, able to live freely and do whatever we want. The faster we run, the faster we’ll die!”
The elder waved his hand, saying, “Great hero, you should leave! We know you mean well, you can help us for just a moment, but can you help us for a lifetime? So, please, go and don’t worry about us!”
“Yes, you should go! If the imperial army comes, you might not be able to leave!” “You should go; we have work to do!”
Everyone picked up their hoes and shovels, continuing to farm, continuing to work, their eyes numb, like walking corpses.
For the first time, the martial hero realized that having all these skills was of no use if he couldn’t help the people!
As they said, he could help them for a moment, but if he couldn’t help them for a lifetime, he would only make their lives more miserable!
The martial hero felt powerless, wanting to help but not knowing how.
He shouted, “Tell me! Tell me how I can help you!” The common people were also confused; they didn’t know how to save themselves. If only they had known…
“Perhaps there’s a way, but it’s very difficult,” the elder sighed.
“What way?” A glimmer of hope shone in the martial hero’s eyes.
“Go find the Prime Minister of Great Wu! He once led more than two million compatriots to Great Wu and gave them a good life! If anyone can save us from this suffering, it might just be him!” The elder’s eyes sparkled with hope.
“Yes, go find him; he can save us!” “He’s our only hope!”
In the numb eyes of the other common people, a glimmer of hope also appeared.
The Prime Minister of Great Wu was the highest-ranking official they had ever seen, even more esteemed than their own king, with immense power. In their simple understanding, he might be the only one capable of dealing with their king. He had saved two million people from the hands of the White Elephant King in the past, so he might have the power to help them now.
“The Prime Minister of Great Wu? Alright, I will go find him!”
With the hopes of the people, the martial hero left the White Elephant Country and arrived in Great Wu in search of Lin Beifan. He learned that Lin Beifan was not in the capital city and was currently accompanying the Empress on a tour of the realm. So, he followed Lin Beifan’s trail all the way, traveling through nearly half of Great Wu. Along this journey, he was deeply moved.
“Three years ago, I came here and found that it was a land of banditry, corruption, chaos, and suffering for the common people! I never expected that in just three short years, this place has undergone a tremendous transformation. The era of warlords is over, corruption has reduced, stability has spread across the land, and happiness has returned to the faces of the people…”
“Everything has improved to a point where I can hardly believe it! Compared to this, other countries seem to be deteriorating day by day. Sigh!”
“All of this seems to have started changing since Lin Beifan took office!”
“This person is truly strange! You could call him a corrupt official, but he has done so many good deeds for the common people! You could say he’s a loyal minister, but his greed knows no bounds, and the whole world knows it. Calling him the greediest official in the world wouldn’t be an exaggeration!”
“Sigh, it’s really strange! Well, I shouldn’t think too much about it; finding him is the priority!”
Finally, he reached Northern Hebei and saw Lin Beifan, who was accompanying the Empress on a mountain excursion.
However, the accompanying officials stopped him. The martial hero didn’t dare to resort to violence, as it might offend Lin Beifan.
So, he bowed and loudly exclaimed, “Lord Prime Minister, this humble one has an important matter to report to you! Please spare a moment to listen; I am profoundly grateful!”
Lin Beifan and the Empress exchanged glances. “Your Majesty, permit me to see what this is about, and I will report back to you.”
“Go, the sooner you go, the sooner you’ll return.”
“Thank you, Your Majesty!”
Lin Beifan walked over with a smile, asking, “Who are you, and what business do you have with me? If you don’t come straight to the point, I’ll charge you with disturbing the peace!”
The martial hero said solemnly, “I, Liu Haotian, am a martial hero! This time, I have come on behalf of the common people of the White Elephant Country…”
Liu Haotian proceeded to recount what he had seen and heard in the White Elephant Country, growing more passionate as he spoke.
“The current White Elephant Country, under the rule of the White Elephant King, is in a state of misery, and the people are suffering!”
“I once rescued a group of common people, but to my surprise, they all returned! Because for them, escaping means death, and staying might offer a glimmer of hope!”
“I possess exceptional martial skills, yet I am powerless to help them. It’s tragic and lamentable!”
“They say only you can save them!”
Liu Haotian respectfully said, “So, I’ve come with their hopes! I hope Lord Prime Minister can lend a helping hand. I am immensely grateful!”
Lin Beifan nodded and said, “I understand your purpose in coming. You’ve traveled a long way to seek me out, showing yourself as a person of great virtue. I deeply respect that. However, the matter you’re talking about is ultimately the White Elephant Country’s affair. I am an official of Great Wu, and it might not be appropriate for me to intervene.”
Liu Haotian hesitated, unable to find words to respond.
Lin Beifan continued, “Once I intervene, it becomes interference in another country’s internal affairs! It would be difficult to explain to Her Majesty and the world. Lightly, it might affect my position, and heavily, it could cost me my head. I don’t see the need to take such risks for another country’s people. Furthermore, this matter is quite complicated and not easily resolved. So, I’m sorry, but I may not be able to help.”
Liu Haotian became more anxious and said, “But Lord Prime Minister, they said only you can help them!”
Lin Beifan remained composed, saying, “Indeed, I can help, but I can’t help now. I’ve already explained the reasons for this. Let’s not dwell on it. Additionally, our meeting is a chance encounter. Who knows if you have ulterior motives? So, from a logical and emotional standpoint, I’m truly unable to assist.”
Liu Haotian grew even more desperate and pleaded, “Lord Prime Minister, I swear on the lives of my family that every word I’ve said is true! Otherwise, may lightning strike me down!”
“Even if what you say is true, I still can’t help…” Lin Beifan trailed off.
Liu Haotian suddenly knelt down and said, “Please, Lord, extend your helping hand and save the people of the White Elephant Country! They truly have no way out, only you can save them!”
Lin Beifan was moved by this gesture and said, “A man’s knees are worth their weight in gold. You’re willing to kneel for the unknown people of another country. Great hero, please rise; I cannot accept such a grand gesture.”
However, he couldn’t budge Liu Haotian.
“As long as I can save millions of lives, what’s the significance of a mere personal loss of face? Please, Lord, extend your helping hand!” Liu Haotian implored.
“You’re a true hero with noble principles, displaying a character as pure as a lotus flower. I genuinely admire you. I’m not heartless either…”
Finally, Lin Beifan relented and said, “Here’s the deal: if you can obtain a petition from a million common people of the White Elephant Country, I am willing to take the risk and try to convince His Majesty to send troops to rescue the people of the White Elephant Country.”
Liu Haotian was overjoyed and said, “Thank you so much for your kindness, Lord Prime Minister. I will go collect the petitions!”
He bowed once again and then left, filled with excitement.
After he returned, the Empress, curious, asked, “What were you talking about? Why was that man crying, laughing, and kneeling all at once?”
Lin Beifan smiled and replied, “Your Majesty, his name is Liu Haotian. He came from afar, hoping that I, as the Prime Minister, could lend a helping hand to save the common people of the White Elephant Country. Our Swallowing the Elephant Plan might be about to succeed!”
“Really? That’s a tremendous achievement!” The Empress was delighted. “We’ve been out enjoying ourselves for quite some time. Let’s return to the palace now.”
“Yes, Your Majesty!”
And so, they began their journey back to the capital city.