The Records Of The Human Emperor Chapter 1282
Chapter 1282: Storytellers
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
One flock of birds after another scattered in various directions, as did various groups of cavalry, each with their own mission. Whether it was the Great Tang or its surrounding countries, an undercurrent was surging beneath their surfaces. The disarmament of the various countries had attracted the attention of countless people, but while the entire world was focused on this mass disarmament, few people noticed the Imperial Court silently passing two proposals.
The first proposal was for all Great Tang soldiers to withdraw two hundred li in response to the movements of the other countries. The second proposal was to open twenty-three 'treaty cities'. In these treaty cities, it was encouraged for the people of the Great Tang and foreign countries to interact and trade so as to facilitate the flow of manpower. The explanation the Imperial Court gave was that since the Great Tang was now allies with the other countries, the people needed to deepen their understanding of each other so as to avoid the necessity of war.
These proposals were all passed after Li Junxian entered the Secretariat as the Secretariat Advisor. And for such a 'minor' matter, without good reason, not even King Song could stop it.
Besides the events in the Imperial Court, within the capital, the Confucians were continuously posting announcements, and even an ordinary child of the capital now knew that the Tibetans, Turks, Goguryeons, and all the other peoples were learning the language of the Great Tang. The Confucians were opening more and more schools in foreign lands with each passing day, and every day, more and more Hu were entering these schools to learn the Tang language in admiration of its culture.
The people were so focused on this subject that the gambling houses began to offer odds on the number of new schools and new Hu students added each day. This sort of special wager won unexpected attention from many people.
At the same time, the idea of using benevolence, righteousness, propriety, wisdom, and trust to slowly change the Hu and make them develop amicable relationships with the Great Tang to create a world of eternal peace also began to raise a great clamor in the capital.
Slowly and quietly, the minds of the people began to change.
"Your Highness, it's bad!"
Several days later, when Wang Chong was seated in his study reading through the information sent back from the various foreign countries, Su Shixuan urgently rushed in. He held a paper in his hand and appeared extremely uneasy and worried.
"There's talk in the capital that someone is about to compare the economic relationship between the Great Tang and the foreign countries from before and after the war. The situation seems very unfavorable toward Your Highness!"
Su Shixuan's face was red and he could hardly catch his breath. Su Shixuan had served Wang Chong from the war of the southwest all the way to the campaigns of Talas and Khorasan. All of these wars had been fraught with peril, but no matter how dangerous the situation had been, Su Shixuan had never once panicked.
"Calm down and speak slowly."
Wang Chong glanced at Su Shixuan, then raised his brush and wrote out a line of words on the document he was reading. After that, he placed the document aside and put the brush on its stand.
Su Shixuan took in a deep breath and appeared much calmer, but he still seemed rather uneasy.
"Your Highness, some busybody in the capital has started comparing the situation on the border from before and after the war," Su Shixuan urgently said. "He says that before every war, all the people living by the border were peaceful and happy, and the people of both countries would trade and interact. But once soldiers start a war, these places will be strewn with corpses, the towns and villages burned to the ground. The living standards of the people living by the border will also rapidly plunge."
Wang Chong raised his head and nonchalantly asked, "What does this matter have to do with us?"
"Your Highness was made King of Foreign Lands by His Majesty and is the leader of the militarists. These people are aiming their spears at Your Highness and the militarists, particularly at Your Highness!" Su Shixuan sternly said.
Wang Chong's brow slightly creased at these words.
"Milord, that's not all. It's currently very popular to espouse such ideals in the capital, and many storytellers have stopped talking about the Three Kingdoms, the Wei-Jin era, or legends from the underworld, and have started talking about this matter instead. And their actions have attracted the attention of many people in the capital, with even small children running over to hear their stories. This was an announcement we picked up from a restaurant while coming here. Your Highness, please take a look."
As Su Shixuan spoke, he placed the paper on Wang Chong's desk, his expression fraught with concern.
Wang Chong took the paper and glanced at it. He said nothing, but his brow furrowed even more tightly.
This advertisement did not have many details. It only said that today, during the Xu Period (7-9pm), there would be a 'free chat about the surrounding lands' and that all the people of the capital were welcome to come and listen.
"Milord, this matter is extremely unfavorable to you. I suspect that this is also the work of the Confucian Sect!" Su Shixuan said.
Wang Chong said nothing, only closed his eyes and rested his back against his sandalwood chair, looking contemplative. After some time, he opened his eyes once more.
"I will personally handle this matter. Tonight, during the Xu Period, I will go and listen for myself!"
The Inn in the Clouds!
This was one of the most renowned inns in the capital. Although it was not frequented by many high officials or nobles, it was often patronized by traveling merchants. Of the major merchants who visited the capital, more than eighty percent would choose to stay in this place.
At the Xu Period, the guests had just finished dinner. When Wang Chong arrived in civilian clothes at the Inn in the Clouds, the place was brightly lit and packed with people. Many stools had been placed outside, and many of the people of the capital who had come to listen were seated there.
"Come, come, come! Sit where you please and listen to as much as you want! There's some tea and snacks over there!"
"Welcome! Welcome! No need for money!
"You don't believe me? Of course we're not taking money! Don't you see all the people sitting there? Heh, honored guest, I won't hide it from you. Someone already paid for you!"
Outside the inn, several servants with white scarves tied to their shoulders were diligently working, bringing over tea or water, or helping people get seated.
Su Shixuan worriedly glanced at Wang Chong. Both he and Wang Chong had clearly heard that servant's last words. A merchant would not get up early if there was no money to be made, and the Inn in the Clouds was renowned for making money. Normally, if so many people were gathered here and not paying a single coin, they would have been driven away long ago for disturbing the inn's business. They would never be serving them tea and exchanging pleasantries.
He would never believe that there wasn't someone secretly promoting this matter from the shadows.
Wang Chong said nothing, but he naturally understood what Su Shixuan was thinking. Too many things had taken place in the capital recently, and if there was something abnormal going on, there was certain to be a schemer in the background. Of course, he was keenly aware of just who was meddling in the background.
"Reserve a box seat for me!" Wang Chong calmly replied.
Entering the inn, they quickly walked up a set of carved stairs and entered one of the box seats of the Inn in the Clouds. This seat had the closest position to the stage, and there was a screen to block out the eyes of others while still giving Wang Chong a clear view.
After some time, there was a clap from the stage, causing the entire inn to fall silent.
Within the box seat, Wang Chong saw a storyteller of fifty-some years, dressed in an azure robe, step onto the stage. In a flash, everyone was focused on this storyteller.
"Honored guests! It is said that the Great Tang is the strongest in all the world, that the King of Foreign Lands became renowned throughout the realm for his achievements in battle and became the first King of the Great Tang with a different surname, that the Central Plains has entered a period of true wealth and power. But how many people know of the price and hardships needed to achieve all this?"
These first words from the storyteller elicited a frown from Wang Chong.
"My Great Tang stands firm amongst the foreign countries. It has pacified the Turks, subdued the southern barbarians, repelled the foreigners of the west. Its achievements are known throughout the realm. But do any of you know of its relationships with the foreign countries before all these wars? In the southwest, by the Erhai, the Great Tang had been at peace with Mengshe Zhao for several decades, the people of both sides trading and interacting with each other. In the twenty-seventh year of the Sage Emperor's reign, the number of people heading into the Six Zhao to buy and sell all kinds of products, fresh produce, fruit, and rice was uncountable. If you had looked down from the walls of the now-ruined Lion City on the Erhai plains, you would have been stunned by the hustle and bustle. There were woman wearing bamboo hats and carrying children in baskets on their backs, elders, and strong men who helped tea merchants carry the bricks of tea. There were even people who wore jade belts in the same style as in the Great Tang.
"And on the vast Erhai, countless distinguished gentlemen sailed on boats. Both the gentlemen of the Great Tang and the gentlemen of Mengshe Zhao could be found on these boats. On these boats, a square table would be placed, and a little stove on this table to warm the wine so they could drink while composing poems. A most pleasing and delightful scene! The fine poems composed every day would spread throughout the Six Zhao of the Erhai and the Great Tang's southwest, capturing the imagination of the people.
"And privately, the people of the two countries had already begun to intermingle, with innumerable marriages. Some people had a Tang father, a Mengshe Zhao mother, and a Mengshe Zhao grandmother. And there were so many of these marriages that there were even entire villages of mixed blood. Based on the numbers from the Bureau of Revenue, in only twenty-seven years, there were twenty-eight thousand mixed-blood marriages officially recorded, and who knows how many more were left unrecorded!?
"And with the harmonious relationship of the two countries, every household was able to make ten-some taels of silver every year. Truly, every home had surplus food, exceeding the average living standard of the Great Tang by a whole seven taels!"
The storyteller thumped his clapper, a look of yearning in his eyes.
Wang Chong said nothing, only turned pensive. He had no knowledge of these things. In the twenty-seventh year of the Sage Emperor's reign, he had yet to enter the army.
"But now? The southwest is a barren land, and countless homes have been destroyed. The corpses of the people cover the land, and there are some families where father is against mother, son against father. On the borders, the peoples of the two countries even now still loathe each other and are unwilling to get along, much less trade with each other. In the southwest, a family of four can only make three taels of silver in a good year, barely enough to fill their bellies. As for mixed-blood marriages, there is not a single case to be found…"