The matter of making Jiangnan Fu Zhiyu’s fief was not that simple. What Xie Ke prepared for Fu Zhiyu was far more luxurious than being an average vassal.
The reason for the reward was secondary. Anyway, as long as one had the power for this kind of reward, naturally any high-sounding reason could be made up.
In this case, the so-called fact that Wang Zhao burned to death in the palace was not so important. It was enough to say that he was rescued by Heaven’s blessing, and the rumours of burning to death were naturally dispelled.
There was even more than one decree. One was for Yuan Jiangxing, who, according to the decree, no longer had to guard the border but was transferred to Jiangnan, where he became a military general under Fu Zhiyu.
That’s right, not only a fief but even an independent military power; Xie Ke was willing to give it all to Fu Zhiyu.
“In this way, Zhiyu can protect himself.”
Those were Xie Ke’s exact words that Du Yin heard.
Before the man lost consciousness, he was still rambling about Fu Zhiyu, worrying.
“I know… he doesn’t want the power over Jilin anymore, not only because he is tired, but also partly because he is afraid,” Xie Ke said, talking to them or talking to himself, “After the Qianyuan Battle, I knew that he still had the world in his heart, but he felt that he would do people a disservice if he was in power, so he didn’t dare to touch it.”
“I gave him Jiangnan… First, I wanted to tell him that there was no need to escape. This is his place in the world, as long as he wants it. With Jiangnan, he will at least not have a bad life and will not be bullied by others,” Xie Ke said. He sighed and coughed violently. “If he doesn’t want to manage Jiangnan, he can find someone he can trust. Yuan Jiangxing is fine, and Yuan Mingdao is fine. He just needs to enjoy it. If he is willing to try… I always want him to have some hope for himself, he, he is actually a very good person. What happened before… was all my fault.”
After spending so much time together, Xie Ke also saw what Fu Zhiyu’s mentality really was; if it weren’t for the Yuan family and Yuan Mingdao, people he cared about still living in the world, he wouldn’t have any motivation to do anything about it.
Fu Zhiyu had almost no expectations for himself. He had very few desires. This Fu Zhiyu scared Xie Ke, making him feel afraid that he would suddenly disappear again.
“He doesn’t want to see me, he can hate me as much as he wants,” Xie Ke said, “But I hope he is fine.”
Du Yin had gone to Jiangnan with such instructions. Although he was puzzled in his heart, as a soldier, he would do the things he was told.
Someone would have to do it anyway, so he might as well go himself.
He didn’t go to Jiangnan right away, first going to the border and giving the decree to Yuan Jiangxing.
There was no other way. Although he knew that Fu Zhiyu was in Jiangnan and it was very likely that he was with Yuan Jiangwen, Yuan Jiangwen had a lot of merchant houses and countless branches under his control. No one knew exactly where Fu Zhiyu was and there had to be someone who accepted the decree.
Yuan Jiangxing didn’t seem to be surprised by the visitors from the capital. He could actually leave at any time. This place was high in the mountains and the emperor was far away, there were soldiers in his hands, and no one could control him.
But Yuan Jiangxing had heard some rumours recently. He was very puzzled when he first heard that it was Fu Yanran who ascended the throne as the emperor. According to his vision, it was supposed to be either Xie Lin or Xie Ke, the latter slightly more likely. In the end, the result was really beyond his expectation.
Moreover, Xie Ke disappeared inexplicably, and there was no news about him at all.
So when he saw the decree, Yuan Jiangxing’s expression became even more strange.
According to logic, the decree should have been given to Fu Zhiyu first, making him the King of Jiangnan, and then to Yuan Jiangxing, the general who had been transferred to guard Jiangnan, telling him that his duties had changed and that he would only listen to Fu Zhiyu from now on.
But Yuan Jiangxing received his own copy first. Although Fu Zhiyu’s decree wasn’t announced, he could guess most of it when he heard his own decree.
Fu Zhiyu had mentioned Fu Yanran to him, but with this simple relationship, Yuan Jiangxing felt that it wouldn’t be enough for the new emperor to give him Jiangnan.
Du Yin stayed there for a while, and only a few days later did he receive the message from Yuan Jiangxing.
“Get ready to leave,” he said, “Let’s go to Jiangnan together.”
This was about the time that he could meet Fu Zhiyu.
It was also the first time in Du Yin’s life that he had been to Jiangnan.
It was almost winter now. If it were in the capital, the wind would already be freezing cold, but this was not the case in the south. The weather still had some warmth, and there was no winter desolation.
Although the capital was prosperous, it had a bit of rough flavour, but the prosperity of Jiangnan was refined. People looked different from the capital in the north. Even the trees on the sides of the road looked much more beautiful and graceful.
The so-called Jiangnan was not just a single city.
What people called Jiangnan included the seven or eight cities along the Ming River. The fief given to Fu Zhiyu was from the middle of the Ming River to the border of Southern Xinjiang. This area included several of the most prosperous cities in the Jiangnan area, the most famous of which was Luanzhou City in front of them.
Luanzhou City was also known as Peach Blossom City. When they came here, there were no peach blossoms at this time of year, but there were a few stalls selling peaches on the side of the road.
The city’s commercial practice was different from that of the capital that delineated the location of shops. Here, business could be done everywhere, and there was no limit to the business hours of shops. The crowd was loud, and the lights were brightly lit at night. Looking from the window on the second floor of the place where they stayed, the light of a string of lanterns reflecting in the water of the Ming River could be seen. This beautiful land was like a dream.
Du Yin stayed in the guesthouse for the time being. The officials of Luanzhou City treated him respectfully but not very enthusiastically.
There were many wealthy merchants in this part of Jiangnan. The network of officials was complicated, and it was far from the capital. It was actually not easy to take over.
Fu Zhiyu had his two uncles, which doubled the result with half the effort. Even if he didn’t want to take over, his situation wouldn’t be too bad. If he wanted to take over…
Du Yin knew that Fu Zhiyu had pretended to be stupid on purpose before, but now that Emperor Qingyuan was dead, he didn’t know what Fu Zhiyu would choose.
The next day, Du Yin met Fu Zhiyu.
Fu Zhiyu came with Yuan Jiangxing, and the place where the decree was announced was at the government office of Luanzhou City.
After all, his power had to be known not only to Fu Zhiyu himself, but also to others, who were in charge of this place now.
When the decree was announced, everyone had to kneel down and accept the decree according to the law, except for Fu Zhiyu.
“His Majesty’s decree, His Highness Wang Zhao doesn’t need to kneel,” Du Yin said.
Compared to giving away Jiangnan, this was nothing special.
Fu Zhiyu had been silent all the time, listening to the decree, a little absent-minded.
Yuan Jiangxing had already sent him a letter before he set off for Jiangnan and only set off after receiving an affirmative answer from Fu Zhiyu.
The imperial seal had been stamped on the decree, and it had actually taken effect. The announcement of the decree was only a ceremony.
Moreover, everyone in the capital knew that he wasn’t dead, just in Jiangnan. After this change of circumstances hiding himself was like covering his ears while stealing a bell.
This incident was really beyond Fu Zhiyu’s expectation. He listened absent-mindedly, and then took the decree from Du Yin absent-mindedly, and then heard Du Yin ask in a low voice, “Can I talk to Wang Zhao?”
Du Yin paused for a while, then added: “Alone.”
Fu Zhiyu thought a little and nodded.
“General Du, come with me.”
Du Yin followed to the place where Fu Zhiyu now lived. It was a very exquisite small courtyard. It seemed that it had been carefully taken care of for a long time. It was not as luxurious as the palace, but it was very comfortable.
Fu Zhiyu asked Du Yin to sit down in the pavilion in the garden. The light wind carried the fragrance of some flowers that made one calm down unconsciously.
Du Yin looked at Fu Zhiyu, only to feel that there seemed to be no change in this person.
He still looked a little lazy and laidback. After sitting down, he didn’t speak immediately. He slowly poured himself a cup of tea, took a few sips, and then said, “What does General Du want to say to me?”
“Xie Ke… originally planned to tell you this by himself,” Du Yin said, “But His Highness Wang Zhao gave him an arrow, and he hasn’t woken up yet, so I had to come.”
Fu Zhiyu smiled; he heard the resentment in Du Yin’s words.
From Du Yin’s point of view, what Xie Ke did seemed to be as if he was bewitched by him, and it could only be described as “imcomprehensible”.
Everyone’s perspective was different, and sometimes it was hard to tell who was right and who was wrong.
“He is still the same, he always has to stuff people with something he thinks is good,” Fu Zhiyu sighed. “General Du really doesn’t need to look at me like this. I have never asked him for Jiangnan, and… I don’t owe him anything.”
“He knew you liked it, so he gave it to you,” Du Yin said. “I think about it now, I just feel terrible. Sometimes I even feel that he planned all this just for you.”
It was always Xie Ke who delivered, in love and willingness, and Du Yin knew in his heart that this was not a debt.
“But why?” He couldn’t hold back and asked, “Xie Ke loves you. I don’t think there is anything wrong with it. I don’t care if he wants to treat someone well, but why do you treat him like this? It would be nice if you just didn’t accept it. Sometimes, you are… too cruel.”
Du Yin wanted to see a little trace of regret in Fu Zhiyu’s expression, but there was none.
He was very calm, his expression was extremely serene, as if there was no way to move him at all.
Fu Zhiyu never planned to explain this matter to Du Yin; he couldn’t understand it anyway.
Du Yin suppressed his emotions, remembering that he hadn’t finished speaking.
“Before he lost consciousness, he was talking about you,” Du Yin told him what Xie Ke said. “I really don’t know why you hate him so much. Maybe Xie Ke really did something wrong to you, but… treat him a little better, can’t you? Just be nice to him and he will be happy.”
“General Du, you really put the cart before the horse by saying this to me who tried to kill him,” Fu Zhiyu shook his head and said, “Why should his emotions depend on me? If he learned to let me go, he wouldn’t have to suffer the tortures you described, would he?”