Chapter 39: Zhu Di Has Gone Mad
Decisive and swift, it is Ping An’s style.
After receiving the testimonies of Ni Qiong and others, Ping’an mobilized 30,000 elite soldiers from the Beiping Guards in less than three hours. With thunderous momentum, they surrounded the Three Guards of King of Yan and personally entered the camp, capturing Zhang Yu and Zhu Neng, who were in the midst of a lecture.
The personal guards of Zhang Yu and Zhu Neng wanted to intervene, but Ping’an roared like thunder, “Anyone who dares to act will be considered an accomplice of the rebels and his three-generation will be exterminated!”
The crime of rebellion is not something anyone can bear.
It’s one thing if you’re not married, dying for loyalty only affects yourself and doesn’t implicate others. But for those who have a family, who would sacrifice their whole family for the sake of loyalty?
In addition to Ping An’s men, who were tall and strong with excellent weapons and thorough preparations, the unprepared Three Guards of King of Yan would be like lambs waiting to be slaughtered once the battle started.
Ping An cleaved the table with a sword and shouted, “Listen to me clearly! The Emperor has devoted all his efforts and worked tirelessly day and night for the New Military Policy! Whoever dares to betray the Emperor or defy the court, don’t blame me, Ping’an, for being impolite! Even if the God himself came, he would have to ask whether my sword and my brothers would agree or not!”
Tens of thousands of elite troops, clad in bright armor and wielding sharp weapons, high in morale, left the camp of the Three Guards. Throughout the entire process, there was no noise, no chaos.
Orderly and silent.
But also powerful!
The capture of Zhang Yu and Zhu Neng left Zhu Gaochi, Zhu Gaoxu, and others in the King of Yan’s mansion in a panic. Jin Zhong also did not expect things to escalate to this point and was momentarily at a loss.
Under Zhu Di’s command, there were many formidable military commanders such as Qiu Fu, Tan Yuan, Liu Sheng, Zhang Yu, Zhu Neng, Guan Tong, and Lu Zhen. But in terms of commanding ability, Zhang Yu and Zhu Neng were considered the strongest.
Now that Zhang Yu and Zhu Neng had been captured, it meant that the Three Guards had lost their strongest commanding generals. Even more seriously, the loyalty of the Three Guards of the King of Yan was wavering, on the verge of disintegration. The fact that more than five hundred people defected from the Three Guards and joined the Provincial Military Office was evidence of this.
“Come in, the King has awakened.”
Xu Yihua frowned, opened the door, and said to the undecided group of people.
Everyone hurried into the room, and Zhu Gaochi informed Zhu Di of Ping An’s capture of Zhang Yu and Zhu Neng. Zhu Di leaned back on the bed, with deep-set eye sockets and exhaustion, and sighed, “What do you all think?”
“Father, we can’t wait any longer. We must act immediately!” Zhu Gaoxu quickly spoke, expressing his opinion,
“The court is pressing us step by step, and their intentions to weaken the vassals are already clear. We can’t just sit idly by and let the butcher’s knife fall. We should seize this opportunity to rescue Generals Zhang Yu and Zhu Neng, mobilize the Three Guards, and take control of Beiping Prefecture!”
Zhu Di’s gaze revealed hidden worries as he looked at Zhu Gaochi and asked, “What about you? What’s your opinion?”
Zhu Gaochi sighed and wiped the cold sweat from his forehead, saying, “Father, things have come to this point, and the best course of action for us now is to incorporate the New Military Policy into the three guards.”
“Big brother, you’re confused!” Zhu Gaoxu couldn’t believe his ears and questioned, “If we could incorporate the New Military Policy, why would we have to wait until now?”
Zhu Gaochi ignored Zhu Gaoxu and looked at Zhu Di, saying seriously, “I have analyzed the court’s strategy and reviewed all the arrangements they made around Beiping Prefecture. I have only found one problem.”
“What problem?” Zhu Di asked.
Zhu Gaochi said earnestly, “The Emperor knows that we want to rebel, but he doesn’t want us to rebel.”
Yuan Rong sneered beside them and said, “What do you mean by ‘knowing that we want to rebel’? If the court knew, we would have been demoted to commoners or imprisoned in the capital. How could we still be here in peace? And what does it mean that he doesn’t want us to rebel? Does the Emperor want to win us over using his benevolence? Wants us to be loyal to the court?”
“You shut up!” Zhu Di coldly shouted.
Yuan Rong’s face turned ugly, but he didn’t dare to speak again.
Zhu Di closed his eyes and asked, “Jin Zhong, what do you think?”
Jin Zhong took a step forward, his brows furrowed with concern and said, “If the New Military Policy doesn’t enter the Three Guards, we will have no more opportunities. But once the New Military Policy enters the three guards, our chances will be extremely slim.”
“Why don’t we just take control of Beiping Prefecture now? That would solve all the problems,” Zhu Gaoxu grumbled dissatisfiedly.
Jin Zhong looked at Zhu Gaoxu respectfully and said, “Prince, Ping An and Sheng Yong are already prepared for this. In this situation, it may not be possible to control Beiping Prefecture through the Three Guards. Even if we control Beiping Prefecture, where can we go? Let’s not forget, there are four hundred thousand troops surrounding Beiping Prefecture.”
“To the south, there’s Geng Bingwen defending Zhending, Baoding, and Hejian. To the east, there’s Qu Neng and Xu Kai controlling Shanhai Pass, Kaiping, and Linqing. To the west, there’s the Marquis of Wuding, Guo Ying controlling Datong. And to the north, it’s an uninhabited wasteland. With the current morale and fighting power of the Three Guards, we have no certainty no matter which direction we choose.”
“For now, the only plan is to accept the New Military Policy and plan for the future. It’s a necessary measure, and the only way to restore the morale of the Three Guards.”
Jin Zhong’s words displeased Zhu Gaoxu, who felt that Jin Zhong was undermining others’ ambitions and diminishing his own prestige. He turned to Zhu Di and said, “Father, with just ten thousand soldiers, I can take control of Beiping City.”
Zhu Di waved his hand and looked at Zhu Gaochi, saying, “You’re right. The Emperor is not forcing me, Zhu Di, to rebel, but forcing me not to rebel! Whether it’s the layout of Beiping, the layout of Shanhai Pass, Datong, Jinan, Zhending, and other places, or even the relocation of Dao Yan to the capital, the Emperor’s actions are all about ‘power’!”
“Therefore, those skilled in warfare seek their victories from the power dynamics, not blaming others but adapting to the situation. Those who adapt to the situation are the true warriors, like turning wood and stone. The nature of wood and stone is to be calm when safe, to move when in danger, to stop when square, and to move when round. Thus, the skilled warrior’s power is like rolling a circular stone down a thousand-ren mountain, it’s all about power. Hehe, this nephew of mine is quite good.”
Zhu Gaochi lowered his head, gritted his teeth, and asked, “Father, what should we do?”
Zhu Di sighed and wearily said, “Forget it, let’s incorporate the New Military Policy into the Three Guards and wait for an opportunity. If the heavens favor us, there will be a turning point.”
“Your Highness, Ping An requests an audience.”
Qiu Fu reported in a low voice.
Zhu Di’s face turned cold, and Zhu Gaoxu and the others became somewhat panicked. Ping An captured Zhang Yu and Zhu Neng, and now he came to the King of Yan’s mansion. What was his intention? Could it be that he had received an imperial edict and wanted to bring the King of Yan and his followers to the capital?
“There are no guards.”
Qiu Fu added.
Zhu Di’s gaze turned sinister, and he got up from the bed.
Xu Yihua quickly supported him, but Zhu Di shook his head and said, “It’s fine. If I can’t withstand these minor disturbances, how can I gallop across the desert? Let Ping An come.”
Ping An bowed to Zhu Di and expressed his apologies, saying, “Today, I received intelligence that Zhang Yu and Zhu Neng incited the soldiers to resist the court and intended to rebel. The situation is urgent, and the Pronvincial Military office couldn’t ask for instructions from King of Yan in time. I have captured Zhang and Zhu, and I hope King of Yan understands.”
Zhu Di’s face turned cold, and he swept the teacup off the table with a wave of his sleeve, saying sternly, “Understand? Although Zhang Yu was a defector from the Yuan Dynasty, he pledged allegiance to our Great Ming and made great contributions. He earned great fame in the Battle of the Buir Lake and participated in campaigns led by Lan Yu to suppress rebellion in Yuanshun and Sanmao territories. He was highly regarded by Taizu and held the position of Assistant Commissioner of Anqing Garrison.”
“After following me, he fought on the frontier, displaying bravery and tactical acumen, repeatedly achieving meritorious deeds. Such a loyal and courageous person, and yet you claim he has intentions of rebellion? As for Zhu Neng, he was originally a vice battalion commander in my Yan Mountain Garrison. Recognizing his loyalty and capability, I promoted him to the position of Assistant Commisioner of the Right Guard. He has been following me for many years. As for his character, am I not aware of it?”
“Don’t talk about inciting the soldiers to resist the court. He hasn’t even uttered a disloyal word to the court. Where is the rebellion? Ping An, if you can’t provide the evidence, don’t blame me for reporting to the capital and accusing you of negligence, allowing troops to run amok, and slandering!”
Ping An looked at the furious Zhu Di calmly and took out a stack of papers, placing them on the table, and said softly, “Here are a hundred confessions from the soldiers of the Three Guards. The Provincial Military office has over four hundred more. If King of Yan needs them, I don’t mind making another trip. We just hope that King of Yan takes care of yourself.”
After speaking, Ping An saluted and walked out.
Zhu Di’s expression changed unpredictably as he picked up the stack of confessions and looked at the testimonies. Suddenly, a loud roar echoed in his ears, and his vision went black as he fainted once again.
Ping An heard the commotion but didn’t look back. He left King of Yan’s mansion and headed straight to the Provincial Military office, ordering strict martial law in Beiping Prefecture. Without the commanding officer’s orders, no military forces were allowed to move without permission. He ordered Sheng Yong to lead thirty thousand soldiers to closely monitor the Three Guards of King of Yan. If there were any unusual movements, they didn’t need to seek instructions but could take direct action.
Sitting in the Provincial Military office was not only Ping’an but also Zhang Bing.
Zhang Bing was very worried about Ping An’s way of doing things and reminded, “Without permission from the court, never use the main forces, and never besiege the King of Yan’s mansion.”
Ping An knew that Zhang Bing had good intentions, but taking action against King of Yan without seeking an imperial edict was an act of usurping military power and acting recklessly. It was a disregard and provocation to the dignity of the royal family!
The consequences can also be anticipated.
Although Zhu Yunwen had given Zhang Bing, Ping An, and Sheng Yong considerable power and even entrusted them with the task of taking preemptive action if King of Yan showed any signs of defiance, the entrusted task was one thing, but without clear imperial edict, if any problems arose, who would bear the blame?
Ping An understood this reasoning, but he also understood that dealing with formidable individuals like Zhu Di meant either not taking any action at all or directly striking them down. If they dragged it out, the one who would end up dead would be themselves.
“I will send a memorial to the court.”
Ping An understood that the current situation was complex. After finishing the memorial, he was about to urgently send it out over the 800-mile journey. However, Sheng Yong rushed in anxiously, his face filled with uncertainty, and exclaimed, “Something bad has happened!”
“Could it be that the King of Yan has really made a move?!” Ping An’s face turned solemn, and he immediately prepared for battle.
Sheng Yong gasped for breath and, looking at the slightly panicked Zhang Bing and the composed and stern Ping An, quickly said, “King of Yan, King of Yan, he’s gone mad!”
Zhang Bing looked puzzled.
Ping An widened his eyes, somewhat astonished. Shouldn’t it be said that King of Yan had rebelled?
Why was it said that King of Yan had gone mad?
Sheng Yong took a sip of cold tea, shivered, and then looked at Ping An seriously, saying, “We just received news that King of Yan Zhu Di, has gone mad!”
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