Chapter 68 The Storm Puts a Strong Grass To The Test Part 5
One of the leading soldiers was crying and helplessly spread out his hands: “We were calmly explaining it properly, but these people won’t move! Look at the bump on my lips—” The leader pointed to the corner of his mouth:
“Now that the black armoured troops were transferred away by the imperial court to persuade people to move out, we can’t rely on swords, we can only rely on our two thin legs and one tongue. Alas, those poor people said that since they are poor wherever they go, for them, relocating was just a change of place to beg for food. But the people who have houses, land, and shops are different. They are reluctant to have the slightest bit of loss!”
“Didn’t Lord Yan say that based on the property of each household, there will be compensation for the situation? Yet, they still refuse to move?” He Li asked.
The leader looked around and cautiously approached He Li’s ear: “He Li, do you still believe what Master Yan said?”
He Li gave him a strange look: “What do you mean? He is a high-ranking officer, an illustrious general. If I don’t listen to him, should I listen to you?!”
“Some time ago, Lord Yan did a lot of good things for us in Qinchuan City, and we all saw it. Naturally, we were convinced. But since Lord Yan came down from Baicang Mountain, he has only issued this order to move the people, and he didn’t even show his face, don’t you think it’s weird?”
“What’s weird?” He Li asked without hesitation. He said, “I saw Lord Yan yesterday, and he was clearly fine—”
He Li suddenly stopped. Yan Changqing’s pale cheeks appeared in his mind again.
“The reason why Master Yan hadn’t shown up was because he was sick. What’s the matter, people can’t get sick after eating whole grains?” He Li said.
“It seems that what everyone is saying is right.” The leader muttered in a low voice. Covering his mouth, he leaned forward: “The common people have spread the word in private that after Lord Yan came down from Baicang Mountain, it was not the original Lord Yan. Sir…”
“What do you mean?” He Li stared with big eyes.
“They all said that Master Yan was possessed by evil spirits on the mountain, so he is driving all of us out, so he can occupy Qinchuan City alone!”
“Bullsh*t!” He Li angrily said, “What kind of evil possessing nonsense is this? Why haven’t I heard of it!”
“You’ve been so busy for the past two days, your feet haven’t even touched the ground, so how could you have time to listen to us talking about this…” The leader complained, then adding details to the story, he said:
“That evil spirit is a Drought Demon, and it would be dry wherever it goes. Someone in Qinchuan City has been possessed by this spirit before. Once one is possessed, one can’t touch any water at all.They would turn crazy and give bad luck to whoever they make contact with….”
“…” He Li’s brows jumped. He had heard of the story of a Drought Demon. In the past few years, he did occasionally hear that someone was possessed by a Drought Demon and would be expelled from the city. But He Li did not believe in so-called ghosts and gods because he had read a lot of books.
He Li was about to raise his eyebrows to reprimand them, when suddenly he heard a loud noise in front of the yamen in the distance.
At the gate of the Qinchuan County Office, there were hundreds of people, all wearing fine silk and satin clothes with angry expressions on their faces. A woman who was carrying her children with her raised her fist blankly, and followed the crowd around her shouting something. Looking closely, among the dark crowd, there were actually seven or eight Taoist priests dressed in gray robes and black hats, holding horsetail whisks in their hands, staring at the closed county gate with extremely solemn expressions. It was as if the door was opened, horrible monsters would pop up and devour all the living people.
“Exterminate evil, Punish the Drought Demon!”
“Exterminate evil, Punish the Drought Demon!”
A thunderous shout.
These people were rebelling!
He Li immediately calmed down, tried his best to squeeze into the crowd, and shouted loudly:
“You guys have grown some balls, huh! Do you think the county government is a place where you can mess around? Hurry up and leave. If you dare to stay for a moment, I will arrest you all!”
Dozens of government soldiers followed behind him, standing in a row in unison, looking rather intimidating. However, the crowd below did not show any signs of retreating, and a shrill voice rang out:
“Oh, and I was thinking who it could be. It turns out it was just the Yamen official. Now you dare to use this tune to insult us common people?!”
He Li heard the sound and recognized that it was the richest man in Qinchuan City, Mr. Zhang, who had thousands of acres of fertile land and nearly a hundred cattle. He frowned and said, “Who insulted you? If you guys don’t pack up and move out quickly, do you want to wait for the earthquake to come again and be crushed to death?”
“Earthquake?” Mr. Zhang coldly laughed. He took a step forward with his heavy body and said: “That evil spirit’s words, only a bookworm fool like you would listen. Throwing away good land, filling up the White Wolf River, what normal person would think of these ideas?! Only a Drought Demon!”
Mr. Zhang’s words hadn’t finished coming out when even angrier voices arose:
“That’s right! It’s a Drought Demon! In the past, some people were possessed by a Drought Demon, and couldn’t stand the sight of water. Even if they hear the sound of the river, they would go crazy, crying and shouting to get rid of the river. Later, it only stopped when we chase him away to Baicang Mountain. I didn’t expect this dirty thing to come back now, and it wants to drive us all out and fill the river again. This is obviously revenge!”
“D*mn, wherever the evil thing goes, that place is bound to be unlucky, it has to be driven out again!”
“Driven out? Hmph, I think it’s safest to kill them on the spot, and save others from being possessed next time!”
“That’s right, we have to burn them with the peach wood brought by these Taoist priests. If you don’t act ruthlessly, you will be the one who will be unlucky next time!”
The crowd gathered more and more, and there were hundreds of people, many of whom were holding knives, sticks, swords, hoes, rocks, etc., obviously coming prepared. With the instigation of several landlords and wealthy businessmen at the head, they approached the gate of the county government. He Li stabilized his mind, while mobilizing all the soldiers of the government. He pulled out a long sword, jumped to the highest step, and shouted: “Who dares to attack the county government will be given the death penalty!”
He Li was always a cautious and kind scholar, but being anxious and in a rush, he showed a bit of ferocity. Yet, his tiger’s roar couldn’t bluff the people.
It really is true. When it rains, it pours (when something bad happens other bad things usually happen at the same time). The day before yesterday, they just happened to catch up to the Monan border to relieve the garrison. According to the previous rules, the black armoured troops outside Qinchuan City, led by Deputy General Xiang Yu, had to go station a hundred miles away. At this time, there were only around 300 government soldiers scattered all over the city. Although the number was not small, they were all child soldiers who had just been formed temporarily after the great earthquake. They had never seen actual battle. Moreover, there were many villagers and elders they were familiar with. These inexperienced soldiers looked at each other for a while, panicked, and were forced to get involved in the unruly melee.
“Bang bang bang”, the hardware against the door caused the people hearing it to tremble in fear. Four to five strong men wanted to use their powerful bodies to smash the door open. The rich landlords and businessmen below, along with a large number of people, waved their fists in applause, and kept shouting:
“Exterminate evil, Punish the Drought Demon!”
A few strong men took a deep breath, puffed out their purple-red faces, and forcefully launched the final blow to the mottled, but not heavy door. However, just as their sturdy muscles were about to slam into the door, they heard a barely audible squeak in the commotion. A few strong men slammed into air, and fell heavily on the hard ground inside the county government gate.
All the swearing and scrambling slowly ceased at the moment the door opened.
Wei Jin supported a thin figure and walked out firmly and slowly.
Although this figure wore a big black hood, only showing a small half of his chin, the smooth and beautiful lines gave off a sense of unswerving determination with a sense of perseverance that was heartbreaking.
Wei Jin looked at the crowd in front of him, and said a few words in a low worried voice. Yan Changqing shook his head slightly, breaking away from Wei Jin’s supporting hand.
Wei Jin felt very sad in his heart, but he had to silently follow behind Yan Changqing.
The hood slipped off, revealing a picturesque, indescribably beautiful face.
Although he was dressed in black and had black hair, standing in front of the crowded crowd, this person looked like the whitest and cleanest trace of snow on the top of a cliff with jagged rocks and rivers of sewage.
Sweeping over a pair of sharp, shining eyes, almost everyone fell silent in unison. In order to avoid unnecessary trouble and to isolate the epidemic, Yan Changqing appeared in front of the people most of the time, half covering his face. Therefore, for most of the people gathered here, it was their first time seeing Yan Changqing’s true face. For a moment, they temporarily abandoned their purpose of coming here to make trouble, and were only amazed and shocked.
He Li finally got out of the siege and scuffle. His nose was blue and his face was swollen, and he rushed to Yan Changqing. He was a little ashamed, and said with relief: “Sir, you are here!”
Before he finished speaking, He Li suddenly noticed that Yan Changqing’s face seemed to be paler than when he saw it earlier. His thin lips were dry and bloodless, but the corners of his eyes showed a faint, sickly red.
“Sir?” He felt his heart sink. Although he still didn’t know what illness Yan Changqing had at this time, he could tell at a glance that Yan Changqing’s illness was not light.
Was it because he stayed up all night the past few days to approve and review the relocation matters, which made his condition worsen?
“Hehe, just in time!” Rich man Zhang sneered while touching his palm. He stepped forward, pointed at Yan Changqing and said loudly: “Everyone, this is the evil Drought Demon!”
“How dare you say such nonsense, this is slandering a court official!” Wei Jin stood in front of Yan Changqing and shouted.
Yan Changqing raised his arm slightly, stopping Wei Jin who wanted to come forward to protect him. Layers of wrapped bandages covering his elbow wound from the bite of the white wolf were shown. Wei Jin’s eyes were full of worry. He knew that the wound was still bleeding slowly under the gauze, festering, almost to the bone.
Yan Changqing looked at Rich man Zhang, who had a face of justice in front of him, and only felt that his stern face of fighting evil for the people was very funny when matched with his vulgar and gorgeous clothes and the image of him holding a hammer in his hand.
This rich man Zhang, Yan Changqing was very familiar with.
Faced with his attack, Yan Changqing was not surprised.
“Dare to ask Rich man Zhang, how many acres of land have you occupied of the people today?” He Li immediately knew what was going on.
This rich man Zhang was very courageous and did not run away during the Qinchuan earthquake. After the earthquake, he took advantage of the chaotic management of the county government office and occupied the unclaimed land left by many people who died or fled. In less than half a month, his property was more than doubled. Immediately afterwards, he set his sights on occupying the fields of the plagued people. Not daring to snatch it openly, he came up with a trick to resell the great witch doctor’s holy medicine. After being knocked over by Yan Changqing, he had already held a grudge. This was an old hatred.
For the relocation of the city, every citizen of Qinchuan will be compensated with two silver coins. The amount of compensation was estimated according to the original house size and land area of the people. And this rich man Zhang actually wanted Yan Changqing to compensate according to the area of land he had illegally occupied. In private, Rich man Zhang put on a flattering smile, holding a bank note to bribe Yan Changqing, but he didn’t expect Yan Changqing to not even let him in. Rich man Zhang was even more annoyed, and this became a new enmity.
New hatred and old hatred intertwined, and a dog pushed to a corner can even jump over a wall.
Rich man Zhang was not afraid at all, and said in a sharp voice: “Bah! My land was earned by me with my blood and sweat, what nonsense are you talking about?” He turned around and waved the hoe in his arms and shouted in a loud voice, “The Drought Demon is trying to mislead the public with rumours! Let’s go up together and attack!!!!”