All Under Heaven – Chapter 10

Shaoyong, how did this brain of yours get so clever?
When Zhao Nuan got home, he discovered that his father Zhao Shenyu was still furious with him for leaving without consulting anyone beforehand. Zhao Nuan immediately tried to explain what had happened and how he had run into Wukou. But Zhao Shenyu, just thought he was talking nonsense and didn’t believe a word. His father just considered this a tactic to get out of punishment. Zhao Nuan had no choice but to run over to seek help from Zhao Su.

Zhao Su was unrelenting: “Even if you come here, I can’t help you.”

Zhao Nuan smiled: “Shaoyong, you’re good with words, you can definitely persuade my father.”

Zhao Su gestured no with his finger: “Firstly, he doesn’t believe me, secondly, we couldn’t even convince the County Magistrate, thirdly, you are deserving of your punishment so you should just accept it. I’ll come to see you later.”

After he finished talking he turned around to go back to his house, but Zhao Nuan was weeping whilst grabbing onto his clothing.

“Xiongdi, we’re family, you can’t not help me! My father wants to beat me to death, after it’ll be hard for you to come see this good xiongdi! Plus, I delivered you here all the way from Fuzhou safely, that must be worth something, Confucius said loyalty should be valued!”

In strength, Zhao Su was not as strong as him, so he could only roll his eyes.

“Let go!”

“No way!”

“Let go!”

“I won’t let go! I won’t! As soon as I let go you’ll run off!” said Zhao Nuan shamelessly.

Zhao Su wasn’t angry and instead laughed: “If you still don’t let go, I won’t help you think of a way out!”

Zhao Nuan swiftly let go.

“Come with me to see the Clan leader.” He said slowly.

Zhao Nuan said: “To make the Clan leader persuade my father?”

“Convince him to work with a well-known gentry in the county to put pressure on the County Magistrate to take early precautions against the Wukou.”

“What does that have to do with me getting punished?”

“If this matter is brought forward, your father won’t have time to care about your punishment?”

“Oh yeah, Shaoyong, how did this brain of yours get so clever, come, let ge touch it!”

“… Get lost!”

Zhao Shenyu’s mood wasn’t bad.
It was a rare occasion for the Zhao family to have a jieyuan, plus this jieyuan was standing in front of him paying his respects. Even though Zhao Shenyu had seen his fair share in this world, he still felt that his mianzi had increased, so he smiled.

In the past, Zhao Su’s mother and son were driven out of the house. The clan were stopped by Lady Wu and didn’t intervene. It was not until later that Zhao Su was accepted as a student by Dai Gongwang that Zhao Shenhai started to notice this concubine’s son, thinking to himself that he had missed an opportunity. He would never have thought that this dark and thin boy had passed the Fujian Provincial Examination and had won 1st place. Now he could only regret that he did not intervene earlier when Zhao Su and his mother had been kicked out. Now they were a well-off family, but there was no point in thinking of the past.

Luckily, in the last few years, he had sent over some things to mother and son from time to time, so he couldn’t be worse off than Lady Wu in the eyes of Zhao Su.

Thinking of this fact, Zhao Shenhai felt at ease again, he stroked his beard and smiled: “Shaoyong, this time you got jieyuan, this is actually the first time for the Zhao clan in Changle. I think that our ancestors were also royal clan members during the former dynasty. Since they migrated to Henan, we haven’t had anything to be proud of since. Just before, I was just discussing with the others in the clan. This time we need to put on a big celebration, let everyone see our young jieyuan and at the same time, show off the status of the Zhao clan!”

Zhao Su made a few modest remarks, then continued seriously: “Zong-bo, Shaoyong and Ziyang came for another matter.”

Zhao Su made a look.

Zhao Nuan understood and explained the whole situation. Of course, omitting the part about seeing the two County Magistrates previously.

Just like the other two, Zhao Shenhai found what Zhao Nuan had said hard to believe: “Is this true?”

“If you don’t believe me, ask Zhao Su.” Zhao Nuan pushed it over to Zhao Su.
Zhao Su glared at him, cleared his throat: “Ziyang isn’t the most reliable but when it comes to serious matters, he wouldn’t ever dare to spout nonsense. Plus, Changle is a coastal county, the last two years Jiangsu and Zhejiang have received incessant problems from the Wukou, only Fujian has been safe and sound. Does Zong-bo know why?”

“Why?” Zhao Shenhai couldn’t help asking.

“Either, it’s that Fujian has a good defense system so the Wukou don’t dare, or they are planning something huge.”

Zhao Shenhai didn’t react so Zhao Su continued: “How the defenses are right now you don’t need me to tell you. Zong-bo must know Qi Jiguang, and the two other generals who could have held back the Wukou are no longer here. If the Wukou really attract, we can only rely on ourselves. Although, this is only my deduction and it may not necessarily come true, but having the necessary defenses could never be a bad thing. The Zhao clan are widespread and numerous in Changle, the flooding last time has already caused a lot of trouble for our clan, if something else were to happen, I’m afraid…”

He didn’t continue his train of thought but Zhao Shenhai already knew what he was trying to say.

Zhao Su was right, there was no harm in taking preventative measures.

“Shaoyong, my two sons are useless, in this clan, those of your generation, I think there is only you who is the most dependable. In the future, our Zhao family clan may have to rely on you.” Zhao Shenhai said slowly whilst looking at him with kind eyes.

He had said this sincerely but it was also to test his reaction.

Zhao Su just laughed: “Zong-bo is too serious, Su is only a concubine’s son.”

It’s a slippery situation, Zhao Shenhai sighed secretly.

On the way home, Zhao Nuan felt suspicious: “Just now, what did the Clan Leader mean by that, it sounded a bit off?”

Zhao Su walked slowly forward. “The meaning is that, now I have scholarly honour, if one day, I climb to the top, I mustn’t forget to take care of the Zhao clan. Simply put, don’t kick a benefactor in the teeth.”

Zhao Nuan was furious: “What favours have they done you! Back then when you and your mother were suffering, who was there to lend a hand? Now that your status has changed, they’re all lining up to take their share!”

Zhao Su felt his heart warm for the fact that his xiongdi was furious on his behalf, he smiled brightly: “Isn’t this common, what’s there to be angry about. It’s easy to add flowers to the cake but it’s hard to send charcoal in snowy weather, it’s been this way since the end of time. Besides, I already put a stop to that conversation.”

Thinking back to the Clan Leader’s face just now, Zhao Nuan couldn’t help laughing out loud.

After laughing, he stopped, hesitating: “Shaoyong, this situation with the Wokou, I can’t be absolutely certain, do you really believe me?”

“Even though you’re always idle, when it comes to serious matters, you wouldn’t make up nonsense and you definitely wouldn’t lie to xiongdi.”

“Scoundrel, are you praising me or insulting me!”

“Obviously, I’m insulting you.”

The County Magistrate didn’t believe Zhao Su because he didn’t have an official’s position, and he had no proof. However, the Zhao clan were different, they had wives and children, and several generations of family in Changle. As the clan leader, Zhao Shenhai couldn’t just sit on his hands.

Zhao Su went to see Shen Lexing, the young boss of Hui Chun Tang. He asked him to unite with the other merchants of Changle to write a letter to Yang Rufu.

In the past few years, Shen Lexing had been living in Changle County under the orders of his family. In addition, Zhao Su had opened a shop, so they often had dealings with each other. Shen Lexing originally thought that Zhao Su was just a mature and respectful boy. He would never have thought that he was also incredibly cunning so he never dared to underestimate Zhao Su.

After hearing Zhao Su out, Shen Lexing had determined that he wasn’t joking, so he personally went to the other merchants to discuss with them. He even sent an overnight letter to his father in Fuzhou, asking him to send some more people over to help.

For merchants, a peaceful environment was the key to getting rich.

With the voice of the Changle gentry and the merchants, even the magistrates could not sit back and watch. Yang Rufu was obliged to send extra manpower to patrol and set up guards outside the city gate, in case the Wukou did come.

After around seven or eight days later, Changle was still as peaceful as before.

Zhao Manor.

Lady Wu had personally cooked the dishes: “Eat a bit more.”

Zhao Jin shook his head, he put down his chopsticks: “Thank you mother, I don’t have any appetite.”
“Since the release of the results, you haven’t eaten much at each meal, you can’t go on like this. Listen to mother, this time you were unsuccessful but you can still try again, you are still young. You’ll definitely succeed in three years.”

The corners of Zhao Jin’s mouth twitched slightly, and there was an expression of pain in his eyes that did not match his age. “Mother, it’s not fair. ”

Lady Wu was startled.

She listened to his every word. Zhao Jin said furiously: “I started studying at three years old, at four years old, I could recite the 《Three Character Classic》 and the 《Thousand Character Classic》. I studied every night, never slacking off. Why is it that the concubine’s son grabbed first place and I still fell behind Sun Shan! Did Zhao Su bribe the Examining Officials in some way?”

Zhao Jin paused, then smiled coldly, “Yes, it must be this, he had a jinshi teacher and I didn’t!”

Lady Wu said tearfully: “Jin-er, don’t think about this any longer, you’re naturally more talented than him but this time, luck was not on your side, there is nothing that can be done, you can take the exam again in three years!”

Zhao Jin stared at the plate in front of him, not uttering a word.

Lady Wu sighed silently to herself and changed the subject “What was the big clan meeting about yesterday?”

Women were not permitted to enter the ancestral hall and the clan meetings also didn’t usually allow women to attend. Each family had to send a male representative, without Zhao Xifeng, the responsibility naturally fell on Zhao Jin. Even though he had no Official post, he was still the legitimate heir.

Zhao Jin said indifferently: “Zong-bo said that the Wokou might invade so he has asked each family to make sufficient preparations.”

Lady Wu was startled: “Wukou?!”

Her personal maid, Maiden Lee, turned white.

“Is it the County Magistrate who said this?”

“Apparently it was Zhao Nuan who discovered it. Mother, do you really think anything that this idle kid Zhao Nuan says could be true? I can’t believe that Zong-bo would take him seriously!”

Lady Wu was stunned: “Zhao Nuan? How would he have discovered Wukou?”

Zhao Jin smiled colding: “Until now, there hasn’t even been the shadow of a Wukou spotted, I think it’s all hearsay. It is said that Zhao Su backed him up as well. When the Wukou never arrive, I will see how they deal with it!”

Lady Wu said worriedly: “What if it’s true? I think it’s better if we do some preparations!”

“No need, even if the Wukou arrive, would they really come for us.” Zhao Jin smiled: “Don’t worry mother, I have my own plan!”

Zhao Nuan arrived before Zhao Su’s home, frowning with a bag on his back.
Lady Chen gestured for him to sit and asked the servants to bring an extra bowl and chopsticks. “Ziyang, act like it’s your home here.”

“Thanks Bo-niang1lit. auntie!” Zhao Nuan sighed.

Lady Chen was worried: “What is the matter?”

Zhao Su had his head in the food and didn’t bother with him.

Zhao Nuan paused for a while, before finally saying: “Shaoyong, why aren’t you even a bit worried? A week has already passed and we haven’t even seen a shadow of a Wukou!”

Zhao Su leisurely picked up some vegetables with his chopsticks and placed them in his bowl. Do you really want them to come?

Well.. you can’t say that, but now even my dad is starting to doubt my words, if I hadn’t left quickly, he would have probably whipped me to death. Quick, help me think of a solution!”

Zhao Su was full, he wiped his mouth and then finally said: “If the Wukou don’t come, there is peace in the county, that’s a good thing. Why don’t you stay here for a bit until your father calms down a bit.”

Zhao Nuan relaxed a bit, and anxiously said “Do you think the Wukou will actually come?”

“I don’t know, if they are going to come, they will come.”

Zhao Su didn’t elaborate.

He wasn’t a god, nor a prophet, so he couldn’t really say. But these last two years, since Zhejiang had Qi Jiguang2A Ming Dynasty General who is famous for repelling the Wukou -You can read his Wikipedia page but he enters the story in later chapters, the Wukou no longer dared to invade there. So, Fujian was a good target, Changle was populous and affluent, and not far from Fuzhou, would the Wukou really not be tempted by this potential goldmine.
Unless… They were waiting for the perfect opportunity.

In this case, what opportunity would this be? His fingers tapped on the table whilst frowning.

Even if the sea breeze blows at night in June and July, it is still extremely hot and sultry.

Outside where the Company3Company as a military unit were stationed in Changle County, there was a small table with wine and some dishes on it, two rattan chairs, and two people sitting there.

A bare-chested Company Leader Jiang4Jiang is his surname, Baihu (lit leader of 100 men) is his title. I haven’t found the official translation so I’ll leave it as Company Leader for now who sat crossed his legs, was complaining to his colleagues about his duties.

During the Ming Dynasty, there wasn’t a Battalion system set up everywhere in the country. Below the Guard, there were battalions of a thousand men, which were further divided into Companies, as the name implies, it was a company of a hundred or so men, stationed in every county, the commanding officers in each company were called so and so Company Leader, or so and so Battalion Leader, and were considered to be the lowest ranking military officers.

“Lao-di, why do you say that the gap between this person and the person is so big? According to my xiongdi, who is working under Hu Zongxian5Another important General in Ming History you can read his wikipedia page, he will be mentioned a lot in further chapters da-ren, he gets to eat and drink well, living a lavish lifestyle. But we have to stay here watching over a bird that doesn’t lay eggs. We’ll never have the chance to get promoted, let alone achieve military honour, when will it be our turn!”

Company Leader Jiang was a bit drunk, he was the only one who was drunk so he was also spouting nonsense.

The other person sighed: “That isn’t correct, that place is controlled by Hu Zongxian, we would earn any merits there either. If there really is an attack from the Wukou, you might even lose your position!”

“A few days ago, Yang Rufu also ran over and asked me to strengthen Changle’s defense. Seven or eight days have passed, and I haven’t seen one Wukou!”

“Yang Rufu is a new Official in office. He’s naturally afraid of losing his black hat6expression to mean losing his official post as the black hat is part of their uniform. We don’t need to accompany him to make a fuss. The Wukou are all in Zhejiang. They won’t come here to Fujian!”

“Huh!” Company Leader Jiang was drunk, and the more he talked, the more depressed he got: “During the reign of Zhengtong Emperor. Even the Emperor was captured but the Ming dynasty still made it through. What should happen will happen. Now, these Wukou are running amok, they’re all b*st*rds!”

The two drunk men slumped down lazily in their wicker chairs.

In the distance, a horn sounded, deep and far away.

Company Leader Jiang half-opened his eyes, seemingly awake but not awake: “What… Why is there a horn?”

His comrade, who had less to drink than him, jumped up from the rattan chair with a violent sound, pricked his ears and began to listen.

The horn sounded successively, the aura of killing intent and the sounds of wailing and screaming floated over.

“Wake up!”

Company Leader Jiang was shaken awake suddenly, before he got angry, he heard the trembling voice of his comrade: “It seems, it seems to be the Wukou!”
Author Note:

1. Including Zhao Su and Dai Gongwang, some characters are fabricated, but some characters exist in history, so I won’t make a special explanation below.

2. Wanli is born five years earlier, that is to say, in the 40th year of Jiajing, Zhao Su is seventeen years old, and Wanli is about four years old.
01/12/21 – Notes and links added.
28/12/21 – Updated names to make more uniform
Shao Yong -> Shaoyong
Zi Yang -> Ziyang

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