All Under Heaven – Chapter 12

It’s hard to be an Official in the Ming Dynasty, it’s even harder to be a Military General in the Ming Dynasty
Zhao Su hurried home, his heart sank.

Half his house had already been burnt by the fire, the fire had even reached the neighbours.

Thick smoke billowed and burned to such a degree. Without modern day fire-fighting equipment, it was impossible to put out the fire completely. You can only let it burn until the kindling runs out.

The old servant Dai Zhong stood at the door of the house with a sad face and directed others to pour water onto the flames.

Where was mother?

If it wasn’t for him, they wouldn’t be hiding in the cellar, how could this….

Zhao Su didn’t dare to continue on this trail of thought.

“Gongzi!” Dai Zhong turned his head and caught sight of him immediately.

“Where’s my mother?”

“I was just about to go find you, fu-ren and the others are over at the shop, they haven’t come back yet, everyone is safe!”

Zhaosu felt a lot better, he stumbled, luckily, Dai Zhong was quick and managed to catch him before he fell.

“Gongzi, are you hurt?”

“It’s nothing.” He said whilst staring at the house that was half burnt down and the other half still up in smoke. “How did the house catch fire?”

“At that time, the Wukou were firing burning arrows into the city, quite a few houses had been burnt. In fact, it was the burning grass that blew over to us. Plus the weather was dry so the house caught on fire.” Dai Zhong wiped some sweat from his forehead then continued “Luckily fu-ren said that we should deliver some food to you all at the city gates, so everyone had gone over to the shop to prepare the goods. Thank heavens, we weren’t here! Oh yeah, by the way, before the house caught fire, the side of the shop had also caught fire but luckily this was just a small fire so it was quickly put out.”

The weather was dry? The shop and the fire caught fire at the same time?

Zhao Su pondered, he sneered, this is too much of a coincidence surely.

The house and the shop are quite far from the city gates, plus the Wukou’s arrows were not particularly far-reaching, even if it was because nearby houses had caught fire and had blown over to their house, how did both places catch fire at the same time.

This was evidently done on purpose.

Dai Zong was still standing there sighing, he thought to himself this time they’d incurred quite a bit of damage and lost a lot of belongings and goods.

Zhao Su was already going over in his head the possibilities, listing all the candidates who might have set the fire, whilst on the surface comforting Dai Zong at the same time.

“As long as everyone is alright, we can always earn more money.”

Whilst, Lady Chen was worried out of her wits, firstly for her son and secondly, about the fire at the house.

Lady Chen had a gentle nature, she is not a person who enjoyed showing off. Seeing that the city was in chaos, and the Tang Song Ju had been closed already so there was no one around, Lady Chen was planning on providing food to the frontlines, so she had gone to the shop to prepare. But it was so unexpected that as soon as she left, the house caught on fire.
She shivered at the thought that if they had left the house a second later, there would probably have been a few people who would have lost their lives.


In the midst of the chaos, she heard a familiar voice coming from the other side of the door.

“How did you get hurt?”

At first, when seeing her son, Lady Chen was overjoyed, until she saw his blood-stained arm, she quickly asked for someone to bring some medicine over.

Zhao Su only came over to take a look, seeing that no one was hurt he felt better.

“Mother, don’t bother, my hand has already been bandaged up, it’s only a surface cut, it’s not very deep, it’s not a big deal. Yang da-ren is still waiting for me right now, I need to hurry back to the city gates. You, Dai-bo and the others wait here, it’s very chaotic out there so don’t go anywhere.”

He spoke very quickly and then turned and left.

“Be careful!” Lady Chen’s eyes welled up but didn’t stop him from leaving.

”I know!” He nodded, said a few more words, then left.

It wasn’t that he didn’t want to stay but time waits for no one. The city gates could fall into danger at any moment. It wasn’t that the person who had set the fire didn’t deserve retribution, it was only that now wasn’t the right time, Zhao Su could only first hold back his anger.

According to Lady Chen’s personality, if he told her about his suspicions, that would only make more worried. So Zhao Su secretly told Dai Zhong and sent some people over to find Shen Lexing, to ask him to keep an eye on his family whilst he hurried back to the city gates.

Zhao Su was covered in blood, with a cold face, and the air of murderous intent brought from the battlefield, he was no longer the graceful and elegant scholar from before. He wasn’t good-looking at this moment, but he had shot four arrows in a row, killed a soldier, and was not afraid of life and death. His face was already a familiar sight at the city gates so no one stopped him from advancing, there were even some people who addressed him as Zhao da-ren.”

Zhao Su corrected these people once or twice, but he soon discovered there were more than one or two people who were incorrectly calling him Zhao da-ren so in the end he couldn’t be bothered to correct them and just left it like that.

On the way up to the city gates, he discovered that their opponent had temporarily stopped attacking, and they were finally able to rest for a while, in fact, he found Yang Rufu leaning on the city wall. He looked at Zhao Su with a wry smile.

“Shaoyong, if the reinforcements don’t come, we’ll only be able to hold on for another two days!”

Zhao Su stopped in front of him: “Please explain?”

Before, they had counted their resources and they had at least three days remaining, plus, the inhabitants were voluntarily offering up provisions, so with that they could have even lasted up to five days.

Yang Rufu sighed: “The provisions aren’t the problem, right now the issue is that we’re lacking in artillery.”
“Isn’t there still five hundred bows and two thousand arrows in the armory?”

“The Official Registrar just finished the count, do you know what he said? Within the five hundred bows, at least four hundred are too old and rusty, let’s not even talk about the arrows, they’re in worse shape than the bows, hmph! Relying on those, I’m afraid that defeat by those bastards is imminent!” He yelled frustrated: “I sent out men three days ago and not a word since, it looks like we’re done for!”

Zhao Su was speechless.

He and Zhao Nuan had first discovered the Wukou spy in Minhou, now Changle was under attack, it couldn’t have been better for them over in Minhou. Even if Fuzhou sent troops over, they would first help Minhou. By the time they were able to make it to Changle, it would be all too late.

He sat next to Yang Rufu, the two didn’t exchange a word.

Zhao Su didn’t know how to comfort him because he himself couldn’t think of a solution.

It was Yang Rufu who spoke first: “Pity, at home, I have my old mother, a son, and a few jars of unopened vintage wines, I’m afraid I won’t have a chance to drink it anymore.”

Zhao Su managed a laugh: “What wine could make da-ren keep it in mind constantly, after the battle is over, I must go over to your house to have a few glasses.”

Yang Rufu gave Zhao Su a sidelong glance: “I think you don’t understand how to drink wine, I’ll give you a glass to try, any more than that would be a waste.”

Two people experiencing a life and death moment, their relationship had been pulled ever closer, saying whatever came to mind.

Yang Rufu finding joy in suffering said: “Shaoyong, we have gone through so much together now, after this battle, if we survive, your name certainly won’t be missing from the merit book. You’ve already achieved jieyuan, in the future, you might even get top rankings in the court exam. When that day comes, you mustn’t forget about old friends!”

Zhao Su replied: “Da-ren, I think you’re putting it too lightly, we haven’t just gone through a lot together, we’ve gone through a life and death experience together!”

The two looked at each other, laughing loudly, after laughing, they couldn’t help but feel solemn.

Once the city walls fall, as a County Magistrate, Yang Rufu was obliged to go down with the city. Although Zhao Su didn’t want to die, the road ahead was obscure and he didn’t know how to go on.

Two days passed quickly.

Zhao Su knew that he couldn’t keep going on like this.

Not only him, Yang Rufu, all the soldiers, and even the inhabitants were the same.

Everyone was beaten and exhausted. Without sleep or rest, their spirits had dipped to an all time low.

It’s said that once they were out of weapons and food then it was the end of the line. Now, there was food but the weapons were exhausted so it was still the end of the line.

Anything that could have been used as a weapon has already been used, no one had anything else to throw out.
The difference between the strengths and weaknesses of the two sides was too big now, and it would take a miracle to be able to survive now.

Even if Zhao Su hadn’t studied history in detail, he still knew that in the last decade, the Wukou were rampant, committing all crimes imaginable. They burned, killed and looted in Zhejiang, and dared to fight against Yu Dayou and Qi Jiguang. So, this little county of Changle was nothing to them.

It’s just that the Wukou must have never expected such a strong resistance from Changle. As the other areas they have encountered before, either surrounded without a fight or were defeated with a single blow.

Was he really going to be buried here?

Zhao Su picked up his bow and shot out most of the remaining arrows. He had to lean against the city walls gasping for breath.

Since he transmigrated here, he had suffered bitterly, studying, selling herbs, earning money. It was not easy to achieve what he had today, who knew that with just this one battle, he’d lose it all.

He really couldn’t stand it….

He closed his eyes, the back of his head was against the hot stone wall, his ears were still being struck with the clanging metal of weapons and the horrifying cries, he was utterly exhausted.

“The reinforcements are here!”

He didn’t know who had said it first, but then, there were an overwhelming number of voices shouting out.

Bringing with it a birth of excitement and emotion, a glimmer of hope in their darkest hour.

“The reinforcements are here!”

“The reinforcements are here!”

“The reinforcements are here!”

These cries continued on, Zhao Su could feel his eyelids getting heavy.

Then, he fell backwards, passed out.

When he awoke, he was already laid down on a soft mattress, all he saw was a dark red curtain when he opened his eyes.

Quiet and peaceful.

Compared to where he was before, it was like two different worlds.

Zhao Nuan seeing that his two eyes were blurry with a confused expression on his face, he couldn’t help but put a hand up in front of Zhao Su’s face and waved gently.

“Come, tell ge, how many is this?”

“…. stop messing around.” Zhao Su stroked his forehead, he knew that he wasn’t dreaming right now.
Zhao Nuan tutted: “This isn’t right. People who don’t know, think that the leader of the provincial examination is a gentle and polite young man. Only I know your horrid mouth better than anyone else!”

Zhao Su had just woken up, listening to him was like countless flies buzzing in his ears.

Zhao Nuan, seeing him expressionless, laughed and added: “You’ve slept for three days and three nights, so you have no idea what’s happened right?”

Zhao Su supported his head with his hand, he felt his temples twitch: “The reinforcements came?”

“Correct, Qi Jiguang personally led his troops to help. Not only did he break the siege of Changle, but the Wukou in Minhou were also wiped out. However, the County Magistrate of Minhou County was not as courageous as Yang da-ren. He abandoned the city and fled, and the Generals and soldiers ran with them. As a result, Minhou County was burned, their people were killed and looted by the Wukou. Compared to Changle, they fared much worse than us.”

Qi Jiguang, this name is like a thunderbolt, striking down on Zhao Su’s heart.

“Where is he?”

He’s in the Government building now, it seems like he’s having a chat with Yang da-ren, I think he said that he wouldn’t be leaving for an hour or two.”

Zhao Su nodded, thinking that he could find a chance to meet him, and it would be worthwhile to come to this time period.

This person, Qi Jiguang, even in modern times, was equally well-known.

The history books had recounted: In thirty years, there were more than one hundred battles between the North and the South, on land and on water, but not a single defeat.

But right now, in the Ming dynasty, people only knew about his fight against the Wukou, they didn’t know that he would fight against the Tartar, wrote military books and they didn’t know the hardships under all his military achievements.

He was a great man, turning everything he touched to gold. He had a voracious desire for money, and used his wealth to facilitate contacts, clinging to the rich and powerful. He even fawned on Yan Song and his son, so he was repeatedly impeached by the Imperial Censor. But all of this was to continue fighting battles.

It’s hard to be an Official in the Ming Dynasty, it’s even harder to be a Military General in the Ming Dynasty.

Not only were they ranked half a grade below their Civil Official counterparts. If they lost the battle they had to bear the consequences and even if they won, they would still be pulled into incessant political strife. They could lose their life at any time.

One man’s fault is another man’s lesson, there are too many to count.

The fact that Qi Jiguang was still able to achieve military glory in these circumstances, was deserving of veneration.

Zhao Nuan cut off his trail of thought off: “Why are you completely out of it, your house has been burnt, how come you look completely unconcerned?”

Zhao Su replied quietly: “It’s already been burnt, everyone is fine, even if it didn’t happen this time, it would still happen later.”
Zhao Nuan was puzzled: “What are you saying…. Do you mean to say that the house wasn’t set on fire by the burning arrow?”

Zhao Su looked over at him: “The house and the shop caught fire but the nearby houses were fine?”

No matter how dumb Zhao Nuan was, he could also have guessed what Zhao Su was trying to say, his face went dark: “Who did it?”

Zhao Su: “I don’t know.”

Zhao Nuan frowned: “”Could it be that Tang Song Ju’s business has offended someone?”

“We can’t dismiss this reasoning, but the possibility is not that high. First, Tang Song Ju’s business is really small, so it doesn’t really affect other businesses. Secondly, my mother has always been polite and benevolent, and has a good relationship with the other neighbouring businesses.

“Then who could have done it?”

Zhao Su laughed: “Perhaps it’s someone who has a problem with me.”

Zhao Nuan muttered something under his breath, his head filled with thoughts, and his eyes widened suddenly: “Zhao Jin?!”
28/12/21 – Shao Yong -> Shaoyong

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