DEATH SCRIPTURE - DEATH SCRIPTURE Chapter 947 - Benefits
Shangguan Ru arrived first. After dismounting from the Flame Foal, she immediately knelt down with a dozen female soldiers and sabersmen of the Kun Society before saying with a big smile, “All residents of Jade City are grateful that the Dragon King has imposed a ban on killing. The Kun Society is a small and weak organization, and we can’t offer much help. However, we’re willing to be the first group of supporters of this order.”
“Welcome.” Standing at the gate of the military camp, Gu Shenwei responded with an equivalent courtesy. The two acted very politely.
Standing besides the Dragon King, Red Bat was very excited. Though she went into the city to meet with the Instructor every few days, she still couldn’t help herself from shedding tears at this moment. Shangguan Ru walked up to her, took her hand, and entered the camp with her.
Lotus came to the camp alone. She was riding a small donkey and was dressed in plain clothes. The Dragon Army soldiers on patrol stopped her, and then one of the soldiers recognized her. Knowing that she was really the Master Commander of the Waning Moon Hall, they respectfully escorted her to the entrance of the military camp.
Gu Shenwei also went outside to welcome her.
Lotus didn’t even dismount. She nodded at the crowd and rode the donkey into the camp.
To prevent the others from misunderstanding the Master Commander as a poor leader with little supporters, Han Fen imitated Red Bat and started sobbing. She took the reins of the donkey and led the way for the Master Commander. Seeing this, the soldiers standing in rank on the sides of the road couldn’t help but suspect that these two women were actually daughters of some peasant that the Dragon King had bought by force.
This was an official meeting. Shangguan Ru, Red Bat, Lotus, and Han Fen were all visitors. Gu Shenwei also had Zhong Heng, Chu Nanping, and a guard as his companions.
Zhong Heng was the one moderating this meeting for the Dragon King. The first issue was the ban on killing. The Dragon King had spread his order through the military camp of the Dragon Army in the east as well as the military camp of the Shule Kingdom in the west. In the city, Hu Shining had also publicly declared that he would constrain his sabersmen and killers from killing people. Within the Dragon King’s jurisdiction, anybody who had a dispute had to report to the Department of Guards to seek settlement.
The Department of Guards was an agency that Gu Shenwei had set up not long ago. The department shared a courtyard with Hu Shining’s stronghold. Zhong Heng was appointed as the first Commandant of Guards. Compared to the jurisdiction of the position “Patrol Commandant” that he used to have under the identity of a Central Plainsman, his current jurisdiction was smaller, only less than half of southern Jade City and less than a quarter of northern Jade City. However, his power was real and solid.
“Whether or not to accept the protection and mediation of the Department of Guards is totally at the residents’ own discretion,” Zhong Heng explained. The Dragon King was not the Lord of Jade City yet, so he had no way to force the people to follow the ban on killing. “But judging from the feedback that I’ve received so far, most people are in support of this ban. At least four sabersmen villages have unanimously reached an agreement and decided to stop resorting to violence to settle disputes. Tomorrow, they will publicly announce this decision.”
Shangguan Ru was very happy. “Though the Kun Society is small, we have territory in both southern Jade City and northern Jade City. We will volunteer to subject ourselves to the jurisdiction of the Department of Guards. From now on, Prime Minister Zhong is Commandant Zhong. You’re probably the first official in charge of setting rules in Jade City, right?”
Zhong Heng gave out two coughs. “I merely have a little power within the Dragon Army. In Jade City, I will still have to rely on your assistance, which is why the Dragon King has invited you two to this meeting.”
Just as Shangguan Ru had said, the Kun Society was indeed a very small organization. Though it had several hundred sabersmen and some female soldiers, they had never fought with other forces to expand their territory. Only residents living in a small area in the northeastern corner of southern Jade City wanted its protection. Most of these residents were small business owners and poor people. They had chosen the Kun Society mostly because its protection was free of charge.
The main organization able to exert strong influence on the ban on killing was the Waning Moon Hall.
The Waning Moon Hall had no public territory within Jade City. The underground maze of the Bodhi Garden had been abandoned. Lotus and some of her disciples now lived in the new Essence Pavilion in Retention Alley. They hadn’t made any moves for quite some time, indicating that they were just a group of temporary tenants living in southern Jade City. But everybody knew that the people living in that building, both men and women, were extremely dangerous, and that it was not a wise choice to mess with them.
Lotus had once said to the Dragon King that the Waning Moon Hall had some hidden forces that might have an inestimable influence on Jade City.
Sitting there, Lotus listened for a while and then said, “The Dragon King has the right to forbid your subordinates from killing people, but I can’t see how the Waning Moon Hall would benefit from supporting this ban.”
Han Fen added, “That’s true. If we all stop killing, then how would people die? Isn’t there going to be more and more people?”
Zhong Heng smiled. “Of course there are benefits. I think that the Master Commander also knows that the Central Plains is exerting influence on Jade City. The new Governor of the Western Regions will take office tomorrow. It’s very likely that this governor will make an excuse to take over Jade City. One of the merits of the ban on killing is that the governor won’t be able to use the lawlessness of the city as an excuse.”
Lotus still appeared uninterested. “If I may be so bold, I would say that the Dragon King is being a busybody. Jade City is not his, and neither is it mine. Does it matter who takes it over? Besides, the Dragon King imposed the ban on killing without prior consultation with the Waning Moon Hall. He is taking all the credit, and the Waning Moon Hall will gain nothing but a reputation for humbly fawning upon the Dragon King.”
Realizing that there was a certain undertone contained in Lotus’ words, Shangguan Ru slightly blushed. Han Fen watched Red Bat and repeated, “Humbly fawning on the Dragon King.” Red Bat responded by glaring at her.
Hearing Lotus’ explicit and aggressive words, even the experienced and wily Zhong Heng could barely handle this situation. “Well… which part do you think is humble?”
Gu Shenwei replied, “I’m not the one who thought of those moves. I’ll tell you where you can find them. In exchange, the Waning Moon Hall has to abide by the ban on killing.”
Lotus thought for a while. “Now we’re talking. The Dragon King should have made this offer at the very beginning.”
Zhong Heng smiled in embarrassment, thinking, ‘These two people are not like a supreme commander of an army and a leader of a sect at all. Their negotiation is even more direct than the bargaining between a vendor and a customer.”
“The Master Commander should ask for more favorable terms. I think that the Dragon King will agree to anything.” Lifting her eyebrows and winking, Han Fen said this in a low voice. Lotus darted a cold glance at her and she stayed silent for quite a while.
“So the Waning Moon Hall is also willing to constrain subordinates from killing people?” asked Zhong Heng. He wanted to hear a specific response from Lotus to be completely sure.
“I will forbid disciples of the Waning Moon Hall from killing outsiders, but I won’t forbid them from killing each other.”
Stunned, Zhong Heng watched the Dragon King for quite a while and then said, “Of course. Nobody has the right to interfere in the internal affairs of the Waning Moon Hall. A family has family rules, and a sect has sect regulations. The Master Commander has the right to punish her disciples in whatever way she wants.”
This was the greatest extent to which Zhong Heng could understand the words “killing each other.”
Red Bat couldn’t help but say in a muted voice, “Instructor, you don’t have any conditions?”
Shangguan Ru appeared a little amazed. “The ban on killing is the biggest benefit. What other conditions should I ask for?”
Embarrassed, Red Bat answered “Yes.” Turning her head aside, she saw that Han Fen was making faces at her. She contemptuously snorted but suddenly realized that the Instructor might misunderstand her due to this snort. She blushed and wanted to explain, but found that it was not the right time to talk. Thus, she couldn’t help feel very annoyed.
Shangguan Ru didn’t have any terms to dictate, but Zhong Heng did. He gave two coughs again and said, “With the support of the Kun Society and the Waning Moon Hall, I think that it’s safe to say that the ban on killing will probably be a success, but we’re still facing one big obstacle, or two… ”
Zhong Heng was good at beating around the bush, but Shangguan Ru saved him some time. “Commandant Zhong is worried about Golden Roc Castle and the Heavenly Mountain Sect, right? I’ll handle it. I can’t guarantee that I’ll succeed, but I think that I have at least a seventy to eighty-percent chance.”
Red Bat repeatedly pulled on the tail of the Instructor’s clothes, implying that she shouldn’t get involved in this so recklessly, but there was no response. So, she could do nothing but secretly feel sorry for her.
As if it was some kind of competition, Han Fen also started pointing behind Lotus. Even she herself didn’t know why she was doing this.
“That’s great. Tomorrow, Jade City will welcome the new Governor of the Western Regions with the ban on killing already in place.” Zhong Heng never expected that things would go so smoothly, so he was very delighted. Since his mission had been accomplished, he made an excuse and left the main tent with Chu Nanping and the guard, trying not to think too hard about how the Dragon King would deal with these two women.
Red Bat took the hint and also left, while it was not until Lotus gave an order that Han Fen reluctantly took her leave.
There were three people left in the tent, and the atmosphere suddenly became awkward. All three people were looking in different directions, trying to avoid eye contact with the others. Gu Shenwei felt that he was obliged to offer an explicit explanation of this issue, so he said, “I think that it’s better we make things clear. All of us want to become the Lord of Jade City, right?”
Lotus turned her head aside and glanced at Shangguan Ru who then let out a laugh. “Yes. I want to compete for the position of Lord of Jade City as well.”
There were many issues that needed to be explained, but it also seemed as if explanations were redundant, so Shangguan Ru might as well let it go.
Gu Shenwei didn’t ask her any further questions. “Taking Golden Roc Castle and the Central Plains into account, there are now five sides competing for the position of Lord of Jade City. The Central Plains will be in support of Golden Roc Castle.”
“Haven’t the Central Plainsmen allied with the Dragon King?” Shangguan Ru asked in surprise.
“It was Prince Xiao who allied with me. There is another group of Central Plainsmen who prefer the Unique King. I’m guessing that the new Governor of the Western Regions will be on the side of the latter. For Central Plainsmen, they have bets on two sides, which means they’ll be on the winning side no matter which one of the two wins.”
Lotus snorted as the Waning Moon Hall wasn’t backed by either of the Central Plains sides. “The Dragon King hopes that the three of us will forge an alliance to compete against Golden Roc Castle and the Central Plains, right?” She glanced at Shangguan Ru again, totally confused.
Shangguan Ru knew what she meant. “My father has allowed me to return to this city, but it doesn’t mean that I’m a member of Golden Roc Castle again. Let me get this straight. My ‘backer’ is the Four Noble Truths Temple. The monks there hope that Jade City will become a place where Buddhism prevails. I think that this is also a good thing. The Dragon King’s ban on killing can be counted as a start, so I don’t want to see the position of Lord of Jade City to fall into the hands of Golden Roc Castle. My father has abandoned his killers, but that is merely an expedient measure. After he gets what he wants, the castle will return to normal.”
Lotus slightly raised her head. When facing her former master, she was no long timid. “I only have one question. What is it that makes you think that you’re qualified to compete for the position of Lord of Jade City?”
As far as Lotus could remember, Shangguan Ru had never been a kung fu expert.
Shangguan Ru smiled. “An eminent monk transferred all of his internal energy to me before he died. Knowing this, the Four Noble Truths Temple taught me a few moves, so I think that I might stand a chance.”
Lotus peered at Shangguan Ru, warning herself to not underestimate this opponent. Since both the Four Noble Truths Temple and the Unique King thought highly of her, there must be something special about her. “Was this also the reason why the Unique King granted you the permission to return?”
The look on Shangguan Ru’s face went slightly glum, since what Lotus said was right. The bond of kinship was actually an inappreciable part of the relationship between her and her father.
The three then forged an alliance. After that, the atmosphere fell into awkwardness again. This time, Shangguan Ru was the one to break the silence. There was a question that she had been meaning to ask for a long time. “You were hurt?”
Lotus’ heart slightly lurched. She had perceived the Dragon King’s injury quite some time ago, but this was not the key. Judging from Shangguan Ru’s tone and the look in her eyes, she finally confirmed one thing: Han Fen was right. These two people had indeed had sexual relations. She was destined to be an outsider.
‘So what?’ Lotus found that she wasn’t jealous. Instead, she was relieved. From now on, a certain thought would no longer appear in her mind, which meant that the only previous obstacle in her path of cultivating the Death Sutra no longer existed.