“In that case, I won’t be bothering the Military Advisor.” One man said as Cai Mao sent him off.
“There is no bother. There is no need to be too polite amongst friends!” Cai Mao smiled as he replied. Chen Mo from the Chen Family had given him a gift. It was a medicinal gift that was worth two thousand gold. This was a huge amount for both the Chen Family and the Cai Family. Of course, the gift was for the Chen Family to obtain a spot as an official in one of the twenty county towns.
Nanyang had twenty county towns and merchants were needed to reconstruct Nanyang. The Cai Family who had a large share of Nanyang would naturally have a lot of visitors.
While two thousand gold was worth a lot to the Chen Family, the Nanyang region was fertile. It could provide for over a hundred thousand people. Even if they adjusted their tax depending on the harvest, they would be able to collect back this money in a few years.
As for the county towns, the Cai Family and Kuai Family took five each while the Zhang Family and Huang Family took three each. This totaled up to sixteen. The rest can be shared by others.
“Someone. Please help see this brother out!” Cai Mao was happy. Since they had already drank tea and he had already received the money, he should have his guest seen out respectfully.
“Lord Chen, this way.” One of the guards gestured to the man.
“I will take my leave.” The man also replied with a smile. At that moment, a housekeeper suddenly rushed in.
“Not good! Not good!” The housekeeper ran into the Chen Mo and knocked him onto the ground.
“Impudent!” Cai Mao immediately became angry. How could they treat a guest this way? Especially a guest that had just given them a gift. He immediately called for the guards to arrest the housekeeper.
The guards cupped their fists and acted as ordered. As they had been paying attention to what was happening, they did not feel embarrassed to arrest the housekeeper.
“Brother Chen, are you alright?” Cai Mao asked with concern.
Chen Mo was naturally angry from the accident and his hand was bleeding because of the fall. Despite that he resisted his anger and laughed. “I am fine. It is just a light injury.” This was the Cai Family’s territory. He could not personally punish that servant and he could not afford to offend the Cai Family. If Cai Mao really wanted to punish that servant, he would have already given the order for the servant to be struck with rods. This meant that Cai Mao intended to cover this up.
“Brother Chen, walk slowly.”
“I am fine.” Chen Mo replied as he limped away.
“Hmph!” Cai Mao’s smiling expression disappeared after Chen Mo had left. He then looked at the housekeeper and reprimanded him. “How did I tell you to conduct yourself? This is the Cai Family! We are one of the most influential families in Jingzhou! We must act calmly regardless of whether there is a huge issue!” The housekeeper had been with the Cai Family for so long he could be considered to be half part of the Cai Family.
“Yes!” The housekeeper nodded repeatedly. “But…”
“Calm down and speak slowly.” Cai Mao glared. They had to conduct themselves calmly. They must not show it even if a mountain crumbled in front of their face.
The housekeeper took a moment to breathe to calm himself.
“That is better.” Cai Mao nodded with admiration.
“Report. The Lady, Lord Governor’s wife, is thrown into prison!” The housekeeper finally reported.
“What?” Cai Mao immediately turned pale with fright. His sister, Lady Cai, was Liu Biao’s main wife. Who dared to throw her into prison? “How daring? Who dares to act so impudently?” Cai Mao was angry. He had such high status that even Pang Degong had to give him face. So how could they be so daring as to throw his sister into prison?
“No, that can’t be right!” Cai Mao had been confused because of his worry for his sister but he quickly realized that something was wrong. Lady Cai was still Liu Biao’s main wife. Nobody could be blind enough to go after her.
“It is the Lord Governor that gave the order to send the Lady to prison!” The housekeeper sullenly informed Cai Mao.
“Why? Why?” Cai Mao did not understand why Liu Biao would have his own wife, and mother of his future heir Liu Zong, arrested.
“This… This servant does not know!” The housekeeper shook his head. He only knew that Lady Cai was thrown into prison.
“Why didn’t you say this earlier?” Cai Mao asked angrily.
“I…!” The housekeeper felt wronged since he was ordered to calm down and speak slowly.
“Men! Bring out the horses and follow me to the Governor’s residence! I want to see the Lord!” Cai Mao was hurried. He needed to know if Liu Biao wanted to bring down the Cai Family. Although the Cai Family threw their weight around in Jingzhou, they were still loyal to Liu Biao so there was no reason for it. Cai Mao wondered if this was because of Xudou.
Just as Cai Mao was about to get on his horse, he heard someone ask him in a mocking tone. “Military Advisor Cai Mao! Where are you going?”
Cai Mao turned around to see a group of troops being led by Huang She. “It’s you?”
“It is me! This nephew Huang She greets uncle Cai Mao!” Huang She’s words were respectful but his tone was far from it.
“Hmph! I am going to the Governor’s residence! People with no fixed duties should step aside!” Cai Mao replied. Seeing Huang She’s smile made him angry but he could not act on his anger yet. He still had important things to do.
With these words, Cai Mao’s guards immediately came out and took out their swords. If Huang She insisted on blocking the way, they would attack.
“People with no fixed duties?” Huang She was angry at the way Cai Mao addressed him. ‘Hmph. Let’s see how long you can remain arrogant!’
“Military Advisor Cai wants to see the Lord, but I think you better not.” Huang She said to Cai Mao.
Cai Mao frowned at this. He could not understand Huang She’s words. “Hm? Do I need your permission to see the Lord?”
“Of course not, but Military Advisor Cai, the Lord doesn’t want to see you!” Huang She laughed as he watched Cai Mao’s expression changed. The reason for this change was because more of Huang She’s troops were starting to appear. Huang She who only had about twenty men with him initially now had several hundred men while the Cai Family only had about fifty men.
“The Lord gave the order!” Huang She took out a letter as he spoke. “Cai Mao Cai Degui is to remain in his residence until further notice! If he disobeys, he is to be executed immediately!”
“Military Advisor Cai. Do you still want to go somewhere?” Huang She asked while laughing. “I won’t stop you if so, but only your head will meet him!”
“You!” Cai Mao was angry. The Lord did not want to see him? Why? He was the Lord of the Cai Family. He is one of the most influential person in Jingzhou. He had such high prestige that Liu Biao had never treated him like this before. Yet he was now being threatened by Huang She.
“Master. What do we do?” The guards asked. They would escort Cai Mao if he still wanted to go and meet Liu Biao but then it might become a battle.
“Hm.” Cai Mao glared at Huang She who remained unafraid. “Come. Let us go back!” Cai Mao got off his horse and said to his guards.
“Men. Close the door.” Cai Mao said from within his residence. The large door was slowly closed.
“Hmph! This old bastard doesn’t know how to appreciate kindness!” Huang She said angrily as he looked at the large door. “Do you still think you are Military Advisor Cai? Do you still think Jingzhou is yours?”
Huang She looked at the Cai Family’s residence with greed. Once this is over, the Huang Family would have a residence far larger than this.
However, Huang She could not understand why Liu Biao did not have Cai Mao arrested and allowed Cai Mao to stay arrogant. If Cai Mao had disobeyed the order just now, Huang She would be allowed to kill him which was what Huang She wanted. Unfortunately, Liu Biao did not seem to have the guts to do this.
“You guys! Go and surround this place! Do not let anyone out!” Huang She ordered the troops. These were all Liu Biao’s guards.
“Yes!” The guards nodded and moved.
“Preposterous!” Cai Mao sat down and then slammed his hand onto a table.
“Master, here is some tea.” One female servant brought a cup of tea.
“I’m not drinking!” Cai Mao slapped the teacup away. The hot water splashed onto the girl’s hand causing her to cry out in pain.
“Go back.” The housekeeper said to the female servant. The girl could only tearfully withdraw.
“Master. What should we do now?” The housekeeper asked. With Lady Cai in prison and Cai Mao stuck at home, Jingzhou is sure to fall into turmoil.
“You ask me, I ask who?” Cai Mao retorted, his heart still filled with anger. How dare Huang She act this way when even his father Huang Zu did not dare do so in front of Cai Mao.
The housekeeper also did not know what to say in reply.
A short while later, a guard came with a report from their spies. As all influential family have their own spies, it was not surprising for the Cai Family to have one as well. Cai Mao quickly opened up the letter and read through it.
“What? Impossible!” Cai Mao was in such a shock that he dropped the letter.
“Master?” The housekeeper asked. When he picked up the letter for Cai Mao, he read the report stating that Lady Cai was pregnant, quite possibly with Liu Mang’s child.
“How could this be? This is slander!” The housekeeper shouted.
However, Cai Mao shook his head as it was impossible for their spies to lie. Part of why Cai Mao managed to earn his status was because of his spies. Even if the part where the father is Liu Mang is incorrect, it is quite likely the part regarding Lady Cai’s pregnancy was true. Cai Mao laughed as he bitterly shook his head. If this was several years ago, Cai Mao would have been happy enough to arrange a banquet. However, a pregnancy now meant a disaster especially after the doctor had diagnosed Liu Biao to be unable to have children. It was impossible for the child to be Liu Biao’s.
But Cai Mao did not know how this was related to Liu Mang since he could not remember Liu Mang and Lady Cai ever interacting. It was at that moment that the housekeeper reminded him about Jingshan.
Cai Mao widened his eyes in realization and then he sighed. At this point, it was too late for blames and regrets.
“Did the spies bring any other message?”
“The spies said Master will need to be careful. The Lord Governor is mobilizing a lot of troops!” The messenger replied.
“Mobilizing the troops?” Cai Mao thought to himself. If Lady Cai was dead, their position in Jingzhou would take a huge dive. “I must not implicate Liu Zong.”
Cai Mao was actually a talented person. In the original history, Zhou Yu wrote a letter to make the mistrustful Cao Cao kill Cai Mao. The modern people laughed thinking this was all Cai Mao amounted to. Yet, why did Zhou Yu choose to have Cai Mao killed? Evidently, it is because Cai Mao was talented.
“Have the spies keep in contact with the army and then wait for my orders!” Cai Mao said to his guards.
“Yes!” The guard nodded and was about to leave when Cai Mao suddenly stopped him.
“Wait!” Cai Mao shouted. “Send a letter to Zhang Yun. Tell him that the Xiangyang Navy must not approach the shore.” Cai Mao started to make preparations. As the family head of an influential family, he would have many people working for him such as the Zhang Family and many others. They were already a singular entity. Cai Mao had to make preparations in the event that Liu Biao did not care for old feelings.
Kuai Liang spat out his tea, splashing it all over his brother’s face. Liu Mang’s last visit allowed Kuai Ran to marry his wife and also helped these two brothers to make peace. As they were born from the same mother, they naturally had affection with each other. That was why these two brothers would now drink tea together.
A shocking news caused Kuai Liang to spit out the tea in his mouth. Kuai Yue simply wiped his face without take offense.
“What did you say?” Kuai Liang asked the person who brought him this shocking news.
“Report. Lady Cai is pregnant!” The man replied back.
“Pregnant? Whose child is it?” Anyone would ask this question as Liu Biao was too old to make babies. That man already had one leg in his grave.
“It is said that the baby belongs to the King of Shu!” The man replied.
Kuai Liang did another spittake. Fortunately this time, the quick witted Kuai Yue managed to avoid the attack.
“The King of Shu Liu Mang?” Kuai Liang stood up in shock. Lady Cai and Liu Mang had sex? Kuai Liang’s brain could not keep up. Was it the world that was too complicated or was Kuai Liang too simple minded?
“How could this two have…?” Kuai Liang wanted to refute this but then he suddenly remembered about Jingshan. “Could it be?”
“It is definitely that time.” Kuai Yue shook his head bitterly.
“This King of Shu!” Kuai Liang felt helpless. He finally understood why Liu Mang and the Cai Family had such good relationship after the events at Jingshan. Cai Mao was initially antagonistic towards Liu Mang yet Cai Mao seemed to have changed after Jingshan. Kuai Liang initially thought that Cai Mao was giving the Kuai Family face or that Liu Mang persuaded Lady Cai with his silver tongue. Now it seems like rather than his mouth, it was his dick that did the talking.
“Come! Let’s go see the Lord!” Kuai Liang felt anxious. This was such a huge matter that war might start between Jingzhou and Yangzhou. However, Kuai Liang was not worried about the war. He was worried about Liu Mang’s life.
“Wait!” Although Kuai Liang was in a hurry, Kuai Yue was still calm and steady. This is because Kuai Yue thought about things more deeply than Kuai Liang.
“Did Brother Degui go and explain things to the Lord?” Kuai Yue asked the messenger.
“Military Advisor Cai wanted to explain things to the Lord but he was stopped by Huang She and his men. Now Military Advisor Cai is stuck at home!”
“Cai Degui is stopped?” Kuai Liang was stunned.
“Men! Go and close the main doors!” Kuai Yue ordered.
“Brother?” Kuai Liang did not understand. This should be the time to go and see Liu Biao. Why did he order for the door to be closed?
“Zirou. Do you still not understand?” Kuai Yue shook his head.
Hearing his brother, Kuai Liang finally understood that this was done under Liu Biao’s orders. Even though Huang She planned it, this would not have happened without Liu Biao’s orders. In other words, Liu Biao had no intentions of letting Cai Mao do anything. If that was the case, the Kuai Family would also be powerless to do anything. This was a matter of a man’s dignity. No one can reach a compromise here. It was the same reason why Zhang Xiu rebelled against Cao Cao.
Regardless of who tries to persuade Liu Biao, it would only serve to make Liu Biao angrier.
“Brother. Are we just going to sit here and do nothing? In any case, the King of Shu is…” Kuai Liang panicked. Even if Liu Biao had no intention of seeing them, they could not just sit around doing nothing.
“Men! Dispatch someone to the King of Shu. Tell him that the South Gate is worn out and needs to be repaired!” Kuai Yue ordered.
“Understood!” One messenger quickly left after receiving the order.
“Brother is talented!” Kuai Liang cupped his fist at his brother. “I am sure the King of Shu will remember this favor!”
“If only…” Kuai Yue shook his head. One was his Lord and the other was the brother of his son’s wife. He did not know who to help but he had already done all he could.
“Xiao Cui. Why are you here?” Liu Mang asked the crying girl.
“It is the Lady!” Xiao Cui wept.
“The Lady? Lady Cai? Did Lady Cai ask you to come?” Liu Mang could not understand. By right, Lady Cai should not be contacting him at all due to their respective status. If she had to see Liu Mang, it must be done in secret instead of coming through the front like Xiao Cui.
“Do not cry. Speak slowly.” Liu Mang felt his heart ache watching Xiao Cui cry. He patted her shoulders in order to comfort her.
Xiao Cui felt Liu Mang beside her and immediately started to cry loudly in his bosoms. Meanwhile, Jia Xu gave a strange smile and purposefully gestured “I did not see anything.”
“No. The Lady has been imprisoned by Master!” Xiao Cui finally explained.
“What?” Liu Mang’s eyes grew wide. “Liu Biao threw Lady Cai into prison? Why? Did he find out about something?” Liu Mang asked. He had been plotted against by Pang Tong but he had also destroyed that plot flawlessly. He even appeared in front of Liu Biao outside of Lady Cai’s room.
“Did Pang Tong return?” Liu Mang thought to himself. Pang Tong had disappeared for a very long time. It was not only Liu Bei but also Liu Mang who wanted to find Pang Tong. If Pang Tong were to live, Liu Mang would not be able to sleep peacefully. Could Pang Tong have returned and said something to Liu Biao?
“No, no!” Xiao Cui shook her head. Although her tears and mucus were all over Liu Mang’s gown, Liu Mang did not care and continued to hold onto her.
“Your Highness! Run quickly! If not, it would be too late! The Master have already dispatched people to arrest you!” Xiao Cui was seemingly unable to explain but she continued to urge Liu Mang to leave.1
“Report. Milord, someone outside had sent a letter with an arrow!” Guan Hai entered the room again with an arrow and a letter.
“A letter? Bring it here!” Liu Mang lightly let go of Xiao Cui and took the letter. It said that the South Gate has fallen to disrepair.
“Who sent this letter?” Liu Mang asked. He was now certain that Liu Biao had discovered something and wanted to arrest him
“I don’t know but it seem to have come from the tea shop outside.”
“Tea shop?” Liu Mang thought for a moment and realized that this tea shop belonged to the Kuai Family.
“It is from the Kuai Family!” Jia Xu said in realization. He initially did not believe in Xiao Cui’s words but now he had no other choice because of the Kuai Family.
“Burn it.” Liu Mang said as he handed the letter to Jia Xu. If it was indeed the Kuai Family that send this letter, they had to destroy it or else it might bring more problems to the Kuai Family.
“Xiao Cui. Tell me the truth. How did Liu Biao find out?” Liu Mang was afraid of a trap as Pang Tong tend to trick people. After all, Liu Mang was sure that this matter was buried so how did Liu Biao find out? If this was a trap, then wouldn’t running just prove that he is guilty? After all, Yangzhou and Jingzhou were allies. Liu Mang who wanted to destroy Liu Bei did not want more side issues to crop up.
“Your Highness! Stop asking! Just run!” Xiao Cui kept telling Liu Mang to run regardless of the question asked.
“I cannot leave until you tell me what’s going on!” Liu Mang shook his head.
“Milord. Several people from the Xiangyang Guards are coming here.” One subordinate reported.
“They are here? Go out and greet them!” Liu Mang forced himself to stay calm. He kept telling himself that the enemy was just making tricks.
Xiao Cui was about to cry again, this time from panic. She would have said this earlier if Lady Cai had not told her to keep quiet.2 “Your Highness! The Lady is pregnant!”
“Pregnant? No wonder!” Liu Mang spontaneously replied. Then his brain halted. “Wait. Pregnant? Mine?”
“Yes.” Xiao Cui nodded.
“That cannot be right.” Liu Mang hesitated. His three wives were unable to become pregnant despite his best efforts so how could Lady Cai become pregnant just from a one night stand?
“The baby is yours. The Lady did not have sex with anyone else for years.” Xiao Cui replied.
Liu Mang had forgotten. Although they only had sex for one night, it had went on for hundreds of rounds.
“Jia Xu Jia Wenhe!” Liu Mang finally understood that this wasn’t part of the enemy’s bluff but an incident with evidence.
“This one is here!” Jia Xu knelt.
“Jia Xu. Take your family and Xiao Cui. Leave immediately through the South Gate!” Liu Mang ordered. According to the Kuai Family, the South Gate is safe.
“Yes!” Jia Xu nodded and received the order.
“I am not leaving! I can’t leave Miss behind!” Xiao Cui shook her head. Although she wanted to follow Liu Mang to Yangzhou, she had no intention of separating from Lady Cai.
“Xiao Cui, be obedient. If you stay here, Lady Cai would not be able to leave.” Liu Mang placated her.
“No! I cannot leave! I must accompany her!” Xiao Cui was very close to Lady Cai. If it was not because she had to inform Liu Mang about this, she would have chosen to be imprisoned together with Lady Cai.
“Xiao Cui! Look over there!”
“Hm?” Xiao Cui looked at the direction Liu Mang pointed before Liu Mang knocked her out. Since Xiao Cui was so stubborn, Liu Mang could only resort to doing this. It was not time for minor disputes. If they do not leave now, they would not get a chance to leave at all.
“Wenhe. I will leave Xiao Cui to you. You must make sure she reaches Yangzhou!” Liu Mang said to Jia Xu.
“Yes. If she even lose a hair, I am willing to lose my head!” Jia Xu replied.
“Keep your head for your child.” Liu Mang shook his head.
“Milord. What about you?” Jia Xu asked. Based on Liu Mang’s orders, he had no intention of leaving with Jia Xu.
“Me? I will catch up later.” Liu Mang said with a smile.
“Milord? Please do not be too rash. This is not Yangzhou. Staying here will only mean death.” Jia Xu persuaded.
“I know. I don’t plan on staying.”
“I am going to the Xiangyang prison.” Liu Mang declared. He wanted to go there because Lady Cai was there.
“Milord. You definitely must not do this!” Jia Xu advised. Was this the time to think about a lover?
“Wenhe. What do you think of your two children?” Liu Mang suddenly asked.
Jia Xu did not know how to answer Liu Mang but he was certainly happy that they were there.
“I feel the same way. My son is there. I cannot leave them both in Jingzhou!” Liu Mang said with a happy smile. Everyone would be excited hearing that they were becoming a father. However, Liu Mang found out about this too late.
“Milord. Take care!” Jia Xu knew he could not persuade Liu Mang. His words would not be able to win over paternal love.
“Zuo Yi! You Er! The two of you, stay here to protect the Lord. If he gets injured, you do not need to come back to see me!” Jia Xu said to his subordinates.
“Understood!” Jia Xu’s subordinate replied.
Liu Mang did not say anything to this. He knew that this was Jia Xu’s sincere feelings.
“Guan Hai! Zhou Cang!” Liu Mang called his two guards.
“This subordinate is here!” “Milord! Why did you call?” The two replied.
“Do the two of you fear death?” Liu Mang asked.
“We are not afraid!” The two replied after looking at each other.
“Not afraid? Do the two of you know it is a grave offense to lie to your Lord?” Liu Mang laughed as he shook his head. There weren’t many people that were actually unafraid of death.
“The two of you are afraid! In fact, the two of you are more afraid of death compared to others!”
Guan Hai and Zhou Cang’s face turned red as they felt hurt. Was Liu Mang looking down on them?
“Guan Hai! You are afraid of death because you are afraid that no one will avenge you and your brothers!” Liu Mang pointed to Guan Hai.
“I…” Guan Hai wanted to refute but he did not know what to say.
“Zhou Cang! You are a foodie! You are afraid that once you die, there won’t be any nice things to eat!”
“Haha! Milord knows me so well.” Zhou Cang laughed.
“In fact, I am also afraid of death!” Liu Mang confessed. “I am the Lord of Yangzhou. The King of Shu. I think of conquering the lands. I am afraid I would die before I see that moment!”
“Men! Bring me my shield!” Liu Mang ordered his other subordinates. His subordinate soon brought him his weapon. He mostly used it to train as he must not abandon his training.
“It is precisely because we are afraid of death that we must not die! This time, I am taking you where we have a high chance of dying! If you think it is not worth it, follow Jia Xu back to Yangzhou!” Liu Mang said to Guan Hai and Zhou Cang.
“Milord! You are right! I am afraid of death! However, I am more afraid I would be mocked by others! My life is yours! If you die, I will follow you in death!” Guan Hai knelt towards Liu Mang.
“Good.” Liu Mang nodded.
“Milord. I am uncultured but I know I won’t be able to find nice things to eat if I leave you! So I will follow you!” Zhou Cang laughed.
“Zuo Yi. You Er. What about the two of you?” Liu Mang asked. These two were Jia Xu’s subordinates so Liu Mang would rather they protect Jia Xu. After all, Xiao Cui was also there. That was why he would allow them to leave if they wanted.
“We are born without a life!”3 The two cupped their fist as Liu Mang.
“Good! Now, everyone said that the Xiangyang prison is bottomless. We are going to see if that’s true!” Liu Mang said while his killing intent was clearly shown in his eyes.
“We will go to the dragon pond together!” Zhou Cang and the others shouted together.
Liu Mang wore his Aries Gold Cloth. This armor was barely used since he came to Jingzhou. Although there was no dust on it, Liu Mang always felt that something was not right with it. Now he knew. The Aries Gold Cloth was lacking blood. It just need to be dyed red with the blood of his enemies.
Guan Hai and Zhou Cang had also worn their armor and took their weapons. As Zuo Yi and You Er were closer to assassins than fighters, they did not wear armor. Instead, they were to secretly follow and protect Liu Mang and the others.
“Your Highness! They are here!” A resounding voice came from outside.
- It’s amazing that Lady Cai’s personal maid could leave and inform Liu Mang without anyone caring about her.She can still give orders?The short Chinese version of “We are weapons. Just point us at our enemies”