Tales of Herding Gods

Tales Of Herding Gods | Chapter 258 - Emperor, Dao Master, Rulai

"Many people don't realize what the reform was for, why they had to reform their lives. They say, wasn't it well in the past, everyone was living comfortably, was joyous and harmonious, while your reforms, aren't they just to satisfy your ambition of an emperor? By offending the blue bloods and the sects, aren't you doing it to expand the territory of Eternal Peace? All the natural calamities and man-made disasters over the years have been your fault, we've had to suffer all of them because of that reform. But this is a fallacy!"

In Bazhou Prefecture, Emperor Yanfeng led a group of civil and military officials through a street while looking at workers manning the porridge stall to feed the people lining up for food. Emperor Yanfeng went over and came to the front of a porridge stall. The worker was about to kneel down when Emperor Yanfeng held him back and said, "There are few rules in such cold weather and frozen land. How much is one serving?"

"Your Majesty, an adult gets a bowl of porridge, two steamed buns, and a ladle of dried vegetables."

Emperor Yanfeng nodded and dismissed him. He picked up the ladle and distributed food to the disaster victims, while behind him stood the civil and military officials of the imperial court. He then continued, "We had all lived well in the past, we were never common people! Minister of Agriculture, tell them, before Imperial Preceptor's reform, how many people could be fed with six ares of fertile land."

Minister of Agriculture immediately said, "Before the reform, six ares of fertile land could produce three hundred and thirty pounds of crops. However, at that time, all the land belonged to influential families, monasteries, and Daoist temples, so there was no land in the hands of farmers.

"A farmer's family had seven-eight people and they took care of five hectares of land, which had grain, fruits, vegetables, and herbs. After slogging for a year and harvesting for two seasons, there was no surplus grain, and they could barely fill their stomachs. They could have one to two meals of meat every month and would starve if they met with natural calamities or man-made disasters. Back then, many elderly would automatically go up the mountain or jump into rivers during years of disaster so that they wouldn't be a burden to their families. Meanwhile, the influential families, monasteries, and Daoist temples were hoarding great amounts of grain and gold."

Emperor Yanfeng said, "Five hectares of land to only feed a family of seven to eight. After painstakingly planting a year's worth of grain, where did it go? Tell them, how many people can be fed by six ares of land after the reform?"

Minister of Agriculture continued, "Your Majesty had order Imperial Preceptor to manage the reform and reclaim all the land. Influential families, monasteries. and Daoist temples can no longer manage any land.

"An adult male can manage five hectares of land, one hectare of which would be fertile land. In the recent years, there was a growth in population, so the rules had been changed. An adult male can now manage two and a half hectares of land and half a hectare of fertile land.

"Imperial Preceptor had also made martial arts practitioners and divine arts practitioners to help with agriculture. To provide a stable crop, rain was provided during drought and water drainage during floods, thus there was no starvation for one hundred and sixty years. Nowadays, six ares of land can produce eight hundred and twenty pounds of crops. Four hundred and forty pounds are used for the land tax, but farmers no longer find it too expensive to eat meat."

"Three hundred and thirty pounds, eight hundred and twenty pounds." Emperor Yanfeng picked two steamed buns and placed them in the bowl of a starving person before giving him a ladle of dried vegetables while sighing ruefully. "What is buddha? This is buddha, a living buddha, a breathing buddha, the buddha of all common people! It's not by taking on the title of Rulai or Dao Master and giving talks on chicken soup for the soul would one become buddha or Dao Master! Minister of Agriculture, let me ask you again, since Imperial Preceptor's reform was good and the rations have also increased, why are there still starvation whenever a natural disaster breaks out?"

Minister of Agriculture had a troubled expression and hesitated. "This…"

"Say it!"

"Yes. Other than the increase in population, there are still things like the eating of meat and wars. Feeding livestock requires grain, as well as feeding strange beasts in the army, training soldiers, fighting wars. All of it requires grain. But the most important reason is still the circulation of cultivated land. There are some pieces of land that were bought back by the influential families, sects, and temples, who then once again became landowners."

"Grain has once again returned into their hands. The reason why the sects were able to rebel the previous time was because they had the money and the rations, that's why they were so daring. Still, this issue of starvation shouldn't have been so severe. It was all because after fighting the war, the empire's treasury had been emptied and the influential families, sects, and temples refused to give out rations. The effect caused by the previous rebellion of the sects is huge…"

Emperor Yanfeng turned his head back and took a glance at the officials. "Influential families, sects, monasteries, and Daoist temples were always seated high above, eating exotic delicacies daily, talking about wind, flowers, snow, and the moon, chatting about paths, skills, and divine arts, discussing immortality and longevity. There are farmers feeding them, but who of them is willing to lend a hand to those farmers? If the farmers refuse to comply, they will send disasters and calamities on them straight away! Is this snow disaster strange? No, it isn't. When sects ruled their own countries, these kind of snow disasters weren't rare, either! However, it wasn't gods sending those calamities nor was it Heaven. It was the sects sending those calamities and disasters to make the common people comply and not dare to rebel!"

"Imperial Preceptor's reform made sects have to work for farmers, for merchants, this is what made them displeased, and they didn't want to do it. In the meantime, Imperial Preceptor created more reforms and founded primary schools, colleges, and Imperial College. He used them to pass down the abilities of sects to the people of the world, to let them be able to protect themselves, and the sects were even more displeased. They wanted to rebel, to kill people! Little did they think that their ancestors from eight generations back were all farmers, none of them an exception!"

"Look and listen clearly. I have executed them this time, and if you guys act like them the next time, I will execute you guys as well! The officials I want aren't from those sects that are high above or any experts or buddhas. The officials I want are those that are able to handle matters in a down-to-earth manner! Scholars must be able to work for farmers, artisans, and merchants! There are actually some scholarly officials who think they are a level higher than others. Damn it—scribe, allow me to say a profanity—damn it, they only know how to grumble and view themselves highly! I wish for more than anything to execute them!"

The civil and military officials lowered their heads and didn't dare to say a word.

Two scribes looked at each other, both of their expressions troubled. The older scribe then said softly, "Your Majesty, Son of Heaven needs to watch his language."

"I don't say profanities frequently, wasn't I really angered which was why I had scolded people? Pardon me, scribe."

While he had been speaking, the person in queue for food was a high monk who was holding onto a golden alms bowl with a smile. "That was a very good speech, Your Majesty. However now that the natural disaster has come, the righteous path is to stop the disaster and save the common people from suffering."

Emperor Yanfeng took a look at this high monk and gave him a bowl of porridge, two steamed buns, and a ladle of dried vegetables before saying, "Not only was my speech good, what I do is even better. High monk, eat slowly, don't bother the people of the secular world."

That high monk agreed and carried his golden alms bowl away.

"Rulai!" The people behind Emperor Yanfeng were stunned when they saw that high monk.

After he left, an old Daoist came from the back. His clothes were disheveled, and his hair was slightly messy. While carrying a bowl, he smiled, "Has Your Majesty eaten?"

Emperor Yanfeng had a grim expression as he scooped porridge for him and shook his head. "Not yet."

"Your Majesty should eat more, it's easier to be move if you're full."

Emperor Yanfeng nodded and grabbed two steamed buns and a bowl of porridge. He said to the civil and military officials, "Come and eat some too, we have trouble."

The civil and military officials looked at the monk and Daoist like they had met formidable foes, but the two people only squatted down at the corner of a wall. They drank the porridge and ate the buns and dried vegetables, enduring hardship gladly.

The officials went forward and took a serving each before squatting down beside another wall. Emperor Yanfeng soon did the same and ate silently.

After eating, he came to the front of pressure well to wash his bowls, and the officials all lined up behind him. Rulai and Dao Master also came forward to wash their bowls while saying, "It's been awhile since we ate meals of the human world, they have a different kind of flavor to them now."

"I and these ministers have been eating them for months." Emperor Yanfeng said seriously. "Dao brothers should eat them more and not let yourselves stay too high above."

"Staying high above is to keep ourselves from the secular world." Old Dao Master smiled. "You are the emperor of the human world so you naturally rule over the secular people. Whereas we who cultivate Dao and buddhism have to be far away from the secular world. If we got tainted, it would be hard to break free."

Emperor Yanfeng smiled and asked, "Dao Master, can you become a real god?"

Dao Master shook his head.

Emperor Yanfeng asked Rulai, "Rulai, can you become a true buddha?"

Rulai shook his head. "The divine bridge is broken, who can become a true god or buddha?"

"Then what bullshit are you spouting? Staying far from the secular world and saying you are very powerful is— Scribes, I have spouted profanities again, don't record them. I know. You guys can fall back, you're not needed here," Emperor Yanfeng said as he walked out of the city accompanied by the civil and military officials.

He stopped then and turned back with a smile. "Even though it's according to the rules of the imperial court and not the rules of the martial world, there's no need for so many people. Those of Divine Bridge Realm stay, others may fall back."

Most of the civil and military officials stopped in their tracks; only seven people followed Emperor Yanfeng. They were Grand Marshall Monk Yuan Kong, Situ Xiu Leqing, Sikong Wei Pingbo, General of Heavenly Strategies Qin Baoyue, King of Mount Tai Ling Xuhua, Grand General of White Horse Quan Dingwu, and High Official Su Yunzhi. Including the emperor, there were eight people.

Rulai and Dao Master paid no attention and continued to walk forward.

Emperor Yanfeng led everyone forward, walking past the outskirts of the city. When they came to the fields outside the city, he stopped to look at the crops and asked an old farmer, "Will there be harvest?"

"Will!" that old farmer said in a loud voice.

Emperor Yanfeng smiled and turned back to look at the ministers behind him. "There's going to be harvest!"

Dao Master said, "Your Majesty, there might be harvest this year, but there might not be the next year. Old Dao has brought a scroll which records the story of Great Ruins; it's called the Founding Emperor Calamity Classics. Your Majesty can slowly take a look while we walk. If Your Majesty still insists on the reform after finishing the scroll, this world is going to change."

Rulai sighed. "Dao Master is merciful."

Dao Master shook his head. "He doesn't know the danger of this. If he knew, he would be like us." When he was done, he passed the Founding Emperor Calamity Classics into the hands of Emperor Yanfeng.

"Your Majesty, be careful of tricks!" High Official Su Yunzhi warned.

Emperor Yanfeng smiled. "No harm."

He took the Founding Emperor Calamity Classics from Dao Master's hands and read them in detail.

They continued to head forward at a leisurely pace. Emperor Yanfeng flipped page after page and read through the Founding Emperor Calamity Classics. Dao Master and Rulai never hurried him, quietly walking nearby.

After covering over a hundred miles, Emperor Yanfeng had finished reading the Founding Emperor Calamity Classics and composed himself. He raised his head to look at the sky but did not say anything.

Old Dao Master asked, "Your Majesty has the well-being of all living things in mind, so you should know what to do, right?"

Emperor Yanfeng was in a daze for a time. Then, he suddenly said, "When I was young, Eternal Peace Empire didn't have such a large territory and the emperor wasn't so respected. At that time, all the sects and influential families were still riding roughshod over people. I had once followed an envoy out of the country to visit a place called Yuanqi Country, which is now Yuan Prefecture. There was a lightning disaster there, and the sky was covered in dark clouds which shrouded Yuanqi Country. The lightning crackled and struck non stop, killing livestock and common people alike.

"The emperor of Yuanqi Country brought his civil and military officials to kneel and beg for forgiveness from the lightning disaster. The common people of that country were also kneeling on the ground, begging Heaven to grant them a pardon. In that lightning disaster, the emperor was electrocuted to death. Only after the event did I learn the Heaven in their words wasn't the heavenly gods but Hidden Lightning Sect.

"That year, the harvest hadn't been good, so the goods offered to Hidden Lightning Sect were lacking, and Hidden Thunder Sect sent a calamity on them. What had caused the disaster was the cult's legacy spirit treasure, Nine Heavens Lightning Luring Cover. The emperor had put all the blame on himself, which was why Hidden Lightning Sect had electrocuted him and changed the emperor. At that time, I was already thinking…"

He looked at Dao Master and Rulai and said slowly, enunciating every word, "I had to overthrow you guys! Now, I have done it, but what Imperial Preceptor and I have done is still not enough, so there is this snow disaster. It was sent by a god? Then I shall overthrow that god!"

Dao Master couldn't resist asking, "Your Majesty isn't going to put the well-being of all living things in mind? Do you want to turn Eternal Peace into the likes of Great Ruins? When you and Imperial Preceptor carried out your reform and took down the many sects to conquer such a huge territory, this Old Dao didn't stop you, did I? However, if you continue with your reform, Heaven will be angered and all living things will be in danger!"

Old Rulai said, "Think thrice, Your Majesty."

"You have your own beliefs, and I have mine."

Old Rulai sighed and said to Dao Master, "Old Dao friend, let's just change the emperor."

Dao Master fetched his Dao sword and nodded. "Oh well, I said what I could. What can I do if Your Majesty remains stubborn? We'll just have to change the emperor."

Emperor Yanfeng looked around and saw old Daoists, old monks, Teacher Poor, and the rest walking in from all directions, surrounding them in the middle. Their numbers were much greater than his own.

The expression of General of Heavenly Strategies and the rest changed drastically.

Emperor Yanfeng was stunned, then broke into laughter. "Rulai, Dao Master, I thought you would go by the rules of the martial world. Never would I have thought you guys would go by the rules of the imperial court."

Rulai shook his head. "We have no choice, so we seek forgiveness from Your Majesty. Dao Master, Dao friends, let us send His Majesty on his way."

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