te in money and silk, and yet your country refuses to sell us weapons and horses.
Why would you do this if you truly wish to be friendly? Furthermore, although the Queen is a princess of Great Yong, but these are matters of state? Why must we consider the qualms of a married woman? Duke Wu of the state of Zheng once married his daughter in order to attack the state of Hu.8 I do not dare to forget this story.” 

Young master Qin angrily responded, “The Prince of De has insulted my country.
Enough is enough.
After careful consideration, Your Highness’s worries are not without merit.
Please allow my lowly self to explain.
My country’s prohibition on the sale of weapons and horses is not directly at your country, but rather because of the hostilities along our northern frontier.
With our frontier forces so occupied, how would we dare to sell weapons and horses? Furthermore, your country has long occupied Jiangnan, an area of rivers and lakes.
If your country does indeed not wish to attack Great Yong, why would you need horses? Are you going to use them to attack Shu?” 

Zhao Jue was at a loss for words.
Shang Weijun hurriedly tried to change the subject, “Your Highness and young master Qin have both misspoke.
We are not gathered here today for an emotional dispute.
Would the two honored personages please not bear any grudges.” 

Zhao Jue and young master Qin raised their teacup respectfully with both sides and sipped, signaling the cessation of the debate. 

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Taking a breath, young master Qin said, “My country plans against Shu because of its obstinate refusal to submit.
Although we were once allied, they have repeatedly broken the alliance.
Most hatefully, my country does not produce enough salt and we must purchase salt from Sichuan, but the Kingdom of Shu has repeatedly raised the price.
Sichuan possesses abundant salt, and yet chooses to use such unscrupulous means to amass wealth.
We cannot tolerate this situation continuing.
If our two countries attack Shu together, we are willing to divide Sichuan, using the river as the border.
At that point, Southern Chu’s military strength will be greatly increased.
While Great Yong still has a menace upon its frontiers, while Southern Chu completely controls the entirety of the Yangtze River.
By then, what will there be to continue to make you anxious? If Your Highness, even under these circumstances, cannot be reassured and believe that Southern Chu cannot fight against Great Yong, then Your Highness may be better served surrendering.
Does Southern Chu only wish to control a mere Jiangnan with its life and death determined by others?” 

Although Zhao Jue remained silent, he shook his head.
He understood that the combat ability of Southern Chu’s soldiers was relatively poor.
If they were to attack Shu, the majority of the territory would probably fall into the hands of Great Yong.
What equal division of the spoils? By that time, the territory will belong to whoever conquered it.
Everyone looked at each other, everyone seeing the determined expression on Zhao Jue’s face.
No matter how glib a tongue would not be able to change his intentions.
A vexed look could be seen to flicker across Li Xian’s eyes before he glanced at Liang Wan.
Standing, Liang Wan said, “Everyone is tired today.
If no one objects, would my honored guests descend downstairs to eat.
This servant has prepared pickled plum soup to help alleviate the heat.” 

Shang Weijun stood and said with a smile, “Lady Liang’s banquet must definitely be attended.

Zhao Jue also stood.
Looking at young master Qin, he asked, “May I ask this honored personage’s name? What position do you hold in Great Yong?” 

Paying his obeisance, young master Qin replied, “This one is Qin Zheng in the service of the Prince of Qi.” 

With a smile, Zhao Jue said, “Young master Qin’s tongue is as sharp as a sword, gaining Zhao Jue’s admiration.
There are some matters that no matter how eloquently spoken cannot surpass strength and interests.
My Southern Chu has already acknowledged that we do not have the ability to be treated as an equal with Great Yong.
If Great Yong were to attack the Kingdom of Shu, my Southern Chu will prepare its troops in order to defend itself.” 

Seeing Zhao Jue’s stubbornness, young master Qin could only smile bitterly as he replied, “The Prince of De has made his decision and sticks by it, and will not be swayed by mere words.
Qin Zheng was impetuous and begs for forgiveness.” 

Zhao Jue nodded his head slightly and said, “This Prince has many military matters to deal with, thus must depart.
Would everyone please forgive me.” Everyone didn’t think that Zhao Jue would be so determined and had planned originally to continue to lobby him when he had gotten tipsy and merry.
At this moment, they had no alternative but to escort him out. 

As everyone was exchanging glances, my mind moved.
Rising from my seat, I said, “All the daren are weary, please allow this lowly official to escort His Highness out.” The Prince of Qi and others were not in the mood to take other.
Shang Weijun agonizingly replied, “That will be fine.” 

I followed Zhao Jue out.
Zhao Jue was somewhat tired.
I carefully considered this merely thirty-year old prince.
The pressure on him in these last few years must have been acute.
In the three years since our last meeting, the hair on his temples were slightly white.
He continued to exude a firm and indomitable spirit.
This was Southern Chu’s main pillar.
I was not only filled with admiration, but also felt sad for him.
His painstaking efforts was not understood by others.
I could not understand how he had this kind of courage. 

Feeling my gaze, Zhao Jue indifferently asked, “Who are you?” 

Respectfully, I replied, “This lowly official is Jiang Zhe, a Hanlin Reader-in-waiting, tasked with accompanying the King.” 

Surprised, Zhao Jue asked, “You are Jiang Zhe? Why were you with the Prince of Qi?” 

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I hurriedly explained, “This lowly official was ordered by the King to receive the Prince of Qi.
Today, the Prince of Qi forced this lowly official to be present.
This lowly official had the fortune of hearing Your Highness’s teachings, and am truly fortunate.” 

Although Zhao Jue felt that it was strange, he didn’t investigate in-depth.
With a pained voice, he said, “I have read your poetry, they are very well written. 
‘Drunk, I contemplate the sword under the lamp, 
Awakened, bugles ring through the camps. 
Recalling a scene of soldiers drinking and savoring roasted beef in their widespread camps, 
With military music played out by various instruments they are entranced, 
In the autumn cool a grand parade advances. 
Warriors on coursers speed by, with bows fully drawn, hotly after their enemies’ end, 
On the twangs of the bows into dismay the enemies sank. 
I vow to restore His Majesty to sovereignty with my morale greatly enhanced, 
Earning myself renown and success that never end. 
Deplorably old I’ll be before any achievement attained.’” He was seemingly intoxicated by the concept of this Dance of the Cavalry9 poem that I had written while I was in Jiangxia.
He unconsciously stroked the hair on his temples.
After some time, he asked, “Do you think that we should attack the Kingdom of Shu?” 

Seeing that there was no way around, I replied, “Before this lowly official can express my opinion, please allow this lowly official to ask three questions?” 

Zhao Jue looked at me with amazement before replying, “Ask away.” 

A look of grief flashed in my eyes as I asked, “First, would Your Highness please tell me who in Southern Chu, from the King to the common people, understands the rapacious designs of Great Yong?” 

Zhao Jue replied after being silent for some time, “There aren’t many.
Even my trusted subordinates advised me to attack Shu.” 

“Second,” I continued to ask, “Would Your Highness please tell me if Great Yong were to attack Shu and Shu were to request for our help, would our Southern Chu dare to dispatch troops?” 

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Distressed, Zhao Jue replied, “We would not dare.
Our King would inevitably sit and watch Shu be destroyed.” 

Even though I understood his pain, I chose to continue to ask my third question, “Third, if Your Highness continues to oppose the invasion of Shu, but the King has already made his decision and chooses to use a different general, I wonder if Southern Chu has a more capable general than yourself?” 

My three continuous questions were each increasingly penetrating.
Zhao Jue felt himself break out in a cold sweat at them, staring fixedly at me. 

Lowering my head, I said, “Nowadays, our country cannot act autonomously.
If Your Highness persists in your opposition, the King will dispatch another to attack Shu.
Our country’s soldiers and generals are no match for those of Great Yong or Shu.
If we use up too much of our limited resources in attacking Shu, at that time, Great Yong will be able to easily destroy Southern Chu like a knife through hot butter.10 If Your Highness were willing to lead the troops personally, then we may be able to acquire a portion of Sichuan’s critical points to serve as a base.
As long as we are able to use Longyou11 and Guanzhong12 as a buffer and properly defend the Xiangfan13 region, Great Yong will be restrained.
Southern Chu will receive at least ten years’ worth of benefits.
As long as Southern Chu is patient and waits for the right opportunity,14 then we may not necessarily not be able to conquer the world.” 

At first, Zhao Jue’s face revealed a look of sorrow that gradually calmed, before finally being replaced by a look of unwavering determination.
He replied, “Jiang daren is truly an incomparable minister.
If I am to lead the army to attack Shu, would Jiang daren be willing to serve as my adviser?” 

You must be joking? I didn’t want to go to war.
Therefore, I indifferently answered, “This lowly official does not understand military matters or strategy, and dare not obey.
If Your Highness has any questions, this lowly official will not hide anything and will speak frankly.” 

Zhao Jue looked at me stunned, unable to understand why I had rejected such a good opportunity.
In a heavy voice, he replied, “Everyone bears responsibility with the fate of our country in the balance.15 Since Jiang daren is a vassal of Southern Chu, how can you not spare no effort for our Southern Chu? You should think it over.” After finishing, he led his people away. 

I resentfully watched Zhao Jue depart.
What a fellow to repay kindness with malice.
I just advised you, and this is how you repay me? To want me on the battlefield was really complete nonsense.
What’s to be done? I bitterly began to think of who I could ask to help so that I need not join the army on its campaign. 


直言不讳, zhiyanbuwei – idiom, lit.
to speak bluntly; not to mince words Under traditional Chinese funeral rites, family members of the deceased are required to observe the proper mourning rites which include avoiding bright colored garb, wearing white garb.
Traditionally, the rites were observed for direct family members for up to twenty-seven months (rounded up to three years).
As the Prince of De is the younger brother of King Ling, he must observe a minimum of nine months of mourning. 秦川, qinchuan – refers to the region that is now modern-day Shaanxi and Gansu 唇亡齿寒, chunwangchihan – idiom, lit.
without the lips, the teeth would feel cold; fig.
intimately interdependent 奇耻大辱, qichidaru – idiom, lit.
extraordinary shame and humiliation 心腹之患, xinfuzhihuan – idiom, lit.
calamity within one’s bosom; hidden great danger or trouble 岂有此理, qiyoucili – idiom, lit.
how can this be so?; preposterous, ridiculous, absurd This is an apocryphal story of how Duke Wu of Zheng (郑武公, Martial Duke of Zheng) conquered the state of Hu (胡国) during the Spring and Autumn Period.
He first married his daughter to the ruler of Hu.
During the wedding celebrations, Duke Wu asked his advisers who he could invade.
One of his advisers suggested Hu.
Angrily, Duke Wu stated that the two states were brothers and state of Zheng could not invade.
The ruler of Hu was happy and later the state of Hu ceased to defend against Zheng.
Seizing the opportunity, Zheng invaded and conquered Hu. This is a poem by Song Dynasty poet Xin Qiji entitled Dance of the Cavalry (破阵子) 势如破竹, shirupozhu – idiom, lit.
as easily as breaking bamboo; like a knife through hot butter, irresistible force 陇右, longyou – aka Longxi (陇西) refers to the area that was once part of the Hexi Corridor connecting China proper with the Silk Road 关中, guanzhong – lit.
the land within the passes; refers to the territory originally controlled by the state Qin during the Warring States Period 襄樊, Xiangfan – refers to the two neighboring cities of Xiang and Fan that were combined in 1949 to form the city of Xiangyang 卧薪尝胆, woxinchangdan – idiom, lit.
to lie on firewood and taste good; to suffer patiently, but firmly resolved on revenge 国家兴亡,匹夫有责, guojiaxingwang, pifuyouze – idiom, everyone bears responsibility for the prosperity of the nation

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