Dramatic Narration of what happened before
The ancestral home of the Fang family was Dongping, Shandong Province, and everyone in Yangcheng knew it.
“What does Shandong have to do with it? How do you know what’s right?” People who had experienced every kind of rumors these days were not easy to persuade.
The man smiled unhurriedly.
“Right or not, you will know as soon as you hear me out.” He said, “You know that the ancestral home of the Fang family is Shandong, but do you know what the ancestors of the Fang family did to make a living?”
The people who had calmed down suddenly roared again.
“You are so stupid!”
“No one doesn’t know!”
“You are kidding us!”
The middle-aged man rushed to laugh.
“Sure enough, everyone really knows it.” He said in a mediating tone.
All this movement attracted more people to come over.
Before he continued, the middle-aged man seemed to become anxious about the noise. He slapped the table and stepped on the stool to stand up.
“But do you know where the main supply of Fang’s spice business was?”
This time, he stretched out his hand to the north without waiting for people to answer.
“Hebei Road, Henan.”
“At the beginning, the old capital was still there. The North had not fallen, and the business of the Fang family went to and from the North.”
“Later, the Jurchen people came South, and Emperor Chengzong was kidnapped while on an expedition1. The dynasty was in chaos, and the first emperor ascended the throne as emperor of the South.”
Everyone knew this old story, but this middle-aged man spoke very aggressively and quickly, and everyone stopped their noise for a moment.
“What does this have to do with the Fang family?” Someone couldn’t help asking.
The middle-aged man smiled meaningfully.
“At that time, as the ancestors were moving their capital to the South, and not only was their army pursued, but countless spies had mixed in. The first emperor even travelled in disguise, but.”
He suddenly stopped.
The people present were trembling.
“He was still caught by a spy. He was besieged in a courtyard in the countryside, and just then someone happened to pass by. Regardless of the danger, this person killed the spy and rescued the first emperor.”
The middle-aged man paused again at this point and looked at the people around him.
“This person was Fang Shouyi’s father and the founder of Deshengchang.”
The onlookers’ eyes widened, followed up uproar.
“…It was late, soon…Fang Dechang took a step forward and kicked the thief down, carried the first emperor and ran…”
“… At that time, the black wind was blowing so much that they couldn’t even see the sun…”
“… Fang Dechang didn’t know who he saved. He could just tell that the person on his back had a lot of money, since the dragon body of the emperor is naturally different from ordinary people. Fang Dechang had a loyal temperament and couldn’t just leave someone behind if he wanted to save them. So he grit his teeth and ran all the way…”
“… Fang Dechang looked at the people gathered around and thought that the thief was not dead and had chased after them. Thinking that there was no escape, he sighed and said to the man that it seems we two brothers are unable to escape this time…”
“… But he didn’t think that the man would smile and the people who rushed around would raise their hands. Everyone knelt down and shouted long live. Fang Dechang was almost scared to death…”
“… The first emperor said that although you called me a brother, I can’t be your brother. But I can give you anything else you desire…”
“…Fang Dechang kowtowed to thank him, but did not ask for a reward…”
“…The first emperor loved his honesty and loyalty so he wrote a decree on the spot and gave it to Fang Dechang, saying that if there is any danger in the future, this decree was as if he had come in person. He told Fang Dechang that just like you solved my crisis today, I will solve your problems…”
“… This is precisely the story of meeting an emperor by chance. Just like how Decheng happened to encounter the Dragon Lord, if you are also a generous person with deep merit, it does not matter to gain your riches later rather than sooner.”
With a bang, the story was finished. The tea guests in the teahouse applauded one after another and only then did the enthralled waiters shuffle through the crowd with their teapots. The tea guests either talked or continued to inquire things from the storyteller.
A guest sitting on the second floor near the railing stood up, followed by four or five guards. Not only his style, but also his appearance and clothes were very eye-catching.
The teahouse, which was somewhat chaotic after the story, roared again.
“It’s Master Fang.”
“Master Fang, is it true?”
“Master Fang, did your great-grandfather really save the first emperor?”
Everyone gathered around and asked loudly.
Fang Chengyu smiled and went downstairs under the escort of the guards.
There were more people coming downstairs. After so many days, this was the first time that the Fang family had appeared.
“Master Fang, is it true?” Everyone said one after another, “Did he really saved the emperor? Just tell us.”
Fang Chengyu stopped and looked at these people with a smile.
“It doesn’t matter whether it’s really true.” He said, “It’s enough for everyone to know that our imperial edict is true, isn’t it?”
Everyone present was stunned.
“In short, the imperial edict is true.” Fang Chengyu said, raising a cupped fist in the direction of the capital, “The benevolence of the emperor is also true. Do you have to ask what else is true or false?”
After saying that, he left straight away with the guards, leaving everyone in the teahouse stunned.
Yes, what else is true or false? Were they asking the Fang family if the merits of getting the imperial edict were true or false, or whether the imperial grace given by the emperor was true or false?
It was not their place to question whether this was true or false. Didn’t everyone see that even the Jinyiwei didn’t ask?
Otherwise, how could this storyteller sit here safely and talk?
These things must have been reported to the emperor in the capital.
Whether it was true or not, it didn’t matter who said it. The emperor had the final say.
What would the emperor say?
In a duty room in the imperial city, someone was also waiting for news.
The room was dark and narrow. Even if the sun was burning outside in June, the inside would stay dark. Especially when walking in from the outside, one couldn’t see the people sitting inside at all.
In came a fat eunuch with thin skin and tender flesh. He squinted for a while before he found where the man in the room was sitting.
The individual was a young man sitting behind a long table. He wore a big vermillion robe and was as thin as a knife. He was looking down at an official document.
“Oh, my Lord Lu, this room is too dark. Looking at things carefully will spoil one’s eyesight.” The eunuch smiled and exaggerated.
Hearing this, the young man looked up. In the dim room, his complexion was like pale porcelain, and his dark eyes looked cold and gloomy.
“It turns out to be Eunuch Guo.” He said.
His voice was different from his appearance, mellow and a little dull.
Just hearing this voice, no one would think that he was the same fearsome man that could terrify the officials at the mere mention of his name2, the murderer with blood-stained hands who was in charge of the department of punishments, the Thousand-Man Commander, Lu Yunqi.
One would only regard him as a simple and honest soldier.
In fact, he was also an honest soldier.
His father had been honest and anonymous all his life, and no one even knew his name.
Who would have thought that such a person who inherited his father’s mantle and should have lived an honest and anonymous life would suddenly transform into a character whose reputation and appearance was discussed among the people and in the royal court.
Footnote and Chinese Idioms
1 – 御驾亲征 – yù jià qīn zhēng – “the emperor leads his troops into battle”; to take part personally in an expedition
2 – 闻风丧胆 – wén fēng sàng dǎn – “hear the wind and lose gall”; terror-stricken at the news