Chapter 60: Settling Dust

The next day, the Emperor passed down the decree: all those who had tried to revolt and stormed the Imperial Palace, Li Qin Wang, Sun Tong and all other commanders, will be executed; all others involved will either be jailed, executed, exiled, or be assigned the rank of untouchable, depending on their involvement and crimes as listed.
It was a decree that spanned and encompassed many, creating a situation where no one knew who was safe.

That day when Li Qin Wang’s estate was confiscated, boxes and boxes of gold, silver, jewelry and other expensive and rare items were flowing out the entrance of the estate nonstop.
It took three days to even count and log them all.

On the other side of the city, the entrance of the West Market Street was full to the brim with the criminals awaiting their execution.
Among them were quite a few high ranking officials, and there were hundreds beheaded that day.
It had been many a year since this kind of scene had appeared in Da Jin.

After those who needed to be punished were punished, it was time to grant rewards to those that deserved it.
But Chang Guo Gong rejected all gifts and recognition, saying that it was the heavens who had protected them instead, showing the power of the son of heaven. 

When they were battling against the Liao Empire at the city gates, the heavens had suddenly dropped two thunder gods, blasting the ears of everyone, and killing off numerous soldiers on the enemy’s side.
Then when the assistance troops rushed to save the Imperial Palace but were blocked in front of the entrance, it was the thunder gods being released again to help them.
Otherwise, there would have been no possibility to so easily kill Li Qin Wang and be there in time to save His Majesty.

The Emperor didn’t believe it at first, thinking it was an excuse to reject the reward.
But when he sent someone to investigate, it was discovered that there was a metre long deep pit, with the surrounding dirt fried off into hardened, black clumps.
It did indeed seem like it was hit by lightning, and in the end, the Emperor had to take back the reward and changed it to worshipping the heavens instead, thanking them for their help and protection.

Chang Guo Gong and his estate had already reached the max height of the Emperor’s trust and love.
To give them more was impossible, and it was not necessarily a good thing.
The Emperor naturally knew that in his heart, but because the Xie family laid down their lives to come save him, at the very least, he must show an attitude of gratefulness. 

How Xie Ping Zhi died was not very glorious, and the funeral wasn’t widely broadcasted, more low profile than anyone would even know.
Except for Chang Guo Gong sighing to himself, only his birth mother, surname Liu, would truly cry out of her heart.

After cleaning up the fallout of what happened, it was already the end of the month.
The Emperor dictated another royal decree, electing the Royal Consort of Brightness as the Empress, to be in charge of the Inner Palace.
Even Chen Miao Ping was to “receive the benefits” as Xie Yu Zhi said the Emperor seemed to want to raise his rank.

“Promote me? There’s no need.
This position as a city warden inspector is pretty good.
The salary’s just enough to feed my family, and I can even save up some money to buy some new cloth.
Over the new year, we can even order some new clothes to be made for us.
That’s already stronger than the average commoner by a lot.”

Xie Yu Zhi was dressed very plainly, only in a robe of white, in accordance with the tradition for respecting the dead.
Despite this event, his gloominess seemed to have dissipated, and his features were being brought out, with his aura being more at peace than ever before.
Although he had little ties with his little brother, Xie Ping Zhi, he still followed the rules and rites to the tee, making sure he never did anything over the line in order to respect his death.

Hearing Chen Miao Ping say this, he asked, 

“Is promoting your ranked position not good? Any possible position you get promoted to  would be better and more powerful than being just a tiny, tiny city warden inspector.”

After experiencing what he experienced, Chen Miao Ping seemed to have started viewing things more clearly.
He had less of a flippant attitude, and more of a steadiness and maturity in him.
Still, that face was too handsome, causing every woman from young girls to married women to have their hearts beat faster when they see him.

“I became an official, not for power and authority.”

Chen Miao Ping hugged Xie Yu Zhi from behind and kissed his cheek from the side.
He was so gentle, so gentle it made hearts flutter.
The latter turned his head over and bumped right into his warm loving eyes, and Xie Yu Zhi became dazed by this and blanked out.

As if feeling a light kiss on his eyebrows, Xie Yu Zhi shivered and subconsciously closed his eyes.
He wrapped his arms around Chen Miao Ping’s neck and started a fight with their mouths to claim his territory.
After a while, he opened his eyes and asked, 

“If not for power, what are you scheming for as an official?”

Chen Miao Ping tightly tapped Xie Yu Zhi on the tip of his nose.
His facial structure was in perfect symmetry, his face like a well made jade, so handsome one could get drunk just from looking at him, 

“I don’t know what I want.
But I do know, if it’s too high of a position, I can’t do it.
Too small of one, and I don’t care about it.
This position is just perfect for me, so I am content.”

A person’s lifetime, does not need to be a cycle of excitement and blandness, does not need to have ups and downs, and does not need to be spent chasing after the next adrenaline rush.
From youth to adulthood, one would meet many, many different types of people throughout a lifetime.
These meetings are not random.
You will learn something from each and every one of those you meet.
Chen Miao Ping’s heart wasn’t that big though; he was just a normal human being.

Everyday, patrolling the streets on a horse, watching the smoke come out of the chimneys of the households, watching the markets slowly burst with activity.
That peddler that sells buns on the corner was quite filial, working hard for his mother and father.
Everyday, before the sun even wakes up, he will be up to do business. 

Ji Shi Tang’s Sun Zhang-gui was also a very good human being.
Every time he meets a poor family, he would try and solve their health issues, letting them have medicine for free; and that peddler whose stand was destroyed by the Liao foreigners, everytime he sees Chen Miao Ping, he will very enthusiastically give him a plate of beef with his signature sauce. 

No matter how many times Chen Miao Ping tried to reject him, he could only accept it in the end, which made him always walk in circles to avoid him; those singers of Chun Xiao House, every morning they would be practicing their singing on the balcony, with voices so harmonious and touching……

And when finally he gets off work, dawn would just be approaching and the sky would be tainted with a smattering of a beautiful gradient of colors.
Signalling that Chen Miao Ping should go home to find Xie Yu Zhi now.

The scenes of nature that he would pass by on his patrols were, as he believed in his heart, more meaningful than the schemes and politics of being at court.
Protecting the commoners, was more meaningful than living in a daze like he had before.
Perhaps a million years later, the history books will remember “Chen Miao Ping” these three words, and the people of the future will know, he had come to this glorious age, this time period, and lived a lifetime.

Opening the delicately decorated window, a breeze of cold air blasted in.
The pavilion outside had already been fixed up, and it was as beautiful as ever.
Chen Miao Ping reached a hand out and then retracted it.
He smiled at Xie Yu Zhi and said, 

“Look, it’s the first snowfall of the season.”

Drifting down the sky, snowflakes were flying into their palms and then disappearing quickly without a sound.
It was not Chen Miao Ping’s first time seeing snow, but he thought to himself, there seemed to be a very different meaning to this one.

Xie Yu Zhi pushed himself up and flipped over to sit by the window.
He lifted his head and seeing the snowflakes swirling down from the sky, he said to Chen Miao Ping, 

“This snow scene is not pretty enough.
Even if it looks pretty, it’s being restricted by these four walls surrounding us.
When I went to Mo Bei, it was just in time for winter.
The snow there was like the feathers of a swan, falling and drifting into layers and layers of snow.
When you stand up high and look out, thousands of miles and miles out, from mountains to rivers, they were all painted in white and silver, more condensed than cotton could be.
That’s what beautiful snow looks like.”

Chen Miao Ping tucked a blanket over Xie Yu Zhi’s legs, 

“Now that you cannot step on the battlefield once more, do you have any regrets in your heart?”

“I’m not that young anymore, and I’ve already passed that impulsive age.
Perhaps I might have felt regret before, but now I don’t.
Who doesn’t want world peace in their lifetime? Even generals that were born to battle wouldn’t be an exception.”

Xie Yu Zhi said as he retracted his gaze from the window, and he turned to look at Chen Miao Ping, eyes full of laughter.
He lightly said, 

“To die on the battlefield has never been what I wanted as my final resting place……”

How he was now, it was very good.
His leg was crippled, so he can never step on the battlefield again.
But that means that the Emperor would not be so wary of Chang Guo Gong and his estate.
The next emperor would come out of the Empress’s womb and so their lineage was protected.

“Your best resting place is to die with me from old age, and then get buried together.”

The wind and snow was growing in intensity outside.
Chen Miao Ping grabbed Xie Yu Zhi by the waist and lifted him in a princess hold from the window side.
The maids on guard by the courtyard immediately and lightly closed the window as they got a glimpse, blocking most of the cold outside.

Xie Yu Zhi glared at him, 

“Didn’t you say before that I was too heavy, and you can’t hold me?”

Chen Miao Ping chuckled lightly, 

“If I said you were heavy, you became heavy? Then if I said you became dumb, have you become dumb?”

A few days later, the snow storm was still going strong, and perhaps getting even stronger still.
Wealthy families were fine, but those from poor families were freezing to death.
The Imperial Palace had started to pop up congee stands, standing on each of the cardinal sections to give out congee.
This duty was managed by the Chief Surveillance Bureau and so everyday after Chen Miao Ping finished patrolling the streets, he would go help out.

“Thank you Da-Ren, thank you Da-Ren.”

Many suffering commoners were lined up in a long, long line, holding congee bowls in their hands.
They took two steamed buns and then quickly crouched nearby to eat.
Chen Miao Ping swirled the congee pot to make the already miniscule amount of rice float back up before continuing to ladle more into bowls.

There were people cleaning off the snow from the roads, and not far away there were two men carrying a covered carriage without wheels heading over.
They stopped right beside the congee stand where Chen Miao Ping was just taking a break.
He gave a few glances over, wondering why would anyone still come out on such a cold day.

The curtain cover was lifted up by a slender hand and out came a woman with a fox fur coat and a veil over her face.
Although he could not see who it was very clearly, her body was elegant and curved, so it must be a beautiful woman.
The other stepped off her carriage and walked straight towards Chen Miao Ping which made him question what was going on.

“Chen Da-Ren, it has been a while.
Do you still remember Xue Yi?”

The girl did a courtesy bow and that was when Chen Miao Ping recognized her.
He stood up and said, 

“So it was Lady Xue Yi.
Is there anything this official can help you with?”

“There was no purpose to disturb Da-Ren, but Xue Yi has heard that the Imperial Palace was here, dispensing congee for the people.
Although Xue Yi is just a girl, but she thinks she could help out just a miniscule amount to the best of her ability.
Xue Yi hopes that Da-Ren will not reject this help.”

Xue Yi said as she rustled her sleeves.
Chen Miao Ping only realized now she had been holding a box and the lock was just slightly opened, revealing a few banknotes that, at a glance, could be seen as not a small amount, and some scattered jewelry and gold.
It all looked very expensive.

Chen Miao Ping paused, 


Xue Yi passed the box without hesitation to him, 

“This is for the people who are suffering in this city.
Xue Yi requests that Da-Ren not reject it, and use these items to continue to dispense food and clothes for the people.”

Chen Miao Ping immediately rejected it, 

“No, that can’t be possible.
This official cannot accept this.
A woman surviving on her own is already not an easy task, so Lady Xue Yi, please save it for yourself.”

Xue Yi shook her head, 

“Da-ren, please don’t worry.
These things are not just Xue Yi’s.
There are items in here that are from the sisters at Chun Xiao House.
They heard that Chen Da-ren has been passing out congee everyday, and they wanted to help out.
We all individually gathered some from our savings and that is why there is this much.”

Seeing that Chen Miao Ping was still hesitating, Xue Yi chuckled lightly, 

“Da-Ren is a good official, and I will be very direct.
If it was someone else here today that was passing out congee, we would absolutely not have cared.
If these items were passed on, who knows whose pockets they would fall into.
The sisters from the house have come from many poor backgrounds to have landed where they are now, and they have felt the same and have experienced the same as these commoners.
Xue Yi originally wanted to donate by herself, but once they heard that this was managed by Da-Ren, everyone donated some.”

Chen Miao Ping was a little bewildered, 

“This official has not browsed around the entertainment houses, how…… how could they……”

Xue Yi didn’t continue to explain.
A girl living in these kinds of environments, every one of them had a clear understanding.
That day when the fifth prince of the Liao Empire was causing trouble at Chun Xiao House, even though it was Xie Yu Zhi who came to save the day, perhaps other people were not clear, but how could she not know? It must have been Chen Miao Ping who privately requested Xie Yue Zhi to do it as otherwise why would General Xie come personally?

Besides, although Chen Miao Ping, this city warden inspector, didn’t look like much, if any citizen was met with trouble, he has never not cared.
When you speak of his name, everyone you ask will say that he’s good.

“You and General Xie are good people.
The citizens of this city can see that from the bottom of their hearts.
Xue Yi will not overstay her welcome here and will take her leave first.”

Xue Yi snuggled against her fur coat, and then in the frosty and windy snow, went back up on the carriage.
That carriage was lifted up by the two men and they carried it further and further away, very quickly disappearing into the whiteness.

Chen Miao Ping watched her leave, feeling very complicated inside.
At long last, he tucked that box in his clothes and decided to go to a pawn shop after his shift to exchange them for rice and warm clothing.

There was some sniffling that attracted his attention and he saw a child in torn clothing huddled against the corner of a building to hide from the wind.
He took two hot steamed buns from the basket and ladled up a bowl of hot congee before heading towards the child.
He asked, 

“Little one, why didn’t you go line up?”

The child sniffed a few more times, his cheeks burning red from the cold.
Seeing Chen Miao Ping in his official’s outfit, with rich tones of color and expensive items, he felt like he was seeing a messenger from heaven. 

“One person can only receive once…… I…… I already received them once…… But my mother is sick…… She couldn’t come……”

Chen Miao Ping thought that this child was very honest, and he passed the two steamed buns over to him before smiling as he said, 

“No worries.
When you go line up for congee, tell them the reason and they will give you two shares.”

The congee stand had not packed up yet and since he had nothing else to do, Chen Miao Ping crouched by the corner of the wall and started a conversation with the child, 

“How old are you?”

The child was slurping away at the congee and, hearing him, lifted up his head and said, 

“I’m twelve years old now.”

“Have you read or studied before?”

“My mother knows some words and she taught me.
But my family can’t afford to buy books and scrolls.
In the future, I want to take the examinations to become a high ranking official and then buy my parents a very very big house for all that they have given me.” 

The child said as his dark eyes became enthusiastic and energetic.
If he was not holding the bowl of congee in his hands, he probably would be flying and dancing, trying to explain his dreams.

Paper was very expensive in the ancient eras, and books were even harder to come by.
Only big wealthy families could have hidden scrolls and libraries.
Chen Miao Ping ruffled the child’s hair, thinking, if this child lived in his time, he should just be graduating from elementary school.
But in Da Jin, many children were like him, in this kind of situation.

Chen Miao Ping patted his knees and stood up.
He said, 

“Little one, go back home early.
It is quite cold outside, so don’t make your mother worry for you.”

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