Book 63: Chapter 13: Unifying the World
When Li Shimin heard the good news, he immediately boarded the boat to come over that very night. Early morning the next day, Li Shimin and Xieli held the ‘Oath of White Horse Punishment’ between the two army camps, on the shore of the Wei River. The peace treaty officially came into effect.
The Great Tang officers and soldiers were ecstatic, the atmosphere was blazing hot. In order to show his sincerity, Li Shimin ordered the main army at the front line to withdraw to Wugong, the operation was under the direction of the high-ranking military officers of the former Shao Shuai Army under Xuan Yong and Ma Chang’s command. Wen Yanbo, who came with them, went to the Golden Wolf Army camp to be in touch with the person designated by Xieli, to make arrangement for the Golden Wolf Army to return to the north, and to accept the gift from the Great Tang.
Everything was settled, Li Shimin said, “Shaoshuai and Ziling made Zhen pleasantly surprised, all of a sudden the negotiation with Xieli is settled. Zhixuan, come and tell Shaoshuai and Ziling what happened in Chang’an this morning.”
The crowd stopped their horses on a hill outside the Wugong City, watching group after group of troops withdrawing from the front line, their banners flying, they were happy and excited, feeling deeply relieved.
Yuchi Jingde, Zhangsun Wuji, Duan Zhixuan, Li Shentong, Feng Deyi, Ba Yegang, Song Faliang, Xu Xingzhi, Du Ruhui, Fang Xuanling, Li Shiji and the others, a group of more than twenty civil and military cabinet ministers, crowded around Li Shimin Kou Zhong, and Xu Ziling, three men. Everybody with a smile spreading across their face, they were elated and excited for the able-to-move-unhindered Golden Wolf Army that was forced to retreat, they understood even more clearly that peaceful reunification was within easy reach.
The Dark-Armored Elite Troops with their distinct armor were guarding the four sides, their military banner was held high, dancing in the wind, heightening the Great Tang Army’s like-the-sun-at-noon’s grandeur, which was already like a rainbow, nobody else in the world would be able to resist this region’s overlord.
This moment, the just-arrived-at-Wugong Duan Zhixuan said to Kou Zhong, “Nobody knows who leaked the news this morning, but it spread quickly. Immediately the entire city of Chang’an is in uproar, every household put on lanterns, changed into new clothes, and set off firecrackers. The mood of the people is excited to the extreme point.”
Li Shimin laughed and said, “Shaoshuai, Ziling and Zhen will go to Hongyi Palace together to announce the good news to Taishang, and then we will enter the city via the South Gate and go back to the palace along the Vermillion Bird Boulevard, so that we can receive the cheers of the people, in tune with the popular sentiment.”
Xu Ziling signaled Kou Zhong with his eyes. Stroking Wuming on his shoulder with one hand, Kou Zhong laughed and said, “Huangshang seems to have forgotten that the moment the White Horse Oath was held, at the same time Ziling and I announced that we will remove the armor and return to the farm [idiom: returning to civilian life], ceasing in glory, withdrawing from the fray and live in seclusion, ha!”
Li Shimin spoke in distress, “This, Zhen understand, but you must participate in the ceremony to enter the city …”
Xu Ziling laughed and cut him off, “Is this an imperial edict?”
The various generals in the back could not help smiling, they deeply felt the deep friendship between the three, which did not diminish in the slightest just because Li Shimin became the venerable ninety-fifth.
Smiling wryly, Li Shimin said, “Naturally it’s not an imperial decree, but a sincere invitation evolving from Shimin’s true heart, hoping that two gentlemen brothers can enjoy the sound of happy laugh in Chang’an City together with Shimin.”
Kou Zhong laughed aloud and said, “Since it’s not an imperial decree, then it’s all right! Hey! Ziling! The happy days of a long vacation have arrived!”
The two boys’ mind were interlinked, they bade farewell in chorus. Amidst the loud laughter, they urged the horses to gallop down the hillslope, flying far away in the direction of the Wei River under Li Shimin and the others’ helpless gaze. The warriors who witnessed it shouted in unison, the sound of their cheers echoed between the Wugong City and the grassland. From Kou Zhong’s shoulder, Wuming flapped her wings and soared, she flew in the direction of the Wei River first.
The two boys galloped to their heart’s content along the north bank of the Wei River, rushing towards the Wei River Bian Qiao [temporary bridge]. More than ten li later, they slowed down, both felt delighted and relaxed, quite with a ‘light without the burden of officialdom’ happiness.
Kou Zhong rode side by side with Xu Ziling. Casting his gaze at the Wei River rolling and flowing eastward, he sighed and said, “Oh Ziling, do you remember the days when we were hanging around in Yangzhou? For a time, we wanted to throw our lot with the militia, another time we wanted to enter the imperial examination, yet actually we were both well aware that it was just a daydream. How could we, two paupers without a fist without valor have the turn to become duke, marquis, general or minister? Ha, who would have thought that these daydreams have come true one by one, everything like it just happened yesterday. Even more unimaginable is that today we are only hoping to return home to enjoy a life in retirement, to pass some days of peace and happiness to concentrate on self-cultivation.”
What Xu Ziling was thinking about was Shi Feixuan, he casually asked, “Are you happy?”
Kou Zhong said, “We lost a lot of roots, but we gained back not a few. Fortunately, we think of the peaceful reunification of the world, people live in peace and work happily, father and mother need not suffer the painful loss of their children, husband and wife, father and son need not be separated in life and death, all the gains and losses are no longer in our hearts. Let the past be like the Long River [Changjiang, Yangtze], flowing to the east like this. Thinking about I am going to meet Zhizhi, Chuchu and Little Lingzhong, to never be parted, I feel an unprecedented joy in my heart, and I understand what it means to be carefree and without worries.”
Xu Ziling nodded and said, “What we have experienced, the twists and turns within it are bizarre, the person who drinks it knows best whether the water is hot or cold [Zen proverb]. Fortunately, our brotherhood can stand the test, otherwise there will never be good times of today.”
Muttering to himself irresolutely, Kou Zhong said, “Lao Ning’s ‘success without self-confidence, creation without possession’, a few words of gems of wisdom are precisely the best portrayal of our current situation. After entering the city, you go to Yu He An first to pick up Qingxuan and take her back, I will be at the Xing Qing Palace, waiting for you.”
Xu Ziling laughed and said, “Shaoshuai has an order, how could I dare not to obey? But we must wear masks before entering the city.”
Kou Zhong laughed aloud and said, “You’re still teasing me; this pain-in-the-butt Shaoshuai, Laozi already quit! Ha! When are we going to explore the source of the Changjiang and the Great River [Yangtze and Yellow Rivers]?”
Xu Ziling smiled and said, “Although you have quit being the pain-in-the-butt Shaoshuai, but the inauguration ceremony to be the son-in-law of the Song Family must not be declined. It seems that we have to go our separate ways for the time being.”
Kou Zhong screamed, “Ling Shao, you are kidding me, right? We all are brothers, unexpectedly you have deep plans and distant thoughts [idiom: planning far ahead] to deliberately, without any reason – miss my wedding ceremony. Is your heart made of stone? His granny’s! You still have your mouth full of some Niang’s brotherhood can stand the test. Don’t you need to get married? Let us brothers enjoy the blessings together; we can have bridal room and ornamented candles [idiom: wedding festivities] at the same time on the Song Family’s mountain city. Ha! At most, I will have to endure yiqi for his granny’s a few days.”
Smiling wryly, Xu Ziling said, “It’s not that I don’t think about brotherhood, it’s just that Qingxuan loves quiet …”
Cutting him off, Kou Zhong said, “Qingxuan, leave her to me to deal with, let me thoroughly lay out the pros and cons, to reason with her, to help you to rouse your guiding principle as a husband. Okay, here’s our travel plan: we will take part in Lei Laoguai’s [old weird] opening ceremony of his new shop first, and then go to Jianghuai to pay respects and say hello to Ol’ Die, go to Niang’s grave to offer incense, and then go back to the Song Family’s mountain city’s bridal room and ornamented candles, and then take the beauties to travel all around the world; with life like this, what else are we looking for?”
Kou Zhong roared in laughter, while Xu Ziling smiled wryly. Amidst the laughter, the two boys urged the horses to speed up. The sky falling, the earth retreating, they galloped as fast as lightning along the Wei River towards Chang’an.
He flew off the horse, the imperial guards, striving to be first and fearing to be last [idiom: outdoing one another] – rushed over to wait upon him, for fear that he would be less than satisfied. Kou Zhong put his arms around the horse’s neck, lightly patted the horse, and said with a laugh, “Take a good care of it, you guys should know how difficult it is to walk on the streets of Chang’an lately.”
The crowd of imperial guards knew that he had a casual personality, never bothered about the difference between superior and subordinates, they roared in laughter freely.
Kou Zhong looked up to the sky, Wuming was circling above the Hua E Lou. Greatly astonished, he said, “This baby is really amazing, unexpectedly she knew I was coming here.”
The guard replied, “Reporting to Shaoshuai, it should be because He’er Xiaojie raised the Shaoshuai’s banner in front of the building.”
Slapping his forehead, Kou Zhong said, “I forgot that she and Yin Xiongdi and Lao Ba, Xiao Hou and the others have returned to Chang’an together, ha! My baby must have seen her.”
Another guard said, “He’er Xiaojie and the others went to the second floor’s balcony of the Zhen Guan Bank building at the Vermillion Bird Boulevard to watch the ceremony of the army entering the city. They thought Shaoshuai would accompany Huangshang to enter the city together.”
Stunned, Kou Zhong smiled wryly and said, “On the Vermillion Bird Boulevard, you won’t be able to move a single step, even a needle cannot be inserted, I’m afraid I would have to walk over on the roof.”
The guard respectfully said, “Because Li Ji Da Jiangjun’s wife is paying a visit, Song San Xiaojie is still staying in the building to speak with Li Furen.”
Kou Zhong asked in surprise, “Shouldn’t it be Li Shiji?”
Lowering his voice, the guard said, “Because the character ‘Shi’ is a taboo, his name is now changed to Li Ji, Shaoshuai, please note clearly.” [Note: same ‘Shi’ character as Li Shimin.]
The sound of the wheels was heard, under the escort of nearly thirty imperial guards in front and behind, a horse-drawn carriage was galloping towards the palace gate.
Kou Zhong hastened forward and said, “Xiaomin[Little/lowly civilian, commoner] Kou Zhong pays his respect to LiFuren.”
The curtain of the carriage was raised, revealing Shen Luoyan and Song Yuzhi’s two jade countenances like fresh flowers vying to be the most glamorous.
Pleasantly surprised, Song Yuzhi said in, “How could you be here waiting for us?”
Sitting by her side, Shen Luoyan laughed and gave her a push; laughing tenderly, she said, “Your great hero is here, no need to go to Vermillion Bird Boulevard to see him.”
And then she laughed at Kou Zhong and said, “See you at the imperial palace tonight.”
Kou Zhong has already opened the carriage door, eagerly attentive, waiting upon Song Yuzhi stepping down the carriage, and then waved goodbye to the knowing-the-facts and tactful Shen Luoyan. Looking at the carriage disappearing outside the palace gate, Kou Zhong pulled Song Yuzhi’s hand, a burst of warm current of happiness swept through his body, he spoke softly, “Where are Chuchu and Little Lingzhong? Are they going out to join in the fun?”
Song Yuzhi’s pretty face blushed, she nodded slightly, and spoke softly, “How about accompanying me taking a short walk?”
Xu Ziling gently raised the hanging curtain that separated the bedroom and the small hall. Cautious and solemn, he came to the bedside, Shi Qingxuan’s sleeping spring- Chinese-flowering-crab-apple tender disposition beautiful appearance completely appeared before his eyes. Her tear-stained pretty face was so beautiful that it enchanted him, her pair of hands was still tightly grabbing herNiang’s spirit tablet. Suddenly a smile escaped out of the corner of her mouth, and she talked in her sleep, “Xu Ziling, Xu Ziling!”
She stirred slightly, but did not wake up.
Xu Ziling’s heart and spirit were intoxicated, watching attentively at every subtle change on her face, he recalled the passion when she poured out her heart in the Little Valley, that kind of touching feeling like an electric shock. What is love? He did not have a definite answer. He only knew that love could happen like an avalanche, arriving suddenly, not something that any human power could resist. Suddenly, he found himself holding her in his arms.
Shi Qingxuan woke up with a start, but immediately hugged him back enthusiastically.
Leaning close to her ear, Xu Ziling sighed contentedly and said, “It’s all over, we can go home.”
Kou Zhong and Song Yuzhi strolled hand in hand along the Dragon Pond. From time to time they could hear the sound of firecrackers from outside the palace, as if reminding them that their happy days have become the reality before their eyes.
Kou Zhong smiled and said, “I have endless things I want to say to Zhizhi.”
Rolling her eyes at him, Song Yuzhi said, “If it’s about Shang Xiufang, you can save your breath, a lot of people around you are my informers.”
Kou Zhong shocked inwardly, he spoke awkwardly, “Her affair has become a thing of the past.”
Happiness plastered across her face, Song Yuzhi said, “No need to panic, I am not blaming you, adoration is blind, it only sees your strong point.”
Staring blankly, Kou Zhong said, “Adoration?”
Song Yuzhi’s pretty face revealed a reminiscing look, she said slowly, “From the very beginning I have admired you. At that time, your martial arts skill was not this high, but you were able to contend with the enemy calmly and ingeniously, making the enemy completely bow before you while chatting and laughing. But I hate you even more, a blinded-by-greed kind of hatred. I did not offend you, but you insisted on bursting into my life. At that time, I really wished I could get rid of you with a sword strike …”
Kou Zhong continued for her, “But you could not bear to do it, right? Ha!”
Greatly displeased, Song Yuzhi said, “Still acting with such revolting behavior; don’t think that Yuzhi has no choice but to marry you, I have conditions.”
Kou Zhong immediately surrendered, smiling mischievously, he said, “Whatever the condition, I will accept them all, I am willing to abide by them.”
Song Yuzhi spoke in delight, “From now on, I don’t want to listen to you telling the truth, I just want to listen to you coaxing me.”
Greatly delighted, Kou Zhong said, “Zhizhi really understands me. Coaxing people is definitely my specialty [orig. the role an actor plays best (idiom)], telling the truth is not something that I am an expert in.”
Song Yuzhi cast him a sidelong glance and said, “Still talking about specialty? You’re telling the truth again!”
Kou Zhong said with great happiness, “Ought to be time for a kiss!”
Suddenly from the direction of the Vermillion Bird Boulevard came the startling-the-heaven-moving-the-earth sound of cheers and shouts, the returning-in-triumph Great Tang’s Son of Heaven Li Shimin finally led the crowd into the city.
Kou Zhong hurriedly climbed the stairs, because he just ran into Xu Ziling outside the door. Knowing that Shi Qingxuan’s good-self has arrived, he hurriedly left Xu Ziling to act on his behalf to accompany Zhizhi, while he himself changed three steps into two steps to scramble up the top of the stairs, as quickly as he could.
Shi Qingxuan was standing charmingly by the north window, silently watching the grand view of fireworks exploding together in the twilight above the imperial city, the splendid smoke and fire, setting off spectacular and magnificent sight of the Taiji Palace Hall lowering behind it, awe-inspiring and brimming with gaiety and vitality. The eight firecracker towers erected outside the Cheng Tian Gate across the traversing square were ignited at the same time, fireworks rose into the sky and exploded, the sound of the army and the people cheering echoed back and forth.
When Kou Zhong saw Shi Qingxuan’s extremely tender, elegant disposition and beautifully-shaped graceful back, he was shocked for Man and Heaven, but was secretly happy for Xu Ziling. He stopped about six chi behind her, cupped his fist, and said, “Xu Ziling’s chief good brother Kou Zhong pays his respect to Qingxuan Sao Furen [madam sister-in-law].”
‘Pfft,’ Shi Qingxuan laughed tenderly, without turning her tender body around, she spoke softly, “How can there be such an out-of-place greeting? Tell me, from a little pickpocket in Yangzhou to a figure capable of stirring the wind and the cloud now, how did you achieve such a worthy-of-pride accomplishment?”
Kou Zhong mused that turned out Shi Qingxuan was so amiable and easy to get along with, chuckling, he said, “If Xiaodi’s answer satisfies Sao Furen, I wonder if Qingxuan Saozi would play a solo for me? I will choose the place so that your Fujun Ailang [lit. lord husband, beloved young man] that kid cannot share it.”
Tranquil and calm, and at ease, Shi Qingxuan replied, “I can nearly sketch your silly appearance in my mind. Tell me first, let me hear it, and then I’ll consider the rest.”
Muttering to himself irresolutely, Kou Zhong said, “Thinking about those days before today, I feel like I was in the middle of a flock of ferocious beasts, they could tear any creatures that come close to pieces, not only you have to be more ruthless than them, but also have to grasp their character, the methods, and the ways to deal with them from different distances, and more importantly, know your own position and set lofty goals. Ay! To be honest, sometimes it surely is really exhausting and extremely difficult. Fortunately, now everything has become the thing of the past, later on I can accompany Saozi to the source of the two rivers, to enjoy the fairy tune you play.”
Light and graceful, and relaxed, Shi Qingxuan turned her tender body around, laughed sweetly, and said, “Exposing the fox’s tail, are you? Turns out you look like this.”
Kou Zhong’s pair of eyes lit up, severely shaken, he said, “No wonder Ziling doesn’t even want Xiongdi!”
When the brocade cloth was pulled down, the gold-lacquered signboard with the four characters ‘Zhen Guan Qian Zhuang’ [Bank] inscribed on it, under the expectant gaze of the ten-thousand crowd – was exposed to the sun. The high and big, brilliant sun shone its light, the signboard was gleaming brightly, so that it was hard for people to stare directly. The main store of the Bank appeared to be two-story high, grand in size, its imposing manner majestic.
With Little Lingzhong and Xiao He’er in charge of the ignition, the two firecracker towers located at the left and right ends of the vast outer courtyard immediately went ‘Peng! Peng! Bang! Bang!’ endlessly, followed by the flame rising up, brilliant fire and smoke soared into the sky. The multitude of the surrounding streets cheered and applauded, the atmosphere was blazing hot.
Civil and military cabinet ministers, wealthy businessmen, and prominent figures [lit. people with head and face] in the City of Chang’an, all came to offer their congratulation. On top of that, there were the high-ranking military officers who originally belonged to the Shao Shuai Army, the Song Family Army and the Jianghuai Army. The grand opening ceremony of the Zhen Guan Bank was a magnificent and unprecedented event. Horse-drawn carriages lined up along half of the Vermillion Bird Boulevard, it was entirely thanks to the Imperial Guards presiding over the order that everything was going smoothly.
The firecrackers burned out, amidst the cheers filling the whole sky, presiding over the ceremony, Li Shimin climbed up to the platform to deliver a speech to the guests crowding the outer courtyard to bursting point that some had no choice but to stand outside the courtyard gate.
Kou Zhong, Xu Ziling, Song Lu, Ba Fenghan, Hou Xibai, Xuan Yong, Zha Jie, Bu Tianzhi, Li Jing, Chen Laomou, Xu Xingzhi, and the others gathered at the northeast corner of the outer courtyard, while the womenfolk, afraid to be squeezed in the crowd, escaped to the rear shop to drink tea and to hear the news and to chat. Xiao He’er took Little Lingzhong to play in the backyard.
At the beginning, Li Shimin was talking about routine things like congratulations for the opening of bank and so on, hence Kou Zhong and the others did not pay too much attention, they even chatted with one another in low voice.
But then the Great Tang’s Son of Heaven Li Shimin made a turn, saying, “The Sui Yang was defeated, the defeat disturbed the people and destroyed the government enterprise, he set many camps on the city moats and palace gate towers, went afar to seek for unusual treasures, toiling the army on military expeditions, causing the people unable to plow and weed, the women could not weave silkworms, the fields lay waste, the works abandoned, hordes of people withered. To the north of the Yellow River, there is no path for thousands li; between the Jianghuai, grass was luxuriant. To the east of Yiluo, chickens and dogs were not heard, the roads were desolate, advancing and retreating difficult to block, all because the ruler saw that the people were hungry and cold yet did not overcome it, they saw the people toiled yet did not feel it. The ruler of the suffering people is not the master to govern the people.”
The words were so impassioned, each sentence powerful and resonating [orig. if thrown to the floor, it will make a sound (idiom)], so that Kou Zhong, Xu Ziling and the others could not help but listen carefully.
Li Shimin continued, “Whether great governance will arise after the great chaos, the people have many different opinions. After the great chaos, it is difficult to govern!”
In the whole audience, the crow and peacock made no sound, a falling needle would be heard. The people on the street were affected by the atmosphere in the courtyard, they wanted to hear what Li Shimin had to say even more, suddenly they quieted down.
Li Shimin revealed a brilliant smile brimming with confidence, he smiled and said, “You are willing to quiet down and listen to Zhen’s words, which is the clear proof of seeking governance after the great chaos. Only by calming down, from top to bottom of one mind, will success, not hurrying but swift – be promising.”
Xu Ziling and Kou Zhong looked at the every-movement-on-the-stage, each-sentence-each-talk was brimming with the charisma of the emperor, the ruler to lead the land under heaven – Li Shimin, sweeping mood of relief welled up their hearts.
Li Shimin raised his arms and said, “Zhen is new to the throne, obtaining the Mandate of Heaven given by Taishang. When the country is not at peace, the common people are not rich, I should be quiet to comfort the people. The ruler depends on the country, and the country depends on its people. Oppressing the people to offer tribute to the ruler is like cutting the flesh to fill the belly, the belly is full but the body dies, the ruler is rich but the country perished. It is beyond foolishness. Therefore, to govern the country, the people must be at peace first. Now Zhen is issuing a decree, we must get rid of extravagance and economize cost, to be light on expenditure and meager in taxation, to elect incorruptible minor government officials, to enable the people to have clothes and food in abundance, the world under great governance.”
The crowd did not care whether the speech was finished or not, they exploded in cheers, the shout “Long live my emperor!” resounded inside and outside the courtyard.
Kou Zhong reached out, he and Xu Ziling clasped each other’s hand firmly, both knew in their heart that Li Shimin took this opportunity to deliver the most important speech of national policy on governing the land under heaven after ascending the throne, it was for them to hear, to reveal the gratitude in his heart toward them.
When Li Shimin stepped on the Victory Avenue, passed through the Xuanwu Gate and ascended to the emperor’s throne, he became the ninety-fifth venerable of the world, the flying dragon in the sky, the unprecedented period of prosperity was unfolding, there was no longer any powerful current in the world that could go against and alter the heart of the people to consider the governance after the great chaos. And they could also withdraw from all the strife and vendetta in the human world, to enjoy the grace [special favor from above] and the gift that life gave to them.
After Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling left Chang’an, Li Shimin immediately launched a full-scale military operation to unify the world. The first target was to eliminate Xiao Xian, who was occupying the Jianghan Plain. According to the original plan, a fleet was assembled in Bashu, under Li Jing’s command, the army followed the current eastward. Like a hot knife through butter, they rendered great destruction to the Liang Army, and entered and sieged Baling. Xiao Xian asked Lin Shihong for help, but Lin Shihong was restrained by the Song Family Army under the banner of great generals Wang Zhongxuan, Chen Zhifo and Ouyang Qing, he was unable to send help. Xiao Xian was trapped in the lone city and was forced to surrender. [The Great] Liang perished.
Xiao Xian was destroyed, Lin Shihong was unable to withstand a single blow even more. The Great Tang Army, with the mighty power of a gale sweeping away the dead leaves, rapidly swept him flat. The south was established, Li Shimin turned to open his saber to the only remaining obstacle to unification, Liang Shidu. First, they used light cavalry to destroy the farmland of Shuofang, causing a food shortage and the army and the people were at odds with each other. In the second year of Zhen Guan, with Chai Shao as the commander, they split the troops to encircle and annihilate Shidu. Xieli wanted to break his promise to come to help, but it just happened to coincide with the Great Snow [21st of the 24 solar terms, 7th to 21st of December], Xieli’s army was hindered, countless sheep and horses froze to death. Having the heart but not the power, they could only sit and watch Chai Shao captured Shuofang, Shidu was defeated and died.
The great undertaking of unification was successfully accomplished.
In the eleventh month of the third year of Zhen Guan, the three-year agreement expired, Xieli gained the initiative by striking first, he invaded westward, attacking each province west of the Yellow River, but was beaten back by the Tang Army, and was entangled in endless battle.
In the first month of the fourth year of Zhen Guan, Li Jing led three-thousand-man light-adornment, exquisite cavalry, setting off from Mayi, bypassing Dingxiang, and reaching the E’Yan mountain range on the north side, cutting off the enemy’s retreat route, and then calmly deployed the troops to attack Dingxiang at night, and broke through it in one fell swoop. Xieli ran away in defeat, Li Ji blocked his path and intercepted him, his side’s injuries and deaths were disastrous. Xieli retreated to Tieshan [Mount Iron], pretending to seek peace, but Li Jing beat him at his own game, he pursued relentlessly and struck, Xieli was taken prisoner, and thus thoroughly removing the big trouble that has plagued the Central Earth for many years.
This campaign inspired awe to the territories beyond the Great Wall, it washed away the declining air of the Central Earth Army’s dismal prestige since the fall of the Han Dynasty. The tribal leaders of the Four Barbarians [see footnote in Chapter 10] came to the palace to see the emperor, they asked Taizong [posthumous name given to the second emperor of a dynasty] to take the title of the Khan of Heaven [Tengeri Qaghan – God-like Emperor]. Thereupon Li Shimin, using the ruler’s seal and official document, took the title of the Khan of Heaven according to all the northwest tribal leaders’ petition.
Within a short four-year period, Li Shimin completed the thousand-year great undertaking of pacifying the internal and resisting the external. Internally, he strived to make the nation strong and prosperous [idiom], based on the administrative policy he promised to Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling when he ascended the throne. In four years, the land under heaven had great governance.
‘At the beginning of Zhen Guan, there were less than three million households. A bolt of thin, tough silk fabric in exchange of one dou [dry measure for grain, 1/10 of a shi] of rice. By the fourth year, one dou of rice was four or five qian [unit of weight, 1/10 of a tael]. Outside doors were not closed for several months, horses and cattle roamed free on the open space, people traveled for several dozen li without fasting for food, people and commodities flourishing, the Four Barbarians surrendered one million two hundred thousand people for the world’s age to pass judgment [on legal case], twenty-nine people were sentenced to death, it was known as the peace and security.’
Externally, his military accomplishment was illustrious, he obtained the support of the Four Barbarians. Internally, his achievement in office was well ordered, the people’s livelihood was prosperous. Thereupon the peace and security that resonated from the ancient times and had never existed before – has arrived.