MEANWHILE ON SOUTHERN HAN
Sitting on her recliner she sighed. Behind her was a man who wore officials robe and looked elegant and scholarly.
‘You still reading that Your Majesty?’ The woman nodded. The man eyebrows creased clearly unsatisfied.
‘This man is clearly dangerous….but it seems she shares the same objective with Your Majesty. He could be used….for now. Or maybe it is Your Majesty that is being used by him’
The woman did not answer only nodded. She also has complicated expression on his face.
‘Who is this Sleeping Dragon?’ Ruohua ask herself as she examined the third letter once again. The man
She has been scrutinizing the letter and following the strategies written in the letter and she was impressed.
The more she reads, the more she understands the more she feels fear towards this talent calling himself the Sleeping Dragon.
Before the letter came for her, she was at a very weak position in her own court.
The clan of Gao which is the clan of her mother while they supported her in the court was actually eyeing the throne of their son, Marquis Yu.
Before the letter came, her ministers all wanted to influence her to their molding, her generals was united in their effort to bring her down.
Now after following the letters strategies, the two factions inside her court instead of scheming against her is scheming against each other making her be able to plan and scheme in peace and without their eyes trained on her.
A big knapsack arrived at her secluded palace a few months ago. Inside the knapsack is four letters with each marked first, second, third and fourth.
Curios, she opened the first letters. In the first letter, this is what it is written.
“To your Majesty of Southern Han. Inside this knapsack are three strategies. Employed each one at the right moment, and the Southern Han will be Your Majesty kingdom again. My name is not important. Know that our interest is aligned. You can call me the Sleeping Dragon. If Your Majesty should find this letter to be insufferably arrogant, then burn the other three letters. If Your Majesty is willing to bet then follow each of the instruction in the letters and I assure you Southern Han will have its Queen again.’
Sign under the letter
In Times of Peace, Sleeping Dragon Has No Use.
In a way, it was like announcing to her, that this person calling himself the Sleeping Dragon is a sword.
In times of Peace he has no use? Then doesn’t that mean only when the world is chaotic and in turmoil that he could be used?
In normal circumstances, she would have burned the letters. She didn’t know who send her the letters and she was suspicious.
But then considering her desperate circumstances, she thought to herself, is there is any other choices?
Westhold is searching for talents, arming the soldiers, strengthening the army.
Western Capital Old General has come out of retirement and began to reorganize the army no doubt that Old General spear is targeted towards Southern Han.
The situation is not good for her Kingdom.
She has no capable and loyal ministers to advise the matters of the world, no heroic general to guards the border and punishes invaders, thinking of these matters if not for her fortitude and her sheer force of will, she would have collapsed.
Norveg to the North, Western Capital on the South, Avillon to the East and Westhold to the West.
She finally could not hold her curiosity and open the first letters. The wind blows and her veils slowly sway as she reads the letter.
The first letter teaches her how to deal with factions in the courts.
In her courts, there are the Loyalist Faction and Reformer Faction. It might seems like she has a support in the court but she does not.
While the Loyalist Faction is loyal to her rule that is only because they want to marry Marquis Yu to her.
Her only support in the court is the Gao clan who also heads the Loyalist Faction. But Ruohua knew why they support her.
They wanted her to marry Marquis Yu and effectively put her on the back and change the dynasty by marriage.
No longer the world of Luo but of Gao.
How could she accept it but she endued it by allowing advances by the Marquis as to not destroy her only support in the court.
The reformer faction is led by Duke Yi.
The Duke has always hated the fact that a woman sits on the throne of Southern Han even more so when he himself have some kinship with the Luo House.
These factions have always restricted her.
One wanted to mold her according to their liking, another wanted her to put away in the background, abdicate and give them the throne.
But The Sleeping Dragon method was ingenious.
“Use Your Enemies.”
That is the first sentence of the first letter. The method was simple enough but one that she has never thought before.
Inside the letter the plan was meticulously written. Reading it she was attracted and begun following the plans inside the letter
Instead of placating and acceding to the request of the loyalist Faction, Ruohua instead approved many plans of the Reformer faction.
This throws the entire court into confusion.
Everyone knows that Duke Yi wanted to oust her from the Throne why would she blatantly helping her.
And to Ruohua astonishment, the Gao clan became even more restless and began listening to her suggestion and advice even helping her in the court approving her own officials.
It wasn’t until a few weeks she understands what happen with that simple change of behavior.
It seems that the Gao clan believes that the Duke has reaches some sort of agreement with the Queen.
They thought she decided to join and suppresses the Gao.
They dismiss the probability of marriage since even if Duke Yi married the Queen he could only become a Queen Consort and could not establish his own dynasty.
The Duke of Yi has always wanted to erect a new dynasty so he would not accept a marriage arrangement with the Queen.
It was then that the officials in the court have sense the wind is changing. And as such they began to sail to favorable winds.
Those that are smart, lie low, those that lack judgment follows the crowd, while those that are loyal and smart find a path.
The smart waited. The fools lobbied the factions. And the loyal and smart officials spread rumors.
And the rumors of those smart and obscure loyal officials have helped Ruohua.
Some of the rumors said that the Queen could no longer stands the Gao overbearing ways and would rather die than submit so she asked the help of Duke Yi in exchange for the rights to the throne after she died.
This throws the Gao clan into fear.
If the Queen has really such plans then they are dead. The Gao holds the administration and the Yi holds the military.
If the Queen has really allied with the Duke, and throws away caution to the wind, not caring about her throne, the Gao sooner or later would be extinguished.
An emergency meeting of the clan was held and they reached a conclusion to appease the Queen considering their kinship.
And so they quickly appear to be subservient and loyal official hoping to change the Queen minds.
And so the Gao has been controlled.
On the other hand, The Duke Yi faction was also confused.
They have always opposed the Queen vehemently only short of rebellion but suddenly everything they say was approved.
Their officials were promoted, their plans enacted smoothly thus breaking the balance between the faction.
Duke Yi the cautious man he is, is thinking the Queen is preparing a trap for him so he become even more cautious and slow down his movement as he tries to decipher the Queen weird behavior.
This is the genius of the plan.
It seems simple but it is not.
It has too many permutation and variations that even Ruohua did not expect.
At first even Ruohua doesn’t even understand what the Sleeping Dragon wanted to achieve.
It was after the effect slowly shows itself that Ruohua finally understanding the extent of that simple plan.
It is known that a ruler has to balance the factional strife in the court but the Sleeping Dragon strategy went opposite of the grain.
Instead of maintaining the balance, he broke the balance.
Thus alarming the Gao who would themselves try to restore back the balance and in consequence of that they would scheme against the Duke Yi faction instead of the Queen.
Because the immediate threat to them is the growing officials of Duke YI faction in the court. While the Gao faction did not have its official demoted, they were also not promoted.
This only increases their unease and fills them with fear. They also have perception that the Queen began gaining power in the court.
Though that perception is wrong, Sleeping Dragon advises in his letter to perpetuate that perception, be subtle in each conversation and give half-truth to any answer.
And when the Duke is being schemed against he too would scheme against the Gao believing the scheme was actually the Queen maneuvering from behind.
He thinks that the Queen promotion of his officials were actually the Queen appearing to support him but instead trying to destroy him by perpetuating the rumor that he has made an alliance with the Queen.
This rumor has begun alienating him with his elders of the clan which is the source of his backing and power.
The rumors that the Gao and the Queen has a falling out is a rumor that the Queen herself propagated this is what the Duke believes.
The Gao on the other hand believes the Duke cautions and low lying behavior in the court to be some sort of affirmation that the Queen and the Duke has some sort of agreement.
But since the Queen never address this openly and only subtly hinting, the Gao could not be sure.
So, now both of them are attacking each other, Luo Ruohua could focus on other stuff and consolidate her position in the court.
But this first strategy from the Sleeping Dragon first letter also has another benefit that the Sleeping Dragon has predicted and that is the drawing out of loyal officials from the shadows and makes themselves known to the Queen which will aid the Queen in her future endeavors.
These officials are loyal and because they are loyal they are low in station and standing.
It is through this plan loyal and smart officials were drawn out knowing of the Queen intention and begun spreading rumors that sparks the fire in the Court.
The Sleeping Dragon suggested the Queen to use these officials because they are both loyal and smart.
Their low standing and status in the court is the mark of their loyalty since none of the two factions would really want a loyal official to the Luo clan in their faction.
They are Smart because they understand the scheme. Observes that is not tainted with the factional thinking would absolutely see the plans that Queen has enacted with clear eyes and will note that the Queen is fighting back.
The smart officials like always will sit on the fence waiting to see who wins and who lose…but this kind of officials is smart but not loyal. Those that understand and act, that is a mark of smart and loyal.
The Sleeping Dragon reiterates in his long letter, that the Queen could use this smart but unloyal officials but only when her rule is stabilized.
But before that time come, they have no use.
The only one that could be used and be willing to be used and has worth to be used by the Queen right now, is those that are smart and loyal.
This is why the Sleeping Dragon has asked the Queen to drop subtle hints to the low officials.
After following only one letter, the Queen has found loyal and smart officials and temporarily gains full control of the court.
How could Ruohua not be impressed by this man claiming himself to the Sleeping Dragon?
She immediately treats the letter with the utmost care. This must be a talented man, a great strategist.
In the first letter, the Sleeping Dragon advises her not to trust friends to much, be wary of them, for they are much easily aroused to envy.
But enemies could be used easily if you know the right way and will not leave a mark in one conscience as much as using your own friends.
It also reminds the Queen not to open the second letter until the first letters effect has been seen or before the court is under her hands again.
The only other exception that the second letter has to be open before that requirement is fulfilled is if the Old General Keenan has entered the lands of Southern Han.
Today, she is about to open the second letter, and beside her is her new strategist Lin Wen. This is the officials that gathered the loyal officials and spread the rumor.
After knowing of the matter she immediately sends people to summon him and hire him as her strategist.
It was then that she shows him the letters of Sleeping Dragon and won admiration of Lin Wen. From Lin Wen estimation this must be a master strategist.
But he was also fearful
This kind of man certainly has a grand plan. How could he not have a grand plan?
But the reason why he is fearful is because the fact that the Sleeping Dragon even predicted certain event to happen before it happens.
If not for Lin Wen not believing in Gods, he would certainly think the Sleeping Dragon as some sort of a Seer that could truly look into the future.
‘Your Majesty, please open the letter.’ Lin Wen spoke as he gestured the Queen to open the letter.
Ruohua after she hired Lin Wen wanted to immediately open the second letter but Lin Wen advises against it.
He said to the Queen
‘This kind of genius strategist is usually eccentric but they are also full of wisdom. If they ask you to open certain letters after some task is completed than that is what we have to do. Most of them have a warning and also a test for the rulers gaining the strategist approval’
Listening to Lin Wen advice, the Queen waited until the requirement is met before she opens the second letter.
The unveiling of the second letter is important for the Queen since she now believes the claim of this strategist calling himself the Sleeping Dragon.
To gain back Southern Han and to have full control of the court. She now believes the claim of the letter.
She then opens the second letter. And then they began to read. Slowly their faces turn grim but their eyes beaming with excitement.
Only at the last sentence they feel their heart chilled.
At the end of the letters there is a warning about the Third letter.
‘This person has truly helped the Southern Han regardless of his initial motives’ Lin Wen said. The Queen nodded.
The strategy outlined in this second letter would not only help her take back the court, destroy her enemies but also if the strategy succeeded, it will destroy the Western Capital.
If they follow the second letter to its completion, in half a year, Western Capital will belong to Southern Han.
And the strategy seems plausible. One might even say it would definitely work.
‘But, that warning in the end is truly chilling’ Ruohua said once again her eyes glancing at the bottom of the letter.
‘Yes, Your Majesty. If Your Majesty is content with Southern Han, then I advise Your Majesty not to open the third letter. The strategist has also warned Your Majesty to not open the third letter if Your Majesty desires is only to gain back Southern Han. Just by opening the second letter and following the strategy outlined, Your Majesty would surely bring honor to the Luo family.’
Then Lin Wen also glances to the bottom of that second letter and thought to himself.
‘This is dangerous thoughts this Sleeping Dragon is thinking. Like I expected…this Sleeping Dragon has a grand plan.’
He could not help thinking of this when he reads the letter and the warning that came at the end.
It was a warning but also a temptation.
‘But, in that grand plan of his, will his Queen be a main role or only a pawn?’ He thought to himself.
Opening the third letter would signify that the Sleeping Dragon would join hands with the Queen but Lin Wen could not be at ease knowing that if they join hands, the one who will always be in the superior position is this Sleeping Dragon.
Regaining Southern Han is enough.
He consoled himself.
Then thinking of this he look at his Queen and sighed.
Could it be that the Sleeping Dragon has also consider the Queen personality? If he did, then this letter…..
‘I will heed Adviser Lin advices. Lin Wen smiles bitterly hearing this. He looks at the Queen and could not help but feeling this.
She said something else but what he sees was the Queen ambitions in his eyes. Opening the third letter must not be done.
But he knows he could not say anything else so he bowed and said
‘Then, I will depart first. I will try to convince the other officials that are still hiding in the shadows to be a pillar of support for Your Majesty.’
‘General Yu Jing?’ she suddenly asked.
‘She is training Your Majesty servant, Mu Chun vigorously. But he still refuses to enter the Capital content in playing weiqi on his mountain.’
‘He wanted to be carefree as the immortals; washing his hands off from the mud of the mundane world….but is it that easy to do?’ She asked herself while at the same time looking at the letter.
‘If the second strategy is to be implemented then General Yu Jing cooperation is important’ Ruohua sternly said, her aura as a ruler emanated out of her.
It was not a statement, it was an order.
‘He once condemns Your Majesty during the Hai Wang incident. Could he be persuaded?’
‘We only have to find what he wants. He is not truly carefree immortal. He is honorable, and that is his desire. So, what happens if you decided to stain that honorable reputation? You could not fight an honorable man the same way you fight scoundrel’
The wind blows and Li Wen could almost see the silhouette of the face that is said could bring down a kingdom.
‘Then, it will be as your will, Your Majesty’ Saying this he exited himself from the courtyard as the Queen look at the open letter.
On the bottom of the second letter it is written
‘Opening the third letter will cause your majesty to lose Southern Han and the title Queen. But in exchange, Your Majesty would gain the world and will be crowned Empress. Opening this letter would mean Your Majesty has intention to hear my thoughts. Inside this letter is instruction to meet me. If however Your Majesty open this letter without intending to lose Southern Han and not to walk the same path as me, then I would see it as an act of provocation and we will be enemies.’
‘Haish’ she sighed as she took the third letter. She was about to throw the third letter into the brazier but her hand could not let go.
She wanted to throw it but the promise of the world…..the Sleeping Dragon seems to even know her weakness.
Ambition. Then taking back the third letter, she put it inside one of the secret drawers in her room and muttered to himself.
‘What should I do?’