“Come! Brother Liu! This King offers you this cup as thanks for Brother Liu’s warm hospitality!” Liu Mang raised a cup to the Governor of Xinye who was sitting at the lower seat.
The governor was Liu Biao’s eldest son Liu Qi. As Liu Mang was royalty, Liu Qi should be sitting at the lower seat according to etiquettes.
Liu Qi was like his father who favoured position and appearances. Unfortunately, he himself was silent just like the Chinese proverb that babies who don’t cry will not get milk. After the death of his mother Lady Chen, Liu Qi lost his inheritance. On the other hand, his little brother who was the Cai Family’s stepson became favoured due to the Cai Family’s influence. Liu Qi still remained silent. He did not bother to go and look for support from the other influential families such as the Kuai Family or the Pang Family. He already had no place left in Jingzhou.
Liu Mang never expected Liu Qi to become the Governor of Xinye. Originally, he would have lost his position to Wen Pin. Right now, only a few places left were under Liu Biao’s control. The other places had already been caught up in war. Liu QI could be a good governor but he would not be able to perform as well at war. It was also fortunate that Liu Qi was the governor as Liu Mang may not even be able to enter Xinye otherwise. Liu Mang had just only found out about the death of Jingzhou’s envoy. If the Governor of Jingzhou had been someone short tempered, it was likely that a war would start.
“You flatter me! This is something that I should be doing.” Liu Qi was a simple and honest person. He was an extremely tolerant and generous person. If he lived in the modern era, he could even be a natural celebrity. Unfortunately, Liu Qi had no place in these turbulent times. In the original timeline, Liu Qi would be forced into a corner.
“Come! Brother Liu! This Liu Mang offers you another cup for our shared name!” Liu Mang was not a descendant of the first Han Emperor, Liu Bang but he was now King of Shu. On the other hand, Liu Qi was an actual descendant. According to their positioning, the both of them could be brothers. Liu Mang also changed the way he addressed himself from ‘this King’ to saying his own name.
“I don’t dare to accept Your Majesty’s compliments!” Sharing the same name. Liu Mang was just saying it as courtesy but Liu Qi was taking it seriously. If this was during peaceful times, even Liu Biao had to kowtow towards Liu Mang when they meet. On top of that, Liu Mang was a general. All things considered, Liu Qi should be a subordinate to Liu Mang.
“Why not? The both of us are descendants of the same person. In these chaotic times, we should be standing out assisting each other for the sake of the Han people!” Liu Mang spoke this general truth. He had learned how to speak like that from previous generations. These were all just empty words but they were words the ancient people loved to hear. Saying things like ‘for land and profit’ would make a person vulgar while saying things like ‘to protect the Han people’ would make them enthusiastic. Even Cao Cao controlled his people saying such things. It would be even better if a person could add in tears while saying such things like Liu Bei.
Liu Bei had truly attracted many talented personnel with his crying. Amongst those attracted were his two brothers Guan Yu and Zhang Fei.
“Sigh. Stop calling me Your Majesty. Call me Hanyang!” Liu Mang was seen unfavourably at Jingzhou. So he had to win people over, starting to Liu Qi.
“B… Brother Hanyang.” Liu Qi stuttered a bit. To be able to call a royalty his brother made him excited. As Liu Qi was older, he should be the elder brother. However, Liu Mang did not bother correcting him as the man might end up cowering in awe and fear.
“Brother Liu Qi. This Liu Mang offers you this third cup as this may be the last time we drink together. It is possible our next meeting would be after death!” Liu Mang said with a sorrowful expression. He was not able to cry but he was still able to frown.
Liu Qi became alarmed once he heard this. “Brother Hanyang, don’t say such words. Is Brother Hanyang worried about the trip to Xiangyang? Don’t worry. My father is a benevolent person. He would certainly provide warm hospitality.” Liu Qi tried to speak up for his father.
“Haha. Brother Liu Qi. I am not worried about myself but about you!” Liu Mang was not worried about his life at all. It was unlikely the two armies would fight unless Liu Biao wanted to die together with the Lu Bu’s Army. Besides that, a living Liu Mang had more practical value than a dead Liu Mang. So, it was also unlikely for Liu Mang to be executed.
“Worried about me?” Liu Qi was confused. Liu Mang entering Jingzhou was simply making himself more vulnerable. Yet, Liu Mang was worried about Liu Qi instead of himself.
“Sigh. Brother Liu Qi has such a father and also a noble character. However, the Heavens are jealous of heroic geniuses. Alas, such noble characters would attract crafty villains and face terrible fates.
“Ah! Brother Hanyang. How am I going to suffer?” Liu Qi asked in alarm after hearing Liu Mang’s words.
Liu Mang laughed to himself once he heard Liu Qi’s words. Liu Qi had already taken the bait and had already become his ally. He looked at Liu Qi with a regretful expression and shook his head. “Brother Liu Qi. This thing is not good for me to say.”
“What is there that should not be said?” Liu Qi became more worried that Liu Mang’s words were genuine.
“This is related to Brother Liu Qi’s relatives!” Liu Mang divulged a little. These were not words that could be said immediately. Nobody would take it well if they were told that their family members were out to kill them.
Liu Qi heard this and frowned in discomfort. Regardless of what his family affairs was like, this was his business while Liu Mang was simply an outsider. Although he was about to get angry, Liu Mang’s words did not seem like lies to him. He started to think about his family members. There was his father Liu Biao, his little brother Liu Zong, and his stepmother Lady Cai.
Liu Mang saw Liu Qi’s expression and continued, “Sigh. Brothers in a Lord’s family are truly ruthless. Yuan Shao has three sons but two of them are not filial. They both want to usurp their father’s position and ended up killing each other.”
Liu Qi heard this and could not help but put himself in their scenario. Although Liu Biao had one son less when compared to Yuan Shao, Liu Biao had a nephew Liu Pan who could take Yuan Xi’s place. Both of them were talented individuals with no right of inheritance.
“Those that don’t establish an heir would always face such problems!” Liu Qi said one of the things in Confucianism. Usually the eldest son of the first wife would get the inheritance. That way, even if the other sons were more talented than the elder brother, they would not kill each other.
“However, the blame should not be placed entirely on Yuan Tan.” Both Liu Qi and Yuan Tan were the eldest son. Liu Mang wanted Liu QI to see himself in Yuan Tan. “Yuan Benchu had just only fallen sick when Yuan Shang immediately took his father’s position as Grand General. Even his own mother did not report this and attempts to kill Yuan Tan had been made in his own camp. Truly ignoring the bonds between brothers!”
Liu Mang noticed Liu Qi tremble from his words.
“However, this Yuan Tan is not someone easy to deal with. Fortunately, he has his own group of people and a foundation at Qingzhou. He retreated to Qingzhou and declared independence. There, he fought against his younger brother for his father’s position!” Liu Qi still had not reacted after Liu Mang had finished speaking. He had truly become afraid. There are too many similarities between Liu Qi and Yuan Tan. Both of them lost favour to their younger brother. Both of them lost their mother. Both of them have those type of stepmother that could control the court. Yuan Shao had fallen sick so Yuan Tan could not see his father. Similarly, Liu Qi had not seen his father in a long time. What would have happened if Liu Biao were to meet an unexpected misfortune? Liu Qi himself would be caught unprepared to deal with the perils ahead.
Yuan Tan was able to escape because he had tens of thousands of soldiers and also Qingzhou. On the other hand, Liu Qi was only the Governor of Xinye. He did not even have five thousand men that were loyal to him. The remaining troops here were under the command of a military officer dispatched from Xiangyang. The ones controlling them were his little brother and Cai Mao. How was Liu Qi supposed to compete against them?
Liu Qi became so frightened his clothes turned wet from cold sweat. If his life truly ended up similar to the Yuan Family, he would not be able to escape. If his father fell sick and then Liu Zong were to summon him back using his father’s name, Liu Qi would have no choice but to go. If he does not go, he would be ignoring his father. Such acts were unfilial and reviled. However, if he were to heed the call and return, he would die.
“Your Majesty! Please save me!” Liu Qi was so scared he knelt down immediately.
“Save you? How am I supposed to save you? I would have done so if it was within my ability!” Liu Mang laughed while showing a troubled expression.
“I am sure Your Majesty would have a way!” Liu QI panicked. Since Liu Mang had brought this terrible news, he should also have a solution or he would not mention all this. After all, how was Liu Qi’s death going to affect Liu Mang in any way?
“Sigh. Brother Liu Qi. It is not that I am unwilling to help you. Right now, I need to go to Xiangyang to request for provisions from Lord Liu. Meanwhile the Cai Family have a lot of influence there. If I were to help you…”
Liu Qi knew that Liu Mang would not help him unless there were benefits to doing so. “Your Majesty. Although I am not entitled to the provisions at Xinye, I will definitely provide ten thousand provisions for Yangzhou!”
Ten thousand provisions was the best Liu Qi could give. He was too honest to haggle. Other people would first offer five thousand provisions and then slowly raise the price. That way others would see it as though they have sacrificed a lot and spare more effort into helping them. They would not be like Liu Qi that would immediately show their entire hand.
“Alright. Since Brother Liu Qi is so magnanimous, it would be my fault to avoid helping you!” Liu Mang had seldom seen such an honest person during these chaotic times. These are qualities made them special.
“Has Brother Liu Qi ever heard of Shensheng and Chong’er1 2?”
Liu Qi naturally knew about these two people as a follower of Confucianism. These two were Duke Xian’s children. As Duke Xian favoured his concubine Li Ji and her son Xi Qi, he had sent his other sons away. As a result, Li Ji framed Shenshang with the crime of poisoning his father, forcing Shenshang to commit suicide. On the other hand, Chong’er escaped with a few of his loyal subordinates before returning many years later as the land’s ruler.
Liu Qi did not want to be Shensheng but was it good to be Chong’er?
Liu Mang did not know who had sent Liu Qi out here to keep him away from Jingzhou. However, it was also true that Liu Qi was in danger.
“Chong’er escaped but he alone was not enough to rule a nation.” Chong’er would not have been able to do this alone. He had help from Duke Mu of Qin. Unlike Shensheng, Chong’er and his half-brother Yiwu had escaped. After the death of their father, Li Ji placed her son Xiqi on the throne. However, Xiqi was killed one month after his ascension by Li Ke. The next in line was his half-brother Zhuozi who was also killed together with Li Ji. In the end, the one that took the throne of Jin was Yiwu who ordered Li Ke to commit suicide for the deaths of his two predecessors. Four years later, Jin experienced famine and requested Qin to sell grain which they agreed. The following year, it was Qin that experienced famine. However, Jin refused to sell grain and instead attacked Qin. In the end, Jin lost and Yiwu had to send his son as a hostage to Qin.
To maintain relations, Duke Mu had married off his daughter Huai Yin to Prince Yu. Normally, relations would be stable. However, one day, Prince Yu heard that his father was sick and was afraid that Duke Mu would install someone else as the ruler of Jin. So he escaped and returned to Jin. Enraged, Duke Mu supported Chong’er, marrying off five of his daughters including Huai Ying to him. Basically, without Duke Mu’s help, Chong’er would not have become a ruler. This was the kind of help that Liu Qi wanted.
“Foreign aid?” Liu Qi was honest but he was not an idiot. If he wants to seek out foreign aid, the ones nearest to him would be a good choice as they would be able to reach each other faster. The one nearest to him was Liu Bei.
“Haha. Liu Qi. You may want to seek help from Liu Bei but I wonder if that person would be willing to help you?” Liu Mang sneered at Liu Qi. Everyone had their own desires just like how Liu mang wanted provisions and to take Xinye by taking in Liu Qi. Liu Bei also had his own desires. Last time, Liu Bei might have taken Liu Qi in so that he could use Liu Qi’s name. However, Liu Bei now had Yuzhou and Nanyang. What he needed now were provisions. On the other hand, helping Liu Qi would mean offending the Cai Family and Zhang Family supporting Liu Zong. He needed to offend so many powerful people just for Liu Qi. This is something Liu Bei would definitely not do.
Liu Qi then understood. Liu Mang was the only person left that could save him. He felt disdain towards Cao Cao and Sun Ce would not help him because of the death of Sun Jian. The only one left was Liu Mang.
“Your Majesty. This Liu Qi is ready to serve.” Liu Qi immediately knelt down.
“Brother Liu Qi, please get up!” Liu Mang hurriedly rushed forward to support Liu Qi. Liu Qi was supposed to be his guide at Jingzhou. Liu Mang also had interest in Liu Qi because of the state of Xinye. Although they were at the borders, Xinye was at peace and the people were all smiling from the bottom of their hearts. This was very different from the grim expressions of those in Yangzhou. This was why Liu Qi was a talented individual. If it was not because of being born in the family of a feudal lord, it was likely that he would become an extremely famous person in history.
“Brother Liu Qi is like my brother. There is no need to be too courteous. I will definitely support Brother Liu Qi. If the situation changes, I would certainly ensure Brother Liu Qi becomes the provincial governor of Jingzhou.” Liu Mang’s words calmed Liu Qi down.