“Uncle Chen! You are back!” Aside from a few women, a group of people gathered around Chen Kang the moment Chen Kang came out. As Chen Kang had gone in for quite a while, the end results should be good. However, the others had also heard Kuai Liang’s angry shouts.
Chen Kang still had a lifeless expression. He had never seen Kuai Liang act this way before. He was so chocked he did not hear Kuai Ran’s question. On the other hand, his actions caused the others to think that Kuai Liang still refused to come out.
“Brother Wang. I suggest you go and take a rest for tonight and discuss things in the morning.” Kuai Ran said as he tried to console Liu Mang.
Liu Mang was disappointed. Did Kuai Liang have to be so stubborn? Keeping to his principles was a good thing but not during emergencies. Liu Mang did not even know how to describe this kind of stubbornness.
“Milord. Let us wait for tomorrow.” Jia Xu also patted Liu Mang’s shoulder. It was better for them to just take a rest now.
“Seems like this is our only option.” Liu Mang sighed.
“Wait!” Chen Kang regained his wits just as Liu Mang was about to leave.
“Uncle Chen. Is something wrong?”
“Sir. The Master said that he will meet you.” Chen Kang quickly shouted to Liu Mang’s group.
“Huh?” The sudden information made surprised Liu Mang. He looked pleasantly surprised and stopped walking. “Is Uncle Chen speaking the truth?”
“Yes!” Chen Kang replied as his hand was grabbed by a very excited Liu Mang.
“I am sorry, Uncle Chen!” Liu Mang quickly spoke.
Meanwhile, Kuai Ran was feeling baffled as he wondered what kind of relationship his uncle shared with Liu Mang especially when Kuai Liang would not even give face to his own nephew.
After a short moment, a middle aged man came out from inside the courtyard.
“Uncle!” Kuai Ran greeted and quickly cupped his fist. The person that appeared was his uncle Kuai Liang.
Kuai Ran stepped forward thinking that his uncle would reply his greeting. He also wanted to introduce ‘Brother Wang’ to his uncle and talk about how they became friends. After all, he and his uncle seldom saw each other after his uncle moved out. However, Kuai Ran soon found out that he was just an extra.
“Move aside.” Kuai Liang simply said as he pushed his nephew aside. The reason he did this was because Kuai Ran was blocking his way.
“Uncle!” Kuai Ran felt a bit discontented but that feeling immediately turned into shock.
“This Duke Kuai Liang of Jingzhou did not realize Your Highness is the one visiting this late at night. Please forgive me!” Kuai Liang lowered himself and cupped his fist at Liu Mang.
“Uncle?” Kuai Ran was confused. Kuai Liang only had a few people that were superior to himself such as Liu Biao, Cai Mao, and Kuai Yue. However, people like Cai Mao wouldn’t be able to move Kuai Liang while Kuai Yue would not be able to do so because of a difference in opinion between the two brothers. Kuai Liang and Kuai Yue were now cold to each other. Kuai Liang would definitely not bow respectfully to Kuai Yue. There were no others in Jingzhou with higher rank. Kuai Ran initially thought that Wang Shu was just his father’s old acquaintance which is why he was even more confused about this situation.
“Stupid boy! This is His Highness, the King of Shu!” Kuai Liang scolded as he slapped the top of Kuai Ran’s head.
“Huh?” Kuai Ran voiced out.1
“The King of Shu? Brother Wang? The King of Shu?” Kuai Ran looked at Liu Mang and then back to his uncle.
“Your Highness. This is Your Highness’s seal. Please keep it properly!” Kuai Liang returned the token. As the box carried by Chen Kang had broken2, the returned token was wrapped in a silk cloth.
The token was a seal. It was Liu Mang’s signature and proof of identity. Looking at it was like looking at Liu Mang himself. Normally, it was already a huge crime to even hold it, not to mention drop it like Chen Kang. The large seal here was the genuine article.
“We greet Your Highness!” Chen Kang and the other servants quickly knelt down. Kuai Ran also needed to kneel even if he was the heir to the Kuai Family as he had no post.
“Brother Kuai. I am sorry for hiding this from you!” Liu Mang apologized as he helped Kuai Ran stand back up.
“Wang Shu! Shu Wang3! I should have known!” Kuai Ran laughed bitterly.
“Is there a reason Your Highness paid me a visit?” Kuai Liang asked. He heard about Kuai Ran and Liu Mang going to the brothel and that Liu Mang bought Kuai Ran a woman. Liu Mang would also not visit him so late unless there was something important.
“There are important things I need your help with! Is it possible for Mister Kuai Liang to spare some time?” Liu Mang asked happily. Meeting up with Kuai Liang was half the work done. After all, everyone in Jingzhou hated Liu Mang. This is because Liu Mang and Lu Bu captured their land and caused huge damage to their army. Liu Mang even recruited troops that initially fought for Jingzhou such as Gan Ning and his navy. All of this were like destroying people’s livelihood. On top of that, he even made the recruitment order.
Only Kuai Liang was friendly towards Liu Mang because Kuai Liang was friends with Yang Hong.
“Of course! I haven’t slept! We can discuss until morning!” Kuai Liang replied. His reply made Kuai Ran secretly hold a grudge. Initially, he would not come out even though his own nephew called for him. Now, he was willing to talk to Liu Mang throughout the night. The disparity was too big.
“That’s great. Let us talk in a quiet place!” Liu Mang said happily. The two of them then continued to exchange courtesy while Kuai Liang led Liu Mang to the study. Meanwhile, the others go to the rooms that were already prepared by Chen Kang.
When the two reached the study, they found that the room was bright. One servant had already gone ahead to light a candle and even prepared tea.
“Your Highness. Have some tea!” Kuai Liang said as he poured tea for Liu Mang. Liu Mang was also thirsty so he picked up the cup and drank the tea.
His movements were not hurried but he somehow agitated his wound, causing him to frown.
“What’s the matter?” Kuai Liang noticed Liu Mang’s pained expression and not long after that, also noticed the wound on Liu Mang’s arm.
“Who dared to injure His Highness? Is the law still being upheld in Xiangyang?” Kuai Liang shouted angrily after he saw Liu Mang’s injury. As he was the one in charge of Xiangyang and the guards, he would definitely be angry that Liu Mang got injured in Xiangyang.
“Don’t mind it.” Liu Mang waved his hand. He did not know how to explain the incident involving the barbarian to Kuai Liang. It is not like he could just say that he got injured saving Kuai Liang’s nephew. That would be like purposefully taking credit for things.
“This Xiangyang is in a mess. I should go out and put things in order!” Even though Liu Mang did not say anything, Kuai Liang still knew that Liu Mang got injured by a weapon in Xiangyang. Even if he had already been promoted, he was still in charge of the guards in Xiangyang. Liu Mang did not realize he had accidentally made Kuai Liang determined to put things in order. This would eventually cause a lot of suffering for the children of the nobles.
“Mister Kuai Liang. I came here this time for the sake of the people in Yangzhou! I hope that you will be able to extend a helping hand to save the people!” Liu Mang said as he bowed towards Kuai Liang.
“Your Highness. You must not do such things.” Kuai Liang quickly hurried forward and supported Liu Mang. Liu Mang was the King of Shu while he was only the Duke of Xiangyang. The differences in their position was huge. As a stubborn person, he had high impression of Liu Mang and respected Liu Mang.
“The people in Yangzhou? Is this concerning the provisions?” Kuai Liang asked.
Kuai Liang frowned the moment he heard this. In his opinion, they should sell the provisions to Liu Mang since Liu Mang was already here. His brother and Cai Mao wanted to use Liu Mang as a hostage to keep Lu Bu in check. It would be dishonest to not sell provisions to Liu Mang now.
To Kuai Liang, there was nothing wrong with selling Liu Mang provisions. They would be able to form an alliance and defeat Sun Ce, along with any other invaders from across the Yangtze River. Cao Cao was about to win. Once he did, the Central Plains and Yangtze would be next.
Lu Bu was strong and could become a shield that helps Jingzhou fight Cao Cao. Jingzhou could simply sit at a side and provide Lu Bu with provisions while watching Lu Bu and Cao Cao kill each other.
If Lu Bu were to win, his army would be exhausted as it did not have a strong foundation. Jingzhou would easily be able to move North and take over. On the other hand, if Cao Cao were to win, he would be too weak to launch another invasion. This meant Jingzhou would have at least another fifty years of peace.
This was something beneficial for Jingzhou, yet nobody proposed it. It is definitely not because they lacking talented people. After all, Jingzhou was extremely populated.
Kuai Liang even understood what the nobles were doing. All of them were simply waiting for opportunity4. Even Cai Mao and Kuai Yue had already sent envoys to Xudou, Cao Cao’s territory, to make connections. The same Cao Cao that was the reason for many of Liu Biao’s sleepless nights.
“A few days ago, Liu Biao promised to sell me three hundred thousand provisions. My army was prepared to transport the provisions and had already given advance payment. However, Liu Biao suddenly changed his mind and said that he had to prioritize the war at Jiangxia!” Liu Mang poured out his grievances to Kuai Liang. This was fraud.
“The situation at Jiangxia may be pressing but they do not need provisions!” Right now, the battle going on at Jiangxia was a battle of attrition. Both sides already had plenty of provisions, enough to last for two years. While the soldiers do need provisions, they do not need it urgently. This meant that someone is playing tricks.
“I will not hide this from Kuai Liang. I have already dispatched someone to investigate and have found out that this is because of that Blacky5 Pang!” Liu Mang spoke hatefully when he mentioned Pang Tong’s. He called Pang Tong with a nickname due to his intense hatred for the man.
“Blacky Pang?” Kuai Liang was stunned for a while and then smiled. “How fitting. Blacky Pang truly describes that youngster!”
Kuai Liang was very familiar with Pang Tong. A long time ago, Pang Degong had brought Pang Tong with him and encountered Kuai Liang. Pang Tong bragged that he would become an accomplished person with rank equal to theirs.
Now, Pang Tong had already proven himself. Pang Tong was accomplished and talented. Although Liu Bei was a weak leader, he was still the one governing Yuzhou. He was the Left General while Pang Tong was his military strategist. In Yuzhou, Pang Tong had higher rank than him.
“The provisions stopped after Pang Tong went to see Liu Biao.”
“This Pang Tong cannot be underestimated!” Kuai Liang said as he helped Liu Mang analyze Pang Tong. Pang Tong was Pang Degong’s nephew and had the support of the Lumen Academy. Right now, Pang Tong was helping Liu Bei who was Yangzhou’s mortal enemy. Liu Bei was also the first one to send troops against Yangzhou
As a native to Jingzhou who had the support of the Lumen Academy, Pang Tong had superiority. That was why he could easily kill Liu Mang’s envoy.
“How does Your Highness want me to help?” Kuai Liang asked. He too, did not like both Pang Tong and Liu Bei.
Everyone had ambitions. Some people just wanted a peaceful fulfilling life while others like Cao Cao, Sun Ce and Liu Bei wanted to conquer the world. However, Liu Bei was like a parasite. He would suck others try and then discard them. Liu Bei’s victims were Zhang Xiu, Tao Qian and Cao Cao. Tao Qian and Zhang Xiu were dead but Cao Cao was lucky. Even then, Cao Cao had wasted a lot of resources and one general had even died. Kuai Liang did not feel comfortable to see this parasite living near him.
Right now, Pang Tong came for the purpose of taking Jingzhou’s provisions for free. Fortunately, Liu Mang did not attack Jingzhou or this would really have happened.6
“I want Kuai Liang7 to say a few words to Liu Biao so that he would allow us to bring provisions back to Yangzhou!”
“That is going to be difficult.” Kuai Liang immediately frowned after hearing Liu Mang’s words.
“Please do it for the sake of the millions living in Yangzhou!”
“Your Majesty. It is not that I am refusing to help you. I would help even if you did not come and make this request!” Kuai Liang replied truthfully. He would have gone and advised Liu Biao even if Liu Mang did not come requesting for help. The problem is that Liu Biao no longer listened to Kuai Liang in regards to matters involving Yangzhou.
The reason for this is because Kuai Liang belonged to the pro-Yangzhou faction. Some even questioned if Kuai Liang had received bribes and questioned if Kuai Liang’s advice was actually beneficial. As a result, Liu Biao subconsciously believed that Kuai Liang spoke for Yangzhou.
“That is great. I came to ask you for help in persuading your brother and have him support me, so that the people of Yangzhou can live!”
“My brother?” Kuai Liang frowned even more. Kuai Yue’s words would certainly be effective as Kuai Yue was still seen as neutral. On top of that, Kuai Yue was Liu Biao’s main advisor. His words always had more sway compared to Kuai Liang. The problem was that Kuai Yue was neutral.
“Your Majesty, this would be difficult as my brother is not close to Your Majesty even if he is not against you!”
Liu Mang nodded understandingly. During the banquet, he had already heard from Jia Xu that Kuai Yue was an opportunist. Kuai Yue would take the side of the more favorable ones.
Kuai Liang felt disdain towards this attitude of his brother’s but he had to admit that this was Kuai Yue’s strong points. The Kuai Family, Cai Family and Huang Family were the three biggest and most influential families in Jingzhou. Yet in the original timeline, the Huang Family members were killed or married off. The Cai Family initially survived but they have offended too many people and were ambitious. With Zhou Yu sowing dissension, Cao Cao also got suspicious. Eventually, all of the Cai Families ended up dead for one reason or another. Even if there wasn’t one, Cao Cao would find one and get rid of them.
On the other hand, after surrendering, Kuai Yue was praised to be of more worth than the whole of JIngzhou by Cao Cao. Although Cao Cao may have exaggerated, it showed how much Cao Cao wanted the Kuai Family.
This was all because of Kuai Yue’s attitude. It was the reason the Kuai Family could outlast the others.
It was ridiculous for Liu Mang to ask Kuai Liang to persuade his brother. The two brothers had been quarreling for a long time. It was to the extent they occasionally shouted curses at each other. Why else would Kuai Liang move out all the way here? Rather than persuade his brother, it was more likely he would just end up yelling at his brother.
“This is not possible.” Kuai Liang shook his head. “I cannot help you.”
Liu Mang was not discouraged when he heard Kuai Liang’s refusal as the two brothers not getting along with each other still fell within their calculations.
“That is why, we should force your brother to take a side!” Liu Mang replied. He did not say this earlier because it would make him look like he wanted Kuai Liang to scheme against his brother. Even if the two hated each other, Kuai Liang would still just chase him out.
“Force my brother to take a side?”
“Precisely.” Liu Mang nodded. He explained his and Jia Xu’s thoughts to Kuai Liang. Their intention was to make Kuai Yue passively offend the Cai Family and the Huang Family.
Kuai Yue had been acting this way because he was afraid of offending the Cai Family, Huang Family and the Pang Family. However, if they make it seem like Kuai Yue was on Liu Mang’s side the entire time, the Huang Family and the Pang Family would go and offend Kuai Yue.
With the two families acting against Kuai Yue, Kuai Yue would have to fight back in order to protect his prestige.
“What should we do?” Kuai Liang’s eyes glinted. It was a terrible plan but Kuai Liang was on board with it. Once Kuai Yue was seen as pro-Yangzhou, it would be too late for Kuai Yue to refute it. Kuai Yue would also have no choice but to help Liu Mang.
“Kuai Liang, can you invite your brother to a banquet?” Liu Mang asked. His plan was for Kuai Yue and himself to be seated at the same table and enjoy a pleasant conversation. To the other nobles around it would be as though Kuai Yue has sided with Yangzhou. This news would quickly spread.
Kuai Liang immediately refused after hearing Liu Mang’s words.
“Why?” Liu Mang asked. He thought it was a good plan. Brothers would usually attend each other’s banquets and Kuai Yue would not take precaution. In fact, Kuai Yue should be happy to be invited.
“Your Highness. You do not know about the conflict between us brothers!” Kuai Liang replied bitterly. They had already started to become estranged ever since they had helped Liu Biao capture Jingzhou. Kuai Liang was combative. He wanted Jingzhou to advance quickly. On the other hand, Kuai Yue was the type that went according to the flow and listened to the words of others. It was not strange for them to argue. The previous time, Kuai Yue even betrayed Kuai Liang. As a result, Kuai Liang moved out and lived separately. It would be ridiculous to expect Kuai Liang to invite Kuai Yue to a banquet. Nobody would believe it and even Kuai Yue himself would feel suspicious about the sudden invitation. To Kuai Yue, it was not possible for such a stubborn and unyielding little brother invite him to a banquet.
Most importantly, Kuai Liang himself was unwilling to do this. To invite Kuai Yue to a banquet is like to admit that he was wrong. Kuai Liang would lose face.
“Then what do Kuai Liang suggest?” Liu Mang asked. He could not force Kuai Liang or he may end up making an additional enemy instead.
Kuai Liang frowned and thought to himself for a moment. After that, he suddenly asked, “Your Highness. Didn’t you go to the brothel earlier?”
“That’s right.” Liu Mang replied as he nodded. There was nothing to hide.
“You even bought six women. Am I right?” Kuai Liang continued to ask.
“That’s right. I bought six women. If Kuai Liang wants, I still have two more women.” Liu Mang replied while thinking that Kuai Liang was asking for women. Liu Mang knew that Kuai Liang had been living alone for many years after the death of his wife. While he had bought six women, three had been given away to Jia Xu while one more was given to Kuai Ran. Both of them were unlikely to give up their women. Even if they somehow agreed, Kuai Liang may not want women who were not virgins. As for the barbarian princess, Liu Mang completely forgot about her.
“You still have two more women?” Kuai Liang asked in confusion. After a while, his eyes opened in realization and reflexively hit Liu Mang on the head. “Brat! What are you thinking of?” Kuai Liang had already subconsciously treated Liu Mang like his own nephew as Liu Mang was around the same age as Kuai Ran which is why he acted that way. However, he quickly realized his mistake and knelt down.
“Your Highness! Forgive me!”
“Don’t worry. If Kuai Liang is willing, I do not mind being your nephew.” Liu Mang understood Kuai Liang’s thoughts and was honestly moved by Kuai Liang’s feelings. Both Liu Mang and Kuai Liang only had a few people that they were truly close with. For Kuai Liang, one of those people had already passed away. As for Liu Mang, he had not seen those closest to him in a long time as he had been in Yangzhou.
Liu Mang could not help but look into the distance as he thought about Chen Gong and Lu Bu. While he did see Lu Bu recently, he had not seen Chen Gong for many months.
“Your Highness!” Kuai Liang did not dare call Liu Mang his nephew but he was still touched.
When Kuai Liang left, Kuai Ran could not follow as he was Kuai Yue’s son. Although they stopped meeting each other as often, Kuai Liang still cared a lot for Kuai Ran. In fact, Kuai Liang cared for Kuai Ran more than he cared for himself. When Kuai Ran was younger, his father was busy dealing with matters involving the Kuai Family. That was why the one that actually raised him up was Kuai Liang. Kuai Liang was the one that understood Kuai Ran more. It was also why Kuai Ran was more afraid of his uncle instead of his father.
“Uncle Liang, go ahead and speak.” Liu Mang did not have any misgivings from Kuai Liang not addressing him as a nephew. Kuai Liang was already over fifty years old and was old enough to be Liu Mang’s uncle. If one included the fact that Liu Mang was from the future, Kuai Liang was probably older than Liu Mang’s own ancestors. So it was no loss for him nor would it be strange for him to call Kuai Liang uncle.
Kuai Liang also did not object to being called uncle. His mood improved. “Ziyang. Did you buy that boy a woman named Yan Ran?” Kuai Liang truly thought of Liu Mang like his nephew. He even knew Liu Mang’s name.
“Uncle. This is their matter, I merely helped them.” Liu Mang thought that Kuai Liang had a problem with this. After all, Yan Ran was a prostitute. She was not a good fit for the heir to the Kuai Family.
“Sigh. That boy is lucky. Persuading my uncle would have to be done by him.” Kuai Liang sighed.
“Uncle Liang. What do you mean?”
“We make them marry!”
There is an additional line here “Kuai Ran was not sure whether he made that sound due to his surprise or from the pain of being slapped in the head.” This line would really only make sense in Chinese because the way they voice their surprise and the way they voice out the feeling of pain is “Ah” 啊
This is unlike English(the ones here at least) where we go “Ouch” “Argh” and “Huh?” “What?” or Japanese where they go “Itai” and “Eh” (based on literature. Not sure what they do in RL)
I am seriously questioning how fragile is this “heavy” box. Or is the token the heavy object and the box is light. I am not expecting it to be as sturdy as plastic or something but this is the box carrying a royal token.
Again, Shu Wang means King of Shu.
Idiom that describes the antonym of missed opportunity. Basically its about how people treat themselves as commodity and wait for their own value to increase.
庞黑子 literally ‘black child Pang’ so I named him Blacky. Also the black part also means shady.
An additional sentence about Liu Bei’s troops potentially complaining about the新鲜 “freshness” of the provisions. Which makes absolutely no sense.
Liu Mang keeps changing the way he address Kuai Liang/Zirou/Mister so I gave up and used ctrl+F to change everything to just Kuai Liang.