Chapter 58: Rip Open the Ancestral Grave! (Part Two)
Then, Hou Wenji walked to Yu Donglai and whispered, “In February, the soldiers of Mongo-Yuan attacked our border, and Major Li Xiaozong of Fangu got defeated. Fangu City was conquered, and the 800 soldiers and more than 2,000 residents were all killed. Li Xiaozong escaped and hid in Right Valiant Guard for protection. Great General Li Yuanshan of Right Valiant Guard heard the news and killed his way to the border, getting back the control of Fangu after one night of fighting and wiping out thousands of enemies. However, to protect Li Xiaozong from the punishment of being defeated, Li Yuanshan didn’t mention the fact that the border soldiers and the residents of Fangu all died in his memorial to the throne.”
“Huh?” Yu Donglai gasped a little upon hearing this, and he thought, “How come this version of the story is completely different from the one that I heard?”
Yu Donglai knew exactly what happened at Fangu, so he didn’t dare to finish reading when he saw the beginning of the memorial to the throne that the Emperor threw to him. In the beginning, it stated that the Ministry of War didn’t investigate an obviously fishy case.
“How come what Hou Wenji said is completely different?” Yu Donglai thought as he looked up, trying to find some hints from Hou Wenji’s expression. However, Hou Wenji continued with a neutral expression and a calm tone, “After Fangu was conquered, the group of people led by the Imperial Commissioner was also surrounded by the enemies. After fighting for half a night, they all died after exhaustion. Great General Li Yuanshan of Right Valiant Guard likes Li Xiaozong’s talent even though the latter suffered a defeat. To protect Li Xiaozong, he bribed some officials in the Ministry of War and Chiliarch Gao Tianbao of the Intelligence Department who were responsible for investigating this matter, changing the fact that Li Xiaozong suffered a defeat to Li Xiaozong battled without retreating and finally obtaining victory.”
There were a few keywords in what Hou Wenji said. For example, he said that Li Yuanshan protected Li Xiaozong since he liked the latter’s talent instead of saying that they were both from Long-West Li Family. This ordinary-sounding phrase contained hidden information.
Hou Wenji added expressionlessly, “This is what happened. Mr. Yu, do you understand now?”
Yu Donglai wasn’t an idiot; how could he climb up and become the Head of the Ministry of War if he was a fool? These years of experience made him extremely sensitive to information, and he knew what he needed to do after hearing Hou Wenji say do you understand now?
“I understand now,” Yu Donglai said to the Emperor with his back slightly bent, “I was greedy for merit and didn’t investigate this issue further even though it seemed suspicious. It was my negligence. Your Majesty, please punish me; I don’t have anything to say.”
“Let me ask you…” Emperor Yang Yi sat back onto his heatable brick bed cross-legged and asked, “How many silver taels did you take?”
“I’m guilty of negligence, but I didn’t even take a cash coin,” Yu Donglai said in an earnest tone, “I didn’t investigate this case due to negligence, but I don’t dare to be bribed and bend the law. I didn’t spot the strangeness of this case involving Li Xiaozong, and I’m ashamed since Your Majesty placed great trust in me. However… Even though my family isn’t rich, I don’t need silver taels. I don’t dare to try to fool Your Majesty for money.”
Yang Yi drank some tea and nodded before saying, “That is true. Your Yu Family doesn’t need money. Even compared to Wu Yidao, the Yu Family isn’t much inferior. Then, let me ask you this question. How many people in the Ministry of War accepted money from Li Yuanshan?”
“I have no idea. For the last two months, I have been busy moving grains and recruiting soldiers in secret. Everything else in the Ministry of War was managed by Deputy Hou Junci.”
The Emperor nodded, turned to Hou Wenji, and said, “I’m surprised that some people in the Intelligence Department even betrayed me.”
He used the word betray.
Hou Wenji lifted the hem of his robe, knelt down, and took off his ridged hat before placing his forehead on the ground. He said, “I disappointed Your Majesty. I’m no longer qualified to manage the Intelligence Department.”
“Taking off your ridged hat so frequently? Aren’t you afraid that I will interpret it as a threat of resignation?” the Emperor asked coldly.
Hou Wenji raised his head and said, “I don’t dare to do that.”
His reply was simple, and he didn’t say anything to explain himself.
The Emperor snorted and said, “If I fire officials simply because their subordinates made a mistake, the heads and deputies of various ministries and departments wouldn’t feel safe at all. Since one of your subordinates made such a mistake, you are guilty of negligence. However, being the Head of the Intelligence Department is tough, so I will forgive you this time. As for the punishment, you will be deducted three years of salary, and your official position will go down by one rank. Afterward, write a memorial to the throne explaining where you are wrong.”
“Thank you, Your Majesty,” Hou Wenji said as he kowtowed.