Chapter 1004: Initial Display of Strength
The group arrived at the Civil Affairs Manor soon afterward.
Cloudcenter Commandery’s officials were all present, and even Jian Taiding had been waiting there ahead of time.
Normally speaking, both his master rank cultivation and family background were superior to Sang Hong.
And yet he had come out to welcome them outside the city, and had even waited for them there, truly showing a lot of respect to the imperial envoy.
He clearly wanted Sang Hong to scratch his back too afterward, and to promote him to the position of Cloudcenter Duke as early as possible.
Cloudcenter Magistrate Zuo Su and Jian Taiding greeted Sang Hong’s group and invited them inside.
They introduced all the different officials along the way.
They had been in too much of a hurry when they were outside of the city, so only a few individuals could introduce themselves.
“This is Vice Magistrate Sir Xu Yu.”
“I have been looking forward to meeting you.”
Zu An carefully observed the other person.
Xu Yu was a middle-aged man with a square face.
He looked like a much more proper official than the big-bellied Zuo Su.
Apart from assisting the Magistrate, the Vice Magistrate also had the responsibility of supervising the Magistrate Manor and the local officials.
Since his status was extremely high, he didn’t sit in the same carriage as the Magistrate, but rather in his own carriage.
“This is Governing Supervisor Sir Yu Xuanqing.”
“So it was actually the Imperial Secretariat’s Left Confidential Assistant’s clan brother! It is an honor!”
The Governing Supervisor was the number three figure of a commandery, in charge of the selection of officials and other matters.
Even though he was a local official, there was no need for Sang Hong to treat someone like him with such importance.
The reason why Sang Hong remained so courteous was because the elder was someone from the Yu clan.
The Yu clan had two main branches.
One served as officials in the imperial court; their clan leader was the Imperial Secretariat’s Left Confidential Assistant Yu Xuanchong.
The other branch remained in Cloudcenter Commandery and was in charge of the ki stone family business.
The old man was actually Yu Xuanchong’s clan brother.
But compared to Yu Xuanchong, Yu Xuanqing was far inferior in both cultivation and ability.
Cloudcenter Commandery’s clan leader had passed away, so the clan was currently under the control of the first wife, Yu Yanluo.
However, she was still a woman, and she was beautiful too.
As such, she couldn't really make an appearance too often, so many of the clan’s matters had to be left to the clan uncles.
Yu Xuanqing was one of them.
“This is Cloudcenter Commandery’s Military Affairs Manor’s War Minister Yu Xuansu.”
“It is an honor to meet you at last.”
Yu Xuanxu was also one of Yu Yanluo’s clan uncles.
Zu An began to ponder to himself when he saw the two old men. The Yu clan’s influence here really is great… With all of these higher level positions of Cloudcenter Commandery being occupied by them, this entire place is pretty much under their control.
Zu An looked around.
He had originally been looking forward to seeing Yu Yanluo, but he didn’t see the beautiful figure he remembered.
Sang Hong seemed to be thinking the same thing, as he found an excuse to ask, “Hm Why do I not see Madam Yu here”
He obviously wasn’t doing so because he desired her beauty, but rather because Yu Yanluo was the one in control of Cloudcenter’s Yu clan.
Furthermore, they were investigating the disappearance of her husband, so he wanted to take the chance to ask her about some things.
Jian Taiding, the man with the mustache, said with a smile, “My sister-in-law has recently been affected by the cold weather, so she is not in the proper state to receive guests.
I hope Sir Sang can pardon this.”
Sang Hong said with a smile, “Her health is naturally the most important.” He then quickly changed the topic.
Then, Jian Taiding dragged Sang Hong along to introduce him to some more officials.
The others began to send their greetings to the other members of the imperial envoy.
They were most enthusiastic when greeting Gao Ying and Pei You.
After all, one had the Liu clan behind him, and the other the Pei clan.
They were both top-level clans in the capital.
The local officials obviously wanted to get closer to those influential clans’ disciples.
As for Zu An, they all ignored him after giving him some polite greetings.
In their eyes, an official like him who had clawed his way up from a poor and humble background wasn’t worth all that much.
There was one huge weakness in people who had risen up that way, which was that their status completely depended on the emperor’s favor.
If they lost the emperor’s favor, they would then completely collapse.
But the great influential clans were different.
They had countless members in the court serving as officials, so their relationships were twisted and complicated.
Even if the emperor didn’t like them, it was difficult for him to do anything to them.
“They're quite honest,” Zu An remarked.
He obviously wouldn’t take offense because of that.
Instead, he took the chance to size up the others, especially Pei Shao.
That fellow seemed to be playing matchmaker between King Qi’s heir and his daughter.
He noticed that a young man with a long face and small, round eyes was next to Pei Shao.
Someone like that obviously couldn't be introduced to Sang Hong.
However, judging from the way some lower ranked officials flattered Pei Shao, he learned that the young man seemed to be Pei Shao’s son, Pei Xing.
Big Manman’s little brother Zu An frowned.
Were they really blood-related Big Manman is so beautiful, so why is her little brother so disappointing
The group quickly arrived in the main hall.
Because of the cold weather, there was a blazing bonfire at the very center.
There were all kinds of meat hanging above.
Under the fire’s illumination, the golden oil on the meat looked especially enticing.
An aroma of spices and roasted meat filled the place.
“Sir Sang, please have the seat of honor!” Jian Taiding exclaimed, and the group quickly sat down.
Sang Hong was the Imperial Envoy, so he naturally had to have the seat of honor.
Sang Hong looked around.
He saw that the people there had arranged for Pei You and Gao Ying to sit next to him, while Zu An was seated farther down.
As someone who had held an official appointment for a long time, he obviously knew that the seating arrangement hadn’t been chosen randomly.
Rather, it was the result of great clans struggling against each other for hundreds of years; it was the final tacit agreement they reached.
Even though Gao Ying and Pei You’s official ranks were beneath Zu An’s, their clan influence far exceeded the solitary Zu An.
Under the support of their clan’s resources, Gao Ying and Pei You would have high positions soon.
That was why their higher seats were reasonable and appropriate.
But reasonable was one thing; Sang Hong wasn’t happy about that.
The first reason was because he himself had been all alone, creating his current status out of a humble background.
He had suffered his fair share of mistreatment because of that.
Furthermore, he was now even closer to Zu An than a mere ally, so he didn’t wish for Zu An to feel wronged.
As such, he said calmly, “Ah Zu, come and sit next to me.”
Zu An naturally agreed.
He sat down confidently at Sang Hong’s side.
However, those from Cloudcenter Commandery felt something drop in their stomachs.
They seemed to have underestimated Zu An’s worth.
Zuo Su was a bit worried.
He had only arranged for two seats by Sang Hong’s side, one for Gao Ying and one for Pei You.
Now that Zu An had taken one of the seats, what could they do about the other person He knew that such young masters cared a lot about these matters of prestige.
They definitely wouldn’t be willing to give it up.
What would they do if the young masters began to fight among one another Regardless of how they arranged things, they were definitely going to offend one side!
However, he soon relaxed again.
The position had been taken by Zu An, so even if those young masters felt hatred, they would direct their resentment at the nobody Zu An.
If they were more irascible in nature, they might just start a conflict with Zu An.
For those great clans, the prestige of their clans was more important than anything else.
That fact wouldn’t change even if it was an imperial envoy.
Many officials there had similar thoughts.
They were all waiting to see if there would be a dispute.
After all, they were well aware that the envoy was here to investigate them anyway, so they were all hoping there would be internal conflict within the imperial envoy.
But what was surprising was that neither Gao Ying or Pei You had any intention of fighting with Zu An over the position.
They naturally moved to another table, as if Zu An taking that position weren’t anything unusual at all.
Jian Taiding’s eyes narrowed when he saw that.
He had to re-evaluate this Zu An.
After the Imperial Envoy sat back down, everyone else also sat down one by one.
Just then, however, there was some commotion in the distance.
A tough-looking man with a curly beard pointed at an empty position, asking, “Who was this position arranged for”
Sang Hong was naturally at the very front, in the seat of honor.
Then, the two rows next to him were respectively led by Jian Taiding and Zuo Su in accordance with their statuses.
There weren’t too many seats arranged in those two rows, with every single spot prepared for a higher-level figure of Cloudcenter Commandery.
Past those two rows were a few more tables outside, clearly for those officials who were of lower rank.
That was why being able to sit in one of the two rows was also a reflection of status and honor.
According to the prior introductions, the large man who looked like a foreigner was a commanding officer from the Military Affairs Manor.
Even though he couldn't compare to the Chief Historian or the War Minister, he was a high-level figure of the manor.
He was barely qualified to sit in those two rows.
He was staring at Vice Magistrate Xu Yu angrily as he pointed at the empty space.
Clearly, he was upset to have heard that he was assigned to sit in the back.
That was why he caused a scene.
Sang Hong and Zu An exchanged a look.
The Military Affairs Manor and Civil Affairs Manor in Cloudcenter Commandery seemed to be at greater conflict with each other than they had imagined.
Xu Yu said indifferently, “I have an old friend who is paying a visit here today.
This seat was prepared for him.”
“May I ask what his position and rank are” the large bearded man responded in a low, muffled voice.
Xu Yu frowned, but in the end he still said, “He has no official post.”
The bearded man roared with laughter.
“Since he has no official post, what right does he have to sit here This seat is mine!” Then, he sat straight down and picked up the cup of wine to drink.
Xu Yu glowered.
He gave Jian Taiding a look and said, “Sir Jian, this is a seat belonging to our Civil Affairs Manor.
Do we need the approval of your Military Affairs Manor’s people regarding who we prepare it for”
Jiang Taiding said with a smile, “Sir Xu’s words are not quite right.
We are all court officials, so is there a need to distinguish between us Cloudcenter Commandery’s people are tough, and soldiers view glory and reputation as their life.
Commander Dian has always been a straightforward man whom I cannot convince otherwise.
If you really have been offended in any way, I hope sir can be understanding out of respect for his war contributions.”
Zu An asked Sang Hong through ki transmission out of curiosity, “Respected uncle, even if they have any grudge between them, is there a need for them to put up this kind of display here What are they trying to start by showing this in front of the Imperial Envoy”
Sang Hong replied, “They are doing this on purpose as a display of strength for me.
Yu Xu is an official sent from the central court, so just like me, he represents the court.
Jian Taiding is clearly showing his strength as a warning by not showing any leniency.
He showed me a friendly side earlier, but now, he is baring his fangs.
He is implying that if we tactfully cooperate, he will treat us well, but if we do not, we might experience the same awkward situation as Xu Yu right now.”
“It looks like this Xu Yu was doomed to be disrespected today.” Zu An felt a bit of sympathy.
Because of what had happened outside Brightmoon City’s outskirts, he subconsciously disliked Jian Taiding.
Sang Hong laughed and said, “That may not necessarily be the case.”