“…Mm…? …Oh, yes, our families,” Liu Xun said. “Sun Ce has not hurt them thus far, so I am unconcerned. He has gained at least a little understanding of ‘the way of things’.”
Bofu was the lord of a vast dominion, and for that dominion’s
administration to function effectively, he had to report to his court in Qu’e
when he was not present. Bofu had left his younger brother Sun Yi - whose
appearance and countenance were eerily similar to Bofu’s - as the main military
guardian, while state affairs were managed by his maternal uncle Wu Jing, his
mother, Lady Wu - whose role as a woman with authority was not unique, but it
was certainly unusual at the time - and a small group of trusted officials that
Bofu had taken time to gather and build bonds of trust with.
“My nephew says that he has received word of a mighty fleet approaching Lujiang,” Wu Jing said to the packed court. “We are deploying more men and vessels to ‘even the odds’, so to speak. Dong Xi is moving up from Yuzhang, and-”
“But my brother might need my help,” Sun Yi prompted.
“Ayah… Stop trying to run at swords!” Wu Jing pleaded. “Your father and eldest brother are stress enough for my ageing bones!”
Lady Wu laughed and said, “My Yi is just worried. Now, Mister Zhang: how goes the ‘pacification’ of Gan Ji’s followers?”
“We’re showing restraint, Lady Wu, as requested,” the politician and adviser Zhang Zhao replied. “It would, however, be a lie to say that there have not been serious incidents.”
Lady Wu sighed woefully and said, “My son should have shown more care. Gan Ji harmed not a soul… but what’s done is done. What word from Wu Prefecture, Mister Quan…?”
The statesman Quan Rou coughed deliberately and replied, “Administrator Zhu Zhi reports no signs of activity from the pirates, bandits or ‘White Tiger’ Yan’s Shanyue followers. I should also like to report our cordial relations with the imperial court’s new Administrator of Guangling, Chen Deng, who has made no challenge to our reclamation of southern Guangling thus far.”
“That’s something,” Lady Wu said. “Mister Gu Yong, how goes the
redistribution of food to account for all of our new residents, and indeed the
redistribution of the residents themselves…?”
“It will take time,” the politician Gu Yong replied.
“…Quan should take some people,” Lady Wu mused.
“Begging your pardon, Lady Wu…?” Zhang Zhao prompted.
“Mm…? …Oh, uh, my apologies, gentlemen, for thinking aloud of things that should be discussed,” Lady Wu said. “My second son Quan should be here, really… or perhaps not. But he must take some of the poor people that have found themselves here in Jiangdong at such short notice. Everyone must do their part.”
“Better he isn’t here, Mother,” Sun Yi suggested. “He might-”
“He’s… not here,” Lady Wu interrupted; Sun Yi was about to mention that his older brother Sun Quan - who was going through an emotional crisis - had recently stolen money from the state treasury to pay for vices, and that would not be received well by a court founded on honesty and fairness, and not least by Sun Quan’s new father-in-law, Magistrate Xie Jiong, who was in Jiangdong as a guest.
“…Oh, right, of course, Mother,” Sun Yi said as he realised his error. “Should I visit him personally and relay your suggestion…?”
“No, I’ll write,” Lady Wu insisted. “What else have we to worry about…? … … …Oh, yes. Hua Xin’s behaving… but are the tribes in Kuaiji and Yuzhang behaving…?”