Ep 44 + 45 pt 1

The Emperor is out in the wild world of Chang An. The Crown Prince actually wants to save or find the Emperor. Aww he’s worried about his old man not being able to handle the cold. While the Right Chancellor over there is more worried about the repercussions of the Crown Prince actually finding the Emperor and enacts a plan to undermine the Crown Prince. Anyone’s blood boiling at this point?

But the true bread and butter of these two episodes is the Emperor’s excursion out in the real world. Aka right outside the palace walls. He escaped from Long Bo and Zhang Xiao Jing but ended up out in the streets where he is beaten up for being disheveled.

He is rescued by a kind young boy. His father, Zhu Ci and his mother, Madame Wang, bring him onto a carriage. They want to help him return home but he is highly skeptical of why they want to help him.

The family brings him along to the decrepit street the Emperor escaped from earlier but this time, he learns more about what’s happening. The man, Zhu Ci, is a government official, who is here to donate food and rations for the homeless who live on this street, especially the children. The Emperor sees the food being cooked on this lantern festival night and it’s meager to say the least. The orphaned children are there due to various reasons why their parents died. A sobering story for the Emperor to say the least. He is actually quite adamant that this cannot be.

Zhu Ci and his son return to the group and the group continues to chat. However, Zhu Ci, the father, starts realizing something might be amiss with this old man because of the things he keeps mentioning. The things he says about how he did this or he did that for the Empire, causes Zhu Ci to become much more worried about exactly who they rescued.

The Emperor clearly is appreciative of Zhu Ci. In his disheveled state, says he will raise Zhu Ci’s rank to that of a 4th rank official. His son will be allowed to study with princes. At this point, Zhu Ci largely gathers that this old stranger most likely IS the Emperor.

Sadly, Zhu Ci is right to be skeptical of what might befall them for helping the Emperor. In the carriage over back to the palace, Zhu Ci urges the Emperor to leave the confines of the palace walls to see the hardships people of the Tang are suffering. He explains that many government roles are bought and are duplicates without substance. Many of the dossiers given to the Emperor are carefully constructed to only show a certain view of the Empire. The Emperor is deeply moved by Zhu Ci’s words and is determined to improve the family’s lives from now on, and also help the people Zhu Ci was hoping to help.

At this point, different forces come into play that want the Emperor dead. The 6th rank official that beat up the Emperor in the last episode came to his senses and realized he probably caused major problems if the old man in question IS the Emperor. He sends men to kill the Emperor. In a confrontation with these men, the Emperor stands forth to protect the ZHu family behind him. But more men show up. One side is the Long Wu army and another is a group of men who claim to be sent from the Crown Prince. Except, these men order arrows to kill the Emperor without hesitation. The Emperor manages to dive away from the wave of arrows but when he shouts for the Zhu family to run, he finds that they, sadly, have all been killed.

In an act of fury, the Emperor grabs the bomb that still on his person, which we all completely forgot about, lights it, and hurls it back over to the Tang soldiers. He is enraged that these soldiers would blatantly kill civilians without question. Luckily, Zhang Xiao Jing at this point managed to catch up and find the Emperor who is screaming his outrage. Long Bo/Xiao Gui also arrives and the three, plus Tan Qi, head into another carriage to escape.

Despite the harrowing experience just now and the sad deaths of kind civilians, the Right CHancellor, however, is salivating at what this means. The men that clearly he sent are able to frame the Crown Prince for attempting to kill the Emperor. This means that the Right Chancellor can send in his troops like General Gan Shou Cheng of the Right Cavalry to take down the Crown Prince, thereby clearing the Right Chancellor’s path to power.

We start in episode 45 where the Crown Prince is being confronted by Gan SHou Cheng, who believes he is doing the right thing by bringing in or potentially killing the Crown Prince for his treasonous act of attempting to kill the Emperor. Li Bi, who had been speaking with the Crown Prince earlier, excused himself in search of a safe place for the Crown prince to hide during this chaotic time.

Just as General Gan is about to harm the Emperor, Director He and the grandson of Prince Ning arrive to save the Crown Prince. They confront General Gan who agrees to back down.

As for Li Bi, he returns to Jing An Si which is currently under the command of Ji Wen, who is in league with the Right Chancellor. Ji Wen promptly has Li Bi thrown in prison to hang out with Cheng Sen and Wang Yun Xiu. Cheng Sen jokes that even if the Emperor arrives at their little prison tonight, he wouldn’t be surprised which I mean yea. How many ppl came and went today already? Li Bi requests Cheng Sen to help him solve the case of where the Emperor could be. Cheng Sen asks if li bi is willing to really solve the case which could mean the end of his political career. Li Bi says yes, his focus is to solve the case of what happened today. That is how he can protect Chang An.

 

The three, Li Bi, Cheng Sen and Wang YUn Xiu, well she just doesn’t say anything, conspire to take over Jing An Si. The key to this is our favorite Captain Zhao. They trick him into coming into the prison cell alone and then when Captain Zhao speaks to Cheng Sen, Li Bi knocks him unconscious. At this point, that’s like the 3rd time tonight he’s been knocked out. I’m pretty sure he has a concussion.

Captain Zhao is held at knifepoint and ordered to call his troops over. From the cell, he gives the command that Ji Wen is actually the spy inside Jing An Si tonight. Poor Ji Wen, well not really as he is sleeping soundly, is bound and gagged and hoisted into the morgue to hang out with the dead bodies. This clears the way for Li Bi to retake Jing An Si. The three of them, Li Bi, Wang Yun Xiu and Cheng Sen, reappear in the main hall and Li Bi starts giving out orders in order to find the Emperor.

Shortly after, Director He and the Crown Prince arrive at Jing An Si. In a quiet room, Director He, Li Bi and the Crown Prince discuss next steps. Director He actually drugs Li Bi unconscious in an effort to deter Li Bi from being involved any more in tonight’s affairs. That way, he can still be of use to the Crown Prince in the future. The Crown Prince is advised to hide in the nearby secret monastery. Now, it is Director He’s time to take control.

We’ll leave the episode recap there and continue on the next podcast episode with the Emperor and Zhang XIao Jing’s storyline.

Let’s discuss what happened this episode though. Poor Emperor. He didn’t even need to leave the confines of the city, just the palace walls to see the decay plaguing the Empire. The thing is, Zhu Ci, his son and wife, all represent the kindness of ordinary people. These strangers were willing to help out the Emperor with no need for payment. It is sad to see how guarded the Emperor is because he immediately thinks that they must want something from him. That hints to how he lives his every day life. People are constantly seeking something from him which must be tiring.

We haven’t seen that many ordinary people in a while in this drama since we’ve been so focused on what’s going on with the palace and the different factions. But once again, Zhu Ci, who is a low ranking government official, is doing his best to help the people around him with his donations. Similar to many other ordinary people who lost their lives tonight. It is this level of kindness which is what I believe drives the likes of Zhang XIao Jing to protect the city of Chang An. They certainly see the problems of the empire but aren’t vying for power like the Right Chancellor.

At least the Emperor now got a personal glimpse of the rot that is festering outside the palace walls.

I do also want to emphasize again that the Crown Prince is evidently no match for the Right Chancellor. The Crown Prince actually cares about his father’s well being. The Right Chancellor is not. He is willing to kill as many civilians as needed in order to frame the Crown Prince while the Crown Prince just wants to rescue his father. It’s difficult for the Crown Prince to compete with a force like that but also to us shows what happens when you lose that kind of humanity.

Let’s move on to history!

Firstly, let’s say another RIP to 祝慈 and his family. Now let’s talk about the device the young boy, 祝玄, receives from the Sogdian. In Chinese, the contraption is called a 黄道游仪 or an armillary sphere.

China historically was an agrarian society, that meant that farmers needed to have relatively accurate calendars and weather predictions. At the same time, Emperors believed that if they could control the explanations of the stars, then that solidified their claims as sons of heaven. So for millenia, kings and emperors placed a heavy focus on the creation of calendars. In the early years of the Tang Dynasty, they used a calendar called 麟德历 which was created by 李淳风. But as the years passed, the calendar was no longer accurate. In the 9th year of the Kai Yuan Era or 721, because there were many errors in the estimations eclipses, the Emperor Tang Xuan Zong ordered the mathematician and monk 一行 to create a new calculation for the calendar. The tool that was used? The 黄道游仪 or an armillary sphere.

Historically, the Chinese calculated the stars using tools based on the equator. However, calculating the ecliptic nature of the earth’s rotation required additional calculations, which also made it error prone. The 黄道游仪 or an armillary sphere took into account the ecliptic nature and thus made calculations much more accurate.

The device was invented by 梁令瓒 who was actually a captain for the old Crown Prince (李瑛). 梁令瓒, in his free time, built a wooden model, which was noticed by the month 一行. He then informed the Emperor that this new invention was surprisingly accurate. If it was possible to build a copper armillary sphere, then that would greatly improve the accuracy for astronomy. The Emperor approved this request and the copper armillary sphere was completed 4 years later in 725. They created an improved version of water powered celestial globe and from that the monk 一行 wrote the 大衍历 or a the Great Yan Calendar, which was used to predict the stars movements and eclipses. It could be used to observe over 150 stars and they discovered that stars actually moved! A first draft was completed in 729 and was used by the Tang dynasty for 29 years. It was then used by the Japanese for almost 100 years. The larger water powered celestial globe was one of the first automatic striking clocks as the drums hit even quarter. The joke is, we technically didn’t need 庞灵 to keep time because the celestial globe could do it!

In episode 45, 程参 is stunned that Li Bi is ready to solve the riddle for tonight’s events, even at the risk of his own future. He asks to Li Bi, you might not even be able to succeed at 昂藏一丈夫

This comes from Li Bi’s poem that we discussed way back in episode 2.

长歌行
长歌行(天覆吾)唐 - 李泌
天覆fù吾,地载zǎi吾,天地生吾wú有意无。
不然绝粒升天衢qú,不然鸣珂游帝都。
焉能不贵复不去,空作昂藏一丈夫。
一丈夫兮一丈夫,千生气志是良图。
请君看取百年事,业就扁舟泛五湖。

The Long Ballad

The heavens engulfs me, the earth supports me. I am alive in this world – is this on purpose?
Why are there people who prefer to seclude from the world to achieve immortality
Why are there people who seek power and fortune play their games in the capital?
Why won’t someone leave if they haven’t achieved fame and fortune?
To be a man with nothing but spirit?
A man with a pursuit for ambition in every life is the ultimate plan
Look at the history of the past centuries, only a man such as 范蠡 (a political advisor who lived in the 500 BCE) who achieved greatness and then went on to retired to travel the five lakes is worthy.

Li Bi had grand aspirations at the beginning of the day. But after the day’s events, Li Bi is ready to throw that away to save Chang An.

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