The Human Emperor - Chapter 66: Military Chess Formation
There were innumerable cultivation techniques in Wang Chong’s mind, but there wasn’t a single one which was able to match up to the 《Art of God and Demon Obliteration》 created by the Old Marshal Su Zhengchen!
In this life, Wang Chong’s greatest wish in the field of martial arts was to obtain this 《Art of God and Demon Obliteration》 which was ranked first in terms of destructive abilities, thus accomplishing the task he wasn’t able to fulfill in his previous life.
Just that, it was easier said than done!
To receive Old Marshal Su’s approval, Wang Chong would have to undergo many difficult trials. Regardless of whether it was attitude, morals, talent, or strength, he mustn’t lack any of those. Furthermore, even if he were proven to possess all of the above, his success still wasn’t guaranteed.
In fact, in the previous generation, when the former emperor spoke of placing a prince under Su Zhengchen to serve as his disciple and learn his ultimate art, he was rejected directly.
As such, the difficulty of the matter was clear to see.
Furthermore, the gate of the Su Residence was tightly shut throughout the years, making it impossible for one to enter. This made the task even more impossible.
Even so, Wang Chong knew that there was one opportunity, and this was very likely to be his only one, which he could come into contact with this incredible Great Tang old marshal.
Wang Chong had coincidentally received this news from an old servant from the Su Residence after the Wang Clan’s fall from grace before the catastrophe in his previous life.
It turned out that the truth was different from what everyone expected. Su Zhengchen wasn’t unwilling to admit a disciple. On the contrary, in the final decade of his life, he had been going around, looking for a qualified successor personally.
If not for the old servant speaking so, probably no one would know that in the west of the capital, beneath the thousand-year-old large Chinese scholar tree, the austere white-haired elder who appeared everyday with a Go Board punctually was the famous great marshal, Su Zhengchen.
Su Zhengchen had appeared there for ten years straight, but no one noticed him. Even those who had played a game with him didn’t know his identity, even upon their deaths.
This was the only chance Wang Chong had to get close with Su Zhengchen!
“Let’s go to the Ghost Tree District!”
By the street, Wang Chong called for a carriage and headed toward the city west.
In the Ghost Tree District at the city west, the streets were crowded with people. Many elders and children were playing around here. Using the terminology from another world, it felt like a bustling square.
Wang Chong alighted from the carriage and headed straight for the old Chinese scholar tree.
“I wonder which one is Su Zhengchen…”
Wang Chong thought.
There were many people playing chess on the square and it was difficult to identify Su Zhengchen among the crowd. More importantly, Wang Chong had never seen him before.
Even during the catastrophe in his previous life, when the foreign steel cavalries had invaded the capital, Wang Chong was a far distance away from the battlefield and as such, he wasn’t able to catch a good glimpse at Su Zhengchen’s appearance.
“It’s fortunate that I had asked more about him back then.”
Wang Chong felt gladdened by his curiosity back then.
Out of respect for the old marshal, Wang Chong asked the old servant on the details. Thus, he knew that Su Zhengchen’s Go Board was different from the others. His Go Board was plated with gold, and this has become his distinguishing feature for Wang Chong.
However, after circling around the Ghost Tree District, Wang Chong was stunned.
“…He isn’t here!”
Then, at the east of the thousand-year-old Chinese scholar tree, Wang Chong suddenly caught a glimpse of a stone table and on it was a golden Go Board. Even though the Go Board was there, Su Zhengchen was nowhere in sight. Instead, a four to five-year-old kid was yawning in boredom beside it.
“Lad, where’s the old grandpa who plays chess here?”
“I’ve no idea. He only told me to give this stone to anyone who approaches, and only when a person passes the test will he appear.”
The little child was chubby and cute. Hearing someone ask him about the Go Board, he opened his eyes. As he spoke, he stretched out his chubby hand to pass a black stone over. The stone was drenched with the sweat of the little child.
Wang Chong glanced at the sweat-drenched black stone in surprise. Soon, he understood what was going on. This was a test, and the content of the test was Go.
Since there was only one stone, he could only make one move.
If he made the correct move, Old Marshal Su would appear. However, if he were to make the wrong move, it would be equivalent to him being eliminated. Naturally, Old Marshal Su wouldn’t appear.
“Lad, this silver ingot is for you.”
Wang Chong stuffed an ingot into the hands of the little child before turning his attention to the Go Board. There, pieces intersected one another in a confusing manner even though there weren’t many of them on it.
The black and white stones had mainly gathered in a corner each, and it looked as though two armies had claimed a high ground for their own.
“Judging from the layout, it is a wrestle between the both sides.”
Wang Chong couldn’t help but smile. This was a standard ‘military chess formation’. Clearly, Old Marshal Su wished to test the other party’s ability in leading an army in battle.
What the Great Tang needed wasn’t a powerful boor but a wise general who was capable of leading an army in battle. As a legendary marshal in the Great Tang, Su Zhengchen hoped that his successor would be adept in warfare as well.
Perhaps he could feel that his end was coming, or perhaps he was worried that he wouldn’t have a successor for his ultimate art, but Su Zhengchen didn’t set up too difficult a trial.
In this military chess formation, the black only had to place the piece on the northwest position from the center of the white pieces to turn the tables around. After which, by dragging matters out, it would be the black’s victory. As such, Wang Chong could be deemed to have passed the first trial.
However, Wang Chong had a differing view on this matter.
In his previous life, Wang Chong had become the Great Tang’s Grand Marshal. However, it wasn’t because of his martial arts that he was chosen by those powerful elders. On the contrary, Wang Chong had started his training too late, thus missing the ideal foundation building period, causing his cultivation to be the least impressive side to him.
The reason why Wang Chong was chosen under the precarious situation by those remaining meritorious ‘seniors’ to become the Great Tang’s Great Marshal was because of his talent in warfare.
After which, Wang Chong had also proven his worth in warfare through his performance. In the few years where Wang Chong led the great armies of Great Tang, the Great Tang slaughtered more foreign cavalries than in the past several decades of the catastrophe, thus giving rise to his reputation as the most formidable Military Stratagem War God in the Central Plains.
If Su Zhengchen wanted to test him using this chess formation, he was truly underestimating him. Surrendering and waiting for death wasn’t Wang Chong’s style.
Passing on the initiative to the other party and playing defensive was even less so.
The black piece didn’t fall on the northwest corner of the center of the white piece, as would be the rational decision made under such circumstances. Instead, it was placed on a completely unexpected position.
Leaving the Ghost Tree District, Wang Chong circled around the city before returning to his home to continue his martial arts training.
It would be his grandfather’s birthday in a few days’ time.
The Wang Clan was a clan of scholars and generals, and it was likely that Wang Chong would be appraised on his martial arts as well then. Thus, he didn’t dare to slack off on his training.
Unknowingly, evening has set in. Just as Wang Chong was executing the Constellation Steps, practicing his Dragon Bone Art, he suddenly heard a commotion.
“Brother-in-law, why are you here?”
At the front porch, an astonished voice could be heard. It belonged to Wang Chong’s mother.
“Shu Hua, is Chong-er back? I am here to look for Chong-er.”
“Chong-er? He’s practicing his martial arts inside.” Mother replied, seemingly unconcerned with the reason behind Wang Chong’s uncle’s visit.
(Wang Chong’s aunt’s husband)
Wang Chong calmed his cultivation. He could tell that the slightly agitated voice belonged to his uncle, Li Lin, and he was perplexed over his presence.
His uncle rarely visited his home, and furthermore, he usually came with Big Aunt Wang Ru Shuang.
However, Wang Chong didn’t hear his big aunt’s voice. This was his first time meeting with such a situation.
“I should take a look!”
Wang Chong trailed the direction from where the voice came from.
At the main hall of the Wang Family Residence, Wang Chong saw his uncle, Li Lin.
“Chong-er, is the Number One Sword in the World or something like that in your possession?”
Upon seeing Wang Chong, Uncle Li Lin immediately dived straight into the topic. His voice was a few tones louder than before and his face was crimson. He seemed to be extremely agitated over this matter.
Uncle Li Lin was a reticent person and spoke few words. This was Wang Chong’s first time seeing him get so excited.
“Uncle, did someone look for you?”
Upon hearing those words, a conjecture immediately appeared in Wang Chong’s mind.
“Chong-er, how did you know?”
Li Lin was astounded. However, when he recalled Wang Chong’s previous feats, his astonishment faded away:
“Chong-er, I bet you won’t be able to fathom who it is. It’s Captain Zhao Fengchen and Commander Sun!”
Not hiding anything, Li Lin spoke of everything that had happened. It turned out that at dawn today, when Li Lin was still in his room, Zhao Fengchen knocked on his door and entered.
Accompanying him was a commander of the Imperial Army, Shen Huai.
It was one thing for Zhao Fengchen to look for him, but Shen Huai was his direct superior. In the many years that Li Lin had been in the Imperial Army, this was the first time his superior was looking for him.
Shen Huai had first looked for Li Lin and commended him on his performance. Then, he went on to say that he was intending to deploy him to the West Gate.
After which, he suddenly changed the topic and asked Li Lin to purchase a sword for him at 42000 gold taels, and the seller of the sword was beyond his imaginations, Wang Chong!
At that moment, Li Lin thought that he had gone mad. What kind of sword could be worth 42000 gold taels? What was even more ridiculous was that the one selling the sword was his own nephew, Wang Chong!
At that moment, Li Lin was dumbfounded. His head wasn’t able to accept the situation and his first reaction was that the entire matter was a joke. After all, Wang Chong was just a fifteen-year-old child, how could he have a sword that was worth more than forty-thousand gold taels?
“Chong-er, tell me what’s going on. Are their words true?”
Li Lin grabbed Wang Chong’s shoulders and asked anxiously.
On the other hand, Wang Chong seemed to have calmed down and nodded his head.
Li Lin released his grip, returned to his seat, and took in a deep breath. This was too shocking! Li Lin stared at Wang Chong with widened eyes, as though re-evaluating the person before him.
Wang Chong’s mind was also churning with thoughts. He didn’t expect that Zhao Fengchen would look for Uncle Li Lin to have him plead on his behalf.
Wang Chong thought that Zhao Fengchen would come himself.
However, this was better for Wang Chong.
Since Zhao Fengchen had taken the initiative to look for Uncle Li Lin, some thoughts started appearing in Wang Chong’s mind.
“Uncle, do you want to be the marshal?”
Wang Chong suddenly asked.
Li Lin was shocked by Wang Chong’s words. He immediately shook his hands and said, “Don’t speak nonsense, do you think that the marshal is something we can joke about?”
Wang Chong simply chuckled, paying no heed to the matter.
“What about a general?”
“This… I don’t have the ability for it!”
Uncle Li Lin said.
Hearing those words, Wang Chong chuckled. Without a doubt, his uncle was ambitious. Wang Chong could feel it clearly from his eyes.
Otherwise, he wouldn’t have listened to Zhao Fengchen’s request to look for him.
Technically, the full name of the move should have been 《Life, God & Demon Obliteration Technique》, but it’s too long so I erased the Life.
Guihuai District (Ghost Tree District)
It is named after the tree, Chinese scholar tree (aka Huai tree). It’s really a beautiful tree, so you should google it to see it in its full glory.
The Chinese scholar tree (Huai tree) is also known as the ghost tree because of the role it plays in Chinese folklores.
I don’t have much knowledge in Go, so if you know of the terms, feel free to correct me.
Anyway, if you’ve no idea what’s going on, it’s just that the game is already ‘halfway through’, and what Su Zhengchen is testing is for Wang Chong to make the ‘most correct decision’ under the circumstances on the Go Board, even though it doesn’t really exist in Go.
Anyway, some basic concept of Go.
The goal of Go is to surround the other party’s stones, and pieces that are surrounded are considered to be ‘dead’. Points will be allocated as such, and the game comes to an end when both parties deem that ‘there isn’t a move I can make which can benefit me anymore’ (You rarely use up the entire board for the game).
Also, I was probably mistaken in taking that commander is an official position, it’s probably just referring to a position of leadership. There are too many words that mean almost the same thing to me. (统领，将军，元帅，将领)
Edit: I’ve taken Zhao Fengchen 将领 as captain.
Also, I realized that I’ve been writing Yao Guang Yi, Zhao Shu Hua, but Zhao Fengchen. Sigh, why didn’t anyone tell me.