The Human Emperor - Chapter 70: Zhang Munian
After delivering the invitation letter to Wang Chong, Uncle Li Lin left.
After pondering for awhile, Wang Chong decided to bring the remaining 17000 gold taels to the Duke of Wei Residence. Unlike the Wang Clan, the Duke of Wei has wide business connections. They would be a great help in helping the two monks arrange the transportation of the rations to Sindhu. As there were many factors to consider, this wasn’t a task that Wang Chong could accomplish alone.
Wei Hao was much more skilled than him in this field.
Even though Wei Hao hasn’t reached the level where his words were authority in the Wei Residence, as the young master of the Wei Clan, he didn’t need the permission of the Duke of Wei in conducting some of the less significant matter, such as selling swords in the Bluebottle Pavilion.
Also, Wang Chong didn’t need the Wei Clan to do much. He only wanted to make use of their connections to purchase the rations required.
Heading west, he soon saw a grand, exquisite mansion with a majestic black plaque with the word, ‘Wei’, engraved in gold at the entrance.
This was the Duke of Wei Residence!
Even though Wang Chong and Wei Hao were childhood buddies, Wang Chong rarely came to the Duke of Wei Residence. The reason was simple, Wang Chong’s father, Wang Yan, and Wei Hao’s father, Wei Yuan, weren’t on good ties.
When Wang Chong and Wei Hao were younger, the relationship between the two families was still amiable. However, after Wei Hao’s father was titled as the Duke of Wei, everything changed.
Both Duke of Wei and Wang Chong’s father had an obstinate personality. Furthermore, the former kept having clashed with Wang Chong’s big uncle, Wang Gen, on the royal court. As such, the relationship of the both clans slowly drifted apart.
In any case, Wang Chong and Wei Hao’s relationship wasn’t affected by the matter; the adults did their own stuff while the children played among themselves.
Just that, it was impossible Wang Chong to enter the Duke of Wei Residence.
The personality of the Duke of Wei was different from Wang Chong’s father. Even though Wang Yan didn’t have a good relationship with the Duke of Wei, he still welcomed Wei Hao’s appearance in the residence.
Wang Chong’s mother would often affectionately call him ‘youngster’ and prepare a plate of snacks for him.
In the Wang Clan, the matters concerning the adults didn’t implicate the younger generation.
But the Duke of Wei was different. He viewed the entire clan was an entity. Since he disliked Wang Chong’s father, Wang Yan, his resentment spilled over onto Wang Chong as well.
Thus, when the rape incident regarding Wang Chong caused a storm previously, Wei Hao was grounded along with him for a week!
In fact, the Duke of Wei even strictly forbade Wang Chong from stepping into the Wei Residence!
However, this meant nothing to Wang Chong at all. He found the guard which Wei Hao had privately ‘bribed’ and passed a note on to him. Soon, Wei Hao stepped out from the gates.
“Wang Chong, what are you doing here!”
Wei Hao hurriedly ran out. The look of astonishment on his face was clear. In the past, Wang Chong would often head to the Eight Gods Pavilion to look for him, and he rarely came to his home.
In fact, this was the first time Wang Chong had come to the Duke of Wei Residence.
“Cut the nonsense, hurry up and come up the carriage. I need your help for some matter!”
Wang Chong beckoned with a smile.
“Hehe, you came at a timely moment. I happen to have something for you as well!”
Wei Hao said.
Wang Chong was surprised.
The two childhood friend got onto the carriage, shut the doors, and the carriage soon moved into the distance.
“Wang Chong, do you remember the fellow named Zhang Munian who you got me to investigate previously? Tell me your reason for finding him first.”
Upon stepping onto the carriage, before Wang Chong could even speak, Wei Hao asked with a grim expression.
“You found him?”
Wang Chong’s body shuddered. The grin on his face disappeared, replaced with a grave expression.
Zhang Munian played an important role in his plans. This matter was even more important than the Hyderabad ores and the 《Art of God and Demon Obliteration》.
Even though Wang Chong had left Wei Hao to deal with this matter regarding Zhang Munian, he had been the most concerned over this matter.
“Un, I found him!”
Wei Hao nodded his head.
He grew up with Wang Chong and he couldn’t be any more familiar with him. He immediately sensed the change in Wang Chong’s aura and became serious as well.
However, he was unable to understand why Wang Chong would be so interested in an insignificant figure like Zhang Munian.
“However, I have to tell you first that I didn’t find his name in the list of officials. Rather, I found it in the list of death row prisoners.”
Wei Hao said.
Wang Chong was stunned.
“Un, if not for that case, I wouldn’t have spent so long a time to find this person. If not for my meticulousness in flipping through the previous name lists, I wouldn’t have been able to find this person. ——Here is a scroll on him that I had someone copy. Take a look.”
Wei Hao retrieved a scroll from his embrace and threw it over. It was covered with a yellow leather bag, and it could be seen that a lot of effort has been placed into it.
Usually, Wei Hao couldn’t care less about these matters. His only interest lay in martial arts, but if it was a matter entrusted to him by Wang Chong, he would give it his all.
“Wang Chong, it’s not that I want to deter you from doing anything, but this person’s condition is very unique. Despite being an insignificant official, he actually laundered over twenty thousand gold taels. Isn’t he way too gutsy! You should be aware of how the royal court deals with such corrupt officials.”
“Furthermore, the person has already confessed to his crime at the Bureau of Punishments, and it’s decided that he will be executed at the end of autumn. Once someone’s name is on the list, even with my father’s position as a duke, he wouldn’t be able to save him. I don’t know the reason why you’re looking for him, but Wang Chong, listen to my advice and don’t interfere in this matter.”
“No one would be sent to the death row for no reason, and the royal court must have their own purpose for passing down such a verdict. Coming into contact with such people isn’t good for you and the Wang Clan!”
Wei Hao didn’t expect the person Wang Chong was looking for to be a death row convict. He wasn’t worried for himself, but the Wang Clan had been reputed to be incorruptible, and the Duke Jiu was highly respected for that as well.
Wei Hao was worried that if Wang Chong gets involved in this matter, he would be using as an opening for others to strike at the Wang Clan.
Wei Hao had grown up in the circle since young and witnessed political struggle among the different factions. Thus, he had a level of understanding in the matter.
A large tree would take the brunt of a gale. Given the Wang Clan’s size, it was bound to have many enemies. It wasn’t a good thing for Wang Chong to get involved in the matter of a death row convict.
With a grave expression, Wang Chong didn’t say anything. He unrolled the scroll regarding Zhang Munian and read through it carefully. The Great Tang Dynasty was currently at an age of prosperity and culture was flourishing. As such, capital punishment was used extremely carefully. All kinds of information had to be checked over and over again before the Bureau of Punishments would dare to take the thumbprint of the convict. As such, the information on Zhang Munian was extremely detailed.
“To think that he’s already fifty-four this year.”
Reading through the information on the scroll, he realized that Zhang Munian was older than he imagined. He was already nearing the end of his prime.
There was conclusive evidence on his crime of stealing over twenty thousand gold taels of public funds. Considering his humble position, it was shocking how he was able to steal so much money just by making use of a loophole.
This was also the reason why he was sentenced to death.
However, it wasn’t like there weren’t any suspicious aspects to the scroll. Twenty thousand gold taels was a huge sum. It was more than sufficient to sustain dozens of households for their entire lifetime.
Zhang Munian had taken so much money, yet not a hint of gold or silver could be found in his possession. He was dressed in simple clothes, and his sustenance was also humble, just like his colleagues.
Also, when they were ransacking his house, they realized that he was living in an old mud house. Other than a rice pot, two wardrobes, and a bed, there was nothing else.
The officials of the Bureau of Punishments dug three chi deep into the ground around his house, only to find nothing on the missing twenty thousand. No one knew where the money was hidden.
Even though the Bureau of Punishments was perplexed by the matter, given that Zhang Munian had admitted to the matter, to send a firm warning to the others, they went by the book and sentenced him to death.
After reading through the scroll, Wang Chong immediately understood the situation. His view of Zhang Munian didn’t change at all, and instead, he felt even more obligated to save him.
However, Wei Hao’s words rang true. Zhang Munian’s condition was already fixed and his death couldn’t be avoided. Regardless of whether it was the Wei Clan or the Wang Clan, they didn’t have the ability to save someone from the death row.
However, Wang Chong knew that there was still a final sliver of hope.
“Looks like I have to look for King Song!”
Another person popped into Wang Chong’s head.
As a member of the royal family, King Song’s words carried great influence in the royal court. This was something Wang Chong’s father, Wang Yan, big uncle, Wang Gen, and Wei Hao’s father, Wei Yuan, were unable to compare up to.
More importantly, Wang Chong happened to know that King Song had some influence in the Bureau of Punishments. The situation would be completely different if Wang Chong was able to stir him into movement.
“Wei Hao, you don’t have to worry about this matter, I know what to do.”
Wang Chong kept Zhang Munian’s scroll in his embrace.
Wei Hao nodded his head. Thinking that Wang Chong had given up the thoughts regarding Zhang Munian, his mood lifted:
“Hehe, right. You were looking for me for something?”
Upon hearing Wei Hao ask about that matter, Wang Chong chuckled.
“Youngster Wei, it’s not like I really want to say anything about that matter, but did you get beaten up again? Did that cousin of yours come by again?”
Wang Chong smiled as he stared at the bluish-purple bruise by the corner of Wei Hao’s eyes. It was still fresh, and Wang Chong noticed it the moment Wei Hao came onto the carriage. Even though Wei Hao had arranged his hair in an attempt to hide it, how could Wang Chong’s divine eyes be fooled?
Upon seeing that the matter being exposed in an instant despite the effort he had put into concealing the bruise, Wei Hao’s face crumbled.
“What are you talking about? I just knocked onto the door while I was coming out.”
Wei Hao said sheepishly in an attempt to hoodwink Wang Chong. However, it only incited Wang Chong to roar in laughter.
“Here, this is for you. Study it carefully and cultivate well.”
Wang Chong took out a book and threw it over to Wei Hao.
Catching it, Wei Hao curiously flipped through it. He immediately grew agitated:
“A martial arts cultivation technique! Why do you have this?”
Wei Hao was delighted. He didn’t expect the item that Wang Chong threw to him would be a martial arts cultivation technique manual! Ignoring Wang Chong, he immediately started flipping through the book excitedly.
Just for additional information:
In the past, when one confesses to a matter, they would put their thumbprint (in red ink) on a paper listing out their crimes for filing purposes.