The Human Emperor - Chapter 95: Circumstances (2)
Those who were present here were mostly retired, but in terms of their intelligence networks, there were few in the empire who could match up to those gathered here. The moment the old master finished his words, someone immediately followed up.
“The Northern Protectorate Manor is under huge stress. It has sent several reports to the royal court in hopes that it could halt the trade of salt and steel so as to stop the surrounding countries from becoming stronger. However, His Majesty has always visioned an open Great Tang, so he didn’t agree to restraining the trade of the several goods. Thus, he has been refusing to make a stand on this matter.”
“Other than that, the Northern Protectorate Manor has been conducting talks with the Eastern and Western Turkic Khaganate, but they kept claiming that those were unaffiliated groups, and they have been trying to strike them down as well. As such, they’re also helpless before this matter.”
In the conference hall, a silver-haired elder spoke.
This silver-haired elder was ‘Elder Ma’, and back then, while he was a subordinate of the old master, he was the commander of the cavalries. Different from the typical soldier, he was skilled in calligraphy as well. His brush strokes were stable and forceful, but it wasn’t lacking in elegance. As such, he was also nicknamed the ‘Calligrapher on the Horseback’.
Of the old master’s subordinates, he was the one who was the most skilled in calligraphy.
“Eldest Gongzi, you’re an authoritative official of the royal court, and you have the right to discuss with His Majesty over such matters. Is it possible for you to bring up this matter in the royal court?”
As he spoke, Elder Ma turned to look at Big Uncle Wang Gen.
Wang Gen was already forty-five, and his children had already become adults. But before these elders, he was still that ‘Eldest gongzi‘.
“It’s no use. At the moment, we also require the steeds of the Eastern and Western Turkic Khaganate. If we were to ban the trade of salt and steel, we’ll be unable to obtain those steeds. It’s impossible for His Majesty to agree to this matter.”
Big Uncle Wang Gen replied. The Eastern and Western Khaganate possessed extraordinary aptitude toward training war steeds, and their steeds possessed incredible strength and stamina. This was something that no other countries could compare up to. As such, Great Tang would take a heavy blow from restraining trade with them as well.
Hearing Wang Gen’s words, the old subordinates frowned.
“… However, for the matter regarding the collaboration of the Eastern and Western Turkic Khaganate, the royal court has already sent men to create a rift between both sides. Furthermore, these two countries have always been at odds with one another, so it’s unlikely for them to work together in the short term.”
Wang Gen hurriedly added.
“Grandfather, I have an idea!”
Cousin Wang Li has been listening to the conversation attentively, and at this moment, he suddenly spoke up. The strong desire to perform could clearly be seen on his face. In an instant, everyone’s gazes fell upon Wang Li, and this included Wang Chong as well.
“We can have the Northern Protectorate Manor work together with the Chanyu Protectorate Manor, and with the might of the two, we could teach them a heavy lesson. As long as we show them our might just as the previous dynasties did, they would rein themselves in! Furthermore, this can also suppress the arrogance of the other states as well!”
Clenching his knuckles tightly, Wang Li spoke firmly.
Hearing his words, Wang Chong frowned in disapproval.
All men of the Wang Clan hoped to gain merit by the borders just like grandfather and his old subordinates did.
And Cousin Wang Li was no exception either!
However, cousin’s aptitude in military affairs was clearly mediocre compared to his other skills!
“Cousin’s thoughts are way too simple. How can such a huge amount of troops be dispatched that easily? Furthermore, the movement of two great protectorates would have to undergo intense discussion in the royal court, innumerable predictions of the outcome on the military tabletop, and innumerable intelligence gathering and verifications. With such a huge uproar, the Eastern and Western Turkic Khaganate would have long been made aware of the matter. Regardless of whether it is to mobilize troops to face the might of the two protectorates or to flee in advance, they will have more than sufficient time to make preparations.”
“Furthermore, before the movement of the troops, one would need to move rations first. The rations required for such a large army isn’t a minor affair.”
“Thus, even though it sounds possible in theory, it’s impossible to carry out in reality!”
Wang Chong thought.
It has been several years since Cousin Wang Li joined the army, but clearly, he still wasn’t clear on the various aspects of warfare, and the procedures that one had to go through in preparation for it.
Wang Chong knew that Cousin Wang Li’s talents lie in governance, and it was far superior to his skills in the military. However, it was a pity that big uncle has been wanting him to surpass Wang Chong’s eldest brother and sent him into the military, resulting in the present circumstances.
As Wang Chong expected, the moment Cousin Wang Li spoke those words, the old subordinates in the conference hall immediately frowned. Even for the old master, who sat at the top of the conference hall, an inconspicuous crease appeared on his forehead.
“Hehe, Young Master Li sure has his own initiative.”
“This matter might really be possible.”
“The Eastern and Western Turkic Khaganate are way too arrogant. Young Master Li is right, we should teach them a lesson and vanquish their arrogance.”
The white-haired elders nodded their heads, but even though they were expressing their approval, it was clear that they were just going along with him.
Initially, Wang Li was filled with expectations, and he thought that the crowd would at least agree with him. In the end, while they did agree with him, their tone spoke a completely different story.
He wasn’t a fool, and he could sense the problem in their words. Thus, his complexion immediately turned awful.
By the side, Big Uncle Wang Gen spoke sharply.
“Chanyu Protectorate Manor’s Protector General Li Dan and Northern Protectorate Manor’s Protector General Zhang Zhi Yun are hostile with one another. In fact, not too long ago, they just sent a report criticizing each other. How do you expect them to work together to deal with the Eastern and Western Turkic Khaganate?”
Wang Li’s face immediately turned white.
Even though his position in the military wasn’t too high, he knew that ‘hostile generals’ was a huge taboo. The subordinates of the old master only chose not expose it on the old master’s account so as to not embarrass him.
He has been wanting to perform before the old master and win the acknowledgement of his subordinate, but contrary to his expectations, he only made a fool out of himself and pulled down their opinions of him. In an instant, his face turned bright red and he immediately sat back down. Biting his mouth, he chose to remain silent.
Seeing this sight, Wang Chong couldn’t help but sigh. Cousin Wang Li has always been a competitive person. Even though he wasn’t easy to get along with, he wasn’t a bad person.
In his previous life, he also suffered the same setback and he slowly fell into depression. Eventually, his relationship with big uncle and big aunt soured, and he stomped out of his family, disappearing from everyone’s sight.
“Chong-er, what do you think about this matter?”
Just as Wang Chong was pondering with a lowered head over how he should help his cousin, the old master suddenly spoke. But this time, he wasn’t asking his old subordinates, Big Uncle Wang Gen, or Cousin Wang Li, but the youngest Wang Chong.
The old subordinates were completely stunned by the old master’s actions. They quickly turned around to look at Wang Chong, as though this was the first time they were noticing his presence.
How was this possible?
All along, they thought that the old master has been trying to promote ‘Li gongzi‘ to take over him, but from the looks of it now, they were completely wrong.
The one whom Duke Jiu was promoting was the teenage child sitting by the corner.
——To think that they thought that Duke Jiu had only pulled him in to listen into the conference to gain some experience!
Wang Chong was stunned. He didn’t expect such a situation to occur.
That’s right! He wanted to perform and gain everyone’s attention, but the occasion and presentation were important as well. If he were to simply speak up, it would just make these influential old subordinates of the old master think that he was being ‘impudent’.
They would simply think that he was trying too hard to win their favor and that his enthusiasm exceeded his capabilities.
Thus, Wang Chong has been sitting by the corner quietly, listening to their words attentively without saying anything.
Wang Chong didn’t expect a twist to come so quickly. Grandfather has actually asked the opinion of a child over an important affair of the empire on such a grave occasion.
As the possibility didn’t even occur to Wang Chong, he was caught off guard.
“Speak your mind, there’s no need to fear!”
Smiling, the old master raised his hands slightly, encouraging Wang Chong to go on.
The conference hall fell completely silent. Wang Chong’s big uncle stared deeply at Wang Chong, but he didn’t say anything. No one knew a son more than his father, and similarly, no one knew a father more than his son.
Wang Gen didn’t expect that the old master would test Wang Chong so quickly.
This sight may seem sudden, but it was actually done intentionally. The old master didn’t want Wang Chong to be prepared so that he could test his true skills.
“To think that the old master would value him so highly.”
Wang Gen thought. Then, he recalled the sword Wang Chong presented to the old master back at the hall.
Wang Chong’s sword actually made the old master feel as though he found a soulmate.
Thinking about it now, the two events were probably related.
Wang Li had no idea what the old master or his father was thinking of, but when he saw the old master making an exception of inviting Wang Chong to speak on such an important occasion, he was filled with anger. He clenched his fists tightly, and his teeth were about to chip from the immense force pushing them together.
Turning his gaze to the corner of the room, he glared at Wang Chong with deep hostility.
“Indeed, Young Master Chong. Feel free to speak of your thoughts, no one will blame you for anything you say! There’s no need to fear.”
Several of the old master’s subordinates encouraged him as well.
In their eyes, Wang Chong’s silence was a sign of fear. However, in deference to the old master, no one would make things difficult for him.
But of course, no one truly paid him any heed either.
After all, one couldn’t expect a fifteen-year-old child to speak of anything significant on such an important affair. Most of them simply thought that the old master was trying to train him.
Wang Chong took in a deep breath, and he finally stood up. Slowly, the agitation he felt calmed down.
This was the opportunity he has been waiting for! Confidence gradually welled up in Wang Chong.
“Grandfather and elders, grandson thinks that the problem regarding the northern grassland lies not in the Eastern and Western Turkic Khaganate, but in the royal court! It lies not in steel weapons, but in people’s heart! It lies not by the borders, but within our territories!”
Facing everyone’s gaze, Wang Chong spoke forcefully and imposingly, surprising everyone in the conference hall. Even the old master, who had asked for Wang Chong to express his opinion, was taken aback as well.
“Young Master Chong, what do you mean by saying that the problem doesn’t lie in the Eastern and Western Khaganate, but in the royal court; not in steel weapons, but in people’s heart; not by the borders, but within our territories? Young Master Chong, I beseech for you to clarify the matter.”
‘Elder Ye’, who carried with him a strong militaristic aura, suddenly spoke. His eyebrows were tightly knitted together.
Of the old master’s subordinates, he was the most skilled in military stratagems, and his individual opinion could represent that of the other elders.
But even Elder Ye was unable to comprehend the meaning behind Wang Chong’s words. He couldn’t tell this was an attempt to ‘attract attention’ or a true ‘arrow to the problem’.
Khan, Khagan, and Chanyu actually means the same thing -> The sovereign of the Turks/ Mongolia etc.
However, Chanyu is a much more ancient phrase compared to Khan. Due to the clear difference between the usage, I will be using Chanyu Protectorate Manor instead of Khan Protectorate Manor.