The Human Emperor - Chapter 96: Circumstances (3)
“Grandfather and elders, you’ve all said that in the past, on the borders with the Eastern and Western Turkic Khaganate, in the barren lands where there is no fortresses or defensive infrastructures, we were able to trade two for three. But now, it has been reduced to one is to one, and sometimes, our death toll may even be higher than theirs. Do grandfather and the elders really think that this is just due to their steel weapons? Do you think that the Eastern and Western Turkic Khaganate would fall into decline just by restricting trade?”
Wang Chong organized his thoughts before facing the gazes of the elders in the conference hall. His words immediately stumped the crowd. Everyone was obsessed with the problem regarding the weapons, and they failed to think deeper into the issue.
Just like Wang Chong said, the rise of the Eastern and Western Khaganate has already become a reality, and this wasn’t something that a few steel weapons could change.
“Chong-er, what are you trying to say?”
A grim look appeared on Big Uncle Wang Gen’s face. As an authoritative official of the royal court, he had the right to participate in discussions on governance, so he was extremely sensitive toward such matters.
“The nomads of the grasslands would usher in an era of prosperity once every hundred years, and this is something unavoidable. This situation occurred with the previous Qin, Han, and Sui Dynasty, and now, the Great Tang has encountered the same situation as well. This is no longer a problem regarding the Eastern and Western Turkic Khaganate of the north. It is the same for the Ü-Tsang highlands in the west, Goguryeo in the east, and Erhai in the south.”
“We cannot change these nomadic tribes! The only thing we can change is ourselves! That’s why grandson said that the problem doesn’t lie in the borders, but within our territories. The Eastern and Western Turkic Khaganate aren’t the problem, Great Tang is!”
Wang Chong spoke seriously. Despite reincarnating back into this era, when he thought about the severe circumstances before Great Tang, he couldn’t help but worry.
He was the only one who knew that Great Tang’s days were numbered, and perturbed, he found himself unable to fall sleep on most nights.
All in this conference hall were influential officials. Even though most have retired, the connections they’ve built throughout their lifetime still existed, and their clans still possessed massive influence in the empire.
‘The dam of a thousand li could crumble under an ant’s nest’. The current Great Tang was already facing peril from all directions, and all that was required was a trigger before it all explodes. Since those in this conference hall were able to notice the issue regarding the Eastern and Western Turkic Khaganates in advance, it could be seen that they possessed foresight.
But Wang Chong knew that this wasn’t enough. This wasn’t the core of the problem.
Wang Chong had to find a way to warn them, and through this conference hall, he would influence even more people!
“… But the Central Plains has been peaceful for too long. In the era of the Emperor Taizong, the Eastern and Western Khaganate have been forced to the north of the Yin Mountains. At the same time, many nomadic tribes gave in to the royal court, thus allowing the Great Tang to conquer Annam. Then, during the time of the preceding emperor, he established the Northern Protectorate Manor, Chanyu Protectorate Manor, and Southern Protectorate Manor, thus expanding the influence of the Great Tang once more. Then, in the current era, the Great Tang managed to expand westward, and the Western Protectorate Manor was established.”
“The Great Tang has achieved many victories over the years, bringing the entire empire to the peak of its influence. Not only did we surpass the Sui Dynasty, we also surpassed the Han and Qin, and the Central Plains has reached a level of unprecedented might! But have grandfather and elders realized yet? It is precisely because of this that the entire royal court is starting to get ‘complacent’.”
Recalling the current circumstances of Great Tang, Wang Chong’s heart became heavy. Powerful enemies weren’t fearsome. Regardless of whether it was the most powerful Xiongnu or the prosperous Turkic Khaganate, they eventually submitted to the dynasty of the Central Plains. What was the most fearsome was the scattering of people’s heart.
“Grandson has heard of a poem in the past: Yingzhou’s youngsters adore the wild, fur coats draped they hunted beyond walls. Fearsome steeds Hu-er rode at mere ten, wine of a thousand cups could intoxicate none of them.”
(Hu-er and the entire poem refers to the Khitan tribe (Mongolian) in the northeast)
“While we’re busy pursuing fine drapery, immersed within extravagance and pleasure, and prided ourselves on being able to hold our alcohol, those of the northern Turkic Khaganate have been training their children to take glory in riding, shooting, and killing enemies on the battlefield.”
“The problem regarding the Turkic Khaganate isn’t difficult to overcome, but people’s hearts are. Grandson thinks that this is the true problem!”
When Wang Chong finished his piece, his heart felt incredibly heavy. Wang Chong didn’t make up these words just to convince and perform before the elders. Rather, he had experienced this in person in his previous life.
He coincidentally heard of this poem while he was wandering around the borders in his previous life. Often, only when things evolved to an irreversible point is one able to peer clearly into it.
But by then, it was already too late.
The current Great Tang was overly obsessed with gold and alcohol, and the hearts of the people have already changed. It was no longer the Great Tang they once knew. However, being inside the box, they were unable to look beyond it and notice this.
The conference hall was completely silent, and the atmosphere was heavy. Initially, those elders were only listening to Wang Chong’s opinion in deference to Duke Jiu, as well as to see how impressive the grandson he favored was like. However, the more they listened, the heavier their hearts sunk. Eventually, when Wang Chong recited the poem, their faces changed sharply.
Even the old master was astonished by Wang Chong’s words.
The reason why he had Wang Chong enter and suddenly pose this question to him was to test this grandson of his to see how talented he was. From then, he would decide what kind of position he should allocate him in the future.
As for succession…
From Big Uncle Wang Gen to Father Wang Yan, then to Big Brother Wang Fu, and Cousin Wang Li, he was disappointed way too many times…
Conquering and winning the acknowledgement these group of brothers and old subordinates wasn’t an easy task.
After so many years, he had almost given up all hope.
However, what the old master didn’t expect was for Wang Chong’s performance to far exceed all expectations he carried. This was no longer a problem of whether he was satisfied with the other party’s reply or not.
The content his grandson presented of has already transcended that level.
For the very first time, he saw a ray of hope.
When the reactions of all in the hall fell into Wang Li’s eyes, his complexion worsened.
“Chong gongzi, I would like to ask if the poem was made up by you, or is there really such a poem?”
Elder Ye suddenly asked solemnly.
If Wang Chong made up the poem himself, that could only mean that Duke Jiu’s grandson was capable. To be able to contrast the current state of the extravagant Great Tang with the unique characteristics of the Turkic Khaganate nomadic tribes, his talents were admittedly superior.
Given his young age, this was indeed an incredible feat. There were signs of the younger Duke Jiu’s flair in him.
But if not, the entire nature of the event would be different. The situation would be much graver than they expected.
This was no longer a problem of Duke Jiu nominating a grandson of his, but one that would affect the fate of the entire empire.
“There is indeed such a poem!”
Wang Chong answered grimly. In his previous life, the poem has already been spreading among the population for a very long time before he heard of it.
If the elders were to send their people to look into it, they would surely be able to find it!
The moment Wang Chong spoke his words, the atmosphere in the conference hall became even grimmer. The subordinates of the old master glanced at one another, and graveness was all that was on their faces.
They didn’t fear that Wang Chong was lying; such a matter could be easily verified. What they were concerned about was another matter.
“Duke Jiu, despite our ages, it seems like our outlooks on the Eastern and Western Turkic Khaganate are indeed incomparable to that of Young Master Chong. Just like what Young Master Chong has said, the problem regarding the Eastern and Western Turkic Khaganate isn’t with them, but with the royal court, not with steel weapons, but with people’s hearts, not in the borders, but within our territories. This is what Duke Jiu should tell His Majesty when he comes to offer his blessings!”
Duke of Ye’s hands trembled in agitation as he spoke with a heavy heart.
Wang Chong was only a fifteen-year-old child. On the other hand, the elders in the room were all beyond half a century old. Each of them was experienced veterans who have overcome innumerable obstacles. But that’s precisely the reason why they knew that Wang Chong’s words were true.
The problem with the Turkic Khaganate could be easily resolved, but the problem with the people’s heart couldn’t. This was the very core of the problem.
Despite their power and influence, they were helpless before this matter as well.
This was why Duke of Ye was perturbed.
After so many years, no one expected to hear the root of the problem from the teenage grandson of Duke Jiu. He has struck the bullseye with his words.
“I will discuss this matter with His Majesty once he arrives.”
The old master nodded his head gravely. He also felt a heavy burden tugging at his heart.
He didn’t expect that an idle chatter with his old brothers and a test for his grandson would end in such a manner. But compared to that, what that worried him the most was the overwhelming circumstances standing before the empire.
“Duke Jiu, congratulations! A talented child has emerged from the Wang Clan!”
“To be capable of possessing such foresight on the affairs of the empire at such a young age, he will surely become an important figure of the empire in the future!”
“Young Master Chong sure does resemble the younger Duke Jiu!”
“In the near future, Great Tang will gain another talented official!”
“Congratulations, Duke Jiu!”
“Congratulations, Young Master Chong!”
The elders in the conference hall spoke up. Different from the tone they used with Cousin Wang Li previously, the elders were earnest this time. They gazed at Wang Chong, who was sitting by the corner, with appreciation.
“Come, Young Master Chong, sit beside me!”
The military strategy expert ‘Duke of Ye’, who exuded a powerful scent militaristic scent, suddenly beckoned Wang Chong to come over. He was getting more and more fond of this child.
He has already met the various grandsons of Duke Jiu’s lineage, but this child was the only one who caught his eye.
If Wang Chong could be groomed properly, then his future would surely be limitless.
This wasn’t just empty words, this was what his intuition told him. He, Ye Dong, had a sharp eye for discerning talents, and those who caught his eyes never disappoint him. This child would surely be the same as well.
Wang Chong was surprised. He subconsciously turned to his grandfather.
“Hehe, go on, go on! Since Ye Dong favors you, you should sit by his side.”
The old master gestured with a smile.
Living an upright and incorruptible life, he was an austere person with few smiles. But today, he felt exceptionally happy.
Receiving grandfather’s approval, Wang Chong nodded and moved his seat to ‘Duke of Ye’s’ side.
It was hard to tell what the other subordinates were thinking, but without a doubt, Wang Chong’s performance has already won him the recognition of ‘Elder Ye’!