Chapter 1216: The Invisible Storm!
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
“Anyone who dares to touch Lord Marquis will have to do so over my corpse!”
Wang Chong’s subordinates did not care about any emissaries of the Imperial Court. Wang Chong had rendered great service to the Great Tang, and anyone who dared to treat Wang Chong like a prisoner was their enemy. All the Golden Guards slightly grimaced at this sight. These soldiers all had bloodshot eyes, and it was clear that they were truly willing to put their lives on the line for Wang Chong.
Even though they clearly knew that striking the Golden Guards was an act of rebellion that could only end in death, they still dared to do so. This was the first time the Golden Guards had ever seen such a thing.
“What are you doing! Put away your weapons!”
Wang Chong waved his hand. Although all his subordinates were extremely reluctant, they still immediately put away their weapons.
“The jade seal has been handed over. As long as you have this seal, you can mobilize all the soldiers of Qixi. I hope that you will use it well. Let’s go!”
Wang Chong took a warhorse and mounted it, delaying no more.
Khorasan was the westernmost barrier of the Great Tang, and just like that, Wang Chong took his men and departed it. Almost all the soldiers had been left in Khorasan, and he had even left Li Siye, the Gangke King, and Su Hanshan there. Wang Chong only took Xue Qianjun, Xu Keyi, Cheng Sanyuan, and Zhang Que with him, as well as ten-some Wushang Cavalry.
Almost the moment after Wang Chong left Khorasan, countless messenger birds flew in every direction. Wang Chong had been made King of Foreign Lands, but he had also been stripped of his military authority and summoned back to the capital to be a lowly Advisor-in-Waiting, a classic example of apparent promotion but de facto demotion. This news seemed to grow wings as it rapidly spread to all of the Great Tang and its surrounding countries.
“What! How could there be something like this!”
Upon hearing this news, An Sishun in the distant Beiting Protectorate suddenly stood up from his throne with extreme shock in his eyes.
He and Wang Chong had their quarrels, and he would always be happy to see Wang Chong meet with disaster. But this matter was entirely different. After rendering such great service, he had suffered a de facto demotion. If this could happen to Wang Chong, it could happen to anyone else in the military.
“Impossible! Investigate this for me again! I need this information verified!”
At almost the same time, Longxi was also quaking. In several major battles, Wang Chong had killed more than one million Arab soldiers, forcing back the borders of the strongest empire west of the Cong Mountains. Such a feat had never been recorded before in all of history.
And yet the ultimate reward was a stripping of military authority. This left Big Dipper Great General Geshu Han dumbfounded.
In all parts of the Great Tang, all the commanders and officers were caught completely by surprise by this news and were left stunned. All of the Great Tang rumbled and groaned.
The countries bordering the Great Tang were also shocked by this news. However, unlike the people in the Tang military, the news that Wang Chong had been summoned back to the capital caused the Turkic Khaganates, Ü-Tsang, Goguryeo, Nanzhao, and even the Arabian Empire to breathe a sigh of relief.
“Hahaha, High Priest, your insight truly is divine. Without even need for intervention on our part, the Great Tang has fallen into internal discord. In the future, we will rise again and once more take Khorasan!”
In the distant Baghdad, music and merriment filled the palace as the Caliph of Arabia, Mutasim III, spread open his arms and laughed.
This was the best news that he had heard in a very long time. When he heard that Wang Chong had left Khorasan, Mutasim III had almost immediately summoned the court musicians and all his officials to hold a feast.
Although only Wang Chong had left and the walls of Khorasan still loomed, still garrisoned by the Sassanid Dynasty and an army of hundreds of thousands, to Mutasim III, a Khorasan without that youth no longer had the foundation with which to oppose the Arabian Empire.
It wouldn’t be long before he could once more lead his armies eastward to crush the Sassanid Dynasty and subdue Khorasan, restoring his former glory. Then, he could gather more soldiers in Khorasan and begin another campaign on the Great Tang to the east.
“High Priest, We will immediately begin mustering soldiers. In just three months, We will definitely pacify Khorasan!”
Mutasim III loudly laughed.
“No! Now is not the time!”
An elderly voice came from behind him—the High Priest, wrapped in his black robe and wielding his staff. These simple words, spoken neither too loudly nor too softly, immediately plunged the hall into silence. Even the music dropped in volume.
Everyone turned to the High Priest, not understanding what he meant.
“High Priest, that brat is already gone. Are you saying that we still need to wait?”
Mutasim III put down his wine cup and stood up from his throne, his face a picture of confusion.
The opportunity was here, so he truly didn’t understand why the High Priest wanted him to wait a little longer.
“There is no need for Your Majesty to worry about it. In a little while, Your Majesty will naturally come to understand!” the High Priest indifferently said, his voice layered with mystery.
Mutasim III slightly creased his brow, still utterly befuddled, but at this moment, someone rushed into the hall.
An Arab Imperial Palace Guard, his head lowered, strode into the hall.
“Your Majesty, there is an emissary of the Great Tang outside who requests an audience!”
Mutasim III was dumbfounded by this news. Arabia and the Great Tang were at war, so there was no news more surprising to hear at this time than this. The officials below also exchanged glances, not understanding why the Great Tang had sent an emissary at this time.
Only the High Priest behind Mutasim III gave a faint smile as if he had long ago predicted this sight.
Time slowly passed as Wang Chong, Xu Keyi, and the others rode toward the capital, accompanied by the officials from the Bureau of Rites and the ten-some Golden Guards.
Several days passed without anyone saying a word, the only sounds being those of the bleak winds and the clopping of hooves. The officials and the Golden Guards all kept a tactful distance from Wang Chong’s group, and the mood was awkward, even when they simply exchanged glances.
They passed through Samarkand, Talas, the Cong Mountains, and Suiye in the Western Regions. Soon, they had entered the territory of the Great Tang.
Five or six days passed in this manner, each day seemingly endless. And ever since he had left Khorasan, Wang Chong had been silent. No one knew what he was thinking, but when they saw his contemplative face, all of them felt a tinge of heartache.
Xue Qianjun finally couldn’t help but ride up and whisper a few comforting words. “Lord Marquis, it will be fine. There must have been a misunderstanding in the Imperial Court. Once we return to the capital and clear things up, the Imperial Court will naturally return the jade seal to Lord Marquis.”
Xu Keyi and the others also rode up. “That’s right. Lord Marquis, the situation might not be as bad as we imagine. Once Lord Marquis sees His Majesty, all the problems will be cleared up.”
Wang Chong had not said anything for quite a few days, so all of them imagined that the Lord Marquis was extremely grief-stricken.
“Heh, do all of you think that I’m worried about the problem of military authority?”
To their surprise, Wang Chong faintly smiled and shook his head.
“Is… is this not the case?”
All of them exchanged glances, but they left their final words unspoken. Wang Chong shook his head. It wasn’t just Xue Qianjun and Xu Keyi, but probably others like Feng Changqing and Gao Xianzhi who were worried about the problem of military authority. Yet this was not Wang Chong’s concern at all. Truly, the Imperial Court’s transfer had upset his tempo and plans, catching him off guard, but even without his military authority, all his plans were already in place.
Khorasan was heavily guarded, with more than ten thousand ballistae commanded by Su Hanshan, thick and heavy walls, and the hundreds of thousands of soldiers of the coalition army. Moreover, Gao Xianzhi and Feng Changqing, the Twin Walls of the Empire, were still standing guard there. It was almost impossible for any mishap to take place there. Moreover, Bahram had promised that as long as the Great Tang did not alter its agreement with the coalition army, the Sassanid Dynasty and all the other members of the coalition army would always be the Great Tang’s firmest allies.
With these things, even if Wang Chong wasn’t there, Khorasan was perfectly safe.
Wang Chong was actually thinking about the matter behind the imperial decree. This entire incident had been far too abnormal. Wang Chong had to find out what was going on.
“Has there been any news from King Song?”
As these thoughts flitted through his mind, Wang Chong turned to Zhang Que.
“No. We still haven’t received any letters from that end.”
Zhang Que’s expression was gloomy.
A hint of worry appeared on Wang Chong’s brow. If there was anyone who understood the causes behind his de facto demotion and could give a detailed description of the events, it would be none other than King Song. But… Wang Chong had no idea what had been going on in the capital while he was managing Khorasan.
“Then what about my Big Uncle, Wang Gen?” Wang Chong continued. He had written two letters to the capital. One was to King Song, and the other was for his big uncle, Wang Gen.
“Lord Wang says that he’s in the middle of investigating this matter. When the incident took place, he had just so happened to be on assignment outside of the capital, so he also did not know what happened that day,” Zhang Que heavily said as he dropped his head even lower.
The journey between the Western Regions and the capital took a very long time, but given the importance of the matter, Zhang Que had used a smaller but faster and more aggressive hunting falcon that he had obtained from the Sassanid Dynasty. In the end, however, he had not received the reply he had desired.
This time, Wang Chong only nodded and said no more.