Chapter 1653: The Lingnan Incident!
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
“When did this occur?!” Wang Chong asked the Golden Guard down below, suppressing his shock.
“The decision was formally announced today, but the transfer order was sent three days ago to the Anxi Protectorate. Great General Gao Xianzhi should already be on the road to the capital. As for anything else, we still do not have a clear picture of the situation,” the Golden Guard reported.
The entire capital was bound to be in turmoil over this news. There were six Protector-Generals in the Great Tang, and any movement of a Great General was no minor affair. Other than Zhangchou Jianqiong, the other Great Generals of the Protectorates had not been touched in ten-some years.
Even at the height of the militarist-Confucian conflict, the Confucian Sect had tried to transfer these Great Generals, but it had ultimately failed.
But now, Anxi Protector-General Gao Xianzhi had left his post, and with this precedent, the other Great Generals could be recalled.
This level of military movement carried with it an entirely different meaning.
Gao Xianzhi’s transfer had the rapt attention of the capital, and much more information began to be revealed.
The First Prince had personally endorsed the transfer order, the court had agreed, and the jade seal of the Sage Emperor was stamped upon the decree.
Great Generals had not been moved for ten-some years, and everyone had believed that they would never be moved, and that any such attempts would be heavily opposed. But the First Prince was the regent and had the jade seal of the Sage Emperor. It was completely in his capabilities to call back Gao Xianzhi.
Moreover, the First Prince had not used any ordinary reason to call back Gao Xianzhi.
The First Prince had stated that since there were no battles on the border, he was calling back Gao Xianzhi to the capital so that he could be promoted. Moreover, Gao Xianzhi had been elevated to a rank-one Duke after his achievements in the Battle of Talas, and the First Prince had ordered the Bureau of Works to build Gao Xianzhi’s ducal estate with the intent of having Gao Xianzhi remain in the capital for the long term.
In addition, back when Gao Xianzhi had been promoted to Anxi Protector-General, the Sage Emperor had also made him the Left Great General of the Imperial Army. In returning to the capital, he could assume his post and thus finally assume the duties of his title.
Wang Chong leaned back against his throne, unable to calm himself down.
“Have we found out who will be replacing Gao Xianzhi as Anxi Protector-General?” Wang Chong suddenly asked, opening his eyes.
Wang Chong’s subordinates had gathered in the hall, and Cheng Sanyuan now stepped forward to report.
“It’s the Martial Peace General. His new assignment has already been announced, and the Martial Peace General will probably reach the Anxi Protectorate soon!”
“The Martial Peace General!”
Wang Chong slightly frowned. The Martial Peace General, Huo Hao, was undoubtedly one of the best of the Great Tang’s titled generals.
Although he couldn’t compare in strength to Gao Xianzhi, he had already reached the peak of the Brigadier General level, making him one of the strongest existences beneath the Great General level.
In Wang Chong’s understanding, Huo Hao was extremely talented and courageous, as well as an excellent commander. In his early years, he had been one of An Sishun’s strongest rivals for the post of Beiting Protector-General.
Alas, Huo Hao was slightly lacking and lost to An Sishun. Even so, he still commanded immense prestige in the army.
But this was not what Wang Chong was concerned about. No one understood more than he did that Martial Peace General Huo Hao was one of First Prince Li Ying’s subordinates. He had sworn his oath of loyalty to the First Prince long ago.
By switching out Gao Xianzhi for Huo Hao, the First Prince now had control over the finest fighting force in the Great Tang, the elites of the northwest.
The six protectorate armies of the empire were extremely important and watched by countless people. In the past, even if the First Prince had such ideas, he would have never acted on them. But it now seemed like the First Prince had cast aside all his apprehensions.
“Has it finally begun?”
Wang Chong gripped the intelligence report as he muttered to himself.
Winds preceded the coming storm. First there was the Great Buddhist Temple incident, and now there was the changing of the guard in the northwest. Even though the main event had yet to begin, Wang Chong could already smell it.
Wang Chong sensed that this was only the beginning, and there was still a long way to go.
As if in response to Wang Chong’s conjectures, while everyone was still stunned by news of Gao Xianzhi’s transfer, two days later, a proud eunuch arrived with an imperial decree, striding into the King of Foreign Lands Residence.
“King of Foreign Lands Wang Chong, receive the decree:
“Acceding to the will of the Heavens, the First Prince, as acting regent, states that in the Lingnan Circuit, the Yue have once more broken into violence over farmland. Governor Wang Hu has been killed, and after discussion by the court, it has been decided that the King of Foreign Lands will be sent as a special envoy to the Yue to handle this matter. The Yue people have pugnacious personalities, and purely civil officials will not be able to handle this. The King of Foreign Lands was born in a clan of ministers and generals and is famed throughout the realm for his martial prowess, and he also holds a rank-seven post as Farm Supervisor1 within the Bureau of Works, responsible for maintaining weights and measures. Truly, he is talented in both civil and martial pursuits, thus making him the ideal candidate for this matter. The King of Foreign Lands is hereby granted the rank-five post of Special Farmland Envoy to the Yue. It is hoped that the King of Foreign Lands moves immediately to relieve the Imperial Court of this worry and resolve the crisis of the Yue!
“King of Foreign Lands, receive the decree!”
The eunuch waved his horsetail whisk and glanced at Wang Chong.
“Wang Chong receives the decree!”
Wang Chong stepped forward and took the decree from the eunuch.
“Your Highness, the Imperial Court hopes that you begin moving within three days. Please do not tarry too long!”
The eunuch quickly left after making this comment.
The entire King of Foreign Lands Residence became tense. Xu Keyi, Su Shixuan, Zhang Que, Cheng Sanyuan, and all the other subordinates gravely stared at Wang Chong and the decree.
The matter with Gao Xianzhi had only just happened, but the Imperial Court was already beginning to move against their lord.
“Your Highness, you can’t go! The First Prince must have ulterior motives!”
“That’s right! He’s trying to draw the tiger away from the mountain and have Your Highness leave the capital. Without Your Highness, no one in the capital will be able to resist the First Prince!”
“The lands of the Yue are always in chaos, and the Imperial Court has sent governors time and time again. If you really go to Lingnan, it will probably be one or two years before Your Highness can return. The First Prince wants to imprison Your Highness in Lingnan.”
“The First Prince can’t deal with Your Highness, so he’s thought of this method. Your Highness, you can’t let him get what he wants!”
When Wang Chong gave orders, he rarely went into detailed explanations. Thus, Xu Keyi and the other subordinates did not understand the purpose behind many of his operations. But this time, the calling back of a Great General and the transferring of Wang Chong out of the capital made them all sense that there was a scheme going on.
What they feared the most was the man in the inner palace who seemed to be behind this scheme. An immense wave of pressure was coming down, and if all went as expected, that man in the Imperial Palace was going to…
No one dared to speak those forbidden words, and the mere thought made them shiver.
An ominous storm threatened to engulf the capital, and everyone sensed that the entire empire was about to enter its most chaotic and challenging period. If even Wang Chong left the capital, they didn’t even dare to imagine what would happen next.
Wang Chong stood at the door to the hall, his eyes flashing inscrutably as he gripped the decree.
After some time, Wang Chong finally spoke, his expression slowly hardening with resolve.
“I understand! I have an idea on how to handle this matter!”
One day later, a carrier pigeon brought Wang Chong’s reply into the inner palace.
An Eastern Palace guard entered the palace and reported, “Your Highness, we have just received a reply from the King of Foreign Lands. He says that he has been somewhat unwell recently. Moreover, the matter in the Lingnan Circuit is of utmost importance, so he needs to consider his plans carefully and make some preparations before leaving.”
Li Ying stood on a raised platform, and nearby, behind the dragon-patterned desk, the black-robed Ghost King sat on his chair.
The two glanced at each other, unsurprised.
“Just as expected from this Wang Chong. Trying to get the tiger to leave the mountain won’t be easy.”
The First Prince chuckled as he threw the letter onto a nearby pile.
“Heh, since this was as we expected, why is Your Highness worried? Wasn’t his answer exactly as we predicted?” The Ghost King looked up from his book and indifferently said, “And whether or not he goes, once another disturbance breaks out in the lands of the Yue, Your Highness can accuse him of defying the decree and ignoring the Imperial Court to have him arrested.”
There were hidden schemes and open schemes, and this scheme was the latter. Even if Wang Chong didn’t want to go, he still had to go.
Several months ago, the First Prince had been forced to grant Wang Chong an actual post for the border incident, so he had made Wang Chong a minor rank-seven official in the Bureau of Works. To his surprise, it had served as an excellent way to use the recent Yue turmoil against Wang Chong.
Wang Chong was simply too cautious and never left behind any exploitable weaknesses. Moreover, he was scheming and flexible, ruining one plan after another. Dealing with such a man was incredibly challenging.
If he couldn’t defeat him, then it was best to make him leave the capital, leave the center of the empire’s political power. Just like in the month that Wang Chong had been missing, the First Prince would be able to smoothly proceed with his plans once the King of Foreign Lands was gone.
“But this alone isn’t enough.”
The First Prince had many ideas in mind, and there was no need for the Ghost King to take action here.
“Since we need to deal with him, let’s add some fuel to the fire. Zhu Tong’en, if I recall correctly, didn’t Zhang Xun, the Deputy Governor of the Lingnan Circuit, join our side a few months ago? Send a message telling him to stir up conflict amongst the Yue and make this turmoil even worse. I’d like to see how Wang Chong deals with that!”
After a moment’s pause, Zhu Tong’en lowered his head and assented.
1. The Lingnan Circuit, referring to the area south of the Nanling Mountains, covers the extreme southern border of present-day China, extending into Vietnam. The Yue, also known as the Baiyue, or ‘Hundred Yue’, refers to the native people of that region. Farms in this context refers to land owned by the empire which has been marked out as potential farmland and is being developed.↩