“Old master, someone is requesting for an audience.”
Just as Wang Zhongsi was frowning at the edge of his bed, deep in contemplation, a green-robed old servant walked in with a stack of visit notices.
“Sigh, ask them to leave. I won’t meet them.”
Wang Zhongsi sighed deeply within.
Wang Chong’s matter had left him in dilemma. Unlike the others, Wang Zhongsi didn’t think that there was any fundamental difference to Hu and Han. He had fought with both Hu and Han soldiers alike throughout his life.
If that wasn’t the case, he wouldn’t have promoted Geshu Han.
He didn’t think that it was right for him to refute Geshu Han, as well as the Hu generals and commanders whom he had fought alongside with in the past. Similarly, supporting Geshu Han and opposing to the Han generals was also impossible for him.
Thus, Wang Zhongsi was in a dilemma!
“Old Zhang, help me deliver this letter. This child isn’t bad at heart, and all I can do now is to persuade His Majesty to spare him.”
After a long moment of silence, Wang Zhongsi finally sighed deeply and said.
“Yes, old master!”
The old servant nodded before retreating out of the study.
With the involvement of the Southern Protector-General Zhangchou Jianqiong and the Eastern Protector-General Zhang Shougui, the tension between the Hu and the Han was brought to new heights.
On this matter, neither sides was willing to back down. With everything dished out in the open, what was left was the final judgement of the royal court, the verdict of the Sage Emperor.
Yet, from afternoon til sunset, there wasn’t a single news from the royal palace. Even though the Han and the Hu were sending in memorials one after another, forming a mini mountain on the royal court; even though countless influential officials were already on the brink of strangling the throats of one another, the Sage Emperor still refused to make a stand.
On the matter regarding Wang Chong’s execution, the Sage Emperor neither approved nor disapproved it. His attitude was unfathomable, and no one could tell what he was thinking.
This left many feeling perplexed and unnerved.
“Lord, the esteemed elder has already said that he refuses to meet anyone. You should return.”
It was evening, and the final shreds of radiance from the setting sun had finally disappeared at the horizon. Outside the Four Quarters Embassy, beneath a huge tree, an Imperial Army commander was reporting a matter to Yao Guang Yi, who had been waiting outside for a very long time.
“Did he really say that he refuses to meet me?”
Yao Guang Yi frowned as he verified the situation once more.
“That’s right. The esteemed elder has ordered us to turn away all visitors for the next three days, and this includes you.”
The Imperial Army commander spoke gravely.
“How could this be?”
Yao Guang Yi glanced at the tightly shut doors with complex emotions. It was his second time visiting, as well as the second time he was turned away at the door.
Yao Guang Yi possessed the authority to enter the Four Quarters Embassy freely, but just yesterday, his authority was just retracted.
“What is happening? Why is father refusing to meet me?”
Yao Guang Yi was bewildered.
The matter regarding the Wang Clan’s third son, Wang Chong, had caused a huge commotion in and out of the royal court. All of the Hu and Han generals had gotten involved in it.
Thus, he came over to seek his father’s opinion. He didn’t expect that, just like Wang Gen and the others, he would also be locked out of the Four Quarters Embassy.
His father had never refused to meet him before. This was the first time that such an incident had occurred, and this left him pressured.
“Old master, what do we do now?”
The subordinate standing beside him asked.
“Let’s return for now. We’ll come again tomorrow.”
After a moment of silence, Yao Guang Yi waved his hands and left the Four Quarters Embassy.
The night gradually devoured the heat of the day.
Beneath the veil of the shadows, an even more intense turbulence was stirring.
“Big brother, this is Lord Zhao Fengchen.”
Within the royal palace, under the cover of the night, Wang Chong’s uncle, Li Lin, walked over with Zhao Fengchen beside him. The patrolling Imperial Army members had been deployed away, and the entire area had been replaced with Li Lin and Zhao Fengchen’s subordinates.
Zhao Fengchen walked over. This was his first time meeting the eldest son of the Wang Clan, Wang Gen, outside of the royal court.
“You’ve been troubled!”
Walking forward to welcome Zhao Fengchen, Wang Gen didn’t bother hiding the worry in his eyes.
Even though the palace gates would close at night, Wang Gen, as an influential official of the royal court involved in the governance of the empire, possessed the rights to enter and leave the royal palace so that he could carry out his work conveniently.
Wang Gen made use of this privilege to enter the royal palace.
Even so, he couldn’t stay in the royal palace for too long.
“Marshal Zhao, is there any news on my nephew, Wang Chong?”
Wang Gen asked worriedly.
Wang Chong had already been locked in the imperial prison for two days already, and there wasn’t any news on him ever since he was taken away from the Wang Family Residence. Even Wang Gen himself wasn’t able to gather any information on the matter.
This left him disconcerted.
Uncle Li Lin worked in the Imperial Army, and he was acquainted with Zhao Fengchen. The imperial prison was under the affiliated with the Imperial Army, so it was highly possible for the latter to have some connections in there. Therefore, Wang Gen decided to request for his help.
Unexpectedly, Zhao Fengchen shook his head grimly.
“Our Imperial Army is close with the prison guards, so usually, it wouldn’t be difficult to obtain some insider news from them. But the situation this time seems to be a little bizarre. None of us are allowed to approach the imperial prison, and the prison guards aren’t allowed to leave the underground prison either. All those who defy this command, regardless of ranking or background, will be executed. Even though I’ve been in the royal palace for several decades already, this is the first time I’m meeting with such a situation. There is something very bizarre about this matter.”
“How can this be?”
Wang Gen exclaimed in shock.
Seeing Wang Gen’s expression, Zhao Fengchen couldn’t help but sigh deeply. He had a good impression of Wang Chong, and there was one time which he had even requested Li Lin to bring the latter to the royal palace to chat with him. Thus, he was extremely concerned about Wang Chong’s imprisonment.
But for some reason, even Zhao Fengchen, despite his influence, found himself unable to lay his hands on the imperial prison this time around. There was completely no news from the imperial prison, as though the entire location was a black hole in itself.
“However, it isn’t like there’s no solutions at all.”
Gritting his teeth, Zhao Fengchen suddenly said.
“I have an ex-subordinate who is currently serving as a prison guard in the imperial prison. Back then, I saved him when he was nearly executed for flouting the rules of the Imperial Army. I’ve already requested him to deliver some news out by hook or by crook, and it’s about to reach the timing that we promised on.”
At that moment, a cawing sounded above them. Glancing upward, the group saw a massive shadow gliding down toward them with its wings spread wide apart.
“It’s an owl!”
Wang Gen recognized the bird immediately.
The Great Tang royal palace was built on the ruins of the previous Sui’s royal palace. It was said that after the Sui dynasty fell, a huge number of rats gathered in the ruins of its former palace.
Even though numerous means were utilized to eradicate these rats when the Great Tang royal palace was first built, some of them still managed to survive.
As time passed, these rats slowly got used to life in the royal palace. They grew bigger and more courageous, and they no longer cowered before the immense pressure that martial artists exuded.
Even though they still dared not approach the center of the palace, where the Son of Heaven lived, there was still more than enough space for them to operate in given the immense size of the royal palace.
Thus, in order to deal with these rats, the royal palace raised a group of owls.
Wang Gen had heard of this rumor, but he didn’t think that it would actually be true.
An owl flew across the sky, and its claws suddenly loosened
A black, bloodied object fell to the ground. Taking a closer look, it was a gigantic rat that was around the size of a cat.
“It’s a rat from the imperial prison!”
Zhao Fengchen rushed forward and sliced open the stomach of the rat. As expected, there was a note inside. Reading through its contents, Zhao Fengchen’s complexion suddenly darkened.
“How is it?”
Wang Gen’s heart tightened upon seeing Zhao Fengchen’s expression.
“My ex-subordinate searched the entire area. Wang Chong isn’t in the imperial prison at all!”
In an instant, Wang Gen’s face warped.
Wang Chong had already adapted to the conditions within the ‘imperial prison’.
Even though his hands were bound and it was impossible to him to struggle free of his restraints, he realized that the Origin Energy flowing through his body wasn’t repressed at all.
Thus, Wang Chong chose to continue cultivating the 《Little Yinyang Art》 in here, pushing surge after surge of Origin Energy persistently through his meridians and acupoints.
Even though he was ‘isolated from the world’, Wang Chong was given a steady supply of notes containing news on the situation outside from the prison guards, such as the ‘petition of the hundred generals’, the Eastern Protector-General and Southern Protector-General expressing their support for him, the intense dispute among the officials in the royal court, the retired censors suddenly appearing in the royal court and slapping Zhou Zhang and the other censors who impeached Wang Chong of ‘blindly interfering with court matters’, and no one daring to retaliate against them at all…
Looking at these news, Wang Chong felt relieved, amused, and moved.
So many people had stood up to speak for him. At the very least, the risk he took wasn’t futile.
He could see that these ‘guards of the royal palace’ also stood on his side.
Wang Chong tried to pass a few notes out via these guards to report to his safety to his family, but these guards hurriedly shook their heads in fear.
Eventually, Wang Chong realized that news only went one way in here.
Just as he was deep in contemplation, a scream of agony sounded across the wall. Frowning, Wang Chong turned his gaze over, and saw a group of people lynching an elderly.
“You refuse to speak the truth, huh? Fine!”
The group punched and kicked the individual as they hurled insults.
The imperial prison was a dark and gloomy place, and after spending too long a time here, one’s personality would also slowly become distorted. Wang Chong had already seen such lynching several times already.
Just as he was about to turn around, he suddenly heard a weak cry of agony:
“I’m not lying, I’m really Zhang Munian! I am just an agriculture official in Nanling.”
That voice was faint, yet deafening to Wang Chong’s ears. His body jolted, and he hurriedly turned his head over.
“Hmph, how dare you spout nonsense! Where do you think the imperial prison is? How is it possible for a small official like that to be locked in here? Beat him up!”
That group of people continued raining blows upon the elderly.
Wang Chong bellowed loudly, and his thunderous roar caused the underground prison to shake slightly for an instant. Everyone turned their heads over and stared at him in bewilderment.