Side Story Chapter 40: The Sage Emperor of the Great Tang!
As Li Taiyi’s voice rang out, a golden sword radiating a light countless times brighter than the sun erupted out of the void, cleaving apart time and space and instantly destroying the giant dragon that Li Xuantu had summoned.
With a plaintive scream and a shower of blood, a disheveled figure plunged out from the giant dragon.
As he fell, the armor on his body shattered into pieces.
Li Xuantu slammed into the ground, and thus, the battle ended.
Cheers erupted across the palace. The eyes of Gao Lishi, Wang Jiuling, Wang Haibin, and Abusi, as well as Zhangchou Jianqiong and Zhang Shougui, shone brightly with joy.
“Succeeded! His Highness really succeeded!”
In this coup, First Prince Li Xuantu had had the upper hand, but in the end, they had snatched victory from the jaws of defeat and had succeeded.
Li Taiyi heard the roaring cheers and faintly smiled.
The battle was over, and he had succeeded in minimizing the losses from this conflict.
But before Li Taiyi had time to bask in the joy, he had a strange sensation.
Li Taiyi suddenly turned his head, his body erupting with Stellar Energy as he thrust out his palm behind him.
A dark figure had shot out of the shadows, thrusting a sword at Li Taiyi.
Fist met sword, and the enormous strength pushd Li Taiyi back several feet. At the same time, that ghostly figure borrowed the force to flip backward.
Upon seeing who it was, Li Taiyi fiercely shuddered.
He had never imagined that the one trying to attack him from behind would be Second Prince Li Chengyi.
Li Taiyi and Li Xuantu were the only ones fighting for the throne tonight. Li Chengyi had already been ruled out, and at the start of the strife, he had disappeared, becoming essentially nonexistent.
But to everyone’s surprise, not only had he not disappeared, he had been hiding nearby. Moreover, that attack just now proved that Li Chengyi was clearly different from the rumors and had been hiding a terrifying cultivation.
“First Brother, Third Brother, is this really necessary? Imperial Father has already issued a decree making me the heir to the throne, ordering the two of you to assist me with all your ability. A pity that the two of you fought each over an empty title.”
Li Chengyi made a sinister chuckle and did not seem ready to attack again.
Li Chengyi was completely different from before, as if all the shackles on his body had been severed, allowing him to reveal his true and imposing appearance.
His body was brimming with power, and he seemed comparable to Li Taiyi.
Besides that, he had ten-some black-clothed experts at his side. These people had bizarre auras, but they were all supreme experts.
Despite the abilities of Li Taiyi and Li Xuantu, they had never seen these people before.
But a few moments later, everyone turned their attention to Li Chengyi.
“What nonsense are you saying?”
Even the heavily injured Li Xuantu couldn’t help but become agitated, furiously barking. But moments after speaking, he vomited blood.
“First Brother, there’s no need to get riled up. I’m naturally not making this claim without evidence.”
Li Chengyi grinned as he showed the two a few items.
“This is the Great Tang’s imperial jade seal. You recognize it, right? And this is a decree personally drafted by Imperial Father, carrying his seal. In black and white, it is clearly written that I should succeed the throne and that all the officials should assist me. First Brother, Third Brother, you aren’t going to defy a decree, are you?”
Li Xuantu was finally realizing that he had fallen into Li Chengyi’s trap tonight, Li Taiyi with him.
He had believed this entire time that the jade seal was in Li Taiyi’s possession, but it now seemed that Li Chengyi had actually gotten the seal and kept it hidden from him this whole time.
It was clear that he had been scheming this whole time.
“You can’t say that. The one with Imperial Father’s decree and the imperial jade seal is the Great Tang’s Son of Heaven. In addition, I have already summoned the officials, the Grand Preceptor and Grand Tutor included. All the officials have already arrived… Honored officials, come out!”
As he spoke, Li Chengyi turned his head to another direction.
Everyone looked on as the Grand Tutor, Grand Preceptor, the important officials of the Six Bureaus, and all the other court officials walked out.
“Grand Preceptor, Grand Tutor, I know that you have always liked my first brother, but this is Imperial Father’s decree. We should not defy it, yes?” Li Chengyi lightly said.
“Your Highness, be at ease. Who we like has never been important. So long as we verify that it is truly the previous Emperor’s decree, Your Highness will be the Great Tang’s Son of Heaven. No one, not even the First Prince or Third Prince, can defy you,” the two of them sternly said.
These words had all the members of the Eastern Palace scowling.
Li Chengyi waved his hand, tossing out the decree. Of course, he kept the seal in his hand.
As long as he held the seal, he would not have to fear anyone trying to trick him.
“Third Brother, you aren’t thinking about defying the decree, are you?”
Li Chengyi turned to Li Taiyi and made a sinister chuckle.
In this struggle for the throne, these two had battled to the death, but in the end, he had outplayed them both, taking the throne without wasting a single soldier.
Li Taiyi softly chuckled and finally spoke. “Chengyi, do you really think you’ve won?
“If you wish to inherit the throne, you have to have the real imperial seal. Creating your own jade seal simply won’t do.”
“What did you say?”
Li Chengyi’s pupils constricted as his face paled.
“Chengyi, do you really think I was unaware of what you were trying to do?”
Li Taiyi turned his head, his sharp eyes cutting like blades into Li Chengyi, instantly causing him to freeze as a sense of ill foreboding welled up in his mind.
“Let me say it,” an elderly voice said at this moment.
The crowd parted, allowing a familiar figure escorted by several Imperial Army experts to come through.
Upon seeing that man, Li Chengyi trembled as if he had seen a ghost.
How could it be him? Hadn’t he already been imprisoned?
“Second Prince, do you still need me to say what you have done?”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Li Chengyi savagely said, though he inwardly quailed.
Eunuch Li sighed and shook his head, his eyes brimming with disappointment.
“Your Excellencies, both of you are veteran officials of the court and are extremely familiar with the imperial jade seal. I must trouble you to open the decree and look at the seal affixed upon it. The true jade seal should have three cloud patterns on the bottom right corner, but the one there should only have two.”
The Grand Preceptor and Grand Tutor said nothing, but Li Chengyi felt like he had been struck by lightning, and almost dropped the jade seal in his hand.
The Grand Preceptor and Grand Tutor opened the decree and glanced at it, after which they instantly frowned. “Eunuch Li? How did you know? It’s true. This jade seal truly has only two cloud patterns.”
There were far too many strange things about tonight’s events.
“Grand Preceptor, Grand Tutor, First Prince, Third Prince, hear the decree!”
Eunuch Li thrust his right hand into his sleeve and removed an imperial decree.
“Second Prince, the Tang Emperor truly did leave behind a decree, but it was not that one.”
Eunuch Li shot Li Chengyi a profound glance.
Li Chengyi’s heart went cold, and he was no longer able to speak.
“Acceding to the will of the heavens, the Emperor declares: Third Prince Xuan, who has shown benevolence, propriety, and intelligence, and is respectful and filial to the utmost, is to succeed the throne. The Grand Preceptor, Grand Tutor, and all other officials are to do their utmost to assist him. Thus is the Emperor’s will!”
Li Chengyi staggered backward, his face growing agitated, almost crazed.
“A trick! This is all a trick! Imperial Father died long ago. How could he have made a decree?!”
Eunuch Li shook his head and said, “Second Prince, do you still not know repentance? Whether it is you, the First Prince, or the Third Prince, His Majesty knew of all your movements, even about how you colluded with these wicked people, borrowing their power to poison His Majesty. His Majesty knew everything.”
These words made Li Chengyi shiver, his eyes flying open as fear crept into them.
“How could this be? If Imperial Father knew about all this, then why…”
But Eunuch Li did not explain any further.
“Third Prince, His Majesty did not misjudge you. When the sun has risen, the officials will hold a coronation ceremony to crown you as Emperor,” Eunuch Li said.
“No! I am the Emperor!”
Li Chengyi’s eyes turned red as he pointed at Li Taiyi and ordered those mysterious men in black, “Kill them all!”
Boom! The ten-some powerful men in black immediately vanished like ghosts.
“Li Taiyi, I’ll have you die!” Li Chengyi savagely roared as he lunged.
This wouldn’t have been possible in the past, but now, both Li Xuantu and Li Taiyi had spent most of their Stellar Energy in their battle and were far from their peak state.
As long as he could kill them all, who could stop him from becoming Emperor?
“Chengyi, you have been far too disappointing. Since Imperial Father already predicted all your actions, do you think he would not have left behind a countermeasure?”
Li Taiyi shook his head, and as Li Chengyi attacked, he suddenly raised a hand and thrust it at the ground, connecting himself to the enormous Three Emperors Formation beneath the Imperial Palace.
A brilliant white light like an exploding sun appeared, illuminating the capital as brightly as day.
With a scream, the ten-some men in black were blasted into dust by the white light, and the crazed Li Chengyi was also thrown back.
With one strike, the turmoil in the Imperial Palace had been brought to an end.
In the twenty-fourth year of the reign of the Tang Emperor, he passed away.
In the same year, Third Prince Xuan succeeded the throne and changed the era name to ‘Divine Dragon’. History would call him the Sage Emperor.
And that coup became known as the Divine Dragon Coup.
In the twelfth year of Divine Dragon, the Great Tang defeated the Eastern and Western Turks.
In the fourteenth year of Divine Dragon, the Great Tang defeated Ü-Tsang and Arabia.
In the same year, the Great Tang subjugated Mengshe Zhao and defeated Goguryeo.
From then, the Great Tang prospered, welcoming an unprecedented golden age.