RHE: Chapter 1941: The Sage Emperor's Sudden Change!

Chapter 1941: The Sage Emperor's Sudden Change!

Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
"Even we don't know the exact details yet."
Li Jingzhong began to explain what he knew.
"Yesterday, in the early morning, the Crown Prince was studying as he usually did when the Sage Emperor suddenly arrived, saying that he had come to test the Crown Prince's studies. Your Highness, you know that His Highness has always been diligent in his studies, never neglecting his homework. His Majesty declared that he wished to test the Crown Prince, and he chose a text for the Crown Prince to recite."
Wang Chong frowned and asked, "Did the Crown Prince fail to recite it?"
"No! The Crown Prince recited the entire thing word for word."
Li Jingzhong understood Wang Chong's meaning and shook his head.
"Everything was normal and the Sage Emperor seemed to be satisfied, but when the Crown Prince raised his head to look at the Sage Emperor, the Sage Emperor suddenly grew enraged. He claimed that the Crown Prince had no regard for his sovereign and father, that he was unfilial and treasonous. Right there, he gave the Crown Prince a firm slap.
"This was so abrupt that everyone present was frightened out of their wits!"
Li Jingzhong still felt fear and alarm upon recalling the incident.
The Sage Emperor was the wise sovereign of the realm, and Li Jingzhong had served in the palace for decades and had still never seen the Sage Emperor so enraged, or even heard of it.
"No one understood what happened at the time, but not long afterward, news came out that the Sage Emperor wanted to strip the Crown Prince of his title. The entire court is shaken. Your Highness, you must do something to help the Crown Prince!"
Li Jingzhong grabbed Wang Chong's sleeve like a drowning man clutching at a rescue rope.
Wang Chong said nothing, but his mind was restless. The Sage Emperor had just invested the Crown Prince, holding a sumptuous crowning ceremony, but now, he was talking about removing the Crown Prince. This was far too abrupt for everyone.
Removing a Crown Prince was no easy matter and could not be done so casually.
More importantly, the decision was too abnormal. All the other court officials were probably just as astonished.
Wang Chong quickly calmed himself down and soothingly said, "Eunuch Li, don't panic just yet. Investing a Crown Prince is no minor matter, and even if His Majesty wants to remove him, he needs the approval of the officials. There is still room to maneuver.
"In addition, when His Majesty invested the Crown Prince, he expressed to all the realm that he was extremely satisfied with the Crown Prince, believing that His Highness had the traits proper for the post. One or two minor incidents are not enough of an excuse to remove him. I will get in touch with the other officials and submit a memorial strongly opposing this decision."
Regardless of the truth of the situation, Li Heng had already been tested in the apocalyptic era, and there was no one in the Great Tang more befitting of the post than him. This matter had to be put to a stop.
"Thank you, Your Highness!"
Li Jingzhong gratefully bowed and quickly left.
Not long after Li Jingzhong had left, Wang Chong spoke once more.
"Xu Keyi!"
A few moments later, Xu Keyi came in and bowed.
"What happened in the court?" Wang Chong said.
"His Majesty proposed removing the Crown Prince from his post in court. When Your Highness was meeting Eunuch Li, several dozen major officials sent word of this matter and asked Your Highness to join them in submitting a memorial strongly advising against this!" Xu Keyi sternly said.
Although Wang Chong no longer took part in court, he still wielded immense influence within it. Let alone the military officials, even civil officials admired Wang Chong.
In terms of status, Wang Chong was on par with the Grand Tutor, even surpassing him in some aspects.
Wang Chong began to think. This matter was far too bizarre. It was not bizarre that the Emperor grew enraged or slapped the Crown Prince, but it made no sense to strip the Crown Prince of his title over the incident.
He recalled the matter Yang Zhao had brought up and the reports he had gathered.
"Xu Keyi!"
"Your subordinate is here!"
"Prepare my carriage. I need to enter the palace to see His Majesty!" Wang Chong suddenly said.
Wang Chong was now a major official of Lingyan Pavilion, possessing the Sage Emperor's 'Imperial Dragon Bracelet' and holding the supreme titles of Nine Provinces Protector-General and Empire Guardian Great General. He could enter the palace to see the Sage Emperor without prior notification.
No other official possessed this privilege.
This was one of the major reasons that the officials had all gotten in touch with Wang Chong.
Wang Chong set off from his estate and quickly arrived at the palace gates.
"Hold! Is that the King of Foreign Lands?!"
When Wang Chong arrived, an Imperial Army Marshal suddenly came forward and solemnly bowed.
"Your Highness, please forgive me. His Majesty has decreed that he will not be meeting any officials of the court, including Your Highness!"
Wang Chong was dumbstruck.
"When did these things happen?"
Wang Chong exited his carriage.
"It happened during the morning court session, but with regards to Your Highness, His Majesty mentioned much earlier that Your Highness, without a summons… is not permitted inside the palace," the Imperial Army Marshal said with a bowed head.
"What?!"
Wang Chong was rendered speechless.
……
The entire city was restless over the Crown Prince affair. All the officials, including Wang Chong, the Grand Preceptor, and the Grand Tutor, strongly voiced their opposition. While the Sage Emperor did not appear, he finally issued a decree stating that he had given up on removing the Crown Prince, bringing the matter to a close for now.
But this was more like a turning point, and the turmoil within the Imperial Palace was far from over.
Not long after the Crown Prince affair, the Sage Emperor skipped morning court three days in a row. The assembled officials waited from dawn to dusk without seeing a sign of the Sage Emperor or even a eunuch from the palace carrying the Sage Emperor's decree.
This set off another storm in the court.
The Sage Emperor missing out on the court session three days in a row had earned him the dissatisfaction of the court, but then the Sage Emperor proposed spending one million taels of gold to construct a Peace Pavilion in the palace, earning him the intense opposition of the court. The imperial censors sent an endless flow of criticizing memorials into the palace.
But none of this could hamper the Sage Emperor's enthusiasm. And after this, another incident set off an even greater wave in the court.
The Sage Emperor summoned all the officials and ordered them to select virtuous and talented women from across the realm to be entered into the harem.
Let alone the officials, even Wang Chong in his estate was stunned.
"Your Highness, this is far too abnormal. Although women of talent and virtue have been summoned from across the realm to enter the harem in every dynasty, as they have in the current dynasty, it has not happened in the current reign. Not even when he was young did the Sage Emperor ever do such a thing. Several decades have passed, and the Princes and Princesses are already all so old. Opening up the harem to new candidates at this time is far too strange."
Crown Prince Li Heng; King Song, who had returned from the west with Wang Chong; Minister of War Zhangchou Jianqiong, who had returned later; Beacon General Jiang Yunrang; Lu Ting; the old butler; Assistant Minister of War Chao Qianzong; Yang Zhao; King De; King Shou; the Duke of Tan; the Duke of Guo; and several provincial governors had gathered in Wang Chong's estate.
Inexplicably, Wang Chong's residence had become another center of the court.
"Imperial Father's personality has become too strange. Although the rules in the palace are strict and I and the other Imperial Brothers have always respected Imperial Father, an incident like the one from the other day has never happened before. No matter how great the mistake, Imperial Father has never delivered the punishment himself."
Crown Prince Li Heng pensively lowered his head in thought.
In the Rebellion of the Three Princes, even though First Prince Li Ying had committed the crime of treason, the enraged Sage Emperor had only ordered him to be jailed and did not strike him. Yet in the Eastern Palace incident, Li Heng had recited the passage correctly while being the most diligent of the Princes, but all he received from the Sage Emperor was a vicious slap, almost losing his position along with it. This was simply absurd.
"In addition, for some reason, I've felt something strange from Imperial Father recently…"
Li Heng hesitated.
"External officials are not to enter the harem without a summons," Assistant Minister of Personnel Zhang Jian said. "We cannot enter the harem, so we cannot know the exact details. However, it has now been seven days since His Majesty attended the morning court session, and he has not summoned any of the officials. Matters of state are of utmost importance, concerning the lives of all the people of the realm. It is said that the country cannot be without the sovereign for even a day, and there is no precedent in this dynasty for the sovereign to not attend court for seven days. If His Majesty does not attend court soon, the people will begin to panic and wildly speculate."
If the Sage Emperor were unwell and ordered the Prime Minister to lead the court, the court would not be in as much chaos. But not only was the Sage Emperor not attending court, he had not ordered anyone to preside over it in his place. Without a decree, not even the Prime Minister dared to overstep his bounds.
"That's right! The country cannot be without a sovereign for a single day. Memorials are piling up like small mountains, all of them waiting for the Sage Emperor's judgment! This cannot be allowed to continue!"
The other major officials agreed.
"An incompetent sovereign! This is an incompetent sovereign! We've already learned that in the last seven days, His Majesty has spent all of his time in the palace with nothing important delaying him. Instead, he's summoned the palace ladies of the harem and is indulging himself in pleasure! This is preposterous!"
Compared to the Crown Prince and the Assistant Minister of Personnel, the imperial censors were incensed, their faces brimming with rage.
Since ancient times, the imperial censors had the duty of keeping the sovereign and the other officials in check, and in Taizong's time, it was made official policy that imperial censors were absolved of their crimes.
According to this policy, as long as the imperial censors were carrying out their duty of supervising the officials and advising the sovereign, they were to be pardoned of all crimes, no matter how overly excessive they seemed, even profaning the sovereign.
For the imperial censors, the Sage Emperor, in abandoning the court for seven days to seek pleasure with women, had committed the greatest error a sovereign could commit. More importantly, the imperial censors had submitted several hundred memorials, but the Sage Emperor had sent them all back.
When the imperial censors tried to get in and see the Emperor, the Imperial Army blocked them. All of the imperial censors were furious.
In the hall, the others could only crease their brows, awkward expressions on their faces.

Starve, Hypersheep325's Notes:

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Written by Huangfu Qi 皇甫奇. Translated by Starve, Hypersheep325. Edited by Desertdoe, Welmar, RED, Michyrr.