RHE: Chapter 1969: The 'Sage Emperor' Makes Trouble!

Chapter 1969: The 'Sage Emperor' Makes Trouble!

Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
While the officials were happy, they were also rather worried.
Everyone knew Wang Chong's true goal in cutting down the giant trees of Lingnan, but the Sage Emperor appeared absolutely furious. This was the only reason Wang Chong had been summoned to court today.
'Imperial censors should not be punished for their words.' This was a rule in the Imperial Court, and those imperial censors had never imagined that the Sage Emperor would really demote them when they submitted their memorials.
The current Sage Emperor was no longer the Sage Emperor they remembered. No one knew what sort of absurd action he might take while enraged.
"Wang Chong!" An elderly voice came out of the crowd, upon which people began to move aside. At the same time, Wang Chong turned toward the speaker.
An elderly figure walked out from the back of the crowd, his face austere and inflexible, his body exuding an aura of authority that made him a crane among chickens.
The Grand Preceptor!
Wang Chong raised an eyebrow in surprise. The man who was walking toward him was none other than the Grand Preceptor with whom he had quarreled several times: Zhan Zhongmi!
Wang Chong's relationship with him had never been good, so he had not expected the Grand Preceptor to come and meet him before this court session.
Wang Chong slightly frowned as he silently watched the man walk over. As the saying went, visitors had bad intentions and those with good intentions did not visit. Wang Chong did not know what goal the Grand Preceptor had in coming to meet him.
The Grand Preceptor stopped a few steps away from Wang Chong and sternly said, "Kid, this old man has never liked you or your Wang Clan, but this incident has made even this old man have to take a second look at you. No matter how you were in your past or how this old man thought of you, this incident shows that you truly are one of the valued officials of my Great Tang. This old man pays his respects to you, Your Highness!"
Wang Chong was surprised to hear this, but he quickly understood.
The Grand Preceptor was an elder statesman of immense prestige who had served under several governments, and he was never one to easily lower his head. But this time, because of the Sage Emperor, he had come forward and lowered his head, though with his personality, he could not bring himself to speak the words of defeat.
"Grand Preceptor flatters me!" Wang Chong sincerely said as he bowed.
The matter of the Sage Emperor was a public affair, and even though the Grand Preceptor was stubborn, he could still concede in front of all the other officials for the sake of the public good. This greatly altered Wang Chong's opinion of him.
At least in this aspect, Grand Preceptor Zhan was still worthy of respect.
The Grand Preceptor couldn't help but emotionally sigh as he looked at Wang Chong.
He was an elder statesman who had served three Emperors. After these recent incidents with the Sage Emperor, trusting in his seniority, he had gone with the Grand Tutor several times to the inner palace to try to see the Sage Emperor, but he had been refused each time. Whether it was the Qian Gate, Center Gate, or Kun Gate, he had not been able to step through a single one, let alone enter Taiji Palace.
Never in his life had this happened to the Grand Preceptor before. Not even the previous Emperor had treated him like this.
Not only that, when he was refused an audience in the inner court, the Grand Preceptor decided to chide the Sage Emperor in the court, but he had barely spoken when the Sage Emperor impatiently cut him off. The Grand Preceptor had never imagined this sort of scenario.
This series of incidents had made the Grand Preceptor's heart grow cold.
"Wang Chong, we are already old, but now, the court is in turmoil and plagued with many incidents. In the future, the lands of the Great Tang and its millions of people can only rely on you!"
The Grand Preceptor sighed.
Wang Chong's face froze. He recalled the Grand Preceptor to be a proud and obstinate man. He had never seen the man so dejected and dispirited before.
Suddenly, a bell rang out, and everyone, including Wang Chong, turned toward Taihe Palace.
The court session was finally beginning.
With another sigh, the Grand Preceptor turned around and left Taihe Palace, quickly vanishing into the distance.
"All officials, please enter the hall!"
A whip cracked in front of the hall. The court session was about to begin.
Wang Chong suppressed his thoughts and joined the other officials in entering Taihe Palace.
Upon entering the palace, the officials all took up their proper positions. A few moments later, the court session was formally opened.
"His Majesty arrives!" a eunuch official sharply said.
Escorted by guards and palace ladies, the 'Sage Emperor' strode out and seated himself on the supreme throne of the land.
It was the same person with the same majesty. Nothing seemed to have changed. Yet in Wang Chong's eyes, the entire world had flipped upside down.
Wang Chong knew that this man was no longer the wise Sage Emperor, but the Third Son Xuan who had been suppressed for thirty-some years.
Even though he was trying his best to imitate the Sage Emperor, something like demeanor was impossible to copy.
Wang Chong could not help but emotionally sigh.
As expected… even Eunuch Gao isn't here.
Wang Chong looked around the Sage Emperor, but he saw no sign of the Sage Emperor's trusted confidant who had served him for decades. Eunuch Gao truly had disappeared.
Though Wang Chong had known about this for some time and had predicted this sight, he still felt a mixture of indescribable emotions.
As Wang Chong inspected the 'Sage Emperor', a pair of eyes was staring at Wang Chong from the throne.
"Bastard thing!"
The 'Sage Emperor' was fuming. He had opened this court session precisely so that he could call on Wang Chong.
The relationship between the sovereign and his subjects was that the sovereign was the heaven above while all the people of the realm were subjects who were to yield. Thus, if a sovereign demanded a subject's death, the subject could only die.
But now, when he wanted to build his Peace Pavilion, Wang Chong had cut down all the trees that were to be used for construction.
It wasn't like he had denuded Lingnan of trees, but there was no guarantee that other trees were of the right quality and maturity to be used for construction. Secondly, even if there were such trees, the majority of them were very far from the capital and would be much more troublesome to transport than those from Lingnan. This would delay the construction.
But what incensed him the most was Wang Chong's attitude. Was there any subject who would so flagrantly defy their sovereign?
Just how had all those valued officials whose power had frightened the sovereign died? Did he really think that he was invincible just because of all the achievements he had?!
In this world, no one could defy him!
"The Sage Emperor has decreed that any concerns should be presented as quickly as possible. If there are no concerns, court is dismissed!"
This loud announcement opened the court session.
"Wang Chong, such audacity! You even dared to cut down Our forest!"
Before any official could speak, the Sage Emperor lost his patience and exploded in rage.
Everyone was stunned. Court sessions were meant to deal with the discussion and handling of government affairs, but when this court session had only just begun and had not discussed a thing, the Sage Emperor had started making trouble for Wang Chong.
An official instinctively walked out and tried to defend Wang Chong. "Your Majesty, the King of Foreign Lands…"
The 'Sage Emperor' thundered as he glared at the official. The official immediately froze and walked back.
The hall fell silent in fear. To their shock, even trying to speak up in Wang Chong's defense was enough to incur the 'Sage Emperor''s rage.
Given past precedent, continuing to argue would just result in demotion. In the past, they would have still tried to argue, but now, if they were all demoted and a lot of incompetents were promoted, who would be left to handle the affairs of the realm?
Wouldn't it be the common people who suffered in the end?
This was something they had all previously discussed. No matter what, they could not let their emotions influence the operation of the government.
"Wang Chong! We ask you! With your military achievements, do you not even have Us in your eyes now?" the 'Sage Emperor' coldly asked.
The air in the hall was at maximum tension. Everyone stared worriedly at Wang Chong.
Wang Chong tidied his clothes, stepped forward, and calmly said, "Your Majesty, this subject has no such intention. This lowly subject cut down the timber in Lingnan on imperial decree."
All the officials were struck dumb, and the Sage Emperor was even more incensed.
"Bastard! You are saying that We had you cut the trees?"
The 'Sage Emperor''s eyes could almost kill at this point. It was clear that if Wang Chong could not give him a satisfying answer, Wang Chong would not meet a good end, no matter how much all the other officials protested.
"Did Your Majesty forget? Your Majesty agreed to allow me to establish a navy, leaving all other matters, including the materials needed for its construction, up to me to decide," Wang Chong continued.
"You dare deceive the sovereign? When did We ever say such a thing?!"
The 'Sage Emperor' narrowed his eyes alarmingly.
When did he ever say such words? And how could he have allowed Wang Chong to chop down the trees needed for his Peace Pavilion? Wang Chong hadn't even attended court recently, so how could he have agreed to anything? This was a blatant lie.
The officials and generals were tense and worried. If this continued and Wang Chong failed to give a good explanation, he would end up demoted and banished just like those imperial censors.
"Your Highness…"
A major official closest to Wang Chong whispered, nudging the hem of Wang Chong's clothes, trying to tell him to lower himself a little and admit his errors, thus cooling the 'Sage Emperor''s rage.
But Wang Chong feigned ignorance.

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.