RHE: Chapter 1968: Audience with the 'Emperor'!
Chapter 1968: Audience with the 'Emperor'!
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
"Impudent! Bastard thing, how audacious!"
The 'Sage Emperor''s face twisted in unspeakable rage!
"Come; carry out my decree! Seize that bastard and schedule a day for his execution!"
As he spoke, the 'Sage Emperor' exuded a ruthless aura.
The 'Sage Emperor' had not found anything wrong with his words, but the palace ladies around him paled, and Zhao Changfu was also so shocked that he almost fell onto his butt.
The 'Sage Emperor' sensed what was going on and furiously questioned, "What? We are the master of the realm, the lord of all people. Can We not even execute a traitorous official who goes against Our decrees?"
"This… The King of Foreign Lands is the Nine Provinces Protector-General, the Empire Guardian Great General, and an enshrinee of Lingyan Pavilion, and was also made the Son of Heaven's disciple by none other than Your Majesty!"
Zhao Changfu's entire body was stricken with fear.
Amongst the entire court, he was undoubtedly one of the most resplendent rising stars, with even the Minister of Personnel and Minister of Revenue having to pay him respect.
But no matter how cocky Zhao Changfu was, how powerful his momentum, he was still lacking compared to one of the true power holders of the empire, the King of Foreign Lands.
"…Moreover, Your Majesty, the King of Foreign Lands has rendered great service to the court. If you have him executed, all of the people across the realm will protest!" Zhao Changfu said in a trembling voice, cold sweat dripping down his back.
Zhao Changfu was not speaking up in defense of Wang Chong. In truth, he had been hoping that the 'Sage Emperor' would deal with Wang Chong.
But not even Zhao Changfu had dared to consider execution.
In the war of the northwest, Wang Chong had become a true hero of the Great Tang. He was the undisputed leader of both the civil and military factions, and was praised throughout the realm.
Moreover, Zhao Changfu had also been in the crowd on the day Wang Chong returned triumphant, seeing with his own eyes how warmly Wang Chong was welcomed. Ninety percent of the capital had come out to welcome him, and the rest had watched from a distance.
If it became known that he was the one behind Wang Chong's execution, all the people of the capital would probably eat him alive.
Zhao Changfu still wanted fame and fortune, and he had no desire to offend a powerful figure like Wang Chong at a time like this. And besides, trying to use the matter of the Peace Pavilion to kill Wang Chong simply wasn't realistic.
The 'Sage Emperor' was startled by Zhao Changfu's reaction, but he soon understood.
But he quickly turned furious once more.
"Hear Our decree! Have that bastard attend morning court! We would like to see just how many heads he has, that he dares to oppose Us and steal Our things!"
The 'Sage Emperor' spoke in a terrifying tone.
"Yes," Zhao Changfu hastily replied.
As Zhao Changfu walked out of the palace, around the corner, several figures silently watched him go.
"Come on; let's report to His Highness!"
The group silently mixed into the crowd, but rather than heading toward the King of Foreign Lands Residence, they instead turned into the King Song Residence.
In the main hall, Wang Chong and King Song were seated in armchairs to the left and right of a sandalwood table. A teapot and several tea cups rested on the table, exuding a fragrant aroma.
"Wang Chong, are you sure?"
King Song glanced at Wang Chong, his eyes brimming with worry.
Wang Chong gave only a slight nod, his expression firm and resolute.
"But if this goes through, you will become the sole target of the 'Sage Emperor''s anger. This is far too disadvantageous to you!" King Song anxiously said.
"Five imperial censors have been demoted and ordered out of the capital, and many other major officials have also been demoted. In the Imperial Court, no one except me can take the pressure. Moreover, I have an imperial writ of pardon and an Imperial Dragon Bracelet, and am also an official of Lingyan Pavilion… As long as I'm not guilty of rebellion, no one can kill me. No one else has these qualities," Wang Chong indifferently said.
"In addition, everyone would be affected, but I already have as many titles as I can possibly have. Losing a few titles would actually be a good thing for me!"
King Song fell silent. He wanted to say more, but he didn't know what arguments to make.
It was all true. The Wang Clan was already a wealthy and noble clan of ministers and generals, and Wang Chong himself was an exemplary subject who had rendered great service for the realm. Just as Wang Chong had said, he had all possible rewards and titles. If Wang Chong performed another great deed, the Bureau of Personnel and the court would probably be at a loss for how to reward him.
"In addition, the five imperial censors, eight civil officials, and three generals were removed from their offices simply because they did not obey the will of the 'Sage Emperor'. Someone has to stand up at this time to stabilize the situation and calm the hearts of the people. Otherwise, I worry that it won't just stop at demoting major officials," Wang Chong indifferently said.
The 'Sage Emperor' had only been presiding over court for a short ten-some days, but putting aside the ten-some important officials he had demoted, he had promoted forty-some new officials of all ranks, and their merit was that they had flattered him or that they were relatives of palace ladies or beauties the 'Sage Emperor' liked.
That man in the palace was promoting entirely based on nepotism, casting aside the meritocratic tradition of the Central Plains and the system of evaluations and examinations.
And the opinions of the major officials were completely ignored!
This sort of situation could not be permitted.
King Song was silent. He understood what Wang Chong was saying, but by doing this, Wang Chong was placing himself in the center of the vortex.
As the two were speaking, rapid footsteps came from outside. Soon, a member of Wang Chong's Wind Team came in.
"Your Highness, King Song, we've just received word that Zhao Changfu has left the Imperial Palace after having an audience with the 'Sage Emperor' at Taiji Palace!"
The Wind Team member cupped his fist and got down on one knee.
Wang Chong and King Song shared a glance, strange looks on their faces.
"It's begun. Zhao Changfu has reported your cutting of the trees in Lingnan to the 'Sage Emperor'. I'm sure the 'Sage Emperor' will be calling you into the palace soon," King Song said.
"Heh, Your Highness, there's no need to worry. I have a plan."
Wang Chong casually chuckled.
"In addition, there's no taking back a loosed arrow. Now that we've begun, there's no going back. Get in touch with the Bureau of Personnel and have them delay the demotion documents and promotion documents. The entire bureaucratic apparatus should be halted for three months, and it would be best if it could be delayed for an entire year.
"I've already gotten in touch with the officials of the court. Whether it's the Peace Pavilion, the selection of talented women, the promotion of those flattering courtiers into officials, or the demotion of loyal officials, all of it should be changed and delayed. If something happens, they should just blame me and claim to know nothing of the truth."
King Song raised his head and gave a long and complicated sigh.
Personally, he would have opposed this decision with all his might, but objectively speaking, he knew that Wang Chong was the only one who could bear this burden.
"We can only do as you say."
Wang Chong stood up and quickly departed.
Not long after he was gone, a messenger bird carried the 'Sage Emperor''s furious missive into the King of Foreign Lands Residence.
And soon after that, the news that Wang Chong had cut down the trees in Lingnan, depriving the Peace Pavilion of its building materials and infuriating the 'Sage Emperor', spread across the capital and caused a great stir.
Regardless of what outsiders thought, the next morning, Wang Chong was completely unperturbed.
In the main hall, Wang Chong, adorned in his golden-threaded imperial robe and a thin jade belt, energetically asked, "Red Sleeve, help me look at the collar. Is it properly fixed?"
A beautiful maid hastily walked behind Wang Chong and began to attend on him.
"Your Highness, it's chaos outside, but here you are, so calm and relaxed."
This maid was a servant girl who had been hired when Wang Chong first opened his estate. She had worked here for more than half a year, and because she was nimble, intelligent, and a good conversation partner, Wang Chong often had her help him with his clothes.
In addition, Wang Chong had also given her a nickname, calling her 'Red Sleeve'.
Red Sleeve looked at this man who supported the heavens, and while she knew that this incident was no minor matter, she knew that someone of her liege's intelligence was certain to have a plan.
"The tenser the moment, the more composed one must be. Worry has never helped in solving a problem," Wang Chong breezily said, his entire body exuding self-confidence that made him a dazzling existence.
The young maid stared in a daze at him for a moment, but she quickly lowered her head, her cheeks blushing, and busied herself with Wang Chong's clothes.
Wang Chong paid little attention. A little while later, he emerged from his estate, boarded his bronze carriage, and headed toward the Imperial Palace.
Even though there was still time before the morning court session started, the streets were packed with commoners who had heard that Wang Chong was heading in. They were worried, anxious, and concerned.
Whether man, woman, old, or young, there was one thing for certain. Wang Chong had the support of the entire capital.
The carriage entered the palace and quickly arrived at Taihe Palace.
"Your Highness, you've arrived!"
Unlike before, all of the officials were gathered outside of Taihe Palace rather than heading in.
When Wang Chong appeared, all of them rushed up to welcome him, their eyes brimming with respect and tinged with hope.
For the court, Wang Chong's appearance at this moment of turmoil in the court was extremely important.
Starve, Hypersheep325's Notes:
Written by Huangfu Qi 皇甫奇. Translated by Starve, Hypersheep325. Edited by Desertdoe, Welmar, RED, Michyrr.