Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
The book had been compiled several decades ago by a Tang official with the surname of Wu. Within were recorded important political and economic measures Emperor Taizong had implemented in the twenty-third year of his reign. It covered a broad array of topics, including political, economic, and military areas. It also emphasized the relationship between the sovereign and the people, the appointment of virtuous and able officials, and to be vigilant even in peacetime.
Fourth Prince Barshad had gone to great lengths to obtain this book.
"Your Highness, the flames are already burning our eyebrows, and you're still in the mood to read books!?"
Duwu Sili drained his wine bag, glanced at Barshad, and shook his head.
"You and the First Prince already get along like fire and water. Everyone is no longer focused on some cold wave, but the struggle over the Khagan's seat. The First Prince won't let you go!"
Duwu Sili normally would have never chosen the Great Tang, not even if he had been beaten to death, and he certainly didn't want some connection to Wang Chong. But alas, he had nowhere else to go. Wunu Shibi was ascendant, and once Wunu Shibi had his chance, he would immediately have him removed.
If Duwu Sili wanted to rise again, he could only help Fourth Prince Barshad and join the Great Tang.
Barshad sat up straight and casually said, "There is no need for Great General to panic. The situation is far from reaching that point, and besides, no matter how anxious we are, everything that should happen will happen. It would be much better to calm down and think of countermeasures.
"As for the book I'm reading… you don't understand!"
"Hmph, he doesn't understand, but I do!" An icy-cold voice rang out in the tent.
Barshad's hand froze, his face grimacing.
Duwu Sili's expression turned cold as he put down his wine bag and sat up straight.
A few moments later, the tent flap was pushed open. A cold wind carrying ice and snow rushed in, causing the fire basin within the tent to dim, the charcoal hissing.
Two powerful figures with sharp and vicious auras strode inside.
"First Imperial Brother!"
Barshad immediately recognized the first man.
Duwu Sili's eyebrows rose as he noticed the man walking in behind the first.
The mood in the tent instantly turned tense.
The struggle for the throne of the Western Turkic Khaganate was getting more intense by the day. Almost everyone in the khaganate knew of the conflict between First Prince Irbis Shiyun and Fourth Prince Barshad. As for Duwu Sili and Wunu Shibi, the two of them had never gotten along, even before the Battle of Talas.
The Fourth Prince hurriedly put down his book and rose to welcome him.
And while Duwu Sili was extremely reluctant, he could only stand up as well.
The First Prince snorted. Without a word, he walked around Barshad to the table and sat down behind the Fourth Prince's desk.
Wunu Shibi strode over and placed himself behind Irbis Shiyun.
Barshad and Duwu Sili both raised an eyebrow at this, but they said nothing.
"Fourth Brother, your big brother truly did not imagine that when Imperial Father gathered the generals several days ago to discuss the matter of the alliance, you would dare to openly support the Great Tang and oppose the alliance. Are you opposing your brother and Great General Wunu Shibi?"
Irbis Shiyun raised his hand, glanced at the pair, and coldly laughed.
The hearts of Barshad and Duwu Sili sank. These two had clearly come to interrogate them.
Barshad bowed and sternly said, "First Imperial Brother, Barshad had no such intentions. I was merely discussing the merits of the matter, not targeting Imperial Brother.
"In my view, the Great Tang is powerful, its armies strong, and it has far more resources than we do. Moreover, the Great Tang's King of Foreign Lands has an almost divine grasp of strategy, and even Dalon Trinling fears him. The entire continent hails him as the War Saint, and there are few in the world who can compare to him.
"The war of the southwest, the Battle of Talas, the war of the northwest… in each war, didn't the other side always have the advantage in numbers and was fully confident in its victory? But in the end, didn't they all end up defeated? So this time, even if we join with the other countries, does Big Brother really think that we can overcome the Great Tang?
"Barshad does not want to favor the Great Tang, but when judging the matter on its own merits, the welfare of the khaganate far surpasses my personal emotions. I hope that Big Brother can understand."
The Fourth Prince bowed once more.
"A spurious argument!"
Irbis Shiyun cut Barshad off with a sharp bark, and he sharply glared.
"What welfare of the khaganate? Just a bunch of factional nonsense. You think I don't know that you're already secretly colluding with the Great Tang?"
Irbis Shiyun shot to his feet, his teeth grinding together as he glared at Barshad.
"After all that talk, you're really after the throne of Khagan, right?!"
The tent fell silent. Irbis Shiyun narrowed his eyes, his entire body radiating killing intent and naked hostility.
The Turks did not follow the traditions of the Tang and did not particularly favor the eldest son or son of the first wife. They venerated strength, and only the strongest had the right to ascend to the throne of Khagan.
This allowed all the Princes to take part in the struggle for the Khagan's seat, including Barshad.
In his view, if Barshad truly dared to vie against him, he would personally tear him to pieces.
After a long while, Barshad broke the silence, and he bowed once more.
"First Imperial Brother, I have no idea what you're talking about. Barshad has no intention of contending against First Imperial Brother."
Irbis Shiyun's face turned even colder, and behind him, Wunu Shibi turned his sharp gaze on Barshad and Duwu Sili.
Irbis Shiyun had said so much precisely to provoke Barshad and force him into a mistake, thus allowing Irbis Shiyun to target him, perhaps even kill him. But Barshad was unmoved, remaining courteous and respectful. This left Irbis Shiyun without any pretext to cause trouble.
The people of the steppe had rough natures, and even Wunu Shibi was surprised at how restrained Barshad was.
But the more he acted this way, the more Wunu Shibi could not tolerate him. First Prince Irbis Shiyun was the true sovereign of the Western Turkic Khaganate, and he would never permit the words 'Fourth Prince' and 'Khagan' to be associated with each other.
The tent was quiet.
Irbis Shiyun stared at Barshad, and a moment later, he suddenly took a step forward.
Duwu Sili trembled, a nervous look on his face.
"Relax. I won't do anything."
The First Prince glanced at Duwu Sili, his eyes cold, before leaning forward, up to Barshad's ear.
"Fourth Brother, you're forcing me to kill you!"
Irbis Shiyun spoke so softly that his voice was almost inaudible, but it was still possible to hear the cold edge to his voice.
But none of this could be seen on his face. On the contrary, he was smiling.
Barshad trembled in shock.
Irbis Shiyun ignored him, and with a sweep of his sleeve, he stepped out of the tent and into the frigid storm.
"Great General, we're leaving."
With this order, he vanished.
Inside the tent, Wunu Shibi took one last cold glance at the pair before exiting the tent as well.
Several thousand feet away, Wunu Shibi caught up to the First Prince, and the two of them stood shoulder to shoulder.
"It seems that Barshad is intent on opposing me!" Irbis Shiyun coldly said.
His appearance this time was the last chance he was giving to Barshad. If Barshad had truly cared about their fraternal relationship and had given up on the throne, he would have immediately changed his standpoint during that meeting, lowered his head and admitted his wrong. He shouldn't have continued to argue his case and talk about the welfare of the khaganate!
This had only hardened Irbis Shiyun's resolve and made him even more determined to deal with Barshad.
"There's not much time left. Has Your Highness not noticed? The khaganate has been receiving more and more foreign emissaries as of late. Even Dalon Trinling has sent an emissary to meet the Khagan. Our Western Turkic Khaganate has already become the focus of the world.
"His Majesty wants to remain in the middle for this war, protecting himself and minimizing his losses, but the other countries won't let him. I suspect that His Majesty will make his decision soon.
"The Great Tang or the rest! His Majesty can only pick from one of them!
"Your Highness or the Fourth Prince! His Majesty can also only select one!" Wunu Shibi sternly said.
Irbis Shiyun's eyes glinted with a savage light.
"Since that's the case, then there's even less of a reason to keep him around!"
Several months ago, in the feast of all countries, he had seen with his own eyes the prosperity and power of the Great Tang, and he had also seen the Great Tang's arrogance.
If the Western Turkic Khaganate joined the Great Tang, it would be its vassal for all time. As the future Western Turkic Khagan, he did not wish to become a bowing and scraping Khagan who had bent the knee.
He would not permit Barshad to lead the Western Turkic Khaganate down this crooked path.
Amidst howling winds, the two of them headed toward the summit.
Meanwhile, in the golden tent…
"Such powerful killing intent! Irbis Shiyun seems resolved to kill you. He'll probably make his move soon!" Duwu Sili suddenly said.
Visitors did not come with good intentions, and those with good intentions did not visit! He had smelled the thick scent of danger on this visit from Irbis Shiyun and Wunu Shibi.
"First Imperial Brother is already possessed!"
Barshad looked toward Mount Sanmi and let out a long sigh.
Duwu Sili glanced at the completely unperturbed Barshad in shock.
This comment of 'First Imperial Brother is already possessed' revealed a great deal of information. Just the confident tone Barshad had spoken in told Duwu Sili that this was no longer the Fourth Prince he had once known.