Chapter 1723: Zhao Fengchen's Choice!
Chapter 1723: Zhao Fengchen's Choice!
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
Today, the one hundred thousand soldiers of the Imperial Army would fall into the First Prince's hands, and together with the more than one hundred thousand soldiers he already controlled on the border, the Great Tang would be his.
After numerous years of silently waiting, he was finally about to realize his aspirations and welcome that final moment. In the future, no one in the world would be able to stop him.
"Your Highness, be at ease. I have everything planned out!" Hou Junji reassured, his gaze fixed on the distant Zhao Fengchen. In both tone and expression, he was relaxed and confident. Given all his decades of experience, there was very little in the world that could shake him.
"After today, Your Highness should get ready to take flight like the Kun Peng and fully unleash all your aspirations."
Hou Junji spoke as if he was just throwing out a casual comment, but the First Prince thinly smiled.
Ever since he had allied with those people, their best decision and greatest assistance had been to send the Army-Shattering War God to his side.
"Let them begin!"
All the members of the Eastern Palace smiled and turned toward Wang Chong's location.
It was time to see what Wang Chong did!
On the southern end of the drilling ground, the mood was tense, but while Li Lin and Bai Siling were quite uneasy, Wang Chong was rather composed.
"Wang Chong, these people are too shameless! They even attacked Grand Marshal Li and my big brother! They occupy three out of the six spots in this competition. We have to stop them no matter what!" Bai Siling indignantly said.
While Bai Siling had a rather rebellious personality, she was still a daughter of the Bai Clan. While Bai Siling felt nothing for the majority of her fellow clan members, she felt nothing but respect for her outstanding big brother.
When she was little, Bai Hanzhou had been her idol, as he had been for many other sons and daughters of the Bai Clan. Now that Bai Hanzhou had been attacked, Bai Siling was naturally furious.
Wang Chong simply nodded.
"This is the last round of the Imperial Army competition, so the First Prince isn't just going to sit still. This is his chance to make his move. Uncle-in-law, send a messenger to Zhao Fengchen telling him to be careful," Wang Chong suddenly said. Li Lin and Bai Siling both trembled at these words.
"Chong-er, you mean…" Li Lin solemnly said.
"Since a little while ago, my intuition has been telling me that something is wrong. Everything is going too smoothly, which isn't the style of the First Prince or Hou Junji. If things are abnormal, there's evil afoot. In any case, there's nothing wrong with telling Zhao Fengchen to be careful," Wang Chong sternly said.
Li Lin nodded and quickly left.
As the seconds ticked by, everyone waited with bated breath for the final list to be announced.
The list announcing the order of the fighters was extremely important and could directly decide the outcome. Even Wang Chong was waiting.
"Hou Junji, just what are you thinking?"
Wang Chong slowly turned to the Eastern Palace's group, particularly the black-robed and mysterious Ghost King.
The First Prince had complete control over the order of the combatants, and it was impossible for Wang Chong to interfere. This was the only part of the competition where the First Prince could openly interfere.
A few moments later, a dazzling Golden Guard rode into the center of the drilling ground, watched by an expectant crowd.
"The First Prince has ordered for the list of combatants for the final round of the Imperial Army competition to be formally announced! The first match, Xuanwu Army Marshal Zhao Fengchen!"
The last two words rolled across the drilling ground like a peal of thunder.
Upon hearing this name, Wang Chong, Li Lin, Zhao Fengchen, and many other great clan members who knew the truth about the matter trembled in shock.
"What's going on? The order was decided by the First Prince, and if Duan Zhuyan or Lu Qiongji went first, they could directly challenge the injured Bai Hanzhou or Li Xuanyi, occupying as many of the three Grand Marshal spots as possible. So why make Zhao Fengchen go first?" Li Lin whispered, his eyebrows creasing.
Everyone in the Imperial Army knew that Zhao Fengchen's direct superior was Li Xuanyi. While Zhao Fengchen had been able to reach his high position so quickly partially due to his own background and efforts, it was also due to the support of Grand Marshal Li Xuanyi. If Zhao Fengchen went first, given Li Xuanyi's condition, he would probably just stand aside and let Zhao Fengchen take his place.
While it was still not certain who the ultimate victor would be, this one match would put Zhao Fengchen in an enormously advantageous position. It was of no benefit to the First Prince to do this.
Wang Chong said nothing, a thoughtful look in his eyes.
In the distance, Zhao Fengchen and Li Xuanyi had also sensed something strange, the 'master' and 'disciple' glancing at each other. At the very least, if Li Xuanyi lost, he would be losing to his favored general and could exit gracefully.
Asura, under his suit of Golden Guard armor, was similarly confused, stepping forward and whispering into the First Prince's ears, "Your Highness, this doesn't seem to be good for us! If we had our men go first, Li Xuanyi would be in no state to win!"
"On this matter… this prince understands how to proceed!"
The First Prince merely smiled and waved Asura away.
The crowd was left to its speculations as the Golden Guard turned his horse around and left. A few moments later, a loud horn blared, indicating that the match would soon begin.
According to the rules of the contest, Zhao Fengchen and the other two challengers could challenge any one of the Grand Marshals. If they succeeded in their challenge, they could replace that Grand Marshal.
Hooves thundered as Zhao Fengchen led his five hundred elites onto the field. Everyone silently watched, even the Eastern Palace members.
"Lord Zhao, have you determined your opponent?" the eunuch standing in the center of the drilling ground asked, his face devoid of emotion.
Zhao Fengchen said nothing, his eyes half-closed in apparent thought. Huang Tianzhao, Bai Hanzhou, and Li Xuanyi all watched and waited for his decision.
"Lord Zhao, have you finished thinking?" the eunuch prompted after a few moments.
"Sir Eunuch, for this match, I would like to challenge…"
Zhao Fengchen opened his eyes and slowly scanned the three Grand Marshals.
Huang Tianzhao arrogantly smiled, apparently confident in his strength. Bai Hanzhou was cold and aloof, not revealing any emotions. Only Li Xuanyi gave a comforting smile.
But just when everyone believed that Zhao Fengchen would choose Li Xuanyi, Zhao Fengchen suddenly turned to the edge of the drilling ground and looked at Wang Chong.
In this exchange of glances, Zhao Fengchen subtly smiled.
"I'm done thinking. For this match, I challenge… Duan Zhuyan!"
These words were like a crashing boulder, instantly causing an uproar on the western end of the drilling ground.
"Duan Zhuyan? Why is it Duan Zhuyan?"
"Has Zhao Fengchen wanted to defeat those two from the start?"
"But what's going on? Shouldn't he have chosen one of the three Grand Marshals?"
The crowd was in turmoil, cries of alarm heard all around.
No one had expected Zhao Fengchen to challenge one of the other two Marshals.
"What is this bastard thinking?"
The First Prince nastily scowled. He had clearly not expected this decision from Zhao Fengchen.
"Marshal Zhao, you are sure?"
The eunuch also had a nasty expression.
"Sir Eunuch, if I remember correctly, according to the promotion rules of the Imperial Army, only by successfully challenging a Grand Marshal can one be promoted and become a Grand Marshal. But the rules do not forbid challenging another Marshal. On the contrary, if someone feels that another one of the three challengers is not qualified for the final battle, they are allowed to fight that candidate and eliminate them.
"Sir Eunuch, precedent for this law was set several decades ago with the Sage Emperor himself. Am I correct on this?" Zhao Fengchen said.
The eunuch was momentarily speechless.
"Is Lord Zhao right? Does the Imperial Army really have this rule?"
Everyone had been able to hear Zhao Fengchen's booming voice and was avidly discussing the information he had divulged.
"There really is this sort of rule, but it is rarely used," one clan patriarch said. Although the rule Zhao Fengchen had mentioned was new to the vast majority of people, many great clans had members in the Imperial Army, so they had a thorough understanding of the rules.
Nothing could be done without rules and laws, and since its founding, the Great Tang had a complete set of laws that covered almost everything. The Imperial Army competition was no exception. As the First Prince was only the regent and not the actual sovereign, he did not have the power to change these rules and had to follow the laws set down by his predecessors.
On the southern end of the drilling ground, Li Lin seemed to understand something and whispered into Wang Chong's ear, "Was this something you discussed with Zhao Fengchen beforehand?"
Zhao Fengchen had a very upright personality, so he would have normally never thought of anything so unconventional. Li Lin believed that there was a ninety percent chance that Wang Chong was involved.
Wang Chong merely smiled in reply, making no effort to deny it. Li Lin had been right on the mark.
Starve, Hypersheep325's Notes:
Written by Huangfu Qi 皇甫奇. Translated by Starve, Hypersheep325. Edited by Desertdoe, Welmar, RED, Michyrr.