Chapter 1722: The Grand Marshal Challenge Competition!

Chapter 1722: The Grand Marshal Challenge Competition!

Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
Wang Chong lowered his head and pensively said, "I don't know, but I just feel that something is wrong."
Li Lin and Bai Siling were both taken aback and stared.
"What is it? Where could the problem be?" Li Lin asked in concern.
"It's hard to say… I just think that everything is going too smoothly," Wang Chong said.
The second round was to select the strongest three from the six Marshals to participate in the last round. Normally, Zhao Fengchen should have fought both of the First Prince's men, but instead, everything had gone very smoothly for Zhao Fengchen, and he hadn't fought either.
In other words, this situation was one-sidedly unfavorable to the Eastern Palace, completely the opposite of the first round!
But from a logical standpoint, everything seemed normal.
Just what are you thinking?
Wang Chong slowly turned to the First Prince and Hou Junji in the north. These two were looking at the drilling ground as if they hadn't even noticed Wang Chong.
A dark cloud of worry flitted across Wang Chong's brow.
Cheers continued to shake the drilling ground. The level of these bouts had opened the eyes of the clan scions.
The rest of the second round went as Wang Chong expected, with Duan Zhuyan and the First Prince's other man both advancing.
The Imperial Army competition had finally reached the last round, and the most important one.
"The Grand Marshals!"
"The Grand Marshals!"
Thunderous cheers could be heard all around as the mood reached a fever pitch of excitement.
"The Grand Marshals have arrived!"
With a sharp cry, three vast energies radiated from the eastern side of the drilling ground.
Wang Chong immediately turned to look and saw the crowds part, three imposing figures emerging under the escort of countless Imperial Army soldiers.
Now that the competition was in its last phase, the three Grand Marshals had finally arrived.
He had long ago heard about the reputation of the three Grand Marshals, but he had only ever met Li Xuanyi.
On the right, a golden banner was raised into the air, the large 'Li' upon it extremely striking. This was naturally the banner of Li Xuanyi. The Imperial Army had banners for each of its six divisions, but only the Grand Marshals enjoyed the privilege of a banner with their surname upon it.
Beneath this banner, Wang Chong saw Li Xuanyi.
While this was not Wang Chong's first time seeing him, he interacted with Li Xuanyi much less than Zhao Fengchen. But their relationship could be considered cordial, and even now, Li Xuanyi's favorite weapon was one of Wang Chong's earliest works, Death's Abyss.
When Wang Chong saw his complexion, he grimaced.
"He's injured!"
Unlike their first meeting several years ago, Grand Marshal Li Xuanyi had a sallow complexion, and while he was doing his best to maintain the dignity of a Grand Marshal, Wang Chong could still sense the weakness in his body.
It was very rare for an expert of Li Xuanyi's level to have a sallow complexion.
This was a clear sign of just how grave his injuries were.
"This is bad! Li Xuanyi's injuries are worse than we thought!" Li Lin said.
Li Xuanyi had always been known for his loyalty and integrity, and he had never interacted with the major officials of the court. Even when he was buying Death's Abyss from Wang Chong, he had been intentionally distant. Such an official was one of the First Prince's greatest barriers, but from his weak appearance, it was apparent that he would find it hard to emerge victorious today.
"Big Brother!"
Wang Chong heard Bai Siling's worried cry.
Wang Chong followed her gaze and saw a white-robed general of twenty-eight or twenty-nine next to Li Xuanyi. The young commander had a cold face and pursed lips, the appearance of someone who would alienate everyone around him.
If he hadn't appeared next to Li Xuanyi on such an important occasion, few would have believed that this was one of the three Grand Marshals of the Imperial Army!
But his aura was slightly disordered, evidence that he had also been injured, though not as severely as Li Xuanyi.
It was obvious that the ones who had been attacked last night were Li Xuanyi and Bai Hanzhou.
If Li Xuanyi and Bai Hanzhou were injured, then the only one who wasn't injured was… Huang Tianzhao!
Wang Chong looked in the other direction.
Next to Li Xuanyi and Bai Hanzhou was a smiling figure, his head held high and energy rolling off him in waves, creating a stark contrast between him and the weak appearance of Li Xuanyi and Bai Hanzhou.
Wang Chong had not met Huang Tianzhao before, but at first glance, he understood why Huang Tianzhao would be targeted for recruitment by the First Prince. His thin lips and sharp eyes gave him a fastidious and unkind impression.
"Paying respects to the Grand Marshals!"
Zhao Fengchen, Duan Zhuyan, and all the other Imperial Army officers lowered their heads and called out in respect. In the Imperial Army, the Grand Marshals wielded supreme status and were like blazing suns to the soldiers.
Even the disloyal Huang Tianzhao had created his own astonishing legends!
While this Imperial Army competition was meant to choose new Grand Marshals, until the final outcome was decided, these three were still Grand Marshals to their men.
As countless people watched, the three Grand Marshals slowly rode forward.
"Paying respects to the First Prince!"
When they were several dozen steps from the First Prince, the three of them dismounted and bowed.
"Rise!"
The First Prince slowly stepped forward and began to speak.
"Imperial Father entrusted me with the governance of the country, and this prince must naturally rule with diligence. Now is a time for doing away with the old and welcoming the new. Earlier, in Setting Sun Villa, one hundred generals gathered to meet without a decree from the court, harboring disloyal intentions. This was already a sign of rot and decay!"
Everyone in the drilling ground watched and listened. This was the first time the First Prince had publicly spoken about the Setting Sun Villa incident.
"Hmph!"
Wang Chong couldn't help but snort in derision.
Wang Chong and the First Prince both knew the real story of the Setting Sun Villa incident, and besides, these words were merely a pretext and not the true objective.
The First Prince continued, "It is precisely these longstanding malpractices that require a reformation. Such is the case for the border armies, and so it is even more true for the Imperial Army, tasked with guarding the Son of Heaven, the Imperial City, and the capital.
"All of you know the results of the last assessment. Now, this prince will give you one more chance to prove yourselves to the Imperial Army and to the people of the capital. If you can exhibit your abilities and emerge victorious in this Imperial Army competition, I believe that everyone will see you in a new light!"
In the last Imperial Army inspection, the First Prince had used Zhao Fengchen and the Xuanwu Army to cause trouble and reproach the rest of the Imperial Army for their lack of battle experience, leading to today's competition.
While it was true that the Imperial Army lacked combat experience, many people knew the truth behind this matter.
"We obey!"
The Grand Marshals all got down on one knee and bowed.
"Go!"
The First Prince waved his sleeve, and then the three Grand Marshals got on their horses and left. A few moments later, the drums began to thunder, seemingly beating against everyone's hearts.
The final phase of the competition had arrived. The affiliation of the one hundred thousand soldiers of the Imperial Army and the fate of the Great Tang would be decided here.
The air over the drilling ground was tense, and everyone stared at the center.
Even Wang Chong, who had appeared unconcerned before, looked grave.
"I will now announce the rules of the competition!"
A eunuch of extremely high status walked onto the drilling ground, holding a yellow scroll.
"In the Grand Marshal challenge competition, there are six participants: Zhao Fengchen, Duan Zhuyan, Lu Qiongji, Bai Hanzhou, Li Xuanyi, and Huang Tianzhao. The rules are the same as before. Anyone who falls from their horse or concedes will be considered to have lost. In addition, as challengers, the three Marshals can issue challenges to the Grand Marshals.
"Unlike the previous round, each challenger only has a single opportunity, and defeat will constitute elimination. At the same time, only by defeating a Grand Marshal can one take their position. Let the contest begin!"
The shrill voice rang out in everyone's ears, and what followed was an eerie silence. The eunuch quickly turned around and left.
Behind him, the three Grand Marshals and the three challenging Marshals entered the field with their five hundred men, all of them slowly approaching the center.
"It's finally begun!"
On the northern end of the drilling ground, the First Prince's clothes and hair danced in the wind, and his entire being brimmed with energy.
"Ghost King, this next part is up to you. I trust that you will not disappoint this prince!"
A sharp light flashed in the First Prince's eyes, and his immense ambition grew as crazily as a weed.

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.