Chapter 1674: A Tempest in the Court! (I)
Chapter 1674: A Tempest in the Court! (I)
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
In the war of the southwest, Geluofeng had been lured into a trap and had been heavily wounded by a joint strike from Wang Yan and Xianyu Zhongtong. He had been unconscious all this time, but recently, he had finally died.
Geluofeng had possessed immense influence in the Six Zhao of Erhai, and in reality, he had been the one to unite them and strengthen them. But the newly-enthroned Crown Prince Fengjiayi was still too young. While he had ascended to the throne and become the new sovereign of Mengshe Zhao in an ordinary fashion, there was a great deal of internal conflict within the Six Zhao, and his status was far from firm.
Moreover, after the war of the southwest, the entire Tang empire had become keenly aware that an 'ally' like Mengshe Zhao, if handled poorly, was even more dangerous than a foe.
This time, now that Geluofeng was dead, there were voices in the court saying that the Great Tang shouldn't miss this opportunity, and should use this chance of offering their sympathies to also beat down Mengshe Zhao.
At the very least, they needed to ensure that Mengshe Zhao could not start another war of the southwest, colluding with external enemies to betray the Great Tang.
Neither Wang Chong nor Zhangchou Jianqiong could take this post, but Gao Xianzhi, who had always been in the northwest and had no relationship with Mengshe Zhao, was the ideal choice. And in this way, he could be moved out of the capital so that he couldn't collude with Wang Chong.
With these ideas in mind, the First Prince quickly made up his mind.
"Okay, let's do that. Tomorrow, I'll have Li Linfu pass it!"
Meng Tu had never disappointed him, and one idea from him had thoroughly resolved the hidden danger of Gao Xianzhi. A court bereft of King Song and Zhangchou Jianqiong no longer had anyone who dared to oppose the First Prince, so even if Gao Xianzhi was unwilling, he would not be able to resist.
With this matter resolved, the First Prince visibly relaxed, his brow uncreasing.
"Come; notify the Palace Larder to send up some pastries. This prince is rather hungry. And call Kong Wu in," the First Prince said.
A stalwart guard quickly turned around and left the hall. A few moments later, a set of clanging and vigorous footsteps came from outside.
An upright figure with a raised head soon crossed over the threshold.
"The subject Kong Wu pays respects to His Highness!"
The man deeply bowed, his voice rumbling like thunder through the hall.
The First Prince inspected the man down below with the hardened visage. As expected, this man really did have the demeanor of an old official, but when his eyes opened, they gleamed with irrepressible delight and impatient ambition, and the First Prince immediately smiled.
Kong Wu was the seniormost Assistant Minister of the Bureau of Military Personnel!
As long as he still possessed that intense ambition, he would become one of the First Prince's most powerful aides.
"Kong Wu, come and accompany this prince in a meal!"
The First Prince pointed in front of him.
"In addition, Zhu Tong'en, arrange for the matter of Kong Wu being made temporary Minister of War to be decided in court tomorrow!"
The matter of the First Prince recommending Kong Wu to be temporary Minister of War was almost a done deal, and no one dared to oppose him now. But the court had its rules, and for something to be truly decided, one still had to go through all the processes and have the officials discuss the matter in court.
Nothing could be accomplished without norms and standards, and not even the First Prince was allowed to solely decide the position of Minister of War without going through the proper process.
"Yes, Your Highness!"
Zhu Tong'en bowed. Everything had already been arranged, and this minor matter would pose no problem.
"Many thanks, Your Highness!"
Kong Wu smiled and quickly walked up, and on the other side, the First Prince smiled in return. All that was left was the final step. Once Kong Wu attained the post of Minister of War, everything else would go smoothly. Even without the other half of the Commander Tally, he could order around the soldiers he needed through Kong Wu.
"Come; bring a chair!"
The stars turned and another day quickly passed. Before the fifth watch had even come, many palanquins and carriages began to make their way to the Imperial City. Just like any other day, the officials of the court were gathering. A single court session involved many affairs, and when there were too many, the court session that started in the morning would end at dusk.
The snap of a whip came from the raised platform. The vast Taihe Palace immediately fell quiet, and a shrill voice proclaimed, "Honored officials, listen well! Please present a memorial if there are any concerns! Otherwise, please withdraw!"
"Your Highness, this subject has a memorial!"
Amidst the silence, an official with a bronze token from the Bureau of Military Personnel stepped forward, raising his ceremonial tablet.
"Your Highness, the court has many complicated affairs that it must settle each day, but Minister of War Zhangchou is unwell and unable to fulfill his duty. While Lord Kong Wu is presiding over all matters, he still does not have the title befitting his duties. This lowly subject hopes that Your Highness can firmly settle the matter," the Bureau of Military Personnel official said.
The mood in the court immediately turned strange, and countless eyes turned to the Bureau of Military Personnel Assistant Minister, Kong Wu.
Everyone knew that the First Prince wanted to make Kong Wu the temporary Minister of War, and with the First Prince's power and influence, the matter was almost entirely settled. All that was required was that the proposal be brought up in the morning court session. This official's words had clearly been intentional.
Seeing all the eyes looking at him, Kong Wu showed no panic. After all, he had served in an official capacity for ten-some years and had been through his fair share of storms.
"Many thanks, Lord Zhang, for your high praise, but this Kong's qualifications are too shallow, and this Kong is afraid that he might not be able to assume the responsibilities of temporary Minister. Your Highness, please bestow your wise judgment!"
Kong Wu stepped forward and bowed. His words were righteous and upright, but everyone knew that this was just a humble act. He had served in the Bureau of Military Personnel for ten-some years and knew the entire place like the back of his hand. What was all this about his qualifications being too shallow? Even if he was lacking in something, it certainly wasn't in qualifications.
As expected, another major official soon stepped forward and bowed to the First Prince. "Lord Assistant Minister is being too humble. With Lord Zhangchou taken ill, who in the entire empire could match your qualifications and abilities in the Bureau of Military Personnel? War is a vital matter of the state, and the Bureau of Military Personnel is one of the most important parts of the court. Lord Assistant Minister, please do your best with this burden and temporarily assume the post of Minister of War to relieve the worries of His Highness and the Great Tang!"
On the raised platform, the First Prince maintained a cold and emotionless expression, but he inwardly smiled. Everything had naturally been arranged by him. He would first have someone make the proposal, and then everything would proceed smoothly on its natural course. Once today's court session was over, Kong Wu would be the temporary Minister of War, as was right and proper, and with everything settled, no one would dare to object.
Even if Zhangchou Jianqiong recovered and he wanted to return to the court, the First Prince could continue to extend his 'illness'.
"There is no need for Lord Kong to be so humble. Everyone has witnessed your abilities. Lord Prime Minister, what is your opinion?"
The First Prince turned to the man who stood at the very first row, closest to the throne of the Sage Emperor: Li Linfu.
The Prime Minister of the Great Tang's eyes were always squinted so that it was hard to tell whether they were open or closed, and so that one could never tell what he was truly thinking. Upon hearing the First Prince's voice, Li Linfu slowly raised his head.
"This old subject believes that Lord Kong Wu's abilities should be sufficient!" Li Linfu indifferently said, his voice neither too loud nor too soft. This casual comment essentially settled the matter.
With the support of the regent and the nod of the Prime Minister, and a lack of opposition from King Song or the others, Kong Wu would naturally be made the temporary Minister of War.
"Your Highness, this subject objects!"
A deafening voice resounded through the palace, and the mood instantly changed. Even Kong Wu and the First Prince grimaced as they turned to the source of the voice.
A wise person could tell that the First Prince wanted to promote Kong Wu in today's court session, and the majority of the court officials had chosen to express approval through their silence. The First Prince currently dominated the court, so no one had expected one of the officials to actually dare to oppose him.
The other officials instantly recognized the speaker as Auxiliary Assistant Minister of the Bureau of Military Personnel, Huo Jue. He had another title, that of the Annan Protectorate's Conquering General.
When the previous Minister of War retired and Zhangchou Jianqiong entered the capital, besides leaving Xianyu Zhongtong to keep the southwest safe and assume control over the soldiers left behind, he had taken the majority of his old subordinates with him. Huo Jue was one of these.
Zhangchou Jianqiong had originally planned to make Huo Jue his Assistant Minister to serve as one of his close aides, but the Bureau of Military Personnel and Bureau of Personnel had rejected him because his qualifications were too shallow.
The Great Tang had a style of government that had been passed down through the generations. Generals on the border could act on their own discretion as necessitated by the situation and were able to reward low-ranked officers, but none of the posts in the capital were that easy to obtain. It was the same for the First Prince as it was for Zhangchou Jianqiong.
In the end, Zhangchou Jianqiong had only been able to get him the position of Auxiliary Assistant Minister, a rather high rank in the Bureau of Military Personnel, but still beneath Kong Wu.
While Zhangchou Jianqiong was ill at home, he had left Huo Jue behind in the court. But as neither King Song nor Zhangchou Jianqiong were present, Huo Jue's words had little influence in the vast sea of officials.
As expected, Huo Jue had barely spoken when a figure stepped forward and glared at Huo Jue, his expression grim. "Huo Jue, you're quite bold. Do you mean to say that Lord Kong is not sufficiently qualified? Are you saying that you are even more qualified than Lord Kong?!"
The speaker was not an official of the Bureau of Military Personnel, but the Bureau of Personnel.
Since ancient times, no matter what achievements a general had on the border, the mouth and brush of a civil official would force them to lower their head. An official of the Bureau of Personnel questioning Huo Jue was much more powerful than one from the Bureau of Military Personnel. After all, it was the Bureau of Personnel that had the power to promote and transfer officials.
The Bureau of Personnel was currently under the control of the First Prince and King Qi. This official's criticism was clearly expressing the First Prince's displeasure. As for Kong Wu, while he remained silent and motionless, his expression had turned dark and sour.
Written by Huangfu Qi 皇甫奇. Translated by Starve, Hypersheep325. Edited by Desertdoe, Welmar, RED, Michyrr.