Chapter 382: Traitor!
Huanxi Manor was a resplendent building in the capital, exclusive to scions of prestigious clans to gather and make merry.
The entire building was built using a dark purple material, granting its exquisite exterior a touch of ancient majesty. The most distinctive trait of the premises were the two tall purple crested ibis sculptures that stood several zhang high at the entrance.
Even though Wang Chong had long heard of Huanxi Manor, this was his first time visiting it.
Standing before the two purple crested ibis sculptures, Wang Chong could hear merry chatter and the clashing of goblets within. A large group of scions seemed to be gathered in there today.
"Is this the place?" Wang Chong asked as he gazed at the Huanxi Manor before him with complex emotions rippling in his eyes.
"Reporting to gongzi, this is the place. We have double checked it," a deep and respectful voice sounded from behind him.
"Got it," Wang Chong replied nonchalantly before walking up the purple stairs between the two crested ibis statues. His movements were particularly slow, as though something heavy was weighing down his footsteps.
Every step he took resounded clearly in the surroundings.
At the end of the stairs, by the entrance of Huanxi Manor, a well-built guard with a saber by his waist caught sight of Wang Chong and howled furiously, "Halt! ..."
Huanxi Manor wasn't a place that just anyone could enter. One had to have the recommendation of an existing member to step onto its premises. However, the young man before him looked particularly foreign, so the guard was certain that he wasn't a frequent customer of Huanxi Manor.
"Shut your mouth!" But before the guard could finish his words, a middle-aged manager hurriedly stretched out his hand and clamped his mouth before pulling him to the side.
Fear was reflected on the middle-aged manager's face.
"You fool, are you blind? Can you not see who he is? Scram!" the manager said as he snuck a glance at the young man walking up the stairs.
A huge storm had struck the royal court following the ambush of the young genius of the Wang Clan, and many prestigious clans had been implicated in the conflict.
Even King Qi and the Yao Clan ended up being humiliated over this matter, and they were forced to lie low for the time being.
By this point, there was no one in the capital who didn't know that the Wang Clan was truly incensed over this incident, and even that figure in the Four Quarters Embassy was enraged.
Anyone who dared to provoke the Wang Clan at this point had to be mentally impaired.
While the esteemed Duke Jiu was famed for his high virtue, far too many had forgotten that he was a military man as well. He had fought wars, and he was the man who led the armies of Great Tang into the Eastern and Western Turkic Khaganates.
The ambush on his grandson had truly touched the bottom line of his tolerance.
"What are you waiting for? Get lost!" The green-robed manager kicked the two guards standing at the entrance away furiously before walking forward to Wang Chong. But just as he was about to greet the latter, Wang Chong shot him a glare, and a shudder ran through his body. He hurriedly backed away fearfully to the side.
It was a bustling sight within the manor. However, there was a particularly loud and conspicuous voice coming from the second floor which captured the attention of most inside.
After listening for a moment, a faint smile crept onto Wang Chong's lips. Following the source of the voice, he slowly walked up to the second floor. At the center of the second floor, he saw the back of a familiar figure. That figure was speaking excitedly amidst crowds of scions around him, and his story seemed to be popular among them.
"You won't be able to imagine it without seeing with your own eyes. That Iron Cloak Highwaymen actually..." That figure spoke animatedly, and his tone displayed his enthusiasm. At the same time, the crowd surrounding him was listening intently, and admiration was reflected in their eyes.
"Huang Yongtu..." Looking at the figure's back, Wang Chong suddenly called out.
That excited voice suddenly came to a halt, and a jolt ran through the back facing Wang Chong. At this instant, it seemed like even the entire Huanxi Manor had fallen silent.
"Gongzi!" Huang Yongtu turned around, and upon seeing Wang Chong, his face seemed to pale for an instant before delight swiftly covered it.
"Gongzi, you have finally recovered!" Huang Yongtu said as he swiftly made his way toward Wang Chong.
"Un." Wang Chong nodded with a smile.
"Have you met Bai Siling and Xu Gan yet?"
"Not yet." Wang Chong shook his head as he stared deeply at the "delighted" Huang Yongtu. It was only two simple words he had spoken, but it seemed to verify the doubts Huang Yongtu harbored, and his face immediately warped in shock.
But it was what Wang Chong was going to say next that would leave Huang Yongtu trembling in fear.
"Huang Yongtu, do you know what happens to an ant who tries to squeeze its way into the battle between an elephant and a tiger?"
Amidst countless astounded gazes, all the strength abruptly left Huang Yongtu's body, and he fell to his knees before Wang Chong. Sweat trickled profusely down his pale face.
Upon seeing this sight, a commotion rippled through the crowd. There were a few scions who noticed the peculiarity in the atmosphere, and they hurriedly fled Huanxi Manor.
With the sharp instincts they had tempered through experience, they realized the potential danger behind the scene unfolding behind them. At the same time, there were also a few who recognized Wang Chong, and it swiftly dawned on them what was going on.
The issue of the son of the Wang Clan, Wang Chong, being ambushed had caused a huge uproar in the capital, and everyone knew that the Wang Clan was currently at the peak of its rage. Huang Yongtu had been spreading word about how he had fought alongside Wang Chong in the mission, but the sight before them told a completely different story!
All sorts of drama happened in the capital on a daily basis, be it fights, grudges, or romance.
There were some matters which one could interfere in, but there were also those which one had to steer clear of, regardless of the cost.
"This isn't something we should get involved with!"...
The scions hurriedly pulled their friends out of Huanxi Manor, and in just a few moments, with the exception of Wang Chong and Huang Yongtu, the bustling premises from a moment ago was completely emptied.
The sound of the doors closing echoed from below, and deafening silence filled Huanxi Manor.
Both Wang Chong and Huang Yongtu represented two powerful clans in the capital, and considering the current situation in the capital, getting involved in the fight between the both of them would be unwise.
With his hands behind his back, Wang Chong waited patiently for everyone to evacuate and shut the doors before turning his gaze back to Huang Yongtu.
At this point, Huang Yongtu's face was already completely pale, and even his clothes were completely drenched with cold sweat.
"Aren't you going to explain yourself?" Wang Chong asked nonchalantly.
"Gongzi seems to already know everything. There's nothing for me to say," Huang Yongtu lowered his head and said.
"Hmph, you sure are candid." Wang Chong sneered. "Don't worry, Huang Yongtu. Today, I came to find you in my capacity as a member of the Wang Clan. Upper society has its own way of dealing with conflicts. I only want to ask you that doing all of this, can I take it as the Huang Clan's declaration of war toward our Wang Clan? You should have known that regardless of whether I died in the ambush or not, the Huang Clan wouldn't be spared the rage of the Wang Clan."
"Gongzi, this has nothing to do with our Huang Clan! This is something I willfully did on my own accord! If you must punish someone to placate your wrath, I ask of you to just punish me!" Huang Yongtu blurted out anxiously as his face turned yet another shade paler.
Wang Chong sneered coldly in response to Huang Yongtu's words.
Often, he chose to interact with others in his capacity as an individual, unwilling to exploit his background to force them into anything. But in this world, kindness would only be taken as a sign of weakness by others. Because he had chosen to lie low for the mission, he had nearly lost his life.
But those men seemed to have forgotten that he wasn't just the individual Wang Chong, he was also a son of the Wang Clan, a representative of one of the most prestigious clans in the capital.
If he wished to, he could easily use the influence of his big uncle, father, King Song, Consort Taizhen, the officials of the royal court, as well as the strength of the other clans, to push the Huang Clan into oblivion.
It had been seventy years since the Wang Clan was founded under his grandfather, and after years of development, it was no longer just a clan of ministers and generals. It represented a huge web of connections that spread across the entire Great Tang.
Many powers were involved in this web, and they represented the potential strength that the Wang Clan could tap into.
The Wang Clan never took the initiative to oppress others, but this didn't mean that the Wang Clan didn't have a temper. If one thought that they could get away with stepping on the Wang Clan's head, they were sorely mistaken.
"You recognized me since you first saw me at our meeting point, right?" Wang Chong asked.
"Yes!" Huang Yongtu admitted to it through gritted teeth.
"The subsequent snubbing along the way was also intentional, right?" Wang Chong asked once more.
"Yes!" Huang Yongtu nodded as large beads of sweat fell to the ground. He knew that it was meaningless to conceal anything from the young man before him at this point. "I thought of stopping, but it was already too late!" Huang Yongtu said with bitter regret in his voice as he lowered his head to the ground.
"Hmph!" But the only thing Wang Chong had for him was a disdainful sneer. "You're right, it's too late. A shattered mirror can't be mended. Tell your Huang Clan that I am waiting for an explanation. Life or death, the decision lies in your hands!" With those words, Wang Chong turned around and walked down the stairs. As he opened the doors of Huanxi Manor, he could vaguely hear sorrowful sobbings behind him.
"Gongzi, where do we go next?" Upon seeing Wang Chong, Old Eagle stepped forward and asked, a bird perched on his arm.
"Tell Bai Siling and Xu Gan to meet me at the Royal Jade Pavilion," Wang Chong said impassively as he walked down the purple wooden stairs.
"I really couldn't have imagined that of us three, Huang Yongtu would be the traitor!"
Peng! In the third floor of the Royal Jade Pavilion, Bai Siling slammed her palm on the table furiously.
"Itruly underestimated him. To think that he had been feigning ignorance all along!" Seated beside Bai Siling, Xu Gan sighed deeply.
This was the first time the three of them were meeting after their parting half a month ago.
Ever since the ambush, Bai Siling and Xu Gan had known that there was a traitor among them.
After all, there were multiple roads leading from Longxi to the capital, and it would be impossible for the assassins to know the timing and the location if there wasn't an insider revealing crucial intelligence to them.
Thus, during the time of Wang Chong's recuperation, Bai Siling and Xu Gan made no attempts to reach out to one another.
They knew that the Wang Clan would surely investigate the matter thoroughly and uncover the culprit.
Thus, the first one whom Wang Chong chose to meet right after he recuperated would likely be the traitor. It was just that neither of them had expected that the silly-looking and reckless Huang Yongtu would turn out to be the traitor.
Indeed, one must never judge a book by its cover!
The truth was finally revealed, but the duo only found themselves sighing endlessly at the conclusion.