Chapter 453: The Farmer and the Viper!
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
An Yaluoshan's face was fraught with fear, and he seemed ready to break into tears.
No one could lie in front of Zhang Shougui. In the Andong Protectorate, to the east of Youzhou, anyone who dared to deceive the Protector-General was already dead!
The Turks had fierce personalities and were good at fighting, but in the northeast of the Great Tang, everyone, whether they were Turks, Xi, Khitans, or Goguryeons, would always pale at the mention of Zhang Shougui, their hearts trembling in fear.
An Yaluoshan and Ashina Sugan were naturally no exception.
This was not because of Zhang Shougui's status, but because Zhang Shougui had singlehandedly trained the Andong Protectorate Army, and because of his thunderous methods.
The heavens were high and the Emperor was far away. In Andong, Zhang Shougui's words were even more effective than the Emperor's!
"Hmph, boy, I've no idea what you're saying."
An Yaluoshan's oath had greatly improved Zhang Shougui's complexion.
"However, since Yaluoushan said that he did nothing, then he definitely did nothing! The capital is right under the feet of the Son of Heaven, and yet you dared to ambush my subordinates. If you do not give a good explanation for this matter, don't blame me for being rude!"
Upon saying these last words, Zhang Shougui narrowed his eyes, and his expression immediately turned icy. An almost palpable killing intent suddenly emerged from his body and locked onto Wang Chong.
A massive lightning bolt streaked across the sky. Zhang Shougui stood right under this thunderbolt, his entire being like a demon god from the underworld, inspiring terror in all who looked upon him.
The surrounding temperature rapidly dropped. In the face of this Andong Protector-General, everyone felt a mountain-like pressure.
Wang Chong had clearly angered this Imperial Great General. Everyone could feel that it would be difficult to smooth over this incident.
When everyone was quiet out of fear, a bout of laughter suddenly broke the silence. Wang Chong looked at the nearby Zhang Shougui, whose mere mention caused countless foreigners to quail in fear. There was no fear in his heart, only frustration and indignation.
As someone who had now lived two lives, Wang Chong had already grown indifferent to the thought of death. The only thing he cared about was completing his mission. Zhang Shougui's threats were meaningless to him.
"…Lord Zhang, have you heard these three words before?"
Zhang Shougui looked down upon him and coldly asked, "What do you mean?"
"Obstinate and headstrong!"
These words sent the crowd into an uproar. Bai Siling, Zhao Yatong, Marchioness Yi, Wei Anfang, and the others instantly paled, but Cui Qianyou, Tian Chengsi, Ashina Sugan and the other Youzhou troops actually had a similar reaction.
In the Andong Protectorate, no one dared to say such words to their commander, not a single one! Let alone the living, not even the dead would dare.
Yet Wang Chong dared to say in front of Zhang Shougui's face that he was 'obstinate and headstrong'. The troops from Youzhou would not even dare to think such a thing.
"He dares to speak of Commander in such a way!"
Even Cui Qianyou and Tian Qianzhen couldn't help but get a little emotional.
They had no idea what the quarrel between Wang Chong and An Yaluoshan was, nor did they want to know. But at this moment, the pair couldn't help but feel a little admiration for Wang Chong, even though he was their enemy.
Other than that individual deep in the palace who wielded total authority over the Central Plains, probably only this youth dared to doubt their commander in front of his face.
"Hahaha, brat, did Wang Jiuling teach you to say that? Do you dare repeat that?"
A cold glimmer flashed in Zhang Shougui's eyes as he gave a grin of absolute fury.
Ever since he had begun commanding armies, he had always stood by his word. And starting from twenty years ago, very few people dared to say to his face that he was wrong.
But now, this teenage brat said that he was obstinate and headstrong.
"Wang Chong, don't say any more!"
Marchioness Yi, Bai Siling, Zhao Yatong, and the others nervously walked up to Wang Chong and advised him to stop, all of them with expressions of deep concern.
Although the Andong Protectorate was on the distant border, far from the capital, Andong Protector-General Zhang Shougui had always been a topic of discussion in the capital.
Although it was very rare to see this Imperial Great General, they had all heard the many legends about him.
Zhang Shougui had never been a good-tempered person and his methods were tyrannical and fierce. He was not reputed to be a genial general.
In the empire, Zhang Shougui was unequalled in the ferocity and cruelty of his methods.
For his foes, Zhang Shougui was an existence that would haunt their dreams and never give them a single good night's sleep. For Wang Chong to provoke him was assuredly unwise.
Yet Wang Chong waved his hand, telling these people to stop. An inexplicable aura began to exude from Wang Chong, stifling their exhortations.
At this moment, Wang Chong gave off a completely different impression.
Although Wang Chong had been somewhat bad-tempered in the past, he would always be extremely respectful before a few people and was rarely disobedient to his elders. Moreover, everyone here was older than Wang Chong.
The Wang Chong right now appeared the same, but his every movement was imbued with an invisible might and an aura that demanded respect.
He did not seem like the teenage scion of a great clan. On the contrary, his aura was rather similar to Zhang Shougui's.
A teenager, even one who was a little smart, even if they came from a clan of ministers and generals and had far deeper insight than the normal person, had no right to speak to an Imperial Great General like Zhang Shougui, and they certainly had no right to irresponsibly say that he was obstinate and headstrong.
But as the legendary 'War Saint' acknowledged by the world in the end days of the Central Plains, he absolutely did have this right!
Zhang Shougui was not a bad person!
Just like every other Han, he was ardently loyal, and so loved his country that he was willing to be buried on the battlefield. That was how he had lived in the last life.
Whether it was defeating the Tibetans, presiding over Youzhou, subduing the Xi and the Khitans, or suppressing the Goguryeon Empire, Zhang Shougui's abilities and conduct were beyond criticism.
But people would always change.
Those consecutive victories had changed Zhang Shougui. He became incomparably conceited and would no longer heed any 'disobedient words' from anyone. When he was managing Andong, even his old friends who had fought on the battlefield with him for decades did not dare say anything that would displease Zhang Shougui.
Zhang Shougui made decisions without consultation, and so arbitrary was his rule that in the Andong Protectorate, every order, big and small, came from him alone.
As for his own abilities, Zhang Shougui was absolutely confident in them, so much so that he would not take any advice.
'A proud soldier is doomed to defeat' was a phrase that perfectly described Zhang Shougui.
Some people, when they lost, would at most lead to defeat in a war. Others, when they lost, would require the entire world to suffer the consequences.
Zhang Shougui had been too confident in his own abilities, so he had completely forgotten that he was a man, not a god.
And a man would make mistakes.
The more outstanding Zhang Shougui was, the more correct his method of leading troops, and the more capable he was in battle, the more severe the consequences he would create, and the greater a calamity he would leave behind for the empire.
In his last life, countless people had analyzed that rebellion in the Great Tang that affected the entire world. The great commanders in that army had basically all come from Zhang Shougui's army.
Tian Chengsi rigorously managed the army, and his skill in this aspect was unparalleled. His soldiers flawlessly carried out his orders, were nimble and composed. They could execute all his orders to a frightening level.
In terms of military attainments, Tian Chengsi's leadership of the rebel army had even surpassed the Great Tang regular army!
However, though the Tian Clan might have been field officers in Lulong for generations, they didn't have this sort of ability.
Tian Chengsi had learned how to lead troops from Zhang Shougui!
Cui Qianyou and Tian Qianzhen were not only capable martial artists. They were also excellent commanders, brave and wise. When the two were separated, they could hold off one side alone, but when they worked together, they could even deal Big Dipper Great General Geshu Han a disastrous defeat.
If Gao Xianzhi and Feng Changqing of the Anxi Protectorate were regarded as the two walls of the empire, then Cui Qianyou and Tian Qianzhen were the no-less-inferior twin stars of the rebel army!
However, since the pair had betrayed the world, even if they had the greatest of talents, they would never be entered into the history books.
And there was also the 'Lightning Horseman', Cai Xide. His ability to lead cavalry was without compare, and it was said that he could reach any place in the world in just eight days.
In terms of commanding cavalry, although Sun Zhiming had been praised as the Surprise Attack General, comparing him to rebel Great General Cai Xide was like comparing a spark to the bright moon. Their abilities weren't even on the same level.
And whether it was Cui Qianyou, Tian Qianzhen, or Cai Xide, they had all been picked out by Zhang Shougui. All they knew about commanding troops, strategy, and tactics, they had learned from Andong Protector-General Zhang Shougui.
And every one of them had utilized their specialties to the maximum.
It was like a strengthened Zhang Shougui with three heads and six arms. No one could underestimate this 'Zhang Shougui'.
Zhang Shougui knew what people were good at, and he only cared about ability, not background. Thus, he didn't care if one was Hu or Han. As long as one had the ability, he would use them.
As a result, when An Yaluoshan and Ashina Sugan committed a crime in Youzhou, they had been slated for execution, but then Zhang Shougui saw their talent and recruited them into the Andong Protectorate.
And An Yaluoshan was influenced, completely copying Zhang Shougui's style and conduct. In the rebel army, there were Hu generals, and also Han.
It was for these reasons that the rebel army had been so dangerous!
One could say that the commanders of the rebel army that would trouble the world were all 'good students' of Zhang Shougui, perhaps even surpassed him. Consequently, it was also said that the Youzhou rebel army had also been singlehandedly raised by Zhang Shougui.
That rebellion that would sweep across the world, shake the Great Tang to its core, and make the Central Plains a blighted wasteland would be started by An Yaluoshan and Ashina Sugan.
But if one worked backwards, the source of it all was Zhang Shougui, the man standing right in front of him.
He had been the sole architect of the Great Tang's demise!
Zhang Shougui had been outstanding!
But his excellence had not blessed the world. On the contrary, it had led to the death of the empire.
This was truly what it meant to fail at the finish line!
Wang Chong had thought back then that if there was someone that could remind Zhang Shougui, who could correct his mistakes and tell him that he was a man and not a god, he might not make those errors. Then everything would be completely different.
Alas, his past self didn't have the right or the strength, or even the chance, to stand before the Andong Protector-General, much less say anything to him.
Now that everything had started over, he had finally received this chance. Even if Zhang Shougui wouldn't listen, he still had to say it.
"Has Lord Zhang heard the story about the Farmer and the Viper1?" Wang Chong sternly said.
"Hmph, do you want to say that I'm the viper?" Zhang Shougui sneered. If Wang Chong were not Wang Jiuling's grandson, Zhang Shougui wouldn't have even talked with him for so long.
"I only wanted to tell Milord that the farmer can also make mistakes!" Wang Chong sternly said.
1.The Farmer and the Viper is a story about how one winter, a farmer walking through the snow sees a viper freezing to death. Feeling pity for the viper, the farmer picks it up and puts it in his coat to warm it. Once the viper warms up, it bites the farmer, killing him. As the farmer dies, he realizes that this was his own doing. The moral of the story is that showing kindness to evil will be rewarded with evil.↩