Chapter 457: The Last Word of Advice!
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
The current Zhang Shougui was very different from his former self, and Wang Jiuling had retired from the position of Prime Minister ages ago. After withdrawing from the court, he ceased to be that wise Prime Minister of the Great Tang who was second only to one person and towered over multitudes.
In terms of influence and status, Zhang Shougui had long since ceased to be Wang Jiuling's lesser. At the very least, he no longer had to heed his orders.
But even so, Zhang Shougui did not dare to be careless.
"Hmph, Wang Jiuling, it was not I making trouble for your grandson, but your Wang Clan returning kindness with hostility, making me its enemy," Zhang Shougui coldly said. "Look for yourself at what he has done. This fine grandson of yours took advantage of my absence and attacked my subordinates. You are also a military man, so you should know how someone who attacks active soldiers without orders will end up, no?"
Although he had a frigid expression, he was inwardly a little fearful. This attitude was completely different from how he had treated the old butler.
This was not merely because the Sage Emperor had invited Wang Jiuling to reside in the Four Quarters Embassy after his retirement and Wang Jiuling still wielded enormous influence inside and outside the court. It was also because Wang Jiuling was extremely accomplished on the scholarly path.
Wang Jiuling had not made his name in the world through scholarly pursuits, but his cultivation of that path had received the recognition of literary circles decades ago.
If it hadn't been for the fact that Wang Jiuling's desires were not on that path, he might have become the leader of the scholars.
Wang Jiuling's increasing age and the injuries he had suffered from his early days on the battlefield had led his cultivation of the martial path to wane day by day. Long gone was the formidable self of his golden age.
But his cultivation of the scholarly path was not affected by these things. On the contrary, as he got older, his mental abilities only grew more formidable, and his attainments on the scholarly path far exceeded his attainments on the martial path.
When he was still the wise Prime Minister of the Great Tang who oversaw the court, Wang Jiuling's mental abilities had already reached a terrifying level.
And after so many years, not even Zhang Shougui knew how much further along the path he had gone.
Those who walked the scholarly path were skilled in mental attacks that could pierce through Stellar Energy and directly assault the soul. It was completely different from the martial path. Before the leader of the scholarly path, even the strongest martial artist had to tread carefully.
Wang Jiuling's body was still in the Four Quarters Embassy, but even at such a distance, he could still sense what was happening and transmit his thoughts directly into everyone's minds.
One could imagine from this how powerful he was.
"Although I don't exactly know what's going on, I will give you an explanation sooner or later!"
This elderly was voice was thick and mellow as it once more echoed in everyone's minds.
Wang Chong had still been sitting on the ground, his eyes slightly squinted, but in the next moment, they flew wide open. If he thought the first time was a misperception, he could be sure now that this voice belonged to his grandfather.
I didn't think that even Grandfather would show up.
Wang Chong's mind was in turmoil, but he quickly calmed himself down.
This undertaking of his had been huge, mobilizing all the guards the Wang Clan had in the capital, all the forces that the Wang Clan was on good terms with, and even Duke Ye and Elder Zhao. It would be strange if his grandfather didn't know.
"Hmph, then I'll wait for your explanation, Wang Jiuling!"
Meanwhile, Zhang Shougui wasn't thinking about too much. With both Wang Jiuling and King Song giving their stance, not even someone of Zhang Shougui's status could do anything further.
With an icy face and a wave of his sleeve, Zhang Shougui turned and left.
Behind him, though the Youzhou soldiers were unwilling, they still chose to follow.
"Wait a moment!"
Just when Zhang Shougui was about to leave, a voice came from behind him. This voice was not only a surprise to Zhang Shougui, but also to Bai Siling, Zhao Yatong, Xu Gan, Marchioness Yi, and Huang Qian-er.
Because everyone could tell that it was Wang Chong speaking.
"What does he want to do?"
The crowd was stupefied. No one could guess at what Wang Chong was thinking. For this entire operation, Wang Chong had never once given an explanation.
Wang Chong was not an impulsive person. For the majority of the time, when Wang Chong interacted with others, he was always very rational.
So the more impulsive he was, the more he perplexed others.
"Lord Zhang, please stop!"
Wang Chong stood up and began to walk toward Zhang Shougui.
The rain was slowly beginning to die off. It was no longer pouring buckets, but the rain drops were still the size of pearls.
"Brat, what are you up to?" Zhang Shougui turned around and glared at Wang Chong, his eyes dark and unkind.
The courtyard was quiet and the atmosphere tense. No one knew what Wang Chong would do next. This was a far too sensitive time.
Wang Chong silently stopped several zhang away from Zhang Shougui, bent at the waist, and gave a deep bow of respect.
"There is one thing that Wang Chong has not had a chance to say. Many thanks, Lord Protector-General, for your assistance in the Regional Commanders incident when Wang Chong was behind bars!"
These words echoed through the silent courtyard.
Zhang Shougui's eyes went through countless emotions as they stared at Wang Chong, but they ultimately settled on a cold sneer.
"Hmph, so you didn't forget?" Zhang Shougui said icily, his voice bursting with scorn.
He naturally knew what Wang Chong was speaking of. When Fumeng Lingcha, Gao Xianzhi, and Geshu Han were appealing to the Imperial Court to execute Wang Chong, it was him and Zhangchou Jianqiong who offered their names in Wang Chong's support.
Zhang Shougui was the imposing Andong Protector-General. In both seniority and status, he ranked far above Wang Chong. It would naturally be inappropriate for him to mention this matter of his own volition.
If Wang Chong hadn't mentioned it, he would never speak of the matter for the rest of his life.
But it was precisely because he had helped Wang Chong that he was infuriated at this attack.
He had not been speaking rashly when he claimed that the Wang Clan returned kindness with hostility!
"No matter what reason Lord Protector-General had or how dissatisfied with me Lord Protector-General is, a kindness is a kindness. I owe Milord a favor, a favor that I will return. However, this is not the true reason I asked Milord to stop."
As Wang Chong spoke, he slowly straightened his body, and his expression was neither meek nor arrogant. Even after that battle, even after all he had experienced, even after almost being killed by Zhang Shougui, Wang Chong maintained his habitually calm expression. Not even the Andong Protector-General Zhang Shougui could make him show fear.
As Zhang Shougui's sharp gaze measured up Wang Chong, it finally showed a tiny change.
"What is it that you want to say?" Zhang Shougui sternly asked.
Back in his headquarters in Youzhou, he had reviewed an intelligence report on this youth. Although he was in conflict with Wang Chong and was greatly incensed at his actions, Zhang Shougui would not look down on him too much.
"I only want to say that the wise Emperor has a piercing insight. Though the capital is far, there are bright mirrors everywhere. Lord Protector-General resides in Youzhou, but as a subject, you should still have a reverential heart!" Wang Chong profoundly said.
A shock seemed to travel through Zhang Shougui's body, and his expression instantly changed. Not even Ashina Sugan's death had elicited such a reaction from him.
"In addition, I hope that Milord can pay more attention to the people at your side! At times, your true enemies are not standing across from you, but right next to you!" Wang Chong said. When he said this, he gave a profound look toward An Yaluoshan.
Zhang Shougui gave Wang Chong a strange look, but he quickly managed to regain his composure.
"Hmph, there's no need for you to say this. Perhaps if your grandfather had said this, it would be different."
Zhang Shougui coldly laughed.
Wang Chong gave a faint smile and declined to comment. As he watched Zhang Shougui lead his Youzhou soldiers out of the shattered walls of the courtyard, Wang Chong's face did not shift in the slightest.
Whether or not Zhang Shougui listened, he had already done all he could.
Zhang Shougui was not a bad man. Even though he had come into conflict with Zhang Shougui and almost been killed by him, Wang Chong would still not deny these words.
But he had a major flaw in his personality.
He was too proud! Too conceited!
His decades in the military and almost sixty years of life in which not a bad word passed through his ears, coupled with that confidence that he would be Prime Minister in the future, had given Zhang Shougui an extreme case of conceit.
He was so conceited that he would not listen to any advice and heeded no laws except those of the Sage Emperor.
No! Not even the Emperor! In reality, Zhang Shougui had gotten so swelled up with pride that there were some matters in Youzhou that he thought he could hide from the Sage Emperor.
In the future, when he would be framed by An Yaluoshan and lose his position as Protector-General, part of it would be because he had been careless and not guarded against this possibility. But another part was his personality.
If he hadn't been so conceited and proud, even if An Yaluoshan wanted to frame him, he would not have been guaranteed to succeed.
As for how An Yaluoshan could so quickly frame Zhang Shougui in the future, not even Wang Chong knew what really went on there.
There were too many riddles and questions regarding those events that not even Wang Chong could resolve.
Although An Yaluoshan had managed to finagle his way into becoming Zhang Shougui's adopted son, Wang Chong believed that this status as adopted son was actually rather hollow and that An Yaluoshan's rank in the Andong army would not be that high. For him to replace Zhang Shougui in just two years and gain control of the Youzhou army was something that even many of his seniors from his last life had been unable to comprehend.
Moreover, Zhang Shougui was a famous individual of the empire who wielded immense influence in the army. And his strength could be understood from today's events. Just a mere corner of his strength had been enough to suppress all of them.
But only one year after the Sage Emperor deprived him of his military authority, Zhang Shougui would 'die of depression'.
Die of depression?
What did that mean? This sort of top-notch expert who could sunder the earth with a snap of his fingers could also die of depression? That was a complete joke.
At least in Wang Chong's view, this verdict was unacceptable, utterly absurd nonsense.
But Zhang Shougui's death was something that he could be sure of.
There were too many perplexing matters surrounding that disaster.
Some of these things could be altered by human power, but others… could not.
Whether or not one liked Zhang Shougui, there was one thing that everyone had to admit: Zhang Shougui's death was a massive blow to the empire! It was precisely because of his death that the Youzhou rebel army became completely impossible to control!
Horses galloped through the rain water. This noise made Wang Chong's shoulders sway and his eyes quickly clear.
This was the sound of the Imperial Army!
All the young scions who lived in the capital were familiar with this sound.
There was absolutely no doubt that this battle had come to an end. His aunt's husband, Li Lin, was already leading soldiers here. The Imperial Army was responsible for guarding the capital, and not even Li Lin could stop them from carrying out their duties.
"Let's go!" Wang Chong declared. His forces quickly retreated from the courtyard, vanishing without a trace before the Imperial Army arrived.