Chapter 685: Strange Activity in the Palace, the Fifth Prince! (I)
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
On the blustery summit, Wang Chong and Wei Anfang glanced at each other, both able to see the shock in each other's eyes.
"An Arabian princess?"
As Wang Chong came back to his senses, he gave an almost imperceptible frown.
"Was it on King Qi's order? So when they said that you weren't at the training camp, you were actually meeting with him?"
Wang Chong had truly never imagined that Zhao Qianqiu would have sought him out for a matter like this. The Abbasid Caliphate was to the west of the Western Regions, extremely far from the Great Tang. Wang Chong did not remember anything like this happening in his last life.
But upon careful recollection, he did seem to remember that an Arabian princess had visited the Great Tang, but she had left very quickly, remaining for only a few days. Wang Chong had never met her, nor did he know what she looked like.
And no Arabian princess had ever entered the training camps, much less mentioned his Deflecting Blade Manor by name.
"If only it was because of King Qi!"
Zhao Qianqiu's voice was suffused with a deep helplessness.
"The Three Great Training Camps were established by the will of His Majesty. If this really was the work of King Qi, I could have used His Majesty's order to stall the matter. Even if King Qi was angry, he would only be able to make life hard for me. But the one who came to ask for my help was the Chamberlain of Dependencies! And it was a senior who helped me once when I was going through hard times."
The hardest thing to repay in this world was a favor! And even more when it was a favor given when one was at their most downcast!
Moreover, the Chamberlain of Dependencies was tasked with interacting with the foreign countries, and its duty was to receive their emissaries and diplomatic missions. The matter of the Arabian princess truly did fall under its scope. The Chamberlain of Dependencies naturally had to do its utmost to fulfill her requests.
From this perspective, the Chamberlain of Dependencies was actually working for the sake of the Imperial Court, for the sake of the Great Tang. Zhao Qianqiu found it very hard to refuse its request.
"Wang Chong, if it's too difficult, just forget it. It's no big deal. I'll just go and explain things to that senior of mine," Zhao Qianqiu said.
"Difficult? Why would I feel it difficult?"
Wang Chong glanced at Wei Anfang and smiled.
"It's not every day that an Arabian princess wants to enter our Deflecting Blade Manor, so why refuse them? And besides, Anfang, you probably also haven't seen an Arabian princess!"
"I have not!"
Wei Anfang gave a faint smile, little emotion on his face.
"Arabians look completely different from us, with hawkish noses and deep eyes. However, their women are actually extremely beautiful, and I assume that the Arabian princess is no exception."
The expression in Wei Anfang's eyes was completely different from the words that he spoke. He was currently a budding talent at Wang Chong's side and was slowly beginning to receive the favor of his clan.
He was really only interested in one thing, and that was remaining by Wang Chong's side to accomplish even greater tasks.
Zhao Qianqiu and Zhou Huang hadn't expected Wang Chong to agree so easily, and the pair were beside themselves with happiness.
Food and drink were brought out, and Wang Chong played the consummate host until Zhao Qianqiu and Zhou Huang finally departed.
"Young Master, do you really plan to let the Arabian princess enter our Deflecting Blade Manor?"
Once Zhao Qianqiu left, Wei Anfang's expression suddenly turned stern.
"There's no problem with her entering Kunwu Training Camp, and it's not like we can do anything about the Imperial Court's arrangements. But why did that Arabian princess request entry into our Deflecting Blade Manor? This subordinate feels that those who visit don't have good intentions, and those who have good intentions wouldn't come!"
"It's still too early to say anything. We haven't even seen the actual person. As for her goal, won't we know after meeting with her?"
Wang Chong's eyes gleamed as he smiled.
He had some vague ideas about this Arabian princess, but he would need to meet her to confirm anything.
"I'll leave this place to you. I'm going to get some rest."
Turning around, Wang Chong headed down the stairs and to his room.
As the door opened and Wang Chong walked in, before both of his feet could even cross the threshold, he was suddenly greeted by a gust of wind as a figure rushed over.
"By my ancestors, why did you come only now! I've been waiting for you for ages."
Li Jingzhong's hands clutched Wang Chong's sleeve, his eyes blazing with concern.
"Haha, aren't I here now? And I just arrived at Kunwu Training Camp. If I didn't handle some matters, wouldn't that make people suspicious?"
Wang Chong remained composed and laid-back. After closing the door, he walked straight to the round sandalwood table in the room, took up the slender red tea pot, and poured himself a cup of fragrant tea. This he took a gentle sip from.
"By my ancestors, you're in no hurry, but I and the Fifth Prince have almost lost our eyebrows from how anxious we are! Right now the First Prince and the Second Prince are keeping an incredibly close eye on us. The Fifth Prince has no opportunity to leave the place, and I barely managed to shake them off my trail. If we miss this chance, I don't know when the next one will come."
Li Jingzhong's voice was both nervous and hurried. He wanted nothing more than to finish saying what he needed in a single breath.
"Speak. Just what matter has you so nervous that you even required that I meet you here where no one can listen in?" Wang Chong said with a slight frown.
Outsiders only knew that he had returned to Kunwu Training Camp to deal with his Deflecting Blade Manor. Very few people knew that he had actually come because he had received a letter from the Fifth Prince.
"Lord Marquis, you might still not know. While the palace might appear calm to people like you on the outside, it's actually in complete chaos. The First Prince, the Second Prince, the Third Prince, and everyone else are trying to buy the hearts of the people and pull over the influential officials and generals to their side. If they succeed, then the Fifth Prince really won't have a chance.
"But this is no trifling matter, and the Fifth Prince doesn't have much of an idea on how to proceed, so he had me come to seek the assistance of Lord Marquis. The Fifth Prince finally managed to get a little influence in the palace, and there are some people willing to cast their lot with His Highness, but this matter has to be handled early rather than late, quickly rather than slowly. Otherwise, they'll all be taken by the First Prince and the others."
Li Jingzhong was profusely sweating as he extracted a sheet of paper from his sleeve and handed it over.
"Lord Marquis, this is the list. I hope that Lord Marquis can check it over and see which people can be used and which people can't. Lord Marquis's relationship with the Fifth Prince is rather excellent, so Lord Marquis might as well help him until the end."
After saying all this, Li Jingzhong gave a deep bow.
After the major victory in the southwest, Wang Chong had been made a marquis and given a courtesy name by the Son of Heaven. Right now, Wang Chong wielded extraordinary influence in the palace, making him the greatest pillar of support for the Fifth Prince.
This was especially the case after Li Heng's meeting with the Sage Emperor. When all of the other princes were accusing Li Heng of harboring malicious intentions, hiding his ability to practice martial arts, Li Heng had followed Wang Chong's advice and smoothly avoided disaster. As a result, Li Heng now had a great deal of trust in Wang Chong.
Even Li Jingzhong was envious of such trust, but he didn't dare say anything.
"Winning over the officials of court?"
Wang Chong's brow furrowed, and he did not immediately take the offered list.
"Li Jingzhong, do you know what the two of you are doing? His Majesty detests it when the princes of the palace start forming factions. If His Majesty learns of this matter, it will incur the death penalty! Have you already forgotten the lessons of the previous dynasties?"
Wang Chong's tone was harsh and stern.
Under any dynasty and any Emperor, even wise sovereigns like Gaozu and Taizong of this dynasty, the most loathsome thing was when the princes began to form their own factions and use them to pursue their personal interests.
Many a prince had had their rank stripped due to a matter like this. Wang Chong had not expected the Fifth Prince to seek him out for a matter like this.
If it were done poorly, everyone involved, including himself, would be severely punished.
"Li Jingzhong, didn't I say that you needed to properly assist the Fifth Prince? Speak! Were you the one urging this!"
Wang Chong's voice was stern, his gaze like a sword that wanted to cut Li Jingzhong open.
Li Jingzhong's body trembled in terror at Wang Chong's murderous gaze, and there was a thud as he kneeled to the ground.
"Lord Marquis, I'm innocent! This truly has nothing to do with me. His Highness is slowly gaining importance within the palace and is currently at his proudest. How could I possibly urge him to do anything? And although the Emperors of every dynasty have always forbidden the princes from forming their private factions, which Emperor, including the present Sage Emperor, was truly able to accomplish such a thing?"
At these words, Wang Chong instantly fell silent.
Li Jingzhong was smooth and slick, devious and cunning, and though he was a wicked official, not even Wang Chong could rebuke him on this matter.
Every dynasty had a taboo on the princes' colluding with the ministers of the court and the generals on the border, but which prince could truly remain uninvolved? It was just a competition of who could hide it better.
This was the case for the current Sage Emperor, the deceased previous Emperor, and Emperor Taizong as well. None of the talented and bold Emperors of history were exceptions.
And without this daring, one could not become a true dragon!
"Lord Marquis, the matter is urgent. I ask that Lord Marquis help His Highness no matter what."
Noticing that Wang Chong's expression had softened, Li Jingzhong immediately raised his head and struck while the iron was hot.
"Don't get happy too early. If I learn that you were urging on this matter from behind the curtains, the only thing awaiting you will be death. Even if I kill you, I think you probably know that nobody will speak up on your behalf, not even the Fifth Prince," Wang Chong icily said.
Li Jingzhong's heart chilled and he hurriedly lowered his head, not daring to say another word.
Wang Chong took the paper from Li Jingzhong and shook it once before unfurling it. As he began to carefully examine the names, the atmosphere in the room turned solemn.
Although it was just a thin sheet of paper, everyone knew that if it were to be leaked, it would bring a storm of blood over the capital. Countless people would end up with their homes raided and their heads rolling on the ground.
Although Wang Chong had spoken lightly, the moment he received the paper, his expression instantly turned grave. On the side, Li Jingzhong remained kneeling on the ground, trying to make as little noise as possible.
A long list of names was written out on the paper, each one of them a powerful minister of the court. As Wang Chong continued down the list, he couldn't help but be surprised. The Fifth Prince's influence seemed to be much greater than he had imagined.
The acknowledgement of these people and their willingness to throw their lot in with him was proof of this. But as he continued to read, Wang Chong's brow began to crease.
"Lord Marquis, is there something wrong?" the ever-perceptive Li Jingzhong immediately asked. "Does this list contain spies from the First Prince and the others?"
"You're rather smart."
Wang Chong gave him a cold glance. This future treasonous minister might be devious, but he was very sensitive in matters of this nature. Just a small frown had been enough for him to notice.