Chapter 686: Strange Activity in the Palace, the Fifth Prince! (II)
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
In every dynasty and every era, the dragons vying for the throne had always been the cruelest affair. It was quite normal for the princes to plant spies amongst each other and seek out information, though outsiders knew little of the risk involved.
The slightest lack of care would end with one's body pulverized and bones ground to dust.
This fear was why the Fifth Prince had sought out Wang Chong.
"Du Hongjian, Wei Shaoyou, Cui Yi, Lu Jianjin, Li Han…"
Wang Chong recited a large string of names, causing Li Jingzhong's face to twist in shock.
"What! Lord Marquis, are there problems with all these people? Can none of them be used?"
When he first gave over this list, Li Jingzhong had never imagined that so many of these people were not useable. But Wang Chong's next words gave him another big surprise.
"Tell His Highness that there's basically no problem with these people and that he place them in important positions. As for the others, we'll have to discuss them later," Wang Chong indifferently said.
Li Jingzhong raised his head, dumbfounded. He could understand if there were problems with these people, but how could Wang Chong be so sure that these people could be used?
"Just do as I say!" Wang Chong lightly said. Without even turning his head, he could see into the deepest parts of Li Jingzhong's mind. Li Jingzhong's heart thumped and he hurriedly pressed his head back against the ground.
Wang Chong naturally knew why these people could be used. Whether it was Du Hongjian, Wei Shaoyou, Cui Yi, or the other people he had mentioned, they would all be the Fifth Prince's faithful subordinates upon his future ascension. These people shouldn't have appeared at a time like this, and it was only through various coincidences and chance meetings that they would have eventually gotten close to Li Heng. But since history had already changed and the Fifth Prince had the intention of raising his own subordinates, he could have these people stand by Li Heng's side a little early.
At the very least, in terms of loyalty, there was no problem with these people.
Wang Chong paused for a moment and waved his palm. A nearby brush was suddenly pulled off its stand by an invisible energy. After dragging itself along an inkstone for a few moments, it fell in Wang Chong's hand.
"For any name that I strike off, tell His Highness that none of them can be used and he should try to keep as much distance from them as possible. Liu Ji, Wang Zeng, Li Yong—no matter how much His Highness likes these people, he must have as little interaction with them as possible. In addition, with regards to Junior Palace Craftsman Wei Lan and Vice Director of the Bureau of Military Personnel Wei Zhi…"
"What about them?"
Li Jingzhong suddenly rallied his courage and raised his head, his eyes full of hope.
"Hmph, doesn't His Highness greatly favor these two?"
Wang Chong put down the list of names and lowered his head to look at Li Jingzhong, his voice tinged with derision.
Li Jingzhong hesitated for a moment.
"Is it because they come from the capital's Wei1 Clan?" Wang Chong said indifferently.
Li Jingzhong knew that nothing could be hidden from Wang Chong and hurriedly nodded.
Of the various great clans of the Great Tang, the Wei lineage could truly be ranked at the top of the list. Its status was far above the Bai Clan and the Zhao Clan. It was a true prestigious clan.
The Wang Clan was called a clan of ministers and generals, with Wang Chong's grandfather even serving as a wise and virtuous minister famed throughout the world, assisting the Emperor in taking the throne and governing the country. Moreover, the Wang Clan's several generations of good relations with the King Song line had made it a truly powerful figure in the capital.
Yet not even the Wang Clan could compare to the Wei Clan.
The reason was very simple. The Wang Clan had only begun its rise in the last few decades while the Wei Clan was an ancient lineage that had existed for four or five hundred years. Long ago, in the Sui Dynasty, the Wei lineage was already being hailed as the greatest of the Sui's noble clans.
Emperor Wen of Sui had only succeeded in founding the Great Sui due to the assistance from the Grand Marshal of the Northern Zhou, Wei Xiaokun2. Following this lineage down through history was extremely complicated.
In short, the Wei Clan's deep resources made it the true number one clan.
Wei Lan and Wei Zhi were descendants of the Wei Clan, so they wielded no small amount of power. It wasn't strange for Fifth Prince Li Heng to want to get close to them.
"Tell His Highness that on this list, he is absolutely forbidden from picking Wei Lan or Wei Zhi!"
Wang Chong gripped the list, his voice firm and accepting no objection.
"If he wants to hear my opinion, then this is it!"
Li Jingzhong fiercely raised his head with obvious disappointment in his eyes.
"Hmph, are you questioning my judgment?" Wang Chong coldly asked, his eyes holding no emotion.
This scheming minister's personality was bored into his bones and difficult to change, and he had always had a powerful craving for power. However, if he wasn't willing to rest easy, if he wanted to play some tricks in front of him and not accept his words, then Wang Chong didn't have to wait. He would just kill Li Jingzhong right now.
The current Li Jingzhong had still not assisted the Emperor in reaching the throne, and his place at Li Heng's side was not as important as it would be in the future.
Even if he killed him now, he would just be killing an insignificant middle-aged eunuch. He was confident that Li Heng would not break off relations for such an act.
"This lowly one would not dare!"
Li Jingzhong saw Wang Chong's cold gaze and immediately sensed something. His heart trembled and he hurriedly dropped his head, not daring to say another word.
"I can understand why His Highness wants to draw close to the Wei Clan. After all, the Wei Clan really is a great clan with extremely deep reserves. However, the Wei Clan is the Wei Clan, and Wei Lan and Wei Zhi are Wei Lan and Wei Zhi. I want His Highness to refuse not the Wei Clan, but Wei Lan and Wei Zhi," Wang Chong indifferently explained.
"Lord Marquis… believes that these two cannot be very useful?" Li Jingzhong probed.
"You're quite sharp!"
Wang Chong didn't deny it, and as he looked forward, he began to recollect.
If he did not interfere, Wei Lan and Wei Zhi really would end up at Li Heng's side. Although these two were both from the Wei lineage of the capital, they were rash, and adept at making a mess of things. They had none of the steadiness and reliability of their older brother Wei Jian.
Wang Chong remembered very clearly that Li Heng, the leader of the Great Tang's resurgence in its waning days, had only been so late in ascending to the throne because Wei Lan and Wei Zhi had pushed back his progress time and time again.
It was precisely this pair's constant mess-ups that would lead to a political storm. After avoiding disaster once, Li Heng was dragged down by these two, incurring the rage of the Sage Emperor, who believed that Li Heng was attempting to engage in the treasonous action of killing his father and was thus unworthy of being the heir.
This delayed Li Heng's ascension to the throne for two to three years, and to the Central Plains, which lacked time the most, this delay was fatal.
No matter how great Li Heng's ambitions, in the end, he could only sit on the dragon throne and die with his regrets!
The leader of the Great Tang's resurgence and its final Emperor died in Taiji Palace. All the Central Plains cried rivers in grief and regret.
Since Wang Chong had been reborn, he naturally wouldn't allow this incident to repeat itself!
Wei Lan and Wei Zhi had almost made Li Heng into a commoner. If he allowed this pair to remain at Li Heng's side, he would truly be making trouble for himself.
"Rise! In any case, just tell His Highness that only by enduring can one succeed. His Highness is still nurturing his assistants. His situation has only just begun to improve, so getting involved with a clan like the Wei Clan will do more harm than good. There's a saying that goes 'too much is as bad as not enough' which applies here," Wang Chong said.
"This lowly slave will do so."
Li Jingzhong kept his head down as he stood up, not daring to say anything extra. Wang Chong had dealt a great defeat to Dalun Ruozan and Huoshu Huicang in the southwest, had been made the Young Marquis, was a disciple of the Son of Heaven… All the empire and all of society were already regarding him as a future Great General!
In terms of influence, Wei Lan and Wei Zhi might be descendants of the Wei Clan, but they were tens of thousands of li from someone like Wang Chong.
This was why the Fifth Prince Li Heng regarded Wang Chong with such extreme importance, even giving him the list of the assistants and followers he wanted to recruit for review.
In terms of influence, Wang Chong was the undisputed champion in Li Heng's heart!
"Take this list and leave. For soldiers, quality is more important than quantity. Just the names on this list are more than enough, and any more might end up incurring the Sage Emperor's displeasure."
Wang Chong passed the revised list to Li Jingzhong.
"This lowly slave will inform His Highness!" Li Jingzhong said deferentially.
Wang Chong expected him to leave, but Li Jingzhong surprisingly remained, his head remaining lowered and his body unmoving. He had no intention of leaving yet.
"What's wrong? Do you still have another matter?" Wang Chong asked in surprise.
Li Jingzhong gritted his teeth and finally spoke.
"This lowly slave has a private matter that I wish for Lord Marquis to agree to no matter what!"
Wang Chong was astonished. This eunuch was quite bold. He even knew that it was a private matter and still implored him to agree.
Li Jingzhong gathered his courage and said, "Lord Marquis, although this matter is a private request from this lowly slave, it is definitely not for the sake of this lowly slave, but for His Highness the Fifth Prince."
"The Fifth Prince?"
Wang Chong's interest was piqued.
"Speak; what is it?"
"It's like this. His Highness has recently grown fond of a woman called Du Zhiqi. They're privately sending each other gifts and have even pledged to marry each other. But Lord Marquis, you understand that the descendants of the imperial clan are not ordinary people. Whether it's for a wife or concubine, His Majesty must give approval first. It is not allowed for one to privately make a pledge of marriage.
"Under the previous Emperor, when the current Sage Emperor was still young, he once grew fond of an entertainer. The previous Emperor became infuriated over this, believing that he was indulging with women and was not fit for this post. He almost lost his position as Crown Prince as a result. All of these things have precedent.
"His Highness has only begun to rise in the palace, but doing this sort of thing will ruin all his efforts! In addition, in order to spend time with that woman, His Highness has recently been slacking on his homework and martial arts. Right now, even the teacher that the Sage Emperor invited to instruct the prince is beginning to privately criticize him."
As Li Jingzhong spoke, he couldn't conceal the worry and concern on his face.
"Lord Marquis, only you can persuade him and make him hear reason. No matter what, you must persuade His Highness the Fifth Prince. Otherwise, disaster won't be far off!"
In this excursion, Li Jingzhong truly had come to seek Wang Chong's review of the list of potential assistants, but his true purpose was in seeking Wang Chong's aid to persuade the Fifth Prince to keep his distance from that girl.
1. This Wei is different from the Wei of Wei Hao, 韦 as opposed to 魏.↩
2. The Northern Zhou was the last of the Northern dynasties in the Northern and Southern Dynasties period. Emperor Wen, then Yang Jian, was father-in-law to one of the Northern Zhou Emperors and seized the throne for himself upon that Emperor's death. Wei Xiaokuan was a decorated general of the Northern Zhou who ended up siding with Yang Jian in putting down a revolt.↩