Chapter 704: Refusal, the Chief of Wushang Village!
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
"Lord Marquis, we did not think that we would be honored by your presence. We have been rude by not going out to welcome you, so please forgive us for our lack of courtesy. This one is called Wu Jiumei and can be considered an elder of Wushang Village. I am afraid that there has been a small misunderstanding, and our villagers had a small conflict with Lord Marquis's subordinates. Previously, we had already refused them three times, but Lord Marquis's subordinates would not listen to reason and forced their way into the village, forcing our hand.
"But even so, we have treated them lightly. Lord Marquis's subordinates are currently being held in the village and we have not done any additional harm. In a little while, I will have the villagers bring out Lord Marquis's subordinates."
The speaker was an elder of seventy or eighty, his hair silver but his complexion hale and hearty. He had a grim expression, and he spoke with dignity and bearing. He clearly had a high status within the village.
Wang Chong said nothing to these words, but behind him, Li Siye gave a long sigh.
This was the first time in the last few days that he had heard anything about his vanished subordinates.
Li Siye suddenly took a few steps forward and whispered into Wang Chong's ear, "Lord Marquis, these people are very strong. If I had not taken out my Wootz Steel sword, I would have already been captured. Lord Marquis must act with utmost caution!"
"I know. You go and rest."
Wang Chong did not turn his head, and his voice was carefree and relaxed.
"Old Sir, this one has no ill intentions. At present, the borders of the empire are facing difficulties, the beacons of war rising up from all around, and troops are dearly needed. When the world is in danger, every person has their duty to save it. The Wushang are brave and excellent fighters, and this one happens to be building a city in Wushang and so came to Wushang to enlist brave warriors.
"I presume that to the Wushang, guarding the border, protecting the people of the Central Plains, and performing a duty for the country would be an honorable deed."
Wang Chong went straight to the point and revealed the purpose of his visit.
In subduing the Wushang, using schemes and tricks was liable to make things worse, so it was better to be frank. In truth, given how things had developed, the Wushang probably already understood what he had come for.
Concealing his intent at a time like this would probably only win him contempt.
As expected, Wu Jiumei and the other Wushang elders seemed unsurprised by Wang Chong's words. It was clear that they had expected this request.
"To receive the Lord Marquis's favor is truly our Wushang Village's honor. But our Wushang Village is isolated from the world and accustomed to peace and security, not very suitable for war."
Without a second thought, Wu Jiumei rejected Wang Chong's invitation.
"Moreover, we Wushang are mountain villagers with limited capabilities. What can our village offer Lord Marquis, who vies for the world? I am afraid that we will let down Lord Marquis's high hopes. Lord Marquis should seek out more qualified individuals. The world is vast, so there must be people more suitable than we Wushang for Lord Marquis's gaze."
"Correct. Lord Marquis, please seek out more qualified individuals elsewhere!"
Several other elders voiced their agreement.
Wushang Village had secluded itself from the world for nearly a thousand years now, and the villagers had always lived a peaceful life that did not seek to contend for the world. This had already become a tradition, and nobody could break it. How could they so easily change their ways due to a few words from Wang Chong?
"Elder is too humble. If even the Wushang are of limited capability, then there is no one capable in this world. All of my subordinates are veterans, elites who contend against one hundred soldiers, but in Wushang Village, they were captured by the warriors of the village in a single encounter. The Wushang are definitely the fiercest warriors of this world!
"If the Great Tang can receive the assistance of the Wushang, its borders will definitely be pacified, the country will prosper, and the people will be safe, protected from the chaos of war. Moreover, the Imperial Court has always generously rewarded warriors who fight on the behalf of the country. I can also promise the assembled elders that as long as Wushang Village responds to the enlistment, I can bestow upon the village large sums of gold and resources as a reward," Wang Chong sincerely said.
With the current influence and power of the Wang Clan, as long as Wang Chong was willing, he could bestow unimaginable wealth, status, and reputation on Wushang Village.
On the other side, Wu Jiumei and the other village elders were displaying a variety of expressions. If Wang Chong's words had been a little tougher, they could have immediately refused. But Wang Chong had been extremely tactful, his words bursting with praise and reverence for the Wushang villagers, leaving the elders unable to say a word.
And most fatal of all was that Wang Chong's subordinates truly had been injured by their villagers.
Wu Jiumei had not expected that those soldiers lying on the ground were elites of the army who could fight against one hundred foes.
Wu Jiumei and the elders exchanged glances, their expressions slack and their mouths momentarily speechless.
Right when all the elders were perplexed by how to respond to Wang Chong's words, a voice burst from a stone house deep within Wushang Village. "Young Marquis is an eloquent speaker, earning this decrepit one's admiration, but I advise Lord Marquis to stop wasting breath and scheming in vain!"
Wang Chong's eyes widened as he remembered that voice. After his battle with Huang Botian on the outskirts of the village, it was this voice that had allowed him entry.
But ever since he had entered the village, Wang Chong had not heard it speak.
While Wang Chong was thinking, he heard Wu Jiumei's voice tinged with respect. The village elders began to turn their heads toward the voice and bow, their expressions subservient and respectful.
Wang Chong also turned in that direction and saw a white-haired old man, his slightly hunched body clothed in a brown robe. Grasping a rattan cane, he was currently walking out of a stone house several dozen zhang away.
Wang Chong hadn't cared at the start, but with just a glance, he couldn't but widen his eyes in shock. Although that white-haired elder was walking very slowly, his every step seemed to carry the weight of one thousand jun and delivered a powerful mental blow.
His feet did not seem to be stepping on the earth, but on the air, stepping into the heart of every person. He gave off an unfathomable aura of invincibility.
And at this close distance, even though Wang Chong was intently looking, he could not clearly make out the face of the elder. The old man always seemed neither too close nor too far, his face neither too indistinct nor too clear.
What made Wang Chong most apprehensive was that he couldn't sense his energy. It was like the elder was just a shadow and didn't really exist.
Wang Chong's heart shivered at the thought.
When he had just been an ordinary person, he could have disregarded this observation, but he was now in the Imperial Martial realm and skilled in the Great Yinyang Heaven Creation Art. There was basically no match for him amongst his peers.
Even an expert like Huang Botian and his mastery over the Stone General was powerless against Wang Chong, a plaything in the palm of his hands.
But now, in front of this ordinary white-haired elder, Wang Chong couldn't even sense his energy. This was simply unbelievable.
Saint Martial realm!
Wang Chong's pupils constricted as a thought occurred to him! He wasn't a stranger to this feeling. Zhangchou Jianqiong, Huoshu Huicang, Duan Gequan—Wang Chong had felt this kind of feeling from these experts of the Great General level.
And as the former Grand Marshal of the world, an expert at the peak of the Saint Martial realm, Wang Chong was very familiar with energy of this level.
How is this possible?
Wang Chong's mind was in turmoil. Never had he imagined that this tiny Wushang Village was actually concealing an expert of the Imperial Great General level.
Any country or any faction would see a great rise in influence and status if it got its hands on a Great General expert. They would instantly be able to command the attention of other countries.
For Wushang Village to be hiding such an expert was a massive mental shock for Wang Chong.
Wang Chong suddenly understood why the otherworldly invaders had suffered such a great blow when they attacked Wushang.
An expert of the Great General level leading several Saint Martial experts, a large number of Imperial Martial experts, and fifty to sixty thousand villagers at the True Martial or Profound Martial realm… The strength of Wushang Village was tantamount to a regular army with astonishing strength, a miniature protectorate army.
This was Wang Chong's first time seeing the true depth of Wushang Village's resources.
But even so, Wang Chong could sense a slight ripple of disharmony. Although the white-haired elder had attempted to hide it as well as he could, Wang Chong could still perceive that abnormal ripple.
It seems that not even he can avoid that fate.
Wang Chong seemed to instantly understand what was going on.
"Esteemed elder, I have been rude."
Wang Chong clasped his hands toward the Wushang Village Chief and gave a deferential bow. The elderly deserved respect, and regardless of anything else, the chief was still around as old as his grandfather.
The elder's eyes twinkled for a moment, but his face remained stern and harsh.
"For Young Master to be so young yet already be made a marquis truly makes you a dragon amongst men that leaves a deep impression upon others. But a country has its laws, a clan has its rules, and Wushang Village also has its regulations. No person of Wushang Village is permitted to leave the village and involve themselves with the disputes of the outside world. This is the law set down by our ancestors. Lord Marquis should not waste your efforts. Please return!"
As the white-haired elder grimly spoke, he continued to walk toward the crowd.
His steps were deceptively slow. He was several dozen zhang away when he first began to speak, but by the time he had finished, he was less than ten zhang from Wang Chong.
"Lord Marquis, please go back!"
The elder's expression was firm and unquestionable. As he spoke, he opened a palm and aimed it out of the village, clearly intending to send off his guest without giving Wang Chong another chance to speak.
The atmosphere seemed to freeze, and even the temperature dropped a few degrees. Seeing that the enlistment mission had completely failed, Gao Feng, Nie Yan and the others became infuriated. Even Li Siye couldn't help but give a small frown.