Chapter 811: King Song Moves!
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
King Song gave a slight nod. Fumeng Lingcha was the Qixi Protector-General, and enjoyed a high status and great influence. In his early years, he had had a chance to meet this Great General. Though this most senior of the Imperial Great Generals appeared crude and boorish, he was actually an exceptionally shrewd man.
The trusted aide that Fumeng Lingcha had dispatched from Qixi had been extremely careful, not taking the usual roads to the capital and traveling on many detours. Sometimes he would stop, sometimes he would turn around, and he would even occasionally make his way onto a completely different road. In short, trailing him was extremely troublesome. As he approached the capital, this subordinate became even more cautious, making a large detour so that he would enter through the southern gate instead of the western gate.
Subordinates emulated their superiors, and King Song was completely capable of seeing the characteristics of Fumeng Lingcha on this man.
"Bring out the drawing. Since that child Wang Chong views this matter with such importance and even entrusted me with it, I can't allow any mistakes. So many people go through the gates that Old Eagle's birds might not be able to keep up. Watch carefully. He can't be allowed to sneak into the city without our knowledge," King Song firmly said.
"Yes!" The old butler and a black-clothed expert with an icy expression replied in unison.
King Song was an Imperial Prince of the Great Tang, and after several generations, his house had built up a vast reserve of resources and many experts, not just the old butler. The black-clothed expert was one of them.
Time slowly passed, and as the darkness deepened, King Song and his party melded into the shadows, their presence dwindling into nothing. None of them moved, transforming into sculptures on the side of the road. After some time, when the gates were almost about to close, the turbid eyes of the old butler suddenly began to shine with a sharp and hawkish light.
At almost the same time, King Song's eyes twitched and his body straightened. Though he remained motionless, his eyes had fixed upon a turbaned Hu merchant whose eyes seemed to be focused on the ground. Although this Hu merchant was doing his utmost to remain inconspicuous, he was quite obvious in this gate that was normally traversed by the Han.
Both smart and dumb.
King Song chuckled as he suddenly strode out, walking against the flow of the crowd. He stopped in front of the Hu merchant, stopping him from going any farther.
"Qifu Li, I've been waiting for you for a long time."
Such simple and softly-spoken words might as well have been a peal of thunder in this Hu merchant's ears. His shoulders trembled as he raised his head, his deep, blue eyes wide open with shock.
"Hmph, exactly who I'm looking for."
King Song didn't even need to check the drawing. Just the reaction of this Hu merchant was enough to confirm that he was Fumeng Lingcha's trusted subordinate. Qifu Li instantly felt intense danger, and his dantian exploded with a storm of energy. But before he could do anything more, a silver shoe lightly stamped on the ground. An inconceivably powerful energy traveled through the earth, instantly blasting through the Hu merchant's defenses and surging through the Yongquan Point at the sole of his foot on into the rest of his body. In mere moments, all of Qifu Li's body was under King Song's control.
King Song had moved with such speed and subtlety that the battle had started and concluded before the surrounding crowd had even noticed.
"Your Highness, Young Master Chong's drawing! It's him without a doubt," the old butler whispered as he emerged like a ghost next to King Song. The unfurled paper in his hands contained a drawing of a Hu that exactly matched the Hu merchant in front of them.
Lu Ting had also come over, and he used a hand to raise the sleeves of the Hu merchant, whereupon he spotted the black 玉 character branded onto his right wrist. Lu Ting didn't know martial arts, so he was of no help in intercepting Fumeng Lingcha's subordinate. He had another purpose.
"Qifu, if you were coming to the capital, why didn't you tell us? Haha, didn't your grandfather say that he wrote a letter for me? Hand it over; let me take a look."
Lu Ting was all smiles as he extended a right hand and smoothly extracted a letter from Qifu Li's bosom. Lu Ting had a very calm expression, giving off the feeling that he was an old friend of the merchant's, and nobody noticed anything strange. Swish! The letter was opened and a white sheet of paper removed. His eyes squinted and smiling, Lu Ting began to scan the letter.
And then his eyes locked onto a cinnabar seal stamped on the lower right corner of the paper.
Lu Ting lowered his head and whispered so that only King Song and the old butler could hear. "Your Highness, it really is the seal of Fumeng Lingcha's Qixi Protectorate. Your subordinate saw it once in the records of the Bureau of Military Personnel. There's no doubt about it."
Lu Ting's task in this operation was simple. He just needed to see whether Fumeng Lingcha's letter was real or forged.
At these words, both King Song and the butler paled. King Song immediately took the letter from Lu Ting and read it over, and as he did, his face morphed into a grimace. Everything Wang Chong had said in his letter had been confirmed, but this was not King Song's true concern. He was not at all surprised by Fumeng Lingcha's ambition, and he had expected this day ever since their first meeting many years ago.
The thing he truly cared about was the name of the Great Tang Prince that Fumeng Lingcha had sworn fealty to in the letter.
King Song placed the letter in his sleeve as he gave a long sigh, disappointment in his eyes. The capital was buzzing with rumors about the prince mentioned in the letter. But King Song had always believed that those of the imperial household, the descendants of the true dragon, would have some sense of right and wrong.
The Great Tang was the Great Tang of the Han, and its realm was the realm of the Han. Emperor Taizong had relied on his martial prowess to subdue the world, not on the Hu to voluntarily swear fealty to him. Different things had different priority, and the empire also had its primary and secondary goals. King Song didn't believe himself to have any prejudices against the Hu, but he saw the Hu as emphasizing the primacy of the strong over the weak, with no concept of benevolence. The only true empire was the empire of the Han, which ruled with the concept of benevolence, creating the current situation where Hu and Han co-existed in peace and order.
That prince carried the blood of the true dragon, had the strength and qualifications to inherit the throne, yet he did not even understand this basic principle. On the contrary, he colluded with a Hu Great General on the border, a massive taboo for the princes. For such a prince to be enthroned was a disaster in waiting. King Song had always viewed all the princes of the palace with the same kindness and had no inclinations toward one prince or the other.
But collusion with a Hu Great General, shaking the very basis of the Great Tang's rule, was something King Song could not accept.
"Let's go. There are too many people here. We'll talk it over in the carriage."
King Song's mind was buzzing with thoughts, but he quickly turned and began to walk toward that unmarked carriage on the side of the road. Behind him, the old butler and the black-clothed expert picked up Fumeng Lingcha's subordinate and carried him into the carriage.
The carriage began to move, quickly passing through the city gates and vanishing amongst the bustling streets.
"Your Highness, what do we do now? Should we give the letter to His Majesty?" Lu Ting said.
The mood was heavy in the carriage. Lu Ting had been the first to see this pledge of fealty to that prince, but upon entering the carriage, the letter had been passed around to everyone else before finally returning back to Lu Ting's hands. The contents of this letter were far too shocking. If the communication between this prince and Fumeng Lingcha were to get out, it would provoke a massive storm.
No, not a massive storm, but an earthquake that would shake the Imperial Court.
Although Wang Chong had already mentioned this matter in his letter, only after they truly saw that secret pledge of fealty did they feel the true weight of this matter. Right now, the right to choose rested with King Song's party. It was up to them to expose this matter or not.
"What did Wang Chong say in his letter?"
A complicated look flickered through King Song's eyes as he turned to Lu Ting.
"In truth, Your Highness needn't trouble yourself over this. Your Highness has always remained apart from the matters of the Imperial Palace. Young Master Chong also predicted this and knew that Your Highness would be very conflicted, even after learning of this collusion. Thus, Young Master Chong said that Your Highness does not need to worry about or involve yourself in this affair. Your Highness only needs to quietly watch. When the time comes, Your Highness will naturally understand," Lu Ting calmly said.
Lu Ting felt a great deal of admiration for that Wang Clan scion in distant Wushang. He had been there at the very start, a witness when Wang Chong had brought his little sister Wang Xiaoyao to Vast Crane Pavilion, and he had seen how Wang Chong had snatched victory from the jaws of defeat in the southwest and been made a marquis. He had also seen how Wang Chong's farsighted plans in the Western Regions had, step by step, made the region more stable.
Lu Ting felt incredible pride in his heart.
Lu Ting had always enjoyed promoting the younger generation, and Wang Chong was the one that made Lu Ting feel the proudest. His ascendant path had proved Lu Ting's earliest judgments. This was a true pillar of the state, a blessing for the Great Tang and its people.
Hearing Lu Ting's advice, King Song finally gave a nod. That youth was gradually growing into a capable person, someone who could take on a part of his burdens and worries.
"Since that child Wang Chong says that he has everything taken care of, let's just do as he says."