Chapter 820: Fumeng Lingcha's End! (II)
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
Wang Chong gave a knowing smile. Fumeng Lingcha's situation was truly quite awkward. The person who he had the most hopes in and who held the most weight in court had been King Qi, and in truth, before the matter had been fully exposed, King Qi had spoken up for him and the other Hu Great Generals in court.
But the lethality of Fumeng Lingcha's letter was just too much, with the words 'Prime Minister' especially making him everyone's target. In all of the Great Tang Empire, countless people both inside and outside the court had their eyes on the position of Prime Minister. Andong Protector-General Zhang Shougui, hailed as the empire's number two individual, had been wanting to sit on that seat for ten-some years now, but he was still standing sentinel in Youzhou, doing battle with the Goguryeo Empire.
The person with the most similar situation to Fumeng Lingcha was the former Annan Protector-General, the Tiger of the Empire, Zhangchou Jianqiong. However, even someone as ambitious as Zhangchou Jianqiong had only dared to yearn for the position of Minister of War. Besides that, Wang Chong recalled that while the current Prime Minister of the Great Tang was a very reclusive person, he was a terrifying and formidable individual.
This was someone that the entire empire had underestimated and was a most terrifying existence.
Even now, Fumeng Lingcha had no inkling of just what sort of person he had offended.
Fumeng Lingcha dared to reach for the position of Prime Minister with these opponents… Wang Chong could only say that though Fumeng Lingcha was very smart and crafty, he was still a Hu that resided far away from the Imperial Court. His political abilities were far less impressive than his martial ones.
He had been thinking about everything too simply.
Politics was not that easy of a game!
"Mm. Since Fumeng Lingcha still has a little hope, let's give him the fatal strike. It's about time. Tell King Song that he can present Dayan Mangban's head," Wang Chong indifferently said.
Xu Keyi couldn't help but laugh. Fumeng Lingcha could only remain so hopeful because of his military record, especially his major achievement at the triangular gap. But once Dayan Mangban's head was presented, everything would change.
A few moments later, a carrier pigeon took off, tearing through the skies of Wushang as it flew toward the capital.
A few days later, as the capital remained locked in a stalemate over what to do with Fumeng Lingcha, the lethal blow arrived. The Lord of Wushang City, the Young Marquis of the Great Tang, the Son of Heaven's disciple, Wang Chong, had submitted a memorial impeaching Fumeng Lingcha for lying on a military report and stealing his military achievements.
Another imperial censor issued a separate impeachment against Fumeng Lingcha. It said that when the five thousand soldiers of the Qixi Protectorate army and General Pulan He were killed, the attack by the White Braves had not come from the Tibetan Plateau, but from the rear of the army, resulting in the grievous losses.
In a dereliction of duty, Fumeng Lingcha had let Dayan Mangban and the White Braves into Wushang, and these Tibetans had even attacked the City of Steel, though the forces led by Wang Chong had managed to fend them off.
Besides that, the whole world knew that Fumeng Lingcha held a grudge against Wang Chong over the Regional Commanders Incident. The Qixi Protectorate army's 'moment of carelessness' that allowed the White Braves in seemed like an accident, but anyone could see what the truth was.
These two incidents together immediately unleashed a tempest in the court.
The momentary lapse in defense could be disregarded, but Wang Chong was the Young Marquis, had received a courtesy name from the Emperor, and had even been given a fief. His impeachment of Fumeng Lingcha held a great deal of weight, and the presentation of Dayan Mangban's head was particularly lethal.
The Tibetans had two commanders at the battle of the triangular gap. One was the world-famous Eagle of the Plateau, Dusong Mangpoje, while the other was that Dayan Mangban who had also killed five thousand soldiers of the Qixi Protectorate army. Fumeng Lingcha had stated this very clearly in his report.
Moreover, in the following reports, more information about Dayan Mangban had been revealed. This man was the Asura War God of the plateau, beneath only Imperial Great General Dusong Mangpoje as one of Ü-Tsang's esteemed Brigadier Generals. His status in Ü-Tsang was far greater than expected.
That one of the highest commanders in the Tibetan army had died not to Fumeng Lingcha, but to Wang Chong, was already enough to show that there was a problem. And even more unreasonable was that such a great achievement had been left completely unmentioned in Fumeng Lingcha's report to the court.
Even a fool would not believe that there were no tricks being played in the battle of the triangular gap.
While Wang Chong's accusation could be said to be one-sided, in the aftermath, the various great clans began to speak out in support of Wang Chong's account, settling the matter. In the construction of Wushang's City of Steel, many of the great clans were investors.
In addition, at the battle of the triangular gap, many members of these great clans had been in that miniature city of steel in the rear, mixed in with the craftsmen. They had witnessed everything that had happened in that battle.
In the past, when Fumeng Lingcha was still Qixi Protector-General, no one would have believed their words, but now, they were Fumeng Lingcha's downfall.
When Wang Chong's memorial was submitted to the court, the Sage Emperor immediately exploded in rage, and all the officials in the capital trembled in fear, their complexions ghastly pale. The kneeling Fumeng Lingcha was even paler, a rain of sweat pouring down from him as his heart turned to ash. He had never expected this twist of events.
Fumeng Lingcha suddenly understood. He finally realized that he had completely underestimated that youth in distant Wushang. In this battle, he had utterly lost. Colluding with the Fourth Prince and entering the War of the Princes, stealing military achievements and lying on a military report, letting in an enemy for the sake of a private grudge… these three incidents added together had completely annihilated his official career.
Fumeng Lingcha was quickly seized and imprisoned. Being thrown into prison despite being an Imperial Great General and Protector-General, Fumeng Lingcha had set a new precedent. It was clear that the Sage Emperor was truly infuriated at Fumeng Lingcha's actions, as someone of his status would have otherwise never been imprisoned.
Although the actual punishment for Fumeng Lingcha had not yet been decided, everyone knew that it was truly over for Fumeng Lingcha.
"This matter is finally over!"
As he was in Wushang, Wang Chong only received the news a few days later. As an Imperial Great General, Fumeng Lingcha had too high of a status, and removing him was as difficult as ascending to the heavens. Wang Chong had exerted a tremendous strength and taken almost three months to depose him from office.
But all this effort and time had been worth it to settle the affair. Without Fumeng Lingcha's hindrance, Wang Chong had free rein to effect his plans in the Western Regions.
"Li Siye, inform the great clans to begin construction on the second steel fortress on the northern edge of the Tibetan Plateau," Wang Chong said.
"Yes, Lord Marquis."
After responding in his vigorous voice, Li Siye quickly left.
While Wang Chong was getting the ball rolling on his plans on the northern border of Ü-Tsang, in the distant capital, a completely different event was taking place. There was no longer any doubt about Fumeng Lingcha's numerous crimes, and he was currently imprisoned, waiting for his punishment.
But this was not the end. On the contrary, a whole new problem now plagued the court.
A country could not be without a sovereign for a single day, and the same principle applied to a border army and its general. This was particularly the case for Qixi, which occupied an important position between the Ü-Tsang Empire and the Western Turkic Khaganate. If there was no Great General standing guard in that vital area when the Tibetans or Turks came attacking, Qixi might be completely lost.
This was why many old officials had hoped that Fumeng Lingcha would be treated leniently and proposed that he be allowed to stay in Qixi and use his deeds to repent for his crimes.
But with Fumeng Lingcha imprisoned, they were now forced to wrangle with the problem.
A luxurious carriage parked outside the King Song Residence, and King Song emerged from within. The old butler, dressed in a blue-green robe, quickly stepped forward to welcome him. "Your Highness!"
King Song grunted, his head lowered and his brow creased.
"Is it still the question of Fumeng Lingcha's successor?" the old butler immediately asked.
King Song sighed and halted.
"Although no one is mentioning it in public, there's already private discussions being held, with everyone hoping to be made Qixi Protector-General. This position might not be as illustrious as Prime Minister, but it's an important and influential position in the army. More importantly, it's one with actual power. In addition, I've heard from the Bureau of Personnel that the Sage Emperor already summoned the Minister of Personnel for a meeting. If all goes as expected, the formal debate for Qixi Protector-General candidates should begin soon. After all, border generals are different from court positions. They can't remain open for too long."
The butler bowed and asked, "Has Your Highness thought of a suitable candidate?"
"Haaa, if I had thought of one, I wouldn't be so vexed right now."
King Song sighed.
"Qixi Protector-General is no minor post. This is a major official of the border, one who is responsible for leading an army of tens of thousands of elites in fending off Ü-Tsang to the west and the Western Turkic Khaganate to the east. This person must be very experienced in battle and be able to hold their own. I thought that Gengzhi, Wang Yan, would be appropriate. He's a very composed and steady commander, and a veteran of ten-some years, certainly fulfilling the experience requirement. In the war of the southwest, if he hadn't arrived so promptly, Erhai's Lion City would have been broken much earlier and the Annan Protectorate army would have been completely wiped out. In this aspect, Wang Yan is a far more able commander than Xianyu Zhongtong. It can be said that after the war of the southwest, Wang Yan is completely capable of holding his own."
"Then what is Your Highness hesitating for?" the old butler asked with a frown.
"Haaa, if only it was so simple. In the Imperial Court, it's an unspoken requirement that Protector-Generals are at the peak of the Saint Martial realm, at the Great General level. Wang Yan is too lacking in this aspect. Still, he's skilled at the Mighty Miracle God Formation, so a little persuasion can get him through that bottleneck. But have you ever noticed? The Qixi Protectorate army consists almost entirely of cavalry!"
King Song sighed.
The old butler was immediately speechless. Qixi was a cavalry army, but Wang Yan led infantry armies. His steady command and ability to defend while attacking and attack while defending were completely based on the foundation of infantry. And truly, if one closely examined the war of the southwest, they would realize that while the Annan Protectorate army did have cavalry, it wasn't very much.
Of the two-hundred-thousand-some soldiers of the Annan Protectorate army, including Wang Yan's army, the vast majority was infantry.
An infantry commander in Wang Yan commanding a cavalry army… this proposal would be rejected as soon as it was brought up.