Chapter 649 – The Grief and Song of Relatives and Others
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
"If you want to know why we have not appeared at the Mausoleum of Books...that is because that level of battle is already beyond our ability to participate in, let alone yours." Tianhai Chenwu stood up from his chair and slowly walked to the door, silent for a few moments before speaking, "As for this conflict in the capital, since I've already made my decision, I will no longer change it."
"Even if Father can so easily make your decision, how can we so easily accept it?"
Tianhai Shengxue's face was as pale as snow.
"I am the patriarch of the Tianhai clan. My decision is the will of the Tianhai clan."
"Father should not forget that the Tianhai clan is the Tianhai clan because the Empress carries the surname of Tianhai!"
"But you must also not forgot that phrase that has circulated throughout the continent for so long: Tianhai is Tianhai, and the Tianhai clan is the Tianhai clan!"
Tianhai Chenwu gazed at his son like he was an idiot and harshly yelled, "For what reason should I have the entire Tianhai clan accompany her to the grave!"
Tianhai Shengxue gave a somewhat despondent laugh, saying, "Could it be that Father believes that when the Empress is no longer here, our Tianhai clan will be able to continue to exist?"
"The truly intelligent person will never reject the slightest chance of survival."
Tianhai Chenwu gazed in the direction of the Mausoleum of Books, the corners of his eyes slightly twitching. He took in a deep breath, forcefully calming his mind, then said in a slightly hoarse voice, "His Holiness and Principal Shang swore an oath to the starry sky; they have no space to back off. Afterwards, if the Imperial Court wishes to stabilize as quickly as possible, they will require our existence."
Tianhai Shengxue said in anguish, "Father, you usually aren't such a naive person. Why have you become so confused?"
"Naive? Confused?" Tianhai Chenwu spontaneously laughed, a tinge of pain and hatred flashing through his eyes, his voice growing even more hoarse. He harshly cried out, "If the final moment had not come, do you think I would have made this sort of decision? Just a moment ago, the Empress saved Chen Changsheng—do you not understand what this means?"
Tianhai Shengxue was slightly startled, then an expression of struggle appeared on his face. He wanted to argue a few words, yet he had no idea where to begin.
"This means that the Empress has already decided to pass down the throne to Chen Changsheng!"
"But...news just came from the Mausoleum of Books that Chen Changsheng is not Crown Prince Zhaoming."
"And how is that important? Regardless of Crown Prince Zhaoming's identity, all that means is that the Empress has never thought about passing the throne to me."
Tianhai Chenwu's voice became even colder. "Since this is the case, why should I let the Tianhai clan split their skulls and spill their blood for her?"
Tianhai Shengxue still could not accept this, saying, "Even if this is the case, could that mean that Father will be able to ascend to the imperial throne afterwards? No! The only person able to ascend to the throne will still be that Crown Prince Zhaoming that no one knows the whereabouts of! Principal Shang has planned for so many years, and he simply will not allow anything else to occur. The Prince of Xiang cannot, the Prince of Zhongshan cannot, and Father, you have no hope either, so what's the difference?"
"The difference is that if the Empress wins, for the sake of her son, she will assuredly do her utmost in the coming years to weaken us, and then just kill us. But if the Empress loses, if her son wishes to rule this country under the watch of the seventeen princes, he will require the Tianhai clan to act as arms."
Tianhai Chenwu's voice was incomparably cold. "After all, we are his mother's family, he is my cousin. We are all one family, no?"
The rain over the capital had already stopped, but a torrential rain was still falling over the distant plains. The occasional lightning bolt in the night sky would illuminate the figures of the Red Falcons shuttling back and forth with startling clarity.
Suddenly, a lightning bolt struck down and a rain of crossbow bolts rose up, a torrential rain flying in reverse, to shoot down a Red Falcon flying south.
Soon after, thunder boomed from the rain clouds, rumbling along while the thundering hooves instead gradually came to a stop. What replaced it was the sound of crossbow bolts whizzing through the air and the clashing of metal.
Similar scenes occurred in many places, taking place in the several great armies preparing to return to the capital as reinforcements. The armies of the Great Zhou fell into turmoil in the rain and then quickly grew quiet, making not a single sound.
Just like that, tens of thousands of cavalry halted their forward march, stopping in the pouring rain in a bizarre silence. No one knew just what had happened.
At the very front of the cavalry of the Great Zhou Mount Song Army returning to the capital from their fort in the Wusong Mountains, a carriage was quietly parked.
With the support of her Guardian, the Old Lady of the Mutuo clan descended from the carriage with great difficulty. Standing in the torrential rain, she gazed at the mass of cavalry before her.
"Where is your general?"
The several thousand cavalry of the Mount Song Army parted like a tide. The seventh-ranked Divine General of the Great Zhou, Tian Song, rode out from the back on a black dragonhorse.
Seeing the old lady standing by the carriage, Divine General Tian Song slightly lowered his head, allowing the rain to wash his armor in silence for a very long time.
Ultimately, he still dismounted from his horse and said awkwardly to the old lady, "This child is wearing a full suit of armor, so cannot bow to Mother."
"At this time, what are you still doing caring about these overly elaborate rituals?"
The Old Lady of the Mutuo clan was not angered by his attitude, only nagged like an old lady, "Your daughter is about to give birth. It's best to quickly return home with me to come and see."
The Black Mountain Camp was the force of the Great Zhou Army most skilled in defense. They were famous for their arrays and were particularly skilled in the use of magical artifacts. Normally, they guarded the capital, and they were deeply trusted by the Divine Empress.
Earlier, because the Demon Lord left Xuelao City and invaded Mount Han, the situation in the north was abnormally tense, so the Black Mountain Camp was transferred to the front by the army, setting up defenses on the frontline of Huayang County. However, they were still not far from the capital. This was because of the several armies returning to the capital tonight, although the cavalry of the Black Mountain Camp were few, they had been the quickest to set off towards the capital.
Until they had been forcefully stopped, by the rain or some other reason, at the heights of Red Pine Valley, thirty li north of the capital.
The pouring rain fell upon the hastily erected tent, banging away, not like war drums, but like a sack full of wine falling against the ground.
The tent was filled with the scent of strong wine, but this did not mean that at this tense moment, there was still someone in the mood to drink and feast. Rather, it was become some bodyguards had suffered significant injuries and were currently being treated.
The commander of the Black Mountain Camp was Divine General Wu Shuang. This Divine General's background was unusual, his bearing elegant and graceful. He commanded his troops strictly, but not harshly, made a clear distinction between punishment and reward, and did not go overboard with either. He was deeply revered and loved by the troops under his command. If a person meant him harm, let alone injury, those bodyguards at his side would even be willing to lose their heads to keep him safe.
But tonight, the situation was different. Those bodyguards could put their life on the line against their opponents.
Divine General Wu Shuang's face was as white as paper, his complexion as frigid as ice. It was clear that he had suffered significant injuries.
His gaze flitted past those Guardians in the tent who he had grown up with, and ultimately rested on his father. His emotions suddenly became agitated and he wanted to stand, yet under the restriction of magical artifacts, he could not move.
He angrily yelled, "The Empress has always treated me with the greatest generosity. Father, by acting this way, are you not making me commit a great injustice!"
The Wu clan head looked at his own son and replied, "The Empress truly does trust you, but has she ever given your clan even an iota of trust?"
Wu Shuang's expression did not change as he said in a deep voice, "The Empress has not treated me unkindly. I cannot turn my back on her."
The Wu clan head's expression also did not change. He indifferently answered, "So your father will not allow you to have any heart of betrayal. Right now, you have the heart, but not the power."
Wu Shuang thought of how his father had led these several Guardians in an ambush and taken him prisoner, and his complexion became even nastier.
The Wu clan head calmly said, "Just accept it...the Empress saving Chen Changsheng at the Mausoleum of Books has directly led to the Tianhai clan's betrayal...could she not even think of this point? But why did she insist on doing this? Because she is Chen Changsheng's mother. Then, could I possibly harm you?"
The troops returning from the Han Province Army had experienced fierce combat. For the moment, they had paused beyond the rain clouds by the Chenggong Mountains.
Tian Chui, sixth-ranked Divine General of the Great Zhou, stood on the corpse-filled battlefield, his two hands gripping his spear.
Ten-odd streams of blood seeped out of the chinks in his armor. His eyes were open extremely wide, brimming with fury.
He stared at those gradually approaching subordinates that he had once fought alongside on the battlefield, those who were once his schoolmates, and sternly yelled, "Even if you lot can kill me, how can you possibly convince the rest? Of the seven armies returning to the capital, even if you kill all of us generals, how can you make the officers and soldiers obey your orders!"
The several dozen soldiers encircling him suddenly parted, and Chen Guansong, Principal of Star Seizer Academy, slowly walked down from the mountain slope.
"Teacher...when did you leave the capital?"
Divine General Tian Chui stared at Chen Guansong and his expression suddenly changed. "Even Teacher...has also rebelled?"
Chen Guansong gazed at him and said, "The Great Zhou Dynasty was never surnamed Tianhai, it was surnamed Chen. The word 'rebel'…as your teacher, I cannot accept it."
This extremely senior member of the Great Zhou Military, who was so low-key that he had almost been forgotten by everyone, gazed at the terrible plight this disciple of his which he had most admired two hundred years ago had ended up in. His face revealed an expression of suffering as he said, "In resisting the demons in the north, you have achieved enormous merit for the sake of humanity. That the Great Zhou has been able to barely keep a balance of power in these past few years is all because of you. As long as you are willing to surrender, His Holiness the Pope, Principal Shang, and the princes would all be elated. You would be able to choose any army in the north to command."
An expression of slight disappointment appeared on Divine General Tian Chui's face. After a moment, all of it dissipated, a tinge of ruthlessness flashing across his face as he asked, "Just why did you do this?"
He did not respond to the advice of his beloved teacher. He only wished to know the reason.
When Chen Guansong left the frontline, he returned to the capital and took the reins of Star Seizer Academy, helping the Great Zhou Imperial Court raise countless outstanding generals. He was assuredly someone deeply trusted by the Divine Empress. Moreover, he understood his teacher and knew that it was impossible for Chen Guansong to endure for two hundred years for the sake of tonight's undertaking. So just what matter had made him stand opposite the Divine Empress?
"I said just before, you are the reason the Great Zhou has been barely able to keep a balance of power in the north with the demons...Xue Xingchuan never leaves the capital, Xu Shiji is incompetent. Crucially, just what is the Divine Empress thinking? Correct, in the end, I became disappointed in the Empress. This is the reason."
Chen Guansong gazed at Tian Chui and said, "I hope that this reason can convince you."
Divine General Tian Chui fell silent for a very long time. Then, he began to laugh, revealing his full mouth of white teeth. His laugh was very miserable, yet also filled with ridicule and scorn.
"And just what do you people know?"
The rain clouds in the sky finally drifted over the Chenggong Mountains.
Torrents of rain fiercely descended, yet they could not wash away the blood on Divine General Tian Chui's armor.
He stared at Chen Guansong, stared at those soldiers who were once his schoolmates and compatriots, his face one of absolute contempt as he declared, "Come."