The Human Emperor Chapter 1671 - The Retired Grand Commandant! (I)
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Chapter 1671: The Retired Grand Commandant! (I)
“To think that so quickly after the Sage Emperor withdrew, the empire would reach this stage!”
Gao Xianzhi sighed once more, a complicated look on his face. Gao Xianzhi had experienced the golden age of the Great Tang, and could even be said to have been one of its architects. He had played a major role in the Great Tang’s push into the Western Regions and the stabilization of the area.
But the situation had changed as time pa.s.sed, and the Great Tang was beginning to show signs of decline. Gao Xianzhi was well aware that an empire that began to feud with itself would weaken itself.
“These are all just rumors that can’t be verified,” w.a.n.g Chong finally said. “And King Song has refused to say a word about his poisoning, so not even I can determine the truth. But there are simply too many things taking place in the empire right now. The First Prince has proposed having a.s.sistant Minister of the Bureau of Military Personnel Kong Wu temporarily replace Lord Zhangchou. I’m afraid that King Song’s matter is also connected to that man!”
“That man is simply too impatient. He is, after all, of the Sage Emperor’s bloodline. Won’t the realm still be his after one hundred years pa.s.s? It’s not even worthwhile for him to do such a thing.”
Gao Xianzhi repeatedly shook his head and sighed.
“If he were really that sort of person, he would never have done something like this, nor would His Majesty have still not named him Crown Prince!” w.a.n.g Chong coldly said.
If the First Prince had been a kind and benevolent sovereign, w.a.n.g Chong would have never urged his big uncle w.a.n.g Gen to distance himself from the First Prince. Perhaps if he had been a little gentler and kinder, then even if his abilities had not been very formidable, the Sage Emperor would have long ago made him the Crown Prince on the basis that he was the eldest son, and w.a.n.g Chong would have had no need to recommend Fifth Prince Li Heng.
Alas, the First Prince was simply not that sort of person. The death of Jade Consort Xiao was proof enough of that.
“The Great Tang is entering an autumn of many troubles. I worry that this is only the beginning, and the ending is far in the distance. Although I’ve been called back from the Western Regions, as long as the successor dispatched by the First Prince is able to stabilize the area, I wouldn’t have too many complaints. Matters of state are much more important than personal losses.
“But I worry that the First Prince is underestimating the ambition of the Arabian Empire. Before leaving, I had received word that the Arabian Empire was already growing restless. We advanced all the way to Khorasan last time, but in the end, we still didn’t enter Baghdad. The Arabian Empire still has its vigor, and if Arabia starts trouble again, I truly don’t know who will be there to stop them!”
Gao Xianzhi emotionally sighed. The thought of that bitter campaign made him take another glance at the youth seated across from him.
After the battles of Talas and Khorasan, the prestige of the Anxi Protectorate army had risen to a whole new level. Many people said that the Anxi War G.o.d truly deserved his t.i.tle of the Wall of the Empire, and if he had not been there, victory would have been impossible.
But only Gao Xianzhi understood that if not for the reinforcements and strategies of this youth, the war would have been lost long ago.
His strength alone would have been wholly insufficient to resist the Arabian Empire that had top-cla.s.s generals like Abu Muslim and Qutaybah!
On the battlefield, this youth had stabilized the entire western border, and now in the court, all the pressure in the empire had been laid on his shoulders. Gao Xianzhi had only heard about all the things that had happened while he was in the Western Regions, like King Song being poisoned, Zhangchou Jianqiong being attacked, and the various incidents concerning the Confucian Sect, but w.a.n.g Chong had been through all of them. Gao Xianzhi didn’t dare to imagine what the empire would look like if w.a.n.g Chong hadn’t been there.
The empire needed this youth more than anyone else at a moment like this!
Unknowingly, without even the man himself realizing it, w.a.n.g Chong had become the center of the empire.
This was why, rather than following custom and reporting to the Imperial Court and the First Prince upon his return, he had chosen to have a private meeting with w.a.n.g Chong.
The carriage was quiet as w.a.n.g Chong thought.
At this time, the two Great Generals were deeply concerned about this ma.s.sive empire that had prospered for several centuries. In truth, this was a concern shared by all the generals on the border, but it had remained pent up in their hearts.
“Did you bring the thing I asked of you?” w.a.n.g Chong asked.
Gao Xianzhi sternly nodded.
“I thought that you didn’t want it. You need only ask, and I and all the generals on the border will support you.”
As Gao Xianzhi spoke, he took a prepared letter from his bosom and pa.s.sed it over. w.a.n.g Chong didn’t even glance at it before putting it away. Gao Xianzhi did not ask and w.a.n.g Chong did not look. The two seemed to share a tacit understanding.
After giving the letter to w.a.n.g Chong, Gao Xianzhi opened the door and left. The entire process had taken place without alarming a single bystander.
I should go and see that man now.
As this thought ran through w.a.n.g Chong’s mind, the carriage began to turn toward another part of the city.
After pa.s.sing through various streets and thronging crowds, the carriage finally arrived at a restaurant.
The carriage door opened, and w.a.n.g Chong walked out, dressed in casual clothes. In front of him was an ordinary restaurant made of gray brick, and even the roof tiles were drab and gloomy. Only the restaurant banner hanging from the second-floor balcony, black words on a red background, appeared to stand out, but even this was mottled black, appearing rather old.
w.a.n.g Chong glanced at the words written in ancient script on the placard. This was an extremely ordinary restaurant, and thousands like it could be found in the capital. They catered to the wealthier common folk.
The majority of the prices in this restaurant were very agreeable. For a few strings of cash, one could get a large bowl of food. While the quality, appearance, or variety of the food couldn’t compare to Vast Crane Pavilion, it was very tasty.
“Young Master, do you plan to eat inside?”
w.a.n.g Chong had just entered when a waiter with a white towel tossed across his shoulder came up to welcome him. He examined this youth with great curiosity. Normally, only ordinary commoners ate at the restaurant, and the likes of n.o.ble scions, members of great clans, or major merchants were incredibly rare. From the luxuriousness of w.a.n.g Chong’s clothes, one could tell at a glance that he didn’t belong here.
w.a.n.g Chong grunted and strode inside.
This waiter clearly didn’t recognize him. Ordinary commoners only worried about basic necessities of life and would pay little attention to the affairs of the court. It was very normal to not know his face.
“Waiter, why isn’t my food ready yet?!”
“You rotten old man, you really did come here to get drunk! You come back this instant!”
“Shopkeeper, three jin of white spirits and five jin of beef to go!”
The restaurant was packed and noisy. As w.a.n.g Chong made his way through the restaurant, he inspected his surroundings.
Little care had been given to the arrangement of the restaurant, and the decorations were not lavish, but the place was extremely clean. When the occasional child caused a mess on the ground, the waiters would quickly clean it up. The people here were happily chatting with each other, drinking and gambling, and some of them were so relaxed and easy that they put their feet up on the chairs as if this place was their own home.
w.a.n.g Chong didn’t find this sight strange. Smiling, he continued onward.
Going past rows of tables, he walked onto the second floor. In a corner on the eastern side of the second floor, w.a.n.g Chong finally saw the man he wanted to meet.
Here was a small table about four feet square. The table was so old that the paint was peeling off, and one could see that the wood had begun to splinter in many parts. Several small plates had been placed on the table—ordinary foods like radish-stewed brisket, ginger stir-fried chicken, and stir-fried vegetables.
Sitting by the table was a thin old man wearing an azure robe. A pair of wooden chopsticks was ferrying food into his mouth as he took a sip of wine. His eyes were slightly closed and his expression calm and relaxed. He seemed to be greatly enjoying himself.
While the old man seemed a little strange, this sort of customer was a frequent sight in this kind of restaurant.
w.a.n.g Chong’s eyes scanned his body and quickly spotted the azure jade token at his waist.
It should be him.
w.a.n.g Chong quickly walked over to the elder.
“Junior w.a.n.g Chong pays respects to the venerable Grand Commandant.”
w.a.n.g Chong went up to the table and deeply bowed.
The chopsticks froze in mid-air.
The old man, who had been sipping his alcohol and enjoying his personal time, instantly froze the moment he heard the words ‘venerable Grand Commandant’.
This change in emotion further confirmed w.a.n.g Chong’s suspicions. If he hadn’t investigated the matter for so long and found out everything he could about this old man, he would have scarcely believed that this was the retired Grand Commandant whose prestige was almost equal to Master Zhu. He had retired long ago from the Imperial Court, and the post of Grand Commandant had even been abolished in the reign of the previous emperor.
But this man still wielded enormous influence in the court, even exceeding Duke Jiu in some aspects.
w.a.n.g Chong had noticed this matter because of the previous militarist-Confucian conflict.
When he published Might Makes Right and stunned the Confucian Sect, even forcing Master Zhu to step forward and reproach him, almost the entire world had criticized him. But there had been a significant number of officials and Confucians who had not taken part.
The reason for this situation was the retired Grand Commandant of the Great Tang, who was at present more than ninety years old.
The retired Grand Commandant had a candid and upright personality. His mindset had long ago transcended the militarist-Confucian conflict. For him, there was only one thing that determined good or evil, right or wrong: was it of benefit to the Great Tang and its people? As for the difference of opinion between the militarists and the Confucian Sect, the retired Grand Commandant didn’t care.
The Human Emperor Chapter 1671 - The Retired Grand Commandant! (I)
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The Human Emperor Chapter 1671 - The Retired Grand Commandant! (I) summary
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