The Human Emperor - LightNovelsOnl.com
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Edited by: Michyrr
"But, this was no ordinary battle. Senior Brother's battle was one hundred thousand versus five hundred thousand. This was a major victory while being outnumbered…" Little Jianjian angrily retorted, his face utterly unconvinced. He lowered his head, pouting, and clutched his fingers together while his eyes stared at his feet.
"You still dare to talk back!" Su Zhengchen angrily rebuked.
"That's how it's always been," Little Jianjian huffed, but his voice was almost inaudible.
At this moment, another elderly voice came from out of the house. It was different from Su Zhengchen's, less powerful and dignified. "Little Jianjian, enough. Don't talk back to your master. Your master knew of the matter regarding your senior brother some time ago. You should take your leave now."
"I understand, Uncle Fang!"
Little Jianjian stuck out his tongue and made a face before running off.
Little Jianjian had no idea that two elderly pairs of eyes within the house closely watched him leave, only looking away after a long while.
Su Zhengchen was seated in an armchair, his eyes glancing at the old servant next to him as he sternly said, "Fang Hong, you spoil him too much. It was just a battle, and yet he wasn't able to keep his composure at all. How can he command an army like this, plan out strategies, and subjugate the four directions?"
The art of war was one of planning and strategy. On the line were the lives of tens of thousands of soldiers and the people of one's country, making it a matter of utmost importance to the state. Thus, Su Zhengchen had always been strict and harsh when managing his army, and he treated Little Jianjian in the same away.
"Haha, Old Master, there's no need to be so harsh on him. After all, he's just a child of eight or nine. And besides, doesn't Old Master have that child w.a.n.g Chong to inherit your legacy?" the old servant Fang Hong said with a smile.
Surprisingly, Su Zhengchen was momentarily speechless.
The old servant silently smiled. After serving his master for more than half his life, he keenly understood his master's thoughts and plans. Su Zhengchen had never admitted it, but deep down in his heart, he was already treating w.a.n.g Chong as the disciple that would inherit his legacy. Otherwise, why would he teach him the Art of G.o.d and Demon Obliteration, and then also train four thousand Azure Martial Army soldiers for him?
It was just that Su Zhengchen would never admit that out loud.
"You'll spoil this child rotten eventually. I really can't deal with you two!"
Su Zhengchen glared at his nearly sixty-year-old servant, and then turned his eyes on the wine cup on the table, downing it in a single gulp.
The old servant remained silent, but the smile on his face deepened. He took up the white porcelain wine jar and silently filled Su Zhengchen's cup once more.
His master normally didn't drink more than four cups of wine, but this was the eighth time today he had filled his cup, something Su Zhengchen had failed to realize. Although Su Zhengchen claimed that this was just an ordinary battle, Fang Hong could clearly tell that no one was more elated than his master over the news.
Seeing that the wine jar was about to be emptied, the old servant silently exchanged it for a new one and continued to fill Su Zhengchen's cup.
Though he had served his master for many years, Fang Hong had rarely seen him so happy. Particularly after meeting that child he called Chong-er, his master had been smiling more and more frequently, which was a great source of comfort for Fang Hong.
As the news of the victory at Talas continued to spread, its effects on the capital widened.
As the imperial announcements were posted on the city gates of the capital, revealing even more details, the entire capital began to buzz with chatter.
"Hahaha, what did I say? The Young Marquis is the reincarnation of the Heavenly Mandate1 Star, come to a.s.sist His Majesty in sweeping over the barbarians and continuing the Great Tang's golden age."
"To contend against five hundred thousand with one hundred thousand, this Young Marquis is truly the War G.o.d of the new generation! Only the Crown Prince's Junior Guardian w.a.n.g Zhongsi and the War G.o.d from the generation before that, Su Zhengchen, can compare to such accomplishments on the battlefield!"
"Hahaha, he truly is a descendant of Duke Jiu. The w.a.n.g Clan has three generals, a truly loyal and devoted clan. We should request the Sage Emperor and the Imperial Court to grant the w.a.n.g Clan a n.o.ble t.i.tle!"
"That's right! Let's go together to request the Sage Emperor to give the w.a.n.g Clan a n.o.ble t.i.tle!"
Crowds had thronged at the various city gates, gathering together the peddlers, merchants, tyc.o.o.ns, and even the n.o.bles of the capital. Not only that, the tea houses, wine houses, and inns of the capital, or anywhere else where people were gathered, were buzzing with conversation on the gruesome battle that had taken place at Talas.
As everyone loudly chatted, their faces shone with pride.
The talk about granting a n.o.ble t.i.tle to the w.a.n.g Clan had originally been only discussed by the common people, but later on, even officials of the court became deeply convinced and began to submit memorials, eventually creating a loud voice that could not be ignored. And all these memorials eventually gathered in the depths of the Imperial Palace in the Sage Emperor's hands.
Halls loomed within the Imperial Palace, and in the very depths of the Imperial Palace was a golden hall, majestic and solemn. Like a giant bird with unfurled wings, it towered over the Imperial Palace, looking down upon the entire capital.
The Taiji Palace, the residence of the Great Tang's Sage Emperor.
No matter how furious the storms of the outside world, this place would be eternally calm.
"Your Majesty, there was a major victory at Talas. The child w.a.n.g Chong was not unworthy of Your Majesty's great favor. They have already pa.s.sed through the Black Forest, occupied Samarkand, and are continuing onward toward Khorasan, the terminus of the Silk Road. A great deal of foreign territory to the west of the Cong Mountains is now becoming a part of the territory of our Great Tang, and the lands under Your Majesty's command have greatly increased. This is an unprecedentedly grand occasion! At this time, the voices wis.h.i.+ng for the w.a.n.g Clan to receive a n.o.ble t.i.tle are getting louder and louder. This old slave has already received several hundred letters."
Outside the palace, Eunuch Gao stood like the Maitreya Buddha, his hands enclosed in his sleeves as he smiled.
"Your Majesty, the granting of an additional n.o.ble t.i.tle is no small matter. Starting from His Majesty Gaozong's era, it has been many decades since the Imperial Court last granted any great clan a n.o.ble t.i.tle. And the granting of a n.o.ble t.i.tle is tantamount to an iron ticket of pardon, and it might cause unrest and calls for a new government!"
The Imperial Court rarely gave a t.i.tle or commendation to any particular great clan, and this was not simply out of caution.
From past dynasties, one could see that all the great clans that had received n.o.ble t.i.tles would eventually become overly favored and proud, a future problem for the ruling dynasty. Even if the problem was not immediately obvious, their descendants would eventually prove this to be the case.
The common people had no idea of this, but the imperial household had inherited the records from the past dynasties and was well aware. Moreover, the fact that the previous dynasties had rarely granted t.i.tles made the granting of a t.i.tle even more significant.
In the minds of the ministers, such an act was a show of exceptional favor from the Emperor, and it would only take a little while for the people gathered around the enn.o.bled clan to create a powerful faction. This would intensify the factional strife in the Imperial Court and shatter the balance of power.
This was why the Imperial Court was so cautious about granting a n.o.ble t.i.tle to a great clan.
This did not mean it was impossible. A great clan that the imperial household could wholeheartedly trust could receive this unique honor.
The palace was silent, as if it resided in another dimension. No one knew what the Sage Emperor was thinking at this moment.
"Your Majesty, why not have this old slave reject the idea?" Gao Lis.h.i.+ finally said after a few moments of silence.
Although the common people were currently expressing their full approval for this idea, and many of the officials of the court had voiced their agreement, having the Imperial Court refuse wasn't too difficult a task, and there were thousands of reasons that could be used. This had always been the nature of politics.
"There's no need!"
After a few moments, that dignified voice spoke from that palace which wielded the greatest authority in the world.
"Pa.s.s on Our decree. The memorial is granted!"
Gao Lis.h.i.+'s body shuddered, and he suddenly raised his head, his eyes br.i.m.m.i.n.g with disbelief.
This was the first enn.o.bled clan in the Sage Emperor's generation. Not even Old Master Yao had ever received such favor from the Sage Emperor, nor had the highly influential Yao Clan been graced with such an honor.
The enn.o.blement of the w.a.n.g Clan would probably unleash shockwaves that would resonate through the Imperial Court for a long time, perhaps even affect the future structure of the Great Tang.
"Yes! This old slave will carry out the decree!"
Gao Lis.h.i.+ lowered his head and quickly took his leave.
The Sage Emperor had decreed that the Six Bureaus should work to enn.o.ble the w.a.n.g Clan, and this decree instantly sent great waves through the Great Tang.
"Such favor! What level of favor is this! Yes, the people are abuzz, and those who wish for the w.a.n.g Clan to be enn.o.bled are particularly elated, but the reaction in the court is entirely different. I didn't think that the Sage Emperor would so highly regard w.a.n.g Chong and the w.a.n.g Clan."
An old imperial censor was in shock at the news, his eyes going round with disbelief.
Deep within the Imperial Palace, the Yuzhen Palace…
"Hahaha, Little Sister, you see? See how your adopted brother has done! How great of an honor is this, to be acknowledged as a fiercely loyal clan! You and I might not have any roots in the palace, but as long as we have the support of my sworn brother and the w.a.n.g Clan, our position in society will be as firm as rock. We might even be able to sit on the same level as King Song and King Qi, becoming the third major faction!"
Yang Zhao, dressed in his white Confucian robes and wearing a black hat, strode into the palace with a scholar's bearing. But even though he did his best to mimic the manners of a scholar, he was still rather lacking. After taking only a few paces, he returned to his original demeanor. His head held high, he bounded happily into the hall toward Consort Taizhen.
"Big Brother, you've truly done something of great advantage to us this time!"
The jade curtains rippled as a foot that seemed to be carved of white jade extended outward. Consort Taizhen, supported by a gorgeous maid, rose and slowly walked out.
Consort Taizhen was also joyous at this moment. Her brother was lazy and an unrepentant gambler, and in the several months after coming to the capital, he had gambled away all his traveling expenses. He had spent day after day in the gambling dens, even begging on the streets for money—a truly disappointing brother.
But he had his good points along with his shortcomings. After spending so much time in the capital, he had at least managed to accomplish one good thing.
Just as he had said, w.a.n.g Chong had gifted her two poems, so Consort Taizhen had let King Song go, and Yang Zhao was able to become sworn brothers with w.a.n.g Chong. The two parties were so closely related that outsiders had long ago begun to regard them as being of the same faction. With the support of w.a.n.g Chong and the w.a.n.g Clan, she would no longer be bereft of any backers in the court or palace.
"Come; take me to see His Majesty. I wish to personally leave the palace to visit the w.a.n.g Clan and see this Madam Zhao!"
1.The Heavenly Mandate, or Mandate of Heaven, was the belief that Heaven bestowed the right to rule onto the Emperors of China, and Heaven's approval was witnessed through prosperity while natural disasters and incompetence were signs that the Mandate of Heaven had been withdrawn.↩