The Human Emperor Chapter 1026
Chapter 1026: King Songs Worries
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
The court debate lasted from morning to dusk, with the quarreling reaching unprecedented levels. As night fell, a golden carriage decorated with dragons rode out of the Imperial Palace. Within, King Song was beside himself with concern.
His old butler, hands shrouded within his sleeves, worriedly asked, "Your Highness, the matter of Talas is not proceeding smoothly?"
King Song had often encountered obstructions in court, but he was rarely ever this worried.
King Song nodded, making no attempt to hide it from the old butler.
"Your Highness, be at ease. The matter of Talas will definitely turn out fine. King Qi has always opposed you, but haven't your proposals been passed anyway?" the old butler comforted.
King Song couldn't help but give a long sigh at these words.
"If only it were so simple as King Qi making things difficult and drumming up the ministers of court into opposition. This time, however, King Qi isn't opposing anything, just watching from the sides. The true opposition are the civil officials of the Great Tang!"
Bzzz! At these words, the old butler fell silent in shock. Even though the old butler rarely paid attention to matters of court, he still knew that the political conflict between civil and military officials was even more vicious than factional disputes. If it was the civil officials and not King Qi that were opposing further deployment of soldiers, this matter was of a completely different nature.
King Song continued in an extremely grave tone, "After decades of peace, everyone has grown too used to these peaceful days, grown increasingly disgusted by war. I worry that this is only the beginning."
The debate in court intensified, and as it dragged on, the name of Arabia began to echo through every street and alley of the Great Tang. Arabia, Ü-Tsang, the Western Turks, and Talas were now terms frequently used within the restaurants and tea houses.
While the capital was buzzing with chatter over this trilateral alliance, a golden-clawed eagle flapped its wings and took off like a lightning bolt to the northeast. Several days later, in the Andong Protectorate of Youzhou, the cross-legged Zhang Shougui extended his hand and took a letter from one of his guards. The tent fell silent as everyone in the surroundings turned to this War God of the Great Tang's northeast.
"Haha, these lowly scholars! Without the conquests of the soldiers, how would the Great Tang have achieved its current peace? That boy in Talas has miscalculated. If he had lost this battle, the Imperial Court might have immediately raised soldiers, but since he had to win, getting any soldiers out of the court is far easier said than done."
At this moment, a voice came from behind Zhang Shougui, belonging to Zhao Kan, a deputy general of the Andong Protectorate army, who had an expression of deep respect on his face. "Milord, the matter of Talas is currently the talk of the capital. Wang Chong and Gao Xianzhi claim in their letter that the Arabs have four hundred thousand soldiers about to descend upon Talas. Moreover, once the Arabs win, they will send an unending flood of soldiers. Can one Arabia really have this many soldiers? Just how much truth is there in this matter?"
"It's all true, of course!"
To his surprise, Zhang Shougui confirmed the news without even thinking.
"When I was presiding over Longxi, I heard that the Arabs were a ferocious people who loved war and that they had conquered many countries west of the Cong Mountains. At the time, I even privately sent some people to gather intelligence and determine if this was true. Thus, I had already concluded at that time that one mountain would not be able to hold two tigers, and that a war between Arabia and the Great Tang was inevitable in the future! Everyone in the Imperial Court believes that Gao Xianzhi and that boy are exaggerating, but I know that they definitely don't have this daring… Deceiving the sovereign is no minor crime!"
The generals of Youzhou were all stunned by this conclusion.
Talas was incredibly far away, and the entire court was in a fog about the situation there. No one had expected that in the faraway northeast, on the other end of the world, their own Protector-General would seem to know the situation like the back of his hand. But they quickly began to come around.
"Haha, given how Gao Xianzhi and Wang Chong are acting, they definitely don't have more than sixty thousand soldiers. If it's really as they say, then when the four hundred thousand soldiers of Arabia come, won't they be doomed if they don't get any reinforcements from the court?"
"Hmph, who can they blame for that? Gao Xianzhi is a junior who simply can't compare to our lord in seniority and martial arts. But after winning a few victories, he dares to call himself a War God, believing that he has the right to stand on equal level with our lord. He didn't even think for a moment. Our lord's achievements are not something that one can compare to! As for that boy, he relied on the backing of his clan to oppose Protector-General in the capital. How utterly absurd! I'd like to see how these two try and compete against our lord after this crisis in Talas!"
"Hahaha, that's what you call bringing trouble on oneself!"
The people in the tent were all laughing and jeering, delighted looks on their faces. To the Andong Protectorate army, neither Gao Xianzhi nor Wang Chong were good people. Gao Xianzhi had never displayed much respect to Zhang Shougui, and Wang Chong had humiliated the Protector-General by killing Ashina Sugan in the capital. No one here had a good impression of them.
Zhang Shougui sat in the tent, one hand lightly tapping on the table as he silently smiled.
At this moment, a messenger rushed into the tent, a letter held in his hands as he got down on one knee.
"Lord Protector-General, a letter has arrived from Talas. Milord, please examine it!"
The tent became eerily silent. Everyone turned as one to the messenger, and even Zhang Shougui raised an eyebrow and turned his head.
Talas was a land beyond the borders of civilization and had never been ruled over by the Great Tang. A few months ago, no one would have even heard its name, but now, even everyone in Youzhou had heard of it.
"Milord, what's going on? Why would we receive a letter from Talas at a time like this?"
To Zhang Shougui's right sat a Hu with a savage face who wore a white robe. At this time, this man had a deep crease in his brow.
Unlike the others in the tent, he had a pair of snowy-white eyebrows. There was practically no one in Youzhou who did not know his name.
This was a famous general under Zhang Shougui, a fierce Hu that Zhang Shougui had recruited in Youzhou, and a Brigadier General! He was an exceptionally capable commander.
The other generals turned to Zhang Shougui in silence.
"Mm, whatever he wants, we'll know when we read the letter."
Zhang Shougui grinned as he waved at the messenger.
Zhang Shougui soon took the letter and pored through it, and his complexion instantly turned strange.
"Hahaha, interesting, interesting!"
Zhang Shougui suddenly let out a bellow that startled everyone else in the tent.
"Milord, what's happened?" Baizhen Tuoluo said.
"Heh, truly interesting! That Wang brat in Talas has actually sent a letter requesting aid. He wants me to send a group of soldiers to give him a hand."
Zhang Shougui roared with laughter.
"Help them? How is that possible? Are they insane?"
"To think that they would think to request reinforcements from the Andong Protectorate army! They might as well hope that the sun rises from the west!"
This news left everyone in the tent dumbfounded. They had just been talking about Wang Chong and the soldiers at Talas when a letter arrived from them requesting aid. How ridiculous was that!
Zhang Shougui's expression was strange, and he only faintly smiled as he gave the letter to Baizhen Tuoluo.
"Zhao Kan, Baizhen Tuoluo, the rest of you, read it and tell me what you think."
Baizhen Tuoluo stared blankly for a moment as he subconsciously took the letter and began to read it together with the other generals in the tent.
"Milord, I believe that you can ignore this letter. The matter of Talas is for the Imperial Court to handle. It is not our place to speak," Baizhen Tuoluo said as he read through the letter. "Moreover, Youzhou is incredibly far from Talas. Gao Xianzhi and that brat shouldn't be seeking help from us, not even taking into account the grudge he has with Milord."
In the emergency that Talas was in, the Andong Protectorate army was possibly the worst place to request reinforcements from.
"Zhao Kan, what do you think?"
Zhang Shougui faintly smiled and turned to his deputy Zhao Kan.
"Milord, this general holds the same view as Baizhen Tuoluo. Your subordinate believes that there is no need to worry about this letter. We can act as if we never received it," Zhao Kan said.
The rest of the people in the tent nodded in agreement. Zhang Shougui and Wang Chong had quarreled before, and his grandfather Wang Jiuling had even censured Zhang Shougui once. If not for him, Zhang Shougui might have already been made Prime Minister.
Zhang Shougui's right hand lightly rapped against the table, and then he said something that left everyone stupefied.
"Zhao Kan, Baizhen Tuoluo, the two of you have followed me for many years and reached the Brigadier General level long ago, but the two of you still remain at that level. Yet that Wang Clan brat managed to seat himself in the throne of the Qixi Protector-General in less than a year. Do the two of you know where you differ from him?"
Everyone in the tent was dumbfounded, Zhao Kan and Baizhen Tuoluo included. They had all believed that the grudges between the Protector-General and the Wang Clan meant that he would never help Wang Chong in this incident. But this clearly did not seem to be the case.
"I have private grudges with that Wang Clan brat and Wang Jiuling. If we were to privately meet, it wouldn't be overboard if I killed him. However, this Wang Clan brat is seeking helping for the public good, for the people and the country. If I were to place my private grudges over the public good and refuse him, wouldn't I be proving that Zhang Shougui is so narrow-minded that he can't even compare to one of Wang Jiuling's grandsons? This would also prove that Wang Jiuling's words about me from back then were right.
"Moreover, everything is fine while Talas is fine, but if something goes wrong and an investigation is conducted, do you think that I would be able to hide the fact that Wang Chong requested help from me, and I refused, from the Imperial Court and the Sage Emperor?"
Zhang Shougui's words plunged the tent into dumbfounded silence. They had only been thinking about the grudges between the Andong Protectorate army and the Wang Clan, but never about this aspect. In serving Zhang Shougui for so many years, they had learned a little about the Sage Emperor's style from Zhang Shougui's accounts. If this matter got out, the consequences would not be light.
"But, Milord, that brat has defied Milord so many times. Do we really have to bow to his threats and send him soldiers?" Zhao Kan and Baizhen Tuoluo said, extreme reluctance on their faces.