The Human Emperor Chapter 1037
Chapter 1037: Troublemakers At Court Iv
Chapter 1037: Troublemakers at Court! (IV)
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
The Grand Preceptor was the leader of the Three Dukes, the guiding light of the civil officials. It was clear that his words had influenced the Sage Emperor. Although the words 'We understand' did not indicate a particular stance, they were a symbol of a major shift in the debate, a massive sign of favor.
The generals in the hall all felt their hearts sink. With the weight of the Grand Preceptor, the Sage Emperor was clearly beginning to lean toward the civil officials. Talas was in the middle of a crisis and had sent many letters urgently requesting reinforcements. If this proposal could not be passed, Wang Chong and Gao Xianzhi were almost certain to lose.
This was two Imperial Protector-Generals!
The Sage Emperor seemed on the verge of making his decision when suddenly, a gentle breeze heralded the entrance of someone into the hall. At the same time, everyone heard a voice in their ear.
"Your Majesty, this old subject has something to say!"
As this voice spoke, a gentle aura like that of warm sunlight shining over the earth appeared in everyone's perception. At the entrance to the hall, a white-haired and straight-backed figure wearing a white cloth robe stepped over the threshold and slowly walked in.
Waaaa! The sight of this figure immediately caused an uproar.
"Duke… Duke Jiu!"
As someone blurted out this name, the generals began to chatter amongst themselves while the civil officials were left dumbfounded. Even the Grand Preceptor, who had just been preparing to sit back down, felt his heart sink and his body shiver.
The Great Tang's Duke Jiu!
The wise minister of a golden age!
This was a most prestigious and most respected individual of the Great Tang. Even though he had retired decades ago to the Four Quarters Embassy, he still wielded enormous influence and reputation within society. Not even the Grand Preceptor could compare to him.
The name 'Duke Jiu' was enough to symbolize his prestige.
Wang Gen was also shocked to see his father appear. Just as he planned to go over, Duke Jiu shot him a glance that made him immediately stop.
"Grand Preceptor, it's been a long time since we last met!"
Wang Jiuling slowly stepped forward, holding a cane and smiling gently.
All the officials in the hall respectfully lowered their heads to this elderly figure and retreated to the sides. Even Grand Scribe Yan Wenzhang had a solemn and deferential look on his face as he bowed and yielded the path.
As one of the architects of the Great Tang's golden age, Duke Jiu wielded an influence in court that was nigh unimaginable. Many of the important officials in court had even heard the legends of Duke Jiu while they were growing up.
The white wooden cane in Duke Jiu's hand crisply clacked against the floor as he slowly walked forward.
"Jiuling pays respects to His Majesty!"
After walking several zhang, Duke Jiu suddenly stopped and gave a slight bow to that figure seated behind the bead curtains.
"You also came."
The voice resounded over the hall, still supreme and dignified, but there was also a tiny tinge of warmth.
The Sage Emperor and Duke Jiu were sovereign and subject, one complementing the other. Together, they had created a thirty-year golden age for the Great Tang, and their feats had captivated the entirety of the Great Tang. Although Duke Jiu had retired decades ago, it was clear that he still had a high place in the hearts of the people and the Sage Emperor.
The Grand Preceptor felt his heart sink. Although the Sage Emperor had only said a few simple words, the friendship expressed in them made the Grand Preceptor's eyes go wide.
"Jiuling, have you come for the sake of your grandson?"
The Grand Preceptor cut straight to the point, his eyes sharp and fierce.
Duke Jiu chuckled as he frankly admitted, "Yes, but also no."
"The Great Tang has a law that in a court debate, all those related, including by blood, should recuse themselves. Jiuling should know this."
Amongst the officials, only the Grand Preceptor, the leader of the civil officials, could directly address Duke Jiu as 'Jiuling'. Both were old officials who had served under two Emperors, and both were over seventy.
"When recommending talent, view even those you have grudges with and your own son with an objective eye," Duke Jiu said with a faint smile.
"But Wang Chong is your grandson!" The Grand Preceptor harshly stared at Duke Jiu.
"Haha, Zhongmi hasn't changed at all from how you were back then."
Duke Jiu softly chuckled, casting aside the Grand Preceptor's accusations like they were the spring breeze. The Grand Preceptor was of such stature that even Imperial Princes like King Song and King Qi had to treat him with great respect, let alone officials like Jiang Yunrang and Yan Wenzhang. No one except perhaps Duke Jiu could speak the Grand Preceptor's name in front of the assembled court.
"Even though that naughty grandson of mine is the cause of this Talas incident, at its basis, it is still a matter of war and peace. Thus, Wang Chong might be my grandson, but that is no reason for me to recuse myself from this debate."
Duke Jiu extended his cane and continued forward.
Everyone in the hall followed him. Duke Jiu walked very slowly but steadily. Every person felt an unusual harmony from his body, like the soft drizzle of the spring rain silently becoming one with the entire world.
In the upper reaches of the hall, the Grand Preceptor's face was ashen. This was no ordinary court debate, but one that concerned the root of the quarrel between civil and military officials. At a time like this, the person he least wanted to see was Wang Jiuling.
"Jiuling also heard the Grand Preceptor's words. Jiuling has broken the exception and left Four Quarters Embassy to step into court to speak of a single matter. To seek peace through war will allow one to live in peace, but to seek peace through peace will cause one to die in peace. It was on this basis that when this old subject was a minister, when the Eastern and Western Turks were raiding the border, this old subject chose to lead an army to subjugate the Turkic steppe and defeat the Turks, even though this subject knew that negotiation was an option. It is precisely this war that bought ten-some years of peace, as the Turks did not dare to recklessly raid our borders.
"The Arabs have never had any relationship with this empire. If we seek peace before the war, the other party will think lightly of us, underestimate the Great Tang, and in the future, the Great Tang will be plunged into endless conflict. Thus, for the peace of the Great Tang and the people of the world, this old subject believes that Talas being reinforced as quickly as possible is the superior policy."
With these words, Duke Jiu straightened his body, tidied his sleeves, and gave a deep bow.
The hall was so quiet that one could hear a pin drop. Duke Jiu was a renowned and admired minister, the architect of the Great Tang's golden age. With his status, his words held an abnormal amount of weight. This did not merely arise from his perspective on the situation at Talas, but also the fact that he was speaking from his decades of experience as Prime Minister, experience that no one could deny.
To deny Duke Jiu was to deny the Great Tang's golden age and its current peace and prosperity.
For a moment, the hall was eerily quiet. Everyone had a thoughtful expression on their face. Even civil officials like Yan Wenzhang, Zheng Chengli, and Zhou Taiqin looked pensive.
Beneath the colonnade, King Song breathed a long sigh of relief. Not even he had predicted that Duke Jiu would leave the Four Quarters Embassy and come to court. The Grand Preceptor was an old official who had served under two Emperors and possessed such status that not even he, an Imperial Prince, could say much in front of him. If not for Duke Jiu, the matter of Talas would have been settled and they really would have been forced to retreat.
The Great Tang's rule over the Western Regions would have been brought to an end and the trilateral alliance of the Arabs, Tibetans, and Western Turks would have inflicted endless disasters.
"Damn old thing, ruining my plans!"
No one was more furious than King Qi, his teeth clenched and his face twisted in rage. He had believed that he could use the power of the civil officials to thoroughly quash King Song and the Wang Clan. Little had he expected Duke Jiu to immediately wreck his plans. As for Grand Preceptor Zhan Zhongmi, his grimace was extremely unsightly.
"Jiuling, don't forget that you are also a civil official!!" Zhan Zhongmi couldn't help but warn.
In this most serious conflict between civil and military officials in the history of the Great Tang, the final reversal had not come from the military, but from a civil official. Zhan Zhongmi had never imagined this.
"Haha, many years ago, Zhongmi was like this in front of our teacher. How have you still not understood? Why do you still cling so rigidly to the divide of civil and military? In Jiuling's heart, there is no distinction between civil and military, only a single country. All this is for the sake of the Great Tang and its people. With regards to Talas, only through war can we obtain peace, while seeking peace will only cause us to suffer the chaos of war. This is why Jiuling supports reinforcing the northwest!"
As Duke Jiu vigorously proclaimed these words, his face slowly turned grim.
Viewing both enemies and relatives with an objective eye, making no distinction between civil and military, placing the country above all—this was Duke Jiu!
Saying this was simple, but just how many people could actually do it?
Duke Jiu's words caused the entire court to buzz with chatter, the officials exchanging glances as they talked. All of them only knew that Duke Jiu and the Grand Preceptor both belonged to the civil path, but based on what Duke Jiu had said, the two were actually fellow pupils. This relationship left all of them flabbergasted.
"Your Majesty, this old subject objects! A country might be vast, but a love of war will be its doom! The Great Tang is involved in wars year in and year out, expending enormous resources. It is not the time to start another border conflict with Arabia!" the Grand Preceptor harshly said.
"Your Majesty, this subject agrees with the venerable Grand Preceptor!" a resounding voice immediately declared. The icy King Qi suddenly stepped forward as he proclaimed his agreement. Duke Jiu's words had too much weight in court, and King Qi was worried that if he did not speak out, he would not have a chance to do so in the future.
"This subject agrees!"
"This subject agrees!"
"This subject agrees!"
Now that the Grand Preceptor and King Qi had spoken, those civil officials who were firmly anti-war once more voiced their agreement, but their numbers were greatly reduced. It was obvious that Duke Jiu's prestige in the court had had an effect.