The Human Emperor Chapter 488
Chapter 488: Move Out The Southwest
Chapter 488: Move Out! The Southwest!
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
After finishing off the last Wootz Steel sword, Wang Chong finally emerged from the cave. But he ignored the summons from the Imperial Court, boarding his carriage for elsewhere. His destination was not the Wang Clan Residence; instead, the carriage turned at Vermillion Bird Street and headed toward the office of the Minister of War.
He was greeted by a large board painted black, with the words 'Minister of War' written on it in large letters.
This was Zhangchou Jianqiong's new place of work.
From the moment he took the position, Zhangchou Jianqiong had replaced everyone in the Minister of War's office with his own group of people from the southwest. Through this method, Zhangchou Jianqiong had placed the entirety of the office under his firm control.
But when Wang Chong arrived, the entire office was blanketed in a somber and heavy mood. Anyone who passed by would be able to feel that melancholy and oppressive air.
Almost everyone in the Minister of War's office had their heads lowered.
Zhangchou Jianqiong had originally been the protector-general for the southwest, and the current defeat in the southwest had resulted in the deaths of 100,000 of the 180,000 elites and the imminent massacre of almost a million civilians at the hands of Mengshe Zhao and -Tsang.
One could easily imagine the pressure these officers from the southwest were facing.
Although no one had said anything, as they were former officers of the Annan Protectorate, all the blame for this affair rested on them.
At present, there was almost no one in the Minister of War's office who didn't recognize Wang Chong.
Although no one knew his purpose, when Wang Chong appeared at the gate, he was quickly ushered in.
In the innermost confines of the Minister of War's office, Wang Chong saw the downtrodden figure of Zhangchou Jianqiong, so haggard that it seemed like he had suffered through some terrible torture.
Wang Chong tidied his clothes, walked in, and bowed.
Zhangchou Jianqiong's eyes momentarily lit up at the sight of Wang Chong, but they hurriedly dimmed as he lowered his head once more in dejection.
Given the Wang Clan's status and the relationship Wang Chong had with Yang Zhao and Consort Taizhen, Zhangchou Jianqiong should have greeted him with warm enthusiasm, but he truly was not in the mood.
Nor was this a good time to receive guests.
All of society was currently focused on the southwest, apparently allowing Zhangchou Jianqiong to escape any disaster for now. But in reality, only Zhangchou Jianqiong knew that all the pressure and criticism was actually gathering on his body.
In the most recent morning court sessions, he had even felt the occasional unkind gaze from the other prestigious officials.
Zhangchou Jianqiong understood what all these officials were thinking.
'If you hadn't been so set on entering the capital, the southwest would have never turned out this way. Moreover, you might be the Minister of War now and, in the strictest sense of the word, unrelated to the matter of the southwest
'But Xianyu Zhongtong was someone that you recommended, and the southwest was your territory. Now 100,000 Great Tang elites have died and Li Zhengyi's reinforcements were ambushed.
'This was all because you recommended the wrong person. You carry unavoidable blame in this catastrophe.'
This invisible pressure could push anyone to the breaking point, and even more concerningly, Zhangchou Jianqiong himself believed that this was his mistake.
In the current situation, he probably wouldn't even be able to hold onto his position of Minister of War, and with the loss of his territory in the southwest, he would also probably lose the right to stand in court.
Plagued by problems both internal and external, Zhangchou Jianqiong was mentally exhausted, lacking even the energy to greet Wang Chong.
"Milord is troubled over the southwest?" Wang Chong calmly asked as he seated himself across from Zhangchou Jianqiong.
"Haha, other than that, what else could it be?" Zhangchou Jianqiong replied with a bitter smile.
In his view, Wang Chong's question was completely unnecessary. Even an idiot could probably understood how poor his situation was. Mengshe Zhao and -Tsang had unexpectedly joined forces. In the past, even if he were beaten to death, he wouldn't have dared to believe such a thing.
But all of this had really happened.
He had barely left and Dalun Ruozan and Huoshu Huicang were already holding his feet to the fire.
It seemed like he wouldn't be Minister of War for very long.
"Since Milord is worried about this matter, why not leave the Bureau of Military Personnel and lead an army to the southwest?" Wang Chong said.
"Leave? I'm the Minister of War. I have to supervise the matters of the Imperial Court. How can I just leave and participate in a war on the front lines? In the three hundred years since the founding of the Great Tang, have you ever heard of a Minister of War who went to fight a war on the front lines?" Zhangchou Jianqiong said.
In his view, Wang Chong's advice was a complete joke.
If he went in his capacity as Minister of War to lead a charge through the front lines, who would handle the Minister of War's affairs? A snake had a snake path and a mouse had a mouse path, but both were completely different from each other.
"While it's true that the rules of the court cannot be discarded, if Milord forces the issue, which official would dare to stop you? The entire empire is currently focused on the southwest. As long as Milord can resolve the southwest, who would dare to criticize you?" Wang Chong said.
Zhangchou Jianqiong's eyes unfocused for a few moments. If he could solve the war in the southwest by leaving the capital, why wouldn't he? But now
If he had gone before the Great Tang had been routed, it would have been fine, but now even if he went, what use would it be?
"I can't! Wang Chong, you don't understand. The rules of the court cannot be broken. As Minister of War, I cannot leave the capital."
Zhangchou Jianqiong struggled for a few moments, but only a few, before regaining his composure.
Defeat in the southwest was already unavoidable. He had finally managed to climb up to his current position, and with so many people watching, he could not allow it to be lost.
The Annan Protectorate already had nothing to do with him, but he could at least attempt to hold the position of Minister of War.
Wang Chong had been keeping a close watch on the changes in Zhangchou Jianqiong's face. As he watched it slowly turn hard, he couldn't help but give a long sigh.
Zhangchou Jianqiong knew the southwest like the back of his palm, as well as Geluofeng, Dalun Ruozan, and Huoshu Huicang. He even knew their commanding style.
The southwest would be much easier to resolve if he had the previous Annan Protector-General at his side, increasing his chances of ending the war.
But his final attempt had failed!
The current Zhangchou Jianqiong was no longer the Zhangchou Jianqiong of the past. His desire for power had completely defeated his status as an Imperial Great General.
He was no longer that tiger of the empire!
Wang Chong felt somewhat disappointed, but also a little relieved.
In the end, he could only rely on himself.
"Milord, I came this time to bid you farewell!" Wang Chong said forthrightly, clasping his hands in respect.
Since he could no longer place his hopes on the Minister of War, Wang Chong no longer hesitated.
Zhangchou Jianqiong gave a soft yelp, his body trembling as he raised his head to look at Wang Chong with shock on his face.
"You want to leave the capital!"
Wang Chong lightly continued, "Wang Chong has already gathered one thousand elites, set to leave for the southwest before the sun sets!"
Wang Chong spoke flatly and calmly, without emotion in his voice.
The room was quiet, but the mood seemed to have slightly changed.
Zhangchou Jianqiong stared blankly at the youth before him. In his daze, he suddenly realized something, and he began to look at this youth with completely different eyes.
He already had a keen understanding of what was happening in the southwest. For Wang Chong to go there at this time could only mean one thing!
For the first time, Zhangchou Jianqiong viewed Wang Chong with a sliver of respect in his eyes.
He had heard many things about Wang Chong, heard much about the reputation of the Wang Clan's Qilin son. But the feeling this time was completely different.
Zhangchou Jianqiong's mouth opened to instinctively stop him, but he ultimately chose not to.
The situation in the southwest was extremely dangerous, but like a drowning man, he would take any chance, no matter how slim.
"What do you need?" Zhangchou Jianqiong asked, his eyes quickly turning clear.
He was the previous Annan Protector-General. Since Wang Chong was going to the southwest, he knew exactly what he needed to do.
"I require something in Milord's possession. If Milord believes in me, then I require Milord's token, one that can allow me command over the Annan Protectorate army, including Lord Xianyu," Wang Chong said.
His expression was firm. Even when facing Zhangchou Jianqiong, his eyes showed no fear.
Zhangchou Jianqiong felt like he had been jabbed, his pupils constricting and his expression turning extremely solemn.
A protector-general was a border official. Even as Minister of War, he did not have complete control over them. Thus there was the saying, 'When the general is abroad, there are some orders they need not accept.'
But Wang Chong had guessed correctly. He truly did have a token that symbolized his own identity and was capable of commanding all 180,000 soldiers of the Annan Protectorate.
This was also a method he had agreed to with Xianyu Zhongtong.
If not for that token, he would not have left the southwest and given the position of protector-general to Xianyu Zhongtong.
This matter was a great secret that only those in his inner circle knew.
"What is Milord still thinking about?!"
Seeing the look on Zhangchou Jianqiong's face and his unwillingness to speak, Wang Chong knew what he was thinking.
"The war in the southwest has already reached this stage. Does Milord still believe that there is another way?"
Wang Chong's voice had become a little louder.
If Zhangchou Jianqiong was still pinching pennies at this time, then he was letting down his title of Tiger of the Empire.
Zhangchou Jianqiong mentally struggled with himself, but after giving a long sigh, he finally made a decision.
I hope that my decision won't be wrong!
His right hand lightly pulled at his waist, bringing up a heavy medallion made from black metal. But Zhangchou Jianqiong did not immediately hand it over.
"Answer a question for me first. Lion City in the southwest Did you really anticipate all this?"
Zhangchou Jianqiong gave a long sigh and handed over the token with no further questions.
"What else do you need me to do?"
"If Milord is willing, give me a few of the generals at your side!"
With these words, Wang Chong left the Minister of War's office.
After leaving, Wang Chong returned to Deflecting Blade Mountain. 'Soldiers raised for a thousand days are meant to be used for a single moment.' After so many days of training, it was finally time to head south.
At the peak of Deflecting Blade Mountain, the earth quaked and fierce winds swept through. With Zhao Jingdian leading the charge, a thousand fully-equipped experts rode their horses in an organized formation toward the mountain.
Dust roiled as a thousand hired experts followed like a crashing wave. Leading them was a giant man, eight feet tall. He was extremely conspicuous, and on his back was a massive sword larger than the average man.
Across all the Great Tang, probably only Li Siye possessed such an astonishing constitution.
Rumbling could be heard as far as a hundred li away. Even the students of Kunwu Training Camp were alarmed. But Wang Chong seemed to not see or hear.
All his focus was on this army that he had raised.
"This mission to the southwest will be extremely dangerous. If you want to back out, there's still time!"
Wang Chong stood on the peak, his expression stern. His gaze was not on the experts from the great clans, but the ones that he had hired.
The winds howled, but no noise came from those dense ranks. All of them appeared to not care about this danger.
Hired experts had always lived life on the edge. If this career were peaceful and utterly without risk, wouldn't everyone be hired experts?
Wang Chong's question was completely pointless for them.
For hired experts, money was enough. The higher the risk, the greater the reward. As long as this requirement could be fulfilled, they really didn't care about much else.
Wang Chong snorted. He gave no speech to raise the morale of the army. He simply drew his sword and pointed it at the sky.
The unstoppable and peerlessly sharp Wootz Steel sword exuded its cold light toward the dark clouds.
With this earthshaking order, Wang Chong mounted the White-hoofed Shadow and led the army down Deflecting Blade Mountain, toward the southwest.
The rumbling of the army, sweeping forward with the momentum of a mountain, followed him.
All of the Great Tang Empire was focused on the Imperial Court and the southwest. Few noticed that the experts Wang Chong had gathered using millions of taels of gold and one thousand Wootz Steel swords had silently left the capital, riding toward the distant southwest.