The Human Emperor Chapter 645
Chapter 645: Another Meeting With Su Zhengchen I
Chapter 645: Another Meeting with Su Zhengchen (I)
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
If not for Wang Chong, the Annan Protectorate army would have been completely wiped out in the war of the southwest, the Annan Protectorate would have been dissolved, and Zhangchou Jianqiong's foundation in the court would have vanished without a trace.
Not only that, if the Mengshe-Tsang alliance occupied the southwest, as the one whose primary duty it had been to oversee the southwest, he would bear the bulk of the blame. Even though he had already entered the court, relinquishing his management of the Annan Protectorate to become Minister of War, he would still not be able to escape the fate of his rank being stripped.
There was even a possibility of him being seized and thrown into prison.
The occupation of the southwest was a matter so grave that no minor official or functionary could bear the blame!
It was not one bit excessive to say that Wang Chong had given Zhangchou Jianqiong and the Annan Protectorate army a new lease on life.
"Young Master, Zhangchou has prepared a banquet in his residence. Would Young Master like to accompany this lowly one and allow Zhangchou to welcome Young Master from his travels?"
Zhangchou Jianqiong spoke with incredible meekness and courtesy.
Unless one had personally witnessed it, no one would believe that the grand Minister of War, a first-rank official of the Imperial Court, would bow his head so low to a mere teenager. But as long as one understood the magnitude of Wang Chong's feat in the southwest, they would not think it overboard in the slightest.
"Very well! I will trouble Milord to lead the way!"
Wang Chong smiled and immediately agreed. Zhangchou Jianqiong was the Minister of War and had personally come to greet him at the gate. His good intentions and courtesy were on full display, so it could never be right to refuse him.
"Siling, Yatong, Huang Qian-er, and my good friends, go back first. I will accompany Lord Zhangchou to the minister's residence."
"Yes, Young Master!"
Bai Siling, Zhao Yatong, Huang Qian-er, and the others all nodded in agreement.
"Young Master can do as he pleases. We'll come and arrange a meeting with you later."
Even Guo Feng and Chai Zhiyi stepped to the side at this time. The Great Tang Empire's Minister of War supervised the movements of all the soldiers in the empire. Although he couldn't be said to have complete say over the entire system, his power was very significant and very real.
Perhaps the heads of the Guo Clan or the Chai Clan might have been able to exchange a few words with a figure of this level, but Guo Feng and Chai Zhiyi were bereft of such qualifications.
"Young Master Chong, please!"
Zhangchou Jianqiong stood at the side of the carriage and opened the door, inviting Wang Chong inside. The surrounding crowd had envious looks, and even Guo Feng and Chai Zhiyi were no exception.
The Tiger of the Empire, the Minister of War, was standing by the carriage and personally opening the door for him. In the entire capital, across all the younger generation, probably only Wang Chong could receive such a treatment.
None of the great clans, not even the nobility, could obtain this sort of treatment!
Rumble! The carriage began to move, passing through the city gate and on to the Minister of War's Residence. The people of the capital, who had already heard the news, lined the roads as the carriage passed, filling the air with their thunderous cheers.
"Wang Chong! Wang Chong! Wang Chong!"
"Wang Chong! Wang Chong! Wang Chong!"
"Wang Chong! Wang Chong! Wang Chong!"
From its founding year to now, the capital had never been this lively. Countless people excitedly lined the streets, their faces flushed as they cheered, their voices shaking the heavens. Meanwhile, the bursting of firecrackers almost saturated the air with sound.
In the history of the Great Tang, besides when Great Tang War God Wang Zhongsi broke through the Tibetan lines in Longxi and assaulted the plateau in the twenty-third year of the Sage Emperor's reign, no one had ever been so welcomed and cheered on by the people of the capital.
This was nothing less than a hero's welcome!
"Young Master Chong, with this war over, the Wang Clan will enjoy endless glory and fortune!"
Zhangchou Jianqiong lightly pushed open the window, looking out at the sea of cheering people for a moment.
"I hear that the Bureau of Rites is already discussing the question of your reward, and the Imperial Court has already brought up the matter as well. Once it is decided, His Majesty will immediately summon you into the palace and formally bestow it to you. Young Master's record in the southwest is as resplendent as the heavens. Starting from now, you will rapidly advance, and your prospects will be limitless."
As he spoke, Zhangchou Jianqiong maintained an extremely humble voice and expression, without the slightest hint of envy.
Wang Chong currently had no official rank, not even a minor one. But all the nobles of the capital knew that he had managed to defeat Dalun Ruozan, Huoshu Huicang, and Duan Gequan by expending his own wealth to hire subordinates. His meritorious deeds had made his future prospects boundless.
In the capital, there was already even talk of 'The Great Tang's Eighth Great General'!
Purely with regards to the art of war, even Zhangchou Jianqiong had to admit that Wang Chong was already at a level where he could stand shoulder to shoulder with the other Great Generals of the world, or perhaps even surpass them.
To have such achievements at only seventeen Not even Zhangchou Jianqiong could predict how far he could go.
This was the deeper reason for Zhangchou Jianqiong's personally welcoming him at the gate and acting so humbly.
However, at this moment, Wang Chong had no idea of Zhangchou Jianqiong's inner thoughts.
"Milord is too polite."
Wang Chong returned the courtesy. He was neither arrogant in victory nor discouraged by failure.
The carriage rumbled along, quickly reaching Zhangchou Jianqiong's ministerial residence.
Zhangchou Jianqiong had prepared a welcoming banquet for Wang Chong, vast and grandiose. There were grapes, guavas, and dates from the Western Regions; bananas, pineapples, and coconuts from Jiaozhi; sea cucumber, urchins, shark fin, and whale flesh from Goguryeo All sorts of precious and enticing delicacies were laid out.
In the intervals between courses, there were gorgeous dancers from the Western Regions, the Abbasid Caliphate, and Charax Spasinu to provide entertainment, filling the venue with their romantic and alluring aura.
This welcoming banquet went on into the night. Zhangchou Jianqiong toasted Wang Chong constantly, fully intending to get Wang Chong so drunk that he would have to spend the night at the Minister of War's Residence.
As his intoxication reached its peak, Zhangchou Jianqiong suddenly raised his bronze cup and sat upright as he solemnly declared, "Young Master Chong, my gratitude for the southwest matter is beyond words. If there's anything that you need in the capital, you only need to ask! Zhangchou will go through water and tread on fire to carry it out!"
This was the first time since Wang Chong had entered the capital that Zhangchou Jianqiong had revealed such a solemn and stern expression.
Wang Chong was looking in a daze at Zhangchou Jianqiong when he suddenly understood something. "Haha, my deepest gratitude, Milord. A toast!" He raised his own cup and clinked it against Zhangchou Jianqiong's.
A voice suddenly rang out in his mind. "Congratulations to user for obtaining 'Great General's Recognition' (1)! You have been rewarded with 50 points of Destiny Energy! User's potential has been improved by 1."
A hint of surprise flashed through Wang Chong's eyes as he listened to the Stone of Destiny. This was the first time he had learned that there was such a thing as 'Great General's Recognition'.
The number of Great Generals in the world could be counted on one's fingers, and to obtain their recognition was no easy task.
In the Regional Commanders incident, Zhangchou Jianqiong had also sent a memorial in support of him, but Wang Chong had not obtained any Great General's Recognition then.
Now, however, in this banquet held by Zhangchou Jianqiong in the Minister of War's Residence, he had obtained this 'Great General's Recognition' mentioned by the Stone of Destiny.
Wang Chong faintly smiled. Given the current amount of Destiny Energy he had, fifty points wasn't very much. He was more interested in the 'increase in potential'.
I wonder what sort of use increasing potential by 1 has?
Wang Chong had had the Stone of Destiny for more than a year, but he had never seen such a strange reward, nor did he know what sort of purpose this sort of potential had.
However, even though he didn't sense any obvious increase in strength, Wang Chong could determine that this was a reward that involved increasing a warrior's strength.
By the time he came out of Zhangchou Jianqiong's residence, it was very late. Li Siye was waiting outside the gate for him.
"Young Master, how is it?"
Seeing Wang Chong come out, Li Siye hurriedly walked forward with concern, a fox-fur cape in hand.
"There's no need for that."
Wang Chong smiled and pushed away the fox-fur cape.
When he had come out of the gate, he had still been drunk, his feet unsteady. But in the blink of an eye, his entire body seemed to change, the drunken vapors transforming into white steam and pluming out from the top of his head.
The current Wang Chong was not one bit intoxicated.
As his martial arts improved, Wang Chong could use more and more skills. Forcing the alcohol out of his body was just a trifling art.
"Return to the residence first. You don't need to wait for me. I'll come back on my own in a little while," Wang Chong said.
"But, Young Master"
"It's nothing. And besides, Siye, you saw what I did in the war of the southwest. Do you still think that anyone can wound me?"
Wang Chong glanced at Li Siye and smiled faintly.
Li Siye hesitated for a moment. Although he was still worried, when he sensed that volcanic strength that seemed ready to explode out of Wang Chong's body, he instantly fell quiet.
"Yes, Young Master."
Li Siye turned around, his giant figure vanishing into the darkness.
Wang Chong boarded a bronze carriage that his family had dispatched and parked on a nearby street. "To the western part of the city."
After seating himself in the carriage, he took a white chess piece from his sleeve.
This appeared to be an extremely ordinary chess piece, but just a moment ago, Wang Chong had felt a pulse of energy from it. In the entire capital, only one person could produce this sort of pulse from this chess piece.
As Wang Chong raised his head and looked forward, complex emotions flickered through his eyes.
"Stop here. You don't need to worry about me for now."
After a while, Wang Chong had the carriage stop at a place near the Ghost Tree District. After exchanging a few words with the driver, he walked out of the carriage.
"I haven't been here for a while."
Wang Chong inhaled, a nostalgic feeling washing over him as he looked at the walls, roofs, trees, and the thick darkness shrouding them.
Upon careful thought, he realized that it had been more than half a year since he had visited. In Wang Chong's mind, this place represented one person, a person with a unique significance for the Great Tang.
With a flick of his sleeve, Wang Chong began to stride toward the plaza of Ghost Tree District. The usually-packed plaza was now quiet and deserted, the surroundings almost frighteningly peaceful.
Wang Chong walked with familiarity toward that place in his memories. After taking a turn, he saw that massive tree in the distance, appearing like some prehistoric giant in the darkness, its claws unfurled in savagery.
The base of the tree was illuminated by the orange glow of a lantern. Two people, one old and one young, were sitting in the shadows, a chessboard placed in front of them.
There were no pieces on the board, but there were two jars stuffed with pieces sitting beside it.
The old man and the child had apparently been waiting for a very long time.