The Human Emperor Chapter 646
Chapter 646: Another Meeting With Su Zhengchen Ii
Chapter 646: Another Meeting with Su Zhengchen (II)
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
At the sight of that familiar figure, Wang Chong walked over and gave the old man a deep bow, his expression earnest and respectful.
If the people in the capital knew that the hero of the Great Tang who had achieved such a major victory in the southwest was actually showing so much respect to an old man, they definitely wouldn't believe it.
But Wang Chong was well aware that the old man before him could receive a deep bow from any sort of person.
This man was Su Zhengchen, the Great Tang War God, already a legendary existence in Taizong's era. Even renowned generals like Wang Zhongsi and Zhang Shougui would appear drab in the light of his achievements.
Su Zhengchen's voice was very soft, like a regular old man's. No one could have ever believed that he was the Great Tang War God whose name could shake the world.
Su Zhengchen did not raise his head as he gestured at the seat on the other side of the chessboard.
"Heheheh, Martial Brother."
An adorable face popped out from under Su Zhengchen's arm, his eyes as bright as lanterns and appearing very strange. It was Su Zhengchen's frequent companion, 'Little Jianjian'.
Wang Chong chuckled and gently stroked the child's short hair.
Little Jianjian suppressed his voice and whispered, "Martial Brother, let me tell you, when Master found out you were coming back, he waited for you a long time."
Without raising his head, Su Zhengchen extended a finger and rapped it against Little Jianjian's head.
"No funMaster is angry."
Little Jianjian stuck out his tongue and quickly withdrew his head.
Wang Chong glanced at Su Zhengchen thoughtfully, but he quickly sat himself across from Su Zhengchen.
"Play a round with me."
Su Zhengchen finally raised his head and pointed at the jar of pieces across from him. In the orange lantern light, the expression on his face was flickering and ever-changing.
Wang Chong smiled and took up the jar of pieces. But when he noticed the pieces inside, he momentarily froze. In the past, when Wang Chong played with Su Zhengchen, Su Zhengchen had always played white, Wang Chong black. White went first.
This time, however, Su Zhengchen had given him the jar of white pieces.
"In the past, you were only intelligent in small ways, so I had you play black. But now, you are worthy of playing white."
Su Zhengchen's voice lightly drifted on the air.
In an instant, Wang Chong seemed to understand something. Though the night was chilly, Wang Chong felt a current of warmth moving through his chest.
Although Su Zhengchen had not said anything explicit, there was no doubt that he was using this method to display his acknowledgment. Wang Chong had never felt this feeling before.
Before Wang Chong could say anything, Su Zhengchen had already grasped his first piece.
Wang Chong gave a calm smile and played the first white piece.
The game lasted throughout the night, until the light of dawn became visible in the east. In the end, the lantern next to Su Zhengchen seemed on the verge of sputtering out.
"It's enough. I've lost."
In the final moment, Su Zhengchen conceded, unquestionably defeated. Even so, Su Zhengchen seemed not one bit downcast. On the contrary, he was abnormally happy, as if he had been the winner.
"A minister does not lust for wealth and a general does not fear death. This is the path upon which a country must embark for continued prosperity. Chong-er, in this southwestern war, you performed rather well. You did not shame the Great Tang!"
As Su Zhengchen spoke, he stood up and gave Wang Chong a gratified look.
Wang Chong lowered his head, his heart moved. Su Zhengchen was a man of few words, but these were enough to convey his deep recognition. Su Zhengchen rarely participated in politics, much less involved himself in the matters on the border or the rest of the empire. The number of people who could receive this sort of recognition from him could probably be counted on one hand.
For the sake of this scant praise, countless people would be willing to fight until blood flowed down from their heads, paying almost any price.
"Do you still have the white stone that I gave you last time?" Su Zhengchen suddenly asked.
Wang Chong hurriedly took the white piece from his bosom.
"Give it to me."
Su Zhengchen took the white piece from Wang Chong's hand, gave it a light flick, and returned it.
While Wang Chong was inspecting the white piece in his hand, a voice rang out in his ears. "The blood energy in your body is too fierce, and even I can do nothing about this kind of bloodline problem. I can only help you temporarily suppress it and protect your meridians and dantian. For the rest, you'll have to depend on yourself."
Before Wang Chong could react, there was a thump. Wang Chong's right shoulder went slightly numb as a palm lightly slapped it. This lasted only for a second, and the palm quickly retreated. But in this brief moment, a majestic sword qi, powerful beyond imagination, flooded into Wang Chong's body.
Unlike the sword qi that Wang Chong had sensed before, though this sword qi was powerful and sharp, it also contained a vigorous vitality.
The moment this sword qi entered Wang Chong's body, it immediately scattered into a thousand pieces, spreading over Wang Chong's meridians and dantian.
"Jian-er, the sun's coming up. Let's go."
As this voice rang out in his ear, Wang Chong raised his head. He saw that figure's sleeves fluttering in the wind as it led that child of seven or eight away.
"Senior, when can we meet again?" Wang Chong blurted out.
"When the time is right, we will meet again!"
Su Zhengchen's voice drifted along the wind as the pair, one old and one young, swiftly vanished into the waning darkness.
An inexplicable feeling surged up in Wang Chong's mind as he watched the pair depart. He knew that with this departure, this pair would once more enter that silent estate, cut off from the outside world.
He had no idea how long he would have to wait until he met them again.
After composing himself, Wang Chong quickly set off for his home. He paid respects to his mother, then quickly went to bed. In the war of the southwest, he had barely rested. Now that he had returned to the capital, he could finally get a good rest.
While Wang Chong was having a good rest at home, the Imperial Palace was experiencing utter mayhem. The Sage Emperor's decree had arrived, ordering the Bureau of Rites, the other Six Bureaus, and the nobles of the court to discuss the rewards for the generals of the southwest.
There was no problem with the rewards for any of the other generals, whether it was Xianyu Zhongtong, Wang Yan, or Wang Fu. Only with Wang Chong's reward did problems arise.
"This defies protocol! The youngest son of the Wang Clan, Wang Chong, doesn't have any sort of rank or title. How can he be rewarded?"
"That's right! Although he was born from a clan of ministers and generals, he's still just an ordinary civilian. He isn't even on the register for the Annan Protectorate army. How can we reward him?"
In the court, several officials from the Bureau of Rites and the Chamberlain of Dependencies were voicing their objections, several imperial censors adding their agreement.
"The country has its laws and the clans have their regulations. Even if we want to reward Wang Chong, we must do so according to the rules of the court. Nothing can be accomplished without rules or standards, and must we break them for a single person?"
Imperial Censor Duan Qian, a cold expression on his face, stood next to a coiling dragon pillar, appearing ready to fight with the rest of the world.
He had no grudge with Wang Chong, but the Imperial Court bestowing a large reward on Wang Chong would disrupt the laws of the court. As an imperial censor, he had no fear of authorities and would defend the rules of the court to the death. Whether it was the sovereign above or the people below, anyone who defied the laws of the court would be censured, a fight that the censors had sworn to carry out until the very end.
Never in all of the Great Tang's history was there precedent for richly rewarding an ordinary civilian.
Nearby, King Qi watched the proceedings with a cold eye while inwardly rejoicing.
He had already stood out too much in the war of the southwest, making it inappropriate for him to make any further fuss. Thus, he had communicated with people in the Chamberlain of Dependencies and the Bureau of Rites and found a few obstinately conservative imperial censors so that he could suppress the dazzling Qilin son of the Wang Clan.
The entire Wang lineage, whether it was Wang Gen, Wang Yan, Wang Fu, or anyone else, had limited potential in King Qi's eyes.
If they had truly been that formidable, they would have long ago been conferred a noble title. The only exception was Wang Chong, who he now viewed as a massive threat.
At only seventeen, he had defeated Dalun Ruozan and Huoshu Huicang. King Qi could already smell the stench of Duke Jiu.
When Duke Jiu held power, King Qi's lineage was suppressed into the ground. No matter what, King Qi could not allow yet another formidable opponent to appear in the court.
The fact that Wang Chong had no rank or station in the army was his greatest weakness. According to the rules of the court, since Wang Chong had no station in the army, it wasn't possible to record his achievements on the battlefield.
Even though Wang Chong accomplished so much in the southwest, he could not receive credit for it.
"Hmph, then based on Imperial Censor Duan's reasoning, after all of Wang Chong's accomplishments, shouldn't we be charging him with the crime of privately raising soldiers, forging weapons, and disturbing the chain of command on the battlefield?"
A strange voice suddenly rose. Before anyone could speak, another imperial censor walked in front of Imperial Censor Duan, his voice filled with scorn.
"Imperial Censor Yang!"
Upon hearing that imperial censor speak, Duan Qian paled. The grizzled imperial censor jeering at him was unexpectedly his former superior, Yang Wei.
He might have been able to disregard rebukes from others, but this was a fellow imperial censor, and one who had once been his boss.
Duan Qian's face went red for a moment, but he quickly regained his composure.
Duan Qian straightened himself and asked, "Why not?" The Imperial Court had its laws, and if these laws were broken, what could his superior do to change that?
"Hmph, so you mean that we should seize Wang Chong and jail him, and then you will personally lead the army to defeat Dalun Ruozan, Huoshu Huicang, Duan Gequan, and all those other ambitious foreign kings for the sake of the Great Tang, protecting its citizens?"
A voice suddenly came from behind him. Before Duan Qian could react, a shriveled hand reached out, grabbed his ear, and began to sharply pull and twist it.
"Owowow!" The upright Duan Qian immediately began to yowl in pain, but what shocked him even more was the identity of the person pinching his ear.