The Human Emperor Chapter 649
Chapter 649: Audience At Court Ii
Chapter 649: Audience at Court (II)
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
Suddenly a shrill voice like that of a duck rose from behind the doors to the palace. "The Sage Emperor has ordered that Wang Chong enter for an audience!"
Rumble! The gate opened, banners unfurled, and Imperial Guards, dressed in red-tasseled armor, lined the path all the way from the gate to the depths of the palace.
Wang Chong was not able to tell at a glance how far this line extended.
Crack! With the crack of a whip, a silk-robed and white-haired eunuch, standing in the distance on the imperial steps of white jade, shrilly shouted, "Wang Chong has arrived for his audience!"
From the gate to the depths of the palace, cries of affirmation rose one after another.
Wang Chong tidied his ceremonial robe and hat, and began to stride forward through the two rows of Imperial Guards. His steps were very measured, not too large or too small, too rushed or too slow. His back was erect as he advanced with confidence.
In terms of expression, demeanor, and actions, Wang Chong was flawless.
"This boy Someone clearly taught him."
In a place that Wang Chong couldn't see, several officials from the Chamberlain of Dependencies, dressed in crimson robes, stood on the high palace wall, their eyes twitching.
From the moment Wang Chong left, they had been keeping watch on him. They had even privately hired painters to draw his every action and expression.
Alas, whether or not there were people around, Wang Chong's conduct and actions were spotless, with no error to be found. It would truly be strange if no one had taught him this.
"There's no rush. At the last moment, he'll definitely encounter a problem. Everything has already been arranged," another official sneered, turning his head toward the Taiji Palace at the very end of the path.
In the Imperial Palace, all was solemn and serene. Wang Chong walked along the path lined by Imperial Guards for a full hour before finally reaching the coiling dragon pool at the end.
Turning his head, Wang Chong was greeted by the Imperial Stairway, thousands of steps long, each step made from white jade. The sides of this path were lined by golden-armed guards, each of them exuding a powerful aura.
Their hands were pressed against golden sabers while their gazes were fixed straight ahead. It appeared like they were ready to strike at any time and cleave any person who appeared before them in two.
The Golden Guards were the elite of the palace's elite, all of them possessing formidable mental and physical fortitude. Those of weak will could easily end up frightened to death by this array of forces.
Wang Chong only glanced at them and smiled before beginning to ascend the Imperial Stairway, walking between the Golden Guards.
Wang Chong had experienced mountains of corpses and seas of blood in the southwest. His tempering on the battlefield meant that not only did these Golden Guards have no effect on him, some of them were so affected by that invisible aura he exuded that they almost lost their grip on their golden sabers.
Every several hundred steps was a platform twenty-some zhang long. Each of these platforms was full of civil and military officials attending the ceremony, with the higher-ranked standing on platforms further up the stairway.
All of them had most solemn expressions.
"This is the Qilin son of the Wang Clan?"
On these viewing platforms, the officials dressed in crimson ceremonial robes began to look over. Many people were already familiar with Wang Chong's name from the Regional Commanders incident, but this was their first time seeing him in the flesh.
"No wonder he was able to defeat Dalun Ruozan and Huoshu Huicang. He truly is a dragon among men. Just based on his admirable demeanor, none of the other scions or wastrels of the capital can compare."
As countless gazes observed Wang Chong's ascent, many people, whether they liked Wang Chong or not, had to admit that Wang Chong's demeanor as he walked was not something that any normal person could compare to. He was truly an outstanding individual.
"Chong-er, your big uncle is truly happy for you."
In the crowd, Wang Gen stroke his beard and smiled, a blissful expression on his face. He had left very early in the morning, skipping a visit to the Wang Clan and heading straight to the Imperial Palace to attend the ceremony.
For the victorious Wang Chong to be able to meet the Sage Emperor deep within the palace was an enormous honor, and he wished to personally witness the sight.
What might delight one could repulse others. Higher up on the Imperial Stairway, two loathing gazes had been watching Wang Chong this entire time.
"Hmph, so it was you. Don't get happy too early."
On a high observation platform, the Tongluo Great General Abusi, dressed in a full suit of armor, peered down the stairs, his stare fixed on the blazing figure of Wang Chong.
A fierce snowstorm was slowly building up in his eyes.
Unlike Geshu Han or Gao Xianzhi, Abusi did not wield authority over any particular region, and his influence was not as powerful. However, as the leader of the famed Tongluo elite cavalry, Abusi still wielded significant power.
Purely in terms of martial arts, Abusi was a truly well-qualified Great General, on the same level as Geshu Han and Gao Xianzhi.
In the Regional Commanders incident, Wang Chong's memorial had been aimed at all the Hu of the world. Abusi was a Hu Great General, but for the sake of his ideals, he had been forced to kneel before the assembled officials.
Abusi's youngest son, Abutong, had challenged Wang Chong but ended up being hung from the banner of Deflecting Blade Manor, suffering a complete humiliation.
After these two incidents, how could Abusi not resent Wang Chong?
Abusi was not alone in his loathing and his opinion that Wang Chong was a thorn in the side. On another observation platform, King Qi, Li You, was dressed in a red dragon robe embroidered with gold, but his gaze was cold and gloomy.
From the moment Wang Chong began to ascend the Imperial Stairway, he had been keeping a close eye on him. This was King Qi's first time seeing Wang Chong in person, but just once was enough for King Qi to hate Wang Chong down to the bones.
King Qi and King Song were two powerful members of the Great Tang's imperial clan, and they also represented two powerful factions in the court. King Qi had devised many methods to deal with King Song, but Wang Chong and the Wang Clan had ruined all of them.
Vast Crane Pavilion was one time, Consort Taizhen a second, and now, the stunning brilliance of Wang Chong in the war of the southwest, his victory over powerful foes like Dalun Ruozan and Huoshu Huicang, made King Qi feel like there was a dagger prodding at his back. He found it hard to eat or sleep.
If it wasn't for the fact that Wang Chong was currently the center of attention, his every movement being watched, King Qi would have paid any price and used any method to kill him.
Boy, I'll let you be proud for a little longer, but not for too long, King Qi mentally swore.
No matter what the crowd was thinking, for good or for ill, none of it meant anything to Wang Chong. Today, he was the unquestioned main character. The palace, the capital, the world, and even the foreign kingdoms on the border were all watching him.
Several hundred steps flew by, and Wang Chong quickly arrived at one of the observation platforms. He noted the presence of his big uncle and the other powerful officials belonging to King Song's faction, and then continued to confidently ascend.
While passing through another observation platform, by a middle-aged man dressed in a dragon robe, Wang Chong could keenly feel a sharp gaze. This gaze contained both disdain and an intense hatred, as if the owner wanted nothing more than to swallow him alive.
This should be King Qi, Li You!
There was only one person that Wang Chong could think of who had such an esteemed status that they could wear the ceremonial robe of an Imperial Prince and also act so brashly on an observation platform, and that person was King Qi, Li You.
Although the Wang Clan, due to its relationship with King Song, had already developed a sort of 'feud' with King Qi, in this life or the last, this was Wang Chong's first time seeing the majestic King Qi of the Great Tang at such a close distance.
Yet not even the attention of this famous member of the imperial household could strike any fear in Wang Chong. He continued to confidently press forward.
Seeing Wang Chong ignore him, King Qi couldn't suppress his flames of anger, and his killing intent further swelled.
Hostile gazes followed Wang Chong every step of the way, from the Tongluo Great General Abusi, from King Qi's officials, from various imperial censors Wang Chong quickly learned to brush them aside. Step by step, he slowly approached the top of the Imperial Stairway. When only a few steps were left, a row of officials from the Bureau of Rites and the Chamberlain of Dependencies, garbed in red ceremonial robes, were waiting for him.
One official, his robe embroidered with gold, unfurled the sacred decree of the true dragon as he loudly declared, "Wang Chong, step forward to receive the decree!" No one noticed two officials from the Chamberlain of Dependencies and the Bureau of Rites glance at Wang Chong, cold light flashing in their eyes.
"This lowly subject awaits the decree!"
Tidying his robe, Wang Chong stepped forward and gave a deep bow.
"Wang Chong, kneel and receive the decree," an official from the Chamberlain of Dependencies said.
Wang Chong nodded. Unlike his last visit to the Sage Emperor, in this sort of formal audience, protocol was extremely complex, even more so when it concerned an ordinary civilian like him who had no rank or title.
During the course of the audience, there would be two to three sacred decrees, and he had to kneel for each decree.
The old official that King Song had arranged for him had explained this very clearly. The slightest violation would lead one to be suspected of looking down on the might of the heavens. The charge of irreverence would be laid down, the light punishment being the end of one's career and the heavy punishment being the destruction of one's clan. This was no game.
Wang Chong couldnt possibly forget a matter like this.
Wang Chong raised his robe and prepared to kneel. At this moment, two gazes imperceptibly watched on. On an observation platform below, King Qi's eyes shone with a smug and jeering light.
So what if Wang Chong was Duke Jiu's descendant?
So what if he was the hero of the southwest?
He was still just an immature and inexperienced boy. Just a tiny little plan and he had easily fallen into the trap.
In the end, you're still too young!
King Qi stared at Wang Chong's back, his mouth twitching as it formed a contemptful smile. 'The moon at its fullest begins to wane.' So what if he was a young genius who defeated Dalun Ruozan and Huoshu Huicang? (TN: This is a Chinese saying that means that when something has reached its peak, that is also when it begins its fall.)
On the day that the Sage Emperor conferred a reward on him, he would still fall, never to be favored again!
At this very moment, none of the other officials observing the ceremony had noticed a thing.
Time seemed to grind to a halt. Just when Wang Chong was about to kneel
A strange feeling suddenly surged through Wang Chong's mind. Although everything seemed normal, Wang Chong still felt a heavy unease. The surrounding atmosphere had subtly changed.
There's a problem!
Although he couldn't tell where this problem was, Wang Chong's warrior's intuition told him that he was about to make a misstep in this ceremony.