The Human Emperor Chapter 810
Chapter 810: Clan Alliance
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
Any city that was built up from nothing had a thousand things that needed to be done, and the many facets of building up a fief were not something that Wang Chong could handle alone. Of those at Wang Chong's side, only Xu Qiqin had this kind of ability. She was capable of handling a diverse array of tasks in an orderly and appropriate fashion. More importantly, battles were not simply contests of soldiers, but also logistics.
For the future Battle of Talas, Wang Chong couldn't possibly divide his attention on so many tasks. He needed someone to help him bear some of the burden and handle the logistics.
Xu Qiqin gave a faint smile as she followed Wang Chong.
The two standing side by side were a young and beautiful couple, attracting countless gazes in the City of Steel. Xu Qiqin followed Wang Chong, a smile on her face as she curiously viewed her surroundings, completely unaware that she and Wang Chong had become the center of attention.
Time slowly passed, and while Wang Chong was handling the affairs of his City of Steel, on another battlefront, Zhao Jingdian was handling the matters related to the cement road.
As signals were called out, an unprecedented gray-white road of cement was being built from the capital to the Western Regions, like an awakening dragon extending its body along the vast earth.
Countless great clans were pouring an endless flood of manpower and resources into the 'cement road'.
On the road to the Western Regions, several dozen li of roads were built every day, sometimes even several hundred. This flat, smooth, and tough road made everyone sigh in praise.
The sight of this unprecedented road system taking shape and rapidly extending under their efforts filled all the participants with joy and excitement.
The Silk Road was the Road of Gold, the most famous road in the world. The people who traveled east and west along this road were the most famous and wealthiest of merchants, trading jewels, agate, spices…
If this road were completed, all of them could expect to see an enormous profit.
Rolling wheels could be heard. While the thousands of workers were at work, a special carriage draped in blue-green curtains traveled along the cement road, extremely eye-catching and obvious.
But none of the workers paid this any attention. After all the time they had labored over this road, these workers were all used to the presence of this carriage.
It would set out from the capital every morning, traveling along the newly-built road. At noon, it would start its journey back.
This routine had repeated day after day.
Within the spacious carriage, a fawning voice cautiously asked, "Lord Zhao, how is it? Are you satisfied?"
While all the laborers were busy with their duties, there were few people to notice a corner of the curtains being raised and two pairs of eyes silently gazing out.
Zhao Jingdian gave a small grunt of approval as he continued to watch those workers pour water again and again on the new cement road.
The cement road could not simply be built and then just left to its own devices. After construction, it needed to be watered. Wang Chong had repeatedly emphasized this point in his letters, so Zhao Jingdian had viewed it with similar importance.
"Haha, it's fine as long as Milord is satisfied! Our alliance is currently managing everything and will do its utmost to assist Lord Marquis in extending the cement road from the capital to Wushang. In addition, our clans also have stock in Wushang's City of Steel… did I use the word 'stock' right? It's so strange… in short, we're in the same boat as Lord Marquis, all on the same side. Lord Marquis's problems are our problems, yes indeed…"
Next to Zhao Jingdian was a somewhat sleazy-looking clan expert. He paused here, and then continued with a flattering expression.
"With regards to the construction of the road, can you try and change Lord Marquis's mind so that we can use the existing road to the Western Regions? This will save time and energy and be of benefit to everyone. Does Milord not agree?"
Zhao Jingdian's brow furrowed, and when he turned to this clan expert, his expression had chilled.
"Do I need to give you Lord Marquis's message again? 'No' is 'no'. This condition is not up for negotiation. Anyone who violates this point will be withdrawing themselves from the alliance. Everything regarding the Western Regions, including the cement road, will cease to have anything to do with that clan."
Zhao Jingdian's gaze was as sharp as a sword, and the clan expert hurriedly lowered his head before those threatening eyes.
The two were discussing a clause in the contract Wang Chong had made with the alliance of clans. All the cement roads would have to be new and could not be built upon the pre-existing Silk Road. This meant that the clan alliance would, besides the expenditure on lime, clay, aluminum ore, sand, and stone, also have to spend a great deal of money on digging out new roads.
From a commercial perspective, this was not beneficial to the clan alliance.
Thus, wave after wave of representatives from the clan alliance had attempted to lobby Zhao Jingdian. There had been more than twenty attempts now, as Zhao Jingdian could not bother to keep count, and he had firmly refused each time. Zhao Jingdian had asked Wang Chong about this matter, and Wang Chong had been very frank as to the reason.
The moment the cement road appeared, it would be a grandiose and unstoppable flood. Wang Chong fully expected that, with or without his approval, the cement roads would quickly become popular throughout the Great Tang, owing to the ease of traveling over them and the incredible weight they could bear.
This meant that cement roads would appear all across the Great Tang, not just between the capital and the Western Regions.
Wang Chong wanted to avoid having the clan alliance build cement roads over the original road network and then collect tolls from them. This would only incur the resentment of the common people and make this engineering project meant to benefit the entire country into one that only exploited the people.
Such a result was contrary to Wang Chong's intent.
Thus, Wang Chong would never agree to this proposal, and he would repeat his refusal as many times as necessary.
No matter how much the clan alliance tried to lobby him, Zhao Jingdian would never agree.
"Lord Zhao, please forgive me. This one misspoke." The clan expert quickly attempted to change the subject.
Zhao Jingdian didn't continue to needle the point, and moved on. "At the current speed, how long will it take until the road reaches Wushang?"
"This… Around four or five months."
The expert's response was no longer very energetic. It was clear that Zhao Jingdian's reply was not the one he had hoped for, and his morale had been rather badly bruised.
"We don't have that long. This sort of progress is too slow."
Zhao Jingdian frowned. This number was far larger than he had predicted.
"Tell the clan alliance that even though Young Master won't agree to using the original official roads to build the cement roads, if the road to Wushang is completed in three months, Young Master can give an additional five percent of the profits from the tolls to the alliance. If the road is finished in two months, Young Master will give the alliance an additional ten percent."
The dejected expert's eyes instantly brightened, and his face was quickly exuberant.
"Lord Zhao is speaking the truth?" the expert asked with shining eyes.
The contract between Wang Chong and the clan alliance was perpetual. All cement roads built in the Great Tang would be administered and bound according to the clauses of that contract. It might only be five or ten percent, but the amount of wealth behind these measly numbers was nigh unimaginable.
And even decades, centuries, perhaps even millennia later, this contract would still be effective.
This was the true allure of this agreement between Wang Chong and the clan alliance.
If Wang Chong could relinquish ten percent of the profits for all time, the clan alliance would be chomping at the bit, willing to pay any price to extend the cement road to Wushang.
In comparison to the massive profits they stood to gain, the losses they incurred would be vanishingly small.
Rational analysis would make any great clan reach this same conclusion.
"Our Young Master's promises have always been worth their weight in gold. Has he ever gone back on his word?" Zhao Jingdian indifferently replied.
"Wonderful! Milord, please wait a moment. I will return to the alliance to discuss this with the elders! …The elders will definitely agree!"
The expert immediately pushed open the door to the carriage and jumped out, proceeding like a bolt of lightning to the headquarters of the clan alliance.
Just as expected, Wang Chong's offer quickly stirred a massive wave within the clan alliance. No one had expected Wang Chong to relinquish such a large share of the profits, and none of them could resist the temptation. The clan alliance's reply was swift.
With this new contract signed, the construction speed of the cement road accelerated, becoming almost frenzied. For the sake of those profits, the great clans sold off properties and businesses, pouring out all their money, even dispatching experts to oversee the work.
In a flash, the construction speed shot up to several times the original speed.
Time continued to fly by as the construction on the cement road continued. Meanwhile, in a place nearby, a tense atmosphere was slowly building up.
"How is the investigation going?"
As night began to fall, a luxurious carriage was parked on the side of the road, outside the southern gate of the capital. Next to the carriage was a man of some forty years, his hands held behind his back, his body exuding a noble aura as he silently waited. People passed by and around him, but just by standing there, the middle-aged man was like a crane standing amongst chickens.
Such was the demeanor of this middle-aged man that even the nobles of the capital would appear like fireflies attempting to flaunt their light in front of the bright moon.
"Replying to Your Highness: we have finished the investigation. On the Qixi side, a child called Zhang Que was following them, but when it came to this side, Old Eagle took over the responsibilities. In addition, it is said that the child Zhang Que is Old Eagle's disciple."
To the left and right of King Song stood his old butler and Lu Ting. The old butler was bowed, his lips moving in an unhurried manner.
"In addition, we have just received word that the trusted subordinate Fumeng Lingcha dispatched did not enter through the western gate, the gate most often used by the Hu merchants. Instead, he made a detour and entered through the southern gate."