The Human Emperor Chapter 813
Chapter 813: The Xueyang Palace Incident
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
Wang Chong was dazed. It was true. Every person had to decide their own fate. Although Xu Qiqin didn't know the future like he did, she had still ended up drawing the same conclusion. That prince would always have the same fate, and whatever Wang Chong did wouldn't have changed anything.
As Xu Qiqin said, every person's fate was in their own hands.
"Haha, okay, let's not talk about this. We should talk about the Western Regions, as that's something that only you can handle. In addition, I also hope that you can take care of the transactions with the Turkic horse merchant Hulayeg. We've just finished the first batch, but there will still be more transactions to follow. Besides that, handle the Hyderabad ore from Sindhu as well. The money in the City of Steel is basically all used up, so we might have to rely on the warhorses to get any extra money," Wang Chong said.
"Haha, in truth, that's actually not much of a problem. If you're lacking money, just sell off that steel fortress at the triangular gap to the country, or perhaps build another steel fortress nearby and sell off that one to the court. Right now, only you have the ability to build such fortresses, and if the Imperial Court can use them as bases to keep out the Tibetans, I'm confident that many of the officials in the court and the Bureau of Personnel and Bureau of Revenue would be happy to pay any price."
Xu Qiqin had a big smile on her face, and she spoke with the persuasiveness of some skilled master, as if nothing in the world could cause her any trouble.
"Sell the fortress?"
Wang Chong turned his head around, his eyes bright. Although he had known that Xu Qiqin would be the King of Logistics in the future, he had no idea that she was so open-minded. In the Great Tang, the backwardness of its construction techniques meant that building a city was often expensive and time-consuming, and even after all that, it would only look good on the surface.
In comparison, Wang Chong's steel fortresses seemed to require a great deal of labor to build, but very little time. Most importantly, the defensive capabilities of these steel fortresses were far above those of the fortresses of the past. This was precisely what the ministers of the Imperial Court needed.
"And it's not just that. Since you were able to negotiate with the Sindhi to monopolize their business in the Central Plains, why couldn't you do the same for your steel fortresses? If you're worried that others could learn the techniques to build them, you could pour solder over the entire city so that it becomes a solid whole and can't be dismantled, then burn the diagrams. The Western Regioners aren't as deft with their hands as the Han, so even if they get the diagrams, it wouldn't be useful to them. Moreover, without massive steel production to support it, knowing the secret would be useless."
Xu Qiqin stood up and slowly walked behind Wang Chong, her eyes shining with wisdom and a perception that seemed capable of seeing through all things.
"…After all, the Western Regions are a barren place with many rocks. Your steel fortresses could play a very important role here. In addition, the kingdoms of the Western Regions are extremely wealthy, possessing countless numbers of pearls, jewels, and agate. No matter what your opening price is, I'm confident that they would still buy. Not only that, you don't just need to sell your steel fortresses to the Western Regions. You can also sell them to Sindhu, and the price doesn't need to be in gold. Instead, you can build a fortress for them in exchange for the Wootz Steel from Hyderabad. I'm sure they would happily accept such an exchange. After all, I hear that Sindhu is often attacked by other countries. If you do this, you can also prolong your trade relationship with them."
"Haha, okay! As expected of a talented lady of our Great Tang. In the future, you are certain to be the Empress of Logistics. We'll do everything as you say."
Wang Chong's eyes glowed as he looked at Xu Qiqin, and in the end, he couldn't help but heartily laugh.
Time slowly passed, with no one aware of what had transpired in the capital except Wang Chong and King Song. Several days later, in the evening, an unsteady figure tottered out of the western gate of the Imperial Palace, smelling of alcohol. The light of the lanterns behind the tall and thin figure drew out a long shadow on the ground.
"Come, another cup! Pour! More…"
The man was muttering to himself. If one looked carefully, one could see that he was wearing an official's hat, and his cheeks were rosy red, a clear sign that he was drunk.
"It's the Xiayuan Festival. Come, everyone, a toast to His Highness."
As the weather chilled, the number of pedestrians on the streets dwindled, with only two or three people on these normally bustling roads. But even so, white clouds of steam were rising from the homes lining the street, mixed with the aroma of cabbage and meat filling. It was fifteenth day of the tenth month, the Xiayuan Festival, when the people made offerings to their forebears and the Three Great Gods.
On this day, all the marketplaces would close up early so that the common people could return and eat dumplings with fillings of white cabbage and meat, and give offerings to their ancestors.
The rolling of wheels on the road caused the drunken man to raise his head. A carriage with purple curtains parked next to him. The curtain was raised, and a middle-aged man wearing a turban poked his head out.
"Eh, isn't this Left Deputy Secretary Yang?"
Although he was dressed in leisure clothes, this man's every movement exuded the aura of an official.
"Lord Xia? Why are you here?"
Yang Chao belched, still capable of recognizing the man despite his intoxication.
"Lord Yang, it's such a chilly day, so why are you out here alone? Let's go. Everyone is already present. You're the only one missing. Hurry and get on!" Xia Yeshu urged from his carriage.
The drunken Yang Chao was just about to refuse the offer when a hand reached out of the carriage and pulled him aboard. "Let's go," Yang Chao heard at his ears, and then the wheels began to roll forward.
In his drunken stupor, Yang Chao had no idea what places the carriage was going or where it ultimately stopped. He could only tell that when the carriage stopped, two people on his right and left picked him up and carried him into a restaurant.
In contrast to the cold weather outside, the restaurant was as warm as a spring day. Laid out in the restaurant was a long table that was only two feet and four inches wide. This table had been built of sandalwood and covered with a layer of lacquer to maintain the veins in the wood, and it emitted a refreshing fragrance.
White fog coiled around both sides of the table, where people wearing scarves and dressed in leisure clothes were casually seated. Hot food and drink had been served, and it was clear that the assembled guests had been drinking for some time before Yang Chao's arrival. He didn't pay much attention, and Xia Yeshu quickly guided him to an open seat.
On the side, someone was offering him a wine cup, chopsticks, and a plate, while another person was filling up his cup from a wine jar.
"Lord Yang, my apologies. Lord Cao is over there, and Lord Zhang has come as well. I need to go and drink to their good health."
Xia Yeshu's voice rang out in his ear, sounding both near and far, there and yet not there. Yang Chao grinned and carelessly waved his hand as he drained his cup.
Yang Chao was getting immersed in the mood, the warmth of the restaurant and the clinking of cups having an invisible effect on him. Unattended, he was quite happy filling his cup and drinking by himself.
After some time, at the height of Yang Chao's intoxication, a drunken voice came from the corner of the restaurant, loud and resentful. "Let me tell you, that Fourth Prince is getting too arrogant. It's clearly forbidden to ride horses in the Imperial Palace, but he rode one in on the official road…"
The Fourth Prince?
Yang Chao belched as he perked his ears. He recognized the voice as belonging to a minor official of the Crown Prince's Library, and yet this person continued to loudly voice his complaints.
"The prince is so amazing, he can't even see us normal people! He almost trampled me with his horse!"
The man drunkenly belched as he continued his rant, appearing even more intoxicated than Yang Chao. Someone was apparently trying to stop him, but he remained obstinate, continuing to complain with little awareness of what he was saying.
"Although every prince has a right to inherit the throne, someone like him can spend several lives and never become Emperor. Riding a horse in the Imperial Palace, does he think he's a Turk? Pah!"
The raucous restaurant instantly fell quiet, all the patrons turning to the inebriated official.
"Just which official is this? This is far too impudent."
For some reason, Yang Chao found himself rather incensed at this man's complaints.
He searched his memories and recalled that this was Zhou Cheng, a secretary of the Crown Prince's Library, a minor official that had about as much status as a bean. He had once been an auxiliary official for the Bureau of Revenue, but he had never been able to accomplish much, so he was eventually demoted to his current position as a recorder of what materials went through the Crown Prince's Library.
But this Zhou Cheng was apparently so drunk that all his disappointment and resentment was being let out at this time, and he was only getting worse and worse.
"There's been a rumor spreading around the palace for a long time that the Fourth Prince has Turkic blood. In my view, he's a descendant of the Hu. Riding a horse in the palace and recklessly traversing the official roads—just what sort of fool inside or outside the court would support a man of such character? Tomorrow, I'll tell this to His Majesty, and then he'll never get a chance to sit on the throne!" Zhou Cheng ranted.
Yang Chao was getting angrier and angrier, and he finally slapped the table and cursed.
"A trifling secretary of the Crown Prince's Library dares to make such shameless claims! Is the Fourth Prince someone you can slander so? The Fourth Prince is wise and heroic, so why can't he be Emperor? Even if you don't support him, there are others who will—many, many people."
Yang Chao was getting more emotional the longer he went on, his cheeks growing more flushed. He paused for a moment as he drained the wine in his cup.
"Pah! Who will support him? Is it you, Yang Chao? Can you say it? Huh? Let me tell you, the Fourth Prince doesn't deserve to be a prince, much less deserve to inherit the throne and become Emperor!"
Zhou Cheng lashed out, his voice even louder than Yang Chao's.