The Human Emperor Chapter 816
Chapter 816: Making Trouble The Trump Card
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
While Fumeng Lingcha and Wang Chong were unperturbed, the Xueyang Palace Incident was having a completely different effect on the other areas along the Great Tang border.
In the Anxi Protectorate headquarters, Gao Xianzhi and Feng Changqing had met up, and the hall was bursting with unease and worry.
"Changqing, it was a good thing I listened to you back then and didn't collude with the Fourth Prince. Otherwise, both you and I would be beyond redemption," Gao Xianzhi said, his brow deeply creased, his head lowered as he paced back and forth.
"Milord, there's no need to be so worried. We did not actually collude with the Fourth Prince, so why should we worry about the Sage Emperor's fury?" Feng Changqing comforted.
"Although this really is the case, the incident this time can't be underestimated. The Fourth Prince did in fact try to court us, promising great rewards. If the Sage Emperor misunderstands this as collusion, all our future prospects will be destroyed," Gao Xianzhi sternly warned. There had been no small number of times when Great Generals on the border had been caught interfering in the War of the Princes and ultimately ended up being stripped of their rank and imprisoned. With this precedent, Gao Xianzhi couldn't help but worry that the Sage Emperor might misunderstand.
Feng Changqing gave a deep sigh. No outsider could have ever imagined how affected these Great Generals on the border would be by this incident. Unlike a veteran general like Fumeng Lingcha, who had nothing to fear, his commander did not have as long a history in the army. He had only been able to reach his position as Anxi Protector-General by relying on the Sage Emperor's favor, his extremely cautious nature, and his endless stream of achievements on the battlefield.
This was why he was constantly attacking other countries from Anxi, and his plan this time to attack the Shi Kingdom was no different. Only constant achievements on the battlefield could stabilize his position and gain the Sage Emperor's favor. Otherwise, once a situation like this occurred, while the other Great Generals might have nothing to fear, he and the commander would be the first to fall.
"Milord, things will turn out all right. Looking up, we have nothing to be ashamed about toward the heavens, and looking down, we have nothing to be ashamed about toward the earth. Our record in the Great Tang is one of merit on the battlefield, not mistakes and faults. If the Sage Emperor charges us with a crime, Changqing is willing to enter the capital and clear Milord of this injustice!" Feng Changqing earnestly declared.
Feng Changqing's words instantly made Gao Xianzhi see the light.
"Changqing, you and I have shared all our trials and tribulations for more than ten years now. How could I let you make such a sacrifice?" With these words, Gao Xianzhi gave another sigh and finally made his decision. "Haaa, forget it. Changqing, prepare some ink and paper for me. I will personally write a letter to the Sage Emperor explaining all the facts. The Sage Emperor is wise and courageous. He will definitely understand that I do not hold a traitorous heart."
Flapflap! A few moments later, a messenger bird flew into the air, headed for the distant capital.
Meanwhile, messenger birds were also flying out to the capital from Longxi and Beiting.
No person could ignore the will of the Sage Emperor, not Gao Xianzhi, Geshu Han, or An Sishun. All of them were apprehensive and fearful. All the Great Generals who had received that golden token sent back a reply as quickly as possible explaining themselves, hoping to wash away the Sage Emperor's doubts.
Time slowly passed, and the Xueyang Palace Incident continued to ferment. The replies and memorials submitted by the Great Generals caused even more attention to be placed on this matter.
This was the first time since the founding of the Great Tang that so many Hu Great Generals had involved themselves in the War of the Princes, so the attention it received was unprecedented. People both inside and outside the court were discussing it, speculating whether it was one or two of the Hu Great Generals who were colluding with the Fourth Prince, or perhaps… it was all of them?
The capital was so abuzz with chatter that even Han luminaries like Wang Zhongsi and Zhang Shougui were paying attention. Of course, the First Prince, Second Prince, and all the other princes in the Imperial Palace were watching as well.
"Big Brother, Fourth Brother is truly quite bold. He actually dared to collude with the Hu!"
In the palace of the First Prince, Second Prince Li Yao was on an angry tirade.
"If not for that senile bastard Yang Chao getting so drunk and confessing the whole thing, we would probably have never found out that he was up to such tricks."
"Second Brother, is there any need for such concern?"
First Prince Li Ying was seated in the upper reaches of the hall, one hand holding a tea cup and the other holding the cup lid. He gently wiped away the foam on the surface of the tea, gently blew, and then took a light sip, the tea sliding down his throat. The entire process was neat and orderly, his confidence presenting a stark contrast to Li Yao's frantic concern.
"Fourth Brother was also getting nervous, so he thought about borrowing the power of the Hu. Back in our grandfather Taizong's time, he was an undefeated conqueror. All the countries called him the Heavenly Khagan, and all the barbarians served him. Later on, these barbarian subjects were all willing to follow Grandfather Taizong in his conquests, with these people being the ancestors of the Hu within the borders. Fourth Brother was probably thinking of Grandfather Taizong when he thought of this method."
"Hmph, you seem to be quite composed. You can even speak up for him at a time like this. But if he had succeeded, just think about what would have happened," Second Prince Li Yao uneasily said.
The First Prince's expression was calm and unperturbed. It seemed like everything was under control, that nothing could ever affect him. He put down the tea cup and lightly said, "Ha, with everything exposed, the situation is set in stone. Why should Second Brother be so worried? Moreover, as long as I maintain my virtue and don't give him a chance, even if he had the support of all the Hu, what would he be able to do? In this world, Imperial Father's words are still the law. Shouldn't you be more concerned about our third brother? He's also spent quite some time in the Imperial Clan Court. Find a time to visit him and tell him to settle down a little and be a little more conservative. In addition, give him some paper and have him write a letter of repentance. As long as Imperial Father is moved and believes that he has changed, you and I can speak up for him. Besides, he's already been punished and has spent enough time in jail. Imperial Father is probably about to let him out.
"In comparison to our foolish fourth brother who allowed one Yang Chao to ruin everything he had worked for, I am more worried about our fifth brother Li Heng. In the past, both you and I understood Fifth Brother's situation, but you saw what happened in the last conflict. His plan proceeded step by step with confidence, and Third Brother ended up falling into the trap without even knowing it. There is clearly someone directing him behind the scenes, and I would never believe it if anyone said otherwise. Rather than worry about Fourth Brother, I'm more inclined to wonder just who that mysterious person is."
The First Prince's eyes widened for a moment, an astonishingly cold light emerging from them. But it was only for a moment, and the First Prince immediately regained that gentle indifference that revealed no flaws.
Time flew by, and the Xueyang Palace Incident continued to receive only more attention as more information was revealed. Meanwhile, the Sage Emperor's fury had reached its peak. The memorials of the Hu Great Generals had arrived at the capital and were quickly leaked, sweeping through the capital like a firestorm.
Each of them, without exception, had professed their fear at the Emperor's anger and claimed that they were unjustly accused. Most of them also stated that they did not collude with the Fourth Prince in any way, with only one of them admitting that the Fourth Prince truly had tried to court him, but had been sternly rejected.
Thus, an intractable problem had appeared. Although Zhang Xian, Zhao You, and the other officials had all claimed that the Fourth Prince had received the support of a Hu Great General on the border, this was only their account, and no records of this could be found in the Fourth Prince's correspondences with these Great Generals.
As for the Fourth Prince, he naturally claimed that there was nothing of the sort.
Right now, even though the confessions pointed at the Hu Great Generals on the border, there was no firm evidence tying any of them to this incident, not Geshu Han, An Sishun, Fumeng Lingcha, or Gao Xianzhi.
Moreover, even though they might have been Hu, they had all performed great services for the court, always keeping their hands clean, with Geshu Han even being personally promoted by the Great Tang War God and Crown Prince's Junior Protector, Wang Zhongsi. Privately, more people were willing to believe Geshu Han's words over the words of those officials who had confessed under the interrogation of the three agencies. The Fourth Prince had recognized the value of these generals and had tried to court them, but he had been rejected at every turn.
In truth, all the princes of the palace tried to court the powerful officials of the court, but they would usually be rejected. Rejection and success were two completely different concepts. Rejection meant that the offer had never happened in the first place.
Only success counted as colluding with the officials of court.
The words of Yang Chao, Zhang Xian, Zhao You, and the other officials were simply not enough to charge the Hu Great Generals with any crime. Each of them had prominent status, and could not be thrown into jail on mere hearsay.
If they were, what dignity would the important officials of the Imperial Court have left? The government would become a farce.
Yet just as the claims of innocence from these Great Generals were slowly leading the incident to fade away, during the morning court session of the next day, there was an unexpected development.
"Your Majesty, this subject Deng Chang has a memorial to submit!"
Just as the discussions were beginning to come to a close, a graying Imperial Censor sternly walked forward, a ceremonial tablet in his hands.
"Venerable Censor, speak whatever is on your mind."
The Sage Emperor's lofty and dignified voice rang out in the hall, sounding like it had not come from the upper reaches of the hall, but had drifted down from the high heavens.