The Records Of The Human Emperor Chapter 1208
Chapter 1208: Intimidating Bian Lingcheng Ii
Chapter 1208: Intimidating Bian Lingcheng (II)
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
"Lord Gao, congratulations! His Majesty is truly quite satisfied with you this time. The Great Tang has had so many Great Generals in the past decades, but you are the only one who has been made a Duke!"
Bian Lingcheng put away the imperial decree and strode forward with a beaming smile. "In addition, assembled generals, the repeated victories have greatly raised the prestige of my Great Tang. The Bureau of Military Personnel and Bureau of Personnel have already prepared rewards for all of you. I am certain that it won't be long before all of you receive the reward letters from the Bureau of Military Personnel."
The Imperial Court had its rules. Rewards for important subjects like Gao Xianzhi, Cheng Qianli, and Feng Changqing were directly decided by the Sage Emperor, determined via imperial decree, and promulgated to the world. As for the other generals, their rewards were decided by the Bureau of Military Personnel.
"Many thanks, Milord!"
Gao Xianzhi lowered his head and gave a respectful bow as he raised his hands to accept the decree from Bian Lingcheng. After these major battles, Gao Xianzhi had never expected to be made a Duke. However, he quickly calmed down.
Gao Xianzhi raised his head and asked, "Lord Bian, please forgive Xianzhi for his audacity. Why is it that Protector-General Wang has still not been rewarded?"
Bzzz! Gao Xianzhi's question immediately caused the hall to fall silent. Everyone turned to Bian Lingcheng and Wang Chong.
In terms of merit, Wang Chong was truly the most meritorious subject. If not for him, Gao Xianzhi and the Anxi Protectorate army would have died long ago at Talas. And whether it was in Talas or in Khorasan, Wang Chong was the true commander, achieving far more than Gao Xianzhi had.
"Hahaha, I see that you are all anxious. The Young Marquis is the Great Tang's new youthful War God, and His Majesty also greatly trusts Lord Marquis. How could His Majesty and the Imperial Court not know of his great achievements in this war? It is just that the Young Marquis has rendered too great of a service. Killing Arab War God Qutaybah, slaying one million Arab elites—such achievements reach to the heavens. The ministers of the court, the Bureau of Military Personnel, the Bureau of Personnel, the Lord Prime Minister, and His Divine Majesty are all having headaches over how to reward Lord Marquis. The debate in court is quite intense, and so it will take some time to decide on Lord Marquis's reward. But it should be decided in about a month."
Bian Lingcheng smiled as he spoke. This time, his words were not one bit feigned, spoken from the bottom of his heart.
He was truly afraid of Wang Chong, not merely because of his family background, but because he was greatly favored by the Sage Emperor and even his direct superior Eunuch Gao. He could lord over Gao Xianzhi and grasp his weak points, but he did not dare to do so in front of Wang Chong.
Bian Lingcheng's words caused everyone to breathe sighs of relief.
"Lord Marquis, congratulations."
Feng Changqing stepped forward and bowed.
"Lord Marquis has rendered a great service. Even my lord was able to become the Duke of Qi. Since Lord Marquis rendered the most service in this war, I am confident that His Divine Majesty and the Imperial Court will reward Lord Marquis even more richly."
The Anxi generals nodded in agreement. Feng Changqing was correct. If Gao Xianzhi's achievements were enough to gain him the title of Duke of Qi, the Imperial Court and the Sage Emperor would certainly award Wang Chong even more richly.
"Congratulations, Milord, congratulations! Lord Feng is correct. The Imperial Court is certain to richly reward Milord."
People in the crowd began to speak up, each one feeling sincere happiness for Wang Chong. After sacrificing so much, Wang Chong was finally about to receive his proper reward.
Wang Chong only smiled. He did not care about additional titles or rewards. Defeating Arabia and gaining Talas and Khorasan were what he truly cared about.
"Lord Bian, you must be tired from your journey. Why don't you go and rest? Yuanqing, escort Lord Bian to his quarters, and take care of him well," Gao Xianzhi ordered with a wave of his hand.
Xi Yuanqing hurriedly stepped forward.
"Then I must trouble Milord," Bian Lingcheng hastily said.
Wang Chong said nothing, so Bian Lingcheng had no idea what he was thinking. He couldn't help but shiver in fear at Wang Chong's indifferent smile, and he did not dare remain in this hall any longer.
Gao Xianzhi looked to Cheng Qianli and the other Anxi Protectorate army generals, and said, "Qianli, you are dismissed as well."
A few moments later, the reception hall was empty save for Gao Xianzhi, Feng Changqing, and Wang Chong. Only now did Gao Xianzhi turn to Wang Chong.
"Wang Chong, only the three of us remain. Do you have anything that you want to say?"
From the very start, Gao Xianzhi had noticed that Wang Chong seemed to have something that he wanted to talk about. This was why he had told everyone to leave. Pausing for a moment, Gao Xianzhi continued, "Wang Chong, perhaps you don't know, but Eunuch Bian…"
"How much money did he want from you?" Wang Chong interrupted.
Gao Xianzhi and Feng Changqing were dumbstruck. Raising their heads, they saw that Wang Chong's profound eyes were fixed upon them as if seeing through all their secrets.
The hall fell into an eerie silence. Neither of them had expected that Wang Chong would start with a question like this. Gao Xianzhi had always kept his relationship with Bian Lingcheng a secret, and only a few people knew the truth.
"How did you know?" Gao Xianzhi sternly said.
"There is no wall in the world that is airtight. Anyone who puts their mind to investigating it will find clues eventually. Milord's promotions are inextricably tied to that Bian Lingcheng," Wang Chong flatly said.
The other two in the hall were speechless for a long time.
Finally, Gao Xianzhi raised his head and sighed.
"Since Lord Wang already knows, I won't hide anything. When I was young, I let emotions guide my actions and made a mistake. This matter has constantly impeded me in the ten-some years that followed, and I've never been able to cast if off."
Gao Xianzhi and Feng Changqing became rather sentimental as they brought up this matter from the past.
There was no one that did not make errors in their youth, and Gao Xianzhi had also been a rather impulsive young man. He had been conceited, believing that his martial prowess and grasp of strategy far exceeded his peers, but even though he had served under Tian Renwan and Fumeng Lingcha for so long and rendered such great service, he was never highly regarded. The young Gao Xianzhi felt compelled to take action, and though it had allowed him to become Anxi Protector-General, it had also brought endless consequences.
Wang Chong placed his hands behind him and got straight to the point. "How much did Bian Lingcheng want from you after the battle with the Shi Kingdom?"
"Six million taels of gold!" Feng Changqing piped up.
Even Wang Chong couldn't help but widen his eyes at this number. For the Battle of Talas, the Bureau of Revenue had given him ten million taels of gold, but even this had only been done after much hesitation.
And yet after the battle for the Shi Kingdom, Bian Lingcheng had demanded six million taels of gold, more than half of what Wang Chong had required for the Battle of Talas, and one had to realize that Wang Chong had used that money to hire nearly one hundred thousand soldiers.
"And this time?" Wang Chong continued.
Gao Xianzhi continued to remain silent, and it was still Feng Changqing who answered.
"Eighty million taels of gold!"
Even though Wang Chong had mentally prepared himself, he still couldn't help but pale at this number. Eighty million taels, and of gold! It was clear that Bian Lingcheng knew that Wang Chong and Gao Xianzhi had demanded a total of 1.9 billion taels of gold from the Arabian Empire and had started off with an initial demand of eighty million. To go from six million taels to eighty million was more than a tenfold increase in appetite. Let alone Gao Xianzhi, not even Wang Chong would be able to hide the size of such a bribe.
If Bian Lingcheng's appetite continued to increase in this fashion, not even the whole 1.9 billion taels would be enough to satisfy him. And if they could not satisfy Bian Lingcheng, hostilities would immediately break out.
"This bastard is bold! Does he really think that the money we demanded from Arabia is his private property!"
Wang Chong was rarely enraged, but not even he could suppress himself when he learned of Bian Lingcheng's avarice.
"If I knew that he was this greedy, I would have killed him just now!"
"Wang Chong, no!"
Gao Xianzhi and Feng Changqing paled at these words.
"Bian Lingcheng is the General of the Palace Gates, and he's an emissary of His Divine Majesty. To kill him is to offend the Sage Emperor."
"Eighty million taels of gold was just a spoken demand, but there's no firm evidence. To recklessly kill an Imperial Director will be extremely disadvantageous to Protector-General and the entire Wang Clan. With a strong enemy waiting in the wings, we can't allow a lowly man like this to upset us."
The pair hurriedly began to urge prudence.
Wang Chong said nothing, but the flames of anger in his eyes grew even brighter. He finally understood why Gao Xianzhi and Feng Changqing had invited him to this meeting. But Wang Chong knew far more about their relationship with Bian Lingcheng than this pair could imagine.
"Leave this matter to me. For a eunuch to falsely use imperial decrees is truly audacious!"
Wang Chong's eyes spat fire as he spoke.
"Wang Chong, you must not!"
Gao Xianzhi and Feng Changqing were startled by this display.
Wang Chong glanced at the two and calmly said, "Milords, be at ease. I will not kill him, but I have my ways of dealing with this kind of eunuch official!"
Although his heart still burned with rage, he had not taken leave of his senses. Brute strength was not needed to deal with someone like Bian Lingcheng. For a greedy person like him who had been the General of the Palace Gates for so long, there was no way he had restricted his appetite to solely Gao Xianzhi.
Gao Xianzhi had not been the first victim, nor was he the last.
There was no such thing as an airtight wall, and as long as Wang Chong could seize Bian Lingcheng's weakness, Bian Lingcheng would never be able to escape, no matter how capable he was.
Gao Xianzhi and Feng Changqing examined Wang Chong. Seeing that it didn't seem like he was going to impulsively rush off and kill Bian Lingcheng, they finally relaxed.
Upon leaving the hall, Wang Chong quickly summoned Zhang Que. In addition, he wrote a letter to Yang Hongchang of the Western Regions' Yang Clan. The Yang Clan had operated in the Western Regions for many years and had many connections. If any evidence existed of Bian Lingcheng's actions in the Western Regions, the Yang Clan was the ideal choice to seek it out.
Besides this letter to the Western Regions, Wang Chong also wrote letters to King Song and Yang Zhao in the capital.