The Records Of The Human Emperor Chapter 1226
Chapter 1226: The Capital Under A New Sky
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
Wang Gen shook his head.
"In this period of time, I've met His Highness King Song a total of two times, and we didn't have time to chat much on either occasion."
Wang Chong instantly frowned at his big uncle's words.
From the moment he received the imperial decree at Khorasan, he had been pondering this matter. Even if someone had wanted him to be de facto demoted and stripped of military power, and his soldiers withdrawn from Khorasan, such a proposal logically should never have passed.
Wang Chong could usually rely on King Song, his big uncle Wang Gen, the Bureau of Military Personnel's Zhangchou Jianqiong, and also Yang Zhao and Consort Taizhen. This was combined with the enormous influence Duke Jiu wielded in the court and the support he had from the officials of his faction, as well as the Sage Emperor's favor. All these things formed an invisible barrier that would keep out all malicious intentions. This was precisely why Wang Chong could go out campaigning in peace.
But even with this sturdy barrier, this imperial decree had still been passed, stripping Wang Chong of his military authority and rendering all his efforts in Khorasan to nothing in a single blow. Wang Chong had never imagined this, and when he turned to review the incident, the strangest thing of all was King Song's stance.
When the incident happened, Wang Chong had believed that he would very quickly receive a letter from King Song informing him of the causes. This way, he would at least know what was going on. But in the more than half a month after the incident that he spent returning from Khorasan to the capital, King Song had not sent a single letter. This was simply too strange.
After a few moments of silence, Wang Chong finally voiced the burning question on his mind. "Just what happened during that court session?"
In all of the Imperial Court, if King Song could not provide him the answer he wanted, the person with the second-greatest chance was his big uncle Wang Gen.
As a lower rank-one official of the Imperial Court, his big uncle was privy to a great deal of classified information, even if he wasn't on the same level as the Three Dukes.
Wang Chong had actually asked Wang Gen this question on his journey, but his big uncle had been exceptionally vague in his reply and had not revealed much information, saying that he would explain everything once Wang Chong returned. And now, the time was here.
To his surprise, Wang Gen suddenly creased his brow, a hint of deep concern appearing on his usually-composed face.
"Chong-er, right now, I also can't answer your question. Far too much has happened since then. In my twenty years in the court, I've experienced countless major trials, but none of them compare to this upheaval. There are many things which not even I can explain to you, not even the matter of how that imperial decree managed to get passed. In truth, I also dearly want to know what happened on that day's court session."
Wang Gen's words were of great surprise to Wang Chong.
"Big Uncle, just what's going on here? How can not even you know?"
Wang Chong frowned. This was such a major event that Wang Chong had never imagined that someone of his big uncle's status would be left unaware.
"Chong-er, you'll understand once I finish."
Wang Gen leaned against the back of the carriage, a bitter smile on his face.
"There was something fishy about this matter from the very start. You might not know, but on the day of the incident, I wasn't even present at the Imperial Court. During the entire process, from the initial debate to its final passing, I was never a participant!"
Wang Gen's words left Wang Chong utterly stunned. For a moment, countless thoughts flew from his mind.
His big uncle was a lower rank-one official, and to transfer him away from the capital was not something that any normal person could do. Moreover, his big uncle was an important representative of the Wang Clan in the Imperial Court. If one wanted to deal with Wang Chong, one had to first deal with his big uncle. And based on his big uncle's words, he wasn't even in the capital on the day of the incident. Wang Chong could not believe that this was a simple coincidence.
It appeared more like an advance preparation, a meticulous trap.
Wang Gen clearly understood this, indicated by the hint of concern on his brow. There were many things that could only be noticed when they happened, but it was too late to do anything about them by that time.
"Before the incident, I received word that there had been a disaster in the Jiangnan Circuit, that the people had revolted and many fields and homes had been destroyed. The local officials couldn't handle it, and there had also been a petition from the local people. Thus, the Imperial Court discussed and concluded that though the Great Tang was flourishing and there would not be much danger in the Jiangnan Circuit, any matter involving the common people was not a trivial affair. Thus, a major official would need to be dispatched to soothe the people and oversee the situation. After some discussion, it was ultimately decided to send me."
Wang Gen raised his head, a look of recollection in his eyes.
"Although I was rather surprised, since this involved the common people and was within the bounds of my duties, I set off for the Jiangnan Circuit. King Song had also been present at that court session, and neither he nor I thought anything of this decision. After all, if it wasn't me, some other official would be sent. But when I arrived at the Jiangnan Circuit, I discovered that the situation was completely different from what had been reported to the Imperial Court.
"A flood truly had taken place in the Jiangnan Circuit, but the disaster had already been handled, and all the common people had been taken care of appropriately. In addition, the disaster was much smaller than we imagined, and there was no revolt or public petition. The reason was that the clerk writing the memorial failed at his duty and did not perform a detailed investigation before casually writing the memorial. This clerk has already been dealt with, and the primary local officials have also resigned. All of this was done by the time I arrived. It was also at this time that I received word of the decree passed by the Imperial Court."
Wang Chong said nothing, but his face slowly darkened. The carriage continued to roll forward, and Wang Gen continued to speak, his tone becoming much more serious.
"From the moment I received the news, I felt that something was wrong and returned overnight to the capital. In that short period while I was gone, the Imperial Court had undergone a massive transformation. Many officials who I was acquainted with had vanished, replaced by new and unfamiliar ones."
"Did Big Uncle investigate their background? The Imperial Court is not a place just anyone can enter. Only those with achievement or talent are permitted entry!" Wang Chong suddenly said.
To work their way from a minor local official to a major official of the court was something that many people would need to spend their entire lives to achieve. And to many more people, that hall in the Imperial Palace that gathered together all the authority in the empire was something that they could only dream about. Wang Chong, with his consecutive campaigns and incredible feats, had only possessed military authority that entire time. Now that he could step into the politics of the court, he only had the minor position of Advisor-in-Waiting.
"I've investigated them, and though they appeared rather abruptly, there's nothing to criticize about their backgrounds. They were either recommended by local officials or already local officials themselves. All of them had many achievements, but no memorials had been submitted about them until now, where they were all gathered together and sent up in a single batch."
"How could this be?!"
Wang Chong's eyebrows shot up. The Great Tang had long ago created a bureaucratic system for testing and selecting candidates for officialdom. There had never been a case where someone had rendered great service but decided not to report it. Logically, it sounded possible, but it was realistically impossible.
"I also had this doubt, but I saw the evidence myself. Putting aside everything else for the moment, there is no doubting the contributions and merits listed on the memorials to the Imperial Court."
Wang Gen bitterly smiled. As a member of the court for many years, he was extremely difficult to fool. But it was precisely because he had made such a thorough investigation that he could not argue. A deathly stillness reigned in the carriage, and then Wang Chong suddenly spoke.
"Did Big Uncle not check their reports?"
"Chong-er, you truly are a smart one."
Wang Gen sighed.
"Their backgrounds truly are unimpeachable, and all identity checks came up completely clean. But when I investigated their reports, I realized that the paper of these reports was all extremely new. If an entire report was truly valid, it would never be written out entirely in such brand-new paper! These people are extremely devious, and this is probably the only flaw they've left behind. There's probably no method in the world that could make up for this flaw!"
Even the wisest sage pondering a thousand matters could still make a mistake. Even the most perfect background would have a flaw somewhere, and time was the only thing that couldn't be faked.
Suddenly, the carriage came to a halt, and the driver's voice came from outside. "Master, we've arrived."
Wang Gen and Wang Chong immediately came back to their senses and exited the carriage. Outside was the familiar sight of Wang Gen's residence. They ceased to discuss matters of the court and walked indifferently side by side, like a most ordinary pair of relatives making their way back home.
Inside, Wang Chong paid respects to his aunt Xing Chunyuan and his older cousin Wang Li. After spending some time within, he quickly took his leave. Everything appeared extremely normal. After leaving his big uncle's residence, he went straight to the King Song Residence.
There were far too many suspicious things in this entire matter, and there was only one person who could answer all his questions.
As a member of the imperial household and one of the leading lights of the Imperial Court, King Song could be considered to be at the very heart of this matter. This was the case for every upheaval or political storm.
"Halt! Who goes there!"
A stern and dignified voice rang out before Wang Chong could approach. Two fully-armed guards swiftly placed themselves in front of Wang Chong, crossing their spears in front of him as they sharply stared at him.
"Those without business are forbidden entry into the King Song Residence! Do you not even know this? Hurry and leave!"
Wang Chong's expression darkened when he saw these two guards. He had come to the King Song Residence many times, but no one had ever barred his path. Wang Chong had also never seen these two guards before.
"I am the King of Foreign Lands, Wang Chong. I have come to pay respects to His Highness King Song. Please convey my message."
Wang Chong did not act on his rage. He quickly calmed down after taking a deep breath.
The two guards paled at the mention of 'King of Foreign Lands', and they began to carefully inspect Wang Chong as if trying to confirm his identity. The two exchanged glances, and then one quickly strode into the residence.