The Records Of The Human Emperor Chapter 1233
Chapter 1233: The Phoenix Polishes The Sparrow And There Is The Origin
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
"Relax! He will definitely come to meet us!" Wang Chong said as if understanding Zhang Que's worries.
The turmoil in the Zhou Residence was quickly pacified, and the entire estate fell quiet once more.
Time slowly passed, and just when Zhang Que believed that Wang Chong was mistaken, footsteps began to approach. Through the open gates of the Zhou Residence, Zhang Que immediately spotted a middle-aged scholar dressed in azure leisure clothes, leading out a group of servants and maids. He walked with his head slightly lowered, his eyes fixed to the ground. He appeared to be absent-minded and restless.
When he was thirty to forty steps from the main gate, a servant gave him a reminder, upon which the scholar came back to his senses. After tidying his clothes, he swiftly went up to greet Wang Chong.
"Unaware that the King of Foreign Lands would be honoring me with his presence, this Zhou was rude in not coming out to greet Your Highness and begs your forgiveness."
Zhou Wenchen clasped his hands together and bowed.
"Lord Zhou is too polite. Will you not invite us in to sit?" Wang Chong nonchalantly said.
Zhou Wenchen seemed to awaken from a dream, and he hurriedly stepped to the side.
"Your Highness, please, please, please!"
It was only after saying 'please' three times that Zhou Wenchen finally led Wang Chong into his estate.
Once they entered the reception hall, the mood became extremely strange. The maids were pale and strange, and the guards at the door had extremely unnatural expressions. Even Zhou Wenchen seemed to be acting like he was seated on a pincushion.
"Is Lord Zhou still not prepared to say anything?"
Wang Chong took a tea cup off the table, took off the lid, and lightly played around with the foam on the tea.
The attending maids immediately paled, and Zhou Wenchen's face immediately turned a sickly green.
He suddenly gave a long sigh and stood up. He was like a prisoner sentenced to the death penalty who, after a night of torture, had finally decided to calmly accept his fate.
"Your Highness, Zhou Wenchen has nothing to say about this matter. Zhou Wenchen let down Your Highness's trust. No matter how Your HIghness punishes me, this Zhou will calmly accept it and make no complaint."
After saying this, he made a ninety-degree bow.
Wang Chong was the Great Tang's highest commander in Khorasan and Qixi's temporary Protector-General. The defection of Zhou Wenchen and the others had led Wang Chong to be stripped of his military authority, removed from his position as temporary Qixi Protector-General, and had rendered his several months of fighting in Talas for naught. One could say that Wang Chong was the most direct victim of this incident. Zhou Wenchen could refuse to meet King Song and Wang Gen, but he couldn't avoid Wang Chong forever. As a civil official, he had a duty to uphold the Confucian values, but in this incident, he had erred in morality and conduct. This was one of the reasons Wang Chong was so sure that Zhou Wenchen would meet him.
"Lord Zhou, what a noble and upstanding person you are," Zhang Que coldly snorted at Zhou Wenchen, his voice brimming with hostility and hatred.
At Qixi, it was precisely because of these people that Wang Chong got so angry that he vomited blood and fell unconscious. Zhang Que still clearly remembered that sight, and he had never had any good impression of these people.
Moreover, Zhou Wenchen was a defector, had gone back on his word, which was what Zhang Que and the others hated the most.
Wang Chong waved his hand and stopped Zhang Que.
Wang Chong put down the cup and calmly asked, "Lord Zhou, is this your explanation?"
"Your Highness, this Zhou also has his own sorrows. This Zhou has known King Song for many years, and whether it is King Song or Lord Wang Gen, this one has always deeply admired them. Your Highness has fought on foreign battlefields to vanquish foes and raise the prestige of the country, and this Zhou is also full of praise for Your Highness. Your Highness must believe this Zhou when he says that he would have never done such a thing if it were possible."
"Nonsense! You still did it!" Zhang Que angrily said. "Is this your explanation? Do you know how many of our brothers sacrificed their lives and bled out on foreign lands just so you could say that you were forced into doing all this?"
In normal circumstances, he would have never been this agitated, but this situation was different. Half a year of effort had been wasted, and Zhang Que could not accept Zhou Wenchen being so calm about it.
Wang Chong shot a glance at Zhang Que and silenced him, then he turned back to Zhou Wenchen.
"So, Lord Zhou cannot say who commanded you or who made you change your mind?"
"Your Highness, forgive me. It is not that this Zhou does not want to say, but he cannot say."
Zhang Que was further infuriated by these words and angrily glared. But Wang Chong seemed to understand, and he placed his hands on the armrest as he prepared to rise.
"Understood. Zhang Que, let's go!"
With these words, Wang Chong paid no further attention to Zhou Wenchen and began to leave, leaving both Zhou Wenchen and Zhang Que speechless. Today was the day in which Wang Chong had been granted his new title. Almost everyone in the capital knew of this. Zhou Wenchen had originally believed that Wang Chong had appeared at the Zhou Residence to castigate him. He hadn't expected Wang Chong to leave after just saying a few words, and this left him utterly dumbfounded.
As Wang Chong was about to step over the threshold, Zhou Wenchen finally couldn't help but call out.
"Lord Zhou has something else to say?"
Wang Chong stopped with his back to the reception hall.
"Your Highness, this matter was truly this Zhou's mistake, trusted as I was by King Song and Lord Wang, but the phoenix polishes the sparrow, and there is the origin. If Your Highness and His Highness King Song have any complaints, please aim only at this Zhou alone! …Let this Zhou's family go free."
"Relax. We haven't stooped to such a low level yet."
With these words, Wang Chong stepped over the threshold and left. Behind him, Zhou Wenchen breathed a sigh of relief and respectfully bowed.
"Zhou Wenchen offers Your Highness his utmost gratitude!"
Once they were out of the Zhou Residence, Zhang Que's heart was still somewhat angry and aggrieved.
"Milord, are we just letting him go? Everyone talks about the demeanor of a scholar, but this sort of person makes me want to retch in disgust."
"Let him go. Each person has their own difficulties. We can't completely disavow him just because he made a single mistake," Wang Chong calmly said, much less agitated than Zhang Que was.
"But this bastard didn't tell us a thing. He caused Milord to be demoted and stripped of military authority, and even caused the efforts of our brothers to be for nothing. Letting him go like this is letting him off too easily. Didn't we come here in vain then?" Zhang Que indignantly said.
"Who said he said nothing?" Wang Chong shot back.
Zhang Que was instantly struck dumb. He had been a witness to the entire meeting between Zhou Wenchen and Wang Chong. Zhou Wenchen had been nothing other than evasive, and had even pleaded that he had his own sorrows and troubles. He had mentioned nothing else, yet Wang Chong said that he had. But how? Zhang Que thought back, but he couldn't bring to mind anything Zhou Wenchen had said that was useful.
"Zhang Que, sometimes, not saying anything is saying something. There are some things that don't need to be directly mentioned. Moreover, didn't he say something before we left? 'The phoenix polishes the sparrow, and there is the origin.'"
After Wang Chong said this, he boarded the carriage, leaving Zhang Que standing behind him in a daze.
"'The phoenix polishes the sparrow, and there is the origin'… What in the world does that mean?" Zhang Que muttered to himself, still not able to understand. Although he was in charge of intelligence, he was no match for Wang Chong when it came to literary allusions like this.
"There's no need to think about. Go, let's return to the residence." Wang Chong's voice came from the carriage.
Zhang Que's heart trembled, and he immediately got onto the carriage and snapped the whip, setting the two horses on the road to the Wang Family Residence. As the wheels rolled forward, Wang Chong began to think.
'The phoenix polishes the sparrow' referred to an incident from the Western Han. At the time, an incident of witchcraft had taken place in the palace, and the effects were so wide-ranging that the Three Departments had been assigned to perform a joint investigation. The investigating officials eventually traced the wooden and cloth puppets used in the witchcraft to a palace maid. Every form of torture was applied to the palace maid, but in the end, the only thing she said before dying was, "The phoenix polishes the sparrow, and I did not do this willingly."
So is this the reason? Wang Chong thought to himself. 'The phoenix polishes the sparrow' meant that one was compelled, but there were only a few people in the Imperial Court that could compel someone like Zhou Wenchen. Suddenly, Wang Chong began to understand.
It's about my turn to act now! No matter who you are, I'll definitely drag you out! Wang Chong quietly said to himself.
Time slowly passed, and by the time Wang Chong returned to his residence, it was dark. An eagle flew over the walls and into the Wang Family Residence, and Zhang Que was soon anxiously knocking at Wang Chong's door, a letter in his hand.
He got down on one knee and sternly said, "Your Highness, it's bad! Master just sent word that Zhou Wenchen has already sent his resignation to the Imperial Court, stating that his ill health makes him unable to fulfill his duties to the Imperial Court, and he's requested to return to his hometown and retire. Moreover, the Imperial Court has already approved it. Master just sent men to investigate, and they discovered that the Zhou Residence has already been emptied out."
Wang Chong had been silently cultivating on his bed, and even now, his expression was unperturbed.
"Your Highness, now is the best time to get information on that day from Zhou Wenchen. Let's send some men to capture him."
"There's no need."
Wang Chong waved his hand, not even bothering to open his eyes. This order left Zhang Que flabbergasted.
Zhang Que was frozen, completely unable to grasp Wang Chong's thinking.
"Don't worry about him. Let him go," Wang Chong softly said, his words ending the conversation.
Zhang Que was filled with confusion and unwillingness, but since Wang Chong had made up his mind, he could only withdraw.
Once Zhang Que was gone, Wang Chong finally opened his eyes, which exploded with dazzling light. But he quickly mastered his emotions, and the room returned to serenity.