The Records Of The Human Emperor Chapter 1240
Chapter 1240: The Great Tangs Prime Minister Li Genu
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
"Then this Zhangchou Jianqiong will bid farewell."
Zhangchou Jianqiong understood that the two had matters to discuss, so he immediately withdrew. The other generals also understood the situation and dispersed, leaving Wang Chong and King Song to walk alone.
King Song stood next to Wang Chong as they walked and indifferently asked, "During this court session, did you feel it?"
Wang Chong nodded. Although this was only his first day, Wang Chong could already sense the undercurrent in the court, the strange and extremely complicated clouds that were shrouding it.
"The circumstances of that day were even more complicated than they were today!" King Song lightly said. These words could be considered his explanation to Wang Chong.
"Just who are those officials with the unfamiliar faces? So many people can't have just appeared in the court overnight. Just who are they?" Wang Chong asked.
"For a little while, I also cannot answer this question, but in terms of background, these people are perfect. Not even I can make any sort of criticism!" King Song said.
"So, it's the Grand Preceptor, right?"
Wang Chong suddenly stopped, his eyes turning sharp.
The Grand Preceptor was the leader of the civil officials, and almost all the new faces in the court were civil officials. For so many new civil officials to appear in court could not be done without the Grand Preceptor's approval. Moreover, even if the Grand Preceptor was not the mastermind, he was definitely inextricably connected.
"Before, I had the same idea as you, but I'm afraid that this matter is not so simple. The Grand Preceptor truly is involved, but he is not the man controlling things from behind the curtain. In comparison, I'm more worried about another matter…" King Song gravely said.
Wang Chong's brow creased, but just when he was about to speak, a mellow voice came from behind him.
"Your Highnesses, please hold!"
Both of them immediately turned around to see a slender figure wearing the crimson robe of a rank-one official walking up from behind them.
The pair's expressions immediately turned strange.
"Lord Prime Minister!"
King Song gave a bow, but Wang Chong remained upright, with his hands held behind his back and a gentle smile on his lips.
The person chasing after them was none other than the leader of all the officials, the current Prime Minister, Li Genu.
"Your Highnesses are too polite."
As Li Genu approached, he hurriedly returned the bow.
"Does Lord Prime Minister have business with us?" Wang Chong asked, neither too coldly nor too warmly. He had just quarreled with Li Genu in the Imperial Court, so he was in no mood to meet with him now.
"Haha, King of Foreign Lands, King Song, do Your Highnesses perhaps have some misunderstanding about me from the matter just now?"
Li Genu clasped his hands and gave a refreshing smile.
"This one was only discussing the matter of dissolving the prefectural armies on its own merits and did not have any other intentions. In the future, if it is necessary, it is entirely possible to begin recruiting soldiers in advance, perhaps even increasing the scale of the prefectural armies. All of this is possible!"
Li Genu spoke with flawless poise, and his expression was frank and confident, warm and genial like a ball of cotton. It was impossible to get angry at a person like this. Moreover, despite being an upper rank-one official and leader of all officials, Li Genu did not put on any airs. This was extremely rare amongst the officials and was one of the reasons this Prime Minister of the Great Tang was so respected.
"Lord Prime Minister's words are too serious. This king did not have that intention."
A hint of confusion appeared in King Song's eyes, but some of the doubt in his mind appeared to have instantly been cleared up. But Wang Chong's expression remained cold and unmoved.
If he did not know of the truth behind this sage minister of the Great Tang, Wang Chong might have been exactly like King Song or the other officials of the court and been fooled by this man's reputation and smile. But Wang Chong was well aware that if he were deceived by this genial attitude, he would be so thoroughly devoured that not even bones would be left.
People had been fooled by his smiling appearance in the past and the present, and they would still be fooled in the future, but this group would never count Wang Chong as one of its members. This was because Wang Chong was well aware of this sage minister's other and more illustrious name, 'Li Linfu'!
And there was another saying about this Prime Minister: 'honey in mouth, sword in belly'. This person was probably one of the finest actors in the history of the Great Tang, perhaps the history of the entire Central Plains!
Wang Chong didn't believe a word that he said. This talk of 'expanding the prefectural armies when the time was right' was merely talk and would never come to fruition.
Wang Chong suddenly stepped forward, smiling, and commented to Li Genu, "Heh, Lord Prime Minister, the Governor of Yichun has asked me to wish you well!"
But these simple words caused the prestigious Prime Minister to instantly pale. Even someone of Li Genu's personality couldn't help but turn ashen and speechless for a moment.
But it was only for a moment. Li Genu quickly regained his composure, his face ruddy and fresh as the spring wind, beaming with smiles.
"Hah, it seems like the King of Foreign Lands has a very deep misunderstanding of me!"
Li Genu was not angry, and his face remained relaxed and carefree.
"King Song, King of Foreign Lands, this minister still has other matters to attend to and will leave first. In the future, I will pay a visit and give an explanation to Your Highnesses," Li Genu said.
"Lord Prime Minister is too polite. Then let us meet again some other day."
King Song clasped his hands and bowed. He watched Li Genu leave, and only when he was out of sight did he finally turn to Wang Chong.
"Wang Chong, why did you suddenly bring up the matter of Li Shizhi? Are you telling me you believe it to be true?"
"Not 'believe'! It was always true!" Wang Chong nonchalantly said, looking in the direction in which Li Linfu had vanished.
The Governor of Yichun, Li Shizhi, had once enjoyed the great favor of the Sage Emperor, but Li Linfu's schemes forced him into retirement. Just when he had managed to return to the capital and get close to the Sage Emperor, the moment he turned around, Li Linfu deceived the Sage Emperor by saying that Li Shizhi was old and ill. He requested that the Sage Emperor show pity by having him resign his post and live out the rest of his life in peace.
When Li Shizhi discovered that he had been deceived, he disclosed the matter.
But none of the court officials, not even Li Linfu's political enemies, believed him. This was because Li Linfu had the reputation of a sage minister, and it was deemed impossible for him to do such a thing.
In the end, Li Shizhi1 became depressed and eventually died.
This matter had caused a large turmoil in society at the time, but since there had been no firm evidence and no one believed the accuser, it was eventually set aside.
Not even King Song had expected Wang Chong to revive this matter, but when he saw the serious expression on Wang Chong's face, King Song turned pensive.
"So, Your Highness has been avoiding any meetings because of Prime Minister Li Genu, correct?" Wang Chong suddenly said.
King Song instantly grimaced.
"This isn't the right place to talk! Let's go!"
King Song suddenly grabbed Wang Chong's arms, scanned the area, and then immediately began to pull Wang Chong forward.
Outside the Imperial Court, King Song pulled Wang Chong onto his carriage, and only once they were seated did he breathe a sigh of relief.
"Wang Chong, you are extremely intelligent. Even if I didn't tell you of this matter, you would have found a way to dig it up. But there are many talkative mouths in the Imperial Court, a place where one is apt to get into trouble, not a place where we can talk."
"Hah, the army has already been withdrawn from Khorasan and the protectorate armies have all had their troop strength reduced, and now we're even talking about dissolving the prefectural armies. Is there anything else that could be more important?" Wang Chong said in a self-mocking tone.
King Song was silent.
"So, Your Highness, just what happened on that day?"
Wang Chong got straight to the point.
"Ah! At this point, there's no reason to keep hiding things from you."
King Song sighed and began to slowly describe the events of that day. Wang Chong had already learned of many events of that day from Wang Gen, Zhangchou Jianqiong, and other important officials, but King Song could fill the most important blank on his map.
King Song had known about the proposal regarding Khorasan long before the court session had begun. King Song was one of the important leaders of the court, so it was impossible to hide most proposals from him. Many proposals would even pass through King Song's hands first before being sent on to the Imperial Court.
At the start, King Song had not been very concerned about the proposal to withdraw soldiers from Khorasan, because there was simply no way it could pass. He regarded it as the product of some impulsive civil minister.
But when he arrived at court, King Song immediately sensed that something was wrong. Firstly, Wang Gen was not present, and secondly, Minister of War Zhangchou Jianqiong did not arrive until very late in the morning. What made King Song the most uneasy was that this anti-war proposal had obtained the support of many civil officials in the court. It did not seem at all like the work of some impulsive civil official.
Even worse was that King Song had realized that those civil officials had come fully prepared. The Grand Preceptor was leading them, and they had formed an alliance with King Qi. In the court, King Qi had all the officials under him throw their full support to the proposal. But it was another person who had truly allowed the proposal to pass.
Wang Chong had guessed the answer before King Song could even say it.
"Correct—it was the Lord Prime Minister!"
King Song sighed.
"Wang Chong, you've never been involved with the politics of the Imperial Court, and this was only your first court session, so you don't know that the Prime Minister doesn't just represent some important position. His post contains another meaning amongst the officials. The Lord Prime Minister rarely interferes in the affairs of the court, but when he does intervene, it is not just his will, but the will of His Majesty.
"Lord Li is skilled in grasping the mind of the Sage Emperor. In the last ten-some years, he has spoken very rarely, but when he does speak, his opinion happens to coincide with that of the Sage Emperor. Thus, any proposal with the Prime Minister's approval will in the end be passed by His Majesty. There are even times when it is inconvenient for His Majesty to personally express his will, so he will express his will through the Lord Prime Minister. For many years, everyone has silently agreed that Lord Li's will is actually the will of the Sage Emperor.
"During that court session, when the Lord Prime Minister stepped forward, I originally believed that he would represent the Sage Emperor's will and oppose the proposal. To my surprise, he stood on the side that was for the proposal! This expression of approval caused a massive reversal in the court, and there were even many generals who were forced to give up on their standpoint and turn to the other side," King Song sternly said, a look of recollection in his eyes.
Even now, when he thought back to the strange mood of that day, he was filled with shock. In the space of a single day, the Imperial Court had decided the fate of that frontline fortress on the border of the Great Tang that had been paid for with countless lives.
1. Historically, Li Shizhi was co-chancellor with Li Linfu, and Li Linfu frequently attempted to discredit him or have him removed from power. Eventually, after Li Linfu was able to successfully demote and exile several officials Li Shizhi was friendly with, Li Shizhi offered his resignation as chancellor and was made advisor to the crown prince. Later on, however, Li Linfu made further accusations against Li Shizhi, causing him to be demoted to Governor of Yichun. This was still not enough for Li Linfu, as he later on had Emperor Xuanzong, the Sage Emperor, dispatch an imperial censor to the commanderies to execute officials in the commanderies who he still found to be threats to his power, and Li Shizhi was terrorized into committing suicide.