The Records Of The Human Emperor Chapter 1249
Chapter 1249: A Sword Pointed At Zhang Shougui
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
Two hundred and seventy-eight people was not a small number, and a small mountain of documents had been placed on the study table.
Even the most well-hidden secret would leave behind some clues. For Wang Chong, any suspicious point would allow him to find the 'footprint' left behind by his opponent.
After four hours, the mountain of documents had been halved. After a single review, Wang Chong had managed to eliminate more than one hundred suspects, leaving him with one-hundred-and-twenty-some people. Wang Chong quickly had his uncle-in-law Li Lin investigate these people.
"Have the City Guard mobilize and investigate these one-hundred-and-twenty-some people again. In addition, I specifically marked thirty-some people as being the most suspicious. Uncle-in-law, please dispatch experts of the City Guard and Imperial Army to find these people and chat with them in the name of seeking out a criminal and safeguarding the capital. See if their stories check out."
Wang Chong paused a moment before continuing.
"While interviewing them, pay attention to their wrists to see if they have any sort of special black insignia."
As Wang Chong spoke, he picked up a brush and quickly drew a black insignia on a white sheet of paper. This was precisely the symbol Wang Chong had seen on the wrists of those three Confucian experts who had come to Khorasan to receive his military authority.
"Remember, don't let any of them find out!" Wang Chong added.
"Be at ease. Leave this matter to me. I will personally handle it!"
Li Lin took the paper and the register of names Wang Chong had recorded, and quickly left.
The City Guard was once more set into motion.
In the southwestern part of the city was a door made of brushwood. Behind this door was a quiet and serene place, and nearby a clear stream was gurgling past.
"The Master said, 'He who rules by virtue is as the North Star, remaining in place while all other stars circle around it.'
"The Master said, 'A man of noble character is in harmony with all and does not take sides. The man of lowly character will take sides and is not in harmony with all.'
"The disciple Ji Kang asked, 'How does a ruler gain the respect and loyalty of his people, and encourage his people to work and strive?' The Master said, 'When he presides over the people with solemnity and dignity, the people will respect him. When he is filial and compassionate, the people will be loyal to him. When he raises up the good and honest and teaches the incompetent, the people will encourage each other and strive to work harder1.'"
On this early morning, the sounds of youthful recitation came from behind the brushwood door. A scholar dressed in white robes, elegant and carefree, was studying the contents of the 'On Government' chapter of Confucius's 'Analects'.
The scholar's robes rippled with the wind, and they exuded a clean, fresh, elegant, and transcendent aura.
The rumbling of a carriage shattered the morning serenity. The young scholar frowned and raised his head. He saw that ten-some soldiers of the City Guard had ridden over on horses and had stopped in front of the brushwood door.
"Are you Li Junshan?" a City Guard soldier asked.
"This one is. For what reason have Good Sirs chosen to intrude at this time?" The white-robed scholar appeared very patient and restrained.
"The City Guard hopes that you can cooperate with us in our investigation," the leading officer said, and then he took out a notebook and began to ask questions, noting the answers down.
The scholar remained extremely patient throughout. Although he was slightly displeased, he did his utmost to cooperate with the investigation. His age, place of birth, goal in coming to the capital—he answered everything that he could, hiding nothing. The interview lasted for an entire hour, but the white-clothed scholar did not show the slightest hint of impatience.
Once the investigation was over, the soldiers quickly took their leave.
When they had traveled several hundred meters, the City Guard officer rode up to the carriage.
"Milord, we looked and saw no black insignia on his wrist. He should not be the person that we are seeking!"
"I understand! You're dismissed!" A voice came out from the carriage, causing the City Guard officer to bow and ride off.
Once the City Guard officer was gone, Li Lin turned to Wang Chong.
"Chong-er, this was the last one, and none of them had the symbol you spoke of. What do we do now?"
Li Lin looked worriedly at Wang Chong.
Wang Chong had been observing the entire time while the City Guard carried out its investigation, but the thirty major suspects that Wang Chong had chosen, including this Li Junshan, did not have the symbol Wang Chong had spoken of.
Wang Chong sat motionless, his eyes closed in thought. The investigation had not obtained the result he had desired, and in this aspect, one could say that Wang Chong's judgments had been completely off the mark. But from his expression, he did not seem too affected.
After some time, Wang Chong opened his eyes and said, "They've probably already made preparations!"
Li Lin trembled, instantly speechless.
"If that's the case, then won't we never be able to find him?"
Li Lin had also managed to understand some things about their opponent from Wang Chong in this period of time. Given this person's abilities, if this person had already taken notice of Wang Chong's actions and had grown wary, he would truly be very difficult to find.
"Uncle-in-law, relax. This operation was not a fruitless endeavor, and I will very soon be able to expose him!" Wang Chong lightly said, his eyes gradually beginning to exude a blazing light.
As Wang Chong was still searching for the schemer behind the curtain, the day after, an incident took place in the Imperial Court that shook all of society.
Investigating Imperial Censor Ye Haicheng held up his ceremonial tablet and stepped out, his face ashen. "Your Majesty! This subject Ye Haicheng has a memorial. Andong Protector-General Zhang Shougui has deceived the sovereign by concealing the military situation. On the shores of the Huang River, he suffered a major defeat at the hands of the Xi and Khitans, losing countless soldiers and officers, but he decided to conceal the matter and not report it. Not only that, Zhang Shougui even dared to collude with an imperial emissary, secretly bribing him in the hopes that the emissary would deceive everybody and make his major defeat into a major victory. Zhang Shougui has grown impetuous from his many achievements, and he cannot be lightly forgiven for this crime of deceiving the sovereign!
"This lowly subject has a letter from his subordinate divulging the matter. This evidence is firm. Your Majesty, please thoroughly investigate the matter and harshly punish the wrongdoers!"
Ye Haicheng's voice set off a storm in the court. All the officials, whether civil or military, were utterly astounded.
Even the spectating King Song couldn't help but be shocked, his pupils constricting.
The Sage Emperor had reigned over the Great Tang for thirty-seven years now, and whether it was in civil administration or martial might, his talents were peerless, causing him to be hailed as the sovereign of the generation. For an Emperor to be praised as such while still enthroned was extremely rare, but everyone could see that the Great Tang was prosperous and thriving, its armies mighty. Even the foreign countries on the border had to revere it.
Decades ago, the Sage Emperor had taken command of the Great Tang army and led it in defeating the various foes on the border, compelling them to acknowledge the Great Tang as the strongest empire of the east. And the dominion of the Central Plains had reached its largest extent under the Sage Emperor.
Not even mighty emperors like the First Qin Emperor or Emperor Wu of Han had ever done this before. Besides that, the Sage Emperor was also a formidable martial artist, the first to become infinitesimally close to the Divine Martial realm.
And to reach the Divine Martial realm was to be a true god!
Before the Sage Emperor made his attempt at the Divine Martial realm, the Divine Martial realm had always been a legend with no evidence that it existed, even to top-class experts.
Everyone in the Great Tang Empire felt nothing but reverence for the Sage Emperor. No one had expected that someone would be so bold as to deceive him, and that this person would be Andong Protector-General Zhang Shougui!
Is it beginning so soon?!
Wang Chong listened to the uproar in court from his place at the very back, his eyes narrowing. Almost instinctively, Wang Chong smelled a scheme.
Starting with Khorasan, the Confucian school had been doing its utmost to have the Great Tang turn its swords into plowshares and put down its arms, and the greatest obstacles to this endeavor were the Great Generals and Protector-Generals stationed on the border. Wang Chong had already wrecked the proposal to dissolve the prefectural armies, but the Confucians were clearly not intending to give up so easily.
Zhang Shougui was the number two individual in the army, and he had made Youzhou an impregnable fortress that seemed like his own personal territory. If not for this, Zhang Shougui would have never been so bold as to turn a defeat into a victory and lie to the Imperial Court. If the Confucians could pull down Zhang Shougui and make an example of him, it would serve as the best kind of warning for all the other Great Generals and Protector-Generals.
As Wang Chong was thinking, he heard a loud shout.
"Absurd! You Confucians are willing to resort to every method possible to suppress the military." An old official of the Bureau of Military Personnel stepped out, unable to restrain himself. "Zhang Shougui is a Great General and Protector-General of the empire, one of the most senior commanders in the entire empire. He has led his soldiers for decades and has always emerged victorious. Even the Ü-Tsang Empire could only lose time and time again to him, losing an uncountable number of soldiers. He has overseen Youzhou for many years, creating peace throughout the northeast. Even the Goguryeo Empire does not dare to cross him. How could he lose to the puny Xi and Khitans! This is slander! Your Majesty, please consider this!"
Zhang Shougui was the number two man in the military, his status almost on par with that of the Great Tang War God, Wang Zhongsi. All members of the older generation of military officers knew of him.
An old Confucian official stepped forward. "Who would dare to lie about such an important matter to the state as military matters? And can one claim to be false the corpses of the Andong Protectorate army soldiers lining the banks of the Huang River, their blood flowing like rivers? Can the Confucians falsify such things? And Zhang Shougui has always been arrogant and conceited. The Imperial Court sent Confucians to inspect the army, but Zhang Shougui dared to obstruct them, even placing them under house arrest. How audacious! Has the land of Youzhou become his personal territory? Do the laws of the country, or even the Sage Emperor, still exist in his eyes? For such an arrogant man as him, is it not very normal to commit such a deed?"
1. These are all extracts from the second chapter in the Analects of Confucius, 'On Government'.