Chapter 233: Yang Zhao Arrives!
On the main peak of Kunwu Training Camp...
Yang Zhao was wearing a white robe, a black coronet on top of his head. His head was raised up high, and his chest was puffed up. He was accompanied by four well-built Chamberlains of Imperial Insignia, and this further added to his majestic disposition.
A cold breeze blew across the top of the mountain, and Yang Zhao's robe danced along with the wind.
In just the short span of a few months since entering the capital, Yang Zhao had already learned how to assume the disposition of an academic with ease.
If one wasn't aware of the truth, just by looking at Yang Zhao's silhouette, one would probably regard him as a wise scholar and have some respect for him.
Wang Chong did know of Yang Zhao's background, and he had seen the latter in his humblest moment. But even so, whenever he saw Yang Zhao in such a manner, he couldn't help but be awed by the latter's ability to adapt.
Putting his capabilities aside for the moment, just his diligence in his studies was already worthy of compliments. After all, not everyone would be able to assume a scholarly disposition in just two to three months.
Rumor had it that this future imperial uncle was already blending in with the officials of the royal court.
Even though he's an irredeemable gambler, to be able to change so much in such a short period of time, he could also be considered as a genius!, Wang Chong thought.
It wasn't without reason that Yang Zhao was able to climb to such high heights despite his humble birth. In Wang Chong's view, just this view alone was sufficient to tell much about the matter.
Calming himself down, under the lead of an instructor, Wang Chong soon arrived before Yang Zhao. Given that the latter was currently inspecting on behalf of the heavens, there was no excuse that he could offer to turn down the meeting.
Standing on top of a boulder, Yang Zhao heard some sound behind him and turned around.
"Haha, Wang Chong, it has been long since we last met!"
Upon seeing Wang Chong, Yang Zhao's frown immediately soothed, and a smile broke out on his face. Leaping down the boulder, he walked over quickly and enthusiastically.
"Lord Yang!" Wang Chong greeted him with a smile.
"Tsk tsk, Wang Chong, it has only been a month since we last met, but you sure look very different from before!"
Yang Zhao assessed Wang Chong from head to toe and immediately noticed the difference in Wang Chong's disposition. A look of awe appeared on his face.
"Seems like the Kunwu Training Camp really does temper one. I almost failed to recognize you." This wasn't just a blind compliment on Yang Zhao's part.
In the past, despite Wang Chong's capabilities, he still seemed like an immature child who hadn't weathered any storms. But the current him felt like an unsheathed, sharp sword that had been tempered time and time again. No one would dare to look down on him like that.
With such a huge change occurring in the span of half a month, it was no wonder Yang Zhao was astonished.
"Lord Yang is being too generous, aren't I still the same person? What kind of changes could there be?" Wang Chong chuckled as he denied the matter. He knew that this wasn't due to the training in the Kunwu Training Camp, but from the influence of the Sword Qi of Massacre from cultivating Su Zhengchen's Art of Life Massacre.
But Wang Chong would never reveal this matter before Yang Zhao.
"Hehe, you might not have noticed it, but it is apparent to the rest of us." Yang Zhao looked at Wang Chong with a bizarre glint in his eyes.
"Un, that's enough. You all can leave now. I want to have a stroll with Wang gongzi." Yang Zhao suddenly walked up next to Wang Chong. He waved the instructor who had brought Wang Chong here and the four Chamberlains of Imperial Insignia away.
"Little brother, may I interest you in a walk with me?" When everyone else had left, Yang Zhao suddenly smiled as he stretched out his hand toward Wang Chong. If anyone was here, he would surely be astonished. To think that Consort Taizhen's cousin would actually become a sworn brother of Duke Jiu's offspring!
"Big brother, lead the way." Hearing the difference in Yang Zhao's address, Wang Chong smiled and walked forward. Thus, the both of them began walking side-by-side.
"Big brother, may I know the reason behind your visit?" Wang Chong dove straight into the main topic at hand.
"This... It's a long story." Yang Zhao intentionally feigned hesitation, as though he was in a tight spot.
"To tell you the truth, I really do have something to ask of you."
"Oh?" Wang Chong looked at the latter with a grim expression, but on the inside, he was chuckling. Yang Zhao probably didn't know that Big Uncle Wang Gen had already come by.
Even though Wang Chong didn't pay too much attention to the affairs of the royal court, Yang Zhao's appearance here had affirmed Big Uncle Wang Gen's conjecture.
It was probably a crucial moment as to whether Zhangchou Jianqiong would be inaugurated into the royal court or not. Or rather, to be exact, the situation was looking a little not in their favor. Otherwise, Yang Zhao wouldn't have gone through the trouble of making the trip here.
Yang Zhao is probably even more anxious than Zhangchou Jianqiong about this matter, Wang Chong thought.
"May I know if little brother has been paying attention to the affairs of the royal court? The Protector-General of the Southern Protectorate Manor, Zhangchou Jianqiong, is intending to join the royal court, and this matter has caused a huge uproar among the officials. To tell you the truth, Lord Zhangchou helped me on many occasions back when I was in Jiannan, and if not for him, I might have already starved to death at Jiannan Pass.
"Given that my benefactor wishes to enter the Bureau of Military Personnel, I feel that it is only right for me to return the favor. Lord Zhangchou once saved my life; this time, I would like to help him fulfill his dream," Yang Zhao said earnestly.
Those who didn't know him well would have surely thought that he was truly earnest in wanting to return the favor. But Wang Chong knew of the intricacies involved in the matter.
Regardless of the reason Yang Zhao came up with, there was one thing certain; Yang Zhao was determined to plant his man, Zhangchou Jianqiong, into the royal court so as to pave the way for his rise. In the end, the one who would benefit most from Zhangchou Jianqiong's rise would be him!
Consort Taizhen probably also shared the same intentions. Even though the Consort Taizhen incident ended in her favor, she was still largely isolated in the royal court. To protect herself, especially having finally understood the threats lurking in the royal court, she probably wasn't any less fervent than Zhangchou Jianqiong in his ambitions.
"What does big brother hope for me to do?" Wang Chong asked as he strolled down the mountain path alongside Yang Zhao.
"Little brother, I know that your big uncle is an influential official, and the Wang Clan possesses immense say in the royal court. I know that I'm going overboard with this request, but I'm truly indebted to Lord Zhangchou. Thus, is it possible for you to... to ask your Big Uncle to..." At the very end, Yang Zhao seemed to be conflicted, and the words simply refused to come out of his mouth.
"Sure!" But before Yang Zhao could finish his words, Wang Chong smiled and replied affirmatively.
"Ah?!" Yang Zhao was stunned. "Su-sure? Little brother, do you know what I'm asking you to do?"
"Aren't you going to ask me to advise my Big Uncle to support Lord Zhangchou in the royal court?" Wang Chong replied.
Yang Zhao stared at Wang Chong in disbelief. The latter's response had left him completely flummoxed. He thought that persuading the latter to talk his Big Uncle into supporting Zhangchou Jianqiong would be no easy task. After all, he was indeed going overboard with this request.
Thus, Yang Zhao had made many preparations to convince Wang Chong to help him. Just that, he didn't expect that he would end up not having to use any of them. In fact, he wasn't even done speaking when Wang Chong agreed to the matter!
Happiness came so quickly that he was completely caught off-guard, and he didn't know how he should respond.
"Little brother, are you truly agreeable to doing this?" Yang Zhao was still in a state of disbelief, worried that he might just be hearing things.
"Un," Wang Chong nodded.
Big Uncle had already told him that it was likely Yang Zhao would come to look for him. Since it was just a matter of time before Zhangchou Jianqiong was inaugurated into the royal court, he might as well agree to it readily and earn himself a favor from Zhangchou Jianqiong.
"Since big brother has raised the issue, I'll visit my Big Uncle personally to persuade him on this matter," Wang Chong replied.
"That's great! Little brother, I'll thank you on Lord Zhangchou's behalf then!" Yang Zhao was delighted. He knew Wang Chong's current standing in the Wang Clan. On the day Wang Chong was released from prison, even King Song visited his residence to welcome him back.
If Wang Chong was on his side as well, the possibility of this matter coming to fruition would be increased greatly.
"Little brother, if this matter comes to be, I'll make sure to introduce Lord Zhangchou to you when he becomes the Minister of War," Yang Zhao said happily.
In truth, he had contacted many people in the royal court. Fearful of the repercussions, none of them dared to step forward. For a time, he was rendered completely helpless. If the Wang Clan and Wang Gen could speak up on their behalf, given their and Consort Taizhen's influence, there was a good chance of success.
As this matter concerned his future, Yang Zhao had no choice but take things into his own hands.
"We can talk about that after Lord Zhangchou succeeds. Big brother, since you came from the south, may I know if you have heard of Lord Zhang Qiantuo?" Wang Chong spoke nonchalantly, but his eyes were fixated on Yang Zhao. Clearly, he was very concerned over this matter.
"Commandery Chief Zhang Qiantuo?" Yang Zhao asked in bewilderment.
Those four simple words caused Wang Chong's heart to skip a beat, and a storm suddenly raged in his mind. To think that Yang Zhao really knew Zhang Qiantuo!
In an instant, many thoughts surfaced in Wang Chong's mind.
"Little brother, why would you ask about that? Does your Wang Clan has some ties with Zhang Qiantuo?" Yang Zhao's voice sounded surprised.
Yang Zhao was perplexed. While Zhang Qiantuo's official position sounded impressive, it was just a title under the old system. In truth, he didn't wield too much prestige. There were at least a hundred commandery chiefs like Zhang Qiantuo throughout Great Tang. Thus, very few people knew of Zhang Qiantuo's name.
As such, Yang Zhao was curious as to how Wang Chong was entangled with him. He had once lived in Jiannan, but he didn't pay too much attention to the Jiannan Commandery Chief, either.
And yet, Wang Chong, as a scion of the capital, a person who had never stepped out of the boundaries of the capital, actually knew of the existence of a humble person by the borders. This was truly bewildering.
Wang Chong remained silent, but he had taken the entirety of Yang Zhao's reaction into sight.
He knew what the latter was thinking.
Zhang Qiantuo was indeed a humble figure now, but Wang Chong knew that his name would soon rattle the entire Central Plains. He would become the factor determining the ultimate fate of the country, and his existence would be closely tied to 180,000 of Great Tang's most elite soldiers.
Two years from now, the currently inconspicuous Zhang Qiantuo would become a figure whom no one could overlook!
He was the future lynchpin of the Great Tang Empire!