Chapter 277: Wang Chong's Goal!
Deep killing intent surfaced in Zhangchou Jianqiong's eyes. At this moment, grim expressions appeared even on Wang Chong and Wang Gen's faces.
His declaration represented that he was no longer that man who was leisurely chatting on the banquet previously; at this moment, he was the great Southern Protector-General who protected the southwest border of the empire, one of the most powerful men in this empire!
Smelling the strong stench of blood in the air and hearing Zhangchou Jianqiong's words, Wang Chong finally understood why this esteemed Protector-General would choose to host a banquet here on the very first day of his arrival.
The news regarding King Sosurim couldn't possibly have bypassed Zhangchou Jianqiong's eyes and ears. He knew that his appearance would surely attract an assassination attempt by the Goguryeons.
So he did it intentionally.
The reason why he set up the banquet at the Ten Sun Tavern wasn't just so that he could borrow the yang energy from the ten Three-legged Crow.
The actions of this Southern Protector-General were much more domineering and intense than Wang Chong had expected.
Zhangchou Jianqiong intended to pave a way to the royal court through the blood of his enemies!
And the Goguryeons were the best target to do so.
But nevertheless, Wang Chong had no qualms regardless the other party's actions at all. How could a general on the battlefield possibly lack bloodthirst?
Which commander could possibly have hands that were free of blood?
Thinking so, Wang Chong suddenly filled his cup and lifted it up high."Allow me to propose a toast to Lord Zhangchou!"
"Hahaha, very well!"
Zhangchou Jianqiong was taken aback for a moment before laughing heartily. A slight commendation for the latter flashed across his eyes. How could the offspring of a clan of generals possibly lack boldness?
He had thought that the previous sight would leave this lad traumatized and distraught. Who knew that this fellow would actually be able to retain his composure perfectly, displaying a calm that was unlike that of his age?
"As expected of a son from a clan of generals. Wang gongzi, I'll accept your toast!" Zhangchou Jianqiong picked up his wine cup candidly and drank it in a single mouthful.
"Brother Jiexin, your nephew is indeed an incredible talent! He has courage, insight, and decisiveness. He will surely achieve great things in the future!" Zhangchou Jianqiong said as he turned to Wang Gen.
Even when faced with multiple assassins, Wang Gen's eyebrows didn't even twitch in the slightest. But hearing those words, Wang Gen couldn't help but feel a little agitated.
To be able to receive such compliments from one of the top figures in the military despite being just fifteen, this would help to build Wang Chong's credibility and pave the way for the progression of his career.
Unlike the matter regarding the regional commanders incident, a pure compliment affirming one's capabilities from one of the upper echelons of the military was rare.
Be it Zhangchou Jianqiong, Fumeng Lingcha, Go Seonji, Zhang Shougui, or generals of their tier, they were always sure to be very careful with their words.
It wasn't because they were narrow-minded, but because their words simply wielded exceptional influence, especially among military men.
As the saying goes, a bucket of spilled water cannot be recollected. Should they offer praise to someone and the other party's capability turn out to be contrary to expectations, it would affect their own prestige and the credibility of their words, as well!
Thus, it was extremely rare for those of the upper echelons, such as the Protector-Generals or Marshals, to offer public praise to another person. Even if they were impressed with someone, they wouldn't express it loudly.
The more power one wielded, the more careful one had to be with their words!
In the future, if Wang Chong were to enter the military, these words from Zhangchou Jianqiong would prove to be valuable for his progress. At the very least, he would face significantly less opposition to his promotions.
And to receive such praise despite not being enlisted yet, Wang Chong was definitely one-of-a-kind.
"Thank you, Lord Zhangchou!" Wang Chong also swiftly understood the significance of those words and quickly expressed his gratitude. To be able to earn Zhangchou Jianqiong's praise with just a single toast, this was completely unexpected.
"Hehe, continue working hard!" Zhangchou Jianqiong said before raising his hand. One of the commanders of the Southern Protectorate Manor behind him quickly walked up, took out a unique silver chopstick from his embrace, and stabbed it into the Phoenix-tailed Abalone.
In an instant, the silver chopstick turned pitch-black, and at the very tip, a slightly bluish-purple hue could be seen.
Upon seeing this sight, everyone's complexion turned awful.
"The poison is incredible!" Wang Chong was astonished. Usually, when silver chopsticks came into contact with lethal poison, it would only turn black. Yet, there were slight hints of bluish-purple at the edge of the chopstick. This was a sign that this poison was far beyond the usual lethal poison.
Serving four clean dishes to distract everyone before delivering the true feast, those Goguryeons were indeed elaborate in their preparations.
Even if they failed, they probably still had some other things up their sleeves.
After all, they were in the middle of the Goguryeon's territory, and it wouldn't be too difficult for them to make ample preparations here. Even if their assassins were to walk around here openly plain-clothed, everyone would simply think that they were just the ordinary staff of the Ten Sun Tavern.
But of all of the preparations they had made, they had made a fatal miscalculation. They misjudged the identities of those here, and they misjudged Zhangchou Jianqiong's strength as well.
... To dare to poison a Saint realm expert, they sure were courting their own deaths!
Wang Chong glanced at the bloodstains on the ground without the slightest pity. In this era of war, showing sympathy for one's enemies was nothing more than foolishness.
Compassion toward one's enemies would only lead to one's downfall.
"Serve the dishes! You better prepare the dishes properly, or else every single one of you in this tavern shall share the same fate with those from before. If you fail to do a good job, I have no qualms slaughtering everyone along this street for treason!" Zhangchou Jianqiong's cold voice echoed within the entire tavern.
Those in the compartments, kitchens, first floor, second floor, third floor... as well as the assassins who had survived the previous outburst were all stunned by Zhangchou Jianqiong's callous means.
But Zhangchou Jianqiong paid the bizarre atmosphere drifting in the air no heed. It didn't matter what the identity of those preparing their food was, all that mattered to him at this moment was for this banquet to be done well.
Even if the other party was a brawny martial artist, he would have to deliver a top-notch sumptuous feast if he wished to live.
Cold sweat dripped from the foreheads of the assassins in the Ten Sun Tavern. The might of their targets turned out to be far higher than they had expected.
At the same time, they had never met with such dominance before, either.
An overwhelming killing intent accompanied with ghastly silence drifted along the three floors of the golden-red tavern.
"So?" Zhangchou Jianqiong uttered coldly. At the same time, the overwhelming killing intent suddenly intensified manyfold.
The feeling of death encroaching on them left their goosebumps rising, but what shocked them the most was Zhangchou Jianqiong's final threat.
Why? We are the only ones going after your life. Why must you implicate the innocent into this as well?
Many pairs of eyes stared in the direction where Zhangchou Jianqiong and the others were seated as indignation, anger, fear, and helplessness permeated their being.
Only a small portion of the Goguryeons had participated in this operation, most of the people were innocent.
The assassins had already prepared themselves for death upon failure, but Zhangchou Jianqiong's words had changed the very essence of the matter.
From the callous aura the other party had emanated, they had no doubt that the monster on the third floor would really kill every last one of the Goguryeons along the street.
Death was not fearsome.
But meaningless death was not the same. And implicating the innocent around them was something they couldn't accept, either.
Under the huge pressure weighing down on them, the group in the Ten Sun Tavern slowly got to work once more.
Chopping the vegetable, stir-frying the dishes, washing the plates... As though cogs perfectly linked with one another, they began turning once more after a momentary pause, as though nothing had happened before.
"Alright. Let's continue on with our banquet then!"
Feeling the movements throughout the tavern, Zhangchou Jianqiong sneered coldly and turned his attention back to the banquet.
With a slight flick of his finger, that lethally-poisoned Phoenix-tailed Abalone was hurled out of the tavern and onto the street.
Wang Chong watched the entire sight nonchalantly.
Due to the long peace the Southwestern region has enjoyed, Zhangchou Jianqiong doesn't have much of a reputation, and it seems like everyone has been belittling him due to that. But there isn't and will never be a single weakling among the Protector-Generals of Great Tang, Wang Chong thought.
As the saying went, the true military experts tend to have humble accomplishments. While thinking this matter over, Wang Chong suddenly recalled the other purpose why he was here.
"Right, Lord Zhangchou. May I request your token?" Wang Chong suddenly asked, smiling.
"Oh? What do you want my token for?" Zhangchou Jianqiong asked curiously.
If it was Wang Gen or anyone else who raised this request, it might seem a little rude and offensive. However, in Wang Chong's capacity as a junior, his request seemed perfectly natural. Thus, all Zhangchou Jianqiong was left with was curiosity.
"I have never been out of the capital before, so I would like to visit Jiannan if there is an opportunity to do some business. If I can have Lord Zhangchou's token, that would prove to be very convenient for my travel," Wang Chong replied half-jokingly.
"Oh?" Zhangchou Jianqiong subconsciously leaned forward in interest. He didn't forget the youth's extraordinary flair for business.
"May I know what kind of business Wang gongzi hopes to engage in? If it's just this, there's no need to go through so much trouble. Since Zhongtong, who will be managing the affairs in Jiannan is here, he can grant you any permission you will require right here," Zhangchou Jianqiong said.
This could be taken as a gesture of goodwill on his part. He knew that his foundation was weak in the capital, and even if he could become the Minister of War, it was doubtful whether he could hold the situation together by himself. Thus, he would require the support from the other prestigious clans.
On this aspect, Consort Taizhen's influence wasn't of much help.
The back palace wasn't allowed to interfere in politicsthis was an ironclad rule no matter which dynasty one was in. Thus, Zhangchou Jianqiong was in dire need of allies, strong allies.
Naturally, this banquet wasn't a mere treat to Wang Gen and Wang Chong, either.
Wang Gen didn't say anything, but his brow furrowed inconspicuously as he glanced at Wang Chong beside him. How could he possibly miss Zhangchou Jianqiong's intentions?
But what that left Wang Gen the most astonished were still Wang Chong's actions.
What is this child doing? I told him clearly that the circumstances surrounding Zhangchou Jianqiong are simply too complicated. While we shouldn't offend him, it is inadvisable for us to be too intimate with him, either. What is this child up to?, Wang Gen pondered worriedly.
Zhangchou Jianqiong was dying to establish strong ties with the Wang Clan, and Wang Chong was completely handing the opportunity right into his hands. Wang Gen intended to stop it from happening, but eventually, he still chose to remain silent.
While he didn't know why Wang Chong decided to go against his advice, he still chose to trust him in the end.
The true military experts tend to have humble accomplishments.
It is said that those who are truly capable will move correctly from the start to the end, leaving no doubt or gap for failure in their plan. As such, there are no astounding feats or achievements, just cold, hard rationality and victory. In a sense, Zhangchou Jianqiong's capability can be shown through how he could maintain peace in the region, but due to the peace, he was one of the least known of the Protector-Generals, as well.
Sorry, there is one inconsistency in the name of the places. Annan = Annam (One being the transliteration), and both of them refer to the present North Vietnam or the southern region of Great Tang's territory in the story.