Chapter 278: Xi'an Strategist, Zhi An!
"Hehe, it isn't exactly business. I hope to purchase a plot of land in Jiannan," Wang Chong chuckled.
"Where?" Zhangchou Jianqiong asked curiously.
"Lion Rock Hill!" Wang Chong replied.
Hearing Wang Chong's words, Zhangchou Jianqiong, Xianyu Zhongtong, and the other commanders stared at one another. There were so many prosperous lands in the Annan region, but Wang Chong chose that place instead.
"Wang gongzi, are you certain? The Lion Rock Hill is a completely remote and secluded location, it's a region that only Erhai merchants will pass by occasionally. Under normal circumstances, one wouldn't even find a single person within a radius of several dozen li in that area!" Xianyu Zhongtong asked, bewildered.
As a commander from the Southern Protectorate Manor, he was well aware of the geographical terrain of Jiannan. While Lion Rock Mountain did sound impressive in name, it was just a humble and inconspicuous mountain.
Devoid of any men and positioned at the very border of the Southern Protectorate Manor's sphere of influence, it could be said to be a completely worthless plot of land.
Xianyu Zhongtong couldn't understand why the scion of the Wang Clan would want to purchase that small hill.
"I heard from a friend that business along the Tea Horse Road is a good, so I thought of building a small base there for merchants to rest and store their goods. Through this, I will be able to interfere in the trade as well," Wang Chong said.
"I see. Indeed, there are significant profits involved in the Tea Horse Road, it is no wonder why Wang gongzi hopes to get involved as well," Zhangchou Jianqiong nodded in realization. The Tea Horse Road mainly dealt with Erhai's tea and -Tsang horses, and the trade of these goods was rather lucrative.
At least seven out of every ten clans in Jiannan were involved in this trade, so it was no wonder why the Wang Clan would want to put their hands into this matter, as well.
"Zhongtong, try to help Wang gongzi receive the required permits after you return," Zhangchou Jianqiong said as he turned to Xianyu Zhongtong.
"Yes, I'll take care of it as soon as I return," Xianyu Zhongtong replied respectfully.
This was an opportunity Zhangchou Jianqiong was giving him to establish ties with the Wang Clan; not to mention, the Lion Rock Hill wasn't worth much, either.
If he wanted to succeed as the Southern Protector-General, he would still require the help of the Wang Clan.
"Hehe, Wang gongzi, I'll give you this token. If you were to come to Annan in the future, this token will surely bring you much convenience."
After instructing Xianyu Zhongtong on the matter, Zhangchou Jianqiong flicked his fingers, and a golden token appeared before Wang Chong's eyes.
"Thank you, Lord Zhangchou!"
Wang Chong was delighted. This was a huge harvest, he got both the Lion Rock Hill and Zhangchou Jianqiong's personal token.
With just these matters done, his trip to the Ten Sun Tavern was perfect.
Hu! Since I have done all that I can, the only thing I can do now is to leave everything to fate.
Heaving a long sigh of relief, Wang Chong felt the tension leaving his body.
The Lion Rock Hill was a small hill located at the southern border of Great Tang.
The reason why Wang Chong wanted to take it down wasn't to conduct business. While there were significant profits involved in the business, it wasn't sufficient to entice Wang Chong.
After all, no matter how great the profits from the trade of tea leaves and mounts could be, it couldn't be compared to the profit he earned from dealing with Hyderabad ores. Not to mention, he would be competing with many other merchants in the trade.
The true reason why Wang Chong wanted the Lion Rock Hill was due to its location.
West of the Lion Rock Hill was a flat plain, the future southwest battlefront of the empire. Wang Chong had studied the geography of Great Tang thoroughly in his previous life, and in a radius of several hundred li around the plain, there was no natural terrain to exploit.
The Lion Rock Hill was the only natural barrier in the region.
The reason why Wang Chong bought the Lion Rock Hill was so that he could build a fortress, an unprecedentedly large fortress!
Perhaps, when suffering a tragic defeat, this fortress could provide cover for the 180,000 elites at the most crucial moment.
The construction of such a fortress would surely require a huge amount of money that numbered in the millions.
But there was no point to hoarding gold when war was looming right before them. If Wang Chong could bring a ray of hope to that future battlefield by building the Lion Fortress, he would willingly spend that sum of money.
Perhaps it was due to the invisible guillotine hanging above their necks, but the Goguryeons served the dishes swiftly.
In just a short moment, fragrant and appetizing dishes were spread across the entire table. The waitresses who served the dishes had their heads lowered, and their shoulders and arms were trembling in fear.
But regardless of whether it was the commanders from the Southern Protectorate Manor or Wang Chong, none of them paid them any heed.
"I heard that Wang gongzi is interested in Commandery Chief Zhang, Zhang Wentuo?" Zhangchou Jianqiong suddenly raised the matter, while digging into the food,
"Yes." Wang Chong didn't deny it. Instead, he shot a glance at Yang Zhao, and the latter smiled awkwardly as he averted his gaze.
Without a doubt, this must be Yang Zhao's doing. After all, Wang Chong did raise the matter once.
"Hehe, this man over here is Wentuo!"
Zhangchou Jianqiong suddenly raised his hands and gestured to the end of the extremely long table. There, a burly man who seemed to contrast with the extravagance of the banquet was currently eating silently.
"Lord Zhangchou!" That man raised his head and looked at Zhangchou Jianqiong in confusion. Clearly, he hadn't heard the conversation just now.
It's him!, Wang Chong thought in astonishment.
The Great Tang military divided its power among various commanderies. As one of these commanderies, even though Zhang Wentuo was still under the command of the Southern Protectorate Manor, he possessed a significant degree of autonomy in his actions.
Wang Chong didn't expect that the burly man eating quietly at the end of the table would be Zhang Wentuo. With a polite smile, Wang Chong swiftly retracted his gaze.
I'll talk to him another time, Wang Chong thought.
Even though he was interested in talking to him, the occasion, location, and timing were all inappropriate.
A short time later, Wang Chong and Big Uncle Wang Gen left the Ten Sun Tavern.
"Chong-er, what are you doing? Didn't I tell you that we mustn't get too deeply involved with Zhangchou Jianqiong?"
As soon as they walked out from the Ten Sun Tavern, Wang Gen's eyebrows finally furrowed together deeply. It wasn't appropriate for him to raise the matter before so many people inside the tavern, but now that they were out, Wang Gen couldn't hold himself back anymore.
Zhangchou Jianqiong was a Protector-General of the capital, and his influence was simply too great for the Wang Clan to keep him in check. If he were to succeed, the Wang Clan wouldn't receive any significant benefits. On the other hand, if he were to fail, the Wang Clan would be pulled down along with him. Getting too deeply involved with Zhangchou Jianqiong was simply disadvantageous for the Wang Clan.
Politics was a place where one had to tread carefully or fear falling through the thin ice.
The others wouldn't neglect Wang Chong just because he was a child. To them, the Wang Clan was an entirety, and Wang Chong's actions could represent the will of the entire clan.
"Big uncle, do you remember my father?" Wang Chong asked as he raised his head.
"Gengzhi?" Taken aback, Wang Gen asked, "Is this matter related to him?"
"Un!" Wang Chong nodded. "Big uncle, do you remember His Highness King Song recommending my father to be conferred a marquess a while ago?"
Wang Gen nodded.
"Even with King Song's recommendation, my father's qualifications are still lacking. Also, the Bureau of Military Personnel has dispatched my father and big brother to the region near Jiannan, as well the Southern Protectorate Manor. If my father wishes to become a marquess in the future, he will require Zhangchou Jianqiong's assistance," Wang Chong said.
Not too long ago, he received news that his father and big brother were beginning to lead their troops to the Jiannan region.
Even though the process was lengthier than expected, King Song still managed to dispatch the both of them over.
Hearing Wang Chong's explanation, Wang Gen nodded in agreement as he fell into deep thoughts. If this was for his third brother's conferment as a marquess, then this course of action could be accepted.
Stepping into the carriage, Wang Gen and Wang Chong swiftly left the area.
On the other hand, after Wang Gen, Wang Chong, and the other officials had left, only the commanders of the Southern Protectorate Manor remained in the tavern.
"Zhi An, what do you think of the matter?"
With no outsiders around, Zhangchou Jianqiong suddenly turned around to look at the middle-aged strategist beside him grimly.
"That lad is lying!" The middle-aged strategist known as Zhi An suddenly chuckled as he picked up the wine cup on the table and drank it.
"Hmm?" Zhangchou Jianqiong was taken aback. He was asking about Wang Gen's matter, and he didn't expect Zhi An to talk about Wang Chong instead.
"Hehe, does Lord Zhangchou still think that the central figure to the Wang Clan is Wang Gen?" Zhi An chuckled with an unfathomable gleam in his eyes as he put down his wine cup.
"Is that not the case?" Zhangchou Jianqiong was startled further.
"Lord Zhangchou, you are confused by the situation around you. Lord Yang, allow me to ask you a question, then. You tried to indirectly ask Wang Gen for help previously, did he agree to it?" Zhi An turned to ask Yang Zhao.
"He didn't," Yang Zhao replied honestly. Having lived in Jiannan previously, he understood the standing of this man by Zhangchou Jianqiong's side, so he dared not act carelessly around him.
"When did Wang Gen step forward then? Is it after you looked for Wang gongzi?" Zhi An asked with a smile, stroking his beard.
"That seems to be the case," Yang Zhao pondered over the matter for a moment before replying. He still couldn't understand what the middle-aged strategist was driving at.
"Hahaha, you still don't get it? The crux of the matter lies not on Wang Gen, but that fifteen-year-old child!" Zhi An smiled mysteriously.
"Also, didn't you notice it during the banquet previously? When Wang gongzi asked for Lord Zhangchou's token, Lord Wang was clearly unhappy with it, but even so, he didn't interfere in the matter at all. The investigations I conducted beforehand have shown that Lord Wang is an austere person. Isn't there clearly a problem if an austere person like him remained silent despite feeling that something was wrong?"
"You mean that that child is the spiritual leader of the Wang Clan?" Zhangchou Jianqiong could hardly conceal the astonishment in his eyes.
"Even if that's not entirely the case, the truth can't be too far from it. At the very least, Lord Wang seems to think that. If nothing goes wrong, Wang gongzi will be the future head of the Wang Clan. If Lord Zhangchou hopes to gain a stable footing in the capital, you should cultivate close ties with that Wang gongzi," Zhi An chuckled.
Throughout this banquet, this middle-aged strategist had hardly spoken a word. His existence felt thinner than the minor officials invited to the banquet.
But after Wang Chong had left, his demeanor and the atmosphere in the room showed clearly that Zhi An was the second leading figure in the Southern Protectorate Manor, beneath only Zhangchou Jianqiong.
His standing was even higher than Xianyu Zhongtong.
"Doesn't that Wang gongzi have a request of us? Lord Zhangchou, this is a great opportunity!" Zhi An's body leaned backward slightly as a lazy smile emerged on his face.
"I understand. I know what I must do." After a moment of silence, Zhangchou Jianqiong finally nodded.
Just to re-emphasize the various roles again.
The Southern Protectorate Manor mainly takes care of the defense in the region, it is not involved in governance whatsoever.
It is only after the regional commanders policy is implemented that regional commanders gain total control over the various aspects of their assigned regions.
But while it isn't officially involved in governance in name, those who wield military power are often those who wield the greatest influence. Thus, it wouldn't be too difficult for the Southern Protectorate Manor to interfere in the various affairs happening in the area.
Wang Gengzhi is Wang Yan's other name.
Wang Jiexin is Wang Gen's other name.