Chapter 284: Probing Zhang Wentuo!
Zhang Wentuo was tall and brawny, but he had a square and upright face that suggested that he was an honest person.
Wang Chong could feel the rigid discipline belonging to that of a military from him; it was somewhat similar to the aura he felt from his father.
Looking at the figure before him, Wang Chong still found it hard to believe that the other party had lusted over the wife and daughter of Mengshe Zhao's sovereign, Geluo Feng, and lured them into the City Lord Residence to rape and kill them. Out of rage, Geluo Feng rallied all of the forces of Mengshe Zhao to attack Great Tang in revenge for his wife and daughter, and this eventually blew up into a massive war that would shake Great Tang's core.
Geluo Feng was an ambitious person, but if not for the provocation from the defilement and deaths of his wife and daughter, he might not have the guts to rally all of the forces of his country to wage war on Great Tang.
More importantly, Zhang Wentuo was the Jiannan Commandery Chief, but his actions were disgraceful.
As such, Great Tang lost its moral high ground, as well as a reason to deal with Erhai Mengshe Zhao in the future. In fact, even after the deaths of the 180,000 soldiers, most, especially those from Jiannan who were suffered the most from the war, were still sympathetic to Geluo Feng's plight.
Such ridiculous actions had never happened in the history of Great Tang before.
And as the one who caused all of these, Zhang Wentuo became the greatest criminal of Great Tang, a figure of hate to the entire population.
These thoughts flashed across Wang Chong's mind swiftly, and he soon regained his calm.
"Lord, please!" Suppressing his thoughts, Wang Chong stretched a hand forward and led Zhang Wentuo to his seat.
"Wang gongzi, thank you for your courtesy. May I know the reason behind your invitation?" Zhang Wentuo had a candid character as befitting of a military man, so he disliked beating around the bush. Just a few seconds after meeting Wang Chong, he immediately dove into the main topic at hand.
"Haha. May I know how the progress of Lord Zhangchou's promotion is getting along?"
Instead of revealing his motive behind inviting Zhang Wentuo, Wang Chong began asking about the latter's meeting with the Sage Emperor. As he spoke, he lifted the teapot placed on the table by the side and poured himself a steaming cup of tea.
"It's still fine. His Majesty didn't say anything much, but everything seems to be going well. I should be returning to Jiannan a few days from now." Zhang Wentuo frowned, but he didn't say anything more.
"So fast?" Wang Chong was surprised. It had just been a couple of days since Zhang Wentuo arrived at the capital, so it was rather surprising that he would be leaving so soon.
The main reason why I am at the capital is to support the Protector-General. Since everything is going along as planned, I'll need to return soon to take care of my responsibilities back at Jiannan," Zhang Wentuo explained patiently.
He had never been good at socializing. Even back at Jiannan, he didn't have a particularly good relationship with Zhangchou Jianqiong or Xianyu Zhongtong, needless to say Wang Chong, whom he had just met.
"The southwestern region isn't as prosperous as the capital. Since it's rare for Lord Zhang to come to the capital, why don't you stay for a while longer? At the western part of the city, there's a Plum Blossom Hall which all gentlemen should visit at least once in their lifetime. Why don't you allow me to play host and bring you over?" While saying those words, Wang Chong carefully examined Zhang Wentuo's expression, taking into sight the slightest variations in his expression.
"Wang gongzi!" But as soon as Wang Chong uttered those words, Zhang Wentuo's stern voice immediately sounded. He stood up and glared and Wang Chong with frost in his eyes. Then, with a tone filled with wrath, he berated, "It's out of respect of gongzi's reputation and standing as Duke Jiu's offspring that I came here today. To think that gongzi intends to bring me to such depraved establishments! Wang gongzi, I have truly misjudged you! If there's nothing else, I'll be taking my leave now!"
The displeasure on his face was clear.
Wang Chong's words had truly astounded him. Plum Blossom Hall sounded like a proper establishment, but it was in truth a famous brothel in the capital. Even a person like Zhang Wentuo who didn't have any interest in visiting such places had heard of its name.
Zhang Wentuo never imagined that Wang Chong would actually try to bring him to such a place.
Perhaps it might be a popular destination for the scions and wealthy in the capital, but it definitely wasn't one for Zhang Wentuo. What did the other party take him to be?
Thinking such, Zhang Wentuo's eyes were filled with rage.
"Hahaha, Lord Zhang, please pardon me for my faux pas. I have only mentioned it on a whim. Since Lord Zhang dislikes the notion, please do treat it as I've never brought it up. It's a huge misunderstanding on my part, so do accept my apology."
Seeing Zhang Wentuo flying into a rage, a bright gleam flashed across Wang Chong's eyes.
Visiting the Plum Blossom Hall? How could that be? His mother was just a few rooms away from him, how could he possibly bring Zhang Wentuo to such a place?
That was just an attempt to probe the other party's character.
Zhang Wentuo seemed to genuinely angry at the notion, and Wang Chong felt delighted by the other party's reaction.
At the very least, this proved Wang Chong wasn't wrongZhang Wentuo wasn't a lustful person.
His character and personality were truly alike to a blunt military man.
Wang Chong also frankly admitted his mistake and bowed respectfully to Zhang Wentuo in apology.
Given the other party's sincere apology, Zhang Wentuo wasn't in a position to kick up a fuss either. After all, Wang Chong was only a fifteen-year-old child.
Under Wang Chong's persistence, Zhang Wentuo could only sit back down.
"Lord Zhang, the real reason why I invited you over is because I have a request that I hope you can accede to," Wang Chong said.
"Oh? Gongzi, feel free to speak." Zhang Wentuo looked at Wang Chong and gestured for the him to speak.
"It's regarding the Lion Rock Hill."
"Hasn't our Protector-General agreed to gongzi's request already?" Zhang Wentuo was bewildered.
"Jiannan is a long distance away, and the construction of a base is an extremely troublesome process that requires a huge amount of resources. I have never been to Jiannan before, so I hope that Lord Zhang can help to facilitate on some matters," Wang Chong requested earnestly.
After a moment of contemplation, Zhang Wentuo nodded. "If gongzi needs any help, feel free to speak. I might be able to offer some help on some matters."
The Lion Rock Hill was a far distance away, and considering how constructing a base would surely require significant expenditure of resources, they might have to gather resources from the locals.
As this was a mutually beneficial dealit could help to boost Jiannan's economy as wellZhang Wentuo didn't mind helping Wang Chong on the matter.
Following which, Wang Chong and Zhang Wentuo began discussing the details. Even though it was a base to intervene in the trade along the Tea Horse Road on the surface, Wang Chong's ultimate goal was a huge fortress.
It would be impossible to conceal such a huge project from the local commandery chief. If Zhang Wentuo were to help Wang Chong on this affair, the work would be much smoother, and the construction time could be greatly reduced.
And the latter was what Wang Chong was interested in.
Just as Wang Chong was chatting delightfully with Zhang Wentuo, flurried footsteps suddenly sounded outside, and peng!, the door to the main hall was pushed open forcefully. A green-robed servant rushed in and interrupted Wang Chong and Zhang Wentuo's discussion.
Wang Chong frowned. He recalled instructing the servants not to interrupt when he was with a guest.
"Gongzi, old master is here. He says that he has something very important to discuss, and he needs gongzi to meet him now, " the green-robed servant reported swiftly while gasping furiously for air.
Wang Chong was taken aback. Considering how his father, Wang Yan, wasn't around, there was only one person whom the servants would address as old master. That was Wang Chong's big uncle, Wang Gen.
"Why would big uncle come and visit?"
Wang Chong was perplexed. It should be the period where the contention regarding Zhangchou Jianqiong's promotion was the most rife, so Wang Gen should be extremely busy at this moment. Why would the other party come to his residence during such a period?
Not to mention, the other party even got a servant to get him over urgently, saying that there was something important to discuss.
"Wang gongzi, since you're busy, I won't impose on you any longer. If you have anything else, feel free to contact me."
Noting the atmosphere, Zhang Wentuo stood up and bade farewell.
Wang Chong paused for a moment before nodding.
After sending Zhang Wentuo to the door, Wang Chong quickly summoned Solitary Wolf over.
"Gongzi, you were looking for me?" Solitary Wolf asked.
"Un. There's something I need you to do. Do you remember the fortress we are going to build at Jiannan's Lion Rock Hill?" Wang Chong asked.
"Does gongzi intend for me to supervise the construction there?"
"That's not it!" Wang Chong shook his head without hesitation. "What I want you to do is to follow Jiannan Commandery Chief Zhang Wentuo around under my name. If possible, try to befriend Commandery Chief Zhang's offspring and center your activities around the Commandery Chief Residence. No matter what happens, I want you to send a letter to me every ten days. If something major happens, you'll have to report it to me separately as soon as possible."
"AH!" Solitary Wolf was stunned. He didn't expect Wang Chong to entrust such a mission to him.
"Solitary Wolf, I am definitely not asking you to serve as a spy. This matter is of grave importance, can you do it?" Wang Chong said this words with incomparable gravity.
"Gongzi, rest assured. I'll definitely accomplish what gongzi asks of me," Solitary Wolf replied without any hesitation.
Wang Chong was their benefactor. If not for him, they would be forced to live the entirety of their lives in humiliation. To repay this gratitude, he would be willing to even brave a mountain of swords, needless to say a small matter like this.
"Un. There's one more thing you need to take note of. If anything happens to the Commandery Chief Residence or if Zhang Wentuo attempts to commit suicide, I want you to bring him out of Jiannan immediately. Can you do so?"
Hearing those words, a peculiar glint suddenly flashed across Solitary Wolf's eyes. Ever since retiring from the Bureau of Military Personnel, he had accepted many missions as a mercenary.
But never had he ever heard of such a bizarre request.
That was the Commandery Chief Residence they were talking about! Why would anything happen to the Commandery Chief Residence? What kind of lunatic would dare to lay their hands on such a place?
Not to mention, why would Zhang Wentuo possibly commit suicide?
He had taken a good glimpse of Zhang Wentuo when he left, and the other party was still extremely spirited. Why would such a person commit suicide?
Solitary Wolf had braved through innumerable storms in his life, but he had never encountered such a strange request.
"Yes, gongzi. I'll do as you say." Even though Solitary Wolf was bewildered by the strange request, he didn't hesitate in his response at all. "Gongzi, rest assured. I'll work to the best of my abilities to accomplish the mission you entrusted to me."
Solitary Wolf smiled in confidence and pride. Entrusting this mission to him, Wang Chong had found the right person for the job.
Zhang Wentuo's position is 'Commandery Chief'. For those who have read the chapters earlier, you might have noticed that I have left out the 'chief' in some places. I have edited them to reflect the correct term already.