Chapter 297: Zheng Xuan's Plan!
"Since Instructor Zhao is willing to guide me along, I'll gratefully accept the offer then," Wang Chong smiled.
There was a Go board in the Deflecting Blade Manor that Wang Chong intended to use to test the examinees. However, it ended up being used for the match between Wang Chong and Zhao Qianqiu instead.
"Instructor Zhao is going to fight against Wang Chong in Go!"
"I wonder who will be the victor."
"Even though I support gongzi more, I think Instructor Zhao stands a better chance."...
Upon hearing that Wang Chong was going to challenge Zhao Qianqiu in a battle of military strategy, a wave of excitement immediately washed across the crowd. This was especially so for Zhao Jingdian, Zhuang Zhengping, and Chi Weisi. After all, Zhao Qianqiu was their direct instructor.
On the very first day they arrived on the mountain, Zhao Qianqiu had hurled a couple of ferocious and ravenous tigers at them, and that had put them in quite a bit of suffering.
"Gongzi, good luck! Teach him a lesson!" Zhuang Zhengping and Chi Weisi roared in encouragement. It was only here, under such a situation, that they dared to utter such words. Under their investigations, they had found that, unlike the other ordinary instructors, Zhao Qianqiu had quite a powerful background.
A jar of black stones and a jar of white stones were placed on opposite ends of the chessboard, right in front of the two players.
Everyone, including Zhou Huang, stepped forward to surround this chessboard out of curiosity.
"As an instructor, it is only right that I offer an advantage to my student. Otherwise, others will claim that I am bullying my juniors. Here, I'll let you have three stones!" Zhao Qianqiu gestured magnanimously.
Since he wanted to teach Wang Chong a lesson and dispel any notion from the other party's mind, he had to crush the other party utterly to make him accept his loss. Giving the other party a handicap of three stones should be sufficient to achieve such an effect.
"Alright." Smiling casually, Wang Chong accepted Zhao Qianqiu's goodwill and placed his first stone on the chessboard.
"Gongzi, good luck!" Zhao Jingdian cheered nervously.
He hadn't been with Wang Chong for too long, so he was unaware of Wang Chong's aptitude in Go.
"Zhao Qianqiu, there's no need to go all out against a student. It'll suffice as long as you make your point." Zhou Huang tried to mediate the situation.
He had a good impression of Wang Chongafter all, they were comrades who had tided through danger togetherso he didn't hope to see Wang Chong discouraged by a tragic defeat.
However, things didn't develop the way everyone thought they would.
In ten moves, the smile disappeared from Zhao Qianqiu's face. In twenty, Zhao Qianqiu's eyebrows were knitted together.
By the time they reached forty, Zhao Qianqiu's entire attention was absorbed into the chessboard.
And at fifty, Zhao Qianqiu's complexion turned livid.
Even those who didn't possess the slightest understanding of chess could tell that Zhao Qianqiu was in a bad position. Or rather, bad wasn't sufficient to cover it.
And as for those who knew Go, they were already long drawn into the clash between Wang Chong and Zhao Qianqiu.
Zhuang Zhengping and Chi Weisi were completely overwhelmed by the fight.
The both of them knew Zhao Qianqiu's background, and that only served to deepen their shock.
On the eightieth move, Zhao Qianqiu finally gave up. "This round isn't counted! Let's go for another match. This time, we'll play on equal grounds, I won't give you any handicap!"
"Sure!" Wang Chong glanced at Zhao Qianqiu with a smile, and he agreed to the latter's arrangement without any hesitation.
This round, Zhao Qianqiu lost even faster. His formation was already torn apart by the time they reached the seventieth move.
"This time, I'll go first!" Zhao Qianqiu was still reluctant to accept his loss to Wang Chong.
"Alright." Wang Chong nodded in agreement. This was already their third round.
By the fourth round, no matter how thick Zhao Qianqiu's face was, he couldn't help but feel a little embarrassed.
Sipping on his tea leisurely, Wang Chong offered to Zhao Qianqiu, "I'll give you a handicap of three stones for this round."
With a grim face, Zhao Qianqiu nodded heavily without saying a word.
This time, Zhao Qianqiu played exceptionally slowly and carefully, and the interval between his moves increased the further into the game they got...
Soon, the fourth round was over. Zhao Qianqiu sat alone, staring at the incomplete chessboard with a grim look on his face. The emotions he felt at this very moment was very different from those he harbored when he first walked in here.
"Wang Chong, can we play a round too?" Zhou Huang suddenly asked Wang Chong excitedly.
As a master archer, he usually listened to orders on the battlefield, releasing his arrows when he was asked to. But nevertheless, there was no military man who didn't wish to become a general.
Zhou Huang could tell that Wang Chong seemed to possess exceptional aptitude in military stratagems.
Perhaps, this might be the heritage from his clan.
"Of course." Wang Chong accepted the challenge decisively with a chuckle.
Soon, there was another person to accompany Zhao Qianqiu's side, and the duo stared at the incomplete chessboard before them in silence.
They were utterly defeated by Wang Chong. This was something they had never expected.
"That fellow is back in camp!"
At this very moment, oblivious to Wang Chong, Zhao Jingdian, Zhao Qianqiu, Zhou Huang, and the others, a group of men was currently standing on top of a faraway peak, gazing silently in the direction of the Deflecting Blade Manor.
The autumn gale roared in the surroundings. From their viewpoint, the Deflecting Blade Manor looked no bigger than a fingernail. Even though they couldn't see what was going on in there clearly, they could still roughly make out the silhouettes of the group inside the residence.
"I knew that this fellow was surely up to something when he chose Kunwu Training Camp over Shenwei and Longwei, and it seems like I am right. Abutong, how long do you think it will take before he starts building an army inside here?"
On the northern face of Azure Dragon Peak, Zheng Xuan swung a paper fan as he chuckled.
"I heard that Wang Chong, along with the entire Wang Clan, doesn't have a positive impression of the Hu. Abutong, I think it will just be a matter of time before you and your father become stablemen for that lad."
Abutong's face darkened, but he didn't utter a single word. However, the faces of his subordinates reddened in fury.
"Zheng Xuan, there's no need for you to agitate me. If I'm not mistaken, your backing, His Highness King Qi, isn't doing too well either. It seems like King Song and the Wang Clan are suppressing him forcefully in the royal court," Abutong sneered coldly.
Zheng Xuan's face stiffened instantly.
"Abutong, let's stop rubbing salt on each other's wounds. The Wang Clan is too powerful now, and that lad is the cause of everything. If we continue to watch the situation idly, our positions will only get worse."
It took a while before Zheng Xuan could regain his composure, and he began fanning himself once more.
"What do you intend to do then?" Abutong asked deeply.
A smile crept onto Zheng Xuan's lips. "It seems like it's not entirely impossible for us to work together."
"Kunwu Training Camp is located near the capital, so we can't do anything to that lad here. However, the truth is that we need not do anything to him at all.
"That lad from the Wang Clan would never do anything meaningless. So, all we have to do is to find out what he is up to, and oppose his actions."
At this moment, Zheng Xuan suddenly recalled Deng Mingxin, and his heart abruptly ached in pain.
Despite King Qi's instructions, he didn't intend to stand up against Wang Chong. However, despite his neutrality, trouble still came knocking at his door.
The matter with Deng Mingxin had put him in a difficult position, and he was swiftly losing the hearts of those around him. Since Wang Chong was the one who trifled with him first, the other party shouldn't blame him for getting nasty, then!
"That lad is truly incredible. Considering how he built a courtyard in such close proximity to the training camp, there's a good chance he intends to build a group of followers out of the military talents here. Since we know his intentions, all we have to do is to obstruct his plans," Zheng Xuan sneered coldly.
"But the royal court has already banned the sale of land in this area. It's impossible for us to do anything on the scale of that fellow," Abutong replied. It seemed like he had already tried this
"That's because you weren't able to find the person holding the key to the matter. It's not that I am prejudiced against you Hu, but us Han are more skilled in this kind of matter. I have long obtained a deed from the Court of Judicial Review through King Qi, and my workers are already working on it. The construction should be finished by next week," Zheng Xuan said.
Hearing those words, Abutong suddenly froze in shock. He began assessing Zheng Xuan as though there was a side to the other party that he had never seen before.
"What are you looking at? That lad's residence has been under construction for several months already. I am not blind, so how could I possibly miss it? Do you think that I will allow his plans to come to fruition?" Zheng Xuan said.
"It seems like I have been underestimating you all along." Abutong stared deeply into Zheng Xuan's face. This shrewdness of this fellow gave him a feeling that the other party would be an extremely troublesome person to deal with.
"However, I don't seem to see your base at all?" Abutong asked doubtfully. He glanced at the surrounding mountains, but there was no sign of any ongoing construction.
"Of course you can't see it. I requested for the base to be constructed under the veil of the trees. Only after the completion of the base will those trees will be chopped off to reveal its full glory," Zheng Xuan said.
"Those who only know how to battle will never achieve great things. To deal with another, one must rob the other of his chance to prepare. Abutong, the only reason why your group incurs so much hostility is because you are too conspicuous. In truth, King Qi does admire you a lot."
Abutong harrumphed in disbelief at what Zheng Xuan said.
"Speak. What do you want me to do?" Abutong dove straight into the issue.
"Heh, it's simple. I'll try to pull all of the talented recruits of Kunwu Training Camp to our side. On the other hand, you will threaten the other recruits, saying that anyone who stands with Wang Chong will be an enemy of King Qi and the Hu. At the same time, you will teach those who ignore those warnings a lesson. We might be unable to touch Wang Chong, but surely we can deal with the others?
"As long as we instill fear into them, no one will dare to ally themselves with the Wang Clan. And with King Qi behind us, I would like to see who would dare to stand against us.
"Abutong, this matter should be fine for you, right?" Zheng Xuan asked.
"Hmph!" Abutong glared at Zheng Xuan. He knew what the latter was up to, but he didn't reject the plan. "Fine, I'll follow your plan!"
Throwing these words behind him, Abutong turned around and left with his subordinates.
Gazing at Abutong's departing back, the edges of Zheng Xuan's lips edged upward.
Who else would serve as a better ally to deal with the Wang Clan than the Hu?
Who else of the Hu would be more suited for this role than the son of Great General Abusi?
Considering the hostile relationship between the Hu and the Wang Clan, there was still much that he could do!
Thinking this, Zheng Xuan turned around and walked away. However, instead of returning back to his dormitory, he walked in an entirely different direction...