Chapter 317: Meeting Big Uncle!
Silence drifted in the night.
From time to time, a shout of agony would sound, but peace would swiftly be restored to the mountain range.
The spiritual energy in the spirit vein was extremely concentrated, but no one dared to approach it. After the emergence of dozens of corpses after the first day, everyone learned a formidable existence occupied the spirit vein.
It was as if those who had dared to barge onto the grounds had disappeared into another world. The area would be completely silent for a few moments before a corpse was abruptly tossed out of the mist. These corpses revealed the gruesome manner in which those invaders had died, and it sent shivers down the spines of those watching.
Thus, the number of fools who were daring enough to barge into the spirit vein rapidly declined.
As dawn slowly set onto the world, the shadows in the vicinity of the spirit vein gradually retreated.
On the mountain where the spirit vein was centered, in the midst of a thick layer of mist, the Demonic Emperor Old Man gazed into the distance beyond the mountain before exhaling deeply. From the onset of the night until now, he had already dealt with many waves of malicious spies.
However, the number of men lurking in the area only continued to increase. Even the Demonic Emperor Old Man couldn't help but feel a little troubled over this matter. Without any forceful methods, it would be difficult for him to keep them under control. It was fortunate that he had managed to deter most of them after putting his heart into slaughtering a few of the invading experts.
Otherwise, if anyone could come and go freely from the spirit vein, there would be a huge mess.
The training regimes that Wang Chong had planned would be affected as well.
"Let's hope that they will be deterred with this," the Demonic Emperor Old Man sighed, before fetching a pigeon from his loose sleeves. Lifting his hands up, he sent the pigeon into the sky.
Whether the matter here was a blessing or a disaster, he would inform Wang Chong and allow the latter to decide for himself.
As the day approached afternoon, a green carriage slowly drove through the bustling streets and eventually stopped at the residence of an influential official of the royal court, Wang Gen.
The carriage doors opened, and Wang Chong walked out.
After spending half a day dealing with other crucial matters, Wang Chong finally arrived at Big Uncle Wang Gen's residence.
Towering walls surrounded the residence, and two massive crouching lions stood at the gates. By the sides hung two large red lanterns.
Through the slit in between the gate, he could vaguely see a refreshing and elegant bamboo garden.
Big Uncle Wang Gen was an academic official, and perhaps due to Duke Jiu's influence, he had a great interest in aesthetics as well. The bamboo garden was laid out in a fashion identical to that in the Four Quarters Embassy, seemingly revealing his inclination toward the plum blossom, orchid, chrysanthemum, and bamboo*.
This wasn't Wang Chong's first time here, but the emotions he harbored at this moment were very different from any other occasions.
It is about time to talk to big uncle about that matter, Wang Chong thought as he gazed upon the majestic residence. He had received Big Uncle Wang Gen's note yesterday, but he didn't reply immediately. Instead, he chose to pay him a visit personally.
Flinging his robe behind him, Wang Chong walked up to the entrance.
Four sturdy Wang Clan guards stood at the entrance to the residence, two on each side. Upon seeing Wang Chong, their faces tightened, and they hurriedly bowed deeply in respect.
This gesture had come from the depths of their hearts, and it felt very earnest.
When Wang Chong was younger, he spent his time fooling around and causing trouble in the streets, so everyone couldn't help but think lightly of him.
But in the past half a year, Wang Chong seemed to have changed into a very different person. Seeing his great accomplishments, their initial contempt had transformed into respect and awe.
Thus, upon seeing Wang Chong, they immediately bowed deeply to pay their respects.
"Is my big uncle inside?" Wang Chong asked.
"Yes. After old master learned that gongzi would be arriving, he has been waiting for you in the study. Should we report gongzi's arrival to him?"
"There's no need for that. I'll head straight there." Wang Chong waved his hands and stepped across the gate. Passing by a pond and a garden, and crossing through a bamboo garden and a gazebo, he finally stopped outside Wang Gen's study.
A familiar breathing rhythm sounded from the room. Glancing at the purple doors of the study, many thoughts flashed through Wang Chong's mind.
There were many matters which he had avoided talking to big uncle about, but the letter big uncle sent left him with no other choice.
Big uncle would have never imagined that what he was doing now was completely wrong!
The closer he came to the First Prince, the more danger he was exposing himself to.
In his previous life, under grandfather's grand halo and outstanding accomplishments, even after falling for the Yao Clan's ploy and offending King Song, the Wang Clan should still be able to hold its ground.
However, the relationship between big uncle and the First Prince had shattered this final hope. Given big uncle's long years of contribution to the royal court, even if he were to choose the wrong side in a political face-off, the worst that should occur was just a demotion.
However, what he was roped into was the most dangerous War of the Princes. That was what that resulted in the Wang Clan losing favor with the royal family. This was the true reason why the Wang Clan declined swiftly, as if falling into an endless abyss, never to stand up again after grandfather's passing.
The entire Wang Clan fell from the heavens to become a lowly speck of dust in the mortal world.
Understanding big uncle's beliefs and convictions, Wang Chong had been trying to put off this matter. However, considering the current situation, he had no other choice anymore.
Sigh, I can only hope that big uncle will be willing to listen to my words!, Wang Chong sighed deeply.
"Chong-er, you are here." Just as Wang Chong was deeply immersed in his thoughts, a deep and authoritative voice sounded from the room.
Recovering from his daze, Wang Chong pushed open the door and walked in.
As soon as Wang Chong walked in, he saw his big uncle sitting behind a rosewood table. Placed on the table was a thick stack of documents and scrolls. The latter seemed to have been organizing the files of the royal court before his arrival.
"Chong-er, you are here!" Wang Gen smiled and he put the brush in his hands down. After busying himself for an entire afternoon, he was feeling a little fatigued. "Sit!"
Wang Gen stood up from his seat and headed toward a round tea table in the center of the room. There was a pot of tea and two teacups on it.
Wang Gen first poured two cups of steaming tea before beckoning Wang Chong to take a seat beside him. The fact that he was willing to allow Wang Chong to sit so close to him bore testimony to the intimate relationship that the uncle and nephew pair possessed.
Saying nothing, Wang Chong walked straight to his big uncle's side and sat down.
Wang Gen placed the teapot back on the table before asking, "Chong-er, how is life in the training camp?"
"Still fine," Wang Chong replied.
"That's good. If you have any matter that requires my help, feel free to speak."
"Un." Wang Chong nodded.
"Did you receive the letter I sent you?" Wang Gen suddenly asked.
'Un." Knowing what Wang Gen was going to say, Wang Chong's heart tightened.
"Chong-er, I won't hide it from you. Actually, the one who wishes to meet you is the First Prince. He knows many things about you, and he admires you a lot. Thus, he hopes to rally you over to his side," Wang Gen said with a serious expression.
Wang Chong lifted his gaze and asked, "The First Prince wishes to recruit me?"
"That's right!" Wang Gen nodded. Wang Chong was an extremely smart and astute person, and there were few things that one could hide from him. Thus, Wang Gen chose to ask him directly.
"Chong-er, I know that the spirit vein is important to you, but the First Prince is the future successor to the throne. The entire Great Tang will be his in the future. It is a rare opportunity that the First Prince has a favor to ask of you, so I hope you can give this matter a good thought. Given your intelligence and capability, you will surely be highly regarded by the First Prince.
"This will be beneficial to both you and our entire Wang Clan. Thus, I hope you can think this matter through."
After saying those words, Wang Gen stared at Wang Chong unblinking, waiting for the response of his intelligent nephew.
On the other hand, Wang Chong fell silent after hearing those words.
Wang Gen had rarely brought up the issue of the welfare of the clan to pressurize him. The fact that he was doing so at this very moment reflected how anxious he was regarding this matter.
Without a doubt, big uncle really hoped that Wang Chong would join him in pledging allegiance to the First Prince.
However, Wang Chong knew that this was one matter he must never agree to.
This wasn't just because of Wang Chong's knowledge of history that allowed him to know that the future emperor would be the Fifth Prince Li Heng rather than the First Prince.
More importantly, Wang Chong was worried about the First Prince's character.
There was a huge flaw in his personality, and it was precisely due to that that Li Heng managed to ascend to the throne.
That flaw in his personality compelled him to do something completely audacious in the future, and even big uncle and the entire Wang Clan were implicated in the matter. That incident was what that cost him his candidacy to the throne.
As this was a fundamental problem, even if Wang Chong were to help the First Prince avert that crisis, it would just be a matter of time before another such incident came their way.
On top of that, the First Prince would not be a compassionate ruler, either. Even if Wang Chong could help the latter to the throne, it would be no blessing to Great Tang either.
Wang Chong had a chance to come into contact with the First Prince in his previous life, and he could tell that the latter was an obstinate person who couldn't stand anyone defying him.
This was also the reason why Wang Chong had his reservations regarding the First Prince.
In politics, a single mistake can lead to disastrous outcomes. Wang Chong didn't wish to bring the entire Wang Clan back to the depths of hell just because of a single mistake.
"Big uncle, I fear that I can't agree to your request!"
Facing Wang Gen's hopeful gaze, Wang Chong spoke those words slowly, but with firm determination. Merely eleven words, but each of them carried an exceptional weight that clearly reflected Wang Chong's resolution.
"Why?" The word reflexively shot out form Wang Gen's mouth. He knew that it wouldn't be easy to persuade Wang Chong, but he didn't expect Wang Chong to turn him down so decisively, leaving no grounds for negotiation at all.
"Chong-er, I understand that the request I am asking of you might be a little overboard. However, I really hope that you can give it some more thought. After all, the First Prince will become the future emperor!" Wang Gen said.
Given the astute, wisdom, and decisiveness Wang Chong had shown, if Wang Chong could come under the First Prince, Wang Gen had no doubt that the Wang Clan would surely reach even greater heights in the future, perhaps even exceeding its peak in his father's era.
On this aspect, Wang Gen shared the same view as Xing-shi.
He earnestly hoped to bring the Wang Clan to greater heights.
Plum blossom, orchid, chrysanthemum, and bamboo:
These are known as the Four Gentlemen of Flora, and they are common topics for artwork and poetry in China history. Each of them has their own personality.
Plum blossom: a noble man with ideals
Orchid: a prominent and respected person
Bamboo: a humble gentleman
Chrysanthemum: a hermit who has transcended materialism