Chapter 318: Persuasion!
"Big uncle, do you really believe that the First Prince will become the future emperor?" Wang Chong suddenly asked.
Upon hearing those words, shock immediately surfaced on Wang Gen's face.
"Chong-er, what are you saying! Do you know what you're saying?"
Wang Gen had always spoken to Wang Chong with an intimate voice. However, after hearing Wang Chong's words, his face immediately grew stern.
"It's fortunate that you said those words here. If others were to hear of it and misunderstand our intentions, do you understand what possible consequences there would be?"
If Wang Chong's words were to be heard by others and spread, it would surely cause a huge uproar.
"Big uncle, I know what I am doing."
However, Wang Chong was unexpectedly calm regarding the situation.
He had always carried great respect for Big Uncle Wang Gen. More often than not, the latter always had the interest of the Wang Clan in mind, and his actions reflected that as well.
However, on the matter regarding the First Prince, Wang Chong couldn't and mustn't agree with Wang Gen.
"... Big uncle, have you ever considered the consequences on our Wang Clan should the First Prince fail to ascend to the throne?"
To Wang Gen, those words were reminiscent of a bolt of lightning, and he immediately froze in shock.
What would happen if the First Prince failed to ascend to the throne? Wang Gen had never truly entertained such a possibility before.
"Chong-er, you are still too young. There are some things you don't understand. Ever since ancient times, it has always been the eldest son who takes over the career of his father. As long as the First Prince remains, there won't be any hope for the other princes. Furthermore, you are lacking in understanding of the First Prince. Even though His Majesty has yet to confer him as the crown prince yet, the role that he assumes is no different from one. There is very little doubt regarding his position.
"Everyone, be it those in the royal court or those beyond it, shares the same view as me."
Wang Gen shook his head. After the initial shock, he quickly calmed down. Even though his nephew was extremely intelligent, he was still lacking in political experience.
More often than not, politics was about reading the situation, and it was impossible to do so without sufficient experience.
Wang Chong said that the First Prince might not be coronated as the emperor, but in Wang Gen's view, such a situation was absolutely impossible.
"Big uncle!" Wang Chong shook his head.
"I am willing to listen to you on other matters, but please pardon me for being unable to agree with you on this one. Big uncle said that it has always been the eldest son who took over the career of the father, and I do agree with you on that point. However, if the First Prince was indeed that outstanding, and His Majesty does think highly of him, then why hasn't His Majesty officially conferred him as the crown prince yet?"
The matters on the royal court were never as it seemed. If big uncle thought that a life of prosperity awaited for him just by supporting the First Prince, he was taking this matter too lightly.
Taking anything 'as granted' in the War of the Princes was extremely dangerous.
"This..." Wang Gen opened his mouth to respond to Wang Chong's doubt, only to freeze in the next instant.
The Sage Emperor carried significant trust in the First Prince, Wang Gen was certain of that. Otherwise, he wouldn't have chosen to ally himself with the First Prince.
Yet, upon hearing Wang Chong's words, he found himself unable to refute those words at all. That was because Wang Chong's doubts were logical.
The Sage Emperor doted on the First Prince a lot, and he even allowed the latter to participate in the discussions of the royal court. On that aspect, he was treating the latter not any different from a crown prince.
However, what was bizarre was that the Sage Emperor had yet to confer on the First Prince the title of the Crown Prince yet.
It was one thing when the First Prince was younger, but much time had passed since, and this argument no longer held. Even Wang Gen had found himself perplexed over this matter once, but he chose not to think too much of it.
"Chong-er, the First Prince is the His Majesty's eldest son. If His Majesty has no intentions of conferring him as the crown prince, he wouldn't have allowed him to participate in politics. Furthermore, just because His Majesty has yet to confer him as the crown prince doesn't mean he won't do so in the future," Wang Gen argued.
It takes more than a cold night to freeze a river deep. Wang Gen's relationship with the First Prince wasn't established on a whim, it was forged over a very long period of time.
It was impossible for Wang Chong to change the latter's impression with just a few words.
"... Besides, His Majesty is a wise emperor, a great sovereign whose accomplishments far surpassed his predecessors. Do you think that he will allow his sons to kill one another?" Wang Gen said, revealing his confidence as to why he thought the First Prince would be able to successfully claim the throne.
The current Sage Emperor was known both within the royal court and beyond to be the greatest sovereign in history. In his hands, Great Tang managed to free itself from its decline and overcome the threats surrounding it, thus achieving an unprecedented era of prosperity.
Be it the scale or the wealth, it had far surpassed any previous era. With its elite army of over six hundred thousand men, Great Tang even managed to suppress the powerful surrounding nations, be it -Tsang, the Eastern and Western Turkic Khaganates, Goguryeo, or Mengshe Zhao.
Even the proud Tibetans of -Tsang had to admit that the only reason why they were able to stand for so long against Great Tang was due to -Tsang's unique geographical terrain.
It was only due to the soldiers' inability to adapt to the environment on the plateau that -Tsang was able to remain free and fearless.
Even though those countries that had grown rapidly over the past dozens of years still carried a deep fear toward Great Tang.
And all of this was due to the Sage Emperor!
Be it his martial arts, governance, decisiveness, or guts, no emperor before him was able to match up to the current Sage Emperor.
Without a doubt, Great Tang was at its very peak ow.
If not for his refusal out of respect for the previous emperors, the Sage Emperor would have been crowned by historians as the "Greatest Emperor in History".
Many times, Wang Gen had felt gladdened that he was born in such an era, allowing him to serve under such a wise ruler.
Thus, it was hard for him to believe that the slaughter of fellow kin could possibly occur under the eyes of such an emperor.
Seeing his big uncle's serious and confident expression, Wang Chong felt extreme heaviness in his heart.
In the end, big uncle still trod on the path he did in his previous life. The Sage Emperor was indeed wise, but this had little to do with what he wanted him to do.
Big uncle probably could have never imagined that not only would the tragedy of fellow kin slaughtering one another happen, something even worse would follow.
There were too many mysteries to the matter then. Even as one who had witnessed the happenings personally, there were still many doubts that Wang Chong was unable to make sense of.
Nevertheless, if there was one thing Wang Chong was certain of, it was that what his big uncle was doing at the moment was gradually dragging the entire Wang Clan into a fearsome abyss.
If he couldn't stop big uncle, no matter how powerful the Wang Clan seemed at the moment, it would surely disappear as if a fleeting cloud. The tragedy back then would unfold once more.
Since big uncle was still muddle-headed, Wang Chong had to find a way to warn him that his thoughts were very mistaken, and his confidence was misplaced.
"Big uncle, do you think that the princes won't fight over the throne just because His Majesty is a wise ruler? Many were there wise rulers in history, but none succeeded in averting this tragedy.
"The Emperor Wu of Han, Liu Che, conquered the Western Regions and Jiaozhi, expanding the influence of the Central Plains beyond its western and southern boundaries for the very first time in history. He was accredited for his achievements in both his governance and his military prowess. However, in the Calamity of the Shamanic Gu, his successor, Crown Prince Yi, ended up committing suicide, and Princess Zhuyi and Princess Yangshi were forced to hang themselves. More than tens of thousands of people were injured or killed in this matter as well, and many prestigious clans vanished in that calamity.
"Prime Minister Gongsun He dominated the politics in that era, and he was known to possess the royal bloodline as well. The Gongsun Clan was also known to be a powerful family with a heritage that could be traced back to the Warring States Period. and many called it the Number One Clan of Great Han back then. In terms of standing and influence, even our grandfather would find it hard to match up with them. And yet, due to a single incident, their entire clan ended up being eradicated entirely, and their legend disappeared from history.
"Given that even the powerful Gongsun Clan could be destroyed that easily, does big uncle think that our Wang Clan will be any different?" Wang Clan said grimly. The struggle for power and authority would always be stained with blood.
Even the princes and princesses were mere pieces on a huge chessboard, needless to say, prestigious clans like them.
Even though the Wang Clan possessed exceptional standing due to Duke Jiu's presence, it was still unable to compare with powerful clans such as the past Gongsun Clan.
Big uncle thought that the Sage Emperor would never allow this kind of calamity to occur, but reality was contrary to his thoughts. The greater the emperor was, the more likely one would be smashed to smithereens when crossing him.
"In the era of the First Emperor (Qin Shi Huang), Crown Prince Fu Su was the eldest son, and he was known to be compassionate, discerning, and insightful, making him a strong candidate for the throne. Throughout his life, he hasn't committed any mistakes, and his behavior was exemplary.
"However, with the death of the First Emperor, Crown Prince Fu Su was forced to commit suicide, and the powerful Meng Clan, who was known to possess the greatest military might, was completely destroyed.
"Yao abdicated to Shun, Shun abdicated to Yu, and Yu abdicated to Count Yi. This is a traditional custom of abdication commonly seen in ancient times. However, Count Yi ended up being killed by Yu's son, and two influential officials under Yu, Zhao and Meng, were executed as a result of the matter as well.
"Big uncle, Emperor Wu of Han, Qin Shi Huang, and Yu the Great, all of them are great emperors of the Central Plains. Crown Prince Yi, Crown Prince Fu Su, and Count Yi, which of them weren't upright men and strong candidates for the throne?
"Gongsun He, Gongsun Jing, Meng Tian, Meng Yi, Zhao, Meng... Which of them weren't capable officials who wielded immense power in their era? Yet, who could have thought that the dismissal of the crown prince would occur in the era of emperors as wise as Emperor Wu of Han, Qin Shi Huang, and Yu the Great?
"I am not saying that something will definitely happen, but since even history is plagued with many of such incidences, can big uncle confidently say that the same will not occur in this era?" Wang Chong said gravely. He had already spoken in a very roundabout manner. Under the restrictions of the Stone of Destiny, he couldn't reveal too much of future affairs. This was the best he could do at the moment.
Regardless of what big uncle was thinking of, Wang Chong had to knock some sense into him. At the very least, he had to make the other party understand that nothing was definite in this world.
Gu can be considered as a black magic tool used by tribes in ancient China.
Gu are venomous worms that shamans rear and use to plague others. Just like poison, they have a huge variety of effects, ranging from inflicting extreme harm to one to putting one under the shaman's control.
Calamity of the Shamanic Gu()
This is a real incident in history. This was a political storm that occurred in BC91, when Emperor Han of Wu was still in power.
Back then, Emperor Han of Wu was already 66 years old, in his declining years. and he was plagued with several diseases.
Jiang Chong, an official of the royal court, had a conflict with Crown Prince Yi, and he was fearful that the latter might kill him after his coronation.
Thus, Jiang Chong conspired with Su Wen and a few others to convince Emperor Wu of Han that the reason behind his illness was due to a "gu aura" lingering in the royal palace, and as long as it remained there, Emperor Wu of Han would never recover from his illness.
Alarmed, Emperor Han of Wu immediately tasked Jiang Chong to investigate the matter.
Thus, Jiang Chong began searching the various locations around the royal palace, and eventually his investigation "led" him to the queen and crown prince's palace. There, he tortured and interrogated the servants, and eventually, he took out a voodoo doll which he had prepared beforehand and declared, "We found a few voodoo dolls in the crown prince's residence, and there were several scrolls cursing His Majesty as well. We should report this to His Majesty and have him beheaded!"
Forced into a corner, Crown Prince Yi tried to find Emperor Wu of Han to explain this matter to him, but he ended up being blocked by Jiang Chong and his allies. Eventually, the imperial tutor convinced Crown Prince Yi to lead an army to eradicate those corrupted officials. Thus, Crown Prince Yi raised an army and killed Jiang Chong and his allies. However, one of the conspirators, Su Wen, managed to get away, and he reported to Emperor Wu of Han that Crown Prince Yi was planning a coup d'etat.
Shocked by the actions of his son, Emperor Wu of Han dispatched an army to suppress Crown Prince Yi. Eventually, both armies clashed, but Crown Prince Yi's army proved to be at a critical disadvantage. Eventually, the despairing Crown Prince Yi committed suicide.
In the royal court, no one dared to speak of this matter for fear of bringing the emperor's rage upon them. However, unwilling to see the conspirators get away scot-free, an official known as the Third Elder of Huguan, Linghu Mao, wrote a memorial to the emperor stating why the crown prince couldn't possibly have raised a coup d'etat. After reading the memorial, Emperor Wu of Han also found the matter suspicious, and so he investigated the matter. Eventually, he realized that the crown prince had been framed, and he killed all those who had deceived him into turning against his own son. But of course, it was already too late then.
As for Princess Zhuyi and Princess Yangshi, they were done in by a separate matter in the same era concerning the gu. (This matter came before Crown Prince Yi's incident)
Back then, Prime Minister Gongsun He's son was arrested for embezzling military funds. In order to appease the emperor so as to save his son, Gongsun He personally arrested a wanted criminal known as Zhe Anshi.
However, the vindictive Zhe Anshi turned around and framed Gongsun He's son of adultery with Princess Yangshi, and he claimed that the Gongsun Clan had buried voodoo dolls in the royal palace to curse Emperor Wu of Han.
Angered, Emperor Wu of Han ordered the death of the entire Gongsun Clan and their kin. Even Princess Zhuyi, the daughter of Queen Wei Zifu, a distant relative of the Gongsun Clan, was implicated and killed as a result. The powerful Wei Clan fell into decline after the matter. (Note that the Wei Clan and the Gongsun Clan were relatives, and having considering how they had a prime minister, Gongsun He, and a queen in their midst then, they were an exceptionally powerful clan)
As both incidents occurred in the same era, they are collectively termed as the "Calamity of the Shamanic Gu".
(The stories are translated with reference from Chinese Wikipedia and Baidu.)
Wow, I have written such a long story here, so I won't bore you with the other contexts then!