Chapter 1581: The Schemer in the Shadows!
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
“The Hu have gathered? How could this happen?”
“The Public Order Squads! It’s the Public Order Squads again!”
“Lord Zhangchou, I didn’t do anything. You’ve caused this disaster all on your own!”
Everyone stared at Zhangchou Jianqiong, who once more became the target of their arrows.
“Zhangchou Jianqiong, just look at the fine work you’ve done!”
The ashen-faced First Prince glared at Zhangchou Jianqiong.
Never in the three-hundred-year history of the Great Tang had such a thing ever occurred. The Hu were actually blocking the gates of the Imperial Palace!
In the past, the First Prince would have driven them away without a second thought, but the situation had changed now. There was no such thing as a trifling affair in politics, and if he handled this matter too poorly, the peace accords the Great Tang had signed earlier would all be ruined.
The Great Tang might even have to face war on all sides.
As the heir apparent, the First Prince could not allow this to occur.
Down below, Zhangchou Jianqiong’s heart sank and his face paled.
“How could it be like this?”
Truly, when it rained, it poured. Not even Zhangchou Jianqiong had imagined that the Hu would come to make trouble on top of the matter of the Public Order Office. And given the timing, wasn’t this a targeted attack?
At this time, a vast and clamorous crowd had gathered in front of the Imperial Palace’s gates.
Standing or sitting, these people had packed themselves in front of the palace gates and completely blocked it off.
More importantly, these people were of all sorts. There were Turks, Kanjuts, Goguryeons, Characenians, Arabs, and even Mengshe Zhao people. But there were no Han in this crowd.
“Release the Hu!”
“Punish Zhangchou Jianqiong and disband the Public Order Squads!”
“As long as the Great Tang doesn’t let the Hu go, we won’t leave!”
“The Public Order Squads were set up by Zhangchou Jianqiong and the King of Foreign Lands! Punish the King of Foreign Lands!”
“The King of Foreign Lands is numb to killing people, a criminal who has broken the peace between the Great Tang and the other countries! Everyone has seen it with their own eyes!”
The Hu shouted well-practiced Tang slogans, their faces and ears red from agitation, their roars reaching the heavens. Tens of thousands of people shouting in unison in front of the Imperial Palace’s gates was truly an intimidating sight.
Groups of commoners had been drawn over by the ruckus and watched from the perimeter.
Not even people who had lived in the capital for decades had ever seen such a thing.
As the Hu shouted and protested, a Hu man looked to Mochi Xiangyang and whispered, “Milord, we’ve succeeded! There are more than forty thousand people gathered in front of the Imperial Palace, more than eighty percent of the Hu living within the capital. Everyone who could come has come. In addition, I’ve ordered that all our men in the provinces and prefectures of the Great Tang gather in the capital. In a few more days, we’ll have even more people.”
“Hmph, very good!”
Mochi Xiangyang turned his gaze to the spectating crowd of commoners and to the Imperial Army soldiers standing atop the gate.
Few people noticed a smile slowly creep onto his lips.
“The court session isn’t over. Let’s see how the First Prince deals with this,” Mochi Xiangyang indifferently, his expression oozing confidence.
“But, Milord, is this really okay? This is the Great Tang Imperial Palace, and I can’t help but feel uneasy. That King of Foreign Lands… is planning something against us,” an Arab fearfully said.
The Arabs were the ones who feared Wang Chong the most.
Even now, the corpses of the nearly one million Arab soldiers who had died to the west of the Euphrates had still not all been buried. Those vultures circling in the sky and occasionally descending to peck the exposed guts and flesh of the bodies made a chill go through one’s heart.
The Arabs had always regarded themselves highly, taking Arabic to be the world’s most noble language and disdaining to learn the language and words of other countries. Before this, their goal had been to conquer the world, conquer the continent, and then have everyone learn Arabic.
But now, even the most arrogant and the most foolish of them knew the words ‘Wang Chong’. They could even pick out these two words from a pile of meaningless Tang words.
And in the schools the Great Tang had opened in the various countries, the Arabs were the most willing to enter and learn the Tang language.
The crucial factors in this were the Battles of Khorasan and Talas!
All the Arabs feared the King of Foreign Lands down to their bones. Even the Caliph of Arabia was forced to admit this.
“Heh, relax. With forty thousand foreigners gathered here, the Great Tang wouldn’t be so bold as to kill them all. And besides, hah, do you really think that we’re only dealing with Zhangchou Jianqiong?”
Mochi Xiangyang shook his head, a smile on his lips.
“Then Milord means…”
The spy captains from the various countries looked to him.
“We naturally need to deal with Zhangchou Jianqiong, but the more important target is still the King of Foreign Lands. I presume all of you understand his grasp of the art of war.
“As long as he exists, our countries will have daggers to their backs and will never be able to rest easy. We’ve blocked the palace gates so that man in the palace and all the officials can see, thus placing pressure on the King of Foreign Lands.
“A tree that stands out from the forest is certain to be knocked down by the wind. We can’t deal with him on the battlefield, so we’ll use the internal conflicts of the Great Tang to try and kill him. At the very least, we can strip him of his titles and make it so he never leads an army again. All we need to do right now is make as much trouble over this incident as possible so that his enemies in court can do the dirty work for us.”
Mochi Xiangyang spoke with a profound light in his eyes, like he could see through everything.
Everything from the court session to the protest was a part of his plan, as were the commoners who had gathered to watch. He needed people to be watching, as many as possible!
Right now, he wanted all of the Great Tang, all of the world, to be watching this place. If he made enough trouble, he could seize both Zhangchou Jianqiong and Wang Chong.
This was called killing two birds with one arrow!
The King of Foreign Lands was a victim of his own cleverness!
As for Zhangchou Jianqiong, this was a man who had spent many years in the southwest and had killed numerous Tibetans. The title of Tiger of the Empire had been built atop piles of Tibetan corpses.
Even if he couldn’t kill Zhangchou Jianqiong, if he could use the Tang to forever remove him from political power, he would be avenging the lives of all the Tibetan warriors lost in the southwest!
As these thoughts flitted through his mind, Mochi Xiangyang made a cold and sinister smile.
As the Hu received the news, more and more people began to converge, their roars of protest getting louder and louder.
Everything was going according to plan!
“Milord, it’s bad!”
Meanwhile, in the Wang Family Residence in the western part of the city, Zhang Que rushed into Wang Chong’s study, his face covered in sweat.
“Milord, we’ve just received news that many Hu have gathered in front of the Imperial Palace’s gates to protest and put pressure on the Imperial Court. The spies we placed around the various embassies have also noticed carrier pigeons flying into the Imperial City. The emissaries sent by the various countries have probably decided to place pressure on the Imperial Court. In addition, Master has also sent word that the Princes and Princesses of the various countries have all begun to make their way to the Imperial Palace gates!
“The situation is getting worse and worse! In addition, all the members of the Public Order Squads are observing the situation, and all of them are very uneasy!”
Zhang Que’s hair was drenched in sweat, and his lips were trembling as he spoke.
Their lord was not present at court, and his position as Advisor-in-Waiting had long ago been stripped away. Within Taihe Palace, almost all the officials had been replaced with supporters of Li Junxian and the Confucian Sect. Worst of all, even the Sage Emperor who Wang Chong had always regarded with utmost respect had retired to deep within the palace.
Almost everything about the court was being decided by one of Wang Chong’s enemies, the First Prince!
With the Hu pushing things from the background, Wang Chong’s situation was getting worse and worse!
Just when Zhang Que was burning with anxiety, a calm and unperturbed voice resounded through the room, extinguishing Zhang Que’s worries like a gentle rain.
Zhang Que stared at Wang Chong in surprise. He thought that his lord would at least show some concern, but Wang Chong’s face seemed to communicate that all of this was within expectations.
“There’s nothing to be surprised about. I’ve only been gone for a little more than a month, but the streets are completely packed with Hu. Did you think that this was all due to the efforts of Li Junxian and the Confucian Sect?”
Wang Chong took a sip of tea.
“Milord, you mean…”
Zhang Que was completely caught off guard by Wang Chong’s words. He had always believed that their opponents were Li Junxian, the Confucian Sect, and the First Prince.
“Catching prey requires patience, and now is the moment to close the net!”
Wang Chong’s eyes gleamed with an intimidating light as he indifferently spoke.
The Confucian Sect was a problem that needed to be dealt with, but that didn’t mean that the various foreign countries weren’t pushing things along. Without their cooperation, the Confucian Sect would have never been able to reach this stage so quickly.
The militarist-Confucian conflict had given the foreign countries the ammunition they needed, and this protest at the palace gates was yet another salvo.
All of this was only possible with meticulous planning.
Wang Chong had only had speculations about there being some commander within the capital directing the movements of the various countries from behind the scenes, but after this protest, Wang Chong was sure that this person existed!
Suddenly, Zhang Que seemed to think of something, but before he could ponder the matter further, Wang Chong gave an order.
“Order all the cavalry of the Public Order Squads to immediately gather at the Imperial Palace gates!”