Chapter 1804: Heaven’s Intent Is Hard to Fathom!
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
“Shut your mouth! You can talk about anyone else, but you’d better not slander the King of Foreign Lands! If not for him, all of the officials and generals would have been slain in the Rebellion of the Three Princes! The First Prince was even willing to kill the Sage Emperor. Do you even know what would happen if such a man who recognizes no sovereign or father managed to take the throne?”
“That’s right! You’re still thinking about peace? This city is the capital of the Great Tang, at the feet of the Son of Heaven. If not even this place can avoid armed conflict, how could any other place?!”
“If a battle starts in the capital, or perhaps another rebellion, are you going to try and be reasonable with those rebels?”
“Only strength can protect oneself, can protect the Great Tang and people like you and me. Blind fantasy can only lead the country and the people down the wrong path. I agree with the King of Foreign Lands! The Great Tang needs to expand its army!”
“I don’t care about your argument, but anyone who slanders the King of Foreign Lands is my enemy!”
In front of a tea house on Vermillion Bird Street, a large crowd of people had gathered, and emotions were running high. Similar scenes were playing out on Xuanwu Street, Azure Dragon Street, White Jade Street, and other areas of the capital, and even in the outlying prefectures and commanderies. But compared to the one-sided bias toward the Confucians in the past, at least half of the crowd now supported Wang Chong.
Not even the Confucian Sect would have expected this. The numerous conflicts, even the border incident from not too long ago, could not compare to the effects the Rebellion of the Three Princes had had on the people of the capital. This coup had made everyone realize that war was not so far off after all.
Every person only had one life to live. If a war really came, could they really rely on just words to persuade the enemy? Was this any different from just waiting around for death?
The arguments grew fiercer and fiercer. Without realizing it, many people had changed their minds since the militarist-Confucian conflict began, and more and more of them approved of Wang Chong’s theories.
The Imperial Palace, Taiji Palace.
The Sage Emperor threw Li Junxian’s letter onto his desk.
On his desk, there were now two memorials—Wang Chong’s on the left and Li Junxian’s on the right.
“Your Majesty, the effects of this matter from before were already very widespread. The conflict now is even more intense, and if we continue to delay, it will result in great turmoil,” Eunuch Gao respectfully said.
“We understand how to proceed!”
The Sage Emperor closed his eyes in thought. The mind of the sovereign was difficult to fathom, and even Eunuch Gao, who had served the Sage Emperor for several decades, found it hard at times to determine what the Sage Emperor was truly thinking.
These two were both overflowing with talent and could support the empire. Moreover, whether they were for peace or for war, both of them had many supporters amongst the populace.
But the true choice remained with the Sage Emperor.
When the Sage Emperor opened his eyes again, there was a sparkle to them. He had seemingly made his decision.
Not long afterward, two letters marked with the Sage Emperor’s seal were sent out from the Imperial Palace.
In the main hall of the King of Foreign Lands Residence, Wang Chong sat alone in the gloom.
Wang Chong had a habit of sitting by himself to think.
How will the Sage Emperor handle this matter?
Wang Chong’s body shifted as this thought passed through his mind.
It had been some time since he had sent his memorial to restore the prefectural armies and expand the regular army, and he had also seen the memorial from Li Junxian. Zhang Que was reporting to him every day on the arguments taking place in the streets of the capital.
But as the paramount existence of the empire, the Sage Emperor had yet to give his stance on the militarist-Confucian conflict.
Wang Chong had taken part in numerous court sessions in this period of time, and both he and Li Junxian had broached this matter in court. But whenever they did, the Sage Emperor would simply stand up and leave, ending the session midway.
The Sage Emperor’s stance had remained ambiguous and inscrutable.
It seems that the Sage Emperor has known about both the Rebellion of the Three Princes and the militarist-Confucian conflict, but he still allowed them to progress, indirectly allowing the Confucian Sect to get stronger and the Great Tang’s military power to be reduced. In other words, the Sage Emperor has approved of the Confucian Sect… I really can’t tell what he’s thinking!
Wang Chong placed a hand under his chin as his mind churned.
On the surface, the Sage Emperor was an aggressive and strong sovereign who should have unquestionably stood on his side, and there was a high chance that he would win this militarist-Confucian conflict. But Wang Chong was keenly aware that the Sage Emperor’s stance on this matter was not as simple as it seemed.
Not even Wang Chong could tell what the Sage Emperor was thinking.
But as the supreme sovereign of the Great Tang, one who the people hailed as their eternal emperor, the Sage Emperor was the key to this conflict.
As Wang Chong was pondering, a messenger rushed into the hall.
“Your Highness, an envoy from the court! He says that he has a decree from His Majesty ordering Your Highness to Taiji Palace for an audience!”
Wang Chong’s body shivered, and he raised his head in shock.
After washing and changing into his imperial attire, Wang Chong left his residence for the Imperial Palace.
Why did the Sage Emperor summon me?
Wang Chong continued to ponder within the carriage. The Sage Emperor’s decree had come very abruptly, and Wang Chong still didn’t know what was going on.
It didn’t take long before Wang Chong arrived in front of Taiji Palace.
The clouds were hanging low, and the sky was gloomy. At this time, Wang Chong spotted another figure standing in front of the palace, one with a scholarly bearing.
Wang Chong instantly grimaced.
Li Junxian called out at almost the same time. He had turned around to see who the newcomer was.
Their eyes met, and the mood turned solemn.
The Sage Emperor had summoned them for the same audience!
The two of them suddenly understood.
“Wang Chong, I truly didn’t think that you would remain so stubborn. Do you really plan to drag the empire into the underworld!?” Li Junxian suddenly said, his expression chilling.
“You have your way and I have mine. I don’t need to explain anything to you.
“No matter what you plan to do, I won’t let you succeed!” Wang Chong sternly said.
The Confucian school had made this empire incredibly weak. He could not permit this to continue.
The two of them stared, neither willing to back down.
The world suddenly swayed as a dignified and majestic voice came from the palace. The fabric of space itself seemed to tremble.
Wang Chong and Li Junxian both grimaced as a pressure weighed down on their souls.
“The lowly subject Wang Chong pays respects to His Majesty!”
“The lowly subject Li Junxian pays respects to His Majesty!”
The two of them simultaneously turned to Taiji Palace and bowed.
An immense energy blasted through the heavens, and a moment later, the two of them sensed this supreme and transcendent energy rising from the throne and walking toward them. As this vast energy approached, the air seemed to freeze.
Wang Chong and Li Junxian both focused, their faces adopting expressions of utmost respect.
This was the strongest existence in the empire and the architect of a golden age. The Sage Emperor had everyone’s respect.
A few moments later, golden light erupted from the entrance to Taiji Palace, and that lofty and divine figure stepped over the threshold to appear before Wang Chong and Li Junxian.
That man instantly became the undisputed center of the world, space itself bowing before him.
“Do you know why We called you here?”
The Sage Emperor looked down, his majestic voice ringing through the heavens.
“This lowly subject does not know! Your Majesty, please instruct me!”
The two lowered their heads, not even daring to breathe too loudly.
“We have read both your memorials. Regardless of what your original intentions were, the conflict between the two of you is tearing the people apart.”
The Sage Emperor’s voice was grandiose and cold, not even a sliver of emotion to be heard within. The golden light and immense pressure that filled the area made it impossible to see the expression on the Sage Emperor’s face.
“This situation cannot be allowed to continue. We will give you one chance to determine the victory between the militarists and the Confucians.”
The two of them felt their hearts tense, but neither of them said a word. Given how long the militarist-Confucian conflict had gone without the Sage Emperor expressing his stance, he had undoubtedly summoned them for this audience with his mind made up.
“You two were the origin of the militarist-Confucian conflict, and so you will end it. The lasting effects and damage must also be restricted to only the two of you. We will give you one opportunity. Ten days from now, on the martial arts ground of the capital, you will decide who wins and who loses! Let this militarist-Confucian conflict come to an end!
“The one who wins between the two of you will be the ultimate victor of the militarist-Confucian conflict!”
The Sage Emperor’s majestic voice resounded through Taiji Palace.
The pair in front of Taiji Palace shivered, great waves raging in their hearts.
Neither had expected that the Sage Emperor would have these two have a clash of martial arts to bring an end to this clash of ideals.
Wang Chong was extremely shocked, as was Li Junxian. This had definitely not been in his expectations.
“Your Majesty, this…” Li Junxian stammered.
“Of course, you can refuse, but once you refuse, Li Junxian, your Confucian Sect must withdraw from the Imperial Court and the border. All the treaties signed with the foreign countries will immediately be ended.
“As for you, Wang Chong, you also bear a heavy responsibility for this militarist-Confucian conflict. If you refuse, We will strip you of all titles and achievements, including your recently reinstated title of Qixi Protector-General. In addition, all of your subordinates will be expelled, never to be used again in Our reign. Moreover, once you leave, the Bureau of Military Personnel will once more suffer the assaults of the Confucian Sect.
“While this method is not a way to definitely resolve things, you two began this conflict, and only by expelling the two of you can the arguments between the people be soothed and the effects of this conflict be minimized!”
The Sage Emperor’s dignified voice rang in their ears.
Wang Chong and Li Junxian remained bowed as they pondered and digested this news, silence reigning in front of Taiji Palace, with the only sound being the howling of the wind.
Heaven’s intent is hard to fathom! Wang Chong suddenly thought to himself. This sort of decision was one that he had never expected.
But from the point of view of a sovereign, this truly was the best way to handle it.