Chapter 1805: The Hierophant, Khatabah! (I)
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
It seems that the Sage Emperor’s mind is made up. There was never any other choice, Wang Chong quietly said to himself.
Wang Chong had never cared about titles or fame, and he would have not felt the slightest ripple of emotion if the Sage Emperor had taken away all that had been granted. But while Wang Chong didn’t care, he needed to think about his subordinates.
Crucially, even if Li Junxian were exiled, all the officials the Confucian Sect had placed in the court removed, and the treaties made with the other countries ended, this would only be treating the symptoms. This method could not completely uproot a faction as strong as the Confucian Sect.
Moreover, the Sage Emperor had not rejected the policies of the Confucian Sect.
The militarist-Confucian conflict had gone on for so long already that its effects were far-reaching. If an outcome were not decided, a conclusion reached, similar situations would arise in the future. The Confucian Sect would be able to stage a comeback, and this comeback might be faster than anyone could imagine.
The empire had just been through a rebellion and could not endure further internal strife. Not even Wang Chong could imagine what the empire would look like if there were another militarist-Confucian conflict.
With these thoughts in mind, Wang Chong quickly reached a decision.
“This lowly subject obeys the decree!”
“This lowly subject has no objections!”
Two voices rang out almost simultaneously in front of Taiji Palace.
The sound of Li Junxian’s voice momentarily startled Wang Chong, but he quickly composed himself. At this time, the Sage Emperor began to speak.
“Very good. In ten days, We will order Fifth Prince Li Heng, Prime Minister Li Linfu, and the Grand Preceptor and Grand Tutor to preside over this battle! Let the final period be placed upon this conflict!”
The majestic voice’s echoes continued to linger in the air as the Sage Emperor quickly withdrew.
Wang Chong also quickly took his leave. Li Junxian took one last glance in the direction Wang Chong had left before descending the steps and walking in another direction.
In the Secretariat Advisor Residence, all the members of the Confucian Sect had gathered. Besides Elder Song, many other elders of the Confucian Sect had also come.
“Deciding the outcome through martial strength? Young Master, why did you agree?!”
“That Wang Chong is a martial arts genius! From the information we’ve gathered, he’s already reached the Subtle realm. Moreover, those in the army worship martial strength. We might not be able to overcome them in this aspect!”
All of them were shocked that Li Junxian had agreed to the Sage Emperor’s demand that the conflict be decided on the martial arts ground in the capital. It was an outcome that none of them had expected, and a somber air now hung over the hall.
“We no longer have a choice. The Sage Emperor gave no other option!” Li Junxian sternly said, his expression surprisingly calm.
“After several generations of effort, we’ve finally found a chance to realize the Harmonious World. The moment the Sage Emperor gives the order and ends all the peace treaties, all our work will have been for nothing. We can’t back down here!”
The hall fell silent at Li Junxian’s words. It was true. This was not a price that any of them could bear.
After a few moments of silence, Li Junxian added, “And everyone knows that the Sage Emperor learned from Taizong and worked to expand the borders and subjugate the surrounding countries, thus creating the current strength and prosperity of the Great Tang. For His Majesty to not interfere and allow me and Wang Chong to decide the final outcome of this conflict is the greatest concession we could achieve!”
“But, Young Master, if we lose, we won’t be able to bear the price,” Sword Ghost said, his brows fraught with concern. He had fought with Wang Chong before and knew just how formidable the man was. Although his young master held the position as leader of the Confucian Sect and had inherited the Noble Sage Sword, he was still not guaranteed to defeat Wang Chong.
“The King of Foreign Lands’ cultivation level truly is very high, but that does not mean that victory is out of reach!” Li Junxian declared, an astonishing light in his eyes.
Everyone in the hall was taken aback. This was an extremely important battle, and none of them could understand why Li Junxian was so confident.
“Senior Brother, are you thinking about…” the worried, white-robed girl said, apparently thinking of something.
“Mm! The rise or fall of the Confucian Sect is on the line in this battle. It’s time we used it.”
Li Junxian solemnly nodded, his eyes flashing.
On the other side, once Wang Chong returned to his residence, Xu Keyi, Su Shixuan, Zhang Que, Old Eagle, Guo Ziyi, Li Siye, and everyone else came over upon hearing the news. Even Xu Qiqin paid a visit.
Unlike the crowd in the Secretariat Advisor Residence, everyone cheered in excitement after their initial shock.
“Your Highness, the Sage Emperor has spoken. Your Highness can’t let those bastards of the Confucian Sect go without teaching them a good lesson.”
“That’s right! These bastards have gone too far! Your Highness, when the time comes, you can’t be merciful!”
“It’s about time we cleaned up the Confucian Sect.”
They had waited for this moment for far too long. This was definitely the best news they had heard as of late.
“It’s not that simple!”
At this moment, a warm and crisp voice rang out in everyone’s ears. Xu Qiqin’s graceful figure was clothed in a silken white robe, making her seem like a fairy descended from the heavens, but her beautiful eyebrows were creased together, marring her face with deep concern.
The hall fell silent as everyone turned to Xu Qiqin.
“Lady Xu, do you think that there are still some unknowns in this battle?” Zhang Que asked.
All of them had interacted with Xu Qiqin for quite some time, and they had gotten a full display of her tenacity, diligence, and intelligence in the Battle of Talas and the Rebellion of the Three Princes. Although Xu Qiqin didn’t possess that much martial strength, their respect for her was only second to the respect they paid Wang Chong.
“Wang Chong, I recall you saying before that when the Sage Emperor declared his intent, Li Junxian didn’t need very long to agree, even agreeing a little faster than you did. Don’t you find this strange?
“That battle ten days from now is critical for the both of you. The Confucian Sect spent nearly one thousand years planning and waiting, and everything they’ve done will be decided with this battle. The Confucian Sect has nowhere to retreat, nor does Li Junxian. He would never do anything that he wasn’t confident about,” Xu Qiqin said, her piercing eyes staring at Wang Chong.
Everyone fell silent and frowned.
“Correct. The resolve and decisiveness displayed by the Confucian Sect is not something they would have if they weren’t confident in their chances.
“This is also my concern,” Wang Chong said. He had not been as relaxed as his subordinates thought him to be.
“Qiqin, what are your thoughts?”
“It’s hard to say. The Confucian Sect has existed for nearly ten thousand years, burrowing its roots deeper and deeper as the dynasties went by. It must have some secret weapons. I sense that Li Junxian must have some power that we don’t know about for him to so quickly agree to this battle. Regardless, on the day of the battle, we must not be careless,” Xu Qiqin solemnly said.
“I will do my best to investigate the Confucian Sect with the resources of my clan in this period and get you an answer as quickly as possible.”
Wang Chong nodded and glanced at Zhang Que.
“Zhang Que, go to the King Song Residence and find Academic Lu Ting for me. Work with Qiqin to investigate the Confucian Sect.”
In the Rebellion of the Three Princes, Lu Ting had played a major role in the forging of Zhang Zheng’s letter, fooling the Eastern Palace and Hou Junji into starting their rebellion early. More importantly, Lu Ting was an expert in various kinds of ancient script, including Bird Seal Script. His help would make the investigation much easier.
Zhang Que hurriedly bowed.
At that moment, a Golden Guard suddenly rushed inside the hall, interrupting the discussion.
“Your Highness, we’ve just received an urgent report from Talas! Please read it!”
Everyone in the hall paled. Talas was the gatehouse for the part of the empire west of the Cong Mountains, and it was an important stronghold from which the empire could watch the movements of Arabia. More importantly, before leaving Talas, Wang Chong and Gao Xianzhi had set down a rule.
There was normally no need for Talas to communicate with the interior and the court. All the taxes from Talas could be retained and used for its own purposes. In truth, if not for Wang Chong’s strenuous efforts, the Imperial Court would have already abandoned Talas. Even so, Wang Chong and Gao Xianzhi had given Talas an important mission. The moment Arabia started to make big moves, the Central Plains was to be informed immediately.
This was the first time Talas had sent an urgent report!
The mood in the hall instantly turned grave.
“Bring it over!”
Wang Chong quickly came back to his senses and beckoned the Golden Guard over.
Yang Hongchang had sent the letter, and it was very short.
‘Strange activity from Arabia. Soldiers moving abnormally. In addition, the Arabian Empire’s Hierophant, Khatabah, has emerged from seclusion! Your Highness, be careful!’
Although Yang Hongchang’s letter had been short, its contents exerted a massive pressure. For a long while, no one in the hall could speak.
“Your Highness, these Arabian scoundrels are stubborn to the end! They’re once more coveting our Great Tang!” The taciturn Li Siye suddenly spoke, his eyes bright with steely resolve. Li Siye had faced many powerful opponents while campaigning with Wang Chong. Arabia was undoubtedly the strongest, and the existence that posed the greatest threat to the Great Tang.
“It’s still too early to say that. At present, Arabia has yet to attack,” Wang Chong solemnly said, gripping the letter.
“Pass on my order. Make three copies of this letter, one each for the Sage Emperor, the Imperial Court, and the Bureau of Military Personnel. In addition, order Yang Hongchang to keep a close watch on Arabia’s movements!
“In addition, I need a full investigation on that Hierophant, Khatabah!”