Chapter 225: The Vexed Zheng Xuan!
With a pale face and a trembling body, Sun Zhiming slowly picked up the letter Deng Mingxin threw over. Mocking looks came from his accosters who took delight in his misfortune.
“Idiot. You should never have betrayed your master. Although the Wang Clan might be beyond Deng gongzi‘s means, did you really think you were too?”
“This is what happens to a fool who overestimates himself!”
Everyone in the surroundings sneered. They had all known that Deng Mingxin had written to his father, requesting that he strip the traitor’s father of his position. While an aide in the Bureau of Personnel didn’t possess a great standing, it was more than enough to deal with a puny Sun Clan.
Sun Zhiming’s fate was already sealed.
Enduring their mockery, Sun Zhiming’s face paled further. His hands trembled as he slowly unrolled the note.
Suddenly, his expression froze as he looked upon the very first line of words in disbelief. He couldn’t help but lift his head and stare at Deng Mingxin.
“What are you looking at? Regretting your actions now? It’s too late!”
Deng Mingxin also started to sneer along with his lackeys. Sun Zhiming’s only response was a strange look he turned on him.
Sun Zhiming’s gaze dropped back to the note and he continued to read on. Initially, his face was as pale as a corpse’s and his lips were quivering, but slowly, as he read the letter’s content, a healthy sheen returned to his face. By the end, he even looked completely revitalized.
“Deng Mingxin, this is what you call evil begets evil! Take a look at this note yourself!”
Standing now with a straight back, Sun Zhiming threw the letter back to Deng Mingxin triumphantly. It felt as though the shackles tying him down were all suddenly released.
“Brat, you must be insane! You dare speak to Deng gongzi this way?!”
Standing to Deng Mingxin’s side, a fifteen-year-old youth pointed his finger at Sun Zhiming arrogantly and bellowed.
“Deng gongzi, let us teach him a lesson for you.”
Another adolescent chimed in, seemingly dissatisfied with Sun Zhiming’s attitude.
“Hmph, I advise you to take a good look at that note. Deng Mingxin, even though you have threatened me again and again, I’ll let it pass. You’re on your own now!”
Leaving these words behind, Sun Zhiming turned and left. He strode off, looking completely different from before.
The followers flew into a rage, deeply offended by Sun Zhiming’s remarks and wanting to chase after him. On the other hand, the person in question, the culprit of this entire incident Deng Mingxin, felt an ominous weight suddenly pressing down on his chest.
He had known Sun Zhiming for a long time now and knew the latter’s personality well. Sun Zhiming was a capable person, but acting or lying were not amongst those capabilities.
The expression from before seemed genuine enough to cloud his mind with doubt.
“What could it be? …”
Worried, Deng Minxin’s forehead scrunched together in worry. Without thinking further, he bent down and sweeped up the letter Sun Zhiming threw his way.
“You beast, you better return right now!”
Seeing the first line of words on the note, Deng Mingxin suddenly seemed to hear thunder rumbling in the skies. He became dumbfounded.
Face pale and eyes wide in disbelief, he continued reading the note, but it granted him no relief and only served to cause his complexion to pale even further. His lips trembled, and cold sweat dripped down his forehead.
“Impossible… This is impossible!”
Deng Mingxin looked anxiously to where Sun Zhiming left, and this time, his gaze was devoid of all prior arrogance; it had been replaced by fear.
“No, this can’t be. I must meet with gongzi. I must meet with gongzi!”
He abruptly spun and dashed off in another direction. He didn’t even notice that the note had slipped between his fingers, falling to the ground.
“What’s wrong from Deng gongzi?”
The rest of the crown looked at each other in confusion, unable to comprehend what had just happened. They’d been waiting intently for Deng Mingxin’s order to rush out and teach Sun Zhiming a lesson, but instead he just suddenly ran away with a look of desperation on his face.
“What’s written in the letter?”
A person from the group bent down and picked up the discarded letter. Everyone immediately gathered together to read.
“Re…relieved of his duties? Deng Mingxin’s father got sacked by the Bureau of Personnel?”
“How is that possible?”
“Didn’t gongzi say yesterday that he would have Sun Zhiming’s father sacked?”
The group glanced at one another. The contents of the note had left them all completely speechless. They finally understood the desperation and panic on Deng Mingxin’s face when he had rushed away, and by contrast, the strength and confidence on Sun Zhiming’s face when he had strode off.
But wasn’t this twist of events simply too abrupt?
Just a moment ago, it was that Deng Mingxin grasping Sun Zhiming’s father’s livelihood in his hands, but in the next moment, his own father was relieved of his duties instead.
“… Isn’t this way too sudden?”
A person among the group remarked in shock.
Although an aide of the Bureau of Personnel wasn’t a high-standing official and couldn’t even begin to compare with the standings of nobles and ministers, it still wasn’t a some small official either. It was no easy task to relieve an aide of the Bureau of Personnel of his duties. At the very least, it would require several influential officials banding together to push it through the proper channels. Not to mention, it would have at least taken half a month to do so.
Yet, here it was, Deng Mingxin’s father had been removed in the course of a single day. This speed was completely unheard of.
No wonder Deng Mingxin’s father was seething with rage, even addressing his son as ‘beast’. He must have fathomed somehow that the root of the entire matter originated with this child of his.
“Wang Chong! It must be him! Who else could wield sufficient influence to pull this off!”
Suddenly, someone exclaimed. Following which, the entire crowd fell silent.
Firing a civil servant at the level of an aide and doing so in the short span of a single day was impossible for most but they all knew one person capable of doing so, Wang Chong.
With his incredible ideas and astonishing capability, he allowed King Song to reverse the tides of the Consort Taizhen incident and re-enter the royal court. Due to this, Wang Chong became highly regarded by the latter. Plus, Wang Chong’s big uncle was also an influential official of the royal court.
With the two of them working hand-in-hand, getting an aide of the Bureau of Personnel sacked was not a difficult task.
Besides, Wang Chong had already expressed his clear intention to back Sun Zhiming.
Upon realizing all this, the group didn’t feel relieved in the least. Instead, the weight pushing on their hearts seemed to grow even heavier. If Wang Chong could utilize the influence of his clan to deal with Deng Mingxin so easily, it shouldn’t be difficult for him to do the same to them as well.
“A member of a clan of generals and ministers truly cannot be trifled with!”
Fear gripped their hearts.
“Deng Mingxin, don’t you think it’s a little late for you to come looking for me?”
On Azure Dragon Peak, Zheng Xuan flung aside Deng Mingxin’s beseeching hands with a livid face.
With his sharp eyes and crescent eyebrows, the black-robed Zheng Xuan looked to be eighteen or nineteen years of age.
Zheng Xuan’s immense contribution during the assault from the Turks and Goguryeons had won him the support of many members of the training camp. So far, there were still very few people who were aware of his growing influence.
What even fewer knew was that he was a student leader sent by King Qi to infiltrate Kunwu Training Camp.
“Gongzi, you must save me! I only kept the matter from gongzi so as to not bother you. I didn’t think it would get to such a point.”
Deng Mingxin kneeled on the floor, the picture of desperation, as he pled.
“Zheng gongzi, you are a person favored by King Qi. I beseech you to have King Qi save me; he must have a solution.”
“Audacious! How dare you spout such words! For you to order him around, who do you think King Qi is?”
Zheng Xuan’s face abruptly darkened, and Deng Mingxin became alarmed. He immediately realized that he had misspoken, but the circumstances didn’t allow him to back down now.
“Zheng gongzi, no matter what, I beg of you to save me. It’s only due to my efforts in trying to suppress Wang Chong, so as to vent King Qi’s frustration, that this matter developed!”
Knowing that going further down that path wouldn’t work, he immediately switched to another tactic. Although the reality was that he only dealt with Sun Zhiming due to his reluctance to lose a talented and easily manipulable subordinate.
Not that this would stop him from shoving everything on Wang Chong.
“You need not speak any further, I can’t help you. You should just leave!”
Zheng Xuan said decisively.
Deng Mingxin’s face turned ashen. In the end, he nearly collapsed onto the floor. Zheng Xuan was his only hope to rise up once more, and now, this final hope was extinguished as well. Lips quivering, he wished to plead further with Zheng Xuan, but the latter had already turned his head away. Clearly uninterested in listening any further to his words.
All remaining blood drained from Deng Mingxin’s face, and despair welled up in his eyes. He hadn’t expected Zheng Xuan to reject him so heartlessly.
His clan was doomed.
Rising shakily to his feet, Deng Mingxin slowly dragged himself with unsteady steps down the mountain. It was like he’d lost his soul.
“Gongzi, are we really not going to help him?”
Looking at Deng Mingxin’s desolate back, an intelligent-looking youth before Zheng Xuan asked.
“Have your thoughts become muddled as well? If I could help him, do you think that I wouldn’t? It’s not that I don’t want to, but that I can’t.”
Zheng Xuan took in a deep breath, but his complexion remained rather awful.
“Given that an aide of the Bureau of Personnel has been stripped of his position, King Song and Wang Gen must have interfered in the matter. Unless King Qi intends a complete fall out with King Song and Wang Gen over a single Deng Zhou, there’s no way to help him.”
“King Song has just been reinstated to his prior positions, and he’s currently at the peak of his power. Do you think that Deng Zhou, who has already been stripped of his position, would be worthy of having King Qi bear the risk of falling out with King Song at this moment?”
“Had Deng Mingxin told me of this matter earlier, there might still be grounds for reconciliation. But now, everything has been decided—even King Qi is helpless before this matter.”
Zheng Xuan analyzed with deep wisdom gleaming in his eyes.
Deng Mingxin may have thought Zheng Xuan was just unwilling to help, but in truth, Zheng Xuan had already weighed the pros and cons, and he realized that the matter would be nearly impossible to accomplish.
“But, Deng Mingxin had only just sided with us. If others were to know that we abandoned him right after, their hearts would turn cold!”
The intelligent-looking young man persuaded.
“Sigh, that’s what vexes me the most about this situation!”
Zheng Xuan replied with a darkened expression.
“Even when Zhou Jue told me to deal with Wang Chong, I was planning to stay out of this mess. But that seems impossible now. This blow of his has already struck right on my face.”
As he said those words, his fists were clenched tight together, and savagery gleamed in his eyes. This blow by Wang Chong may have been aimed at Deng Mingxin, but it had also implicated Zheng Xuan.
“Wang Chong, you are the one who made this choice. Don’t blame me for this!”
Zheng Xuan thought as he gazed at the distant fleeting clouds.