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Chapter 1308: Impeachment!
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
Within the capital, the vast influence the Confucian school had built up over more than one thousand years caused ‘Might Makes Right’ to be recalled from the marketplaces within a single day. This withdrawal was so clean that not a single copy could be seen throughout the entirety of the city.
Efforts to destroy w.a.n.g Chong’s reputation also began.
A memorial jointly signed by more than ten thousand ill.u.s.trious Confucians was sent straight to the Secretariat. It demanded that w.a.n.g Chong be stripped of all his positions and that the printing and distribution of ‘Might Makes Right’ be banned.
A few days later, the voices supporting w.a.n.g Chong and ‘Might Makes Right’ amongst the people dwindled to almost nothing. The Confucian school’s ‘Benevolence and Righteousness’ immediately began to make a clamor, occupying the absolute advantage.
The situation changed so quickly that everyone was caught off guard.
A thick book was thrown out a window and onto the street.
“Father, give me back my book!”
A cry of alarm came from within, the voice exceptionally young.
“b.a.s.t.a.r.d thing, you’re banned from reading such heresy in the future! Didn’t you hear what the village elder and Master Zhu said? This is nothing but a pile of twisted words that aren’t even worth considering. Don’t you know who Master Zhu is? Do you think that some King of Foreign Lands could possibly be more formidable than Master Zhu?” came the furious rebuke of the father.
The name of Master Zhu caused the youth’s voice to become much quieter.
“That’s that! If you don’t want you, your sons, and your son’s sons to be rejected by all schools and teachers, you’ll stop messing around with these things! Master Zhu has already spoken! Do you still think that this is some trivial matter?!”
The father’s rage was palpable.
Similar events took place all throughout the realm, catching everyone by surprise.
“Your Highness, it’s bad!”
Hurried footsteps resounded through the w.a.n.g Family Residence as a pale-faced Su Shixuan rushed in.
“Your Highness, we just received news that the people have begun to throw away their copies of ‘Might Makes Right’, even beginning to pile them up and burn them!”
Su Shixuan had just finished speaking when he looked around the study and froze. Cheng Sanyuan, Xue Qianjun, Xu Keyi—everyone was here. The atmosphere was solemn, and all of them had unsightly complexions.
Su Shixuan was immediately rendered speechless. It was obvious that Su Shixuan was not the first to receive the bad news, and when all this news was gathered together, the situation looked extremely bad for w.a.n.g Chong.
None of them had imagined that the Confucian Sect would play a card like Master Zhu. In truth, if they hadn’t seen it for themselves, they would have found it very difficult to imagine that a Confucian of one hundred and twenty years of age was still living in this world. People like Su Shixuan didn’t even know that Master Zhu had ever existed.
But wave came after wave. Flapflap! A messenger bird flew in through the window.
“A letter from King Song!”
Everyone only needed a glance to recognize that the golden hoop on the bird’s leg belonged to King Song. As they were both residing in the capital, King Song would never use this means to send news unless the matter was of utmost importance.
The people in the room grew even paler.
w.a.n.g Chong’s expression was calm as he waved his hand. The letter tied to the bird’s leg immediately flew through the air and into his hand. Upon glancing at it, w.a.n.g Chong felt his heart sink. The Confucian Sect had finally made its move.
When it rained, it poured. One day later, a piece of news began to sweep through the world. The Imperial Court had formally begun an impeachment investigation of the King of Foreign Lands, w.a.n.g Chong. The crimes he was accused of included ‘raising a private army with thoughts of rebellion’, ‘defying the Sage Emperor’s decree and opening the imperial household’s Qixi armory without permission, removing fifty thousand ballistae and nearly one million ballista bolts without the Sage Emperor’s approval’. There were also crimes like ‘cultivating henchmen and engaging in nepotism’, but the first two crimes alone were enough to doom w.a.n.g Chong.
The Great Tang strictly controlled the number of soldiers the great clans and n.o.ble houses could keep. They would normally have only a few squads, and absolutely could not exceed one thousand soldiers. But w.a.n.g Chong, in recruiting the Wushang Cavalry, had built up an army of more than ten thousand, and w.a.n.g Chong had even equipped them with identical suits of Meteoric Metal armor and sharp Wootz Steel swords. This force was enough to engage in a large-scale war and even resolve it.
And it far exceeded what was allowable for a private army.
In the Great Tang, just possessing this number and quality of soldiers was enough to be accused of fomenting rebellion. Even more importantly, none of these soldiers were in the military system of the Great Tang.
The second crime seemed to be much lighter by comparison, but it was actually far more serious. The crime of deceiving the sovereign would always be a most severe crime, and once it was exposed, there was practically no room for maneuver. Even a great luminary of the Tang army like Zhang Shougui, who had rendered enormous service and was favored by the Sage Emperor, would have been stripped of his position and demoted to the south to die in depression if w.a.n.g Chong had not a.s.sisted him in the Youzhou Incident.
For this sort of crime, even if the sovereign wished to issue a pardon, they would still encounter the strenuous protests of their ministers. No matter how great the service one had rendered or how ill.u.s.trious one’s status had been, if one committed this sort of crime, one could say goodbye to any future advancement.
Just one of these crimes would be enough to finish off one’s career, but w.a.n.g Chong was being accused of both.
And even more disastrous was that the initial investigation already indicated that both these accusations were true, that no one had unjustly accused w.a.n.g Chong.
This news caused the entire world to quake!
“Honored gentlemen, is there anything more that you have to say on this matter?”
Taihe Palace was solemn, majestic, grandiose, and divine. First Prince Li Ying was enthroned above, his cold gaze slowly scanning the officials down below. The censures and discussions targeted against w.a.n.g Chong had reached their peak. No matter what, a judgment had to be made today. If he did not give an explanation to the entire empire today, he would be weakening his own majesty as the regent.
Minister of Rites Zhang Lianchong stepped forward and bowed as he loudly declared, “Your Highness, the evidence on the crimes of the King of Foreign Lands, ‘raising private armies’ and ‘opening the armory in defiance of imperial decree’ is clear! This loyal subject believes that he should be heavily punished! He cannot be forgiven!”
A general immediately stepped forward and furiously argued, “Your Highness, this cannot be allowed! It is true that the King of Foreign Lands privately recruited the Wushang Cavalry, and it is true that he opened the armory in defiance of imperial decree, but all this was for the sake of the Great Tang! If not for this, there would have been a defeat at Talas, and Anxi and Qixi would have fallen into enemy hands. If a heavy punishment is levied in this matter, it will chill the hearts of all the soldiers in the world!”
The Battle of Talas was long past, but why had these crimes only been brought up now? Everyone clearly understood why. The Confucian Sect wished to use the government to execute its private revenge, using this impeachment to gain victory in this ideological clash between militarists and Confucians.
All the generals believed this to be a great injustice!
“Hmph! So one can raise private soldiers for the sake of the empire, can deceive the sovereign and disregard the Sage Emperor for the sake of the empire? If we go along with your argument, do we still even need the laws of the Great Tang?”
King Qi suddenly stepped forward. This was an extremely rare opportunity, and more importantly, he had not made up w.a.n.g Chong’s crimes. This opportunity had been dropped on his doorstep.
“There are so many generals on the border, and all of them have at least some fame. Can they now all use this reason to do what they wish in the Great Tang? Even the Son of Heaven must be punished the same as a commoner if he commits a crime, and the King of Foreign Lands is only a King. Should he be treated even better than the Son of Heaven?”
These words immediately plunged the hall into a deathly stillness. These were not words that could be hastily responded to. King Qi’s words were truly d.a.m.ning.
King Qi smugly smiled as he scanned the crowd, and then he turned back to the First Prince and spoke in a righteous tone.
“Your Highness! The laws have no mercy. Since the King of Foreign Lands has committed a crime, he must bear the punishment! This lowly subject proposes that w.a.n.g Chong immediately be jailed to await execution! And he should be stripped of all his t.i.tles! Let this serve as a warning to all!”
“Your Highness, this cannot be allowed!”
King Song finally could not help but step forward.
“All the people of the realm have witnessed the capabilities of the King of Foreign Lands, and even the surrounding foreigners regard him with dread. If we kill the King of Foreign Lands over this matter, the Great Tang will accomplish nothing more than cutting off its own hands and feet! In the future, if the foreigners once more raise their armies and attack, just which one of you will be able to bear the responsibility!?”
King Song was greatly concerned, as the situation boded extremely ill for w.a.n.g Chong and was proceeding in a completely unpredictable direction.
After a long period of silence, the First Prince finally spoke. “Imperial Uncle, I have an understanding of this matter now!”
A hint of hesitation and difficulty could be seen on his brow.
At any other time, the First Prince would not have minded hitting w.a.n.g Chong while he was down, but this situation was different. All the details would be made known to the world, and countless people were watching him. Even if the First Prince had his own selfish desires, he would have to act justly in this matter.
Moreover, w.a.n.g Chong had been made King by the Sage Emperor himself and was also the Son of Heaven’s disciple. Executing him might not only generate discontent across the realm but could even heavily damage his own prestige once he finally a.s.sumed the throne.
“w.a.n.g Chong, do you have anything to say?”
The First Prince turned to the back of the hall, where w.a.n.g Chong was standing. At that moment, everyone turned to look with him.
w.a.n.g Chong looked back at the First Prince and calmly said, “This subject only wishes to say that I feel no regrets over what I have done!”
These words caused King Qi, Prime Minister Li Linfu, the Grand Preceptor, and the First Prince to all slightly grimace.