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Chapter 1735: Strange Activity on the Border! (I)
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
The heavens could not hold two suns, and a country could not have two masters. When there was a changing of sovereigns, the heavenly omens would become vague, and the stars would dim and make it impossible to read them. Only when the true sovereign appeared would their brightness be restored.
“No, a simple changing of sovereigns wouldn’t cause such a major omen! This is an ill omen! An extremely ill omen!”
Master Yinshan muttered to himself, his face ghastly white.
At almost the same time, countless fortune-tellers who specialized in divination using the Book of Changes, who had just settled down to perform some divinations, suddenly snapped the bamboo tallies in their hands.
(TN: The Book of Changes is a.s.sociated with a divination method involving yarrow stalks, though the author uses bamboo stalks here for some reason.)
An old man with extremely turbid eyes bolted to his feet and hollered, “Not good! Not good! Cui’er, pack the luggage! We’re leaving tomorrow as soon as the gates open!”
This night was bound to be a restless one!
In the southwestern part of the city, the King of Foreign Lands Residence was brightly lit. w.a.n.g Chong was standing in front of a sandalwood table and examining a map of the Great Tang. His brow was tightly creased and his expression extremely solemn.
Zhao Fengchen had been defeated, and the one hundred thousand soldiers of the Imperial Army had come under the First Prince’s control. The situation was extremely grim, and w.a.n.g Chong was well aware that the First Prince was merely waiting for the right time. The Rebellion of the Three Princes could begin at any moment.
Suddenly, a fierce gale ripped overhead, causing countless roof tiles to clatter.
w.a.n.g Chong put down the small red flag in his hand and looked up. He seemed to sense something, turned around, and slowly walked out of the hall.
The winds were howling outside. It was already very late, and everyone should have been asleep, but w.a.n.g Chong could hear numerous dogs barking.
Homes were lighting up as the residents were stirred into uneasy wakefulness by the barking.
An oppressive and anxious current was running through the city.
w.a.n.g Chong looked up and saw that the stars had dimmed, the dark clouds in the sky seeming even darker than usual.
w.a.n.g Chong had a vague inkling of what was happening.
A moment later, the Stone of Destiny’s voice exploded in w.a.n.g Chong’s mind.
“Warning! World Event! The Rebellion of the Three Princes has entered its final phase! The countdown has begun, the stars have dimmed, and the realm will change hands. User must expend any price to stop this rebellion. If the Sage Emperor dies, user will be deducted 1,000,000 points of Destiny Energy. In addition, if World Incident: Rebellion of the Three Princes affects user’s ‘True Dragon Plan’, if Li Heng dies, then the True Dragon Plan will fail and user will be obliterated!
“Starting from now, user has only seven days to prepare! Begin!”
w.a.n.g Chong stood motionless outside the hall, the winds throwing his robes into disarray.
w.a.n.g Chong looked up at the dark skies and said to himself, It’s finally begun! Nothing could be seen in the darkness, but w.a.n.g Chong could feel countless thoughts surging through his mind.
After crossing a path laden with fire and thorns, after throwing back one crisis after another, he had finally reached the most important turning point in the empire’s history.
The course of history could not be stopped. Even though w.a.n.g Chong had tried his best, various factions had still managed to push that greatest rebellion in the history of the Great Tang so that it appeared at its proper time. This internecine strife that would utterly expend the strength of the country, leaving tens of thousands dead and hundreds of thousands starving, had finally come!
But unlike the him of the past, who had been a mere bystander, he now had the strength to fight, to change it all.
Whether it was the First Prince, Hou Junji, or those mysterious men in black, in this life, he would never let them succeed.
“Zhang Que!” w.a.n.g Chong called out, his back to the door.
A few moments later, a youthful figure emerged from the darkness and respectfully bowed.
“Your subordinate is here!”
“Pa.s.s on my order! Gather the soldiers!” w.a.n.g Chong coldly said, his voice neither too loud nor too soft, but suffused with inexplicable strength.
Zhang Que’s body trembled, but his reply was without hesitation.
“This subordinate will go!”
Zhang Que was already withdrawing as he spoke, and a few moments later, countless messenger birds took to the skies.
In this night that was both calm and restless, the destiny of the empire began to change, slowly shifting toward a fierce and unpredictable direction.
The night soon pa.s.sed, the moon and dim stars giving way to the sun.
As dawn broke in the east, for many people, another ordinary day began. None of them knew that the empire had already changed.
At the distant Beiting Protectorate headquarters…
The winds blew across the lush plains of gra.s.s. There were still a few lingering echoes from the Setting Sun Villa incident, but the effects had not been as profound on the Beiting Protectorate.
An Sishun had not been the first Beiting Protector-General, nor was he the last. This army of the north primarily consisted of Hu soldiers, and these Hu had long ago become accustomed to heeding the orders from the capital. For the Hu officers, it mattered little who the Imperial Court appointed.
“Lord Protector-General, why is it that you come here every day to look to the south?” a blue-eyed Hu standing beneath the black banner of Beiting asked, in the middle of a lush field of gra.s.s.
“Because I am waiting for someone!” A rough voice came from out of the gra.s.s, but there was a slight Han accent to the voice.
“Waiting for who?”
“When the time comes, you will understand!” the Han man replied.
A gust ripped past, parting the gra.s.s and revealing that man. He was around forty to fifty, and his short and thick beard bristled like it was made of iron needles.
But the most striking thing of all about him was his copper eyes. When matched with his pitch-black eyebrows, they endowed him with a sharp and wise gaze, the gaze of a man who hungered for power and authority.
This man’s physical appearance placed him as a Han, but his body still exuded a thick Hu aura.
The Smoke Signal General, Zhang Zheng!
When An Sishun was sent off to the capital and jailed, Zhang Zheng, who had once vied for the spot of Qixi Protector-General with w.a.n.g Chong, had been appointed as the Beiting Protector-General.
(TN: Previously mentioned in chapter 823 as Zhang Zhengbei.)
Zhang Zheng had some reputation in both Beiting and Andong. He had once worked together with Andong Protector-General Zhang Shougui, and he had a significant list of achievements. He was the typical campaigning general, and he also had the rare talent of a proficiency in Hu languages, making him a top-cla.s.s general who could also command the Hu.
But for many court officials, there was something else about Zhang Zheng that was even more well-known, a different kind of status: one of the First Prince’s trusted aides!
Amongst the numerous border generals and t.i.tled generals, Smoke Signal General Zhang Zheng had been the earliest to join the First Prince’s side. It was said that when Li Ying had gone to the border to temper himself, Zhang Zheng had been the general a.s.signed to guard him.
Zhang Zheng had once saved the First Prince’s life, and even the Sage Emperor had tacitly approved of their friendship.
Flap flap! The beating of wings broke through the gusting winds, and before the Hu generals around could react, Zhang Zheng looked up.
He saw a messenger bird with a golden beak coming from the south toward him.
Zhang Zheng extended his right hand and received the bird. His eyes spotted the golden dragon ring around the bird’s right leg, and his heart leaped.
Zhang Zheng removed the golden tube from the bird’s leg and took the letter out of it. As he looked over the letter, his face transformed.
“The day is finally here!”
Zhang Zheng heartily laughed as he crushed the letter, his face turning red with excitement.
“Pa.s.s on my order! Gather the army!!”
A moment later, the drums began to thunder and the earth to shake. Soldiers began to pour out of their barracks, and rumbling hooves resounded across the plains. The stench of war began to fill the air.
At almost the same time, at the distant western border…
A messenger bird descended into the ill.u.s.trious Big Dipper City. Despite all the wars it had gone through, the city remained imposing and firm.
“Milord, a letter from the First Prince!”
A general originally from Qixi took the letter from the bird and handed it over.
The winds blew against the towers of Big Dipper City, creating a low howl. Fumeng Lingcha was wearing a full suit of armor as he stood atop the easternmost tower. Upon hearing these words, he looked up and took the letter.
Fumeng Lingcha began to softly chuckle as the energy on his body surged and then erupted like flames.
“After so long, this one’s day has finally come!”
Fumeng Lingcha suddenly raised his head and looked toward the distant capital in the east. His eyes flashed with the cold light of a saber’s edge.
With his own powerful strength and the a.s.sistance of his loyal Qixi subordinates, Fumeng Lingcha had successfully taken control of the Big Dipper Army, becoming a Protector-General in both name and reality.
“Were all those kings and n.o.bles born into their n.o.bility? First Prince, I will definitely help you take the throne of the Nine and Five, so I hope you can fulfill your promise. As for w.a.n.g Chong… this time, I’ll definitely tear you to pieces!”
(TN: ‘Were all those kings and n.o.bles born into their n.o.bility?’ was supposedly a question asked by Chen Sheng, the leader of the first rebellion against the Qin Dynasty. The question reflects the ambitions of the common folk, and in this case, Fumeng Lingcha’s ambitions.)
With a shake of his hand, Fumeng Lingcha obliterated the letter, and little white flecks of debris poured out from between his fingertips.
A few moments later, horns began to bleakly blare across the western border, heralding the coming war.