Chapter 14: Lu Ting’s Words
The cold wind assaulted Wang Yan as he walked out of King Song Residence. Just like the wind, his heart wasn’t calm at all.
Wang Chong’s words had caused a great storm in his mind.
Wang Yan had to admit that he had wronged his third son, Wang Chong, on this matter. ‘Dynasties changed faster than a person’s nature’, Wang Yan had always thought that his unfilial son had never changed and that he was still causing trouble for him all around.
Yet, if not for Wang Chong’s reminder, Wang Yan would not have known that King Song was already dissatisfied with his contact with Yao Kuang Yi.
Wang Yan was a typical military man, but this didn’t mean that he didn’t know anything at all. As a subordinate, the greatest taboo one could commit was to misspeak before his superior.
If the several generations of goodwill between the Song and Wang Clan were to be destroyed from a single wrong phrase that he said, he would have truly sinned.
Even so, Wang Yan still found it hard to believe what Wang Chong said.
“How is that possible? Yao Kuang Yi was scheming against me?”
Wang Yan lifted his head to stare at the sky and sighed. Wang Chong had claimed that Yao Kuang Yi wanted to harm him, but Wang Yan still found it hard to believe his words.
All he and Yao Kuang Yi did was to have a casual meeting and drink together. They didn’t even speak of anything during the gathering, so how could Yao Kuang Yi have harmed him?
Could meeting one another and drinking wine be his way of harming him?
——Wasn’t this way too easy and ridiculous then?
Wang Yan shook his head, perplexed over the situation. Just as he was contemplating over the matter, didada, the sound of the trotting of a horse echoed from the streets.
Wang Yan looked up and saw a majestic black steed rushing toward him.
“Is this General Wang Yan?”
On the back of the steed, a general with a flag behind him bellowed from afar.
“Indeed! What’s wrong?”
Wang Yan narrowed his eyes and an austere look appeared on his face.
“The Military Department had decreed for general to immediately return back to your campground!”
The black mustached general had an indifferent face. His wrist jerked and a red token flew toward Wang Yan. Then, without saying another word, he turned his steed around and galloped into the distance. The sound of the trotting of the horse soon faded away.
Wang Yan caught the red token and upon seeing the word ‘Flame’ on it, his face immediately darkened.
Military orders are not to be disobeyed. The word ‘Flame’ on the deployment token by the Military Department meant that it was extremely urgent, and from the instant he received the token, he had to hurry back to the camp he was deployed at without stopping at all.
“The third matter!”
Wang Yan looked at the token in his hands as a storm broke out in his head.
He had just met King Song and before even stepping out of the entrance of the King Song Residence, the deployment order from the Military Department really came. The timing was exactly as Wang Chong had put it.
This was really inconceivable!
Wang Yan had no idea how Wang Chong knew of it.
The doubt in Wang Yan’s heart intensified. Yao Kuang Yi and Wang Chong… There were too much mysteries contained within the affairs of the two.
“Right now, there is only one last thing…”
Wang Yan thought as he recalled the matter Wang Chong had said about ‘retreating 50 li‘. The Hu hadn’t invaded the part of the border where he was deployed at for many years now.
Wang Yan was unable to comprehend why his third son Wang Chong was so insistent on having him retreat 50 li upon meeting with the invasion of the Hu.
No matter, it felt completely inconceivable. If it was in the past, Wang Yan would not have taken it seriously. But right now, Wang Yan had no choice but to take his words seriously and contemplate over the matter.
“No matter what, everything will be revealed when I reach the borders!”
Keeping the token in his embrace, Wang Yan walked down the steps of King Song Residence’s entrance. Instead of returning back to the Wang Clan Residence, he headed straight for the military camp.
“Zheng Yuan has switched allegiance!”
Almost at the same moment as Wang Yan’s departure, in King Song Residence, King Song’s face darkened from intense anger. King Song wasn’t entirely truthful with Wang Yan. Actually, the King Song Residence had not obtained the letter written by Wang Yan.
However, the letter was definitely sent to the King Song Residence.
“Yet another person who decided to side with King Qi!”
The old butler’s complexion wasn’t too well either. After Wang Yan’s letter reached King Song Residence, one of the aides under King Song, named Zheng Yuan, took it away. There were simply too many people who had betrayed King Song for King Qi during this period of time.
Without a doubt, Zheng Yuan was also one of them.
“Those darned men! I had treated them well, yet they repaid me with such ingratitude!”
King Song clenched his fists tightly and indescribable wrath warped his face. He was by no means a skeptical person, but King Qi had to been going around to persuade those around him to his side.
Upon seeing that the odds were in King Qi’s favor, those around him chose to switch allegiance. Under such circumstances, King Song had no choice but to doubt the loyalty of his subordinates and aides.
“It was a pity that I had falsely doubted Wang Yan over this matter despite his loyalty toward me.”
King Song felt guilty.
“Your Highness, there is no need for you to blame yourself. Yao Kuang Yi is a confidant of King Qi and Wang Yan’s action of meeting him secretly in the Vast Crane Pavilion at such a moment was indeed suspicious, it was normal for Your Highness to cast doubt on his loyalty. However, it is still too early to tell whether the Wang Clan is truly innocent or not. The children of the Wang and Yao Clan might have had a conflict in the pavilion, but it is too early to tell whether they were simply going to the extremities to hide their alliance! ——Surely Your Highness haven’t forgotten about the affair with Zhou Chang back then?”
The old butler spoke impassively.
Hearing these words, King Song’s face darkened. The matter with Zhou Chang happened in the era of the previous emperor. Due to this matter, many of the officials in the royal court had been demoted. In fact, even King Song’s father was implicated and he was imprisoned in the Imperial Prison for three months straight, almost staying there for life.
The heritage of King Song was almost stripped of the nobility due to that incident!
Thus, King Song had an extremely deep impression of that matter!
“You’re saying that…”
King Song’s face twitched. A frown returned to his face and he fell into contemplation.
“Your humble servant isn’t hinting at anything. Your Highness is a magnanimous person, and if the Wang Clan is truly loyal, that would be for the best. However, Your Highness should still remain guarded against them. After all, a human’s heart is unfathomable. If the Wang Clan was truly framed for this matter, Your Highness could simply make amendments to them then. However, it wasn’t wise to come to a hasty conclusion at this moment.”
The old butler continued impassively.
King Song was magnanimous, but as the butler of the King Song Residence, he had served several generations of King Song. He had seen too many schemes and ploys in the royal court.
Friends do not last forever, only profits do. As the butler of the King Song Residence, he was only loyal to King Song’s profits.
“Hehe, isn’t it an easy task to uncover the truth?”
After a moment of silence, King Song suddenly chuckled.
“Your Highness is speaking of Academic Lu?”
The old butler seemed to have guessed what he was thinking about.
“Un, didn’t Academic Lu head to the Vast Crane Pavilion along with Bao Xuan? The truth would be clear after we ask him about it.”
King Song nodded his head solemnly as a look of respect appeared on his face. He had already received news that Lu Ting was waiting outside.
“Paying respects to King Song.”
After a moment, a figure walked in. Lu Ting was dressed in a white scholarly robe, and he bowed deeply to King Song, who was sitting at the top of the main hall.
“Academic Lu, I have heard that you have gone to Vast Crane Pavilion as well?”
King Song asked. There was a single person in the royal court that he would not doubt, and that was Lu Ting. It was not only because Lu Ting was honest, righteous, and would not betray him.
More than that, Lu Ting had once saved his life.
Back then, he wasn’t King Song and he didn’t have the standing he had now. Back then, due to an incident, he was suspected of organizing a rebellion.
At that moment, Duke Jiu was being deployed at the borders to deal with the Turkic Khaganate. Back then, the war was currently heated up and he was unable to divert his attention to other matters. On the other hand, in the royal court, no one was willing to speak up for him for fear of being implicated into the matter as well.
Yet, Lu Ting, who was just promoted an academic then, despite the risk of angering the new emperor and being framed as one of the rebels, admonished the emperor and tried to persuade him otherwise through logic.
He even followed the new emperor all the way to his Back Palace and knocked his head on the pillar so as to show his sincerity, nearly killing himself in the midst of doing so.
It was precisely because of Lu Ting’s persistent admonishment, to the point of even giving up his life for it, that the emperor paid great importance to the matter and conducted another trial, thus cleansing King Song of his blame and saving his life.
As that incident occurred in the Back Palace, not many people knew of it. Also, Lu Ting did not go around bragging about the matter, not even speaking of it before King Song. In fact, King Song only knew of the matter when the new emperor told him of it.
After that, King Song had alway been highly respectful of Lu Ting and often listened to his advice openly!
“Un, Bao Xuan invited me over. Not only did I go there, I even witnessed an interesting affair occurring. Even if Your Highness were not to ask me about the affair, I would also speak of it.”
Lu Ting smiled.
“Oh? Tell me about it.”
A gleam flashed across King Song’s eyes and his interest was suddenly piqued.
He knew of Lu Ting’s personality, and for the righteous academic to describe something as interesting, the matter was definitely extraordinary!
“Your Highness should be aware that the Wang Clan siblings and Yao Clan’s Yao gongzi had a conflict at the Vast Crane Pavilion, right?”
Lu Ting chuckled.
“Un, I know of it. However, I am not too clear of the happenings. Could it be that they are involved to the matter Academic Lu is going to talk about?”
King Song was curious.
Initially, he intended to call Lu Ting over to ask him about the matter regarding Yao Kuang Yi and Wang Yan. Yet, after hearing Lu Ting speak of the children of the two clans, he forgot about his primary motive.
Lu Ting didn’t hide anything and spoke of everything that he had heard about the two siblings outside the Vast Crane Pavilion. Especially the conversation between Wang Chong and Bao Xuan, he elaborated on it with great details.
On the other hand, he simply brushed through the matter with Wang Yan that King Song was concerned about.
At the very start, King Song was only slightly interested in the matter and treated it as just a pastime. But eventually, he was entirely absorbed into his story.
“That is to say, Bao Xuan had also betrayed me for King Qi.”
King Song’s complexion darkened tremendously. He had intended to ask about Wang Yan’s matter, but he didn’t expect to hear about Bao Xuan betraying him instead. Without a doubt, this was a blow to King Song.
“Hehe, there is actually no need for Your Highness to be overly concerned with the matter about Bao Xuan. Bao Xuan wasn’t the first one to betray Your Highness, and he wouldn’t be the last either. Since that’s the case, why be bothered by it?”
Lu Ting smiled faintly. He wasn’t as vexed as King Song was:
“When the tree falls, the monkeys will scatter. What that should go will eventually go, it is a futile attempt to try to retain them. On the other hand, those who should stay will not leave in the end.”
“Those who left for King Qi would be a potential threat even if they were to stay here. If so, why not just let them leave. It is just like how the Wang Clan’s Third Young Master Wang Chong put it, ‘The one who laughs in the end is the winner’. The match hasn’t come to an end yet, so why should King Song feel disheartened? These are also the words I would like to convey to King Song for my journey here.”
“Despite Your Highness having so many subordinates beside you, in my opinion, their experience and worldly view may not be able to match up to the fifteen-year-old Wang Chong.”
Hearing Lu Ting’s words, King Song couldn’t help but chuckle. Even the old butler, whose face was tensed up previously, relaxed slightly. Somehow, they felt goodwill toward the young man whom they had yet to come into contact with.
“‘The one who laughs in the end is the winner’ Heh, well said! Academic Lu, what you said is true. Not just Bao Xuan and the rest, even I am far from a match for him. Wang Yan sure has a good son!”
King Song chuckled. Somehow, despite having yet to meet that linguistically adept fifteen-year-old young man, he had borne a good impression or him. Under such a situation, with those beside him betraying and leaving him, to be able to hear words of support from a seemingly immature young child was somehow relieving.
Standing by the side, Lu Ting also heaved a sigh of relief upon seeing a smile appearing on King Song’s face.
After serving for King Song for many years, he was well aware of the difficult situation he was undergoing now. He sincerely hoped that he would be able to tide through this difficult time.
“Hehe, speaking of that Wang Family’s third son, Lord Lu seems to have a favorable impression of him?”
King Song looked at Lu Ting and chuckled.
Lu Ting didn’t try to avoid the topic and admitted to it frankly before King Song:
“It is truly rare for someone of Wang Chong’s age to have such knowledge and an open mindset. His future will surely be bright and unlimited in the future. Perhaps he might even become one of the most powerful officials in the royal court. Given the relationship between Wang Clan and King Song, when another talent emerges from the Wang Clan, King Song will find another great aide beside him in the future. Isn’t this something to be delighted over?”
“Lord Lu has such a high evaluation of that Wang Clan siblings?”
King Song frowned. He was truly surprised by Lu Ting’s reaction.
“Your Highness, if Wang Chong had only seen through Bao Xuan’s disguise, it could only mean that he was intelligent. Even though such talents are not really common, it wasn’t difficult to find them in the capital. Furthermore, even without this matter, if I’m not wrong, Your Highness should have been suspicious of Bao Xuan already.”
Lu Ting said.
“There is still some other reason behind it?”
King Song frowned in incomprehension.
“Even though it seems like the Wang Clan siblings had wrecked Yao Kuang Yi and Wang Yan’s meeting due to the matter with Ma Zhou, somehow, I get a gut feeling that the matter isn’t as simple as it looks on the surface.”
Lu Ting hesitated for a moment before speaking.
King Song was taken aback. Even that placid old butler beside him couldn’t help but frown, revealing his shock. Even though Lu Ting hadn’t phrased it out explicitly, it was clear that if the siblings had intentionally decided to wreck havoc in the Vast Crane Pavilion, the entire meaning of it would change.
If that was true, Lu Ting’s evaluation wasn’t excessive at all. In fact, it might even be an underestimation of their talents.
“Academic Lu, why would you think so?”
King Song sat up and asked with a serious expression. When Lu Ting spoke of this matter, he had been treating it as though a squabble between kids. However, at this point, the tone of the matter had changed completely.
I translated Lu Ting and Bao Xuan’s position as scribes previously. After some consideration, academic should be slightly more accurate.
As for the token, it is actually an arrow-shaped token that looks like this.
Also, I will be dropping all third person method of address, methods of address that makes one seem regal. For example, kings address themselves as 本王 (benwang i.e. I, the King) while emperors address themselves as 朕 (zhen, just an address they use)
Some changes I have made to the previous chapter:
- Lu Ting and Bao Xuan aren’t physicians, they are advisors/academics. (The word for the two just happened to be the same. I found it weird and looked into it. I have left a small note explaining it in Chapter 11)
- The Hu Tribe will be just termed as the Hu. Hu is a phrase commonly used to refer to all foreigners so it will be weird to term them as a tribe