Chapter 273: The Crux, Xianyu Zhongtong!
He already had his hands full with the matters of the royal court. If there were to be severe objections from the military as well, the chances that he could become the new Minister of War would become extremely low.
"May I know if Brother Jiexin has any plan in mind?" Zhangchou Jianqiong asked.
"Even though it won't be easy, it isn't like there isn't any hope in this matter. Of the remaining sixty percent, ten percent lies with King Qi, ten percent with the current Prime Minister, and forty percent with His Majesty. If Brother Zhangchou can convince His Majesty of this, nearly no one would be able to stop you anymore. But before that, it would be best for Brother Zhangchou to avoid agitating Fumeng Lingcha, Go Seonji, and Zhang Shougui so as to prevent any unnecessary problems."
"Once the verdict is out, Brother Zhangchou can sleep easy," Wang Gen smiled. He could only offer these words of advice to Zhangchou Jianqiong. After all, the one who was after the promotion was him.
If he couldn't even do this much, no one would be able to help him.
"Hahaha, I understand. Brother Jiexin, thank you for your enlightenment!"
Zhangchou Jianqiong's eyes lit up as the furrow on his forehead softened. There was no need for him to worry about the forty percent from the Sage Emperor at all.
The forty percent from the Sage Emperor and the forty percent from his qualifications would give him an eighty percent chance at success. That was sufficient for him.
Thinking so, Zhangchou Jianqiong glanced at Yang Zhao silently, and the duo exchanged meaningful gazes.
As the saying went, "the mind of an emperor is unfathomable". Typically speaking, convincing the Sage Emperor should be the most difficult of all.
However, to Zhangchou Jianqiong, it was instead his trump card.
Consort Taizhen was currently in favor with the Sage Emperor, and for her, the Sage Emperor was even willing to make enemies with more than half of the entire royal court. As long as Consort Taizhen spoke up for him, the forty percent from the Sage Emperor was a done deal.
"Since Brother Zhangchou intends to enter the royal court, how do you intend to deal with Annan? The promotion of a Protector-General is not a small matter. If the handover of the position isn't settled properly, it could possibly lead a gap in our defenses. While it's fine for Brother Zhangchou to step forward, you must ensure that no problems crop up behind you!" Wang Gen said.
With his eyes set on the position of the Minister of War, it was very easy for him to neglect the handover of authority by the army at the border. A failure to ensure a smooth transition of authority could lead to many severe implications.
Should any matter crop up right behind Zhangchou Jianqiong at this moment, his dream of becoming the Minister of War would be shattered instantly. No one, not even Consort Taizhen, would be able to reverse the situation then.
Any matter regarding the military was no joke. As long as Zhangchou Jianqiong hadn't become the Minister of War yet, it would be his responsibility to ensure the security of the border.
"Hahaha, I've brought my successor to the position of Southern Protector-General here. Zhongtong, stand up and greet Lord Wang," Zhangchou Jianqiong said as he turned to the brawny, tanned man to his left.
"Yes, l-lord!" With his name being called, that brawny man quickly stood up in a near-panic. It seemed like he had never participated in this kind of gathering before.
""X-Xianyu Zhongtong pays respect to Lord Wang!"
Wang Chong's body suddenly jolted violently, and he hurriedly turned his head over to take a look.
So he's Xianyu Zhongtong!!, Many thoughts flashed across Wang Chong's mind as he looked at the brawny, tanned figure.
Other than Zhangchou Jianqiong, the two people whom Wang Chong wanted to meet in this banquet were Xianyu Zhongtong and Zhang Wentuo.
Initially, Wang Chong thought that Xianyu Zhongtong wasn't around, but to think that the wooden-faced, restrained man who had been drinking silently all this while was actually the future Southern Protector-General, Xianyu Zhongtong!
Wang Chong assessed the future Protector-General before him. Darkly tanned and broad-shouldered, the other man carried the powerful and candid disposition of a military man. However, his wooden expression seemed to suggest his lack of adaptability. In Wang Chong's view, the other party didn't seem to be suited to serve as the highest commander.
Is this the successor Zhangchou Jianqiong chose for himself? Wang Chong shook his head.
Every single general and Protector-General in Great Tang was an outstanding individual who could command an army to stand their own ground against any enemy.
But Wang Chong couldn't see such a quality in Xianyu Zhongtong.
Putting aside established military commanders such as Fumeng Lingcha, Geshu Han, Go Seonji, and Zhang Shougui, Xianyu Zhongtong seemed to pale far in comparison even against Yao Guang Yi and his peers.
At the very least, Yao Guang Yi did possess considerable talent in formations and scheming, a quality that the middle-aged man before him was unlikely to have.
"Haha, Zhongtong's surname is Xiang, but we are all used to calling him Xianyu Zhongtong. He is a veteran general who has been with me for many years in Annan. While his capability isn't on par with other Protector-Generals such as Zhang Shougui and Fumeng Lingcha, he possesses aptitude in defense.
"I once conducted a rehearsal with him, and even if I were to lead an army against him personally and go all out in offense, it would still be difficult for me to defeat him. He's more than suitable to take over my position.
"Besides, it has been a decade since any major battle in Annan. What it needs at the moment is defense, not offense. Given Zhongtong's ability, even if Ü-Tsang and Erhai were to invade, he would surely be able to fend them off with ease."
Zhangchou Jianqiong patted Xianyu Zhongtong's back with glee. With a defensive general like Xianyu Zhongtong and the army of 180,000 elites he had groomed, he was confident in Annan's defenses.
Besides, given the current peace Annan was enjoying, it was better to stand their ground rather than to engage in offense. After all, the more one did, the more openings one would expose.
Not to mention, an offensive general would also be likely to be filled with ambition, and thus be more difficult to keep reined-in.
Thus, Zhangchou Jianqiong was rather satisfied with his arrangements.
Through a loyal defense general like Xianyu Zhongtong, Zhangchou Jianqiong would be able to guard his "establishment" and solidify his power.
While looking at this from the side, Wang Chong's worry intensified.
As a capable general of the capital, the Southern Protector-General, Zhangchou Jianqiong did possess a sharp eye in matters relating to the military. He definitely didn't choose Xianyu Zhongtong out of recklessness.
But this did little to alleviate Wang Chong's fears.
Zhangchou Jianqiong only chose Xianyu Zhongtong because he was an excellent defense general who could guard his power base. Never in his dreams would he expect that Xianyu Zhongtong would one day leave the territory which he was well aware of to take the offense.
Just imagine what would happen if a general specializing in defense were to go on the offense, something he had no expertise in whatsoever.
"General Xianyu need not stand on ceremony. Since Brother Zhangchou believes that you have the capability to become the Southern Protector-General, there should be no problem regarding this matter," Wang Gen nodded.
He was a governmental official, not a military official. As such, he didn't think too much into Zhangchou Jianqiong's selection of Xianyu Zhongtong as his successor.
The previous Protector-General did possess the right to recommend their successor. For example, the current imperial tutor of the crown prince, Wang Zhongsi, recommended Geshu Han, and Fumeng Lingcha also recommended Go Seonji. This was the usual practice.
Naturally, Zhangchou Jianqiong also wielded this privilege.
"Also, this is Wang Chong, Wang gongzi. Don't underestimate Wang gongzi just because he's young. With his prestige and fame, there's no one in the capital that doesn't know his name. Despite his young age, he has already met the Sage Emperor. There is less than a handful of those in his generation that can rival him. Hehe, there will only be benefits to getting along with Wang gongzi."
Unexpectedly, Zhangchou Jianqiong started to introduce Wang Chong as well.
"Lord, I am unworthy of your compliments. I'm just a recruit studying in Kunwu Training Camp at the moment, and I am without any military rank yet. I don't live up to lord's excessive praises," Wang Chong hurriedly replied.
Zhangchou Jianqiong and Xianyu Zhongtong were both influential figures in the military; one of them was the future Minister of War, whereas the other was the future Southern Protector-General. Given Wang Chong's current standing, how could he possibly accept such compliments from the other party?
"Wang gongzi, pleased to meet you."
Opposite him, Xianyu Zhongtong turned around and bowed to Wang Chong respectfully after hearing Zhangchou Jianqiong's words. He was so polite that Wang Chong was starting to feel embarrassed.
"Lord Xianyu is too polite." Wang Chong hurriedly stood up and bowed back.
"Zhongtong, Wang gongzi possesses incredible means in the capital. It's your first time coming into contact with politics, so it's natural for you to be unaware of many things. Should you find yourself in a bind, you should consult Wang gongzi," Zhangchou Jianqiong gestured to Wang Chong as he spoke.
"Hahaha, Brother Xianyu, Lord Zhangchou is right. Wang gongzi is a person who can even move King Song. There's no mistake in getting close to him," Yang Zhao chirped in as well.
He was Wang Chong's sworn brother. Even though they couldn't make this relationship known on the surface, Zhangchou Jianqiong was aware of it.
Given that Zhangchou Jianqiong thought so highly of his brother, Yang Zhao also felt proud as well. In a sense, it was indeed his accomplishment in convincing Wang Chong to ally with them.
"Wang gongzi, I'll be counting on you in the future," Xianyu Zhongtong hurriedly said as he glanced at Wang Chong.
As a purebred military man, this was the first time Xianyu Zhongtong was in the capital, as well as his first time coming into contact with high-ranking officials and nobility.
Even though he was introverted and reticent, he was definitely no fool.
The young man before him was the favored scion of a prestigious clan of generals and ministers. Just the very birthright of the other party placed him a far higher position than many others. It was likely that he would become a high-ranking official or be conferred as a noble in the future.
Not to mention, this young man was a rare genius as well.
Xianyu Zhongtong was aware that this humble young man opposite him was the greatest contributor as to why the Protector-General was able to enter the capital.
"Hahaha, we're all brothers, there's no need for you to be so modest," Yang Zhao laughed heartily.
"Come. let's drink!"
Once again, wine cups clinked against one another, and a joyful mood returned to the room.
"Lord Zhangchou, there's a gap in the defenses of the Southern Protectorate Manor at the moment. If Ü-Tsang were to make use of this opportunity to strike, what will the protectorate do? Can the Southern Protectorate Manor stand its ground?"
Suddenly, a discordant voice sounded. In an instant, the entire room plunged into silence.
However, after seeing where the discordant voice came from, Yang Zhao, Wang Gen, Xianyu Zhongtong, and everyone else were dumbfounded.
Zhangchou Jianqiong glanced at Wang Chong, and his brow furrowed slightly. He didn't expect the one who had just spoken to be Wang Chong.
"Chong-er, what are you doing?! Lord Zhangchou is Protector-General of the Southern Protectorate Manor, do you think that you would not have considered such a possibility? Do you think that it's necessary for you to point it out?" Wang Gen chastized sharply.
Wang Chong's words were truly very offending.
If taken lightly, he was disrespecting Zhangchou Jianqiong as the Southern Protector-General. However, if one were to dig deeper into it, he could be considered to be cursing Zhangchou Jianqiong.
Zhangchou Jianqiong had come to the capital filled with ambition, and yet, Wang Chong had to point out something inauspicious at this moment, spoiling the other party's mood.
However, Wang Chong continued staring at Zhangchou Jianqiong with ardent eyes. He knew his big uncle was asking him to back down.
But Wang Chong couldn't do so now.
It was impossible to talk Zhangchou Jianqiong out of becoming the Minister of War now; he would only view anyone who tried to stop him as his mortal enemy.
On the other hand, the candidate whom Zhangchou Jianqiong had chosen after deep consideration couldn't possibly be changed that easily. Without a doubt, Xianyu Zhongtong would become the next Southern Protector-General.
All paths were sealed.
Thus, Wang Chong could only use his own forceful way to attempt changing destiny.
This way might offend and displease some, but he had no choice!
The opportunity was already in his hands. Zhangchou Jianqiong, Xianyu Zhongtong, Yang Zhao, and the generals of Jiannan were all here...
If Wang Chong didn't try to do something now, his heart would never be at ease.