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Edited by: Michyrr
"Heh, let them go!"
w.a.n.g Chong waved his sleeve and chuckled, not worried in the slightest.
As someone who had been reincarnated, he had experienced both the cold and warmth of human emotion, so he didn't care that much about such things. In fact, he had expected this.
"How many are left?" w.a.n.g Chong calmly said.
"There are still seven hundred and thirty-eight clans!" Old Eagle said. "These are all great clans who have worked with us for a long period of time!"
This number took w.a.n.g Chong by some surprise. It was much greater than he had expected.
"Why didn't they all leave?"
"I asked them the same question, and they answered that all the people of the world have witnessed the abilities of the King of Foreign Lands, and this momentary setback could not be considered much of anything. All of them believe that Your Highness will rise again and ascend to an even higher position in the future," Old Eagle said, his body bowed.
"Heh, it's probably all for their own profit!"
w.a.n.g Chong laughed, but despite his words, he still felt a hint of warmth in his heart.
The people who could remain at his side at a time like this were all true allies.
"Pa.s.s on my order. Tell them that each clan should send one elder as a representative. After the Zi Period, have them come to my residence. We have a new project that requires their cooperation," w.a.n.g Chong said.
"Yes! Your Highness!" Old Eagle hastily replied.
"Zhang Que, make preparations. The hybrid rice project has been prepared for long enough that it should finally be ready to be implemented! But this matter will need the a.s.sistance of the great clans. Inform Xu Keyi and the others to prepare a set of contracts for each clan head to individually sign. This will a.s.sure their secrecy, as this matter cannot be leaked to outsiders. In addition, tell all the clans we are working with to prepare several large warehouses to hold grain. Once we begin to promote the hybrid rice to the world, we should immediately begin to buy up large amounts to stockpile it. Besides that, we also need to be buying up cows and sheep and other foodstuffs from the surrounding countries. In the future, these things will be able to save all of our lives."
Old Eagle and Zhang Que were both startled by these words, and they instinctively felt that there was some kind of hidden danger.
No one understood what w.a.n.g Chong meant when he said that these things would save everyone's lives, but they could tell that w.a.n.g Chong was preparing for something. Moreover, this was undoubtedly a matter of extreme importance, or else he would not require the a.s.sistance of so many great clans.
He even needed secret warehouses to be constructed.
But despite their confusion, the two of them did not inquire any further. No matter when, no matter how excessive w.a.n.g Chong's orders seemed, they would never question them.
"In addition, are Su Hanshan and Li Siye both at the triangular gap?" w.a.n.g Chong asked.
"Yes! Generals Su and Li have already sent a letter saying that they plan to return to the Qixi Protectorate headquarters soon," Old Eagle said.
"The plan has changed. Tell them that there's no need for them to return to Qixi. Have them remain with all the Wushang Cavalry at the triangular gap and work together with Bahram to train soldiers. Tell Bahram to recruit soldiers from Khorasan and send them to the triangular gap. We will handle the duty of training them.
"Tell Great General Gao Xianzhi and the Gangke King to think of a way to select elites from the Anxi Protectorate army and the tribes of the Western Regions. Prepare to have them trained as Mo Saber soldiers at the triangular gap," w.a.n.g Chong sternly said.
A gust of wind blew in, causing w.a.n.g Chong's robes to flutter and snap. As he gazed into the darkening skies, his eyes seemed incredibly deep and farsighted.
"We obey!" Old Eagle and Zhang Que replied in unison.
The Great Tang could no longer tolerate him. The moment the First Prince had rejected the proposal to send soldiers to Khorasan, w.a.n.g Chong knew that the Sage Emperor had completely withdrawn and that there was no hope of ever realizing his aspirations through the Imperial Court.
The impeachment of w.a.n.g Chong and the stripping of his posts had been a victory for Li Junxian, but for w.a.n.g Chong, it had been a release.
Overall, the Imperial Court had never been his only choice when it came to saving the Central Plains, to saving the world.
Even without the support of the Imperial Court, w.a.n.g Chong had still dared to venture into the southwest with only several thousand men. After taking ten million taels of gold and without any further support from the Imperial Court, he had dared to recruit an army of one hundred thousand soldiers in the Western Regions and set off for Talas.
There had never been only one road to save the Great Tang.
If he couldn't do so through the court, he would just have to take a detour so that he could save the country.
The triangular gap was a no-man's land that was not within the Central Plains. No matter how many soldiers appeared there, they were not under the jurisdiction of the Imperial Court. Not even Li Junxian could interfere.
Since the Imperial Court wanted to reduce the army and w.a.n.g Chong could do nothing to stop it, all he could do was train soldiers outside the borders to create one last line of defense for the Great Tang.
"Pa.s.s on my order. If the soldiers being disbanded from the various armies do not wish to return home, have them gather at the triangular gap. In addition, I've already finished the negotiations with the Kings of Greater and Lesser Balur. We can set up military forts in their territory. One reason is to help them fight back against the Tibetans, and the second reason is to train soldiers out of sight of the Imperial Court. If too many soldiers gather in the triangular gap and remain there for too long, they will attract far too many spies."
Old Eagle and Zhang Que were both stunned. Not even they had known that w.a.n.g Chong had negotiated the construction of forts in the territories of Greater and Lesser Balur.
w.a.n.g Chong did not explain any further, but with money, one could do anything that one liked. The Kings of Greater and Lesser Balur had their own worries, and their greatest worry was the nearby Ü-Tsang Empire.
These two kingdoms had been attacked and ruled over by Ü-Tsang innumerable times. Given how they had worked together once, his promise to protect the two kingdoms and the additional sweetener of gold had both kingdoms agree to demarcate a large area on the border between the kingdoms for w.a.n.g Chong to build a fortress.
And the two kingdoms had agreed that w.a.n.g Chong could mobilize the armies of both kingdoms under certain conditions.
"In addition, notify all the boat-building clans of the south. I will give them two hundred million taels of gold. I need to construct thirteen hundred large-keeled s.h.i.+ps. I have already provided them with the diagrams. These boats must be finished as quickly as possible. And the clans that finish their boats first will be able to obtain an additional reward of ten million taels of gold from us," w.a.n.g Chong calmly said.
Zhang Que and Old Eagle glanced at each other, both of them seeing the shock in the other's eyes.
Two hundred million taels was an enormous sum. This much capital was enough to make all the boat-building clans of the southeast go crazy.
A ma.s.sive great clan working for an entire year would be astounded if it made one hundred thousand taels of gold. The immense sums of money w.a.n.g Chong was offering were difficult for any great clan to resist.
"But, Your Highness, might two hundred million taels be too much?" Zhang Que hesitantly said.
Although w.a.n.g Chong had kept much of the gold obtained from Arab Caliph Mutasim III, two hundred million taels of gold was still no small sum.
"There's no need to worry about that. Money is only useful when spent, and we will need many boats in the future. The value of them might even be more than two hundred million taels of gold," w.a.n.g Chong said.
All these boats and his other plans were the final hope of survival that w.a.n.g Chong was preparing for the world. Moreover, many boats would be needed to transport the Sindhi.
"Yes!" Old Eagle and Zhang Que replied in unison.
w.a.n.g Chong continued to issue numerous orders. Finally, after a little less than thirty minutes, Old Eagle and Zhang Que emerged from w.a.n.g Chong's room. A few moments later, countless birds took off into the air, scattering in all directions.
As time slowly progressed, everything proceeded according to plan.
And amidst the people, the news of w.a.n.g Chong's impeachment only intensified the ideological conflict. After it was learned that w.a.n.g Chong had privately recruited soldiers and opened the armory without the Sage Emperor's decree, many voices arose in criticism and rebuke of him.
"Did all of you see the Imperial Court's announcement? You see!? The Great Tang's laws forbid any great clan from recruiting more than one thousand soldiers, but the King of Foreign Lands has recruited far more than ten thousand. And still no one knows exactly how many soldiers he's actually recruited. In this peaceful age, why is he recruiting so many soldiers? You should all understand now why he wanted to write his 'Might Makes Right', right?"
"Sovereigns, subjects, fathers, sons—every person has their own duty in society. This is the principle of the world. Yet the King of Foreign Lands, without the decree of the Sage Emperor, opened up an armory of the Great Tang, emptying out the armory that the Sage Emperor wasted thirty years to fill. Does the King of Foreign Lands still have any regard for the Sage Emperor? If he doesn't even have any regard for the Sage Emperor, does he even care about the people of the realm?"
"Privately recruiting soldiers and defying imperial decree to open the armory—what sort of hero is this? This is nothing more than an ambitious Demon King of Slaughter plotting rebellion! The King of Foreign Lands wants war, wants to cast the entire world into the fire. He has no intention of letting us live peaceful lives!"
In a restaurant in the western part of the capital, many people had gathered and were voicing various complaints and rebukes against w.a.n.g Chong.
"Don't speak nonsense! The King of Foreign Lands is not that sort of person. If not for the King of Foreign Lands, the southwest would be occupied by Mengshe Zhao and Ü-Tsang by now, and countless people would have been slain in battle!"
A rational voice would occasionally emerge, but it would quickly be drowned out by the crowd. And the pus.h.i.+ng and shoving of several people quickly had these naysayers expelled.
Whoos.h.!.+ Whoos.h.!.+ As the anger of the crowd reached its peak and they began to ever more loudly rebuke the King of Foreign Lands, several figures made strange smiles and withdrew. These people rambled around the streets of the capital for a few rounds before making a sudden turn, silently vanis.h.i.+ng into an estate.