Chapter 194: Silent Contest (Part 2) [Volume 3 – The Place Where My Heart Feels At Peace]
The arrogant Broken Winged Angel Corps and Wei clan elite guards became increasingly silent after Wu Zhengnan’s appearance. The latter wasn’t doing anything deliberately, but his every movement brought about an immense amount of invisible pressure.
Only at this point did the young aristocrat Wei Potian realize that those who could stand firmly in Evernight Continent indeed possessed the corresponding capability—individual combat ability was exactly one part of it. He understood that they had indeed taken this matter too simply.
The more experienced Zhang Youheng, on the other hand, was virtually unaffected. He calmly produced a pile of documents and said, “General Wu, we’ve received no small amount of accusations against you, the details of which are all recorded here. Do you need me to read it out loud?”
Wu Zhengnan calmly replied, “Go ahead. Let’s hear what they say.”
Zhang Youheng read everything out loud with an unchanging flat tone. It took him a full ten minutes to finish the accusations despite reading only the concise gist of things.
Qianye felt it to be quite odd after listening to these accusations—Zhang Youheng had listed as much as ten violations of military law, but even Qianye, who had only served the army for less than a year, could understand that most of them were of the dispensable type. For instance, misreporting vacancies, embezzling military supplies, failing to fully exert himself during a certain battle or late reinforcements, etc.
These clauses were indeed written in black and white within the imperial military law, but most of them wouldn’t be thoroughly investigated unless they led to grave consequences. These accusations were common occurrences among the lower level troops. Take “late reinforcements” for instance—not to mention the self-managed armies of the Evernight Continent, even those from the upper continent were often full of conflicts and contradictions. Incidences like half a day’s delay in delivering reinforcements weren't considered a matter of great significance. Besides, it was difficult to prove whether the delay was intentional as the process could easily be influenced by the weather and geography.
Yet, Wu Zhengnan’s actions that had truly trampled upon the empire’s red line such as trading strategic resources and bloodline seedlings weren’t included in Zhang Youheng’s list.
Although the combined punishment he would receive from the dozen petty offenses wasn’t too far off from the two major crimes, Qianye still felt that it was rather absurd that they had foregone pursuing the true crimes and was instead punishing him for some unremarkable misconducts.
After reciting everything, Zhang Youheng said in a cold and mechanical voice, “General Wu, that concludes the complete list of accusations. Do you have any objections? Please come back with us to the Department of Military Affairs for investigation if you have no other arrangements.”
At this moment, the expressions of the 7th division officers became much more relaxed and so did the hostile atmosphere. Yet, Wu Zhengnan didn’t look at anyone—his gaze was fixed on the meeting table, his fingers tapping silently upon it. He only came to moments after he heard Zhang Youheng’s words.
“To the Department of Military Affairs is it…” Wu Zhengnan smiled. “Who else here will be investigated?”
Zhang Youheng opened another document and calmly read out ten names—all of them were junior officers below the level of lieutenant colonel. Not even a single active regimental commander was included.
The 7th division officers were all relieved after the names were announced. It seemed the investigation was targeting Wu Zhengnan personally. As for the few insignificant staff officers, who would care about them? It would be, on the contrary, abnormal for someone of Wu Zhengnan’s status to not have any co-defendants.
Wu Zhengnan was still quite calm. “Have the charges been confirmed?”
Zhang Youheng put away the documents and replied with an impartial expression, “Not yet, these are all accusations. The proper procedures will be followed, and you’ll have one chance to defend yourself.”
“Public or private?”
“Public.” Zhang Youheng’s reply caused everyone else in the 7th division to breath a sigh of relief. Even Wu Zhengnan himself revealed a somewhat relaxed expression.
Qianye, who was sitting at the last row, squinted his eyes as he took in the expressions of everyone in the room. Wei Potian, on the other hand, had almost jumped up near the meeting table but was swiftly restrained by the Wei clan elder beside him. Fortunately, he had also grown calmer in the recent years and actually didn’t flip out.
Zhang Youheng stood up. “General Wu, please see to the necessary arrangements of Blackflow City. You may assign a temporary commander, but the city defenses will be temporarily handed over to the Broken Winged Angels. You, yourself, will rendezvous with me at the airship landing pad outside Blackflow City’s east gate. The destination will be the expeditionary army headquarters. You will bring along all of the previously listed personnel. Additionally, you may bring one squad of guards. That is all.”
Wu Zhengnan stood up and saw Zhang Youheng’s party out of the meeting room. He stood at the door and bid everyone farewell with an exceptionally sincere smile.
Wei Potian wore a long face—he wanted to smash Wu Zhengnan’s old face into a pulp, but he wasn’t dumb. He naturally knew that his fist would likely receive more damage than the latter’s face.
Zhang Youheng didn’t say another word and hurriedly left the division headquarters building. He then got onto a jeep and left along with his subordinates. He didn’t accompany Wei Potian.
Wei Potian’s expression was visibly upset. He jumped into his own jeep and banged the door shut before shouting at that Wei clan elder, “What the f*ck is the meaning of this!? This wasn’t what we agreed on!”
Qianye took his seat beside wei Potian and was, on the contrary, quite calm. He had already vaguely guessed the outline of this matter—the situation at present seemed as if they had started out strong only to reach a weak finish. Wu Zhengnan had seemingly been accused of a dozen or so misconducts but hadn’t been convicted at all. Additionally, he still had one chance to defend himself. Situations like this, before reaching the end, could develop into many other problems.
The location of this so-called public defense was at the expeditionary army headquarters, which meant that the expeditionary army higher-ups could intervene with the investigation. Those minor accusations such as unauthorized mobilization and the wasting of resources could easily become insignificant if, at that time, a certain expeditionary army dignitary was willing to step out and say a few words for him. He might even be able to avoid a direct punishment in the end.
Zhang Youheng’s appointment three days from now was actually giving Wu Zhengnan the time to clean up some loose ends. During this buffer period, the latter could clean up some of the more difficult accusations. When the time comes, the relevant offenses would be left undetermined due to a lack of evidence.
Confronting Wei Potian’s flames of fury, the Wei clan elder replied steadily, “Young master, this is, in fact, the outcome of your original negotiation. Have you forgotten?”
Wei Potian carefully thought back—it seemed there was a mention of such a plan back then. It was also the easiest and most reliable plan. But Zhang Youheng spoke quite ambiguously and didn’t say anything definitely, presenting only a general idea of the scope of his arrangements.
But, recalling this made Wei Potian even more furious. “He did say something like that but he didn’t say every item would be dealt with in the simplest manner! If things were going to end this way, why did I need to negotiate with him!?”
“Young Master, this is the best method. As long as Wu Zhengnan accepts the investigation and leave the 7th division, everything will be much easier to deal with. If he can make the expeditionary army higher-ups acquit him, we can also have the Broken Winged Angel and Imperial Military convict him.”
At this point, the Wei clan elder paused momentarily then said, “Additionally, whether we directly execute this division commander or force him to rebel, this matter has far surpassed the scope of your authority. If we really do this, you’ll likely be placed under greater restrictions by your father in the future.”
“Let him restrict me! This daddy can’t have Wu Zhengnan worm his way out of this!”
The Wei clan elder gestured with his hands. “Young Master, there will be ample time for that later as long as Wu Zhengnan is no longer a division commander.”
Wei Potian seemed as if he wanted to say something but Qianye placed a hand on the former’s shoulder and said, “Potian, that’s enough. It’s already quite difficult to reach this outcome.”
Qianye had already understood the meaning behind the Wei clan’s background arrangements. Their aim all along was merely to drag Wu Zhengnan down with these accusations. They couldn’t care less about a solitary champion who had lost his identity as an expeditionary army major general.
This was quite a circuitous method—it could even be considered ruthless—but it was also a method that would minimize repercussions from all sides. The effect was quite obvious from the reactions of the 7th division officers. Since they all knew that the persecution was targeting only Wu Zhengnan, almost none of them would be willing to join him in a rebellion.
Similarly, those trivial accusations combined would still result in a serious punishment. By omitting the forbidden deals, they could avoid implicating the other divisions and dragging certain powerhouses into this matter. Otherwise, even if they did pin the whole forbidden deal on Wu Zhengnan alone, the expeditionary army higher ups would still be punished for their negligence in their management.
Qianye sighed inwardly after recalling how Song Zining had told him that he was also dealing with certain matters on that side. He only began to truly understand the significance of Song Zining’s actions behind the scenes—he was acting to pull the carpet out from under Wu Zhengnan. The latter definitely wouldn't be able to escape his crimes. The higher ups of the expeditionary army definitely wouldn’t voice their opinion if the verdict was to dismiss and not to execute a major general division commander. Song Zining had likely foreseen the current situation—the political maneuvers of the aristocracy were sometimes shockingly similar.
After figuring out the cause and effect, Qianye suddenly felt even more tired than going through a great battle. Although his experiences today made him feel rather stifled in the chest, he still felt a lingering warmth within his heart. Even though the result of this whole matter was likely to be barely passable, he was no longer fighting alone this time.
Wei Potian’s anger still hadn’t subsided. “But this bastard colluded with the 15th division to kill you!”
Qianye laughed. “This isn’t the first time they wanted to kill me. Am I not fine right now?”
Wei Potian only mumbled a few indistinct words, most likely something about how he would let Wu Zhengnan have it, before calming down.
Wu Zhengnan returned to his office after the group took their leave. He stood before the window and gazed at the city which he had built almost single-handedly.
There was a light knock on the office door.
“Enter.” Wu Zhengnan’s voice was calm and collected. There was only one person who would dare to visit him at such a time.
It was indeed Qi Sicheng who walked in. He arrived at Wu Zhengnan’s back with hasty footsteps before speaking joyfully, “General, this outcome seems quite good!”
Wu Zhengnan revealed a spurious smile, “Do elaborate.”
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3/6 of the week. Enjoy ^_^
TL: Legion, ED: Moxie