Chapter 1953: The Yan Residence!
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
Sovereigns had a special status, and the records related to them were of extreme importance, demanding completeness. One could say that the history of the Central Plains was created by joining together the reigns of different sovereigns.
And the records of a sovereign's actions were even more important. Even when the sovereign was in his bed chamber, there was a eunuch posted outside to record his deeds. From this, one could see just how rigorous the records were.
But now, the records of the Sage Emperor, one of the wisest sovereigns in the history of the Central Plains and the Great Tang's most outstanding Emperor, were incomplete, the important information pertaining to his life before his ascendance to the throne missing. This was simply inconceivable.
Wang Chong subconsciously glanced at Xu Qiqin, and they could see the shock in each other's eyes.
"No wonder Old Master Yao was so ambiguous with his words. It seems that he was referring to this?"
Xu Qiqin looked like a fairy in her white dress, and her eyes shone with intelligence.
In Four Quarters Embassy, Old Master Yao had told Wang Chong to search the palace records from thirty-some years ago. At the time, the two of them had not understood, but now, the historical records of the Sage Emperor seemed highly suspicious.
"The palace records are different from the records kept by the historians, and not even historians can defy the laws. In addition, the historical records kept in the palace are very special. Not only are there particular people meant to keep records, the records are guarded by the Imperial Army, and outsiders have an extremely difficult time gaining entry. In addition, once the records are taken, not even major officials have the authority to review or edit them. Right now, ten-some scrolls' worth of the Sage Emperor's records have gone missing. This is far from normal!"
Wang Chong frowned as he solemnly spoke.
"The question is why and who would do this!"
Xu Qiqin's brows knitted together.
The recording and compiling of a sovereign's history had nothing to do with the court or any factional dispute, and these were records from decades ago. Who would go out of their way to steal or destroy them?
Moreover, the records of the other Emperors were all complete. Why was it only the Sage Emperor's records that were incomplete?
More importantly, this was somehow connected to the Sage Emperor's recent abnormal acts. What was Old Master Yao hinting at?
At this moment, the minds of the pair were buzzing with countless theories.
The major shifts taking place in the realm and within the court were growing more and more incomprehensible.
Before this, neither of them would have ever imagined that all of this went back as far as thirty-some years, nor had they imagined that the records of the Sage Emperor would ever go missing.
Destroying important records in the palace carried the death penalty. Who could possibly be so bold as to do such a thing?
Heavy layers of fog swept in, and the people in the hall fell silent.
After a few moments of thought, Xu Qiqin suddenly raised her head.
"Although I don't know what secret is hidden in those missing records, there's still another way of finding records from thirty-some years ago!"
Wang Chong nodded, and the two of them spoke in unison:
"The Yan Residence."
The records in the palace primarily related to the words and actions of the Princes and Princesses, including how well they did in their homework, the teachers that taught them, and the question-and-answer sessions with the sovereign.
Of course, the daily life and conduct of the sovereign was also recorded.
Many of these incidents took place in the palace, where the historians had no access.
However, so long as the Princes and Princesses took part in activities outside the palace, interacting with the noble scions of the capital, the historians could still obtain the relevant information and record it, though it would differ somewhat from the records in the palace.
In the Great Tang, there were quite a few people who did not know of some Duke or other high noble, but trifling few did not know of the Grand Scribe's Yan Clan.
Even though Wang Chong had grown up in the capital and lived there for ten-some years, this was his first time paying a visit to the Yan Clan Residence.
The reason was very simple. For the various scions of the capital, the Yan Clan was a 'dragon pond', a 'tiger cave', the forbidden ground of the capital.
Though the members of the Yan Clan did not know martial arts, being part of a scholarly clan, the brushes they gripped were sharper and more frightening than any sword.
The moment harmful words or conduct reached the ears of the Yan Clan and were entered into the historical record, the person in question would forever become a pariah of their clan.
"What a large estate!"
When Wang Chong arrived and saw the many buildings of gray stone and porcelain tile, he could only sigh.
The Yan Clan Residence was not as extravagant as other noble estates, and there were no stone lions in front of the gate. It seemed very inconspicuous, but it was much larger in scale than the estates of other nobles.
As everyone knew, the Yan Clan was a clan of civil officials that had always been very inconspicuous, dressing so plainly that many people forgot that the Yan Clan was a true great clan that had held the position of Grand Scribe for generations.
Dynasties might change, but as historical observers who stood outside of the court, the Yan Clan had always stood firm.
A significant part of the Yan Clan Residence had been gifted by a previous sovereign, and future sovereigns had approved, even adding to the land.
The majority of the buildings in the residence were used to hold records.
After some thought, Wang Chong headed into the Yan Clan Residence, and all of the Yan Clan disciples came out to welcome him with pomp and ceremony.
However, the one who came to welcome Wang Chong was not Yan Wenzhang, but his son, Yan Wenzhen.
"Father is very old, and his body has grown weaker and weaker, requiring more rest and quiet. He no longer records many incidents, turning to this one to record them. The Sage Emperor has already approved of all this. If Your Highness needs anything, you may directly ask me."
Wang Chong was surprised, but when he thought back to the elder Yan, he realized that the man really was at an age when the body grew stiff and tired.
"Lord Yan, thank you for the trouble. I would like to inspect some historical records related to the court. I hope that Lord Yan can accommodate me on this."
Wang Chong looked around at the other Yan Clan members as he explained his purpose.
Yan Wenzhen appeared hesitant.
Once written, the historical records of the Yan Clan were sealed away so that members of the reigning government could not read them. This was a rule that existed precisely so that officials could not see records that painted them in a bad light and attempt to edit them so as to improve their appearance in history.
Such incidents had happened in the past.
Some nobles were utterly unscrupulous when it came to embellishing the historical record, sending assassins in the night to steal the records, and even going so far as to hire master plagiarizers to recopy entire texts. But in the end, the Yan Clan still found out.
Even sovereigns had attempted to embellish their reputation, deleting records unfavorable to them.
After all these incidents, the Yan Clan had long ago decreed that all historical records were to be sealed and not to be read. There were no exceptions, not for sovereigns or for high officials.
This was the prerequisite for the members of the Yan Clan to take on the responsibility of historians, and a prerequisite that all sovereigns had accepted.
History was not merely a writing exercise. The Yan Clan also needed to ensure the authenticity of their historical records.
"I know of the Yan Clan's laws, and I do not intend to read my own records. Before the age of sixteen, Wang Chong was known as a hedonistic wastrel throughout the capital, someone who had even assaulted a woman. Everyone in the capital knows, and Wang Chong did not come with the intention of modifying this account," Wang Chong directly stated, seeming to know what Yan Wenzhen feared.
Yan Wenzhen and the other Yan Clan members sighed in relief upon hearing this. As long as Wang Chong had not come here for this purpose, everything was still negotiable.
Yan Wenzhen bowed and sincerely said, "Your Highness, it is not that our Yan Clan is unwilling, but the Yan Clan's laws forbid even members of the Yan clan from reading the records, let alone outsiders. An incident like this also took place in Emperor Taizong's reign, and everyone in the court knows about this. I am sure there is no need to explain what happened afterward. Your Highness, please forgive me!"
Even though Wang Chong was the King of Foreign Lands and one of the supreme figures of the land, there were some things that the Yan Clan could not compromise on.
Wang Chong looked around and gravely said, "Lord Yan, can I speak with you alone?"
Yan Wenzhen's heart leaped as he stared in shock at Wang Chong.
On Yan Wenzhen's order, all the other members withdrew. Yan Wenzhen quickly turned to Wang Chong.
"Can Your Highness speak now?"
"Lord Yan, this one has not come for personal reasons, but for a matter of the court. Wang Chong wishes to inspect the records pertaining to the early life of the Sage Emperor."
Wang Chong quickly explained how the records regarding the Sage Emperor's life before he took the throne had been stolen.
Yan Wenzhen trembled, his eyes flying open.
While the records in the palace were not the property of the Yan Clan, historical records were always managed under a strict system, both inside and outside the palace.
Moreover, for the sake of compiling the histories, all of the palace's records were sent from the imperial household to the Yan Clan so that they could be inspected, referenced, and compiled. This was another of the Yan Clan's important roles.
And these were the records of a sovereign. No matter who had done this deed, once they were found, they would face the death penalty.
"This is an extremely important matter, and there are many things that only your honored father might know about. Thus, if it is possible, I hope to see the honored Grand Scribe," Wang Chong sincerely said.
"Your Highness, it is not that I am unwilling, but unable. To tell the truth, my father is nearly eighty years old, and because he spends long nights compiling histories, he has placed a heavy burden on his body that he does not have the energy to sustain. There are even times when he becomes very forgetful."
Yan Wenzhen bitterly smiled.
Wang Chong was stunned. He had never predicted a situation like this.
Wang Chong was not unfamiliar with the condition Yan Wenzhen had described. In another world, it was known as 'Alzheimer's Disease', or senile dementia.
It also meant that Wang Chong's attempts to learn the Grand Scribe's thoughts on this matter had come to naught.
Wang Chong's heart sank.
"This is actually the true reason this one has come in place of Father," Yan Wenzhen said.