Chapter 256: Scouting!
The mountainous wind raged angrily. While King Sosurim and the group of Goguryeon assassins were planning their next course of action, no one noticed a huge eagle circling the sky right above them within the deep darkness.
That eagle remained completely silent, but its sharp eyes seemed to be engraving everything it saw into its memory.
After an unknown length of time, the eagle finally left the area, flying to the northeast amidst the furious gale.
Shu shu, the huge eagle flew across the crown of a tree as it descended, eventually reaching a small foothill of the mountain. A thick arm stretched out to allow the trained, intelligent eagle. At the same time, the other hand threw a piece of meat jerky over.
The huge eagle caught the meat jerky and swallowed it with a few forceful bites.
"To think that the Goguryeon base would actually be there!"
Beside the Old Eagle whose arm the eagle was perched on, Solitary Wolf grabbed his lower jaw as a dazed expression surfaced on his face. His gaze was directed to the scenery in the distance, where the tip of a monastery could be vaguely seen amidst the winding mountains.
"These Goguryeons sure are cunning. To actually take a monastery deep in the mountains as their base! If we haven't known of it in advance, who would have thought that this would be their base of operations?"
Steel Arms couldn't help but feel relieved. If not for Old Eagle's trained eagles following the ravens that the Goguryeons use to communicate into this monastery, he would have never thought that the Goguryeons would be hiding here.
"I remember a merchant reporting to the royal court that he would donate to have a monastery built in the middle of the mountains four months ago. From the looks of it now, they started their preparations all the way from back then."
Wang Chong looked at the southwest direction and saw the massive monastery too, and a deep frown immediately appeared on his forehead. This monastery was rather famous in his previous life too, but who could have thought that it would actually be a gathering point for the Goguryeons?
Thinking about it now, this monastery probably played an important role as to why King Sosurim was able to escape the from Great Tang's pursuit and successfully return back to Goguryeo.
"Since this monastery is the gathering point of the Goguryeons, then without a doubt, the merchant who donated to it must be a Goguryeon as well. I heard that the workers he recruited also prohibited outsiders from approaching the area during the construction. Most probably, the monks and the construction workers are all Goguryeons as well."
"Given how huge an affair it is, the Goguryeons couldn't possibly have delegated the jobs to outsiders!"
A strong wind blew across the small hill, brushing by the grim faces of the group.
King Sosurim was much more cunning than they had thought.
Even if something were to happen, no one would lay doubt on this monastery! After all, everything was done openly—the establishment of the monastery was officially reported, and it was constructed beneath the eyelids of the royal court—so there was no reason for the royal court to suspect this monastery!
"No matter how many people they brought and how cunning they are, this operation is bound to be a failure. Old Eagle, how is the situation?"
Ma Yinlong turned to ask Old Eagle, who was busy feeding his eagle.
"Not very good. They have a sentry every three steps and a patrol every five. I'm afraid that we would be noticed by the Goguryeons before we can even approach the monastery. Not only so, this area is filled with flora and fauna, and the geography is complicated, thus making it easy for him to escape. Even if the Goguryeons were to realize that their plan was doomed, they could simply abandon the monastery and escape whenever they wish to!" Old Eagle replied grimly as he fed the last piece of meat jerky to the eagle perched on his arm. The wariness of the Goguryeons was far greater than he had expected. There was no opening he could see that they could exploit.
Under such circumstances, it was nearly impossible for them to approach the monastery. Before their army could even get close, their target would have long escaped.
Hearing Old Eagle's words, everyone frowned.
As long as they didn't resolve this problem, it would be nearly impossible for their mission to succeed even though they had found the Goguryeon's last gathering point.
"Not only so, have you forgotten about the elites they have dispatched over? Since King Sosurim intends to deal with the influential officials, the troops he brought over are the top-notch experts of Goguryeo. In fact, some of them are even of commander rank. If we don't have sufficient manpower, we might just end up being wiped out by them instead!" Steel Arms said grimly. It was due to his carelessness that he lost an arm a dozen years ago. The harsh lesson he had gone through then was still deeply engraved in his mind.
"Gongzi, there's a matter that you must take note of. The Goguryeons that we eliminated in the previous few bases are just ordinary warriors. On the other hand, the assassins that King Sosurim is going to deploy for assassinating the influential officials are all elites from Goguryeo.
"If we want to clean them up, we must be exceptionally careful. None of us can bear the consequences should our mission fail!"
The Goguryeon incident had caused a huge storm in the capital, and everyone's attention was on it. This included the foreigners, such as those from the Western Regions, as well.
If this operation were to fail and the Goguryeons manage to escape, the reputation of the Wang Clan would surely plummet greatly.
"Leave minor affairs such as this to me." After a moment of contemplation, Wang Chong smiled.
"I'll liaise with the royal court through King Song and have them send the most elite troops they have. As long as I tell them that the matter from more than a decade ago is about to happen once more, so that they understand the severity of the matter, the royal court should know what to do."
The matter that happened more than a decade ago had dealt a crushing blow to the royal court, and it was still fresh in the minds of most of the older officials.
In truth, Wang Chong wouldn't have to do too much. He believed that just by describing the situation, the influential officials would surely be rushing forward to offer their strongest men to him. There was no need for him to worry about the issue regarding manpower.
Ma Yinlong, Old Eagle, Steel Arms, and Solitary Wolf glanced at one another, awed.
This was exactly the power of possessing influence and a strong background!
To them, this matter which could be done with a few words on Wang Chong’s part was completely unachievable for them. At least, if they had connections like Wang Chong's, they wouldn't have suffered such a tragic defeat back then, and their brothers wouldn't have ended up laying the groundwork for King Sosurim's “greatness”. They also wouldn't have been plagued with nightmares for years afterward.
Regretful as they might be, they also felt relieved to have a scion on their side. This had been a great convenience for their operations.
Not to mention, the four of them had also been expelled from the Bureau of Military Personnel and Bureau of Punishments, so they could only count on Wang Chong on this matter, anyway.
"We also have to find a way to deal with the sentries, as well! This is crucial to the success of the operation," Steel Arms said.
"Don't worry, they won't get away!" Wang Chong chuckled. He raised a finger and started drawing on the ground. His strange actions immediately attracted the attention of the crowd.
"I just gave it some thoughts, and given the terrain around the monastery, there is no need for us to encircle the entire area. As long as we deploy an army over here and here to jam the path, they won't be able to get away."
Wang Chong swiftly drew out a rough map of the terrain. Having spent the latter half of his previous life in battlefields, he was extremely familiar with the mountains and rivers across the Central Plains.
Even veterans like Ma Yinlong, Solitary Wolf, and the others were not too familiar with the terrain, and yet, a youth like Wang Chong was able to draw it out so casually. Deep within, they were astonished.
"But how do we do it? It's impossible for such a large army to be mobilized without alarming the Goguryeons. As soon as an army leaves the city gates, King Sosurim would surely be on his guard," Ma Yinlong said.
Wang Chong's idea was good, but it wasn't too practical.
"Who said anything about deploying the Imperial Army within the capital?" Wang Chong burst into laughter.
"Every year, the Bureau of Military Personnel will have a regular reshuffling of personnel. At that moment, we'll just have to slip in some elite troops within the group and have an army head northward."
"Bureau of Military Personnel?!!"
The few men glanced at one another in shock. The idea of using the reshuffling of personnel of the Bureau of Military Personnel to surround the Goguryeons was inconceivable to the four of them.
As the foundation of a nation, the military must be managed with prudence.
There wasn't a single order from the Bureau of Military Personnel that could be taken lightly. Thus, Wang Chong's idea was something that could have never crossed their mind.
Yet, Wang Chong spoke of it so lightly, as though it was nothing at all.
"It's not that I want to start fearmongering, but have you thought of the consequences of having the influential officials of the royal court slaughtered? Surely some falsified deployment is nothing in comparison with that. Orders are just mere words, whereas we are alive. If the outcome turns out to be well, the means would be accepted by everyone else. Besides, this doesn't have to be large-scale military personnel redeployment. The men just have to head to the closest fortress to the capital; this way, the impact would be reduced to the minimum," Wang Chong explained, aware of what the four were thinking about.
The four contemplated silently for a moment, and eventually, they nodded in agreement. If it was just a small-scale redeployment, it would still be acceptable to them.
"What's left is King Sosurim, then!"
In that instant, the atmosphere grew grim.
This time, even Wang Chong had fallen silent. It wasn't that he was unwilling to offer any ideas, but that there was nothing worthy he could offer. He had never met King Sosurim before, and the other party’s appearance was a complete mystery to him.
Under such circumstances, even if King Sosurim were to be standing before him, Wang Chong would still be unable to recognize him. How could he possibly lead a team to capture or slay a person he couldn't even recognize?
Not only so, the previous few confrontations had also shown that on top of being vicious, King Sosurim was also a sly fox.
This monastery before them served as the greatest evidence to that.
"Old Eagle, I'll be depending on you then. When our operation begins, you'll have to send all of your eagles out to keep a lookout for the Goguryeons who manage to escape our encirclement. We mustn't allow even a single one of them to escape. You should know that this is probably our last chance!"
Old Eagle, Steel Arms, and Solitary Wolf nodded their heads grimly, and they shared a gaze that left an ominous feeling within Wang Chong.
Wang Chong opened his mouth to say something, but he eventually closed it without saying a word.
Without alarming anyone, the five of them retreated silently from the mountain forest.