Chapter 365: Analyzing the Circumstances!
Most of those who were staying at this resting point were the defeated soldiers of the previous operations.
The third mission was far from being as simple as the others thought it would be. The enemy was much stronger than they had imagined.
"Also, the Tibetans are dressed in heavy armor that can withstand even the arrows of master archers. You should take note of that when clashing with them," Zhao Yatong added.
In truth, she wasn't too optimistic about this operation. In fact, she was already considering withdrawing from this mission, and she would have done so if she hadn't met Bai Siling.
It was only due to her worry for Bai Siling that she chose to stay and participate in one last attack.
"Heavy armor? That would indeed be troublesome to deal with." Xu Gan frowned in worry. He was starting to get a sense of how difficult their opponents would be.
"What is the background of those Tibetan soldiers? Aren't they a little too powerful and well-equipped for average soldiers?" Huang Yongtu asked in astonishment.
Great Tang's soldiers were known to be well-trained and well-equipped. As such, it was extremely hard to believe that an army of eight hundred could be defeated by three hundred Tibetans.
"They are elites from Ü-Tsang's Wuhai Army. Be it the cavalryman above or the highland steeds beneath, they were covered entirely with heavy armor. In terms of fighting prowess, probably only the Big Dipper Army could rival them. It would be hard for ordinary soldiers to stand up against them." At this point, Wang Chong, who had been silent all along, suddenly spoke up, and his words drew everyone's attention.
Zhao Yatong was bewildered. She had been battling with the Tibetan army for so long, but she was still unable to gather anything about their background. Yet, barely after Wang Chong's arrival, and this despite the fact that he hadn't even seen the enemy yet, he was already able to deduce their background.
"Let me ask you, is there a coarse red cloth sewn onto the gap on the left shoulder of their armor?" Wang Chong could easily guess what Zhao Yatong was thinking of.
"How did you know?" Zhao Yatong gasped in shock.
Wang Chong was right. There was indeed a red cloth sewn onto the left shoulder of the armor of those Tibetan soldiers. However, as the cloth was lodged deep in their armor, and it was rather small, it was easy to neglect it if one wasn't paying careful attention.
Perhaps due to her meticulous nature as a lady, Zhao Yatong had noticed this minor detail.
To be able to guess this much despite having just arrived, the young man before her was incredible.
Zhao Yatong was initially skeptical when Bai Siling was full of praise for this lad, but at this moment, she was starting to see some truth in the latter's words.
"That doesn't matter. The important thing is that I know." As the previous Grand Marshal of the Central Plains, it would be a huge failure on his part if he didn't know about the various armies, as well as their distinctive traits and functions.
However, he couldn't point this out to them.
"Lad, you are being a little too arrogant!" Zhao Yatong glared at Wang Chong. This was the first time someone dared to spout such haughty words in her presence.
Nevertheless, Zhao Yatong had to admit that the young man before her wasn't as simple as she thought he was.
"This matter isn't as simple as it seems. The Wuhai Army is under the command of Ü-Tsang Great General We Tadra Khonglo. In Ü-Tsang, We Tadra Khonglo can be considered an existence equivalent to Geshu Han, Go Seonji, and Zhang Shougui. The soldiers under his commands are known to be well-disciplined, and they serve as the main force guarding Ü-Tsang's Qinghai Lake. They wouldn't easily leave the Ü-Tsang highlands, needless to say, venture so deep into the Central Plains. Their presence here is unnerving." Wang Chong said contemplatively, frowning deeply.
On the other hand, Bai Siling, Zhao Yatong, Xu Gan, and Huang Yongtu were left stumped by the names that Wang Chong spewed out.
They were considered to be very knowledgeable for those living in this era, but the things that Wang Chong was talking about were far beyond them. Their widened eyes were glazed with confusion as Wang Chong's words washed through their ears.
"Hahaha!" Seeing their expressions, Wang Chong shook his head and chuckled as he cut his explanation short. Even though the Ü-Tsang highlands neighbored the Central Plains, there was minimal interaction between the two states. As such, even across the entire Great Tang, there were very few who knew anything about Ü-Tsang at all.
"To summarize, the presence of the Tibetan army here is unnatural." Chuckling, Wang Chong summarized the gist of his words.
The group subconsciously heaved a sigh of relief. When Wang Chong was talking casually about Ü-Tsang, their ignorance on the topic made them feel as if they were dimwits for not understanding anything at all, and that was extremely stressful for them!
"Don't make it so complicated the next time." Bai Siling rolled her eyes. Even she had felt humbled by Wang Chong's long explanation.
Shrugging casually, Wang Chong replied, "Alright."
On the other hand, unlike the others, Zhao Yatong assessed Wang Chong with interest as a peculiar gleam shone in her eyes. There was probably no one in the capital who hadn't heard of this talented son of the Wang Clan.
Before meeting Wang Chong in face, Zhao Yatong had heard many things about him. But more often than not, rumors were blown out of proportion as the stories were exaggerated as they went from person to person.
Thus, Zhao Yatong paid the rumors little heed at the start.
However, after meeting him in person, she realized that Wang Chong was far more interesting than she had thought. What Wuhai Army and We Tadra Khongluo; if it had been anyone else, she would have thought that the person was spouting nonsense.
But coming from Wang Chong... for some reason, she felt inclined to believe him.
Unaware of Zhao Yatong's thoughts, Wang Chong went on to ask about the details of the Tibetan army, and Zhao Yatong answered them patiently.
"Right, when I was clashing with those Tibetan soldiers, there was something peculiar that I noticed about them. In truth, there were many chances for them to break out of our encirclement, but they chose to limit their actions around a certain mountain. Or to be more exact, their actions have always been limited around that mountain, as if they were guarding it.
"If not for that, we wouldn't have been able to deploy so many men over a period of time and conduct operations against them again and again. Also, there were also several opportunities for them to wipe us out entirely after our forces were defeated. If they had pursued us after our loss, I doubt that even the guards stationed at this resting point would have been able to save us. But yet, they allowed such ideal opportunities to slip past their fingers. I feel that there's something very questionable about that.
"To choose neither to escape nor to attack, I really can't tell what they are up to," Zhao Yatong said with a deep frown.
The more she fought with those Tibetans, the more doubts she harbored about them. Even as a recruit who hadn't come into contact with deeper military strategies and secrets, she could also tell that there was something very queer about the situation.
Each army should have a purpose in their actions, but this one seemed to be only acting on their whims.
"You're thinking too far into it. It's not that they are unwilling to retreat or attack, but that they are incapable of doing either of them. You are overestimating them." Hearing Zhao Yatong's words, Wang Chong chuckled, thinking nothing of them.
Zhao Yatong might have perceived the Tibetan army to be an incredibly powerful existence that couldn't be defeated, but that was probably an illusion deriving from her lack of knowledge about them.
An army that had ventured deep into an enemy's territory was bound to be killed. All they could do was to struggle to their dying breath, but their chances of survival were practically nil.
Just as how Zhao Yatong had little understanding of them, the Tibetan soldiers also had little understanding of what they were facing, so it was inevitable that they would hesitate from leaving advantageous ground to pursue their enemies, especially since they were lacking vital intelligence to ensure that it wasn't a trap.
It wasn't that Wang Chong was underestimating the Tibetan army, but this was simply how things were.
"Ah!" Zhao Yatong stared at Wang Chong in astonishment. She had only raised those questions to voice the doubts she had been harboring about them, and she hadn't expected Wang Chong to have an answer to them.
"Wang Chong, is there something you know about this matter?" Bai Siling, Xu Gan, and Huang Yongtu were also surprised by those words.
Judging from Zhao Yatong's description, this seemed to be an extraordinarily powerful Tibetan army, but Wang Chong's response seemed to be telling a different story.
"You all were too reckless. Do you know the reason why you lost to 300 Tibetan soldiers despite having 800 Great Tang military veterans on your side? It's not because they are too strong or because we are too weak, but that you should have never allowed the battlefield to be near the mountains!"
"There is a huge disparity in the geographical terrain of Ü-Tsang and Great Tang. Accustomed to clashing with the armies of Great Tang by the border of the highlands, their cavalrymen are skilled at maneuvering in the area. As a result, they have developed a formation that allows them to exploit the advantages of steep, mountainous terrain. Thus, as long as they are in mountainous terrain, they will be able to bring out 240% of their fighting prowess.
"Even when Geshu Han's famed Great Dipper Army went to encounter the Tibetans, they would try their best to avoid clashing with the Tibetans by mountainous terrain. They would either drag them down to Longxi or charge deep into the Ü-Tsang's highlands and cross hands with them up there.
"To attempt to fight against the Tibetans while they hold the upper ground is no different from handing our lives to them. That is suicide!" Wang Chong pointed out the reason for their group's crushing defeat.
It was foolish for them to think that they could defeat a group of cavalrymen while holding the lower ground. It was no wonder why they lost five hundred cavalrymen to the Tibetans.
In the history of Great Tang, despite the incredible generals who had emerged over the generations, none of them had fared well clashing against the Tibetans on steep terrain.
Even if they managed to subdue the Tibetans on such grounds, they would often have to pay a heavy price for their victory.
In Wang Chong's view, the commanding officer behind this operation was a complete fool. It was understandable that the person might not have a clear understanding of the proficiencies of the Tibetan soldiers, but nevertheless, placing one's troops in a disadvantageous position was definitely not the mark of a qualified commander.