Chapter 368: Capturing the Scouts!
Zhao Yatong was indeed efficient. Through her striking reputation and the incredible authority of King Song's token, it didn't take long for her to rally five recruits from Longwei and Shenwei to their side.
Just like Huang Yongtu and Xu Gan, those recruits were formidable figures in their own rights, and they also came from prestigious backgrounds. Had it not been for Geshu Han's prominent reputation and astounding influence as the great general of Big Dipper Army, it would have been difficult to keep them in check.
With the five men joining the group, the total number of Great Tang cavalrymen on Wang Chong's side increased to two hundred.
This force couldn't be considered as large, but when paired with the four hundred other warriors under the Big Dipper Army's commandant, as well as the three hundred other cavalrymen, it should suffice for carrying out Wang Chong's plan.
And Wang Chong was confident in tearing apart the Tibetan army camping at the top of the mountain with this group of two hundred as well.
A great mountain rose from the ground, and layers of clouds veiled its peak. At the foot of the mountain, ten good-looking young men and ladies were on horseback, assessing the mountain before them.
The mountain was truly a scenic sight. It was filled with lush trees and extended all the way to the horizon, a picture that seemed to have come out from a painting. However, just knowing that three hundred hostile Tibetan soldiers were hidden at the mountain peak, there was not a single person who could find the mood to admire the natural beauty before them.
"The terrain is extremely steep, making it an advantageous battlefield to the defending side. They could send a wave of troops out at any moment, and we would suffer heavy casualties. Furthermore, after several days of camping on the mountain, they have a thorough understanding of the terrain on it as well. That plays against our favor as well!" The one who spoke was a young man in his early twenties from a prestigious family. He had a long and slender body, and pairing that with his poise gestures, he was exceptionally graceful.
That person's name was Fang Xuanying, one of the recruits who Zhao Yatong had rallied to her side. Unlike Zhao Yatong, he came from Shenwei Training Camp, so he didn't really know her well before this mission. It was only after participating alongside her in this mission several times, and a single occasion where Zhao Yatong saved his life after their troops were defeated, that they slowly became familiar with one another.
He was initially planning to leave, but after hearing that it was an invitation from Wang Chong of the Wang Clan, and that he had King Song's token in his hand, that he eventually chose to stay on.
He was older than Wang Chong, but that he didn't look down on the latter just because of his young age. On the contrary, he treated him with great respect.
The Fang Clan was another powerful clan in the capital, but it was far from comparing to the Wang Clan.
And in the social circles of scions, age would never be an issue.
In the current times, there was no one in the capital who hadn't heard Wang Chong's name. Young as he was, he had Duke Jiu and the Sage Emperor's favor, and he was the anticipated successor to the Wang Clan's influence and heritage in the future.
Before the future successor of the Wang Clan, how could one possibly boast of his age?
"This can't be helped. There is nothing we can do if the Tibetans choose to coop themselves up in the mountains. If we were to dispatch a small group to scout the location, they would just get wiped out easily. On the other hand, if we were to send out a larger group, the Tibetans would charge down in their formation and slaughter them," another recruit nodded helplessly in agreement.
The Tibetans on the mountain were a difficult boulder standing in their path. They couldn't destroy it nor move it, and yet it was standing it their way, making it impossible for them to ignore it.
As the Big Dipper Army was tight on manpower at the moment, the pressure ended up weighing on them.
From the first encounter they had with the Tibetans until now, Great Tang had already suffered huge casualties among the recruits and the cavalrymen.
Seated on the back of his horse, Wang Chong gazed at the mountain calmly as he spoke, "There's no need for us to charge up there, we just have to make them come down to us."
Even though he was the youngest of the group, his expressions and gestures somehow induced the trust of others, convincing them to put their confidence in him.
As the saying went, "Know your enemies and know yourself, and in a hundred battles a hundred times you will emerge victorious!"
The first thing one had to do before any battle was to understand one's opponent and the geography where the battlefield would be. As such, this was the purpose behind Wang Chong's visit as well.
Only by grasping a tight understanding of the terrain would he be able to make apt preparations for battle.
As his gaze slowly scanned across the majestic mountain, as well as the rises and falls in the terrain, he nodded inconspicuously.
"Alright, that's enough. I know what we must do for tomorrow's battle!" Wang Chong said.
"So fast?" Hearing Wang Chong's words, everyone was stunned. Wang Chong had brought them here, saying that he wanted to scout out the ground for the battle tomorrow. But just moments after their arrival, he was saying that he was already done?
Fang Xuanying and the others, who had just met Wang Chong a while ago, couldn't help but be startled by his actions.
At this point, Bai Siling spoke up, "Alright. Since Wang Chong said he's done, that must be the case. Let's just do as he says!"
Of the group here, she was the one who had been with Wang Chong for the longest time, and they had gone through many things together. As such, she possessed the deepest understanding of him as well.
She knew that he wouldn't do anything meaningless, so all they had to do was to place their trust in his judgement.
"Since Siling has said so, it should be fine," Zhao Yatong spoke up in support as well.
The Bai Clan's reputation in the capital was resounding, and the Spear of Crimson Blaze was also a famed figure. Since both of them had chosen to speak up on behalf of Wang Chong, there should be no need to worry.
"Gongzi is indeed extraordinary. It's no wonder why you are able to win the favor of the Sage Emperor. We'll be heeding gongzi's commands in the battle tomorrow," Fang Xuanying said.
"Yes, I am grateful for your support. However, there is still one more thing that we willhave to deal with before the battle tomorrow, and if this matter isn't settled, I would be unable to execute my plan," Wang Chong told them.
These words caught everyone off-guard.
"Gongzi, feel free to speak. We'll do our best to coordinate with you!" Fang Xuanying replied.
Zhao Yatong and the others nodded in agreement as well. The battle tomorrow concerned their survival as well, so they had no choice but to view it with grave importance.
Chuckling, Wang Chong issued them an instruction.
"That can't be true!" Hearing Wang Chong's words, Zhao Yatong's face flushed in astonishment.
"We have crossed hands with the Tibetans so many times, but we have never seen anything of that sort. If that's really the case, we would have definitely noticed something!" Fang Xuanying and the others frowned as well. Just like Zhao Yatong, they had never observed anything of the sort that Wang Chong spoke of as well.
"Don't worry, the Tibetans are no fools. Considering how they aren't familiar with Longxi's terrain, they would surely do so. It's just that you have never noticed it before," Wang Chong replied with a confident smile.
"Since you have said so, we'll keep a close eye on it then. Hopefully, we will be able to find them," Zhao Yatong replied with a sigh.
If it had been before, she might have just shrugged Wang Chong's words away in disdain. But after the happenings two days ago, she dared not to underestimate the sixteen-year-old youth before her anymore.
"Siling, Xu Gan, and Huang Yongtu, you all will be coordinating with them," Wang Chong turned to Bai Siling and the others and issued his orders.
"Un," the trio nodded.
As they had only arrived recently, they possessed little understanding of the terrain in the area. Thus, they could only play an auxiliary role in the battle.
After which, arrangements were made according to Wang Cong's instructions. The two hundred Great Tang cavalrymen were spread across the region, forming a huge net surrounding the resting point.
Time passed swiftly, and before long, morning had turned into noon. A few moments later, the sun gradually showed signs of setting in the west. The two hundred cavalrymen continued patrolling around the resting point, but they were unable to find anything at all.
Just outside of the resting point, several steeds were gathered together. Eventually, Bai Siling could no longer hold herself back, and she asked, "Wang Chong, aren't you making a big deal out of nothing? The Tibetans' fighting prowess far surpasses ours, and they had managed to crush us utterly in the four previous battles. Is there really a need for them to dispatch scouts to survey us, given such?"
It was not that she was unwilling to believe Wang Chong, but more than half a day had passed, and they hadn't noticed a single Tibetan scout yet.
There were distinctive differences between the Tibetans and the civilians of the Central Plains, so it would be impossible not to notice them if they were to appear in the vicinity.
"Or perhaps, the Tibetan scouts might only appear at night? Like you have said, they dare not leave the mountain easily, so they should be waiting for conditions that are to their advantage?" Zhao Yatong tried asking.
In truth, the only reason why they were willing to plant sentries in the area was because the one raising it was Wang Chong. If it had been anyone else, they would have just sneered it off and regard it as nonsensical talk.
"Don't worry, they will definitely come! I have checked the area, and the region seems to be slightly more humid, resulting in a thick mist forming in the early morning. With it blocking their view, it would be impossible for them to see you coming at all. Furthermore, considering the huge wind at the top of the mountain, it would be difficult for them to hear the clopping of horse hooves, too.
"According to what you have said, of the four attacks conducted, despite the varying timings of the assault, the Tibetans were able to time their attack accurately at the moment which you had just started to gather at the bottom of the mountain. Without scouts to keep tabs on our army, it would be impossible for them to make such precise judgement.
"Like I have told you earlier, the Tibetans might be unfamiliar with Great Tang's geographical terrain, but they are no fools. Before the arrival of the soldiers comes the rations, and even before the rations are the scouts! Regardless of whether it's Great Tang or the other nations, it's impossible and utterly foolish for them not to dispatch scouts ahead of the battle to gather intelligence. This is common sense!" Wang Chong spoke nonchalantly, but his voice carried heavy authority.
Intelligence was the crux of warfare. If those Tibetan scouts weren't cleared beforehand, the movements of their army would be as clear as day to the Tibetans.
This was also the reason why Wang Chong said that this step was imperative to the execution of his plan.
The crowd widened their mouths in shock, unable to utter a word at all.
This was especially so for Zhao Yatong. She was completely dumbfounded by the situation before her.
When Wang Chong questioned her on the details two days ago, Zhao Yatong spoke of everything that she knew. But even so, she didn't think that those seemingly trivial details she had spoken of would be so important.
Just by a casual glance at the battlefield, Wang Chong was able to deduce so much of the situation.