Chapter 455: The Death of Ashina Sugan!
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
It took only a few moments for everyone to begin moving. No one knew what Wang Chong was really thinking, and certainly no one knew that Wang Chong was actually willing to die.
But everyone had clearly misunderstood Wang Chong's order to mean something: 'Attack Wei to save Zhao1'.
The twang of a bow seemed to shatter the heavens. The first to move was not one of the elders of the Zhang Clan or the head of the Huang Clan, but the distant master archer, Luo Tong.
He wasn't so bold as to attack the Andong Protector-General Zhang Shougui, but it was absolutely no problem for him to deal with a mere Turk like An Yaluoshan.
Twangtwangtwang! In a flash, countless arrows were flying through the rain, obscuring the sky as they shot toward An Yaluoshan.
At almost the same moment, the archers under Luo Tong's command also began to fire. The dense rain of arrows whistling through the wind could be heard even over the blowing of the wind.
An Yaluoshan instantly paled before this rain of arrows. He hadn't expected Wang Chong to be so bold. The Protector-General was already here, yet he still dared to strike right in front of his face.
And this was not all An Yaluoshan had to deal with!
With a roar, the elders of the Zhang Clan struck. Though the head of the Huang Clan was a little slow to follow, he came with all the power he could muster.
These people had much higher cultivation levels than the rest. Energy buzzed around them like a storm. Their Stellar Energies exploded and their halos hummed. Stream after stream of Stellar Energy covered the sky and filled the air with the clattering of metal. As if intent on toppling a mountain, they surged toward An Yaluoshan.
The dense crowd of soldiers around him did not give An Yaluoshan the slightest hint of safety.
"Obey Young Master!"
"Kill An Yaluoshan!"
At the same time, Zhao Jingdian, Chen Burang, Sun Zhiming, Marchioness Yi, Huang Qian-er, Zhao Yatong, Bai Siling, and everyone else once more began the assault on the Youzhou troops so as to delay them.
The concluded battle began once more. The Youzhou soldiers had clearly not expected this and instantly fell into chaos.
It took less than a second for the first people to respond. It was still Cui Qianyou and Tian Qianzhen. But before those two could go and offer their aid, a mighty saber energy howled through the air and stopped them.
Although he had been a little slow, Li Siye was not that severely injured. The heavy armor that Wang Chong had forged from Meteoric Metal had made itself useful.
Upon seeing this, Zhang Shougui flew into a rage. He was the Andong Protector-General; just a stamp of his foot would cause the entire army to quake! He well deserved his reputation as one of the most influential figures in the capital.
Even other Imperial Great Generals like Fumeng Lingcha would not dare to act so brashly before him. Yet these people knew that he was here and still dared to attack An Yaluoshan. They were treating him like he didn't even exist.
This was no longer a problem of killing An Yaluoshan.
They were offending an Imperial Protector-General!
Zhang Shougui pressed his foot to the ground, causing a golden light to emerge from the ground which transformed into a golden sphere that shrouded An Yaluoshan.
All the arrows, attacks, and collisions were blocked by this golden sphere. And that was not all. A moment later, a monstrous energy exploded out of the ground.
The earth shuddered and cracked. No one could describe the power of this energy. Everyone felt like the earth was undulating as if alive, exploding with a powerful repulsive force that wanted to hurl them all away.
No! This wasn't just their imagination! It really did hurl them all away.
Everyone from Deflecting Blade Manor, the spirit vein mountain, the Wang Clan, and the various clans were thrown outward like rain drops by that mighty power.
And those closest to An Yaluoshan—the Zhang Clan elders, the head of the Huang Clan, Zhao Jingdian, Huang Qian-er, Zhao Yatong, and Bai Siling—suffered the greatest injuries.
Screams filled the air as their chests caved in. One by one, they were cut down like wheat and sent flying.
Blood vomited from their mouths!
Zhang Shougui was enraged, so he had dealt these people the heaviest blows. It was only out of conceit and his concern for their identities that he did not simply kill them all.
The attacks of the several hundred people present had been nullified in the blink of an eye. At this moment, everyone experienced Zhang Shougui's terrifying strength.
Before an authority of the empire like Zhang Shougui, everyone else was insignificant, the gap in their strength beyond reckoning.
Although everyone had already known of this gap, it was only by actually experiencing it that they knew how vast this chasm was.
Anyone who attempted to resist Zhang Shougui would get a true understanding of the meaning of despair.
Just one barrier of light had made An Yaluoshan as steady as Mount Tai. No matter how many people they had and no matter what level they were at, they were all incapable of wounding An Yaluoshan.
And this one stomp of his feet had not only made their efforts fruitless, it had left them all injured as well.
Yet this wasn't even Zhang Shougui's true strength. He probably wasn't even using ten percent.
This was not something that could simply be described with the word 'strength' anymore.
"Anyone who dares to move again will have everyone in their clan drafted into the army and sent to the Goguryeon border…"
Zhang Shougui's complexion was pale and frigid.
There were imperial censors in the capital, so not even Zhang Shougui dared to act lightly. In Emperor Taizong's era, Su Zhengchen was accused by an imperial censor of planning rebellion. Even further back, during Gaozong's era, the Prime Minister made a slip of the tongue, upon which the imperial censor had him removed from his post. And in the current government, even Wang Zhongsi, hailed as the new war god of the generation, as revered as Wang Chong's grandfather, who had assisted the Emperor to the throne, and who had such a sterling record, had still been impeached by an imperial censor. He had been forced to hand over his military authority and return to the palace, where he now lived the leisurely life of Junior Guardian for the Crown Prince.
Although Zhang Shougui had always viewed himself very highly and never cared much about imperial censors, he had to show them some respect in the capital and not act too rashly.
However, if someone thought that meant that he couldn't do anything about these scions, they would be gravely mistaken.
Just because he couldn't kill them didn't mean he was powerless.
As a Protector-General, he only needed one order to send those scions to the army and then transfer them to Youzhou in the northeast.
And there, life and death were at his command!
As expected, Zhang Shougui's voice silenced the courtyard. Everyone's hearts chilled, and fear crept into their eyes.
Everyone knew that the northeast was the region of the empire where the wars were most intense, the resistance the most formidable. The threat didn't come from the Xi, the Khitans, or the Turkic Khaganate to the northwest. It came from the east, from Yeon Gaesomun2 of Goguryeo.
Goguryeo had never been much of a threat to the Great Tang, not until Yeon Gaesomun appeared. Under his rule, Goguryeo flourished, its power soaring.
Although their land was small, the Goguryeons were able to take the strength, strategies, tactics, and martial arts of the Central Plains and mix it with their own special traits to become an existence on par with Ü-Tsang and the Turkic Khaganate of the northeast. Although they did not have many troops, their fighting power ranked above the Mengshe Zhao.
Yeon Gaesomun practiced scorched-earth policies and had also constructed a large number of defensive fortifications. Even someone of Zhang Shougui's caliber was only able to suppress the Goguryeo Empire and make it no easy task for them to leave their borders.
Attacking the Goguryeo Empire required a massive price, making even the dictatorial and determined Zhang Shougui push away any ideas of assaulting it. One could easily imagine just how fierce a resistance the Goguryeo Empire could put up.
And one could also imagine the number of casualties!
If one was sent there, death was certain.
However, before the crowd could imagine anything more, a scream rang through their ears.
Under everyone's eyes, a Wootz Steel sword was plunged into Ashina Sugan's chest and through his back. Ashina Sugan was vomiting blood, his lips twitching, but not a word could come out. His eyes were wide open as he stared at Old Eagle. Even at his death, he still seemed confused as to why Old Eagle would not attack An Yaluoshan and instead attack him, someone he didn't even know.
"Impossible, this is impossible…"
Ashina Sugan's mind was blank. He had come to save An Yaluoshan. These people had come to kill An Yaluoshan, not him.
These thoughts had been in Ashina Sugan's mind from the start, so during this entire battle, he had placed himself closer to the perimeter of the troops.
When their commander appeared, he thought that the battle had concluded. Not once had he ever thought about his own safety.
Ashina Sugan had never expected that even though An Yaluoshan wasn't dead, that person would come for him.
Old Eagle didn't know why Wang Chong wanted him to kill this young Hu standing on the perimeter, but he had developed a tacit understanding with Wang Chong and thoroughly understood what he desired.
The gesture Wang Chong had made had indicated precisely this Hu, and he had even given Old Eagle his Wootz Steel sword.
Since Wang Chong wanted him dead, this Hu had every reason to die.
As the sword was pulled out, blood fountained into the air. Old Eagle, seeing his success, immediately retreated, but though he was fast, his reaction had still been a little slow.
"You're seeking death!"
Golden Stellar Energy flew forward. Before Old Eagle could even dodge, it exploded on his body and sent him flying like a shooting star.
Zhang Shougui's expression was contorted in a grimace.
But none of this could alter Ashina Sugan's fate. Although he was a peerless martial artist, he was still a man, not a god. He had not expected Old Eagle to strike the insignificant Ashina Sugan, who seemingly had nothing to do with any of today's events.
He could defend An Yaluoshan from the attacks of hundreds, but he couldn't stop Old Eagle's fatal strike against Ashina Sugan.
A mental blind spot was the hardest place to defend.
When Ashina Sugan's corpse toppled to the ground, An Yaluoshan, under the protection of the golden shroud, opened his eyes wide and let out a heartrending roar of fury.
His eyes were as red as a wounded beast's.
Not once in this dogged pursuit and battle had An Yaluoshan's eyes ever gone red. But when Ashina Sugan collapsed, An Yaluoshan seemed like he had been dealt a severe wound, his entire body falling out of his control.
"Congratulations to user! For killing Ashina Sugan and greatly altering history, you are awarded 200 points of Destiny Energy!"
The moment Ashina Sugan fell down, Wang Chong heard the voice of the Stone of Destiny in his mind.
Ashina Sugan was dead!
The future Shi Siming was no more!
The two powers of the Youzhou rebel army had been cut down to only An Yaluoshan!
At this moment, Wang Chong felt like a great weight had been lifted off his back!
1. This stratagem dates back to the Warring States period. The kingdom of Qi was allied with Zhao. The kingdom of Wei began a large-scale war against Zhao, and Zhao's capital, Handan, was besieged. However, Wei had left its capital relatively undefended, so the Qi strategist Sun Bin proposed that Qi should attack Wei's capital. Wei's army began to move back to protect their capital, but they were ambushed and decisively defeated.↩
2. Historically, Yeon Gaesomun was a noble of Goguryeo who lived during the era of Emperor Taizong. He essentially ruled Goguryeo as a military dictator, and during his reign, the Tang failed to conquer Goguryeo. After his death, however, the Tang and their Silla allies were able to conquer Goguryeo. Thus, by this time in Emperor Xuanzong's reign, Goguryeo hadn't existed for about a century. Things are clearly different in this book.↩