Chapter 497: Decision! Strike First!
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
"It's an expert this time!"
Wang Chong had originally been squatting on the ground, but upon hearing the reports, he slowly began to stand, a harsh light flitting through his eyes. He had already been informed of this enemy army.
The range of scouts was very broad.
A standard military scout could cover a large area. They were often at least a hundred li away from the center of the army, and the farther they were, the better.
They were the eyes and ears of the army, its mouthpiece.
Wang Chong was certain that this Tibetan army had been several hundred li away at the start, but in just two hours, they had suddenly been able to advance until they were not even fifty li away.
This was not something an average commander could do.
There was no doubt in his mind that the Tibetans he was facing were a very proactive and aggressive army!
Cavalry charges had always emphasized adaptability and the element of surprise.
A commander that specialized in leading cavalry would not be an ordinary one.
"Let's go and take a look!"
Wang Chong mounted his horse and left a trail of dust behind him as he galloped toward the Tibetan army.
On the peak of the nearest hill, Wang Chong, Old Eagle, and Li Siye immediately saw the dense and imposing ranks of the Ü-Tsang army.
The army was like a black belt, stretching endlessly to the horizon. But it was motionless, not a single one of its over one thousand soldiers making a single noise.
This sight caused Old Eagle and Li Siye to raise their brows.
"This army is more than one thousand!"
"At least three thousand! Why did the scouts say that it was only one thousand?"
Both Li Siye and Old Eagle had rather unsightly complexions. The might of heavy cavalry far surpasssed that of infantry. Three thousand Tibetan cavalry was enough to fight with three or four times their number.
This also meant that the Tibetan force was already enough to deal with an army of ten thousand soldiers, a number that their own couldn't even reach.
More importantly, Tibetans were much stronger in numbers.
One thousand Tibetan heavy cavalry could form a middle-level Halo of Fortress, massively buffing their defense.
Three thousand Tibetan cavalry…
This level of Halo of Fortress was enough to put enormous pressure on a Great Tang army. Without an effective means of dealing with it, such an army was certain to deal their forces a heavy blow.
At this moment, even Old Eagle and Li Siye could only look to Wang Chong. Although they had been his constant companions, Wang Chong alone had commanded this force.
"Don't get anxious yet. Things aren't that simple!" Wang Chong indifferently said. "Can't you see that their forces have stopped there and haven't come over?"
The two were astonished, and then they realized that this really was the case.
"Sixty li is enough distance for them to push their speed to its limit, an effect no less inferior to if they were charging down from the Tibetan Plateau. If this were a plain, they would have already charged over," Wang Chong calmly said.
At his level, there was very little that could move him.
"What do you mean?"
Li Siye scratched his head, a confused look on his face. He wouldn't be afraid no matter how many enemies were charging toward him, but he really wasn't that proficient at strategy and calculation.
"Look over there, isn't that a forest!"
Wang Chong's words seemed to stir the pair from a dream.
Li Siye and Old Eagle instantly understood. The southwest was a lowland made up of small hills.
It wasn't very flat. More importantly, a lush forest lay between their training area and the Tibetan army.
The trees here grew close together, so it was obvious that any cavalry charge would be greatly limited. It was even very possible that a cavalry charge would have to come to a complete halt.
This was the reason the Tibetans had suddenly stopped their advance.
"I have to hand it to Li Zhengyi!"
Wang Chong felt quite emotional as he looked at this forest. The geography of the southwest was complicated. Although a large portion of it was inhabited, quite a significant part of it was still untamed.
After all, this place was still not as rich and populated as the empire's interior.
In Li Zhengyi's advance, he had used the official roads, but he had also avoided cities and villages.
It had partially been to avoid disturbing the populace, but it had also led the Tibetan army away from the populated areas and kept the civilians from being caught in the crossfire.
In normal circumstances, the Tibetans would have never given up on a chance to loot and plunder, but the guides provided by Geluofeng had limited their opportunities to do so.
Meanwhile, the establishment of Lion City had allowed the 80,000 elites to survive.
Huoshu Huicang was eager to assail his enemies, so after defeating Li Zhengyi, he led the majority of his army back to Erhai, thus minimizing the damage caused to the populace.
But Wang Chong knew that all this was temporary. Once Lion City fell and Huoshu Huicang cleaned up the rest of the Annan Protectorate army, the entire southwest would become a living hell.
Temporary peace did not mean eternal safety.
Huoshu Huicang and the Tibetan army had only temporarily drawn back their fangs. The Sword of Damocles1 was still hanging over the southwest.
"Gather the army and prepare to move out!"
Wang Chong's eyes flashed as he waved his arm, catching Old Eagle and Li Siye completely off guard with this sudden order.
The pair were stunned. Their foe was right in front of them, and the forest was the best wall, but now, Wang Chong was giving up this excellent position to strike first.
"Milord, in these circumstances, I do not recommend attacking. The Tibetans are all regular soldiers, while we only have reserve troops. We're no match for them in a frontal assault. In addition, a large part of our forces is infantry," Li Siye respectfully advised.
Having served in Beiting, Li Siye was well aware of the power of cavalry. Although Wang Chong had hired several thousand experts and put them on horses, those couldn't be considered cavalry. They were infantry at most.
The horses were just their means of transportation.
This ad-hoc army might be enough in an infantry battle, but it was totally insufficient against the Ü-Tsang cavalry, which used charges as their main method of attack.
The only troops that could play any role in this battle were the one thousand clan experts that Wang Chong had recruited!
"Li Siye, you still don't get it? It's not that I want to engage in a frontal assault, but we have no other choice. Have you forgotten about the Annan Protectorate army? If we can't even defeat these three thousand Tibetan cavalry, how can we deal with the hundreds of thousands of soldiers in the combined Ü-Tsang–Mengshe Zhao army?"
Wang Chong spoke with a tone that sounded like he completely understood everything.
Old Eagle and Li Siye shivered, unable to retort. Wang Chong had led this army not to save the 60,000 soldiers of Li Zhengyi's army, but to rescue the 80,000 elites in Lion City.
So their opponent was the hundreds of thousands of soldiers that made up the joint army of Mengshe Zhao and Ü-Tsang.
Compared to that vast army, they were a drop of water in the ocean, an ant trying to shake a tree.
Wang Chong had never brought this point up with the army before, but he had hidden nothing from his close aides!
"I understand," Li Siye slowly said, seemingly coming to a decision.
1.The Sword of Damocles refers to a story about a Greek king known as Dionysius who had a pandering courtier known as Damocles. Damocles had always praised Dionysius for the great fame and fortune the king enjoyed, and Dionysius one day offered Damocles to opportunity to sit on the throne and enjoy these luxuries. Damocles readily accepted, but he realized to his horror that the king had set up a sword to hang over the throne, held up by only a single horsehair, symbolizing the danger that came from holding a position of authority.↩