Chapter 543: The Fierce Tiger Leaves the Gate! Huoshu Huicang's Strike
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
"But right now, who in the southwestern territory can help us? Could it be the Wang Clan father and son? But shouldn't they be far away by now? Did they come back to help us?"
The tall and thin general grew increasingly doubtful. Subconsciously, he turned to look at his Protector-General, Xianyu Zhongtong.
Xianyu Zhongtong had been appointed by the previous protector-general, Zhangchou Jianqiong. If it wasn't for this incident, even though he lacked the qualifications to completely command the obedience of these soldiers, even though the soldiers still held some objections, all of them would have accepted this result for the sake of Zhangchou Jianqiong. But right now…
Everyone knew that the Annan Protectorate army was only united on the surface while internally a complete mess. Otherwise, a large portion of its soldiers wouldn't have left with the Wang Clan father and son.
However, despite this, there were still many people in the protectorate army who were willing to follow Xianyu Zhongtong, the successor appointed by Zhangchou Jianqiong.
Victory and defeat were both commonplace for a soldier, and a defeat in battle was not necessarily the fault of a soldier. In the view of a general, the mobilization of both Mengshe Zhao and Ü-Tsang, a total of over five hundred thousand soldiers, was not something the Annan Protectorate army could ever have dealt with.
Mengshe Zhao had never before worked with Ü-Tsang. Even if Protector-General Zhangchou Jianqiong were here, he would probably be similarly helpless.
"I don't know…"
Xianyu Zhongtong looked down the mountain in silence. To tell the truth, he had rather complicated feelings about the Wang Clan father and son, but these feelings were far from anything that could be described as hatred. On the contrary, he felt some gratitude. If the youngest son of the Wang Clan hadn't built Lion City, and if the Wang Clan father and son hadn't brought soldiers and rallied the morale of his own troops, the southwest army would have probably already been wiped out.
Xianyu Zhongtong had always understood that while his talent and understanding of the art of war was more than enough to be a general, it was also far from enough to be an influential Imperial Protector-General whose words could shake the world.
But everything had been decided by Lord Zhangchou Jianqiong, and even Xianyu Zhongtong could only accept it.
However, no matter what, he was solely responsible for the current plight of the Annan Protectorate army.
"Although I don't know what's going on, there's one thing that I can be sure of. The one commanding the troops below isn't Wang Yan or his son!"
Xianyu Zhongtong took in a deep breath as he broke free of his stupor. Even if these generals might only be loyal to him on the surface, as the commander-in-chief, Xianyu Zhongtong still had the duty of leading his soldiers out of this predicament.
"…Wang Yan's style is clean and excessively cautious. Given his temperament, he would never use this sort of surprise-attack strategy. As for Wang Fu, his intelligence and flexibility surpass his father's, as well as mine, but… he still wouldn't be able to pull off such a feat!"
Xianyu Zhongtong had followed the Lord Protector-General for many years, and though his strength hadn't reached that level, his insight had.
"But if it isn't the Wang Clan father and son, who else could it be?" the southwest general with the scar on his left brow asked in surprise.
Of all the generals of the southwest at present, those who could match or exceed Xianyu Zhongtong's level in strategy and tactics were only the Wang Clan father and son. But if not even they could pull off this sort of strategy, just who was it that was leading these attacks against the Tibetans?
The general with the scar on his left brow was stupefied, this answer completely catching him by surprise.
"Could it be that another formidable figure has appeared in the southwest? Could it be Li Zhengyi? But didn't he die in battle?"
This general's mind was in turmoil.
"There's no need to overthink it. No matter where he comes from, there's one thing we can be sure of: he's a friend, not an enemy! Pass on my order! All soldiers should do their utmost to hold the Tibetans down."
Xianyu Zhongtong's eyes flashed as he raised his right arm and gave the order.
And with Xianyu Zhongtong's order, the entire army rumbled to life.
Although he was no master of reckless offensives and proactive assaults, he was a mighty general when it came to infantry defense. Thus, even though Huoshu Huicang had double Xianyu Zhongtong's number of troops, he was still unable to break down Xianyu Zhongtong's forces.
War drums thundered as cries of battle filled the sky. The army once more plunged into an intense battle.
"Milord, we've been attacked in the southwest!"
"The enemy disguised as our own forces and we've been dealt heavy casualties!"
"If this continues, the army will collapse!"
"Milord, the southeast has been attacked again!"
At the base of the mountain, Huoshu Huicang was seated on a highland steed that was taller than a man. Around him, messenger after messenger was riding forward. At the start, Huoshu Huicang had not really cared about these irritating attacks. If battles could be won through these troublemaking methods, battles wouldn't need to be fought. Everyone would just use these strategies.
As the personal commander of one hundred thousand soldiers and the commander-in-chief of the more than two hundred thousand elites of the Ngari Royal Lineage, Huoshu Huicang thought of these methods as childish tricks, or to describe it more accurately, self-destruction.
But what happened next was completely beyond his expectations.
The southeast, the southwest, the northwest… his army was being attacked from every angle, and the order of attack had been completely disrupted.
The army in four places was in absolute turmoil, and there was no way to order them to attack.
Through these harassing attacks, a mere few thousand cavalry had managed to throw an army of one hundred thousand into utter mayhem. Even someone with Huoshu Huicang's insight could have never conceived this sort of plan.
"When did such a formidable figure appear in the Annan Protectorate army?!"
Huoshu Huicang's eyes shone with almost physical rays of chilling light.
After all these harassing attacks, Huoshu Huicang finally began to realize that he had made a mistake. His enemy's abilities in the art of war were stupendous and not something any normal general could possess. To put it more accurately, before this, Huoshu Huicang had never believed that anyone could make harassing attacks produce this much of an effect.
"Milord, what should we do? What if your subordinate takes some soldiers and focuses on dealing with them?"
Longqinba's familiar voice rang out by his ear. This Tiger General was already furious at the chaos caused by these raids, but he didn’t feel that there was anything to be afraid of. If he could catch them once, he could immediately slay them all.
But for some reason, he had not managed to catch them even once.
It was like he was snatching at air. He had laid down many ambushes, but none of them had managed to seize the enemy. Longqinba had begun to wonder if his own luck was absolutely awful or if there was some other reason behind his failures.
"There's no need!"
Huoshu Huicang waved his hands.
"A large-scale mobilization can't be hidden from the enemy's eyes and ears. Moreover, this will result in a scattering of our forces. Most importantly… someone is already keeping a watch on you. It doesn't matter where you go; you won't be able to do anything!"
With these final words, Huoshu Huicang looked at this trusted general with a profound gaze.
The dissatisfied Longqinba was instantly dumbfounded.
Huoshu Huicang coldly snorted and indifferently said, "Hmph, did you really think that you still haven't been able to encounter the enemy once just because your luck was bad?"
He had never believed in coincidence, only in his own eyes. Longqinba was definitely being watched.
"But how could that be possible?" Longqinba said, his face covered in shock. There were a hundred thousand Tibetan warriors here, the base of the mountain range dense with their ranks. How could the enemy pin down his position? In truth, if he were in the enemy's position, even Longqinba would have found it difficult to keep track of where he was.
In truth, this was simply impossible.
This answer was too shocking, and it was far more important than the fact that Longqinba wasn't able to catch the raiders and give them a harsh lesson.
"There is nothing in this world that is impossible," Huoshu Huicang lightly said. Ignoring Longqinba, he slowly raised his chin, seeming to unintentionally look up to the sky. Longqinba was left alone with his thoughts.
"No! It's not impossible!"
Longqinba had a flash of insight, and his entire body trembled in shock. He suddenly raised his head, following Huoshu Huicang's to look up at the sky. Above him, the dark clouds hung low, lightning snaking through them and the pouring rain pounding against his face.
But there was nothing else in those dark clouds.
"No, there must be something!"
Longqinba clenched his fists, an indescribable feeling in his heart. Although he couldn't see anything, he felt certain that there was something behind those clouds.
"It seems like your reaction isn't that slow!" Huoshu Huicang indifferently said, his voice much calmer now. Although Longqinba had been a little slow, he had finally responded. In this rainy weather and the vast number of Tibetans around them, accurately keeping an eye on one person's movements was almost impossible. But 'almost impossible' was not the same as 'impossible'.
At the very least, if one looked down from the skies, Longqinba's movements were no secret.
"The enemy has most likely concluded that as commander-in-chief, I have to remain in the middle of the army to oversee the troops, and there are only a few people that I can send. Bachicheng is guarding the passes, and Jiaosiluo is with the Mengshe Zhao Crown Prince, so only you few are left. Of the Five Tiger Generals, you are the strongest, so they only need to keep an eye on you."
Huoshu Huicang's eyes glowed like torches, seeming to see the truth. If Wang Chong were here and heard these words, he would definitely be stunned, because this really was the truth. Huoshu Huicang was praised in the southwest as someone who could stand shoulder to shoulder with Zhangchou Jianqiong. It now seemed that this really was the case and that he could not be underestimated.
"Longqinba, go to the southeast and lure them over. As for me… this farce has gone on long enough. It's time for me to step out as well!"
Huoshu Huicang waved his hand and pressed on the flanks of his horse, galloping to the southwest with several dozen of his personal guards.
"No matter who you are, as long as you continue this game, you'll definitely come over… I will be waiting!"
Huoshu Huicang closed his eyes. His face was cold and emotionless, but his mind was a hive of activity.
Although he had remained in the middle of the army this entire time, he had not come away empty-handed. The Tang attacks seemed random and disorderly, but Huoshu Huicang had already caught on to their pattern. If everything went as expected, their next assault would be on the southwest.
And no matter who his enemy was, this time… he would wipe them all out!
As this thought flashed through his mind, Huoshu Huicang drew back his aura, becoming like a ghost as he swiftly vanished into the storm.