Chapter 557: Dalun Ruozan's Judgment! The Astonishing Result
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
The appearance of a mysterious youth had suddenly flipped around the situation in the southwest. In the first stage, the Tibetan army had won victory after victory, practically encountering no opposition. But in the second stage, it had been dealt two major defeats in a single night, losing fifty to sixty thousand soldiers.
When they were all excited to completely wipe out the Annan Protectorate army and sweep over the Great Tang's southwest, this reversal had been like a sharp blow to the head.
No one knew where this mysterious youth had come from, and even Jiaosiluo and Fengjiayi had only clashed with him once. But right now, this Ü-Tsang Great Minister who had never even seen this youth or participated in any of the battles was now stating that he knew who this youth was.
"Great Minister, are you speaking the truth?" Fengjiayi asked, a look of astonishment on his face.
He had only ever heard of the deeds of this Ngari Great Minister, and knew that he was extremely intelligent and capable. Once, when the Great Tang's Zhangchou Jianqiong worked with the other protectorates to initiate a 'disciplining operation', it was Dalun Ruozan who managed to eventually cause the abandonment of the plan.
Fengjiayi didn't understand Dalun Ruozan, but he did understand Zhangchou Jianqiong, who was now in the capital. Zhangchou Jianqiong had a burning ambition to make a name for himself in the southwest and use his achievements on the battlefield to enter the Imperial Court.
Moreover, under Zhangchou Jianqiong, the Great Tang's relationship with Mengshe Zhao was not so stiff, and there had even been a honeymoon period. Back then, Zhangchou Jianqiong had once attempted to incite Mengshe Zhao into joining the Great Tang in attacking the plateau.
But in the end, none of these operations succeeded.
In the end, even someone as ambitious as Zhangchou Jianqiong had to quietly stand guard in the Annan Protectorate for several decades. This was not the work of Great General Huoshu Huicang, but the Great Minister of the Ngari Royal Lineage.
I have long heard that the Great Ministers of Ü-Tsang are all incredibly perceptive people with astonishing intelligence. All of them are well-learned, scholars of great erudition exceedingly familiar with all the classics of the Central Plains. Moreover, they have all been infused with secret techniques from the enigmatic Great Snow Mountain Holy Temple, and empowered with an astonishing foresight, like a cicada that can tell the end of summer before the autumn winds begin to blow. In the past, I thought that this description must be an exaggeration. But if Dalun Ruozan can determine who that youth is from just these words, then he truly is terrifying.
Fengjiayi's eyes shone as countless thoughts flashed through his mind.
Ü-Tsang had four Royal Lineages, four Great Ministers, and one Prime Minister. Dalun Ruozan was only one of the Great Ministers. If he really did have this sort of skill, then what of the three other Great Ministers and the one minister serving the Tsenpo? The thought was truly a chilling one.
A faint apprehension suffused Fengjiayi's heart.
Royal Father is borrowing the power of Ü-Tsang to deal with the Great Tang, but Ü-Tsang itself is a wolf, and an extremely fierce one at that. If Mengshe Zhao and Ü-Tsang break into hostilities in the future, the kingdom will be in great danger!
With regards to borrowing the strength of the Ü-Tsang Empire, bringing their cavalry down south, Fengjiayi had actually always had a rather reserved attitude. Although he did not ardently oppose the move, he was also not very supportive of it. At the very least, he was internally conflicted about it.
And the stronger this general and minister of Ü-Tsang appeared, the more conflicted Fengjiayi felt.
"Haha, I wonder what Crown Prince Jiayi is thinking?"
A voice rang out in his ear. At some point, Dalun Ruozan had walked over, a half-smile on his lips that seemed to carry some profound meaning as he looked at Fengjiayi.
"It's nothing. I appreciate Great Minister's concern."
Fengjiayi's heart shivered as he quickly refocused. He knew that this Great Minister was extremely observant, and his thoughts were probably more frightening than he could possibly imagine.
"…That brat's origins are uncertain. If we can truly find out who he is and use that knowledge to find his weak points, that would be for the best. Fengjiayi is willing to listen to Great Minister's brilliant ideas."
"Hahaha, it's actually not that difficult. Although I've never met that youth you speak of, participated in those battles, or observed how he commands his troops, just determining his identity truly isn't very difficult. I already know his background."
Dalun Ruozan paced forward, waving his feather fan, attracting everyone's notice.
In military affairs, there were things that a civil official should handle and things that a military official should handle, so whenever Huoshu Huicang was present, Dalun Ruozan would rarely interfere. He mainly stepped in for questions of strategy.
"Strategy and tactics are secrets that are not passed on outside of their clans. No outsider would be able to learn such things. In addition, you mentioned that he was wearing Wang Fu's armor…"
Here, Dalun Ruozan chuckled before continuing.
"The part of the Annan Protectorate army commanded by Wang Yan truly has only two commanders. One is Wang Yan and the other is his eldest son Wang Fu. These two are the two commanders with the highest actual authority in that army. The art of war is of vital importance to the state, so how can any ordinary soldier dare to randomly put on the commander's armor? They wouldn't even dare to think of it. The moment this youth appeared, he replaced Wang Fu and wore his armor. If this person didn't have an illustrious background and incredible confidence, how could he dare to exceed and offend his superiors?"
"Great Minister, forgive me for speaking out of turn, but the Great Tang is replete with rich and wealthy scions of illustrious background. Isn't this insufficient to determine the identity of that youth?"
The King of Mengshe Zhao, Geluofeng, frowned as he spoke. He was actually quite curious about this youth, but curiosity did not mean admiration. It was the curiosity aimed at a threat that needed to be extinguished as quickly as possible.
The Great Tang in the Central Plains had so many talented individuals that it was impossible to count them. Wang Zhongsi, Geshu Han, Gao Xianzhi, Zhang Shougui, Zhangchou Jianqiong, Wang Yan, Xianyu Zhongtong… far too many. Now, at this crucial moment, some unfathomable youth with an incredible grasp of strategy and tactics had joined their ranks.
Having such a powerful empire as one's neighbor made it impossible to eat or sleep. No one knew when the Great Tang might some day grow dissatisfied and send their forces to quash Mengshe Zhao, or perhaps decide to change dynasties and set up a new sovereign.
This was one of the reasons Geluofeng had chosen to oppose the Tang.
With regards to the dangers originating from the Great Tang, especially those visible threats, he wanted to extinguish all of them while they were still in the cradle so as to prevent them from maturing into lethal threats.
"Haha, if this were all, it naturally wouldn't be enough."
Dalun Ruozan chuckled and continued, "But Huoshu Huicang also said that the commander of the army last night wasn't Wang Yan or Xianyu Zhongtong. Two highest-ranked commanders of the Great Tang in this region had joined together to ambush Longqinba. This definitely wasn't their style. Someone who can command both Wang Yan and Xianyu Zhongtong? Think about it; who could do such a thing?"
Everyone fell into silent thought.
Even Huoshu Huicang and Geluofeng began to contemplate the problem. None of them had ever pondered the problem posed by Dalun Ruozan.
Even Fengjiayi and Jiaosiluo were dumbfounded. In terms of curiosity, no one was more interested in the identity of this youth than the two who had been dealt two vicious defeats by him.
Yet not even they had ever considered Dalun Ruozan's question before.
"Putting Wang Yan aside for now, Xianyu Zhongtong is someone who was personally selected by Zhangchou Jianqiong. That fellow only chooses people based on their loyalty. Wang Yan might be willing to hand over his authority, but Xianyu Zhongtong would never do so lightly. Unless…"
With a sudden flash of insight, everyone understood.
"Unless that person had been appointed by Zhangchou Jianqiong!"
At this moment, all of them shared the same thought.
"Correct. In that short period of time, why would Xianyu Zhongtong hand over his authority? And why would he listen to that youth's plans and work together with Wang Yan to ambush Longqinba? It isn't like there's no one in this world who can order Xianyu Zhongtong around and make him keep a low profile, but they are few and far between. Zhangchou Jianqiong is definitely one of these people. I would even dare to wager that this child has Zhangchou Jianqiong's personal token!"
Dalun Ruozan waved his feather fan as he spoke these final words with absolute conviction.
The tent was deathly still. Even the King of Mengshe Zhao was speechless. Dalun Ruozan had never even seen this opponent, but from these few recounts, he was able to conclude that they had Zhangchou Jianqiong's personal token.
Yet even Geluofeng felt that his words had struck true.
"But how could Zhangchou Jianqiong give his personal token to someone else? That fellow is paranoid and would never lightly hand his right to authority to someone else. And if this person is so formidable that he could make Zhangchou Jianqiong give him his personal token, why have we never heard of him before?"
"Hahaha, this is the interesting part."
Dalun Ruozan's eyes began to brightly glow. The southwestern battlefield no longer had any variables. The battle from last night had only been an accident.
The torrential rain, the darkness, and the failure of the Mengshe Zhao and Tibetan armies to arrive at the same time had produced that result. But the fate of the Annan Protectorate army was still settled.
What he was interested in now was the sudden appearance of this mysterious youth with an almost godly understanding of strategy and tactics.
"Who said that we have never heard of him before? It is only that Your Majesty does not know. Zhangchou Jianqiong would naturally never give his personal token to a stranger, and this stranger would never be able to make Xianyu Zhongtong give up his military authority of his own volition. But if this person was someone who Zhangchou Jianqiong was close with and who shared the same interests, then there's no problem. For example, someone of the Wang Clan, perhaps Wang Yan's youngest son, perhaps the person who constructed Lion City…"
Like a rock stirring countless ripples, Dalun Ruozan's final conclusion swept through the tent like a gale, stirring massive storms in everyone's minds. Even Huoshu Huicang's mind was agitated, thrown into great turmoil.
With regards to the youngest son of the Wang Clan, not too many people might know who that was, but with regards to the person who had built Lion City and created a massive problem for Mengshe Zhao and Ü-Tsang, no one in these two countries didn't know who that was.
And Fengjiayi and Jiaosiluo, who had already clashed with Wang Chong, were the most stunned of all.
"How could it be him…"