Chapter 558: Dalun Ruozan's Insight!
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
If one had to point out the people who had created the most problems for the personages assembled in the tent, it would not be Wang Yan and Wang Fu, who had led their army across vast distances to suddenly kill their way into the city and lend it their mastery of defense. Rather, it was the person who had constructed Lion City in the first place, Wang Chong.
At the very start, the Tibetans had jeered at the people of Mengshe Zhao.
But after they experienced the powerful defensive capabilities of that city and were forced to understand again and again the critical and vexing position the city held over the Erhai plains and all of the Great Tang's southwest, they stopped making fun of the Mengshe Zhao soldiers.
The Tibetans didn't have too great an understanding of the people of the Central Plains. At most, they knew that the commanders of the Tang army were Xianyu Zhongtong and Wang Yan. But in terms of reputation, both Xianyu Zhongtong and Wang Yan were a distant second place to Wang Chong.
Right now, even the lowest-level Tibetan soldier knew the name of 'Wang Chong'. This name was often accompanied by all sorts of strange theories.
In the Great Tang army, there were many people saying that this mysterious youth in the distant capital had long ago predicted that Mengshe Zhao and Ü-Tsang would start this war. This was because though Lion City was nominally claimed to be for the purpose of commerce, its defenses and various other preparations clearly indicated that it had been meant for war!
Even the Tibetans had accepted this explanation.
Even Fengjiayi and Jiaosiluo had found themselves interested in this youth called Wang Chong. Although the two didn't believe that he had that much foresight, no one could doubt that the existence of Lion City was a massive hindrance to the strategies of the Mengshe–Ü-Tsang army, dealing an incalculable blow to the war effort.
And the name 'Wang Chong' became an existence that the Mengshe–Ü-Tsang army could not ignore.
But no one had expected that he would suddenly drop from the heavens, moving from the capital to the southwest. In addition, he had also defeated Jiaosiluo and Fengjiayi. Even the esteemed Ü-Tsang Great General Huoshu Huicang had suffered a minor defeat, having been lured by Wang Chong like a tiger from its mountain.
The first to react with a complete rejection of this result was neither Jiaosiluo nor Geluofeng. It was Fengjiayi.
"How could that brat be this formidable?"
His wide-open eyes were a whirlpool of emotions. Constructing a city and commanding soldiers were two completely different concepts. Even when he had first heard that it had been that brat who had constructed that vexing Lion City, Fengjiayi had felt that the fellow was a threat to Mengshe Zhao.
But this was completely different from Wang Chong commanding troops to defeat him.
"Great Minister, you are sure that it is him?"
Jiaosiluo fiercely raised his head, his words voicing the question on everyone's mind. Although he already believed Dalun Ruozan, Jiaosiluo still felt that the Great Minister was a little too certain with this conclusion.
"That's right. Great Minister, that Wang Jiuling is praised as a wise minister of the Great Tang. In his time, the Great Tang was a shining place. Even the Great Tang's Son of Heaven was raised up by him. He has three sons and one daughter. The eldest son is an important minister of the Great Tang, while his third son Wang Yan is an accomplished military general whose defense might be even tighter than Xianyu Zhongtong's. If we add on Wang Fu and Wang Chong, wouldn't the Wang Clan be a clan bursting with talents?"
Geluofeng's hands rested on the armrests of his chair, his eyes showing a slight turmoil. He had apparently found it rather hard to digest this news.
Although the former Prime Minister of the Great Tang Wang Jiuling had been retired for ten-some years, he still held enormous influence within the Great Tang. He had played a great part in creating the Great Tang's golden age, and though he was now old, he still represented a massive threat.
As long as he wasn't dead, his enemies wouldn't be able to rest easy.
Although Wang Jiuling was now old, he had many talented descendants, and his entire clan seemed to be full of ministers and generals. Just thinking about it gave Geluofeng a massive headache.
The Six Zhao of Erhai were too small. Although he had always had his ambitions, Mengshe Zhao was located on a plateau with thin air. Other than the Tibetans, it wasn't suitable for anyone else.
If Mengshe Zhao wanted to develop, if Geluofeng wanted to realize his ambitions and break free of his status as vassal, if he wanted to become an Emperor, he could only expand to the north, in the direction of the Great Tang.
The southwest of the Central Plains was connected to Mengshe Zhao and its lands were fertile, making it the ideal location to expand. This was the reason Geluofeng had ardently pursued an alliance with Ü-Tsang.
But even Geluofeng had to admit that the difficulties he faced in fulfilling his ambitions were far more serious than he had initially imagined.
"Hahaha, Your Majesty, in truth, it's actually not difficult at all to determine that young man's identity. Xianyu Zhongtong only obeys Zhangchou Jianqiong's orders. Any person who carries Zhangchou Jianqiong's orders will instantly gain Xianyu Zhongtong's military authority. But would Wang Yan give his own authority up so easily?
"I've heard that Wang Yan is old-fashioned and extremely inflexible. To make him hand over his military authority in the constantly changing battlefield, probably not even Zhangchou Jianqiong would be able to do that, no?"
Dalun Ruozan looked around at the crowd.
Everyone was quiet, with only Geluofeng and Duan Gequan appearing to fall into deep thought. The Tibetans didn't have too great of an understanding of the Great Tang, particularly when it came to matters involving the Imperial Court in its heartland.
But Geluofeng was different. He knew the internal affairs of the Great Tang like the back of his hand, so he knew that Dalun Ruozan's words were completely accurate.
"Moreover, why have none of you thought about this: there were so many people on that summit, so why did that child immediately rush off to the mountain occupied by Wang Fu? Unless they had a very close relationship, would he show such concern? So when you connect all these things and recall the Qilin son of the Wang Clan, tell me, who else except him could satisfy all these conditions?"
With these last words, Dalun Ruozan turned to quietly smile at the crowd. Unlike Huoshu Huicang, Dalun Ruozan had always focused his attention on strategic questions.
The loss of fifty thousand soldiers was a major incident for Huoshu Huicang and the Mengshe–Ü-Tsang army, but it was nothing at all to Dalun Ruozan.
One had to make sacrifices to obtain profits. In truth, when one considered the illustrious prestige of the Great Tang at its peak, a loss of fifty thousand soldiers was completely within Dalun Ruozan's expectations.
In contrast, Dalun Ruozan had found Geluofeng's initial victory over Xianyu Zhongtong and smooth progress rather strange and out of the ordinary.
The current results were what he expected from the normal Great Tang!
"Great Minister is correct. The only person that can fulfill all these conditions must be a descendant of the Wang Clan, and it is most likely to be Wang Yan's youngest son Wang Chong. Although I've never interacted with him before, since he constructed Lion City to hinder us and ruin our plans, he truly is the most likely candidate," Geluofeng gravely said.
"Hahaha, only now is this war starting to get interesting. I've always said that the Great Tang, with several centuries of resources, couldn't be so lacking in skill. A centipede can die but not topple, so why should the Great Tang of the Central Plains? Only now do I feel at ease about this war!"
As Dalun Ruozan waved his fan, he exuded a leisurely aura. It seemed like his side had not suffered any defeat whatsoever.
Geluofeng imperceptibly creased his brow, but he said nothing.
Geluofeng might have held his tongue, but Duan Gequan did not have such patience.
"Great Minister, do not forget that the Great Tang is our enemy!"
Although he admired Dalun Ruozan's penetrating insight, attention to detail, and ability to practically predict the movements of the enemy, Duan Gequan was deeply unsettled by Dalun Ruozan's ambiguous attitude toward the enemy.
They had just suffered a massive defeat, losing fifty thousand elite cavalry, yet Dalun Ruozan was smiling.
"Haha, General, please do not misunderstand me. Since my Ü-Tsang has mobilized soldiers, we're naturally prepared to deal with the Great Tang together with Mengshe Zhao. I'm just a little interested in that child. Although the Wang Clan is a clan of ministers and generals, Wang Jiuling made his name as a civil official. He was able to sweep over the world in his time by relying on his loyal subordinates and powerful warriors. Purely in terms of the art of war, he can still rank in the first class, but he is far from the level that most of us imagine. Otherwise, Wang Yan still wouldn't be without a noble title."
Dalun Ruozan slowly paced, waving his feather fan, a look of amusement on his face.
"I'm just rather curious. The level of military strategy in the Wang Clan is not sufficient to teach someone to the level that all of you have described. Then where did that child learn his strategy and tactics from? The tactics that child used weren't even used by Wang Jiuling, Wang Zhongsi, or Zhang Shougui in the northeast, much less here, so where did a mere teenager learn them from?
"I know the classics of the Central Plains like the palm of my hand, so why have I never seen such tactics?"
Dalun Ruozan's eyes began to shine brighter and brighter.
Almost based purely on instinct, he felt that the Qilin son of the Wang Clan was completely different from any person he had ever encountered. Dalun Ruozan sensed a massive potential on his body.
"Huoshu Huicang, Your Majesty, ministers and generals, when the battle begins, I do not care how you deal with the Annan Protectorate army, but you must capture that child alive!"
"What sort of joke are you playing? How can one go easy on the battlefield? Moreover, that child is too much of a threat to us. The longer he remains alive, the more people he will kill. This person should be killed as quickly as possible, but you want to capture him alive?"
The veins on Huoshu Huicang's forehead were bulging in rage. Although Dalun Ruozan was the Great Minister of the Ngari Royal Lineage, ranking above him, Huoshu Huicang had never truly treated him as his superior.
And even if Dalun Ruozan was his superior, Huoshu Huicang didn't need to listen to his orders. That was just how his personality was.
"Hahaha, just listen to me. I suspect that this brat has a never-before-seen military text on his person. If we capture and interrogate him, it will definitely be of great benefit to our Ü-Tsang. Moreover, in the end, this will be a boon to you.
"When soldiers meet on the battlefield, casualties are inevitable. Moreover, casualties are only for a moment, but if we obtain the military texts from that child, it will be a legacy that will last for generations. For our Ü-Tsang, this prize far surpasses fifty thousand soldiers. This is a chance delivered to our doorstep. No matter what, we cannot let it pass by… if we don't want to face an endless stream of generals the likes of Wang Jiuling, Wang Zhongsi, Zhang Shougui, Gao Xianzhi, and Geshu Han, that is."
With these final words, Dalun Ruozan had a most profound gaze.
A Great General saw victory on a single battlefield, but the Great Minister looked toward the fate of the entire empire in following decades, centuries, millennia. This was where Dalun Ruozan and Huoshu Huicang differed.
Geluofeng and Duan Gequan were left dazed by Dalun Ruozan's words. The two of them glanced at each other, but neither of them said anything.
Everyone said that the Ngari Great Minister Dalun Ruozan had an almost fiendish knowledge. While the rest of them had been talking of yesterday's defeat and the mysterious Tang youth's effect on the Mengshe–Ü-Tsang army, Dalun Ruozan had already identified who this youth was and had even smelled an enormous opportunity through this defeat.
Ü-Tsang is already strong enough. They have one Dalun Ruozan, one Huoshu Huicang, and three other ministers and four generals. If they obtain any formidable military text, our Mengshe Zhao will have sent off a tiger only to welcome a wolf. In the end, we'll still be a vassal to a foreign kingdom. We have to kill that Wang Chong as soon as we can or else think of a way to capture him for ourselves. No matter what, we can't let Ü-Tsang get him.
Though Geluofeng sat unmoving in his chair, his face expressionless, his mind was abuzz with countless thoughts.
Mengshe Zhao and Ü-Tsang were both allies and enemies. They had to cooperate, but they also needed to be wary of each other.
This was the reality of their relationship!