Chapter 741: Dayan Mangban's Counterattack
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
"Has Dusong Mangpoje gone senile?! Useless thing, completely wasting the chance I gave him. He only dispatched two thousand people to attack a city!
"And this Dayan Mangban—I thought that he was someone of reputation on the steppe. I didn't think… that he was really just trash!
"Does the Tibetan Plateau have no one else except We Tadra Khonglo and Dalon Trinling?"
In the protectorate headquarters, Fumeng Lingcha had spent a restless night on his throne. Ever since his meeting with Wang Chong, he had ordered his spies to report back to him on the City of Steel both day and night. No movement there could evade his gaze. As a result, Fumeng Lingcha almost immediately knew of Dayan Mangban's defeat.
At this very moment, Fumeng Lingcha's veins were bulging out of his forehead like earthworms and his face was red from rage, his hands trembling in both anger and disappointment. 'Colluding' with foreign powers, inviting a wolf into the house—he had taken unimaginable risks, as the consequences of these charges if sent to the Imperial Court would be unthinkable.
But even after he had taken these enormous risks, the Tibetans had still failed. Fumeng Lingcha's rage was easy to imagine.
Wushang was so close that it was like a fishbone in Fumeng Lingcha's throat that he wanted to spit out as quickly as possible.
Before one wave had settled, another was rising. At this moment, a panicked voice came from outside the hall. "Milord, it's bad! The Tibet-Vanquishing Camp was attacked! More than five thousand of our warriors have been killed, as has General Pulan!"
Stunned, Fumeng Lingcha immediately stood up.
There was only one General Pulan in the Qixi Protectorate, and that was Pulan He, one of his trusted aides. Just like him, General Pulan was also a Hu.
Pulan He was a powerful warrior and a veteran of many years in the Western Regions. He was incredibly experienced and had contributed many times to the efforts against the Tibetans. He could be considered one of Fumeng Lingcha's most reliable subordinates.
"Impossible! Are you sure you have the right person?!"
Fumeng Lingcha's first reaction was denial.
Fumeng Lingcha had just finished speaking when another panicked voice came from outside, followed by the galloping of a horse.
A gust of wind blew in as a travel-worn officer strode in and kneeled.
"The Tibet-Vanquishing Army has sent an urgent report. Their camp was attacked and General Pulan has been killed!"
The officer had a scarlet messenger banner extending from his back. This banner was only used in the army for extremely important news.
Buzz! At the sight of this banner, Fumeng Lingcha's body began to tremble, and he could no longer suppress his bellow of fury.
This roar thundered into the heavens and echoed over all of Qixi.
The City of Steel was brightly lit and a hive of activity.
"Lord Marquis! We've finished the investigation. Yesterday, a convoy was attacked on the road to Wushang. We sent guards to assist, but because the merchants were uninjured and the goods unharmed, everyone didn't mind and the incident was not reported."
In his newly-built residence, built in an ancient style with carved beams and painted rafters, Wang Chong was seated cross-legged on the ground, several officers in front of him.
A tall and thin officer was currently perusing a daily register.
Wang Chong raised an eyebrow and asked, "Did you find the people who transported the steel?"
"Reporting to Lord Marquis: since the incident was only yesterday, they are still within the city. They were planning to leave tomorrow. I have already called them over and they are waiting outside," Chen Bin said.
Wang Chong nodded, and a few somewhat frightened merchants were brought in. They were closely questioned, and all their answers were as he expected.
The ones who had ambushed them had covered their faces with cloth, leaving only their eyes exposed. The members of the convoy had believed that they were some nearby group of bandits. However, since none of them had been injured and none of the goods had been damaged, they hadn't paid too much attention to the raid.
At the time, for fear of their reputation, the merchants had persuaded the guards to suppress the matter.
But the situation now had clearly left them very uneasy.
Wang Chong half-closed his eyes, his body slightly leaning back against his sandalwood chair, the index finger of his right hand lightly tapping against the armrest.
These people had no experience, so they had no idea. However, Wang Chong had taken part in a bandit extermination, so he was well aware that bandits and brigands all had weapons stained in blood, were straightforward acolytes of death. Robbing and raiding were as essential to their lives as eating and drinking.
Thus, if these were actual bandits, they would have never taken that extra step of covering their faces.
It was obvious that the Tibetans had been concealing their identity.
Dayan Mangban is truly quite difficult to deal with!
Wang Chong continued to unwittingly drum his fingers on the armrest as he thought.
Even as an opponent, Wang Chong had to praise Dayan Mangban for thinking of this plan to infiltrate the city. This was truly the only flaw in the entire City of Steel.
Wushang was a barren and deserted land, so all its steel was imported from the capital and the other provinces of the Great Tang. A long journey meant a long supply train, allowing many variables to appear during the process.
Dayan Mangban had exploited this point.
"If we had been able to discover this before the Tibetan assault, it would have been a good thing, not a bad one. Pass on my order that all goods have to be opened for inspection when entering the city. In addition, any incident, no matter how small, must be reported and recorded, even if it wasn't near the City of Steel!" Wang Chong said.
"Yes, Lord Marquis!"
The gathered officers all bowed.
A set of hurried footsteps came from outside. A soldier hurried in, causing the room to fall silent and everyone to turn to him.
"Lord Marquis, an urgent report has come from the front. A camp of the Qixi Protectorate army on the Tibetan border was attacked. The protectorate army suffered more than five thousand casualties and General Pulan He was killed in battle!"
Everyone in the room reeled in shock at these words.
"Was it Dusong Mangpoje?" an officer next to Wang Chong asked.
"No, it was Dayan Mangban!" the soldier replied.
All the officers showed expressions of disbelief, and even Wang Chong couldn't help but frown.
Dayan Mangban had just been defeated, had lost two to three hundred men to Wang Chong. That he would suddenly change directions and attack a camp of the Qixi Protectorate army was something that no one had expected.
"Has this news been confirmed?"
Wang Chong rested his hands against the armrest and slowly got out of his chair.
"Yes, Lord Marquis! The news has probably already reached both Qixi and the Imperial Court," the kneeling soldier deferentially said.
"So this can also happen!"
Wang Chong raised his head and closed his eyes once more, a deep confusion on his face.
This was yet another event that had not occurred in Wang Chong's memories. If he had not appeared in Wushang, Dayan Mangban would not have come down from the plateau to deal with him.
If he had not failed in the assault and been forced to return in defeat, Dayan Mangban would not have attacked the Qixi Protectorate army to vent his spleen and Pulan He would not have died in this battle.
All of these events were interconnected.
"Lord Marquis, this is a good chance!"
Cheng Sanyuan's eyes were bright as he began to speak.
"Today's incident was only because Fumeng Lingcha let the Tibetans in for his own selfish gain. We can use this to report to the Imperial Court and get rid of Fumeng Lingcha."
Cheng Sanyuan's words immediately found support amongst the other officers.
"That's right. Fumeng Lingcha brought his army to the City of Steel and threatened Lord Marquis, so this time, Lord Marquis can bite back."
"He gave up the public good for private gain this time. Let's see how he explains himself to the Imperial Court."
"Five to six thousand losses isn't a minor matter. Fumeng Lingcha probably never imagined that he would one day also have to learn what the phrase 'to try and steal a chicken and lose the rice used to lure it' means."
"Lord Marquis, we can't let him go this time."
The officers voiced their opinions.
They could easily imagine the pressure Fumeng Lingcha was under after making such a huge mistake.
Wang Chong raised a hand and silenced the officers.
The room instantly became deathly still. All of the officers lowered their heads in silence, respectful looks on their faces.
In the City of Steel, there was only one voice, and that was Wang Chong's. When Wang Chong decided on something, there would never be a second voice.
"This incident can't topple Fumeng Lingcha," Wang Chong said.
Although he didn't have any good opinion of Fumeng Lingcha, and had even been personally threatened by him, Wang Chong couldn't feel the slightest joy or excitement at this time.
Those five thousand soldiers of the Qixi Protectorate army might have been Fumeng Lingcha's subordinates, but they were still soldiers of the Great Tang. In this way, the losses of the Qixi Protectorate army were the losses of the Great Tang.
Thus, Wang Chong truly found it difficult to feel happy.
But this matter firmed up Wang Chong's conviction that Fumeng Lingcha was no longer the right person for Qixi Protector-General. If he had not been obsessed with his own selfish aims and allowed Dayan Mangban to enter, this never would have happened.
Wang Chong was sure that when the Qixi Protectorate army had allowed Dayan Mangban in, it had never expected Dayan Mangban to bite back.
There was no denying the connection between this and Pulan He's death.
It was impermissible for a Protector-General wielding enormous influence to end up in this situation.
Wang Chong quickly regained his composure, pushing these thoughts aside.
"…But letting him off is making things too easy for him. If he remains in this position, who know how many soldiers will die? I will submit a memorial to the court on this matter. Regardless, he is no longer suitable for the seat of Qixi Protector-General."
Wang Chong's words were instantly greeted with a chorus of cheers. Fumeng Lingcha was too famous, his status too high. When he had come with his soldiers to threaten Wang Chong, everyone had felt so oppressed that they felt it difficult to breathe.
Now, they could finally give him a lesson.
"Lord Marquis is wise. Fumeng Lingcha is truly not very suitable for the seat of Qixi Protector-General."
"Dayan Mangban and his more than two thousand soldiers put their all into attacking our City of Steel, using schemes, feints, battering rams, and even Metal element warriors, but he still had to leave in defeat. Lord Marquis even killed more than two hundred of his men. Fumeng Lingcha has so many soldiers, but he lost more than five thousand to Dayan Mangban. The difference is noticeable at a glance."
"To think that Fumeng Lingcha still has the face to flaunt and threaten Lord Marquis."
"In my view, Lord Marquis is the best candidate for Protector-General!"
The officers voiced their opinions.