Chapter 808: Long-Distance Clash! Wang Chong! Fumeng Lingcha!
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
"You understand now?"
Wang Chong gave Li Siye a profound glance, knowing that he had understood the crux of the matter.
"Those carrier pigeons that Zhang Que thought nothing of were the key to all this. Fumeng Lingcha, that wily fox, is far more difficult to deal with than we imagined, far more cunning and crafty. If my guess is right, although he didn't know of our existence, he gave each of his subordinates a carrier pigeon so that they could inform him as soon as anything strange happened. Zhang Que was too careless. I'm guessing that after those targets were inspected by our people, they found a secluded place to release their carrier pigeons. Zhang Que was tricked!"
In the end, Wang Chong couldn't help but sigh. Zhang Que was truly quite an outstanding individual, but he hadn't taken into account who his opponent was. Fumeng Lingcha was a Protector-General with an incredibly shrewd mind. Even Wang Chong had to devote a hundred percent of his focus when dealing with him, much less Zhang Que.
"Right now, we're not dealing with those five people on the road, but Fumeng Lingcha in the distant Qixi Protectorate headquarters. This period is critical. If we can't make Fumeng Lingcha lower his guard, then our next move is meaningless, because our chances of success are zero," Wang Chong said.
This operation was no longer a simple sounding out of the five targets for the one with the tattoo. It had gradually morphed into a contest with Fumeng Lingcha, a contest that involved no flashing blades and swords, no fire or smoke. Yet the result of this contest would decide the future structure of Qixi, the fate of an Imperial Great General, the fate of himself, and the fate of Anxi Protector-General Gao Xianzhi and his tens of thousands of elites.
The room was quiet as Wang Chong's orders were passed on.
"Lord Marquis, Zhang Que has finished his withdrawal!"
"Lord Marquis, Xu Keyi has pulled back all his troops!"
Two messenger birds flew into the City of Steel, delivering the confirmation that Wang Chong's words had been fully carried out. At this time, the people in the room did not even dare to breathe too loudly. If Wang Chong's judgment was wrong, they would quickly lose sight of the targets and miss out on this opportunity. If Wang Chong's judgment was correct, then the situation was even more serious, as it meant that they had failed the mission before even finishing the first phase.
The air was fraught with tension, so quiet that one could hear a pin drop.
Time slowly passed as they waited.
"Lord Marquis, we've lost track of all three targets. We no longer know where they've gone!"
This report quickly arrived. Although they couldn't follow or probe the targets, they would dispatch a single person to observe them at set intervals, but even this group had lost trace of those three. The air in the room instantly became stifling.
No one said anything, but all of them looked out of the corners of their eyes at Wang Chong.
"There's no need to rush. Wait!"
Wang Chong closed his eyes and slightly leaned back. His expression was cold and unpanicked. Abnormal events always had a culprit, and so he could be sure that Fumeng Lingcha was waiting for any sign of movement from his side, but no matter what Fumeng Lingcha did, his tricks were useless against Wang Chong.
All that mattered now was which of them had the most patience.
This was a contest between him and Fumeng Lingcha.
Time continued to amble forward.
Everyone in the room remained silent, the mood slowly turning more oppressive. None of them doubted Wang Chong's decisions. After all, Wang Chong had amply proved his wisdom and foresight many times already. And yet, from the current situation, it appeared that this time, Wang Chong… might have been wrong.
Even Cheng Sanyuan and Su Shixuan couldn't help but look at Wang Chong. No one believed that Wang Chong had done anything terribly wrong in this situation, as everyone would make mistakes, but the consequences of this matter weren't so simple. Given the importance with which Wang Chong regarded this matter, they all believed that they might have lost the final chance to deal with Fumeng Lingcha.
Starting from now, whether in Qixi or in Wushang, Wang Chong would forever be restrained and restricted by Fumeng Lingcha.
As the morale dropped in this tense room, none of them knew that in another place, the air was even more solemn and fraught with tension.
"Milord! Our people are all in position, but none of them have noticed anything strange."
In the main hall of the Qixi Protectorate, a Hu general bowed as he gave his report to Fumeng Lingcha. Across from him, the fully-armored Fumeng Lingcha was seated imposingly on his throne that symbolized the authority of the Qixi Protector-General, his body exuding a majestic aura, his eyes shut. Nobody could tell what thoughts were running through that unmoving figure.
"Look again!" Fumeng Lingcha sternly said.
This was already the third time he had given exactly this order, but none of the generals around him dared to question him.
The Hu general quickly left with the order. Fifteen minutes later, he returned.
"Milord! Qi Bo-er and the others have already picked up speed, but they still haven't noticed anyone following them."
"Milord! They have already investigated three times and still haven't noticed anything."
"Milord! Qi Bo-er and the others are about to reach Sand Pass, but they still have not noticed anything."
"Milord, Qi Bo-er has not noticed anyone within sixty kilometers!"
"Milord! Qi Bo-er and Yi Laluo have arrived at Sand Pass. Qi Bo-er has inquired via carrier pigeon whether he should continue?"
With this final question, the hall seemed to brighten as Fumeng Lingcha suddenly opened his eyes. Everyone around him was silent and still as they awaited Fumeng Lingcha's decision.
What's going on? Was my intuition off?
Fumeng Lingcha's eyes flickered, and for the first time, a hint of hesitation appeared on his face. Fumeng Lingcha had always been cautious, even more so when matters involved that prince in the court. Thus, for this operation, Fumeng Lingcha had dispatched five people to the capital. If one of them encountered any problems, Fumeng Lingcha would instinctively feel uneasy, much less two of them.
A young beggar had run into one of them, while the other's carriage had been struck by a runaway carriage.
These two incidents were absolutely normal on the Silk Road, but Fumeng Lingcha's innate caution was triggered nonetheless. Consequently, he had summoned back two of his subordinates while telling the other three to pick up speed. If someone really was following them, Fumeng Lingcha was confident that these actions would leave his mysterious opponent panicked and confused.
As long as this opponent picked up speed to follow his men, Fumeng Lingcha's men stationed on the roads would notice. If his speculations were confirmed, Fumeng Lingcha would immediately have the letter destroyed.
It was better to be safe than sorry, and though Fumeng Lingcha didn't believe that anyone knew about his secret correspondence with that prince, Fumeng Lingcha didn't dare to take any risks. After all, border Great Generals entering the War of the Princes had always been a massive taboo.
Was I wrong? Were those two incidents really just accidents?
Fumeng Lingcha appeared unmoved, but internally, he was, for the first time, beginning to doubt his decision. Much time had passed, and his men, wearing various disguises, had surveyed the area quite a few times, but they had found nothing. If someone really had been following his subordinates, they should have left at least a few clues.
At the very least, there should have been some tracks in a range of sixty kilometers.
As Fumeng Lingcha continued to think, time seemed to stop.
Meanwhile, Wang Chong was also thinking in silence. For some reason, he felt like he was lacking something.
"Cheng Sanyuan, is that cavalryman who crashed the carriage still there?" Wang Chong suddenly asked. This question instantly grabbed the focus of everyone present.
"He is," Cheng Sanyuan said without a thought.
"Tell Xu Keyi to dispatch that cavalryman back to Qixi to have the carriage repaired. They have to use the official road, and they must be seen by the Hu merchants."
The officers were all baffled by the order, but seeing Wang Chong's composed expression, none of them dared to object.
Cheng Sanyuan paused for a moment before quickly leaving with the order.
With Cheng Sanyuan's departure, the room fell back into its silent and dejected mood. Not at all worried, Wang Chong only smiled.
Fumeng Lingcha, let's see what you do next.
With this thought, Wang Chong settled back down to wait.
Within the Qixi Protectorate headquarters, a scout strode into the main hall and kneeled.
"Milord! There's a report from Qixi that the person who crashed into Qi Bo-er's carriage has come back and is currently down in the marketplace, grumbling and cursing as he has the carriage repaired."
This news made Fumeng Lingcha shiver as he stood up from his throne.
"Is this news confirmed?"
"Milord! Our people have confirmed this news three times. In addition, our people have made inquiries and have found nothing wrong with that person's identity. He's just a small-time merchant who accidentally crashed his carriage into Qi Bo-er's carriage, and he's already paid compensation," the kneeling scout earnestly said.
Standing in the hall, Fumeng Lingcha continued to waver and hesitate. Seeing that Fumeng Lingcha was saying nothing, the other people in the hall endeavored to make as little noise as possible. After some time, Fumeng Lingcha's eyes finally turned hard. He had made a decision.
"Pass on my order. Call back Qi Bo-er and Yi Laluo from Sand Pass. In addition, have Qifu Li and the others continue on the original route!"
With this ringing order, everything was settled.
Fumeng Lingcha exhaled and plopped back down onto his throne.