Chapter 833: Ishbara Khagan of the Western Turks!
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
"Mighty Khagan, although Fumeng Lingcha is no longer in Qixi, Wushang's City of Steel is home to an extremely formidable Tang youth called Wang Chong. He pretended to leave Qixi, baiting the Black Wolf Yabgu into a trap. He ambushed them, killing the Lord Yabgu and capturing the Fourth Prince!"
A Turkic warrior who had managed to get out alive from the battle at the Qixi Armory kneeled on the ground, his face as white as a sheet of paper and sweat raining down from his forehead as he reported to the furious Ishbara Khagan. They had gone straight to Mount Sanmi after escaping from Qixi. The death of a Yabgu and the capture of the Fourth Prince were both extremely important events that none of them had the right to make decisions on.
"The City of Steel?"
At the mention of this name, the eyes of that stalwart and god-like figure in the golden tent flew open, his anger receding.
"Is this not that Great Tang youth who defeated Geluofeng and Dalun Ruozan in the war of the southwest? I told the Black Wolf Yabgu to kill him. How is it that this task has still not been carried out?"
"Lord Yabgu wanted to try, but he discovered that the Tibetans had acted first. Milord wanted to use the hands of the Tibetans to kill Wang Chong, so he put aside the idea of personally doing so. But he did not expect that Dayan Mangban of the Ü-Tsang Empire would die to Wang Chong in the battle of the triangular gap. Thus, Milord kept delaying until he eventually died in Qixi to Wang Chong's ambush," the Turkic warrior said in a low voice.
"What? There was something like that!"
Ishbara Khagan's eyes narrowed as he completely calmed down. In the Western Regions, the Western Turks had two enemies. One was the Great Tang, but this had always been an opponent who passively defended, its long supply line making it extremely inflexible and not a very great threat. The true foe of the Western Turks was the Tibetans of the plateau.
Even though they were separated by the Great Tang's Qixi, the Western Turks and the Tibetans had still fought with each other several times over the Western Regions, so the Turks actually had a deep understanding of the Tibetan commanders.
Ishbara Khagan knew of Dayan Mangban. This Tibetan general had even led his soldiers around Qixi and deep into the Turkic steppe, twice dealing heavy blows to the Turkic armies. This was a madman of the Brigadier General level with unconventional battle tactics.
Residing in the distant Mount Sanmi, Ishbara Khagan paid little attention to these regional battles. He had never imagined that one of the elites of the Western Turkic Khaganate would die to Wang Chong, someone who hadn't appeared very strong. If this was true, he would need to reexamine Wang Chong.
"Khagan, do you really think this is the time to worry about such things? Is our Hu-er's life no longer important?"
While Ishbara Khagan was conducting his questioning, he was suddenly interrupted by the worried and distraught voice of a woman.
"Who cares what kind of person this Wang Chong is? The urgent task at hand should be rescuing my son!"
At this moment, a graceful and beautiful Turkic woman dressed in lavish clothes walked out from behind Ishbara Khagan.
The kneeling Turkic warrior pressed his head even lower against the floor. In all the Western Turkic Khaganate, there was only one person who could enter this golden tent whenever they wished and interrupt Ishbara: the Fourth Prince's birth mother, the Khatun.
"When did you get here?"
Ishbara Khagan hurriedly stepped forward to support his wife, his face gentle and affectionate. The Khagan had met many women over his life, but this woman was his most respected and beloved.
The reason for this was simple. If not for this woman's firm support while Ishbara Khagan was still a prince, he would have never emerged from the chaos to take the throne of Khagan.
Besides that, although this woman was over forty and had given birth to several children, the Khatun maintained her looks, with the skin and figure of a woman in her late twenties.
"Hmph, if I didn't come, wouldn't you have just watched as Hu-er died in the hands of that Tang in Qixi? Hu-er's life is hanging by a thread," the Khatun harshly rebuked. "Khagan, tell me: will you save Hu-er or not?"
"Rescue him, of course! Hu-er is my own flesh and blood, my most beloved son. How could I not save him? Come, come, come, send someone to Wushang's City of Steel. No matter what price I must pay, the Fourth Prince must be saved!"
This final order echoed throughout all of Mount Sanmi.
Several days later, in Wushang's City of Steel, Wang Chong was standing in front of his desk, reviewing a recently-arrived intelligence report, when a scout rushed in.
"Lord Marquis, a Turkic emissary is requesting a meeting. He says that he wants to negotiate the ransom of the Fourth Prince."
Wang Chong didn't even look away from the intelligence report, and his face showed no emotion.
The scout was dumbfounded, but he quickly returned to his senses.
"Yes! Lord Marquis!"
The scout quickly left.
Hulayeg chortled and walked over, his eyes bright. "Haha, Lord Marquis was right. Ishbara Khagan and the Khatun are quite anxious. It's only been a few days and they've already sent an emissary. As long as we refuse them a few times, they'll grow even more anxious, and Milord can also get more from the Fourth Prince. In this aspect, no one understands them better than me."
"I leave everything about this matter to you, including the talks with the Turkic emissary. But, Hulayeg, you'd better think it over carefully. In my intelligence, I learned that when Agudu Lan raided your house, this Fourth Prince received a share of the spoils."
Wang Chong looked up from the report and gave Hulayeg a faint smile.
The Turkic steppe was vast and sparsely populated, and not even someone like Wang Chong had the ability to seek information within it. But the nearby Western Regions was an excellent nexus of information. The Hu, Turks, and Arabs all congregated in that place, so Wang Chong didn't need to use that much effort to obtain the information he had sought.
"Haha, and what does that matter? I will regain everything I've lost. And besides, even if he knows that I sold you horses, I have my ways of getting him to trust me, and Ishbara Khagan and the Khatun to pay the price we want."
Hulayeg looked at Wang Chong with a crafty light in his eyes.
Although the Turks worshiped courage and ferocity, Hulayeg was no warrior, but a shrewd merchant, and the number one horse merchant of the Turkic steppe at that.
In business negotiations, he worked on a completely different level from the rest.
"Haha, that would be great."
Wang Chong chuckled before burying his head back into the report in his hand.
While the emissary from Ishbara Khagan was being repeatedly rebuffed at the walls of the City of Steel, in the distant capital of the Great Tang, the debate regarding the new Qixi Protector-General had reached a climax.
"Your Majesty, your subject recommends Black Tiger General Zhang Yi!"
"Your Majesty, your subject recommends Crushing Wave General Duan Xuan!"
"Your Majesty, your subject recommends Border General Li Si!"
Within the hall, various officials were giving their recommendations one after the other. In a few short days, the candidate list for Qixi Protector-General had ballooned from ten-some people to more than two hundred. There were all sorts of reasons for these recommendations: battlefield experience, experience leading Hu, recent and large increases in strength, particularly stand-out performances in the last few years…
Even though the vast majority of the people didn't fit the requirement, the people who recommended them all shared the same reason for doing so: why shouldn't they try? If they didn't try, how would they know that it wasn't plausible?
At the first line of officials, next to a cinnabar dragon pillar, King Song couldn't help but sigh as the numerous voices rang out in his ear.
It had been seven or eight days now, and the debate for the next Qixi Protector-General had only intensified. Every person had their own goal, each believing their recommendation to be the ideal candidate.
But in truth, King Song couldn't find a single suitable candidate amongst the more than two hundred recommended. Even his own recommendation of Wang Yan and King Qi's recommendation of Yao Guangyi barely met the standard.
This was an important matter of state, not some game. Over the last few days, King Song had barely attempted to make the case for Wang Yan.
The country cannot be without a sovereign for a day, and the border cannot be without a general. Just who can replace Fumeng Lingcha in protecting Qixi and standing guard over the border?
King Song raised his head to the ceiling of the majestic hall, his mind in turmoil. He cared little for the quarreling of the officials, only for who would truly be the right person for the job.
Finding a proper candidate was easier said than done. There were only so many Great Generals in the Great Tang, and all of them already had posts and duties. Finding another Imperial Great General wasn't just a difficult problem, but an impossibility. This was the true reason for the ongoing stalemate.
Is there really no suitable candidate in all the vastness of the Great Tang?
King Song's brow furrowed as he continued to deeply ponder the problem.
This was a problem with no solution. Qixi was in a complex situation, having to deal with both the Turks and the Tibetans… and there was also the problem of having both Hu and Han soldiers in the protectorate army. Finding someone who fulfilled all the requirements wasn't very feasible.
This problem greatly distressed King Song.
The debate was intensifying in the hall, just as it had for the last few days. Just when King Song had just about had his fill of all this and was prepared to leave, he heard a set of hurried footsteps from outside.
A Golden Guard gripping a large golden halberd in one hand and a memorial in the other respectfully kneeled on the ground.
"A major victory in Qixi! Four days ago, the Black Wolf Yabgu of the Western Turkic Khaganate made a night raid on the Qixi Armory, but he was ambushed by the soldiers of Wang Chong, the Young Marquis of Wushang. Four thousand, five hundred and sixty-eight Turkic elites were killed, as was Black Wolf Yabgu Agudu Lan. Our side achieved a major victory!"
The news instantly sent massive waves through the hall. Not many people knew the name of Agudu Lan, but they did know what the word 'Yabgu' meant.
In the Eastern and Western Turkic Khaganates, this title wielded great influence, and the majority had imperial blood running through their veins. In a certain manner, they were similar to the Imperial Princes of the Great Tang.