Chapter 837: Earthquake! Winds Stir, Clouds Gather! (II)
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
"Milord, should we continue working against Wang Chong? Qing Ze has already gone to connect with all two hundred and forty thousand bandits and brigands on the Silk Road. In addition, we still have that ban on vegetable, grain, and fruit merchants going to Wushang. Should this ban be continued?" a cautious voice in the room probed, breaking the atmosphere of shock. The speaker was a bearded Hu general of apparently rather high status standing at Geshu Han's side.
When Wang Chong had just arrived at Wushang, Geshu Han had given his subordinate Qing Ze a test by ordering him to deal with Wang Chong and prevent Wushang from establishing any roots. The most obvious and most practical method was to ban any fruits, grains, or vegetables, these necessities of life, from reaching Wushang. After all, the nearest supply point for Wushang in the Central Plains was Longxi.
'The world is rich and prosperous, but nowhere surpasses Longxi' was a saying that referred to the fact that Longxi was the most prosperous region in the Central Plains. The earth there was fertile, the lands spacious, so it was the easiest place to get supplies from. Back in the capital, Wang Chong had promised that he would develop Wushang into a unique commercial and transportation hub of the Silk Road, providing caravans a place to rest, resupply, and seek shelter and protection.
The vast amount needed to supply all these people as well as the garrison could only be obtained from Longxi. As for Qixi, the meaning of the word 'Qi'1 was enough to dispel that idea. That such a barren and near-desert region was able to sustain such a large garrison was already quite impressive.
It was absolutely impossible for Wang Chong to receive sufficient logistical support from Qixi.
Thus, when the time came, Wang Chong would have no other option than to get his supplies from the capital. The road between the capital and Wushang was long, and if one added into the mix the two hundred and forty thousand bandits and brigands on the road… one could easily imagine the result. But now, Wang Chong was Qixi Protector-General, and everything was different.
If Geshu Han dared to continue on this course of action, it would no longer be a test, but a direct confrontation with Wang Chong!
The Protector-Generals and Great Generals of the empire all held influential status and power, and a clash between two such figures was no laughing matter. Even Geshu Han would have to seriously consider the pros and cons.
Geshu Han said nothing, raising his head to look at the slightly blackened roof of the hall that had been repaired several times over the course of Big Dipper City's battles, a complicated look in his eyes.
The Great Tang of the Central Plains had experienced many years of peace, and the upper levels of the power structure had solidified ages ago, with the candidates for high-ranking positions like Protector-General and Great General already set in stone. Wang Chong's appearance and his rapid promotion had broken all the rules.
With a sharpness that left everyone surprised and uncomfortable, he had rapidly left the southwest and entered the northwest, all the way until he was sitting on the post of Qixi Protector-General!
In Geshu Han's life of ups and downs, trials and tribulations, successes and failures, he had never encountered a situation like this.
"Dalun Ruozan, Huoshu Huicang, Duan Gequan, Dusong Mangpoje, Dayan Mangban, Agudu Lan… Although I still feel the Imperial Court's promoting a seventeen-year-old so quickly to the post of Protector-General is a decision made too hastily, he truly did achieve his current state by proving his strength every step of the way. Tell Qing Ze to return! Have those bandits and brigands disperse, and cancel all the plans we decided on. The times have changed, and we cannot challenge a Protector-General!"
Geshu Han gave a long sigh.
A Big Dipper commander quickly left with the order.
The news of Wang Chong's promotion arrived in Beiting and Andong as well, and the entire political system of the empire was dealt a massive shock. But in the distant Ü-Tsang Empire, the mood was completely different.
In the massive royal capital, all was eerily silent. In the royal palace at its very heart, smoke spiraled out of incense burners, but nobody within the hall spoke. Everyone was focused on a metal fretwork table, around four feet high and covered with mysterious inscriptions.
On the table, a black pigeon with golden eyes was cooing, freely looking around as if unaware of the nervous tension that filled the hall to the bursting. But everyone knew that this hall was weighed down by this strange pressure precisely because of the news this pigeon had delivered.
"Your Majesty, although Fumeng Lingcha is gone, he's been replaced by the even more formidable Wang Chong, with Wang Chong even taking Fumeng Lingcha's former post. This is extremely ill news for our Ü-Tsang Empire!" A worried and anxious voice echoed within the hall.
"The war of the southwest, the destruction of Zhangzhung Training Camp, the grievous losses at the triangular gap… in total, we've already lost more than four hundred thousand elite cavalry to that Great Tang youth, and the plague has still not been brought under complete control—the dead cows and sheep are piling up into mountains! That he's now become Qixi Protector-General is a great disaster for our Ü-Tsang Empire! And besides that, he's also built that fortress on our Tibetan Plateau! This is completely unprecedented!" Another voice rang out in agreement.
In the past, the people the Ü-Tsang Empire feared were Zhangchou Jianqiong, Geshu Han, Fumeng Lingcha, and Gao Xianzhi, these four Imperial Great Generals of the Great Tang, but now, another name had rapidly superseded these names, becoming the most feared existence in the entire Ü-Tsang Empire. This name was 'Wang Chong'. It wasn't like the Tibetans had never lost to the Great Tang before, and the strongest of their Great Generals had even pushed all the way to the royal capital. But those had all been regular wars, where it was easy tell where they had lost, where they were weak.
There had never been anyone like Wang Chong who had resorted to methods beyond the battlefield, spreading plague across the plateau. Moreover, his grasp of tactics and his ability to command troops in battle had far surpassed any of the famed Tang generals Ü-Tsang had encountered. Not only that, Wang Chong had managed to avoid all eyes and ears in his attack on Zhangzhung, penetrating deep into the Tibetan interior to annihilate the entire training camp and eight thousand Qinghai Soldiers.
This matter left the entire Ü-Tsang Empire trembling in fear and unease, because there was no doubt that Wang Chong had found some secret path up to the plateau. If they did not find this path, Wang Chong would be able to enter the plateau at any time without being noticed and leave whenever he pleased.
This was like a knife that could be pressed against one's neck at any moment, and in a situation where one had no idea where the knife was coming from or how it could be avoided.
"Your Majesty, no matter what, we must think of a way to kill Wang Chong. Otherwise, not only will we be unable to freely leave through the northeast, but will find ourselves completely locked off from the north."
All the famed generals in the hall turned to that figure seated above.
The Tsenpo said nothing. He only listened to the opinions of his subjects, his thick brows creased and the flames of irritation raging in his heart.
War, war… kill Wang Chong!
How could he not know that this Great Tang youth needed to be killed as soon as possible? But Dalun Ruozan had lost, Huoshu Huicang had lost, Dayan Pugyal had lost, Dayan Mangban had lost, and Dusong Mangpoje had also lost. Two of the empire's most formidable Great Generals and one of its Great Ministers had lost to that Wang Chong, and they had paid the two-hundred-thousand-some cavalry that the Ngari Royal Lineage had taken ten-some years to accumulate, as well as countless cows and sheep.
That brat from the Great Tang wasn't dead, but the Ü-Tsang Empire was fast approaching its breaking point.
Suddenly, a voice rang out through the hall, not at all sharp, but mellow and rich. Yet this voice silenced the hall, everyone quickly shutting their mouths.
"All armies are ordered to keep their distance from the northern border. All hostilities in the northern region are henceforth forbidden!" the voice commanded, neither too loud nor too soft.
Only the Imperial Great Minister, Dalon Trinling, had the authority to speak and issue decrees on the Tsenpo's behalf. As expected, Dalon Trinling's words immediately made all the officials and generals in the hall turn docile, all their ruthlessness dissipating. Even the Tsenpo appeared much more relaxed.
"The empire has lost enough soldiers in the north. Even Dayan Mangban died there, and Dusong Mangpoje returned with heavy injuries, making him incapable of going into battle for the short term. Patriarch Dusong, do you know where Dusong Mangpoje is? And how are his injuries doing?"
Dalon Trinling held his hands behind his back, his narrow eyes bursting with intelligence turning to a muscular and bulky figure within the hall.
"Many thanks for Great Minister's concern. Upon returning from his defeat, Mangpoje immediately went to the Great Snow Mountain Holy Temple to prostrate on the ground. He has still not returned, nor has he sent us any message," Dusong Gonjo said with a bow.
The Dusong Clan and the Dayan Clan were ancient lineages of the Ü-Tsang Empire, and Dusong Gonjo was the current head of the Dusong Clan. Dusong Mangpoje was hailed as the eagle of the Dusong Clan, the most brilliant figure of this generation as well as an Ü-Tsang Great General. When Dusong Gonjo heard of Dusong Mangpoje's miserable defeat at the triangular gap, he immediately felt ashamed and humiliated, but when he saw the dreadful wounds on Dusong Mangpoje's body, he found himself incapable of uttering a word of reproach.
It was obvious that Dusong Mangpoje had encountered some unspeakable danger. If he had not reacted so promptly, it wouldn't have just been tens of thousands of soldiers dying at the triangular gap. Even the most outstanding representative of the Dusong Clan, an Ü-Tsang Imperial Great General, would have ended up offering himself to the triangular gap, a truly unacceptable loss to the Dusong Clan.
What was important was that Dusong Mangpoje had survived.
Dalon Trinling nodded, his face emotionless, but there was a twinkle deep within his eyes. Tens of thousands of elites had died at the triangular gap, and even the Dayan Clan's Dayan Mangban had met his end. The one who felt the most remorse over these losses was probably Dusong Mangpoje himself.
This was probably why he had gone to the Great Snow Mountain Holy Temple to prostrate on the ground immediately after his return. Unfortunately, Dusong Mangpoje would find it very difficult to get what he desired.
While Dalon Trinling was thinking, the flapping of wings suddenly attracted everyone's attention.
1. As said before, the word '碛' or 'Qi' means 'desert'.↩