Chapter 839: Adjustment of Strategies!
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
When Dusong Mangpoje and Huoshu Huicang were leaving the Great Snow Mountain Holy Temple, in the distant City of Steel in Wushang, another scene was taking place.
Once the news that Wang Chong had been promoted to Qixi Protector-General began to spread, the entire City of Steel turned jubilant. What could be more exciting than one's lord being promoted to Protector-General, ranking amongst the highest and most authoritative figures of the empire? Reaching such a lofty post in just a year was like the morning sun breaking over the horizon at dawn. One would follow such a lord without hesitation, as the prospects were guaranteed to be limitless!
Everyone seemed to have been given a shot in the arm, frenziedly practicing and training so that they could increase their strength. The entire City of Steel was filled with a proactive and energetic atmosphere.
But in Wang Chong's residence, an entirely different mood dominated. All the tables, chairs, and stools that had once filled this spacious room had been moved, and a massive model of the Western Regions now occupied the center of the room. The topography and the kingdoms of the Western Regions were all realized in startling detail, and the Anxi Protectorate, the Tibetan Plateau, the Turkic steppe, Qixi, and Wushang seemed to mirror their real-life counterparts.
Wang Chong had not disregarded the Western Regions while dealing with the Ü-Tsang Empire and the Western Turkic Khaganate, dispatching many scouts to gather information on the military situation and geography of the regions. Several hundred of the best scouts had still needed several months to produce the information that was finally condensed into this strategic model of the Western Regions.
"…On the Ü-Tsang Empire's side, I've already killed Dayan Mangban and wounded Dusong Mangpoje, and the White Braves essentially don't exist anymore. In addition to that, they lost almost one hundred thousand elites. Coupled with the plague I spread through the southwest, the Ü-Tsang Empire should be badly wounded. It won't have the strength to threaten us in the short term.
"As for the Western Turkic Khaganate, the one who had attacked us the most and was the leader of the war faction was the Black Wolf Yabgu, Agudu Lan. He died in front of Qixi Armory along with four thousand of his best elites. With these people dead, the greatest threats to us have been eliminated, and the Western Turkic Khaganate will find it very difficult to produce another person as formidable and difficult to deal with as Agudu Lan. With these two important individuals dead, Qixi is essentially safe and unthreatened."
Wang Chong explained all this as he pointed at Ü-Tsang and the Western Turkic Khaganate on the model. All the commanders of the City of Steel had gathered around him: Li Siye, Huang Botian, Xu Qiqin, Xu Keyi, Cheng Sanyuan, Su Shixuan, Chen Bin… even Zhang Shouzhi was present. Everyone was listening with rapt attention to Wang Chong.
"Then, Milord, what should our next objective be?" Xu Keyi suddenly asked. "Should we invade Ü-Tsang and the Turkic steppe, launching an assault that will make them lose any ability to attack the Great Tang?"
The eyes of everyone in the room brightened at Xu Keyi's suggestion. Of all the Protector-Generals and Great Generals of the empire, there was probably no one more proactive than Wang Chong. All of the renowned generals of the Great Tang, even the likes of Geshu Han, An Sishun, Zhang Shougui, and Fumeng Lingcha, had essentially adopted a policy of passive defense, with the occasional offense. Rarely was there someone like Wang Chong who penetrated deep into enemy territory to battle on foreign soil, even establishing a fortress to serve as a permanent base. These fortresses would serve as a fish bone in the throat, a dagger at the back, leaving enemies extremely uncomfortable.
In this aspect, not even Gao Xianzhi could compare to Wang Chong!
"Ü-Tsang and the Turks will have to be dealt with eventually, but they aren't where the greatest threat is coming from. That comes from elsewhere!"
Wang Chong drew back his finger and scanned the room.
The gathered officers were astonished by these words, glancing at each other in dismay. The greatest threats around Wushang and Qixi were none other than the Tibetans and the Turks. None of them could think of any other empire that could pose a greater threat.
At the very edge of the crowd, Chen Bin had an idea and hesitantly voiced it. "Is Milord referring to those Hu in the Qixi Protectorate?"
"Of course not. They're not even worthy of that."
Wang Chong grinned and didn't keep them in suspense. Taking a small red flag, he swept his arm past Wushang, Qixi, Anxi, and the Cong Mountains, finally placing the flag at the very western edge, near the sea.
"Our true enemy is right! Here!"
"The Arabian Empire?! How could it be them? Aren't they just a tiny country? What sort of threat could they pose?"
"That's right! They might not even be able to contend against Mengshe Zhao. How could they be even stronger than Ü-Tsang? And aren't Gao Xianzhi and the Anxi Protectorate army in the west? With them there, what country could threaten us?"
"Lord Marquis, might you have picked the wrong spot? I've met Arabs in the capital. All of them are round and fat, and they give such big smiles that their eyes scrunch up. Even if they come in hundreds of thousands, we could easily defeat people like that. How could they possibly threaten us?"
The people in the room were flabbergasted at the place Wang Chong had stuck the red flag. No one had imagined that the threat Wang Chong spoke of would be this extremely faraway land. Many of them suspected that Wang Chong had put the flag in the wrong place.
Wang Chong said nothing to these gasps of surprise, only faintly smiled. When he first began to build this city in Wushang, everyone believed that his goal was to build a commercial city through which he could make a fortune, or else they believed that he wanted to use this city as a base to push back the Tibetans and Turks. However, Wang Chong's goal had never been the Ü-Tsang Empire, and certainly not the Western Turkic Khaganate. At this stage, there was no longer any need to hide his aim.
From start to finish, he had had only one enemy and adversary: that massive empire west of the Cong Mountains.
On this continent, this was the only power that could stand on the same level as the Great Tang, and it was a formidable existence that was still in the middle of aggressive expansion.
Everyone believed that the Arabian Empire was currently a small country around the size of Goguryeo or Mengshe Zhao, but Wang Chong knew that the true Arabia controlled a territory even larger than the Great Tang, with a larger population as well. In addition, it commanded the allegiance of many small kingdoms and countless generals. In addition, while the Great Tang had indulged in peace and prosperity, the Arabian Empire was one that worshiped strength and battle. Their history was one of constant expansion and war.
The Great Tang just had too little understanding of countries beyond the Central Plains. A fox would die facing its den, and the people of the Central Plains had a penchant for thinking fondly of their homeland, unwilling to even glance at the outside world. Xu Keyi, Cheng Sanyuan, and the others had been with Wang Chong for a very long time, but even they regarded the Arabs with scorn and contempt, so one could easily imagine what others thought.
While everyone else was focused on Ü-Tsang and the Eastern and Western Turks, they were blissfully unaware that this 'tiny country' was already beginning to train troops and gather supplies for a campaign against the Great Tang! And if they succeeded, the fate of the Central Plains would be completely altered, and this massive empire would fall into endless civil strife and discord.
Wang Chong could not accept this.
What Wang Chong wanted to do was give this massive empire of the west a savage blow the moment it stretched out its claws, let it understand the strength of the empire of the east.
Wang Chong continued to survey the crowd as he lightly ordered, "Zhang Que, bring out the information Yang Hongchang gathered for everyone to see."
"Yes, Lord Marquis."
A young voice came from behind Wang Chong, and Zhang Que quickly strode forward with a thick stack of documents which he began to pass around. Still puzzled, the officers all subconsciously took the documents.
"Open it up and take a look," Wang Chong indifferently said, making no effort to explain.
Confused, they opened the documents, and at first glance, their pupils immediately constricted, their chattering instantly fading away. And as time passed, the atmosphere in the room grew heavy.
"Arabia? How could this be? Their territory is large enough to be on par with the Great Tang!"
"A population of tens of millions? How could that be? Weren't they just a small kingdom? And they have so many soldiers!"
"How can this be? How could there be such a large country west of the Cong Mountains?"
"Too powerful! They've even attacked Ü-Tsang multiple times, and while their armies were smaller, they forced the most powerful Yarlung Royal Lineage of the Ü-Tsang Empire back like a turtle retracting into its shell."
All the officers were left dazed and dumbfounded by this information. The Arabia presented in these documents was completely different from the Arabia they knew, and they could hardly believe their eyes. At this moment, they understood why Wang Chong had said that the Arabian Empire was the largest threat to the Great Tang.
"What you're seeing now is the roughest of information. The true strength of Arabia is even greater than what's on the record."
Wang Chong's indifferent words silenced the room once more, and everyone turned to look at him.
"Zhang Que, it's your turn to speak."
Wang Chong glanced at Zhang Que.
"Yes, Lord Marquis."
Zhang Que bowed and quickly turned to face the crowd.
"This information was initially gathered from a great clan that Lord Marquis is working with in the Western Regions. This clan has done business with Arabia for many years and has some understanding of that place. However, Arabs are very cautious of outsiders, and it's very difficult for us to comprehensively gather information. The information before you was already very difficult to obtain, and several scouts died for it. The true Arabian Empire can only be stronger, not weaker.
"In addition, not too long ago, I received an order to join a Hu caravan to Arabia, but before I could get very far, when I released Little Sha, I was discovered by the Arabs. The birds their military breeds are extremely formidable, and even Little Sha was injured. They also dispatched cavalry to pursue me, so I was forced to withdraw."
As Zhang Que spoke, he raised his arm to show the rock eagle perched on it to the crowd. This rock eagle had wounds on its head, legs, and body. Claws as sharp as swords had struck deep, and in some places, it was even possible to see the bone.
Everyone couldn't help but gasp. They all knew just how formidable this rock eagle was. There were almost no birds in Qixi, perhaps in all of the Western Regions, that could contend against this rock eagle, and even those birds trained by the Tibetans and Turks had to retreat in panic before its claws. It fully deserved its title as king of eagles.
But even Zhang Que's rock eagle had been heavily wounded. Their concepts of the world were being completely overturned.