Chapter 840: Sword Pointed at Arabia!
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
"Are the Arabs really this formidable?" Cheng Sanyuan muttered in shock.
"Arabia is even stronger than all of you can imagine!"
Wang Chong finally spoke.
"In a part of Arabia near Anxi, there is a place called Samarkand. Two hundred thousand Arabian soldiers have assembled there, all of them the most formidable cavalry. All of you have seen the Tibetan and Turkic warhorses. The Arabian warhorses are even taller, more muscular, and have an even greater charge. Not only that, although you've seen the Arab merchants, the majority of them plump and useless in battle, the true Arabs are natural warriors, honed by their environment to be tall and sturdy. Thus, once a war begins, the Arabs can summon its people to form an army without even needing to train them, immediately expanding their army to more than four hundred thousand, each of the soldiers on par with a regular soldier. And this is only the army the Arabs have stationed on their eastern border. If they need to undergo a full mobilization, the Arabs could probably command an army of nigh unimaginable size."
The entire room was quiet, everyone listening in shock to Wang Chong's words. This was their first time getting to truly know the Arabian Empire, and all of them felt an intense danger.
"…But that statement at the start was right. At the very beginning, the Arabian Empire was just a tiny country, even smaller than Goguryeo. They were only able to develop to such a massive scale, growing even larger than the Great Tang, because they spent many years training their soldiers for war and battling surrounding countries. All of you fought with Dayan Mangban's White Braves and know how powerful they were. The Arabs have their Mamelukes1, a force even stronger than the White Braves of Ü-Tsang. In Arabia, all the Mamelukes start training at the age of seven or eight. From the very beginning, they are made to fight amongst themselves, with only the fiercest and most savage of the children being able to survive. As these children grow, they receive the harshest military training, maturing through actual battle and blood until they become true Mamelukes. At that time, each of them will have become the most lethal weapon, imbued with rich experience in killing and battle."
Wang Chong's voiced echoed through the room, acting as a sort of baptism to everyone within. This was Wang Chong's goal. If even his closest subordinates did not recognize the strength of the Arabs, there would be no need to talk about defeating them. Change happened drop by drop. The Great Tang could no longer remain entranced by the Central Plains and its periphery. It needed to raise its head and see the true face of the world.
This change would happen from the people nearest to his side.
In the future, if every Tang could relinquish their obsession with their homeland and open their eyes to see the world as it really was, a whole new Great Tang would be formed.
"Lord Marquis, if every Arab is as formidable as you say, how can we fight against them? Can we still defeat them?" Cheng Sanyuan suddenly spoke, his shocked gaze on Wang Chong. The words spoken today had completely altered his impressions of that distant country.
"Cheng Sanyuan, I've never met a true Arab warrior, nor do I know what you mean by defeating them, but I can tell you that the Great Tang did not reach its current status through luck!" Li Siye suddenly said, his expression grim and each of his words seeming to thump against the floor. "Goguryeo, Mengshe Zhao, Ü-Tsang, the Eastern and Western Turkic Khaganates, and the kingdoms of the Western Regions—all of these countries added together do not dare to recklessly make war against the Great Tang. Only the Great Tang is capable of relying on its solitary strength to suppress these surrounding countries and make them lower their heads. Arabia might be very strong, but the Great Tang is definitely not weak! If Arabia dares to covet the Central Plains, it will come to learn of the true strength of the Great Tang, a lesson it will never forget!"
Wang Chong gave a knowing smile upon hearing Li Siye's words.
"Arabia truly is very strong, but our Great Tang definitely isn't weak. The Arabian cavalry is very formidable, but their crossbow bolts and other equipment can't compare to ours. Our Great Tang's ballistae are unrivalled throughout the world. No matter what sort of cavalry or how thick their armor, none of them can stop the piercing power of a ballista bolt. Moreover, in terms of infantry formations as well as strategy and tactics, Arabia is far inferior to the Great Tang. They have no such thing as formations, only simple arrangements of soldiers, and they certainly have no idea of strategy and tactics."
Wang Chong was not at all boasting. The strategy texts of the Central Plains were developed over a long history of frequent and large-scale conflicts. This was something the Arabs lacked.
Everyone nodded their heads, motivated by Wang Chong's words. Yes, Arabia might be a massive alligator, yet the Great Tang was no sheep, but a mighty lion. Who was stronger and who was weaker could only be found out through battle.
"Lord Marquis, what do you need us to do?!"
"No matter what it is, as long as we can be of aid to the Great Tang in opposing the Arabs, we would even walk through seas of fire and mountains of blades!"
"That's right! Those who offend my Great Tang will all be punished, no matter how far away they are! Lord Marquis, give us your orders!"
The officers began to excitedly sound off. Against foreign foes, all of them were of one mind. Whether or not they wanted to admit it, their honor and duty as people of the Great Tang had bored into their bones. Wang Chong mentally nodded at this sight, greatly relieved. Regardless of what it was like elsewhere, as long as the people at his side shared his vision, their wills could form an impregnable stronghold that allowed Wang Chong to complete any task he set out to do with confidence.
"A mountain cannot hold two tigers! The Arabs are pugnacious people who are bound to clash with the Great Tang one day. Although I can't be sure of the actual time of this war, we can start preparing for it now. Xu Keyi!"
Wang Chong turned his head to his right.
"Your subordinate is here!"
Xu Keyi hurriedly lowered his head and bowed.
"Starting from now, I need you to put your focus elsewhere. Your mission will be to select as many elite scouts from the army as possible, teach them Arabic, and then dispatch them to the Arabian Empire. In addition, the Arabs are very xenophobic, so you can't choose Han, only Hu, or else hire merchants from the Western Regions. I need you to use these people to gather as much information on the Arabian Empire as you can," Wang Chong said.
"Your subordinate understands!" Xu Keyi immediately answered.
"Your subordinate is here!"
Chen Bin stepped forward.
"The recipe for the cement road has already reached a mature state. I need you to get in touch with Zhao Jingdian in the capital and mobilize the power of the great clans to build a cement road from Wushang to the Anxi Protectorate as quickly as possible. In addition, inform Zhao Jingdian that I also need the cement road from the capital to Wushang finished soon as well," Wang Chong sternly said.
Chen Bin bowed.
"Your subordinate is here!"
Su Shixuan hurriedly stepped forward.
"Use my status as Qixi Protector-General and Lord of Wushang to write a memorial to the court requesting reinforcements for Qixi. Say that in the last major battle, Qixi suffered many casualties. Request the court to use Wushang's City of Steel as the transit point for the soldiers. Say that we can help relieve the Imperial Court's logistical burden," Wang Chong ordered, a fearsome look on his face.
He had put a great deal of thought into this problem and had determined that if he wanted to reinforce the Anxi Protectorate army, just Qixi alone would not enough. He would need soldiers from the Imperial Court, transferred from other regions. If the City of Steel could be used as a reservoir of manpower, he could greatly increase the soldiers available to him. Besides that, the Imperial Court would be happy to offload the logistical burden to another party.
"Yes! Your subordinate understands!"
Su Shixuan bowed.
"In addition, write a letter to the capital requesting Yuan Shusong to come over."
Wang Chong issued order after order, and each person soon had their own task. The full strength and resources of the City of Steel were slowly beginning to mobilize, all of them aimed at Talas and the even farther Arabian Empire. While Yang Hongchang had been the sole gatherer of information in Talas at first, he was now joined in this effort by many scouts and soldiers, and Wang Chong's intelligence-gathering abilities in these regions soared.
"That's right, where's Hulayeg?"
When everything had been delegated, Wang Chong suddenly remembered Hulayeg.
In the past, Hulayeg would follow him everywhere like a fawning sycophant, but his presence had been missed as of late.
"Haha, didn't you leave the Turkic Fourth Prince to him? He's currently fully devoted himself to that endeavor. Right now, to carry out this task, he's already moved himself from the residence you prepared for him to the City of Steel's underground prison."
Xu Qiqin slowly and lightly walked over, a smile on her lips and her face glowing with vitality. Such was the charm and allure she exuded that even Wang Chong was momentarily dazed, but he quickly regained control over his senses.
"The prison? Why did he go there?" Wang Chong said in shock. He understood Hulayeg as someone who emphasized pleasure and comfort above all. Even for his residence, he had been extremely picky, and he had even bought many tiger skins to decorate the walls and the floor. How could he be willing to live in a prison? This was completely out of line with his style.
"Just what is he up to?"
"What do you think? It's for that Fourth Prince."
Xu Qiqin's smile grew even wider, and she was finding it hard to hold back her laughter.
"In order to get that Fourth Prince's trust and change the impression the prince has of him, he surprisingly opted for the plan of injuring himself to gain the trust of the enemy. He had Xu Keyi find someone to give him a savage beating, covering him all over with bruises, and then he had himself thrown into the Fourth Prince's cell so that they would be together. If things are going as expected, that stubborn fatty is probably grumbling and complaining together with that Fourth Prince of his."
With these last words, Xu Qiqin's smile finally dissolved into a fit of giggling.
1. The Mamelukes appear much earlier in this universe than in actual history. While the events are set in the eighth century, with the current year being 751/752, the practice of Abbasid Caliphs buying slaves to serve as soldiers arose in the ninth century, though these were apparently called Ghilman, not Mamelukes.↩