Chapter 848: The Rules of Great Generals
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
"You find it very difficult to understand?"
An Sishun grinned as he descended from his throne. His expression was relaxed, and he exuded an energetic and farsighted aura.
"There's no such thing as pure enemies, and no such thing as pure friends. Whether it was Fumeng Lingcha in the past or the Young Marquis in the present, whether the tone in their letters was rude or nice, as long as it's to our advantage, we'll naturally accept. Even if the letter is as rude as possible, we still shouldn't care. As for if it's to our disadvantage, we should swiftly refuse. Even the most pleasant and tactful tone will not make us think otherwise.
"I've been underestimating that boy in Qixi. I thought that he had just an ordinary courage, capable of only operating on a small scale. Such an individual, no matter how dazzling or how quickly they rise, isn't worth the attention of people like me and Geshu Han. But I didn't think that only a few days after assuming the post of Qixi Protector-General, he would have grasped the rules behind the games of Great Generals! I now admit that this boy has the right to enter this imperial game of elites that I, Geshu Han, and Zhang Shougui play!"
An Sishun's eyes seemed to pierce through the walls of the hall, and a profound smile appeared on his lips.
Meanwhile, the scar-faced Vice Protector-General was slack-jawed and wide-eyed.
'The imperial game of elites'! Even though he had followed An Sishun for many years, this was the first time he had heard of this secret of the Great Generals!
"Don't think about it! Send a reply to our new Qixi Protector-General. The Beiting Protectorate has frequent battles and truly has a need for soldiers, so I will take those Hu soldiers of his!"
With these final words, An Sishun's eyes exploded with a bright and intimidating light.
Several days later, in the Qixi Protectorate…
"Lord Marquis, the Beiting Protector-General has sent a letter saying that he will take as many of the Hu soldiers that we want to get rid of as we can give."
Xu Keyi excitedly rushed into the hall, his face still covered in disbelief.
An Imperial Protector-General like An Sishun, who had quarreled several times with the marquis, had actually agreed to help!
"Is that so?"
Wang Chong slightly raised his head, no surprise to be seen in his eyes.
"Write a reply back to An Sishun saying that I understand and that the soldiers that the Qixi Protectorate doesn't need will be quickly transferred to him."
Wang Chong's tone was relaxed and confident, like he was taking care of a trifling task, as if An Sishun was doing something he ought to have done as part of his duties. Xu Keyi was dazed, and he once more felt a surge of admiration for his lord. Only his marquis would have been capable of such a feat.
Wang Chong gave a faint smile before lowering his head to continue perusing the letter sent by Yang Hongchang.
"You'll understand in the future. Right now, you should inform Heba Ye about this."
Imperial Great Generals and Protector-Generals would rarely be influenced by their emotions in their interactions with each other. Everything was guided by benefit and the overall situation. This was a quality that every general needed. One who couldn't do this could not make a good Great General. However, this one was only targeted at Great Generals and Protector-Generals of the same level. One who could not reach this class did not have the right to play this level of game!
As the Grand Marshal of the world in his last life, the esteemed War Saint, Wang Chong naturally understood this idea.
"Yes, Lord Marquis."
Xu Keyi, only half-understanding Wang Chong's words, quickly left.
When Xu Keyi left, Wang Chong continued to read the letter in his hands. Owing to the long distance, the Great Tang had always been lacking in soldiers within the Western Regions. The soldiers garrisoned in the Western Regions were far more skilled than the soldiers of the other protectorates, but this policy of utilizing solely elites was a forced one.
In order to resolve that future crisis, the troops of just Qixi and Anxi were far from enough.
But the unique advantage of the Western Regions was its many available mercenaries. As long as one had enough money, one could quickly muster a large force. In this letter were the results from Wang Chong's request for Yang Hongchang to investigate the mercenary groups of the Western Regions.
The efficiency of Heba Ye and Xu Keyi was far greater than expected. On the very same night, the tens of thousands of soldiers of the Qixi Protectorate army were once more reorganized. Those who wished to remain would remain in the Qixi Protectorate. Those who did not want to follow a Han would be placed under Heba Ye's command. And those who wanted neither would be sent to the Beiting Protectorate to serve An Sishun.
Although Heba Ye had earnestly wanted to stop this, he could do nothing. A melon forced off the vine wasn't sweet, and if these soldiers didn't want to stay, forcing them to stay would be meaningless and would only breed future conflict.
Time slowly passed, as Wang Chong engaged in his massive reconsolidation of Qixi. This 'stay or go' operation continued all the way until the end of the Zi Period. Finally, in the Chou Period, all had fallen silent.
"We can't wait any longer…"
Soft whispering could be heard in the darkness, not in Hu or Han, but in an even more complicated language, one seldom heard, even in the Western Regions.
"This young Han Protector-General is too formidable. If he keeps up this interrogation, our identities will be immediately exposed," another voice whispered back.
At the edge of the Qixi Protectorate army barracks, underneath a high fence, several figures were furtively moving through the darkness. They were not moving in the direction of the Han soldiers, nor were they moving with the Hu soldiers who were being transferred to Beiting. They were moving to the northwest.
"Hurry! When the sun comes up, we won't be able to leave. We need to report back to Lord Governor. We must put more focus on this young Han Protector-General. Those cavalry of his are too powerful. They will definitely be a big problem for us in the future."
"Mm. I really didn't think that there would be such a powerful group of soldiers in the far east! Lord Governor will definitely pay a great deal of attention to our discovery."
As these people whispered to each other, they used their scimitars to cut out a one-person opening in the fence, out of sight of the sentries. These people then moved through this opening with strange movements, like those of a flapping mud fish.
Once they had left the barracks, the people sighed and immediately began to rush to the northwest. But before they could get very far, a shout suddenly came from in front of them.
"Halt! Where are you going!"
"Spies! Don't let them escape!"
Swishswishswish! A rain of fire arrows fell around these men, followed by several torches. In the dark night, shouting figures charged in from all sides like converging wolves.
The hooves of horses thundered across the earth as the cavalry arrived. In the blink of an eye, thirty to fifty Wushang Cavalry had reached the scene, torches raised high to clearly illuminate the surroundings, revealing those 'deserters' who had tried to escape under the cover of darkness.
In the light of the torches, one could see that these people had high noses and deep eyes, as well as pronounced cheekbones. They looked very much like Hu, but their blue eyes made them completely different.
No one in the Western Regions had such unique eyes.
Xu Keyi stood in front of the Wushang Cavalry, stunned, the men behind him showing the same expression. The Qixi Protectorate had only two kinds of people: Hu and Han. They had followed Wang Chong's order and patrolled the perimeter to guard against scouts and spies, but they had never imagined that they would catch Arabs.
And they were even wearing the armor of the Qixi Protectorate army!
The torch lights flickered over a silent scene.
As they saw the Wushang Cavalry closing off all paths of escape and more Qixi soldiers rushing over, the Arabs instantly turned ghastly pale.
During the day, within the main hall of the Qixi Protectorate, Wang Chong was stunned by Xu Keyi's report.
"Arab spies were discovered in the Qixi Protectorate, and they were disguised as Hu cavalry?!"
"Yes, Lord Marquis. I sent men to investigate and discovered that they were registered in the Qixi Protectorate army under Hu names, and according to the records, they have been in the army for around six months."
Xu Keyi bowed, his face serious. As he spoke, he waved his hand behind him.
"Bring them in."
Several Wushang cavalrymen immediately entered and threw to the ground several tied-up Arab soldiers.
As Wang Chong looked at these stalwart Arab soldiers, a grim look appeared in his eyes.
Wang Chong had seen Arab merchants before, and in his dissolute and decadent years, he had interacted with them quite a few times. Those Arab merchants were exactly as many people thought of them: plump, amiable, opulently attired, their fingers studded with rings of agate and jade. They looked just like clowns.
But these Arabs were completely different. They had tall, well-proportioned, and sturdy physiques, as if they had been cast from steel, and they were brimming with an explosive strength. In addition, the thick calluses on their palms gave away their status. These were not traveling merchants, but regular soldiers of the Arab army.
Wang Chong had never imagined that he would meet regular Arab soldiers in this sort of situation.
The Abbasid Caliphate had always been an extremely formidable opponent in Wang Chong's mind. Once he had settled everything with the Qixi Protectorate and finished the consolidation, Wang Chong planned to point his sword at Arabia. Even if they didn't come, Wang Chong would still go and find them. But Wang Chong had never in his wildest dreams imagined that the Arabs had already stretched their claws into the Qixi Protectorate, even mixing into the army as Hu.
Wang Chong had always been vigilant against the Arabs, but this was beyond even his own predictions.