Chapter 883: An Astonishingly Brilliant Mind for Strategy!
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
The Arabs had retreated a considerable distance, but they had not retreated to the principal Arab fortress in the east of Khorasan. Instead, they had chosen to watch the Tang from a distance, making their intentions abundantly clear. The Arabs were wont to fight to the last man, only beginning to even contemplate retreat when they had lost around three-fourths of their soldiers.
This trait was what made Arabia so terrifying and difficult to deal with!
This was also why the kingdoms of the Western Regions regarded Arabia as the destroyer.
But this time, they had run into the Great Tang and Wang Chong. Wang Chong had prepared long and well for this decisive battle with the Arabs, bringing with him a well-supplied and well-equipped army of more than one hundred thousand, as well as ballistae, Wootz Steel weapons, Meteoric Metal armor, and other such equipment. In terms of will and resolve to fight, he definitely wasn't weaker than them!
Two empires, but only one of them can survive. Abu Muslim, the empire to survive will definitely not be Arabia…
A confident expression appeared on Wang Chong's face as he thought back to the Stone of Destiny's words. Nothing was a coincidence. In this world, rarely would two powerful empires exist together, and even if they did, it would be for a short period of time. In his last life, after the Great Tang's defeat to Arabia at Talas and its loss of the Western Regions, the soldiers that it had always used to expand and attack its enemies began to be used for the sake of internal conflict, and the civilization of the Central Plains began to wane.
Wang Chong had always believed that this was a coincidence, but from the information revealed by the Stone of Destiny, this was far from the case.
Behind him was the Western Regions and the Great Tang. Whether it was for the Great Tang or the course of history in the Central Plains for the coming millennia, Wang Chong would never retreat!
These thoughts very quickly passed through Wang Chong's mind, and he quickly calmed down.
"Zhang Que, spread out your birds to keep a watch on the Arab movements. In addition, I will assign you a unit of archers. If any Arabian hunting falcons come over, work with the archers to shoot those hunting falcons down," Wang Chong said.
Arabian hunting falcons were extremely fast and vicious. Although Zhang Que's team had eliminated one wave, those hunting falcons had only been a squadron of the main group. Dealing with all the Arabian hunting falcons was beyond the power of Zhang Que's eagle team. The eagle team working with archers on the ground was a tactic that Wang Chong had developed specifically to deal with the Arab scout birds.
"Yes! Lord Marquis!"
Zhang Que quickly left to carry out this order.
No one in the Tang military had ever valued aerial surveillance as much as Wang Chong, and Zhang Que had lived up to Wang Chong's expectations. The eagle team he led was growing more and more important in Wang Chong's plans. If Zhang Que's team had not eliminated all the hunting falcons patrolling the perimeter, the initial battle with the Arabs would have turned out completely differently.
Once Zhang Que left, Wang Chong focused his gaze back onto the vast Arab army. Wang Chong's greatest enemy had yet to take the stage, but through the assault of the Bakr Cataphracts, Wang Chong could faintly sense his will.
That had been a clash of swords in the air, an invisible contest.
Wang Chong could sense that his foe had used that cavalry to probe him, and Wang Chong had clearly displayed his resolve through the ballista corps. This first clash between these two commanders had ended in Wang Chong's victory, but Wang Chong clearly understood that this was far from over!
"Protector-General Wang, are these the steel walls?"
A dignified voice came from nearby. Gao Xianzhi was standing with his back straight, his eyes aimed forward.
Wang Chong froze for a moment before giving a faint smile and nodding.
This reply immediately caused Gao Xianzhi's eyes to explode with a sharp light, tinged with a hint of astonishment. In the war of the southwest, Wang Chong had relied on thousands of such steel walls to defeat the combined army of Dalun Ruozan and Geluofeng, causing a great stir in the world. Later on, Wang Chong had used this same tactic on the Tibetan Plateau, even constructing a steel fortress at the triangular gap and defeating Dusong Mangpoje and Dayan Mangban. This unique tactic was so famous that even Gao Xianzhi in the distant Western Regions had heard of it.
But this was Gao Xianzhi's first time actually seeing them with his own eyes.
"Not bad!" Gao Xianzhi praised, the surprise still lingering in his eyes.
"The Arabs are most formidable in their cavalry. Using this tactic to divide them truly will ruin their formations, and without the benefit of their formations, even cavalry lose some of their edge. Lord Protector-General's thinking is truly unconventional, producing ideas that no ordinary person could think of. No wonder you could receive His Divine Majesty's favor at such a young age and become the youngest Protector-General of the empire.
"But Talas is surrounded by plains, a terrain greatly advantageous to cavalry. Would it not be better to enter the city and defend Talas using its high and thick walls?"
This final question exposed Gao Xianzhi's true intentions. After the initial defeat of the Arabs, Gao Xianzhi had believed that Wang Chong was going to lead his reinforcements into the city so that they could defend it together, but given that Wang Chong had arrayed his reinforcements outside the city and was building fortifications, it was obvious that Wang Chong had a different plan in mind.
To defend outside the walls without any sort of natural barriers and in unfavorable terrain was extremely risky in Gao Xianzhi's view. But since Wang Chong had come to his rescue and the two technically were of equal status, Gao Xianzhi could not directly point this out, so he had used the steel walls to approach it in a roundabout fashion.
For someone of Gao Xianzhi's status to do this was a great show of respect for Wang Chong.
"Haha, Lord Protector-General, I understand what you mean."
Wang Chong gave a faint smile, his expression relaxed and confident, exuding a natural charm.
"I naturally know that the walls of Talas are high and tall, and that fighting from them would be much more favorable, but there are some things that we must do, some risks that we must take. The Arabs are riding on a torrential momentum, and their ambitions are not just restricted to the Shi Kingdom. The entire Western Regions and the Great Tang are their true goal. In other words, when two warriors meet on the road, the more courageous one will emerge victorious. There is only one empire in this world that can contend against the Great Tang: the Arabian Empire to the west of the Cong Mountains. Lord Protector-General should have already been made keenly aware of this fact. If we cannot thoroughly defeat them and make them understand the power of the Great Tang, then in the future… they will be a constant source of trouble!
"This world is one of survival of the fittest, where the strong eat the weak. Our Great Tang can rule over the Western Regions because it is powerful. The Arabs could expand all the way to the Cong Mountains because they were also powerful. Whether Milord has noticed or not, the moment we arrived at this place, everything was fixed. In this war, if we dare to show the slightest timidity and hide within the city, then the Arabs will rush forward and we will lose the decisive opportunity. The advantage that we worked so hard to create will be given away. Lord Protector-General should understand that the Great Tang does not have any more soldiers to send!"
Wang Chong paused for a moment and slowly looked around. Around him, all the Anxi generals had fallen quiet, as had Wang Chong's. All of them were entranced by his words, staring at him with grim and solemn eyes.
All the soldiers of the Great Tang from the Cong Mountains to Wushang had been mobilized. Just like Wang Chong had said, Talas was probably the last line of defense.
"…If we win this war, then we will win the safety of the Western Regions for the next few decades, or at least delay the advance of the Arabs for a little longer. Lord Protector-General probably knows that the soldiers Abu Muslim is leading are only the soldiers stationed in the eastern part of their empire, with three times that number left in reserve. We don't have many chances. If we lose, Anxi and Qixi will both change hands, and even Longxi will be under threat. These are problems that we must consider!" Wang Chong sternly said, his eyes resting on the commander-in-chief of the Anxi Protectorate army, Gao Xianzhi.
Gao Xianzhi said nothing, but his brow was deeply furrowed. As a general, his duty was to lead soldiers in battle and win, and to continue winning. With this point as his foundation, Gao Xianzhi had made the recommendation to defend from Talas.
But Wang Chong spoke from a completely different standpoint. His strategic considerations looked much further into the future than Gao Xianzhi's. After carefully thinking about it, Gao Xianzhi had to admit that there were many aspects of this war that he had never considered.
Gao Xianzhi nodded and gave Wang Chong a profound glance, as if he was looking at this seventeen-year-old youth for the first time.
'A hundred rumors cannot compare to a single meeting, and the person far surpasses the fame.' There were many misunderstandings between Gao Xianzhi and Wang Chong, including the Regional Commanders Incident and Wang Chong's advance into Wushang. In this first meeting between them, Gao Xianzhi had treated Wang Chong with such courtesy despite his own status partially because Wang Chong had been willing to set aside his grudges and reinforce him despite all the dangers.
As for Wang Chong's grasp of the art of war… although Wang Chong was able to defeat Umar, Gao Xianzhi was a general with countless victories to his name and an insight far greater than that of an ordinary general, so this achievement did not leave a very deep impression on him.
But Wang Chong's words just now showed that he had carefully considered every aspect of the Battle of Talas. For the first time, Gao Xianzhi could sense this youth's astonishing breadth of mind and his farsighted strategic outlook that could overshadow that of any other Protector-General or Great General.
Gao Xianzhi had always been proud, but he had never imagined that he would find a talent that far surpassed his own in another person, and a mere youth at that.
"We will do everything as Lord Protector-General says. Does Lord Protector-General have anything that our Anxi Protectorate army can assist with? This Gao will offer his full support," Gao Xianzhi said.