Chapter 890: Dalun Ruozan Appears!
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
"Hahah, truth mingles with the false and the false mingles with the truth. As long as nine pieces of evidence in ten are true, no one will care if the last one is true or false. Wanhe Peiluo had a guilty conscience and confessed of his own will. No one cares now if the Arab emissary was real or fake."
"But what if he really had been exposed?"
Although he knew that this question wasn't proper, Xue Qianjun still couldn't help but ask it. He had been holding back this question for quite some time, and it had been scratching at his mind so much that he just had to voice it to satisfy himself, even if he had to be punished by military law.
"Then we would have truly done him an injustice," Wang Chong indifferently said.
Xue Qianjun was dumbfounded, his mouth wide open.
Wang Chong grinned, shot a glance at Xue Qianjun, and then left with a wave of his sleeve.
Xue Qianjun stood there in a daze for a while, but then he suddenly understood and began to smile. Treating him unjustly? The marquis had just been joking with him!
Lord Marquis's thoughts truly are hard to fathom!
With this thought, Xue Qianjun quickly ran to catch up.
As darkness slowly descended, everything continued to proceed in an orderly fashion.
"Chong-er, there's something not right about this."
While Wang Chong was patrolling the area, his father Wang Yan and big brother Wang Fu suddenly walked out from the army. Wang Yan had his brow deeply furrowed in concern.
"The Arabs have still shown no signs of movement. This is definitely not normal."
"In the last battle, they lost around eighty or ninety thousand soldiers, but the majority of this was infantry, with only around twenty percent being cavalry. Their primary force of more than two hundred thousand cavalry was largely unaffected. They’re completely capable of launching a counterattack, and for them to remain calm for so long is definitely not normal," Wang Fu agreed.
Wang Fu was wearing black armor, his posture erect and his aura imposing. Despite his youth, he was a battlefield veteran with an extremely sensitive intuition.
Wang Chong said nothing, only turned his head, looking past the ranks of the Tang army. Over there, the sea of Arab cavalry had formed an enormous arc that was neither close nor far from the Tang lines, creating a stalemate. Wang Chong had seized Wanhe Peiluo, assisted Gao Xianzhi in dealing with the Karluks, and then had all his supply carriages enter the city, but in this entire process, the Arabs had been abnormally quiet, showing no signs of attacking.
"Heh, when things are abnormal, evil must be at work. The Arabs have always been fierce and combative, seeking revenge for even the smallest of slights. For them to be so patient isn't like them at all. If I'm right, they should be waiting for someone."
Wang Chong grinned, immediately understanding what was going on.
"Waiting for someone? Who?!"
Both Wang Yan and Wang Fu immediately exchanged glances of surprise. The two had only thought that the Arabs had been acting a little strange, but they had never expected Wang Chong to so confidently declare that they were waiting for someone.
"I don't know, but we should find out very soon!"
Wang Chong shook his head and waved his hand behind him.
"Zhang Que, increase the range of patrols, and no matter what happens, I need it reported to me as soon as possible."
"Yes! Your subordinate understands."
From the rear came Zhang Que's voice, and then the sounds of him swiftly striding away.
While Wang Chong was leading the Qixi Protectorate army in setting up defenses around Talas, to the east of the Cong Mountains, in the Western Regions, something was going on around Shule, one of the Four Garrisons of Anxi.
A family was sleeping in their home. The man of the house was sleeping on the outside edge of the bed, the wife sleeping on the inside edge, and a child of three or four was sleeping between them.
The Battle of Talas had concentrated hundreds of thousands of soldiers of the empires of the east and west. The air was fraught with tension, the scent of danger rising up, causing even the usually bustling Four Garrisons of Anxi to be almost deserted. The people who remained at a time like this were few, and almost all because they could not leave.
Suddenly, the bed shook two times. The husband frowned in a daze and shouted, "Su He, stop moving around."
The child haphazardly snatched at the air, pressing up against the still-drowsy wife as they replied in a mumble, "A-Da, I wasn't."
The room fell silent once more, but then the bed was given another jolt, even larger than the last. This time, even the wife was a little angry.
"Su He, stop being naughty. Don't move around when sleeping."
"A-Ma, it really wasn't me," he child whined.
As the child spoke, the bed shook once more, shuddering so fiercely that even the husband and wife felt that something was wrong. A child could never jolt the bed so hard.
"What's going on? An earthquake?"
The wife was somewhat scared now. At this moment, the neigh of a horse came from out of the black night. The husband paled and immediately shushed his family, causing the room to fall silent. The wife sensed something and huddled with the child in the corner of the room, their bodies trembling in fear.
The shuddering of the earth only increased in intensity, causing the entire house to shake. Mixed into this trembling was the stamping of hooves, thunderously echoing through the night sky. The husband trembled, hesitating a moment before rushing to the window and opening it a crack. After taking a single glance outside, he went pale and shrank back into the corner as if he had been struck by a heavy blow.
Breee! The whinnying of a horse came from outside the window, and a faint light leaked through. A short while later, the massive silhouette of a horse was cast against the window. As the three members of this household looked at this silhouette in terror, a somewhat hoarse voice came from outside.
"In front of us is Suiye, where the Anxi Protectorate headquarters is currently stationed. Gao Xianzhi took ninety percent of the soldiers to Talas with him, leaving behind Feng Changqing and only a few thousand soldiers there. Should we exterminate them while passing through?" the hoarse voice asked in the flickering light.
After a few moments of silence, another voice responded, this one extremely scholarly and refined. "That's not necessary. Duwu Sili is coming from the east. The Turkic army he's leading is setting out from Kucha, which is even closer. Let's leave Feng Changqing and the remaining soldiers of the Anxi Protectorate army to him."
"What I'm worried about the most is the Arabs." At this moment, another loud voice rang out, and a muscular horse trotted up to cast its silhouette on the window as well. "There are more than three hundred thousand Arab soldiers outside Talas, and the Arabs have always been a pugnacious people, much more combative than we are. I originally believed that the Arabs could rely on their overwhelming numbers to easily deal with that mixed foreigner and Han army of more than one hundred thousand soldiers, but I didn't think that the Qixi Protectorate army would win."
The three family members in the room had almost stopped breathing. They hugged each other, so scared that they were unable to speak.
"Ha, relax. Abu Muslim won't lose that easily! How could the Governor of the East for the Arabian Empire possibly be defeated so quickly? Besides, the Arabs still have their main force. This battle is far from over," the refined voice said with assurance. "In addition, I've received Abu Muslim's reply. He's ready to wait until all of us arrive so that all three of us can combine and exterminate the Tang army.
"Talas is not the southwest, and Abu Muslim is no Geluofeng. In this battle, both the Anxi Protectorate army and the Qixi Protectorate army will have no chance of survival! If that Tang really can survive all this, then he can truly be called a 'War Saint'!"
The conversation suddenly stopped. The two other figures said nothing, but they both nodded.
The hoarse voice from before spoke, a hint of expectation in his voice. "Speed is paramount in war. Our greatest advantage right now is that neither he nor the Qixi Protectorate army know that we've already set out. Their attention is on the Arabs right now, so as long as we can keep out of sight of their scouts, we can catch him unawares in a sneak attack."
"Mm, but don't get too careless," the third loud voice said. "The Qixi Protectorate army has an eagle team that always dispatches birds to watch the perimeter on each expedition. In this period of time, even though we've traveled only by night, if we get seen by those birds, we won't be able to launch any sneak attack."
"Hahah, it's just some birds. There's no need to worry that much. I've taken care of everything. He won't get a chance to notice us," the refined voice confidently proclaimed.
With these final words, the three men urged their horses on and galloped away.
Within the house, the family of three took in a deep breath as if they had just escaped death.
While everyone's attention was on the war in Talas, a force of thousands upon thousands of warhorses surged past Shule and Kucha. One of these forces entered Suiye while the other detoured around it and traveled a secretive path, crossing the Cong Mountains with astonishing speed and advancing toward Talas.
Rumble! The earth quaked and dust soared into the starry sky as thousands of horses galloped.
Although the sky was still dark, daybreak was getting closer and closer.
"Great Minister, in front of us is the Baishi Mountains. Talas is only fifty to sixty li away."
A horseman galloped to the rear of the army, stopping in front of a tall and slender figure.
In front of this horseman stood three figures, the tall and slender one in the middle dressed in a scholarly robe, his bearing graceful. Most distinguishing of all were his narrow eyes, bursting with a sharp light that seemed capable of seeing through all the secrets of the world. This was Dalun Ruozan, who had emerged from the prison of Ü-Tsang's royal capital washed free of all attachments.
This Dalun Ruozan who had exchanged his prison garments for a scholarly robe lacked some of the confidence and grace that he had in the southwest, replaced with a sharpness that came from experiencing a storm. A white bag hung from his saddle, the handle of a fan poking out from it. This handle seemed a little shabby and old, but from its shape, one could recognize it as that feather fan that never left his side.
Ever since he had come out from the prison, Dalun Ruozan had put this fan away and exchanged it for a sword.
Dalun Ruozan made a gesture with his hand, and the army immediately stopped. Both Huoshu Huicang and Dusong Mangpoje turned to him.
"Bring out the map!" Dalun Ruozan suddenly ordered.
Buzz! A red-armored Tibetan guard rode over, taking from his back a metal tube decorated with simple and elegant designs. From this, he extracted a yellowing map made from cloth and handed it over.