Chapter 892: An Invisible Clash of Scouts!
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
With a wave of his sleeve, Dalun Ruozan sent out a wave of Stellar Energy, causing the map of the continent to float in the air. He placed a palm over the map and began to move his fingers, allowing the starlight to fall on the map through the space between his fingers.
Light and shadow began to shift on the map, and suddenly, countless points of light appeared upon it. These points of light were arranged according to some sort of pattern, floating over mountains, hills, and flatlands, all in the direction of Talas.
Dusong Mangpoje and the surrounding Tibetan generals were all astonished, with only Huoshu Huicang remaining unperturbed.
Dalun Ruozan was no expert of the Great General level. The Great Ministers of the empire spent most of their time on administrative manners, so most of them did not have a very high level of martial arts. But this did not mean that they were poor martial artists. Dalun Ruozan had exquisite control over Stellar Energy, not one bit inferior to Huoshu Huicang's.
"Do all of you see it? This is where the Tang have placed their defenses. Take the vulture force and eliminate them!" Dalun Ruozan calmly ordered, his voice suffused with a formidable confidence.
"Yes, Great Minister."
The six Tibetan officers responded with respectful tones and then began to carefully examine the points of light on the map, after which they set off. Caw! The air resounded with those startling cries as the flock of vultures followed.
Dusong Mangpoje slightly frowned as he stared at those points of light, a tinge of doubt in his eyes.
"Let's go! This isn't your first time working together with the Great Minister. You'll understand in the future!"
A large palm patted him on the shoulder as Huoshu Huicang gave Dusong Mangpoje a grin and then rode off. Dusong Mangpoje turned his head in a daze and realized that Dalun Ruozan had already put away the map and ridden away.
He's truly hard to predict!
Dusong Mangpoje looked up at the sky and sighed, a sense of relief washing over his mind.
The Dalun Ruozan that had emerged from prison was erratic and unconventional, his actions impossible to fathom. Dusong Mangpoje had never worked with this sort of Dalun Ruozan before, but he understood that this was a blessing, not a curse, for the Ü-Tsang Empire.
As for whether Dalun Ruozan's clever determinations were wrong or right, he would soon find out.
The vultures flew through the night sky like ghosts while the Tibetan officers on the ground faithfully carried out Dalun Ruozan's plan. The flocks of vultures assaulted those points that had been marked on the map, and with shrill cry after cry, rock eagles plunged to the earth, their feathers slowly drifting down behind them.
Before these rock eagles even had a chance to flee, they were beset by the vultures and swiftly eliminated.
One, two, three, four…
The vultures opened up the path in the sky, allowing the tens of thousands of Tibetan cavalry on the ground to rapidly advance toward Talas.
Forty li, thirty-seven li, thirty li, twenty-five li…
The Tibetan army was getting closer and closer to Talas, with Dalun Ruozan's plan proving effective in keeping the Tang from noticing its approach. Most shocking of all was that Dalun Ruozan's judgment had been perfect. He had predicted every single point of the Tang defense.
Even Dusong Mangpoje could tell that Dalun Ruozan had found their weakness, accurately determining where the Tang had positioned their surveillance birds.
If this continues, we really might be able to launch a night raid on the Tang without them having a single chance to react, Dusong Mangpoje quietly said to himself.
In all his years battling with the Great Tang, Dusong Mangpoje had never had a plan proceed so smoothly. This time, he could be sure that the Tang would not have any time to react. Only twenty-five li remained and the Tibetans had still not been noticed—a truly impressive feat.
"There's just an hour left. We have plenty of time before daybreak. We just need to advance another ten li undetected to catch them completely unawares!"
Dalun Ruozan sat upon his Tibetan steed, his eyes twinkling as he looked to the east and mentally calculated. Daybreak was getting closer and closer, but the Tibetans still had a chance. The period closest to daybreak was precisely when people were most liable to let down their guard. If they could avoid detection by the Tang scouts and launch a raid at that time, they could deal a serious wound to the Tang.
"Pass on my order. All soldiers should dismount and wrap the hooves of their horses. In addition, leave behind the supply wagons and advance at full speed!"
Dalun Ruozan waved his hand and gave the order.
"Yes! Great Minister!"
A few moments later, the army was off once more, traveling at even faster speeds than before.
A flock of vultures lunged forward, wiping out the five or six rock eagles patrolling in the skies, and the scouts on the ground didn't even have a chance to send back any messages before being killed by the hundreds of Tibetan scouts. Twenty-two li, twenty-one li… The Tang defenses were growing more and more concentrated, and more and more scouts were present, but they were all wiped out under Dalun Ruozan's thunderous momentum.
At this moment, all the Tibetan cavalry, and even Huoshu Huicang and Dusong Mangpoje, had nervous expressions on their faces. Even Dalun Ruozan had nothing more to say, his body pressing closer to the back of his horse, his rigid body and focused eyes displaying his extreme tension.
Twenty li, eighteen li…
Only a few li were left. As long as they could remain undiscovered for just a little longer, the Tibetans could launch a successful surprise attack.
A nervous voice came out of the darkness. A group of rock eagles appeared in the sky, and a Tibetan general on the ground almost immediately gave the signal. The rock eagles in the sky seemed more vigilant than the previous rock eagles, and with a shrill cry, this group of five eagles immediately scattered.
In a flash, all the people on the ground felt their hearts leap to their throats, anxiety almost exploding out of their eyes.
Caw! The vultures quickly shot toward the fleeing rock eagles, and a battle began. According to the Great Minister's plans, this was the last Tang defense line for the next ten li. As long as they could break through this line, the Tibetans could get within fifteen li of Talas.
If they could silently get into this range, they could launch a perfect raid on the Tang.
All the Tibetan officers looked nervously up at the sky.
"They won't be able to escape!"
Dalun Ruozan calmly looked up at the sky, his body exuding a formidable self-confidence. He had spent ages preparing for today. He had personally formulated all the tactics used by these vultures and was confident that these rock eagles would have no chance to escape. As for the Tang scouts on the ground, he had already sent soldiers to get rid of them.
He had ordered Huoshu Huicang to train these elite scouts while he was still in prison, and he been supported in this project by generals from all the Royal Lineages. Each of these scouts was hand-picked and trained in hunting down and eliminating Tang scouts, each of them able to fight against ten times their number.
There had been no signals from the Tang forces, signifying that his force of scouts had succeeded in their task.
"One, two, three, four… five!" Dalun Ruozan counted off as he looked up at the skies. As if his words were magical, a rock eagle would plunge down with each number he counted. With the number 'five', an arrow shot into the air. Dusong Mangpoje, mounted upon his divine steed from the Great Snow Mountain, had loosed his bow, his arrow felling the final rock eagle.
As the last rock eagle plunged to the ground, a burst of cheers rose from the Tibetan army, and the various Tibetan officers clenched their fists in exultation.
They had finally succeeded!
After breaking through line after line of Tang defenses, they had finally broken through the last one. Now, the Tibetans needed to only travel a little longer before finally washing away their disgrace and dealing an unprecedented blow to the Tang. Together with the Arabs, they could eliminate the Anxi and Qixi Protectorate armies, forever altering the map of the Western Regions.
Four li silently went by, with only the light of the stars and the blowing of the wind to accompany their advance.
Dalun Ruozan carefully listened and then finally gave a contented nod, a sigh of relief escaping his lips. In an exchange with Wang Chong, one could not afford to be even the smallest bit careless. He had finally won a game with his opponent.
With the advantage in his hands, he could finally make his move. The Tibetans had finally won an exchange with the Great Tang!
The Tibetan steed beneath him snorted out a white cloud of steam as Dalun Ruozan swung his hand down. Rumble! The tens of thousands of Tibetans exploded with killing intent, like a thawing river, as they began to charge.
But at this moment, a sharp cry came out of the darkness, a sound so soft that no one would notice unless one was listening closely. But when Dalun Ruozan heard this sound, his calm and assured expression immediately contorted as if a peal of thunder had exploded in his ears.
Dalun Ruozan fiercely raised his head, turning in the direction of the sound. Past thousands of warhorses and over the hills, Dalun Ruozan could clearly see a small sparrow on a tree branch in front of the Tibetan army taking off into the sky.
This sparrow was a common sight in the Western Regions, but the sight of this sparrow might as well have been a bolt out of the blue for Dalun Ruozan, and his complexion immediately paled.