Chapter 894: The Final Decision, Fight!
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
"What's going on here? Didn't we already vanquish the Ngari Royal Lineage? How could there be another black banner showing a white yak?"
A muttered question immediately voiced the thoughts on everyone's mind.
Chen Bin had also been one of the participants in the war of the southwest. That had been a vicious war, almost completely wiping out the Annan Protectorate army. In the end, Wang Chong had managed to turn the tides and defeat the Mengshe–Ü-Tsang army. Dalun Ruozan had gone back to the plateau with only ten thousand cavalry, and the entire Ngari Royal Lineage had been overrun by Wang Chong's plague, all the cows and sheep dying, the resulting famine rendering the domain almost completely deserted.
He heard no more about Dalun Ruozan, and Ngari Royal Lineage itself came to exist only in name, with the white yak banner vanishing with its decline. No one could have expected the war banner of the Ngari Royal Lineage to reappear at a time like this.
In an instant, everyone turned to Wang Chong.
It was him! No wonder…
Wang Chong squinted as he inwardly muttered to himself. Although he had not personally taken part in deciding the patrol zones, he had given Zhang Que some general instruction. No normal person was capable of eliminating all the scouts and spies on the perimeter to get within ten li.
But if it was Dalun Ruozan, everything could be explained.
Wang Chong had never expected that even he would appear in this Battle of Talas! This was not something that had happened in his last life. There was no doubt that this was yet another result of the domino effect.
Is it for revenge?
Wang Chong's mind churned as he closed his eyes. Although he could not see it, Wang Chong could already sense that figure leading tens of thousands of cavalry out of the Western Regions, a fire blazing in his chest, similar to himself in a way.
Time and place had changed, but he and Dalun Ruozan were meeting once more as if it was destined, and it was at the crucial Battle of Talas. Wang Chong could even guarantee that this moment had been carefully calculated by that Great Minister of the Ngari Royal Lineage.
But even so, Wang Chong felt no fear.
"Reporting! Lord Marquis, the enemy army in the rear is now less than eight li from us!"
While Wang Chong had been thinking, another scout had ridden up in a cloud of dust, his face taut with tension.
The scout's words immediately made the air tense up. Now, the entire army was beginning to notice something strange and become uneasy. Cavalry could cover eight li in just a few moments. They didn't have much time left. A decision needed to be made.
"Lord Marquis, look over there!" a nervous voice said. It was Kong Zi-an, standing at Li Siye's side, his finger pointed at the Arab army.
Everyone turned to look and saw that in the glimmer of the morning sun, the Arabs were raising their black war banners into the air. The more than two hundred thousand elite Arab cavalry were moving like a vast flood, inexorably flowing in the direction of Talas.
This sudden movement had attracted the attention of all the Tang soldiers, and even many of the soldiers of the Anxi Protectorate army began to appear on the walls.
With the Arab soldiers in front and Dalun Ruozan leading the Tibetan cavalry from behind, the more than one hundred thousand soldiers of the Qixi army were suddenly beset from both sides by great danger. Not only that, the Arabs were clearly intending to assault Wang Chong's army from the front to open up opportunities for the Tibetans.
As the Arabs were adjusting their forces, a cloud of dust rose up from the rear, a vibration traveling through the earth.
The Tibetans were moving even faster than expected. In just a few short moments, they were already on the verge of reaching Talas!
Everyone could sense an intense danger, and Wang Chong quickly became the center of hundreds of nervous stares. This was a precarious situation, and Wang Chong needed to make a decision as quickly as possible. The moment they were caught between the Arabs and Tibetans, the one hundred thousand soldiers had a high chance of being completely wiped out, and all their previous efforts would have been for nothing.
The shaking was getting more intense by the second. The Tibetans had advanced even farther, getting closer and closer to Talas.
"Milord, time is short. Should we enter the city?"
At this moment, a somewhat elderly voice came from behind Wang Fu, shattering the silence. It was one of the old subordinates of the Wang Clan, Chen Shusun. Chen Shusun had followed Wang Chong's father Wang Yan for many years and then later been dispatched to serve as Wang Fu's bodyguard. He had a very deep relationship with all three generations of the Wang Clan.
In the war of the southwest, he had fought alongside Wang Chong and had always referred to him as 'Young Master'. But now, Wang Chong was the Qixi Protector-General, so Chen Shusun addressed Wang Chong as 'Milord'.
"…Talas can hold several hundred thousand people. If we retreat into the city, we can avert the disaster of being attacked from both sides!"
The Qixi army didn't have too many choices right now. It came down to either remaining where they were and taking attacks from both the front and back, or retreating into Talas so that they could use the sturdy walls to resist the combined Arab-Tibetan army.
Although Talas's gate had been almost destroyed in the last battle, the craftsmen Wang Chong had brought with him had already repaired and even strengthened it. There was no better time than now to withdraw into the city.
In truth, to the great majority, this was the best choice!
Wang Chong said nothing, only slightly raised his head and slowly closed his eyes.
The shuddering grew more and more intense, and as Dalun Ruozan's army got closer and closer, the dark clouds engulfing the more than one hundred thousand soldiers from Qixi grew thicker and thicker. Around Wang Chong, everyone had almost stopped breathing as they waited for Wang Chong to make the final decision.
Even Wang Yan was no exception!
In the war of the southwest, the battle of the triangular gap, and the battle against the Black Wolf Yabgu, Wang Chong had amply proved his abilities and won everyone's trust. Whether he decided to fight or retreat, he was the only person whose decision they could all trust.
The clouds of dust and the quaking of the earth signified that Dalun Ruozan's arrival was imminent. In front of them, the black sea of Arab soldiers was also picking up its pace, and the thundering of their hooves seemed to be stomping on the hearts of all the Tang soldiers. Time was fast dwindling. Stay or go? Fight or withdraw? Wang Chong had to choose now.
The lives of all his soldiers depended on this decision.
A massive metal boom could be heard as the nearby Talas gate opened up. A group of Anxi Protectorate army generals with worried faces emerged and began to rush toward Wang Chong, led by none other than Vice Protector-General Cheng Qianli. His lips were moving rapidly as if he was saying something to Wang Chong.
At the same time, a plume of dust rose from behind the distant hills, and amidst the fierce neighing horses, a massive banner of black and white was thrust into the sky. Atop this banner was the image of a white yak, bulging with muscle and exuding a momentum that could dominate the world.
Dalun Ruozan's forces were about to arrive!
In this extremely disadvantageous position, Wang Chong smiled and opened his eyes, allowing a dazzling light to burst forth.
"Pass on my order. The craftsman team should move as quickly as possible to the eastern side of Talas and set up the second line of steel walls!"
"All infantry and shieldmen, join the Gangke and the soldiers of Greater and Lesser Balur in the first defensive line. Use the steel walls to defend against the Arab attacks. No matter what sort of price you have to pay, you have to hold the line!"
"Chen Bin, divide the ballista army into two—fifteen hundred to each part. Have one of the divisions remain. Use the transport carriages to fire from above. Cooperate with the infantry to defend the west side from the Arab cavalry! Give the other division to Xu Keyi to command, to defend against the soldiers of the Ü-Tsang Empire coming from the east."
"Yes, Lord Marquis!"
Wang Chong issued out a string of orders, each one clear and firm. For his last order, Wang Chong turned to the mighty figure of Li Siye.
"Li Siye, get ready. In a little while, come with me to meet… some old friends from Ü-Tsang!"
As he mentioned 'old friends', his eyes suddenly exploded with an intimidating light.
Li Siye's eyes brightened as he gave a terrifying roar, and his mountain of a body exploded with an intense will to fight. Although Wang Chong had not stated it directly, everyone understood the choice he had made. In front was the Arab army and behind was the Tibetan army. They were about to take on attacks from both sides and were in an extremely poor position, but so what?
Fight, fight, fight! That was all it meant!
In the southwest, they had not retreated. At the triangular gap, they had not retreated. They would not retreat here!
This was how the Great Tang did things!
Nothing on this continent could make the Great Tang retreat, and certainly not kneel!
Xu Keyi, Chen Bin, Zhao Jingdian, Chen Burang, Sun Zhiming, the Gangke King, Huang Botian, Kong Zi-an, Xue Qianjun, and all the other officers mounted their warhorses and left. There were no questions, no objections. At this moment, all their minds had seemingly gone ablaze, all of them brimming with enthusiasm and passion. The entire Qixi army came to life like a massive machine, rapidly spinning into motion.
Even Chen Shusun, who had advised retreating into city, only stood in a daze for a few moments before mounting his horse and riding off to carry out Wang Chong's orders.