Chapter 895: The Second Defense Line!
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
Thousands of craftsmen piled on carriages like ants as they went to carry out Wang Chong's orders. Upon arriving on the eastern side of Talas, they ignited the furnaces, and black smoke and the sound of banging metal soon filled the air. The massive modules of steel were quickly hammered into the ground and soldered together to form a sturdy wall on the east.
Wang Chong had prepared for today's battle for more than two months, and he had been assisted in this venture by all the smithing clans and other smiths of the Central Plains. The endless stream of steel modules arriving at Wushang had been precisely in preparation for any unforeseen events like this.
The greatest advantage modular construction had over ordinary methods was its speed.
With Wang Chong's order, the vacant and open land in the rear of the Qixi Protectorate army was soon covered by a long and straight steel wall, a firm line of defense for the more than one hundred thousand Tang soldiers.
This was just like how Wang Chong had built a nine-zhang-high steel wall at Wushang in the space of a single night. Only he could perform such miraculous feats.
Amidst roiling smoke, the thousands of craftsmen were still pouring solder, but they were only a few moments away from completing their work. On the other end, the more than one hundred thousand soldiers were beginning to move according to Wang Chong's orders.
"Go, go, go!"
In front of the first line of steel defenses, Chen Bin, wearing a suit of Meteoric Metal armor and gripping a Wootz Steel sword, was issuing order after order. The ballista corps, holding three thousand ballistae and fifteen thousand men, cleanly divided into two. Seventy-five hundred men began to board the transport carriages and set up ballistae in three rows, five hundred ballistae to a row, each of them aimed at the empty spaces between the steel walls.
The steel walls were the best barrier against the charge of cavalry. If the Arabs wanted to get through, they would need to break formation and come in through the openings between the walls, exactly where the ballistae could maximize their firepower.
As the fifteen hundred ballistae were being set up, rows of infantry carrying shields began to arrive, lining up to also face the openings. The soldiers of Greater and Lesser Balur were also mobilized for this defense.
The soldiers of these two kingdoms were not as elite as those of the Great Tang, and in this era dominated by cavalry, Greater and Lesser Balur were practically nonexistent. But their spearmen and pikemen were among the best, and they were far more skilled in their use of pikes than the pikemen of any other faction.
This was one of the primary reasons Wang Chong had hired their soldiers. The pikemen of the Balurs were almost a perfect match with the shieldmen of the Great Tang. This was an intimidating defense line that was ideal for countering cavalry.
Rumble! As the soldiers of Greater and Lesser Balur and the infantry and shieldmen of the Great Tang finished forming their line, the Gangke King rode forward on a large brown horse, leading the Gangke and the other mercenaries of the Western Regions in taking their positions.
"Everyone, hear my order! There will be no retreat until I say so! Those who disobey will be executed!"
The Gangke King's eyes blazed like stars as they fiercely swept past the steel walls to fall on the surging black waves of the Arab army. Around him, the Gangke stood with their backs straight in a neat square, their eyes vicious and brimming with fighting intent. Arabia versus the Great Tang! This was a clash of lion versus elephant.
In this war, everyone had to make clear where they stood, who they had chosen.
There was no question that the Gangke had chosen the Great Tang.
"Come! Even if I die in battle today, I do so without regrets!"
The Gangke King's eyes were bright, and his black cape flapped in the wind. His entire body seemed to be ablaze with power and energy. The Gangke King was one of the few Saint Martial experts under Wang Chong's command, and he was even stronger than the Invincible Great General Li Siye.
The Gangke King had always been proud, and in the Western Regions, there was no one who could make him bow his head. But now, the illustrious Gangke King had chosen to lower his head to Wang Chong.
The once-meek Gangke, the filthy pigs of the Western Regions, had finally been able to wash their bodies clean of shame and stand upright. The Gangke King was willing to offer his death to repay the Great Tang and Wang Chong for their aid!
The Gangke King gripped his Barbaric God Axe, all the blood in his body seething.
While the Gangke King prepared to fight to the death, the rest of the Tang army was rapidly mobilizing. From above, it looked like a surging river on the plains around Talas, but though it appeared turbid, it was actually moving in a disciplined and orderly fashion.
Only Wang Chong was capable of so quickly mobilizing an army of more than one hundred thousand soldiers in such an orderly fashion.
As the craftsmen finished the second line of steel walls, the fifteen hundred ballistae positioned themselves at the gaps. Meanwhile, the soldiers of the Qixi Protectorate army, the Annan Protectorate army, and the Imperial Court… eighty percent of the reinforcements from Qixi were moved to the east to face the Tibetans.
While the infantry, spearmen, shieldmen, and half of the ballista army delayed the more than two hundred thousand Arabs, the remaining eighty percent of the army would attempt to use their overwhelming advantage in numbers to vanquish the weaker Tibetans. After that, they would turn back around to defend against the Arabs. This was the plan that Wang Chong had come up with on the spot, and it was also the best method for dealing with enemies on both sides.
"Li Siye, follow me."
Amidst the blustery wind, Wang Chong mounted the White-hoofed Shadow and immediately galloped off to the second line of defense, toward the plains to the east of Talas.
"All soldiers, follow me!"
Li Siye immediately waved his hand and led the five thousand Wushang Cavalry after Wang Chong.
Sand and dust filled the air as Wang Chong rode off to the east.
On the high walls of Talas, several Anxi generals watched worriedly as Wang Chong left, and then they turned to Anxi Protector-General Gao Xianzhi.
"It's fine. Let him go."
There was a flash of light in Gao Xianzhi's eyes as he looked down at the Wushang Cavalry.
"And besides, it's his old friends that are coming…"
Gao Xianzhi had been in the military for many years and knew the various factions like the back of his hand. The moment that white yak banner had appeared, Gao Xianzhi knew that it was Wang Chong's mortal foe from the southwest, Dalun Ruozan, who had come. Although they were both elite and renowned generals of the continent, one the wise strategist of the Ngari Royal Lineage and the other Anxi's Protector-General, Gao Xianzhi had never met Dalun Ruozan.
It was much more appropriate that Wang Chong go to meet him.
As Wang Chong rode off, the earth's shuddering reached a frightening intensity. Buzz! Dust churned out from beyond the hills like a sea of fog, and in the middle of that sea of fog, in the early morning light of the sun rising in the east, thousands of warhorses charged out like ghosts stepping out of the underworld.
Caw! With their strange cries akin to the weeping of infants, hundreds of vultures flew out from the rear of this army, blotting out the sun as they circled in the sky.
In the center of these tens of thousands of Tibetan cavalry, a black banner depicting a white yak flapped in the wind under the shadow of the vultures. Beneath the banner, a scholarly and refined figure dressed in a blue robe slowly mounted the hill.
The sight of those thousands of furnaces belching smoke in front of Talas while thousands of craftsmen rapidly erected a long line of steel walls made all the Tibetans pale. The Tang should have only begun their preparations when they had been discovered eighteen li out from Talas, but by the time they had arrived, the Tang had managed with dizzying speed to erect a line of steel walls.
The construction of these walls in such a short time left all the Tibetans dazed.
They all turned to Dalun Ruozan, awaiting his decision.
Cavalry rapidly advancing over a vast distance did so for the purpose of catching the opponent unawares and ambushing them. But their opponent was clearly prepared, rendering their advantages void.
"Great Minister, what should we do now? He was able to mobilize far too quickly, and it seems like he's able to set up those steel walls even faster than before."
A stalwart figure rode out from the rear and glanced at the figure of Wang Chong slowly riding out, a hint of worry in his eyes.
Dalun Ruozan said nothing, his eyes fixed on that approaching figure, his brow slowly creasing.
His forces had been discovered by Wang Chong while they were still eighteen li from Talas, but given the speed at which cavalry advanced, Wang Chong should have received the news when they were fourteen li from Talas. Coupled with the time needed to confirm this news a second time, Wang Chong should have only confirmed the identity of this force of seventy thousand soldiers when they were only ten li from the city.
At this distance, Dalun Ruozan had believed that when he arrived, he could at least stir some turmoil in Wang Chong's army, but the scene before him was starkly different from what he had imagined.
Amongst the commanders that Dalun Ruozan knew, probably only Wang Chong was capable of shifting his army around in such a short amount of time.