Chapter 961: Before the Battle, the Hidden Danger!
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
"Li Siye! Pass on my order! Have the army gather and prepare for battle!"
Wang Chong's eyes flashed as he spoke.
"Yes, Lord Marquis!" Li Siye answered from his Ferghanan steed. "Hyah!" He rode forward, calling to the Wushang Cavalry behind him before galloping to the defense line.
"Lord Protector-General, let us go!"
At almost the same moment, Wang Chong dispelled the Yama transformation. A battle was imminent, and Wang Chong could sense that this was certain to be a bitter and desperate battle.
Gao Xianzhi nodded and followed Wang Chong to the defense line.
In the distance, the horn had stopped, but the quaking of the earth was only getting more intense. As the two hundred thousand Arab soldiers prepared for battle, an enormous energy began to sweep over the earth. Just by observing from the distance, one could feel a stifling pressure.
The countless Arab cavalry roared as they flourished their scimitars, allowing cold light to shine off them. Their tens of thousands of scimitars aimed into the air created a glimmering and terrifying forest of blades.
"The Arabs are finally moving out!"
The Western Turks and Tibetans were spectating from a distance, looking at the Arab army on the horizon and listening to their heaven-shaking shouts. Dalun Ruozan and the others all had calm expressions, but their eyes were gleaming brightly. After waiting for so long, the Arabs had finally decided to move out.
Although the Behemoths had an intimidating strength, they had still fallen to the nearly one hundred thousand Tang soldiers. Troops on the ground were still needed.
"I don't know if the Arabs can thoroughly rout the Tang!" Huoshu Huicang muttered, a look of anticipation in his eyes as he gazed at the Arab army that extended to the edge of the horizon. No one in the world was better than the Arabs at cavalry charges that could shatter enemy formations. Even the proud Tibetans had chosen to humbly concede defeat on this point. And in terms of defensive battles and defensive infantry formations, no one in the world could surpass the Great Tang.
There was probably no country in the world besides the Great Tang that could rely on infantry formations to stand against a storm of attacks from Arab cavalry several times their number.
The Great Tang had dominated the world through its infantry, while Arabia had become hegemon via its cavalry. These were the strongest and most representative soldiers of the strongest empires of the east and west, but the situation had now changed. A gap had appeared in the steel defense line built by the Tang.
A gap more than one thousand zhang long was more than enough for the Arab cavalry to bypass the steel defense line and strike straight into the heart of the Tang formation.
It was now completely possible for the Arabs to completely crush the Tang.
"The Tang need to repair it, but there's no more time! Since they don't have the time to repair that long gap, their defeat is assured," Huoba Sangye said. He was also at the top of the hill, observing from his highland steed. Behind him were the several thousand Mutri Great Cavalry.
"I just feel a little regret that the Great Tang's Wushang Cavalry will not be dying at our hands. However, to personally see them perish on the battlefield, to send them off as they are completely wiped out, can also comfort our fallen brethren, the White Braves and the Qinghai."
His voice grew quieter toward the end.
The more than sixty thousand soldiers of the Turko-Tibetan force fell silent, all of them waiting for the storm.
The atmosphere was tense.
On the western battle front, as the Arabs prepared for battle, the countless Tang warriors were also gathering behind the first defense line. All the soldiers that had withdrawn into the city were now marching out, neatly divided into orderly units.
The Tang army swiftly set up one defense line, then a second, a third… Meanwhile, at the front of the army, Zhang Shouzhi was leading all the craftsmen in an all-out effort to repair the steel walls. Fires blazed and smoke roiled into the tense atmosphere.
The armies of the two greatest empires of the east maintained a distant stalemate. Although the battle had yet to begin, swords were drawn and bowstrings pulled taut. The air was saturated with tension.
As the Tang readied for battle, the earth trembled, and massive silhouettes appeared from the rear of the Arab camp, blocking out the sun as they slowly strode into the field of vision.
A flood of pressure began to sweep over the world.
Everyone instantly paled at the sight.
Four enormous Behemoths were slowly approaching the Tang camp.
"How could this be? How can the Arabs still have this many of those enormous monsters?!"
A gasp of shock could be heard. The Ferghanan commander Banahan grimaced, and though his soldiers said nothing, the look on their faces was enough to see how they felt.
"This is probably all their soldiers," the mounted Wang Chong next to Banahan calmly said. His eyes flickered for a moment in the fierce winds, but they remained hard and determined. He understood more about the Behemoth Army than anyone else present.
Since it was an army, there was naturally more than one or two Behemoths!
The first two assaults could be considered probing or disdain from the enemy. This time, however, the opposing commander had cast aside their disdain and placed all their attention on this battle.
According to Arab histories, the Behemoth Army has never dispatched two or more in a single battle, but this time, they're sending out four… This is truly a great honor! Wang Chong sarcastically noted to himself.
To any faction or power, the Behemoth Army was a dreadful force that could sweep away all opposition. These were beings that one was liable to associate with mysterious myths and legends, even though these Behemoths actually had very little to do with such myths!
These four Behemoths also posed an enormous pressure to Wang Chong. But since he now had two giant ballistae that could be used against the Behemoths, Wang Chong felt much more assured.
At the very least, these Behemoths were no longer invincible.
The four Behemoths slowly approached like towering mountains. But when they were still only ten-some zhang from the Arab formation, they suddenly stopped as if frozen in place.
The rest of the Arab army also seemed to freeze.
Everyone was left at a loss by this abrupt scene.
"Lord Marquis, the Arabs have already blown the horn, so why did they stop? What are the Arabs waiting for?"
Xue Qianjun was astonished, his gaze turning to Wang Chong, mounted on the White-hoofed Shadow. They were all prepared for battle, but the two hundred thousand Arab soldiers and the four dreadful Behemoths had all stopped. The Tang were left confused and dumbfounded by this decision.
Wang Chong said nothing, his hands gripping the reins of his horse as his mind ran through countless thoughts. He had vaguely sensed something from the Arab army, but in this short time, he couldn't quite understand what it was.
Ever since he had interfered, the Battle of Talas had taken a completely different course from the one in his memories. He could no longer predict what was going to happen.
The anxiety and unease thickened over the silent battlefield.
"Are they ready?"
Abu Muslim's towering figure in the rear of the army spoke to someone behind him.
A burly Arab general behind Abu Muslim bowed and replied with abnormal subservience, "Lord Governor, everything is ready! All that is needed is Milord's order!"
Abu Muslim's eyes glimmered with sharp light.
This order was spoken with a biting chill, an extreme bleakness.
The Behemoths roared, and the Arab army began to part, leaving a path for the four mountainous beings. Slowly, they began to step forward. Boom! The first Behemoth moved, then the second, the third… The four Behemoths bellowed as they began to charge toward the Tang.
As they began to charge, everyone could clearly see that the heads of the four Behemoths were covered in thick helmets. This sight made all of them grimace. It was very obvious that the Arabs had absorbed their lesson and increased the defenses around the vital heads of the Behemoths.
Wang Chong gestured, and Chen Bin and Xu Keyi unsheathed their swords and began to issue orders.
Hundreds of ballista soldiers began to get to work.
Metal clanging and creaking could be heard as the soldiers nervously loaded the giant ballistae and aimed them at the Behemoths. The Great Tang only had two giant ballistae, but there were four Behemoths. No one knew how they would deal with all of them.
"Wang Chong, do we have any more of these giant ballistae in the camp? Can we make more?"
Gao Xianzhi galloped up to Wang Chong's side, his gaze tinged with concern as he looked ahead.
Wang Chong shook his head.
"Until now, the giant ballistae were just a concept that we never tried before. It was enough of a miracle for us to build two and have them work normally. For the time being, we won't be able to build a third one."
In normal circumstances, the Tang should have never had the Behemoths as opponents in the Battle of Talas. That they had been able to build two giant ballistae was already a blessing from the heavens.