Chapter 998: Duwu Sili's True Goal!
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
The giant ballistae were the Great Tang's tools against the Arabian Behemoths, but now that six of these enormous beasts were dead and the last one was on the verge of death, the giant ballistae were heroes with no place to show their prowess. Whether Duwu Sili destroyed one or not, it would have a limited effect on this battle. Duwu Sili's actions were more like a final effort to salvage his dignity. Everyone knew this, though they had the tact to not say it out loud.
"Hmph, what fighting with the giants? He saw that the Tang boy had gotten control over the four Behemoths and knew he couldn't win, so he initially found the giants to drag himself down. But does he think us fools who can't see this?" Huoba Sangye sneered.
Although Ü-Tsang did not revere martial prowess as much as the Arabian Empire, they were still a fierce people who revered true heroes. At the start, Huoba Sangye had highly anticipated Duwu Sili's efforts, but none of his actions were worth his respect.
Gallop! Duwu Sili apparently seemed to understand that he had lost all his dignity, so while galloping toward the hills, he suddenly turned and began to head for the Turkic camp.
The hills instantly fell silent. Everyone watched quietly as the Celestial Wolf Great General vanished into the Western Turkic camp.
After a period of prolonged silence, everyone finally turned away. No one said anything, but even Dusong Mangpoje, who had spoken up for Duwu Sili just now, felt a little embarrassed. One could easily imagine how the rest of them had reacted.
"Haha, all of you are looking down too much on Duwu Sili." Dalun Ruozan suddenly spoke, his sleeves gently fluttering in the wind. His back was to these generals, and his hair was being blown here and there by the wind, imbuing him with an elegant and graceful aura.
"If Duwu Sili really only had this much ability, he would have never become the Celestial Wolf Great General."
These words immediately attracted the notice of Huoshu Huicang, Dusong Mangpoje, and Huoba Sangye, all of them turning with the other generals to Dalun Ruozan.
"Great Minister, you mean… that Duwu Sili was deliberately acting clumsy?" Huoshu Huicang probed.
"Haha, he wasn't being clumsy. He always had a clear goal in mind. It was just that none of you could see it."
Dalun Ruozan didn't turn his head, but he knew what they were thinking like they were his own thoughts.
"Great Minister, if I may speak frankly, it is not that I do not believe Great Minister, but I truly cannot see just how Duwu Sili is formidable. Throughout this entire battle, I truly have not seen him render any substantial feats on the field," Huoba Sangye said. Although he still believed in Dalun Ruozan, he could not readily subscribe to the argument that Duwu Sili was some capable general.
Dalun Ruozan chuckled, but he did not retort.
"Huoba, there are some things that you can't just see by looking at the surface. Duwu Sili's feats are far greater than you can imagine… Have none of you noticed that while he left alone, he returned with something else on the back of his horse?"
These words left the gathered generals dumbfounded.
Duwu Sili's excursion had failed, and so all of them had only noticed that he had left in high spirits and returned furtively. Wang Chong was still alive, so anything else he did could not be considered substantial. As for whatever extra thing he had on the back of his horse, they truly had not cared.
But Dalun Ruozan's words made all of them turn pensive as they began to recollect that sight.
Their expressions quickly turned strange.
"When Duwu Sili returned, it appeared that… he had another person on his horse!" a Tibetan general said, and his comment also caused the other people to remember. After all, it had only happened a few moments ago, and the memory was still fresh on their minds.
"But what's so special about that?" Huoba Sangye said with a frown.
Even if this matter was confirmed, they still didn't understand why Dalun Ruozan had brought the matter up. Had everything changed just because Duwu Sili had brought someone back?
"If Duwu Sili had been aiming for Wang Chong from the very start, there would naturally be nothing special about this, but what if that wasn't the case? If Duwu Sili had never been going for Wang Chong from the very beginning, would all of you still think the same?"
Dalun Ruozan faintly smiled.
For a moment, everyone was flabbergasted. Even Huoba Sangye's mouth dropped open in speechlessness.
It was true! If Duwu Sili had been aiming at Wang Chong from the beginning and then turned around without meeting his goal, he would naturally have earned the contempt of his peers. But what if this had never been his true objective? All of them had been misguided by Duwu Sili's bold words, so they had never even considered a different possibility.
Dalun Ruozan sensed what was going on behind him and smiled. Duwu Sili was truly a formidable individual. If it weren't for the fact that he was more attentive than the rest, noticing a few minor details, he would have been just as deceived as Huoshu Huicang and Huoba Sangye.
But he was still known for his reputation as a wise minister. There was very little in this world that could be hidden from his eyes.
Dalun Ruozan looked up at the sky and leisurely said, "For some things, you can't just listen to what others say. You also have to see what they actually do."
He was not a pure scholar, but the demeanor, aura, and intelligence he showed would make any scholar admire him.
"Duwu Sili has always been skilled at hiding his true objective. How could someone who could become Irkin of the Western Turkic Khaganate and defeat Beiting Protector-General An Sishun be as incompetent as all of you claim him to be? He's just too good at concealing his motives."
"But, Great Minister, what sort of person would be worth Duwu Sili putting in so much effort to take them hostage? And why would he need to hide this from us?"
Huoshu Huicang stepped forward, walking up behind Dalun Ruozan and asking the critical question.
If the Celestial Wolf Great General really was as deep a schemer as Dalun Ruozan claimed, then it wouldn't be them jeering at Duwu Sili, but Duwu Sili jeering at them. But not even Huoshu Huicang could understand why Duwu Sili had done all this.
"What else could it be? The only thing more important than killing Wang Chong would be that formation able to produce 'formation phenomena'."
Dalun Ruozan grinned as he leisurely announced Duwu Sili's true goal.
These words were like a boulder crashing into a lake, immediately causing the minds of the gathered generals to toss and turn.
No one had expected this to be Duwu Sili's true goal. But those who knew the true weight of those words would know that Duwu Sili had definitely placed enormous weight on this operation. Even Huoba Sangye appeared stunned, a contemplative look in his eyes.
Dalun Ruozan chuckled, knowing that everyone had finally understood.
"…Duwu Sili had never been aiming at Wang Chong. In the previous battle, did none of you notice? When Wang Chong's Wushang Cavalry produced formation phenomena, the expression in Duwu Sili's eyes became completely different. I once sent men to investigate the Celestial Wolf Great General of the Western Turks, and though I didn't manage to get my hands on much information, I managed to obtain the same conclusion from all the bits and pieces I gathered. This Celestial Wolf Great General has an extremely intense desire for power.
"Formation phenomena is the highest level any formation can attain, and not even Duwu Sili's Celestial Wolf Illusory Formation has reached this level. If he were able to comprehend the secrets of the formation phenomena and upgrade his own Celestial Wolf Illusory Formation, the strength of Duwu Sili and his Celestial Wolf Cavalry would soar to even greater heights. Duwu Sili would naturally keep such an important matter very close to his chest… Did none of you notice that even though the battle is already over and Duwu Sili has returned to his camp, the Western Turkic soldiers are still extremely vigilant?" Dalun Ruozan lightly said.
The generals followed Dalun Ruozan's gaze and saw that it was just as Dalun Ruozan had said. The Western Turks, who had been completely uninvolved in the fierce battle between the Arabs and the Tang, had suddenly become extremely vigilant and cautious upon Duwu Sili's return, all of them warily keeping a watch on their surroundings.
None of the generals had any more doubts.
"An impressive Celestial Wolf Great General… We all underestimated him!"
Dusong Mangpoje finally sighed.
Duwu Sili had hidden his motives far too well. At this moment, Dusong Mangpoje finally understood how Beiting Protector-General An Sishun had lost to him. Duwu Sili was both incredibly strong and extremely tricky, his actions unorthodox and clouded in deception. How could one deal with a person like that?
"Haha, understand his style, don't be affected by his words, and you naturally won't fall prey to his tricks," Dalun Ruozan indifferently said. This comment of his clearly elucidated the basis on which one should interact with Duwu Sili.
Duwu Sili was an intelligent man, but unfortunately, he was far from the only intelligent man on this battlefield. Dusong Mangpoje knew that at least three people on this battlefield would be able to see through his intentions. Huoshu Huicang and Dusong Mangpoje were not familiar with him and had very few interactions with him, nor could they be described as expert schemers. It was very normal for them to have been deceived.
But this was not any sort of profound technique to Dalun Ruozan.
"Let's go! Duwu Sili has already succeeded in capturing an important individual of the Great Tang. However, the person on the other end is not to be lightly provoked. He should be finding out very soon. The Great Tang is coming off a major victory and is currently at the peak of its morale. Even Abu Muslim has withdrawn, so we should also beat a temporary retreat! Until that giant ape dies, we can't fight with him."
Dalun Ruozan smiled as he waved his hand and gave the order to withdraw.
A few moments later, the tens of thousands of Tibetan cavalry withdrew to their camp in a churning cloud of dust. In a few moments, they had utterly vanished from the eastern battlefield.