The Human Emperor - Chapter 1015 - The Black Forest
Chapter 1015: The Black Forest
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
“How is it? Has there been any news from the Caliphate?”
A voice came out of the Black Forest. Abu Muslim sat upon the remnants of a stone sculpture along the road running through the Black Forest. The Silk Road was a merchant route, and the Black Forest was a place where merchants would often stop and rest, so many merchants had erected statues to various gods for their protection.
The majority of these gods were those related to wealth and fortune. As time passed and more and more people set up statues along the road, this area had transformed into a scenic spot in the Black Forest. Some people would even come particularly to this place to admire the statues.
But neither Abu Muslim nor Ziyad was in the mood for such a thing. In this Battle of Talas, one hundred thousand Arab elites had been killed, the Behemoth Army had been completely wiped out, and the Skyquaking Army that the Caliphate had wasted so much effort in gathering had been dealt a severe blow. Most importantly, the favored minister Masil had been killed.
The two were in an extremely depressed mood.
From Khorasan to Samarkand, the army of Arab cavalry they had led had been unstoppable, sweeping away all opposition. But at Talas, they had encountered an unprecedented defeat.
“We’ve already gotten in touch. Governor Qutaybah of Tarsus and Governor Osman of Cairo1 have already replied. They have heard of what happened at Talas and have already dispatched their most elite forces. In at most one month, they will arrive. They are extremely interested in the Great Tang, this power of the east that they have never interacted with before,” Ziyad said.
Governor Qutaybah of Tarsus and Governor Osman of Cairo were probably two names that very few people in the countries east of the Cong Mountains knew, but in the Abbasid Caliphate, their names and the regions they governed possessed thunderous reputations.
In terms of status, they possessed nearly the same status as the Governor of Iron and Blood Abu Muslim. Qutaybah in particular was known as the Governor of War. Under his command, the Arab army had advanced by leaps and bounds, crossing the Mediterranean Sea, occupying Tarsus, and even conquering all the way to the Black Sea.
Qutaybah hungered for war even more than Abu Muslim did.
Abu Muslim enjoyed conquest, enjoyed subduing different empires and their peoples, but Qutaybah enjoyed war for the sake of war. Wherever there was war, one could find Qutaybah. Thus, even though Abu Muslim had never interacted with him very much, when the Governor of War whose name made people pale heard about what had happened at Talas, he had immediately agreed to Abu Muslim’s request for reinforcements and begun to march his army.
As for Governor Osman of Cairo, although his status was inferior to Abu Muslim’s, his achievements on the battlefield were just as illustrious. He was a seasoned veteran in combat and had always been very good friends with Abu Muslim. In the conquest of the ancient Khorasan Dynasty, the two had fought side by side to crush an old and powerful foe.
The two shared an extremely deep friendship.
In the original plan, Abu Muslim had intended for Osman to be his reserve army. Once he had conquered Talas and advanced into the Western Regions, Osman would come up from the rear and join his army in the conquest of the east. But now, after the harsh defeat at Talas, Abu Muslim was forced to alter his plans and call for Osman ahead of time.
Abu Muslim grew much more energetic at Ziyad’s report. Both Qutaybah and Osman commanded elite soldiers and powerful generals. With their reinforcements, Abu Muslim could quickly recover from his losses. More importantly, both Qutaybah and Osman were extremely powerful warriors. The three governors working together could thoroughly crush Talas and perhaps even conquer the east in a single swoop.
Despite all this, Abu Muslim’s thick brows were still slightly furrowed.
“What did Qutaybah say? He never does anything for free. He must have made a request,” Abu Muslim said.
Ziyad hesitated, but seeing the stern look in Abu Muslim’s eyes, he finally spoke.
“Qutaybah requests that Lord Governor yield a part of the war zone to him, and he also requests that if we are victorious, he hopes that Lord Governor will yield the equipment quota the Caliph provides to the eastern armies. In addition, he wants the authority to pick ten thousand elite soldiers and officers from Milord’s army to follow him as his private soldiers.”
Ziyad furtively kept a close eye on Abu Muslim’s complexion as he spoke. As expected, Abu Muslim turned nastier and nastier as Ziyad went on, the grimace on his face getting worse and worse. Ziyad’s voice couldn’t help but get quieter and quieter, softer and softer.
The east was an undeveloped war zone, home to countless treasures and enemies. Ever since the regions of the empire were divided into war zones, Qutaybah had already been eyeing the east. However, the hierarchy of the empire was strict, and no one was allowed to defy the Caliph’s decrees. Moreover, Abu Muslim was just as callous and brutal as Qutaybah, so Qutaybah never had a chance to work his way in.
Qutaybah had clearly seen the opportunity made available to him by the brutal defeat at Talas, and immediately extended his claws.
The Black Forest was so quiet that one could hear a pin drop. Ziyad didn’t even need to raise his head to know that Abu Muslim’s expression was certainly extremely gloomy.
Everyone knew that the east was the Governor of Iron and Blood Abu Muslim’s exclusive domain. Anyone who made this kind of request would be humiliating Abu Muslim, so Abu Muslim could never agree to such a demand.
To Ziyad’s surprise, just when he was prepared to hear a rejection, he heard an expression of approval.
Ziyad looked up in shock.
“Milord, you can’t agree to this. If you agree to Qutaybah’s unreasonable request, Milord will become the laughingstock of the Caliphate, and Milord’s reputation in the east will also be damaged.”
Ziyad immediately began to implore his commander to change his mind. Each governor was a proud person. If Abu Muslim agreed to Qutaybah’s request, Qutaybah would always stand above him in the future.
“Ziyad, you don’t understand my intentions. Now is not the time to think about individual gain and loss. Both I and Qutaybah have underestimated the importance of conquering the east. In Talas, we encountered a foe like never before. Their power far surpasses that of any opponent we faced before. We relied on the Behemoth Army and Skyquaking Army to conquer so many enemies, including the Khorasan Dynasty, but they both failed at Talas. From Khorasan to Samarkand, no empire has ever been able to stop us for so long, much less defeat us, but the Tang succeeded.”
Abu Muslim sat upon the stone statue, his eyes shining with a sharp light that seemed to see through all the details and secrets of the battlefield.
Ziyad was dazed. He had never seen Abu Muslim like this before.
Before Ziyad could say any more, Abu Muslim spoke with a firm and unflinching voice. “Let him come. Tell Qutaybah that I agree to all his conditions, but I have a condition of my own. He must bring his best soldiers with him.”
A complicated look flickered through Ziyad’s eyes before he finally nodded his head. “Your subordinate understands!”
“Besides that, how is the enlistment of militia progressing?” Abu Muslim asked.
In this battle with the Great Tang, the Arabs had suffered severe casualties. Abu Muslim was currently severely lacking in soldiers and needed to replenish his forces. Arabia was a militant empire, and this admiration of battle had gradually spread to all the countries it had conquered. Thus, the Arabian Empire always had an excellent way of replenishing its troops, and enlisting militia was one of the important ways this resource could be exploited.
Arabs admired martial prowess, so they had extremely high levels of discipline and sense for battle. As long as they were given weapons, horses, and armor, and then put through some teamwork and formation training, they would become excellent soldiers. Using this method, Abu Muslim had always been able to obtain an endless stream of soldiers. As a result, even though he had suffered many losses in this two-month stalemate with Gao Xianzhi, his army had only gotten larger, not smaller.
This was also an important contributor to the Arabian Empire’s ability to constantly expand, conquering so many empires and civilizations in such a short amount of time to become the strongest empire west of the Cong Mountains.
“This… this battle had far more casualties than we expected. The militia available to us between Khorasan and Samarkand have been severely exhausted. More importantly, everyone was watching our battle with the Great Tang. The defeat at Talas was quickly spread around, and many people have begun to shirk enlistment. The number of people we’ve been able to recruit recently has severely dropped. It will be very hard to recruit many soldiers in the short term,” Ziyad sternly said.
The side effects of the Battle of Talas were far more severe than imagined. They had not only suffered blows to their soldiers and morale, but were now unable to recruit enough soldiers from the rear. This was something neither of them had predicted.
Abu Muslim said nothing, but his brows furrowed even more tightly together.
“…However, your subordinate is not worried about the militia or Qutaybah, but about Baghdad,” Ziyad said, and then fell silent.
Arabia was an extremely hierarchical empire. The death of Masil was even more serious than Abu Muslim’s miserable defeat at Talas. For the Caliph’s favored minister to die under the Governor of the East’s watch was an extreme dereliction of duty on Abu Muslim’s part, a sign of severe incompetence. Judging by the messages being sent from Baghdad, the Caliph was thoroughly enraged. All of Baghdad was also in an uproar over Masil’s death, countless nobles, governors, and Great Generals criticizing Abu Muslim.
Although Masil’s reputation in the capital was not very good, no one would choose a moment like this to say anything contrary to the opinion of the enraged Caliph.
Masil was not popular, but he had represented the Caliph!
1. Tarsus is a city on the Mediterranean Sea in what is now Turkey. In ancient times, it served as an important link between the region of Anatolia, aka Turkey, and Syria. In this period, it was hotly contested between the Arabs and the Roman Empire. Cairo is the current capital of Egypt and was built near Memphis, the old capital of Egypt. The Arabs did build two cities in this area, which were known as Al-Fustat and Al-Askar, but the city known as Cairo was only founded in 969, some two hundred years after the Battle of Talas, by the Fatimid Caliphate.↩