The Human Emperor - Chapter 1023 - A Letter Sent to the Capital!
Chapter 1023: A Letter Sent to the Capital!
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
The Khorasani was led into the inner hall, where Xi Yuanqing and Yuan Shusong received him. After carefully questioning him about a few things, they had the Khorasani quietly escorted out of the city.
“Wang Chong, you heard what that Khorasani said. We’re in a very bad situation!”
After sending off the Khorasani, Gao Xianzhi seated himself back at the table, his brows deeply creased in concern. Everyone had witnessed Abu Muslim’s strength. A single one of his punches was enough to fight against the giant ape. If two more governors of this level arrived, backed by even more soldiers, Talas would be impossible to hold.
Wang Chong said nothing, but his eyes showed the same concern.
He naturally understood what Gao Xianzhi was saying. The Arabs could mobilize far more soldiers than the Tang.
“We only have two choices. The first is to immediately retreat, leaving Talas for the Central Plains before the Arabs are able to complete their large-scale mobilization. Dalun Ruozan and the Western Turks don’t have the strength to stop us,” Gao Xianzhi said.
“But if we do this, we will lose Talas. This fortress is a blockade to the Arabs’ eastern advance. Once we leave, we will find it very difficult to find as strategic an area. Moreover, once we cross the Cong Mountains, we will be in Anxi. Right now, by stopping the Arabs at Talas, we’ve prevented any rebellions in the Western Regions, but if we let the Arabs come into Anxi, it will be difficult to say if the kingdoms of the Western Regions will continue to maintain their neutral positions.”
Wang Chong shook his head.
He understood what Gao Xianzhi was saying, but this option was simply implausible. In Talas, they were only facing Arabia, Ü-Tsang, and the Western Turks, but if they fell back to the Western Regions, the chance of defection meant that the Great Tang might have to add the kingdoms of the Western Regions to their list of opponents.
That situation would be even more disastrous.
“Haaa, I actually wanted to discuss this with you, but it seems like you already know. You probably saw on your way to Talas that the Western Regions is in complete disarray. And this was while I was still alive and we hadn’t even lost. If we retreat into the Western Regions, the kingdoms will only fall further into chaos. They might even end up being bribed like the Karluks and attack us, which will give us enemies on both the inside and the outside.
“Two hundred years of Tang rule in the Western Regions has only seemed to prove that all attempts at ruling this place will end in failure!”
After saying this, Gao Xianzhi looked up and sighed, a deep sense of disappointment and defeat on his face.
In his ten-some years in the Western Regions, he had gained the title of Anxi War God, but in this Battle of Talas, he could gather no other allies except some mercenaries. None of the kingdoms was willing to enter this war and assist the Great Tang. On the contrary, the Great Tang retreating into the Western Regions risked defection. This could only be described as a sort of failure.
How could someone as proud as Gao Xianzhi accept this?
Wang Chong’s mouth opened, but then he stopped himself.
The Great Tang had been far too gentle in its rule of the Western Regions. There was a saying that went, ‘The Hu fear power, not righteousness’. This was a principle that the Central Plains had needed several thousand years to understand. The Central Plains was a land that emphasized righteousness and justice, and it believed that the people of the Western Regions thought the same, but this was only wishful thinking.
In the Western Regions, the only principle that applied was ‘the strong reign supreme’. The kingdoms of the Western Regions only wished for the most powerful backer. Things like kindness and righteousness held no meaning to them.
These were two different civilizational frameworks, and yet the people of the Central Plains had simply taken it for granted that their principles would be taken up, but it would have been far stranger if they had actually succeeded.
However, a war was imminent, so now was not the time to discuss such things. There were many reasons for the light-handed approach to the Western Regions, and Gao Xianzhi could not be blamed entirely for this.
“Milord should not blame yourself. The Great Tang has not reached that stage, and this battle is not a sure defeat,” Wang Chong comforted. “As for Anxi, we can think about what to do after the battle is over.”
Gao Xianzhi nodded and quickly focused himself. In front of outsiders, he was always calm and composed, rarely showing any weakness, not even in front of Cheng Qianli or Feng Changqing. That he could say these words to Wang Chong meant that he now treated Wang Chong as a peer that he could discuss many problems with.
Cheng Qianli and Feng Changqing were excellent subordinates with their own talents, but in terms of strategy, logistics, martial arts, schemes… they were just a little lacking. Thus, Gao Xianzhi still had some reservations when he spoke to them. Wang Chong was probably the only one that he could speak so frankly with, divulging all his worries without holding back.
“The situation truly hasn’t reached that stage, but for us, Talas is a far better location for the decisive battle than the Western Regions. Moreover, once we retreat to the Western Regions, the Arabs can go around and attack Longxi or the interior, putting us at an even greater disadvantage. No matter what, we cannot leave Talas,” Gao Xianzhi sternly said. “Thus, we only have one option. We must explain to the Imperial Court what’s at stake as quickly as possible and request reinforcements.”
Wang Chong nodded in complete agreement.
Abu Muslim was the Governor of the East and commanded the armies of a single area, like the Great Tang’s Anxi Protectorate army or Qixi Protectorate army. But things were different if other governors joined him. Based on what that Khorasani had said, the northern army led by Qutaybah was equivalent to Abu Muslim’s, and one also had to consider that Governor Osman of Cairo was coming as well.
Besides that, the Caliph was also preparing to dispatch the Mamelukes.
The nature of this battle had completely shifted. This war was no longer just a local conflict, but a large-scale clash of armies. Arabia had mobilized thirty to forty percent of its soldiers. This was not something that the remaining soldiers under Wang Chong and Gao Xianzhi could deal with.
“Lord Protector-General and I agree, but my seniority in the army is not enough to move the Imperial Court. For this matter, I will require Lord Protector-General’s help,” Wang Chong sternly said.
“Rest assured, I will submit a memorial with you giving a full account. This battle is extremely important. Based on what that Khorasani said, the Arabs have an insatiable ambition. If we let them occupy Talas, they will push all their armies into the east with the Tibetans and Western Turks serving as their allies to the east of the Cong Mountains. This is probably the greatest foe the Great Tang has faced in the past several hundred years,” Gao Xianzhi worriedly said. As an outstanding Great General, Gao Xianzhi possessed an incisive and farsighted gaze.
“I’m only worried that the ministers in court, having not participated in the battle, will not understand the importance of this battle, nor will they understand the consequences. It won’t be something as simple as the Arabs gaining Talas. If a tiger shows weakness, the pack of wolves will gather. Moreover, King Qi’s faction and its fondness for political intrigue will pose an even greater threat to the safety of the country. Given their past conduct, they will try every method at their disposal to make trouble and block our memorial. And moreover…
“The Imperial Court doesn’t have any soldiers to send!”
With these last words, Gao Xianzhi deeply sighed.
He had sent dozens of letters to the Imperial Court requesting reinforcements at Talas, but in the end, Wang Chong’s Qixi Protectorate army, Wushang Cavalry, and the troops that the Imperial Court had managed to muster totaled a mere sixty thousand soldiers. The remaining nearly sixty thousand soldiers were mercenaries that Wang Chong had spent an exorbitant amount of gold for.
If he, the Anxi Protector-General, could only get this many soldiers after two months of effort, one could easily imagine how badly the Great Tang was faring.
Wang Chong fell silent. The hall was so quiet that one could hear a pin drop.
He naturally understood the problem Gao Xianzhi spoke of, but the Great Tang was no Arabia. It had far too many restrictions, far too many enemies on the border. If one added up the armies of the countries bordering the Great Tang, it would be in the range of two to three million. It was actually quite impressive that the Great Tang was able to hold them back with the soldiers it had available.
And besides that, just as Gao Xianzhi said, King Qi would be a very large obstacle!
It seems that I can’t leave him be any longer! Wang Chong quietly said to himself.
If the Great Tang wanted to experience a resurgence and survive the calamity, the massive barrier that was King Qi needed to be removed. For the first time, Wang Chong perceived the tremendous threat that King Qi posed. Whether it was for the Central Plains or the Great Tang, King Qi could no longer be allowed to remain in court.
“Lord Protector-General, be at ease. Even if King Qi and his men try to stop us in the Imperial Court, I have ways of dealing with him. I just need Lord Protector-General to prepare two letters for me.”
Seeing Gao Xianzhi’s curious and questioning gaze, Wang Chong became frank.
“The other letter… is for my grandfather.”
Gao Xianzhi stared blankly, but then a hint of understanding and respect appeared in his eyes. Duke Jiu of the Great Tang was a Prime Minister who had presided over a golden age. He was an important and trusted subject who had assisted the Sage Emperor in ascending to the throne and had helped the Sage Emperor to create the Great Tang’s current splendor. Everyone in the world knew his name.
“If Duke Jiu intercedes in this matter, things truly will be different,” Gao Xianzhi sincerely said.
The world had borne witness to Duke Jiu’s feats. Without his wholehearted assistance, the Great Tang would have found it very difficult to reach its current supreme and revered status. Moreover, Duke Jiu’s achievements were not restricted to the political and administrative realm. He had also made many outstanding contributions in the military field.
Duke Jiu’s tenure as Prime Minister had contributed greatly to the Great Tang’s long period of peace and prosperity.
More importantly, when Duke Jiu had decided to retire at the height of his career, it was only the Sage Emperor’s strenuous pleading on behalf of the people that prevented Duke Jiu from completely withdrawing from society. Even so, within the Four Quarters Embassy, Duke Jiu rarely intervened in matters of court. He concerned himself with only the most critical of matters.
Fulfilling this criterion was extremely difficult.