The Human Emperor - Chapter 1053 - Clash of Titans!
Chapter 1053: Clash of Titans!
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
The shuddering intensified, and after a little longer, everyone could hear the neighing of horses in the wind, a sign that a vast army was approaching Talas.
A loud shout suddenly rang out over the first defense line, soon drowned out by clattering armor and clanging metal as weapons gleamed under the overcast sky. The soldiers of the Anxi and Qixi Protectorate armies together with the mercenaries recruited from the Western Regions all experienced in a shift in aura. They were simultaneously a steel wall as well as a taut bow. The tension was at a maximum as a grim mood swept through the defense line.
The rumbling and the neighing grew louder and louder as they got closer and closer. After some time, there was a rush of wind as a faint black line appeared on the horizon. It was so faint as to barely be worth mentioning at the start, but it rapidly thickened into an enormous black tidal wave that made all the world tremble.
There was no need for any reminders now. Everyone knew what kind of opponent they were facing. This was not their first time facing the Arabs, but these Arabs gave off a completely different feeling from the first Arabs they had faced. The defensive posts that had extended for sixty-some li had been staffed with many scouts and rock eagles, but none had sent back any word except for a single scout who had managed to return only through sheer resolve.
Such a thing had never happened before.
All the scouts of the Great Tang had been tempered through blood and fire. In contests with the Tibetans and Western Turks, they could overwhelmingly crush their opponents, and all of them were extremely experienced. That so many elite scouts could have been killed without any of them being able to send back one bit of information meant only one thing.
This was a foe of unprecedented power!
“This is the strength of Arabia?”
Wang Chong’s expression was solemn as he muttered to himself. He had already known from that Khorasani that this army was coming, but seeing and hearing were two completely different things. This army was even stronger and bolder than Abu Muslim’s army, one that had truly been forged through one hundred battles.
Qutaybah! Although he had yet to see this enemy commander, Wang Chong could already understand what kind of army this was. Wind, forest, fire, mountain—these were the four symbols of the traits which the art of war emphasized. The Arabs did not have a similar saying, but it was obvious that this army before him had managed to achieve the essence of those four words. They were as swift as the wind but could also march as steadily and quietly as a serene forest. They were as aggressive as fire on the offense, but they could also be as immovable as a mountain on the defense. Even Wang Chong was rather astonished at this moment, but only a moment later, his eyes hardened with resolve.
This was sixty thousand versus four hundred thousand. There was no doubt that the Tang were in extremely dire straits, but Wang Chong could not retreat, nor could the Great Tang. This battle would be a bloody battle until the end.
“Everyone, hear my order!”
In a flash, Wang Chong’s eyes had turned sharp and cold.
“Shieldmen, immediately advance to the gaps between the walls! Axemen, hide and wait for orders!
“Craftsman team, be on standby to repair and fortify the walls! Ballista teams, adjust to 45 degrees, target the enemy ranks, and fire!
“Fifth unit, sixth unit, and seventh unit, wait for my orders! Be ready to provide assistance at any time!
“Wushang Cavalry and Mo Saber Unit, listen for my orders. Wushang Cavalry, be ready on the left flank to sortie! Mo Saber Unit, stand in reserve! No movement is permitted without my order!”
Wang Chong sent out a string of orders, which seemed to restore confidence in the army and soothe the ranks. All the soldiers had determined faces and bright eyes, seeming to find their backbones as they fearlessly gazed at the Arab army.
“Iron Wall Army, get ready! Second line, get ready to attack!
“Twenty-third unit, twenty-seventh unit, twenty-ninth unit, stand on the right flank and prepare to attack!
“Cavalry units, get ready to attack!
“Banahan, Guli, the third line and fifth line, wait for my orders!”
At almost the same time, Gao Xianzhi began to solemnly issue his orders as well, putting the Anxi Protectorate army and the mercenaries into motion. In the middle of these soldiers, a unit equipped in green-black armor was particularly obvious.
This unit consisted of only around four thousand soldiers, but they all exuded dauntless and steely auras. Each of them was like an immovable steel wall that inspired dread simply by standing there.
The Iron Wall Army!
This was the most elite force of the Anxi Protectorate army which Gao Xianzhi had needed ten-some years to finally train up. In terms of pure strength, it was an equal to Geshu Han’s Divine Martial Army, An Sishun’s Dragon Stallion Army, and Zhang Shougui’s Heavenly Capital Army. From a certain perspective, it was even stronger than these armies.
Gao Xianzhi had been able to resist Abu Muslim’s constant barrage of attacks with an army of around seventy thousand, getting past crisis after crisis and barely pushing back the Arabs time and time again, by relying on this elite force.
These soldiers formed Gao Xianzhi’s personal guard and were the soul of all of Anxi. In those two months of bitter battle, they had always charged to where the fighting was the bloodiest and most intense, but they had paid an enormous price for their actions, suffering particularly severe casualties when Abu Muslim had personally led an assault on the walls. Their numbers had plummeted from eight thousand all the way to four thousand.
And even these four thousand had all been severely wounded. In the later stages of that battle, only several hundred of the Iron Wall Army had actually been capable of fighting.
In the following battles, Gao Xianzhi had them remain in the city to recuperate, not even using them at the most intense moments of battle. After more than a month and assisted by the many medical supplies Wang Chong had brought with him, the army had finally recovered the strength to fight.
Gao Xianzhi would be greatly relying on them for this battle.
Their numbers may have been greatly reduced, but the Iron Wall warriors that had survived those two months of bitter fighting were the best of the best and could intimidate any foe on the battlefield.
The entire Tang army was somber and silent, but the energy bursting from their bodies was vast and intimidating.
The huge war machine that was the Great Tang was once more glimmering with a savage light.
In the distance, the vast and clamorous Arab army was getting closer and closer to Talas. Finally, at a distance of around seventy li, the flood of steel stopped.
Four large banners fluttered above the army of four hundred thousand. These four banners depicted the black Nile River, a black crescent moon, a burning black hell flame, and a scimitar burning with black flames. These four banners symbolized four of the finest commanders of the Arabian Empire.
Four figures exuding boundless energy stood beneath these banners like mighty giants.
“Abu Muslim, this is that Tang army you spoke of?”
The first to speak was Governor Osman of Cairo, his eyes widening in surprise.
Osman initially hadn’t been very concerned about this eastern conquest. He had been under the impression that the news from Talas had been exaggerated or that Abu Muslim had tried to hide errors and faults from his old friend. But Osman now had to admit that even though this Great Tang wasn’t very well known in Arabia, all of Arabia, including himself, had probably underestimated these eastern people.
The scouts of this empire were of the highest quality. Due to initially underestimating them, the Arabs had almost let these scouts escape and send word back to the army in the rear, thus ruining the Arabs’ plans. Thus, to deal with the scouts, the Arabs were forced to use nineteen of the finest master archers of the Arabian Empire. But even then, they had still managed to let a scout escape.
Besides that, this Tang army before him only numbered sixty-thousand-some, but their steady, composed and grim aura was something that Osman had never seen before. Not even the armies of the Sassanid Dynasty could compare.
Abu Muslim nodded as he solemnly surveyed his foe.
“The eastern world is extremely mysterious and completely unfamiliar to us. This army might only be sixty thousand strong, but the soldiers that have survived up to this point are all elites. Everyone must be careful.”
“Heh! No matter where these Tang came from or how strong they are, they’re not worth my interest. There doesn’t exist an army that we Mamelukes can’t break. I’m only interested in one thing. Where are those Great Tang cavalry you spoke of equipped with Wootz Steel? And where is the commander who defeated you?”
Aybak rode his horse forward, his eyes coldly scanning the army ahead.
Ordinary conflicts could not satisfy Aybak or his Mamelukes. Only by defeating the strongest armies in the world could the Mamelukes forge their reputation for invincibility.
Ziyad suddenly spoke. “Lord Aybak, it’s the group of cavalry on their left flank. That mountain of a man riding the red warhorse is their leader. In addition, these eastern infidels also have a kind of ballista with incredibly lethal power. Milord, you must be extremely cautious!”
As Ziyad spoke and Aybak turned his head to look, Li Siye also turned his head at the same time. Inexplicably, their gazes met, the air between them seemingly crackling with electricity. And then, at the same moment, the two of them looked away…