The Human Emperor - Chapter 1163 - War Compensation
Chapter 1163: War Compensation
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
“There’s no need!”
Wang Chong and Gao Xianzhi stood side by side, staring at the city of Khorasan, which was clouded with plumes of dust and smoke.
“Abu Muslim is the kind of person that is very difficult to catch if he focuses on escaping, and this city is so large that it would be very hard to find him. Moreover, what we need to think about next is not about another battle or killing any particular person, but the overall strategic situation. General Cheng, have you finished preparing the letter I spoke to you about?”
Cheng Qianli lightly nodded as he rushed out from the rear. “It was prepared some time ago. Shiyi was the writer, and it can be sent to Baghdad through those Arabian hunting falcons at any time.”
Top-class Great Generals always seemed to only think about the outcome of a battle, but Wang Chong pondered the strategic situation as well. His insight was enough to make any Great General of the continent pale in comparison, and this was also the reason Cheng Qianli admired him.
The army quickly surged in, and without the support of Abu Muslim or Ziyad, the tens of thousands of Arab soldiers collapsed and were wiped out far faster than any time before. Four hours after the gates had been opened, Wang Chong’s army had taken control over this strategic city at the western terminus of the Silk Road.
“Is this the Tigris River?”
On the western side of Khorasan, Wang Chong, Gao Xianzhi, Cheng Qianli, Li Siye, Yuan Shusong, and Bahram all gazed toward the end of the walls. From this point, Wang Chong could immediately see a vast and wide river surging past Khorasan.
This river was five hundred to six hundred feet wide and extremely deep. Although its flow was rapid, it was not as turbid as imagined.
This was the first time in Wang Chong’s life that he had seen one of the two most famous rivers of the Sassanid Empire. One was the Tigris River, and the other was the Euphrates.
These were the foundations of the Sassanid Dynasty’s civilization, and they now served as the two most important rivers of the Arabian Empire.
“This is only a tributary of the Tigris River. The main branch is even wider and more magnificent than what you see here. We Sassanids were able to produce thousands of years of history, becoming the strongest country on the shores of the Great Sea, precisely because of these two rivers. But both of them now belong to the Arabian Empire. They exact a heavy tax on anyone that wants to cross the river. When traveling east and west, we Sassanids have to traverse these two rivers. Every year, vast sums of wealth are plundered from us and sent to the Arabian treasury,” Bahram emotionally said.
Wang Chong silently listened. A few thoughts flitted through his mind, but he quickly put them aside.
History was already very different from what Wang Chong remembered. At least in Wang Chong’s memories, there was no tributary of the Tigris River outside Khorasan. His eyes paused on this river famed throughout Arabia for a few moments, and then he slowly raised his head toward the infinite horizon. There, Wang Chong ‘saw’ a vast capital. That place was the true center of politics, power, culture, and military on the entire western end of the continent.
A name flashed through Wang Chong’s mind.
Abu Muslim had wanted to break Talas, occupy the Western Regions, and encroach upon the Central Plains. Ironically, at the very end, Abu Muslim had failed to threaten Chang’an. Instead, Wang Chong had campaigned westward, venturing deep into Arabia along the Silk Road and occupying Khorasan, this city on the western terminus of the Silk Road.
“General Cheng, let’s begin!” Wang Chong ordered without turning his head.
Cheng Qianli had barely finished replying when an Arabian hunting falcon soared into the sky, heading toward the capital of the Arabian Empire, Baghdad.
Twenty-two hundred kilometers was a very short distance…
Proceeding from Khorasan, across the Tigris River, and then westward for another thirteen-hundred-some kilometers, was the heart of the Arabian Empire.
This city was grandiose, towers and domed palaces soaring into the sky. In this place, many soldiers, millions of civilians, and countless merchants had gathered. The economy, culture, and political scene were all extremely developed.
This place was Baghdad, the vast heart of the Arabian Empire.
In the west, it had another resounding name: ‘The Sleepless City’! In this city, people worked and celebrated throughout the day and into the night.
Suddenly, a sharp cry rang out over Baghdad. A massive Arabian hunting falcon unfurled its wings, its feathers shaking in the wind, and then it plunged down like a sharp arrow, flying into the highest building in Baghdad, the Imperial Palace.
This hunting falcon’s entrance into the Imperial Palace was like a giant boulder crashing down, setting off massive waves in the empire.
A thunderous roar came from the golden-roofed Imperial Palace, echoing throughout all of Arabia. Countless governors, generals, and nobles kneeled down, their bodies trembling in fear.
In the highest reaches of the hall, seated on a throne cast from gold, was the Caliph of Arabia, Mutasim III1, dressed in robes of white and silver thread and wearing a crown of gold. At this moment, his eyes were spitting flame and lightning.
Mutasim III was hailed as the greatest sovereign in the history of the Arabian Empire. Under his command, the Arabian Empire had conquered numerous factions, increasing the empire’s territory until it could be increased no more, attaining an age of unprecedented power and prosperity.
Countless ministers and generals and millions of elite soldiers were ready for battle, awaiting his command to go out and conquer the world.
To say that he was one of the most authoritative and also one of the physically strongest rulers of this world would not be excessive.
But at this moment, all the resplendence and glory he had created had become nothing.
The Behemoth Army had been wiped out, the Skyquaking Army had been heavily wounded, Qutaybah was dead, Aybak was dead, Osman was dead, the Mamelukes had been destroyed… He had heard far too much terrible news recently.
Mutasim III had originally been extremely hopeful about this eastern campaign. He hoped that his vast army would be able to conquer the east and unite the continent, accomplishing a feat of unprecedented scale.
But now, all these dreams were no more. Not only that, an eastern infidel Great General and his army were now threatening his Baghdad.
And they had made an extremely overbearing demand.
This was an enormous humiliation that Mutasim III could not endure.
“Your Majesty, these Tang have only given us three days to reply, but a messenger bird will require two days to travel.” Down below, an Arab minister bedecked with jewels kneeled on the ground and spoke in a frightened tone. “If they don’t receive our reply or receive a refusal, they will immediately cross the Tigris River and besiege even more cities. This would cause the entire empire to panic.”
Mutasim III was like an enraged lion as he roared, “Useless thing! We have so many soldiers, and countless governors and generals. Can they be threatened by a single infidel? Pass on Our decree! Wipe out these Tang together with these rebels.”
Bzzzz! The palace became eerily quiet. Everyone kneeled, their heads pressed to the ground.
“Why aren’t you saying anything! Speak! We have so many soldiers, so many generals! Can they not even wipe out a measly two hundred thousand soldiers?” Mutasim III angrily rebuked.
An Arab general hesitantly spoke up. “Your, Your Majesty. In the previous battle, we sent the forces of Cairo, and the northern and eastern war zones, to Talas, an army totalling more than five hundred thousand soldiers. In the defeat at Talas, almost the entire army was wiped out. Right now, there are no more soldiers available in the eastern region.”
Another general gathered his courage and added, “That is not all. Qutaybah and Abu Muslim have always been the two strongest governors, and the number of people in the empire that can be compared to them can be counted with one’s fingers. Even if we send soldiers, it will be very hard to overcome the enemy. Moreover, gathering soldiers is not something that can be completed in just three or five days, but if we do not immediately reply to the demand of these infidels, they will immediately cross the Tigris River and attack all our cities, even… Baghdad!”
The two had barely finished speaking when a crisp crack rang through the hall. Mutasim III’s clenched fingers had crushed the right armrest of his throne into powder. His fair and white face was now thoroughly red.
As the strongest sovereign in the history of the Arabian Empire, he had never been forced into a situation where he had no soldiers available to him.
“One billion taels of gold! One billion taels! Do all of you mean that We should agree to the demand of this madman from the east, accept this extortion, and give them so much wealth!”
Mutasim III was furious, his eyes gloomy and dark.
One billion taels of gold!
Even though Arabia had plundered the treasures of countless countries and factions over its hundreds of years of conquest, accumulating vast sums of wealth, this was still an enormous price.
“But, Your Majesty, if we do not agree, we will lose far more than one billion taels of gold,” an Arab noble said in a trembling voice. “They can advance from Khorasan and occupy even more land. Two hundred thousand soldiers together with those skilled eastern Great Generals is not something we can deal with in the short time available! In the end, even if we managed to drive them out of the empire, we would sustain severe losses.”
The cities of the east were in a perilous situation. Those two hundred thousand soldiers that remained in Khorasan, biding their time, were even more intimidating than if they had actually begun to attack. While threatening dozens of cities, they demanded one billion taels of gold as war compensation, but this was really just a ransom. Such a thing was unprecedented and unheard of, and not even during the Arabian Empire’s constant expansion had there ever been a similar incident.
But all of them had to seriously consider their options. The enemy had the strength, ambition, and daring, and the vast expanse of land they had conquered between Samarkand and Khorasan was proof that they were not just bluffing.
1. Mutasim III is an entirely fictional Caliph. There was an al-Mutasim who served as Abbasid Caliph, but I do not believe there was ever a second or third to hold the same name.↩