The Human Emperor - Chapter 1166 - One Billion Taels!
Chapter 1166: One Billion Taels!
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
“And we have another choice. We can give up on the other cities and make straight for the Arabian capital of Baghdad. Two thousand, two hundred kilometers is completely doable with our abilities. Although we won’t necessarily be able to breach the walls, we have more than enough strength to directly threaten the imperial capital of Arabia, shaking the empire and leaving a most shameful mark on their history. This humiliation is something that Arabia won’t be able to buy back, even with one billion taels of gold.
“In addition, if my guess is correct, the Arabs are highly likely to feign accepting our demands, and even send us the one billion taels of gold. Meanwhile, they’ll be hoping to buy time for their armies and thinking of ways to defeat us. Thus, no matter what, the chance of their sending these one billion taels of gold is one! Hundred! Percent!”
Wang Chong’s expression was brimming with confidence, his final words spoken with great vigor. There was no war that Wang Chong wasn’t confident about prosecuting. Using war to demand compensation was a very new and curious thing in this world, but in another world, it was commonplace, and many people in that world had used it to rapidly rise.
War required benefit. After how long this war had gone on, Wang Chong needed a satisfying sum to serve as an answer that he could deliver to the Imperial Court and the people of the Great Tang.
As if in response to Wang Chong’s voice, the flapping of wings came from the air. A moment later, a massive golden-beaked hunting falcon descended from the skies, flying into the domed hall and landing on the golden conference table. The letter tied to the hunting falcon’s leg was extremely prominent.
The sight of this hunting falcon immediately plunged the hall into silence. Everyone stared in shock and wonder, and some of them even stood up from their seats.
One billion taels of gold! Would the Arabs really agree?
Everyone held their breaths. Swoosh! A thin hand stretched out and untied the letter from the leg of the hunting falcon. A few moments later, Yuan Shusong suddenly became excited.
“Milord, the Arabs have agreed to the one billion taels of gold! They’ve really agreed!”
These words sent shockwaves through the hall, everyone standing up in alarm.
“Let me see!”
The letter from the Arabs first went to Gao Xianzhi, and then Cheng Qianli, Xi Yuanqing, Lou Shiyi, Li Siye… Everyone in the hall had a chance to look at the letter. But other than Yuan Shusong, almost no one in the hall could read Arabic.
This matter was truly too shocking. Wang Chong’s demand of one billion taels of gold was stunning enough, but even more stunning was the Arab response. It didn’t matter that they didn’t recognize the words on the letter. All of them were just using this method to confirm the matter for themselves. Gaining a compensation of one billion taels of gold for winning a war was unthinkable even for someone like Gao Xianzhi.
The spoils he had taken from attacking the Shi Kingdom were far inferior, like the difference between the dirt and the clouds.
With a simple letter, Wang Chong had made everyone else’s accomplishments lose their luster.
Cheng Qianli clenched his fists in excitement. No matter how many words were said, none of them could bring about as much shock as the letter the Arabs had written in reply. In a flash, everyone suddenly understood Wang Chong’s strategic aim.
“One billion taels of gold! If we report this to the Imperial Court, none of the officials would dare to believe it. Even the civil officials and the Bureau of Personnel will change their attitudes!”
One billion taels of gold was an astronomical sum that even moved a Vice Protector-General like Cheng Qianli. Many soldiers had died at Talas, and the compensation payment alone was an enormous sum. Cheng Qianli had previously been contemplating what to do. As the commander of these soldiers, and as a general whose duty was to stand on the side of his soldiers, he had to do his best to fight for their benefit, but now, all his problems were easily solved.
“But, the Arabs have also stated a few demands.”
At this moment, Yuan Shusong spoke, his brow creased in thought.
“The Arabs had requested that they can sign a treaty between us ending this war. The Arabs have said that they can promise to no longer invade the Great Tang, but they hope that we can withdraw from Khorasan and return the territory between Khorasan and Samarkand to them. In addition, we are no longer allowed to threaten or attack any other cities.”
Yuan Shusong’s words instantly caused the hall to fall silent, everyone exchanging glances. From the standpoint of the Great Tang, the Arabs’ requests were not unacceptable. Exchanging one billion taels of gold for what was formerly Arab territory had no downsides for the Great Tang. And the Great Tang had pushed all the way to Khorasan, a matter without precedent since the start of recorded history.
And for the soldiers, venturing deep into strange and unfamiliar territory and staying for the long term would not be to their greatest benefit, nor would it be of great benefit to the Great Tang.
Su Hanshan suddenly spoke in his cold and aloof voice, his expression unyielding.
“If we truly agree to the Arab requests, all our efforts will have been in vain. There must be a first time for everything. In the past, we occupied the strange lands of the Western Regions, and we operated in that region until the present. Now, we have occupied Khorasan and placed it firmly under our control. It is worth trying to control this place!”
“Of course we can’t agree!”
Wang Chong loudly laughed.
“The situation as it stands is that the Arabs desired the Central Plains but were beaten back by us, who countered and occupied Khorasan. The Arabs are paying us one billion taels of gold to compensate us for our losses, not for some equal exchange. It seems like His Majesty Mutasim still doesn’t quite understand his situation, or how the losing side in a war should act. General Cheng, lead the army across the Tigris River and attack the closest city, Shandar. When you’re just about to occupy it, withdraw back to Khorasan! Let them understand their situation.”
“Understood! Leave this matter to me!” Cheng Qianli said with a smile.
The way this war had developed had already surpassed his ability to comprehend, but Cheng Qianli had complete faith in Wang Chong. No matter what Wang Chong said, he would do his utmost to carry out his orders.
The generals discussed some more specific details of city defense before bringing an end to the conference and dispersing.
When everyone was gone, leaving only Wang Chong and Gao Xianzhi, the latter couldn’t help but ask, “Wang Chong, Arabia still has quite a few capable people. Do you think that they will keep their promise?”
“Lord Protector-General, you said it yourself. Arabia still has quite a few intelligent people. How could they actually be talking peace with us? They’re just trying to slow down our soldiers!” Wang Chong immediately declared.
Arabia was a country founded on war, and it delighted in conquest. From the very beginning, Wang Chong had determined that they would never be truly pursuing peace talks or any sort of peace treaty.
But whether the Arabs were willing or not, they had to hand over the one billion taels of gold that Wang Chong had demanded. This was no time for them to be making requests.
After emerging from the conference hall, Wang Chong ascended the western walls of Khorasan. Down below, the Tigris River was rumbling past. This broad river was a natural barrier, a defense line for the city of Khorasan.
From the moment he set eyes on this river, Wang Chong had understood its important military value. From a certain perspective, Abu Muslim had been correct. Khorasan was truly a city that was very difficult to breach.
A firm and deep voice came from behind Wang Chong. “General, have you considered how to deal with the hundreds of thousands of soldiers and numerous governors and generals Mutasim III will send in his fury? One cannot truly discuss peace with the Arabs. Even if they agree, General will find it very hard to leave in one piece.”
Wang Chong faintly smiled. “Haha, so General already knows of what’s going on between us and the Arabs. Does General really believe that we will relinquish Khorasan and withdraw?” he asked without turning his head.
He had naturally not come to the high walls of Khorasan to admire the grandeur of the Tigris. The Central Plains had many rivers of this sort. Bahram had invited him here.
“Of course not, or else you would not have appeared here.”
Bahram spoke in rather stiff Arabic. Bahram did not know how to speak the language of the Great Tang, and Wang Chong did not know how to speak Khorasani. In the end, to communicate with each other, the two had compromised with speaking in Arabic.
Bahram paused for some time before continuing, his brow creased in worry. “…But the rebel soldiers all have this doubt. If you retreat, it will definitely set off a panic, and the army that we have managed to gather through great effort will immediately scatter. The Arabs will definitely pursue us and inflict severe losses.”
He truthfully did not care about the negotiations between the Great Tang and Arabia, and the one billion taels of gold was not his concern. From a certain perspective, Bahram believed this to be a good thing, because only if the Great Tang could obtain any benefit would it choose to remain.
The Arabs were simply too strong, so strong that only the Great Tang in the east was capable of contending against them.
So many rebels were willing to come out at this time because they saw a hope for resisting Arabia in the Great Tang. If the Great Tang withdrew from Khorasan, one could easily imagine the shock and dread this would instill.
“I will have to depend on General’s prestige to soothe them. The Great Tang will not retreat. At the very least, I will not do so without extremely good reason.”
Wang Chong smiled. “As for the hundreds of thousands of soldiers the Caliph will mobilize, there is no need for General to worry about this matter. The Arabs will not get the chance, at least not for the next three months!”