Chapter 1057: A Battle Without Precedent in History (I)
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
Countless sabermen and axemen densely surrounded the Crimson Moon Vanguard, their weapons coldly gleaming as they swept down. This incredible reaction time and cohesion left these Crimson Moon Vanguard paling in shock.
As the vanguard of the Arab War God Qutaybah, they had encountered many powerful opponents, but no matter how strong their foes had been, they had always been able to cause some chaos in the enemy ranks and create opportunities for the army behind them. But these Tang from the east were completely different from any foe they had faced.
Although they had managed to get into the rear of the enemy army, they had been almost instantly surrounded and had no space to charge. They had never even thought about this situation before, much less encountered it.
Clangclangclang! In a few seconds, the Crimson Moon Vanguard had begun to battle with the axemen and sabermen. The crimson scimitars left sharp and bloody glows in the air as they clashed against the sabers and axes. In clangs of metal, the scimitars shattered the edges of these axes and sabers and even cut through the heavy armor worn by their wielders, causing blood to gush forth.
Several sabermen and axemen were heavily injured and forced to retreat, but the Crimson Moon Vanguard slowly began to fall under the concerted attacks.
The golden-armored and divine figure of the Governor of War slightly frowned as he watched all this from beneath his black hell flame banner, but he said nothing. At the same time, far across from him, Wang Chong’s eyes twitched.
He had not interfered very much in this first clash, only watched. This army from the northern Arabian warzone was for more formidable than he had imagined. Their offensive abilities and the ferocity of their assaults had reached incredible levels. There was no question that this would be the greatest trial the Great Tang would face.
“Milord, do we need to send the Mo Saber Unit?” asked Xi Yuanqing, the number three individual of the Anxi Protectorate army.
The Arabs were coming in endless waves, and their attacks were incredibly vicious. Moreover, the Crimson Moon Vanguard were just a small part of the Arab army, yet everyone, including Xi Yuanqing and Cheng Qianli, felt an enormous pressure.
This sort of situation had never occurred in the first phase of this war.
“There’s no need.”
Wang Chong shook his head, his eyes like a placid lake, devoid of even the smallest ripple of emotion.
“It’s not time to use the Mo Saber Unit. Inform the soldiers of Greater and Lesser Balur as well as the soldiers on the front line to prepare to attack! In addition, inform the second line of shieldmen to be ready to step forward and take the places of the first line and have the third line of shieldmen stand ready to receive orders! The hard is easy to break. With all the momentum behind them, the Arabs are in the highest spirits and are at their sharpest. At this time, our primary goal should be to grind away their drive and not allow them to engage in too many large-scale clashes!”
A hint of respect flashed through Xi Yuanqing’s eyes and he quickly went to deliver the orders. Ever since Wang Chong had defeated the Behemoth Army, his reputation had been as high as the noon sun in the Anxi Protectorate army, on the same level as Gao Xianzhi. Even their Protector-General Gao Xianzhi regarded Wang Chong with utmost respect, much less those of lower rank.
In the raging winds, Wang Chong stared at the vast and boundless sea of Arabs, a brief flicker of emotions flashing through his eyes.
The art of war was the art of mixing the real with the false. This was reflected not only in shifting tactics, but in shifting strategies.
The Arabs had far too many soldiers. At times, when quantity reached a certain number, it could exert a massive pressure. Moreover, these Arabs had marched day and night and were at maximum morale. This was not the time to lock heads with them. Rather, it was more appropriate to stalemate with them and focus on defense, draining away at their spirit through the constant back and forth. This was what was meant by the saying ‘The spirit is encouraged when the drums first sound, wanes at the second beating of the drums, and is utterly exhausted by the third beating’!
(TN: This saying comes from the Spring and Autumn Period. In a war between the states of Lu and Qi, when the two armies were arrayed for battle, the Duke of Lu wanted to beat the drums to begin the attack, but his advisor Cao Gui told him to wait. After the Qi army beat their drums three times, Cao Gui told the Lu army to attack, upon which the Qi army was routed. This was the reasoning Cao Gui gave for waiting until the Qi army had beat their drums three times.)
Wang Chong had transferred elites from the Anxi Protectorate army to form a third line of shieldmen precisely so he could execute this strategy.
In a flash, Wang Chong returned to his senses and focused back onto the battlefield. Amidst the clattering army, Wang Chong’s order was quickly carried out.
With this roar, the straight-backed infantry standing on the steel walls suddenly pulled the levers on the walls. The air howled as those defensive steel walls suddenly revealed countless small holes from which hundreds of thousands of arrows exploded.
Although these concentrated fire weapons had long ago been installed on the steel walls, Wang Chong had held them back until the Arabs had charged right up to the walls.
The Arabs were different from any previous opponents he had faced. Their skills in forging and smithing were superb, in certain aspects even surpassing the Great Tang.
The range of the beehives was much shorter than those of the ballistae and their firepower decreased with distance. Having learned his lessons from the previous battle, Wang Chong did not once use the beehives during the Arab charge. Only when the Arabs and Tang were in combat with each other, when there was a sea of Arab soldiers beating against the long defense line, when their faces were practically pressed up against the beehives, did he finally unleash the power of the king of short-range weaponry.
In the blink of an eye, the hundreds of thousands of arrows thundered into the leading ranks of the Arab cavalry. Each warhorse was struck by at least forty of these arrows. At this distance, even iron ore would shatter, much less warhorses.
The thumps of horses crashing to the ground could be heard all along the steel defense line as the Arab cavalry were cut down. In the space of a few breaths, mountains of corpses had been piled up in front of the steel walls, their blood soaking the earth.
This sight immediately caused an uproar in the rear of the Arab army, the simultaneous firing of hundreds of thousands of arrows leaving everyone flabbergasted.
“This, how could this be?”
“How could the east have such a terrifying weapon!”
“Inconceivable! Just what is that!”
The Arab soldiers in the rear were blown away by this sight. Those weapons had appeared too abruptly and had never been seen before. The eastern arrows fired from out of the steel walls were truly exquisite. For the first time, the proud and arrogant Arab warriors felt deeply mystified.
The Arabs were master smiths, but they had never been able to produce such a lethal weapon.
Those Arabs who had been transferred from other war zones for this eastern conquest all felt some disdain for the eastern world and this Great Tang. But when they experienced the power of these weapons, the arrogance in their hearts disappeared. Regardless of what the true Tang were like, there was one thing that was certain…
These ‘Tang’ of Talas were powerful foes that could not be underestimated.
“How could this be? Abu Muslim, why didn’t your reports mention these things?” Governor Osman said from beneath his black Nile war banner.
Abu Muslim said nothing, but next to him, Ziyad appeared a tiny bit distressed. In truth, they had written all the information regarding the Great Tang in the letters they had sent, but it was clear that Osman, Aybak, and Qutaybah had all been too proud to carefully look them over.
In the end, these governors had never fought the Great Tang before. No matter how descriptive those letters were, nothing could compare to experiencing it for themselves.
The reaction of this pair left Osman dazed, but he quickly realized what was going on and instantly fell silent.
“The strongest weapons cannot serve as a replacement for soldiers,” Aybak suddenly said. “It’s just sixty thousand men. If we commit more soldiers, I’m confident that they won’t be able to make much more trouble.”
Arabia had never been a country that cherished the lives of its soldiers. As long as they could achieve their goal of defeating the Tang, the deaths of some more soldiers mattered little. Neither Aybak, Osman, nor Abu Muslim was the kind of commander who cherished soldiers like their own sons. In this aspect, they were completely different from the commanders of the Central Plains.
In the battle of Khorasan, when they were wiping out the remnants of the Sassanid Dynasty, Arabia had paid an enormous price, but the three commanders had made that decision without hesitation. It hadn’t even deserved a crease of their brow.
Aybak’s order was quickly executed. The four Arab commanders immediately sent another sea of roaring soldiers at the defense line.
Rumble! The earth shook and trembled as the sounds of fighting drowned out all other noise in the skies of Talas. The beehives truly were extremely terrifying, but their lethality was insignificant before an army of four hundred thousand.
Thudthudthud! Countless Arab soldiers charged through the attacks of the beehives. Moreover, the Arab cavalry were quickly employing countermeasures.
With heavy thumps, the Arab cavalry in the rear picked up the corpses of the slain and threw them at the spikes poking out of the steel walls.
One corpse, two corpses, three, four… countless corpses were thrown onto the steel walls to block the attacks of the beehives. These bodies and the armor still on them created a shield that obstructed the beehives.