Chapter 1154: The Death of Dalun Ruozan!
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
“Can you allow it?” Dalun Ruozan asked once more, a hint of pleading in his voice. “I have known Huoshu Huicang for all my life, and he was my constant companion. I cannot do what I promised him, but at least I can send him back to Ü-Tsang and give him a proper burial. Is that okay?”
Wang Chong saw the dying embers in Dalun Ruozan’s eyes, and inexplicably, he thought back to Huoshu Huicang’s last words. His heart sighing deeply, he finally had his horse trot back a few steps. Even though he had fought with Dalun Ruozan for so long, in the end, he found it impossible to refuse this last request.
“Someone! Bring over Huoshu Huicang’s body!”
Gallop! A few moments later, several Tang cavalry rode over with a horse from the rear. Atop the horse was the body of Huoshu Huicang.
Several people stepped forward, placed Huoshu Huicang’s body in front of Dalun Ruozan, and quickly took their leave. Wang Chong silently stared at Dalun Ruozan. But Dalun Ruozan seemed to see nothing and feel nothing. His eyes had been fixed on Huoshu Huicang from the moment he had appeared.
Dalun Ruozan’s faint smile had long ago vanished, and as he led his horse forward, that ever-unperturbed face gazed upon Huoshu Huicang’s corpse with deep sorrow and grief. Huoshu Huicang was wearing a fiery suit of red armor, and even in death, his muscular body exuded an imposing and valiant aura. But his face was pale and his body was devoid of life.
Dalun Ruozan raised his head and asked, “Wang Chong, can you tell me what his last words were?”
Wang Chong gave a deep sigh and relayed Huoshu Huicang’s final words in their entirety.
As Dalun Ruozan stared at Huoshu Huicang’s body, his entire body trembled and two trails of tears trickled down from his eyes.
“Huoshu, I’m sorry! In this war, I failed to keep my promise!”
Dalun Ruozan lowered his head, his entire body trembling as scenes from the past flitted past his eyes.
On the Tibetan Plateau, the young Huoshu Huicang angrily stared at him like a tiger cub.
“I, Huoshu Huicang, am a dragon and tiger of the plateau. Even if the Tsenpo has decreed it, I will never submit to a trifling scholar like you.”
“Haha, what does it matter if you’re a dragon or tiger. As a dragon, you can’t ascend to the heavens, and as a tiger, you can’t sink into the earth. The strength of a single man can’t create any sort of peerless achievement, so what use is it?”
“Haha, what are you ‘you’ing about? Are my words wrong?”
“Hmph, a scholar who doesn’t even have the strength to truss a chicken, who can’t even beat one of my subordinates! What use are you?”
“Hey! Do you know how to run a country and bring peace to its people? To plan out strategies in a tent that can decide victory throughout the world? To form alliances with those distant to attack nearby enemies…?”
“How does Milord plan to revitalize Ü-Tsang?”
“Is there anything that cannot be done in a time limit of thirty years?”
“Hmph, Milord doesn’t even have the strength to truss a chicken. I worry that you might just be daydreaming.”
“Hahaha, but don’t I have you?”
“Huoshu, we’ve lost again. The Great Tang is far stronger than we imagined!”
“You want to give up?”
“No! Never! Ü-Tsang is still too weak. Give me thirty years, and I will definitely make Ü-Tsang the strongest existence!”
“Since that’s the case, if Great Minister is not giving up, then for the next thirty years, let me be your left and right arms!”
Scenes from the past flickered through his eyes as swiftly as lightning, and tears endlessly poured down from Dalun Ruozan’s eyes.
“Huoshu, this time, it was me who caused all this. You accompanied me for half my life, so let me accompany you as well. The two of you, listen well. Immediately send Huoshu Huicang’s body back to the plateau. If any mishap occurs, then go back with your heads in your hands!”
The two loyal guards at Dalun Ruozan’s sides seemed to sense something. They both lowered their heads, sorrow in their eyes.
“Wang Chong, to be able to exchange blows with you is the greatest pride of my life!”
Dalun Ruozan took in a deep breath, a little vim restored in his eyes as he gazed at Wang Chong.
“Be at ease. You will never regret this exchange you made today!”
Dalun Ruozan faintly smiled, once more becoming that energetic and confident wise minister.
“Imperial Minister, Tsenpo… Dalun Ruozan does not have the face to see you. In these two campaigns, four hundred thousand Tibetan cavalry were slain. Dalun Ruozan can only offer his life as atonement!”
Swish! Before Wang Chong could react, Dalun Ruozan drew the sword from his waist and swept it across his neck.
Blood gushed into the sky, but Dalun Ruozan stood with his head held high, his calm eyes staring up into the depths of the heavens, far off into infinity. Finally, the light went out of his eyes and he slowly dropped from his horse.
As that slender figure fell to the ground, it sent up a spray of dust. At that moment, the entire battlefield seemed to become much quieter.
Gao Xianzhi, Cheng Qianli, Li Siye, Xue Qianjun… everyone stared at this scene with expressions of utter shock.
A renowned minister of a generation, the most famous sage of the Ngari Royal Lineage, an existence that had impeded the Tiger of the Empire Zhangchou Jianqiong for ten-some years… just like that, in this tragic fashion, he had died.
Far away, on the long and narrow stone bridge, Huoba Sangye gave a heart-wrenching cry, his eyes nearly bulging out of their sockets in rage.
“Wang Chong, there will come a day when you pay a price for today! Ü-Tsang will never lose! One day, I will take revenge for the Great Minister and Great General!”
“Lord Marquis, let me take some people and kill him!” Li Siye suddenly proposed, stepping forward as he stared at the distant Huoba Sangye with cold eyes. “Ü-Tsang is now devoid of elites, and without Dalun Ruozan or Huoshu Huicang, if we suddenly attack now, we have an extremely high chance of wiping out Huoba Sangye and the remaining Tibetan soldiers, wrapping up any loose ends!”
The Gangke King also took two steps forward, though he said nothing. It was clear that as long as Li Siye was permitted to go, the Gangke King would join him. The two of them working together were entirely capable of killing Huoba Sangye.
After numerous battles, Wang Chong’s prestige in the army was as high as the noon sun, and after he had killed Qutaybah, his prestige had risen far above anyone else.
Not even veteran generals like Gao Xianzhi or Cheng Qianli could compare. For Huoba Sangye to threaten Wang Chong in front of so many people was simply suicidal.
“Forget it! Let him go!” Wang Chong calmly replied. “This person doesn’t have the martial prowess of Huoshu Huicang or the intelligence of Dalun Ruozan. He’s just angry about the death of Dalun Ruozan. He poses little threat to the Great Tang.”
After saying this, Wang Chong lowered his head, gazing at the nearby body of Dalun Ruozan. For some reason, he felt no joy or excitement over killing Huoshu Huicang and resolving the powerful threat of Dalun Ruozan, only a faint and indescribable sense of loss and sorrow.
“Pass on my order. Return the bodies of Huoshu Huicang and Dalun Ruozan to Ü-Tsang. As for the remaining soldiers of Ü-Tsang, as long as they do not harbor any intention to attack, let them go. No one is permitted to attack them,” Wang Chong ordered with a sigh.
“Yes! Your subordinate will go!”
Around Wang Chong, whether it was Li Siye, the Gangke King, or any other officer, they all lowered their heads and adopted obedient expressions.
Wang Chong waved his hand. Several people dismounted, placed Dalun Ruozan’s body on a warhorse, and led it away. By the stone bridge, a group of grief-stricken Tibetan warriors received Dalun Ruozan’s and Huoshu Huicang’s bodies. Without another word, they rode away, quickly vanishing into the distance.
Boom! Suddenly, the long stone bridge was snapped off at the other end, the entire structure falling into the abyss.
Wang Chong watched all this from a distance, saying not a word.
Wang Chong took in another deep breath before leading the army away.
The matter with Ü-Tsang had been settled, but the matter of Arabia was far from it. No understood more than Wang Chong the enormity of the threat this massive empire on the western border posed to the Great Tang. If he did not strike while the iron was hot and completely defeat them, the Great Tang would have to face yet another army of hundreds of thousands of Arab soldiers some day in the future.
The cracking of a whip sharply resounded through the air.
The army quickly began to move out.
After a little while, the forces led by Wang Chong caught up to Xi Yuanqing and Lou Shiyi’s men.
The situation was different from what Wang Chong had predicted. Though he had caught up to the leading forces, he did not see Abu Muslim and the others.
“What’s going on? Where are Abu Muslim and the Arabs?” Wang Chong said, his brow creased.
“Lord Marquis, there was a problem. While we were pursuing Abu Muslim, we were ambushed and hindered by Osman,” Lou Shiyi said between pants for breath.
Wang Chong’s eyebrows rose in surprise. If he remembered correctly, he had injured Osman at the very beginning, causing him to use the Arab form of Blood Escape to flee. Amongst the Arab commanders, he had been the first to leave the battlefield. Wang Chong hadn’t expected him to appear at a time like this.
Lou Shiyi bowed and sternly said, “Because we’ve never made any forays into Arab territory before and don’t know if they might have more reinforcements lying in ambush on the road, Yuanqing and I talked and decided that it was best to wait for Milord to arrive so that our armies could be together.”
‘It is not demanded to achieve the best possible result, but to avoid making mistakes.’ The Great Tang’s victory in this battle was already decided, and there was no need to toss the fruit of victories to the Arabs for the sake of a momentary and risky advance.
“That’s fine! Although Abu Muslim and Ziyad are both greatly weakened, a centipede can die and still not topple. His intelligence and experience are not something the two of you can contend against. Waiting for Wang Chong and myself to arrive and then moving out produces the same result,” Gao Xianzhi said.
Wang Chong nodded, in complete agreement with Gao Xianzhi’s words.
“Rise! Abu Muslim won’t be able to get very far, and he won’t have much time to rest and recuperate. Not far ahead is Samarkand, their closest base in the entirety of the west. No matter what, we can’t allow them the opportunity to catch their breath and recruit more soldiers,” Wang Chong solemnly said.