Chapter 494: The Movements in the Southwest!
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
…If I’m right, I’ll have to depend on these people for news of the front lines.
Wang Chong looked at that motley group of infantry and cavalry. The southwest was in chaos, and this was actually the first group of Great Tang soldiers he had run into since he had set off from the capital.
Wang Chong rode up to them and asked, “Are you from Li Zhengyi’s army?” Although it was a question, his tone showed that he was completely certain of their identity.
“Might I know Milord’s name?”
Those soldiers on the hill, having just narrowly escaped death, now looked suspiciously at the approaching Wang Chong. This youth was far too young. There was no general of the Great Tang who looked this young.
But the aura he exuded, the tone he spoke with, the dignity he revealed with each of his movements, clearly indicated that he possessed no ordinary status.
These soldiers couldn’t understand where in the Imperial Court such a young general could have come from. Moreover, the standard armor worn by this army was a little strange.
The soldiers had been in service for a long time, yet none of them had ever seen this sort of strange armor. It was very similar to their own, but also very different.
Wang Chong’s face was emotionless. He said nothing, instead taking the token King Song had given him from his waist and showing it to the soldiers.
The dragon on that golden token astonished the soldiers on the hill. Although they didn’t have much understanding of the Imperial Court, even the least-experienced understood that a dragon token often belied a most esteemed status. If not a king’s household, it would be the imperial household!
Regardless of which, it was something that soldiers of their level couldn’t understand or interact with.
“Paying respects to Your Highness!”
The soldiers grew anxious and began to kneel. This youth had now become unfathomable and worthy of their respect.
Wang Chong waved his hand but made no effort to correct their mistake. This was no time to be humble. The southwest was currently in a state of upheaval, plagued by storms and waves. Only by relying on King Song’s status in the imperial household could he stabilize morale.
“Many thanks, Your Highness.”
The soldiers began to stand, but their expressions were now ones of reverence and awe.
“What is the situation on the front lines?” Wang Chong said.
“The front lines?”
The soldiers looked at each other in confusion.
Wang Chong froze, immediately realizing that he had said something that they didn’t understand.
“I’m asking what the current situation is. Wasn’t Li Zhengyi leading you to reinforce the Annan Protectorate army? What’s going on? How are the other soldiers doing? How many survivors are there?” Wang Chong seriously asked, changing up the questions he asked.
His greatest concern was the situation in the southwest. Only by understanding what was going on ahead of him would he be able to decide on a plan of action. ‘Know yourself and know your enemy, and you will never be defeated.’ This was the most basic element of the art of war.
And Wang Chong was also concerned about how many of Li Zhengyi’s 60,000 soldiers had survived. Although Wang Chong hadn’t been present for that battle and didn’t know any details about it, his high attainments in the art of war allowed Wang Chong to conclude one basic fact: Li Zhengyi had not been ambushed on the Erhai plains. This meant that the Tibetan cavalry couldn’t completely exterminate them, that Li Zhengyi’s army couldn’t possibly meet the same fate as the 180,000 Great Tang elites from his last life, completely wiped out on the Erhai plains without any Lion City to protect them!
“We also don’t know the exact situation, only a rough understanding…”
The soldiers didn’t dare neglect Wang Chong’s question and began to immediately give a detailed recount of what they knew.
In reality, Li Zhengyi had left before he had even received an order from the Imperial Court. Speed was crucial in war, and Li Zhengyi’s service in Anxi and Beiting had given him a deep understanding of this principle.
Thus, by the time the Imperial Court had finished discussing and issued the decree, the decree was delivered to an empty camp. Although banners were still flying, only a few old soldiers had been left behind.
As a result, Li Zhengyi’s advance had been much faster than expected.
But not even Li Zhengyi was aware that the front lines had already been completely routed. When he left, he had only known that the 180,000 elites led by Xianyu Zhongtong had suffered a minor defeat, but by the time he had entered the southwest, Xianyu Zhongtong had already been handed a major defeat.
And what they faced was not Geluofeng’s 300,000 soldiers, but the Ü-Tsang army coming down from the Tibetan Plateau to the east, led by Great General Huoshu Huicang.
These soldiers had all believed that they were going to fight Mengshe Zhao, so one could easily imagine the chaos when they found an army of Tibetans charging at them.
Although Li Zhengyi was a renowned general and the leader of the Great Tang army’s younger generation of officers, he was still lacking when compared to Ü-Tsang Great General Huoshu Huicang.
This gap decided the result of the battle.
But Huoshu Huicang had clearly underestimated Li Zhengyi. Even though Huoshu Huicang had outclassed Li Zhengyi in every aspect and ultimately defeated him, Li Zhengyi had still managed to use his remarkable commanding abilities to make the Tibetans pay a price!
In this battle, Huoshu Huicang ended up beheading Li Zhengyi!
But there were some things that not even Huoshu Huicang could control.
The geography of the southwest was complicated, so even though Huoshu Huicang defeated Li Zhengyi and his 60,000 soldiers, Li Zhengyi had offered himself up as bait while ordering the rest of his soldiers to scatter. Not even Huoshu Huicang had been able to catch them all.
If those 60,000 infantry and cavalry had fled as a single group, the Tibetan cavalry would have run them down. But if tens of thousands of soldiers fled in every direction, the situation would be completely different.
Even though the Tibetans had Geluofeng’s scouts embedded in their army, they still didn’t have enough soldiers!
Consequently, though Li Zhengyi had lost, a good portion of his army had managed to escape.
“…The Tibetans are too numerous and too strong, and they’re all heavy cavalry, so we all fled. When I fled, it was only with two or three of my brothers. The rest were people we ran into while fleeing north. Although I don’t know how everyone else is doing, I’m certain that there are still many of my brothers in the surrounding area.
“Right now, most of the Tibetan army has already withdrawn, probably to besiege the Annan Protectorate army. The rest of them are hunting us down, probably about six or seven thousand! If we can meet up with the rest of our brothers, then with Milord’s army, we might be able to defeat them.
“It’s just too bad about Lord Li. He was so young…”
When their young general was mentioned, all the soldiers turned gloomy, causing Wang Chong himself to mentally sigh.
Everyone in his last life had known of Li Zhengyi’s defeat, but everyone only knew that Li Zhengyi had let the Imperial Court down and had thrown away 60,000 men and countless supplies.
They had all been focused only on victory and defeat.
Wang Chong now understood all the twists and turns of this ordeal.
Although Li Zhengyi had lost, he did not let down his reputation as a renowned general. While surrounded, he had made the moving decision to sacrifice himself. Alas, he was simply too young. It was too early for him to encounter a foreign Great General like Huoshu Huicang.
If he had been able to survive to meet Huoshu Huicang in the future, their battle definitely wouldn’t have the same result.
Unfortunately, the words of a man of low status carried little weight. In past or present, Li Zhengyi would never have listened to Wang Chong’s advice… No one would have listened to him.
A bearded and swarthy-faced man suddenly said, “That’s right, I heard that Commandant Xu didn’t retreat to the north. He’s apparently set up a camp in the southeast, where he’s gathering troops and rallying the army. I’ve heard that he’s already gathered around one thousand people, perhaps even more now. He also has a large amount of supplies with him.”
“That’s right, Commandant Xu is strong and also a master strategist. If His Highness can get his help, it would be a massive boon and well worth it. You might even be able to save a few more of our brothers!”
Another True Martial realm soldier spoke up, seemingly energized at the mention of this ‘Commandant Xu’. It was like the Commandant Xu that swarthy man had spoken of was some omnipotent savior.
“Right! Right! Commandant Xu!”
Other people began to voice their agreement, the exhaustion gone from their faces. They seemed to hold great trust in this Commandant Xu.
Wang Chong furrowed his brow, a look of doubt in his eyes.
He truly knew nothing about this Commandant Xu that was on the lips of all these soldiers, and he certainly didn’t understand why they trusted him so.
“It’s very normal for Milord not to know. Although he’s not famous outside the army, he has quite the name among the soldiers. He’s an old officer, and everyone has a lot of faith in him. Before this battle, only Commandant Xu was able to tell from some surrounding clues that something wasn’t right, and he even warned General Li. Alas, General Li was still too young…”
The swarthy-faced man stopped in the middle of his sentence.
Wang Chong nodded, understanding what he meant. Every person had their own merits, but also their own flaws. Li Zhengyi might not have been an outstanding general, but he was at least a competent one.
“Old Eagle, come over here for a moment!”
Wang Chong turned his head and waved at the distant figure.
“Let out the eagle and have it scope out the southeast.”
“Yes, Young Master.”
With no further questions, Old Eagle whistled, ordering the eagle on his shoulder to take flight. The gigantic eagle was fast, its glossy black wings needing to flap only once to send it soaring into the air like a swift arrow.
The battle was over and Wang Chong had obtained the information he had wanted, so he immediately began to recollect the soldiers.
“Now, it’s time to temper my own strength!”
Wang Chong’s eyes flashed with a ruthless light as he looked at the low-hanging dark clouds in the distance, but in his body, a bloody red light began to flow like lava, gathering together. This was the Stellar Energy of the Little Yinyang Art.
The martial path was one of steady progress. In normal circumstances, someone of his age, even one of stupendous talent, wouldn’t be able to become a top-notch expert overnight.
But though this was difficult, it was certainly not impossible.
The Little Yinyang Art was one of those opportunities that exceeded the bounds of common sense. That was why Wang Chong had so tirelessly pursued it in his reborn life.
Unfortunately, up to now, Wang Chong had lacked a chance, and this chance was ‘war’!
Only a massive war, an endless stream of opponents, could provide Wang Chong the chance to advance by leaps and bounds and reach the higher levels of cultivation.
And only by possessing an invincible strength could he intervene in this war that would affect the destiny of the Central Plains.
Now, his chance had arrived!
Wang Chong’s eyes flashed red, a miniature sun of blood seeming to burst from his body. Swinging the reins, Wang Chong sent his horse galloping toward the south.
There were even more Tibetan cavalrymen wandering around over there!