Chapter 643: Returning to the Capital!
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
A joyous reunion left the mind refreshed. After welcoming King Song, the party entered the tent on the summit.
“Wang Chong, when you enter the capital this time, you must be extremely careful.”
In the tent, King Song, Wang Yan, Xianyu Zhongtong, Wang Chong, Wang Fu, and Sun Liuyue were seated cross-legged on the ground. King Song’s smile had faded and his expression turned grave.
“With your achievements this time, King Qi is about to explode from anger. Although he can’t easily touch you, that doesn’t mean he’ll give up. I even heard a little news that he’s working with the Chamberlain of Dependencies to make trouble for you through the avenue of protocol.
“The magnitude of your achievements means that the Sage Emperor will definitely have to confer a reward to you, but if you make a ceremonial error during the audience and award ceremony, the imperial censors might use this as pretext to arrest you.
“Those imperial censors even dared to impeach the previous Prime Minister and the consorts and concubines of the palace. Although quite a few people support you in the court, the number of people who grimace at the mention of you and want to make trouble for you is also not small.
“You’re still young, and if you were to give off the impression of an immature youth, it will have a massive effect on your career. It could even result in the cancellation of your reward. You absolutely can’t get careless.”
King Song spoke with heartfelt sincerity.
The Imperial Court was an unfathomable and constantly fluctuating place. Unlike the battlefield, the slightest error there would result in eternal damnation, no matter how great one’s achievements.
The previous King Song, a descendant of the royal household and an Imperial Prince of the Great Tang, had still ended up getting shackled and thrown into jail, so how could an ordinary person escape this punishment? Wang Chong was still young, and he represented the hopes of both King Song and the Wang Clan.
As an elder, King Song did not wish for someone to use such trifling affairs to scheme against Wang Chong. This was also the reason he had rushed here to meet with Wang Chong before he returned to the capital.
“I’ve already had Scholar Lu find an old servant who used to work in the Chamberlain of Dependencies. He’s very learned and knows a lot. When you return to the capital, find him and study for a while under him to avoid any problems.”
“My deepest gratitude, King Song.”
Wang Chong gave a respectful bow.
As a person who had lived twice, Wang Chong understood far more than King Song. He did not believe that the Chamberlain of Dependencies could succeed in their schemes against him. But still, King Song’s earnest concern had deeply moved him.
“Hahaha, then the rest is fine. That’s right, Wang Chong, when you speak to His Majesty, you must have him permit me to completely pacify the southwest. With regards to Ü-Tsang and Mengshe Zhao, Huoshu Huicang is unharmed and Duan Gequan is still alive. If those two work together, I fear that another incident will occur in the southwest.”
King Song’s eyes became tinged with worry, his expression turning gloomy.
Duan Gequan and Huoshu Huicang were famed generals of the present age. Purely in terms of martial arts, King Song did not fear them, but strategy and formations were not his area of expertise. This was also why he had made this request of Wang Chong.
“Haha, Your Highness, be at ease—they won’t be able to join together, nor would they be very successful. Even if they did have the mind, I would never give them a chance.”
Wang Chong smiled at King Song.
King Song’s eyes brightened as he focused on Wang Chong.
The other people in the tent also began to react and look toward Wang Chong. There were many things waiting to be done on the southwest border. Ü-Tsang and Mengshe Zhao remained a threat, and if Wang Chong could deal with this problem, he would be resolving everyone’s concerns.
This would be yet another achievement.
“Chong-er, are you serious?” Wang Yan sternly asked.
“Heh, in the past, this wouldn’t have been doable, but now King Song’s seventy thousand soldiers change everything.”
Wang Chong smiled and nodded, his face confident and assured.
“The greatest threat from Ü-Tsang and Mengshe Zhao isn’t their soldiers, but their alliance. In the past, I really wouldn’t be able to do anything against them. Now, however, Geluofeng is still unconscious from his injuries, leaving Mengshe Zhao leaderless. Their entire society is in chaos, giving us the perfect chance to clamp down with our soldiers.
“King Song’s 70,000 soldiers added to the 40,000 soldiers of the Annan Protectorate army makes for a total of 110,000 soldiers. When the Mengshe–Ü-Tsang army still had 500,000 soldiers, we wouldn’t have been able to deal with them, but their strength is greatly reduced, not even one-fourth of their original strength, making them no match for us.
“As long as we place our 110,000 soldiers on the shores of the Erhai, on the border of the Great Tang and Mengshe Zhao, what choice does Your Highness believe that Mengshe Zhao, vexed by problems internal and external, will make? Cede territory and pay indemnities, become a vassal of the Great Tang—this is their only choice,” Wang Chong confidently declared.
“Cede territory and pay indemnities?”
The rest of the people in the tent looked in shock at Wang Chong. His proposal had caught them completely by surprise, and they had never heard of this concept of ceding land and paying indemnities.
Wang Chong chuckled, unsurprised by the reaction. Although the Great Tang was a place where power reigned supreme and was also a place that had a certain grasp of strategy and tactics, in certain aspects, it was still extremely primitive.
A single war was extremely costly, resulting in many casualties and massive consumption of provisions, armaments, and warhorses. In the end, however, the victor would only win fame while the loser would just retreat.
After a while, the loser would accumulate strength and come forward again to start another war…
This pattern would endlessly repeat. In Wang Chong’s view, this was out of place with the nature of war, and did not properly compensate the victor.
War was politics by other means, but it was also for the benefit of the country. If a war consumed a great deal of resources but few benefits could be extracted from the opponent, then the war was a defeat.
Geluofeng had dared to ally with Ü-Tsang and challenge the Great Tang, so as the loser, he had to pay the price a loser had to pay. Ceding territory and paying indemnities would be the best outcome for him.
Firstly, this meant that Mengshe Zhao would forever remember this lesson. Secondly, the Great Tang could be somewhat compensated for its massive losses, perhaps even obtain more.
After remaining quiet all this time, Sun Liuyue finally spoke. “But what if Dalun Ruozan appears with the Tibetan cavalry? We’re no match for them on the plains.”
“Uncle Sun, you’re overthinking things. Even if Huoshu Huicang and Dalun Ruozan appear with more than ten thousand cavalry and come charging down the plateau, I’m confident that I can stop them. And besides, the Tibetan cavalry now aren’t the same as the ones from the past. If Dalun Ruozan appears now, he would be seeking his own death.”
Wang Chong slowly began to chuckle.
Plague was still spreading across the Tibetan Plateau, leaving it bereft of any edible cows or sheep. In addition, the Tibetans had suffered terrible bouts of diarrhea after eating Mengshe Zhao rice, leaving their bodies weak and sapped of strength. If Dalun Ruozan still decided to attack the Great Tang with this sort of army, then he was truly a fool.
Wang Chong eagerly looked forward to him attacking the Great Tang.
The camp was filled with laughter. During the decisive battle, Wang Chong had dispatched Li Siye to destroy Huoshu Huicang and Dalun Ruozan’s home base, forcing them to consume Mengshe Zhao provisions. As a result, the majority of their soldiers were weakened from the indigestion. Everyone knew this by now.
In this campaign, on a purely strategic level, Dalun Ruozan had utterly lost to Wang Chong.
“Haha, Dalun Ruozan already doesn’t have the courage to appear in front of Young Master Chong.”
Xianyu Zhongtong chuckled as he stroked his beard.
The people in the tent chuckled as well. Dalun Ruozan, a renowned general of the southwest, had used all the methods at his disposal but still ended up losing to Wang Chong, bolstering Wang Chong’s reputation.
It would not be excessive at all to say that Wang Chong was the number one general of the southwest.
“In addition, the Tibetans only dared to descend from the east and penetrate the Great Tang’s interior because they had the assistance of the Mengshe Zhao army. If they don’t have Mengshe Zhao soldiers receiving them and guiding them, they wouldn’t dare to come down from the plateau.
“So as long as we suppress Mengshe Zhao and make it submit, we break the Mengshe–Ü-Tsang alliance. Once the alliance is broken, even Dalun Ruozan at his boldest wouldn’t dare to carelessly enter the southwest.”
Wang Chong’s eyes shone with a profound and all-seeing light.
The eyes of the other people in the tent gradually brightened, and upon hearing Wang Chong’s final words, even Wang Yan couldn’t help but nod.
King Song laughed and immediately made a decision. “Hahaha, good! Wang Yan, you truly have a good son! We’ll do as you say! Speed is crucial in war, so I’ll give the order today to move my seventy thousand soldiers to the Erhai. Let’s see if Mengshe Zhao submits or not.”
On the journey, he had been worried about how to pacify the southwest, but upon hearing Wang Chong’s words, King Song felt his entire body relax. What should have been a most arduous task became exceedingly simple when Wang Chong discussed it.
Rumble! With King Song’s order, the seventy thousand soldiers joined up with the forty thousand soldiers of the Annan Protectorate army and began to move like a massive war machine toward the Erhai in the south.
Mengshe Zhao’s reaction was even faster than expected. Geluofeng was still in a coma, so when the 110,000 Tang soldiers appeared on the shores of the Erhai, Mengshe Zhao quickly submitted.
The war of the southwest had consumed decades of Mengshe Zhao’s resources. Mengshe Zhao could not fight another battle, and not even Duan Gequan could change this fact.
As for the ceding of land and other compensation, that was another matter. By that time, Wang Chong had already begun his return journey to the capital.
“Wang Chong, the capital is up ahead!”
On the path, Bai Siling, mounted on a white steed, rode at Wang Chong’s left, Zhao Yatong riding on Wang Chong’s right. Next to them were Su Hanshan, Fang Xuanling, and the other students of Kunwu Training Camp.
After more than half a month, the party had finally returned from the southwest.
“Hahaha, look over there! The entire capital knows that we’re coming back. They’ve hung up lanterns and streamers everywhere.”
Nearby, the fully-armored Sun Zhiming extended a finger and excitedly gestured at the distant city gate.
Everyone followed Sun Zhiming’s finger and saw that the capital’s city gate was festooned with large red lanterns, an incredible rarity in the daytime.
And if one looked past the city gate, one would see red streams of light leaking out from the city. The strength of this light was a testament to the number of lanterns in the city.
“Hah, Young Master accomplished such a feat in the south and is now making his triumphant return. Probably half the city already knows. It’s only right that they’ve put up the red lanterns to celebrate,” Xu Gan said with a faint smile.