Chapter 716: The City of Steel (III)
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
No matter how influential the Wang Clan was, it was still just one clan. As the Big Dipper Great General and commander of the Longxi border, Geshu Han truly did not need to fear the Wang Clan. At the very least, if someone like Geshu Han were to cast his lot with King Qi, the Wang Clan would have a massive headache.
But eighty percent of the capital’s great clans…
No one in the Great Tang would dare to contemplate such an idea, not even Geshu Han. Being rejected by eighty percent of the great clans would essentially mean that one wouldn’t even have a place to stand in the Great Tang.
This problem was one that troubled all the Imperial Great Generals.
By investing all these clans in the project, Wang Chong had give these generals a very challenging problem!
A voice at his ear stirred Geshu Han from his stupor.
Geshu Han’s eyes half-closed for a moment, but he quickly regained his composure. “Two months! Give them two months!”
Eighty percent of the capital’s great clans was an immense power. Casually offending them was no wise course of action.
But if he were someone who would retreat at the first sign of difficulty, he would have never become the Big Dipper Great General who stood guard over Longxi, much less been capable of stopping the hundreds of thousands of Tibetan cavalry.
Without that lofty and unyielding character, that sharpness that dared to test the edge of his enemies, he would have never become that fierce god of death that haunted every Tibetan.
“…Two months is the limit I’m giving them. This is a conflict between me and the Wang Clan. After those two months, those great clans will probably understand and not blame me.”
Geshu Han raised his head, his eyes peering through the window, past the towers, and toward the Tibetan Plateau that pierced into the dark clouds. At that moment, his gaze was as sharp as a sword.
The cries of warhorses echoed over the steppe. The construction of Wushang’s City of Steel had not only attracted the attention of the Hu Great Generals. Six or seven hundred li northwest of the City of Steel, the grass swayed in the wind as the clattering of bells heralding the coming of distant horses.
“The eagles fly and the grass is long. Yet another season of harvest has arrived!”
A voice spoke in the strange words of the Western Turks. On the border of the Western Turkic lands, two steeds stood side by side. Their riders were two wild-looking men wearing capes of wolfskin and exuding a rough and crude aura.
From the snow-white fox furs on their necks, this pair had a rather significant status within the Western Turkic Khaganate.
“Yes! The Great Tang’s ‘Eighth Great General’, the Young Marquis, the Great Tang Son of Heaven’s disciple… the Khagan has given the order that no matter what, he must be kept here. And if someone can kill him, then it would truly be a season of abundance!” the Turkic noble next to the man agreed.
Both of these men were as sharp as eagles and as ruthless as wolves. As they looked to the southwest, they could see thick trails of smoke rising over the horizon, all the way up to the clouds. Although they could see nothing else, the pair knew that the smoke was rising from the new city being built by the Great Tang’s ‘Eighth Great General’.
“It’s truly a pity. A new star at such a young age will have to fall so quickly.”
The Turkic noble on the right clicked his tongue, but his face showed no pity, only a cruel anticipation.
“If he hadn’t killed so many Mengshe Zhao in the south, the Mengshe Zhao Crown Prince acting on his father’s behalf wouldn’t have secretly sent so much gold to the Khagan. And if he were just coming around to play and then go back, everything would have been fine. But if he insists on building a city here, isn’t he seeking his own death? Even without the Mengshe Zhao Crown Prince’s encouragement, the Khagan still wouldn’t have spared him for daring to build that city.”
“Haha, if he seeks death on his own, he can’t blame anyone else. It seems like he’s not as formidable as the rumors claim. The Khagan has said that the Beiting Protectorate has already loosened its guard in that area,” the Turkic man on the left, who was much taller and also of higher status, noted, his hand pressed against the back of his horse.
“Eh? What is An Sishun up to? This treasonous scoundrel who betrayed his ancestors has some sort of scheme?” the Turkic noble on the right said, his eyes widening. This news was somewhat concerning to him, but his primary reaction was hate.
Fumeng Lingcha and Gao Xianzhi could be disregarded, but An Sishun was a true and pure Hu of a traditional Turkic lineage. Turks understood Turks the most, and for the Great Tang to use this method to defend against the Turkic Khaganates was terribly vexing to these two countries.
An Sishun was the number one kill target for both the Western and Eastern Turkic Khaganates, and they had sent no small number of Hu assassins and poisoners against him.
“You’re overthinking it.”
The Turk on the left fiddled with the eagle ring on his left hand and then waved his hand, indicating that his comrade should relax.
“The Beiting Protectorate is directly opposite the Khagan’s tent, and is still a steel wall that’s just as firm as ever. The only place where the guard has been loosened is the northwest zone. This isn’t our first fight with the Beiting Protectorate, so everyone in the commander tent knows well that An Sishun is indicating a direction for us.
“At the start, neither the Khagan nor I understood, but when we found out that that Young Marquis was building a city there, we understood everything. This An Sishun wants to borrow our hands to deal with his foes. In the past, I heard that An Sishun had a sworn brother who was bullied in the Great Tang’s capital and nearly died. It seems like the rumor was true.”
“Hahaha, the Tang just love their internal conflicts, even those traitors in their ranks. Isn’t this our chance?” the Turkic noble said.
With these words, the two looked at each other and laughed.
A sharp cry broke through the air, causing the two to stop laughing and look up. High in the sky, beneath the blazing sun, they spotted a black dot as tiny as a speck of dust.
At such heights, many birds were barely visible, and even arrows would find it difficult to reach them.
“Hmph, it’s one of Fumeng Lingcha’s rock eagles! He’s quite the cautious one!”
The Turkic man on the left sneered and suddenly reached behind him to take the golden bow that was larger than a man from his back. Nocking an arrow with his right hand, he aimed at the black dot and fired.
The earth rumbled as the arrow shot like a lightning bolt into the sky, leaving behind a white trail as it ascended.
There was a shrill cry high in the air. At a height that was twice the range of a normal archer, a massive rock eagle had been shot through. It exploded along with the arrow, leaving not even a feather behind.
The Turkic man sneered before quickly turning around and calling to his companion, “Let’s go!” The pair rode off together, quickly vanishing into the vast steppe.
The ringing of horse bells could be heard very far over the steppe…
In Wushang, Wang Chong was far from the only guest. In his wake came wave after wave of people, traveling over great distances to reach this place.
Amongst these people were workers, guards, and also people from the various great clans.
While Wang Chong was patrolling the walls with Zhang Shouzhi, he heard a familiar voice in the distance. A girl in the prime of youth, valiant and with skin as white as snow, was currently riding a large horse in his direction.
Riding alongside her, also in his direction, was another maiden, with a red-tasseled spear on her back and dressed in so much scarlet that she seemed to be aflame.
“Bai Siling? Zhao Yatong?”
Wang Chong’s eyes shone, a look of surprise on his face.
“Why did the two of you come?”
“Hmph, don’t think that just because you’re hiding here means we can’t find you. And you’d also better not forget that our Bai Clan and Zhao Clan also have a part of this City of Steel. With construction underway, are we not allowed to come and inspect the work?”
Bai Siling slightly tilted her head back and gave Wang Chong a very unkind gaze.
Zhang Shouzhi immediately noticed that something was wrong. “This… Lord Marquis, I remember that I have some matters to attend to. I will take my leave first.” Stammering out a few lines, he quickly took his leave.
“You’re leaving a little too quickly.”
Wang Chong glanced at Zhang Shouzhi’s retreating back in shock and then bitterly smiled. Composing himself, he began to walk toward Bai Siling and Zhao Yatong.
Wang Chong naturally knew why these two women had come. Back when he had asked for Bai Siling’s and Zhao Yatong’s help, the two had agreed without even thinking.
The Bai Clan and Zhao Clan had believed that this was some great undertaking, so they had given their full support. But none of them had imagined that Wang Chong was planning on repairing the roads.
Thus, once this matter was exposed, the arrival of Bai Siling and Zhao Yatong was only a matter of time.
“Have your families been making things difficult for you?”
Wang Chong jumped down the wall and went to welcome them.
“Hmph, so you do still have a heart. At least you know to ask this question. But even so, why didn’t you explain it clearly at Taibai Immortal’s Pavilion?”
Bai Siling dismounted and grabbed the reins of her horse to lead it forward, in the meantime giving Wang Chong a vicious glare. However, the feigned rage in her eyes far outweighed the sense of rebuke.
Zhao Yatong watched coldly from the sidelines, but she was inwardly roaring with laughter.
“Wang Chong, you aren’t being loyal to your friends, playing such a terrible trick on us. You’re rather smart, running off to Wushang, but Siling and I had nowhere to run. We were nagged by our elders for more than half a month.”
Leading her own horse, Zhao Yatong walked over.
“This was my mistake, so I’ve prepared a special gift for the two of you as an apology. Shen An, bring it over!” Wang Chong yelled behind him and made a gesture.
“Yes, Lord Marquis!” A shout came from the distance in reply.
A soldier quickly ran over carrying two cages covered in silk cloth