The Human Emperor Chapter 1024
Chapter 1024: A Shift To The East Of The Cong Mountains
"Lord Protector-General, in the current situation, we can only transfer soldiers from the border. You have much more seniority in the army and a relationship with the other Protector-Generals. Is it possible for you to request soldiers from the other Protector-Generals?" Wang Chong said.
The Great Tang army was a mixture of Hu and Han. Wang Chong's identity was far too sensitive to ask for soldiers, but Gao Xianzhi would not have this sort of problem. Moreover, his seniority and relationships with other generals and Protector-Generals was something that Wang Chong could not compare to, not even with his superb mind for strategy and incredible talent.
Gao Xianzhi thought for a while before replying, "The Beiting Protectorate currently has the most soldiers, and I've had some relationship with Protector-General An Sishun before. If I get in touch with him, I should be able to borrow some soldiers, even if the Beiting Protectorate is currently lacking. I estimate that I could get four to six thousand soldiers."
"If it's four to six thousand, then you should get only the best. This shouldn't have too big an effect on the Beiting Protectorate," Wang Chong sternly said.
Gao Xianzhi nodded. Quality was better than quantity when it came to soldiers. He and Wang Chong were of one mind on this. Moreover, the Anxi Protectorate army had always been the place where the best soldiers of the Great Tang were gathered. If one could not demand quantity, then they should do their utmost to pursue quality. This was the principle that Gao Xianzhi had always upheld.
"There's also Geshu Han. He holds Longxi. After the Beiting Protectorate, he can be considered the closest to us. Moreover, the Big Dipper Army possesses astonishing strength and should be able to offer us some assistance."
Gao Xianzhi fell silent for a few moments, and a hint of hesitation appeared in his eyes.
"But Geshu Han and I rarely communicate with each other. I will find it very hard to persuade him."
"Leave this to me."
Wang Chong faintly smiled in understanding. Amongst the Hu Great Generals, Geshu Han was the most unique. As a youth, he had admired the culture of the Central Plains, and he spoke the dialect of the capital more fluently than he spoke his own Hu language. The Crown Prince's Junior Guardian Wang Zhongsi had promoted him, so even though he had started his military career late, his rise through the ranks had been extremely rapid. In addition, unlike the other Hu, who filled their armies with mostly Hu soldiers, Geshu Han's Big Dipper Army was ninety percent Han.
His attitude stood out completely from the rest.
Thus, even though Gao Xianzhi, Fumeng Lingcha, An Sishun, and the other generals all maintained relationships with Geshu Han on the surface, deep down, cracks had begun to form. Geshu Han was well aware of this, so he did not usually interact with them, only getting in touch when absolutely necessary.
"…Geshu Han and I can be considered to have a rudimentary friendship. I should be able to get some soldiers from him," Wang Chong said.
Gao Xianzhi was stunned, but he quickly thought of something and felt at ease. In the Big Dipper Army's battle with the White Lion Great General We Tadra Khonglo, it had suffered severe casualties. Many people knew that Wang Chong had then gifted ten thousand high-quality Turkic warhorses to Geshu Han. Geshu Han's Big Dipper Army only had twenty-thousand-some soldiers, so Wang Chong's gifting him ten thousand horses was like sending charcoal in the middle of snowy weather, resolving his emergency.
From this, one could conclude that Geshu Han definitely owed him a favor.
"But even so, we still don't have enough men!"
Gao Xianzhi looked up and sighed. Even if they got six thousand men from the Beiting Protectorate and three thousand from Geshu Han, this would only be nine thousand. For this war, it was equivalent to pouring a cup of water over a burning cart.
Surprisingly, Wang Chong grinned at Gao Xianzhi's words.
"Haha, Lord Protector-General, we'll cross that mountain when we get to it. The Great Tang is still the Great Tang, and its resources are far from exhausted. It's just that all its soldiers are being held down in other areas, not that it actually doesn't have any soldiers. With a little reorganization, it should still be able to dispatch some soldiers… The Great Tang had no soldiers to send, but didn't I still come with an army of one hundred thousand? Our first priority should still be discussing how to report this to the Imperial Court."
Gao Xianzhi stared blankly at Wang Chong before breaking out into a smile. "You're right!"
Time slowly passed, and the two highest Tang commanders at Talas spent the entire night discussing various details, from dusk to dawn, before finally heading to bed.
As the sun rose, eagles took off from Talas, flying off in every direction.
An eagle descended from the sky into the Anxi Protectorate. This was the place closest to Talas, so Feng Changqing was the first to receive the message.
'Recruit soldiers from the kingdoms of the Western Regions!'
Feng Changqing opened the letter, saw the words written by Gao Xianzhi, and was immediately struck dumb. Gao Xianzhi's request was very simple. He hoped that Feng Changqing could summon soldiers from the kingdoms of the Western Regions in the name of the Anxi Protectorate army and the Great Tang. As a reward, the Anxi Protectorate army would provide the kingdoms a great deal of gold upon victory.
"Just where will Anxi get all this gold?"
Feng Changqing bitterly smiled as he read the letter. As Gao Xianzhi's administrative and logistic aide, Feng Changqing understood the state of Anxi more than anyone else. Although it had attacked the prosperous Shi Kingdom, the nobles of the Shi Kingdom had managed to get out with a significant amount of their wealth using secret tunnels, resulting in the Anxi Protectorate army getting far less than the rumors said. Moreover, after the battle, Gao Xianzhi had sent at least half of the spoils to the Imperial Court and imperial household. Half of the remainder was given by Gao Xianzhi to Bian Lingcheng.
Bian Lingcheng had been of great assistance to Gao Xianzhi in his official career, but he was rather greedy, and just a little wealth was not enough to satisfy him. For the remaining quarter, Gao Xianzhi kept a little for himself and distributed the rest to the Anxi Protectorate army, the Karluks, and the Ferghanans.
Thus, the Anxi Protectorate army did not have any money to recruit more soldiers. If it did, Feng Changqing would not have been in such desperate straits in the rear.
"The kingdoms of the Western Regions have always craved wealth, and there's not one that doesn't like gold and silver. Although I can deceive them now and recruit some soldiers, once the war is over and the Anxi Protectorate army can't produce the promised money, they'll be a constant source of trouble."
Feng Changqing looked at the letter with deep concern.
The recruitment that Gao Xianzhi proposed was considered a private recruitment on behalf of the Anxi Protectorate army. The Bureau of Military Personnel had not agreed to this plan, so the Imperial Court would not pay this debt. The Anxi Protectorate army would have to think of a way on its own.
The kingdoms of the Western Regions didn't have many soldiers in the first place, so recruitment would not result in too much. Moreover, the consequences of this recruitment might destroy the Anxi Protectorate army's prestige in the Western Regions, and even in victory, would create many problems. In Feng Changqing's view, this was an inadvisable course of action.
But when Feng Changqing saw the last line of the letter, he immediately froze.
'…Changqing does not need to worry. With regards to the money for recruitment, the Young Marquis has made arrangements. The Young Marquis has written out all his plans in another letter.'
These simple words left Feng Changqing dumbfounded.
When did the Protector-General get so close to Wang Chong? Wasn't their relationship rather strained before all this? And what did he mean when he said that the money was all handled already? And that Wang Chong had written everything in another letter?
After a few moments of shock, Feng Changqing quickly understood. Could it be that it was not one letter sent from Talas, but two? Feng Changqing looked, and just as expected, underneath this letter was another. The words written here were completely different from Gao Xianzhi's. Although they were twisted and crooked, they exuded an aura of toughness and vigor.
It was the Young Marquis!
Feng Changqing quickly snatched up the letter and began to read it. While he only casually read it at the start, the more he read, the more serious and grim his expression became, and he even read the letter three more times.
"Haha, request compensation from the Arabs and use this compensation to pay the kingdoms of the Western Regions! Young Marquis, only you could think of this method… but there's no better plan!"
Feng Changqing slapped the letter against his desk and let out a laugh. He had always believed himself to be the most unconventional administrator of the Western Regions, but now it seemed that Wang Chong was even more so. Demanding compensation for the losses in a war from the losing party was something that had never happened in the Great Tang. With this method, Wang Chong was using a war to support a war.
Wang Chong had also explained clearly that if the Great Tang were defeated and lost the Western Regions, the kingdoms would defect to the Arabs, so there would naturally be no need to pay out the money. If they won, they could just advance into Arabia and demand money from the Arabs to pay the kingdoms of the Western Regions. Thus, Feng Changqing had nothing to worry about.
Soldiers were trained for a thousand days to be used in a single moment. The Great Tang had governed the Western Regions for more than two hundred years, so now was the time for the Western Regions to pay something back and fight for the Great Tang!
"Young Marquis, I'll do everything as you say."
With bright eyes, Feng Changqing took up a brush, unfurled a sheet of paper, and began to write.
Flap flap! Several messenger birds flew eastward along the Silk Road. Quickly, they reached the territory of Qixi, where several eagles broke away from the flock.
"It's finally about to begin!"
Su Hanshan put down the letter, no surprise to be seen on his cold and aloof face. Bang! With a jolt from his wrist, the letter was pulverized, countless bits of paper sprinkling down from between his fingers.
Gallop! Su Hanshan turned his horse around and began to ride toward the drilling grounds. The eight thousand bandits that Wang Bei had recruited from along the Silk Road were gathered there, all of them wearing the armor of the regular army. Their postures were erect and they exuded a heroic and experienced aura. No evidence that they were once bandits and brigands could be seen on them.