The Human Emperor Chapter 1117
Chapter 1117: Wang Chongs Plan
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
"Qianli is correct. In this war, the Arabs still have around one hundred thousand soldiers, still more than we have. In addition, even though we didn't suffer many losses in this battle, what's far more worrying is that the ballista army has essentially used up all its ballista bolts. Without enough ballista bolts, the ballista army will find it very difficult to exert any power."
Gao Xianzhi spoke very tactfully. Even though the Great Tang still had fifty-thousand-some soldiers, twenty-five thousand of these were ballista soldiers.
These ballista soldiers were all former bandits and brigands of the Silk Road. Although they had been remolded through Su Hanshan's training, they were still not very strong fighters. It was simply impossible for them to fight in close quarters with the elite Arab cavalry.
In other words, the true number of soldiers the Great Tang could use was a little less than thirty thousand. Thirty thousand versus a force of one hundred thousand still put the Great Tang in a very unenviable position.
"Su Hanshan, how many ballista bolts did we gather from the battlefield?"
Wang Chong turned to Su Hanshan.
"We currently have seven-thousand-some ballista bolts that have never been used before. And while our men are still gathering fired ballista bolts from the field, the majority of these are partially damaged, with either the points being dulled or the shaft being deformed. I've had Senior Zhang Shouzhi start repairing them, but I worry that there isn't enough time," Su Hanshan gravely said.
Repair required time, but another battle was imminent, and the Arabs would never give the Tang enough time to repair the ballista bolts. But seven-thousand-some ballista bolts was clearly not enough to intimidate the Arabs.
"In truth, given the current number of soldiers, if we just sit back and let the Arabs attack us, by simply relying on the walls, we can probably fend them off and even deal them a heavy blow," Ferghanan Chief Banahan abruptly suggested. "The Arabs originally had four hundred thousand soldiers, but now they only have around one hundred thousand. Given these truly terrible losses, they should be the impatient ones, not us."
Although the Ferghanans had taken severe losses in this war, Banahan was still extremely confident in the Great Tang. The Ferghanans were suffering momentary losses, but they would receive very long-term gains.
The nomadic people of the steppe were different from the agricultural people of the Central Plains, and they had different attitudes toward life and death. For mercenaries, dying in such a vast and grandiose war was a glorious warrior's death, and if the Ferghanan tribe would be able to flourish and prosper in the future due to their efforts, their deaths would be even more worth it.
The Gangke King took a few steps forward and spoke, clearly extremely concerned. "It's not that simple. The crux of this battle is not the Arabs' one hundred thousand soldiers or the fact that they'll be attacking, but Qutaybah. If we can't kill Qutaybah, then it won't matter if we choose to sit back or go out and attack them. He just needs to swing his sword once to end all our efforts."
The Gangke King's personality and his education in the Central Plains allowed him to pick out the critical details of this war.
The Gangke King's words immediately silenced the hall as everyone began to think.
There was no doubting Qutaybah's strength. He was like Mount Tai itself, pressing down over everyone's head and making it impossible to breathe.
If they did not resolve this problem, the Great Tang would find it very difficult to claim true victory, because Qutaybah and Abu Muslim would continue to muster soldiers and come again and again. Until this threat was removed, the Great Tang would never be able to rest easy and Talas could fall at any moment.
Everyone in the hall was strenuously scouring their mind for ideas, but martial arts differed from strategy and tactics. There was little trickery to speak of, only a contest of flesh and fists. Defeating Qutaybah was far easier said than done.
Gradually, all their brows began to furrow, even Wang Chong's. His eyes swept over the model again and again, taking in every hill, mountain, plain, and fortification, even the distant Black Forest. Wang Chong had inspected this model of Talas so many times that he knew it like the back of his hand.
But when Wang Chong's gaze swept over the city of Talas, he suddenly had an idea.
"Lord Gao, General Cheng, I have a method that might be able to kill Qutaybah," Wang Chong suddenly said, raising his head.
Wang Chong's simple words immediately set off a storm in everyone's minds.
Gao Xianzhi, Cheng Qianli, the Gangke King, Su Hanshan, and all the others turned to Wang Chong, their eyes brimming with shock.
Everything could be leveled with intelligence and stratagem except strength.
But if Wang Chong really had a way to kill Qutaybah, then they didn't need to worry about anyone else. Abu Muslim, Aybak, the Tibetans, the Western Turks… none of them were any match for the Great Tang.
"I'm about fifty percent confident in its success, but I will need everyone to agree and work together with me!"
Wang Chong immediately began to explain his plan.
Although Wang Chong didn't seem to be treating his words very seriously, everyone else was amazed by his plan.
Not even the boldest of them would have thought of such an unconventional idea, and none of them were able to speak for quite some time. The Gangke King, Banahan, Xi Yuanqing, and Lou Shiyi all gawked at Wang Chong in wonder.
"Crazy! Insane!" Xi Yuanqing finally blurted out. "Lord Protector-General, if it weren't you proposing this, I would have taken the speaker to be a madman."
Xi Yuanqing had worked together with Wang Chong before, but he still found this Wang Chong to be rather strange. Such madness and boldness were enough to leave a deep impression on anyone. Xi Yuanqing had heard many legends and rumors about Wang Chong, but the rumours did not measure up to the real thing. Wang Chong's audacity and daring were far more astonishing than the tales.
"Although it's insane, isn't the plan still plausible?" Cheng Qianli finally said after thinking it over. "And it's not like we have any better plan."
"General Cheng speaks reason. This one also believes that Lord Protector-General's plan is plausible."
Guli couldn't help but speak here, a rarity in this sort of strategy meeting.
"Wang Chong, let's do as you propose. I will handle the other aspects."
At this time, Gao Xianzhi hammered in the final nail and made his decision.
"If the Arabs attack, this will be our only opportunity!"
With these final words, Gao Xianzhi's eyes swept over the people in the hall like a lightning bolt.
Everyone quickly agreed. Wang Chong and Gao Xianzhi had the highest status in Talas, and if the two commanders agreed, there would naturally be no objections to the matter.
"Since there are no objections, let's begin!"
After one more glance at the assembled officers, Gao Xianzhi began to discuss the specifics of the plan.
Time swiftly flew by, and the expected final decisive battle came much more quickly than anticipated.
Rumble! Tens of thousands of warhorses charged out of a churning cloud of dust. Dawn had barely broken when the last one hundred thousand soldiers of the trilateral alliance arrived on the battlefield of Talas, stopping some seventy thousand feet from the first defense line.
"They came very quickly!"
Behind the high steel walls, Wang Chong, Gao Xianzhi, Wang Yan, and the Demonic Emperor Old Man stood side by side, gazing at the distant tide of Arab soldiers, cold light flitting through their eyes.
The sky was so gloomy and overcast that it seemed like it was going to collapse.
From their position, all they could see was a dense sea of Arab, Tibetan, and Western Turkic soldiers, even after the terrible losses the three had suffered. The one hundred thousand soldiers left to the trilateral alliance still presented an intimidating force on the battlefield.
In the middle of this vast army of cavalry, six banners fluttered in the air, exerting immense psychological pressure.
Warhorses neighed uneasily as if ready to charge at any moment. The air was extremely grim and solemn.
The Arabs had spent all of last night stationed some several dozen li away, so everyone knew that they would eventually come back. But nobody had expected them to arrive on the battlefield at daybreak. This meant that they had made their decision and begun to march in the middle of the night.
Such efficiency could only be called incredible, and the resolve of the Arabs, Tibetans, and Western Turks was obvious for all to see!
A loud voice rang over the battlefield. Creeeak! The ballista bolts were loaded onto the strings, their sharp points aimed at the trilateral alliance's army.
All the ballista soldiers appeared calm, but they were actually extremely nervous. Only they knew that there were only seven-thousand-some ballista bolts. Each ballista could basically only fire once.
The opponents this time had simply been too powerful. Their superb armor coupled with their enormous numbers meant that they had consumed far more ballista bolts than expected. None of them had ever imagined that they would one day see the vast piles of ballista bolts dwindle away to nothing.
Once they ran out of ballista bolts, no one dared to imagine how they would deal with the charging Arab soldiers. But when they turned to that aloof figure, all of them calmed back down.
As ballista soldiers taking part in this crucial battle of Talas, all of them understood that they weren't right for the job. They were just a bunch of bandits and brigands that relied on robbery and plunder to make a living.
But Su Hanshan trusted them unreservedly, pushing aside all opposition to let them man the extremely important ballistae, time and time again placing himself at the most dangerous area.