The Human Emperor Chapter 601
Chapter 601: The Decisive Battle Dalun Ruozans Plan
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
Wang Chong was inwardly shocked. It had been quite a few days since he had last seen the -Tsang Great Minister. There was a saying that went, 'Visitors do not come with good intentions and those with good intentions do not visit.' For Dalun Ruozan to walk out at this moment could not mean anything good.
"Great Minister, don't come if you've only come to speak pleasantries."
Wang Chong chose to speak first, his voice resounding through the surroundings.
"Young Master, long time no see."
Dalun Ruozan had a leisurely look on his face, beaming as he slowly waved his feather fan.
Wang Chong felt his heart give a fierce thump as he saw the look on Dalun Ruozan's face. For someone to be so easygoing after the heavy casualties inflicted in this battle was definitely strange.
"Great Minister is in a rather good mood!" Wang Chong said emotionlessly.
"Haha, Young Master also spent these last few days very peacefully!"
Dalun Ruozan was all smiles, his expression growing more and more relaxed.
"I truly wish to hide nothing from you. Today, this minister has come to tell Young Master one thing."
A pensive look appeared on Wang Chong's face.
"Great Minister is truly in a carefree and leisurely mood!"
"Haha, Young Master, do not misunderstand. This minister actually quite admires Young Master."
The happiness on Dalun Ruozan's face grew increasingly evident, but the feather fan in his hand was waving ever more slowly.
"Whether it's Lion City or this city of steel, Young Master's foresight and talent truly leave a deep impression. I see that Young Master came prepared, but this minister wishes to ask, has Young Master prepared enough water?"
With this final question, Dalun Ruozan put away his fan and grinned.
Wang Chong's pupils constricted as his complexion paled.
And the distant Dalun Ruozan had already retreated, leaving behind only a sonorous laughter that echoed through the battlefield.
On the summit, Wang Chong stood unmoving, a grim expression on his face. Gentle breezes caressed his body, all of them ice-cold.
Old Eagle walked out from the rear and anxiously asked, "Young Master, what's wrong?"
He discovered it!
This was the only thought left in Wang Chong's mind.
There was one massive flaw in Wang Chong's plan, and one that he could never fill no matter what he did: water. Rainfall was scarce in the southwest, and a torrential rain like the one from a few days ago was extremely rare.
But the food and water of nearly one hundred thousand soldiers was a problem that had to be addressed.
A water source was different from steel walls. Wang Chong could transport steel walls, but he couldn't transport a water source. And in order to deal with the Tibetans and Mengshe Zhao, Wang Chong had chosen this mountain as the site of the decisive battle, but this made it even more difficult for Wang Chong to obtain a source of water.
He could not address this deficiency no matter what he did.
Wang Chong had done his utmost to conceal this flaw, but in the end, Dalun Ruozan had still managed to realize it!
Standing under the banner, Wang Chong suddenly ordered, "Call Sir Zhang Shouzhi over."
Zhang Shouzhi arrived faster than he had expected, bowing to Wang Chong's back. Zhang Shouzhi's complexion was still pale, but his condition had still much improved after being forced into sleep.
In addition, Wang Chong had given him pills that could strengthen his body and supplement his vitality, which had also proved useful.
After a long period of silence, Wang Chong said, "Sir Zhang, how much water do we still have left? How much did Xu Qiqin prepare for us, and how long can the army last with it?"
"Lady Xu has already done her best to prepare for us a large number of water bags. But water is a very special thing and cannot be transported like armaments. In addition, we arrived here in advance and, as Young Master ordered, dug out many water-storing pools on the summit. We managed to collect a good deal of water from that downpour.
"In addition, Young Master had us arrive here in advance, and we managed to excavate a water source nearby, prepared before the battle. Thus, our water situation is actually rather decent.
"In addition, we stole quite a few water bags from the Mengshe Zhao camp in the night raid.
"However, the amount of water consumed by eighty to ninety thousand soldiers is no small sum. No matter how much water we could have stored up, it would still be a cup of water being used to put out a burning cart, utterly insufficient," Zhang Shouzhi explained.
Only he and Wang Chong knew the water situation for this army of ninety thousand, with everyone else unaware. This was for the express purpose of avoiding a panic. Water was not like food. Although it seemed insignificant, one had to use water every day.
One had to use it to make food, and drink it every day, as did the horses.
Without ample supplies of water, the army would encounter difficulties even more fatal than a lack of provisions. Crucially, by choosing this mountain as the site of the decisive battle, Wang Chong had foreordained that water would always be an innate and irreparable flaw.
He could have one or the other, but not both.
Dalun Ruozan had seized upon his lethal weakness.
"Tell me how long we can endure," Wang Chong calmly said.
"T- twelve days!" Zhang Shouzhi said.
Wang Chong frowned and asked once more. "Just how long is it?"
Zhang Shouzhi hesitated before gritting his teeth and finally speaking the truth. "Ten, no, at most nine days!"
Old Eagle, Chen Shusun, and the guards and messengers on the summit all paled. A moment ago, when Dalun Ruozan had come to speak with Wang Chong, they had already realized that something was wrong.
But only when they realized that they only had water for nine days did all of them understand that the problem was far more severe than they had imagined.
The atmosphere on the summit instantly became extremely oppressive.
Yet the entire summit was quiet. Everyone kept their mouths shut, not daring to say too much.
"So, in nine days, they'll begin a large-scale attack?" Old Eagle worriedly said.
"It won't be nine days. In five, at most six days, they'll begin their attack. Dalun Ruozan won't wait for us to run completely out of water to begin his attack," Wang Chong sternly said.
Dalun Ruozan wouldn't wait that long, nor would Geluofeng. In five days, the army would begin to feel the strain from the lack of water, and these changes would be clearly expressed through the state of the army.
If they hadn't known about this beforehand, the army would have remained unaffected. But it was precisely because Dalun Ruozan knew this that he had sought a meeting with Wang Chong.
And by the sixth day, the situation would have worsened, and the morale of his soldiers would clearly be wavering. The amount of water allowed to horses and soldiers would rapidly decrease, and everyone would be able to feel this.
But Wang Chong would be forced into this course of action.
Because the moment he altered his plan and continued to consume water on a large scale, Dalun Ruozan would alter his plans and wait for the seventh day. If he believed that Wang Chong would continue, then he would wait another. At the very most, given the normal rate at which the Annan Protectorate army consumed water, he wouldn't even have to wait until the ninth day.
And the moment the army had no water, the only thing awaiting it would be death.
"Young Master, what if we begin water restrictions? We might be able to last for twelve days," Zhang Shouzhi ventured.
"There's no need!"
Wang Chong immediately rejected the proposal.
"If we alter the plan, morale will drop, and we won't even have to wait for day five. Dalun Ruozan will immediately begin the assault. In addition, have you forgotten our objective here?"
Old Eagle and Chen Shusun both shivered, immediately reacting.
Wang Chong had once told them that a war had both a tactical and strategic side. Tactically, their goal was to resist the Mengshe-Tsang army and delay them here.
The result of this war was not merely decided by the outcomes of one or two battles. In Wang Chong's view, there was still one more factor that could decide the southwest war: the Imperial Court!
I wonder if Big Uncle or King Song have been able to do anything yet? Wang Chong quietly said to himself.
The Great Tang truly was on the decline, the long peace having caused it to slowly lose its initial sharpness. The current Great Tang, Wang Chong was sure, was definitely now facing troubles on all sides.
The Turks, Goguryeo, the Abbasid Caliphate, Charax Spasinu, and the kingdoms of the Western Regionsthese were the Great Tang's past foes or potential foes, and they were all working with Mengshe Zhao and -Tsang to hold down the Great Tang's armies.
But the Great Tang was still the Great Tang, and the resources it had accumulated over the centuries were still there.
Wang Chong was confident that as long as he could delay the Mengshe-Tsang army for a period of time, the Imperial Court would eventually dispatch reinforcements.
"How is it?"
Outside the Tibetan commander tent, everyone had gathered for a meeting. Dalun Ruozan and Geluofeng stood at the fore while Huoshu Huicang and Duan Gequan stood in the rear, and behind them were the other generals. Nearby, the mountain upon which the Great Tang was encamped loomed like a primordial beast, spanning their field of vision.
But everyone's eyes followed Dalun Ruozan's gaze to the smoke rising from the summit.
When the Great Tang army had its three meals each day, the commanders of both armies would promptly appear to observe the sight together. This had become one of the strange scenes in the Mengshe-Tsang army.
"The number of cooking fires hasn't decreased at all. The Tang are still not implementing water restrictions!" Fengjiayi said on the side.
As a hostage of the Great Tang, he had lived in its capital for a time, so he had an understanding of all aspects of their culture, from the art of war to Confucian learning. Thus, he had also somewhat understood how to determine the number of cooking fires.
"This is a reflection of the wisdom of that son of the Wang Clan!"
Dalun Ruozan sighed. Putting aside their opposing standpoints, Dalun Ruozan actually felt a deep admiration and praise for Wang Chong. This was certainly a powerful foe, and if he were allowed to completely mature, not even Dalun Ruozan knew just how far he would go.
But it was precisely for this reason that Dalun Ruozan could not allow him to leave alive.
"The current Tang army has already has its doubts stirred by my words. If he begins to implement water restrictions now, he might be able to stretch his water for a little longer, but the army will definitely start to panic. And this will only grow more severe as time passes, resulting in an even worse outcome than if he didn't implement water restrictions."
"But will this way actually work?" Fengjiayi asked in surprise.
"Of course it won't."
Dalun Ruozan chortled.
"No matter what he does now, it's all useless. This is his lethal weakness. Not even if he were the smartest person in the world would he be able to do anything about it.
"Your Majesty, the moment you've waited for is coming. In at most seven days, we can begin the general offensive."
Geluofeng roared with laughter.