The Human Emperor Chapter 613
Chapter 613: The Decisive Battle
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
The news from the plateau traveled much faster than expected.
Dalun Ruozan was ruminating over a model in the tent when a Tibetan officer entered and kneeled on the ground.
"Great Minister, the quartermaster has sent word that all of our cow and sheep meat has been consumed."
"What's going on? Do you need to report such a minor trifle to me?"
Dalun Ruozan turned his head and frowned, a look of displeasure on his face.
"If our food stores are exhausted, why don't you have the Tie'A tribe in the rear send up more?"
"Reporting to Great Minister: the people of the Tie'A tribe have not driven any cows or sheep to our area for more than half a month now."
Dalun Ruozan finally turned completely around, a somewhat confused look on his face.
"Then the Luosili Tribe?"
The Tibetan logistics network had never been given to only one tribe. At the same time, twenty to thirty tribes, and at times even a hundred tribes, would be working to supply food to the army.
"The people of the Luosili tribe have also not appeared for ten-some days now."
"Then the Daka, the Lalan, the Feiqi?"
Dalun Ruozan listed off the names of several tribes.
"Eight or nine days ago, we lost communication with them."
Dalun Ruozan furrowed his brow, a sense of unease growing in his heart. This was not the first war between -Tsang and the Great Tang, but this sort of logistical problem had never occurred before.
All the tribes of -Tsang should have understood what food meant for any army, and delivering food to the soldiers was the mission of every tribe. Thus, unlike the Great Tang, the Tibetans never had any shortage of supplies.
One tribe failing to promptly deliver food was strange enough, and all of these tribes failing to appear meant that there was definitely a problem.
"Send someone to the rear and investigate what's going on!"
Dalun Ruozan's heart began to rapidly beat, an ill foreboding taking root in his mind.
Dalun Ruozan didn't need to wait long. An hour later, a panicked messenger charged into the tent.
"Reporting! Great Minister, we just received news from the plateau. A unit of Great Tang soldiers charged up to the plateau and began to wreak havoc and spread the plague. All the tribes on the plateau have suffered severe losses, and the number of sheep and cattle that have been lost is innumerable!"
The messenger kneeled on the ground, his head almost pressed against the floor, not daring to meet Dalun Ruozan's gaze. Massive beads of sweat were dripping from his forehead and plopping to the ground.
Dalun Ruozan's body shuddered. Seizing the messenger, he began to shake him back and forth.
"What nonsense are you saying? How could such a thing be possible?"
"Great Minister, it's true! A Yege tribesman fleeing the plateau told me. I confirmed the fact from him three times. It's absolutely true!"
The kneeling messenger had a pale face, but his voice was extremely firm, each word clearly pronounced.
"Those people invaded the plateau more than half a month ago, and they even dispatched people to seal off the road to the plateau, allowing no news to come out. All the tribesmen that wanted to inform us died on the mountain paths. He only barely managed to escape."
"More than half a month ago?"
Dalun Ruozan's heart sank. Wasn't that when Wang Yan and Xianyu Zhongtong were still besieged in Lion City with the Annan Protectorate army?
In a flash, Dalun Ruozan thought of that young figure standing on the summit. If both Wang Yan and Xianyu Zhongtong were besieged in Lion City, then the only person left who could pull off such a feat was Wang Chong.
Dalun Ruozan's heart was ice-cold.
"He found our weakness!"
More than half a month ago, Dalun Ruozan had only thoughts for the Annan Protectorate army within Lion City. The reinforcements being led down by Li Zhengyi from the north had already been scattered to the winds by Huoshu Huicang's sudden assault.
The roads to the south were guarded by layers of Tibetan cavalry. Dalun Ruozan never could have imagined that Wang Chong would succeed in breaking through the Tibetan defensive lines, much less send a unit of soldiers to kill their way up to the plateau.
As Dalun Ruozan felt his body chill, all he could think of was Wang Chong's final words to him.
'He who laughs last, laughs best!'
As more and more details were revealed, Dalun Ruozan grew ever paler, his visage uglier and uglier. The situation on the plateau was much worse than he had imagined.
The sheep plague! Dalun Ruozan had never thought that Wang Chong would use this sort of method against him. This was not a strategy targeted at people, but at the cattle and sheep of the plateau.
No one on the plateau would die to this sort of sheep plague, but Dalun Ruozan would have much preferred for Wang Chong to target his army instead.
The people of the plateau had to eat cow or sheep meat for every meal, and even their highland steeds were fed this meat. And unlike the Great Tang of the Central Plains, the cows and sheep of -Tsang were raised together in massive flocks, one tribe possessing hundreds of thousands, even up to a million animals.
Once a plague broke out, a disaster of unthinkable proportions was bound to follow.
"Great Minister! Great Minister!"
A voice came from the distance, rousing Dalun Ruozan from his daze. Opening his eyes, he realized that the messenger was still kneeling, maintaining his posture from before.
"I understand. You may go now.
"Someone! Request a meeting with the King of Mengshe Zhao. Tell him that I have something I need to request from him."
At this moment, Dalun Ruozan could only think of Mengshe Zhao and Geluofeng. Mengshe Zhao belonged to the lineage of the Great Tang, and the only person Dalun Ruozan could think of that could resolve the plateau's crisis was Geluofeng.
A fire was blazing in a large tent in the Mengshe Zhao camp, its flames clearly illuminating the faces of the people inside. Geluofeng's eyes were filled with shock after hearing the reason for Dalun Ruozan's visit.
Not even a powerful king like Geluofeng had ever imagined that such a thing could happen on the Tibetan Plateau. Someone had actually thought about using this time to invade the plateau and strike at -Tsang's interior!
This news was like a slap across all their faces.
Wang Chong's art of war was like a heavenly steed coursing across the skies, so miraculous that none of them could ever imagine its limits.
"Great Minister, I understand your meaning. As an ally, I will do my best to help you. However, the people of our Mengshe Zhao primarily eat rice, and the meat they consume is pig. We never had many cows or sheep in the first place, so we rarely suffered from plague.
"Thus, when I was studying medicine in the Great Tang, the methods to deal with this sort of obscure sheep plague were not of interest of me and I never perused any such texts on the matter."
Geluofeng was attempting to be as tactful as possible. In truth, Geluofeng was sure that even in the Great Tang, finding an animal doctor who could treat the sheep plague would be no easy task.
This sort of sheep plague was far too rare amongst agricultural societies.
"I understand. Then this Dalun Ruozan will thank Your Majesty in advance," Dalun Ruozan said.
While the two were conversing, a Mengshe Zhao messenger suddenly barged into the tent, instantly attracting the gaze of everyone inside.
"Your Majesty, it's bad! The Tibetans have begun to fight with our soldiers!"
The lack of food in the Tibetan camp had finally caused problems. The ferocious and pugnacious Tibetans were urged on by their hunger and naturally began to look to their allies, the people of Mengshe Zhao.
The language barrier meant that the two sides quickly fell into conflict. Geluofeng and Dalun Ruozan quickly hurried over and pacified the conflict, but everyone knew that this was only the beginning.
"Young Master, they've truly begun to quarrel!"
High up on the summit, a banner flapped in the wind. Old Eagle and Wang Chong stood under the banner, both of them looking down the mountain.
Old Eagle had an elated look on his face while Wang Chong remained quiet.
"Young Master, it seems like Li Siye and the others managed to succeed," Old Eagle commented to Wang Chong.
Old Eagle was fully aware of Li Siye's mission. Wang Chong had earlier said that if the Tibetans and Mengshe Zhao began to quarrel, it meant that the Tibetans were running short of food.
In other words, Li Siye's operation in their rear had been a complete success.
Wang Chong nodded, his hair gently floating in the night wind. The pair had stood in the darkness for a long time, and they had observed seventeen quarrels by the light of the campfires. If someone told him that the Tibetans and Mengshe Zhao were completely fine, Wang Chong would have never believed them.
"War is cruel. Now, it's time to see what Dalun Ruozan will choose."
The Annan Protectorate army had already been forced to the wall by the lack of water, its morale plunging. Wang Chong could clearly sense the transformation in his army.
However, without sufficient supplies of cow and sheep meat, the Tibetans had run out of food and fallen into the same situation as the Annan Protectorate army.
Neither side had any advantage to speak of. All that mattered now was to see who could last the longest.
"Young Master, do Tibetans really not eat rice?" Old Eagle asked, his brow creasing. "If it's about food, Mengshe Zhao is prosperous enough to provide a large amount of food."
"Ha, that's impossible."
Wang Chong chuckled.
"The eating habits of the Tibetans are not so easy to change. Would you be able to get used to it if I had you eat meat for every meal and forbade you from eating rice? And unlike us, the Tibetans don't have a custom of cultivating rice paddies. In other words, they've never eaten rice before."
"But doesn't Mengshe Zhao also have pigs? If it's only about meat, can't pork serve as a substitute?" Old Eagle hesitantly said.
"The Tibetans have so many people and need to take three meals a day. Do you think Mengshe Zhao can raise that many pigs? It's just a cup of water over a burning cart!" Wang Chong indifferently said.
Old Eagle stared blankly at him, unable to speak for a long time.
He was right!
Pigs were different from cows and sheep. While cows and sheep could be released as herds to freely graze, no one raised pigs like this. As a result, the number of pigs would always be much smaller than the number of cows and sheep.
Even in a place as rich and prosperous as the Great Tang, a normal person was lucky to eat a few meals with pork in a single month, much less in Mengshe Zhao.
The number of pigs in Mengshe Zhao was far smaller than in the Great Tang. Even if this number was enough to supply Mengshe Zhao, how many people could it support? And for how long?
And could the Tibetans, whose stomachs were used to cow and sheep meat, really get used to pork?