The Human Emperor Chapter 615
Chapter 615: The Decisive Battle
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
The Annan Protectorate army's water problem was now quite severe, with Dalun Ruozan's surprise attack having proved highly effective. On almost the same day, Wang Chong's army found itself with not enough water to use.
Right now, even a high-ranking general like Luo Ji was finding his skin to be dry and his lips cracking. From this, one could easily imagine the severity of the army's water problem.
At present, the number of cooking fires lit by the Annan Protectorate army was not even one-tenth of what it used to be, and the drinking water for horses was under even stricter limits.
The already-plummeting morale was continuing to drop, and all the soldiers were concerned and fearful. At this very moment, Dalun Ruozan chose to spend every day wasting water to disturb the Annan Protectorate army.
"Although this a simple move, it's rather effective. We really don't have any countermeasure for it!" Old Eagle worriedly said as he peered down the mountain.
The Great Tang's water problem was no longer any secret. Even the lowest shield soldiers knew by now that the army didn't have much water left. Meanwhile, Dalun Ruozan was having people go up to the front every day and brashly use water to bathe and wash horses, provoking all the Tang soldiers.
Already in dire need of water, every person only felt their lips getting drier, their thirst more intense.
This was an instinctual reaction that was completely uncontrollable.
Even though they all knew that this was a battlefield where life and death were at stake, they still could not control their reactions.
Morale was wavering, and from the summit, even Old Eagle could sense the restlessness and unease.
"Kill the horses!" Wang Chong suddenly said.
"What?" Old Eagle asked in consternation, his brain still processing the order.
"Kill a few of the warhorses and use their blood to temporarily relieve the thirst. This is the only practical solution available to us right now," Wang Chong sternly said.
"But if we don't have warhorses, what will happen to Young Master's plans? In addition, the Annan Protectorate army doesn't have many warhorses in the first place."
Old Eagle was stunned. He had never expected Wang Chong to propose this kind of plan.
In the previous battles, the cavalry that Wang Chong had left in reserve on the summit had played an extremely important role, perhaps even reversing the course of the battle. The most elite force of Mengshe Zhao, the Dragon Son Corps led by Fengjiayi, had almost pierced straight through the entire Tang army and reached the summit.
In the end, it was Wang Chong's sudden strike of cavalry that had seized upon their weakness and cut the Dragon Son Corps in two, robbing it of its sharpness. A third of the Dragon Son Corps had died in battle, and even Fengjiayi himself had almost died on the mountain.
It was only through the dedicated efforts and protection of his subordinates that he had managed to escape.
Without warhorses, the Great Tang would lose much of its ability to maneuver.
"Just slaughter only a portion of them. Right now, delaying for one day is one extra day, and our competition is about who can last the longest. Pass on my order. Starting from now, daily water consumption will be measured in drops. Unless it is necessary, we can't afford to waste a single drop of water," Wang Chong said.
For an army of sixty thousand to measure daily water consumption by the drop was simply unthinkable for a regular army. But there was nothing else that could be done. In the past, such an order would definitely have provoked a mass panic.
But after all of Dalun Ruozan's persistent efforts, the army was now fine with this measure.
He could be considered to have made the wrong move.
"Your subordinate understands."
Old Eagle nodded.
"Besides, Dalun Ruozan's situation won't be much better than ours!"
Standing under the banner, Wang Chong looked at the opposing camp and suddenly smiled.
Dalun Ruozan was expending a great deal of effort, bringing pots, bags, and barrels of water to the base of the mountain. In front of the Annan Protectorate army, he would have his soldiers pour the water away, or use it to take baths or wash horses.
But Wang Chong didn't need to do anything, as Dalun Ruozan's own situation was already bad enough.
When lacking water, one simply had to begin rationing it.
What used to be one bag every day was now five, six, seven, or eight drops of water distributed twice a day. Though hard to endure, this was still bearable. But what would one do if one didn't have cow or sheep meat and couldn't get used to the diet of agricultural societies?
How could those people who used to eat cow and sheep every day eat rice? Eat vegetables? In their eyes, this was nothing but 'grass'!
Other people might have been able to endure through it, but the Tibetans were a fierce, courageous, and pugnacious people. They weren't the kind of people who could hold out.
From his vantage point on the mountain, Wang Chong could see that the front ranks of the army were calm. But a massive ruckus was occurring in the rear of the Mengshe-Tsang army. Even from this distance, Wang Chong could still hear the turmoil.
In a single day, Wang Chong had personally seen seventeen or eighteen quarrels break out, all of them between the Mengshe Zhao and -Tsang soldiers. Wang Chong could guess that the Tibetans, lacking food, had immediately gone to request food from Mengshe Zhao.
After all, they were nominally allies, and -Tsang was sending out soldiers for the sake of Mengshe Zhao.
Alas, the two sides spoke different languages, so this resulted in senseless quarrels, even evolving into brawls that served to only deepen misunderstandings.
If this continued, Wang Chong would only need to watch as Mengshe Zhao and -Tsang tore at each other, injuring their own soldiers.
Dalun Ruozan, even with your fiendish intelligence, you probably never thought that you would be attacked like this. If you want to deal with the Great Tang, you have to pay the price! No matter what, -Tsang will never be the victor! Wang Chong silently thought as he looked into the distance.
"I need a moment of quiet. Old Eagle, I'll leave this place to you."
With these words, Wang Chong turned around and left the summit.
At the base of the mountain, in his tent, Dalun Ruozan's situation was far worse than Wang Chong had imagined.
A snowstorm of letters had been falling into Dalun Ruozan's hands, all of them the countless reports sent back from the scouts he had dispatched to the border between the plateau and the Great Tang's southwest. The plateau was currently experiencing an unprecedented outbreak of plague.
Hundreds of thousands, even millions, of cows and sheep were being felled by the disease. Although cows and sheep served as the primary food source of the Tibetans, once they became infected with the plague, they could no longer be consumed.
If the meat of the infected livestock were consumed, even a human would get infected and die, and there would be no way to save them.
Dalun Ruozan had needed hundreds of thousands of soldiers to force Wang Chong and the Tang into a severe water shortage, but Wang Chong had managed to cast more than half of the plateau into famine.
The plague was currently spreading out from the lands of the Ngari Royal Lineage to the rest of the plateau, its effects so large that even the Tsenpo was alarmed. The Tsenpo had already transferred a large number of soldiers to the areas bordering the lands of the Ngari Royal Lineage and set up a blockade with orders to kill any wandering cow or sheep. Soldiers had even been transferred out of the army fighting with Geshu Han.
It was easy to imagine the severity of the situation.
Even these measures could not guarantee that no fish would escape the net.
As Dalun Ruozan read through the reports, he felt more and more surprised. If it weren't for the fact that the southwest war had now entered a critical stage, he would have already ordered the entire army to withdraw.
"This Wang Clan son!!"
Dalun Ruozan clenched his fists, and veins bulged out of his forehead.
As the wise minister of the Ngari Royal Lineage, Dalun Ruozan was always grasping a feather fan, which gave him the affectation of an elegant and refined person that was difficult to anger. But this matter had completely exceeded the limits of what Dalun Ruozan could accept.
Brashly spreading plague, killing hundreds of thousands of livestock, and turning the entire plateau into a land of plague If he didn't know his opponent so well, he would found it very difficult to imagine that a boy not even seventeen years old could come up with such a plan.
Dalun Ruozan had always believed that Wang Chong was a strategic genius who still lacked experience, but now he knew that the youth on the mountain possessed a far crueler and more frightening heart than he had imagined.
"Have we found out where that unit of a thousand-some elite cavalry is?" Dalun Ruozan said.
"Reporting to Great Minister: they arrive and leave with no trace, and they are extremely powerful. The tribal nomads of the plateau are incapable of stopping them. In addition, their weapons are extremely sharp, breaking our weapons with just a single touch."
A messenger had been kneeling at the entrance of the tent for some time.
Dalun Ruozan closed his eyes, an idea slowly forming in his mind.
The messenger remembered something and raised his head. "Oh, Great Minister, the experts of the Great Snow Mountain are in the middle of pursuing them."
Dalun Ruozan looked up to the canopy of the tent, but the expression on his face remained unchanged. If that unit of cavalry still remained unaddressed after all this time, then it was clear that they had found some method to escape the clutches of the Great Snow Mountain.
In addition, this famine spreading over the plateau would probably affect -Tsang for years, even decades. The plateau was already a living hell.
The damage was done, so any measures were simply too late.
"Pass on my order. This news is forbidden from being spread. Until the war is over, not a single person is allowed to know what happened on the plateau."
Dalun Ruozan closed his eyes, his clothes trembling. In his decades as Great Minister, he had never once been forced into such a state.
"Yes, Great Minister."
The messenger rose and was prepared to leave, but he paused a moment before fully standing up.
"Speak! What did you think of?" Dalun Ruozan said without even opening his eyes.
The messenger worked up the courage to turn to the Great Minister, his eyes filled with concern. "Great Minister, what if that brat on the summit He knows how to speak our Tibetan tongue." That boy of the Wang Clan had been the architect of everything. Right now was the best time for him to spread this news.
Dalun Ruozan immediately refuted the notion. He raised his head, his eyes still shut, his face emotionless.
"Although he spread the plague, if he's truly smart, he'll never say it. No one would ever believe him if he did."
Many people knew that there was a problem with the Tibetan food supply, but no one could have imagined that this had to do with an unprecedented plague ravaging the Tibetan Plateau.
Because no one had ever imagined it, they would never believe it, especially since Wang Chong was an enemy.