The Human Emperor Chapter 620
Chapter 620: The Decisive Battle The Final Negotiation
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
"Your Majesty, I understand what you're saying. The mountain springs will run out one day, but when will that day come? Ten days from now? A month? Maybe longer? What if it is ten days or a month?"
Dalun Ruozan appeared calm, but even the nearby messenger could hear the shaking in his voice.
Geluofeng had nothing to say.
What a frightening youth!
As Geluofeng looked up at the gushing water, he suddenly understood something. This was a show of power, a silent pressure. And he had to admit that Wang Chong had truly succeeded.
He could take the risk, but -Tsang and Mengshe Zhao could not wait.
"Great Minister is correct. We cannot wait!"
A voice came from the side. Duan Gequan's voice had decided things once and for all.
The blaring of a yak horn sounded across the skies. After three days, thick smoke once more began to rise from the base of the mountain as the entirety of the Mengshe-Tsang army gathered.
The dark clouds of war once more clamored over the earth!
This was yet another battle between the Great Tang and Mengshe-Tsang forces, and it was certain to be the last. This time, no one could retreat. They would fight until death or victory, until the final soldier, until they bled the last drop of blood the decisive battle!
The thundering of a drum rose up from the mountain, followed by a second, a third, a fourth The sounds of drumming gradually spread over the mountain like drops of rain, spreading as far as one hundred li.
The dark clouds of war began to writhe and roil.
The remaining sixty thousand soldiers of the Great Tang's southwest whirred to life like some massive war machine.
This war of the southwest had left all sides, whether Tang, Mengshe Zhao, or -Tsang, extremely fatigued. Their strength was far from what it had been at the start.
The Great Tang had experienced a severe water shortage.
The Tibetans had experienced a severe food shortage and then been troubled by diarrhea.
But even so, the air was even tenser than it had been on the first day. Whether it was -Tsang, Mengshe Zhao, or the Great Tang, all sides were well aware that this conflict over the southwest involving three countries had finally come to an end.
There would be no more probes or battles. This would be the! Final! Battle!
"Young Master Wang, before we begin the battle, can I ask you a question?"
In front of the dense ranks of the Mengshe-Tsang army, two ornate golden chariots stood. Dalun Ruozan and Huoshu Huicang stood in one of them, while in the other stood Geluofeng and Duan Gequan.
Dalun Ruozan and Huoshu Huicang stood slightly in front, Geluofeng and Duan Gequan slightly behind!
Unlike their first meeting, Dalun Ruozan had put down his feather fan. He was no longer as easygoing as he was on that first day, and he was now even more sincere and calm. Both sides had used every method at their disposal, and Dalun Ruozan had nothing more to say.
Wang Chong was a suitable opponent!
And he was a powerful foe, one who could sit on the same level.
In his heart, Dalun Ruozan had already put aside his age and was treating him as an existence similar to himself!
"Great Minister, please speak!"
On the summit, Wang Yan stood calmly in front of the banner, Wang Yan and Xianyu Zhongtong standing to his left and right, and the rest of the Great Tang generals behind them.
With this last and decisive battle, all the commanders and high-ranking generals of the Great Tang stood together, in a distant standoff with the high-ranking generals of the Mengshe-Tsang army.
At this stage of the battle, all of them had understood something.
This would be the final such conversation held between the two sides!
"At seventeen years of age, no one can reach the level of military strategy that Young Master has achieved. The resolve, breadth of mind, daring, foresight these are all not things someone of this age should have. Dalun Ruozan believes himself to be well-read in all the classics of the Central Plains, knowing all of them by heart. In this aspect, few can compare. But Dalun Ruozan has never seen anything like Young Master's art of war.
"Before the decisive battle, does Young Master mind saying where Young Master learned this art of war from?"
Dalun Ruozan looked up to the summit, his voice resounding through the sky.
Wang Chong's appearance was like a comet streaking across the sky, appearing out of nowhere and completely altering the course of the war. He had dragged the Mengshe-Tsang army away from its certain victory and brought it to this point.
And the art of war he utilized was itself an enigma. No one could match the strategies and insights he had revealed, and they served to wrap his body in a befuddling fog.
Just what sort of person could raise this sort of disciple? Where had this understanding of military thought come from?
All these questions formed a fog that had lain thick over Dalun Ruozan's heart from the start of this battle until the very end.
Dalun Ruozan had no hope of hearing an answer, but he was surprised.
"Let me answer this question for you."
A thunderous voice came from beside Wang Chong. Xianyu Zhongtong had volunteered to speak.
"Dalun Ruozan, you are a renowned minister of -Tsang and a veteran general of the southwest, so you should have heard of this name, right?"
Dalun Ruozan's heart sank as countless gazes accompanied him in turning to Xianyu Zhongtong.
"The Great Tang's Su Zhengchen! That person is Young Master Wang's true master!"
The name of Su Zhengchen was like a thunderclap exploding over everyone's heads. Dalun Ruozan, Huoshu Huicang, and Geluofeng, these three powerhouses of the south, all paled. Even Duan Gequan's face turned completely white, his body clearly beginning to tremble.
"This is impossible!"
Dalun Ruozan's eyes went wide as he looked incredulously up at the summit. This news was far more concerning to him than the war of the southwest.
Su Zhengchen was a nightmarish existence for the people of the Tibetan Plateau. When Dalun Ruozan was just a child, he had heard of this name.
If Wang Zhongsi was the Great Tang's War God who struck fear in the hearts of all the people of the Tibetan Plateau, someone who even made the Tsenpo restless and uneasy, then Su Zhengchen was an even more terrifying existence, the Demon King of the Central Plains!
The terrifying legends of Su Zhengchen had been passed on through generation after generation of -Tsang, growing only more dreadful with time.
This person had left the deepest brands of terror on the Tibetan Plateau. His story could even be traced back to the Tsenpo of several generations ago.
This was an existence that everyone would pale at when they spoke of him. Even the mere mention of his name would unsettle them.
"Su Zhengchen died several decades ago, so how could he get a disciple?"
Dalun Ruozan's instinctive reaction was disbelief, that Xianyu Zhongtong was lying.
"That's right! I spent almost ten years in the capital, and I heard that the Su Estate went extinct long ago," a voice added in from the side. "Su Zhengchen had no descendants, and its gate hasn't opened in decades. Even the ministers of court say that Su Zhengchen is dead, so where would another Su Zhengchen come from?" The one who found this news most impossible was Fengjiayi. As a child, he had been a hostage in the capital, so he knew all the secrets of that place.
Fengjiayi could never believe that Wang Chong was War God Su Zhengchen's successor.
"Hahaha, Dalun Ruozan, I've given you the answer you wanted. As for whether you want to believe it, that's up to you. But there is one thing I have to tell you: Senior Su is still alive. The capital has already confirmed this fact without a doubt."
Xianyu Zhongtong heartily laughed.
After all the time he had spent in the southwest, he was well aware of how much -Tsang feared Su Zhengchen, so how could he relinquish this chance to worsen the Tibetan morale?
"In addition, Dalun Ruozan, who else do you think besides Senior Su Zhengchen would be a suitable master for a student like Young Master Wang?"
The base of the mountain was eerily quiet. Dalun Ruozan, Huoshu Huicang, Geluofeng, and Duan Gequan were all quiet.
He was right!
Wang Chong was only a seventeen-year-old boy, but his grasp of the art of war was enough for him to stand on the level of Dalun Ruozan, or perhaps even surpass him. No normal person could be his master.
But with Su Zhengchen in the mix, if one claimed that Su Zhengchen was Wang Chong's master, then all the pieces would fit.
"Young Master Wang has a renowned master, truly worthy of Dalun Ruozan's admiration. But I have a phrase that I wonder if Young Master is willing to hear?"
Dalun Ruozan took two steps forward.
"Great Minister can say whatever he wishes," Wang Chong said with a faint smile.
Both sides had already used all their cards. No matter what sort of scheme Dalun Ruozan had now, it would be useless.
"Young Master is truly a talented individual, and not even Dalun Ruozan can compare to your grasp of the art of war, and at such a young age. Alas, your heart is too vicious. I hear that the Great Tang rules with benevolence and filial piety, and that the Confucians propose ruling through ceremony. By doing such a thing, is Young Master not worried about retribution?"
With these final words, Dalun Ruozan's eyes constricted, his eyes shining with the light of loathing. In this war, Wang Chong had actually dispatched a group of soldiers to the plateau to spread the plague.
The lands of the Ngari Royal Lineage were now a living hell, covered in corpses and ruined tribes. An unprecedented disaster was currently creeping over the plateau.
And this plague was still spreading, with no one knowing when it would ever end.
Even Dalun Ruozan was inwardly shocked at the ruthlessness, resolve, and boldness that Wang Chong had showed. And these massive losses made Dalun Ruozan clench his teeth in hatred. It was quite the show of self-restraint to only voice this question now.
To his surprise, Wang Chong smiled at this question.
"The righteous do not grasp for wealth, and the kind do not command soldiers," Wang Chong declared. "As long as I can win this war, what do I care if I suffer the retribution Great Minister speaks of?"
Ministers did not seek wealth and generals did not mind death. Dalun Ruozan was still looking down on him. If he cared about his safety, well-being, or reputation, he would not have expended all his fortune, rushed across a thousand li, and thrown himself into this war in which he was bound to be hopelessly outnumbered.
When he left the capital, he had harbored no hopes of coming back alive. Dalun Ruozan was speaking to him of benevolence, Confucianism, and retribution, but what meaning did these things have to Wang Chong?
A general had to support the ruler and repay the kindness of the people. If one cared about reputation, how could one be a general?
The blustery winds caused the banner to snap in the air. Wang Chong stood beneath the banner, his expression clear and fearless. For a moment, even Dalun Ruozan was transfixed by this expression.
He had imagined all sorts of possible reactions, but he had never imagined that Wang Chong would be so composed and easygoing.