The Human Emperor Chapter 694
Chapter 694: Li Siyes Problems
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
At Yang Hongchang's words, Wang Chong's eyes instantly brightened in surprise.
This was the first time Wang Chong was hearing this name.
On the future battlefield between the Great Tang and the Abbasid Caliphate, in that clash between the two great empires of the east and west, several names played extremely critical roles that altered the course of the battle. And one of these names was that of the Lord of Talas.
Although Gao Xianzhi was a foreigner, he was also the Anxi Protector-General, the elite Great General holding down the empire's northwest, one of the Twin Jades of the Empire. His strength was indisputable.
Wang Chong had once researched his accomplishments. Gao Xianzhi's most unique trait was his preference for cavalry. Soldiers valued speed, and an army that could quickly march one thousand li would often appear in a place the enemy would not expect.
But even the wisest man would have a flaw in his plans. The greatest defeat in Gao Xianzhi's life resulted from his underestimating the opponent. In the limited time available to him, he was unable to occupy Talas first.
This made it so that his tactic of a surprise assault across a thousand li became a protracted siege. And the one in Talas who resisted the Anxi Protectorate army, and delayed and tired Gao Xianzhi, was the Lord of Talas.
One misstep would lead to several more. Gao Xianzhi was a master of raids, but siege battles were his natural weakness. In the final analysis, it was precisely the battle with the Lord of Talas that led to Gao Xianzhi and the Anxi Protectorate army's ultimate defeat. As a result, the Great Tang lost more than three million square kilometers of territory and the centuries of effort it had invested into the Western Regions.
Few people knew about the Lord of Talas, and this was the first time Wang Chong had learned of his name.
"In your interactions with Sa'id, what did you think of him as a person?"
Wang Chong's brows rose as he voiced this question.
"This person has a superb reputation in the Western Regions and great prestige. I heard of a certain incident related to him in the Western Regions. Sa'id was doing business with someone and promised him a certain batch of goods. But later on, the person he had made the promise to died from illness. When Sa'id learned of this, he began to investigate the man, spending two whole years until he found the man's family and delivered the goods to his widow and son. He even left some money for the bereaved family.
"Because of this incident, Talas and the nearby merchants have a great deal of trust in him. They know that he always keeps his promises."
Yang Hongchang paused for a moment and then moved on.
"But in my interactions with him, I learned that the Lord of Talas is far from as simple as he seems. His rule is extremely harsh, and anyone who defies the law is never treated lightly. The number of maids, servants and merchants who have been executed in Talas is simply uncountable, so many people speak of him with both fear and respect.
"To take the Silk Road from the Great Tang to the Abbasid Caliphate requires crossing more than ten thousand li and many countries. As a result, many merchants choose to try and avoid any fees and taxes. But in Talas, all the Hu merchants turn in their taxes on time and without any prompting. No one dares to try avoiding the taxes. As a result, the area is very safe. This is extremely rare in a place as disorderly as the Western Regions."
Wang Chong said nothing, but his brow slowly creased.
The incident that Yang Hongchang had spoken of was certainly not good news for the Great Tang. A person like Sa'id would present a great disadvantage to the Great Tang in the upcoming war.
"Yang Hongchang, I want you to help me with something," Wang Chong suddenly said. "Are you willing?"
"Lord Marquis, please speak."
Yang Hongchang immediately bowed his head.
"I want you to take some people and enter Talas to help me watch the movements of the Abbasid Caliphate and Talas. No matter what happens, even if its the wind blowing the grass, I need you to promptly report it to me, especially if you see any strange movements amongst the Arabs," Wang Chong sternly said.
"This Lord Marquis, we Han look different from the Hu and are very obvious in a crowd of Hu. It's easy for us to be noticed, and in that situation, I'm afraid that it will be very difficult for us to gather any news. Moreover, if someone notices us and grows suspicious, it might even be difficult to preserve our lives," Yang Hongchang said, a distressed look on his face.
"Haha, the Hu have seventy-two kingdoms, so not all of them can be of one mind. Since Han are more liable to rouse suspicion, just find a few Hu. Sir Yang, you've done business in the Western Regions for so many years, so you should at least be able to hire some Hu, right?" Wang Chong said with a hearty laugh.
"This, even if it's Hu, they might not be of one mind with us. And it's often the case where they take the money and don't do the work," Yang Hongchang said doubtfully.
Wang Chong only grinned. He did not argue any further with Yang Hongchang, only gave a sum.
"Ten thousand taels of gold!"
"Twenty thousand taels of gold!"
Wang Chong raised two fingers and said, "Add to that an additional twenty percent to your quota of tea leaves and the waiving of taxes when your Yang Clan embarks for the Western Regions."
"Lord Marquis is wise and brave. This lowly person would definitely do his utmost to oversee the Hu and have them work for the Great Tang to watch Talas and the Arabs. The slightest movement, this lowly one guarantees, will be reported to Lord Marquis at the first opportunity. However, this lowly person's clan has recently been going through difficulties. If Lord Marquis adds an additional twenty percent for porcelain, this lowly one would truly be eternally grateful," Yang Hongchang said with a face full of 'sincerity'.
Wang Chong inwardly smiled. Merchants valued profit, and as this was a business deal, Yang Hongchang was frankly confessing that he didn't want to work for free. The Silk Road was the Road of Gold, and what Hu merchants bought the most of in the capital was silk and tea ware.
But for the sake of administration, the Imperial Court had placed a limit on silk and tea. Every great clan had a certain quota that they could not trade beyond.
That Yang Hongchang wished to obtain an additional quota for tea leaves and porcelain was no surprise. An additional twenty percent of these products sold every month was nearly a thousand taels of gold, and with time, this would be an astonishing sum.
"Deal!" Wang Chong lightly said, shooting a glance at Yang Hongchang.
"If you do this matter well, then in the future, the Yang Clan's caravans on the Silk Road can receive the escort of the Imperial Court's soldiers. In addition, you probably know that I plan to build a city for my fief on the Silk Road."
"It is known!"
Although Yang Hongchang was doing his best to hide it, his bright eyes still gave away the excitement in his heart. Anyone who did business on the Silk Road knew of the city Wang Chong spoke of.
But the Yang Clan had too little power to compete with the truly wealthy and influential clans. Thus, Yang Hongchang had not dared to broach the subject, but how could he not possibly have any designs?
"If you do this task well, then I can leave a few plots of land in that city for you. In the future, no matter what you do there, your Yang Clan will be exempt from any taxes," Wang Chong said.
"Many thanks, Lord Marquis! Every member of the Yang Clan is willing to swear an oath of loyalty until death to the Lord Marquis! Even if this lowly person must dash his brains against the ground, he will definitely complete the Lord Marquis's mission in Talas!"
The ecstatic Yang Hongchang immediately kneeled to the ground.
Merchants cared about profit, and the enormous profits that Wang Chong promised would far surpass the profits from the Yang Clan's usual business on the Silk Road. In particular, the plots of land that Wang Chong had promised in his city of steel would nurture the Yang Clan for generations.
Just this alone would ensure the stability of the Yang Clan for centuries. Besides that, the backing of a powerful patron like the Wang Clan meant that ascendancy was close at hand.
Wang Chong smiled quietly at the kneeling Yang Hongchang.
'Know yourself and know your enemy, and you will never be defeated.' The city of steel needed to be constructed and the cement roads needed to be built, but the true enemies of the Great Tang, the Arabs far to the west of the Cong Mountains, also needed to be watched.
Yang Hongchang was the best candidate for this job, as no merchant of the Silk Road had a greater understanding of the Western Regions than him.
Yang Hongchang quickly left with his orders, accompanied by ten-some guards from the Wang Clan and a chest of gold. Yang Hongchang had full control over these guards and the gold.
At its highest level, war was a battle of strategy and intelligence. The side that received information first and had the more thorough and comprehensive strategy would be the ultimate winner.
But in this era, very few people shared Wang Chong's point of view.
It's about time I took a trip to Wushang.
Wang Chong raised his head as this thought flitted through his mind.
A few days ago, Wang Chong had received a letter from Li Siye informing him that his plan in Wushang was proceeding far less smoothly than he had imagined. The Wushang of this life was even fiercer and bolder than it had been in his last life, even more unwilling to be tamed.
Even future Invincible Great General Li Siye had run into an obstacle. It had to be said that Wang Chong had been greatly surprised at this news.
In the end, he still had to personally subdue the world's future number-one cavalry force!
Five days later, Wang Chong set out from the capital with his forces, off to Wushang on the distant Silk Road to the northwest. The wheels of history were rolling forward, and Wang Chong was finally heading off to confront the strongest, fiercest, bravest, and also most unruly subordinates he had ever encountered in his entire life.
In the northwest of the Great Tang, to the south of Qixi and the west of Longxi was a range of mountains. Mountains soared into the sky and the terrain was steep. The slightest lack of care might lead one to step into a deep abyss and have one's body shattered into pieces at the bottom. Moreover, these mountains were occasionally inundated in a white and befuddling fog that obscured vision and made it easy to get lost.
In addition, this was a barren land with no gold or silver, no treasures or jewels, and no roads. As a result, even the bandits of the Silk Road didn't venture very far into these mountains.
This place seemed to be forgotten by the world. Nobody knew of it and nobody asked about it.
This place was Wushang.
"Milord, these wicked people are too brash. It's fine if they refuse to be conscripted, but they even stole the token the Lord Marquis gave Milord! This is a complete disregard for law! In this subordinate's view, we should mobilize the army and completely exterminate them."
On a barren mountain slope, a fully-armored and burly officer stood next to Li Siye, looking out to the drifting fog with a face full of fury.
"That's right! They don't listen to orders, and they even injured Du Wu and Luo Zhuan! They're far too out of line!"
A deputy general standing on Li Siye's right hand side angrily fumed. As he spoke, he glanced behind him to the figures lying on the ground. It was precisely the comrades that had traveled with them to Wushang.
This remote and mountainous land was covered in shabby houses. That they were willing to cross this rugged terrain to recruit them as soldiers was already a favor to these people, but not only had these people refused to obey, they had even dared to attack them.
If it weren't for Li Siye's astonishing strength stopping these people, their comrades might have already been abducted!