The Human Emperor Chapter 714
Chapter 714: The City Of Steel I
Chapter 714: The City of Steel (I)
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
"It seems like quite a few people are watching the construction of our city, huh?"
Wang Chong looked up at the sky with a smirk.
"It's not just these spying birds. From the very first day, the number of Western Regioners, Turks, Tibetans, Arabians, Characenians, and Goguryeons that appear each day around the fief have been uncountable. They might disguise themselves as jewel merchants from the Western Regions, horse bandits, or Arabian weapon merchants, and they constantly watch and investigate. We've already driven away many batches, but they just keep on coming."
As Zhang Shouzhi spoke, he glanced worriedly into the distance.
Wang Chong's expression was calm as he followed Zhang Shouzhi's glance. As expected, several li from here, a few small figures were standing on a hill, watching.
"Lord Marquis, why don't we gather the troops and drive these people away?" Zhang Shouzhi said.
"Haha, there's no need," Wang Chong lightly said with a careless expression, waving his hand.
"When someone builds a city, people will always be watching. You can never kill them all. As long as the Tibetans, Turks, Arabians, and Characenians are intent on it, they'll send an endless stream of scouts to bring information. Let them be."
Wang Chong's demeanor was relaxed, and his expression inspired confidence in others. Both the birds overhead and the scouts in the surrounding area were at best vexing mosquitoes. Since he had dared to build a city here, he wasn't afraid of anyone coming to gather intelligence.
"But, Lord Marquis, there is another piece of news that this old man doesn't know if he should speak about?"
Zhang Shouzhi hesitated, a look of apprehension in his eyes.
With a flash of his eyes, Wang Chong turned around toward Zhang Shouzhi. After spending so much time with Zhang Shouzhi, experiencing life and death with him, he had developed the impression of Zhang Shouzhi as a straightforward and forthright man. He would never hesitate or be so filled with worries.
"What's wrong? What can't you say in front of me?"
"We can put aside the Tibetans, Arabians, and Turks. After all, those can all be expected, as our location is too special, wedged right in between all of them. But in this period of time, we've also discovered scouts from Beiting, Anxi, Qixi, and Longxi. Lord Marquis, this isn't good for us!" Zhang Shouzhi said, a deep worry shrouding his face.
The Beiting Protectorate, Anxi Protectorate, Qixi Protectorate, and Longxi's Big Dipper Armyonly those of the Great Tang understood the meaning of these names.
Wang Chong's rise in the war of the southwest had earned him the attention of all the foreign countries, but if Beiting, Anxi, Qixi, and Longxi were also sending people over, then this was an ill omen.
Wang Chong's brow slightly furrowed and he instantly fell quiet.
Beiting was An Sishun, Anxi was Gao Xianzhi, Qixi was Fumeng Lingcha, and Longxi was Geshu Han. These people were all influential Great Generals of the empire who wielded considerable authority and status in both the military and the Imperial Court.
For an ordinary person to obtain the attention of just one of these people was extremely difficult, but Wang Chong had earned the attention of four at the same time.
The Regional Commanders incident!
With this thought, Wang Chong understood.
The four Great Generals usually kept to their own areas, rarely dealing with each other in private. In truth, the empire harshly forbade these powerful Great Generals from privately colluding.
But even so, these four all shared a common trait. In the Regional Commanders incident, Wang Chong had submitted a memorial that had thoroughly offended all of them.
In turn, these four had all submitted memorials to the court requesting Wang Chong's execution and causing him to be jailed in the imperial prison.
They're waiting for the opportunity to settle their grudges! Wang Chong quietly said to himself.
In the Regional Commanders incident, he had been in the distant capital, protected by his clan. Not even Great Generals like Geshu Han or Fumeng Lingcha had many means of seizing him. But now was different. He was now in Wushang, establishing his fief and placing a city at the intersection of their four factions. With the temper of these four, it would be stranger if they simply allowed him to construct a city right under their eyes.
Although Wushang was close to the Silk Road, it also occupied a unique geographic position. Several hundred li to its left was the edge of the Tibetan Plateau, where the Tibetan armored cavalry could descend.
Five hundred li to the northeast was the border of the Western Turkic Khaganate, the territory of the Ishbara Khagan1. Although it was around five hundred li away, this distance was nothing for cavalry.
If one followed the Silk Road to the northwest for about one thousand li, one would find the Anxi Protectorate, ruled by Anxi Protector-General Gao Xianzhi.
This road was truly too important, so any movement to build a city on the Silk Road would receive the attention of all factions.
The Imperial Court had established the Qixi Protectorate in this area to fend off the Western Turkic Khaganate to the east and the -Tsang Empire to the west. With the additional protection of the Anxi and Beiting Protectorates and the assistance of Longxi's Big Dipper Army, the Qixi Protectorate was completely capable of protecting the trade on the Silk Road.
But Wang Chong just so happened to have offended the Protector-Generals of these protectorates.
It was hard to say if these people might play some tricks while Wang Chong was constructing his city!
If any Tibetans or Turks came to attack, it was difficult to say if they would help. To put it more plainly, there was a high possibility that these Protector-Generals would allow the Tibetans and Turks through.
After all, the defensive line was very long, so they couldn't be criticized for letting a force slip by!
These were problems that Wang Chong had to consider.
"Relax. There won't be too big of a problem!"
To Zhang Shouzhi's surprise, Wang Chong only smiled and quickly returned to normal.
"Since we dared to build a city at Wushang, we have to be completely prepared. Right now, the City of Steel is still in its early stages and I was only recently made a marquis, so everyone is paying attention to this matter. Even if Geshu Han, Gao Xianzhi, Fumeng Lingcha, or An Sishun had any ideas, they wouldn't dare show their hands now. It would be too obvious. They're all Great Generals, hegemons of their respective areas, so they would never make such a childish mistake.
"No matter how uncomfortable or discontent they are, they will be forced to protect our surrounding borders for now!"
High status had its advantages, but also its problems. Gao Xianzhi, Geshu Han, Fumeng Lingcha, and An Sishun were Imperial Great Generals of noble status, but this also meant that their every action was watched by society. There were many things that they could never do, at least not too obviously.
"This really is the case!"
Zhang Shouzhi nodded. As the master architect of the Imperial Palace, he had interacted with many officials and nobles, so he had a little inkling of court politics. Thus, he knew what Wang Chong said was a fact.
No matter how these Great Generals loathed Wang Chong, they had to stomach it for now. Not only that, they had to think of a way to protect him. Otherwise, if something were to happen to him, even the Sage Emperor would blame them.
There was no getting around the fact that Wang Chong's fief was being watched by countless people.
"But even if this is the case, this is only for the beginning. Our city in Wushang is still their territory. After this period of time passes, what should we do?" Zhang Shouzhi said.
The Silk Road was long, very, very long. Although Wang Chong seemed to have randomly picked this location, that was absolutely not the case. The caravans of the Silk Road would only think about resting at this place if they had both traversed a long distance and were also facing a long journey over barren deserts with no other places to rest.
Consequently, if Wang Chong's city wanted to obtain the favor of those caravans, he couldn't be too close to other cities or villages.
There weren't many locations fulfilling these criteria.
And of these places, Wushang was the best!
First was that it was very far from the capital, meaning that caravans would be very tired when they arrived. Upon passing Wushang, they would arrive at the nearby Qixi, and near that was a vast desert.
'Qi' meant desert, which was where the name 'Qixi' came from.
The influence of the desert meant that the weather was arid and hot, easily provoking fatigue. It was obvious that the greatest product for resupply in this city would be water, that most essential of substances.
If a city were to appear here where people could rest and obtain more food and water, this would be every merchant's dream.
From the other side, even the merchants from the Abbasid Caliphate, Charax Spasinu, and the Western Regions would want to rest here, taking in more supplies and resting their minds. Because upon leaving this place, it would be a long journey to the Great Tang capital, with very few places to take on supplies.
Moreover, the existences of the -Tsang Empire and the Western Turkic Khaganate made Wang Chong's City of Steel even more precious, as it could provide a safe harbor in times of difficulty.
Thus, Wang Chong truly did not have many choices for the location of his fief.
Zhang Shouzhi knew of Wang Chong's ambitions, and he also knew that the construction of this city was not solely for making a little money. Lion City in the southwest was already enough proof of that.
Anyone who had believed that Wang Chong was building that city only for money was a fool, and Mengshe Zhao had clearly been exactly that kind of fool.
But everything had its price.
Since Wang Chong had made his decision to build a city here, the dangers present were the price that he had to consider.
"Haha, relax. There's a solution for every problem. I've already planned for everything. As long as we can get through this initial phase, I'll have a big surprise waiting for them."
Wang Chong patted Zhang Shouzhi on the shoulder, utterly unconcerned.
In Wushang Village, Li Siye was already beginning to recruit soldiers. Wang Chong had already taught him the methods to train the 'Wushang Cavalry'. Li Siye would be spending a long period of time in the village, and only when the basic training was complete would he leave Wushang Village for the City of Steel.
To tell the truth, Wang Chong found himself rather anticipating the first performance of the 'Wushang Cavalry' in this world!
Zhang Shouzhi was left perplexed. Wang Chong's plans were always so farsighted that even though he had spent so long with him, he could never tell what made Wang Chong so confident. But even in his doubt, there was one thing that Zhang Shouzhi could be sure of.
Wang Chong had already planned for everything. This was the crux!
Although Zhang Shouzhi wasn't a military man, just like the soldiers, his long time with Wang Chong had made him develop an extremely deep trust in Wang Chong.
1. The Ishbara Khagan, whose personal name was Ashina Helu, was historically the last Khagan of the Western Turkic Khaganate. During the era of Emperor Gaozong, in 658, the Tang general Su Dingfeng defeated him at the Battle of Irtysh River and brought him back to the Tang capital, bringing an end to the khaganate.