The Human Emperor Chapter 720
Chapter 720: Hulayeg The Number One Turkic Horse Merchant
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
The grandiose Qixi Protectorate that protected the throat of the Great Tang had actually had no troops available. This sounded absurd, but it truly had been the situation of the Qixi Protectorate back then.
Wang Chong understood this fact more keenly than anyone else.
The critical area protected by Qixi Protectorate straddled the border between the -Tsang Empire and the Western Turkic Khaganate. Every year, regardless of how all the other areas were doing, Qixi Protectorate would have to fight in battles big and small. And Qixi Protectorate's soldiers had been exhausted precisely through constant attacks by -Tsang and the Western Turkic Khaganate.
Although the interior continued to dispatch troops to Qixi, these troops were not limitless.
In the period before the Battle of Talas, the attacks by the Tibetan and Turkic cavalry had been abnormally fierce, causing the forces of the Qixi Protectorate to truly be emptied out. And it was precisely this lack of soldiers that led to the defeat at the Battle of Talas.
Thus, in order to prevent the bitter defeat at the Battle of Talas, one first had to alter the fate of the Qixi Protectorate. This was one of the important reasons Wang Chong had established his fief at Wushang, though Wang Chong had never told this to anyone.
In order to change the fate of Qixi, he had to utterly vanquish the forces -Tsang and the Western Turkic Khaganate had stationed here!
Building his City of Steel at Wushang to give himself a place to stand was the first step. The second step was to begin fending off -Tsang to the west and the Western Turks to the east! Fumeng Lingcha would never be able to complete this second step.
In Wang Chong's evaluation of generals, Fumeng Lingcha was merely a general who could hold the fort, not one who could lead an assault. Admittedly, part of it was because he never had such plans, but he also lacked the ability.
Completion of these two steps would only bring him closer to his goal.
But before he could do all this, before he could carry out his plan that was bound to make the western border and the entire empire quake, Wang Chong had to complete another task.
Without that thing, Wang Chong would the most ingenious housewife in the world without any rice to cook. All he would be able to do was stare at the ocean and sigh!
Wang Chong left at dawn, silently leaving the City of Steel without alarming anyone else.
If one followed the official road seven or eight hundred li past Qixi, one would arrive in the Western Regions. The scenery here was rough, honed by sandstorms. Here, the Hu lived together with Sindhi, Arabs, Characenians, Turks, Tibetans, and even Han, though of course, the Hu far outnumbered the Han.
Such a scene would be incredibly difficult to find in any place within the Great Tang.
"Young Master, it's right here."
A middle-aged Han with his hair wrapped in a head scarf stood in front of a bustling pleasure palace, garishly colored and with carved beams and painted rafters. He deferentially bowed to a teenager.
The youth looked at the pleasure palace and gave a nod.
"Tell Yang Hongchang that I'm very satisfied. When this is over, I won't treat him poorly."
"Many thanks, Lord Marquis!"
Elated, the middle-aged man hurriedly bowed.
"Mm? Did you forget what I told you? In this place, do not call me 'Lord Marquis'," the youth said with a frown.
"Yes, this lowly person was too abrupt, L- Young Master, please forgive me."
A hint of panic could be seen on the man's face as he lowered his head.
There was only one person that could make this man so afraid and could be called Lord Marquis in the Western Regions right now, and that was Young Marquis Wang Chong. Upon leaving the City of Steel, Wang Chong had disguised himself and detoured around Qixi Protectorate to reach the Western Regions.
This area was under the domain of Anxi Protector-General Gao Xianzhi.
If these Hu Great Generals were to find out that he was here, they would probably flock to his location. But even so, Wang Chong had a reason that obligated his presence.
Without another word, Wang Chong crossed the threshold and entered the pleasure palace.
This was Wang Chong's first time stepping into a pleasure palace of the Western Regions. Countless Hu were packed inside, and the music of huqins, hukonghous, huleis, huobosis1 and other instruments could be heard within.
This Hu music was completely different from the music of the Central Plains and had a completely different sound.
Wang Chong took a glance and saw that charming Hu women were dancing alluringly to the music.
They even have Arabian dancing girls!
Wang Chong could clearly make out that where the Hu were most packed and the laughter the loudest was a woman dressed in red, with skin as white as snow and bells tied to her arms and legs. She had blue eyes and red lips, and her eyes were enchanting. She bit down on a red belt of silk hanging from a roof beam and danced and twirled in the air.
The jingling of bells mixed in with the music, attracting the praise of the patrons.
In the capital, any establishment with Arabian dancing girls would attract large numbers of scholars and nobles, becoming a gathering place for the literati.
Arabian dancing girls were cherished in the capital because they were rare, but the Western Regions had the advantage of proximity, so there were far more such dancers here.
Wang Chong's gaze rested on the Arabian dancing girl for only a few moments. He quickly descended the wooden stairs to the second floor of the pleasure palace's basement.
The various Hu languages could be heard here, their shouts, cheers, and curses mixing into a single din. Many Hu had gathered here, throwing dice, guessing numbers, and watching cock fights, dog fights, or cricket fights. The entire floor was suffused with a smoky air.
It was obvious that this floor was a gambling den.
Wang Chong had never been much of a gambler, but he was forced to come to this place.
Wang Chong turned his head and asked, "You are sure he's here?"
The middle-aged man that Yang Hongchang had dispatched bowed and answered, "Lord Marquis, there is no mistake. He loves to come to this place to have fun, even though Patriarch doesn't know why. Apparently, he has some sort of relationship with the woman who owns this pleasure palace.
"In addition, before coming, we made inquiries and learned that he just entered this pleasure palace not too long ago. He is on the third basement floor. Only a small number of people are permitted within, and the threshold for entry is very high. Only extremely wealthy and respected people are allowed to enter, so Patriarch spent a great deal of money to prepare for Young Master an identity. Young Master can enter at any time, and no one will stop you.
"Young Master will see him the moment you enter."
Wang Chong nodded. The Yang Clan had been operating in the Western Regions for many years and knew the place like the back of their hands. Yang Hongchang was the man for the job if one wanted to find a single Hu amongst so many.
Wang Chong inconspicuously descended to the third floor of the pleasure palace's basement.
Yang Hongchang had already handled everything so that whenever anyone came forward to inspect his credentials, the steward from the Yang Clan would immediately step forward and handle it, allowing Wang Chong to avoid many problems.
At the third basement floor, a red Arabian blanket had been laid out on the ground, and the beams lining the room were carved from jade and studded with pearls, agate, jade, and coral. The room was decorated in a grandiose and ornate manner, but also did not lack for elegance.
"Lord Marquis, he's right inside."
The Yang Clan steward led the way into the innermost and largest room, where he stopped. Beyond the door, Wang Chong could hear rough laughter and Turkic words accompanying the cheers and laughter of women.
"Wait for me outside."
Wang Chong's eyes flashed as he pushed open the door and strode in. In an instant, the laughter in the room came to a halt.
Wang Chong scanned the room and quickly set his eyes on a Turkic man with a bearded face, hawkish eyes and a sunken nose. His robe was untied, revealing his bare chest.
I finally found him!
When he saw the fist-sized skulls on the Turk's shoulders, Wang Chong nodded, a look of pleasant surprise flickering through his eyes. Those were not real skulls, but trinkets forged from bronze.
In Wang Chong's memories, there was only one man who wore bronze skulls on his shoulders and would often play around with them, the Turkic merchant 'Hulayeg'.
He had another important identity. In all of the Western Regions and even the steppe, he was the most renowned Turkic horse merchant!
If Wang Chong wanted to realize his plans of fending off both -Tsang and the Western Turks, completely altering the fate of Qixi, he first had to have sufficient warhorses.
Wang Chong's first batch of Wushang were about to complete their training, but if they did not have warhorses, they could not become the 'Wushang Cavalry' that could dominate the world!
Thus, even though he had to risk the danger of Gao Xianzhi and Fumeng Lingcha discovering him, Wang Chong had still run off to the Western Regions to find the number one horse merchant, Hulayeg.
Everyone knew that the best warhorses in the world were not the highland steeds of -Tsang or the warhorses of the Great Tang. In truth, the terrain of the Central Plains simply wasn't suitable for raising warhorses.
All the excellent warhorses of the Great Tang came from the Turkic steppe.
The Turkic warhorse was one of the best warhorses in the world.
The only warhorse that was superior was the Arabian warhorse, but the Abbasid Caliphate was ten thousand li from the Central Plains. In addition, raising Arabian warhorses was extremely problematic, and they were not accustomed to the climate of the Central Plains. Turkic warhorses were both easier to obtain and easier to train and breed, making them perfect for a cavalry force.
In addition, the best of the Turkic warhorses could still measure up to Arabian warhorses.
And if he wanted to buy the best Turkic warhorses, he couldn't go past the 'Hulayeg' that now sat before him. Whether it was the warhorses of the Turkic Khaganates or the warhorses of the Abbasid Caliphate or Charax Spasinu, this Hulayeg and his connections were sure to obtain them.
There was no better horse merchant in the Western Regions.
Wang Chong's Wushang army might be almost done training, but if they wanted to become that invincible army on horseback, they needed a massive number of horses.
But this was not the primary reason behind Wang Chong's disguising himself and coming here.
More importantly, Wang Chong was deeply aware that the Great Tang would face many disasters in the future. It had already entered the season of troubles, and war after war would soon begin cropping up.
In each of these wars, many horses would die.
The greatest problem facing the Central Plains would not be a lack of soldiers, but a lack of warhorses, an inability to form cavalry divisions. Without any cavalry, the Tang armies would lose any flexibility and could only wait to be broken.
The Central Plains was unsuitable for breeding warhorses, so a dead warhorse was one that could not be replaced.
When Wang Chong had been appointed Grand Marshal of the World at the time of crisis, the greatest problem he faced was that of warhorses, and he had been incapable of solving it.