The Human Emperor Chapter 746
Chapter 746: A Contest Of Daring
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
Geshu Han raised his gaze to the ceiling of the study, but his mind was elsewhere.
Warhorses were far too attractive a prospect!
In the previous crisis, during the Big Dipper Army's battles with We Tadra Khonglo and Dusong Mangpoje, many warhorses had been lost. Afterward, Geshu Han had made a request to the Director of Imperial Horses with the hopes of getting these warhorses replenished.
But warhorses had always been one of the Imperial Court's weaknesses. Geshu Han had made the request ages ago, but still no warhorses had arrived.
Geshu Han had never expected to see the resource the Big Dipper Army so urgently needed appearing at the distant Wushang.
The highest quality warhorses were a temptation that Geshu Han could not resist!
Geshu Han suddenly realized that he had been underestimating Wang Chong's means. This boy currently had something that many Protector-Generals urgently needed.
"Ten thousand warhorses is no small number. The small Wushang wouldn't be able to use them all," Geshu Han said. "Qing Ze, write a letter to the Imperial Court to have the Director of Imperial Horses give a portion of the warhorses to us. In addition, write a letter to that youngest son of the Wang Clan as well"
"This Milord, are we really going to concede defeat to that brat?" the general under Geshu Han known as 'Qing Ze' said in shock.
He clearly remembered that the orders the Great General had given him previously were to deal with that Wang Clan scion, but in the blink of an eye, the Great General had taken the completely opposite stance.
Moreover, given the Great General's status, age, and seniority, it was far too much for him to concede defeat to such a young boy. The entire Big Dipper Army might not be able to show its face again.
"Haha, who said we need to concede? We still need warhorses, and this is for the public good, while our relationship with the brat is a private affair. And if that brat can't even take this much pressure, it would be better if he withdrew now, while it's still early," Geshu Han said indifferently, stroking his beard.
In the Four Garrisons of Anxi, west of the Western Regions, people were also monitoring the activity around the City of Steel. Flap flap! A messenger bird descended, not to the hands of Gao Xianzhi and Feng Changqing, but to a swarthy-faced and bearded general.
Other than the most urgent news, all messages sent to Anxi had to pass through the inspection and screening of this trusted general of Gao Xianzhi before ending up in his hands.
"Eleven thousand of the best Turkic warhorses? Where did this preposterous news come from? What are the scouts over there thinking?
"Do they not know how much eleven thousand high-quality warhorses cost? And just having the money isn't enough. Last time, Lord Protector-General wanted to make an exchange for warhorses and proposed a deal with the Turks, but he was immediately rejected. Lord Protector-General couldn't even do it, so how could an inexperienced teenager?
"And besides, how could Fumeng Lingcha let so many warhorses past the border?"
The swarthy general snorted as he scornfully tossed away the letter, pulverizing it in mid-air.
"Lord Protector-General and the others have enough on their mind already. There's no need to give them this letter."
With these words, silence quickly fell.
In the distant Beiting Protectorate, Beiting Vice Protector-General An Sishun also received the news. But unlike other places, the first thing An Sishun did upon receiving the news was begin an inspection of the defenses along the Beiting-Qixi border.
At the same time, a messenger bird took off to the faraway capital.
"Interesting! Geshu Han, Fumeng Lingcha, An Sishun, and the other Hu generals have sent a joint memorial to the Imperial Court requesting horses from us."
In the City of Steel, Wang Chong put down his letter from the Imperial Court and chuckled.
For these imposing Protector-Generals and Great Generals to sign a joint memorial requesting horses from a 'minor character' like him was truly inconceivable.
"Lord Marquis, they just want to take a share of the spoils!"
"Lord Marquis spent so much time and energy, and even one million taels of gold, but they've done nothing and want a share. This is a little too much."
The officers in the room were all furious. Wang Chong had personally gone to the Western Regions, clearing away all obstacles and expending an enormous amount of gold to obtain these eleven thousand steeds.
These warhorses had barely arrived at the City of Steel and these people were already looking for a share. But how could anything in the world come free of charge?
Li Siye's mountain of a figure suddenly spoke. "Lord Marquis, this is a difficult matter to deal with. Warhorses are a resource supervised by the Imperial Court. Having ten thousand warhorses here is already a violation of the law. If those Protector-Generals want to make trouble for us on this point, Lord Marquis will find it very hard to gain any advantage."
Before being transferred by Wang Chong, he had served for a little while in the Beiting Protectorate, so he knew a little about the court's laws regarding warhorses.
Moreover, because Beiting bordered both the Western and Eastern Turkic Khaganates, it was particularly harsh in enforcing the regulations on warhorses.
In the strictest terms, Wang Chong's transaction with Hulayeg was illegal. If Fumeng Lingcha or the other Protector-Generals wanted to criticize him over this, Wang Chong would truly find it hard to make any excuse.
"Haha, if they want to do something, they first need the ability."
Wang Chong smiled, his right hand lightly tapping against his desk. His expression was calm and composed without the slightest hint of panic.
"If they want to say that I broke the Imperial Court's laws on warhorses, then they would truly be attacking from the wrong angle. The Imperial Court was the main backer of this deal, while I was just the middleman. After these ten thousand warhorses, more than ninety percent of the rest of the warhorses will be given to the Imperial Court for the Director of Imperial Horses to distribute and manage."
If the deal with Hulayeg went smoothly, three to four hundred thousand warhorses would be arriving in the future, and in certain circumstances, this number could be doubled.
Such a massive number couldn't possibly be used by Wang Chong's tens of thousands of Wushang soldiers. Wang Chong had always planned to send the other warhorses to the Imperial Court.
If Fumeng Lingcha tried to make trouble for him on this, then he really did have the wrong idea!
And besides, Wang Chong also had King Song behind him!
"That's right, a letter came from Big Dipper Great General Geshu Han directly requesting warhorses from us," Xu Keyi suddenly said. "Lord Marquis, should we give them to him?"
Other than pressure from the court, the City of Steel had also received a letter from Geshu Han in his status as Great General of the Big Dipper Army which expressed his hopes that Wang Chong could supply him with some warhorses.
Of the Protector-Generals, he was the only one to have sent Wang Chong a private letter.
The study instantly fell silent. No one dared to recklessly make comments on matters involving the Protector-Generals. This was a matter between powerhouses, with each action having far-reaching effects and affecting countless people.
No one dared to make any sort of rash evaluation.
Wang Chong's right hand lightly drummed on the desk as a pensive look appeared in his eyes. Geshu Han had actually sent him a personal letter, and despite their relationship, had requested warhorses from him.
Frankly speaking, Wang Chong was quite surprised.
"Interesting! This Big Dipper Great General is playing his hand in a completely unexpected way!"
As Wang Chong muttered to himself, a faint smile crept onto his lips.
"Supply him!" Wang Chong suddenly said.
His short order sent massive waves through the study.
"Lord Marquis, Geshu Han is a Hu. There's no way he could be harboring good intentions!"
"And Lord Marquis, don't forget how he wanted to deal with Lord Marquis during the Regional Commanders incident."
"This can't be allowed. Geshu Han is Lord Marquis's rival, and the Big Dipper Army's scouts are even now still in the area. If Lord Marquis gives him horses, he will be getting off far too lightly!"
Wang Chong's decision had taken them all by surprise, and even Li Siye couldn't help but raise a thick eyebrow in surprise.
"Lord Marquis, given Geshu Han's personality, what if he takes our horses and then still tries to oppose us?" Li Siye said.
"Hahaha, Geshu Han sent me a letter sure that I would reject him. If I really did do that, then I would only win his contempt and make him think me to be too narrow-minded.
"In addition, public and private are separate things. In the last war, the Big Dipper Army lost many soldiers and horses while defending Longxi against the Tibetans. The soldiers are easy to replenish, but not the warhorses. This was also the reason he sent this request to me!
"I will definitely give the warhorses, not because he is Geshu Han, but for the sake of the Great Tang. His letter requested one thousand horses, right? Give him two thousand. In addition, tell him that the extra one thousand horses are for the civilians of Longxi."
Wang Chong opened his eyes and thumped the desk.
Longxi was the Great Tang's wall, and Geshu Han's Big Dipper Army was the only defender of Longxi. Behind him were the hundreds of thousands of civilians of Longxi.
If the Big Dipper Army were defeated, the southwest would repeat itself, so Wang Chong was willing to give him two thousand warhorses. And there was another matter that Wang Chong did not speak of.
In that war, -Tsang had dispatched its long-slumbering King of Generals We Tadra Khonglo. The effects of that battle on the Big Dipper Army were far more serious than imagined.
The greatest effects came from the many casualties and the ensuing harsh shortage of warhorses. Wang Chong remembered that because of this, a force of around two thousand Tibetan cavalry broke through the blockade of the Big Dipper Army and entered the Longxi interior.
The Big Dipper Army's severe lack of cavalry had led to the 'fish escaping the net'.
This force of Tibetan cavalry eventually managed to kill more than ten thousand people and destroy dozens of villages. The matter caused such an uproar that even the Imperial Court was alarmed. In the aftermath, this incident was known as the 'Tragedy of Longxi'.
A painter who had been passing through Longxi at the time drew those gruesome and miserable sights and sent them to the capital, where they caused a massive stir. Anyone who saw those paintings would begin to weep in grief.
In the end, Geshu Han was implicated in the incident and was forced to leave the Big Dipper Army and enter the capital to explain himself.
On the surface, Geshu Han had written this letter to Wang Chong to test him, but in reality, the Big Dipper Army's lack of horses was so dire that he had been forced into this course of action.
Wang Chong could disregard Geshu Han, but he could not forget the Tragedy of Longxi.
Now that he had a chance to do everything over, Wang Chong would naturally not allow this incident to occur. Two thousand warhorses were enough for an army as capable as the Big Dipper Army to mitigate the crisis. At the very least, it was enough to deal with that force of two thousand Tibetan cavalry.
"Lord Marquis is wise!"
"Your subordinate was confused!"
The officers in the room were utterly convinced by Wang Chong's words. In terms of breadth of mind and daring, Wang Chong was far above them, and this was also why they were all so willing to serve him.
He could expend his entire fortune for the sake of the civilians of the southwest, could risk death to participate in the war of the southwest, and could set aside his personal grudges with Geshu Han for the sake of the empire. No one else in the Great Tang could do such a thing.