The Human Emperor Chapter 764
Chapter 764: Aerial Battle Over The Plateau
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
After journeying several hundred li, the pair of Tibetan horsemen quickly neared the edge of the plateau.
Creee! A shrill cry came from the heavens, causing the two Tibetan horsemen to raise their heads. Far up, they saw five or six birds of various species circling in the air, apparently observing something.
The horsemen instantly narrowed their eyes. There was no need to see anything else. At a glance, they could tell that those birds belonged to Tang scouts.
Without the slightest hesitation, the horseman with the beast earring nocked an arrow to his bow and aimed it at the sky.
But before he could fire, a hand suddenly extended over and stopped him.
"It's useless. Those birds are flying at extremely high altitudes. Our bows can't fire that far."
"Then what do we do? Nothing? If we let them find out something and ruin General's plan, General will have us executed."
"Haha, I didn't say that we would do nothing. These birds have owners, and if the birds are here, their owners must be nearby. We can't deal with the birds in the air, but does that mean we're powerless against the Tang on the ground?"
The second Tibetan horseman chortled, and the first horseman quickly came around to his view.
The two smiled at each other, unsheathed their scimitars, and urged their horses to charge in the direction of the birds, seething with killing intent.
"I see them!"
A few moments later, the pair saw the figures they had expected to see. It was a group of seventeen- and eighteen-year-olds, thin and frail. They showed no signs of practicing martial arts, much less the bearing of elite scouts, and it seemed like even a strong gust of wind would be enough to bowl them over.
"Let's go! Kill them!"
"Hahaha, don't run!"
Invigorated, the pair flourished their scimitars and charged toward the Tang youths. But the two had only covered ten-some zhang when the situation changed…
Rumble! The ground began to shudder, and though merely a tiny trembling at first, it quickly intensified into a roaring thunder that caused the surrounding earth to quake.
Before the two could react, they heard the neighing of horses from the distant horizon. They could only watch in astonishment as thousands of horses galloped toward them, their riders all fully equipped: a force of Great Tang cavalry seething with devilish killing intent.
The pair paled, and the bravery they had shown in their initial charge quickly vanished.
So alarmed were they that their souls nearly took flight from their bodies, and they immediately began to flee in the direction they had come. The pair had never seen such a formidable Tang army, thousands of cavalry silently staring with those cold and nightmarish eyes.
And most frightening of all was their speed. By the time the two reacted, the leading Tang cavalry were only seven to eight hundred zhang away.
To cavalry used to high-speed charges, this distance could be covered in seconds.
An order rang out through the sky, echoing across the plateau. An officer at the front had given the order to halt. Those five thousand cavalry seemed to not see the two fleeing Tibetan scouts, and dismounted. One group took up a defensive formation while the other group set about digging into and tamping down the ground.
Clang! A thick steel plank more than two zhang tall was installed into the earth, creating a high wall on the plateau. As if this was some sort of signal, the thousands of Tang cavalry began to split up into teams, using their warhorses to drag these steel walls up to the plateau.
While some of them held up the thick steel walls, other horsemen would take hammers and beat the steel walls into the ground.
Everyone worked closely together, completely ignoring the two Tibetan cavalry in the distance.
One wall, two, three, four… In a few short of moments, hundreds of these walls had been set up, scattered over the plateau.
The Tibetan scouts had only run several hundred zhang, but an unprecedented fortress of steel was already beginning to take shape on this deserted region of the plateau.
"Bastards! What are these Tang up to?"
Although they were fleeing, the two Tibetans had been keeping a close watch on what was happening behind them. Those Tang bustling away with no regard for anyone else had left them stupefied.
"Don't worry so much! Hurry! We need to report this to the Great General."
Both shocked and angered, the two urged their horses on to go even faster.
"Lord Marquis, do we need to deal with those Tibetan scouts?"
On the plateau, Li Siye sat erect on his Ferghana steed like an iron pagoda next to Wang Chong. One of his hands held a bow while the other held two arrows, aimed at the fleeing scouts.
"There's no need."
Wang Chong smiled, a relaxed expression on his face.
"Kill one and leave one. If we kill them both, then there will be no one left to report back, which would actually ruin the plan."
Li Siye smiled and put away one of those arrows. The other shot through the air, covering more than a thousand zhang to thud through the chest of the Tibetan horseman with the beast earring on his left ear.
Without a sound, he dropped from his highland steed. The remaining Tibetan scout was so startled that he felt like his soul had left his body. Turning his scimitar around, he stabbed it into the behind of his horse, fleeing for all he was worth and quickly vanishing into the distance.
"Get ready! Quicken the pace! The Tibetans will be arriving soon," Wang Chong ordered. Ignoring the fleeing scout, he turned to the army behind him. Five thousand Wushang Cavalry, more than one thousand elites that he had brought from the southwest, and more than one thousand clan experts transferred out of the City of Steel—for this operation, Wang Chong had brought a force of nearly 7500 soldiers.
In addition, he had also brought more than five thousand craftsmen.
A scene that had taken place in the war of the southwest now repeated itself on the Tibetan Plateau. The Great Tang's strongest aspect lay in the wealth it had accumulated over the decades of peace and its powerful ability to produce and build.
It would be the greatest regret if such powerful abilities could not be put to use in battle.
Now, Wang Chong was applying this wealth and production ability to war through a different method. To settle Qixi, he first had to pacify Ü-Tsang.
This time, Wang Chong didn't merely want to cut off the path the Tibetans could take to attack Wushang. He also wanted to erect a base on this isolated plateau, and use this base as the center of his activities to fend off the threat of Ü-Tsang from the west, neutralizing the power of these plateau-dwellers so that Qixi would be safe forevermore.
"Prepare the beehives!" an energetic voice called out from the busy army. Neeeigh! Horses whinnied as they pulled steel crates covered with holes up to the plateau.
Before the horses had come to a full stop, soldiers were already surging over, cutting the ropes and carefully lifting up the beehives to be brought to the front.
"Careful! Don't recklessly touch the chests, and definitely don't touch the switches. When putting them down, do so very gently!"
Stern-faced officers observed from the side as the beehives were installed. Only those who had seen them at work truly understood just how powerful and terrifying these rectangular steel chests were.
All the beehives were installed at the foremost row and all the steel walls had also been erected on the plateau, everything carried out with such speed and efficiency that the process seemed to have been practiced hundreds of times.
A simple yet imposing fortification quickly appeared at the edge of the plateau, with the finishing touches still underway.
An hour later, a sharp cry came out of the sky. The Tibetan scout that Wang Chong had released had proven effective, and the Tibetans had been much faster to react this time. A vulture common to the Tibetan Plateau appeared in the distance.
With the first, there was a second, a third, a fourth… In a few seconds, ten-some Tibetan vultures were flying over.
"Quite the impressive display! Our opponent this time is quite special!"
Wang Chong looked at the sky and smiled.
There was nothing else in the sky except the vultures, but everyone could feel a tension in the air. There was no doubt that the Tibetans had already noticed them and this was only the first wave of surveillance. A massive battle was bound to come.
"I heard that Fumeng Lingcha fought a few large battles with them recently, so their reaction being this fast is very normal," Li Siye said. Unlike the others, his eyes showed no tension, only a deep anticipation. Before following Wang Chong, he had been a warrior of the Beiting Protectorate, a pure soldier.
A soldier's duty was to obey and fight. In Li Siye's life, there were two things that he was most passionate about. One was fine steeds, and the other was fighting.
Only the most pitched of battles could awaken the soul of battle deep within him.
"Zhang Que, get ready!"
With Wang Chong's order, the members of the eagle team began to move. Sharp cries filled the air as rock eagles took off into the sky, including that mutant breed of rock eagle that was skilled at fighting and often perched on Zhang Que's shoulder.
Screeches could be heard as the eagle team's rock eagles began to do battle with the Tibetan vultures. In this clash, the more numerous vultures were actually no match. Their feathers and blood sprinkled down, swiftly followed by their plummeting bodies.