The Human Emperor Chapter 849
Chapter 849: Sudden Change In Anxi
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
"Let me ask, who sent all of you?"
Wang Chong strode over and stopped in front of the Arabs, his body exuding a powerful and oppressive aura. But the Arabs turned their heads and pretended to not understand what was being said. Wang Chong sneered at this display. These people had succeeded in disguising themselves as Tang soldiers and entering Qixi, so it wasn't possible for them to not understand Han.
"Is it Abu Muslim?" Wang Chong suddenly asked. This time, he did not speak in Han, but Arabic.
At these words, the Arab soldiers instantly shuddered and twisted their heads, their mouths open and their faces ghastly pale.
When Wang Chong saw this, his heart instantly sank.
Abu Muslim1 was the Abbasid Caliphate's Governor of the East, the Great Tang's most powerful foe in the Western Regions. In the future Battle of Talas, this person would serve as the highest commander of the Abbasid Caliphate! Although these Arabs had not answered him, their reactions had told him everything.
I didn't think that his claws would have already stretched here…
Wang Chong felt deeply disheartened.
Wang Chong's knowledge was actually very limited on this Abbasid Governor of the East, this highest commander of the Arab side at the Battle of Talas. Wang Chong had always believed that he had been the only one silently preparing for this battle, but he had never imagined that this Governor of the East had already begun to dispatch scouts and spies to the Great Tang six months beforehand. Moreover, his spies had already worked their way through Anxi and reached Qixi.
Wang Chong could already smell the stenches of battles and schemes.
In a flash, Wang Chong suddenly realized that he had deeply underestimated this Arab commander who resided west of the Cong Mountains. This Arab was definitely more frightening and much harder to deal with than he had imagined.
"You actually know the name of our lord?!"
"Impossible! A Tang like you can speak our tongue!"
"Give up on this idea! No matter what you ask, we won't say a word."
At this moment, those stubbornly silent Arab spies finally decided to speak. The Arabic that Wang Chong had spoken and the name 'Abu Muslim' had given them an enormous shock. During their entire infiltration of the Central Plains, this was the first time they had heard someone speak such fluent Arabic. Not even the open-minded Fumeng Lingcha had been able to perform such a feat.
In truth, the number of people who could speak Arabic in the entire Western Regions wasn't very large at all.
But the most shocking of all was that Wang Chong knew the name of their highest commander.
Arabia and the Great Tang were very far from each other, limiting the knowledge that each state had of the other. In addition, the Arabs were much more vigilant against outsiders than the Great Tang, with all military knowledge being absolute secrets. Not even many people in the nearby kingdoms of the Western Regions knew the name of their commander, but this Han Protector-General who had never once been to Arabia, perhaps never even to the Western Regions, could actually call out his name!
These elite scouts of the Abbasid Caliphate were dumbfounded!
"There's no need to say anything. All of you have already answered me!" Wang Chong indifferently said. The name 'Abu Muslim' was enough to tell Wang Chong almost everything. What else these scouts had to say really didn't matter.
"Xu Keyi, take them away. I'll let you handle the rest."
"Yes, Lord Marquis."
Xu Keyi understood and waved his hand, ordering the Wushang guards to take the scouts away. The City of Steel had interrogation specialists, experts from the Bureau of Punishments who had been transferred to the City of Steel using Old Eagle's connections. Wang Chong had brought them with him to the Qixi Protectorate.
Even if these Arab scouts had undergone special training and were able to keep a tight hold on their secrets, Xu Keyi would be able to at least get something from them.
The appearance of these Arab spies had triggered Wang Chong's vigilance and had also completely overturned his understanding of the Arab commander, Abu Muslim. Just when Wang Chong was ready to begin a complete investigation of this matter, a day later, in the evening, when everything was falling quiet, an eagle pierced through the veil of darkness, silently approaching from the distant Western Regions.
Very few people knew that the news brought by this eagle would be like a crashing meteor, swiftly causing the entire empire to quake and completely disrupting Wang Chong's tempo.
"What? Gao Xianzhi attacked the Shi Kingdom, killed its city lord, and stormed the entire region?!"
Wang Chong had been reviewing the documents of the Qixi Protectorate army when he heard this news, and his entire body trembled as if he had been struck by lightning, the documents in his hand dropping to the floor.
In that moment, the entire hall was deathly still!
The Battle of Talas!
This was the only thought left in Wang Chong's mind.
How could this be? The Battle of Talas should have been at least half a year away. Why did it happen so soon!
Wang Chong's face was pale, his mind in turmoil.
To stop this war, he had made all sorts of efforts, even written a letter to Gao Xianzhi thoroughly laying out the pros and cons of such a venture. Wang Chong had originally believed that his letter had been of some effect, at least making Gao Xianzhi a little more wary.
As long as he was more cautious, he would not so recklessly attack the Shi Kingdom as he had in his last life. The longer the Battle of Talas could be delayed, the more time Wang Chong had to prepare. But contrary to Wang Chong's expectations, not only had this battle not been delayed, it had been pushed forward six months!
"…Not only that, after attacking the Shi Kingdom, Lord Gao Xianzhi continued west, his thirty thousand elites preempting the Arabs and capturing the city of Talas."
Xu Keyi grimly bowed, sensing the seriousness of this incident.
"But the Arabs quickly advanced their armies east, sending all their soldiers to besiege Talas. The situation is serious and urgent. The presiding commander of the Four Garrisons of Anxi, Feng Changqing, has already sent a letter requesting reinforcements from us! Lord Marquis, please make a decision!"
The moment Xu Keyi finished speaking, a boom shook the entire hall. Xu Keyi glanced up and quickly realized that this was no earthquake, but Wang Chong fiercely standing up from his seat. His entire body was bursting with boundless Stellar Energy, wave after wave filling the hall.
Even a blind man could tell that Wang Chong's emotional state was extremely unstable.
"Lord Marquis…" Xu Keyi blurted out. In his service to Wang Chong, he had always taken his commander to be an incredibly farsighted commander who always had control over the situation. Even in the war of the southwest, Wang Chong had never panicked. This was the first time Xu Keyi was seeing Wang Chong lose control of himself.
"Bring the letter over!"
Wang Chong's voice resounded through the hall.
Xu Keyi stepped forward and respectfully offered the letter from the Anxi Protectorate.
"I've already ordered that all the information on this battle be gathered and sent up before daybreak!"
This night was bound to be a sleepless one for the Qixi Protectorate.
In the torchlit hall, Wang Chong paced back and forth, while all the commanders, whether it was Li Siye, Xu Keyi, Heba Ye, or Xu Qiqin, were summoned. By dawn, all the information had been collected.
Wang Chong had even written a letter to Feng Changqing asking for a detailed account.
Wang Chong finally understood the truth behind this major incident.
Gao Xianzhi had led his army on a sudden assault on the Shi Kingdom, killing many of its subjects. He had even crossed the Cong Mountains and advanced farther west, occupying the city of Talas, in the end being besieged by the armies of the Abbasid Caliphate. Behind this series of actions that had shaken the entire western border was a truth that was far more complicated than he had imagined. Wang Chong's letter truly had been useful, and Gao Xianzhi truly had been much more cautious.
If all had gone as expected, Gao Xianzhi was not planning on attacking the Shi Kingdom for several months, but he had received a piece of unexpected news that completely upset his tempo, compelling him to launch that series of rapid attacks that ended with his occupation of Talas.
The King of the Shi Kingdom had been colluding with the Arabs! The two empires were discussing a plan to jointly besiege the Anxi Protectorate in several months!
This was the news that made Gao Xianzhi change his mind and launch a preemptive strike!
How could it be like this?
Wang Chong clenched the letter, speechless.
A butterfly had flapped its wings, causing a massive storm and mighty waves on the boundless ocean. This was not the version of events that he knew. Wang Chong had always believed that Gao Xianzhi's sudden attack on the Shi Kingdom was the same as it was in history, a calamity that arose from his greed.
But after reviewing Gao Xianzhi's actions, Wang Chong had nothing to reproach him for.
Wang Chong had no idea that the Shi Kingdom and the Abbasid Caliphate were colluding to attack the Anxi Protectorate. Wang Chong could not determine if it was because this information had been hidden in his last life or this was purely the result of the butterfly effect. But there was one thing that was certain. Once this collusion was confirmed, launching a preemptive attack to strike before the enemy was fully prepared was the best decision.
There was nothing to be criticized about Gao Xianzhi's decisions. Wang Chong himself would have done the same.
And once Gao Xianzhi attacked the Shi Kingdom, the Arabs would definitely send troops to its aid. At this point, rather than passively waiting, it was better to simply attack. One benefit was that it would stop the Arab attack, and the second was that the war would be fought outside the borders, reducing its effects on the Western Regions.
If things proceeded smoothly, then after the war, the entire Shi Kingdom could be added to the Great Tang's domain in the Western Regions, with the Great Tang receiving little harm and a great boon.
And once one crossed the Cong Mountains, the region between Arabia and the Western Regions was flat and level. From a strategic perspective, the most useful area was undoubtedly the city of Talas. As a general who had made his name through swift and decisive battles, Gao Xianzhi would undoubtedly perceive the unique value of Talas, so after attacking the Shi Kingdom, he would undoubtedly march his troops to occupy Talas2.
This series of actions was sharp, fierce, and straightforward. While giving the Shi Kingdom a vicious blow, it also caught the Arabs completely off guard and forced them into a passive position. This was a thorough display of a Great General's caliber.
Not even Wang Chong could fault this move.
1. Abu Muslim was a Persian general who played a pivotal role in helping the Abbasids overthrow the Umayyads. A powerful figure in Iran and Central Asia, he was at odds with al-Mansur, the brother of the first Abbasid Caliph, as-Saffah. When as-Saffah died in 754, al-Mansur was made the second Abbasid Caliph, and he proceeded to reward Abu Muslim for his service by assassinating him, mutilating his body, and having it thrown into the Tigris.↩
2. The author seems a bit confused about geography. The Shi Kingdom had its capital in Tashkent, which was located on the foothills of the west Tian Shan mountains. Talas was to the north of Tashkent, along the Talas River, certainly not to the west, and both cities are north of the Cong Mountains, known today as the Pamirs. If the Anxi Protectorate was based in Suiye, as has been noted previously, Gao Xianzhi would have to cross the Tian Shan to attack Tashkent, and then he would essentially be marching back, heading north to Talas.