The Human Emperor Chapter 862
Chapter 862: Court Debate Decision I
Chapter 862: Court Debate, Decision! (I)
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
With the two hundred thousand warhorses delivered to the City of Steel, Wang Chong held up his end of the bargain and sent the Turkic Fourth Prince back. Meanwhile, he also withdrew the three thousand cavalry from the Turkic steppe. With this, Wang Chong finished the largest ransom of a prince in the history of the Western Regions.
"Hulayeg, just how did you do it? Two hundred thousand! This isn't a small number. Even if everything on that boy were made from gold, he still wouldn't be worth that much!"
"That's right! When he heard that this many warhorses were coming, even Lord Marquis was stunned. Let me tell you, I was with Lord Marquis in the war of the southwest, and even at the most intense and grim moments of that war, Lord Marquis never once creased his brow."
"That wasn't all! Everyone knows about Lady Xu. Everything she does is handled carefully and methodically, and she manages countless resources, an astronomical number! But even Lady Xu was flabbergasted when she heard the news."
The City of Steel was brightly lit, and all the guards and Wushang cavalrymen that Hulayeg was friends with had gathered around a table. One of them, a prison guard, had broached a question that the entire City of Steel wanted to know the answer to.
"Heheh, I won't tell. This is my own little secret."
Hulayeg belched and smiled, holding his crowd in suspense.
"Hulayeg, just spit it out. We're all brothers here, so you can tell us," another guard said.
"That won't do. If a merchant gives away their secrets, how could they do business? Just keep guessing!" Hulayeg smugly declared.
The sight of Hulayeg's smug face made all these people clench their teeth in rage. Exchanging glances, all of them quickly agreed to an idea.
"Come, come, come! For your efforts, Hulayeg, your brothers will give you a toast."
"Come, I'll also drink a toast to you. I submit to none of my brothers except you. After all, you've rendered a great service."
"That's right! Everyone, a toast to Hulayeg!"
All of the crowd exchanged toasts with Hulayeg, drinking a cup while he downed one as well. In an exuberant mood, Hulayeg accepted all the toasts, drinking cup after cup. Gradually, Hulayeg's mind grew hazy as he hiccupped, his face reddening as he drank himself into a drunken stupor.
"Let me tell you! There's nothing that I can't do amongst the Western Turks. For the Fourth Prince matter, I had to make bribes both high and low. Amongst the Western Turks, I'm basically all-powerful, able to summon the winds and call the rain."
"You? How could that be? You must be exaggerating!" a prison guard immediately shot back, 'disbelief' on his face.
"What did you say!"
Unable to accept this provocation, Hulayeg straightened his neck, his eyes flying open.
"That's because none of you understand. Let me tell you, don't be fooled by Ishbara Khagan's heroic air. In truth, his ears are rather tender. I just had to give a few bribes to those concubines in Ishbara Khagan's harem, especially the Khatun, the Fourth Prince's mother, and the matter was over and done with. Just think about it. No matter how formidable Ishbara Khagan is, how could anyone stand a throng of women nagging him at his ear all day?"
The crowd was instantly enlightened. They had thought that Hulayeg was some brilliant genius, but he had really just relied on women. This was completely different from what they had imagined, and with the riddle solved, they immediately lost interest and began to disperse.
"Heyheyhey, where are all of you going? I still haven't finished yet!" Hulayeg shouted out from behind.
In the distant court of the Western Turkic Khagan, in Mount Sanmi…
With the Fourth Prince's arrival and reunion with the Khatun at the back of the mountain, this incident had come to a perfect conclusion.
However, with the departure of those two hundred thousand warhorses, the steppe between here and Qixi was much emptier, leaving behind only a sense of frustration. But this had been the will of the esteemed Blackwater Shaman, the will of the gods, so no one dared to object.
Very few people knew that deep in the night, when the stars shone over the steppe, two figures seated themselves side by side in the Khagan's tent. There were no lights within, and the two peered out, seeming to see through the tent and into the infinite beyond.
"Venerable Priest, why did you have me agree to Hulayeg's request of two hundred thousand warhorses?"
There was no one in a radius of several dozen zhang around the tent when Ishbara Khagan finally broke the silence. If Hulayeg had heard these words, his soul would have definitely fled his body, all his intoxication instantly dispersed. He had been under the impression that Ishbara Khagan had only agreed due to the pressure from his harem. Little did he know that the truth was completely different.
Ishbara Khagan had only agreed because the Blackwater Shaman had wanted him to.
"Haha, Khagan does not think that horse merchant to be very interesting?"
The Blackwater Shaman's voice came out of the darkness, carrying a thought-provoking tone.
Ishbara Khagan frowned. As he thought back to Hulayeg's plump and rather comical appearance, he remained confused.
"Just a clown, an insignificant character. If you didn't want to keep him around, I could have him killed whenever I wanted."
"An insignificant character?" The Blackwater Shaman shook his head. "Khagan is wrong. Could an insignificant character have saved the Fourth Prince?"
Ishbara Khagan was momentarily stumped for words. Now that he thought about it, he realized that before Hulayeg had appeared, they had made no progress in their talks with the Tang in the City of Steel, with the other side refusing to engage in any discussions. With anyone else, he would have just dispatched his armies, but that youth in the City of Steel was not a problem that soldiers could handle.
The death of Agudu Lan was proof enough of that.
This had been a stalemate, but when Hulayeg arrived, the Fourth Prince really was returned. Ishbara Khagan had never predicted this.
"Minor characters have their own uses. Is it not enough that this insignificant man was able to save the Fourth Prince from the City of Steel, do something that we could not do? In addition, it is only an extra one hundred thousand warhorses. Khagan's losses are limited, and the horses on the steppe will quickly give birth to more. However, with a little horse merchant like Hulayeg, Khagan now has another communication channel with the Great Tang… In the future, who knows what uses this channel could have?" the Blackwater Shaman lightly said.
Ishbara Khagan lowered his head in thought, but he still could not suppress a long sigh.
"But We are still a little reluctant…"
"If Khagan is reluctant, the solution is very simple. Just wait a little longer."
The Blackwater Shaman smiled, his pitch-black eyes gleaming with a profound light in the darkness.
At this moment, the voice of one of Ishbara Khagan's trusted Wolfguards came from outside the tent.
"Great General Duwu Sili has sent a report. He has already pacified the rebellion of the Huyaner Tribe and defeated the army of the Eastern Turks that supported the Huyaner rebels. In addition, he has also defeated the forces of the Beiting Protectorate army that planned to use this opportunity to mount an assault on the north. By noon tomorrow, he should arrive at Mount Sanmi to give a full report!"
Ishbara Khagan's entire body shook at these words, and he inadvertently turned to the Blackwater Shaman.
The Blackwater Shaman silently smiled.
Time continued to slowly flow by, and while Wang Chong continued to prepare for the battle at Talas, the entire region of Qixi fell into a period of calm and silence. Meanwhile, the serene Imperial Court was gradually becoming fraught with tension.
In Taiji Palace, an official gave an impassioned plea. "We can't delay any longer! The requests for reinforcements are coming in like snowflakes. We've received more than thirty such letters, and Great General Gao Xianzhi is still besieged at Talas. The Imperial Court must send soldiers as quickly as possible!"
"It's just a minor conflict. Great General Gao Xianzhi has still not been defeated, so why are you so worried, Chen Han? Do you think that our magnificent Great Tang can't defeat a trifling Arabia?"
"Isn't Goguryeo also just a small country? The Sui exerted the strength of the entire country, but didn't they also suffer defeat there? Great General Zhang Shougui was undefeated in every battle, but has he been able to get any farther? Can the strength of soldiers be measured by the size of their countries! Great General Gao Xianzhi is skilled in swift battles, but after so long, we've still heard nothing from him. If something has happened, will you take the responsibility?"
"Ridiculous! Does a month without news mean defeat? If the Great General really did lose, the news would have already reached the Imperial Court. Do you not even understand something as simple as that?"
"Anxi, Qixi, and Longxi are all closely linked to each other. If Anxi is lost, Qixi will be lost, and if Qixi is lost, Longxi will be threatened, and after that, the safety of the capital itself will be in danger. If the Arabs, Tibetans, and Turks are able to make their way through Qixi and Longxi and threaten the capital, this will be a disgrace for all of the Great Tang, and all of you who so vehemently oppose this notion will be criminals of the state! I'd like to see just how you'll act when the time comes!"
Fierce quarrels echoed through the court.
At the beginning, the incident at Talas had not caused much of a stir. Everyone believed that someone of Gao Xianzhi's abilities could easily dispatch the Arabs. After all, they knew of Gao Xianzhi's record. This was the war god of Anxi who had not been defeated once throughout his tenure. But reality had developed in the exact opposite direction.
Urgent pleas for help from Anxi were growing even more urgent, and even though Gao Xianzhi's thirty thousand Great Tang elites had been armed to the teeth, they had still not broken out of Talas. If this was just some minor border conflict, they could have ignored the problem, but in truth, this had never been the case. Anxi was the barrier for Qixi, Qixi was the barrier for Longxi, and Longxi was the barrier for the capital.
One of the reasons the Great Tang had expanded all the way to the Four Garrisons of Anxi was admittedly because it wanted to open up the frontier and exhibit the power of the Great Tang. But the second reason was that it needed to protect Longxi and the capital, safeguard the Sage Emperor!
In all these years, it was only because of the two-layered barrier of Anxi and Qixi that Longxi and the capital were shielded from any major incidents. But if Anxi were lost, none of these officials even wanted to imagine what would happen next.