The Human Emperor Chapter 863
Chapter 863: Court Debate Decision Ii
Chapter 863: Court Debate, Decision! (II)
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
"Alarmist drivel! The Four Garrisons of Anxi constitute a minor territory on the border, and Talas is itself a city beyond the borders, a vast distance from the capital. In the future, should we pour out the entire strength of the country to reinforce Anxi when it cries 'emergency'? The Western Regions lie beyond the bounds of civilization, and not even half a Tang lives there. Do we need to waste our resources and exhaust the strength of the Great Tang for some mere foreigners?"
Amidst all these arguments, the official Yang Lu could no longer hold himself back.
Yang Lu was an imperial censor and a typical civil official. Civil officials had always been staunchly anti-war, and amongst the many voices in the court that opposed reinforcements being sent to Anxi, Yang Lu was one of the loudest.
A titled general stepped forward, his face seething with rage. "Military matters are of vital importance to the state. One Imperial Great General and thirty thousand of the empire's best soldiers are besieged at Talas. Should we just stand by as these people die, treat it as a matter of little concern? Then when all the other border generals ask for help, we can ignore them as well? And when the common people face misery and catastrophe, which of you will take responsibility!"
There was no need for King Song to step forward with regards to Talas, as there was no small number of hawkish voices in the court.
Whether in the Sui or the Tang, or any of the other dynasties, the conflict between the civil and military officials had never ceased. The incident at Talas had only served to sharpen this divide.
"The crucial point here is that the war of the southwest has just concluded, and all the protectorates are still recovering. Where would we get reinforcements in such a short time? The Imperial Court has always prioritized placing its soldiers on the border, and the capital and the rest of the interior simply don't have the soldiers. What happens if we transfer the soldiers from other protectorates and some other incident occurs? In the current situation, it's not that we don't want to help Anxi, but we simply don't have any soldiers to send!"
One of the officials who stood more in the middle of the debate could no longer keep on watching and finally voiced his opinion. But the moment he spoke, another voice responded.
"Qixi Protectorate's Wang Chong!"
This voice was soft and timid, apparently worried that it might attract too much attention. But the moment it spoke, the entire court fell silent. Even Yang Lu and the more neutral official were both speechless.
Longxi, Beiting, Andong, and Annan Protectorates had just experienced battles that left them lacking soldiers, forcing them to only passively defend and not aggressively attack. These four areas all had places that their soldiers needed to defend, enemies to be fought against. These soldiers truly could not be taken away so that they could be sent over the Cong Mountains to fight the Arabs.
But Wang Chong's Qixi Protectorate was different.
The Qixi Protectorate had always served as a reserve for Anxi, and Wang Chong was the current temporary Qixi Protector-General. Of the various Protector-Generals, Wang Chong was probably the only one capable of going to Anxi's aid. However, Qixi was traditionally menaced by Ü-Tsang and the Western Turks, and throughout its history, it had always been in a state of passive defense, rarely able to engage in offensives, much less reinforce Anxi.
But it just so happened that Wang Chong had launched attacks targeted at Ü-Tsang and the Western Turks. The battle at the triangular gap had shattered the threat of Ü-Tsang to the west, and the battle at the Qixi Armory had vanquished the threat of the Western Turkic Khaganate to the east.
The Qixi Protectorate was currently in a state of unprecedented safety. There were no armies threatening it.
And as the commander of Qixi Protectorate, the temporary Protector-General, Wang Chong had already proved his abilities in the war of the southwest and the two battles at Qixi. Privately, many already referred to him as the empire's Eighth Great General. There was no doubting his strength, and he was completely capable of holding his own.
There was no one more suitable than Wang Chong and the Qixi Protectorate army for the job of reinforcing Anxi and breaking the siege of Talas, and such an operation wouldn't have much of an effect on the rest of the empire.
Even the vehement anti-war doves like Yang Lu and the other civil officials turned pensive at this suggestion.
A jade seal stamped down on an official document from the Bureau of Military Personnel. After more than a month of debate, the civil and military officials of the Great Tang had reached agreement with unprecedented speed.
'Qixi Protector-General Wang Chong is ordered to lead his army to reinforce Talas! All needed weapons, supplies, and soldiers should immediately be submitted to the Imperial Court. The Six Bureaus are ordered to offer their full cooperation, with no room for error!'
At dusk, a carrier pigeon took off into the air, flying toward Qixi.
At this moment, all of the Great Tang had eyes on Qixi, on Wang Chong. Whether or not Gao Xianzhi and his Anxi Protectorate army could be saved all depended on Wang Chong!
These gazes traveled over the vast earth to congregate around Wushang's City of Steel.
There was a massive clanging of metal, and countless furnaces throughout the City of Steel began to belch thick plumes of smoke. If one looked down from the sky, one could see countless craftsmen working within the City of Steel like tiny ants. Meanwhile, outside the city, thousands of soldiers had divided into two sides and were 'charging' at each other.
These soldiers did not belong to the Great Tang, but were mercenaries of the Western Regions, with their characteristic hawkish noses and deep eyes. After exterminating the Saka and recruiting the Gangke, Wang Chong had used his remaining momentum to shower silver over the Western Regions. Using his massive wealth and the reputation of the Great Tang, Wang Chong had recruited many mercenaries.
At least forty thousand mercenaries of the Western Regions had gathered under Wang Chong's banner and were currently training outside the City of Steel. These mercenaries had never gone through any strict training, and so during battle, they had a tendency to simply charge forward without regard for any commands. This was not what Wang Chong required. The Arabs were not ordinary opponents, and a mob of mercenaries would not be very useful against them.
Thus, Wang Chong had gathered them near the City of Steel and had Li Siye and Xu Keyi train them. Just some simple training and drilling in formation would have massive effects on these mercenaries, allowing them to pose a threat to the Arabs at Talas.
On the western flank of the City of Steel, on a massive training ground, large ballistae were lined up. Five people were gathered behind each ballista, constantly loading, aiming, calibrating, and then firing. Boomboomboomboom! A dense volley of ballista bolts was fired, striking the metal targets on the other side.
The metal targets thicker than a finger were cut down like weeds in the face of this ballista fire.
So it went for round after round, batch after batch, every team switching out for a new one after repeating this process one hundred times. During this training, each member worked with complete focus and seriousness. With incredible speed, Wang Chong was realizing his 'ballista team' plan.
In normal circumstances, it would have been impossible to complete this plan in a short time, but the massive amount of ballista bolts in the Qixi Armory had been a great boon to Wang Chong's designs.
Farther off, hooves thundered and horses neighed, creating a massive din. Li Siye had already come back with his two thousand Wushang Cavalry, as had Cheng Sanyuan and his three thousand. The two groups had reformed and were currently engaged in arduous training at the City of Steel.
They were now learning a completely new formation. The Battle of Talas was imminent, and all of them knew that they would be facing an opponent that even Western Regions War God Gao Xianzhi could not deal with, so they needed an even more powerful formation to gain victory.
In the center of the City of Steel, within a building built in the classical style, a handsome youth with straight brows and bright eyes was sitting by a window, silently perusing a book, exuding an elegant and composed aura.
Flap flap! A bird shot through the window and landed on Wang Chong's desk.
Wang Chong glanced at the pigeon, his eyes twinkling as he subconsciously reached out and removed the letter tied to its leg. With a mere glance, his expression suddenly changed, and a smile appeared in his eyes.
"It's finally here!"
Wang Chong put down the book, the smile spreading from his eyes to his lips. After a long and arduous debate, the Imperial Court had finally reached a decision and bestowed upon him the right to conscript soldiers.
This was exactly what Wang Chong had been waiting for.
Wang Chong had never hoped that the Imperial Court would think as he did and understand the significance this war had for the Great Tang, but as long as he could get his hands on this military decree, everything would be different. At the very least, he could now act free of any fetters.
"Speed is paramount in war. There's not much time, but it should be enough for me to do what I need to do," Wang Chong said to himself as he looked at the decree from the Bureau of Military Personnel in his hand.
The authority the Bureau of Military Personnel had given him was vast. Anything that Wang Chong needed, whether it was soldiers, money, or resources, would be available at his request. No Protector-General or Great General had ever received such treatment. However, Wang Chong understood that this authority was actually very limited. That the Imperial Court had even bestowed this authority showed that it actually could not provide him much assistance.
The Imperial Court actually hoped that he could handle this crisis on his own and was not actually giving him any vast army of soldiers.
Wang Chong raised a brush and began to write a reply to the Imperial Court. 'This lowly subject Wang Chong has received the order, but this lowly subject has several conditions that he hopes the Imperial Court can agree to…'
After writing a few lines, he stopped and began to think, after which he added the names of his father and big brother. After several consecutive wars, the Great Tang was lacking soldiers and in a period of recovery. Even Big Dipper Great General Geshu Han had been forced to borrow horses from Wang Chong, so one could easily imagine that the other border protectorates were also probably not faring very well.