The Human Emperor Chapter 865
Chapter 865: The Fate Of The Anxi Protectorate Army
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
Wang Chong's foresight was truly astounding!
Wang Liang still had no idea how Wang Chong, without even stepping out of the house or ever taking a voyage overseas, could have known that tens of thousands of li across the ocean were islands with so much exposed Meteoric Metal. This was truly too mysterious, too miraculous.
But there was one thing that Wang Liang could be sure of.
Those exposed deposits of Meteoric Metal on those islands were far too precious, so precious that even the mere thought of setting off on a return journey with so much of this treasure left behind made Wang Liang's heart ache. And this Meteoric Metal could be snatched away at any time by those conniving great clans.
Thus, after careful calculation, Wang Liang had adjusted the waterline of the fleet, greatly increasing the amount each ship could hold, so the ore that would normally take two journeys to transport could be done in one.
This was the true reason for the fleet's delayed arrival in the Central Plains.
The sailors began to call out signals, and very soon, the ore began to be unloaded!
When the news of Wang Liang's arrival with the Meteoric Metal arrived at Wushang via messenger bird, the City of Steel turned jubilant. The last step in Wang Chong's plan was complete. With the Meteoric Metal, Wang Chong could forge many suits of sturdy armor and fill up the last shortcoming of the Wushang Cavalry.
"Pass on my order! All the great clans of the capital should work together to transport the Meteoric Metal to the City of Steel as quickly as possible. Time is short, and there's no need for the forging of the Meteoric Metal to be done at the capital. It can all be done in the City of Steel!"
Wang Chong was invigorated to hear the news. An eagle flew out the window like an arrow, headed for the capital.
With Wang Chong's order, countless specially-constructed carriages suddenly appeared on the cement road to Wushang, all of them loaded with small mountains of Meteoric Metal as they were driven day and night to the City of Steel. Countless cavalry escorted them, and the bandits and brigands of the Silk Road not only did not try to rob them, but also worked to escort the Meteoric Metal.
Wang Bei's subjugation of the many bandits on his journey west was proving its worth.
Wang Chong's plans had finally matured, and it seemed like an invisible vortex had appeared in the City of Steel, sucking in copious amounts of resources, steel, and soldiers.
The training of the army continued day and night, the shouts of the soldiers rising to the heavens. With the City of Steel at the center, a vast number of soldiers had gathered in Qixi: sixty thousand mercenaries from the Western Regions, eight thousand Gangke soldiers, and twelve thousand regular soldiers from Greater and Lesser Balur. On the Great Tang side, there were the twenty thousand soldiers of the Qixi Protectorate army, five thousand fully-equipped Wushang Cavalry, the twenty thousand mixed infantry and cavalry led by Wang Yan and Wang Fu, the eight thousand elites of the Annan Protectorate army, and the ten thousand additional regular soldiers sent by the Imperial Court. In total, an army of 143,000 soldiers gathered around the City of Steel.
In addition, Wang Chong had also used part of the gold the court had given him to buy many cows and sheep that could be used as part of his supply train.
Besides all this, vast mountains of foodstuffs, armaments, and steel modules had piled up within the City of Steel!
The City of Steel had become a veritable war machine. At this moment, even the distant Tibetans could feel the thick aura of war hanging about the City of Steel.
A great war was imminent!
The time of departure for the army grew closer and closer. Meanwhile, if one turned away from Qixi, their gaze flitting past Anxi, across the Cong Mountains, and on for another seven or eight hundred li to look upon the faraway city of Talas, one would see that this famous stronghold of the Silk Road was currently surrounded by a vast army of cavalry and infantry.
The cavalry and infantry had formed an endless tide of steel that wrapped Talas in countless airtight layers.
The army made not a single noise, merely exuded a stifling and oppressive aura.
"Milord, the Arabs have already attacked us seven times today. It's been nearly two months, yet their soldiers have not only failed to decrease, but even increased. We can't kill them all! The soldiers can't hold on for much longer!"
The grandiose walls of Talas were famed throughout the Western Regions, but at this moment, they were scorched by the fires of war. At this time, a tall and sturdy general stood next to Gao Xianzhi, his brow fraught with deep worry and unease.
"I know," Gao Xianzhi said indifferently, his hair drifting in the wind. His expression was aloof as he coldly regarded the sea of Arab soldiers below. After nearly two months, Gao Xianzhi's face was so battered by the hardships he had endured that no one would believe that this was that handsome and refined war god of the Western Regions.
As the most famous Great General of the Great Tang Empire's northwestern border and also as one of the Central Plains' supreme peak Saint Martial experts, Gao Xianzhi had slain countless experts. After a fierce battle, Gao Xianzhi would emerge without even a drop of blood on his clothes.
In this world, the number of people that could threaten an Imperial Great General like Gao Xianzhi could be counted with one's fingers.
But now, not only were Gao Xianzhi's hair and clothes stained in blood, the round armor piece on his chest had been shattered. The almost indestructible 'Cloud-Swallowing Divine Armor' gifted to him by the Sage Emperor had been covered in countless cracks by an even sharper weapon, and dark red blood was seeping through these cracks!
If even their commander Gao Xianzhi was in this state, one could only imagine the ferocity and cruelty of the battles the Anxi Protectorate army had experienced in these last two months.
In his ten-some years of military service and his toppling of countless opponents, Gao Xianzhi had never imagined that here, west of the Cong Mountains, he would encounter the most formidable opponent of his life: Abu Muslim and his Arab army!
"What were today's casualties?"
Gao Xianzhi's voice resounded over the wall, but no one could hear any emotion within it.
"Much of our equipment is damaged beyond repair, and our ballista bolts and arrows are on the verge of running out. In addition, the Ferghanans lost eight thousand men, the Karluks six thousand, and our own troops suffered six thousand losses. Right now, not even thirty thousand of our initial seventy thousand soldiers remain. In addition, many of them are wounded. Milord, we can't hold on for much longer. We need reinforcements!!" the general anxiously said.
"Has there still been no news from Anxi?" Gao Xianzhi calmly said.
"Yes!" the rugged-faced general said through clenched teeth. "In these last two months, we've sent countless requests for reinforcements to Anxi, a veritable snowstorm. General Feng has replied that he's doing all he can to get reinforcements from the Imperial Court, but reinforcements have yet to arrive. Milord, your subordinate will write General Feng another letter asking for any more news!"
"There's no need."
To the general's surprise, Gao Xianzhi waved his hand and rejected the notion.
The general was so stunned that his entire body froze.
"Hear my order. Starting from now, there is no more need to send any requests for reinforcements! Because… there are no soldiers available," Gao Xianzhi indifferently said.
The general next to him was left speechless.
Gao Xianzhi said nothing more, but a complicated mixture of emotions flitted through his eyes. His eyes swept over the earth and to the horizon. Gao Xianzhi knew that he had made a mistake. He had actually already lost the battle. There was essentially no hope left for the Anxi Protectorate army.
His primary strategy had always been one of swift and decisive battles. Whether it was his attack on the Shi Kingdom or his lightning raid on Talas, Gao Xianzhi did not believe his strategies to be mistaken. His only error was in underestimating his opponent.
A mountain cannot hold two tigers. I didn't think that this continent had a foe just as powerful as the Great Tang!
Gao Xianzhi's mind was in turmoil.
The Great Tang was the strongest empire in the world. Goguryeo, the Turks, Ü-Tsang, the kingdoms of the Western Regions—none of them had been able to match it. This was an idea deeply rooted in Gao Xianzhi's mind, an opinion that had never once changed in all his years battling in the Western Regions. As an Imperial Great General and Anxi Protector-General, Gao Xianzhi had once investigated the Arabs, and he knew that Arabia was far stronger than any of the other kingdoms of the Western Regions, his strongest adversary in the area.
Gao Xianzhi had never underestimated Arabia, but it was only when he clashed with its soldiers that he truly understood just how much of its power it had been hiding.
Two hundred thousand soldiers at the start had risen to three hundred thousand, and this number was continuing to climb as if there was no upper limit… This opponent was far more terrifying and powerful than he had imagined. This was not just a little stronger than the other kingdoms of the Western Regions, or some foe on the same level as Ü-Tsang.
This was a terrifying 'colossus', just like the Great Tang!
The Anxi Protectorate could not possibly defeat such a powerful opponent alone.
The war had persisted for two months, At the start, Gao Xianzhi had hoped that he could rely on his excellent equipment and Talas's sturdy defenses to resist the sea of Arabs until reinforcements from the court could arrive. But now, Gao Xianzhi was slowly beginning to understand that this plan was impossible.
The Great Tang currently had no soldiers available!
Longxi, Beiting, Annan, Anxi… As Anxi Protector-General, he understood more than most that these four areas had their own foes to deal with. The Arabs were far too lucky, because they simply didn't have that many enemies. Meanwhile, the Great Tang was too unfortunate, because it was surrounded by enemies.
The Great Tang had hundreds of thousands of soldiers, but all the enemies around it made it difficult to move these soldiers around.
Feng Changqing truly had sent a letter saying that the Imperial Court had agreed to dispatch soldiers as quickly as possible, but Gao Xianzhi knew that this was an empty promise—the Imperial Court didn't have any soldiers to send!
The fates of the thirty thousand soldiers of the Anxi Protectorate army and the forty thousand Ferghanans and Karluks had actually been decided the moment they entered Talas.