The Human Emperor Chapter 870
Chapter 870: The Twin Walls Of The Empire Feng Changqing
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
Dried and withered leaves were drifting through Suiye, carpeting the ground.
This city was more similar to those in the interior of the Great Tang. The ground was paved with gray bricks and the air was humid. In addition, there were more buildings built in the Tang style lining the roads than in other cities. Most importantly, there were finally people here. The city was not a near–ghost town, and there were even some Hu merchants in the crowd.
But the stench of war here was thicker than in any other place they had passed through.
The clashing of iron could be heard in the distance, accompanied with shouts of fighting.
Wang Chong frowned and called Zhang Que over. "Zhang Que, what's going on? Why do I hear sounds of battle here?"
With the Anxi Protectorate army away at the front lines and in fierce battle with the Arabs, there shouldn't have been any fighting in the city.
"Reporting to Lord Marquis: it's the bandits in Suiye. When we noticed them, they were setting fires and looting the city. We're currently fighting with them and will probably defeat them soon."
Wang Chong's brow slightly furrowed as he sternly said, "Bandits? Isn't this the territory of the Anxi Protectorate? Isn't Feng Changqing still here? How could bandits show up?"
Gao Xianzhi had left with nearly ninety percent of the Anxi Protectorate army, but ten percent had remained to hold the rear. With these Tang soldiers under the command of one of the Twin Walls of the Empire, Feng Changqing, this sort of situation should not have cropped up.
"It's not clear." Zhang Que shook his head, confusion in his eyes. "Based on what our eagle team can see from the skies, this isn't the only group of bandits in Suiye, and the situation has probably been like this for some time. General Kong Zi-an is currently leading a group of men to chase the bandits out of the city, so all of them should be cleared out quickly."
Wang Chong nodded. "I'll just ask Feng Changqing about this matter."
As they were speaking, a messenger rode through his army.
"Reporting! Lord Marquis, Anxi Vice Protector-General Feng Changqing is requesting a meeting!"
Wang Chong's eyes flashed in surprise. Speak of Cao Cao, and Cao Cao would arrive. Wang Chong immediately urged his horse forward.
On the side of the road, next to an elegant government office, several figures were silently standing. The leader was an extremely ugly and dark-skinned man, but he carried himself with an erect posture and refined manner that exuded confidence. Behind him were four burly warriors of the Anxi Protectorate army, sabers slung at their waists.
These four had been standing here for some time, and a hint of concern could be seen on their faces.
The sight of Wang Chong's horse made Feng Changqing's eyes light up in joy, and he hurried up with the four Anxi elites like he was going to greet his savior. After nearly two months, Feng Changqing's eyes had almost worn themselves out from anxiety, and he had spent every day running around like an ant on a hot pan. Only he understood just how he had managed to endure it all.
Now that Wang Chong had finally arrived at Suiye with a surging army of more than one hundred thousand, Feng Changqing could finally relax.
In truth, Wang Chong's constant delays had made him question several times whether Wang Chong was making excuses on purpose, but all his doubts were cleared away now. Most heartening for Feng Changqing was that Wang Chong's reinforcements were far larger than he had imagined. He had only believed that Wang Chong would bring thirty thousand soldiers at most.
"Lord Marquis, I've been waiting for you!"
Feng Changqing quickly strode forward, bowing in front of Wang Chong's White-hoofed Shadow and clasping his hands. As the words left his mouth, Feng Changqing could no longer stop his eyes from going moist. Talas was in a most perilous state. It had been three days since he had gotten any letter, and though he was beside himself with concern, he could not show any of it, because everyone else was looking to him.
If even he panicked, then all of Anxi would be finished.
But finally, after days and nights of waiting, Wang Chong had finally arrived.
"Milord, there's no need for such courtesy!"
Wang Chong immediately dismounted and rushed to help Feng Changqing rise. Feng Changqing was a famous general of Anxi, one of the Twin Walls of the Empire. In terms of age and seniority, he ranked far above Wang Chong, but in terms of actual status, Wang Chong was actually the superior.
When Gao Xianzhi departed and left Feng Changqing to hold the rear, he had bestowed upon Feng Changqing the title of Vice Protector-General, but Wang Chong was Qixi Protector-General as well as the Young Marquis, the title personally conferred by the Sage Emperor. These were not credentials that Feng Changqing could match. Thus, when Feng Changqing met Wang Chong, he needed to bow to him as a subordinate would to a superior.
Wang Chong went straight to the point. "Might I dare ask Milord what the situation is in the Western Regions at the moment? How is Lord Gao Xianzhi faring? Moreover, when I entered the city just now, the place was overrun with bandits. Weren't there Anxi soldiers left behind in Suiye? How did this situation still occur?"
Wang Chong had long heard the name of Feng Changqing, and in his last life, the Twin Walls of the Empire had been the two most dazzling stars shining over the Western Regions. However, he had never had a chance to meet this famed general. Feng Changqing was an ugly man, and his status was inferior to his own, but Wang Chong did not show him the slightest contempt. On the contrary, he only felt deep respect for this man, which is why he had immediately dismounted to stop Feng Changqing from bowing.
This was a loyal subject of the empire, one of the best in logistics and administration. Even the Queen of Logistics Xu Qiqin had expressed deep admiration for him in his last life. But it was precisely because of this reputation that Wang Chong found it so difficult to understand why Suiye was overrun with bandits.
"Lord Marquis is unaware that Anxi is currently vexed by problems both internal and external. The Arabs did not just collude with the Shi Kingdom, but also dispatched many spies to bribe the Hu within Anxi, providing them with horses and weapons to cause trouble in the rear. In addition, since two months have passed since Lord Gao Xianzhi and the Anxi Protectorate army began battling the Arabs at Talas with no signs of the siege breaking, the people of the Western Regions have grown panicky, and many of the small states and tribes have availed themselves of the opportunity to launch raids, so Anxi is dearly lacking for soldiers. The total number of soldiers does not even surpass two thousand, which is far from enough.
"What Lord Marquis saw just now is the result of my best efforts. Otherwise, Suiye would be in even more chaos," Feng Changqing tiredly said.
As one of the Twin Walls of the Empire, Feng Changqing was second only to Gao Xianzhi in terms of reputation. Feng Changqing could not escape the blame for the current state of Anxi, but only Feng Changqing understood just how challenging the situation was. When all thirty-six kingdoms and tribes of the Western Regions began to stir trouble, a garrison of two thousand was far from sufficient.
While Feng Changqing still had to worry about the state of Gao Xianzhi and the thirty thousand soldiers of the Anxi Protectorate army, he also had to worry about maintaining order in the Western Regions. He was exhausted in both body and mind.
"So this was the case!"
Wang Chong was deeply moved. He knew that Gao Xianzhi had not left many soldiers in the Western Regions, but he had never imagined that it was a paltry two thousand. For such a small garrison to keep as large an area as the Western Regions safe was essentially impossible. In fact, that Suiye, the city closest to Talas, was still able to host so many merchants and still appear orderly on the surface was proof enough of Feng Changqing's astonishing capabilities.
"Chen Bin, pick two thousand people and give them to Lord Feng Changqing, along with the necessary bows, arrows, and shields. In addition, I will also give you ten ballista teams. No matter what, Suiye must be stabilized," Wang Chong ordered without turning his head.
Suiye was one of the bases of the Anxi Protectorate, the closest stronghold to Talas, and also the spiritual heart of the Western Regions. If even Suiye fell into chaos, so would the rest of the Western Regions. Thus, Suiye had to be stabilized and all the bandits killed.
"Yes, Lord Marquis!"
Chen Bin's voice came from the rear, and he quickly galloped off.
"Lord Marquis, I can still deal with the situation in Anxi, at least for the short term, but Lord Gao Xianzhi is already in dire peril," Feng Changqing suddenly said, his eyes overflowing with worry and concern. "I'm afraid that he won't be able to last for much longer. I hope that Lord Marquis can march as quickly as possible to Lord Protector-General's aid!"
"Lord Feng, don't panic. What is the situation in Talas?" Wang Chong asked.
Up until now, almost all the information regarding Talas had originated from the Anxi Protectorate and Feng Changqing, so no one could understand what was going on there more than him, not even Zhang Que.
"The situation in Talas is incredibly grim. When the Arabs first arrived, they didn't have many soldiers and they were clearly unprepared, and there weren't any suitable trees around Talas that they could cut down. But now, the Arabs are gathering more and more soldiers, and their attacks are growing fiercer and fiercer. From the intelligence reports I've gathered, the Arabs have also cut down trees and transported from the rear to the front lines, and are currently busy making these trees into siege ladders and other such siege weapons. They're clearly readying themselves for a full-out offensive. Based on how much time they need, Talas will fall in just a few more days.
"The Arabs have placed all their focus on Talas at the moment, but once Talas falls, all of Anxi will quickly be lost, and the Western Regions will fall into the hands of the Arabs."
Feng Changqing had an extremely agitated expression.
"Lord Marquis, Anxi and the Great Tang have no more soldiers available, so I can only depend on Milord. Changqing pleads with Lord Marquis that no matter what, Lord Marquis must save Lord Protector-General and my Anxi brothers! Please!"
Feng Changqing put all his strength into a long and deep bow.