The Human Emperor Chapter 871
Chapter 871: Contact The First Aerial Battle
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
The sight of Feng Changqing's deep bow left all the people around Wang Chong—Li Siye, Su Shixuan, Cheng Sanyuan, Zhang Que, Sun Zhiming, Chen Burang, and Zhuang Zhengping—deeply moved. They had all heard of Feng Changqing's thunderous reputation, and to many of them, this was an unreachable existence who stood high in the heavens, a mighty individual that they might live an entire life without interacting with.
But at this moment, Feng Changqing had cast aside his dignity in front of so many people and adopted an exceptionally meek attitude toward the younger Wang Chong. This act immediately made all of them feel a heavy shock.
Feng Changqing did not seem to care or notice, and remained bowed. The situation in the Western Regions was getting tenser and tenser, and after nearly two months of gloom and despair, Wang Chong was his only sliver of hope, the only chance of survival the thirty thousand Anxi Protectorate soldiers besieged in Talas had.
"Lord Feng, rest at ease. Although the Arabs are powerful, they're not so powerful as to be undefeatable. To use the words of Han Great General Chen Tang, those who offend the people of the Han will be executed, no matter how far they are! The Great Tang is not a weakling, and the worst mistake the Arabian Empire could have made was to collude with the Shi Kingdom and covet Anxi. Not only will I save Lord Gao Xianzhi and the soldiers of the Anxi Protectorate army, but I will also make the Arabs pay the heaviest price for their rash decision! This is my true goal in coming here!"
Wang Chong's eyes brightly shone as he solemnly helped Feng Changqing stand.
These weighty words instantly wrought a massive transformation on the faces of Feng Changqing and his Anxi warriors. While he had still been worried and anxious just moments ago, almost on the verge of breaking into tears, he now inexplicably felt comforted. Slowly, he raised his head and, for the first time, he began to inspect this young Protector-General.
This was a youth of only sixteen or seventeen, with straight eyebrows and bright eyes. It was easy to take him for one of those wastrel scions of great clans in the capital, but he also had a steadiness and composure that no scion of his age could have. His expression was wise, his bearing relaxed. It made one subconsciously pay attention to his every word and trust deeply in him.
But this was not all. Feng Changqing could also sense the thick smell of iron and blood from this youth. This was no ordinary general, but one who had experienced countless battles, seen mountains of corpses and seas of blood, one of those Great Generals who stood at the very apex. In his ten-some years in the Anxi Protectorate, Feng Changqing had smelled this odor on only one other person: Anxi Protector-General Gao Xianzhi.
Yet not even Gao Xianzhi had as thick and intense an odor as this.
Feng Changqing had once looked down on Wang Chong, and he had also reexamined his views and come to view Wang Chong with renewed importance, but in the end, he realized that he had still underestimated this youth. This youth was far more powerful than he had imagined.
"Lord Marquis speaks the truth. This one had a slip of the tongue. With Lord Marquis leading the grand armies of the Great Tang, Changqing is confident that the Arabs will never achieve their goals! Changqing will wait here to congratulate Milord for the early report of victory and the triumphant return. When the time comes, Changqing will definitely have a feast arranged in the protectorate to welcome Milord and celebrate the victory!"
Feng Changqing's expression turned stern as he stood to the side and gave a deep bow.
It was still a bow, but the meaning was completely different.
"I wish Milord an early victory and triumphant return!"
Behind Feng Changqing, the four Anxi elites also gave a deep bow.
"Wait for news from me!"
Wang Chong only smiled. This time, he did not go to help up Feng Changqing, but mounted the White-hoofed Shadow and set off, his back straight and his expression free of any reluctance.
"Pass on my order! All soldiers, move out, and quicken the pace!"
Rumble! The army of more than one hundred thousand surged through this last fortress of the Great Tang, heading toward the city of Talas, nearly one thousand li away. Behind it, only after the last soldier of the Qixi Protectorate army left Suiye did Feng Changqing finally raise his head.
In the sunset, the more than one hundred thousand soldiers of Qixi were like a black flood, unstoppable and fearless, determined and resolved, a sight that was deeply branded into the minds of all who saw it. But the only image in Feng Changqing's mind was of that confident and relaxed youth.
"Truly, one hundred rumors can't compare to a single meeting, and the person far surpasses the fame! In the past… Milord and I looked down on Lord Marquis, but for the Great Tang to have Lord Marquis is truly a blessing for Anxi, a blessing for the world! In this battle, I am confident that Lord Marquis will succeed!"
Beyond Suiye, the surroundings became awash with craggy peaks and steep cliffs, devoid of any towns or villages.
"All soldiers, advance at full speed!"
"Keep up! Don't fall behind!"
"Hurry! Talas is in great peril! Don't let the Arabs succeed!"
As the army marched through the massive coiling dragon that was the Cong Mountains, traveling along the desolate mountain roads to the west, they were constantly urged on to march faster and faster. Speed was paramount in war, and meanwhile, a constant stream of scouting birds filled the skies. Although they were still not at Talas, they could already hear shouts in the distance.
They could not see anything, but all of them could imagine that in the distant Talas, where hundreds of thousands of soldiers were gathered, an intense battle was undoubtedly underway.
All the soldiers were tense, their faces grim. So constant and endless were the orders that even the Hu mercenaries, who could not understand the Han language, could feel the tension and the oppressive air.
One day later, a new order was issued. The hooves of all the horses were to be wrapped and the mouths of all the horses and livestock muzzled so as to reduce any noise.
The amount of noise produced by the army of one hundred thousand instantly dropped, but in this silent environment, such actions only heightened the thick stench of war in the air to complete saturation. Although their superiors had said nothing, even the slowest of the soldiers knew that a battle of historic proportions was imminent!
One hundred li!
Talas was getting closer and closer, and the almost inaudible shouts were getting louder and louder.
Talas was still not in sight, but the waves of sound had now drowned out the rolling of the carriages and the marching of the army!
The army was marching faster and faster, and on the horizon, the undulating lines of a mountain range could be seen. The slopes were green and lush, covered with many plants, even though the geology meant that no massive trees could grow. These were the Baishi Mountains, the nearest barrier on the road to Talas. Beyond the Baishi Mountains, it was already possible to see a corner of that towering city peeking over the mountains, and even easier to see the thick plumes of smoke and tongues of flame reaching for the heavens.
The air was fraught with tension as the grim-faced soldiers turned silent. Even the cows, sheep, and other livestock accompanying the army's supply train seemed to sense something, their mouths shutting and their eyes filling with unease.
"Pick up the pace!!"
Order after order was issued by the officers of all levels, and the soldiers could feel the scent of battle thick around them. All of them tightly clenched their weapons, their gazes fixed forward. Each of them understood where the battle was, where their enemies were!
What awaited them was a battle of unprecedented ferocity and cruelty!
The gate to the Great Tang was behind them, and the thirty thousand soldiers of the Anxi Protectorate army were waiting for aid in front of them. There was no going back now!
The tension was so thick that it was stifling. At the front of the army, Zhang Que and all the members of his eagle team had gathered, all of them with solemn looks. The members of the eagle team had been through many aerial battles by now, including the battle of the triangular gap, the battle at Qixi Armory, and the battles of the Turkic steppe. Each time, they had returned victorious.
But all of them understood that this opponent was different from their previous ones, far stronger than any they had encountered, whether it was in cavalry, infantry, or eagles and other birds.
In their short skirmishes before, they had not been able get any sort of advantage!
Zhang Que turned to his team, his gaze passing over each member.
"I don't need to say anything about the strength of the Arabs. There's only going to be one chance. No matter what, we must win. Don't let a single one escape!"
The members all bowed, their expression turning taut like drawn bowstrings.
Zhang Que nodded and turned his head around, his eyes looking toward the western skies. He scanned the skies again and again, apparently searching for something. Finally…
A shrill cry suddenly came from the skies, and then massive Arabian hunting falcons with sharp and fierce eyes unfurled their massive wings and began to fly toward the approaching army.
"They're coming! Strike!"
Zhang Que's pupils constricted, and all his team members also became nervous. These were the hunting falcons the Arabs had stationed around their perimeter. Although the Arabs were focusing all their strength on attacking Talas and were still unaware of the approaching reinforcements, just like the soldiers of all other empires, the Arabs remained wary of their surroundings.
A black silhouette shot up from Zhang Que's shoulder. The scar-riddled Eagle King Little Sha lunged into the sky like a fired arrow. As if this was a signal, swishswishswish! All the eagles of the team took flight into the skies like bamboo shoots after the spring rain, soaring into the air to clash with the Arabian hunting falcons.
The battle was on the verge of breaking out!
"You can do it!"
Zhang Que looked up with clenched teeth at the sky, his hands balled into fists.