The Human Emperor Chapter 879
Chapter 879: A Meeting Of Protector Generals Gao Xianzhi
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
Behind the carriages was a veritable sea of cows and sheep, all of them surging over the hills to arrive at the battlefield. And after the livestock came the carriages carrying food and supplies… Only at this stage in the battle did the people in charge of logistics finally enter the battlefield.
With everything settled, Wang Chong turned his head back around and continued his leisurely ride to Talas. Over there, Wang Chong could already see that lofty figure walking toward him.
When the distance between them was rather small, Wang Chong stopped. Even though Wang Chong was a reincarnator who had once been the revered 'War Saint', this was the first time Wang Chong was seeing this famous 'Wall of the Empire' whose name was known throughout the Western Regions. The Western Regions War God Gao Xianzhi was so famous that in his last life, when he was just a mere scion of a great clan, Wang Chong had regarded him as a nigh unreachable existence.
As for later, when the calamity broke out, and Wang Chong's star soared into the heavens and began to strive to reverse the tides, the star of this legendary Great General of the Western Regions had long ago plunged down from the skies of the Great Tang!
Thus, from start to finish, Wang Chong had never had a chance to meet this illustrious Great General of the empire!
This was Wang Chong's first impression of Gao Xianzhi. Even though his breathing was ragged, his body covered in wounds, and his expression haggard from fighting battle after battle, his every movement exuded a sense of grandeur. Even amongst other Great Generals, he would still stand out from the rest.
There was a rumor that Gao Xianzhi had admired the culture of the Great Tang ever since he was a child, so much so that he had studied abroad in the Great Tang when he was only seven. Wang Chong didn't know if this rumor was real or false, but based on the demeanor that Gao Xianzhi exuded, there was an eighty to ninety percent chance that it was true.
"Protector-General Wang, my gratitude is beyond words. This Gao represents all the Anxi Protectorate army in expressing our deepest thanks to Milord!"
A mixture of emotions appeared in Gao Xianzhi's eyes for a moment before, under countless eyes, he gave a respectful bow. In this Battle of Talas, the Anxi Protectorate army had been at the end of its rope, so at its limit that Gao Xianzhi had already prepared for the complete annihilation of the army and was getting ready to offer one last sacrifice for the empire.
If not for the timely arrival of Wang Chong's reinforcements, the Anxi Protectorate army would have probably become naught but a part of history.
Wang Chong was a full generation younger than Gao Xianzhi, and his seat of Qixi Protector-General was also controversial, at least amongst the other Protector-Generals and Great Generals of the empire. By addressing him as 'Protector-General', Gao Xianzhi had fully displayed his respect for and acknowledgment of Wang Chong.
"Lord Protector-General, there is no need for such courtesy. This was Wang Chong's duty. Lord Protector-General, what are the casualties within the city?"
A hint of surprise flashed through his eyes as he clearly noticed the significance of how Gao Xianzhi had addressed him.
"We've lost more than half our men in this battle, and there are more than four thousand wounded within the city. In addition, we lack medicine, and our food supplies are almost all used up," Gao Xianzhi said, his eyes growing dim. The Anxi Protectorate army had always been victorious in its campaigns over the Western Regions, but now it had suffered a wound of unprecedented severity, one that would take a very long time to recover from.
Wang Chong nodded, sympathy in his eyes.
"With regards to medicine and supplies, Lord Protector-General has no need to worry. I have brought enough to resupply you. Kong Zi-an, take the medicine and food into the city."
"Yes! Lord Marquis!"
Kong Zi-an waved behind him, and the waiting convoy of carriages loaded with food and medicine entered the city. After two months of battle, Talas was bound to be lacking in all sorts of resources. Having already predicted this, Wang Chong had naturally prepared to resupply the city.
As the carriages rolled into Talas, metal clattering and shouting began to rise from the battlefield. Upon hearing this noise, Gao Xianzhi and the Anxi generals around him subconsciously turned to look. What they saw were furnaces belching out smoke while hundreds of craftsmen stood next to specially-made transport carriages, unloading and planting massive steel modules into the earth.
The metal clattering just now had been the sound of their hammering.
All the craftsmen worked like they were extremely familiar with the process, hammering and binding with order, discipline, and astonishing efficiency. It took only a few moments for tall silvery-white walls to begin rising outside of Talas.
Not only that, the reinforcements from Qixi that had been chasing the Arabs like a surging tide clearly began to slow their pursuit as they passed the steel walls, and a visible gap had appeared between them and the fleeing Arabs.
"Lord Protector-General, this is…"
The one to speak was a bearded and swarthy general at Gao Xianzhi's side. Around him, the other Anxi generals were equally dumbfounded. Wang Chong's army of more than one hundred thousand currently had the advantage, so now was the time to strike while the iron was hot and inflict even more casualties on the enemy. But for some reason, Wang Chong's forces had clearly given up on the pursuit, allowing the defeated Arabs to get away.
Given Wang Chong's reputation and how his army had performed just now, such a low-level and serious error should never have happened.
And there was also those busy craftsmen and those steel walls… The Anxi generals were left befuddled and bewildered, none of them able to understand what these soldiers from Qixi were up to.
Gao Xianzhi remained silent. He had his speculations, but he also seemed to not understand too clearly.
Wang Chong's way of battle was completely different from the traditional model. Moreover, it was very difficult to imagine that a commander would bring noncombatants like craftsmen as well as furnaces to a battle involving more than one hundred thousand soldiers. Such a thing had never happened in the history of warfare; only Wang Chong was capable of thinking of such an idea.
Wang Chong looked at that tyrannical general exuding a storm of energy and suddenly asked, "Is this General Cheng Qianli?"
"Lord Protector-General knows me?" Cheng Qianli said in astonishment.
"I've heard a little."
Wang Chong gave a faint smile, a faint ripple of emotion in his heart. Other than Gao Xianzhi, the Anxi Protectorate army had been home to two other top-class generals. One of them he had already made his subordinate, the Invincible Great General Li Siye, and the other one was this Cheng Qianli.
Although Cheng Qianli did not end up achieving as much as Li Siye by the end, his longer service in the army and his greater seniority meant that he had managed to achieve a higher cultivation level!
Cheng Qianli had been born stalwart and fierce, with an intimidating face. On the battlefield, he was the undisputed number two of the Anxi Protectorate army, and he resided at the peak of the Brigadier General level, probably even more powerful than Ü-Tsang's Asura War God Dayan Mangban. Thus, even though this was Wang Chong's first meeting with him, he had still recognized this general with a single glance.
He had undoubtedly played no small part in the Anxi Protectorate army's ability to hold out for so long.
"…Chasing down the remnants of the enemy and killing as many Arabs as possible is naturally a good thing, but right now, the Arabs are only in turmoil due to the fleeing of their own soldiers. They have not lost any of their primary strength. Even though they lost so many soldiers just now, they still have two hundred and seventy or eighty thousand soldiers, more than twice our number. In addition, all of them are brave and competent elites. Besides that, the Arabs have many top-class generals that haven't appeared, including their commander-in-chief, Abu Muslim. If the information I've gathered is correct, this Governor of the East of the Abbasid Caliphate is a master strategist, certainly not someone who can be vanquished through a localized defeat."
Wang Chong's eyes shone with a wise light as he spoke. As the supreme War Saint of the Great Tang, Wang Chong was confident in dealing with any adversary, but never would he look down on them, much less someone as difficult to deal with as Abu Muslim.
That this man had been able to carve a bloody path to the position of Governor of the East, in a place that emphasized strength and power as much as Arabia did, was already a testament to his strength. And besides that, even the most ordinary of individuals would become one of the best Great Generals if they were put through hundreds, even thousands of fierce battles.
To defeat one of Abu Muslim's generals did not mean that one could defeat Abu Muslim himself. This was the commander-in-chief of the Abbasid Caliphate's eastern region, the 'Governor of Iron and Blood'. It was not only his strength that was astonishing, but his mind for strategy as well, making him no pushover. Although Wang Chong had not even met this person, they had already engaged in an invisible clash, one that had occurred only a few days after Wang Chong entered the Qixi Protectorate to take his post.
The Governor of Iron and Blood had a far stronger desire for the Great Tang than Wang Chong had imagined. Even before going to war, his tentacles had already extended as far as Qixi.
Wang Chong's words had immediately silenced the crowd, leaving all the Anxi generals grim and solemn. The name of 'Abu Muslim' was like a magic spell. After two months of battle, no one understood the man behind this name more than the generals of Anxi.
As the finest force in the empire, the Anxi Protectorate army had been proud, confident, fearless. The Anxi Protectorate army had considered itself unstoppable and without peer in this world, until they entered Talas. Here, they encountered the brave, pugnacious, and fearless Arabs.
If not for the height and thickness of Talas's walls, the Anxi Protectorate army would have never been able to last this long against the massive wave of three hundred thousand Arab soldiers, far stronger than the soldiers of Mengshe Zhao and Ü-Tsang.
One of the Anxi generals clenched his fists and said in agitation, "But, Lord Protector-General, although Abu Muslim is very formidable, not even at his most formidable could he have predicted Lord Protector-General's arrival and his defeat on the eastern front. If not even he was able to predict this, then perhaps we really can use this chance to utterly crush the Arabs!!"
Abu Muslim truly was a formidable individual, but in this battle, they had finally spotted a sliver of hope, a chance to defeat the Arabs. If they were just giving up the pursuit out of some mere misgivings and further evidence emerged that showed that they had lost an excellent opportunity, that would just be far too depressing.