The Human Emperor Chapter 885
Chapter 885: The Desperate Battle Of A Cornered Beast
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
In a flash, Wanhe Peiluo's eyes turned scarlet, almost tearing up with blood. As a mighty figure of the Western Regions, Wanhe Peiluo had always received respect and veneration. Never had anyone dared to act like Wang Chong, using the lives of his tribe to threaten him.
This was the greatest of humiliations to Wanhe Peiluo!
Wang Chong gave a cold smile, barely paying any attention to Wanhe Peiluo as he slowly swept his gaze over the area. He quickly noticed that while the other Anxi generals were agitated, flabbergasted, or confused, Cheng Qianli and Gao Xianzhi were both extremely calm.
Wang Chong mentally gave a knowing smile.
"Wanhe Peiluo, don't make any rash actions. I've already given you a warning. The Western Regions is the Great Tang's Western Regions, and the reason the Karluks have their present status is that the Great Tang raised them to it, but this does not mean that you can sit on equal level with us. If you make any unpermitted movements, it will be considered an inferior offending a superior. I won't even need a reason then to wipe out the entire Karluk Tribe!"
Wang Chong looked down over Wanhe Peiluo, his eyes frigid and seeming to peer straight into the depths of Wanhe Peiluo's soul.
While recruiting mercenaries in the Western Regions, Wang Chong had exterminated the fickle and treacherous Saka to warn all the other tribes of the price for betrayal. But the ones that Wang Chong really wanted to exterminate were not the Saka, but the Karluks. They were truly the ficklest tribe of the Western Regions.
The Karluks' collusion with the Arabs and betrayal on the battlefield had had enormous ramifications, and this treachery had been far more odious than any normal defection. But Gao Xianzhi had been the one to hire the Karluks, so Wang Chong could not do as he pleased.
One of the Anxi generals finally couldn't help but step forward and speak up. "Lord Protector-General, might you have made a mistake? Could it not be some other tribe? The Karluks have fought alongside us for so many years and have always been honest and reliable, never once betraying us. How could they collude with the Arabs?"
Another officer of the Anxi Protectorate army stepped out and declared, "That's right. Men are not birds or beasts, so how could they be so heartless? Fighting side by side, we've developed such a deep bond that while anyone else can betray us, the Karluks couldn't possibly do so!"
It wasn't that they didn't believe Wang Chong, but the friendship between Wanhe Peiluo and the Anxi Protectorate army was one established on bloody battle after bloody battle. These officers emotionally found it very hard to accept the fact of betrayal.
Wang Chong couldn't help but mentally shake his head at this sight. While humans were different from birds and beasts, the Han were also different from the Hu. The Anxi Protectorate army had clearly not done the slightest mental preparation for the betrayal of the Karluks, with some of them even speaking up for them. It was no wonder that in his past life, the defeat at Talas had been so disastrous, the defection of the Karluks making it so that not even one thousand of the Anxi Protectorate army were able to escape, even though there had been many avenues of retreat available.
"There is nothing in the world that is impossible. Don't forget, the Karluks are mercenaries, not regular soldiers of our Great Tang. They are willing to fight side by side with us not because of some deep bond, but because we have given them enough gold!"
Wang Chong's sharp gaze slowly scanned the surroundings, silencing all the Anxi generals. They naturally understood this reasoning, but it had been so long that they had all forgotten that the Karluks were different from them. Their betrayal was an actual possibility, but none of them had been willing to accept it.
Wang Chong took in these reactions and buried them at the bottom of his heart, mentally giving a tiny sigh. Ice three feet thick could not be formed in a single day of frost, and altering the Anxi Protectorate army's impression of the Karluks in such a short time was not plausible. However, there were some words that Wang Chong had to say. He had to wake up the Anxi Protectorate army, or else there would be a second and third Karluk Tribe.
"Mercenaries fight for money, and they fight for whoever offers the highest price. In the last ten-some years, the Great Tang has always offered the highest price, and the Anxi Protectorate army has always been victorious. The Karluks only needed to follow in the rear, shouting and waving banners and pursuing when the day was won. The risk was small and the rewards were great, so the Karluks would naturally take such a deal. This was the true reason they never betrayed you.
"Their lack of betrayal was not because they were loyal and reliable, but because they didn't have any benefits or reasons for doing so! In addition, never forget that benevolence, righteousness, wisdom, courtesy, and trust are things that we Han value, but the Hu emphasize the strong eating the weak, following whoever is the strongest. Benevolence and righteousness have no meaning to them," Wang Chong expounded.
These words were not merely targeted at Wanhe Peiluo and the Karluks. The benevolence of the Great Tang was how its common people could be safe and happy, how the Central Plains could reach its current prosperity.
But across the world, the benevolence of the Central Plains, the virtue of the Confucian school, was simply useless. Lions and tigers could roar over the wilderness and rule over all other beasts because of their overwhelming strength, not any sort of benevolence or righteousness.
The world was a callous wilderness and operated on the same principle.
"Wanhe Peiluo, I give you one more chance. If you make a public confession, I can still spare your life. Otherwise, all the Karluks will follow you in death!"
Wang Chong stared at Wanhe Peiluo with a cruel and emotionless face.
Wanhe Peiluo felt his heart shrink under the stare of these callous eyes, but he quickly suppressed these emotions.
"Bastard! I don't even know what I've done! Lord Protector-General, we Karluks have followed you in your battles for ten-some years, sharing in both rewards and hardship. Now that it's come to this, is this how we will be treated?"
Wanhe Peiluo ignored Wang Chong, instead turning to look at Gao Xianzhi with furious eyes. This young Protector-General of the Great Tang had come with an imposing momentum and sharp words. Wanhe Peiluo had no means of dealing with this youth, so he could only place his hopes on Gao Xianzhi.
"Wanhe Peiluo, just be a little more patient. Protector-General Wang is not someone who does anything with no purpose. He must have a reason for his actions," Gao Xianzhi sternly said, after which he turned to Wang Chong standing to his right.
"Protector-General Wang, Wanhe Peiluo and the Karluks are friends of the Anxi Protectorate army. With the friendship that comes from working for so many years with them, they are worthy of our trust. If Protector-General Wang believes that Wanhe Peiluo is colluding with the Arabs, I hope that Lord Protector-General can produce firm proof so as to convince the soldiers."
Wang Chong chuckled, noticing a few details in Gao Xianzhi's final words.
"Lord Protector-General, a wise opinion! Wanhe Peiluo, death is at hand but you still struggle. It seems like you won't stop until there's no hope left!"
Wang Chong flicked his fingers and coldly stared at Wanhe Peiluo.
"Hmph, Wang Chong, you slander me, your every sentence mentioning that we are colluding with the Arabs, but if you can't produce any convincing evidence, I, Wanhe Peiluo, swear an oath to the heavens that I will pay any price to have you suffer death by a thousand cuts to vent my hatred!"
Wanhe Peiluo gripped his Barbaric God Axe, his expression savage. But though his mouth conveyed confidence, in reality, he was somewhat unsettled by Wang Chong's confident air.
"Wanhe Peiluo, since you wish to die, I will fulfill your wish!"
Wang Chong grinned and waved behind him.
"Xue Qianjun, bring it over!"
Wang Chong's words instantly intensified the tension in the air. Everyone began to turn to see what was being brought, and Wanhe Peiluo felt his heart thump in panic.
He had been so composed because he was confident that Wang Chong had no evidence, but things were completely different if Wang Chong really could produce evidence.
A few moments later, heavy footsteps came from the rear. As the Anxi generals watched, Xue Qianjun emerged dressed in full armor, leading four fierce and muscular soldiers.
These four armored soldiers were each supporting the corner of an extremely elaborate and opulent chest. Boom! The four men heaved and tossed the massive chest to the ground with a deafening thump.
Everyone could hear a strange sound from the chest, like thousands upon thousands of small items clattering against each other.
Xue Qianjun coldly slashed out with his saber, shattering the golden lock on the chest. Then he heaved open the lid.
The contents of the chest immediately sent an uproar through the crowd. The chest was packed with various kinds of pearls, agate, jade, coral, and jewels, the total price simply immeasurable.
Wanhe Peiluo felt like he had been struck by a lightning bolt, and his breathing grew much more rapid.
Cheng Qianli's eyes widened as he asked, "Protector-General Wang, what is this?"
"Lord Protector-General, General Cheng, soldiers of Anxi, this chest of pearls and agate was found in a hidden cave on the grounds of the Karluk Tribe. So many pearls, agate, and jade; Lord Protector-General was not the one who gifted them, correct? Or did the mercenary Karluks suddenly learn how to make money through commerce?"
Wang Chong looked around as he spoke.
The soldiers were chattering amongst themselves, the sight of these dazzling pearls and jewels sending a wave of consternation through them.
The Anxi Protectorate army and the Karluks had a long relationship as employer and mercenary. When each battle was completed, the Karluks would be paid a rich reward, but not even the Anxi Protectorate army could pay the Karluks this much.
Whether it was the pearls, agate, jade, or jewels, they were all worth much more than their weight in gold. Even the financial officer of the Anxi Protectorate army found it very difficult to calculate the value of this chest packed to the bursting with such goods.
Moreover, Wanhe Peiluo and his Karluks were massive spendthrifts, showing no signs of frugality. After every battle, they would always go on reckless spending sprees. There was no way they could have accumulated such wealth in only ten-some years!
"Lord Protector-General, does this really all belong to the Karluk Tribe?"
One of the Anxi officers stepped forward and stared in a daze at the chest of treasures. Just a few moments ago, no one in the Anxi Protectorate army would have dared to believe that the Karluks would collude with the Arabs.
But now that Wang Chong had taken out this chest of riches, this firm conviction had begun to totter.
Wang Chong shook his head and chuckled, and then he slowly extended one finger.
"The treasures you see now are only those of one chest. In the grounds of the Karluk Tribe, we found nine other chests of such treasures!"