Chapter 275: The Respect Of The Jiannan Commanders
But in any case, due to this unintended misunderstanding, Zhangchou Jianqiong dared not take Wang Chong's words lightly.
"As the progeny of a general, it is a good thing that Wang gongzi thinks deeply into such matters. You all need not think too much into his words!"
Zhangchou Jianqiong waved his hands to stop his subordinates before turning to Wang Chong. With a faint smile and the might of a powerful general, he said, "It has been long since Mengshe Zhao and -Tsang surfaced in the world, but the situation that Wang gongzi spoke of has never happened before.
"Mengshe Zhao and -Tsang, one is in Erhai while the other is on a plateau. These two countries have completely different languages, customs, and even skin color. Not to mention, our Great Tang divides the both of them into two like a sharp sword. The two nations can't even communicate with one another properly, not to mention, collaborate with one another.
"The human heart is always filled with doubts. It's already sufficiently difficult for a section to work with one another, and here we are talking about the armies of two empires. Who will direct who? Who will take the lead and who will listen? Wang gongzi has never been to the battlefield before, so it's natural you are unaccustomed to such military matters."
Zhangchou Jianqiong knocked on the table lightly with his forefinger.
"If the two countries were to ally with one another to attack Great Tang, they would have to dispatch an army of at least 200,000 men each. A combined army of 400,000, who would command them? When will they strike? How will they strike, and how will the two armies work with one another? ... Wang gongzi, you are still too young, and it's unavoidable for you to underestimate the intricacy behind such matters. That is 400,000 men, not a few hundred or a few thousand. How could they be mobilized so easily?
"Besides, even if they were to collaborate with one another, with our hundred thousand elite troops and the strategic advantage of our forts, do you think that we won't be able to fend off their offense? As long as we stall them for a sufficient length of time for the main army from the royal court to arrive, we would be able to wipe them out clean no matter how many soldiers they dispatch.
"Putting everything aside, just the army located closest to Jiannan is the Big Dipper army in Longxi. That is an army personally groomed by Great General Wang Chongsi! Even though it is currently under Geshu Han, its troops consist mainly of veteran Han soldiers who have accrued great experience facing the steel cavalry of -Tsang.
"Should the situation you mention occur, the Big Dipper army would surely move. Also, the other armies along the borders could also be mobilized for that crisis you speak of. The scenario that you mentioned has never happened before in the history of our Great Tang. War is not a game. No matter how ambitious Geluo Feng is, he has to weigh his choices carefully. His Erhai Mengshe Zhao might not necessarily be able to withstand Great Tang's wrath!"
At the end of his words, Zhangchou Jianqiong harrumphed coldly as compelling power flowed through his voice. Mengshe Zhao was different from -Tsang in the sense that it was a vassal state of Great Tang.
Vassal states represented nations that the lording empire could annex, but chose not to.
Before Mengshe Zhao staged an uprising, it would have to consider the consequences.
"Lord, I can't say for sure whether Mengshe Zhao can successfully ally with -Tsang, but it is the absolute truth that Mengshe Zhao has intentions of staging a coup d'tat, and it has sent an envoy to liaise with the Seventh Tsenpo of -Tsang!"
Wang Chong's words immediately caused a stir in the room. Zhangchou Jianqiong, Xianyu Zhongtong, and the other Jiannan commanders' faces immediately twisted in shock.
"Wang gongzi, what do you mean by that? Matters regarding the military can't be spoken jokingly. Is it true that Mengshe Zhao has extended a hand of alliance to -Tsang?" Zhangchou Jianqiong asked with a grim expression.
He thought that Wang Chong only wanted to trade some military insights with him; this was rather common among the scions of military clans. However, the content of Wang Chong's words had already exceeded the realm of trading insight; this was something that could possibly influence the fate of Great Tang!
It would be a huge problem if Mengshe Zhao was truly proposing an alliance to -Tsang. All matters regarding the southwest of Great Tang were within his jurisdiction, at least before he entered the Bureau of Military Personnel.
If something were to happen there, everyone here would be affected.
"Not too long ago, I met a scion from Erhai. His father is an important official from Mengshe Zhao, and under my warm welcome, he confessed in a drunken state that Geluo Feng has already dispatched one of his deeply-trusted subordinates as an envoy to propose an alliance to -Tsang. That gentleman bore goodwill toward our Great Tang, and he hopes not for a war to happen between our countries. I believe that was the reason why he spouted these words unintentionally.
"Nevertheless, when he came to the next day, he understood the consequences of his revelation and swiftly returned back to Erhai without even bidding farewell. It's only due to this matter that I raised the previous matters to General Zhangchou. I beg your pardon for my rudeness, I didn't mean to come out as so!" Wang Chong stated.
Those words immediately left a grave atmosphere glooming over the banquet. The commanders of the Southern Protectorate Manor glanced at one another grimly.
Even Yang Zhao, realizing the severity of this matter, looked a little appalled.
"Wang gongzi, pardon me for questioning you so, but what is the surname of the Erhai gentleman you spoke of?" Zhangchou Jianqiong asked with a deep voice.
"His surname is Chen!" Wang Chong said. Seeing that he had captured the attention of all of the commanders from the Southern Protectorate Manor here, Wang Chong apologized to them in his heart.
The matter regarding Nanzhao was no joking matter. It concerned 180,000 elites, several cities, and the lives of over a million citizens.
In order to warn these Jiannan commanders of the looming threat so that they would make preparations, he could only play some tricks.
Zhangchou Jianqiong lowered his head as he fell into deep thought. He was familiar with the upper echelons of Mengshe Zhao, and recalling their names, there was indeed an influential official that went by the surname of Chen. Furthermore, he had accompanied Geluo Feng to Great Tang before.
Could the words of Duke Jiu's offspring be right? Does Geluo Feng really bear the intention of allying with -Tsang to deal with Great Tang?
"Geluo Feng is a man of great ambitions. To achieve his desires, he is willing to take any risks and bear any consequences. Besides, Lord Zhangchou has also said that Mengshe Zhao won't be a match for Great Tang individually. Thus, the only course of action he could take at this moment is to ally with -Tsang."
"Erhai and Mengshe Zhao are far from one another, not to mention they are divided by Great Tang. But to fulfill his ambitions, even if Geluo Feng has to lower his head, he would surely accede to any demands -Tsang has. After all, these are just mere words. Even if -Tsang demands he to fulfill his end of their bargain, it would be unable to traverse across Great Tang to force Mengshe Zhao into anything. This kind of deal would only benefit Mengshe Zhao. At the very least, it would allow Geluo Feng to break free of Great Tang's control."
Hearing that his words were working, Wang Chong quickly moved to convince Zhangchou Jianqiong further.
"And to -Tsang, whose skirmishes with Great Tang are increasing by the day, even if it couldn't receive anything from Mengshe Zhao from the alliance with it, it would still stand to gain just by weakening Great Tang. As the saying goes, an enemy's enemy is a friend! As long as Mengshe Zhao can showcase its sincerity and the authenticity behind its offer, there's a high chance that -Tsang will agree to the alliance."
For the first time, astonishment flashed across the eyes of Zhangchou Jianqiong as he reassessed the youth sitting before him. Even Xianyu Zhongtong could sense that there was something extraordinary from this humble young man, and a grave expression appeared on his face.
At this point, no one in this room dared to think that Wang Chong was uttering nonsense. They could feel the weight of his words crushing their shoulders.
Despite his young age, the young man from the Wang Clan was able to analyze and point out the relationship between -Tsang and Mengshe Zhao accurately and concisely.
Initially, everyone thought that this young man was arrogantly insulting the Protector-General, but at this moment, they had no choice but to consider Wang Chong's words carefully. That was because his doubts and worries were reasonable.
Mengshe Zhao and -Tsang might not have collaborated before, but that didn't mean that they could exclude the possibility of it happening. Just like what Wang Chong said, Mengshe Zhao could borrow the strength of -Tsang to free itself from Great Tang's control, thus becoming an independent nation.
And likewise, -Tsang could make use of Mengshe Zhao to strike a heavy blow onto Great Tang, thus cleansing itself of the many humiliating defeats it had suffered from Great Tang. Even if just for the sole purpose of harassing Great Tang, -Tsang would be willing to accept the alliance.
More importantly, the main reason why everyone thought that the -Tsang Empire wouldn't move down eastward to invade the Central Plains was because -Tsang had no involvement and knowledge of Jiannan whatsoever.
Fighting on a completely foreign land would surely impair the might of -Tsang Empire's forces.
However, Mengshe Zhao could make up for this weakness of it. As a vassal state of Great Tang, there were plenty of Erhai merchants and officials, including influential ones, who entered Jiannan each year.
With Mengshe Zhao serving as a guide, -Tsang would be able to rid itself of this flaw.
Even Zhangchou Jianqiong couldn't help but admit that there was a high possibility of the hypothetical situation Wang Chong raised happening. With such thoughts in mind, heaviness began to weigh on his heart.
His eyes slowly rose to look at the youth sitting in front of him. At this moment, his impression of the other party had changed altogether.
Before coming to the capital, he had already heard of the reputation of this youth. This young man was the center of the storm regarding the regional commanders incident, which had compelled many powerful generals in the military into action.
Listening to the rumors was one thing, but experiencing it personally was another.
Even though he had helped Wang Chong on the regional commanders incident, he had thought that Wang Chong was too young to fear the various powers lurking in Great Tang.
But this matter was completely different.
The Southwestern region was Zhangchou Jianqiong's territory, and he had a tight grasp on affairs regarding Erhai Mengshe Zhao and -Tsang.
Yet, this young man was able to top him in his understanding of his own jurisdiction... For the first time, Zhangchou Jianqiong felt that he had been underestimating Wang Chong far too much.
While the reason why he could host this banquet at this Ten Sun Tavern was because of Wang Chong's help, the underlying reason why Wang Chong was able to help him was due to his identity as Duke Jiu's grandson and Wang Gen's nephew.
In other words, it was only because he was born into a prestigious clan!
But amidst his current daze, he suddenly realized that his understanding of the youth before him was completely wrong. Even if one were to strip off his prestigious background as the offspring of a clan of ministers and generals, and his identity as Wang Gen's nephew and Duke Jiu's grandson, he would still be able to shine brightly just with his talent itself!
It isn't a coincidence that this youth is able to catch the attention of so many people!
Unknowingly, the attitude of the group from the Southern Protectorate Manor gradually changed, and respect surfaced in their eyes.
Just the youth's ability to accurately point out the relationship among Mengshe Zhao, Great Tang, and -Tsang made sure no one dared to take him lightly.
Nanzhao and Mengshe Zhao can be considered as the same territory at this point. Nanzhao is the name for the Five Zhaos (one of which being Mengshe Zhao), but since Mengshe Zhao has taken over the whole of Nanzhao, the two can be considered as the same.
Erhai is also a name for Nanzhao. Strictly speaking, Erhai refers to a lake the Five Zhaos (Nanzhao) are situated around, but due to it being a landmark, the region is sometimes addressed as such.