Chapter 363: The Third Mission!
This time, the response from the royal court came very quickly. Roughly six hours later, the group received a reply from the Bureau of Military Personnel.
The royal court was indeed unaware of the situation surrounding the Iron Cloak Highwaymen, and they were startled to hear that they had grown to a group seven hundred men strong.
The high death toll of thirty-six cavalrymen had also left them gravely concerned.
Under normal circumstances, putting a group of eighty cavalrymen against a seven hundred man-strong group filled with a significant number of True Martial realm highwaymen and bandits, as well as a powerful expert like Iron Cloak Li, the eighty cavalrymen would have been completely wiped out.
Without a doubt, this was a huge screw-up on the side of the Bureau of Military Personnel.
And yet, despite the Bureaus intelligence failure, Wang Chong and the others managed to slay three hundred men, along with the chief, Iron Cloak Li, and the military strategist, Zhou An, with casualties of only thirty-six men. This feat had shocked even the Bureau of Military Personnel.
The prerequisite given by the Bureau of Military Personnel was that the loss for each platoon shouldn't exceed six, but the death toll of thirty-six had already far exceeded that number.
However, the deaths had only occurred in the second mission, and the root cause of the issue was the Bureau of Military Personnel's intelligence lapse. Taking into account the successful elimination of Iron Cloak Li and Zhou An despite the disadvantageous situation, the verdict from the Bureau of Military personnel was:
The Bureau of Military Personnel will not pursue the breach of the prerequisite condition in the second mission. On top of that, the recruits who have participated in the mission will have their contributions in this operation marked in their records, and this will also serve as a foundation for their promotion in the military when they enlist in the army in the future.
On top of that, the Bureau of Military Personnel will also send some personnel over to collect the bodies of the fallen soldiers, and they shall be buried and compensated as per soldiers who have died on the front lines of a battlefield.
"This is wonderful!" Reading the response from the royal court, Xu Gan, Huang Yongtu, and Zhang Lin were delighted.
In this operation, Xu Gan and Huang Yongtu were assaulted and encircled by the Iron Cloak Highwaymen, and that had resulted in nearly twenty casualties. Just by themselves, they had already severely breached the conditions imposed on the mission.
As such, from yesterday until now, their hearts had been floating in their chests, unable to settle down.
After receiving an affirmative response by the royal court that they would not pursue the matter, the duo finally heaved a long sigh of relief.
On top of that, the reward that the royal court offered regarding this contribution, to pave the way for their future promotions, had left even Xu Gan trembling in excitement.
How many of the scions their age had military contributions under their name?
At least ninety percent of the scions throughout the capital would end up without military contributions their entire lives, and yet, the two of them had such a contribution under their names despite having never been to the battlefield. This was indeed something to celebrate over!
Just with this, their starting point would be much higher than the other scions in the capital. It might just be a small headstart, but like a rolling snowball, the momentum would swiftly build up, resulting in a widening gap between them and the others.
To use a simple example, after an astounding victory in a major battle, if a Five-Man Squad Leader and Ten-Man Squad Leader had participated in the battle, and assuming that they had performed equally well on the battlefield, who do you think would be deemed to have contributed more to the victory?
It might just be a small advantage at this point, but the benefits would gradually add up.
There was no scions in the capital who were unaware of this aspect.
And as for Zhang Lin, he was simply glad that his brothers who had died in battle would be honored and compensated like soldiers who had died in the front lines.
On this aspect, he was rather different from Xu Gan and Huang Yongtu.
"With this, they should be able to rest in peace." Upon receiving this news, Wang Chong was gladdened.
He was still thinking that if the Bureau of Military Personnel refused to budge on this aspect, he would have to tap into his connections with King Song and his Big Uncle to make this matter happen, but it seemed like there was no need to do so.
Great Tang was in decline, but it had managed to uphold a decent level of fairness within the military.
"Xu Gan and Huang Yongtu, what do you intend to do next? Will you return to the capital, or will you push on?" At this moment, Wang Chong stepped forward and asked.
The area suddenly plunged into silence.
In the letter from the Bureau of Military Personnel, the group gathered here was offered two choices.
First, since two missions had been accomplished, and the four platoons had suffered a great deal of damage in the midst of eradicating Iron Cloak Li, the Bureau of Military Personnel had offered them the choice of returning to the capital and ending the mission now.
Second, due to urgent circumstances by the border, the Bureau of Military Personnel was tight on manpower at the moment. Thus, they needed every soldier they could get to support Longxi. If the group wished to, they could continue on and carry out the third mission to destroy the Tibetan troops which were gathered in the region.
As this would be a clash with an official army, danger was inevitable. If anything, it could even turn out to be more dangerous than the battle with Iron Cloak Li.
Thus, the suggestion by the Bureau of Military Personnel was for the four of them not to participate in the battle.
Nevertheless, if the four of them did choose to participate, the royal court would reward them by raising the cap on the number of soldiers they could have under their command by a grade after they graduated from the training camp and officially joined the military.
"Wang Chong, what about you? Will you return to the capital or push on with the third mission?" In response to Wang Chong's question, Xu Gan replied with another one of his own.
Huang Yongtu and Bai Siling also turned their gazes to Wang Chong as well, curious to see how he would respond.
After the incident with the Iron Cloak Highwaymen, while no one had said anything on the surface, unknowingly, they seemed to have come to a non-verbal consensus to regard Wang Chong as the leader of their group.
"Me?" Sensing everyone's gazes on him, Wang Chong chuckled and replied without any hesitation, "Do you even need to ask? Naturally, I will participate in the third mission as well."
Those words were decisive and imposing, filled with incredible confidence that one couldn't help but respect.
Even though the Bureau of Military Personnel had mentioned that the risk from the third mission was likely to be above the second, Wang Chong shared a very different opinion.
One must know that in the previous mission, it was eighty against seven hundred!
It was highly unlikely that they would face such a huge disparity in the forces in the third mission as well. Furthermore, there shouldn't be another expert like Iron Cloak Li who would be invulnerable to swords and spears, and could reverse the flow of battle single-handedly.
As long as neither of these two situations appeared once more, Wang Chong felt that there wasn't much to worry about.
Even if the Tibetans held a slight advantage in the battle, as long as the situation wasn't as extreme as before, Wang Chong was confident that he could dominate the battlefield through his strategies.
Thus, his view differed from the Bureau of Military Personnel.
Besides, the reward offered by the Bureau of Military Personnel had caught Wang Chong's interest.
As long as the third mission was successfully cleared, the four of them would be allowed to command a force one grade more than the allowed as per their current rank after officially joining the military.
Such rewards were unusual and not many people knew of them, but they were extremely familiar to Wang Chong.
In the near future, such rewards would be commonly offered to the scions of prestigious clans. This was a plausible method by which capable scions of prestigious clans could swiftly rise through the ranks.
However, the catch was that the additional force and the burdens from their associated cost would not be carried by the royal court. The scions would have to find some way to cover the gap themselves.
From the royal court's point of view, they could skimp on their limited military personnel and resources while tapping into the connections of the prestigious clans to attract top-notch experts into the military.
On the other hand, while the prestigious clans would have to supply the experts by themselves and take care of the rations, considering the influence that most prestigious clans wielded, that shouldn't pose a problem at all.
On top of that, by deploying the clan experts into the military as well, the security of the involved scion would be assured, and the contributions made through them would be attributed back to the scion and the clan as well.
This meant that the scion could stand to be promoted more quickly than ever.
In a sense, this could potentially work far better for them than if the royal court dispatched soldiers to them.
As such, this was a policy that satisfied both the aims of the scion and the prestigious clan behind them, as well as the royal court and the empire as a whole. However, grabbing hold of this opportunity wasn't easy.
As this policy would grant significant military power to the scions and the clans behind them, in order to minimize instability in the military, the scions who were offered this deal were carefully chosen, and their numbers were limited. As such, in the near future, there would be many clans fighting for this opportunity.
Most probably, Wang Chong was in the earliest batch of those offered this initiative.
With such a godsent opportunity, how could Wang Chong possibly allow it to slip past his fingers?
"Haha, this matter is simple then. Since you have decided to participate in the third mission, how could I possibly leave myself out?" Xu Gan laughed heartily as he made his decision.
"Hehe, this is a great opportunity. Count me in as well!" The chuckling Huang Yongtu expressed his stand too.
With this, Wang Chong, Xu Gan, and Huang Yongtu turned their eyes to Bai Siling.
"Hmph, of course I'll follow you all!" Bai Siling gracefully pushed her hair to the back of her ear as she spoke calmly. "Ever since following this fellow, I have not suffered. With the several million gold taels I have earned, probably even those uncles of mine in the clan will turn green in envy. Since you are so anxious to participate in the third mission, there must be some kind of crucial benefit that could be earned from it. Surely you won't be considering ditching me in the face of such a good deal?" Bai Siling said, as she turned a hostile gaze on Wang Chong.
"Of course not!" With a bitter smile, Wang Chong hurriedly shook his hands.
Bai Siling's words were simple, crude, and direct. However, there was indeed one thing that she was right aboutrewards drive a person!
Wang Chong wouldn't have bothered participating in the third mission if there was nothing to be earned, so on this aspect... a woman's intuition was indeed fearsome!
"You need not look at me. We'll follow you whatever your decision is. For us soldiers, such a thing as rest doesn't exist until our retirement. Our only calling is to fulfill the commands relayed to us." Seeing everyone's eyes on him, Zhang Lin hurriedly shook his hands and reassured them.
There were many things that could be deduced from how the royal court didn't offer the choice to the soldiers in the first place.
Wang Chong remained impassive to Zhang Lin's response. From his point of view, such a thing was completely natural. He had already known how the latter would respond from the start, so he didn't bother asking at all.
A hint of sympathy flashed across Bai Siling's eyes.
As comrades who had braved through life-and-death, Bai Siling didn't want to force them into danger against their will. If any of them had displayed their reluctance to carry on, she would have wanted to send them back safely.
However, Zhang Lin's words were loud and clear. The soldiers weren't entitled to make such decisions, and in the worst case scenario, it could even be considered as insubordination.
Understanding this much, Bai Siling could only sigh deeply within.
Having made their decisions, Wang Chong, Xu Gan, Huang Yongtu, Bai Siling, Zhang Lin, and the forty-four remaining Great Tang cavalrymen started on their way to Longxi.
This time, they would be facing real war!
Found it hard to put it in words, but the reward is basically if you are a 5-Man Squad Leader, you will be allowed to command 10 men (because one grade higher is 10-Man Squad Leader). But, you must supply the additional soldiers, and pay all costs for them!