Chapter 864: The Last Step, the Meteoric Metal Arrives!
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
Given the fact that Li Zhengyi and his forty thousand reinforcements had been ambushed by the Tibetans, resulting in the loss of the soldiers that the Great Tang had barely managed to scrape together from the interior, the Imperial Court was extremely limited in the soldiers it could dispatch.
At this moment, Wang Chong very naturally thought about his father and big brother.
Together, Father and Big Brother should have around twenty thousand soldiers. Although they're infantry, they're very experienced elites tempered through blood and fire, and exceptional on the defense. In the war against the Arabs, they should be very useful. But this still isn't enough. This still isn't enough soldiers to deal with the Abbasid Caliphate's soldiers.
Wang Chong began to recall the information on the Battle of Talas from his last life. In that battle between Gao Xianzhi and Abu Muslim, the Arabs had gathered an army of at least three hundred thousand soldiers, and Arabs were even more fierce and pugnacious than the Tibetans. The soldiers of Qixi would be far from enough to deal with them.
Those auxiliary soldiers in the interior that have never experienced any sort of war won't be of much use. Bringing new recruits like them would be just sending them to their deaths. The Great Tang's soldiers are concentrated in the border protectorates. Zhang Shougui and I have had conflicts, so he definitely wouldn't help me, and besides, Youzhou really is too far to transfer soldiers from. In Beiting, even if An Sishun could help me, he could definitely make up some excuse. As for Longxi… Geshu Han doesn't even have enough soldiers for himself, so hoping that he could help me is simply unrealistic.
At this moment, the only place that I could get soldiers from is the Annan Protectorate. I've already vanquished the Ngari Royal Lineage, and Mengshe Zhao has already submitted itself to the Great Tang. There's truly nothing threatening the Annan Protectorate at this time.
Wang Chong thought for a few moments before adding the name of the Annan Protectorate as well. In this short period of time, this was all he could think of.
He definitely needed soldiers, but with regards to weapons and food, he had the Qixi Armory and the hybrid rice from Jiaozhi, so there was no need to bother the Imperial Court over those. What he truly needed the most, however, was gold. War was a contest of wealth, and gold was the resource that was consumed the most. Moreover, with more gold, Wang Chong could recruit more mercenaries, which was the most practical solution for Wang Chong's problems at this time.
Wang Chong added name after name, and upon finishing, he stood up. Just when he was about to insert the letter into a bamboo tube, he heard thunderous cheers from outside the City of Steel.
"Wang Chong, quickly come! Your second brother Wang Bei has arrived!" Xu Qiqin's voice could be heard shouting from the distant city walls.
Wang Chong's body trembled at these words, and he didn't dare to believe his ears. Whoosh! Putting down the letter, Wang Chong shot through the window.
A few moments later, he arrived at the gates. What awaited him was a sea of people, countless people surging toward Wushang along the cement road. These people all had savage and wicked faces, and were dressed in a variety of clothes. These were not soldiers, but bandits and brigands! Let alone anyone else, even Wang Chong was stunned by this sight.
But he quickly spotted that aloof figure at the head of these bandits.
Wang Chong joyfully rushed forward, and the two brothers hugged.
"Little Brother, I'm here," Wang Bei indifferently said, his expression cold and emotionless, and yet one could see a tiny sliver of warmth in those usually unnerving eyes of his.
Wang Chong's second brother Wang Bei had suppressed his Berserker Syndrome, walked out of the imperial prison, and had even taken under his command many bandits and brigands on the way to Wushang, adding around eight to nine thousand soldiers to Wang Chong's army. No one had expected this, and everyone in the City of Steel felt exhilarated at the news.
The arrival of Wang Bei was like a trigger, as soon after, countless soldiers began to pour in from every direction. First it was the people from Deflecting Blade Manor: Su Hanshan, Sun Zhiming, Fang Xuanling, Xu Gan, Chen Burang, Zhuang Zhengping, Chi Weisi… all of them had come.
These future 'general stars' of Deflecting Blade Manor had been dispatched by Wang Chong to the southwest, Beiting, and other areas to be trained. After tempering themselves through battle, each of them had greatly matured.
After that, Wang Chong's requests were swiftly passed, and his father Wang Yan and big brother Wang Fu immediately set off for the Qixi Protectorate. Beforehand, Wang Chong had prepared many military carriages so that their twenty thousand soldiers could arrive as quickly as possible.
Elsewhere, Annan Protector-General Xianyu Zhongtong had received Wang Chong's request. In gratitude for Wang Chong's past actions, he had selected eight thousand elites and sent them to Wushang.
Of these, four thousand were elite cavalry. If not for the particular standards required of the protectorates, Xianyu Zhongtong would have sent Wang Chong even more soldiers.
Xianyu Zhongtong and Wang Chong had a friendship that had been forged through blood and fire, tempered through life-or-death struggles.
In addition, even though the Imperial Court was dearly lacking in troops, it had still managed to gather an extra ten thousand soldiers that would accompany Wang Chong's father and big brother, and the soldiers from the Annan Protectorate army. But the greatest aid the Imperial Court could give to Wang Chong was in money.
A total of ten million taels of gold had been allotted for Wang Chong, with five million consisting of 'gold yuan certificates1'. This money was enough for Wang Chong to hire a large number of mercenaries.
As time went by, more and more soldiers arrived at the City of Steel each day, and Wang Chong did his utmost in his race against time. Every day, countless carrier pigeons and rock eagles were sent to Talas to observe the situation. At the same time, Wang Chong was using the ten million taels of gold given to him to recruit mercenaries en masse and strengthen his forces.
He had even used some of the gold to recruit twelve thousand regular soldiers from Greater and Lesser Balur.
Now, I'm only missing the Meteoric Metal!
In Wang Chong's residence within the City of Steel, Wang Chong looked out the window at the plum flowers on the verge of blossoming and mentally sighed. He had done all he could to prepare the Qixi Protectorate army. Soldiers, money, supplies, Wootz Steel weapons… he had done everything in his power.
But deep within his heart, he still felt a deep regret: the Meteoric Metal.
Even though he had so many memories from his past life, some things still remained beyond his control, with the Meteoric Metal being one of these. His cousin had been searching the islands for the Meteoric Metal for a very long time now, and he should have returned already, but there had still been no news of him.
I wonder how he's doing right now? Wang Chong quietly said to himself.
But Wang Chong had no idea that on the shores of the Great Tang, by the Eastern Sea, a fleet of unprecedented size was arriving.
"Out of the way, out of the way! The fleet is about to enter the harbor!"
"Heavens, which family owns this fleet? How could these ships be so low in the water? Just how many goods are on them!"
"Can't you see? Do you not even recognize the flag of the capital's Wang Clan? You must be a complete newbie!"
"Ah! The Young Marquis…"
The workers on the pier were all stunned, stepping back as they stared at those massive ships.
Meanwhile, as the first ship approached the shore, a long rope ladder was thrown from the deck, and sailor after tanned sailor descended. As they took in the familiar world of the Central Plains, they opened their arms and heartily laughed.
"I've finally returned!"
After these sailors descended, gears turned and a long steel plank was raised high over the deck, then swung down. After a few moments of silence, a thin but energetic figure appeared at the end of this steel bridge.
He was dressed in a tattered silk garment, his aura still that of a scion from a noble clan. The long voyage at sea had tanned his skin, and his face seemed hardened from many trials and storms, but those eyes of his shone with unprecedented sharpness, vigor, and dignity.
"After more than half a year, I've finally returned to the Central Plains…"
Wang Liang stood at the end of the plank bridge, his hands held behind him and his hair buffeted by the sea winds as he took in the sight. He gave off the composure and steadiness of an old sailor with decades' worth of experience on the sea. One would find it very difficult to believe that he was really just a youth of twenty-one.
"All the Wang Clan experience glories and losses as one. Cousin, I hope that I haven't delayed you."
The tempering of life, the trials of the ocean, and the tests of life and death had long ago made Wang Liang understand many of the principles he had failed to comprehend in his youth, allowed him to grasp the true essence of a massive behemoth like the Wang Clan. The great clans had the duties of the great clans, and each member of a clan had their own duties. All of them were necessary to keep this behemoth working, and failure would cause it to collapse and crumble.
In the Wang Clan, the spear tip was currently Wang Chong. He was the most dazzling existence in this generation of the Wang Clan, the crucial factor in maintaining the glory of the Wang Clan that no one else could replace. Wang Liang himself was the end of the spear, the handle. But even though each person had a different use, all of them were necessary.
Wang Liang didn't understand military affairs, nor did he understand Wang Chong's plans and aspirations. Thus, he could only support Wang Chong, support his cousin, support the entire Wang Clan, through his own methods.
These thoughts passed very quickly through Wang Liang's mind, and he quickly regained his composure. Gradually, he began to seem like an unsheathed sword, his aura turning sharp and fierce, brimming with awesome majesty.
Turning around, Wang Liang waved his hand and sharply ordered, "Begin unloading the goods!"
In the next moment, the ship began to shake as small iron carts loaded with Meteoric Metal began to come down the plank bridge so that they could be unloaded on the pier!
1. 'Gold yuan certificates' were a type of paper money, which had various names throughout Chinese history. For some reason, the author chose to use the name for paper as it was used by the Nationalist Chinese government in 1948.↩