Chapter 904: The Wise Minister’s Stratagems!
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
“Lower your eyes, avoid the sunlight, and pay attention to the shadows on the ground!”
Wang Chong’s familiar voice suddenly rose from the rear of the Tang army. His words immediately calmed his soldiers and they lowered their eyes. Xu Keyi quickly calmed down as well.
“Adjust the angle. Pay attention to the area under the horses. Ready!”
Xu Keyi soon gave off a string of orders, but just when his sword was ready to swing down, he suddenly heard a piercing whistle. A round shadow rapidly began to expand behind the second defense line, and before anyone could react, a boulder two armspans in circumference dropped from the sky and crashed into the area behind the ballista army.
Wang Chong’s eyes flew open at the sight of this boulder dropping from the sky.
But before he could give any further warnings, a massive explosion came from behind him. Turning his head, Wang Chong saw a blazing fire belching out black smoke, fed by a thick, black liquid flowing across the ground.
Wang Chong’s pupils constricted as he recognized this liquid. In a flash, countless thoughts flew through his mind.
Arabia and Ü-Tsang had used these things against him at the same time!
On the eastern end of the battlefield, hundreds of catapults stood unseen behind the hills. Tense Tibetans continued to assemble catapults from wooden parts.
The Tibetan Plateau was primarily grassland and lacked tall trees, so Dalun Ruozan had obtained the lumber needed to build these catapults from Mengshe Zhao merchants. The internal makeup of Wang Chong’s steel modules, as well as their methods of construction and assembly, were still mysteries for the various countries, but Dalun Ruozan had been inspired to use this modular method for his catapults so that he could transport them to Talas.
The Great Tang was famed for its ballistae. On the battlefield, these weapons were nigh unstoppable.
And these catapults still in the middle of construction were the weapons Dalun Ruozan planned to use to counter Wang Chong.
With this order, large boulders were thrown into the air, drawing massive arcs through the sky as they crossed the hills, crossed the eastern battlefield, and landed in the rear of the first defensive line, where all the ballistae were stationed.
One ballista was not able to move in time and was smashed into pieces by a large boulder, along with the transport carriage beneath it, causing metal shards, ballista bolts, and carriage wheels to fly in all directions. As for the five warriors around the ballista, they were tossed through the air like ragdolls by the enormous force of the impact.
Boom! Another boulder crashed down, crushing two Qixi soldiers into pulp. And then a third, a fourth… The air shrieked as hundreds upon hundreds of boulders hurtled through the air.
While this was happening, on the western side of the battlefield, behind the more than two hundred thousand Arab soldiers, imposing catapults more than ten meters tall stood in a neat row. In front of these catapults, a sharp-eyed Arab general swung down his arm.
Boomboomboom! Large metal balls howled through the air, flying over the battlefield to land between the first and second defense lines. When these metal balls struck the ground, they exploded into pieces, immediately igniting the viscous Arabian Kerosene contained within them into a roaring fire.
As these metal balls rained down, the area behind the first defense line was soon turned into a sea of fire. The situation rapidly worsened, and in a few moments, the Great Tang was in a terrible plight.
Rumble! Availing themselves of the chaos, the Arabs advanced, bellowing as they smashed against the steel walls and the first line of shields. The walls and infantry shuddered as the sharp clanging of metal filled the air.
“Kill them all!”
“All heretics must die!”
These Arabic roars filled the sky.
To the east, hooves pounded against the earth as the Tibetan and Turkic cavalry used the catapults and sunlight to cover their advance, the wolves at the very front of their force.
“Lord Marquis, what do we do? The Tibetans are aiming at the ballistae!”
Xu Keyi’s worried voice came from the front. The situation on the battlefield had changed too quickly. Just moments ago, they had held the advantage, but their situation was now extremely unfavorable.
“Can you see where their catapults are?”
Wang Chong sat on the White-hoofed Shadow, his hair blowing in the fierce winds. As the boulders rained down, some of them landed only a few steps from him, their shockwaves even reaching the White-hoofed Shadow, but Wang Chong seemed to be perpetually calm.
“No! All the catapults are behind the hills. It’s not possible for us to fire on them!” Xu Keyi worriedly replied.
On their march from Qixi to Talas, they had used these very same hills to catch Umar and his Arabs by surprise. But now, Dalun Ruozan was using these hills against them.
Behind the hills, the catapults were in an impregnable position, and someone of Dalun Ruozan’s formidable calculation abilities could have the catapults fire at the angle necessary to strike the ballistae.
The inferiority of a ballista’s firing angle in comparison to a catapult’s was on full display here.
At this moment, Chen Bin worriedly shouted from the first defensive line, “Lord Marquis, what do we do?”
The metal balls packed with kerosene were continuing to drop down from the sky, causing fires to rage and dark smoke to fill the area, and many people had even been covered by the kerosene and set on fire. The dark smoke was so thick that it even obscured the vision of the ballista teams.
The Arabian Kerosene was having an even greater effect than the Tibetan catapults.
Wang Chong’s eyes shone with cold light as he looked past the second defense line to that sharp-eyed figure standing beneath the white yak banner. Wang Chong would be a fool if he believed that Dalun Ruozan had not come prepared, that all this was mere coincidence. It was obvious that Dalun Ruozan had prepared an extremely long time for this day.
At the very least, these catapults were not something that could be prepared in a short time.
“Lord Marquis, I’ll take the Wushang Cavalry and destroy the catapults!”
Amidst the downpour of boulders, Li Siye spoke in an infuriated tone, his eyes blazing with killing intent.
The situation was urgent, and Dalun Ruozan had clearly brought several hundred catapults with him. In addition, all of these had been placed out of the line of sight, those hills providing the best defense. The hundred-thousand-some Tang soldiers were in great peril.
“There’s no need!” Wang Chong declared. He could hear the clanging and crashing, the screams of the army, but his face remained determined and composed.
“The situation isn’t that dangerous yet. In addition, Duwu Sili, Huoshu Huicang, and Dusong Mangpoje, three Great Generals, are still on those hills. Just how do you plan on getting past them?!”
Li Siye froze, immediately at a loss for words.
Those three elite Great Generals of Ü-Tsang and the Western Turkic Khaganate gathered on those hills were an uncrossable barrier, even harder to overcome than the hills.
In the future, Li Siye would ascend to the Imperial Great General level and be titled the Invincible Great General, but that was still in the future. At the moment, he was still half a step away from breaking into the Saint Martial realm. If he were to encounter three Imperial Great Generals, the only thing awaiting him would be death.
“But, Milord, can we only watch then?” Li Siye resentfully said, his heart completely unwilling to accept this idea.
Wang Chong said nothing, merely gazed at that blue-robed figure as innumerable thoughts flitted through his mind. Dalun Ruozan was much more prepared than he had imagined. The Great Tang ballistae were well known, and if Dalun Ruozan had been paying attention to him, he must have gathered even more information. These catapults were hidden behind the hills precisely to guard against any of Wang Chong’s countermeasures.
However, no matter how much Dalun Ruozan had prepared, he was foreordained to not get his wish. After all, he had not been the only one preparing for this battle.
“Senior Zhang, get ready!” Wang Chong suddenly said.
“Yes, Lord Marquis!” An elderly voice came from the rear.
Stunned, Li Siye turned and saw Zhang Shouzhi, wearing a black and green robe, standing upon a carriage. After giving a respectful bow, not even glancing at Li Siye, Zhang Shouzhi took his ten-some disciples and rushed to the towering walls of Talas, quickly entering through the gate.
When Zhang Shouzhi left, Wang Chong turned to the nearby straight-backed Chen Burang, who had clearly been waiting to receive orders. “Chen Burang, you go as well! In this battle, your strength will be required to deal with the Arabs and the Tibetans!”
Chen Burang was an archer, and he should have been on the frontlines, but during this battle, Wang Chong had called him back and told him to wait at his side.