Chapter 337: Hidden Secret!
The might of forty True Martial realm veterans immediately showed through. Reminiscent of steel were the many True Martial halos; wherever they crossed, bandits would fall.
The raid was reaching its end, and they would soon be able to return victoriously. But at this moment, Wang Chong's mind was filled with the final words of that Arab assassin.
Wang Chong had interrogated him without much expectation, but who knew that he would actually manage to obtain some useful information.
"What did that fellow say?"
The refreshing fragrance of lotus leaves drifted up from behind him. Bai Siling took one last glance at the Arab assassin before walking up to Wang Chong.
Compared to everything else, Bai Siling was far more interested in Wang Chong's peculiar reaction.
"It seems like the Tibetans are up to something." Without hiding anything, Wang Chong told her what Ma Song had told him before, as well as the dying words of the Arab assassin.
That Arab assassin used to serve as a bodyguard of a wealthy Arab merchant, but on a journey to the Central Plains, the merchant party was raided by a bandit band, and the wealthy merchant died. By some stroke of luck, he managed to escape, thus surviving the ordeal.
But at the same time, he was left with nothing. In this foreign land, there was no kin or friend he could rely on, and even communication with the locals was an issue. Thus, the only local possible option left for him was to become a bandit.
He hoped that he could earn sufficient money to return back to his homeland.
But due to the language barrier, he ended up operating alone. In fear of the powerful armies of the royal court, he had to tread warily, so he hadn't been able to make significant gains yet. But one day, he met a Tibetan man.
The other party promised him that as long as he followed orders, he would help him to return to the Abbasid Caliphate, and even help him arrange his redemption.
"Redemption?" Bai Siling asked in confusion.
"Un. While I described him as a bodyguard, he was actually a slave. To be clutching onto life despite the death of his master whom he had sworn to protect with his life, he could easily be sentenced to a death penalty back in the Caliphate. Even if he were to return, all that would be waiting for him is death," Wang Chong replied.
The Abbasid Caliphate operated by a hierarchical structure far more rigid and stern then Great Tang, and slavery was commonplace there. As Bai Siling had never come into contact with that aspect of it before, she was unaware of it.
Hearing those words, Bai Siling fell into deep thought.
"Did he describe the appearance of that Tibetan man?"
"He couldn't remember much of the characteristics of that person. All he recalled was that the other party had instructed him to limit his activities to this area and cause as much trouble to Great Tang as possible. In fact, he had never even met the group of bandits below, or interacted with them before," Wang Chong replied.
"What are the Tibetans thinking? Is there any meaning to such actions?" Bai Siling fell into deep thought. The actions of the Tibetans were incomprehensible to her.
"While we don't know their true motive, it is a fact that the royal court and His Majesty have always viewed the route to the west with great importance. If there is a spike in the activity of the bandits along this stretch, that would pose a great threat to Great Tang's economic activities. Out of consideration for their safety, it is possible that the merchants from Abbasid Caliphate and Charax Spasinu might even avoid trading with Great Tang altogether.
“Ü-Tsang has always been antagonistic with Great Tang. Regardless of the reason, the breaking of relationships between Great Tang and the Western Regions could only be beneficial for them. The only thing I don't understand is that the Tibetans should understand that the royal court will not give up on developing this road so easily. At the very most, they will only be causing slight disturbances to our goals, and that has little significance in the big picture. Besides, with the Western Protectorate Manor standing guard at the other end, it is unlikely for the bandits to gather sufficient strength to pose a significant threat." Wang Chong was bewildered.
The Silk Road to the west wasn't a mere trade route, it was the livelihood of the Western Protectorate Manor, as well. It was the taxes from these merchants that provided them with sufficient money for their development.
With the eyes of the Western Protectorate Manor fixated on this road, the Tibetans should understand that this level of harassment wouldn't pose any threat at all.
"That is hard to say. If the royal court stays out of this matter, considering the length of this road, it'll be hard for the Western Protectorate Manor to maintain it by themselves. On this aspect, there is indeed a chance that the Tibetans just might succeed. But still, I am of the same opinion as you. Considering how they went through so much effort to rally the bandits, their goal couldn't possibly be that simple," Bai Siling replied contemplatively. Unknowingly, her thoughts had been brought into Wang Chong's momentum.
"Bai Siling, do you know if there is any Tibetan envoy party to the capital in recent days?" Wang Chong suddenly asked.
"Are you joking with me? I have been cooped up in Longwei Training Camp all this while. If it's something that even you don't know of, how could I possibly know? When have you seen any ladies being allowed to interfere in politics?"
Bai Siling rolled her eyes as though she was looking at a fool.
"Hahaha, pardon me, I misspoke." Realizing her point, Wang Chong slapped his head and burst into laughter.
Soon, the battle came to an end. After clearing up the den, the forty Great Tang veteran cavalrymen left swiftly.
Not a single bandit of the entire den survived the raid.
And in this den, Wang Chong earned yet another two hundred thousand gold taels. That was equivalent to his gain from selling Wootz steel in a month.
Adding to his gains from before, he already had around seven hundred thousand gold taels. Even with Wang Chong's fortune, he had to admit that dealing with the bandits did bring great returns.
Throughout the entire process, he didn't even have to make a single move. All he had to do was to plan the operation and command the troops, and the gold taels rolled in endlessly.
Silk Road was indeed overflowing with money for even the bandits to amass such great wealth!
Regardless of which time-space continuum he was in, the Silk Road had always been associated with great wealth. Just by clearing a handful of bandits, he had already earned himself a fortune of several hundred thousand gold taels. Furthermore, this was just a small drop of the huge ocean.
Through this, one could get a rough glimpse into the astounding fortune flowing through the Silk Road.
And in truth, along this road, the bandits weren't the true threat. After all, only a very small portion of these bandits had reached True Martial realm.
The real threat came from those highly mobile and powerful highwaymen.
This was also the main reason why the royal court assigned Wang Chong cavalrymen and not foot soldiers. The highwaymen were far stronger than the bandits in the area, and at the same time, they were far wealthier as well.
Wang Chong was already starting to look forward to how much he could earn from those highwaymen. Going by the current situation, it seemed like it wouldn't be a trouble even if he were to expand his fortress by one fold.
Going westward, Wang Chong's fortune slowly piled up.
In truth, when Bai Siling first heard that Wang Chong would share a portion of the fortune with her, she took it as a joke.
After all, how could the Bai Clan possibly be lacking money?
Even the wealthiest of clans in the capital could hardly compare with the Bai Clan. It was just that the Bai Clan tended to maintain a low profile so as to keep out of public eye.
However, Bai Siling soon realized that Wang Chong meant his words. In just a few days, she had already obtained three hundred thousand gold taels from Wang Chong, and it was still increasing.
As wealthy as the Bai Clan was, three hundred thousand gold taels was still not a sum they could simply neglect.
Despite being the daughter of the Bai Clan's main family, Bai Siling had never seen anyone amass such a huge amount of wealth in a few short days.
This was more than several years of her allowance.
Considering Bai Siling was able to earn this sum of money despite only playing an auxiliary role, Wang Chong's income had to be even more than that. Thus, she had no intentions of standing on ceremony with him.
On the other side, Xu Gan and Huang Yongtu also managed to make some gains. While the fortune they had amassed was humble in comparison to Wang Chong and Bai Siling's, it was still substantial. At the very least, it far surpassed the typical allowance they would receive from their clan.
Thus, they were filled with drive as well!
As the commander of this operation, Lieutenant Zhang Lin was also glad to see the bandits being eradicated.
If this were to go on, Wang Chong and the others would obtain a staggering fortune. However, things weren't as simple as it seemed on the surface.
The days Wang Chong and the others spent clearing away the bandits had brought about an unexpected situation.
"Come at me together!"
At a mountain post several hundred li from where Wang Chong and the others were, an eight chi tall (2.6m) brawny figure stood mightily. Raising his bulging arms, he beckoned to the group before him.
Halos burst in the surroundings, and eight True Martial realm experts charged forward at the speed of lightning to strike at the huge man.
Eight raging Stellar Energies fell on that man's body, but a metallic sound echoed instead. It seemed as though what they had struck was not a body made out of flesh and blood, but one forged of steel.
That incredible rebound not only intercepted the offense from the eight True Martial realm experts, it also dissipated the Stellar Energies that they had gathered.
In the instant that their Stellar Energies were dissipated, if one were to pay careful notice, one would be able to see the faint silhouette of a massive black suit of chainmail forged of Stellar Energy wrapped around that big man.
"Again!" that brawny figure laughed majestically.