Chapter 1637: The Unseen Opponent!
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
Putting aside the developments in Ü-Tsang, more than seven thousand li away in the capital of the Great Tang, a Golden Guard strode into a hall.
"Your Highness, we have delivered the letter."
"Your Highness, will this operation against Dalon Trinling truly be effective?" Xu Keyi asked, his expression apprehensive. "Dalon Trinling is known as the wisest sage of the Tibetan Plateau, and our operation might incite his revenge!"
Dalon Trinling was no ordinary person. In the Ü-Tsang Empire, not even the much-admired Dalun Ruozan had been able to compare to this man. And Wang Chong had always been cautious. Even when threatening Ishbara, he had only sent a letter and not actually attacked.
But Wang Chong had an entirely different attitude toward Dalon Trinling. Not long after notifying him, he had begun the assault.
This was completely different from the matter with Ishbara Khagan.
"Relax! Dalon Trinling won't take any action!" Wang Chong firmly proclaimed, his eyes gleaming as he got to his feet. Wang Chong seemed to understand that distant Imperial Minister of Ü-Tsang far more than expected.
"Whether or not this incident had taken place, the Tibetans would think of every way to try and attack. As soon as the Great Tang showed weakness, Ü-Tsang would seize the moment. The Tibetans are still restraining themselves, as while they want to, they don't have the ability to!"
Wang Chong's eyes seemed to be able to see into the heart of the matter. Suddenly, Xu Keyi had a flash of insight.
Wang Chong slowly said, "The Tibetans' ambitions are far greater than ours. In the war of the southwest, the Ngari Royal Lineage was basically turned into a wasteland. Only three of the Four Royal Lineages remain. As for the eastern region, Geshu Han's constant attacks have prevented it from being able to rest and recover. In the north, I destroyed it when I began setting up the steel fortresses. The only one left is the Yarlung Royal Lineage. While it seems to have been safe all this time, in reality, it has gotten into no small number of conflicts with Greater and Lesser Balur, the kingdoms of the Western Regions, Gao Xianzhi's Anxi Protectorate army, and the Arabs. Even before we got there, the Tibetans had fought several wars with the Arabs. If the Great Tang hadn't advanced into the Western Regions, Ü-Tsang and Arabia would have been mortal foes.
"The Yarlung Royal Lineage is in far worse condition than all of you can imagine. The only fighting force left is the protectors of the royal capital, the Lhasa Royal Lineage. He has far fewer soldiers available than you might think!"
Wang Chong had been studying the intelligence reports from Ü-Tsang this entire time, and understood far more than was publicly known.
"Dalon Trinling has only one opportunity, and if it results in defeat, Ü-Tsang will be unable to recover. I trust that he already knows about the roseroot!"
With these words, Wang Chong revealed the object that was at the core of their tenuous relationship.
The crux of his relationship with Dalon Trinling was not the force at the triangular gap, nor was it Wang Chong's grasp of strategy. It was none other than the flower that abounded on the plateau, roseroot.
Dalon Trinling was one of the leading figures of this world, and not even Crown Prince's Junior Guardian Wang Zhongsi had been able to do anything to him, so how could anyone else?
No one could have imagined that the object that had completely altered the relationship between the War Saint and the Imperial Minister was a little red flower.
The reason the Tibetans had always been so fearless in their raids of the east was the altitude sickness that all those of lower altitudes were afflicted by upon stepping onto the plateau, even the Arabs.
But with Wang Chong's intervention, all of this had changed.
Right now, even Geshu Han's Big Dipper Army was regularly consuming roseroot, treating it as an ordinary part of their daily meals.
The discovery of roseroot had caused this empire to lose the source of its pride. Now, if they were defeated, Wang Chong's armies would be able to penetrate into the plateau, take the royal capital, and garrison it.
This was why Dalon Trinling was so restrained toward Wang Chong.
According to the news from Ü-Tsang, roseroot was now a scarce commodity on the marketplace. It seemed as if the Tibetans were even beginning to eradicate the small red flowers from the plateau. Alas, roseroot was essentially a weed and was found throughout the plateau. The smallest amount of rain would cause them to bud and bloom once more. It was an arduous task to completely eliminate them.
Moreover, Wang Chong and Geshu Han had already begun to cultivate roseroot en masse.
"Dalon Trinling is too cautious. As a wise minister, he plans first and moves second. The more aggressive we are, the less likely he will be to recklessly take action. I'm more worried about the incident in the capital."
Wang Chong had been devoting almost all his time recently to using Stellar Energy to treat Old Eagle's injuries. With the power of his two supreme techniques and the medicines from the palace, Old Eagle's injuries had finally been stabilized. However, he was still unconscious and would probably need a long time to recover.
Even so, this matter was far from over.
What Wang Chong was concerned about was that the First Prince had actually used Tibetans so that he left behind no trace of his involvement. This was completely unlike his normal style.
Wang Chong was almost sure now that there was an extremely powerful expert at the First Prince's side who was helping him strategize and plan.
What Wang Chong needed to do right now was draw that person out of hiding.
"Is there any news?"
Wang Chong turned his sharp eyes to Cheng Sanyuan.
"The Eastern Palace is as normal. Even now, we haven't been able to see any difference in its activities or identify anyone new."
Cheng Sanyuan shook his head. After all, the Eastern Palace wasn't within their ability to watch. On this aspect, they had to rely on the Fifth Prince and Li Jingzhong.
Wang Chong fell silent. Cheng Sanyuan's reply was not surprising. If his foe was really as he expected, he was an extremely shrewd and calculating expert that would make sure that no clues were left behind. But Wang Chong firmly believed that nothing could be done flawlessly. If his intuition was right, there were clues in the Eastern Palace.
"Tell Li Jingzhong that the Fifth Prince should keep out of this matter for now. In addition, have Li Jingzhong record everyone who goes in and out of the Eastern Palace every day. It doesn't need to be very detailed and he doesn't need to get that close. As long as we look at how the Eastern Palace has changed from the past, we will be able to find some clues," Wang Chong sternly said.
Once this was settled, Wang Chong deeply frowned.
What sort of person is hiding behind the curtain and making all these plans?
Wang Chong muttered to himself. Wang Chong had encountered his fair share of formidable foes, but this time was different.
This mysterious figure had gotten ahead of him in the palace and wiped out any trace of Eunuch Gao, and then they had used the Tibetans against him, choosing none other than Old Eagle as the target. Wang Chong felt a frightening sharpness from his foe's assaults.
And Wang Chong sensed that this was merely the beginning, that this had been merely a minor display of ability. His enemy's true strategies were still to come!
Wang Chong had a sudden thought and turned to the nearby Zhang Que.
"Zhang Que, now that you've gained control over the intelligence network, investigate the last carrier pigeon Old Eagle received. According to the spy team, this carrier pigeon was late by five minutes. I need to know what happened in those five minutes."
The Eastern Palace was dark, the main hall lit by only a few oil lamps.
In this hall were First Prince Li Ying, Zhu Tong'en, the white-haired elder known as 'Ghost King' seated on an armchair, and Eunuch Yin hidden within the shadows. No one else was present.
"Senior, forgive me for being blunt. I can accept the use of Tibetans against Wang Chong, but in this assault, why didn't we choose any of his other subordinates, or perhaps those two generals, Li Siye and Su Hanshan, that he has at the triangular gap? Why did we choose this Old Eagle? I truly can't tell. What's so special about him?"
Now that no outsiders were present, the First Prince got straight to the point. His brow was furrowed in confusion over the Ghost King's actions.
He had used his connection with the Tibetans, but he had lost several Imperial Martial realm experts to attack some lowly figure who played around with birds. Wasn't this using an ox knife to kill a chicken?
"Heh, the rations have to move before the army. Even that kid knows that. The person who makes many calculations before the battle will be victorious while the one who makes few will lose. There are some things that you can't tell just by looking at the surface."
The Ghost King faintly chuckled from his sandalwood armchair, his every movement exuding confidence and assurance. Anyone who looked at him couldn't help but be entranced.
"You still don't understand? In these previous clashes, you lost again and again because his eyes and ears are far sharper than yours. All of your movements are under his control. This was also how that boy from the Confucian Sect lost."
In a war of schemes, the first step was not to kill the enemy, but to cripple his eyes and ears, making him unable to accurately determine the situation. If one was not able to size up the situation and grasp all available information, even the wisest strategist was useless. This was a fundamental principle.
"Although that Old Eagle isn't very strong, his position at the side of the King of Foreign Lands is irreplaceable. As long as we can kill him, that kid will be running around blind, and it won't matter how smart he is."