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Chapter 766: Buluhu's Mountain Army
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
Putting aside the movements in the Qixi Protectorate headquarters, on the Tibetan Plateau, w.a.n.g Chong's Wushang Cavalry and the experts he had brought from the great clans were currently preparing for battle.
The excited cries of horses came from the distance, instantly shattering the calm of the plateau. The Tibetans had reacted much faster than expected, and in the blink of an eye, the ground began to quake. Thousands of Tibetan cavalry began to gallop out from the horizon in a dense black tide.
Their mountain-toppling momentum blotted out the skies, striking dread into every heart.
The winds suddenly began to rage, and the atmosphere on the steppe instantly turned tense.
w.a.n.g Chong raised his sword and pointed it forward, his voice calm and composed. There was no fear on w.a.n.g Chong's face at the sight of these thousands of charging Tibetan cavalry, only endless antic.i.p.ation. If he wanted to change the fate of Qixi, the Western Regions, the entire empire, he had to start here.
Clang! Armor clattered, and barely a moment after w.a.n.g Chong gave the order, the five thousand Wushang Cavalry behind him were ready. They silently stood behind w.a.n.g Chong like looming mountains. 'Strike as quickly as fire; be as immovable as a mountain.' Although the army was motionless, every person could sense the volcanic energy lurking underneath the calm exterior.
Ten li, eight li, six li…
As the Tibetans drew closer and closer, it became possible to see the breath coming from their mouths and the weapons rattling in their hands.
"It's the Mountain Army!" someone cried out in alarm—not from w.a.n.g Chong's camp, but from the Qixi Protectorate army scouts several hundred zhang away. They often fought with the Tibetans, so they were very familiar with the different Tibetan armies. At a glance they had seen the symbol of a mountain peak on the left side of these Tibetans' chests.
The Tibetans had different armies according to the different terrains, dividing their army into the Plains Army, the Steppe Army, and the Mountain Army. Of these, the Mountain Army was the most formidable.
Cavalry were most suited for fighting on flat terrain, so one could easily imagine the strength of cavalry that were capable of fighting on the complicated terrain of mountains.
The average strength of the Mountain Army was far greater than that of the other armies, and they were not only extremely strong. The horses that they rode had undergone special training. Not only were they more muscular than the normal highland steed, they could run even faster, and their flesh was tougher, able to endure intense pursuit and collisions.
Most importantly, all the soldiers of the Mountain Army had partic.i.p.ated in attacks on other countries. They were all richly-experienced veterans.
Everyone in Qixi knew that the Mountain Army of Ü-Tsang had once detoured around Qixi and entered the steppe, where they defeated a force of Western Turkic cavalry that far outnumbered them.
The Qixi Protectorate army was garrisoned in a complex border region and fought battles throughout the year. In comparison to the armies of the interior, the Qixi Protectorate army was definitely one of the finest.
When encountering a Tibetan army, it was often able to hold the line and launch a counterattack, forcing back the enemy using its soldiers' strength and training.
But when fighting the Mountain Army, the Qixi Protectorate army would often have a casualty ratio of eight to ten. To put it another way, for every eight Tibetan deaths, at least ten Qixi Protectorate soldiers would have to accompany them to the grave.
Of the armies of the Tibetan Plateau, the Mountain Army was the one that made the Qixi Protectorate army most apprehensive. Even if Pulan He or Heba Ye encountered the Mountain Army, they would signal the entire army to strengthen the fortifications and put everything into defense. If necessary, they might even pull out of the plateau to temporarily avoid the edge.
"It's over! They ran into the Mountain Army! They're dead for sure!"
The scouts appeared nervous and concerned. Although they were not supporters of w.a.n.g Chong, they were still all Tang. They would also be affected if w.a.n.g Chong and his forces were killed.
"We can't do anything. General gave the order forbidding us from mobilizing. Just their forces alone could never stand up against the Tibetan Mountain Army, but they still might have time to withdraw from the plateau," said a Qixi scout with a centipede-like scar on his neck.
"It's too late," another Qixi scout said. "Once they retreat, the Tibetans will keep charging down the slope, and have even more power behind them than if they were charging across flat land. Retreat would just make them die more quickly. No matter what they do now, they're doomed. No one can save them."
Only experienced and veteran elites of the army could be made scouts, and when these elites saw the Mountain Army, they could immediately predict the fate of w.a.n.g Chong's forces.
In the distance, the vast Tibetan army did not charge forward. Rather, it stopped around two thousand zhang away, the horses neighing as countless gazes looked toward that triangular gap in the northeast corner.
"These Tang barbarians are truly stubborn. One base is enough, but they even dare to expand here. Do they think the plateau is theirs?"
At the front of the army, a stocky and hairy Tibetan general with a swarthy face glared viciously ahead, holding a strange spiked staff more than one zhang long.
"General, that triangular gap is a vital path that we use to enter Qixi, Longxi, and the Turkic steppe. We cannot let them obstruct it," a Tibetan officer said.
Although this gap on the northeast corner of the Tibetan Plateau wasn't large, it was one of the shortcuts in the north of Ü-Tsang used by the Tibetans to enter and exit the plateau. This was why the Tibetan cavalry had reacted so quickly when they discovered that w.a.n.g Chong was wantonly constructing a base there.
Buluhu, the swarthy-faced Tibetan general, viciously shouted, "Pa.s.s on my order! All soldiers, charge and kill them all!"
A messenger quickly left, but before he could go far, he was called back.
The sight of those steel walls gleaming across the steppe like fish scales gave Buluhu pause. As a well-known general of northern Ü-Tsang, Buluhu was much more cautious than the average officer.
Those scale-like steel walls aroused his instinctive suspicion.
"Let's hold for a moment. Dispatch a group of cavalry to probe them. If there's no problem, then we'll kill them all!" Buluhu sternly said.
The vigorous and mournful blare of the yak horns began to rise from the Tibetan army. The army was restless for a few moments, and very quickly, a vanguard of around two thousand soldiers was dispatched.
"Lord Marquis, they've sent a vanguard," Li Siye said.
w.a.n.g Chong nodded and smiled.
"The commander this time seems different. He's apparently much more cautious."
Tibetans were mostly very straightforward and valiant people. It was very rare to see one dispatch a vanguard to probe the enemy forces.
w.a.n.g Chong waved his sword, and three hundred Wushang Cavalry rode out from behind the steel walls, charging toward the Tibetan vanguard.
At this sight, Buluhu and the officers around him narrowed their eyes in anger. The Ü-Tsang Mountain Army had traveled all over and killed an uncountable number of enemies. Never had they encountered such a presumptuous foe.
"Kill them all for me. Don't leave a single one alive!" Buluhu icily said.
In the distance, the two thousand Tibetan cavalry were getting faster and faster. Eight hundred zhang, seven hundred zhang, six hundred zhang…
With an earth-shattering roar, the two thousand soldiers of the vanguard pulled out their scimitars, their eyes red as they charged at the three hundred Wushang.
While charging, the two thousand Mountain Army soldiers adjusted their formation. They formed into seven groups, three hundred to each group, forming a seven-layered Echelon Formation that surged toward the Wushang Cavalry like a tide.
The earth shuddered as the energy of the Tibetan cavalry fused together. As the hooves thundered down, the earth seemed unable to take their weight.
Unlike the Tibetans, the three hundred Wushang Cavalry were silent. With no noise, their formation began to lengthen, eventually forming an Arrow Formation that shot toward the two-thousand-strong Tibetan vanguard.
Although they made no noise, they exuded an indescribable intimidation.
Four hundred zhang, three hundred zhang, two hundred zhang…
As the distance closed, the air tensed. Everyone was focused on the three hundred Wushang Cavalry and two thousand Tibetan Mountain Army soldiers.
"d.a.m.n it, what are they doing?"
"They're seeking their own deaths! Have they gone crazy?"
"Those three hundred cavalry will all be killed! Not a single one will be left!"
In the distance, the Qixi Protectorate army scouts paled. Even an elite division from the Qixi Protectorate army would not dare to be so reckless as to send three hundred cavalry against six or seven times their number.
None of them had expected w.a.n.g Chong to engage in such a plan.
As they watched on in shock, the Wushang Cavalry drew closer and closer to the enemy. Clang! Without the slightest hesitation, they unsheathed their swords and hastened their charge.
Forty zhang, thirty zhang, twenty zhang…
As the moment of clash neared, the three hundred Wushang Cavalry remained silent, kicking clouds of dust into the tension-soaked atmosphere.
With a mighty explosion, the two forces of cavalry smashed into each other. Neeeigh! Gusts roared and thousands of warhorses cried out loudly enough to suppress any other sound on the plateau.
After what seemed like both seconds and countless years, the sounds of warhorses cras.h.i.+ng down began to resound through the battlefield.
For a moment, screams, horse whinnies, and the clas.h.i.+ng of weapons formed into a din, but this stalemate persisted for only a few moments. Under countless shocked gazes, the three hundred Wushang Cavalry suddenly cut upon the Tibetan defense like a sharp knife.
Only now did the Wushang roar in fury. Three hundred halos reverberated under their feet, forming a line that sent the Tibetan cavalry across from them flying into the air.
One layer, two layers, three layers…
The Tibetan Echelon Formation seemed to be made of paper in front of the Wushang Cavalry, not even able to take a single blow as it tore apart.
Shrill screams filled the air. Such was the power of the cavalry charge that those Tibetan cavalry in the way were sent flying ten-some zhang from the impact along with their horses, their bones and muscles shattered.
This sight was shocking beyond belief!
Before anyone had time to react, the seven echelons of the Tibetan vanguard had been completely run through by the three hundred Wushang Cavalry.