RHE: Chapter 1966: Making a Decision!

Chapter 1966: Making a Decision!

Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
Whoosh!
Countless messenger birds flew through the night, from the far north and from Youzhou, all of them flying toward the Great Tang's capital. By daybreak, Wang Chong had received the reports.
In his study, Wang Chong slowly put down the two letters, his eyebrows creasing together.
The cold wave was already coalescing in the north, and it was far more severe than he had imagined. Once it moved southward, the consequences would be unimaginable.
The only thing he could count as fortunate was that he had discovered it early. It would be several months until the cold wave would sweep southward, time that Wang Chong could use to prepare.
But Wang Chong's true concern was on the Youzhou side.
An Yaluoshan, it really was you! Wang Chong mentally said, his expression turning ice-cold.
The slip of paper he had found in the Arabian treasury had caused him to think about An Yaluoshan, but with the report from Guo Ziyi, his conjectures were confirmed.
Secretly building armories, colluding with the Xi and Khitans, building up his own power base, controlling the Andong Protectorate from the shadows… all of these exposed An Yaluoshan's treacherous intentions.
But Wang Chong's foremost concern was Zhang Shougui. This fierce tiger of the empire knew nothing about the things taking place around him, still believing that the creature under his claw was some laughable toad. Little did he know that the toad was just a white tiger in disguise.
Wang Chong turned and said, "Xu Keyi, what has Zhang Shougui said?"
Xu Keyi bowed and respectfully said, "Milord, Lord Zhang has already sent back a reply telling Your Highness that there is no need to worry, that An Yaluoshan is just a clown he keeps at his side to amuse himself, and he judges that he does not have the daring to rebel. In addition, Lord Zhang thanks Your Highness for the warning, and while he understands that Your Highness has good intentions, he has checked and found that there is no problem with the food and drink of the Andong Protectorate. He says that his illness has nothing to do with An Yaluoshan and is simply his wounds acting up in his old age. Once he has rested for a while, he will have mostly recovered!"
"Hand the letter to me. I want to look at it," Wang Chong suddenly said.
After taking the letter from Xu Keyi, Wang Chong didn't even look at the contents. Instead he looked at the '了' character at the very end of the letter.
(TN: '了', pronounced 'le', is a character that can indicate that an action has already happened, such as 'I have already eaten', 我已经吃了, or it can indicate a change of state, such as 'I am fine now', 我好了.)
Zhang Shougui had a particular habit. He did not have an advisor write his letters, and whenever it came to important letters, such as letters to major court officials, he would personally write them. And when it came to the '了' character, Zhang Shougui's was different. When he reached the final stroke, he would drag the brush upward, drawing a small circle, and then he would make another curved upward stroke. The resultant shape was something similar to an open-mouthed '8'.
This was an anecdote that only began to circulate after the era of generals had passed, and few people knew or paid attention to the detail. It was only because of Wang Chong's upbringing in an esteemed clan that he had noticed this detail.
"He really did write it!"
Scanning the letter, Wang Chong really did find that '了' that looked like an '8'. But the fact that Zhang Shougui had personally written the letter only made Wang Chong's heart heavier.
Zhang Shougui was too proud!
His self-esteem and magnificent battle record had caused his eyes to only ever tolerate existences more accomplished than him, like Wang Zhongsi and the Sage Emperor. As for those people at his side, they were slaves who amused him as clowns did and were hardly worth his attention.
No matter how Wang Chong tried to warn him, Zhang Shougui gave a perfunctory reply and did not truly take the matter seriously.
That he was willing to secretly inspect his daily food and drink after receiving Wang Chong's letter was already a show of the immense respect he had for Wang Chong.
If anyone else had made this request, Zhang Shougui would have felt that he was being humiliated and ignored it.
Have things already gotten this bad… Wang Chong quietly said to himself.
Zhang Shougui's words exuded the self-confidence that he had complete control over Youzhou, but the truth was far from it.
Though Wang Chong was trying his utmost, he could not prevent things from going back to their original course, and the rebellion seemed inevitable.
"Your Highness, what do we do now?" Xu Keyi said.
Xu Keyi knew about the letter Wang Chong had written to Zhang Shougui, but this was clearly not the desired result.
"Forget it. Some things can't be avoided. Put aside the matter of Zhang Shougui for now. I'll think of a way to deal with it later," Wang Chong sternly said.
Zhang Shougui was the sort of person who wouldn't believe it unless he saw An Yaluoshan start a rebellion with his own eyes. Wang Chong could only wait until that time came to return to this matter. Until then, he could only try his best to keep Zhang Shougui alive.
"Pass on my order! Mobilize Wind, Forest, Fire, and Mountain, as well as all our spies in the northeast. I need all the information on the Yeluohe as quickly as possible! And it would be best if we can get our hands on some of their possessions!" Wang Chong sternly said.
Guo Ziyi's operation in the northeast had both succeeded and failed—success because they had produced an intelligence report, but failure because An Yaluoshan was clearly ready. In the midst of the operation, he had discovered their trail and engaged in a pursuit.
One of the most concerning parts about Guo Ziyi's report was this elite army serving An Yaluoshan, known as the Yeluohe.
Guo Ziyi's men were very unfamiliar with this new army, but they were no secret to Wang Chong. During that rebellion that swept over the Central Plains and toppled the Great Tang, An Yaluoshan's Yeluohe were the most dazzling of existences. They were the primary reason An Yaluoshan had been able to overcome and destroy the other protectorate armies.
By the time of that rebellion, the Wang Clan had already fallen apart, its starving survivors wandering the realm. As they were not in the eye of the storm, they did not know the details about many matters.
But Wang Chong still knew a little about the Yeluohe.
In the Turkic language, Yeluohe meant 'the strongest braves'. This was an elite force that consisted of soldiers An Yaluoshan had hand-picked from across Youzhou and the various peoples on its borders.
This army was extremely mysterious. From the day it was established, its soldiers engaged in secretive training, and no one else in Youzhou was able to get close. The first time they officially appeared was during An Yaluoshan's rebellion.
The Yeluohe had several major traits.
Firstly, their strength was far above that of the other protectorates. Although there were only eight thousand, they had the strength of an army many times that size.
Secondly, these people did not need to eat, drink, or sleep. Though the distance between Youzhou and the capital was great, they finished the march in three days, something that no protectorate army of this era could accomplish.
Not even Wang Chong's Wushang Cavalry could pull off this sort of forced march. Their physical strength and Stellar Energy would be so rapidly consumed that they would eventually be forced to rest.
This inhuman strength had shaken all of the Central Plains.
Thirdly, the Yeluohe warriors were extremely tough. Even with arrows through their hearts and fatal wounds on their body, they would be as lively as dragons and continue to fight, a fact which left their opponents frightened and alarmed. They had gone past the domain of courage and ferocity and had become monsters.
There were many of these rumors going around, and no one believed them. This was because no normal human could ever do such things. When Wang Chong heard them, he also took them to be exaggerated as they traveled down the grape vine in order to overemphasize the ferocity of the Yeluohe.
But after seeing Guo Ziyi's report, Wang Chong changed his mind. The meteor hammers used by the Yeluohe could heavily injure a peak True Martial realm horseman with one strike, and even when a spear stabbed through their heart, they could act as if they were completely unharmed and continue to fight. They also lacked any signs of life and possessed red eyes that glowed in the darkness…
Real-life observations had verified, one by one, the 'absurd' description of the Yeluohe from the apocalyptic era.
Xu Keyi bowed and quickly departed with the order.
"Su Shixuan!"
Not long after Xu Keyi had left, Wang Chong called over Su Shixuan, who was in charge of Arabia and Khorasan.
"What's the situation in Baghdad?"
Su Shixuan knew what Wang Chong was asking about, and respectfully reported, "Milord, everything is going according to your orders. We've gathered all the manpower we can, including from Khorasan and the kingdoms around Arabia, to assist in extracting kerosene. We've also gathered the craftsmen from all these areas to work on building jars to hold the kerosene."
Wang Chong shook his head and sternly said, "No, it's still too slow. You heard everything just now. We don't have much time left. The cold wave could come down at any time. We have to transport enough Arabian Kerosene to the Central Plains as quickly as possible!
"Inform the great clans of the Central Plains that they should select eighty people each and send them on their way to Baghdad to participate in the kerosene extraction!
"And order Zhang Shouzhi and his forging team to pick up the pace and develop those tools for extracting kerosene as quickly as possible!"
"Yes!" Su Shixuan immediately replied.
"In addition, what's the situation on those three areas I ordered observed?" Wang Chong said.
A strange expression immediately appeared on Su Shixuan's face, tinged with respect and admiration.
"Following Your Highness's orders, our men headed to Hengan Village, Yangquan, and the Shuo Province. A few days later, reports came back that large amounts of coal really were found beneath these places, but as the locations are rather remote, extracting and transporting it is rather difficult!"
Wang Chong sighed in relief at Su Shixuan's report, his expression relaxing.
Hengan Village in the Hedong Circuit was a little-known place in this era, and the entire county had probably less than ten thousand people. But in another world, it was known as the hometown of coal, Datong of Shanxi!
(TN: Datong is a city in the northwestern Chinese province of Shanxi. Shanxi is the leading producer of coal in China.)
The amount of coal in that land was far greater than many could imagine.
If he wanted to supply the tens of millions of inhabitants of the Great Tang, the kerosene shipped from Baghdad would be far from enough. Moreover, the efficiency of transporting the kerosene over such a long distance was low. Crucially, he needed resources in the Great Tang itself, and coal was the most plausible solution.

Starve, Hypersheep325's Notes:

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Written by Huangfu Qi 皇甫奇. Translated by Starve, Hypersheep325. Edited by Desertdoe, Welmar, RED, Michyrr.