RHE: Chapter 1973: Zhang Shougui in Danger!

Chapter 1973: Zhang Shougui in Danger!

Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
When the combined army of the Goguryeons, Xi, and Khitans were surrounding the Andong Protectorate army, imperiling Youzhou and its countless inhabitants, a subordinate under Andong Protector-General Zhang Shougui called An Yaluoshan answered the call, gathering many Hu from the border and organizing them into a suicide squad. At the crucial point in the battle, these men put their lives on the line, heedlessly piercing into the center of the Goguryeo-Xi-Khitan army. Though the suicide force suffered enormous losses, it eventually succeeded in heavily injuring Goguryeo Emperor Yeon Gaesomun and turning the tides.
The coalition army was thrown into disarray, and the Andong Protectorate army was able to seize the moment and strike, turning defeat into victory and routing the three armies.
When everyone in Youzhou believed it impossible, this momentous crisis was resolved!
All of the capital erupted in celebration. For the first time, many people began to pay attention to the name of 'An Yaluoshan'!
Upon receiving this news, the army the Bureau of Military Personnel had sent to the northeast halted its march. Meanwhile, in the King of Foreign Lands Residence, Wang Chong, Xu Keyi, Su Shixuan, and Old Eagle fell silent upon hearing the news.
An Yaluoshan!
Others might have been hearing this name for the first name, but every one of Wang Chong's subordinates knew this man.
Privately constructing armories, privately recruiting soldiers, establishing the Yeluohe, controlling Zhang Shougui, the pursuit of Guo Ziyi's men… and the man behind all this was now the hero of the Youzhou war. Even the slowest of them could now see that this war was not so simple, that there was a conspiracy behind it all.
Wang Chong remained quiet for some time after hearing the news. Finally, amidst an oppressive mood, he spoke five words.
"Zhang Shougui is done for…"
"Hahaha, good! Excellent, An Yaluoshan! We truly did not misjudge you. Not only do you understand Us, knowing how to delight Us, you can fight as well! Reward him, reward him richly!
"We want all the people of the realm to know that the Great Tang does not only have a King of Foreign Lands! Without him, Our country will still be as steady as Mount Tai!"
In the palace, the 'Sage Emperor' hugged charming Hu ladies, one in each hand, as he heartily laughed.
It was only ten-some days ago that he had learned that this considerate Hu general known as An Yaluoshan had sent him many beautiful women. But now, this major victory in the northeast not only greatly pleased him, it also made him mark the name of 'An Yaluoshan' deep in his mind.
Auxiliary Assistant Minister Zhao Changfu, standing on the side, began to speak, a melancholy look on his face. "Your Majesty, in truth, this victory in the northeast cannot be considered a major one. Zhang Shougui is a veteran general who made his name several decades ago, and in his campaigns, he was unstoppable. It was for this reason that Your Majesty gave the northeast to him, essentially making him a Vassal King of the northeast. So no one expected such a grievous mistake to take place under Lord Zhang's watch. Let alone the grievous losses suffered by the main body of the Andong Protectorate army, apparently, even the elite Roaring Tiger Army was wiped out! What a great pity!"
His seemingly casual comment immediately made the Sage Emperor's face sink.
But Zhao Changfu appeared to not notice as he continued, "While Goguryeo, the Xi, and the Khitans have withdrawn for now, who knows when they might come back? Meanwhile, Lord Zhang is bedridden from illness caused by the flaring of his old wounds. It is truly a concerning situation!"
Zhao Changfu's face became stricken with worry.
"Since he is severely ill, he should retire."
The Sage Emperor's complexion had turned dark and grim.
"Bastard thing! Does he really think that We do not know that all this trouble was because he set the Goguryeo Imperial Palace on fire for the sake of his selfish desires? It would be one thing if he could suppress Yeon Gaesomun, but since he can't, he should retire for Us!
"Deliver Our decree! An Yaluoshan is to be made Andong Vice Protector-General, and Zhang Shougui is to be called to the capital for an audience with Us!" the Sage Emperor furiously said.
A few moments later, Zhao Changfu walked out of the hall and looked toward the northeast, a smile on his lips.
"Go and tell Lord An that I've helped him with what he requested."
"Yes!" A voice came from the side.
"Lord An, I did what you asked. That should be enough for the ten thousand taels of gold you promised me!"
Smiling to himself, Zhao Changfu took his leave.
At the same time, in Youzhou…
The battle was over, and Youzhou was left covered in the wounds of battle. The stench of flames and blood still floated in the air, and abandoned armor, flags, and weapons could be seen across the battlefield, together with the bodies of Xi, Khitans, Goguryeons, and Tang.
This was an unprecedented battle that had ended with the retreat of Yeon Gaesomun's coalition army, but the Andong Protectorate had also suffered heavy losses.
"Bastard, bastard, bastard! Yeon Gaesomun, such audacity! To dare to attack Youzhou and oppose this old man!"
A tiger-like roar came from the Andong Protectorate headquarters, but this roar quickly dissolved into a fit of coughing.
"Lord Protector-General, please, calm yourself."
"Milord, please remember your health!"
In the hall, all the Andong generals had gathered, looking at Zhang Shougui, whose rage had prompted a coughing fit, his face turning red. Some of the Andong generals came forward to assist Zhang Shougui onto an armchair.
"All of you, out of the way! Do you all think I'm getting infirm? This old man has never required the help of others!"
A thunderous bellow erupted, and the generals backed away in fear.
They all knew that the Protector-General was proud, and after the heavy losses suffered in the attack of the coalition army, there was no way the Protector-General would be in a good mood.
"Foster Father, please calm yourself. Yeon Gaesomun was not able to gain anything from this attack, and a feckless scoundrel like him is not worth Foster Father's anger. He simply managed to find a gap this time. If Foster Father was healthy, would he have been so daring as to attack the Andong Protectorate headquarters?"
A plump figure came forward. The appearance of this man made all the generals fall silent and yield to the sides, expressions of extreme respect on their faces.
In all of the Andong Protectorate, the only person who had this status was Young Commander An Yaluoshan. In this war, if not for his hastily-gathered Hu army attacking at the crucial moment, defeating Yeon Gaesomun and saving Zhang Shougui, the results would have been unimaginable.
But a moment later, boom! Zhang Shougui kicked An Yaluoshan in the chest, sending him flying into a wall.
"Out! You're all mocking this old man! Can I not even suppress a single Yeon Gaesomun?"
Zhang Shougui was exploding with anger.
"This general would not dare!"
All the generals kneeled, fear on their faces.
In this war, the Andong Protectorate army's most elite force, the Roaring Tiger Army, had been completely wiped out. This army had been the product of decades of the Protector-General's sweat and blood. Moreover, he was now sporting a new defeat at the hands of Yeon Gaesomun, a monumental humiliation.
The Protector-General was at his most furious, and the generals were doing their utmost to not provoke him, not discussing the battle just now, particularly the Roaring Tiger Army and the other losses suffered by the Andong Protectorate army.
But An Yaluoshan's comforting words had clearly achieved the opposite effect.
The hall was silent, everyone with their heads lowered and mouths shut. Zhang Shougui sat on the armchair, his chest heaving, his appearance like a furious lion.
"Foster Father, your child had no such intention. If it will make Foster Father feel better, An Yaluoshan is willing to cut off a hand!" At this moment, An Yaluoshan's voice broke the silence. He was prostrate on the floor, and his expression was extremely meek and respectful.
The blood trickling from the corner of An Yaluoshan's lips and the saber wounds on his body caused a ripple of emotion in Zhang Shougui's eyes, and that seething anger receded somewhat.
"Come over!"
Zhang Shougui reached out a hand while at the same time leaning forward. An Yaluoshan immediately understood and shuffled forward on his knees, pressing his fat face against Zhang Shougui's hand. Zhang Shougui said nothing as he used his thumb to wipe away the blood on An Yaluoshan's lips, his expression softening.
"Little slave, you did well in this war. Your father saw all your actions clearly, and your father did not misjudge you. You lived up to the favor I showed in you, and it was not in vain that I took you from the steppe and took you in as my adopted son!"
"Your child only did what should have been done!"
An Yaluoshan lowered his head, and while his plump figure was rather comical, his expression was extremely pious and sincere.
And after witnessing the young commander throw his life into fighting Yeon Gaesomun, no one would dare say that their young commander was laughable!
"Good! That you can say these words means that your father did not misjudge you!"
After saying this, Zhang Shougui slowly stood up, his eyes much calmer. His body once more began to exude the wise and composed aura of the Asura of Youzhou.
"Yeon Gaesomun's savagery is truly contemptible, to suddenly attack Youzhou while I was ill. This old man swears to kill him one day. But what we should be worried about the most is not Yeon Gaesomun, but the Imperial Court."
Everyone was taken aback by Zhang Shougui's words, and raised their heads. Even An Yaluoshan did so, a look of faint 'surprise' on his face.
"Although we were victorious in this war, this is not how the Imperial Court will see this. That savage Yeon Gaesomun proclaimed that this old man attacked his Imperial Palace and killed his daughter. That denouncement has probably already reached the Imperial Court. Moreover, the Andong Protectorate army suffered heavy losses, and even the Roaring Tiger Army was wiped out. There's no concealing this matter, and the Imperial Court needs someone to take responsibility.
"In addition, this old man made many enemies in the court over the years. This might have been fine at any other time, but with this old man's wounds flaring up, there will be many people in court planning to use this incident to seize my military authority. I worry that this will be the end of the good days for our Andong Protectorate army!"
Zhang Shougui had done many things during his time in Youzhou, both good and bad. And some of the things he had done had made a significant number of civil officials detest him.
When he first arrived in Youzhou, Zhang Shougui had exploited the complicated situation in the northeast and the Great Tang's consecutive defeats to demand complete military authority from the Imperial Court. He had also obtained a right to self-governance and a host of other privileges that were out of line with the court's standard, such as the right to collect taxes, to tax iron and salt, to raise soldiers, to forge weapons, and even the most taboo privilege of minting currency.

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.