RHE: Chapter 1972: Zhang Shougui Defeated in Battle

Chapter 1972: Zhang Shougui Defeated in Battle

Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
The situation changed far faster than imagined. Just when Wang Chong was sending many of his men to Youzhou to investigate An Yaluoshan, a shocking incident occurred.
A major battle took place in the northeast. The Goguryeo Empire mustered its entire army and attacked the Andong Protectorate, and Zhang Shougui was defeated in battle!
This news caused all of the Great Tang to tremble!
Zhang Shougui was an existence in the Great Tang second only to Crown Prince's Junior Guardian Wang Zhongsi. In the northeast, Zhang Shougui was the lynchpin, and everyone believed that as long as this Great General was present, the northeast would remain an impregnable fortress whose safety would never be threatened.
Thus, even though the northeast's situation was complicated, bordering the Turks, Xi, Khitans, and the Goguryeo Empire, no one in the empire had ever worried about that place. Everyone believed that Zhang Shougui was enough.
But now, this war god had been defeated. Everyone was stunned by this news!
Soon afterward, the news that Zhang Shougui had been severely ill for some time began to spread.
The illustrious Andong Protector-General's many old wounds had flared repeatedly, and he had been suffering from illness for far longer than imagined, at least three months before the start of this war.
When Goguryeo attacked, Zhang Shougui was completely unprepared.
When he received word of the attack, Zhang Shougui rose in alarm from his sickbed and hastily prepared for battle. But because of his severe illness, Zhang Shougui made many serious mistakes on the battlefield, causing the Andong Protectorate army to take heavy losses.
Not only that, even more news came that the Xi and Khitans, learning of the situation in Youzhou, had joined the battle. While the Eastern Turkic Khaganate had yet to join, it was also showing signs of movement.
One nightmarish piece of news after another was coming from Youzhou, and all of the Great Tang was reeling. The people in the capital panicked and called for Wang Chong to come out and deal with the situation at Youzhou.
At this moment, the King of Foreign Lands Residence was brightly lit. Wang Chong stood in the main hall, also keeping a close eye on the situation.
It had only been about half a month since the start of his house arrest, but all these events were occurring in rapid succession.
All of this had happened too quickly and with no warning.
Even more shocking was that the proud Zhang Shougui, who considered himself invincible and undefeatable, had suffered the greatest defeat of his life in his old age!
As a fellow general, Wang Chong had always held a sliver of respect for Zhang Shougui. Putting aside their opposing standpoints, Zhang Shougui had truly rendered great service to the Great Tang. Wang Chong had not expected that, in this life, he would see with his own eyes Zhang Shougui's decline and defeat, the tragic end to a resplendent career.
There were some things that could not be changed, and Wang Chong's attention was demanded elsewhere.
The Great Tang was strong and powerful, even having exterminated the Arabian Empire's army of more than two million. Meanwhile, the opponents this time were three minor border kingdoms and the Eastern Turkic Khaganate.
Wang Chong was not worried about the danger in the northeast. He instinctively sensed that the matter was not so simple, that there was a secret lurking beneath.
"Old Eagle, Zhang Que, order the Wind, Forest, Fire, and Mountain teams, and all of our spies in the northeast, to gather all the information they can on this war, particularly the Goguryeo Empire. I need all the details, especially on why Yeon Gaesomun dared to attack the Great Tang at this time."
Wang Chong held a letter in his hand as he turned to the two.
"Yes, Your Highness!" Old Eagle and Zhang Que replied in unison.
Following Wang Chong's orders, countless scouts and spies began to investigate this war.
At the same time, Zhangchou Jianqiong and King Song stepped forward, and the Bureau of Military Personnel opened an important war conference, preparing to muster soldiers toward the northeast to stop the army of the Xi, Khitans, and Goguryeons while at the same time dealing with the possible impact this could have on the people.
Although Wang Chong was prevented from leaving his estate by the Sage Emperor's decree, he could participate from a distance.
The Great Tang had more than enough strength to deal with any turmoil in the northeast, but the capital was far from Youzhou, and even sending soldiers would take some time. It was impossible to influence the war in the short term.
At the same time, a condemnation Yeon Gaesomun had written on Zhang Shougui began to madly spread in the northeast.
It was said that Yeon Gaesomun had read this denouncement two days before his army attacked Youzhou in order to rally his troops.
As it was written in Goguryeon, the exact details were not known, but even those in the capital knew that this denouncement existed.
The Goguryeons claimed that they had good reason to attack, that Andong Protector-General Zhang Shougui had done something that forced Emperor Yeon Gaesomun to counterattack.
This series of developments left everyone dazzled and confused as to where to start.
"Just what is going on?"
In the King of Foreign Lands Residence, Wang Chong summoned Old Eagle and Zhang Que.
"Your Highness, we've finished the investigation. Yeon Gaesomun's war declaration has been completely translated into our language.
"From what we've learned from Youzhou and the Goguryeon Empire, it appears that Yeon Gaesomun had a 'Changbai Divine Pill' in his Imperial Palace. It is said that it was refined several hundred years ago from the highest quality of medicinal plants found deep in the mountains of Goguryeo. There were only three made in total, and Yeon Gaesomun possessed the last one.
"It is said that the Changbai Divine Pill has miraculous effects. Not only can it increase one's power, it can also heal hidden injuries. No matter how old or serious, they can instantly be healed. This is Goguryeo's number one divine medicine, so it had always been placed at the highest point of the Imperial Palace and been heavily guarded.
"Yeon Gaesomun is the Emperor of Goguryeo, but he is also someone who delights in battle, often charging into the fray. He started off as one of the lowest soldiers, and it was only through bathing himself in the blood of battle that he managed to get this far. His body has accumulated many hidden wounds, so this Changbai Divine Pill is undoubtedly of irreplaceable importance for him. Yeon Gaesomun was originally planning to wait until he was fifty to take the pill, when its effects would be maximized.
"And Andong Protector-General Zhang Shougui was also bedridden with illness. He somehow managed to learn of this pill, so he sent an elite squad to silently infiltrate the Goguryeo Imperial Palace. While Yeon Gaesomun was away at the front line, they raided the Goguryeo Imperial Palace and set a large fire."
The pair kneeled as they respectfully reported.
"And Yeon Gaesomun started the war over this incident?"
Zhang Que bowed and said, "The situation is not that simple. Raiding the Imperial Palace was only one factor. Crucially, when this squad was retreating, they accidentally killed the Goguryeo Princess, Yeon Gaesomun's only daughter. When Yeon Gaesomun heard about this on the front line, he exploded with anger. Summoning the empire's entire army, he set out from Hwando and attacked the Andong Protectorate headquarters."
"What of the Changbai Divine Pill?" Wang Chong asked.
"Its location is not known, and our men did not find anything," Old Eagle replied.
"It's not right, not right at all!"
Wang Chong's brow furrowed.
"Your Highness, what's wrong?"
Everyone in the hall turned to Wang Chong.
"If you were Yeon Gaesomun and had this Changbai Divine Pill that was so important to you, would you really leave it in the rear?" Wang Chong said.
The others were all startled. On first listen, there seemed to be nothing wrong with the report from the northeast. None of them had thought so deeply about it.
"Moreover, even if Yeon Gaesomun was dealing with Zhang Shougui and moved all his troops to the border, thus leaving his rear empty, Goguryeo still has an army of one million soldiers, and the Imperial Palace is a place of utmost importance to the empire. And if Yeon Gaesomun was leaving his Changbai Divine Pill in his Imperial Palace, how could he not have the place under heavy guard? Would another force be able to so easily infiltrate such a heavily guarded place and even start a fire?"
Wang Chong's brow creased even more. His intuition told him that things were far from as simple as they appeared. The cause was too suspicious.
"Moreover, after all the information we've gathered, we still have no information on the force that infiltrated the Goguryeo Imperial Palace?"
The others in the room glanced at each other, unable to say a word.
The war in the northeast had begun so abruptly that they had been completely focused on gathering information. There had been no time to deeply contemplate it.
But now that they did think it over, neither the Goguryeo Empire nor the Andong Protectorate army had mentioned this critical squad that had attacked the Goguryeo Imperial Palace. And there had been information regarding them in what had been gathered.
This small squad had appeared like ghosts and vanished like them. It was far too strange.
Just as their liege had said, this matter was full of suspicious points that immediately became evident upon the application of some critical thinking.
"Your Highness, then we…"
Upon realizing how suspicious this matter was, everyone began to turn to Wang Chong.
"This matter isn't that simple!"
Wang Chong suddenly turned to Zhang Que.
"What's the state of the war in the northeast?"
"The capital is far from Youzhou, so there's a two-day gap between the information we gather and the situation on the ground. In addition, the Goguryeons, Xi, and Khitans have pressed forward, and they've surrounded the battlefield with gyrfalcons. Getting information out is extremely difficult, and it's very difficult to approach. However, according to the last report, the Andong Protectorate army is probably surrounded and just barely holding on. If they don't get reinforcements from the Imperial Court, they probably won't last long," Zhang Que loudly said.
"Investigate this! Focus all our resources on determining the war situation in the northeast. In addition, have our army march at full speed toward Youzhou. I sense that the situation at Youzhou will experience a reversal soon!"
With these last words, Wang Chong's brow twitched and his expression made a nasty scowl.
Wang Chong's order had only just been issued, the army gathered and prepared to set out from the capital, when just two days later, Wang Chong's prophecy came true.
A major victory in the northeast!

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.