Flapflap! Messenger birds constantly flew into the King of Foreign Lands Residence from all directions, and at the same time, even more messenger birds flew out of the estate.
Wang Chong sat motionless in the main hall, a small mountain of reports in front of him. The intelligence reports from all the various countries were gathered at Wang Chong's desk.
Although Wang Chong's estate was still inferior to the Imperial Court, the King of Foreign Lands Residence had long ago become the de facto center of the empire.
But Wang Chong did not personally involve himself in every matter. He had divided the continent into several regions.
Guo Ziyi was in charge of the northeast, and he had command over the Wind, Forest, Fire, and Mountain teams. It was his responsibility to keep track of An Yaluoshan's movements and gather any evidence he could on An Yaluoshan's treasonous intentions.
An Yaluoshan was far too cautious. Even now, Wang Chong had not managed to gather any solid evidence on his rebellion. Though he had some evidence of his illegal actions, like building personal armories and training a personal army… this had all happened with Zhang Shougui as well.
At the time, the Sage Emperor had turned a blind eye to it all and had not asked many questions. After all, the situation in the northeast was complicated, and it was necessary for the methods to fit the local circumstances.
As Zhang Shougui had not been punished for these crimes, the same crimes naturally could not be used to bring down An Yaluoshan. At best, it would be a minor itch for him.
Wang Chong would have to wait until he had lethal evidence.
In addition, some matters slowly began to come to light, including the matter of Gao Shang.
Wang Chong raised his head and muttered, "What a pity! I still let him escape. This man is far too cunning and is certain to be a major problem in the future!"
At the feast of all countries, Wang Chong had believed that he had slain An Yaluoshan's most important strategist, but it now appeared that Gao Shang had predicted a possible attempt on his life and exchanged identities with Yan Zhuang, allowing him to escape this disaster.
Once he was back at Youzhou, Wang Chong had ordered Guo Ziyi to make several assassination attempts against him, but Gao Shang was extremely cunning. He had not taken one step out of the Andong Protectorate headquarters, and he was always surrounded by guards, Tian Qianzhen constantly at his side.
Thus, even Wang Chong with his many schemes had no idea where to start.
Putting the reports on the northeast to the side, Wang Chong began to look over another pile.
These were reports Xue Qianjun had sent back from the Turkic steppe in the north.
The region of Youzhou had been given to Guo Ziyi, and the northern sector was under Xue Qianjun. His responsibility was to observe the advancement of the cold wave.
Wang Chong opened a letter and began to carefully read it.
Xue Qianjun reported that the cold wave was intensifying, the situation growing more dangerous. It had already become a lurking calamity for the entire continent.
When Wang Chong had first assigned Xue Qianjun to this mission, Xue Qianjun had been somewhat against the idea, not understanding its importance, but when he experienced for himself the extreme cold and the blizzards, he withdrew his disdain.
Compared to wars between mortal empires, this unprecedented cold wave that had yet to descend was the true threat.
Those who had not experienced it for themselves would never be able to imagine its terror.
Xue Qianjun knew that if this terrifying cold wave moved southward, the human world would be sealed in ice and turned into a no man's land. Even an army of millions were nothing but ants in the face of nature's terrifying might.
Xue Qianjun had personally attempted to break through the cold to investigate the truth of the cold wave in the far north and find its origin, but his efforts had failed. Not only had he lost several dozen elite scouts, he had nearly lost his own life.
Right now, Xue Qianjun was volunteering to remain in the north.
But Xue Qianjun had also come upon a problem. Staying too long would draw the attention and suspicion of the Turkic Khaganates, who were worried that they were Tang spies. Quite a few people were tracking them now, pursuing them as far as Lake Baikal.
Wang Chong sent back a reply, allowing Xue Qianjun to make his own decisions, even using his name if necessary. At present, Wang Chong's name was known throughout the continent. Neither the Eastern Turks nor Western Turks wished to provoke him until they were at open war with the Great Tang.
The remaining areas were Arabia, Sindhu, and the Promised Land.
Arabia was calm. With Great Generals Gao Xianzhi and An Sishun presiding and the Confucian Sect assisting from the shadows, and with the additional aid from Bahram, the Sassanid Dynasty, and the soldiers of the other kingdoms around Arabia, the region was now completely under the control of the Great Tang.
But the object with the most intimidating power in the Arabian Empire was still that massive banner Wang Chong had left in the Imperial Palace of Baghdad, nearly one hundred meters tall, that represented the King of Foreign Lands!
The Arabs feared this banner even more than the hundreds of thousands of soldiers the Great Tang had garrisoned in the region or the Sassanid army led by Bahram.
Gao Xianzhi reported that any Arab that passed the banner would lower their head in fear.
Gao Xianzhi had used this chance to announce that if Arabia rebelled, Wang Chong would reappear, and the Demon King of the East would show no mercy this time. He would set Baghdad and all of Arabia ablaze, executing all the Arabs!
All the Arabs trembled in fear, believing these words without question.
Not only had the number of rebellions dwindled, Gao Xianzhi had even managed to recruit numerous Arab soldiers who assisted him in suppressing revolts and maintaining order.
This Arab army dealt with the Arabs in an even crueler fashion than the Tang!
The Arabs feared Wang Chong so much that they privately admonished each other, exhorting the other Arabs to not oppose the Tang so that they would not draw the attention of that great demon of the east.
Gao Xianzhi, Feng Changqing, and An Sishun had laughed for ages upon hearing this.
Wang Chong didn't know whether to laugh or cry as he read the letter.
After this, he began to study the reports from Sindhu and the Promised Land.
The people of Sindhu were playing an extremely important role in the Promised Land. One ship after another carried the Sindhi to the Promised Land.
The land of Sindhu was barren and ridden by plague. Each year, many Sindhi died of disease or starvation. By now, the Promised Land had become the land of hope for the Sindhi.
Each time Tang soldiers appeared to recruit volunteers, countless Sindhi would rush them, anxious to get on the boats and leave Sindhu.
The High Priest had also played a major role in this.
Through this slow process, around seven hundred thousand people now populated the Promised Land, and everything was proceeding smoothly.
Xu Keyi and Yuan Shusong were jointly in charge of Sindhu.
Yuan Shusong was an erudite scholar who knew a variety of languages, including Arabic. Moreover, as a scholar, he possessed a patience and intimacy that a normal person did not. No one was better than him for dealing with this matter.
As for the Promised Land, it was the responsibility of Wang Chong's cousin, Wang Liang, and Zhang Munian.
Here as well, everything was running smoothly.
After reading through all the reports, he replied to each of them.
No one knew that Wang Chong's letters and the messenger birds that carried them were stabilizing the continent and deciding the future of the world.
Once this was all done, Wang Chong let out a sigh of relief and placed his brush on the rack.
"Zhang Que!" Wang Chong suddenly said.
"Your subordinate is here!"
Zhang Que appeared in a flash of light.
"Take these things to Senior Zhang Shouzhi. Tell him to have the craftsmen teams begin working on the object described on the diagram. I will have the great clans across the realm fully cooperate on this matter!"
As Wang Chong spoke, he pushed over a stack of diagrams.
Zhang Que strode forward and took the diagrams.
Zhang Que had not paid them much mind at first glance. After all, he had already conveyed numerous orders. But when his eyes passed over the diagram at the top, he immediately paled.
"These are… diagrams for the production of ballistae!"
Zhang Que was shaken.
As the heavy weaponry of the Great Tang, ballistae had an influential role in the empire, and they were even more effective under Wang Chong's control. They were known in the surrounding countries as 'death gods of the battlefield' and made everyone tremble in fear.
Zhang Que had witnessed the power of the ballistae many times, so he was extremely familiar with their designs.
But the diagrams Wang Chong had given him were somewhat different. The ballista had been divided into various parts, and each part had been labeled with a unique number. It was very much like the modules Wang Chong used to create his steel fortresses.
"Your Highness… this is…"
Zhang Que's eyes widened, and he raised his head to look hesitantly at Wang Chong.
Wang Chong caught his gaze, seeming to know what Zhang Que wanted to say.
"This is a diagram for a modular form of the ballista. By dividing the ballista into various parts, we can more efficiently produce them, five to eight times faster than before!
"The Great Tang doesn't have much time left. An Yaluoshan is already planning rebellion, and the dangers we will face in the future will be greater than all the wars we faced in the past. These ballistae will be our greatest tool in facing these dangers!"
"But the Imperial Court…" Zhang Que hesitantly said.
The Imperial Court had decreed again and again that one could not produce ballistae without permission, and production was strictly controlled. Wang Chong was in danger of offending the Imperial Court in secretly producing ballistae, which could be a source of endless trouble.
"There's no need for you to worry about that. Produce the ballistae without restraint. King Song, Zhangchou Jianqiong, and I unanimously agreed on this. Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. If we delay any longer, it will be too late to act," Wang Chong calmly said.
If the Sage Emperor were here, Wang Chong wouldn't have been so anxious. However, the man in the Imperial Court was no longer the Sage Emperor, but the incompetent Third Son Xuan.
An Yaluoshan was already beginning to recruit his soldiers and establish his Yeluohe. More importantly, Wang Chong was keenly aware that the future calamity would not only involve the soldiers of Youzhou.