Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
"Keep your backs straight! Be vigilant! The fighting is going to start soon. Are you going to act this way on the battlefield too?"
"Maintain a firm grip! When the battle begins, nobody is going to care that you're cold!"
"Single-Line Snake Formation! Show it to me again!"
"Master archer team, I'm inspecting your archery one more time!"
In the base, rows of infantry and cavalry were divided into neat ranks. Some of them were patrolling the area while the rest engaged in drills in the center of the base.
In the middle of the army, two black banners snapped in the cold wind, one depicting a scarlet dragon and the other depicting a five-clawed golden dragon.
These two banners represented Crown Prince's Junior Guardian Wang Zhongsi and Tongluo Great General Abusi.
The forward base!
Wang Chong quickly shook himself out of his stupor.
This was the forward base for the entire northeast.
More than four hundred thousand soldiers had already gathered in this small region. It was an unimaginable army, and it was also presided over by two powerful Great Generals, Wang Zhongsi and Abusi.
Wang Chong spurred his horse into a gallop, pushing through the snow.
At the very front of the forward base, in front of rows of disciplined soldiers, were two powerful storms of energy.
These were none other than Wang Zhongsi and Abusi.
Abusi's eyes flashed as he rode his horse out of the forward base.
Behind him, Wang Zhongsi subtly nodded and followed.
A few moments later, some six thousand feet from the base, the three commanders met.
"Is everything ready?"
Wang Chong skipped the pleasantries and got straight to the point.
"Mm. Has His Majesty made up his mind?" Wang Zhongsi asked.
Without another word, Wang Chong took a token from his waist.
"How long will the rest of the soldiers take to arrive?" Abusi solemnly said.
"All of them will arrive in seven days!" Wang Chong indifferently said.
Wang Zhongsi and Abusi both exhaled in relief.
Even though the forward base had four hundred thousand soldiers, Youzhou itself had six hundred thousand, and there were also the armies of Goguryeo, the Eastern Turkic Khaganate, the Xi, and the Khitans to consider. Together, it constituted a force of millions. The four hundred thousand soldiers of the forward base were far from enough.
But once the rest of Wang Chong's army arrived, the situation in the northeast would be completely different.
Wang Chong didn't stick around, spurring his horse and riding between the two Great Generals toward the forward base.
Wang Zhongsi and Abusi glanced at each other and then followed.
Within the forward base, Zhang Shouzhi, the Formation Elder, and the top craftsmen from the craftsman team had gathered together, looking up at the mounted Wang Chong.
All of them bowed, awaiting Wang Chong's final order.
All was quiet as Wang Chong turned his gaze toward the distant Youzhou.
Youzhou seemed calm on the surface, but Wang Chong could clearly sense a baleful energy soaring out of the horizon.
When Wang Chong was recruiting soldiers, Youzhou had also been building up its soldiers.
This place had become the greatest problem for the empire.
An Yaluoshan, this time, I'm going to give you a real surprise!
As numerous thoughts ran through his mind, Wang Chong waved his hand down.
At that moment, the earth began to shudder. The moment Wang Chong gave his order, the entire power structure of the northeast—no, the entire continent—shifted.
Around Wang Chong, metal hammers slammed down, and with resounding cracks, the tens of thousands of large wooden boxes that had been accumulated in the forward base were opened, revealing the metal modules within.
This was not the first time Wang Chong was using this trick, but it was completely different from before.
Metal hammers fell, sparks exploded, bellows pumped, and smoke and flames rose into the sky.
One furnace became two, three, four… In just a few moments, hundreds to thousands of metal furnaces blazed up.
And a few moments after that, bright molten metal began to flow along channels.
The forward base became like an awakening metallic beast, all of its systems spinning up.
One metal module after another was removed from its crate, loaded onto specialized carts, and swiftly transported to its place in the forward base.
Unlike the metallic modules of the past, these modules were a dark black and more than twice the thickness.
Moreover, the surface of the modules was covered in the intricate designs of formations and inscriptions.
And these inscriptions and formations resonated with each other, as if they were all part of some even more immense formation.
Behind the large barricades, the modules were erected, molten metal poured down to swiftly install these metal slabs weighing tens of thousands of jin.
Countless soldiers and craftsmen worked around the metal modules, reinforcing and connecting them together. In just a short while, a grandiose steel wall had been formed, seemingly appearing out of thin air.
And if one looked down from the sky, one could watch as a line of black steel walls began to steadily spread across this large region that was the intersection between the Cang Province, Ying Province, and Heng Province.
Even though it was still in its nascent form, it was already enough to exert a massive pressure.
In the distance, atop a hill, several Youzhou horsemen who were responsible for observing the forward base widened their eyes.
"What is this? What are they trying to do!?"
"This is bad! Hurry and report this to His Excellency!"
The Youzhou horsemen turned their horses around and sped away.
They had been watching this place for a long time, but before this, the general structure of the fortress had never changed that much. Some goods would be transported inside, and some new barricades and spikes would be installed.
But this was something else. It felt as if a dragon was waking from its slumber.
As the work on the forward base began in earnest, the great turmoil caused was felt as far away as Youzhou.
Within the Andong Protectorate headquarters, An Yaluoshan, Cui Qianyou, Tian Chengsi, Gao Shang, and almost all the elite members of Youzhou had gathered in front of a large model. They were in the middle of discussing their strategy against the Great Tang.
At this time, the hall began to tremble.
"What's going on?"
An Yaluoshan frowned as he raised his head.
"This is… from the southwest!"
The others in the hall also sensed this disturbance.
The Andong Protectorate headquarters had been built many years ago, from extremely tough and dense materials. It would never tremble like this in normal circumstances.
This was not something any ordinary tremor could cause.
"The southwest? I'll go and look!"
An Yaluoshan's eyes narrowed. With a sweep of his sleeve, he strode out of the hall with a dark expression, his subordinates following right behind him.
The southwest? If he remembered correctly, that was exactly where the Great Tang's forward base was.
As he emerged from the hall, a cold wind flecked with snow blew past, the turbulence cutting at him like a knife.
In the distance, a blurry silhouette became visible on the southwestern horizon, and a sound akin to the crashing of waves could be heard. Even though it was a very distant sound, if one listened carefully, one would realize that it was a sound formed from the shouts of tens of thousands of people.
Everyone instantly paled.
A long time had gone by without a disturbance. What in the world was the Great Tang doing?!
As all of them were wondering what was going on, the thundering of hooves came from the distance. A moment later, they saw a Youzhou horseman kicking up snow as he frantically rode toward them.
The moment he arrived, the Youzhou horseman dismounted and got down on one knee, speaking in a hurried voice.
"Your Excellency! Activity to the southwest! All of the craftsmen in the Great Tang's forward base have begun setting up steel walls!"
An Yaluoshan's brow creased and his eyes filled with confusion.
At this time, Gao Shang was also confused.
Setting up steel walls?
What did that mean?
Didn't the Great Tang's forward base already have those giant barricades and spikes?
Even if they were building a wall, was it really deserving of such a fuss?
But Gao Shang knew that this matter had to be more complicated than it seemed. Seeing how this Youzhou horseman was gasping for breath, he also understood that there were some things that common soldiers like this could not describe very well.
"Come on! Your Excellency, let's go and look!" Gao Shang solemnly said.
An Yaluoshan already had the same idea, and a few moments later, they mounted their horses and rode toward the forward base in the southwest.
As they approached, the sound of crashing waves grew louder and louder. Listening to the signals called out in unison, all of them turned somber.