Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
"Enough! Let them go!"
Just when an unwilling An Lushan was going to push the issue, a majestic voice came from overhead. Looking up in shock, he saw Genesis Supreme, wearing his divine armor, slowly descending from the heavens.
He didn't appear injured, but his aura was lacking in ferocity and dominance, and his eyes were no longer as bright or sharp. It was clear that the battle against Wang Chong had been very taxing on Genesis Supreme.
With the pressure off for a brief moment, the Tang army finished retreating, creating distance between it and the Yeluohe. A few moments later, the massive metal gate slammed down, shutting off access to the steel fortress.
Though An Lushan was extremely unwilling, he had no other option than to sound the horn for retreat. Corpses were piled up on the battlefield, together with abandoned weapons and standards, and the rivers of blood that flowed freely across the earth quickly froze solid.
"Let them struggle on for a little longer. Come with me. I have something to discuss with you!"
With these words, Genesis Supreme headed off to the north.
Behind him, the alliance began to clean up the battlefield.
On the other end, at the top of the steel fortress, Wang Chong watched. Behind him, Abusi, Zhang Shougui, and Zhangchou Jianqiong gathered.
Zhangchou Jianqiong broke the silence. "Wang Chong, what's our next step?"
This battle was far fiercer than envisioned. They had suffered shocking losses, and even Great Generals like them were sporting injuries. However, their greatest concern was what Wang Chong's next order would be.
In this unprecedented war of empires, Wang Chong was the spiritual leader of the Great Tang, the heart of the empire. Regardless of how bad their losses were, so long as Wang Chong stood before them, they would never lose direction, and the Great Tang would never be defeated!
"We'll end the battle for now. They shouldn't have the strength to attack in the short term. In this period, strengthen the defenses and reinforce the formation underground. We can't allow any mistakes!" Wang Chong sternly ordered without turning his head.
Everyone was energized by his words.
"Have that taken care of at once!" Zhangchou Jianqiong turned around and called over a messenger, who soon departed with the orders.
After saying this, Wang Chong proceeded to ignore them, and slowly raised his head to the sky, his dark eyes flashing with concern.
The battle was over, but Wang Chong knew that the war was just beginning. If he recalled correctly, that unprecedented blizzard from his memories was about to descend.
The Turkic steppe to the north had been completely sealed in ice, and both the Western and Eastern Turkic Khaganates had been driven out of their homes. This was not some coincidence, nor was the Great Tang the sole survivor. The great blizzard to come—or perhaps one could call it the Great Ice Age—would be even more frightening than the war.
Even though he had made many plans, he still didn't know if they would be effective.
"Pass on my order! Prepare to execute the Hibernation Plan!" Wang Chong suddenly said.
"In addition, write a letter to the capital informing His Majesty and the Imperial Court that the event I spoke to them about will be taking place soon. Ten-some days at most!"
Zhang Que immediately jumped down from the top of the fortress and vanished into the distance.
A gust of cold wind blew past, and Wang Chong disappeared.
A bloody scent permeated through the air.
At night, Crown Prince's Junior Guardian Wang Zhongsi returned with a force of cavalry, detouring through the Eastern Turkic steppe to arrive at the gate on the other side of the fortress. With this, the first battle of this war of empires came to an end.
But for those officials and common folk who had been waiting for news all day, the period of time before they received it was one of long suffering.
Once the first battle was over and the news was brought to the capital, all of society was elated.
Countless announcements were posted on the streets and alleys to soothe the hearts of the people.
Within Taiji Palace, Li Heng had a ruddy complexion as he excitedly slapped the arms of his throne.
With the first battle over, Li Heng finally relaxed.
Though he knew that Wang Chong wouldn't disappoint him, deep down, Li Heng still couldn't help but feel worried and restless.
Even though the Great Tang had emerged victorious in all of its recent wars, it had always been against a foe that outnumbered them by many times, with the Great Tang surrounded by perils on all sides.
Moreover, the countries of the northeast had mobilized all of their power in this assault on the Great Tang, carrying a do-or-die attitude. Such a thing had never happened before in the history of the Great Tang.
Li Jingzhong saw Li Heng's entire body relax, and he immediately issued orders to a palace attendant.
"Serve the meal, serve the meal! Hurry and serve His Majesty's dinner!"
With the Great Tang's fate on the line in the northeast, Li Heng had been unable to sleep or eat. He had grown much thinner, as Li Jingzhong was well aware, and he could not help but be worried.
The palace attendant quickly departed. Meanwhile, the officials in the hall all tactfully lowered their heads, pretending not to hear.
Taiji Palace was the political center of the empire and had a hallowed status. But that was then and this was now. All of the officials were worried over Li Heng's gradually thinning figure.
The Grand Preceptor stepped forward and said, "Your Majesty, it's not time to relax just yet. Only the first battle has ended, not the entire war. Moreover, those thirty thousand Yeluohe of Youzhou remain a threat!"
To pour a bucket of cold water on their heads when everyone was getting complacent was his duty.
At least in his view, it was not time to relax.
As the Grand Preceptor spoke, the atmosphere turned oppressive once more.
All of the Great Tang's armies had supervisors, and the reports of what was going on in the northeast had come from the army supervisors.
Dealing a heavy blow to enemy morale and inflicting massive losses on them was truly invigorating news, but the reports from the northeast had also brought up the mysterious Yeluohe.
Wang Chong's Wushang Cavalry were one of the strongest forces in the world, but their losses in this battle had been as much as eight thousand.
Moreover, the army supervisor had written, 'The traitor's forces were powerful. If the Wushang Cavalry had not arrived at the last moment, a defeat might have taken place in the northeast on this day.'
The situation in the northeast was still grim, and this truly wasn't the time to relax.
Li Heng turned to Minister of War Cao Yanqiu. "Minister Cao, what is the situation in the northeast? How about the supply lines?"
Cao Yanqiu lowered his head and respectfully replied, "Your Majesty, as planned, all the weapons, supplies, and warm clothes have been delivered to the fortress in the northeast!"
After a few moments of silence, Li Heng suddenly frowned.
"It's not enough!
"Inform the palace to halve the expenses again and use the savings to support the front line. In addition, send half of the money from the palace treasury to the front line."
"Your Majesty, this…"
The others said nothing, but Li Jingzhong appeared concerned.
The imperial treasury was divided into a national treasury and a palace treasury. The so-called palace treasury was really the Emperor's personal treasury.
An Emperor needed the presence of an Emperor. The rear palace had many eunuchs, maids, and consorts, and the expenses for them were taken from the palace treasury, not the national treasury.
Moreover, the various silk robes and precious utensils of gold and silver that the Emperor awarded to officials were also paid for by the palace treasury.
All of these had a reason for existence.
In addition, half of the treasury didn't seem like much, but in reality, the palace had already provided seventy percent of its treasury in the earlier preparations. There was not much money left, and the palace was barely keeping up with its day-to-day expenses already. If this amount were halved again…
"Do as I say!" Li Heng firmly declared, seeming to know what Li Jingzhong was thinking.
"Yes, Your Majesty!"
Li Jingzhong internally sighed as he replied.
A voice came from outside. "Reporting! Your Majesty, the King of Foreign Lands has sent an urgent letter!"
A moment later, a Golden Guard rushed inside.
Everyone in the hall instantly turned to look.
"Bring it up!"
Li Heng's eyes brightened as he stood up and began to walk over to the Golden Guard.
Taking the letter from the Golden Guard, he glanced at the familiar seal and opened the letter, but upon glancing at its contents, his face sank.
"The Great Ice Age… so soon!"
Li Heng's heart sank, his expression turning grim.
In the distant northeast, in a large military tent, the Khitan King, Ozmish Khagan, Yeon Gaesomun, An Lushan, and his various Youzhou generals had gathered. At the center of the tent stood Genesis Supreme and his attending Divine Lords.
The other countries didn't know much about Genesis Supreme, but this wasn't much of a problem. Genesis Supreme had simply killed a few people to quickly earn the obedience of the sovereigns.
"Milord, what should we do now?"
In the giant tent, An Lushan was the first to break the silence, and everyone stared at Genesis Supreme.
Genesis Supreme waved his hand and sternly said, "There's no rush! We will put a pause on the war for now."