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Huoba Sangye kneeled on the ground, and upon hearing Dalon Trinling’s words, he lowered his head even more.
“Huoba Sangye knows that his crimes are severe, and if the Imperial Minister and Tsenpo desire my life, Huoba Sangye has nothing to say. But I cannot die. While the Great Minister and the two generals remain unavenged, Huoba Sangye is not willing to die, nor can he die!”
Huoba Sangye rested his palms on his knees, his shoulders trembling. Finally, he broke out into tears. No! Those were not tears, but blood.
Everyone fell silent at these words, their expressions dim. Huoba Sangye truly did deserve death, but perhaps living would be an even greater punishment.
All was silent. Dalon Trinling stared at Huoba Sangye, the killing intent in his eyes slowly receding.
“Huoba Sangye, I will let you keep your lowly life for now.”
Dalon Trinling raised his head and slowly closed his eyes, concealing the killing intent within them. But at this moment, a vast and baleful aura began to rise from his body.
“Wang Chong, the Wang Clan, the Great Tang… just wait. I will definitely have all of you pay a price and make you feel Ü-Tsang’s pain!”
Dalon Trinling’s voice drifted through the silent world, floating away into infinity.
While the Tibetan Plateau was in a dour mood, Khorasan was rejoicing.
“Changqing, you’ve come!”
At the eastern gate of Khorasan, Gao Xianzhi happily smiled at the sight of Feng Changqing dressed in a light robe. For the first time, the Great Tang’s Twin Walls of the Empire had met in this foreign land. With Feng Changqing here, Gao Xianzhi could finally put down those administrative problems that so greatly vexed him and leave them for Feng Changqing to handle.
Feng Changqing was also delighted to see Gao Xianzhi. From the Battle of Talas to the Battle of Khorasan, Feng Changqing back in Suiye had been worried night and day. Only now could he finally relax. The Twin Walls of the Empire had reunited, and they began to talk about many things regarding Anxi, Suiye, and the Anxi Protectorate army. Once the two had finished their conversation, Feng Changqing tidied his clothes and walked up to Wang Chong.
Before Feng Changqing could speak, Wang Chong faintly smiled and broke the silence. “Lord Feng, we meet again.”
“Lord Protector-General, my gratitude is beyond words. Milord, please accept this bow,” Feng Changqing sternly said, and then he gave an extremely reverential bow.
“Lord Feng, there has never been a need for thanks when it comes to vital matters of the state.”
Wang Chong smiled, not extending a hand to help him up. However, Feng Changqing was unexpectedly unable to complete his bow. An enormous Stellar Energy supported his body, preventing him from even bending at the waist. Feng Changqing tried several times until he was red in the face.
Gao Xianzhi laughed and said, “Changqing, enough. If Wang Chong doesn’t want it, you won’t even be able to bow to him. Let’s go. Managing Khorasan is a complicated affair. Let’s talk inside.”
Feng Changqing could only give up, a bitter look on his face.
A certain hall in Khorasan was ringed by guards. Inside this hall were only Wang Chong, Gao Xianzhi, Feng Changqing, and Cheng Qianli, the top-class commanders. Not even Li Siye was permitted entry.
“Lord Feng, this is my plan for administering Khorasan. Take a look at it first. When it comes to actually running Khorasan, your help will probably be needed. This was also the primary reason for my request that you move to Khorasan.”
In the solemn air of the room, Wang Chong got straight to the point. Reaching into his sleeve, he pulled out a paper densely covered in words.
The administration of Khorasan not only determined whether this city would be kept or lost, but also whether the Great Tang could suppress the powerful foe that was Arabia. Besides this, it was also tied to one of Wang Chong’s even greater plans.
Feng Changqing did not dare to show any negligence when it came to the administration of Khorasan. He immediately began to look over the paper, but with a single glance, he raised an eyebrow. He sat up on his chair and began to carefully read through the paper, and the more he read, the more astonished he became.
Feng Changqing was an important subject of the empire and an expert in logistics, and he never did anything without preparation. To Feng Changqing, it was his duty to look three steps ahead before taking one. Thus, before coming, Feng Changqing had already carefully thought things over.
With his many years of experience in administration, Feng Changqing had believed that his plan for administering Khorasan was already very detailed and comprehensive. But only when he saw Wang Chong’s plan did Feng Changqing realize how he was lacking. It wasn’t that he was incapable, but that Wang Chong simply thought in a different way.
The hall was quiet for a very long time. Finally, Feng Changqing put down the paper and exhaled, shaking off his shock.
As he stared at that young face, both childish and mature, that had been tempered through many battles, Feng Changqing’s mind was in turmoil. Rumors were different from seeing the real thing, and while Wang Chong’s military abilities were acknowledged by all, Feng Changqing had never imagined that he would also be such a formidable administrator.
“So, Lord Protector-General, you have already prepared everything and will soon jointly sign that article with the Khorasani and rebel armies,” Feng Changqing said, looking up at Wang Chong.
Wang Chong faintly smiled and nodded.
“Article? Changqing, what is this article you speak of?” Cheng Qianli couldn’t help but ask.
Feng Changqing said nothing, only handed over the paper.
‘The coalition army headquarters will be established in Khorasan, and the Sassanids and all other rebel armies jointly agree to obey the Great Tang. The Great Tang will support the Sassanid and other rebel armies in the establishment of their own factions. Moreover, if any member of the coalition army is attacked by the Arabs, the Great Tang has a duty to muster all its soldiers and resist the Arabs, and all the other members of the coalition must also respond to the call. In return, the other members of the coalition unanimously agree to comply with the Great Tang’s commands and additionally pay the expenses for any garrisons stationed in the territories of the various coalition members. If any member of the coalition betrays the Great Tang and the coalition army, the Great Tang will gather all the other coalition members to jointly attack the violator.’
Cheng Qianli frowned as he read the first article on the paper.
“Changqing, isn’t this just a normal thing for managing a coalition army? What’s so special about it?”
The Great Tang hoped to borrow the strength of the rebel armies to deal with Arabia, and the rebel armies hoped to deepen their connections with the Great Tang. This was already commonly known in Khorasan, and even the ordinary soldiers had probably sensed what was going on. Cheng Qianli didn’t understand why Feng Changqing cared so much about something like this.
Feng Changqing said nothing, only glanced at Wang Chong. Wang Chong smiled and took a sip of his tea.
“Qianli, do you still not understand? This is no normal coalition. With this article, the Great Tang can remain firmly rooted in the region between Samarkand and Khorasan forever.”
Feng Changqing sighed and began to speak in a praising tone as he gazed at Wang Chong. “While coming from Suiye, I thought of many plans, all of them linked in countless ways, but in the end, they are all inferior to this simple article from Lord Protector-General.”
Feng Changqing felt sincere admiration. When he saw that paper, he had suddenly felt that there really did exist such geniuses in the world who had such sharp senses and observation abilities that they could solve an extremely complicated problem with just a few simple words.
“Haha, Lord Feng’s praise is too much. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to hide it from you.”
Wang Chong smiled and put down his tea cup. It was much easier to talk with intelligent people. In truth, Wang Chong had already given this article to Bahram, the rebel leaders, and Gao Xianzhi. Many people had been like Cheng Qianli and treated it as a simple plan for a coalition. Very few of them understood Wang Chong’s true aims.
“Changqing, just what are the two of you talking about?”
Gao Xianzhi felt like Wang Chong and Feng Changqing were communicating in sign language, and he finally couldn’t help but speak up. He had invited Feng Changqing over to handle the administration, but for some reason, the topic had turned to military affairs.
“Milord, do you still not understand? As long as this article passes, the Great Tang will be the true ruler of the region between Samarkand and Khorasan.”
Feng Changqing sighed and began to explain.
“According to the contents of this agreement, the Great Tang cannot only obtain an endless stream of tax revenue, but can also mobilize the armies of the coalition members. Anyone who offends or resists the Great Tang will come under the attack of the other coalition members. With just this point alone, the Great Tang’s position to the west of the Cong Mountains will be unshakable. As long as we achieve this, the other administrative problems are just trifles.
“With this policy, within ten years, the Great Tang will have a firmer grasp on Khorasan than it has over the Western Regions!”
Everyone in the room fell silent, stunned by Feng Changqing’s words. From Feng Changqing’s reaction, they could tell that this article wasn’t as simple as it seemed, but they had never expected Feng Changqing to view it with such high regard.
The Great Tang had needed two hundred years to finally stand firm in the Western Regions, but Feng Changqing claimed that the Great Tang could do the same here, and perhaps even more, in only ten years. This was simply absurd! If anyone else had made this claim, they wouldn’t have taken it seriously, but this was Feng Changqing, famed throughout the Great Tang for his wisdom and foresight.
“Ten years? Changqing, are you exaggerating? Even with all the capable ministers and excellent generals the Great Tang sent to the Western Regions, it hasn’t even been able to maintain a continuous one hundred years of rule. Can just this one article really do such a thing?” Cheng Qianli couldn’t help but say. It wasn’t that he doubted Feng Changqing or didn’t believe in Wang Chong, but ten years was simply too difficult to believe.
“One article naturally can’t do it, but with the next article, things are entirely different.” Feng Changqing turned to Wang Chong and said, “Lord Protector-General, I am filled with admiration. This plan to open up schools in Khorasan to teach the Tang language isn’t merely to deepen the understanding between the two armies, right?”
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