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“Same as last time, about the alliance?” Ishbara Khagan asked, his expression calm and unperturbed.
The general nodded. They had already received many such letters, but Ishbara Khagan had suppressed all of them, causing them to vanish like stones into the ocean.
“I see,” Ishbara Khagan indifferently replied, saying no more.
In the tent, First Prince Irbis Shiyun shared a glance of mutual understanding with Wunu Shibi.
Irbis Shiyun stood up, made a hand salute, and firmly said, “Imperial Father, we can’t continue to delay.
“Time will not wait for us. An Yaluoshan and the other countries have invited us again and again, and now is the best moment for us to join. Moreover, the Great Tang is abundant with resources, with far greater stockpiles than ours. Attacking the Great Tang is the best way to get through this trial.”
Next to First Prince Irbis Shiyun, Great General Wunu Shibi came forward. “Your Majesty, though the First Prince is young, this general believes he is right on this matter. To not make a decision when decisiveness is called for is certain to sow chaos. Moreover, the alliance of the countries is now set in stone, making this the best time to deal with the Great Tang. And has Your Majesty forgotten the previous humiliations?”
One was the future Khagan and the other was a Great General. Their words combined carried an entirely different weight.
The final comment in particular made Ishbara Khagan’s eyes twitch.
In the border incident, Wang Chong had sent a letter threatening that he would hunt with Ishbara Khagan on Mount Sanmi, forcing Ishbara Khagan to withdraw his million-man army. All of the surrounding countries knew about this incident and joked about it, and Ishbara Khagan had marked it as a lifelong disgrace.
Moreover, even without this incident, the Western Turkic Khaganate and the Great Tang were old foes. Over the course of several hundred years, the two sides had clashed countless times. It was impossible to count the number of Turkic braves who had died to the Tang.
As the sovereign of the Great Steppe, Ishbara Khagan had been born with the ambition to expand his borders, desiring to bring the Western Turkic Khaganate to its apex. But the Tang forever remained an obstacle.
That the Western Turkic Khaganate was still confined to the ‘small region’ that was the Great Steppe was in large part due to the Great Tang.
Deep down in the hearts of Ishbara Khagan and any other Western Turk was a deep loathing for the Great Tang, though it was not a hatred normally brought up.
But the Great Tang…
Ishbara Khagan’s eyes flickered, and he stopped deliberating.
“Your Majesty, you must not!” Another Western Turkic general suddenly spoke up, his eyes filled with worry.
Any Western Turk had thoughts of vanquishing the Great Tang, but that was then and this was now. Everyone had seen how the Arabs had ended up.
“The Arabs gathered an army of two million, six hundred thousand elites, had a powerful expert in Khatabah, and summoned many of their Governors, the Ifrit, and the Behemoth Army. But despite all this, they still lost to the Tang, and their capital of Baghdad was taken and their country vanquished.
“Everyone, ask yourselves: can our cavalry compare to Arabia’s cavalry? Is our army as strong? And in this situation, what if we were to fail? Even Arabia was vanquished! What do we have that can oppose the Tang?
“Moreover, if we join the alliance army and attack the Great Tang, we could succeed or fail, but if we fail, we might suffer such devastating losses that our children might be enslaved by the Tang, our people forced into servitude for the rest of time!”
Numerous generals in the tent paled.
The Tang were arrogant, yes, but this arrogance was founded on strength. With examples of the past to look to, they understood that defeat would lead to unimaginable consequences.
Wunu Shibi’s voice erupted in the tent, his gaze as cold and sharp as a blade.
“The cold wave is imminent. If we don’t join the alliance, must we feign civility with the Great Tang?
“Countless livestock and shepherds in the empire have frozen to death, and you speak on behalf of the enemy? This general must question your intent! Talk! What did you receive from the Tang, that you would speak up for them?”
With a clang, Wunu Shibi drew his saber halfway out of its sheath, causing its bright surface to flash with a savage light.
Everyone paled in alarm and came up to stop Wunu Shibi. Meanwhile, the Western Turkic general whose words had incited this reaction paled.
Suddenly, from a corner of the tent, behind all the other generals, Celestial Wolf Great General Duwu Sili spoke, his voice cold as ice. “Hmph, Great General, as long as you can say that you simply need to grab your saber and mount your horse to take Wang Chong’s head, I am sure that all the people of the Western Turkic Khaganate, including this Duwu Sili, would support you in joining the alliance.
“I am sure that with Great General’s ability, this should be as easy as lifting a hand, yes?”
Wunu Shibi narrowed his eyes and coldly replied, “Such impudence! Duwu Sili, you defeated general, do you have the right to speak here? In the Battle of Talas, the Celestial Wolf Cavalry were wiped out, and you still have the face to speak here?!”
Duwu Sili exploded in rage, his fists clenching.
In the Battle of Talas, he had fallen for Wang Chong’s fake formation phenomena and his army had been routed back to the west. In the Western Turkic Khaganate, his status had also taken a fall into the abyss. This could be seen from how he, a Great General, had been placed at the very back row for such an important meeting.
As the two quarreled, Ishbara Khagan’s impatience grew, and finally, with a roar, he stopped the two of them. “Enough!
“All of you, shut up!”
Seeing Ishbara Khagan’s rage, the generals in the tent fell silent, fear in their eyes. All of them dropped their heads, Wunu Shibi and Duwu Sili included.
While Wunu Shibi and Duwu Sili’s quarrel seemed to be over the alliance, in reality, everyone knew that it was about the War of the Princes between the Fourth Prince and the First Prince.
Ishbara Khagan massaged his twitching brow and turned to a nearby figure.
“Blackwater Shaman, what is your view on this matter? Have the gods sent down a decree regarding this ice calamity?”
“The gods have not sent down a message.”
Nearby, the Blackwater Shaman was seated cross-legged on the side, unmoved by the ferocity of the arguments taking place around him.
Ishbara Khagan deeply frowned.
The Blackwater Shaman had a transcendent status in the Western Turkic Khaganate, and he had always supported the Fourth Prince. For the Blackwater Shaman to have not sought a message from the gods with this fatal threat of the cold wave approaching was far too abnormal.
As Ishbara Khagan was deep in thought, the flapping of wings came from nearby. A few moments later, a warrior entered the tent with a muscular messenger bird.
The warrior got down on one knee and said, “Khagan, a letter from the Central Plains.”
His one sentence caused everyone to pale.
The Central Plains!
Truly, when speaking of Cao Cao, Cao Cao would arrive!
They had just received An Yaluoshan’s letter urging them to join the alliance, and now, they had received a letter from the Great Tang!
It would be different if the letter had arrived at any other time, but it happened to arrive just as they were discussing whether to join the alliance.
The faces of everyone in the tent turned strange, with the pro-alliance First Prince and Wunu Shibi deeply frowning.
Wunu Shibi clenched his fists, hatred in his eyes.
Even now, he could not forget the humiliation he had received from Wang Chong at the feast of all countries.
The timing of this letter’s arrival was far too coincidental. He didn’t need to think very long to know that this was undoubtedly Wang Chong’s handiwork. But no matter how shocked and surprised he was, anything concerning Wang Chong had to be considered rationally.
“Read it!” Ishbara Khagan coldly ordered.
The general looked at the letter and hesitated.
In the Western Turkic Khaganate, any letter from the Great Tang concerning Wang Chong would not contain pleasant contents. This letter would naturally be no different.
“The Khagan ordered you to read, so read. You can simply summarize the main contents. There’s no need to read it word for word,” the Blackwater Shaman suddenly said.
The Western Turkic general felt as if he had been pardoned, and let out a long sigh of relief.
“The letter from the Great Tang’s King of Foreign Lands says that they already know about what has happened on the Western Turkic steppe and are willing to offer assistance. The Western Turks and the Great Tang have a history of friendship, and so both sides should continue this tradition.
“The Great Tang is willing to allocate a region for the shepherds of the steppe to move into to avoid the blizzard. The Great Tang is also willing to offer food supplies to aid the Western Turks.”
At this point, the general snuck a glance at the crowd.
The tent had fallen silent, and he could clearly see the strange expressions on everyone’s faces.
The Western Turks and the Great Tang had a history of friendship?
Was that King of Foreign Lands serious?
Over the course of several hundred years, the Western Turks had engaged in hundreds of conflicts with the Great Tang, if not thousands. Who was Wang Chong trying to fool here?!
But at a time like this, nobody openly stated this fact. As for the second part, regarding the Great Tang allowing the Western Turks to move into the interior and their willingness to provide supplies, the generals had to admit that they were surprised.
Anyone who had the slightest understanding of the King of Foreign Lands understood that this was completely out of line with his style.
This was like food raining down from the heavens, and for some reason, it made everyone feel extremely uneasy.
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