Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
Before the Tibetan horseman could see what was going on, he heard a mighty roar, one made by thousands upon thousands of men shouting in unison. The horseman was stunned as he began to survey the scene.
On the plain extending several dozen li before him, the tens of thousands of Western Turkic cavalry had formed a whirlpool of steel. Charging back and forth across this region, they bellowed as they shifted formations, all merging into a single whole. On their perimeter, the countless wolves were howling and running with them.
As all these men and wolves ran together, an enormous aura exploded from their bodies and into the heavens. This powerful aura was almost tangible, like an enormous hand had gripped the air and begun to twist and contort it. Even with his vantage point on the hill, this horseman had no idea what was going on.
"How could this be!"
The horseman was given a fierce shock. Not long ago, when he had last come to see what was going on, he had seen none of this aura or energy. The tens of thousands of Western Turks had been running around, drenched in sweat, as if they were all idiots.
But on this scouting mission, he had never imagined that he would see this.
"Just what happened? So little time passed, so how did they get this strong?"
The horseman's eyes were filled with disbelief.
At this point, everyone on the Tibetan and Western Turkic sides knew about the matter of the formation phenomena. After all, the thousands of Celestial Wolf Cavalry and Mutri Great Cavalry had been witnesses to the exchange. But while the Western Turks had been brimming with excitement, the Tibetans had been much more muted in their reaction.
Privately, many of them had speculated that this version of formation phenomena was most likely a complete fake.
The reason was simply that the Great Minister was far too calm. Even though Ü-Tsang had also received the secret of formation phenomena, the Great Minister had not propagated it or even shown any intention of cultivating it. If it was real, such a thing would have been impossible!
But it was far from over. As he looked farther above the twisted and contorted air hovering above the Western Turkic army, the horseman saw a sight that he would find hard to forget.
A thousand meters over the Western Turkic soldiers, countless clouds had gathered. These clouds were surging like enormous pythons, blocking out the sun and casting a dark shadow over the earth.
Moreover, deep within the clouds, the horseman could see flashes of lightning shuttling and exploding. The explosion he had heard just moments ago had clearly been caused by this lightning. The constant shifting of this lightning seemed to be resonating with the Western Turkic cavalry down below.
"F… Formation phenomena!"
The horseman's jaw dropped, and it appeared like he had been struck by a lightning bolt.
He had once overheard his superiors mentioning that the Western Turks were too greedy, not even determining if what they had obtained was real or fake before cultivating it, and that it had a high chance of harming them. But the Western Turks clearly seemed to have become more powerful, and there were formation phenomena in the sky above them. What was going on?
What he had heard was completely different from what he was seeing.
"There's a problem! Perhaps the Great Minister's judgment was wrong, and that version of the formation phenomena was real. Whatever the case, I must report this to the Great Minister!"
With no time to think, the horseman turned around and galloped back the way he had come.
"What? The Western Turks have gotten much stronger while cultivating the formation phenomena?"
The Great Generals of Ü-Tsang and Dalun Ruozan were all stunned by the scout's report.
"Great Minister, this matter is beyond doubt. The scout was our best one who has taken part in hundreds of battles of all sizes, including the battle between King of Generals We Tadra Khonglo and the Great Tang's Wang Zhongsi. He would not make a mistake here!" a vanguard officer solemnly said.
After receiving the scout's report, he had immediately noticed a problem. Before reporting to Dalun Ruozan, he had cautiously sent out some of his best scouts to verify the matter, but all of them had reported the same thing.
Dalun Ruozan, Dusong Mangpoje, and Huoshu Huicang all glanced at each other in speechlessness.
"Great Minister, this can't be. Was that boy this foolish? He gave Duwu Sili the real thing!" Huoshu Huicang said, his brows deeply furrowed.
Dalun Ruozan said nothing, but there was a pensive look on his face.
"This matter is not completely impossible. The people of the Central Plains emphasize sincerity with no consideration for time and place. At times, they even make severe errors through their adherence to these conventions. Although Wang Chong is an incredible strategist, he's still very young. He might have really handed over the real formation phenomena for the sake of sincerity. Moreover, didn't Gao Xianzhi try to destroy those papers? Perhaps not even they had imagined that we would end up getting the formation phenomena," Dusong Mangpoje suggested after some thought.
He had been strengthening the defenses and managing the army when he had heard what had happened and rushed over. It was clear that no matter what the truth was, this matter was very different from what Dalun Ruozan had predicted.
"Impossible!" Dalun Ruozan muttered to himself, his brow even more tightly furrowed than his two colleagues'. "All of you underestimate him too much. He might be younger than all of us, but his intelligence, strategies, and cunning far surpass ours. He would never make such a low-level mistake."
"But Duwu Sili truly has managed to produce results from the version of formation phenomena he has. Facts do not lie. If it were a fake, it would have never produced such an effect, Dusong Mangpoje said.
Dalun Ruozan fell silent.
Other than his defeat to Wang Chong in the southwest, Dalun Ruozan rarely questioned himself. But Dalun Ruozan was forced to admit that he might have made an error of judgment in this case.
"Go! Let's see for ourselves!"
On the outermost perimeter of the Western Turkic camp, Dalun Ruozan, Huoshu Huicang, Dusong Mangpoje, Huoba Sangye, and several other Tibetan generals had gathered.
The twisted space and the roiling thunderclouds had left them speechless.
Even Dalun Ruozan felt somewhat uncertain.
As Huoba Sangye said these two words, everyone instantly focused on Dalun Ruozan.
Although none of them said anything, their meaning was obvious. Reality was right before their eyes. After getting those three sheets of paper from Wang Chong, Duwu Sili had really managed to create formation phenomena, and even his Celestial Wolf Cavalry had gotten stronger. If this was all fake, then nothing in the world was real.
At this time, even Huoshu Huicang, who had always followed and firmly trusted in Dalun Ruozan, had nothing to say. Eventually, however, he decided to speak up for Dalun Ruozan.
"We must think very long and hard about this matter. I trust that Great Minister's judgment is correct," Huoshu Huicang said.
"Huoshu, you don't need to speak up for me." Dalun Ruozan bitterly smiled. "The facts are arrayed before us. Duwu Sili truly has gained some benefit from all this, and it's no wonder the Western Turks are drilling night and day. Perhaps we had Duwu Sili wrong from the beginning. His conduct is not entirely unreasonable."
"Then… Great Minister, should we also begin to drill?" Huoba Sangye asked, clearly itching to act.
Dalun Ruozan had the papers recording the method to create formation phenomena. If the content was fake, Huoba Sangye didn't care and wouldn't even give them a glance. But the Western Turks had their Celestial Wolf Cavalry and the Tibetans had their Mutri Great Cavalry. If the Celestial Wolf Cavalry could boost their strength by putting into practice the formation phenomena method, then so could the Mutri Great Cavalry.
As the highest commander of the Mutri Great Cavalry, Huoba Sangye could not help but consider his options.
Dusong Mangpoje and Huoshu Huicang frowned, but they said nothing and looked to Dalun Ruozan.
"Wait a little longer. Let me think about this," Dalun Ruozan said.
He rarely encountered difficulties, but this time, he was forced to admit that he found this choice somewhat difficult to make.
As Dalun Ruozan observed from the distant hill, a Western Turkic scout ended his surveillance and traveled through most of the Western Turkic camp to report to Duwu Sili.
"Great General, Tibetans have been discovered in the distance. Should any countermeasures be taken?" the scout deferentially asked, dropping to one knee.
"Haha, Dalun Ruozan?"
Duwu Sili faintly smiled, shooting a glance at the distant hill before giving a nonchalant shake of the head.
"Let them do what they want. They won't get anything from it."
Duwu Sili naturally knew what Dalun Ruozan and the other Tibetans were thinking. Dalun Ruozan had treated Duwu Sili as far too simple a person. With regards to this formation phenomena, Duwu Sili had been even more cautious than Dalun Ruozan. War was about deception. How could he possibly believe in three sheets of paper that Wang Chong had casually tossed at him?
If Wang Chong had given him a real first half and altered or faked the second half, Duwu Sili would have fallen into a trap. Given Duwu Sili's reputation and status, he would be made a laughingstock if the matter got out. Thus, from the moment he obtained the formation phenomena, he had picked out a group of soldiers to practice according to the methods laid out on the papers.
If it was fake, had no effect, or had some side effect, Duwu Sili would immediately stop them. At the most, he would lose just a few hundred soldiers. But if it was real, everything would change.
Duwu Sili was confident that something that was worthy of Anxi War God Gao Xianzhi throwing himself into the fray could not be something as simple as a few faked words!
"Dalun Ruozan, you were too cautious."
Duwu Sili faintly smiled, a sharp light in his eyes.
He and Dalun Ruozan had two completely different styles. Dalun Ruozan was so cautious that he never even considered some possibilities, causing him to lose out on many opportunities. But Duwu Sili was an extremely discriminating and meticulous schemer. He did not make actions blindly, nor did he give up on any opportunity. He made all his judgments based on the results.
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