Book 18 Chapter 9 – Defeat Like Collapsing Mountain
With morale like a rainbow, plus considering the troop disposition on the enemy’s side has not had stable footing, like three long snakes, the main force, consisting of three groups of two thousand men each, shot like swift arrows, fast like lightning, violent like the storm, charged up the mountain slope, breaking into the enemy ranks.
Li Mi and his group of generals went up to the top of the hill; before the commander’s banner was even erected, he directed his subordinates to dash down the hill to intercept the enemy, hoping to break the first round of the enemy’s assault, trying to give his troops the chance to regroup, and then with his superior military strength, he would meet the enemy head on.
The arrows were raining down from the sky. The cavalry from both sides met in the middle of the slope, which covered several li of grassy hillside, engaging each other in a close hand-to-hand combat. Momentarily the sky turned hazy the earth darkened, the sun and the moon lost their light.
The four thousand elite cavalry under Yang Gongqing’s leadership were slowly, but steadily pressing forward.
For Xu Ziling, riding on Yang Gongqing’s left, this was the first time that he officially participated in a bloody battle between two armies; not only that, it was a pure cavalry battle, where victory or defeat was decided very fast. He could not help being terrified by bitter atmosphere. Deep down in his heart he realized that under this kind of magnificent army with thousands of men and horses, it did not matter how brilliant his skill was, the only thing he could depend on was really the power of cooperation with his teammates.
Yang Gongqing’s eyes were gleaming brightly as he looked at Li Mi, sitting on horseback on top of the hill under his commander’s banner; turning to Xu Ziling, he said, “Cavalry is also known as engaged-disengaged troops, because it can disengage but can engage as well. Quick to disperse and quick to gather, whether it’s a hundred or a thousand li, going out and coming in with no gap between them, rapid, swift, nimble, and rushing; therefore, this is the troop to determine victory. This time, if our side did not rely entirely on the intercepting, rushing, hastening cavalry, Li Mi’s children would not have been in such a difficult situation.”
Xu Ziling noticed that although Li Mi’s cavalry engaging the enemy continuously falling down, but because of their superior number, there were others continuously taking their place, they were able to hold down his side’s cavalry that it was difficult to gain a cun advantage, and was forced to engage in a chaotic warfare.
While he was worrying about it, his side’s two wing-cavalries were already charging at the enemy from both sides, immediately the Wagang Army found that it was more than they could attend to, and the entire array was thrown into a chaos.
At this point, his mind already went back to its original calm, quiet-like-still-water state.
He saw the beautiful, flower-like Shen Luoyan by Li Mi’s side was ferociously staring at him.
Right this moment, thick smoke rose to the sky behind Li Mi, followed by the battle cry shaking the heavens.
Yang Gongqing laughed aloud and said, “Little boy Li Mi has fallen into the trap! Whoever can chop the head from his neck will be rewarded with a hundred tael of gold.”
These words were spoken with his qi, so that his voice shook the battlefield.
Battle drums echoed wildly, Yang Gongqing’s most elite cavalry finally entered the battle, pulling apart the overall battle situation.
Recalling the blood debt of the people of Zhai Rang Mansion, from top to bottom, and of Ren En and his men, Xu Ziling urged his horse to charge forward, to rush up the hill slope.
Wagang troops, which were weary from rushing all night, seeing the blaze soaring to the sky from the rear of their camp, lost their zeal to continue fighting; they scattered in all directions, and were no longer able to stop the-longer-the-battle-the-braver-they-were, their-momentum-like-a-rainbow Yanshi’s elite cavalry.
Li Mi and his nearly ten-thousand-strong personal guards finally started to move, charging down toward Yang Gongqing’s main force, hoping they could draw the violently swelling water from collapsing the dam. Unfortunately, since ancient times, there was no place on earth more realistic and more callous than the battlefield. With the defeat imminent, even if Sun Wu [Sun Tzu] reborn, Kong Ming [Zhuge Liang] reincarnated, they lacked the strength to reverse the rotation of the sky.
Leading a group of more than five hundred warriors, Xu Ziling went straight up the hill toward Li Mi like a hot knife through butter. Each strike of his spear, either poking or stabbing, sweeping or blocking, his spiraling energy like mountain flash flood crashing against the enemy trying to resist him, killing and throwing them off their horses, not a single one lucky enough to escape albeit narrowly; especially the enemy charging down from up the hill, who happened to be in his way, could ever block this lance, a long-reaching weapon that could attack solidly from a distance, which Xu Ziling was able to move with extreme dexterity.
In this kind of moment, where the point of the spear clashed against the saber blade, if you did not die, then I perish. There was practically no place for benevolence.
A long sword, which appeared like a divine sword dropping from the sky, parried his spear, which he thought was going to make a kill.
Focusing his attention, Xu Ziling realized that the sword wielder was unexpectedly one of the Wagang Twin Tiger Generals [or valiant generals], whose fame was on par with Wang Bodang, Pei Renji.
Ahead, densely crowded together, were Wagang troops. The pressure on him was immediately multiplied many times over; to his left and right, the fighters from both sides were falling down one after another, yet in the blink of an eye, the places they vacated were taken by their comrades from behind.
Xu Ziling let out a long whistle, the blood debt of his allies, who had fought side by side with him, but have met a violent death, welled up in his breast. The lance in his hand turned into a phantom shadow of thousands of spears; his qi whistling sharply, like a gale blowing huge waves he stormed toward Pei Renji.
※ ※ ※
Kou Zhong and the others, with the courage of male lion, under Zhai Jiao’s leadership, more than two hundred men, scattered and gathered together again, like a razor sweeping through the enemy’s rear.
This moment the rear of the enemy’s camp has been engulfed in raging flames and thick smoke, there was no way to retreat anymore, plus from time to time the morning breeze rolled the smoke up, making people wanted to keep away from it as quickly as possible. As they fought desperately over the endless hill slope, the enemy could not figure out what was true and what was false, they merely fought desperately trying to escape from either side of the hill, which greatly increased the attackers’ power and influence.
The two people were of the same heart, their sharpness could cut through gold.
These more than two hundred men were all the younger generation of Zhai Rang’s personal guards, throughout Wagang Army’s uprising, they had always followed Zhai Rang. They had been waiting for this opportunity for revenge with craned neck; and were very well aware that if they could not join the army ahead, death would be their only way out, hence they fought even more desperately.
One side was a flustered, weary army; the other side was an armed force driven by vengeance and had made up their mind to die. The difference in their mindset indeed could not be measured with reasons.
Wagang Army has entered the panic-stricken state as if they were trying to evade a spreading plague, naturally it was difficult to organize an effective resistance.
After Kou Zhong and the others successfully charged through and broke up a cavalry regiment Li Mi sent to intercept them, they finally reached the hilltop.
As far as their eyes could see, there were enemy troops scattering in all directions trying to escape with their lives, while intense battle was still raging on in the middle of the hill slope and on either side of the hill. They also saw Yanshi troops who had been able to break through the enemy’s line of defense, charging to the left and dashing to the right among the utterly-defeated enemy ranks, crisscrossing the hill to attack the enemy.
The hill slope was densely covered with the dead and the injured, fully displaying the ruthlessness of war. The blood dyed the underbrush that the slope became a vast red blood area, shocking the eye, astonishing the heart.
With a quick glance Zhai Jiao already saw Li Mi’s commander banner; she shouted, “Today Zhai Rang’s daughter has come to demand your life!”
Slapping the horse’s butt, she galloped down the hill toward the crowd of Li Mi’s personal guards.
Zhai Jiao’s group had red cloth tied to their heads for identification. As Yanshi troops saw them, they immediately made way for them. Moreover, from among Li Mi’s choicest elite troops, more than half actually Zhai Rang’s former subordinates. Recognizing the newcomer as their Big Miss Zhai Jiao, psychologically, they did not dare to block, plus they realized that they had been defeated, hence seeing the group of ready-to-die warriors under her leadership, their courage was shaken immediately, and all they wanted to do was to hastily flee for their lives.
Wagang troops’ last shred of what little will to fight remaining in their heart finally fell apart.
When everyone was unsure, feeling as if they had entered a no-man realm, as they charged toward the rear of Li Mi’s personal guards, about a hundred men charged up the hill to meet them. They recognized the leaders as Xu Shiji and the ‘Two-Malevolent of Changbai’, Fu Zhen and Fu Yan, two brothers. The former had a long halberd in his hands, while the latter two were still using their usual weapons, long-handled ax and hook-sword. All three’s battle attire was dyed red with blood; their expression sinister, but they looked tired.
Kou Zhong let out a shaking-the-heaven long laughter, leaped up from his saddle, and pounced down on the three men, while calling out loudly, “Kou Zhong’s coming!”
By this time Kou Zhong’s name was quite well known throughout the world. When they heard it, immediately there were a number of men among Li Mi’s personal guards who lost their courage; leaving their post, they fled for their lives.
‘Dang! Dang! Dang!’
Kou Zhong repeatedly shot up and pounced down again, while the Moon in the Well in his hand hacked down as fast as lightning, to block the three men’s attack.
Zhai Jiao and her men also arrived and attacked, immediately this squad of counterattacking troops was shattered in all directions.
Fu Zhen, Fu Yan’s courage was gone, they couldn’t even release half of their usual power; as soon as they saw this, they were the first to run to the side and disappeared.
Being left alone, Xu Shiji could not cope; he somersaulted backward from his mount, and was barely able to evade Kou Zhong’s dangerous move.
Zhai Jiao bent down from her horse and brandished her Guan saber, sweeping it across Xu Shiji’s chest.
Xu Shiji was also exceptional; in this kind of situation, he was still able to drop his long halberd, pulled the sword hanging on his waist, and met her Guan saber head-on.
Xu Shiji, his body and his sword, was thrown down the hill, but it has also saved his life.
These past several years, Zhai Jiao trained painstakingly day and night, just for this moment; naturally she did not have time to care about other people, with violent roar she pounced directly at Li Mi.
Xuan Yong, Tu Shufang, and a group of her man ran after her in great flurry, while the brave and unstoppable Kou Zhong landed on the empty saddle of Xu Shiji’s horse; tapped his toes on the saddle, and soared toward Xu Ziling, who was in melee against Li Mi, Pei Renji, Shen Luoyan, Zu Junyan, and the others, like celestial soldier descending to the world.
In similar cases, by soaring in the sky like this, his body was completely exposed against the enemy’s arrows, darts, swords and spears; it was really no different from committing suicide. However, this moment every one of the enemies really had no time to take care of himself, for fear that it was too late for them to escape, hence nobody had any time to attack him.
After injuring Pei Renji, Xu Ziling finally had a face-off against Li Mi.
Book 18 Chapter 9 - Part 2
Kowloon, Hungry, I knew you guys were only waiting for the actions. Ysabel, Jaya, Sky, you are welcome. Xu Xiong, why? I can't wait for them to get out of Luoyang. It's been too long. Xiaohu, if your internet connection is slow, it would take a long time to download the contents. I didn't have any problem earlier.
Since their meeting at the abandoned village, this was the first-time Xu Ziling stood face to face with this overlord whose name shook the world.
Li Mi’s build was tall and sturdy, singular and majestic. His countenance looked old and inelegant, his long hair draped over his broad shoulders on both sides, his torso was lined with flickering, shiny armor. When he brandished the heavy steel spear in his hand, it felt light, as if floating. His eyes were gleaming with cold light, yet there was some kind of insufferably-arrogant, ambitious-and-ruthless-character aura around him. However, his body already had multiple injuries.
He slashed with his spear more than a dozen times in succession, all were strenuously blocked by Xu Ziling; the two were immediately locked in hard battle.
Each time Xu Ziling blocked Li Mi’s spear, he felt as if he was being pounded by a thousand-catty boulder, shaking him severely that his qi and blood were churning.
Fortunately, his true qi, which came from the ‘Secret to Long Life’ and the ‘Jade Annulus of He Clan’ did not circulate the same path as regular qi, so that not only it was able to neutralize the opponent’s qi, it generated new energy as well, so that he was able to meet spear strike by spear strike.
It’s just that obviously his riding skill was inferior to the opponent’s, so that he was only on the defensive position, and could only take the beating from Li Mi.
Kou Zhong pouncing down from the sky immediately reverse the whole situation.
Although all around him Li Mi only had less than two thousand personal guards remaining, but all along his military power was at least double the enemy’s, plus he had the advantage of occupying higher-up-on-the-hill position. Were it not for Kou Zhong’s ambushing troops suddenly appeared from the rear, reasonably speaking he ought to be able to hold on much longer, or at least would be able to retreat in orderly manner, unlike now, where his troops were scattering in all directions, and was difficult to maintain their formation.
Still, from beginning to end, Yanshi forces were unable to consolidate their power to annihilate Wagang troops; they were merely able to hold the upper hand, while trying to stop the escaping enemies, which continuously enlarging the battlefield, so that the fighting spread to long grassland on the hill slope, down to the sparse forest region at the bottom of the hill.
If they did not leave now, what were they waiting for?
Li Mi sighed inwardly.
If it were regular Jianghu’s fight-to-the-death instead of battlefield where the enemy was determined to die, even if he had to face strong enemy like Xu Ziling and Kou Zhong fighting together, he could still give it all and strive for victory.
However, under present circumstances, he had become a target of multitude arrows, where wave after wave, in thousands and in hundreds, the enemies were coming to kill him. At any given time he had to deal with a variety of weapons, not only he could not unleash any exquisite move, oftentimes he had to decide whether he should dodge a saber strike or to meet the tip of a spear, while trying to evade the really deadly attack.
Naturally he did not dare to go all out either, because he wanted to avoid huge loss of his true strength, to such an extent that he did not have enough strength to continue.
What he used were simple, direct, and effective moves. All those usual tricks of luring the enemy or confusing the enemy were quite useless this time.
He knew that if he let Kou Zhong flew overhead, while Xu Ziling, another first-class martial art master, entangling him, even if he continued staking everything he had, he would only end up dead.
While Li Mi was about to shout, commanding his troops to retreat, Shen Luoyan already cut in between he and Xu Ziling, and shouted tenderly, “Mi Gong, go!”
Li Mi knew that before his eyes was the only chance to escape; in the end he roared the sentence that ever since his debut to contend for hegemony over the world has never spoken out of his mouth, “Everybody, go!”
Leaping off his horse, the steel spear in his hand swiftly shot toward Kou Zhong.
Both men were thrown backwards at the same time.
Zhai Jiao’s Guan saber left her hand and flew across the three zhang distance over the battlefield toward Li Mi.
Pei Renji and the others cried out in fear simultaneously, “Mi Gong, be careful!”
Li Mi swung his spear backward to block the Guan saber. Borrowing the impact force, he flew out, kicked an enemy off the saddle, and rode the horse to the east to escape.
Xu Ziling parried Shen Luoyan’s sword more than a dozen times in succession, but did not counterattack even half a spear strike. He said with a bitter laugh, “Beautiful Junshi, please!”
Deeply moved, Shen Luoyan cried and called out, “Xu Ziling, how are you?”
Reining in her horse, she turned around after her side’s warriors, who were retreating in defeat, and galloped away wildly.
Zhai Jiao roared her order for her troops to pursue the enemy’s remnants relentlessly.
Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling were fully aware that cornered enemy must not be pursued; afraid that she might failed, they hastily galloped after her.
The bugle horn ordering the retreat was finally sounded, indication the direction that the runaway defeated soldiers ought to take.
The melee has turned into a chase, with Yanshi forces pursued the enemy for more than ten li. It was only because Yang Gongqing had some misgivings about Shan Xiongxin’s troops that he beat the gong to recall the troops.
Ever since Wang Shichong’s army started to a war against the Wagang Army, this was the very first time that they scored a victory.
This battle resulted in Li Mi’s defeated army running away to Luokou; from 40,000 cavalry, only a bit more than ten thousand men remained, the casualties were extremely disastrous.
On the other hand, Yanshi army only lost about two-thousand something men; the victory was effortless and brilliant.
※ ※ ※
Bare-chested, Kou Zhong sat on a rock by the Luo River, as if he was sitting on the throne, while an army doctor was tending the wound on his left arm, right waist, and chest.
Yang Gongqing has already led the main force back to Yanshi, to guard against Shan Xiongxin taking advantage of attacking while the city defense was quite weak, because he had left only one thousand soldiers in the city. He wanted to stop Li Mi, in case he turned back to mount sneak attack, or perhaps joined forces with Shan Xiongxin to restore his military strength.
Xu Ziling’s wounds had already been dressed properly, plus his injury was lighter than Kou Zhong’s, simply because from the start his troops had occupied superior position, unlike Kou Zhong’s meager military strength penetrating deep into the enemy’s camp.
The sun was about to sink behind the western hills, the soldiers were resting in clusters on the several hills nearby, overlooking the plains on both sides of the river downstream toward Luokou.
Four battle ships were moored on the shore, delivering army provisions, medicine, and the cleanup crew.
The remains of the soldiers from their side would be brought back to Yanshi for proper burial, while those from the enemy’s side would be buried in a mass grave on site, in order to avoid plague and unpleasant ailment.
Zhai Jiao, Xuan Yong, and their men were still searching for enemy’s track nearby; they have not returned yet.
Smiling wryly, Kou Zhong said to Xu Ziling, “On the battlefield, it doesn’t matter if your martial art skill is unrivalled, it’s impossible not to be injured. Question is how to avoid mortal hit. Right now on Xiaodi’s body, from head to foot, the muscles are sore, the bones aching. Even a fierce battle against Zhu Yuyan would not be this strenuous.”
Xu Ziling was watching four cleanup crews struggling to push a cart loaded with dead bodies up the gangplank into the ship; momentarily he was unable to speak.
This moment, Linglong Jiao, leading about a dozen riders, who have been out to scout the movement of Li Mi’s defeated army, returned. She flew off the horse, and then, walking heroically yet elegantly toward the two boys, and reported, “This time Li Mi’s had failed miserably. Along the sides of the road there was a continuous chain of men who were unable to hold on and fell from their horses; even his commander banner was thrown away. I am afraid when he rose his army, he had never dreamed of having such a tragic military campaign.”
Kou Zhong scrutinized all the exquisite [Linglong] curves on her tender [Jiao] body up and down several times, before smiling and said, “Only someone like Jiaojiao, who’s able to control the overall situation of a bloody battle from a distance, can escape without the slightest injury. Ha!”
Linglong Jiao’s pretty face blushed as she said, “If you are mocking me for not exerting myself on the battlefield, I will never let you off. But since you are calling me such a pleasant name like Jiaojiao, plus considering that you are injured that your face is green your lips are white, I forgive you for the time being.”
Kou Zhong said with a laugh, “Seeing your tender body is unharmed, my heart is gratified; that’s all! Did Li Mi take a hike to his old native place Luokou? That old kid slipped away so quickly.”
Zhai Jiao was back as well; with excited look on her face she leaped off the horse and called out, “We are going to attack Luokou immediately.”
Hearing that, deep frown immediately appeared on Xuan Yong and Tu Shufang’s faces; they even signaled Kou Zhong with their eyes.
However, going against everybody’s expectation, Kou Zhong said, “Indeed heroes usually agree; let’s go aboard the ship and return to Yanshi immediately, we will discuss the great plan to attack Luokou with Yang Da Jiangjun.”
Everybody was taken by surprise.
It should be noted that Shan Xiongxin still had nearly 60,000 troops stationed by Mount Mang, north of Yanshi city. It did not matter how useless this batch of new army recruits were, if they hastily attack Luokou, this useless army would still be a threat to their rear.
However, by this time no one did not submit cheerfully toward Kou Zhong’s strange plans and amazing schemes. It was as if he must have had a card up his sleeve before he could say that remark.
Kou Zhong grabbed the Moon in the Well, which had been lying by his side, and cast his eyes in the direction of Luokou, as he spoke indifferently, “Li Mi would never accept that he was running to Luokou just like that; he would definitely try to join forces with Shan Xiongxin with the hope of turning defeat into victory. Therefore, as long as we can stop them from joining up, and can make Shan Xiongxin not daring to act hastily, those troops guarding Luokou under Bing Yuanzhen would only have one way out: surrender. Wang Bodang is even more powerless to defend Jinyong. Following up a victory and pressing home the attack is one way to maximize the outcome of the war, does Da Xiaojie believe so?”
For the first time Zhai Jiao sincerely listened to Kou Zhong; delighted, she said, “Xiao Zhong, you are indeed a talented field commander which hard to come by in the present age; if in those days Die had encountered you instead of that traitor Li Mi, the world would have become our Wagang Army’s!”