Chapter 262: Scouts
“Hey, Zheng Junjie!” One of the scouts called out as his finger pointed towards a dark cluster that was visible on the ground out in the horizon. “Look at that, I think we might have found the army!” He said. His heart was beating rapidly as he vigilantly looked around his surroundings. He was constantly on high alert trying to see whether or not flying beasts were going to appear behind them, setting up an ambush to kill them before they had time to respond.
The other scout, the one named Zheng Junjie, was also looking into the distance, and his brows turned to a frown as he saw towering structures standing behind the army, itself. Structures that reached towards the sky making him feel a sense of dread. Another thing which made him extra careful at the moment was his bird.
Both Zheng Junjie and the other scouts were riding on magical beasts, beasts who had been tamed long ago for the use of the imperial army, yet now they were on their way towards a beast horde, and who knew if these beasts would suddenly decided to start an uproar.
“Let us split up here,” Zheng Junjie said and pointed towards the group of beasts which came closer and closer. “Now we get to find out if any of us can survive. You fly home now. Tell them that the beast horde is coming, and they have machinery with them. I will see if I can get a more detailed report on them,” He continued, and while his friend was more than willing and instantly turned around to leave, Zheng Junjie’s eyes turned hard as he kept flying forwards towards the beasts in front of him.
“For the Empire!” He yelled as he gripped the reins on the flying eagle he was riding upon and kicked it lightly, making it increase its speed. Seeing the army, he also saw a few beasts suddenly rise in the sky. These beasts were clearly eagles and other sorts of predatory birds, all of them looked at him waiting for him to come into range, yet none of them flew out to greet him.
Seeing this, Zheng Junjie decided not to get any closer. He instead flew to the side and circled them taking a rough head count. He felt his whole body shudder in fear as he realized that although this army was far smaller than theirs, not one of these beasts were below the king rank. All of them seemed to be kings or above, something which he knew their army could not match.
Flying on the outskirts of the enemy’s army, Zheng Junjie’s heart was all the way up his throat as he constantly looked around him. He was in constant fear that he would lose sight of one of the birds, and it would suddenly appear behind him. That it would end his life and ensure that he would not return to his home, that he would not return to warn the Emperor.
As he flew around the army, he saw astonishing machines of war. The ballistae looked similar to one of their own machines, however, many of these he had never seen before. Just seeing them was enough to terrify him.
The springald that was standing on the corner of the army was enough to send a chill down his spine on its own. The towers made him worry about their walls, and the catapults would be frightening if they were armed with flames. Fearing that he should not stay any longer, the scout swung the bird into the air and at max speed tried to flee the territory which was now claimed by the beasts. Seeing as he was about to fly away, screeches from the birds could be heard, and he felt his entire body grow numb.
All these experts were Kings! He was nothing more than a Master ranked expert, not even a Grand Master nor a Duke. How could he survive an attack from this many Kings?
As he was ready to give up his life, he heard a loud whistling sound, and as he looked down his eyes landed on the most beautiful man he had ever seen. The man was standing with a drum in his hands, his hair was as white as the new-fallen snow, his eyes as blue as the deepest sea, and his skin as pale as white orchids.
Looking at this young man, Zheng Junjie was astonished by this beautiful man, so much so that he instantly forgot about the imminent danger hanging above him. But as soon as he heard the whistling sound, all the beasts who were flying in the air descended to the ground. All of them were glaring at the young man who finally returned to his senses and using everything he knew, he made the bird fly as fast as possible into the distance, far away from the beast horde. His hands were shaking, and he was gasping for air as he finally felt safe. He had finally left the location where the many beasts were ready to attack him.
Etched within his mind was the image of the beautiful young man who stood in the middle of the beast horde, his attitude casual and a single whistle from him caused the bloodthirsty and ferocious beasts to stop their attack. A single whistle which controlled that many King ranked experts. The chill once more appeared as Zheng Junjie felt fear from deep within as he realized how one person, or what seemed to be a person, could control the entire beast horde with nothing more than sounds. The vast machinery was not usual for beasts to create either, and thinking like this, he felt that what they were up against was by no means just ordinary beasts.
“Right, a human working together with beasts, as if that would happen,” Zheng Junjie scolded himself as he shook his head. It made absolutely no sense for a human to work together with the beasts, but even though it made little sense, this scout was unable to understand what else he could have seen. Beasts reacting like soldiers, machinery of war the likes of he had never seen before, and this beautiful human-like man whom he could not forget.
“Thinking about it is not going to solve anything,” He mumbled to himself as he used all his focus to rush back to camp. He needed to warn the Emperor and the Grand Marshall of their army; however the further he flew, the more he started to think about this handsome young man who had controlled the beasts. What if he was their leader? But he did not seem overpowering. Could he perhaps be an expert of war that they accepted in their ranks? Zheng Junjie was lost deep in thought, so deep that he did not realize that his friend, the one he had asked to leave, flew up by his side.
The man looked at Zheng Junjie and decided not to say anything. Seeing the deep frown on his brows and his focused eyes that looked straight ahead, he understood that he had seen something shocking. He had seen something terrifying, something which in turn caused him to be deeply astonished.
The two flew side by side in silence for a few days before they finally managed to return to their own army. Only then did Zhen Junjie’s eyes turn bright as he rushed the bird to its limits. He made it dive straight down towards the tent belonging to the Grand Marshall.
The Grand Marshall of the imperial army was the Emperor’s uncle. He was a veteran warrior who had been in the army his entire life, and he knew the art of warfare as well as he knew himself. Although the Siban Empire had never been in a war before as mountain ranges divided the kingdoms, this Grand Marshall had read everything there was to read about army tactics. He had trained with the soldiers from when he was still nothing but a young boy, and he had understood what it meant to be a part of an army.
This Grand Marshall was standing in the middle of a tent in the outer ranks of the army. If the beast horde were to attack, this Grand Marshall and his men would instantly enter the capital and take up positions inside; however, when there was no danger of the beasts immediate arrival then he had to look after the many experts outside the castle walls. These experts were numerous enough to pose a threat to the Empire if they were to turn against them based on unhappiness or something else. Fortunately, though, these experts were all soldiers who had grown up learning that the greatest honor was to give their lives for the empire.
The majority of the most loyal soldiers had long since entered Shenyuan in the various groups of delegations. The others died from disease or old age, having never been to war, having never once proved their worth. The new soldiers had been taught everything about warfare, but all they knew was theory and their burning wish to become someone who could fight for their empire. These soldiers were now seeing the first war of their lifetime and were incredibly eager to prove that they had exactly what was needed to be an outstanding soldier for their kingdom. They were all willing to risk their lives for the empire.
Dismounting his beast, Zheng Junjie rushed towards the Grand Marshall. As he made it to the tent, he fell to his knees, and a thud was heard as he slammed hard against the ground underneath him.
“The beast horde is a three day’s flight away from the capital. They are no more than four hundred thousand beasts strong, however the lowest ranked experts within their army are kings.”
“They have multiple weapons of war with them. Some are meant for sending a wide array of arrows while others are like our massive crossbow, but some of their machinery I have never seen before, and I do not understand.”
Hesitating slightly he cleared his throat before he decided to give an opinion which he had nothing to base it on. The only reason he wished to say it was because he felt like it was right, “I think I saw their commander,” He said hesitatingly, “It was a fairly young man. He looks human. He has white hair and the finest pale skin. His eyes are as blue as the bluest sky, and his features can only be considered beautiful. The beasts all listened to him. I am afraid that he might be a human with knowledge of war, and that his knowledge is what has made them able to produce these weapons that I have never seen before.”
Standing within the tent a woman suddenly appeared. Her eyes went wide with surprise, and her heart was beating erratically. “What did you just say?!” She requested to hear it again; her voice was high pitched, and she looked anything but sane. Looking at her, Zheng Junjie was shocked and backed away, but the Grand Marshall nodded his head giving the scout permission to repeat, which he did, word for word.
“I never thought…” The words trailed off as Li Meilin sat down on the cold, hard ground. Her hands were holding her head and her eyes closed.
Neither the Grand Marshall nor the scout hurried to make her say what she knew, both of them waited patiently and slowly the woman got herself back together. Her eyes which had been filled with doubt were now cold and hard, not even the slightest remainder of affection was left.
“His name is Hui Yue,” She said with a harsh voice. “He is a young man, not even twenty years of age. He is a half beast half human, and when I left Shenyuan, he was still far from being strong enough to command the army.”
“He was the one who warned me about the war, and he was the one who convinced the Queen of Shenyuan to let me leave the capital. To think that this has always been a part of his plans.” She said. Although she sounded harsh, she was filled with doubt inside. Hui Yue might have been used by the beasts; however the way Zheng Junjie made it sound was as if he was their Grand Marshall. Being quiet about her mixed emotions, Li Meilin could not help but hope that she would have the chance to speak with this young man once more.