Chapter 276: The Siege
The air was crisp as Hui Yue stood in front the city wall just outside the reach of their arrows. His breath could be seen in the early morning air, and he squinted his eyes against the rising sun. In camp behind him, the beasts were slowly stirring. This morning no one woke them up. Hui Yue decided to let them sleep as long as possible, or cultivate if that was what they were doing. For today, he would need them at their peak. They would now start battling the high ranked soldiers of the Siban Empire alongside the fact that they needed to enter the city somehow.
The city in front of him was built into the side of a mountain, and his army was camped outside the walls by the only entrance in and out of the city. Wan Qiao stood by his side. The One-Horned Jasmine Eagle had spent the entire night flying outside the city and searching for other exits but no matter where she had looked she didn’t see any hidden entries nor tunnels.
Sighing, Hui Yue was aware that there would most likely be a few tunnels that she was incapable of detecting, yet these tunnels could only allow for a few people to pass through at a time, and there was no way they could receive a sufficient amount of supplies from them. Had they been large enough to allow for many people to travel through them or the supply trains to enter than Wan Qiao would without a doubt have noticed them.
Hui Yue stood still enjoying the fresh air. He was nervous about the war, and he did not understand why everything had been so easy so far. Why did their Grand Marshall allow for the beasts to arrive at the walls so easily? He expected their army to be waiting for them in front of the walls to swarm them, and weaken the beast horde, but this did not happen causing Hui Yue to feel uneasy.
Thinking about this, Hui Yue never once turned around to look behind him, but he felt one soldier after another fall into place. Soon the army had completely gathered, and they held their breath waiting for Hui Yue’s command to charge forward.
That, however, was not what Hui Yue did; instead, he slowly started moving forward one step at a time. Behind him, he heard the rustling of his army follow his every move. The Saints were right behind him, and their eyes were sharply observing everything which was happening. One of the Saints raised his arm and a golden mist-like energy left his hands and wrapped itself around the entire army deflecting all the arrows which rained down upon them. Not one beast was hit by the arrows.
Although Hui Yue wanted the Saints to save their energy, he too approved of the shield. He knew that some beasts would have died had they not used an energy shield. He had already lost too many beasts; he was not interested in losing more before the actual battle started.
Lifting his hand and pointing at the walls, the army behind him rushed to the sides while allowing space between them for war machinery to advance. First came the towers, second the onagers and catapults, followed by the springalds and the ballistae. Finally came the gallery and the testudos.
“Get ready!” Hui Yue yelled out loud and as he did the towers were carried all the way to the mountain-like city walls. Seeing that the towers reached to the top of the city walls, a smile appeared on Hui Yue’s. “CHARGE!” He screamed as loud as he could, and the beasts immediately stormed up the towers. They climbed the towers until they reached the top where they flooded onto the massive city walls. The flying beasts appeared from above and swooped down using their claws and wings to force the opponents back causing some weaker enemies to plummet to the ground from the tall walls.
The beasts who jumped from the towers to the city walls were met by focused soldiers, and the humans fought for their survival. The soldiers they encountered were a far higher rank than they had met previously. They beat down one beast after another as they had the benefit of the more numbers than the beasts who were currently rushing onto the walls. Arrows with flames shot from the city walls towards the towers, trying their best to set the massive towers on fire so that no more beasts could use them to ascend to the walls. But the flying beasts managed to deal with the flames before the towers were lit aflame.
Some beasts entered the tall walls from the towers while others descended from the skies above. Soon a desperate battle broke out on the city walls. The ten-meter wide wall was filled with all types of beasts and humans. Some were alive, others were wounded, and quite a few had long since drawn their last breath. It was apparent that the battle today was far more challenging than it had been before, but, strangely enough, the beasts were not showing any signs of despair; instead, their faces were filled with killing intent. Sinister and excited smiles were seen on their faces as flashes of golden light appeared from the humans while from the beasts flashes of many different colors of mist energy flooded forth.
Hui Yue stood on the ground looking up at the city walls. He was waiting for the gates to open, but it seemed as though none of the beasts had yet managed to jump into the city below and open up the gates. As for why they hadn’t finished the task yet, Hui Yue could only guess that all the beasts were fighting to the best of their ability on the narrow city walls.
Even the flying beasts who should have been able to bypass the city walls were being kept at bay by a few ballistae which had survived Wan Qiao’s destruction were located within the city which would aim at any beast who tried to enter their sanctuary. Seeing this, Hui Yue nodded his head slowly. It made sense that the humans were not as simple to beat as he thought. They knew about warfare something the beasts lacked. Defending a city was definitely not an easy task, but they had an advantage because the beasts used small groups to attack. They were incapable of making their entire army appear where the humans were.
“Be patient. Be patient!” Hui Yue scolded himself as he observed the fighting. He could send a Saint, but he also knew that Saints were waiting within the city itself so sending one would be suicidal. Sending many would still be unwise considering they did not know how many Saints the opponent had. Both sides were keeping their saints behind waiting for the other side to bring them out first. Truth be told, the entire war was riding on the back of the Saints. Although the Kings and Emperors were fighting each other fiercely, Saints had the ability to turn the war in one side’s favor. Even if the Kings and Emperors won, as long as the Saints were victorious the lower ranked had no way to defeating Saint ranked experts unless it was one thousand soldiers to one Saint.
Hui Yue’s eyes were still focused on the top of the city walls. The beasts had an advantage with their raw strength and nimble movements over the humans who were almost stacked on top of each other. Beasts succumbed to the sheer amount of humans, yet some of the beasts used their nimbleness to avoid death, others used their pure strength, while the ones with wings used their ability to fly to defeat the enemies in front of them.
Summoning his Wu Wei wings, the young man took to the skies to keep watch over the intense fighting that was raging on the walls. Hui Yue could see that although the beasts had the advantage, more beasts fell today than had in all the days before. These opponents were definitely stronger than the humans they fought outside the city. Considering this fact, Hui Yue was proud of the beasts and their performance. They fought all day long, and as the sun started to set in the horizon, a thundering horn was be heard. This was the horn of retreat, and all beasts did what they could to swiftly climb down the towers, fly their way, or even jump down the city wall to escape the humans that seemingly gained energy as they saw the beasts retreat.
Hui Yue waited for all the soldiers to return. Some were lightly wounded, others were seriously wounded and carried by beasts, while some were completely fine. Seeing the Wood elemental beasts start healing the most severe damages, Hui Yue was greatly satisfied. He saw how, although they had substantial losses, the losses were fewer than what he expected. Walking through the campsite, Hui Yue greeted one beast after another.
“You did well today,” He said to one expert. “Keep up the good work,” Was said to another. “We appreciate all the hard work you’ve done,” Was said to a third expert, and while walking through the camp, he greeted all the beasts he saw. He also shared some provisions with the beasts. As night descended upon them, Hui Yue himself was a part of the first group of soldiers to keep watch.
Hui Yue felt somewhat useless. Although he was the Grand Marshall, he felt as though he was not doing anything. When he volunteered for guard duty, at first the Saints had been against it, yet when they saw the unhappy expression on the young man’s face they all suddenly agreed that allowing him to be a lookout would be fine.
Hui Yue stayed up all night and what he saw was small campfires both on top of the city wall but also in the beast camp. Some beasts spent the night cultivating while others spent it relaxing. Some were eating, and others were sleeping. Tension hung over the camp. Some beasts were still rushing around, using their energy to heal other beasts. These experts would be incapable of participating in the war the following day, but their healing would ensure that within a few days two experts would return to battle instead of just one.
“It looks like a real battlefield,” Hui Yue mumbled to himself. Although he was the Grand Marshall, everything he knew about war was from what he studied back in his old world. It was all knowledge gained from books. Knowledge from the books that described ancient battles and tactics was all good and well, but knowledge gained from actually fighting was much more useful, and that was something Hui Yue did not have. The tension made his heart quiver. Everything depended on him and his ability to decide the correct strategies. The pressure on him was immense, and the air was filled with killing intent alongside the scent of blood and rotting flesh.
Everything was so different from the books. “Pull yourself together!” Hui Yue scolded himself as he slapped his cheeks hard with his two palms. Although he did not hit himself as hard as Wan Qiao did, he still felt blood in his mouth. He could not afford to second guess himself. He needed to be decisive.
Standing still for some time, he came to a conclusion. Although he did not wish to start the Saint battle just yet, he had one thing he needed to accomplish.
“Wan Qiao, please come here!” He called out, and the woman was instantly by his side. “I have a job for you,” He said, and the woman listened intently. As he finished explaining his plans, a large smile was evident on the young-looking woman’s face. She was clearly thrilled to be part of the plans the following day.
Seeing the smile on Wan Qiao’s face, Hui Yue could not help but smile as well, yet inside he decided that he needed to prepare for the worst. “Everyone gather up!” He called, and all the Saints did just that. All of them stood in front of him, and he gathered them in a circle.
“Tomorrow I have one task for Wan Qiao to deal with. There is a chance that the Siban Empire will reply to our attack with their Saints. Should this happen then all of you are to join the battle and hold off the Saints. Kill them if possible, if not keep them busy until you can gang up on them and kill them that way. Remember, this is not a fair duel where you exchange pointers. This is a war where you do anything to win.”
Hearing his words, the Saints all nodded showing a patient expression. They had heard Hui Yue mention this over and over again, yet even still he never once allowed for the Saints to forget that this was not the time for duels. In spite of his constant insistence of this point, the Saints were not insulted they were relieved that their Grand Marshall constantly thought about how to win the war.
Having finished talking with the Saints, Hui Yue stepped away from where all saints were and once more went to patrol the grounds. He fulfilled his duties as a night’s watch perfectly. Walking around, Hui Yue was attentive to everything around him, and after a while, he finally managed to feel at ease as he walked through the dark surroundings. He heard how the soldiers chatted with each other or celebrated that they were still alive. The whole campsite was bustling with life, although it was the middle of the night. Everyone was feeling jubilant for some odd reason. The tension which had been there earlier slowly vanished. As the night ended, the air was filled with excitement. This was the second day of the Siege for the capital of the Siban Empire. This was a war which would be talked about for ages to come, and today was going to be especially interesting due to the job Hui Yue gave Wan Qiao.