Chapter 342: Fight!
The atmosphere suddenly grew grim. Killing intent suddenly burst from the Great Tang veterans, and in that instant, it seemed as though everyone was plunged in the middle of an intense battlefield.
Sensing the changes in her surroundings, Bai Siling was stunned for an instant. With a slightly dazed expression, she turned to look at Wang Chong's silhouette.
The same sixteen-year-old youth, but his figure suddenly towered before her.
At this moment, Wang Chong didn't notice the changes occurring around Bai Siling. Instead, feeling the strong killing intent exerted by the forty Great Tang military veterans, he nodded in satisfaction.
Even though Great Tang was treading down a path of decline, its military was still standing strong.
With such a team, putting aside facing bandits who outnumbered them tenfold, Wang Chong would dare to even engage an organized official army of the same number!
Wang Chong suddenly turned to Bai Siling and said, "Siling, I'll have to trouble you to cooperate with me in the battle later on."
"Ah!" Alarmed by Wang Chong's sudden words, Bai Siling panicked for an instant. However, she swiftly covered it up.
"Don't worry, leave it to me. I'll do my best to cooperate with you!" Bai Siling nodded earnestly. As expected of a lady of the Bai Clan, she was able to recover swiftly.
"Alright, let's set off!" With Wang Chong leading the way, the forty cavalrymen of Great Tang charged in the direction of the battle cries.
"Chief, another group of cavalry is heading our way."
Just as Wang Chong was charging over, a pigeon suddenly descended from the sky, headed toward a boulder located in the forest beside the main road. On the boulder, the military advisor of the Iron Cloak Highwaymen, Zhou An, raised his right hand and grabbed the pigeon. He untied the note from the pigeon's leg before passing it over to the massive Iron Cloak Li beside him.
"Hahaha, since they are coming here, we should give them a welcome. Relay my orders, slow down the attack. It isn't easy for us to bait them here, I don't want to scare away our guests!"
Zhou An quickly issued the relevant instructions, and Xu Gan and Huang Yongtu finally gained an opportunity to catch a breather.
Di da da!
Around half an incense stick time later, Wang Chong, leading the group, finally caught sight of the battlefield.
Bandits and highwaymen with wildly different clothing densely filled the main road, forest, and slope.
Surrounded by this huge group, Xu Gan and Huang Yongtu's group seemed no different from skerries amidst an endless ocean, isolated on a steep slope thirty zhang away from the main road.
An overwhelming stench of blood drifted in the air. Innumerable corpses of bandits, highwaymen, soldiers, and steeds alike were littered on the way from the main road to the slope.
Upon seeing this sight, Wang Chong, Bai Siling, and the other forty Great Tang cavalrymen found their eyes reddening in fury.
This was the first time such huge casualties had occurred among the eighty of them. Even though Xu Gan and Huang Yongtu had managed to fend off the attacks of the Iron Cloak Highwayman through effective utilization of the complex geographical terrain, their initial force of forty was still reduced to just twenty-four.
The death of sixteen True Martial realm veteran cavalrymen was truly a huge loss.
What was even more unacceptable was that they had died at the hands of mere bandits and highwaymen.
Beside Wang Chong, Ma Song clenched his fists tightly and muttered furiously, "Lord, I'm going to slaughter all of them!"
A soldier shouldn't die at the hands of mere bandits and highwaymen.
"Have you forgotten my words? Calm down! Trust me, we'll slaughter those Iron Cloak Highwaymen. However, charging in blindly won't do us any good. Look before you, how many men do they have?"
Wang Chong was burning with anger as well. As one who had lived his life on the battlefield, he felt those sentiments deeply than anyone else. However, he knew that this wasn't the moment to let his emotions get ahead of him.
"Besides, even though they have died in the hands of the bandits and the highwaymen, at the very least, they gave up their lives to protect Xu Gan and Huang Yongtu. On this aspect, at least they died in the midst of accomplishing their duties. Their deaths aren't meaningless!"
Wang Chong's words managed to bring some rationality back into the minds of his men. Indeed, at the very least, they managed to protect their commanders.
Xu Gan and Huang Yongtu might not be members from the military, but from the moment the change of command ceremony was conducted, they had become their commanders.
From that aspect, their deaths were indeed honorable.
Otherwise, considering their superior strength, there was indeed a high chance they could have survived.
Ma Song and the others turned to Wang Chong and said grimly, "Lord, relay your commands. We'll obey them!"
Wang Chong fell silent for a short moment. A moment later, he suddenly slapped the side of his steed and sprang forward from the formation.
"Wait here for me. I forbid any engagement with the enemy without my command."
Leaving behind those words, Wang Chong charged up to the battlefield. At this moment, he was already less than fifty zhang away from the Iron Cloak Highwaymen.
Behind him, Bai Siling fell into silence. Gritting her teeth, she also jolted her steed forward to follow Wang Chong.
"The Iron Cloak Highwaymen aren't an ordinary bandit band," Bai Siling said grimly. "Their number of True Martial realm experts are on par with us!"
"If only that's all!" Wang Chong sighed deeply as he said with a lowered voice which only Bai Siling could hear.
In the previous operations, Wang Chong had hardly seen any formidable True Martial realm experts.
However, the group before him couldn't be assessed by the standards of the bandits before. While most of them were below True Martial realm, there were still around eighty True Martial realm highwaymen around him.
If not for the fact that the troops he had in hand were veterans who had gone through innumerable battles, Wang Chong would have immediately retreated as soon as he saw these highwaymen.
"... Siling, have you not realized? With just a glance, it's clear that they are just a huge bunch jumbled together. Yet, someone was able to maneuver them effectively to encircle Xu Gan and Huang Yongtu amidst this complex terrain, where the might of a cavalry would be considerably reduced.
"While Xu Gan and Huang Yongtu are still able to fend them off at the moment, there is no doubt that they are cornered. It is clear that there is a master strategist among them!" Wang Chong sighed.
The main reason why the military was superior to highwaymen was because the latter knew nothing about coordination. In a battlefield, an army under a skilled commander could easily crush a group of equally powerful highwaymen.
However, if someone skilled were to coordinate the highwaymen together, the nature of the matter would change.
"Is this the military strategist that the bandit from before talked about?" Bai Siling uttered in shock.
"That isn't all. Have you realized that the war cries in the area have quieted down considerably after our arrival?" Wang Chong said.
"You mean that..." Bai Siling was stunned for an instant before realization struck her, and her face paled.
"Un." Wang Chong nodded, affirming her guesses. "If I'm not mistaken, these guys sure are ambitious!"
Wang Chong and Bai Siling's arrival had attracted Xu Gan and Huang Yongtu's attention as well.
"Siling and that brat are here!"
Beneath the tree, Huang Yongtu gazed at the army on the main road, and he trembled in agitation.
Time seemed to pass slowly for him for the last few minutes. For a few instances, he even despaired.
How could forty men possibly withstand a force consisting of seven hundred bandits and highwaymen?
It was only a primal instinct to clutch onto life that had driven him this far.
Huang Yongtu had never expected Wang Chong and Bai Siling to arrive at the moment of his deepest despair.
He opened his mouth to call Wang Chong's name, but at this awkward moment, he suddenly realized that he actually didn't know the latter's name.
"It's no use. They won't be able to break through the encirclement."
Just as excitement was filling Huang Yongtu, a cold voice from the side dampened his mood: Lieutenant Zhang Lin. At this moment, his breathing was ragged and irregular, and his face was ghastly pale. Due to overexerting himself, his body seemed to be sapped of strength.
The desperate battle had brought him many deep cuts, and fresh blood drenched his entire body.
Even though Xu Gan and Huang Yongtu were supposedly the leaders of the group, it was still the experienced Zhang Lin who had stepped up at this crucial moment to lead the team.
It was him who led the group to fend off the endless waves of attack and saved Xu Gan and Huang Yongtu on multiple occasions.
But at the same time, this had caused his injuries to be more severe than anyone elses.
At this moment, Zhang Lin had no idea how long he could hold on.
The sole responsibility of a soldier was to fulfill commands, and the main reason why Zhang Lin was still obstinately holding on was his will to send Xu Gan and Huang Yongtu out of here safely.
At the same time, his pride wouldn’t allow him to die dishonorably under the blades of a bandit. This was what he deeply believed in!
"Lieutenant Zhang is right. There are simply too many of them, we aren't their match at all. Even if Siling and the others were to join us, that won't change a thing. Besides, the bandit chief hasn't made his move at all. You also saw how fearsome he is, it is impossible for us to escape under his eye. Siling and the others are just courting death by coming to our aid," Xu Gan said from where he was leaning against a tree.
His right hand was pressed against his chest, and crimson blood was flowing through his fingers.