Chapter 350: The Other Hand of the Iron Cloak Highwaymen
"Don't worry. If lord had no intentions of saving us from the start, he wouldn't have come to engage the bandits and highwaymen," Zhang Lin consoled him.
Hearing those words, Huang Yongtu's awful complexion alleviated slightly.
At that moment, the loud neighing of a war steed sounded. Huang Yongtu turned his glance over, only to see a ferocious-looking member of the Iron Cloak Highwaymen galloping along the main road, in the direction of Wang Chong and the others had retreated to.
But in the next instant, a sound reminiscent of the releasing of a bowstring echoed, and a massive steel arrow suddenly appeared from the bend, headed for the highwayman's head.
The arrow pierced the highwayman's skull with immense strength, sending him flying from his steed and eventually pinning him to a huge tree.
Shocked exclamations and gasps sounded from the crowd. Everyone was stunned by the sudden arrow. No one had expected Wang Chong to make some arrangements even in the face of their retreat.
The speed, strength, and timing of the arrow were also spectacular, leaving the highwayman with no opportunity to react at all. He was dead before he could even realize what was going on.
"To think that it would go exactly as you have said!" At that moment, around fifty zhang away from the bend, Bai Siling put down her arrow and smiled to Wang Chong beside her excitedly.
"You have done well!" Wang Chong complimented her with a smile as well.
Bai Siling didn't specialize in archery, but her skill in that field was indeed incredible.
"Alright, let's go now. With this arrow, we should have instilled a little bit of hesitation in them. They shouldn't dare to send scouts for us fearlessly anymore. Moreover, every man of theirs killed represents a higher chance of victory for us!" Wang Chong exclaimed.
There were simply too many highwaymen and bandits gathered here, making it impossible to crush them in a frontal battle swiftly. Thus, they could only try to thin their forces with every opportunity he could before launching the decisive strike.
Wang Chong raised his hand, and the forty cavalrymen began galloping into the distance.
"Bastards!" Seeing how the scout he had just dispatched being brutally killed before everyone's eyes, Iron Cloak Li's face turned livid.
"Send another man!" Waving his hands, Iron Cloak Li ordered for another man to follow Wang Chong's group.
Di da da, the second highwayman had learned from the lesson of the first, proceeding warily around the bend for fear of any traps. But barely after getting around the bend, peng! Another arrow appeared and pinned his head to a tree as well.
But this time, the arrow came from the forest instead.
"The second one!" With a bow in hand, Bai Siling leaped back onto her steed and rushed back to the group.
While the others had retreated with Wang Chong to a distance away, Bai Siling remained in the surrounding area and hid behind a tree in the forest.
The highwayman was too concerned with what that could be in front of him, and he neglected his rear, thus falling prey to an arrow as well.
"Damn it!" Hearing the loud snap from the releasing of a bowstring and the erratic clopping of a steed, Iron Cloak Li cursed furiously.
"Send more men over!" With a livid face, Iron Cloak Li raised his hand and ordered more scouts to be sent after Wang Chong. But this time, he was wiser than before. He sent three highwaymen at once, two to scout the forests on both sides, while the last one pursued them on the main road.
This way, they could avoid being ambushed by the enemy.
But nevertheless, things didn't go to plan.
What the three highwaymen met with was four Great Tang cavalrymen and Bai Siling. Facing five True Martial realm experts, they were wiped out in a matter of moments.
This placed Iron Cloak Li in a difficult position.
Not only did they fail to obtain any useful intelligence on the enemy, they had even lost six of their brothers for nothing. Furthermore, these were veteran members who had been with him for years.
Silence loomed in the area.
"Zhou An, do you have any ideas in mind?" Iron Cloak Li asked, turning to the military advisor beside him.
The military advisor had been silent all this time. The young commander on the enemy's side was truly a difficult adversary for him. The other party's commands were completely unpredictable to him, making it difficult for him to plan ahead.
Zhou An knew that the enemy was up to something, and it would be dangerous to let them be. But yet, they had found themselves in a position where they were unable to procure the intelligence needed to make arrangements to deal with the other party's ploy.
If they couldn't predict the enemy's next move, they would be placed in a vulnerable situation.
For one, if Wang Chong hadn't gotten too far, it was possible for him to launch a sudden attack. If they were to cover the hooves of the horses with cloth to muffle the clopping noise, it would be difficult for Zhou An and the others to estimate how far away they were.
Zhou An pondered for a moment before replying,"Chief, I don't think quantity is the key here. The other party has clearly prepared themselves well to deal with any number of people we send at them. Unless we send an army of at least two hundred at them, our men would likely just fall in their hands.
"Since that's the case, it'll be preferable for us to dispatch some of our stronger and nimbler brothers, and equip them with steel shields of some form."
As bandits and highwaymen, they didn't have shields like the military. Nevertheless, it shouldn't be difficult for them to gather a few steel pieces to serve as a simple shield.
Zhou An's instructions were swiftly relayed down the chain.
Soon, after losing yet another three of their brothers, Iron Cloak Li and Zhou An finally received the news they wanted.
"Reporting to the chief, they are currently stationed in the forest around three hundred zhang away!"
"Understood. Continue scouting their movements and provide me updates every incense's time."
After the highwayman scout left the area, Iron Cloak Li turned his gaze to Zhou An and frowned questioningly.
"I don't know what they are up to either, but there is a chance that they might just be trying to confuse us with unpredictable actions." Zhou An knew what Iron Cloak Li was thinking, and he shook his head in response.
He had rarely encountered opponents or situations as baffling as this. If the other party wasn't a recruit of the training camps, he would have really tried to convince the chief to bring that young man over to their side.
"But regardless of what they are up to, it'll suffice as long as they remain in this area. Eventually, they will find themselves cornered like rats," Zhou An added confidently as he stroked his beard calmly.
"There isn't much time left for us. The next few hours will determine our fate, as well as Xu Gan's and Huang Yongtu's. Thus, I hope that each of you will listen attentively to what I am about to say now." At the same time, at a distance of three hundred zhang away, Wang Chong had gathered his men together to issue his commands.
On this rare occasion, Wang Chong's usually composed and collected demeanor was replaced with grave austerity. Under his influence, the soldiers also displayed an unprecedented solemnity as well.
"The vanguard will be put under Ma Song's command to confuse them, while the others will be following me," Wang Chong said deeply.
Of the forty Great Tang cavalrymen, the twenty that were from Wang Chong's group from the very start had already undergone Wang Chong's training and reorganization, but those from Bai Siling's group hadn't.
In the ensuing time, Wang Chong divided Bai Siling's group into four sections as well, and selected Ten-Man Squad Leaders and Five-Man Squad Leaders among them as well.
With the battle looming right before them, time was a luxury. Fortunately, the group of twenty were able to complete the training swiftly. Due to the several operations they had been on with Wang Chong the previous few times, as well as the clashes with the Iron Cloak Highwaymen, it didn't take long for them to familiarize themselves with Wang Chong's commands.
An hour later, the group of twenty finally managed to reach Wang Chong's expectations.
After completing the training, Wang Chong gathered the forty cavalrymen once more and said, "What I'll be saying now will be of vital importance, so you must make sure to pay heed. This will determine whether we will be the ones killing or the ones killed. I believe none of you should be willing to die at the hands of mere bandits.
"I have a simple formation here that'll prove to be vital in the battle. You must make sure to pay careful attention to the details, we only have an incense's time..."
Initially, Bai Siling was still able to comprehend the gist of what Wang Chong was up to. By reorganizing the group, the troops could be divided into more effective units to be mobilized in battle.
However, what he was doing at the very moment was a mystery to her. The directions and movements he was teaching the cavalrymen were completely foreign to her.
Honestly speaking, Wang Chong had brought out many things that were beyond Bai Siling's imagination. Despite her frequent interactions with the commanders of the military due to her clan's ties, she had never seen anything like this before.
Who in the world is this fellow? Bai Siling grew even more curious of Wang Chong's identity. He had displayed far too many extraordinary feats.
Nevertheless, knowing that this wasn't the time to be bothered with such issues, Bai Siling suppressed the urges in her heart and turned her attention back to Wang Chong's explanations.
But deep within, she had already made up her mind to uncover all of the secrets surrounding Wang Chong regardless of the means, should she get out of here alive.
Soon, the sky began to darken once more.
Billowing smoke rose from the forest as Wang Chong's group started to prepare their meals while the others tidied up their equipment.
Food for forty men was by no means, a small amount. As such, the smoke lingering in the area was exceptionally thick, shrouding everyone's figure.
At the same moment, at around seven hundred zhang away from where the meals were being prepared…
Kacha! With a resounding crunch, a horse’s hoof suddenly emerged from a dense area of shrubs filled with thorns.