Chapter 351: Falling Prey!
"Looks like we have arrived just in time," a full-bearded Turk said, as he emerged silently from the thorny shrubs.
"Hah, they even dare to start campfires to prepare their meals, they must think that they are on a picnic!" Another highwayman with a sturdy figure appeared from the thorny shrubs as well. Despite his unusually squarish face, his other facial features indicated that he was a true-blue Han.
"Indeed, when have the plans of our military advisor gone awry before? Hehehe, it was indeed a wise decision to have us make a long detour around the mountain to block their escape path while the main force attacked them. This way, we can instill panic among their troops while ensuring that none of them get away at the same time! However, I have an even better idea in mind." A cruel smile crept onto the lips of the Turk man as he gazed at the billowing smoke beneath them.
"Perhaps, we can make use of their unwariness at this very instant to launch a sudden assault. No matter how formidable they might be, they can't have expected us to appear from nowhere. As long as we can kill half of the troops before they can reorganize their forces, those remaining won't pose a threat at all."
"Hu Lang, are you insane?" Hearing those words, the Han highwayman widened his eyes in astonishment. "Are you trying to alter our military advisor's plans?"
"Chang Dao, you have never been to the northern borders before, so you have never seen how vicious wolves hunt. After locating their prey, they would conceal themselves behind trees, boulders, and bushes before slowly creeping up on them. And just when the prey's guard is down, they will suddenly appear from behind and launch a sudden attack. With this hunting technique, rarely have any prey which those wolves set their eyes upon escaped from them.
"There are only forty of them, and at least half of them aren't on their steeds and don't have their weapons with them at the moment. This is the ideal moment to strike, we won't get any better opportunity than this. If the Turkish army ever encountered such a situation on the plains, they would never let such a chance slip past their fingers!
"If the military advisor was here, he would surely agree with this decision as well." Hu Lang reasoned as he licked his lips savagely. Appallingly, his long scarlet tongue was able to reach up to the tip of his nose.
The Han highwayman fell into deep contemplation.
After a long internal struggle, the Han highwayman replied, "I still think that we should seek our military advisor's opinion on this matter before making any actions."
He had a deep respect for the military advisor, and this led to an instinctive reluctance to alter the latter's plans.
"I can understand why you wish to seek our military advisor's approval on this matter. He is indeed a very smart man, and I have a deep respect for him as well. But time is not in our favor, they won't be spending the entire night eating. By the time we receive a reply from him, the time would have already passed. Or do you intend to gallop down the shorter path to report this matter to our military advisor?
"But if you do so, there is a high chance that we might be noticed by the enemy. If so, all of our efforts will be wasted," Hu Lang said with narrowed eyes.
The Turks who ruled the grasslands weren't as cultured as the Han, but they had sharp instincts for anything that had to do with warfare.
And in truth, within the Iron Cloak Highwaymen, Hu Lang was also one of the rare few who had a strong intuition regarding the tides of battle, and even Chief Iron Cloak Li was filled with praise for him.
In fact, due to his ferocity, valor, and grasp of battle, he was highly respected amongst the brothers. In some sense, Hu Lang could also be considered as the third-in-command of the Iron Cloak Highwaymen, ranking just beneath the Chief Iron Cloak Li and military advisor Zhou An.
It was also due to Hu Lang's outstanding battle sense that he was chosen to be the leader of this operation to flank the Great Tang cavalrymen from behind.
"Chang Dao, there are only two options at the moment. The first, we circumvent to the enemy's flank and wait for the signal from our frontlines to strike together. This plan is indeed less risky, it is almost certain that we will be able to destroy all of those cavalrymen. However, our opponents won't be as unprepared as they are now. Many of our brothers on the frontlines will die in their charge.
"Consider why the military advisor went through the trouble of commanding us to take a huge detour just so that we could flank them from behind, wasting so much time and effort. It only goes to show that our opponents aren't easy targets.
"The second, we can launch the attack right now while they are unprepared and slaughter them clean. To prevent any of them from escaping, I will dispatch a thirty men platoon to block the path behind. At the same time, you can send the signal to our military advisor in the midst of our assault so that they can send reinforcements over immediately. This way, we will have cover even if our plan eventually fails. I think that this is the best option we have at hand.
"Through this option, we can minimize the blood shed by our brothers. But of course, this will mean going against the military advisor's commands. There, I have already laid everything out clearly for you. Make your decision!" Hu Lang turned to the Han highwayman beside him and gazed at him patiently.
It was a standard practice in the Iron Cloak Highwaymen to assign two men as the leaders of a platoon, and the rules dictated that the two men would have to come to a consensus before the platoon could take any actions.
The Han highwayman contemplated for a long moment as the thoughts of obeying the military advisor's commands and grasping the ideal assault window clashed inside his head. Eventually, he gritted his teeth tightly together and gave his verdict, "Let's do as you have suggested."
Even though this would place him under suspicion of insubordination, there was one thing Hu Lang said that was true. The Great Tang cavalrymen were indeed at their most vulnerable state at this moment.
If they were to launch an attack right now, leveraging the benefits from a downward charge, they would indeed be able to minimize casualties.
"Hehehe. Chang Dao, you have made a wise decision!" Hu Lang chuckled, seemingly having expected Chang Dao to make this choice. Pulling on the reins of his steed, he retreated back into the thorny shrubs.
"Brothers, prepare yourselves..."
Behind the thorny shrubs, many strapping highwaymen sat upon powerful steeds. Savagery painted their faces, and their auras revealed their incredible might. Beneath the hooves of their steeds were the circles of True Martial halos.
The earth rumbled and the forests shook beneath the furious galloping of the steeds. Eighty True Martial realm Iron Cloak highwaymen had surged down from the top of the mountain to charge down upon their foes.
The steep slope had allowed them to bring out the greatest potential speed of their steeds. In just thirty zhang, they had already achieved an incredible momentum in their charge.
Hong long long, a huge cloud of dust rose into the air.
Fifty zhang... seventy zhang...
In just a few moments, the highwaymen had already covered half of the distance to the Great Tang cavalrymen's camp, and they were still building up speed. With the speed they were moving, it was likely that the cavalrymen wouldn't be able to react to the assault in time.
"Brothers, destroy them!"
"The military advisor has told me that they have several million gold taels on them!"
"Don't let any of them escape!"
A huge gale blew beneath the charging highwaymen, sending fallen leaves and shredded grass up into the clouds. The highwaymen screamed their war cries excitedly as anticipation for the great battle they would have built up in their veins.
Since Wang Chong was able to utilize the effectiveness of a downward charge to maximize the fighting prowess of the Great Tang cavalrymen, the highwaymen could do the same as well!
Eventually, as their speed reached the limit, they could easily kick away huge boulders that stood in their way, needless to say those bodies of flesh and blood at the bottom of the mountain.
From the very start, the highwaymen were at a decisive advantage in this battle.
"Report! We have discovered the enemy is preparing their meal in the woods." At this moment, at a considerable distance away, a broad-shouldered highwayman scout cut through the crowd to report the intelligence he had gathered to military advisor Zhou An.
"Report! Lord Hu Lang and Lord Chang Dao have sent news that they intend to exploit the enemy's current vulnerability to destroy them, and they hope to gain the military advisor's cooperation!" At this moment, another highwayman leaped down from his steed and swiftly rushed up to Iron Cloak Li and Zhou An.
The two pieces of intelligence had arrived nearly at the same time.
"What?" Hearing the news, Zhou An's face immediately warped in shock.
That was not the command he had passed. But before he could even react, he suddenly heard deafening war cries and a stampede in the distance, and he froze.
Too fast! Everything happened way too fast!
Furthermore, the entire matter seemed to be spiraling out of his control.
"Zhou An, what now?" Iron Cloak Li was also stunned. He was aware of Zhou An's plan, and the current event wasn't part of it.
Hu Lang and Chang Dao were acting of their own accord.
But nevertheless, Hu Lang and Chang Dao had been his subordinates for many years, so he believed that they must have their own reasons for doing so.
At this moment, time seemed to stop as a tempest blew in Zhou An's mind. An aberration had appeared in his plans.
The previous scout had reported that the Great Tang cavalrymen were preparing food. Hu Lang and Chang Dao seemed to have chosen to act outside of the agreed plan due to that.
If that was the case, it would indeed be an ideal window for Hu Lang and Chang Dao's platoon to strike. Even Zhou An would have nothing to say about that.
"Let me ask you, when you were scouting ahead, did you smell the scent of food?" Zhou An suddenly asked.
"Ah?" Not expecting the military advisor to ask such a bizarre question, the highwayman scout was stunned for an instant.
"That... I didn't dare to get too near, so that could be why I didn't smell anything at all..."
"Damn it! That brat is too cunning. Hu Lang and Chang Dao have fallen for his ploy!" Hearing those words, Zhou An's face turned livid with rage.
"Chief, we have to bring our brothers over right now, or else we might be too late to save Hu Lang and the others! As for the rest, attack those cavalrymen on the slope with your full might!" Zhou An commanded authoritatively. A hint of panic had surfaced on his usually composed face.
"What?" Hearing those words, the highwaymen gathered around the boulder were shocked. Even Iron Cloak Li was taken aback by Zhou An's sudden commands.