Chapter 364: The Third Gathering Point!
"The next gathering point is just ahead. It serves as a logistical stop as well, and we'll be able to get replacements for the steeds we have lost and repair our gear there," Lieutenant Zhang Lin said to Wang Chong, Xu Gan, and the others.They were treading along a main road surrounded by winding mountains.
The greatest concern they had at hand was regarding their steeds. When the group was surrounded by the Iron Cloak Highwaymen back then, most of their horses ended up being slaughtered.
For the time being, most of them were using substitutes from the highwaymen they had slaughtered in the battle after killing Zhou An.
However, there was still a huge difference between the war steeds from the military and the horses the highwaymen rode on. The former had undergone strict training, and they could comprehend the gestures and intentions of their riders. On top of that, through a unique circulation pathway through its meridians and veins, it could harness the power of a cavalryman's halo to augment its abilities.
Through this, the might of a cavalryman's charge could be maximized!
On the other hand, the horses of the highwaymen had never undergone such training, so that would be a huge handicap in itself.
It was fine to ride such horses for casual occasions, but in a battle against a formal Tibetan army, it simply would not do for them not to have war steeds.
As such, most of the cavalrymen who had lost their war steeds had been worrying over this issue.
After galloping along a meandering path, the group finally arrived at the third gathering point of the mission.
This was a resting point constructed by the officials, so it was heavily guarded. Soldiers could be seen standing guard with stern expressions on their faces. The Haloes of Thorns that rippled beneath their feet indicated that they were all True Martial realm experts.
There was quite a large crowd moving around the perimeter of the resting point, but nearly all of them had a glum expression on their faces. Morale seemed to be low among them.
Seeing the sight, Wang Chong remarked, "Looks like the four of us aren't the only ones who were sent here."
Xu Gan, Huang Yongtu, and Bai Siling looked at the sight before them with a bizarre expression on their faces. Scanning through the crowd before them, they could easily spot quite a few young men dressed in luxurious clothes. Chances were that they were also recruits from the training camps.
It seemed they weren't the only ones who received deployment instructions from the Bureau of Military Personnel. The recruits who had been conducting their missions in the region were summoned to this area too!
"Wait here for a moment!" Before anyone could react, Bai Siling abruptly squeezed her steed with her thighs and galloped forward.
"Hm?" Perplexed, Wang Chong frowned. But soon, he saw Bai Siling intercepting a red-robed lady who possessed an exceptional disposition comparable to hers.
"So she has found an acquaintance." As realization dawned on him, Wang Chong's frown loosened.
Bai Siling and that lady conversed for a moment before leading her over to the group.
"Yatong, this is Xu Gan and Huang Yongtu. The Xu Clan and Huang Clan are powerful clans in the capital, so you should have at least heard of them. As for this fellow... he is that Wang Chong," Bai Siling introduced him with a complex expression on her face.
Upon hearing the name "Wang Chong", astonishment flickered across the red-robed lady's eyes as she began looking him over from head to toe.
"As for you guys, be glad. This lady over here is Yatong from the Zhao Clan. Surely you should have heard of her?" Bai Siling turned to the guys and introduced her friend.
"I see. So it's Yatong-xiaojie!" Hearing the red-robed lady's name, Xu Gan and Huang Yongtu immediately bowed politely and greeted her. Only Wang Chong was left with a dazed expression.
Zhao Yatong... Alright, he knew the other party's name now, but was he supposed to know her?
He had never heard of the other party before!
"You don't know her? Then surely you should have heard of the Spear of Crimson Flames of the capital's Zhao Clan?" Noticing Wang Chong's confusion, Huang Yongtu leaned over slightly and whispered quietly.
"Spear of Crimson Flames?" Wang Chong repeated in confusion. That title did sound great, but he didn't recall hearing it before.
"Damn it, you really don't know her?" Upon realizing that Wang Chong was still clueless despite all he had said, Huang Yongtu stared at him in frustration.
The heck! Is she really that important that I have to know her?
"Even if you don't know the Spear of Crimson Flames, surely you should have heard of Yao Wenxiong from the Yao Clan?" Seeing how Wang Chong was completely baffled by the abrupt situation before him, Xu Gan couldn't help but intervene as well. Even though Wang Chong was indubitably one of the most esteemed scions in the capital at the moment, he seemed to be far lacking in connections and understanding of their social circle.
On the other hand, Wang Chong also felt slightly embarrassed by the situation before him.
He had spent the earlier days in his previous life hanging out with Wei Hao, Ma Zhou, and the other fellows in his previous life, while Xu Gan and the other scions were figures that were far beyond him. Since he didn't belong to that lofty world, how could he have known much about their circle?
"Yes, I have heard of him before," Wang Chong nodded.
Even though Old Master Yao only had a single son and grandson, who were Yao Guangyi and Yao Feng respectively, that didn't mean that the Yao Clan was lacking in descendants.
On the contrary, they were overflowing with offspring.
Most of the other branch families of the Yao Clan had flourished through tapping into their connections with Old Master Yao.
Yao Wenxiong's grandfather was one of them. He was a blood-related brother of Old Master Yao, and this had resulted in a very close relationship between the two families.
In the Yao Clan, Yao Wenxiong was known as a rare genius that was far more talented than Yao Feng, having reached the True Martial realm at a very young age.
Back then, when Wang Chong's second brother, Wang Bei, and Yao Feng had a conflict and his Berserker Syndrome suddenly acted up, had it not been for Yao Wenxiong appearing at a timely moment and fighting back desperately alongside Yao Feng, Yao Feng might have already been crippled or even dead by now.
While Yao Wenxiong was severely injured after the incident, just the fact that he could stand against Wang Bei in the berserk state that enhanced his fighting prowess immensely, spoke loudly of his strength.
"Back then, even Yao Wenxiong would make a detour whenever he saw the Zhao Clan's Spear of Crimson Flames. From this, you should be able to fathom how powerful she is!" Xu Gan added.
Currently, Yao Wenxiong had gone to Tianzhu Mountain to cultivate, and it was easy to imagine how powerful he would become under the training of the powerful Imperial Guard instructors there.
But nevertheless, it was a fact that Yao Wenxiong wasn't a match for the Spear of Crimson Blaze. It wasn't just because the lady before him was powerful, but that the Zhao Clan had a unique spear technique known as "Spear of Searing Flames" that was only passed down to the women in the clan. The technique was known to have a few powerful moves which allowed the practitioner to rival those who were several cultivation realms higher than her.
Considering that, it would be foolish for Yao Wenxiong to confront her.
Wang Chong had never heard of Zhao Yatong or her alias before, but the fact that she could suppress Yao Wenxiong came as a huge surprise to him. Judging from that, she was likely to be on par with Marquess Yi and Bai Siling.
"Are you done?" Zhao Yatong waited until the trio was done speaking before interjecting. There was a hint of a smile on her lips, and when she leaned forward slightly, one could see the stark contrast between her crimson lips and fair skin, creating a vivid image of blazing flames.
Xu Gan and Huang Yongtu were dazed for a moment before they put on awkward smiles and paid their apologies.
They were speaking in the presence of the other party, even if she couldn't hear their words, it wasn't too hard to guess what they were talking about.
"Hmph!" Seeing the trio's response, Bai Siling harrumphed coldly. Men were indeed creatures who couldn't avert their eyes in the face of beautiful women.
Fortunately, Wang Chong was a little more thick-skinned, so he recovered swiftly.
"What is going on?" he asked.
Seeing Wang Chong driving the conversation back to serious matters, Bai Siling's annoyance subsided slightly. She didn't bring her close friend from Longwei Training Camp over for these men to ravish her with their eyes.
Bai Siling turned to the red-robed lady and said, "Yatong, you came earlier than us. You should be more familiar with the affairs here, so I'll leave it to you to explain the situation."
"Un," Yatong nodded before swiftly explaining the situation to the group.
It turned out that Wang Chong's group wasn't the only one from the Three Great Training Camps who were involved in this mission. In fact, some of the stronger recruits had been assigned this mission shortly after the inception of the training camps.
Zhao Yatong and her group had come from one of the earlier batches.
Even though the contents of their mission differed, the mission they undertook was equally dangerous. Of her group, two had returned to the training camps after losing too many men.
Due to Zhao Yatong's overwhelming strength, she was able to avoid suffering too many losses. Thus, she was ordered by the Bureau of Military Personnel to participate in the operation against the Tibetan army.
It was only after reaching here that she realized that there were many others who had received the same orders to destroy the Tibetan army loitering on Great Tang's territory.
Longxi was connected to the Tibetan's highlands. Due to the frequent battles they had, it wasn't too rare for some Tibetan soldiers separated from their group to end up in Longxi.
Due to their unfamiliarity with the local terrain, they would often end up coming deeper and deeper into Great Tang's territory. Nevertheless, it was unprecedented for a group to venture so deep into Great Tang's territory.
"The enemy's strength is only at three hundred or so, not too high, but their members are particularly strong. Despite the blocks set up and the pursuit by the regional forces, they still managed to reach this area. In truth, there was a point where we had around eight hundred members, and they were all veteran soldiers of our military. However, under an ambush charge by the other party's three hundred-man army, we ended up losing five hundred men.
"All in all, this is already my fourth time participating in this operation, and I have lost more than twenty men to this. Even so, my losses can be considered low compared to the others. There were quite a few training camp recruits who had their platoons wiped out, and even they themselves were killed in battle.
"Regardless of the success or failure of this operation, I am intending to return to the training camps after this," Zhao Yatong said gloomily. To render the proud Spear of Crimson Blaze so downbeat, her opponent must be a formidable figure.
Hearing those words, Xu Gan and Huang Yongtu glanced at one another.
They had known that the mission wouldn't be easy, but the intelligence they had just received from Zhao Yatong far exceeded their expectations. For eight hundred Great Tang military veterans to fall in defeat against three hundred Tibetan warriors, wasn't the enemy way too strong?
Staring at the group, Bai Siling spoke grimly, "Do you get why the atmosphere is so gloomy around here now? The royal court has decided to pay a heavy price to deal with this Tibetan army. Despite the tight manpower by the borders, they were preparing to deploy men to deal with these Tibetan soldiers. Thus, this will likely be the last chance we will get at them.
"Nevertheless, it'll take around ten days for the reinforcements to arrive, especially since they have to make preparations for others to cover for them. By then, the battle will already be long over."