Chapter 366: Longxi's Big Dipper Army!
Zhao Yatong was completely stumped.
Even without a mirror before her, she knew that her face must be ghastly pale at this moment. She was a proud and capable person, or else she wouldn't have been able to make a name for herself as the Spear of Crimson Blaze.
All along, she had thought that the failure against the Tibetans was due to their opponents being too strong. Never had she thought that it would be due to a grave mistake that they had committed.
Without a doubt, Wang Chong's words came as a huge blow to Zhao Yatong's pride.
She opened her mouth in an attempt to refute Wang Chong's words, but couldn't find a word to say.
"... Also, the reason why they chose to remain at the mountain instead of pursuing you down to the resting point isn't due to their compassion or that they didn't know how to make use of the opportunity to further their victory. It is because they can't and they dare not.
"It is not a coincidence that their army consisted of three hundred men. It is the minimum force they require to synchronize their halos together to form a primary form of the Halo of Fortress. Pair that with their heavy armor, and it would be difficult for any army to deal concrete damage to them.
"That's the reason why you have suffered such heavy losses, while the Tibetan army was able to remain whole, as well as why the Tibetan cavalrymen seem stronger than they are to you." Wang Chong's words were like daggers stabbing deep into Zhao Yatong's soul. By this point, her face was drained of color.
She could never have imagined that she had made such a fatal error.
Had it not been for Wang Chong, she would have returned to the training camp ignorant of the reasons behind her defeat.
And this wasn't just limited to Zhao Yatong. Bai Siling, Xu Gan, and Huang Yongtu were also shocked beyond words.
Despite having never seen the Tibetan cavalrymen personally, he was still able to analyze the truth behind the situation.
Such capability was unimaginable to them. This was far beyond the insight Wang Chong had shown back in the battle against the Iron Cloak Highwaymen.
Truly unbelievable. There are rumors in the capital that the regional commanders incident was initiated and driven by him singlehandedly. Back then, I thought that those rumors had been blown out of proportions. After all, how could a person who had never traveled beyond the capital possibly have the insight to analyze the current state of Great Tang? As such, I thought that this might have been an attempt by Duke Jiu to groom him. But from the looks of it now, it seems like I have been grossly underestimating him!
I am indeed no match for him at all! Looking at Wang Chong's profile, Xu Gan sighed deeply. To think that he had mocked the other party for being of humble birth when they had first met. Recalling the matter now, he only felt deeply ashamed of his actions.
The two incidents, one with the Iron Cloak Highwaymen, and the other being this, had unknowingly shaped Xu Gan's mindset, and he made an extremely important decision in his life.
Just that, at this instant, no one other than Xu Gan was aware of it.
On the other hand, Huang Yongtu was also staring at Wang Chong contemplatively. However, no one other than himself could tell what he was thinking of.
In contrast, Bai Siling's face was filled with delight and perhaps even pride as she watched Wang Chong analyze the situation easily.
"... Should the Tibetans choose to leave the mountain and venture into flatter grounds, they will suffer a huge reduction in their fighting prowess. At the same time, they can't discount the possibility of it being a trap. If their numbers were reduced below three hundred, they would be unable to form the Halo of Fortress. Without the protection from that halo, they would be as good as dead considering how deep they are in the territory of a hostile state. That is the main reason why they dared not make any rash movements. It's not that they don't know how to seize the opportunity, but that they didn't dare to seize it!" Wang Chong explained calmly, a confident gleam in his eyes.
By demystifying the seemingly infallible Tibetan army with his words, they became nothing more than ordinary soldiers.
Sometimes, it was the lack of understanding that led one blow something way out of proportion, leading to their irrational fear or respect of it.
But in Wang Chong's eyes, they were nothing more than a Tibetan army. They were indeed strong, but they were far from being qualified to be labeled with the word "infallible".
Hearing Wang Chong's words, like a proud phoenix being reduced to ashes, Zhao Yatong's heart fell to the bottom of the abyss, and she lost the usual confidence she commanded. At this point, even Bai Siling couldn't stand watching her anymore.
"Enough, what's the point of saying so much? This isn't Yatong's fault! After all, we are just recruits from the training camp, not the commanders of this operation. How could we have known so much? Yatong, you should just ignore him. That's just the way he is," Bai Siling berated Wang Chong as she swiftly consoled her good friend.
Even in Longwei Training Camp, Zhao Yatong could be considered the cream of the crop. After all, her title as the Spear of Crimson Flames didn't come from nowhere. But nevertheless, she had met her nemesis this time around.
The confidence and pride that she had built up over the years had been shattered into nothing.
"Well... Siling is right. This is a mistake from the commanding officer. As a recruit from the training camp taking part in the operation, you are not involved in the decision-making process of the operation, so you can't be blamed for the loss," Wang Chong conceded.
Even though Bai Siling was saying those words to comfort her good friend, there was indeed some truth in her words.
And the reason why he chose to speak of all of this wasn't to shatter Zhao Yatong's confidence, either. Rather, he intended to point out the reality of the situation they were in to everyone, so that they could understand what had to be done for the third mission.
It was never his intention to traumatize Zhao Yatong.
And even though Zhao Yatong knew that Wang Chong was mostly saying those words to console her, she still felt a little better after that, and a slight tinge of redness returned to her face.
"Alright, let's report to the commanding officer for now," Wang Chong said.
Walking into the resting point, Wang Chong and the others took out their tokens to verify their identities. Soon, a tall and massive military officer appeared before them.
This man was dressed in black armor, and he had a rough but authoritative disposition. The emblem of a huge silver star surrounded by seven smaller stars on his left chest revealed his identity.
He was an officer from the Big Dipper Army, and a commandant at that! Even though he wasn't a particularly high-ranking commandant, it was still a formidable position.
This was especially true given that the commandants of the Big Dipper Army were granted extraordinary privileges.
The Big Dipper Army commandant read through the letter from the Bureau of Military Personnel that Wang Chong submitted to him before glancing at the four men before him. It was a casual glance, but it seemed to peer deep into their souls. "Are you all the students who defeated the Iron Cloak Highwaymen?"
"Yes, lord!" Xu Gan responded.
The usually vocal Wang Chong seemed extraordinarily quiet at this moment. His lips were tightly pressed together, refusing to utter a single word.
"Not bad! The fact that you could defeat the Iron Cloak Highwaymen proves testimony to your prowess. However, the fact that you were surrounded by them in the first place goes to show that you are still lacking in your situational awareness. Keeping a lookout for enemies is one of the most basic functions of a platoon. This goes to show that you still have a long ways to go!" The Big Dipper Army commandant started out with praise, but his following words left Xu Gan's heart tightening in anxiety.
"You are right, we will take note of that in the future!" Xu Gan quickly responded.
The Big Dipper Army commandant continued assessing the four men before him nonchalantly. When his glance was sweeping across Wang Chong, it seemed to linger for an instant.
Gedeng, Wang Chong's heart skipped a beat. But soon, the Big Dipper Army commandant turned his gaze back to Xu Gan. He continued asking a few more questions related to the Iron Cloak Highwaymen, and Xu Gan answered them respectfully.
"That's all, you are dismissed. After leaving the resting point, you should see Lieutenant Zou at the left fence. You will be under his command for the operation." The Big Dipper Army commandant waved his hands, dismissing the group.
"Yes, lord!" Xu Gan replied, heaving a deep sigh of relief on the inside.
"The operation will start three days from now. Make sure to obey the commands you receive. Anyone who dares to defy commands or leave on their own accord will be dealt with according to the military law!" the Big Dipper Army commandant warned them sternly after passing the letter from the Bureau of Military Personnel back to them.
How could they dare to speak back to him? They hurriedly nodded and left the area swiftly.
After leaving the resting point, Bai Siling suddenly turned to Wang Chong and asked, "Hey, what's going on? Why were you so silent just now?"
Wang Chong was oddly quiet and humble in this resting point, and this peculiarity left her perplexed.
"I have some history with the Big Dipper Army." Wang Chong said bitterly.
"You had a conflict with them?" Bai Siling asked in shock.
Eventually, it was Xu Gan who replied Bai Siling's query. "There's no need to ask any further. They did have some conflicts in the past, and it would only make things difficult for us if he had spoken up just now."
He turned to her and whispered some things into her ear, and Bai Siling's eyes gradually widened as she came to a realization.
"Geshu Han!..." Wang Chong nodded to affirm their conjecture. The reason why he hadn't revealed his identity to Xu Gan, Huang Yongtu, and Bai Siling wasn't to make fun of them.
Rather, due to the regional commanders incident, Wang Chong had offended quite a lot of people, and one of them was the commander of Longxi's Big Dipper Army, Geshu Han.
Geshu Han was one of the great generals who had supported beheading Wang Chong, and Longxi, one of the regions the Silk Road was on, was Geshu Han's territory.
It was in view of this grudge that Wang Chong chose to conceal his identity. Otherwise, given Geshu Han's identity, he could have easily tampered with the mission and caused it to end in failure.
It was one thing if this had been just an average mission, but the Halo of Dusk Stallion was at stake here. Wang Chong could not afford to fail!
Thus, before successfully completing this mission, he wished to minimize any risk that could compromise his mission.
"I see!" After learning of the truth behind the matter, Bai Siling fell silent.
As the saying went, "When under the roof of another, one has little choice but to lower one's head." As influential as the Wang Clan was, its influence couldn't possibly exceed Geshu Han's in Longxi.
After leaving the resting point, the group reported to Lieutenant Zou. After which, Bai Siling volunteered to take over the responsibility of resupplying the group.
After receiving another forty cavalrymen from Lieutenant Zou, the group finally returned to its original formation of eighty. Following which, the resting point fell silent.
Everyone was preparing for the great battle three days later!