Chapter 378: Ambushed!
Wang Chong was far from the "War Saint" that he was in his previous life. Even if he had won this battle, he was still nothing more than a small recruit from the training camps.
On the other hand, Geshu Han was at the prime of his power.
His position as a Great General wasn't just for show. He wielded immense power, far beyond Wang Chong's means.
"Wang Chong, we'll leave with you!" Huang Yongtu suddenly said as he prepared to leap onto his steed to leave with Wang Chong. Hearing those words, the others hurriedly rushed off to bring their steeds over as well.
After the battle they had just fought, they were more united than ever. Standing on the same boat, the first reaction they had after hearing about Wang Chong's departure was to follow him.
"There's no need for that!" Wang Chong waved his hands. "Geshu Han and the Big Dipper Army commandant are only coming for me, so nothing will happen to you all even after I leave. Even if they were to pursue the matter, you just have to say that I have commanded you all with King Song's token in my hands, and you should be able to absolve yourself from blame. After all, there are so many of you. If Geshu Han is a smart man, he will know better than to offend so many prestigious clans over such a minor matter.
"Furthermore, if you move before the Bureau of Military Personnel issues the return command, you will be only giving him a reason to send his soldiers after us instead. I have King Song and the Wang Clan behind my back, so I should be able to get off the hook without trouble, but the same can't be said for the rest of you. Moreover, this could potentially leave a stain on your records, hindering your promotions in the future.
"Besides, staying in the resting point is beneficial to you as well. Given that so many of us have participated, and the huge contribution we have made through our actions, he would risk incurring the anger of the troops should he choose to punish you," Wang Chong said nonchalantly.
It wasn't a mistake that Wang Chong said "I fear that I must leave now" instead of "I fear that we must leave now". It was a decision he had made after careful consideration.
If he remained here, Geshu Han's wrath might end up spilling over onto them as well. On the other hand, if he were to leave, Geshu Han would have no reason to do anything, and they would be safe.
"Wang Chong is right. The reason why Geshu Han and the commandant are doing this is so that they could deal with him. So as long as he leaves, we will be safe. If we remain with him, we might end up dragging him down instead!" At this point, the silent Bai Siling suddenly spoke up. Her eyes reflected composure and wisdom. Of everyone gathered here, she was the only one who was able to rationally analyze the current situation they were in.
Just as everyone was speaking, a pigeon suddenly swooped down from the sky, headed for Lieutenant Zhang Lin.
This abrupt sight had startled everyone.
Upon seeing the pigeon, Wang Chong's face froze for a moment, and his eyebrows rose inconspicuously.
"Lord, the Bureau of Military Personnel has sent a message requesting everyone to report back to the capital after the third mission is completed!" Zhang Lin rushed over to report to Wang Chong after swiftly reading through the letter.
"Wang Chong, let's go together then! There's no point remaining here anyway!" Huang Yongtu replied immediately after hearing Zhang Lin's words.
With this letter, there wouldn't be any issues if they were to leave now.
"Un, it'd be good if we can leave as a group. This way, we can cover for one another if anything were to happen," Xu Gan agreed.
Just like what Huang Yongtu said, since the mission had already concluded and they had received orders to return, there was no meaning in remaining here.
Besides, if they were to return as a group, Geshu Han shouldn't be so brazen as to ambush them on the way back.
With this, the only one who had yet to make a stand was Bai Siling.
"Sigh, forget it. Count me in, then! Since we came together, it's only right that we leave together!" Seeing everyone's eyes on her, Bai Siling sighed and went along with them.
After a moment of contemplation, Wang Chong nodded in agreement as well, "Alright then."
"Make some preparations, we'll set off as soon as everyone is ready.
"Ma Song!" Wang Chong called out as he turned to the Ten-Man Squad Leader who had accompanied him for this entire journey.
He had a very good impression of the latter, and he intended to rally him to his side. After all, talents were often the greatest asset of all.
"If you meet with any difficulties or retire, feel free to find me in the capital."
"Yes, gongzi!" Ma Song nodded. Looking at the dignified young man before him, he suddenly couldn't help but feel a little nostalgic. After all that had happened, they were going to part very soon.
"Lieutenant Zhang, farewell!"
"Lord, I'll look forward to seeing you again. It's our honor to have fought alongside you!" Placing his right fist on his chest, Zhang Lin did a deep military bow.
At the same time, the Great Tang military veterans, including Ma Song, also placed their right fists on their chests and bowed deeply as well, expressing their deepest respect for Wang Chong.
Had it not for Wang Chong, everyone here might have been cold corpses at this instant. For this, they were extremely grateful.
At the same time, the other party had also displayed incredible capabilities as a commander, so this bow also represented the admiration they harbored toward his abilities.
In an instant, the surroundings fell silent.
Zhao Yatong, Fang Xuanying, and the other recruits and soldiers couldn't help but feel moved upon seeing this sight.
This gesture had touched Wang Chong as well. To a true soldier, there is nothing more moving and prideful than to be acknowledged by the comrades you have fought alongside.
"Comrades, it's my honor to have fought alongside you too!" Saying so, Wang Chong stepped back, placed his right fist on his chest, and did a solemn military bow as well.
Their time of parting had finally come!
Wang Chong knew that this was likely to be his last time working together with these respectable soldiers, and the thought of it had left him complex emotions inside. Nevertheless, such was the part and parcel of life. More of such similar partings would only await him in the future ahead.
Leaping onto his steed, Wang Chong galloped onto the eastern path along with Bai Siling, Xu Gan, and Huang Yongtu, leaving a cloud of dust in their wake.
With this mission coming to an end, they could finally return to the training camp!
After leaving the third gathering point, Wang Chong and his group spent most of their time traveling, be it day or night, taking only minimal breaks in between. Around three days later, they finally reached Longxi's boundary.
Upon stepping out of Longxi, Wang Chong heaved a long sigh of relief.
Longxi was under the Big Dipper Army's control, and as the Big Dipper Army's highest commander, Geshu Han possessed nigh-absolute authority there. But beyond Longxi, he wouldn't dare to act recklessly no matter how brazen he might be.
After all, if he were to be caught by the Bureau of Military Personnel or Bureau of Punishments privately deploying his troops beyond Longxi's borders, he would be in a lot of trouble.
"We're finally safe now!" Looking at the towering trees around him, Wang Chong gazed into the sky and released a long breath of relief.
But just as the tension had barely left Wang Chong's body, he abruptly felt an acute sensation that something was headed for his temple.
It was a very vague sensation, and only one with instincts as sharp as Wang Chong would have felt it.
"Shit!" With the intense feeling of danger clutching at his heart, Wang Chong immediately lowered his posture, leaning nearly parallel to the back of the White-hoofed Shadow.
A deafening explosion reverberated resoundingly in the area. As swift as lightning, a massive black steel arrow carrying unimaginable destructive might suddenly appear from the woods.
It brushed past Wang Chong's body just a few millimeters off, and the overwhelming shockwave and destructive Stellar Energy harnessed behind it seared Wang Chong's skin.
Hong long long!
The arrow whizzed past to the other end of the forest, making in continuous explosions, felling dozens of trees in its trajectory.
A huge gale blew forth from the incredible impact, raking up a huge cloud of dust in the air.
Alarmed, the steeds immediately neighed fearfully. The riders on their back swiftly straightened their backs in shock as well.
"Be careful!" Wang Chong's voice echoed in the air.
It was an ambush!
Even at this point, Wang Chong's heart was still beating frenziedly. Had he reacted even an instant slower just now, he would have been crushed to smithereens!
Judging from the means, the assailant was unlikely to be a soldier. In fact, the entire matter didn't seem like something Geshu Han would do.
When the arrow had brushed across Wang Chong earlier, he had sensed a dark and destructive power imbued in the arrow. That was a trait of an assassin!
Countless thoughts flashed across Wang Chong's mind, and it suddenly dawned on him what he was facing. In that instant, his goosebumps suddenly stood on ends, and he could suddenly smell the strong scent of death lingering in the air.
Without a doubt, his identity and trail had been exposed.
These assassins were here for him.
"Siling and Xu Gan... run!" Wang Chong shouted as he pulled on his reins and dashed forward. His direction wasn't down the main road, in the direction of the capital, but to the dense forest to the right of the road.
Master archers possessed superior vision that allowed them to even see a fly from afar, let alone a man. If Wang Chong were to remain in full sight on the main road, it would just be a matter of time before he was shot.
The only way he would have a chance at a survival was to use the dense forest to conceal himself.
But at this moment, the ones who Wang Chong was worried about weren't himself.
He didn't think that the assassins would be so strong, and he felt guilty for involving Bai Siling and Xu Gan in this matter.
At this point, he could only hope that he would be able to lure all of the assassins away with him as he fled into the forest. This way, Bai Siling and Xu Gan would be able to get away safely.
"Wang Chong!" A horrified shout sounded from behind, but Wang Chong didn't have the spare time to turn around anymore. He mustn't, or else all of them might just end up dead!
At this crucial moment, the speed of the White-hoofed Shadow played a vital role. Just as Wang Chong dashed into the forest, the second steel arrow struck the location Wang Chong was at just a moment ago.
That incredible destructive force caused a huge explosion, creating a large depression in the main road. A huge shockwave burst forth from the impact, jolting Wang Chong and the White-hoofed Shadow away several chi.
Kachacha, a large group of trees fell before the powerful shockwave.
Di da da!
At the same time, five masked mounted assassins dressed in black coverings galloped forth from the left end of the forest, charging in the direction Wang Chong had disappeared in.
Their cold eyes were filled with killing intent as they rushed after Wang Chong with sharp blades in their hands.