Chapter 491: Encounter!
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
"The item?" Wang Chong asked calmly, arching his eyebrows.
"In the forest."
"Bring it over."
Rumble! Under the flabbergasted gazes of the army, another horseman galloped out of the forest, carrying a heavy bag.
The item inside the bag had clear-cut angles. From its shape, it was clearly a square box of some sort, measuring one foot on all sides.
The horseman from the local garrison handled this box with extreme care, taking the greatest pains to not allow this box to leave his sight.
"Jingdian, I'll entrust this box to you. Remember, until you receive my order, nothing can happen to it. Don't let anyone approach it, and don't open the bag to look inside!" Wang Chong cautioned.
"Yes, Young Master!"
Zhao Jingdian nodded and replied without hesitation. As long as it was Wang Chong's order, he would immediately comply, rarely refusing or questioning.
Zhao Jingdian quickly galloped forward and took the bag from the horsemen of the local garrison, placing it securely on the back of his horse.
After handing over that bag, the horseman from the local garrison gave a long sigh, as if he had been relieved of a great burden.
A rough and vigorous came from the side as Li Siye stared curiously at the box on Zhao Jingdian's horse.
There were few of Wang Chong's affairs that he didn't know about, but this bag happened to be one of them.
It was obvious that Wang Chong had planned for this while he was in the capital.
And Wang Chong's cautious attitude was truly rather mystifying to him.
"You'll know when the time comes. Jingdian, head to the rear. Maintain a distance of at least six zhang from the rest of the army," Wang Chong ordered, waving his hand.
"Yes, Young Master!"
Zhao Jingdian quickly left.
With this order, the army set off once more.
Time flew by, and five days later, Wang Chong's nonstop advance had finally brought him to the empire's southwest. The air here was filled with nervous tension and danger.
"Hurry! Run! Run!"
"Ü-Tsang and Mengshe Zhao are about to attack!"
"The Imperial Court has already lost. No one is left to protect us."
"Children, husband, hurry!"
Panicked civilians packed the road, fleeing with their families to the north.
It was no longer a secret that the 180,000 Annan Protectorate elites had lost. Some merchants had learned of the news early on and fled the southwest.
And once people began to flee, nothing could be kept secret.
Although the situation on the southern end of the southwest territory had still not been made clear, the people bordering the north were clearly already beginning to flee.
"This situation… isn't good!"
Upon seeing these fleeing civilians, Wang Chong raised his head and gave a long sigh.
"Wei Anfang, stay here. I'll give you a hundred people. Have people stand guard on the main roads to the south. Your first priority should be guiding these people to safety and your second should be getting rid of any bandits or troublemakers," Wang Chong said.
In every generation, the hearts of the people were of paramount importance. While the defeat in the southwest played a large part, this panicked tide of refugees would have a massive impact on the people of the Great Tang, who had lived in peace for centuries.
In all its history, the Great Tang had never experienced this sort of mood of unease and anxiety, where a crisis seemed ready to break out at any moment. All Wang Chong could do was attempt to shrink the impact of this as much as he could.
Wei Anfang bowed and said, "Yes, Young Master. Leave this task to me."
His assignment had never been to fight on the battlefield. The mission Wang Chong had given him was to work with Xu Qiqin in the back lines and manage the supply line.
By leaving him here, Wang Chong would also reduce the effect the war had on the morale of the people.
One hundred hired experts were quickly dispatched. Although they weren't regular soldiers, the standardized armor they wore was enough to keep order.
Leaving behind Wei Anfang and one hundred hired experts, the army set off for the southern border.
Dark clouds thickly carpeted the skies of the southwest, and the further south they went, the thicker the smell of war in the air became. There were no more traveling merchants, no more endless trains of carts and carriages. Even plumes of smoke from houses were few and far between. A bleak and somber air had blanketed the world.
A sharp cry resounded through the sky, grabbing the attention of the army.
Wang Chong raised his head and saw a massive eagle in the sky. It was weaving through the air, drawing all sorts of shapes. It alternated between fast and slow and would occasionally cry out as if following some sort of pattern.
"Old Eagle?" Wang Chong asked without turning his head.
These eagles and birds were all trained by Old Eagle, and only he knew the meaning of these signs.
"There is a large number of enemies in front of us…"
Old Eagle's expression was even graver than Wang Chong's. The speed at which his birds flew represented the gravity of the situation while the number of circles they flew represented the distance.
The eagle he had trained had already made seven or eight circles, and it still hadn't finished.
Old Eagle looked up at that gigantic eagle in the sky and translated the 'eagle language'. "The enemies closest to us are about one hundred li from us. As for their numbers, three hundred… but there's also a significant number of enemies nearby.
"In addition, there are also people from our side!"
These final words caused Wang Chong's heart to tighten and the surrounding atmosphere to tense up.
In all their days of rapid advance, this was the first time these soldiers were going to confront the enemy. Many of these people had fought alone before, but as for battles… this would be a first-time experience.
A battle between soldiers and a fight between warriors were two completely different things!
Even the most formidable expert would be crushed to paste under the charge of cavalry, dead to the trampling of hooves or at the sharp end of a spear.
On the battlefield, one person's valor was extremely insignificant!
Like a lightning bolt through his mind, Wang Chong immediately realized something. It's Li Zhengyi's reinforcement army!
There was still a long distance between his current location and Erhai on the borders of the Great Tang and Mengshe Zhao. It was impossible for any of Xianyu Zhongtong's 180,000 elites to appear here.
The only possibility was the army led by Li Zhengyi that had been ambushed midway.
"All troops, heed my orders. Prepare for combat!"
Wang Chong unsheathed his Wootz Steel sword. The sword pointed toward the sky, exuding its cold light, and the army immediately sobered up.
Warhorses neighed and dust stirred. The entire army began to swiftly proceed toward those enemies one hundred li away…