Chapter 962: Giants! Meteors Plunge From the Heavens!
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
"Lord Marquis, in truth… in our current situation, we might be able to build another one."
An elderly voice came from behind Wang Chong.
The four Tang commanders turned to look at Zhang Shouzhi.
"The greatest difficulty posed by the giant ballistae was that we had no experience building them. It was also partially that the materials were special and we didn't quite understand how to properly use them. But now that we've made two, we have experience that we can rely on. Although building a third will still be extremely difficult, we can do it as long as we have enough time. Moreover, the ballistae that were destroyed can be used as materials. For the rest of the parts, we can forge them on the spot. There's also an easy solution for the ballista bolts…"
With these last words, Zhang Shouzhi turned to the fallen Arabian Behemoths at the first defense line.
The ballista bolts used by the giant ballistae were different from normal bolts. Zhang Shouzhi and his craftsmen had forged them in the capital, gathering together the best artisans and craftsmen from the smithing clans. Moreover, they had been made with the best techniques and materials available, and after they were finished, they had even been bolstered by many formations and inscriptions.
It was precisely all these measures that allowed the giant ballista bolts to pierce through the tough and pliable hides of the Behemoths and then be hammered into their steely skulls. Such ballista bolts could not be casually forged on the battlefield. But these giant ballista bolts were also the thing they needed to worry about the least.
"I understand!" the Vice Protector-General of the Anxi Protectorate army, Cheng Qianli, declared with a sharp light in his eyes. He immediately galloped toward the corpse of the hippo-shaped Behemoth. Jumping onto the head, he reached into a bloody hole and pulled hard. Plush! In a spray of blood, a heavy giant ballista bolt emerged from the slain Behemoth's skull.
Cheng Qianli's actions were clean and straightforward, these enormous ballista bolts seeming to be as light as a feather in his hands. One after another, he pulled them out and threw them to a place near one of the giant ballistae. Large clouds of dust churned in the air as he threw them down.
These giant ballista bolts were each extremely heavy. Only elite generals like Cheng Qianli had the strength to pull them out.
In a few moments, thirty to forty giant ballista bolts had been gathered and piled up beside the two giant ballistae.
Bong! Bong! Bong!
War drums began to bang from the Arab camp. Not long after the four Behemoths began to move, the two hundred thousand Arab cavalry that had stood on the sidelines this entire time began to move as well, black waves surging up behind the Behemoths toward the Tang defense line.
"Destroy them! Kill these heathens!"
The thundering of the war drums was joined by the Arab calls to battle, and a somber and savage wind began to sweep across the battlefield.
The battle was finally beginning!
A resounding voice carried across the overcast sky, and with this order, the clanging of weapons being unsheathed and readied echoed over the defense line, their edges brightly gleaming.
"Shield men, get ready!"
"Ballista soldiers, get to your positions!"
"Cavalry, assume formation!"
One crisp order after another was sent through the ranks. In a flash, the reinforcements from Qixi and the Anxi Protectorate army, more than one hundred thousand soldiers in all, began to move. The sounds of marching, the clattering of army and weapons, the vibrating of shields, and the hammering of the forges fused into a single din.
The Tang army became an enormous machine, shrouded in an intimidating aura.
The battlefield was so somber that even the distant Tibetans and Turks were affected, all of them so overcome by nerves that they almost forgot to breathe.
Abu Muslim gazed at the Tang defense line and suddenly ordered, "Masil! Get ready! You should join the assault as well!"
Masil had apparently expected this. He looked at the defense line and gave a sinister chuckle, then began walking to the rear. Boom! A crack opened up in the ground, and Masil vanished through it.
The Behemoths roared, their heavy footsteps causing the earth to quiver. As they got closer and closer to the steel walls, their weighty bodies stirred clouds of dust ten-some meters high. Behind the Behemoths, the Arab cavalry waved their scimitars as they charged up in a flood.
Three thousand zhang!
Twenty-five hundred zhang!
The four Behemoths and the sea of Arab cavalry behind them charged at full speed toward the Tang defense line.
"All soldiers, stand ready!"
Li Siye led the five thousand Wushang Cavalry in standing at the very front, his thunderous voice ringing in everyone's ears.
The air of confrontation between the two armies rapidly thickened. The Arabs, Tang, and the mercenaries all had their eyes locked forward, their hands clenched tightly on their weapons, the veins bulging out from their skin.
At this moment, even Wang Chong and Gao Xianzhi looked a little nervous. This could be the decisive battle between the Arabs and the Tang.
When the Arabs and the Behemoths were still two thousand zhang away, Wang Chong pulled out his sword and issued an order. "Ballista soldiers!"
The three thousand ballistae began to creak as the bolts were loaded and aimed.
The ballistae were the only things capable of posing a threat to both the Arab cavalry and the Behemoths at the same time. Although they were not as damaging as the giant ballistae, they made up for it in their numbers.
But just when the three thousand ballistae had been loaded and aimed, a shrill whistle suddenly exploded in everyone's ears. On the distant horizon, behind the Arab army, the ground suddenly shook as if something had exploded out of it.
The shaking and the shifting lights and shadows that accompanied it immediately caught everyone's attention.
"What's that?" Cheng Qianli asked, squinting.
Wang Chong, Gao Xianzhi, and Cheng Qianli stood side by side on the front line, observing that distant sight. Wang Chong and Gao Xianzhi said nothing, but they both felt an ill foreboding at the same time. Whatever that sound was, for it to appear at a time like this was definitely not a good thing.
The soldiers suddenly broke into an uproar. The army had not needed to wait long for the answer to the riddle to be revealed.
"Look over there!"
"A meteor! It's a meteor!"
As the soldiers looked on in astonishment, an enormous 'meteor' appeared over the defense line, its surface burning with dark green flames as it spun through the air. It was moving with incredible speed. By the time the soldiers had noticed, it was only several hundred zhang from their heads.
Wang Chong's pupils constricted, immediately reacting to the intense danger he felt. This sight was far too strange, far beyond what he had predicted. But even with Wang Chong's warning, it was still too late…
In a flash, that enormous, blazing 'meteor' had covered those several hundred zhang and smashed into the ground.
The meteor made its explosive impact, the air suddenly filling with screams as Tang soldiers and Western Regions mercenaries were sent flying by the shockwaves. Tiny rocks and stones sprayed outward, transformed by the force of the impact into sharp arrows that peppered the surrounding soldiers.
Neeeigh! The warhorses cried out, their eyes wide as they galloped in fear to the rear. The army around the site of the meteor's impact was in chaos.
And in the center of this chaos was an enormous pit, ten-some meters in diameter and seven meters at its deepest. At the very bottom was what could only be called a 'giant egg'. The egg was a mottled dark green, as tall as five or six adult men. It appeared to be made of some sort of sturdy metal and was still burning with green flames.
Kacrack! The giant egg began to crinkle, and a thin black crack appeared on the giant egg that everyone had mistaken for a meteor. Boom! Before anyone could react, an enormous palm like pitch-black steel burst out of the egg, grabbing onto the edge of a crack.
"Hahaha, all of you die for me!"
A sinister and cruel voice, suffused with an intense killing intent, suddenly rang out in everyone's ears. In that moment, everyone realized that the palm that had emerged out of the giant egg was even larger than a horse! And in that egg, they could clearly make out a dreadful pair of red eyes.
Cries of alarm rang out in the air as countless warhorses took off in fright. As the soldiers looked on in horror, the egg fully split open, and with a clattering of metal, a pitch-black giant rose from inside.
Ten meters, fifteen meters, seventeen meters… in the end, the giant man's height finally stopped rising at eighteen meters.
Black steely skin, a large and fierce body, cruel and evil eyes that lusted for destruction—this was clearly a primordial giant spoken of in myths! And that mottled green egg shell was clearly that giant's armor.
An enormous gray boulder flew through the air. The moment the giant had 'risen from the earth' and revealed its true form, it had taken up a giant rock half a man tall and thrown it. Bang! An unlucky mercenary was struck, both he and his horse smashed into paste before even having a chance to scream. And the rock continued on its remaining momentum to carve a bloody path through the dense ranks of the army. It left behind a trail of corpses and severed limbs in its wake, belonging to both man and horse.