Book 18 Chapter 9 - Defeat Like Collapsing Mountain
With morale like a rainbow, plus considering the troop disposition on the enemy's side has not had stable footing, like three long snakes, the main force, consisting of three groups of two thousand men each, shot like swift arrows, fast like lightning, violent like the storm, charged up the mountain slope, breaking into the enemy ranks.
Li Mi and his group of generals went up to the top of the hill; before the commander's banner was even erected, he directed his subordinates to dash down the hill to intercept the enemy, hoping to break the first round of the enemy's assault, trying to give his troops the chance to regroup, and then with his superior military strength, he would meet the enemy head on.
The arrows were raining down from the sky. The cavalry from both sides met in the middle of the slope, which covered several li of grassy hillside, engaging each other in a close hand-to-hand combat. Momentarily the sky turned hazy the earth darkened, the sun and the moon lost their light.
The four thousand elite cavalry under Yang Gongqing's leadership were slowly, but steadily pressing forward.
For Xu Ziling, riding on Yang Gongqing's left, this was the first time that he officially participated in a bloody battle between two armies; not only that, it was a pure cavalry battle, where victory or defeat was decided very fast. He could not help being terrified by bitter atmosphere. Deep down in his heart he realized that under this kind of magnificent army with thousands of men and horses, it did not matter how brilliant his skill was, the only thing he could depend on was really the power of cooperation with his teammates.
Yang Gongqing's eyes were gleaming brightly as he looked at Li Mi, sitting on horseback on top of the hill under his commander's banner; turning to Xu Ziling, he said, "Cavalry is also known as engaged-disengaged troops, because it can disengage but can engage as well. Quick to disperse and quick to gather, whether it's a hundred or a thousand li, going out and coming in with no gap between them, rapid, swift, nimble, and rushing; therefore, this is the troop to determine victory. This time, if our side did not rely entirely on the intercepting, rushing, hastening cavalry, Li Mi's children would not have been in such a difficult situation."
Xu Ziling noticed that although Li Mi's cavalry engaging the enemy continuously falling down, but because of their superior number, there were others continuously taking their place, they were able to hold down his side's cavalry that it was difficult to gain a cun advantage, and was forced to engage in a chaotic warfare.
While he was worrying about it, his side's two wing-cavalries were already charging at the enemy from both sides, immediately the Wagang Army found that it was more than they could attend to, and the entire array was thrown into a chaos.
At this point, his mind already went back to its original calm, quiet-like-still-water state.
He saw the beautiful, flower-like Shen Luoyan by Li Mi's side was ferociously staring at him.
Right this moment, thick smoke rose to the sky behind Li Mi, followed by the battle cry shaking the heavens.
Yang Gongqing laughed aloud and said, "Little boy Li Mi has fallen into the trap! Whoever can chop the head from his neck will be rewarded with a hundred tael of gold."
These words were spoken with his qi, so that his voice shook the battlefield.
Battle drums echoed wildly, Yang Gongqing's most elite cavalry finally entered the battle, pulling apart the overall battle situation.
Recalling the blood debt of the people of Zhai Rang Mansion, from top to bottom, and of Ren En and his men, Xu Ziling urged his horse to charge forward, to rush up the hill slope.
Wagang troops, which were weary from rushing all night, seeing the blaze soaring to the sky from the rear of their camp, lost their zeal to continue fighting; they scattered in all directions, and were no longer able to stop the-longer-the-battle-the-braver-they-were, their-momentum-like-a-rainbow Yanshi's elite cavalry.
Li Mi and his nearly ten-thousand-strong personal guards finally started to move, charging down toward Yang Gongqing's main force, hoping they could draw the violently swelling water from collapsing the dam. Unfortunately, since ancient times, there was no place on earth more realistic and more callous than the battlefield. With the defeat imminent, even if Sun Wu [Sun Tzu] reborn, Kong Ming [Zhuge Liang] reincarnated, they lacked the strength to reverse the rotation of the sky.
Leading a group of more than five hundred warriors, Xu Ziling went straight up the hill toward Li Mi like a hot knife through butter. Each strike of his spear, either poking or stabbing, sweeping or blocking, his spiraling energy like mountain flash flood crashing against the enemy trying to resist him, killing and throwing them off their horses, not a single one lucky enough to escape albeit narrowly; especially the enemy charging down from up the hill, who happened to be in his way, could ever block this lance, a long-reaching weapon that could attack solidly from a distance, which Xu Ziling was able to move with extreme dexterity.
In this kind of moment, where the point of the spear clashed against the saber blade, if you did not die, then I perish. There was practically no place for benevolence.
A long sword, which appeared like a divine sword dropping from the sky, parried his spear, which he thought was going to make a kill.
Focusing his attention, Xu Ziling realized that the sword wielder was unexpectedly one of the Wagang Twin Tiger Generals [or valiant generals], whose fame was on par with Wang Bodang, Pei Renji.
Ahead, densely crowded together, were Wagang troops. The pressure on him was immediately multiplied many times over; to his left and right, the fighters from both sides were falling down one after another, yet in the blink of an eye, the places they vacated were taken by their comrades from behind.
Xu Ziling let out a long whistle, the blood debt of his allies, who had fought side by side with him, but have met a violent death, welled up in his breast. The lance in his hand turned into a phantom shadow of thousands of spears; his qi whistling sharply, like a gale blowing huge waves he stormed toward Pei Renji.
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Kou Zhong and the others, with the courage of male lion, under Zhai Jiao's leadership, more than two hundred men, scattered and gathered together again, like a razor sweeping through the enemy's rear.
This moment the rear of the enemy's camp has been engulfed in raging flames and thick smoke, there was no way to retreat anymore, plus from time to time the morning breeze rolled the smoke up, making people wanted to keep away from it as quickly as possible. As they fought desperately over the endless hill slope, the enemy could not figure out what was true and what was false, they merely fought desperately trying to escape from either side of the hill, which greatly increased the attackers' power and influence.
The two people were of the same heart, their sharpness could cut through gold.
These more than two hundred men were all the younger generation of Zhai Rang's personal guards, throughout Wagang Army's uprising, they had always followed Zhai Rang. They had been waiting for this opportunity for revenge with craned neck; and were very well aware that if they could not join the army ahead, death would be their only way out, hence they fought even more desperately.
One side was a flustered, weary army; the other side was an armed force driven by vengeance and had made up their mind to die. The difference in their mindset indeed could not be measured with reasons.
Wagang Army has entered the panic-stricken state as if they were trying to evade a spreading plague, naturally it was difficult to organize an effective resistance.
After Kou Zhong and the others successfully charged through and broke up a cavalry regiment Li Mi sent to intercept them, they finally reached the hilltop.
As far as their eyes could see, there were enemy troops scattering in all directions trying to escape with their lives, while intense battle was still raging on in the middle of the hill slope and on either side of the hill. They also saw Yanshi troops who had been able to break through the enemy's line of defense, charging to the left and dashing to the right among the utterly-defeated enemy ranks, crisscrossing the hill to attack the enemy.
The hill slope was densely covered with the dead and the injured, fully displaying the ruthlessness of war. The blood dyed the underbrush that the slope became a vast red blood area, shocking the eye, astonishing the heart.
With a quick glance Zhai Jiao already saw Li Mi's commander banner; she shouted, "Today Zhai Rang's daughter has come to demand your life!"
Slapping the horse's butt, she galloped down the hill toward the crowd of Li Mi's personal guards.
Zhai Jiao's group had red cloth tied to their heads for identification. As Yanshi troops saw them, they immediately made way for them. Moreover, from among Li Mi's choicest elite troops, more than half actually Zhai Rang's former subordinates. Recognizing the newcomer as their Big Miss Zhai Jiao, psychologically, they did not dare to block, plus they realized that they had been defeated, hence seeing the group of ready-to-die warriors under her leadership, their courage was shaken immediately, and all they wanted to do was to hastily flee for their lives.
Wagang troops' last shred of what little will to fight remaining in their heart finally fell apart.
When everyone was unsure, feeling as if they had entered a no-man realm, as they charged toward the rear of Li Mi's personal guards, about a hundred men charged up the hill to meet them. They recognized the leaders as Xu Shiji and the 'Two-Malevolent of Changbai', Fu Zhen and Fu Yan, two brothers. The former had a long halberd in his hands, while the latter two were still using their usual weapons, long-handled ax and hook-sword. All three's battle attire was dyed red with blood; their expression sinister, but they looked tired.
Kou Zhong let out a shaking-the-heaven long laughter, leaped up from his saddle, and pounced down on the three men, while calling out loudly, "Kou Zhong's coming!"
By this time Kou Zhong's name was quite well known throughout the world. When they heard it, immediately there were a number of men among Li Mi's personal guards who lost their courage; leaving their post, they fled for their lives.
'Dang! Dang! Dang!'
Kou Zhong repeatedly shot up and pounced down again, while the Moon in the Well in his hand hacked down as fast as lightning, to block the three men's attack.
Zhai Jiao and her men also arrived and attacked, immediately this squad of counterattacking troops was shattered in all directions.
Fu Zhen, Fu Yan's courage was gone, they couldn't even release half of their usual power; as soon as they saw this, they were the first to run to the side and disappeared.
Being left alone, Xu Shiji could not cope; he somersaulted backward from his mount, and was barely able to evade Kou Zhong's dangerous move.
Zhai Jiao bent down from her horse and brandished her Guan saber, sweeping it across Xu Shiji's chest.
Xu Shiji was also exceptional; in this kind of situation, he was still able to drop his long halberd, pulled the sword hanging on his waist, and met her Guan saber head-on.
Xu Shiji, his body and his sword, was thrown down the hill, but it has also saved his life.
These past several years, Zhai Jiao trained painstakingly day and night, just for this moment; naturally she did not have time to care about other people, with violent roar she pounced directly at Li Mi.
Xuan Yong, Tu Shufang, and a group of her man ran after her in great flurry, while the brave and unstoppable Kou Zhong landed on the empty saddle of Xu Shiji's horse; tapped his toes on the saddle, and soared toward Xu Ziling, who was in melee against Li Mi, Pei Renji, Shen Luoyan, Zu Junyan, and the others, like celestial soldier descending to the world.
In similar cases, by soaring in the sky like this, his body was completely exposed against the enemy's arrows, darts, swords and spears; it was really no different from committing suicide. However, this moment every one of the enemies really had no time to take care of himself, for fear that it was too late for them to escape, hence nobody had any time to attack him.
After injuring Pei Renji, Xu Ziling finally had a face-off against Li Mi.