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Book 20 Chapter 3 - War Games
Leading two hundred light cavalry, Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling left the city from the eastern gate, went around a big circle, and galloped into a forest east of an enemy's outpost camp, when suddenly Xu Ziling called a halt.
Stunned, Kou Zhong reined his horse, and waved their men to stop. "What is it?" he asked.
With grave expression Xu Ziling replied, "I feel something is very wrong. When we rounded the plain northeast of the city, I developed a sense that someone was watching us; I am afraid we have fallen into the enemy's evil schemes, that they are transporting provisions this time is actually a trap."
The two boys urged their horses to advance about ten paces toward the edge of the jungle, and peered outside.
Under the bright sun in the sky, outside of the forest was a long strip of grassland; on the left there was a hill with a graveyard on it, on the right the sloping hill extended forever into the distance, about half a li ahead was another sparse forest. Beyond that forest ought to be the route where the enemy was transporting their grains.
They have already planted spies at the enemy's rear army's camp. As soon as the enemy's provision wagons left the camp, they would intercept it midway, and rob the army provisions.
"Your senses have always been right," Kou Zhong said, "Shall we withdraw the troops immediately?"
Xu Ziling calmly laughed and said, "Imagine that you are Yuwen Wudi; how would you lay out this trap?"
Kou Zhong pointed his horsewhip to the sparse forest ahead and said, "Naturally by setting up a trap like horse-tripping ropes or something like that in the forest. But unless his Lao Ge [ol' elder brother] was a born immortal, how would he know from which direction would we come from to intercept their grains?"
"Well said," Xu Ziling said, "Yuwen Wudi may be a valiant military leader, but he is definitely not an expert in playing with schemes and conspiracy. This transporting-grain trap must be coming from the strategic adviser under his command. My guess is that he would prepare archers on the higher elevation like a hill slope to ambush us, while his cavalry is hiding in the forest. We might as well lure the tiger out of the jungle; the target is to take Yuwen Wudi's dog head. What do you think?"
Kou Zhong was excited, "Cut down his dog head, and hung it high outside the city," he said, "That way we won't have to worry that Yuwen Huagu would not immediately attack the city that very night."
Xu Ziling was surprised, "It seems like you are very eager to have Yuwen Huagu immediately besiege the city tonight; I wonder what plan do you have."
Kou Zhong laughed aloud and said, "Mountain man has an excellent plan. Tonight you will find out. Ha! This game is getting more and more interesting!"
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Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling led their men galloping into the prairie, spurring their horse to full speed, toward the sparsely wooded area between two sloping hills.
At first glance nobody would notice that they left twenty men in the forest to set up a trap.
Reaching the middle section of the prairie, Kou Zhong signaled his men to halt; everybody reined in their horses at once.
Putting on an act, Kou Zhong shouted, "I'll go first to scout our path; watch for my signal to proceed."
"I am coming with you!" Xu Ziling responded.
The two boys urged their horses to continue, and in the blink of an eye they reached the edge of the sparsely wooded area. Suddenly Kou Zhong roared, "There's an ambush!"
Before he finished speaking, someone was shouting ahead, "Release the arrows!"
From the top of the hill on both sides arrows poured down on them like rain, while like a storm they already turned around and galloped away like mad.
Because the two were prepared, while the enemies were caught off guard and shot the arrows in haste, one after another the arrows fell on empty air.
Just as the two boys rushed back to where they were coming from, several hundred enemy riders swarmed out of the sparse forest, led by their old friend Yuwen Wudi.
Kou Zhong's men pretended to be like a mob who did not know what to do; they acted chaotic, without distinguishing east from west they charged to the left and dashed to the right, until finally they had nowhere else to go but to return to the jungle.
Upon seeing this, Yuwen Wudi advanced courageously and pursued closely behind them. More than five hundred riders charging along, the sound, like rolling thunder, shook the prairie sky.
One after another Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling rushed into the forest, leaped up, and hid among the dense shade of the trees.
In just a little over ten breaths later, like a tornado Yuwen Wudi's cavalry stormed into the forest, and galloped underneath the two boys.
And then there was a series of sound of the warhorses stumbling and neighing miserably; the enemies were either falling into the trap, or were tripped by the ropes that they flipped over and threw their riders off, or were hit by the arrows. This time it was the enemy's turn to be in chaos; they scattered in all directions.
Like the celestial soldiers or heavenly generals Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling dropped from the sky, and wherever they went, they carried out killer move, without showing any mercy at all.
The two boys' men also appeared from everywhere and all directions and attacked. The enemies, whose imposing manner was originally like a rainbow, were immediately thrown into utter defeat. Although their number was a lot higher, but they had lost their fighting spirit, and only wanted to flee for their lives.
Realizing their situation was far from good, Yuwen Wudi shouted his order to retreat. While leading a dozen or so his personal guards forcing their way out of the forest, suddenly ahead of him his men were thrown away, their horses flipped over. His response could be considered quick as well; immediately he abandoned his horse and soared onto the top of a tree nearby. But when he was about to leap to another tree, Kou Zhong suddenly appeared on a horizontal branch of a tree ahead of him.
Holding the saber across his chest, Kou Zhong smiled and said, "Outside the Wagang City, Yuwen Xiong killed our beloved horses, Hui'er and Bai'er [see Book 4 Chapter 5]; it was such a tragic scene that broke our hearts, a deeply unforgettable event that seemed to happen only yesterday. And now we finally have the opportunity to face one another to settle this account."
A sinister expression appeared on Yuwen Wudi's copper-like face; the wart on his forehead trembled slightly, he laughed coldly and said, "I was just killing two livestock! Not raping and murdering your Niang. If you can't forget it, blame it on your stupidity, don't blame anybody else."
A deep, cold murderous aura flashed through Kou Zhong's eyes; thinking about he and Xu Ziling owned real gold and white silver for the first time, and used the money to buy two nice horses, and also thinking about Fu Junchuo, he nodded firmly and said, "All right! I was actually thinking of capturing you alive and exchange you for something else. But now I decided not to show you any mercy; I want to chop your stinking head off."
Yuwen Wudi roared wildly, the lance in his hand fantastically turned into countless spear shadows, as he leaped horizontally across the empty air between the two trees to attack Kou Zhong.
If Kou Zhong evaded even for a little, he would have a chance to escape out of the forest, and joined his infantry, who were rushing over to provide help.
Kou Zhong calmly, like a stone statue, watched Yuwen Body's huge body as it rushed over straight toward him, while quietly focusing his power.
The whole world seemed to suddenly changed; his senses seemed to be many times more sensitive. Not only he was able to accurately calculate and grasp every single detail of Yuwen Wudi's movements, he was also very clear about Xu Ziling unleashing his divine prowess under the tree, cutting down every enemy who wanted to escape out of the forest, while snatching their valuable warhorses.
Two men's eyes met.
In that instant, he saw the fear deep in Yuwen Wudi's heart.
The opponent has been intimidated by his cold composure.
The Moon in the Well swept an amazing, almost magical as if it was made by heaven, curve in the air, penetrating Yuwen Wudi's millions of spear shadows.
No word could describe the shock in Yuwen Wudi's heart.