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Ysabel, Anh, HPC, Jaya, you are welcome. Xu Xiong, definitely, it was an extreme, matchless, and unprecedented fear. Hungry, I believe his last word was 'Mommy!' Xiaohu, I am no IT expert, but I believe there is a setting for automatic update. Pendekar, welcome to the forum, glad you like it. Kowloon, agree for the most part, but I don't understand why you said Xu's intuition was a cheat.

He has had confrontation with Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling before, therefore, although he has heard that their martial art skill was constantly advancing at a terrifying rate, inwardly he was not too convinced, and thought that the rumors were greatly exaggerated.

But after exhausting his skill by unleashing countless changes yet Kou Zhong, using saber moves that appeared to be clumsy and rudimentary, was still able to neutralize all his feigned moves, he now knew Kou Zhong's real power.

He was a veteran of a hundred battles, and had wanted to take advantage while Kou Zhong's mastery has not reached the same maturity as his own, to send the 'Black [or Mysterious] Ice Energy', a unique skill handed down in his family, toward the tip of his spear, hoping that he could borrow the reaction force to fly away to escape; a move that was not aimed to achieve the best possible result, but rather trying to avoid making mistakes.

Who would have thought that although the tip of his spear was able to block the chopping saber, but the pit of his stomach felt like it was crushed by ten-thousand-catty sledge hammer, his 'Black Ice Energy' dispersed into the wind like a thin smoke, while the enemy's violent, incomparably powerful spiraling strange energy, swift like an arrow, penetrating his heart and meridians.


Yuwen Wudi's lance fell off his hand and dropped down the tree.

Shaken by the impact, Kou Zhong also staggered back a little, and had to vomit half a mouthful of blood.

Without showing any care, Kou Zhong returned his saber into its scabbard, and used his other hand to wipe the blood from the corner of his lips. "Success!" he shouted, "Let's go!"

※ ※ ※

Kou Zhong looked into the distance, at the plains outside the city wall, where millions of torches were flickering incessantly like fireflies. Sighing, he said, "It was really fun! I had never thought that a chop of my saber could be that fun, victory and defeat was decided in the blink of an eye. It was not a fluke either, all of a sudden I have avenged our Hui'er and Bai'er."

Under the star-studded night sky, Liangdu was actually in a blackout; no lantern, no fire, the soldiers and civilians on top of the city walls were waiting for the enemy's approaching in the dark.

The watchman's clapper sounded, denoting the first watch of the night [7 - 9pm].

The enemy's blocking-arrows vehicles made their advance toward the city wall, and stopped about a hundred paces outside the wall, to regroup and fix their formation.

Since dusk, the battle drums had been beaten incessantly.

"Didn't you say you wanted to hang Yuwen Wudi's head high on the city wall to publicly expose him?" Xu Ziling asked, "How come at the last moment you even abandoned his dead body and paid it no more attention?"

"I was just saying," Kou Zhong replied heavily.

This moment Chen Jiafeng came over and reported, "According to Kou Ye's instruction, dried branches and dried grass have been removed everywhere from under the city walls. Hey! Kou Ye's calculation is certainly exquisite beyond compare. The most formidable thing is that you guessed the enemy's movement like a deity; you already predicted that the enemy would attack the city this very night."

"Let's talk about it after our victory!" Kou Zhong said, "Tell you men to guard their posts tightly, wait for my further instructions."

Chen Jiafeng left cheerfully.

Kou Zhong said, "Today we managed to snatch nearly two hundred warhorses from the enemy, so the odds of our victory are great increased. Oh, Yuwen Huagu! Perhaps even in your dream you would never think that you would nurse a grievance over Liangdu!"

The drums suddenly increased in intensity.

The enemies shouted loudly, close to a hundred trebuchets rolled in, followed by blocking-arrows vehicles and crossbow vehicles.

The wheels rumbled, battle cries shook the heavens, filling the sky outside the city wall; it was an extremely alarming momentum.

Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling were totally unfazed; they continued looking coldly at the enemy's vanguard approaching the city wall.

The infantry holding shields were divided into three groups; each group, consisted of a thousand soldiers, was equipped with two cloud ladders. One after another these three groups arrived.

Yuwen Huaji's cavalry arranged themselves on a distant hill, ready for deployment, in preparation to provide support to the forces besieging the city.

Like a plague of locust boulders and fiery arrows flew toward the wall, their flames lit the night sky.

One after another the soldiers and civilians on the top of the wall hid behind the city wall or defensive wooden boards. Like a rolling thunder the boulders hit the city wall. Momentarily fragments of rocks splashed everywhere, shaking everybody to the core.

"Deal with firewood!" Kou Zhong thundered.

The entire soldiers and civilians responsible for the city defense, numbered about five thousand men, on the top of the wall shouted at the same time. About one thousand of them were archers, who immediately returned the salvo. The rest of them were in charge of throwing sticks, as well as rocks, down the city wall.

Battle cry shook the heavens.

Near the wall the wood started to pile up. In the dark night, the enemy could not see clearly what was going on; they thought that the city lacked arrows and rocks, so they threw down thick branches to make up the number.

Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling cried, 'What a close call!' inwardly. If Kou Zhong did not come up with this plan, with such power disparity between theirs and the enemy's, perhaps in just one night the enemy would be able to breach the city defense.

Finally the enemies were charging under the city wall. One by one they setup the cloud ladders to scale the wall.

Seeing the urgency of the situation, Kou Zhong roared, "Release the fire!"

Instead of throwing down sticks, each and every one of them threw fire balls at the same time.

While the intense battle on top of the city wall between the attackers and defenders started to unfold, the sticks and dry grass piling up at the foot of the city walls caught fire, which then spread rapidly.

On top of the wall, Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling leaped back and forth, saber and spear moved together, they killed the enemies climbing the wall until flesh and blood flew everywhere, and fell down the city wall.

Seeing their commanders dashing on bravely with no thought of personal safety, as well as the fire blazing under the wall, engulfing the enemy troops, as well as the trebuchets, the crossbow vehicles, and everything else in the sea of fire, the soldiers and civilians on the top of the wall knew that their chance of victory was within grasp; millions of people all of one mind, they summoned up courage and determination to repel the enemies.

Yuwen Huaji knew the situation was far from good. But by the time he ordered the bugle horn to sound the retreat call, he was already unable to reverse the rotation of the sky.

The area about seven hundred paces from the city wall has already turned into an ocean of fire, burning the enemies that their blood-curdling screech reached the sky, turning them into balls of fire rolling around and screaming in the midst of the raging inferno.

In the blink of an eye, there were no longer any enemies on the city wall. Those who were fortunate enough not to be burned by the fire retreated like a tidal wave.

Kou Zhong leaped down from the wall and said to Ren Meimei, "I leave the situation here to you!"

Ren Meimei was stunned, "Where are you going?" she asked.

Kou Zhong smiled and said, "To catch an enemy off guard with a surprise attack [an idiom from Sun Tzu's 'The Art of War']. Do you understand?"

※ ※ ※

Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling, leading four hundred cavalrymen, rendezvous with Xuan Yong's thousand plus horsemen at the appointed place, on top of a sloping hill northeast of the battlefield. Everyone was in high fighting spirit, and was full of energy.

Xuan Yong admired wholeheartedly, "Watching Kou Ye and Xu Ye using brilliant scheme burned down Yuwen Clan's besieging vanguard troops and their equipment, killing them that they ran away abandoning their spears and armors, none of all my Xiongdi here and me are not won over, and could only gasp in amazement. We were nearly unable to hold back from moving our troops to attack the enemy ranks directly."

With extraordinary modesty Kou Zhong replied, "It was just a small victory! But we did inflict enormous blow to the enemy's acute spirit. However, if the enemies return tomorrow in a swirl of dust [idiom: to regroup and come back even stronger], they will definitely be more cautious and solemn, and will not be reckless. If that happens, we will be in trouble."

Xu Ziling joined in, "Even if we could defend the city, the casualties will be inevitably disastrous. Therefore, we must seize this opportunity to strike the enemy in one go, tonight; we are going to kill Yuwen Huaji."

Although Xuan Yong was a fierce general who was both courageous and intelligent, and was known to be daring and unafraid of death, hearing that, he could not help but was stunned for half a day. Finally he said in astonishment, "I thought we were just going to attack the enemy's rear position, just to disturb the enemy's morale and to improve the outcome of the war!"

The sound of hoof beats was coming near; Luo Qifei, who was an expert in spying the enemy's situation, galloped up the hill toward the three men and reported, "Just like Kou Ye's expectation, after suffering devastating setback, the Yuwen Army lay out heavy defense outside their camps, afraid that we might follow up our victory by attacking their camps."

Kou Zhong laughed aloud and said, "I know Yuwen Huagu; he is looking down on us as tired soldiers lacking food supplies."

Frowning, Xuan Yong said, "If that's the case, how are we going to launch our surprise attack?"

With a card up his sleeve, Kou Zhong replied, "Isn't there a stratagem called 'besieging Wei and rescuing Zhao' [idiom: to relieve a besieged ally by attacking the home base of the besiegers]? Let us split our troops into two groups; you are in charge of attacking the rear of the army camp, use battering wagon to break the camp's wall, use fire arrow to burn their tents, make the chaos as big as possible. The rear camp is Yuwen Huagu's lifeline; he cannot but trying to save it. When he is leading his troops to come to help, I will ambush him along the way. I guarantee we can kill his mother until their blood flows like a river, and they will be utterly defeated."

Xuan Yong gasped in admiration, and no longer had any objection.

It should be noted that the most formidable aspect of Kou Zhong's stratagem was that while the Yuwen Army was busy in dealing with Xuan Yong's raid, they had no idea that there was another ambushing troop nearby. Therefore, if they saw that the rear camp was being attacked, they would not let Kou Zhong seize their army provision. Furthermore, after the recent defeat, they knew that Kou Zhong's strength was inadequate to instill fear on them; therefore, in order to turn defeat into victory, they would definitely muster their troops to rescue the camp, and thus they would fall into Kou Zhong's trap.

Kou Zhong said, "Success or failure, we will see it from this operation!"

Finished speaking, the two groups of army went their separate ways.

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