Book 20 Chapter 4 - Ambushing Troops to Achieve Victory
Accompanied by four hundred cavalrymen, Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling lay low in a forest located between the enemy's forward and rear camps, quietly waiting for the enemy to walk right into the trap.
In their calculation, the enemies coming to help must be the cavalry only, which strength was around one thousand riders, so it should not be difficult to deal with.
They had scouts on all mountaintops nearby, as long as Yuwen Huaji's main force, which was located three li to their left, made any move, they would know it like the back of their hand.
Suddenly on their right, about a li or so, from the enemy's rear camp the sound of battle cry shook the heavens, followed by raging fire soaring to the sky, and the sound of hoof beats continuously growing in intensity.
Kou Zhong said, "It would be best if Yuwen Huagu thought that our whole nest came out. On one hand he would send fast riders to come to help, on the other hand reissued the command for the second round of besieging the city. Nothing could be better than that."
The was a loud crashing noise from the rear camp; it looked like Xuan Yong's tactic of using the battering vehicle has shown some results.
This moment, Luo Qifei rushed over as if he was flying; greatly delighted, he reported, "This time two Daye predicted the enemy like a deity again. Yuwen Huaji already exhausted his cavalry to come here to help; they will arrive in the blink of an eye."
'Boom! Boom! Boom!'
At the same time, the enemy sounded the drums signaling the start of the attack toward the city.
Xu Ziling smiled and said, "Yuwen Huagu is also resorting to the 'besieging Wei to rescue Zhao' stratagem. If we can be a bit quicker, perhaps we can launch pincer attack from front and rear before the siege starts."
Before he even finished, there was a sudden sound of hoof beats. The enemy riders appeared on the plains outside the forest, they were galloping in single file, rushing wildly toward the rear camp.
Kou Zhong waited until the head of the procession reached the sloping hill and the entire cavalry was exposed under attack before he shouted and took the lead to charge.
Each one of them already had a bow and an arrow in hands. As soon as the horses carrying the enemy entered their shooting range, the sound of arrows split the air rang out, the enemies were hit and fell in confusion.
Immediately their formation was thrown into disarray, because their middle section was being attacked, and the head and the tail of the procession were unable to help each other.
Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling, each one leading their own team, separately attacked the front and the rear, so that the enemies were like being swept by the wind.
One side was the recently defeated troops, beaten and exhausted; the other side had enjoyed victory in succession, their morale was like a rainbow, both officers and soldiers followed their leaders willingly, indeed there was no comparison between the two sides.
Almost at the point of contact, the Yuwen Army only wanted to run away and scatter, no one dared to face and meet the attack.
After a short chase, some of the enemies turned back to Yuwen Huaji's main force position, while some others fell into Kou Zhong and Xuan Yong's two-prong heavy siege; being cornered, they struggled obstinately to resist the enemy.
The men in the surrounding area held their torches high, illuminating the entire arena. In the dark night, Kou Zhong's Moon in the Well emitted bright yellow ray. Wherever the saber went, an enemy was chopped; no one was able to block.
Suddenly the Moon in the Well was blocked.
The two combatants looked at each other's face, Kou Zhong roared in laughter, "Turns out it's Chengdu Xiong [see Book 5 Chapter 10]; what a coincidence we came across each other in here!"
While the two men were glowering at each other, Yuwen Chengdu's barely a dozen remaining men were chopped like melon or cut like vegetables and fell down their horses; he was the only one left sitting on his horse.
Being surrounded at the center of the siege, Yuwen Chengdu's countenance alternated between red and white; his eyes revealed a terrified look.
Kou Zhong's pair of tiger-eyes shone with sharp flashes; laughing coldly, he said, "That day when, using a despicable means, you plotted against Cui Dong, you ought to remember that a day like this might arrive."
Suddenly he leaped off the horseback and soared overhead Yuwen Chengdu; like a gale the Moon in the Well rained down.
In his great shock Yuwen Chengdu did everything he could to send his strength to his sword to parry, but Kou Zhong's wild and ferocious saber, which was unleashed with hatred in his heart, forced him to swing the sword to the left and block to the right in panic, while he himself was drenched in cold sweat.
The crowd all around them was growing by the minute. Watching Kou Zhong's divine valor, they all cheered at the top of their lungs to boost Kou Zhong's morale. Their voices penetrated the starry sky.
While the echo was still lingering in the air, Kou Zhong already returned the saber into its scabbard, and with a graceful flip he somersaulted back onto his horseback. All along, his feet had never touched the ground.
Yuwen Chengdu's face revealed a hard-to-believe expression. And then his sword dropped, a blood trace, about a cun long, appeared between his eyebrows. 'Bang!' he fell to the ground, raising a cloud of dust.
The crowd raised their weapons to salute, and broke into a thunderous cheer.
Kou Zhong looked at Xu Ziling, who had just rushed over; the latter's handsome face showed mixed emotion. Evidently the avenging of Cui Dong's blood debt has raised memories of the past.
When Yuwen Chengdu broke into Dong Ming Flagship to steal the Account Book in the past [see Book 4 Chapter 1], how could Xu Ziling and Kou Zhong ever think that they would be able to kill him with a chop of a saber on the battlefield?
Rushing over, Xuan Yong said, "The enemy camp has been broken, their army provisions have fallen entirely under our control; will the next step be storming the enemy's base camp directly?"
Greatly delighted, Kou Zhong shook his head and said, "The situation has changed. Now the one to worry about food is the enemy, not us at all. Let alone his cavalry has been broken by us in total disorder. We are going to exercise a bit more patience, let him taste again the bitter outcome of defeat under Li Mi's hands due to food shortage."
The crowd agreed with loud shout, and marched back to the city.
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"The enemy withdrew! The troops moved back!"
The soldiers and civilians on the top of the Liangdu city wall cheered in chorus, their voices reached the heavens.
Kou Zhong, Xu Ziling and Xuan Yong, three men, rushed to the top of the wall, and looked at the enemy ranks. They saw that although the camp remained, the enemies have moved to the bank of Tongji Canal, and using several dozen rafts tied together with thick ropes, they built crude pontoon bridges, with which they crossed to the other side as quickly as they could. More than half of their ten thousand soldiers had successfully crossed over.
Although this move was really beyond anybody's expectation, but it should not come as a surprise.
These past three days Yuwen Huaji had suffered blow after blow that their losses were disastrous. Not only he lost Yuwen Wudi and Yuwen Chengdu, two great fierce generals and brothers, nearly half of his siege equipment were burned, most of his cavalry was annihilated, injured and deceased soldiers and generals nearly seven thousand, on top of that, his army provisions were robbed; insisting on holding on would be tantamount to suicide.
Kou Zhong had guessed that Yuwen Huaji would retreat, so he already laid out a plan to pursue quickly; but he did not expect the enemy would retreat that very same night, and had grabbed the initiative of crossing to the opposite shore first, and thus had secured their safety with the river as a barrier.
While Kou Zhong's countenance was alternating between cloudy and clear, Xu Ziling's hand reached over and grabbed his shoulder tightly. Although his voice carried a little bit of despair, he spoke with determination, "We cannot, because of personal grudges, bring the whole city to take a risk. Avenging Niang cannot be fought in one day or half a day. There will come a day Yuwen Huagu will pay this blood debt with his own blood."
Like a deflated ball, Kou Zhong smiled ruefully and nodded helplessly.
The enemy retreated without chaos, plus there was Tongji Canal as the barrier, and their military strength was several times greater than their own; if they pursued hastily, even if they might achieve the final victory, they would have to pay a heavy loss.
Just consider Yuwen Huagu still had a bit of luck remaining!
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By dusk that day, a drizzle was falling from the sky. Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling hid in a wine shop, drowning their sorrows in wine. As for dealing with the aftermath of the battle, they let Xuan Yong and Ren Meimei and their people to deal with it.
Speaking about contending for hegemony over the world, Kou Zhong's great undertaking has already seen the dawn, but as for when they would be able to kill Yuwen Huaji, it was still so far away that it felt like forever.
When success was in sight, the time to avenge their hatred was at hand, suddenly they found out that they failed through lack of a final effort, which was the most disappointing and frustrating kind of failure.
After drowning two bowls of wine, Kou Zhong cast a sidelong glance toward Xu Ziling and said, "Before, you did not like to drink too much, why is it that after reaching Luoyang, every time I urge you to drink, you never refuse?"
Xu Ziling was staring blankly for half a day, recalling the nasty mood when he met Li Jing again after long separation. Smiling wryly, he said, "One of the benefits of wine is to make people forget the cold, callous reality, and send us to the dreamland of drunkenness. Too bad that no matter how much wine I drink, I still cannot forget Su Jie's misfortune. Just now I asked Ren Dajie in passing about Xiang Yushan; it would be best if I don't repeat her answer."
Kou Zhong picked up the wine pot, 'Glug! Glug!' he drank more than ten mouthfuls at one go, letting the wine splattered and wet the lapel of his robe. And then, breathing heavily, he said, "I made up my mind to toss everything else aside. I am going to rush to Baling to rescue Su Jie. Anybody trying to stop me will have to deal with my saber!"