Chapter 82:Shifting Tides
Written by: IEndWorlds
Sorry really really late release lol. I’ve been busy with life, editors have been busy with life. Basically life sucks ._. and has not been giving me much time to write or when I get time to write I get side tracked >_> But well here it is ._.
Zhang’s men crept through the woods and positioned themselves only a short distance away from the Heavenly Sword Army’s camp. Three quarters of the army were dismounted and armed with either bows and arrows, swords and shields or spears and pikes. To raid the fort and rout the enemy an army of only horsemen would not be efficient.
Zhang had decided that once the moon had risen he would initiate the raid.
They did not have long to wait because the sun was setting and soon it would be night.
“Advance carefully, kill every single soldier in purple armor that you will encounter.” Zhang said softly to the men around him. Soon to follow was a murmur from one man to the next.
As silent as possible Zhang’s men trekked through the woods, luckily their feet and weapons had been wrapped by cloth or perhaps lots of unnecessary noises would have been made.
After a few hours, the sun was completely gone and the moon slowly made its ascent. Shrouded in darkness, Zhang’s army split into two and positioned themselves in the woods near the enemy fort. The Heavenly Sword Army fort’s defensive wall was completely made out of wood and built in a manner that it completely sealed off the entrance or exit to the Beast’s Gorge. Dozens of tall guard towers loomed over the walls peering out into the woods.
After splitting into two groups, the one hundred fifty thousand archers, swordsmen and spearmen were standing towards the east of the fort. To the west, nearly fifty thousand horsemen were awaiting the signal to charge into the enemy camp.
Few of the soldiers stationed to the east were currently making torches by wrapping the cloth wrapped around their boots and weapons to dry tree branches. While the archers ripped their cloth and wrapped it on the arrowheads. After making hundreds of torches, Zhang’s men made their way to the fortress.
When the walls of the fortress were in view, Zhang could spot hundreds of soldiers stationed in the guard towers with brightly lit torches illuminating the dark night.
“Archers ready.” Zhang commanded to the row of archers behind him, whom had all been broken up into squads.
Each squad was given a small pot of thick oil. To which upon hearing Zhang’s order, every single archer dipped their arrows in the pots. While thousands of swordsman could be seen starting one fire after another preparing for the assault on the fort.
“Fire at will!” Zhang yelled once he saw that all of the arrows were now lit. The archers ignited their oil soaked arrows with the flickering flames.
While the archers were preparing to fire their arrows; within the fortress, the striking of gongs echoed throughout the camp. The torches and arrows that the swordsmen and archers lit caught the attention of the soldiers in the guard tower.
But that did not matter because volley after volley of flaming arrows shot to the sky and began spreading the flames of war as they descended into the fortress.
“Enemy attack! Enemy attack!” The soldiers of the Heavenly Sword Army had been on high alert inside the guard towers these past few nights. So the instant they spotted the flames within the forest, they alerted the rest of the army. Due to the constant attacks from the soldiers of Aurora who were trapped within the gorge, no one was allowed to patrol outside of the fort and thus they had not been able to spot Zhang’s soldiers coming.
Also the act of a fire attack within a forest was something that anyone would normally think of thus they were totally caught off guard.
Thousands of flaming arrows embedded themselves into the wooden walls of the fortress. Soon, small fires ignited everywhere on the eastern side of the fortress.
“Swordsmen and spearmen! Form phalanx in front of the archers!” Zhang ordered.
Zhang’s intention was to avert attention of everyone within the fortress towards the east, where he and his one hundred fifty thousand soldiers were. Which was a success because there was no way the soldiers of the Heavenly Sword Army would not notice when so many arrows we’re currently being fired at them.
“They were prepared in case of a fire attack…” Zhang muttered with a sigh.
After dozens of fire attacks from Gan Ning, the soldiers in the fort would soak the wooden walls with water every night. Since the wood was saturated with water the flames could not spread.
“Guess we will have to do this the hard way men! Tortoise formation and move out of the woods!” Zhang roared while raising his twin swords made out of Mirage Viper fangs into the air. Of the four swords made from Mirage Viper fangs, Zhang took two while the other two were given to Yuying and Ling.
Having twin swords filled Zhang with glee as they were his main weapon of choice. Up until now, he hadn’t been able to find very good quality set of twin swords. But now that Zhang possessed a pair of them, he felt a little cheerful even if they about to engage the enemy in a battle.
While Zhang and his soldiers marched under the moonlight toward the Heavenly Sword Army’s fort, thousands of arrows were being exchanged overhead.
The soldiers of the Heavenly Sword Army who were stationed in the guard towers began sending down arrows of their own while the others formed a defensive formation behind the walls after they heard the sound of alarm and fired their arrows at will. On Zhang’s side, the archers also kept a constant barrage of arrows heading towards the fort.
But of course, thanks to their shields and close knit tortoise formation none of the men received heavy injuries: an arrow to the shoulder, an arrow to the knee, but not life threatening.
“Hold your formation!” Zhang said while standing in the center on one of the many tortoises made by shields and spears that had been making their way toward the fort.
The instant everyone came to a halt in front of the gate, Zhang stuck his hand out into the air and shot two green flares into the sky.
This was the signal for the fifty thousand cavalry to begin their assault on the western side of the fort. By now, majority of the soldiers within the fort had been moved to eastern wall leaving the other side undermanned.
As soon as the flares were shot in the sky, thousands of hooves pounding against the ground could be heard. The neighing of countless steeds rang in everyone’s ears as the less than fifty thousand cavalry moved in toward the western walls.
Hundreds of horsemen moved to western walls and hurled hundreds of clay jars splashing oil everywhere.
The horsemen leading the charge carried small clay jars tied on the side of their steeds. Before they break off from the main army, Zhang had ordered them to carry the pots of oil. They were given orders to attack if a single green flare was shot into the sky, but if two flares were shot it meant that they had to use the clay jars.
“Light em up boys!” One of the leading soldier yelled as he and his comrades pulled out dozens of bamboo tubes containing tiny embers inside them. From the embers a raging fire was born. Once the water soaked wooden walls were ignited, large plumes of smoke cloaked the western wall of the fort.
After the walls were lit ablaze, Zhang’s cavalry also shot two green flares into the sky signaling their fire attack was a success before riding off to await further instructions.
With a section of the walls ablaze the soldiers of the Heavenly Sword Army who were still on the eastern side of the fort fell into panic as thick black smoke filled their lungs as they tried to put out the fire.
Seeing the green flares shoot out into the sky, Zhang initiated the part two of his plan.
“Retreat! Everyone fall back!!” He roared and almost in an instant, the hundreds of tortoises began heading back towards the forest. As his soldiers retreated, Zhang charged forth towards the fort with swords in hand.
“Soldiers of the Heavenly Sword Army fire at will!” A voice rang out from one of the guard towers. Hundreds of arrows came spiraling down at the retreating soldiers while totally ignoring Zhang.
Zhang swung his swords downwards at the gap between the two gates. Moments later, the log that was used to lock the gates was cut into two and with a kick, the two gates swung open.
Once the gates were opened, Zhang shot a red flare signaling for all of his soldiers to stop retreating and rush for the enemy camp. The retreating soldiers caused rumble rang into everyone’s ears again. Zhang’s foot soldiers who were still maintaining their tortoise formation split up from each other and created a path straight to the fortress gate.
“KILL!!! Kill all of those dogs of the Heavenly Sword Army!” Zhang’s soldiers roared as they charged straight into the fort.
The first to enter were the horseman who trampled through the rows of neatly erected tents. Without an ounce of hesitation everyone in their paths were cut down without mercy. Soon to follow were the infantry soldiers who quickly surrounded the guard towers and began hacking away at the beams that held the towers up.
“Timber!!” One soldier with a large build yelled as a guard tower tumbled over, sending those who were inside to their deaths.
“Whoever can bring me the head of Qian Long will be granted the title of baron and fifty thousand gold coins.” Zhang roared furiously. He could have gone and find Qian Long himself but Zhang thought that if he offer such a fabulous reward, his men would fight many times harder thus propelling their combat ability to a higher level. Soon, Zhang’s soldiers broke into a frenzy of destruction and slaughter.
Despite this, the battle was not completely one sided. The soldiers of the Heavenly Sword Army when facing imminent death found their second wind. Like caged beasts they wielded their weapons and fought against the soldiers of Aurora. The two sides fought to a standstill as a sea of blood began to form.
“Quickly fall into formation! Shieldmen and spearmen to the front! Archers to the rear!” Tong Zhao could be seen yelling. Upon hearing his words, rows of soldiers from the Heavenly Sword Army with spears in hand were formed to engage the cavalry soldiers of Aurora, while archers continued shooting countless arrows from behind a wall of shield men. This caused many of the soldiers under Zhang’s command to meet their end.
Unknown to Zhang, another force was making its way towards the fort. Thousands of soldiers wearing purple armor were steadily appearing from the forest.
“General Xiahou Yan! It appears the fort is under attack!” A scout in purple armor reported to his superior.
“Everyone prepare for battle! Aid our comrades within the fort!” A middle aged man with long hair tied in a ponytail and hawk like eyes roared.
Originally, the three hundred thousand soldiers of the Heavenly Sword Army who attacked the Aurora Province had split into two. Two hundred thousand were left to keep Jian Wei and his soldiers trapped in the gorge while the other hundred thousand had set up a blockade around Aurora City.
But after the repeated attack from Gan Ning, Qian Long and Tong Zhao had requested their reinforcements. Thus ,a few thousand men were left at the blockade to make it seem as if no troops had been moved. They lit hundreds of campfires and made thousands of scarecrows to fool the people in Aurora City. While the rest of the army headed for the Beast’s Gorge.
As Zhang slashed and slaughtered dozens of soldiers dressed in purple armor, a frantic soldier ran up toward him and screamed, “My lord! The… the enemy is attacking from our rear!”
“ What!?!” Zhang yelled.
“An unknown number of enemies are attacking from behind my lord!” The soldier said once more.
“Damn….” Zhang cursed as two flares appeared in his hand and soon after, a green and red flare were shot into the sky. With this, Zhang’s army would truly prepare to retreat because fighting from two fronts was not an ideal battle and would only cause heavy casualties or perhaps complete devastation to Zhang’s forces.
To initiate their retreat, Zhang’s infantry once more fell into tortoise formation while his cavalrymen would charge in front and open up a path.
“Don’t let them leave! Kill them all! If we can stop them here then Aurora is as good as ours!” A voice rang out. Once Zhang’s gaze fell on the direction where the shout came from, he saw Qian Long stood beside an elderly looking man that was emitting a fairly high amount of essence from his body. Both were standing near a large tent atop of an elevated stage.
“You heard him! Kill them! Anyone who does not engage in battle with the enemy will be deemed a traitor and executed!” The elderly man beside Qian Long roared.
The soldiers of the Heavenly Sword Army within the fortress began pursuing Zhang’s soldiers who were retreating.
However, before they could do anything, loud bangs sounded at the direction of the northern wall that sealed off the Beast’s Gorge. The banging continued and not long afterwards, the wooden gates of the northern fort fell.
Once the gates fell an endless stream of men clad in black and white armor stormed into the fort with their weapons drawn. The sound of jingling bells was faintly present beneath the rhythmic sound of the thousand marching soldiers.
“Who started the party without me?!” Gan Ning laughed loudly once he entered the fort and raised a green flare in his hand into the sky and shot it.
“Enemy attack from the northern gate! Enemy attack from the Northern gate!” Soldiers of the Heavenly Sword Army screamed.
“Change of plans! Everyone Charge! Head for the northern gate!” Zhang yelled once he saw the green flare in the sky and heard the yells of the Heavenly Sword Army’s soldiers. Moments later, Zhang shot a green flare of his own to get the attention of his men who were at the front of the army so they would turn back and head towards the northern gate.
“Sigh, too many things did not go as planned today.” Zhang thought with a sigh as he headed towards the northern gate.
While Zhang and his men changed their direction and headed for the northern gate, it was now the soldiers of the Heavenly Sword Army who were under General Tong Zhao command who were now caught in the middle. Although Zhang’s forces were also being attacked from behind, his cavalry soldiers were positioned at the rear of the army which allowed them to hold the enemies outside of the fort at bay. This was because earlier they had been at the front of the army before it changed directions.
Tong Zhao frantically gathered the soldiers and tried to gain a foothold in the sea of madness but their numbers quickly dwindled and soon only despair filled their eyes.
“Elder Qian Long the man who had witnessed countless battles. The strategist who could change the tide of battle with a simple flick of his wrist.” Zhang mocked as he looked at Qian Long who was mixed into the sea of soldiers clad in purple armor ahead.
“You think you’ve won? Ha! If we hold out just a bit longer our reinforcements will arrive and you will be the ones in trouble.” Qian Long laughed. As a matter of fact his words had a hint of truth in them. Qian Long and Tong Zhao still had roughly a quarter of their original forces, while Xiahou Yan still had most of his one hundred thousand soldiers. This meant that if they focused their attacks on Zhang’s soldiers and totally ignored and let Gan Ning rampaged, then perhaps they’d be able to wipe out Zhang’s forces and then regroup with their reinforcements and face off with Gan Ning.