Chapter 330: The Stunned Xu Gan and Huang Yongtu!
A moment of silence drifted along the path.
Zhang Lin turned around to stare at the young man behind him in shock. Xu Gan, Huang Yongtu, and Bai Siling were also flabbergasted by his words.
In truth, Xu Gan and Huang Yongtu were only intending to vent their frustrations out on Wang Chong, but who knew that the latter would actually agree to it.
Due to the unexpected turn of events, the trio found themselves at a loss of words for a brief moment.
"Brat, what did you say?" Xu Gan drove his steed up to Wang Chong and assessed the latter with a sharp gaze. Until now, he still wasn't too sure whether he heard that word from the young man before him.
"I said fine, I will lead my platoon to clear the bandits," Wang Chong replied with a nonchalant smile, not shying away from the conflict at all.
"But..." Lieutenant Zhang Lin opened his mouth in hopes of dissuading Wang Chong from it, but he couldn't find the words to string together a logical argument.
"Hahaha, fine! I admit that you have guts!" After receiving the affirmation from Wang Chong, Xu Gan started laughing furiously instead. "Since you're so formidable, I look forward to your success!..."
As he spat out those words, his eyes were cloaked with a layer of resentment and hostility.
"Lord, this truly isn't an ideal time to make a move!" A ten-man squad leader rode his steed forward to advise him worriedly. Xu Gan might have failed thrice, but there was one thing he was right on. It was definitely more likely to succeed with a night assault than a day assault.
"Say no more, let's go." Wang Chong raised his right arm to gesture for the platoon to follow him before taking the lead. The two ten-man squad leaders behind him hesitated, but eventually, they still chose to follow behind Wang Chong.
"Lord, it is already dawn, so how can we possibly succeed? There's really no need for you to respond to their taunts just now, one of the squad leaders said from behind him.
Failure in this operation wasn't a huge issue. Given the might of Great Tang's military, the bandits were no threat at all. However, with the words that Wang Chong had just uttered, he would surely be humiliated if he were to return in failure.
If they hadn't known Wang Chong's identity beforehand, they wouldn't be so concerned over this matter. After all, Wang Chong, Xu Gan, and the others were just their temporary commanders, there was no need for them to get involved in their conflict.
However, after learning that Wang Chong came from the Wang Clan, and was Duke Jiu's grandson and General Wang Yan's youngest son, their view of the matter changed.
They were unwilling to see a figure they respected humiliated before them, because they thought of it as a humiliation to them, as well.
Wang Chong stopped beside a lush tree by the road and said, "Don't worry. If you are only worried about daybreak, you really don't have to be." In contrast to the anxious looks on the soldiers' faces, he had a composed smile on his lips.
"Think about it. If even we were to think that the chances of success is slim in the day, how do you think the bandits will react to daybreak?"
"This..." The two ten-man squad leaders were momentarily stumped. They glanced at one another, and upon realizing Wang Chong's intent, their eyes suddenly lit up.
"Bandits are, in the end, bandits. In the military, our men would immediately get in position as soon as dawn sets in, wary of any enemies in the vicinity. However, do you think that bandits will have such discipline instilled in them? Don't you think that they would clean themselves up and have a short meal before organizing their defenses for the day?
Wang Chong glanced at Ma Song and asked, "Ma Song, you have participated in quite a few cleanups before. Do you think that the bandits are that disciplined?"
"Definitely not, they are just a scattered bunch gathering together because they share a common purpose." Ma Song's eyes gleamed with excitement,
As expected of Duke Jiu's grandson, an offspring of an illustrious military clan. Even his thoughts differed from ordinary humans. Indeed, discipline was a factor that most bandit bands were severely lacking in. If even the military thought that they were unlikely to succeed in an assault at this time, the bandits would likely to be even slacker.
If one were to view the matter from this perspective, it could be said that the chances of success were even higher than if they were to strike at night.
Ma Song finally understood why Wang Chong had chosen to take on the challenge despite the onset of dawn.
"Haha, it seems like you understand now." Wang Chong glanced at Ma Song and chuckled. This ten-man squad leader was extremely sharp. Perhaps he should tap into his connections with King Song to deploy this man under him after this operation.
Considering how he was only a ten-man squad leader, it shouldn't pose a problem. Given the astuteness he had shown so far, Wang Chong was certain that he would rise far beyond a mere ten-man squad leader after his grooming.
But of course, this was a matter for the future, and he didn't intend to inform Ma Song about it now.
After these thoughts flashed across Wang Chong's mind, he swiftly regained his calm.
"Alright, we will be starting the assault soon! For now, tear a few pieces of cloth and wrap it around the hooves of your steed so as to ensure that there is no noise in your movement."
A moment later, when all preparatory work was done, Wang Chong raised his hand and gestured, and the four sections immediately dove swiftly into the forest, like phantoms under his lead.
Wang Chong returned swiftly. In just slightly more than half an hour, he had already returned with his twenty cavalrymen behind him.
"You're already done?" Xu Gan rode his steed over and questioned Wang Chong doubtfully.
"Un, I'm done" Wang Chong nodded with a casual smile.
Huang Yongtu also rode his steed over and asked in disbelief, "A success?"
"Un, it was a success," Wang Chong nodded again.
"How can that be? Who do you think you are trying to fool? You can barely make a roundabout trip to the bandit's den in half an hour, and yet you dare to claim that your assault was a success? Do you really take us to be fools?"
Xu Gan flew into a rage. His operations had taken more than an hour, some even nearly reaching two. Yet, Wang Chong was able to end it in just slightly more than half an hour, and not to mention, he had succeeded in clearing all of the bandits, and during the day, at that!
How could that be possible?
To be spouting blatant lies like that, did he take them to be fools?
"I am also speaking the truth, I did accomplish the task at hand. If you refuse to believe me, there's nothing I can do about it," Wang Chong shrugged.
"Brat, I suggest you stop uttering lies here. You do know that this mission is assigned by the Bureau of Military Personnel, right? Do you know the consequences of falsely reporting one's accomplishments?" Huang Yongtu warned sternly, clearly refusing to believe Wang Chong's words.
"Zhang Jia and Zhang Yi, come out. Let me ask you, did you really clear away the bandit band?" At this moment, Lieutenant Zhang Lin also arrived at the scene, and he questioned the soldiers sternly.
As the highest-ranking military officer among them, it was his duty to uncover the truth and resolve the conflict.
The two cavalrymen who were named moved away from the formation and bowed deeply before replying earnestly. "Reporting to Lieutenant Zhang, we have indeed cleared away the bandit band, and not a single person escaped."
This time, not even Zhang Lin had any words to say.
Unlike Wang Chong, Xu Gan, and Huang Yongtu, who would be returning to the training camps once the mission was over, these men were soldiers in the army, and they were tightly bound by the military laws.
Should they be caught falsely reporting military intelligence, even over the simplest and most insignificant of affairs, they would still be severely punished.
And furthermore, they had their pride and dignity as veteran soldiers, as well. Lying over one's accomplishments was something they would frown upon.
If even they said that Wang Chong had accomplished his mission, then there was no doubt about it.
"Li Kuan and Song Zhu, go up and check. I want to know if the bandits have been truly wiped out," Xu Gan turned to his men and instructed. He found it difficult to trust Wang Chong just like that.
The two cavalrymen rode their steeds up the mountain, and when they finally returned half an hour later, the news that they brought back with them left Xu Gan dumbfounded.
All of the bandits in the den had been wiped out clean. Some of them were in their sleep, some were in the midst of their bath, and some were busy cooking when tragedy struck them. The entire area was a mess; pots, plates, and bowls were shattered around the place, but there wasn't any hint of anyone escaping at all.
Wang Chong had truly succeeded in eradicating an entire den.
Facing such an unexpected result, Xu Gan and Huang Yongtu were stumped. The truth was clear. Regardless of whether they were willing to believe it or not, Wang Chong did eradicate a bandit band.
Of the four of them, only Wang Chong's assault ended in a success.
"Perhaps I might just be lucky, and the bandits I met were particularly weak," Wang Chong said calmly.
Hearing those words, Xu Gan and Huang Yongtu harrumphed coldly. On the other hand, Bai Siling stared deeply at Wang Chong, seemingly trying to evaluate him.
"Brat, count yourself lucky."
"Let's see how well you can fare the next time."
Xu Gan and Huang Yongtu turned their heads away angrily.
They were unwilling to believe that a person from Kunwu Training Camp, not to mention younger than them, could fare better than them. In a sense, Wang Chong's explanation did bring them some comfort.
They were much more willing to believe that he merely lucked out.
This assault didn't alleviate the hostility between Wang Chong and Xu Gan. Instead, it only made the two men view Wang Chong with even greater hostility.
On the following journey, the both of them grew more and more distant from Wang Chong. They would avoid interactions if they could, and their platoons were stationed far away from one another. It was clear that they were trying to snub him.
Time slowly passed, and eventually, night set in once more.
"Brat, you should go first!"
It was rare that Xu Gan actually passed on the opportunity to Wang Chong instead of leading the attack himself. He was no fool. After a day had passed, news that the government soldiers were conducting a cleanup operation was probably already known by all of the bandits in the area.
The chances of success heading out now would surely be slim. Under such circumstances, Xu Gan didn't believe that Wang Chong would be as lucky as he was in the day.
"Indeed, the both of us went first last night. It is your turn now," Huang Yongtu nodded in agreement.
He wanted to see if Wang Chong could still be as lucky as before.