Chapter 331: Spying!
Wang Chong had been resting under an old Chinese parasol tree when he heard those words. Standing up, he cleaned the dirt off his bottom before leaping onto the back of his horse. With a flick of his hand, he beckoned for his twenty men to follow him up the mountain.
In just a short moment, Wang Chong disappeared along with his platoon of twenty. His movements were so decisive that even Xu Gan and the others were taken aback.
The duo thought that Wang Chong would at least hesitate for a moment, but who knew that he would leave just like that.
And just like before, in less than half an hour, Wang Chong had already returned with his troops.
They carried a calm which was unlike one who had just gone through a tough fight. Instead, it seemed like they had just strolled around the mountain leisurely before returning here.
Zhang Lin rode his horse up to Wang Chong and stared at him in astonishment. Judging from the other party's appearance, it didn't seem like he had just failed his mission.
But this was a little way too fast. Furthermore, they hadn't heard the slightest ruckus from the bandit den from where they stood.
"Un." Wang Chong nodded with a smile.
"Did he luck out again?" Xu Gan and Huang Yongtu's faces turned grim. There were simply too many doubts in the matter with Wang Chong.
"Who knows? Perhaps I might really be so lucky, such that all of the bandits I met are weaklings," Wang Chong chuckled.
Xu Gan and Huang Yongtu harrumphed furiously. The duo racked their heads, but they were unable to make sense of the situation before them.
An entire day had passed since they first struck, so the bandits on the west road should have received the news by now. No matter how weak the opponents Wang Chong faced were, they should have been on their guards. At the very least, it should be far more difficult to deal with them than the bunch he encountered in the day. However, Wang Chong was still able to return swiftly without any trouble.
Were the opponents he met really so weak such that he could eradicate them before they could even launch a signal?
"Let's go give it a try too!"
Xu Gan and Huang Yongtu glanced at one another as the same thought surfaced in their minds. After all, it was impossible for the bandits across the west road to be of equal strength.
Perhaps the bandits along this stretch might just be exceptionally weak.
If even Wang Chong was able to clear them away so easily, with their superior strength, they shouldn't face any trouble either.
Thus, the duo advanced forward in search of bandit dens to assault.
An hour later, Xu Gan finally found the next bandit den, and he led his troops in a furious charge into the depths of the forest. He left harboring great ambitions, but when he returned, his head was hanging gloomily from his neck.
Behind him was a roaring blaze that could probably be seen even several dozen li away.
Not only were the bandits prepared for their assault, they even laid out many unexpected traps that caught Xu Gan off guard. As a result, two war steeds and four soldiers suffered significant wounds. Even Xu Gan himself wasn't spared from injury.
If they had been wounded in a direct confrontation, that would still have been tolerable. However, what that nearly got them were poisonous gas, hidden crossbows, and many underhanded ploys.
If not for Xu Gan charging forward decisively to slay the bandit chief, they might have suffered even heavier losses.
Xu Gan was bubbling with rage, but there was nothing he could vent his anger on.
Both he and Wang Chong were carrying out the same mission, but why did their outcomes differ so greatly?
Recalling the relaxed expression Wang Chong had when he descended from the mountain, as if he had only gone on a leisurely hunt, Xu Gan felt even more uncomfortable.
Why is that fellow's luck so good?, Huang Yongtu exclaimed in astonishment in his head. It was a deeply ingrained subconscious thought that Xu Gan possessed greater capabilities than Wang Chong. In his view, Xu Gan was simply unlucky to have met problematic bandits.
"I'll give it a try, too!"
Leaving those words behind, Huang Yongtu raised his hand and rallied his troops forward. He was unwilling to believe that he would be as unlucky as Xu Gan.
In the end, how could a loosely scattered group of bandits possibly compare to an official army?
This time, Huang Yongtu returned much faster than expected. His face was clearly flustered, and his clothes were unkempt. His luck was worse than Xu Gan.
The blazing flames from Xu Gan's end had already caught the attention of the other bandits. Thus, they set up catapults, hidden crossbows, poisonous gas, and even rallied the bandits from other mountains over, prepared to face any troops that came their way.
This fight was a bitter one, and several of Xu Gan's subordinates nearly lost their lives. Even Huang Yongtu also almost fell under a poisonous saber.
If not for a subordinate of his responding swiftly and taking that saber for him, Huang Yongtu might have been incapacitated by now.
Holding the unconscious soldier who had taken the saber for him in his hands, Huang Yongtu shouted in a panic."Come over and help!"
Fortunately, there were some medics among the group of eighty, and the poison the bandits utilized wasn't too rare, either. The condition of the soldier stabilized swiftly.
However, after those two failures, a bizarre atmosphere suddenly seemed to linger among the soldiers. Subconsciously, they turned their gazes to Wang Chong to assess him.
If Xu Gan was unlucky to meet someone who was prepared, wouldn't it be too much of a coincidence for Huang Yongtu to be the same as well?
It was unbelievable for Wang Chong to be the only lucky one.
It was one thing to meet a weak opponent in the day, but for it to happen at night as well? So far, of the four of them, only Wang Chong had successfully cleared the mission, and with ease at that.
It was hard to believe that there were no tricks behind this.
We'll give it another try. I don't believe that he can still be that lucky on the third day!, Xu Gan and Huang Yongtu thought as they stared at the smiling Wang Chong, who was seated beneath another huge Chinese parasol tree.
Their pride didn't allow them to be inferior to a mere peasant from Kunwu Training Camp.
However, Xu Gan and Huang Yongtu's wish never came to be. The third day came, and nothing changed at all. Xu Gan and Huang Yongtu failed yet again, and even more tragically this time around.
Xu Gan had even sustained significant injuries in his operation.
The further west they headed from the capital, the stronger the bandits became. Lieutenant Zhang Lin had warned them of this matter beforehand.
But despite this, Wang Chong still managed to clear the dens allocated to him with the same ease. There wasn't the slightest scratch or injury on him or his men.
The others couldn't help but begin doubting whether he and his team had even gone up the mountain to engage the bandits.
"Something is wrong here!"
After being spectacularly outperformed by Wang Chong for three consecutive days, Xu Gan and Huang Yongtu eventually decided to put aside their differences and gather together.
"That brat must have done something behind our backs!"
"Indeed! How could he be so lucky as to meet with weak bandits each time? He must have used some kind of trick."
Huang Yongtu nodded vigorously. A hint of anger and frustration could be heard from his words.
Every time Wang Chong returned, he would use the same excuse "perhaps the bandits I met were weaker than the others", and initially, they did take those words at face value.
But thinking about it now, that brat was clearly mocking them!
The realization of this fact left them even more enraged.
If Wang Chong had come from Shenwei or Longwei, they could still reluctantly admit their loss. But that simply wasn't the case. Considering how the other party was a peasant who hadn't even forged a True Martial halo yet, how could they accept their inferiority toward him?
"I'll send a few men to follow him when he moves later to see what's going on," Xu Gan spat resentfully.
Never had he been looked down on before in such a manner. This experience was infuriating to him.
"Un," Huang Yongtu nodded. He was also curious to know how Wang Chong managed to eradicate the bandits so quickly and leisurely without raising the slightest disturbance.
After discussing things for a moment, they soon worked out the details of their plan.
Having come to a consensus, Huang Yongtu leapt onto his mount and rode toward Wang Chong. With an irritated tone, he instructed impatiently. "Wang Chong, you will be going next."
"Oh?" Wang Chong's eyebrows shot up. According to the order they had decided upon, he shouldn't have been next. But nevertheless, the order didn't matter to him. "Sure."
Wang Chong gestured to the troops behind him before leading them up the mountain, just like he did many times before. And shortly after Wang Chong left, Xu Gan gestured to a soldier within his platoon, and a cavalryman quickly moved out and rode in the direction Wang Chong and the others left in.
A masked figure hid silently in the crown of a tree. The figure carefully approached a bandit who was warily scanning his surrounding,s and slit the latter's throat with his knife.
Life disappeared from the bandit's eyes, and his corpse fell heavily to the ground with a resounding thud. But amidst the rustling wind within the forest, that sound wasn't particularly conspicuous.
And soon after the bandit's corpse fell to the ground, similar dull thuds also echoed one after another through the forest.
At that moment, Ma Song suddenly spoke up. "Lord, it seems like someone is following us." He instinctively glanced backward warily.
"Oh? Where is that person?" Wang Chong asked nonchalantly.
"Around fifty steps behind us, hidden in a shrub," Ma Song replied seriously.
"I see. Let him be." Wang Chong waved his hands casually.
"Calm down, Ma Song. The chances are that the figure you spotted is a spy sent by Xu Gan and Huang Yongtu. If he was a bandit, do you think that he would be able to hold himself back?" Wang Chong replied leisurely, paying the matter no heed.
Ma Song contemplated for a moment before replying. "I see, so it is all within lord's expectations."
To those words, Wang Chong merely smiled lightly. After three days of humiliation, it would be a wonder if Xu Gan and Huang Yongtu could still hold themselves back. Wang Chong knew that it was only a matter of time before they sent a spy to follow him.