Chapter 346: Crossing Blows!
In his previous life, he was a gentle and kind person who had never even killed a chicken before, needless to say, a man.
But humans change.
If the world could create a man, there should be little to doubt that it could change him, too.
In his previous life, in his days of wandering, Wang Chong caught the eye of a few elders of the military and was groomed by them. It was in those days that Wang Chong first killed a man.
When he saw the mixture of red and white spilling out of that man's head, he nearly spewed his guts out. He fared worse than what Bai Siling was going through now.
But as he watched his comrades and brothers fell one after another, and his familiar homeland vanishing amidst blazing flames, Wang Chong never vomited again.
After discharging the weakness within him, all that was left in Wang Chong's heart was strength.
All of this, Wang Chong was unwilling to reveal to Bai Siling.
Recalling the mission he shouldered, as well as the consequences should he fail, everything, be it his honor, pride, or emotions, seemed like nothing in comparison.
Standing behind Bai Siling, Wang Chong spoke slowly. "Siling, the reason why I won't vomit is because there are things that are more important to me than those detached limbs on the ground. If we had failed to destroy the bandits and highwaymen, the ones who would be lying there would be us, Xu Gan, and Huang Yongtu!"
Bai Siling froze for an instant before gradually lifting her head. Looking at the determination on the young man's face, it was as if something had suddenly struck a chord in her heart.
In that instant, the repulsion and discomfort she felt alleviated significantly.
"Let's go, time waits for no one. Xu Gan, Huang Yongtu, and the others are still waiting for us!" Saying those words, Wang Chong offered a hand to Bai Siling.
Bai Siling subconsciously grabbed Wang Chong's hand, and from it, she felt a feeling of reliability and support she had never experienced before.
For that short instant, she felt a deep connection to the nonchalant young man before her.
Getting back onto their steeds, Wang Chong and Bai Siling, with a ferocious group of forty cavalrymen behind them, galloped back to where the remaining bandits and highwaymen were.
Two highwaymen emerged from the right side of the forest, and upon coming into proximity with Iron Cloak Li, they leapt down from the back of their steeds, swiftly ran up to him, and knelt down before him fearfully.
"Our brothers have been killed..."
"Speak clearly, how many have been killed? Where are the others?" Iron Cloak Li's face darkened as he gazed at the duo from above.
"All of them! They are all dead! We are the only two survivors!" the two Iron Cloak highwaymen reported, their faces pale with fright.
On this stretch of road to Longxi, the members of the Iron Cloak Highwaymen were known to be tough and vicious men who did not fear death. But in just a short instant, their courage had been crushed completely.
Forty bandits and sixty highwaymen, a group totaling a hundred people, and yet they were massacred in just a few moments.
On the other hand, not a single man from Wang Chong's side had died yet.
The fear they felt wasn't remotely imaginable for those who hadn't been put through the same situation.
As soon as those two spoke, peng peng, they were immediately knocked flying. Retracting his palm, Iron Cloak Li's face looked incredibly awful.
Even though he and Zhou An didn't follow the group in the operation, they had been keeping tabs on the situation. When they first heard the deafening roar from afar, they had already realized that something had gone wrong.
But in his point of view, given that the men he had dispatched were remarkable experts with top-notch horsemanship skills, they should have been able to flee even if they were no match for the enemy.
Perhaps, they might even be able to kill a few of them while fleeing.
But yet, the hundred subordinates he had dispatched were cleanly wiped out except for two of them. This had far surpassed Iron Cloak Li's expectations.
In fact, he felt like these two men were intentionally released by the other party to mock him, and this further enraged him.
Turning to the military advisor beside him, Iron Cloak Li asked, "Zhou An, how are preparations on your side?"
"I still need some time. Considering how wary that fellow is, I have to ensure that the preparations are thorough," Zhou An replied with an equally awful look.
The Iron Cloak Highwaymen had many members, but having a hundred of their men killed in a single battle was still a huge loss.
The only consolation to them was that most of the bandits killed were those who had just joined them. When new bandits appeared after some time, they would be able to replenish their numbers.
On the other hand, the death of the sixty highwaymen was indeed a little regretful. But what would come as a relief was that they were one of the weaker groups in the Iron Cloak Highwaymen, and only a couple of them had reached the True Martial realm.
From that aspect, despite suffering significant damage, the core of the Iron Cloak Highwaymen was still intact, so it wouldn't be too difficult for them to recover from this blow.
"Un," Iron Cloak Li nodded. He clenched his fists tightly, and ominous cracking sounds echoed in the forest,"When you're done, I shall personally tear those fellows apart!"
To date, the Iron Cloak Highwaymen had yet to suffer any significant damage, but in a single breath, Wang Chong's group had massacred over a hundred of his men.
Iron Cloak Li had to admit that he had underestimated the forty Great Tang cavalrymen. In terms of fighting prowess, they were definitely far above those fellows whom they had trapped on the slope.
But with his actions, Wang Chong had truly provoked Iron Cloak Li. If the latter had only been intending to use him to win the loyalty of his men just a moment ago, at this current moment, Wang Chong had become a figure he was determined to kill at all cost.
"Once everything is ready, I'll eradicate you along with those trapped on the slope!" Iron Cloak Li spat with quivering fury.
In his view, those who were on the slope were like birds in a cage. The only reason why he hadn't slaughtered them yet was to tie Wang Chong and the others down, and prevent them from leaving.
Di da da!
At that moment, the flurried clopping of hooves echoed from the distance, and a long trail of dust could be seen extending to the horizon.
Turning at the corner, with Wang Chong at the forefront and Bai Siling beside him, the forty Great Tang cavalrymen appeared before everyone's eyes in a neat formation.
When Wang Chong's group reappeared with their numbers still whole, a resounding cheer abruptly echoed up the slope.
Zhang Lin, Xu Gan, Huang Yongtu, and all of the Great Tang cavalrymen stood up in agitation.
No matter what kind of conflict they had before, none of those mattered at this very moment. Amidst the despair they were in, Wang Chong's reappearance signified a ray of hope. Their bodies began trembling uncontrollably in agitation.
"He really succeeded!"
"Did they really just kill a hundred highwaymen and bandits?"
"They did, and with all forty of their men intact, not a single casualty at all!"...
From the point when only two of the original group of hundred returned, the group trapped at the slope had already known the outcome.
But no one could have guessed there would not be a single casualty among the forty cavalrymen in that operation.
"This is completely unbelievable, how did that fellow do it?" Xu Gan and Huang Yongtu muttered in astonishment under their breath, staring at Wang Chong and the forty cavalrymen appearing from the valley road.
Having fought the highwaymen and bandits themselves, they had a concrete understanding of their strength. Just the fact that more than sixteen of the military veterans had ended up falling into an eternal rest here was more than sufficient to reflect their might.
But despite dragging a trail of more than a hundred highwaymen and bandits away, Wang Chong and his men managed to eliminate every single one of them without suffering any damage.
Such an outcome could already be considered as a miracle.
Xu Gan and Huang Yongtu questioned themselves, but they realized that there was no way they could have achieved the same if put in the same circumstances.
For the first time, they found themselves deeply impressed by the capability that Wang Chong had shown.
"Lad, report your name! Who are you?" a clear and resounding voice echoed amidst the huge group of bandits and highwaymen.
Chaos broke out momentarily among the crowd as they moved to open up a path. At the very end of this path, the chief of the Iron Cloak Highwayman, Iron Cloak Li, could be seen standing atop a boulder.
That towering eight chi tall figure exerted a huge pressure even from such a long distance away. Since Wang Chong's return, his cold gaze had been fixated on the young man.
At this moment, the surroundings were completely silent. All fighting had paused momentarily, and hundreds of gazes gathered on Wang Chong. Even Zhang Lin, Xu Gan, and the others had their eyes on him.
An unprecedented heavy air loomed in the area.
Before the hundreds of gazes, Wang Chong galloped forward slowly without the slightest hint of fear.
"Iron Cloak Highwayman, how brazen you are to dare to attack the army of Great Tang! Do you know the outcome of making an enemy out of the royal court?" Ignoring Iron Cloak Li, Wang Chong's gaze swept across the other bandits and highwaymen in the area instead.
"What a joke! You came knocking our doors, wrecking everything in your path. Who knows how many bandits have died in your hands, and you still expect us to surrender without resistance? If officials can kill bandits, the reverse is naturally true as well!" Iron Cloak Li roared furiously as an air of arrogance drifted around him.
"Hmph! Despite robbing and murdering innocent merchants, you still wish to claim the moral high ground? Officials clear bandits to maintain order in the world, that is an act of justice, and it should naturally be done. Otherwise, are we to allow scum like you to rampage as you please?
"I believe you should be well aware of the prowess of the military at this point. Even with just forty of us, we were able to easily clear a hundred of you without the slightest casualty. Do you think that you can really rival the armies of the royal court? I advise you to give up on what you are doing and lay down your blades before it's too late!" Wang Chong said as he gazed sharply at the crowd. These words accompanied with his previous accomplishments formed a heavy pressure crushing down on the bandits and highwaymen in the area.
In an instant, the area fell silent.
The entire field of bandits and highwaymen found themselves suppressed by Wang Chong's overpowering disposition. Unknowingly, a hint of fear and apprehension had risen within them as they faced the young man before them, and for a moment, they weren't able to find a word to say.