Chapter 347: Sudden Assault!
"Haha, gongzi sure has a sharp tongue. However, if we feared the laws of the royal court, we wouldn't have resorted to banditry in the first place. Since this is the path we have pursued, we are already prepared to lose our heads at any moment. Given such, why do we have to fear the military?
"Besides, this isn't the first time we have slaughtered soldiers. Surely our brothers don't think there's a path of return anymore?"
Standing beside Iron Cloak Li, Zhou An had suddenly spoken up. The young man's disposition was simply too strong. With just a few words, he had revived the morale of his brothers, who had spent their days living alongside blood and death.
Zhou An knew that if he didn't reverse the momentum at this moment, something disastrous might really just happen.
"Speaking of which, it sure is surprising how gongzi knows so much about us bandits, despite your young age. If I'm not mistaken, no one has escaped from your hands before, am I right? And the hundred men from before as well, you were able to slaughter them without the slightest hesitation, too. I sure am impressed that there's still a figure like you in the capital.
"Looks like our brothers should really try to keep our distance from gongzi!"
"That fellow sure is incredible!" With just a swift glance of the crowd, Wang Chong could tell that the military advisor had succeeded in bringing the hearts of the bandits and highwaymen back to their side. Their eyes were still on Wang Chong, but they were now infused with hostility and killing intent instead.
"You must be the military advisor of the Iron Cloak Highwaymen, Zhou An."
Wang Chong galloped forward and stared deeply at the scholarly middle-aged man standing beside Iron Cloak Li in the distance. Even with the many malicious gazes on him, he still stood his ground firmly.
Even those cavalrymen who had followed Wang Chong along the way were slightly taken aback by the incredible disposition he commanded.
A slight wind blew, causing Wang Chong's robe to flutter slightly.
"How many secrets is that lad hiding on him?" Bai Siling stared at Wang Chong's upright back as ripples of doubt surfaced in her beautiful eyes.
She was acquainted with many young masters and successors of prestigious clans, and the Longwei Training Camp was filled with talents, as well.
However, none of them exuded the same feeling that Wang Chong gave her.
The air of a general!
Bai Siling rummaged furiously through her mind, and she eventually found an apt phrase to describe him. The disposition that Wang Chong was wearing at the moment felt like a majestic general who directed the tides of a battlefield with his words and gestures.
Before him, be it the hundreds of highwaymen and bandits, or the cavalrymen on their side, they felt as if their presences were being overshadowed by him.
Even Xu Gan and Huang Yongtu, who nursed their hostility toward him, couldn't help but have their eyes fixed on his every gesture.
And this was despite the fact that he was weaker than most of those who were standing here.
At this moment, Wang Chong was oblivious to the thoughts of those behind him. His entire attention was on the middle-aged military strategist before him.
"... You seem to be a learned man yourself. Why didn't you try for the examinations and contribute to the nation through your knowledge? Or did those books of Kong Meng open your eyes to banditry instead?"
"Hehe, there's no need for gongzi to worry about me. The chief saved my life, and I am indebted to him. It's my fortune to be trusted by him, and I am willing to offer my services to him. On the other hand, gongzi, surely you aren't so naive to think that you can save your comrades like that?"
"Just a word of advice, the only words that matter here are those from our chief. You need not waste your breath on me," Zhou An declared as he stroked his beard.
"Hahaha, lad, not bad at all. Seeing how you managed to kill a hundred of my men, you must be a quite a figure yourself. I'll give you a chance, then. Put down your weapons and surrender, and perhaps you might still be able to save your comrades. Otherwise, the only fate that will befall you and them is death!" Iron Cloak Li laughed loudly, his loud voice carrying clearly through the forest.
"The bandit over there, are you kidding with me? Put down our weapons? Wouldn't that simply hasten our deaths?" Wang Chong sneered coldly.
"There's no way around it, then. Since you are unwilling to put your weapons, the rest of your comrades will have to suffer the brunt of your decision. Attack!" Savagery replaced the smile on Iron Cloak Li's face as he raised his hand and pointed to Xu Gan, Huang Yongtu, and the others coldly.
The bandits and highwaymen who were on standby previously suddenly began moving, as if a giant war machine had suddenly come to life. Hong long long, the commotion caused by the simultaneous movement of five hundred bandits was imposing.
The bandits charged at the forefront of the group, while the highwaymen followed behind them. At the same time, the archers behind also fired a dense multitude of arrows to cover them. In an instant, Xu Gan, Huang Yongtu, and the others found themselves drowned by attacks.
"This is bad!"
On the slope, the faces of Xu Gan, Huang Yongtu, and the others darkened. It was just a while ago that they had received the pills Wang Chong shot over through an arrow and barely rested for a moment when the Iron Cloak Highwayman decided to launch a decisive attack.
"Get up, quick!"
"You bastards, what are you doing? Put down your weapons! Are you intending to murder us?"
"Are you insane? We would die even faster if they were to put down their weapons!"
Huang Yongtu bellowed in an attempt to have Wang Chong and the others put down their weapons, but what he faced was Zhang Lin and Xu Gan's rage instead.
Huang Yongtu might be narrow-minded, but Xu Gan and Zhang Lin knew clearly that they would be truly doomed if Wang Chong's group were to lay down their weapons.
No one would be able to get out of here alive if that was the case.
"Prepare yourselves to fend them off! If our defense line crumbles, we'll gather our forces to charge out of the encirclement!" Zhang Lin hurriedly issued the orders.
With twenty-six True Martial realm cavalrymen on their side, they were still able to hold their ground for the time being.
"What do we do?" Bai Siling instinctively turned to Wang Chong and asked.
The Iron Cloak Highwayman's sudden attack had left Wang Chong's group in a panic as well.
"Don't panic, listen to my orders. Charge! We shall slaughter our way in! There's no need to hold back!" Wang Chong swiftly analyzed the situation calmly before raising his hand and bellowing furiously.
Hong long long! The cavalrymen immediately began on a fearsome charge into the Iron Cloak Highwayman.
With the momentum of a ferocious colossal beast, the forty cavalrymen charged right into the dense assembly of bandits and highwaymen.
The speed adn power of the military war steeds was far greater than the horses of the highwaymen. Before the first wave of bandits could even reach Xu Gan and the others, Wang Chong's group was already tearing through the crowd.
The same sight occurred once again!
Amidst screams of terror, dozens of bandits and highwaymen were knocked flying by the sheer force of the charge.
Pu pu pu pu!
Silver spears swept through the highwaymen and bandits like a torrential wave, felling them line by line. Before the fearsome might of an organized Great Tang army, the bandits and highwaymen stood no chance at all.
"Ahhhh! Get out of the way, quickly get out of the way! Those bastards are launching an attack!"
"Stop them! AHHH!"
"Let me through, don't block my path!"
"Save me! AHHH!"...
Wang Chong's charge happened too abruptly, as if it was decided on a whim. Furthermore, the speed of the charge was also faster than what most expected. Many of them could see it heading right toward them, but due to several reasons, they weren't able to react in time.
In just an instant, more groups of bandits and highwaymen had fallen, and torn limbs and pieces of flesh flew through the air.
With the compact might of a charge, the bandits and highwaymen in the front lines collapsed instantaneously, and like a domino effect, the collapse was swiftly spreading to the back as well.
It was utter pandemonium among the bandits and highwaymen.
Fear swiftly washed over the criminals. Many were screaming their lungs out as they pushed and shoved their way through their peers in an attempt to avoid the charge.
"Bastard!" Iron Cloak Li flew into a rage. Before they could cause any significant damage, Wang Chong's group had already slaughtered the group he had positioned on the east against them.
"Get the archers to turn their arrows to the east. On top of that, send a hundred of our brothers to coordinate with the other bandits and highwaymen to eliminate them!"
"Yes!" One of the leaders of the Iron Cloak Highwayman quickly moved out to carry out the orders.
Taking a good look at the situation, Zhou An couldn't help but smile bitterly. He knew that this fellow wouldn't be easy to deal with, but the true extent of things only struck him at this instant.
The might of the forty cavalrymen under Wang Chong was truly fearsome. Those who stood in their way were knocked several dozen zhang away without fail.
If they were to continue focusing their forces on the group up on the slope and neglect Wang Chong's group, even if the Iron Cloak Highwayman succeeded in the end, they would surely suffer huge losses.
"This is problematic!" Zhou An muttered with a bitter smile.
"Ignore the group on the slope for the moment. Those on the left wing head left, those on the right wing head right, we shall flank them from both ends! Make sure to stay off of the main road!" Zhou An immediately issued a series of commands to deal with the problem at hand.
Under Zhou An's leadership, order soon returned to the raiders. They immediately abandoned the main road in the center and dove into the trees by the sides to surround Wang Chong's group.
Zhou An's commands were effective. In just a few moments, he had already concluded that they were no match for Wang Chong on the open main road, and thus, he commanded his men to escape to the sides.
In complex terrain, a cavalry's charge would be severely impeded.
As long as they avoided the main bulk of the charge and attack from the flanks, there was a high chance they could suppress those cavalrymen.
Seeing the Iron Cloak Highwayman were about to complete their encirclement of his forces them, Wang Chong immediately raised his left fist and opened it up. In the next instant, the cavalrymen were split into two groups of twenty, one stationed at the front to escort Bai Siling away while the other one was sent to the back to cover the rear.
Seeing that the cavalrymen were about to escape from their encirclement, there were a few bandits who leapt in to slow them down. However, the vast disparity in strength made the results of their sacrifice minimal at best.
Under the furious charge of war steeds, just before the Iron Cloak Highwayman could close in on them, the cavalrymen managed to charge out of the encirclement.
The two groups finally combined together once more to form an organized formation. Turning around, they faced the dense group of Iron Cloak Highwayman behind them.
Kong Meng refers to Kong Zi (Confucius) and Meng Zi (Menfucius), two famous philosophers of China. Great Tang's society operate mainly under Confucianism, so these two ancient sages were particularly revered in that era.
Just some interesting tidbit, different China dynasties function under different beliefs, and that influences the legal system and how the society operates. For example, Qin dynasty believes in legalism, and exceptionally harsh laws were implemented in that era.
Great Tang believes in legalism as well, but it is a far more toned down version than that of the Qin dynasty.