Chapter 348: Second Mission From The Royal Court!
In that instant, time seemed to stop.
The highwaymen and bandits who were charging for Wang Chong also halted. As ferocious as they were, they couldn't help but hesitate upon seeing the organized and complete formation the other party had put up. After all that had happened, a deep fear of the cavalrymen had already been instilled deep within them, preventing them from taking a step forward at this very moment.
An overwhelming stench of blood permeated the air. In this short encounter, the troops on Wang Chong's end were still unharmed, while sixty more members of the Iron Cloak Highwaymen had been reduced to lifeless corpses.
Truly, no rumors could compare with witnessing with one's own eyes!
Even though they had heard that a hundred of their peers had died at Wang Chong's hands, and it was common knowledge that official armies possessed might far surpassing ordinary highwaymen and bandits, the impact of this only struck them when they saw the short but powerful charge from Wang Chong's forty cavalrymen.
At that moment, they resembled demons who had crept out of the underworld, bringing with them a fearsome pressure.
The bandits and highwaymen subconsciously swallowed their saliva as fright colored their faces pale. Somehow, the unmoving formation of the cavalrymen seemed to instill more fear than their charge had.
Despite their years on the west road, they had never considered the possibility that seven hundred bandits and highwaymen would be outmatched by forty Great Tang cavalrymen.
These fellows... are too strong!, flashed across the minds of many of them.
Unknowingly, the bandits found themselves taking a step back.
After witnessing the other party's furious cavalry charge, they no longer found security in staying within a group.
"This is great!"
"I didn't expect that fellow to be so formidable!"
"It seems like we have been underestimating him from the start. It is impossible for a peasant-born to possess such a deep understanding of warfare. My eyes have truly failed me this time. He is definitely a member of a general's clan, and an extremely prestigious one at that!"
"White-hoofed Shadow... Bai Siling was right! Who in the world is that fellow?"...
On the slope, Xu Gan, Huang Yongtu, and the other surviving Great Tang cavalrymen found themselves speechless with shock. Had they not witnessed this scene personally, they would have found it difficult to believe that the group of cavalrymen the other party was commanding was similar to theirs.
The power of the charge and the fighting prowess displayed was simply too astonishing!
They actually managed to quell an attack by the five hundred-man strong Iron Cloak Highwaymen, and forced the raiders to turn their attention back to them, instead!
This was inconceivable to them...
And all of this was done under Wang Chong's command. The composure, wits, and decisiveness he had shown had left an even deeper impression on them than the charge itself.
Before, the duo had been taunting and making things difficult for him out of disdain for his lowly standing as a peasant from Kunwu Training Camp. But at this very moment, how could they dare to continue harboring such thoughts in their mind?
There was no one in Longwei and Shenwei who could bring out the strength of forty cavalrymen to the extent he had, no one at all.
This was an unimaginable feat that was far beyond them.
At this moment, the duo had a very strong feeling that Wang Chong was a scion from the capital, and one from a very prestigious clan at that.
But given their connections in the capital, it was bizarre how they didn't know of the latter.
"Who in the world is this fellow?" Xu Gan muttered to himself while standing beneath a crimson maple tree whose trunk was filled with innumerable holes. After witnessing all that had happened, he suddenly found himself deeply curious of Wang Chong's affairs.
At this moment, the person who was the most furious was none other than the chief of the Iron Cloak Highwaymen, Iron Cloak Li. Taking into account the highwaymen and bandits who had died earlier, Wang Chong's group of forty had already killed two hundred of his men.
There was no doubt that this was a huge blow to them!
Even though a huge portion of those who had died were those who had just joined his forces, the fact did little to quench his rage.
"Zhou An, are we ready yet?" Iron Cloak Li spoke with a deep voice, seemingly trying to suppress his rage, as he glared furiously at Wang Chong.
"It'll still take a while longer." Zhou An replied with a grim expression. He also felt very uncomfortable with this turn of events. From a certain point of view, this was a failure of his as well. "Chief, rest assured. When our preparations are ready, they will be cornered like rats in a trap. By then, you will be able to deal with them as you please. But before that, I have to ask you to be patient for a while longer."
"Hmph, I'll give you some more time then!" Iron Cloak Li clenched his fists tightly and suppressed his impulses.
Zhou An was a close aide of his, and he had always trusted him deeply. But the losses they had suffered this time were simply too huge. Even if they were to win this battle, this stain on his reputation might pose a threat to the legitimacy of his leadership in the future.
A light wind blew, and silence continued to linger in the surroundings.
An incredibly tense atmosphere loomed in the area. Everyone was assessing one another warily, and it seemed as if a huge battle could break out at any moment soon.
At this moment, Iron Cloak Li had already dispatched all of the True Martial realm experts by his side into the battle. He couldn't tolerate any more losses.
Unknowingly, everyone's attention became centered on Wang Chong, thus giving Xu Gan and Huang Yongtu's group the chance to catch a breather from the battle.
At this point, something occurred. Before everyone's eyes, a white object suddenly appeared, and a white dove abruptly swooped down from the sky.
In that instant, the atmosphere suddenly turned peculiar.
Before the dove could land, a steel arrow suddenly pierced through the dove's body. Backtracking the trajectory of the arrow, a highwayman could be seen lowering his bow.
"It's a letter from the royal court!" Upon seeing the golden band on the dove's right leg, Lieutenant Zhang Lin's face immediately tensed. He swiftly flicked his horse whip out to grab the carcass of the dove and pulled it back to his side.
"Lieutenant Zhang, what is written on it?"
"Is the royal court sending in reinforcements for us?"
Xu Gan and Huang Yongtu turned to Lieutenant Zhang with anxious expressions. Wang Chong and Bai Siling also turned their eyes over as well.
It had been many days since they had received any news from the royal court.
Zhang Lin retrieved the gilded bamboo container from the dove's legs and carefully took out a note from within. Unfolding the note, he read it.
"It's the second mission from the royal court." After reading the content of the note, a bitter smile surfaced on Zhang Lin.
"Ah?" Xu Gan and Huang Yongtu were stunned. They were receiving their second mission at such a time?
"Lieutenant Zhang, what is the mission?" Xu Gan asked anxiously. When he saw Zhang Lin's expression after reading the letter, he suddenly had an ominous premonition.
"You should take a look yourself." Zhang Lin passed the note over to Xu Gan and Huang Yongtu, and swiftly, complex emotions rippled on their faces as well.
A few simple lines were written on the letter, "For the second mission, the Sixth Unit will be tasked with eradicating Iron Cloak Li and his band."
"What kind of joke is this?" Huang Yongtu roared furiously as he crumpled the note in his hand and tossed it on the floor. "Are they intending to kill us by assigning us with such a mission at this time? Look at the innumerable bandits and highwaymen around us, do they think that we can deal with so many people with our small group? Not to mention, Iron Cloak Li is a powerful expert whom even Lieutenant Li does not rival!
"What kind of mission is this?"
"Huang Yongtu, watch your words! Are you trying to discredit the royal court?" Xu Gan warned him with a sharp voice.
"The hell, I am already in such a desperate situation, do you think that I care about that nonsense?" Huang Yongtu roared as his face warped in fury.
Who knew how much longer they could hold on? They were still safe at the moment, but they were still knee-deep in danger. There was still a possibility that they could be reduced to pieces in the next moment.
Being kept on the brink of death was even more frightening than death itself!
"Lord, calm down," Zhang Lin said with a bitter smile. "The royal court is likely to be unaware that we are surrounded by the Iron Cloak Highwaymen at the moment. Besides, given the long distance between where we are and the capital, there is no way they could have known that the Iron Cloak Highwaymen has grown to be seven hundred men strong."
Frustrated, Huang Yongtu smashed his fist into a nearby tree trunk, and blood flowed from his fist. While Zhang Lin's words were likely to be the truth, it did little to alleviate the negativity he was feeling.
"At the current moment, our greatest hope lies with the remaining two lords. It's fortunate that they aren't surrounded by the enemy forces yet. Furthermore, the other lord seems to be adept in military tactics, as well. He has a good grasp of timing and formations, so there's a chance that he might get us out of this desperate situation," Zhang Lin said as his gaze fell on Wang Chong.
It had been some time since he became the commander-in-charge of these eighty cavalrymen. There was no change in the members nor the steeds; just the change in the commander had made a world's difference in the strength and disposition of the soldiers.
This was the positive influence that a competent commander would bring to his team!
To be honest, Zhang Lin didn't think much of his life. While it would be regretful for him to die here at the hands of bandits and highwaymen, he understood a day like this might come when he became a soldier.
On the other hand, he could see the great potential that the young lord before him possessed. With such wits and charisma, if he could be tempered by numerous battlefields, he would eventually grow to become an outstanding general who could shield Great Tang under his wings.
This kind of talent was something Great Tang needed!
If his death was inevitable, the least he hoped for was for the young lord to escape from here alive, by hook or by crook!