Chapter 352: Ambush!
Iron Cloak Li had never doubted Zhou An's judgement before. And more important than that, those men were the elites under his commands, most of them being at the True Martial realm.
It wasn't easy for him to get these experts to join his band.
Without any hesitation, Iron Cloak Li leaped from the boulder he was standing on and landed on the back of his crimson Ferghana steed. Pulling the reins, he immediately galloped forward.
"Those from Deadly Serpent and Fiery Drudge will follow me! As for the others, crush the cavalrymen on the slope with all your might!" a resounding voice reminiscent of thunder boomed across the forest, leaving Xu Gan, Huang Yongtu, and the other Great Tang cavalrymen trapped on the slope dumbfounded.
There weren't sure what had happened, but it did seem like a major problem had cropped up for the Iron Cloak Highwaymen.
"What in the world happened?" Huang Yongtu widened his eyes in shock.
"Shove that aside, the enemy is about to attack. Everyone, prepare yourselves!" Zhang Lin bellowed in alarm.
Being at a huge numerical disadvantage, there was very little they could do other than holding firmly onto their defensive line.
With the command from Iron Cloak Li, the bandits began to charge furiously toward the twenty-six Great Tang cavalrymen once more.
By this time, the cavalrymen had swiftly returned to their formation. Through the previous clashes, they had already learned several tactics that would allow them to effectively curb the bandits and the highwaymen. While the battle was still likely to ultimately end in their defeat, they were determined to inflict heavy losses upon their enemy, as well.
On the other hand, the elite forces which Iron Cloak Li had named also swiftly organized their forces and galloped down the main road with him.
Zhou An's instincts were rarely wrong, so Iron Cloak Li moved as fast as he could.
It was a competition of wits between two camps just several hundred zhang apart, but it seemed like they weren't going to be the final winner.
Right after Iron Cloak Li turned around the bend in the main road, he suddenly heard deafening shouts in the distance.
"Kill them!" A forceful voice bellowed from the right side of the forest. A powerful gale blew across the area, and tree branches and leaves bent in the face of its might.
Hong long long!
The ground shook, and countless birds darted out from the forest in shock. In that instant, the highwaymen felt as if a huge landslide was sweeping across the forest.
"Shit!" Hearing the deafening roar, Iron Cloak Li's face darkened. He struck the bottom of his steed heavily to urge it to hasten its pace toward the center of where everything seemed to have started turning awry.
Hu Lang, Chang Dao, and the others had already reached the bottom slope by now, so the ones who were charging at the moment couldn't possibly be them.
And since it wasn't them, it had to be the cavalrymen of the Great Tang.
At this very instant, Iron Cloak Li felt flustered inside.
Having witnessed the commanding capability of that young commander, Iron Cloak Li could only pray for Hu Lang and Chang Dao to hold on for a little longer, at least until his arrival.
But Iron Cloak Li's prayer never came to be.
"Shit! We fell for their trap!" As soon as Hu Lang charged through the thin layer of smoke and tore through the "Great Tang cavalrymen" with his sabers, he immediately realized that he had fallen for the enemy's ploy.
Those figures shrouded by a thin layer of smoke were not Great Tang cavalrymen, but their brothers who had been killed previously.
Long spears made of wood, each impaling both a horse and its rider, had been erected along the area.
The smoke drifting in the area was the byproduct of a few deserted campfires in the area, built for the sole purpose of luring them in.
"We have been fooled. Retreat! Retreat!!" At that instant, Hu Lang's heart turned cold. He had never expected the Great Tang cavalrymen to be so cunning. He thought that it was an ideal opportunity to destroy the soldiers, but it turned out to be a detailed ploy prepared by the enemy.
Hong long long!
"Kill the Great Tang cavalrymen!"
Despite Hu Lang's shouting, it was already too late. One after another, the highwaymen charged into the smoke and sliced the "Great Tang cavalrymen" into pieces. Too excited by the prospect of victory, none of them could hear Hu Lang's commands anymore.
And while they were excitedly slicing away at the corpses in the area, the incredible momentum that they had built up with great difficulty from the charge dissipated.
With this, the critical advantage that they held was nullified.
On top of that, in order to prevent the Great Tang cavalrymen from escaping, Hu Lang even sent thirty men to the back of the of the camp, and this made them even more vulnerable to an attack at that moment.
Hong long long!
Just as Hu Lang was panicking within, he suddenly heard a loud rumble. He immediately yelled for the other highwaymen to escape, when all of a sudden, a spear bearing incredible destructive force pierced through the smoke from the right.
That spear was simply too fast. By the time Hu Lang caught sight of it, it was only inches away from him.
In that critical moment, Hu Lang exerted his Stellar Energy, and the green Halo of Thorns within his body began spinning swiftly.
Boom! For that short instant, Hu Lang gained incomparable strength. With his immense might, he jolted the Great Tang cavalryman flying along with his steed.
But nevertheless, Hu Lang also suffered internal injuries from the clash, and his wrists were numbed from the encounter.
In a pure contest of strength, the Great Tang cavalryman was nowhere near his match. But with the momentum from the charge behind his attack, the other party's might could no longer be gauged by mere cultivation realm.
Despite having sent a Great Tang cavalryman flying, Hu Lang didn't feel any joy at all. Instead, his heart further sank.
That was because the second spear was already coming his way like a streak of lightning.
The speed of this spear was so fast that it left a white afterimage in its wake.
"Accursed highwaymen, die!"
Amidst the light smoke, the silhouette of a Great Tang cavalryman came into view. The force behind his stab was so great that even Hu Lang's heart beat in fear.
They were all mounted troops, but the horsemanship of Great Tang cavalry was truly on an entirely different level from the highwaymen!
Stellar Energy gathered around Hu Lang's fist to form a green wolf's head at the tip of his knuckle, and he struck out furiously. By exerting his full strength, he barely managed to deflect the attack from the second Great Tang cavalryman.
But very soon, the third and fourth spear appeared nearly simultaneously, and this time, Hu Lang failed to stand his ground.
Pu pu! Two spears stabbed into his chest from the right and the left, and crimson blood spurted into the air as they were drawn out.
The final sight that Hu Lang saw was the cold gleam of a sword descending from above.
"I'll be claiming this head!..." The cold voice of a woman sounded by his ear before the final sliver of consciousness escaped him.
The lopped head fell to the ground as Bai Siling's valiant figure appeared behind Hu Lang's corpse. Her sword was still outstretched in the position from her previous attack.
Judging from how Hu Lang managed to knock a Great Tang cavalryman flying, she had little doubt that Hu Lang must be a commander of this platoon. Her cultivation was significantly higher than the other cavalrymen, so she decided to deal with Hu Lang personally.
Four Great Tang cavalrymen on a charge with Bai Siling; to have fallen to such a formation, Hu Lang could probably rest in peace.
"Siling, return to your horse! Don't fight with them on foot!" A figure suddenly flashed by Bai Siling, and Wang Chong's stern voice sounded.
Unlike the other cavalrymen, he wasn't equipped with a spear. Instead, he was shooting out incredibly compact sword qi ceaselessly by flicking his ten fingers one after another.
Wang Chong hadn't reached True Martial realm yet, but he wasn't dependent on his own cultivation to kill his enemies.
What he relied on were technique and experience.
In those two fields, there was not a single person here who could start to compare with him.
For one, Wang Chong made full use of the smoke in the area to conceal his Sword Qi of Massacre. More often than not, the highwaymen whom he had targeted would be caught off guard by the sudden attack and sent flying from their steeds.
And in a battle between mounted troops, falling from one's steed spelled certain death.
"I got it!" Bai Siling stuck out her tongue. Even though she was old enough to be considered as Wang Chong's elder sister, she still found herself unconsciously revealing her coy side to him.
Regarding this assault, Bai Siling had nothing but awe for Wang Chong.
To think that the Iron Cloak Highwaymen, despite their decisive advantage in terms of numbers, had actually prepared another hand. Had Wang Chong not astutely noticed it, they might have really just fallen to the raiders.
Through the effective use of a smokescreen, not only did Wang Chong draw those highwaymen out from their hiding spots, he even managed to place them at a critical disadvantage.
Those who were intending to attack became the attacked instead.
The Iron Cloak Highwaymen ended up suffering tragic losses in this assault.
Bai Siling grabbed onto the saddle and flipped herself back into it. This was a technique which she had learned from the other cavalrymen over the last few days.
Pulling on the reins, Bai Siling joined the fray with a sharp sword in her hand.
Boom! Boom! Boom!
Halos shook as they collided heavily with one another, producing a reverberating metallic noise. Innumerable shockwaves rippled throughout the battlefield, creating ceaseless surges of heatwaves that reached even ten zhang away. Ferocious war cries and tragic death throes; these resonated heavily on the battlefield.
The Iron Cloak Highwaymen had more numbers than Wang Chong's side, but from the moment that they halted on the main road, this battle was already over.
Not a single one of the highwaymen was able to withstand the charge of the Great Tang cavalry.
In just the first wave, through exploiting the advantage in their momentum, Wang Chong and the others managed to kill more than thirty True Martial realm experts among the highwaymen, while dispersing their formation at the same time.
Once the highwaymen are unable to band together, they would be mere prey to the Great Tang cavalry, who specialized in battle formations.