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A Step into the Past Chapter 224

Volume 20 Chapter 5

Book 20 Chapter 5 – Luring The Enemy In

The next day Teng Yi went back, leaving Jing Jun to stand guard at the base to arrange matters for the ‘reinforcement troops’.

Xiang Shaolong patrolled the camp as usual and when he was high above surveying the enemy’s camp, he found their inactivity to be almost illogical and queried, “Have they always been like this?”

Cheng Jun replied respectfully, “They only stared becoming this quiet about 10 odd days ago, before that they were constantly sending troops to disrupt us day and night, but it’s usually a small scale attack of 20,000 to 30,000 men.”

Xiang Shaolong felt that something is terribly wrong and suddenly had a thought, “If the enemy has reached the opposite bank, can they make a big detour upstream, and then cross the river again to surround us by the back?”

Cheng Jun replied, “General Meng has long thought of this point and deliberately placed fire beacons along the river. Once the enemy is sighted, the beacons will be lighted immediately. Besides, the River De is wide and its water rapid with tall cliffs on both sides of the bank. There’re no bridges as well so even if our enemy have such intentions, I’m afraid it’ll be extremely difficult to accomplish.”

Xiang Shaolong is still worried and instructed Zhou Liang who was standing on his other side, “Send Eagle King to the opposite bank to have a look, it’ll be better if he can fly a little further.”

Zhou Liang set off gladly to follow up on his order.

Ever since he got Eagle King, Zhou Liang seemed to have changed into another person.

Cheng Jun saw that Xiang Shaolong did not trust his assessment and his expression became a little unnatural.

On seeing that, Xiang Shaolong said with a smile, “General Cheng, please do not take this to heart. In war, anything can be changed and we’re never far from these four words ‘unexpected tactics brings victory’. For Pang Nuan to enjoy such reputation, he must be a capable person. That’s why I have to be on the alert against any surprise tactics he may have that we will not expect. If my guess is correct, Pang Nuan must have set up temporary floating bridges with thick ropes upstream of where our scouts will find difficulty in reaching. Once they have crossed the difficult river, they’ll keep the floating bridges and move up behind us and repeat the same thing with the floating bridges and let their army cross the river swiftly. Ha, no wonder they had to wait for our reinforcements to arrive before they attack!”

Cheng Jun was speechless on hearing this and secretly commented to himself that ‘you’re the Great General, of course you can say whatever you like.’

Xiang Shaolong pointed at a dense forest on the right near the hills and continued, “If I’m Pang Nuan, I’ll order men to hide the chariots and heavy machinery etc in the woods and camouflage them with branches and leaves so when the time comes for them to attack us, the distance needed to move these things will be shortened.”

Cheng Jun replied, “I’ll take note of that.”

Xiang Shaolong guffawed, “Is General Cheng thinking of setting fire to the whole thing?”

Cheng Jun was taken aback, “That dense forest is close to the enemy camp and with ditches and forts everywhere, how can we get near enough to set fire?”

Xiang Shaolong pointed at the tall hills on the left and said, “Climb up that hill and you can throw down the torches, but it is most important to time the use of this tactic correctly. If it’s used when the enemy is attacking, it will cause the greatest effect.”

Cheng Jun was astounded and replied, “I understand now.”

The both of them discussed the various ways they can block the enemy. Because they have to at least make a show of trying to fend off the attack for a few days before pretending to be defeated and retreat, otherwise no one would believe in their act.

Right at this time Zhou Liang returned with Eagle King and said excitedly, “Great General has indeed predicted correctly. From the area that Eagle King has covered while flying, we can know that our enemy have at least 10,000 men who have snuck up about 15 miles behind us on the opposite bank and getting ready to cross the river for a sneak attack.”

Cheng Jun immediately broke out in sweat and said with shame, “I will immediately tighten defenses around that area.”

Xiang Shaolong exclaimed, “Hold on! Won’t this be as good as telling them that we’ve seen through their secret plan?”

He reached out his hand, intending to touch Eagle King but on seeing it turn around with its beak open and ready to attack, Xiang Shaolong hurriedly retracted his hand in fright.

Zhou Liang said apologetically, “I deliberately trained it not to get close to anyone else, I seek Great General’s forgiveness and understanding.”

Cheng Jun was more anxious about the enemy crossing the river and asked with utmost admiration, “So what should I do? If we allow the enemy to get behind us and cut off our paths, followed by a frontal assault, we’ll be in dire situation.”

Xiang Shaolong did not reply him first but said to Zhou Liang instead, “Brother Zhou will be in charge of taking note of our enemy’s activities on the opposite bank. You can rest during the day but once it’s dark, you have to be extra vigilant.”

Zhou Liang asked excitedly, “So should I go back to the tent with Eagle King now and nap?”

Xiang Shaolong chortled, “Exactly!”

After Zhou Liang left, Xiang Shaolong told Cheng Jun, “General Cheng, you don’t have to worry. Just leave it to me to burn the woods and deal with the enemy troops on the opposite bank. You’ll just have to take good care of our base camp and instruct everyone to take turns and rest during the day so that they will have the energy to deal with our enemy at night.”

Drum beats can be heard from the enemy side.

A few hundred war chariots rushed out, followed by thousands of foot soldiers approached them steadily.

Xiang Shaolong sighed, “The enemy has found out that my reinforcements have arrived so now they’re starting their relentless attacks.”

He turned towards Cheng Jun and added, “Now do you understand why I said they can only take turns to rest.”

Cheng Jun replied with total admiration, “I am enlightened.”

Xiang Shaolong was secretly finding it comical that he is winning because he has 2000 more years of military knowledge. He just have to randomly choose one or two beautiful tricks from famous ancient wars and he’ll be able to make use of them.

He immediately snuck out of camp with the 18 Warriors and rode along the bank upstream.

Just like what Cheng Jun has said, there were tall fire beacons every 10 miles along the way, each about 50 feet high and at the platform on top there was a wooden beam about 30 feet tall with a horizontal board which can be moved up and down the beam so that the soldiers can climb up to look far away. At the edge of every board there was a large cage stuffed with hay. If they see traces of the enemy, it will give out smoke during the day and fire during the night and with the appropriate signal, inform them of the enemy’s numbers and distance.

There’s also a huge drum at the top of the platform, made for long distance communication.

But in Xiang Shaolong’s perspective as a Special Task Force member, as long as the night is dark with no moon and making use of floating devices, it’s not impossible to cross the river and get rid of the signal men atop these beacons. Once he thought of this, he shuddered, already knowing what the enemy is waiting for.

They are waiting for a dark and moonless night, when dark clouds will cover the night sky.

Only under such a situation will they be able to carry out the sudden sneak attack by moving their troops across the river.

Xiang Shaolong came to the where Zhou Liang had pointed out, about 20 miles upstream and realized that the water is less rapid around this area and there are no dangerous cliffs on either side of the bank, an ideal place to build floating bridges to cross the river.

And it just so happens that there is a beacon there as well. From this it can be seen that when Meng Ao was building these beacons, he did put a lot of effort into it.

By now he knows what he should do and went back to camp.

The war cries of the enemy as well as their own men rang in the frontlines but the soldiers at the camp are all so used to it and those who have been given permission to rest are all sleeping, seemingly immune to the deafening battle drums and cries.

Xiang Shaolong went around on inspection and gave encouragement to the troops. He felt like he’s the Minister of Defence who is visiting the hardworking soldiers at the frontline as everyone cheered when he approached and morale was boosted.

In the wars of ancient civilization, the morale of an army can directly influence the success or failure of a battle.

When he returned to his commander’s tent, he saw Zhou Liang feeding fresh rabbit meat to Eagle King. As it turned out, he was unable to fall asleep.

Xiang Shaolong smiled, “Don’t worry, as long as the sky remains clear, the enemy will find it difficult to cross the river. So don’t be too tensed.”

Zhou Liang heaved a sigh of relief, “That’s much better.”

Xiang Shaolong fell into a deep sleep once he returned to his tent and dreamt of Ji Yanran, the other ladies and Xiang Bao’er. He also dreamt of Qin Qing, whom he has lost contact for a long time and when he woke up he was hit with a painful wave of yearning.

That night, their enemy intensified their attacks and threw huge rocks with their siege machines and destroyed the Qin’s first line of wooden barriers and filled up the ditches. The Qin army was forced to retreat to their second line of defense about half a mile away and only manage to drive the enemy away when they increased their numbers. There were casualties on both sides but of course the enemy suffered much larger losses as they are the attackers.

The next evening, Jing Jun leading an elite team of 2,000 cavalry arrived in camp and reported that the wounded and sick soldiers who were withdrawn are already on their way towards Zuicheng, and the grand army can come tonight.

Xiang Shaolong told Jing Jun about the enemy’s intention to cross the river. Jing Jun commented, “The sky is red in the morning and night, looking at the sky it’ll definitely rain within these two nights. You can leave this matter to me. The enemy will need at least one night’s work in order to build a floating bridge large enough to cross the river.”

Cheng Jun who was standing by the side asked, “What does General Jing intend to do?”

Jing Jun thought for a moment before replying, “I will withdraw the sentry at the beacons there and if the enemy is bold enough to cross the river, I will wait until they are right in the middle of the river where they cannot retreat or advance and launch a massive attack. We just have to put a few dozen siege engines up there and I’ll make them drink the waters of River De.”

Xiang Shaolong complimented him, “Xiao Jun have indeed improved a lot. You’ll be in total charge of this matter. Just remember that you must bring Zhou Liang with you.”

He then asked Jing Shan in and ordered him, Wu Guang, Wu Da and Dan Quan to prepare torches and to climb the hill to burn the forest once it’s night.

After the various teams of men have set off, Teng Yi’s ‘reinforcement troops’ arrived.

Dotted across the hills were campfires and lights, most of them were lanterns hung up in the air. There were only a few thousand men but it was made to look as if an impressive tens of thousands men were there.

That night, dark clouds indeed covered the sky. The clouds were thick but yet to rain, a most opportune time for sneak attacks.

Xiang Shaolong went up the viewing post at the frontline and saw that their enemy has gathered a large group of chariots, horses and foot solders with a few thousand siege engines and were preparing for a massive attack. Instead the dense woods on the left was totally quiet so he can imagine that in the midst of the battle, if a huge group of soldiers were to suddenly charge out from there, they will certainly be able to break through their solid defenses.

War drums were heard and the Wei army led the attack, moving in from the right. The atmosphere suddenly became tense.

On the left near the bank, the Zhao army followed by moving in as well and immediately their morale was greatly boosted.

After working with each other countless times, the coordination of the coalition army is now flawless. No wonder that the Qin army has to take a defeat every time.

The war drums sounded again and close to a thousand chariots rushed out from the middle of the enemy formation, followed by tens of thousands of archers behind them. Because they do not have cumbersome machineries like the siege machine, they were able to overtake the Wei and Zhao armies on both sides in an instant and come straight at them.

The chariots were about ten feet wide with two huge wheels on the sides, pulled along by four handsome horses. It’s speed was astounding, giving one the feeling of great power and in an instant they have crossed the flattened ditches, crossed the first line of defense that was destroyed and approaching the rolling hills at the end of the flat grassland.

Just as Xiang Shaolong was about to give the order to meet the attack head on, the chariots suddenly stopped and the horses were unbridled. The chariots were joined together to form a camp about two miles long.

The strangest thing is that every 30 feet, there will be a space wide enough for three men to pass side by side, making one wonder what is the use of that.

By now the enemy’s foot soldiers came up running and after hiding behind the chariots, prepared their crossbows and arrows to prevent the Qins from coming out and counterattacking.

As the chariots were out of the range of the siege machines, Xiang Shaolong had no way of retaliating.

Cheng Jun sighed, “Great General’s prediction is correct. Our enemy’s move is to block our way in front and if they can really attack us from the back, we’ll definitely cannot escape from the fate of being exterminated.”

At this point in time they saw another team of vehicles coming up but it’s no ordinary chariots but cumbersome supply trains. It advanced at an achingly slow pace, even with eight donkeys they were dragging them with much labor so it’s obviously those vehicles are filled with things like rocks.

Only now did Xiang Shaolong and Cheng Jun understand that the gaps that the chariots left in between earlier is to let these rocks vehicles pass to build another layer of base defenses nearer to themselves.

If they were to allow the other party to build up this vehicle base, their second line of defense may very well be breached by tonight.

But because the other party has already prepared chariots and archers for protection, they indeed have a chance to succeed in using vehicles to build up a base camp.

War cries were heard from their two sides, the enemy on their left and right are beginning their attacks.

Xiang Shaolong surveyed the area and according to his estimation, the enemy has at least invested 200,000 men in tonight’s attack and their actual force is already more than twice of theirs. If their base camp is breached, they can only just wait to be killed.

On the enemy’s side, five different colored banners were hung high up as they organized their formation. He can expect that Han Chuang will be one of them.

Cheng Jun and the other dozen odd generals all turned pale, obviously shell-shocked by their enemy’s expertise in military stratagems and their overwhelming manpower.

Xiang Shaolong calculated the time and gave his order, “Call for a batch of 10,000 strong shield soldiers and archers, prepare the siege machines. When the dense forest on the left side is on fire, leave camp immediately and attack to destroy the enemy’s vehicle fortress.”

The immediately went to carry out the orders.

War cries were heard again, a team of close to a thousand foot soldiers dashed out from the vehicle fortress and shot out fiery arrows.

The Qin’s army camp immediately retaliated by throwing rocks to stop the enemy.

It’s an extremely tragic situation. The originally dark sky is now shining a bloody red from all the fires being lighted.

It’s the first time that Xiang Shaolong is personally experiencing a large scale attack and defense battle in ancient settings. He could feel his adrenalin rushing and at the same time a sense of sorrow welled up in him. This sort of mixed feelings is something that he cannot really explain.

When the enemy’s hundred odd supply trains carting rocks and their siege machines were slowly approaching them, the dense forest on the right suddenly caught fire in a few areas and the fire was quickly spreading.

Just as Xiang Shaolong expected, countless soldiers who were in hiding ran out in alarm from the forest, most of them were riders who are the most reflexive.

The morale of Cheng Jun and the others were greatly boosted and their confidence in Xiang Shaolong soared as their enemy started panicking.

The war drums of the Qin army started beating as their gates opened and three groups of shield soldiers advanced forward with the archers following behind, launching a counterattack before the enemy’s vehicle fortress had a chance to be formed again.

About 10,000 odd cavalry dashed out from the left and right sides simultaneously, charging at and killing the enemy and to disrupt the enemy’s two huge army at the sides.

For a moment tens of thousands of men were thrown into the battle, bodies filled the plains and blood flowed like river.

Only now did Xiang Shaolong realize how brave and elite the Qin army is. On first contact they had dispersed the enemy’s frontlines, killing them so mercilessly that they abandoned their vehicles and escaped. The most fatal blow to the enemy is that their transport vehicles and chariots have now become the stumbling blocks to their escape route and now the Qin archers can come nearer behind their vehicle base and launch a long distance attack while the enemy is still in frenzy.

War drums were heard again.

The Qin’s archers now rushed out in a swarm to take over the cavalry who are now retreating back to camp, leaving behind a mess of overturned and burning chariots in their wake and totally disintegrating the enemy’s first wave of attacks.

Xiang Shaolong knows that because the other party wants to coordinate the attacks with the surprise troops who will be crossing the river to attack, they will not give up the battle so easily now. Their own wooden barriers and forts had been destroyed in many places either by the huge rocks thrown at them or burned by the fiery arrows, so he ordered the main force to retreat to the third line of defense.

By now the dense forest on the right is all covered in a fiery blaze, illuminating the whole battlefield with a reddish glow.

After their enemy retreated, the 50,000 to 60,000 enemy soldiers, under the cover of their various protection vehicles, launched a three pronged attack from the left, middle and right. This is the second wave of attack.

The battle thus continued in such heart-stopping situation.

The injured soldiers were constantly carried off the camp and by the time the second line of defense was almost lost, the sun was up. The enemy was too tired to continue and had to retreat.

Jing Shan and the rest returned safely at this point and Xiang Shaolong finally eased his worry.

Reports later came that Jing Shan had waited until after the enemy have built the floating bridges and were crossing it before launching a massive attack to destroy the floating bridges, causing the enemy to lose close to 10,000 men.

The morale of the Qin army soared immediately on hearing this news.

But Xiang Shaolong knows that they are bound to lose and won’t be able to last thru this night and gave the orders for men to be retreated in batches. But he did not forget to put up a show so that the enemy won’t see through his plan.

After breakfast, the enemy launched their attacks again. Obviously they are still unaware that the river crossing soldiers had met with mishap.

They braced themselves until dusk and the second line of defense was finally lost. It’s now time for the total retreat.

Xiang Shaolong is the last batch to leave. The whole camp was engulfed in flames, even spreading to the nearby hills so that it will make it difficult for the enemy to come after them. Only in such dangerous mountainous terrains can they make use of such methods to block the pursuing soldiers.

The coalition army indeed fell for the trap and ran after them.

Xiang Shaolong set up another second base at the westward roads and put up defenses there and had another round of fierce fighting with the coalition army for another five days until the main force had safely left the area. He then made a detour around the camp and escaped, planting traps and spikes along the way so that the enemy’s cavalry will have difficulty running after them in full speed.

They had a few more skirmishes after that, and pretended to be defeated every time. By the time they retreated until Zuicheng, Xiang Shaolong knows that success is already at hand.

A Step into the Past

A Step into the Past

尋秦記, 寻秦记
Score 8.5
Status: Completed Type: Author: Native Language: Chinese
A lecherous army special task force soldier from 21st-century Hong Kong is selected to travel back in time, choosing to go to the Chinese Warring States Period. Unfortunately, the time machine runs into an error during the experiment. With no foreseeable way to return to the present, he must use his combat skills and knowledge of history to thrive in his new life in the year 251 BC.


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