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A Step into the Past Chapter 225

Volume 20 Chapter 6

Book 20 Chapter 6 – Battle Of Zuicheng

Huan Qi came about 30 miles out of the city to receive them. 

By now, the mounted troops which were originally made up of 10,000 cavalry and 20,000 backups were now left with a little over 20,000 men. From this it can be seen how intensive the battle chase was along the way.

They left the mountainous area and arrived at the wide open plains on the eastern side of Zuicheng where hills surround them on all sides. The Wei River that leads to the Yellow River is about 50 miles north, flowing from the west to the east. Because of the numerous hills, unless one climbs up to a tall spot, one won’t be able to see the grand view of the magnificent river flowing.

From Hangu all the way up north here, it’s a distance of 300 miles. 

Xiang Shaolong rode alongside Huan Qi as the army moved towards Zuicheng. The former saw that the defenses were done up very well, at the top of all the high points there were forts made from stones and said with satisfaction, “Xiao Qi is really capable. Just looking at the formation shown here will be enough to cause disappointment to Pang Nuan.”

Huan Qi was overjoyed to be complimented, “Great General is risking your life at the frontline, how can I just hide here and enjoy my luxuries. Now Zuicheng has joined the army that had just retreated and the total force is now about 150,000 and everyone has been resting to conserve their energy. They are very clear Great General has now arrived to help them defend Zuicheng and are aware that you are luring the enemy westward to tire them out before giving them a painful blow, so now they’re all rubbing their hands in anticipation and are willing to lay down their lives for Great General.”

Jing Jun who was behind them had always been very close and open with Huan Qi so he chided jokingly, “So Xiao Qi is so crafty to know how to spread rumors. Luckily these rumors have the effect of boosting morale, otherwise we’ll certainly have you punished under martial law.”

Everyone laughed.

Huan Qi waved at Zhou Liang, who was behind Xiang Shaolong and complimented, “Brother Zhou has made a great contribution this time. Now everyone in camp is addressing you as God of Eagles and once you’re around, no one will have to worry about sneak attacks from the enemy.”

Zhou Liang mouth split open into a wide smile as he caressed Eagle King who was on his shoulder and said some humbling words.

Amidst their jokes and conversation, they crossed the drawbridge over the river surrounding the city and went into the city.

The scene immediately gave Xiang Shaolong and the rest a huge shock.

The soldiers and civilians in the city have all gathered at the sides of the main street as they cheered wildly. It’s as if they have already won the battle and returned in pride but in fact, the actual main battle has not even started.

Three days later, the coalition army’s vanguards arrived at the eastern plains of Zuicheng.

Huan Qi made use of the fact that they were still tired from the long travel and their weakness in their unfamiliarity with the terrain to launch continuous attacks at them day and night, burning their camps and supplies. The coalition army was forced to retreat more than 20 miles before they could stabilize themselves but by then they have lose close to 10,000 men and the impact to their morale was especially great.

Xiang Shaolong and the rest made use of this time to rest and recover their strength, practicing their formation all day at Zuicheng.

From the Mohist military stratagems, Xiang and Teng chose the formation that is most suited for their enclosed situation, the ‘crab formation’, which is to abandon the usual way of concentrating their force in the middle upfront but to use ‘Frontal Troops’, and to concentrate their force on both sides to attack using ‘Secondary Troops’.

Because they are fighting with the city behind them, the ‘Frontal Troops’ can make use of the siege machines and archers situated on the high walls to strengthen their defenses so they’re not worried that the enemy will make a frontal full force attack.

As for the secondary troops on either sides, they will be made up of mainly the best mounted troops and with their thick blades, are most suitable in missions such as this that requires them to use slash and assault tactics.

The enemy came from the west and along the way there are numerous hills so that cumbersome attack vehicles and siege machines will have to be abandoned along the way, reducing the threat to the Qin army. Currently the only factor advantageous to the coalition army is their sheer numbers.

Now it’s slowing going into autumn and if the coalition army cannot take over Zuicheng before the arrival of the harsh winter, they will be stuck in an icy situation or maybe even lose the whole army. That’s why Xiang Shaolong is not worried that they will set themselves up for a long siege.

So as long as Xiang Shaolong is willing to leave the city to battle, Pang Nuan will only thank the Heaven and hope for a swift battle.

Ten days later, the coalition army moved closer to Zuicheng once again, slowing moving into the wide plains about 50 miles across outside the city of Zuicheng, setting up tents and camps on the side of the mountainous range and using war chariots to for defensive barriers. 

Xiang Shaolong gave orders to cease all attacks on the enemy and allow them to stabilize themselves.

But the impending arrival of the great battle is looming over both the enemy and their own men, tightening the nerves of everyone.

Another three days later, all the troops of the coalition army arrived. Xiang Shaolong and the rest stood on top of the city wall and looked over and on the surface, their enemy indeed looked energetic without a trace of fatigue at all.

Huan Qi looked more intently and after a while, said with a smile, “If we talk about the quality and training of the generals and soldiers, other than the Zhao army, the other four states in the coalition army are far below our standard. This time, General Meng kept getting defeated is due to the many years of fighting between them and Pang Nuan has already become very familiar with his fighting tactics. Therefore he can easily use various methods to target his weaknesses and hence gain victory.”

He paused and added, “General Wang Jian once said, looking at all the famed generals of the recent generation, only Bai Qi and Li Mu does not have a set formula in all their battles, nor do they follow any rules so others are unable predict their actions. As for the others, there will always be traces to be found. Now, General Wang should include General Xiang into that list as well.”

Xiang Shaolong chided jokingly, “You’re really getting better at boot-licking.”

Everyone joked and laughed together and the atmosphere relaxed. Teng Yi said, “Although the enemy suffered losses, they still have about 500,000 men left. But I’m not worried about that because all of them still harbor their own intentions and it’s not easy for them to work together. Besides the weather, water and terrain here is not advantageous to southern armies like the Chus. We’ve also blocked their nearby streams with rocks and sand so that it will make lives even more difficult for their tired soldiers. So although they have 500,000 men, we should take into consideration only 200,000 men, which is not far off from our own numbers. However we have solid city walls to protect us and we’re not worried about an extended war. The other party will have to hastily launch attacks to make the best use of time, so it’s needless to point out who will have the better advantage.”

Huan Qi looked far ahead and said, “Messengers are riding towards the left and right from the middle of the enemy camp. Obviously they are going to gather the various leaders to got to the middle army for a discussion. It seems like the enemy is going to launch a full scale attack soon.”

Xiang Shaolong had an idea and said nonchalantly, “In my opinion this is just a show put up for us. If I am Pang Nuan and my troops are really strong and energetic with high morale, I will pretend to look tired and listless to lure us out of the city to attack. Now that they are pretending to show how fierce and active they are, it goes to show that they are actually guilty of being afraid that we’ll attack them instead.”

By this point in time Cheng Jun has already regarded Xiang Shaolong as a general from Heaven and agreed with his comment, “It’s also written in military books, ‘Whether the soldiers and horses appear brave will determine my victory or weakness. If the formation of an army is neat it instead shows that I will not engage in battle’. Great General’s views are indeed wise.”

Huan Qi, Teng Yi and Jing Jun’s expressions all seemed interested.

Jing Jun immediately requested for permission to engage in battle.

Xiang Shaolong was worried that something will happen to him and ordered Huan Qi to back him up.

An hour later, the city gates opened and both of them, each leading 20,000 foot soldiers and cavalry as well as siege machines crossed over the plains and attacked the enemy formation.

Xiang Shaolong and Teng Yi led another force behind, in case they had to cover their retreat.

They fought until dusk, destroying a few enemy camps before coming back to the city.

The next day it was the enemy’s turn to approach for battle but the Qin army refused to come out, their only answer is a rain of arrows and the enemy had no choice but to return.

After three days of such tussles with both sides having casualties, on the fourth morning the coalition army finally lost their patience. Using their newly built siege vehicles, battering rams etc they launched a wide scale attack on the city. 

Xiang Shaolong insisted on not moving and waited until the enemy is exhausted and retreating before launching his full force and setting up the prearranged formation outside the city.

Although the coalition army was unwilling to face this battle, they also did not want to miss the opportunity of fighting. Even more so they were afraid of being flushed by the Qin army so they sent all their troops to set up formation on the other side of the plains as well.

Xiang Shaolong and Teng Yi went up a small hill near the middle of the army to survey the enemy’s military formation.

By then the sun has risen high up in the sky and the sun’s bright rays reflected off the armors and weapons on men on both sides. The glittering lights filled the plains on both sides, filled with the tense atmosphere of an impending battle.

The coalition army’s numbers are visibly lesser, only about 400,000 men split into five main formations.

The main force is concentrated in the middle, with foot soldiers forming the main bulk. In front of them are the chariots, behind them the cavalry, forming a front, middle, back formation.

On the left and right sides were swift cavalry.

The foot soldiers in the middle were further separated into nine small groups according to army type. The three at the foremost were the shield soldiers and light infantry while the other six groups were the main attack force consisting of the heavy armored infantry with about 20,000 men in each group holding defense equipment or weapons for long distance attacks like crossbows, spears, swords, shields, barricades, halberds etc. The space each group takes up and the distance between them fits the rule of military formations and they’re definitely not a motley crew.

Teng Yi sighed, “It may be Third Brother’s first attempt at leading an army but every time you predict things so accurately. Just like right now we’re avoiding the enemy’s main force in the middle and splitting our heavy infantry on the two sides, that’s indeed a very wise move. Now even if Pang Nuan knows that something is wrong, it’ll be difficult for him to change his formation. Besides he doesn’t even know that all of our cavalry carries a thick blade that’s at least half as formidable as Hundred Battles Blade which will guarantee to place our sword wielding enemy at a great disadvantage.”

The battle drums of the enemy suddenly rung out and the almost 3,000 chariots gathered at the front gave a shout and started advancing with the infantry coming right behind them.

It seems that Eagle King, which was perched on Zhou Liang’s shoulder, could feel the deadly battle atmosphere in the air and started flapping its wings and gave a low squawk. 

Xiang Shaolong gave orders to stay put and the battle drums sounded immediately while the signal soldiers informed Huan Qi and Jing Jun who were on both ends using signal flags.

Just as they were about to approach shooting distance, the first two rows of the 3,000 chariots which was split into six rows suddenly increased speed and rushed forward.

Every chariot, other than the driver and some vehicle personnel, there were also a team of vehicle infantry soldiers, each having their own duties,

The driver will control the vehicle, the vehicle personnel were given weapons like bows, crossbows, spears and halberds. Bows and crossbows will be used while they are still a distance away and spears and halberds will be used in close distance battles. The vehicle infantry will follow the chariots and work closely with the chariot to cover each other in defense and attack to magnify their fatality and defense.

The chariot’s driver and vehicle personnel need not walk so they are attired with heavy armor and are not worried about arrows. With the war horses charging, they can really ride roughshod over the battlefield. If they are allowed to break into the formation, the defending troops can forget about maintaining their formations again and if the enemy continues with another wave of attack, they will certainly be doomed.

For a moment shouts and drums were heard on both sides as arrows flew and battle cries filled the air.

The enemy’s cavalry on both two sides each sent out about 10,000 men to provide cover for the two sides of the centre attack force.

It’s finally the start of the great battle.

Xiang Shaolong waited until the enemy is within shooting distance before ordering the siege engines at the top of the city to be fired.

Huge rocks rained down on the approaching enemy chariots from time to time.

Even as the vehicles overturned and the people fell, there were still close to a hundred chariots still making their way forward.

Xiang Shaolong gave an order and the Qin soldiers at the front line fell back like receding waves, revealing the countless ditches behind which was dug to make the horses fall. The enemy never expected the Qin army to have such a trick and immediately the chariots overturned and the people fell off, giving the Qins the opportunity to finish them off.

Arrows rained down from above the city walls and the foot soldiers who have lost the protection of the chariots all fell to the ground. The scene was so horrible that Xiang Shaolong could not bear watching it but there was nothing he could do.

In war, it’s death for either you or me. There’s no place for compassion at all.

By now the enemy’s cavalry on the two sides have arrived.

Xiang Shaolong ordered the signal soldier to send out the flag signals and their own cavalry charged out from the left and right, each of them holding a broadsword and sliced their way through the sword wielding enemy cavalry, turning them into a mess as they fell off their horses.

The Qin’s cavalry have always been better than the eastern soldiers and now that they have a new weapon that is most suited to be used while on a horse, they are virtually unstoppable.

After Xiang Shaolong’s army shattered the enemy’s first wave of attack, they began to advance about a hundred steps forward towards the enemy’s second wave of attacking chariots and foot soldiers. They arranged their formation again and used catapults and arrows for long distance attacks on the enemy.

By now the enemy’s cavalry on both sides have lost terribly and the enemy’s center army was worried that they will lose their protection cover on the two sides and end up being attacked on three sides so they hurriedly retreated.

However, chariots may be unstoppable when they are charging forward but they are not very easily turned or maneuvered so now that they are hastily reversing right in the middle of battle, the chariots knocked against one another and there was extreme chaos.

But it’s not the fault of the coalition army for who would have thought that the cavalry on the two sides would be so utterly defeated so quickly.

Xiang Shaolong knows that the opportunity has arrived and once again gave orders for a full force attack.

Firsly Huan Qi and Jing Jun’s 20,000 odd cavalry on both sides were hot on the tails of the defeated enemy, followed by the 60,000 infantry who were behind the cavalry who charged towards the enemy formation on the two sides.

With a center army made up of 40,000 foot soldiers, 10,000 cavalry and 1,000 Wu family warriors, Xiang Shaolong started the attack on the enemy’s center army who were retreating. Their charge left the enemy’s corpses everywhere, blood flowed like rivers and the scene was extremely horrifying.

The cavalry on the two sides swiftly broke into the enemy’s formation and the coalition army panicked immediately as disruptions washed over them like waves and affected the whole situation.

Pang Nuan knows that something has gone wrong and sounded the drum signals to order the whole army to continue their fight against the enemy but now instead of being actively aggressive they have now become passive participants.

When the coalition army finally looked as if they are successfully keeping the Qin army away, Xiang Shaolong and a thousand Wu family warriors came charging out like tigers falling upon a flock of sheep, absolutely destroying the most formidable center army of the coalition army.

By now it goes without saying that the coalition army has lost and even if Sun Wu were to come back to life or if Bai Qi is here, they will not be able to overturn this outcome. After just an hour, the Chu army started by retreating and this move caused the coalition army to break down and the situation was chaotic.

The coalition army all abandoned their machinery and armor to escape, no longer having the energy to fight back at all.

The Qin army went after them for about 20 odd miles, killing about 80,000 of them and captured about 20,000 men.

Never has the coalition army been defeated so badly in their united effort to attack Qin.

That night, Xiang Shaolong set up camp in the mountains, planning to get a good rest before running after the enemy again the next day so that they can regain whatever land they had lost.

Suddenly his men came to report that they have captured the enemy’s Great General.

Xiang Shaolong did not even have time to wear his armor properly and dashed out of the tent to take a look. He was shocked to see a bloody and dirty looking Han Chuang being escorted dejectedly towards the tent. He saw Xiang Shaolong and said with a wry smile, “Brother Xiang, just give me an easy way out.”

Xiang Shaolong was startled and shouted, “Untie him immediately!”

His men all treated him with the respect due to a deity and on hearing that, cut off the ropes immediately.

After Xiang Shaolong ordered his men to clean and treat Han Chuang’s wounds, he invited him into the tent for a meal.

Han Chang laughed bitterly, “The story of Shaolong’s battle will be spread all across the land and your reputation will be on par if not better than Bai Qi. I concede defeat.”

Xiang Shaolong sighed, “We each work for different masters, this battle is something beyond all our control. Brother Han may sleep here tonight and you can ride back to your country tomorrow morning.”

Han Chuang was taken aback, “Shaolong, it’s a great crime to release en enemy general without permission, how can I not feel bad about it?”

Xiang Shaolong replied in all earnestly, “I can’t be bothered with this now. I will return your retainers to you as well. Brother Han, you must leave Qin’s borders as soon as possible. With the current situation, we have no choice but to pursue while we’re at an advantage.”

Han Chuang by nature is someone who’s afraid to die and now that he’s had this chance to live, he was overcome with tears of gratitude, “If I have to leave, I might as well go tonight. Ai! Shaolong is a true friend indeed.”

That night Shaolong sent Han Chuang and close to a thousand of his personal retainers away. The next morning, he sent the prisoners of war to Zuicheng and at the same time pursued the retreating enemy as well.

Although Pang Nuan tried to reassemble the coalition army along the way, but because of the low morale and lack of weapons and grains, they were forced to retreat in less than three days. Xiang Shaolong charged in and once again took control of Hangu Pass, totally destroying the dream of the five states to eliminate Qin.

Xiang Shaolong ordered the rebuilding of the pass and strengthen Hangu Pass’s defense ability. After winter, Xiao Pan sent an envoy with an imperial edict that he and Zhu Ji ordered, promoting Xiang Shaolong as Commander-General while the other officials were promoted by another rank. Huan Qi and Cheng Jun were both promoted to Great General while Teng and Jing were promoted to the rank of General. Zhou Liang was promoted to become Deputy General. The others were also rewarded according to the contributions they made. The soldiers were given three times of their pay and at that moment everyone was overjoyed.

Other than Cheng Jun who had to stay behind to guard Hangu Pass, Xiang Shaolong and the rest were summoned back to Xianyang to take over their new posts.

This battle has made Xiang Shaolong famous far and wide, his reputation is now above Wang Jian and Meng Ao and is now regarded together with Wang Jian as Western Qin’s two newest and bravest generals.

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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