Chapter 49: War Sometimes Looks Overwhelming
Reinforcements are not coming.
Throughout the Zhao army, it collectively collapsed in light of this news, but no one expressed anger or fury, suppressing it within.
All the commanders spread Zhao Kuo’s declaration, dispelling the anger and leaving no one to speak another word of reinforcements.
Some men began bawling on the ground, and other men took out various keepsakes of all sorts. Perhaps a token of safe return from an elderly mother, perhaps lover’s handkerchief, or perhaps children’s toys from home.
They are all aware. They have all been marked for death.
They are also aware, with their death will be the assured defeat of the army. In this impossible situation, the only hope is for their sacrifice to preserve the peace of Zhao and their families.
Then, they can only fight, even if they cannot reunite with those who bid them farewell many years ago.
For a man born to this world to abandon his wife and children, he is anything but a man!
This was no longer about one’s loyalty to the nation, but the responsibilities of family.
Towards those Qin dogs, if one comes, I will kill one. If two comes, then I will kill two. I, a man of Zhao, can still kill you!
The Zhao army was thinned to four hundred thousand men and entering the seventh day of the siege. Wavering morale would be a normal sight, but within this army, their thoughts were steady and coordinated.
Even so, knowing that this war must be won, it added more determination into their hearts.
When the situation is most dire, man can rebel against fate.
This was Zhao Kuo’s plan, to incite these four hundred thousand men to fight with him against the encroaching Qin army.
“Ka, laaa.” The thick, broad doors were pushed open with two rows of soldiers.
Through the open gates, a group of heavy cavalry rode out in a precise manner. Their faces were all covered with the signature bronze helmets of the Iron Cavalry. The fanged decorations radiated a chilling ferocity, the same as the long halberds in their hands.
The sounds of horse hoofs striking the dirt may seem disorganized, but it thundered loud enough to make a person feel tremors inside.
Gu Nan rode out on Blackie. The bronze surfaces turned cold and spread a chill through her, yet her bare hand felt a scalding numbness as it gripped her spear.
It’s possible this battle would be the climax of the entire campaign, but Gu Nan’s brows furrowed at the thought. At the Battle of Changping, the Zhao army should’ve been besieged for much longer, about forty-five days. Whereas now, it’s not even been ten.
According to the battlefield reports, the Zhao army’s morale has been falling day by day. Now was the time for Qin’s final attack. The cavalry was tasked with punching an opening through the Zhao defensive lines, followed closely by the Qin infantry, which will continue the push forward through the enemy camp.
Under the pressure of six hundred thousand soldiers, the Zhao army has no chance of winning.
Gu Nan’s shoulder also still felt sore from the arrow wound, indicating its half-healed state.
But this alone was extraordinary. Her recovery speed was enough to have others exclaim in astonishment. If any ordinary person was struck with an arrow, could they recover so soon? Perhaps several months would be needed.
Maybe I’m just thinking too much… Gu Nan silently thought to herself.
A starving force of four hundred thousand would struggle merely fighting together, much less against six hundred thousand elites.
Command of the cavalry was split among two generals. One was Meng Wu, atop his flashy white horse. In conjunction with him was a more seasoned commander, Wang He.
Bai Qi will not be participating in the combat. After a long discussion with Wang He, both agreed that this war wouldn’t end so quickly, and that it would better to not unveil Bai Qi’s presence as the commanding general.
“Brother Gu, I will compete with you this battle. Let’s see which one of us is the mightier warrior.” Meng Wu boldly proclaimed, displaying his perfect white teeth.
“Quiet.” Wang He frowned with a displeased glare at Meng Wu. “The battlefield is not merely a place to show off your strength. Learn a bit from Nan’er. A large battle is about to begin and she still remains composed. This is the how a true general should behave.”
Wang He and Meng Wu’s father, Meng Ao, are old friends, and he didn’t dare argue with this uncle of his. He shrank his head down and looked rather pitiable.
Gu Nan nodded her head politely and smiled back. “Many thanks for your praise, General Wang.”
“Good. Not arrogant, nor hot-headed, ideal.” With a meaningful expression towards Gu Nan, he spoke, “After your first battle, you’ve changed a lot. Much better than this incompetent Wu.”
“I’m really not incompetent.” Meng Wu mumbled, but Wang He quickly shut him up with a glare.
Wang He smiled lightly, and turned back, expression sunken once more.
I hope Old Bai’s prediction was right. It’d better if this battle ended quickly.
“Attention!” Wang He’s weathered but powerful voice resounded from the heights of the camp.
With the neighing of the horses, the army lurched forward, rumbling the mountain beneath. The tens of thousands of horses stomped up clouds of dust.
A faint smoke rose up from the Zhao camp. The soldiers huddled around the fires and ate. Two or three people shared a piece of dried food, and their hands were specked with dark soot.
For two days, this was the fodder they ate. Their stomachs felt shriveled and strength halved. Even lifting swords became tedious under their weak grips.
In the center of the group was a pot of boiling water, without it, they would truly be unable to stomach these edible rocks of dried food.
Suddenly, they saw the water in their pot ripple and vibrate. Each of them turned their heads towards the horizon.
Listening carefully, it’s possible to hear the approaching rumble of pounding feet.
A few breaths later, the sounds became heavier and heavier. Then, they saw the sweeping dust and smoke near the horizon.
“The Qin army is attacking!”
Hungry and strengthless Zhao soldiers let out a loud roar, equipping their swords and spears at haste.
The swords still rattled in their hands like the days before, that hadn’t changed. But their eyes, they were like tigers and wolves.
Behind the worn, half-meter palisade, countless Zhao soldiers assembled, hoisting their swords and spears.
In the winter, the luster of swords shines cold.
In the near distance, the Qin Iron Cavalry straightened their lances.
The horses accelerated at the repeated urges of their riders, reaching their maximum momentum. Moving faster than the wind, the soldiers and their mounts sent gusts rollings.
The hundreds of meters that spanned the two armies was traversed in only a few seconds.
A sound that shook the skies was heard.
Within it was the cries of horses and the sound of swords clashing.
The battle cries and the screams of soldiers were drowned out by the chaos of war.