Translated with: Jia<3
Warning: Horse Abuse :V
Raindrops rolled down the curved blade, dripping along its sharp edge.
The horse under Hasen was snorting hot puffs of air. Hasen had already been waiting for a long time in the rain. It was three-quarters past the hour of hai. The world had completely descended into darkness.
Hasen had a head full of red hair. He was not like the men of Dazhou, who typically tied their hair up in a bun; instead, he had it trimmed short, with a small pigtail tied at the back of his head.
After Huhelu’s death, Bayin was transferred over to Hasen’s side. He tugged at the reins as he followed behind Hasen and wrapped up his treasured military books before putting them back under his robe on his bosom. Cautiously, he asked, “How are you certain he will not escape?”
Hasen scratched at his rain-drenched hair, letting it pile up in a mess as he replied, “He was very bold when fighting Huhelu. To put it in the words of those from Dazhou, he is adept in the art of deception. I heard that he’s the youngest son of the Prince of Libei, a wolf pup; as long as there’s a chance to counterattack, he’ll definitely not choose to flee.”
Bayin said, “He’s indeed very bold, and also very cautious.”
“Compared to his elder brother, Xiao Chiye is an impulsive man.” Hasen, having said to this point, was a little bashful. “Even though I’m no genius, I know the pride of a genius. No matter how he warns himself, he will still lose a little of his prudence after defeating our powerful Huhelu at the Shasan camp. His desire to win is too strong. Bayin, even I can feel it. Like my father, he won’t allow himself to cower and retreat. This is his strength, but also his weakness.”
Bayin quietly petted the horse. “Will we win?”
“We will definitely win.” When he said this, his eyes were bright and his words powerful, “He can’t beat me.”
Hasen and Xiao Chiye had similar combat styles, with the way they fought their battles both wild and unrestrained. Both Qi Zhuyin and Lu Guangbai had been put through the wringer at his hands one after another, but he and Xiao Chiye were polar opposites in terms of their personalities. He was introverted and even a little bashful; the beautiful maidens of the Biansha Twelve Tribes all had their eyes on him, yet just their gazes alone would make him go red in the face. He was Amu’er’s favorite son, and this was not only due to the formidability of his mother’s clan, but also because of his character.
Xiao Fangxu enjoyed nurturing little wolves in the wild. He even liked training his sons with hard knocks until they went howling in pain; but Amu’er was the exact opposite. Before Hasen had come of age, Amu’er never allowed Hasen to leave his side. Every battle that Hasen fought during his earlier years was all taught by Amu’er himself in person.
“You are also a genius.” Bayin responded as an afterthought.
Hasen laughed out loud as he wiped his scimitar and shook his head. “Bayin, I’m not. I’m an ordinary man. I merely found my own path from battling against geniuses. To be honest, before heading north, I was worried about meeting Xiao Jiming here, because Xiao Jiming and Qi Zhuyin belong to the same category of commanders. They’re better at defense than offense. Do you understand? Not in the typical sense of defense, but one that leaves you with nowhere to make your moves and unable to find any vulnerability to attack; they are thorny to deal with. But Xiao Chiye isn’t the same. He’s very…” Hasen struggled to think of a description. In the end, he laughed, “I can’t put my finger on it, but he obviously has plenty of shortcomings, and he isn’t even trying to hide them.”
“Then he’s arrogant.” Bayin herded the horse over to Hasen’s side. He raised his hand and lightly tapped Hasen’s shoulder. “You are our new Great Hero, the eagle of the desert, and the future husband of Duo’erlan. It doesn’t matter how humble you are; Hasen, in our eyes, you are a genius bestowed upon the Hanshe Tribe by the gods. You are not inferior to anyone else.”
“Thank you.” Hasen said, “My good friend, you should’ve come to my side earlier.”
The both of them traded looks and exchanged smiles. All of a sudden, they heard a few urgent whistles resounding through the night. Hasen raised his head to the sky, and a raindrop landed between his brows; it was no longer pouring like it had during the day. He patted the horse, looking westward of the Tudalong Banner. “It’s time for us to haul in the net.”
◈ ◈ ◈
Hasen’s elite forces did not enter the battleground at all; the troops he had set before Xiao Chiye were all regular troops that were originally stationed east of the Tudalong Banner. Moreover, the troops he deployed to the eastern mountain range had a firm grip on Zhao Hui, preventing Zhao Hui from turning around and providing reinforcements. The path towards the battlefront was also obstructed; he had turned the Tudalong Banner into a sack-like trap to ensnare Xiao Chiye with.
Xiao Chiye had no way out. Hasen had long prepared for him an elite force that was all recharged and raring to go in the east. Even if Xiao Chiye opted to escape, Hasen would also chase him down closely on horseback, so that Xiao Chiye, with the exposed vulnerability on his back, would once again become the target of the hunt.
The sound of horse hooves rang out once again, this time accompanied by torches that pressed in from the east. The exhausted Imperial Army could only retreat. Although the rain had stopped, the chill had intensified. Even Tantai Hu had no choice but to huff warm air in his frozen hands.
Xiao Chiye walked in the mud, with the huffing and panting of the soldiers behind him. They had to retreat back to the marshland of the Tudalong Banner as soon as possible. But Hasen did not miss this opportunity. His elite forces had eaten their fill during the day, and now, they were lashing hard at their horses to spur them on, giving the Imperial Army no time to retreat at all. The Imperial Army that had been split into small groups hid themselves among the shrubbery and grassy fields, but Hasen’s troops were meticulous in their scouting and left them with nowhere to conceal themselves.
Gu Jin, who had good hearing, very quickly discerned that the horses’ hooves were coming this way.
Xiao Chiye raised an arm to wipe his cheek and looked back at the pitch-black night. Flames abruptly lit up the horizon. Hasen’s cavalry was like the falcon encroaching upon the sky not far away, its two wings spread out as it charged forth in what seemed like a glide.
“Master.” Gu Jin led his own horse out. “You should leave first!”
“Mount your horse and head north.” Xiao Chiye remained where he was. “Pass on military information along the way and tell them to withdraw back to the marshland. Tell Tantai Hu not to persist in fighting and to retreat immediately.”
The Biansha Cavalry was getting closer. Xiao Chiye could even hear the sounds of horses snorting hot air. Gu Jin remained in place and hesitated for a moment. Xiao Chiye said with calm and composure, “I have several hundred men here. It’s not a problem to fight and retreat at the same time. I will make plans again once we retreat inside the marshland.”
Gu Jin knew that Xiao Chiye would not change his command at his time, so he mounted his horse, whipped it into action, and charged into the night.
◈ ◈ ◈
Hasen had already seen the figures. The cavalry whistled, as though they were encircling the wild beasts in the desert. They did not rely on military flags to convey messages. The whistle rapidly relayed from the center army to both flanks. Following right after, the cavalry on both flanks turned their horses around to assemble in the center, turning the falcon with its wings spread into a straight arrow whose target was Xiao Chiye!
In war, speed was everything.
Hasen knew the consequences of hesitation. When it came to Xiao Chiye, he had to fight a quick battle. Otherwise, if Xiao Chiye were to retreat to the marshland and get the opportunity to catch his breath, it could very well lead to the next surprise attack on them.
“That’s him!” Bayin followed closely behind and pointed at Xiao Chiye as he hollered in Biansha language. “Xiao Chiye!”
Hasen pulled off his scimitar and bent low at the same time. He did not need Bayin to remind him; he had already recognized Xiao Chiye. Xiao Chiye’s height and appearance were far too conspicuous. His expression as he pursed his lips and looked back was simply identical to Xiao Fangxu.
Xiao Chiye wrung the dripping wet strip of cloth and swiftly wrapped it tightly around the space between his thumb and index finger. He watched as the cavalry pressed in towards them, his attention all but sucked away but Hasen’s red hair. He counted the distance quietly. Just as Hasen’s horse was about to trip on the rope, Hasen suddenly turned sideways and lowered his arm to slice the rope that had been hidden among the grass with one blow.
The cavalry at the back dashed their way in without a hitch.
The galloping cavalrymen brandished their scimitars, but Xiao Chiye did not move. In the blink of an eye, the hooves of the Biansha’s horses sank into the camouflage horse pits, sending a number of men tumbling off their horses once more. The people in front fell to the ground, but Hasen, who was at the back, seemed to have anticipated it. That one step he had taken a beat slower earlier had been meant to test the grounds.
Xiao Chiye raised his finger, and the Imperial Army jumped over the shrubs and broke into a dash.
Hasen’s horse was snorting hot air as Hasen blew the whistle again. These hastily dug pits for trapping horses were not deep enough, and they were able to simply leap over to give chase right behind Xiao Chiye.
Hasen’s target was clear, and that was Xiao Chiye. As long as he could kill Xiao Chiye, the scattered Imperial Army would be just a bunch of men without a leader. The grain wagons within the marshland of the Tudalong Banner would then naturally fall into their hands.
Xiao Chiye stepped through the mud. A horse had already caught up next to him. The Biansha Cavalryman on the horse barked at Xiao Chiye in Biansha language. Xiao Chiye leaped forward and crouched down on stable feet to dodge the scimitar coming towards him. Following right after, he sliced apart the Biansha Cavalryman’s saddle. Threatened by the blade, the startled horse was thrown into disorientation. Xiao Chiye caught hold of the cavalryman’s arm that had been wielding the blade, but instead of hacking it off, he yanked hard on it to flip himself up the horse. Unable to withstand the force of gravity, the cavalryman tumbled off the horse, sending up a spray of mud.
The horse of the Gouma Tribe, having had a change of masters, wretchedly flung its head from side to side and refused to run anymore. Behind him, Hasen was pressing in close towards him. Xiao Chiye clamped down hard on the belly of the horse and yanked the reins, forcing the horse to crash its way through at an angle.
Hasen had been too hurried in his pursuit of Xiao Chiye. Muddy water went splashing as both horses collided. Langli Blade went slicing through the air towards Hasen’s chest with such ferocity that Hasen did not dare to be negligent and parried the blow with all his strength.
Hasen’s arms sank, and the scimitar almost slipped out of his hand under Xiao Chiye’s force. He immediately understood just how extraordinary Xiao Chiye’s arm strength was, so he avoided the glint as Xiao Chiye hacked down on him, no longer meeting Xiao Chiye head-on with force.
The cavalrymen who were successively catching up behind them clung close to their horses’ backs. The horse beneath Xiao Chiye stirred restlessly as they reached out with their scimitars to sever his horse’s front knees. The horse whinnied in pain, and its entire front body fell over into the mudhole.
Xiao Chiye rolled off his horse. He was already surrounded.
The Biansha Cavalrymen formed a circle around Xiao Chiye, and the fleeing Imperial Army swore and cursed out loud, “Bloody hell, the Viceroy fell off!”
The Imperial Army who had yet to spring into the Tudalong Banner promptly turned back, drew their blades, and lunged into the group of cavalrymen. They followed suit, doing what was done earlier; as long as they could not hang onto the Biansha Cavalry and leap onto their horses, they would hack off the horses’ legs and send the Biansha Cavalry tumbling off their horses. They kept what Xiao Chiye had said firmly in mind—the Biansha Cavalry was not skilled at standing on the ground and fighting at close quarters.
But that was directed at the troops that had been crossing swords with the Libei Armored Cavalry in the north.
Hasen had fought battles with Dazhou’s best infantry in the south. The one who had clashed with him was Lu Guangbai, and Xiao Chiye’s experience with cavalrymen, to sum it up, had all come from Lu Guangbai. Hasen’s elite forces were not the least bit afraid of landing on the ground at all. On the contrary, they were rather composed and unhurried when they faced up against the Imperial Army after dismounting. They did not even need any buffer time at all; they could fight the instant they got up after rolling to the ground.
The Imperial Army, who had never suffered a defeat before, cursed in unison.
These fuckers are even stronger than us!
Special Thanks: to Yu! <3