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Chapter 42: We Must Try
“Not long ago, about the time you arrived at Yin Mountain, I heard about your Treasure Light Temple.” Li Xixing was silent for a moment and looked at the round-faced young woman. “This means you are the female disciple of Treasure Light Temple, Hu Jingjing.”
The round-faced young woman nodded and said, “I am Hu Jingjing.”
Li Xixing turned around to look at Hu Jingjing and said, “You are the same as all Treasure Light Temple cultivators. You were forced here. You do not hate? You should know, even if you have special sect tactics, us going to lure away the cavalry is actually not very different than going to our deaths.”
“What is the difference?” Hu Jingjing looked at him and frowned slightly. “I too have heard about you. You were also forced to come here.”
Li Xixing shook his head. “Not the same. I have spent many years outside the forts and am used to everything here. But you came not long ago, and also, I was not forced here by the army.”
Hu Jingjing shook her head as well. “There is no difference, especially when you see many people fight and die in front of you every day … They are following military orders for the Great Qin. If I hate, that is the future. Now, I am one of them.”
Li Xixing glanced at her. He did not have time to speak before Hu Jingjing turned to look towards where the wounded were. She said slowly in a low voice, “You should also know that cultivators like us are existences which the enemy will pay attention to immediately in battle. Many of the people lying there are wounded because of me.”
“If this is not possible, if there is a time when the two of us cannot escape but I can, I will flee.” He told her after a long silence. “If you are certain you want to try luring away the cavalry.”
Li Xixing said three “ifs” which caused his words to sound awkward. But Hu Jingjing quickly understood his meaning. She bowed seriously to Li Xixing. “Thank you!”
The reason for her thanks was because Li Xixing originally did not have to do such a dangerous thing. And now, he had to fight for his life with her.
“Follow me.” Li Xixing coldly turned around. To him, this was his own choice.
Hu Jingjing silently followed behind Li Xixing. The two walked quickly and disappeared from the sights of the soldiers in the meadow.
Looking in the direction the round-faced young woman, who had not been with them for long but left a deep impression on them, all the soldiers solemnly bowed, led by the three commanders.
The grasslands beyond Yin Mountain were desolate to begin with, especially when this was not close to any habited areas.
Hu Jingjing followed behind Li Xixing. The more they walked, the quieter it became. She gradually felt she was forgotten by the world and consumed by the desolate grass. She looked at this figure who was much larger than her but was only a young man. Her eyes were filled with curiosity. She could not imagine how such a person adjusted to walking alone in this wasteland.
“If I cannot go, and you can, go alone. The rulers of this area are not the Qin or Wuzhi, but the wolf packs. They can follow the scent of blood … the Wuzhi cavalry will follow the tracks of these wolf packs. Lone cultivators, especially those who are wounded and cannot fight for long, have only one chance for survival when encountering a large wolf pack. They need to find a large source of water.” The young person suddenly spoke.
She stilled slightly and said, “Why?”
“Because the large water sources in the steppes is also the drinking place for other fierce beasts. The wolf packs will be very cautious when active there, and they will only go at special times. It is not that the wolf pack cannot face lone beasts, but the natural order of the world. For example, an enormous army can always kill a lone cultivator, but the army will forever have awe towards cultivators. To us cultivators, those lone beasts are much easier to deal with than the wolf packs.”
Hu Jingjing nodded. Li Xixing explained in detail and she could not help but understand.
“I say all this to you to warn you this is very dangerous. This is more dangerous than anything you have not done before. Both you and I may face a difficult escape.” Li Xixing’s cold voice continued. “Since you said to me at the start that you are the direct disciple of Treasure Light Temple, then you must have comprehended the sword essence of the Treasure Light Transient Sword.”
Hu Jingjing said simply, “Yes.”
Li Xixing suddenly stopped and turned to Hu Jingjing. “With your cultivation, I fear you can only use Treasure Light Transient Sword once.”
Hu Jingjing frowned slightly and said, “Correct.”
“You feel there is hope, you feel you may be able to use such a sword essence to help me kill the commander of the cavalry with one blow, and cause chaos in the cavalry. This way, the cavalry may be delayed.” Li Xixing looked at Hu Jingjing. “Do you not think so?”
Hu Jingjing frowned deeper. “I do think so.”
“You do not understand the Wuzhi military.” Li Xixing said gravely, “Wuzhi has many times less the population than the Qin. Gathering three hundred thousand in their army is unprecedented in history. A three thousand person army, if corresponding to our Qin Dynasty’s standards, will be equal to our army of twenty to thirty thousand. The status of the commander in such an army is about the same as a Qin commander leading twenty to thirty thousand men. This kind of commander definitely will not be a cultivator weaker than us, and they will definitely have other cultivators as protection. So such a blow is almost impossible to assassinate the enemy commander.”
Hu Jingjing paled further. She thought for a breath and looked at Li Xixing. “My idea is impossible. But since you accepted my suggestion, are there other methods?”
Li Xixing said in a cool voice, “You cannot just use one blow, you need at least three, and each one has to be of different cultivation.”
Hu Jingjing unconsciously gritted her teeth. Then she slowly relaxed and said, “To make the enemy feel there are at least three Treasure Light Temple cultivators present?”
Li Xixing glanced at her and nodded. “These barbarians cannot understand the Treasure Light Temple so clearly, but they can at least distinguish what kind of sword essence it is. One or two cultivators cannot delay them in their steps, but if there are more than three cultivators, they will make a different choice.”
Hu Jingjing naturally knew what kind of price the three blows would cost. She took a deep breath and said, “I will do my best.”
Li Xixing narrowed his eyes slightly and said, “You do not do you best, you have to do it.”
Unfazed, Hu Jingjing corrected. “I will definitely do it.”
Li Xixing looked away from her towards another direction. He sensed the meaning in the wind and said, “This kind of cavalry will usually have three scout teams, about three to four hundred people. We have to quickly kill these people in order to get close to the main army. You cannot waste vital energy. So when I deal with these barbarians, you cannot use vital energy at all.”
Hu Jingjing nodded without hesitation. “I will be your close attendant.”
Li Xixing still did not look at her and kept looking in the direction. “The calvary is coming faster than I imagined. Do not be close to me. It is best if you stay on the perimeter and do not kill people. Do not kill all the barbarians, let some of them flee back, so they will feel there are many cultivators on this path waiting for them.”
Hearing these words, Hu Jingjing grew quieter, and felt more respect towards this youth from the Li Marquessate Establishment.
Some valleys in Yin Mountain were always windy. The wind did not sound strong, but the coldness seemed to stab into people’s bodies, especially when the newest military intelligence reached here. People’s hearts grew cold.
“What to do?”
Guo Feng looked at the newest military emergency file he had read repeatedly. Even though he had experienced many battles, his hands trembled uncontrollably. This would decide the lives of tens of thousands. At the same time, it would decide the lives of his three thousand subordinates.
After Yin Mountain was Guyu Pass. That was a pass for the Qin Dynasty, an important way in and out of the passes and also a grainary for the military.
At this time, there was a division of Wuzhi cavalry hurriedly making a detour and travelling towards the pass. This pass was also where multiple remnant divisions of Qin armies were resting and waiting for reinforcements! If this retreat was cut off, then tens of thousands of Qin soldiers would likely die in the wasteland.
That Wuzhi cavalry was described as at least ten thousand people, and Guyu Pass had less than two thousand guards. The army closest to Guyu Pass and may get there in time was their Imperial Guard Army!
The delivery of messages outside the passes were not as fast as in Changling, and they were suffering defeats so it was even harder to issue effective military orders. So the Qin military could only do their best to deliver military intelligence.
All urgent military missives required the commanders who received the news to judge and handle for themselves.
Now, Guo Feng had two choices. They could send three thousand people to die together, or reach the Donghu border as their orders said. Because he could not make a choice, he wanted to listen to Ding Ning’s opinion at this time.
“We must try.”
Ding Ning did not think for long before answering Guo Feng.
Nangong Caishu remained silent but her sword started to tremble. She had not expected such a change.
Everything was different from what she had expected.
Translator Ramblings: The general understanding I have is that the nomad tribes had the steppes which were a great resource but lacked other essentials such as productive farmland, gold, finery such as silk and other resources. Their invasions towards the south were consequently motivated by the need to support themselves.