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Chapter Forty-Nine: An Unannounced Battle
With the rhythmic beating of the metal hooves, the tremors of Guyu Pass grew stronger. The dust column they created obscured even the last light of dusk and caused the sky to look even more chaotic.
Yet with the sound of electricity cracking, all the Qin soldiers at the city gates suddenly saw whiteness.
Accompanied by a wolf-like scream, the Wuzhi cavalry soldiers pulled out their blades from beside their saddles in unison.These blades created cold light that shone on the faces of all soldiers on the tower.
In this suffocating mood, countless soldiers could not help but turn to gaze at the highest ranking commander of this city, Wu Qiwu. They could not understand why no military orders had not yet been issued.
Wu Qiwu did not look at the cavalry and turned to the mountain slope. He could barely discern the youth standing on a tall rock. He could not help but feel respect. Even if this was a great gamble, no matter what, this youth was able to maintain such a calm with a great army pressing in. Ordinary people could not rival this.
In less than the time for half a cup of tea, this cavalry’s ordnance range would reach the gates. At this time, Wu Qiwu saw the cavalry change slightly out of the corner of his eye. He suddenly turned and his eyes filled with joy.
That youth had gambled correctly.
Heavy breathing formed strange sounds on top of the city gates. When the Qin soldiers on the city gates could clearly see the faces of the Wuzhi cavalry, the cavalry’s straight sprint started to change slightly.
The dozens of horses that were the head changed direction slightly and headed towards the slope the Imperial Guard Army was on. Like they were caught by an invisible rope, the horses behind these dozen horses also changed direction and suddenly slowed down.
While they were slow, the hoofbeats of these horses seemed to grow heavier, and the sound of crackling occurred in the air. All the Qin soldiers inside Guyu Pass felt their hearts contract violently.
This was “Exploding Stone Horse”!
“Exploding Stone Horse” was a term from the Wuzhi cavalry. It referred to four horses to a team, the front two horses relatively light while the rear two heavily armored. The front and rear horses were connected together with extremely tough and elastic leather equipment. By relying on the momentum of the front two horses, just like how some heavy ordnance would be wound up, they would pull these leather equipment to their limit and then propel heavy stones!
These heavy stones were originally hardened and weathered agate stones from the steppes. After being roasted simply by fire by the Wuzhi, they became extremely hard and easy to shatter. The moment they landed on the ground, sharp pieces of stone would spray out at the moment of impact.
The ordinary Qin military ordnance would have a range of three hundred paces, except for some special ordnance that required the vital energy of cultivators. But the Wuzhi ordnance could throw stones of a certain weight over four hundred paces just relying on the special ordnance and horse power!
Something like the “Exploding Stone Horse” was created by coordination of equipment and horses, and the riders. In Wuzhi, only a few elite cavalry could use this. If one were not careful, the horses at the helm would trip or the ones in the rear fall. The cavalry would fall into chaos and damage themselves.
Yet now, hearing the thunderous sounds, all the Qin soldiers in Guyu Pass who had knowledge knew that most of the Wuzhi soldiers in this cavalry army were skilled with the “Exploding Stone Horse”!
So this cavalry was one of the elite cavalry armies of Wuzhi!
This was not a duel of swords in Changling with people inviting each other by holding their swords in front of them. When the cavalry arrived, the battle had begun.
Ding Ning looked quietly at this elite Wuzhi cavalry with its powerful presence. He knew the Imperial Guard Army’s morale had fallen to the extreme, and was starting to feel terror and despair. Yet as the leather tightened to their limits and gave off bursts of exploding sounds, he held his hand out and pressed down.
The shrill military orders swiped through the suffocating air. All the Imperial Guard Army soldiers had been waiting long for orders. At finally hearing the order, most soldiers unconsciously carried out the order and crouched down to the side.
There was a relatively shallow ditch in front of most soldiers, not wide, and just able to let them go in sideways. As they unconsciously carried out the military order, accompanied by a burst of shrill whistles, the dust in front of the Wuzhi cavalry dissipated. Suddenly, gleaming rain appeared, and in the next moment, the rain reached the Imperial Guard Army.
Pop pop pop …
Burst of dust covered the Imperial Guard Army frontlines like splashes, followed by popping and colliding sounds. The formation was almost completely covered by sharp crystal stones. All the crouching soldiers changed expression, and felt numerous sharp energies passing through the world.
Yet … most soldiers found they were unharmed. Not many died.
When the dust created by the sharp stones landed and covered them, most of them realized — this side crouch managed to reduce the chance they would be directly hit by these sharp stones. And the fragments of the exploding stones would only scatter on the ground and were a less threat. This shallow ditch was one that could not be seen from a distance. At least, the Wuzhi cavalry who attacked right after arriving could not see that they had dug many shallow ditches on the slope.
Before the battle started, no one in the army had understood why Ding Ning sent such orders, having them waste time digging these ditches that could not stop horses or for them to squat in. But the timely order reminded them that these shallow ditches were to deal with the Wuzhi cavalry’s “Exploding Stone Horse”!
How had Ding Ning accomplished this?
They were not the border army and most of them did not know that the Wuzhi elite cavalry had such tactics. How had Ding Ning known and expected such an elite cavalry to come?
The realization left the Imperial Guard Army soldiers befuddled. They became more nervous even as their respect for the man deepened.
The violent vibrations in the ground reminded them the cavalry was starting their charge and less than four hundred paces from them. Even if they jumped up in disobedience of the military orders, they likely could not muster an effective defense under the other’s charge. And after another hundred paces, the arrows of the Wuzhi army would be effective.
Under repeated volleys, even if they were crouching sideways, the packed arrows would create astounding fatalities. All the Qin soldiers watching the scene from the Guyu Pass city walls could see more clearly and understood this even better.
These Qin soldiers saw the elite Wuzhi cavalry charge up the mountain slope without slowing down. The slope seemed to be of no difference to them compared to flat ground. Unless the youth on the stone had some means of making the cavalry stop in their steps, even for a moment, the Imperial Guard Army had no chance of survival.
This would be a one-sided massacre and the battle would end quickly.
Among the dozen vanguard horses in the Wuzhi cavalry, one exceptionally tall rider had noticed Ding Ning standing on the rock at the rear of the Imperial Guard Army long ago. At this time, his horse suddenly sank, creating a burst of dust as a deep azure bow appeared in his hands.
This giant rider was stunningly quick. Before anyone could see clearly, he pulled the bowstring and finished shooting.
An arrow suddenly appeared in the chaotic air. An azure arrow light, with a white vortex, accurately raced towards Ding Ning.
Ding Ning saw this incoming sword light but did not move. Nangong Caishu, standing behind him, narrowed her eyes slightly and drew her sword with a low shout.
Boom, boom, boom!
Three consecutive explosions through the air and her sword light collided hard with the azure arrow. Like chopping firewood, she managed to smash this powerful arrow forward.
Ding Ning’s expression did not change.
At the same time, sword lights emerged from the carriages on the flanks of the forward cavalry that acted like barriers.
Ding Ning flipped his hand up.
The shrill military order sounded!
Translator Ramblings: I know that there were horse-drawn ballistas but I don’t know if one where the horses provided momentum existed.