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Translator: Larbre Studio Editor: Larbre Studio
Before the City of Wei, a lonely horse. On the fields, a lonely body.
Like the perplexed war horse, all the people in the city and the camps of Tang were bewildered. Where did the arrow come from?
Dead silence filled the field, it was absolutely quiet, everyone was stupefied.
After god-knows-how long, the sound of a horse’s hoof was heard again. Another grassland cavalry soldier came out of the gate, riding slowly toward the Tang camp in the south.
Everyone’s eyes were locked on him. They all knew that in the next moment, he would meet his demise. The commander of the Royal Court Duoer Cavalry clearly wanted to sacrifice this man to determine where the arrow came from.
A gentle woosh, another breeze blew through the sunrise. The calvary soldier’s cape behind him flew up with the wind, disappearing before it could become a white cloud. Just like his life. Another typical arrow pierced deep into one of his eyes, conjuring a fountain of blood. When the soldier was killed, he had only went a little more than a hundred feet away from the City of Wei.
The galloping of horses echoed again as several cavalry soldiers rushed out of the city gates. The calvary soldiers brandished the whips in their hands, leaving one bloody mark after another on the horses’ rear. Their roars shattered the dead silence before the city gates, showing their reckless defiance and lack of fear for death.
At this speed, even the best war horses would not maintain it for long. They would never reach the Tang camp in the south at this pace. But it was obvious that they did not care.
This time the grasslanders did not worry about their tempo, or using time and acceleration to build up morale. They pushed their mounts to their fastest speed from the start as they only wanted to rush out of the city gates.
They cannot allow the arrows that came from who-knows-where dampen the Duoer Cavalry’s spirits. They cannot allow the arrow to completely break the tempo of their charge. They had to prove something.
Even if they were shot not long after leaving the gates, they could at least prove that the mysterious yet powerful archer cannot do the impossible, that he cannot stop all of the cavalry soldiers. But what happened next was truly impossible.
The morning breeze blew gently, the white capes spread apart like clouds. Three gentle whoosh passed by, and so the clouds gathered and blood appeared. The three soldiers fell from the backs of their mount to the ground without making a single noise.
Arrows were buried deep into their eye sockets. The fluid from their eyeballs were mixed with blood as it flowed out.
The three arrows were still the most typical, standard arrows used by the Tang army.
It was even more shocking and horrifying when the others found out that the three Duoer Cavalry soldiers were killed even nearer to the city gate, nearer than the second rider that went out. More precisely, they were shot dead right after they exited the gates.
Where… exactly did the arrows come from?
No one could perceive its origin yet because the arrow was too quick. How could a typical arrow be shot so far? And so quickly? Speed and distance depended on the archer’s strength, but what about its accuracy.
The Duoer Cavalry were fully clad in armor, only their eyes were exposed. Furthermore, it was far more difficult to hit them when they are riding at high speeds. But that person was hitting every shot from such a far distance!
Who was the archer?
Across the plains, there were countless talented archers within the ranks of the Royal Court and the Northern Battlefront army, or even among the horse thieves by the Shubi lakeside. But none of them could do this!
The fields beyond the City of Wei fell into dead silence again.
Some of them could roughly guess the origin of the arrows, not in the geographical or directional sense, but the person who shot them. Those who had a hunch were the national master, Lebu, and A Da.
To ignore such a long distance, killing elite riders with a single wooden arrow, one must had unimaginable strength, and must be an ace that has reached the epitome of cultivation.
When people talked about a true ace whose archery was legendary, they would first think of General Xia Hou. But after he was slain, only one ace remained — the one who slayed him.
Not everyone missed where the arrow came from. At the very least, the Tang common soldiers saw it clear as crystal.
In front of an inconspicuous archer tower at the northern corner of the Tang camp were chevaux de frise that were just set up last night. Behind the chevaux de frise stood some people, and something that looked like a short fence.
The dozen of Tang soldiers stared at that person in shock, unable to speak, and did not know what to do. Only now did someone realized this and reported to the superiors swiftly.
That person was wearing a normal Tang army uniform, and he looked like a normal Tang soldier. He held an unusual iron bow in his hand, the bow was dark in color, engraved with extremely complicated patterns and lines, as if endowing the iron bow with a magical power.
The short fence beside that person was not a real fence, but an array of arrows arranged closely. At least a thousand arrows were stuck in the soil and pressed together, giving them the appearance of a fence.
The galloping of horses could be heard coming from the City of Wei again. An unknown number of Duoer Cavalry attempted to rush out of the city gates once more.
From the forest of arrows, that person picked up an arrow, put it on the bow, and pulled the bowstring silently. When the bowstring was halfway to its limit, he released his fingers, the bowstring returned to its place, and the arrows flew far with a swoosh.
A dull moan echoed from below the walls of Wei, and then a heavy thud of a fall. The man had already plucked his second arrow by then, repeating what he did before. Another dull moan and heavy thud from the city gates of Wei, most likely the sound of another cavalry being shot down.
Every trained Tang soldier knew that shooting an arrow consisted of several actions. Starting with plucking the arrow, ending with releasing the bowstring. The people around who watched in shock did not find anything peculiar with that person’s movements… it even seemed simpler, more mechanical compared to the typical Tang technique. It was because it was simply mechanical, it did not stand out. Nor could it be described as elegant. But the arrow was so fast, it was beyond the realm of human imagination.
From the City of Wei, unlike the lone soldier just now, several Duoer Cavalry rushed out at once.But that person did not perform any legendary feats like the heroes in sagas. From the first to the sixth arrow, the Tang soldiers around that person did not blink. It was not because they were awestruck, but they had no time to blink.
In a moment before one could blink, six arrows flew out. The soldiers could not see each step of that person’s actions. But they could tell because that person’s movements were absolutely accurate, it was steady beyond imagination. Each action, repeated without variation, fingers always pulling the bowstring at the same spot, even his sleeves did not flutter one bit.
The six repeated actions were stacked together in the morning breeze. Combining them, one could see clearly. But they were merely afterimages. More arrows left the ground, went on the bowstring, and pierced through the air.
The Grassland Cavalry rushing out from the city gate fell on the ground one after another, their splatters of blood forming crimson flowers on the earth.
The cavalry soldiers continued to rush, and the arrows kept on coming without rest.
At last, the cavalry soldiers were too quick. That person could no longer aim, he stopped aiming, and instead, he just shot by flicking his wrist, elbows straight.
The sharp arrow traveled a long distance, approaching the front of the City of Wei, arriving on the bodies of the soldiers, on the horses, or the tough leather armor. And piercing through the tough armor! When the arrows touched the surface of the leather armor, their mission was completed. The shaft might be shattered by the great force, but it drove the sharp arrowhead into its final destination, deep into the flesh and blood of the riders or mounts.
Looking at that person’s silhouette behind the fence, the Tang soldiers’ eyes were filled with awe and fear. What they witnessed was inconceivable. How terrifying was the power of the arrows?
What was that person’s body made of? How could he dish out such powerful shots continuously? Even if he was a martial arts master in the army, he would have to rest after a dozen shots. Otherwise, his muscles and tendons would suffer terrible injuries. But he shot over a hundred arrows without a frown. His body was unmoving like a mountain. Was he short of breath? His chest did not even move one bit!
Suddenly, a hasty horn was sounded around the Tang camp.
Several Duoer Cavalry went round the city walls, attempting to occupy the meadows at higher ground from the flank, and then rush toward the Tang camp. That person ignored them. He was focused on the city gate.
The Duoer Cavalry hid within the city accustomed the arrows’ tempo. They found an opportunity, opened their gates wide, sending out several dozen of their best riders out at once! The second the several dozen Duoer exited the gates, as if countless clouds burst forth from a door between two mountains!
At this moment, even if that person’s archery was godlike, he wouldn’t be able to kill several dozen cavalry at once, not to mention the several hundred or thousand cavalry soldiers awaiting their turn into the fray behind.
The shouts in the Tang camp became hurried, 6000 cavalry soldiers rode their mounts, and got ready for battle. If the mysterious and terrible arrows could not defend the Commander’s Barracks, they would have to depend on their cavalry. But he did not allow the Tang army and opportunity to enter the fray. He shot his arrow quietly, as before. Facing the grassland cavalry that seemed like a cluster of cloud oozing out of the city gates, he let out a single arrow.
Just a single arrow. Unlike before, this arrow was not plucked from the field beside, but from the quiver on his back. The arrow was visibly different, its arrowhead was a cylinder.
A miserable cry tore the morning skies. Everyone watched on as the arrow traveled in a parabolic arc, and falling in front of City of Wei. A silent moment. And then, BOOM! A loud bang echoed before the city gates of Wei, a great load of dirt flew up, as if the sky was about to be torn apart!
Among the dirt that flew in the air, were the separated limbs of the soldiers and war horses, even some heads in between. The city gates fell. The clay and the bricks started to fall in a loud rustle, collapsing onto the many injured Duoer cavalries. Their painful cries and dull moans could be heard subtly through the soot and ashes.
Another arrow from the south. This one sounded crispier, unlike a breeze, but a hurricane, it unleashed a terrible cry. The cries of arrow sounded without rest. Several hundred arrows, seemingly unceasingly, pierced through the morning breeze, then the smoke, travelling into the deep parts of the city.
A grassland calvary jumped away from his dead mount, unsheathed his curved blade and looked around him anxiously. But he did not know where the enemy was. Suddenly, an arrow from the south pierced his chest.
A bloodied soldier picked himself up and walked out of the smoke. He was ruthlessly shouting something when all of a sudden, an arrow pierced through his mouth, came out from the back of his skull, blood was splattered like a blooming flower.
Another was on the ground, waving his curved blade to kill his mount, which was struggling frantically after it was shot. He struggled to stand up, his eyes filled with fear, and then he saw an arrow coming for his fear.
Poof poof poof poof. The arrows hit armors, eyes, throats, and other different places, but the sound it made was always the same penetrating sound. The arrows that seemed to be magical could pierce everything. There was death all around the flying smoke and dust at the city gates of Wei. This meant that the sound of arrows hitting and dull moans echoed incessantly.
After god-knows-how long, the smoke finally subsided gradually. The morning light dawned upon the City of Wei again, plating it with a hue of red. The morning sun that had finally peeked out from the horizon of the plains was red, as if it was dyed in blood.
The morning sun shone a blood red, just like the blood red that painted the ground before the city gates. Now, the people within and out of the city has confirmed where the arrows came from. They all looked at the fence in the Tang camp. Until now, not a single grassland cavalry was able to reach the Tang camp. In fact, other than the first three cavalry, not another man was able to go out of the City of Wei. The city gates were in a shambles, the soldiers and war horses were stacked into a hill.
Blood continuously oozed out from the hill, like countless tiny waterfalls.
In the past, at the Verdant Canyon, Jun Mo stopped ten thousand horsemen from passing single handedly with a sword. After he lost his arm, no one thought a scene like this would ever appear again. Who could have thought this was recreated in City of Wei today? But the situation was reversed. Today, an arrow from the north stopped ten thousand horsemen from exiting the city gates. That person’s iron bow, with his arrows on the floor, has trapped the Royal Court’s ten thousand cavalry within City of Wei!
As the explosion happened at the city gate, the several hundred Duoer Cavalry who tried to rush at the Tang camp from the flanks suffered a destructive blow as well. The arbalesters hiding at the side fired their bolts along with their pent up rage at them.
A series of buzzes echoed on the field, it was the tone of a string, as if countless stringed instruments played the same note. Moments later, when the note was gone, ten thousand bolts came down at the same time like a torrential rain.
The Royal Court designed their route of attack to go through the city because that gave them the shortest distance. But no one had thought that this would be a perilous road.
A flank attack required them to go round the city. It was too indirect, unable to break through the rain of bolts Xu Chi has prepared for them. As such, the only way was the straight path, and it depended on the Duoer making their way out of the city gates.
They can only continue their charge after they leave the gates. Only then could their remaining plans be executed. If they couldn’t even make it out of the gate, there was no point discussing the rest.
Behind the bloodied hill full of waterfalls of blood, one could hear the angry and frustrated shoutings of the Royal Court noblemen, their heartless command, and hurried footsteps. A huge crowd rushed forward, hoping to clear the hill of bodies away from the city gates, to clear a path for the cavalry.
In this process, the grasslander did not stop to consider if the hooks and ropes would hurt the bodies of the tribal warriors. Their will for survival trumped everything else.
But for the final remaining warriors of the Golden Tribe Royal Court, this day was destined to be one of despair. The Tangs left no chance of survival for them, not even the chance to carry their fallen brethren away.
Beyond the city, silence was maintained for a very short while.
The sky that was dyed red by the sunrise, suddenly revealed its original blue hue.
The wildflowers were waving gently as the wind caressed them, but they were suddenly frozen, the air that embraced the fragile petals was suddenly a million times more viscous.
The grassland war horses in the city and the war horses in Tang camp looked at the sky at the same time. They suddenly became anxious and restless, but were too afraid to release their emotions with their neighs.
The world was experiencing a huge change. But the world observable through human eyes stayed the same. It even seemed more peaceful and more beautiful.
Without a warning, several loud hisses rang forth, finally forming a terrible sight before everyone — the hill of bodies before City of Wei had collapsed. Since the city walls have collapsed, it would definitely crumble and break down, the beams and roofs of the building fell apart. The same went to the hill of bodies which was starting to collapse from the inside.
The sturdy armors, the muscular bodies of war horses has suddenly disintegrated into countless pieces of flesh and blood. The tiny waterfalls of blood turned into large gushes, and then everything fell apart!
A roughly twenty feet wide hole appeared in the middle of the hill of bodies. There was nothing in the hole but blood and pieces of flesh. The streets in the city were fully exposed. Anyone who were standing in the city could see the scenery outside clearly. But at that moment, there was no one who could stand in the city. The streets were filled with falling soil and years of ashes.
The wind continued to roar crazily.
The commoners and slaves who were moving the calvaries’ bodies, and the several hundred Duoer Cavalry who were standing in the middle of the street, ready to charge toward Tang Camp… had all disappeared, just like the remains that belonged to the calvaries in the hole.
A moment ago, they were living, the next they have become unrecognizable pieces of flesh and blood. The street became the most cruel Shuraba as described in Buddhism. Nothing remained but death. This was a passage for death.
This was the path the arrow travelled.
The arrow path stretched north all the way from the south of the city, destroying a retaining wall at the north. The several dozen great chariots at the wall were shining with Clear Light to protect themselves. Some of the great chariot were damaged at the corners, revealing their contents, which seemed to be human bones.
Staring at the south, the national master’s face turned pale.
The people who were hurt by that attack ran around while they were still bleeding to avoid the second round of attack. Panicked cries were everywhere, and they did not calm down until a very long time have passed.
The people hid behind wheels or uneasy mounts. Their eyes were looking to the south like the national master. Their faces were filled with horror, and their eyes seemed to indicate their sanity were falling apart.
At that moment, a vertical condensation cloud slowly appeared on the empty streets.
Some people had already guessed who the archer was correctly. Now, seeing the famous condensation cloud has appeared before them, their guesses were verified. But in a moment, a thousand men were killed, and half of them were the Duoer Cavalry that were prepared to charge.
This was no massacre, but it seemed more terrifying than one. Facing such an inconceivable sight, facing an enemy beyond imagination, the grasslanders could not even conjure their anger, but only fear, and feel sad for their own despair.
Even the bravest man of the tribe would lose all his confidence.
A sporadic sound of a horse’s hoof could be heard at the southern gates of City of Wei. The ashes started to settle around the hole in the hill of bodies. A man walked out from there. A limping horse pulled an old cart full of arrows behind him. He carried a quiver on his back, and the iron bow on his shoulder. His clothes were stained with spots of blood, water, smoke and dust. He wore a typical Tang army uniform. He looked like a common Tang soldier. He was a common soldier of the Tang to begin with. Many years ago, he was a soldier in the City of Wei. Many years later, he had finally returned to this city.
He was a wanderer that had returned to his countryside home. He was a veteran who dreamt of the horn of attack. He was completely ashen. He was unstoppable.
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