Chapter 424 – Battle of Jiameng Pass - The Ghost
July 18th, 192 AD.
Lu Bu resumed his cannon attacks, sending cannonballs onto the wall of Jiameng Gate.
The defenders were, as usual, expressionless. None of them panicked despite the death of their colleagues.
The cannon salvos went on to the point that they ran out of ammunition in half a day.
Yet, the garrisoning soldiers held on, not panicking or screaming in fear.
Lu Bu frowned, "These guys are either insane or not human. Men always fear death, but these guys are not scared of uncertainty and death by the unknown."
He hesitated if he should launch an attack onto the garrison forces.
Using his souls to attack the soldiers would also be a bad choice. As Lu Bu had fought Khan's soul before, he knew the weaknesses of using souls to attack the real body of an immortal.
Any real body with reinforced power from souls could easily kill a detached soul from an immortal with ease, so separating a soul to kill fodders would be too risky. Since Khan could kill one of the soul with ease by focusing on all of his power into killing a weak soul, the move was tantamount to suicide.
Still, the wall of Jiameng Gate was in ruin, and the majority of the garrison forces hid behind the rubbles, waiting to ambush the attackers.
Since Lu Bu could not figure out how he could defeat almost 100,000 heavy-armored soldiers, he turned to his strategists.
Ju Shou and Xun You were observing the gate by Lu Bu's side.
"Do you think I should charge into that?"
Xun You shook his head, "No. Both our forces and their forces are heavy armor troops. If you fight them head-on, it will become a battle of attrition, and we will be at a disadvantage because of our inferior number."
Ju Shou nodded, "We have to account the factor that they don't seem to fear death. Also, I have a better plan to defeat these buffoons in front of us."
Ju Shou continued, "Sir Te Langpu informed us last month that a new batch of ammunition is being transported from Chang'An to Hanzhong. I also sent a messenger in advance and told the transporters that we are gathering at Jiameng Gate. They should arrive here shortly."
"Will that make a difference?"
"I'm afraid not. The ammo was the regular round shots and slug shots. We'll get enough cannonballs to fight for another week."
"If that doesn't make a difference. What's the point?"
Xun You laughed, "You misunderstood us there. We haven't told you our main stratagem yet. You see, when people die, they rot afterward, right?"
"Then, let's look at the enemies in front of us. After fighting them for a day, have you seen them cleaning the battlefield?"
Lu Bu's interest piqued. He gazed upon the ruin from afar.
With the enhancement from his four wings, his eyesight expanded. Lu Bu could see everything in the range of one kilometer in detail.
He saw corpses underneath the rubbles. Blood pools soaked the bricks and the dirt, yet, the defenders ignored them and stood firm as if they did not exist.
Ju Shou smiled, "As you can see, those men disregarded the dead bodies, disrespecting their fallen comrades. Well, you know what will happen if you stay near the uncleaned battlefield for too long.
Although the three did not know about micro-organisms, such as germs, bacteria, and viruses, they knew that rotting bodies could cause sicknesses to the people nearby.
It was a common practice that they had to collect all dead bodies and burn them after a day of battle, or they would bring diseases to their men. Sometimes, armies from both sides raised white flags for a temporary truce to clean the battlefield together.
Lu Bu understood their points since he had experienced cleaning the battlefields after a fight. He was enlightened by their strategies.
"We'll drag this war on our front, and we'll wait for them to get sick and die by themselves."
Xun You and Ju Shou nodded, "Correct! However, we will have to be prepared as well. We have informed his majesty about deploying more assisting units to bring us medicines, clean water, and clean clothes. Once the epidemic starts, our men will be safe."
"A sick plan, literally. I never thought that this kind of strategy would have come from you two. If it were Jia Xu, I wouldn't have been surprised."
"Ahaha! Actually, we learned a lot from him."
The more strategists learned from each other, the more broadened their idea and their stratagems were. The wickedest advisor Jia Xu had influenced their thinking and their tactic insight for years since he had too much free time at hand. As a result, the others also had a tinge of wickedness from Jia Xu.
Even the upright Xun You and the honest Ju Shou was corrupted by Jia Xu!
Lu Bu did not know if he should be proud of these advisors. Still, a good plan was a good plan.
After Lu Bu, Ju Shou, and Xun You decided to use biochemical warfare, they ordered Gao Shun and Zhang He to stop their advance on the spot.
Gao Shun did not mind the recall order. He was uncomfortable with the mountain terrain in Yi Province.
However, Zhang He refused the order since he found the weakness in the enemy's ranks.
Zhang He: "Sorry, I have to disagree with that tactic. I spotted a weakness, and I can breach their defense lines."
Ju Shou: "Don't be rash, general. We have the advantage here. Let's pull back and force them into a prolonged war, so Liu Biao can attack the Xiongnu from the Jing Province."
Zhang He: "I know that. But please let me fight! I know that I can beat them."
Zhang He insisted that he could win and breached the Jiameng's mountain defense forces. However, Ju Shou and Xun You wanted him to pull back.
The quarrel continued until Tong jumped into the fray.
Tong: "I trust Junyi. Let him fight."
Ju Shou: "Your majesty. It might cause unnecessary casualties."
Tong: "I know, and I know that Junyi knows, too. Since he wants to prove his worth, let him do it. However, you will be held responsible for all of your actions, Junyi. You know what will happen if you fail."
Zhang He: "Thank you, your majesty! I won't fail you!"
With permission from Tong, Zhang He led his team down south.
A day later,
East of Jiameng Pass,
Ma Teng and Han Sui were watching the exit passage of the eastern mountain range with their 100,000 cloned cataphracts by order of Khan.
Although all cloned troopers were emotionless, Ma Teng and Han Sui were real people with human's conscience, but their memories were influenced by Khan's brainwash skill. Both of them were a part of Khan's clan, which had not many members left.
Both generals sent many scouts to patrol the mountain range. However, anomaly happened yesterday.
Several groups of scouts did not return. All of them disappeared into the mountain range, and no one could find them or their dead bodies.
Today, too, a team of 100 scouts went missing.
"Odd," Ma Teng grumbled.
"Ah, damn odd," Han Sui grimaced.
"I know right? If there were an accident, at least one of them should have come back to report."
"Yeah, I think so. But had they encountered an enemy, there should have been clues or dead bodies around."
"True. That's very weird."
"Should we advance a platoon into the mountain? We've been defending here for a few days, but there is no news or order from our lord."
Had it been the past decades, two or three days without contact from their superiors would be normal. However, they had the clan chat system, yet Khan did not text any message to them.
The lack of communication brought them anxiety.
"Let's probe the mountain with a battalion. Send 5,000 men in there as a scout team. I don't believe that they can disappear without a trace or an explanation!"
Five thousand cataphracts marched through the rocky terrain. As they did not care about their fatigue or self-interest, the troops kept their formation in order as they ventured to the mountain forest.
Three hours later,
A thousand birds flew away from a certain direction, which revealed a hint of a large group of soldiers or a battle.
Ma Teng was watching the mountain forest from a tall watchtower. When he spotted the phenomenon, he pinpointed the location of the battle and ordered his men.
"Send five battalions to surround that area! Be careful not to use any fire attack, or we'll burn ourselves! The wind is blowing southwest!"
25,000 Cataphracts rushed to the location, hoping to find the hidden enemies.
An hour later, all 25,000 horsemen came back with a thousand injured men from the first battalion.
Han Sui rushed to the men to collect the information, and they found that they were ambushed by a group of spearmen and archers. When the 25,000 soldiers arrived, all of the ambushers had already retreated.
Ma Teng and Han Sui were frustrated. After tallying their battalions, they found out that 95,000 men remained from 100,000. Losing 5,000 men without being able to identify the enemies was shameful and humiliating.
Still, Han Sui and Ma Teng were elite generals who came from the Qiang Tribes. As tribesmen who excelled in horseback warfare and battles, they regained their composure and came up with a new strategy.
"We'll avoid fighting in forest mountain terrain. Withdraw from this point and move our camp back ten kilometers. I want to draw them to fight in an open field!"
The order was passed on, and they set their retreat date as tomorrow morning. Since maneuvering a massive army took time to organize, the withdrawal process was delayed.
The next day, at 6 AM.
The soldiers packed their belongings and their camps after breakfast.
The weather was cold and calm. A thick cloud of morning fog hindered their visuals, but they did not mind it. Since they were retreating, none of them was prepared for a fight.
Han Sui and Ma Teng also did not think that something might appear in the early morning, where thick fog covered the entire mountain and forest. They took their time to gather supplies and fold their camps.
A sudden sound of several horses' neigh and the earthquake of horse hooves shocked Ma Teng and Han Sui.
In the next minute, a battle sound, coming from metal objects hitting each other, and death throes echoed on the mountain.
They were raided by the enemies!
"TO ARMS!! TO ARMS!!"
Han Sui rushed to the battle first, while Ma Teng could not find his horse in the midst of the fog.
The chaos kept on going, but Ma Teng did not know what had happened or who was who. He ignored the commotion and ran toward his stable.
Upon finding his horse, Ma Teng was relieved.
"You're safe. Alright, let's go to the battle!"
Ma Teng got on his horse and prepared to lead his troops. However, a figure with black clothes covering his entire body appeared with his black horse.
The person before Ma Teng was as if an embodiment of a grim reaper. The killing intent and the warrior's aura from him also suppressed Ma Teng's reaction and put him into a state of panic.
"W-Who are you!?"
The black clothes rider snorted, "A ghost."
Before Ma Teng could react, a spear had already penetrated his chest and his heart.
That moment, a notification message was sent to everyone in Khan's clan.
Please go to https://www.novelupdates.cc/Battle-Royale-of-the-Sinners/
to read the latest chapters for free