Chapter 426 – Beyond Jiameng Pass – The Chase
North of Zitong County
Han Sui's 55,000 cataphracts galloped in at their full speed, rushing back to Zitong.
One kilometer away east of Han Sui's rushing army, Zhang He's 20,000 knights were moving toward Zitong as well. However, his other 15,000 footmen were lagging behind, but they had not given up chasing after the knights.
14,000 light cavalries, armed with repeating crossbows, chased after Han Sui Army from behind and east flank, shooting arrows as they followed after the retreating troops.
The arrows did not harm Han Sui's men since cataphracts were immune to small projectiles because of their scale armors. However, a few arrows slipped through the gap of their defense and injured a handful of soldiers.
"Annoying pest! Rearguard battalions, turnabout! Wipe those chasers!"
10,000 heavy cavalries took a 180 turn, facing the pursuing horse archers.
Like the Xiongnu riders, 14,000 light cavalries also took a U-turn and ran away while they harassed the cataphracts with arrows.
"Right flank! Get rid of their horse archers!"
10,000 more cataphracts turned 45 degrees right, putting pressure on Zhang He's horse archers.
Again, the light cavalries utilized their superior mobility to keep a distance, but they did not stop shooting arrows at their soldiers.
As 20,000 men had detached from Han Sui's main force, 35,000 riders maintained their course, rushing toward Zitong County.
When they could see the wall of Zitong County from afar, a change occurred.
Zhang He's 20,000 knights took a sharp left turn and charged at Han Sui's right flank of 10,000 men. However, the 7,000 horse archers withdrew from the battle as they had used up their arrows.
The knights replaced the light cavalries and rushed toward the oncoming cataphracts head-on.
Although their armors were solid, one side came prepared.
The knights did not use spears or halberds. Instead, they used maces and hammers.
As cataphracts used swords and lances, they ended up grazing the armors of the knights, unable to penetrate the armor plates.
However, one hit from a hammer was enough to send a fully-geared cataphract flying off their horse. It also stunned the victim, causing internal injuries.
From a bird's eye view, the group of silver knights slowly devoured the mobs of riders on the opposite side.
500 Cataphracts fell.
10,000 cataphracts were slowly chipped down as two armies rushed through each other's battalions.
Han Sui already had reached Zitong by the time the two armies clashed. When he got on the top of Zitong's battlements to observe the battle, he was shocked.
His flank guards were being devoured by the wave of 20,000 heavy knights!
"Signals! Call the rearguards to support the flank army! Rescue them!"
Han Sui's men blew their signal horns and waved their signal color flags, relaying orders.
A minute later, the other 10,000 cataphracts, who were sent to chase away the pursuing horse archers, turned around, looking to assist the flank army.
At that moment, the 7,000 horse archers that they were chasing also turned around and charged at them.
Noticing their reaction and believing that these light cavalries would be no-match against their superior heavy armors, all cataphracts took out their swords, preparing to fight in close-ranged combat.
However, the 7,000 light horsemen did not plan to fight in melee combat. They switched out their primary weapon, the repeating crossbows, to something else!
Each of them pulled out a pistol!
They were the handguns that were created by the system skill, made by Medusa!
Moreover, they were not a standard gun like Tong's Glock. Medusa created something with stronger firepower, the Desert Eagle series.
All of them lined in rows, and the frontline pulled the triggers while the troops on the second row onward got into the position to switch rows.
At 50 to 100 meters range, a volley of over 1,000 handguns was deadly against a group of mobs. Even the scale armor could not stop the bullets.
Scale armors were, after all, made of small pieces of iron plates sewing together. The armor could protect them from arrows, sword slash, spear thrust, but they were not designed to fight against firearms of the future era.
Small bullet holes appeared in the armors while the riders could feel something hot going inside their bodies, damaging their inner organs. Some resisted the impact and continued the charge against the light cavalries, but most of them fell from their horses.
The light cavalries turned into cowboys or horse gunners as if they were from the Wild West Era.
All rearguards fell from their horses. Even the cataphracts, who had not turned around, were also shot.
Not all bullets found their targets. As the warhorses were galloping at their full speed, the soldiers could not handle the recoil and the aim properly.
As a result, each of them required more than one shot to put down a cataphract.
After each soldier had fired seven shots, the front row of 1,000 men ran out of bullets.
Qu Yi, the one leading the 7,000 light cavalries, shouted as he gave a new order.
"Second row to the front! First row, go back to the rear!"
The front horsemen slowed their horses and shrunk to the back of their formation. Another platoon of 1,000 men took over the front row as they aimed their pistol forward.
Qu Yi withheld his order as he gauged the distance between them and the fleeing cataphracts. The latter managed to gain a distance from them because of the previous shooting as the chasers had to avoid the obstacles, such as dead riders, fallen horses, and the stray horses.
Now, they were 300 meters away.
"Keep chasing! Don't shoot yet!"
Meanwhile, the 20,000 heavy knights were sweeping the cataphracts with their hammers and maces. However, one of the knights did not wield a blunt weapon like the others.
Gao Lan rode to the forefront and displayed his angel power by swinging his aura-reinforced glaive at the oncoming cataphracts.
The glaive cut through the scale armor like soft butter, severing the victim's body in half with one swing.
Several colleagues of the dead cataphracts turned around to retaliate against Gao Lan.
All soldiers that were coming for Gao Lan were cut down.
One swing, one dead cataphract.
His polearm mastery was not as showy as Lu Bu, Tong, or other great generals, but it still got the job done.
With Gao Lan being their spearhead, the heavy knights broke through the ranks of Han Sui's 10,000 flank battalions.
Before the rearguards had arrived, all cataphracts were dismounted by the blunt weapons. Now, they were sitting ducks.
The fleeing rearguards appeared on the horizon, along with the chasing 7,000 horse gunners.
The chasers continued shooting at the backs of the cataphracts.
Without a proper commander, all of these clone soldiers could only follow orders of their superiors or signals. Qu Yi had it easy withering these groups with Medusa's guns.
The last of the rearguard went down.
The knights and the gunner cavalries regrouped as they surrounded the dismounted troopers.
"SURRENDER! YOU ARE SURROUNDED!" Gao Lan yelled, trying to end today's battle early.
The injured cataphracts glanced at the signal flags on top of Zitong's walls. Since their general, aka their puppeteer, was still alive, they would follow their orders to the death.
Upon seeing the signal, [Kill], they scraped any weapon they could find and charged at the nearest enemy.
Without a choice, Qu Yi and Gao Lan's soldiers did not leave anyone alive.
Han Sui watched his men dying helplessly in the middle of his enemy's encirclement from the top of the city wall.
Although it was vexing, he did not take it to heart as these soldiers were soulless drones. Khan could create new ones any time soon.
"Seal the gate. Do not let anybody in or out."
Han Sui opened his clan chat and reported the current situation to Khan and Ma Chao, hoping to contribute to something.
Khan glanced at his clan chat feeds. Upon seeing Han Sui's reports, he clicked his tongue.
'Useless bastard! I thought he was more talented than this. The last life, I heard he was a brave general that stopped the Qiang from invading the Liang Province. How come he is so weak here!?'
Khan did not reply or leave a word to Han Sui. Instead, he kept it to himself.
As Khan never communicated with Han Sui, the latter did not know what he should do next.
Protecting Zitong with 35,000 soldiers were possible. Thus, he conscripted the local population into militias to help them defend the walls.
Han Sui was tempted to burn this city down to the ground and retreat to Chengdu, so they could regroup and recuperate before their remaining army could fight against Zhang He's knights.
As he was pondering, Zhang He's main force, the infantries, arrived in front of the Zitong County's walls.
Looking at the corpses of the cataphract clones, Zhang He sighed.
"We had surrounded them, but they didn't even surrender?"
Qu Yi shook his head, "No. They just suicide-charged at us."
Zhang He grumbled. Fighting against ordinary humans would have been a lot easier than fighting emotionless soldiers since the latter did not fear death. With that kind of mindset, they could potentially be dangerous in siege warfare.
Zhang He sent his report to the clan chat and sought a bit of advice.
But before anyone could give Zhang He a good suggestion, Tong ordered him.
Tong: "Send messengers to Liu Biao. Tell him that we're keeping the Xiongnu at Zitong. I want him to mobilize from Jing Province and invade Yi Province, starting from Yongan and Jiangzhou!"
Qu Yi and Gao Lan's face paled. They did not expect that Tong wanted to involve Liu Biao in this conflict.
Xun You: "What are you thinking, your majesty!? Why are you giving up Yi Province!?"
Jia Xu: "Are you nuts!? Dragging Liu Biao into this fight is going to complicate our Yi Province acquisition!"
All strategists objected to Tong's advice as it might harm them in the long run.
First, Liu Biao might have agreed to surrender to Tong. However, once he acquired a portion of the Yi Province during this campaign, this warlord would have a stronger negotiation power to bargain for titles in Tong's court, making it harder to tame him.
Secondly, there was no guarantee that Liu Biao might backstab them in the future. Therefore, letting an outsider obtain more territories was a bad idea, even if they could drive the Xiongnu faster.
Tong: "Y'all are overthinking. Do you think I'm giving Liu Biao a chance to rebel or something?"
Jia Xu: "Unfortunately, I do."
Xun Yu: "Me, too."
Tong: "You think we can defend all new territories with our current officers?"
Tong explained his reason in the clan chat.
Currently, Tong's empire lacked personals to govern all those territories. Since Lu Bu had conquered the Liang Province, they required more time to train and send more officers to manage this region. Also, they had to invest in the cities and counties in Liang Province to ensure their safety and prosperity.
Therefore, Yi Province would become their burden had they occupied it now! They could take it, but they did not have enough men to defend it!
After the extermination of the Xiongnu, the next target would be Cao Cao and Liu Bei. However, those two would attack their kingdom first whenever they heard that Tong was too busy digesting Liang Province and Yi Province.
In summary, Tong wanted to give away Yi Province to Liu Biao, so this warlord would clean up the mess in their stead while Tong's forces digested the Liang Province. Once Liang Province was secured, they would devour other lord's territory later.
Although Tong explained everything, all strategists still refused his idea.
Tong's pace was slow and steady, but all strategists wanted Tong to have the absolute rule.
Reading all the critics from their kingdom's strategists, Zhang He was saddened.
"Damn politics. His majesty is trying to eliminate the Xiongnu here. Why are they overstepping their boundaries?"
However, a new guy, whom Tong had invited this year, voiced his thought in the chat for the first time.
Sima Yi: "Do it, general Zhang. Don't give an F about the politics and the theorists' bullcrap. Wipe the Xiongnu ASAP, and we'll clean up your mess later!"
Please go to https://www.novelupdates.cc/Battle-Royale-of-the-Sinners/
to read the latest chapters for free