Legend of Great Tang’s Twin Dragons - Volume 47 C9
Book 47 Chapter 9 – Decisive Battle of Cijian
Wang Shichong and Kou Zhong climbed over the city gate tower to look at the enemy’s situation in the distance.
The Tang Army started to assemble outside the two camps, their maneuver was clear and in good order, fast, nimble and agile; certainly it was the appearance of a military unit at its peak, their morale was like a rainbow, well-equipped and well-trained. Translated by foxs
Although it was still in the initial stage of assembly, it was already visible, so that people could see the entire battle formation taking shape.
Wang Shichong spoke next to Kou Zhong’s ear in low voice, “Zhen is wrong. Shaoshuai, what can you do to remedy it? Shall we hold fast or meet the enemy head-on?”
Inwardly, Kou Zhong was shaken. Wang Shichong was really afraid of the war; he lost his confidence, hence in his agitation he lowered his voice and lowered his pride to ask advice from Kou Zhong. Wang Shichong’s repeated indecisiveness made the situation extremely dangerous, it might cause him to make wrong judgment when he was confronted with options.
Kou Zhong sized the enemy ranks up with rapt attention, the military strength was around fifty thousand, the other five thousand should be staying behind to take care of the camp. In the middle was the uniform infantry unit, the two wings and front and rear troop dispositions were all cavalry. The central unit was further divided into nine groups, each group about three thousand men, consisted of troops from different military branches, each one was equipped with crossbow, bow, spear, saber, sword, shield, Frisian horses [Cheval de fries], and other weaponry. It could be imagined that during combat under Li Shimin’s command, the troop disposition would have countless changes, targeted at the enemy at any time, and would be able to deliver the most effective response. foxswuxia.wordpress.com
Seeing how mighty the Tang Army was, Kou Zhong could not help feeling a chill in the air, which was also exuded by Wang Shichong and the other people around. He could not help hating Wang Shichong; if Wang Shichong was willing to listen to his advice and sent the troops one step earlier than Li Shimin, they would not have to be forced by Li Shimin to eat this soup, to be such in a bind that even he, Kou Zhong, felt that there was no room to advance or to retreat.
If Cijian were a strong city like Luoyang, Chang’an, or the like, or even a second-level city like Liyang or Hulao, he would not even need to think to propose to firmly resist and not coming out, to rely on the solid city wall and strong defensive force to weaken and inflict wear and tear to the Tang Army’s strength. Too bad Cijian was just a small town unable to withstand a large army’s assault. Moreover, it was practically unable to accommodate the more than twenty thousand Zheng Army, so they had no choice but to set up their camp relying on the city wall to resist the huge enemy’s army.
Yang Gongqing and various other generals came to Wang Shichong and Kou Zhong’s left and right, to wait for Wang Shichong’s instruction, while Wang Shichong was waiting for Kou Zhong, this ‘hu jia junshi’ [military advisor protector or (one)-self] to speak. Translated by foxs
The great general, Wang Shichong’s trusted aide, Ba Yegang, a short and stout, surly and unreasoning man, with straightforward countenance and with barbarian lineage, analyzed, “The enemy mobilization is nearing its completion stage, if we now hastily go out of the camp to meet the enemy head-on, before our battle array is complete, the enemy would press their formation and come to attack, once we fail to resist, we are going to suffer a big loss. In Chenxia’s [official in feudal court] opinion, relying on the trenches and city wall in firm defense will be the most dependable.”
Nearly half of the more than a dozen high-ranking military officers on top of the city wall nodded their head in agreement.
Even Yang Gongqing also sighed and said, “We have lost the opportunity to fight the decisive battle outside the camp.”
Kou Zhong knew that Yang Gongqing said those words for his benefit, he wanted to state that under this kind of situation, he did not support facing the attack from the enemy. Taking a deep breath, his mind entered the Moon in the Well realm. If even he lost the will to fight, then they would undoubtedly lose the battle.
Laughing calmly, he said, “If we hold fast and not coming out, how would Li Shimin react? Would he command his troops to forcefully attack? Or would he withdraw the troops and be done with it?”
Wang Shichong suddenly frowned and said, “Really strange, they do not prepare any equipment to cross over the trenches.” foxswuxia.wordpress.com
Flattering him, Lang Feng said, “Clearly Li Shimin is only want to demonstrate his power, to show off his military strength. We can just ignore them.”
The Great General Chen Zhilue spoke heavily, “All Li Shimin’s outstanding work and battle vestige are from defending cities, he is not adept at besieging cities; therefore, if we decide to defend the city firmly, Li Shimin will be helpless to do anything to us.”
Kou Zhong sighed inwardly. Since Li Shimin was an expert in defending a city, naturally he understood better than anyone else the strengths and weaknesses of a city; he knew how to guard and knew how to attack. The fact was that Wang Shichong and the great generals under his command were scared by Li Shimin’s fame for fighting prowess and now by his display of power, so that they did not dare to meet the enemy head-on.
Kou Zhong spoke indifferently, “Gentlemen have not answered my question; will Li Shimin move his troops to attack, to batter our camp, or will he, after showing off his strength, withdraw the troops and be done with it?”
Guo Shancai asked, “How would Shaoshuai look at it?”
Everybody’s eyes were fixed on Kou Zhong, waiting to hear his answer.
Kou Zhong laughed aloud and said, “Li Shimin is worthy to be called the unrivalled commander-in-chief able to move unhindered; what is true and what is false engender each other, so that other people cannot see through his goal. We can’t even figure out whether he is commanding his troops to invade our territory, or just want to show off his strength a bit.” Translated by foxs
Turning to Wang Shichong, he said, “Li Shimin is testing our reaction. If I were Li Shimin, if Shengshang shrinks back and do not come out, he would dispatch one unit to circle around behind Cijian and select a strategic place somewhere over there to set up a camp that can be firmly defended, to cut our link to Luoyang, to intercept our rations and fodder. And then when he succeeds in establishing this kind of army camps all around Cijian, Cijian will become severely sealed off, we will collapse even without fighting, we will, in the most stupid and cowardly way, lose this great battle, in which to whom the deer falls is still unknown, which we should have won in the most glorious way.”
Shaken, Wang Shichong said, “Shaoshuai is advocating the battle?”
Kou Zhong said, “We have no choice, the initiative already fell into Li Shimin’s hands; by the time the battle array is completed, they will advance toward our army, and when they suppress us until we are unable to move a single step, we will be like the fatty meat on the chopping block, just waiting for him to slaughter us. Shengshang must make prompt decision, otherwise, any delay in the troops deployment might be too late for regrets.”
Yang Gongqing nodded and said, “Shaoshuai’s remark is very insightful, Shengshang, please make immediate decision.”
Wang Shichong’s breathing grew urgent, he suddenly shouted, “Just like Shaoshuai proposes, immediately deploy the army to meet the enemy.”
At this moment, the sound of shaking-the-heavens shouting and cheering exploded from the enemy ranks, and it continued to rush forth like a tide. They saw Li Shimin’s commander-in-chief banner coming out of the camp’s gate, the Commander-in-Chief Li Shimin, under escort of various generals of the Heavenly Policy Mansion, entered the Tang Army formation. foxswuxia.wordpress.com
Throwing his head back in laughter, Kou Zhong said, “Oh, Li Shimin! Let us gain first-hand experience of your true skill.”
The Zheng Army, from inside the city and the camp, flowed endlessly into the battlefield. The Tang Army also began to advance. As Kou Zhong expected, Li Shimin chose the small hill between the two sides as his temporary command stage, using flag signal, battle drum and bugle horn to conduct the overall situation in advancing to attack, and in retreating to defend.
The Zheng Army was taking a half-moon-shaped formation, relying on the city walls of Cijian to reduce the defensive line as much as possible, to tighten and concentrate the formation, to form organic defensive system as much as possible, in order to counter the Tang Army’s comparatively more scattered assault of its phalanx formation.
The twenty thousand strong Zheng Army was divided into left, middle and right, three divisions. The left and right divisions consist of five-thousand-man cavalry each, with the infantry positioned between two sides. The right side cavalry was under Yang Gongqing and Ma Chang’s command. The left side cavalry was under Chen Zhilue’s command with Ba Yegang as his deputy.
The middle infantry was divided into four large units, each unit consisted of five thousand men, under the command of Yu Yuanzhen, Shan Xiongxin, Duan Da, and Guo Shancai, respectively. Song Mengqiu and Lang Feng stayed behind to guard the city. Translated by foxs
Kou Zhong and Zhang Zhi accompanied Wang Shichong and his two thousand strong personal guard regiment positioned themselves in the middle of the middle army, to command the troops and were in charge of the overall situation.
The phalanx-formation Tang Army and the half-moon-shaped-relying-on-the-city-wall-formation Zheng Army, the two sides’ troops and horses were standing opposite of each other over a distance. The war could happen at any moment.
Actually, the Tang Army had only about twenty thousand more than the Zheng Army, but because the Tang Army’s offensive formation was scattered, while the Zheng Army’s defensive formation was concentrated, at a glance, the covering-the-mountains-and-the-plains Tang Army’s, with their banners flying in the wind – military strength appeared to be several times the Zheng Army’s.
From Kou Zhong’s angle of view, ahead, extended to the left and right, were all types of the Tang Army’s military branches, the momentum was terrifying to the extreme point.
It was certainly the appearance of the army with valiant generals and brave soldiers at its peak. foxswuxia.wordpress.com
By contrast, because their earlier momentum was snatched away, his side was being led by the nose by the enemy troops, everybody’s countenance was heavy, none was not taking the passive attitude of if they were able resist the assault of the enemy troops, it would be extremely amazing.
Kou Zhong threw away all distracting thoughts, completely without fear he watch the enemy and examined the enemy, trying to look for the enemy’s weak point and gap.
‘Dong! Dong! Dong!’
The enemy’s battle drums were sounded together. The middle army’s three forward groups, consisted of the infantry and the vanguard cavalry, started to advance, to press on toward the enemy. When they were about a thousand paces away from the Zheng Army’s center infantry formation, they stopped suddenly. The formation stretched out to both sides, to take the shape of elongated phalanx, the movement was uniform, fast and efficient, putting their well-trained performance in full display.
Although they have not really attacked, it already put huge pressure on the Zheng Army. They still maintain the formation where the cavalry took the forward position, and the infantry took the rear position.
Kou Zhong laughed happily and said, “Good Li Shimin! I, Kou Zhong, am nearly deceived.”
The bugle horn sounded, the cavalry at the Zheng Army’s two wings spurred their horses to slowly advance, and gradually disperse outward to block, like a pair of giant palms stretching out to clamp on the enemy.
His expression grave, Wang Shichong asked, “What Li Shimin’s crafty plots and machinations did Shaoshuai see through?” Translated by foxs
Kou Zhong replied, “The cavalry on the right side has a total of five groups, each group has a thousand men, the group in the inside is precisely Li Shimin’s most elite Xuan Jia Tianbing [dark-armored celestial soldiers], which is also the wonder troops [troops appearing suddenly] that can bore through the enemy formation, the one that Li Shimin rely on to subdue big enemy, again and again. If we cannot decide the plan to deal with them early on, this battle will, no doubt, be lost.”
On Wang Shichong’s other side, Zhang Zhi spoke in astonishment, “It’s not that we have not heard Li Shimin’s Xuan Jia Qin Bing [personal troops], but on the surface this cavalry is not the least bit different from the other cavalry; how did Shaoshuai judge that this squadron is precisely Li Shimin’s Xuan Jia Tianbing?”
Wang Shichong nodded to indicate that he had similar doubt.
Remaining calm and unruffled in the midst of chaos, Kou Zhong replied, “Look at their rides. The warhorses are more serene and orderly than the other groups. This is the Tujue’s people secret technique of observing the horses. Horses have keen sense of touch, if their masters are nervous and uneasy, they would clearly sensed it; furthermore, it will be reflected in their movement and bearing. It is precisely because this team of men and horses are the elites of the elites, they have been through battle disposition for a long time that everybody’s mind and intention is relaxed, unlike other people’s nervous thought. Thereupon it is reflected by their horses.” foxswuxia.wordpress.com
Zhang Zhi concentrated his attention to examine carefully, he gasped with admiration and said, “Indeed that is so. Shaoshuai’s eyesight is really brilliant.”
“How should we deal with it?” Wang Shichong asked.
Kou Zhong responded indifferently, “The enemy’s strongest point is precisely the weak point, the place where the flaw is. If we can withstand them, in today’s battle, Li Shimin will have no place to carry out his usual scheme. As for the next battle, we’ll think about it in the next battle!”
Looking at Wang Shichong, he spoke in heavy voice, “Shengshang’s most elite troops, are they the personal corps standing behind us?”
Without any choice, Wang Shichong nodded and said, “Should be so!”
Kou Zhong laughed and said, “Without any sacrifice, how can there be any gain? If Shengshang gives me five hundred men under my command, I can meet this group of Li Shimin’s wonder troops with penetrating power like a nail – head-on, kill his Niang’s until they are in a sorry state. Otherwise, if we let this team, from the front formation, attack toward our side’s rear formation, and then turning around and charge from behind, our formation will no longer be a formation, our army will no longer be an army!”
‘Dong! Dong! Dong!’
The battle drums sounded together, battle cry reached the sky, the Tang Army finally launched their assault, covering the mountains and the plains, yet with the shape of the formation intact, they rushed to kill. Translated by foxs
The two sides’ main forces finally clashed against each other.
※ ※ ※
Xu Ziling entered the City of Chang’an by nightfall. This time he roused all his twelve consciousness, unleashing all kinds of trick to throw off the enemy, in order to prevent martial art masters like Shi Zhixuan or Wanwan from following his track from behind, as he sneaked into Hou Xibai’s Passionate Nest.
Seeing him back, Hou Xibai spoke in delight, “I already guessed that you would comeback around this time tonight, hence I did not dare to go to Shang Lin Yuan. How’s the situation? Was Kou Zhong willing to listen to you?”
Xu Ziling sat down in the corner of the study room. Looking distracted, he asked, “Listen to what?”
Smiling apologetically, Hou Xibai said, “I don’t know what to ask you, so I randomly asked a question. As long as Kou Zhong raises his vigilance, it should be difficult for Yang Xuyan to carry out his wicked scheme. What’s Li Shimin’s plan?”
Smiling wryly, Xu Ziling replied, “His plan is precisely to mind what is going on in Chang’an; he wants to get rid of Kou Zhong first before dealing with other things.”
Stunned, Hou Xibai bird-headedly sat down next to him, he asked in confusion, “What kind of plan is that?” foxswuxia.wordpress.com
Xu Ziling sighed and said, “Thinking about this matter too much is useless, we’d better put it aside and not think about it. Have you made contact with Lei Dage?”
Hou Xibai nodded and said, “They entered the city yesterday. They are staying in a magnificent residence at Chongren Li [neighborhood/district]; everything appears to be going quite smoothly. Lei Dage and the others make every effort to keep a low profile, but the news that Situ Furong is coming to Chang’an is already secretly spread out. Only because of the war between the Tang and the Zheng, plus Kou Zhong is involved – attracted the House of Tang’s attention, currently, the topic touching the mouth and bumping into the face are all related to this matter, nobody has the leisure to pay attention to a newly rich’s coming and going.”
“Have you seen Ji Qian?” Xu Ziling asked.
Shaking his head, Hou Xibai said, “The past few days, she has not returned to Shang Lin Yuan, with the excuse of being sick. As for Yin Xianhe, there’s still no news. Could it be that he encountered some mishaps?”
Xu Ziling sighed and said, “No need to make random guess, so that we won’t be heart distracted, thoughts in turmoil [idiom] for nothing.”
Hou Xibai said, “Wanwan came to look for you, twice; how do you think I should deal with her?”
Xu Ziling said, “If she is coming again to look for me, please meet her for me here, I need to go find Hu Xiaoxian, plus there is still that ‘Han Lin Qing Yuan’ Scroll of yours, right?” Translated by foxs
Hou Xibai’s spirit greatly aroused, “Absolutely!” he replied in delight, “Zaixia was afraid Ling Shao might forget this matter. Whenever you want to steal it, I will have to go to Shang Lin Yuan to make an alibi.”
And then, lowering his voice, he said, “Shi Shi is completely without any detectable movement, looks like you really aggravated his injury, so that he must hide to treat the injury. I hope these good days will stretch a bit longer.”
Recalling Shi Zhixuan, immediately Xu Ziling had a headache. “How’s the progress of your Hundred-Beauty Painting?” he asked.
Hou Xibai replied, “Only about a dozen more beauties to go. Painting the beauties is not difficult at all, the difficult part is in composing the hundred poems to go with the beauties, a hundred different verses; it wears me out that I nearly wanted to give up.”
Xu Ziling patted his shoulder and said, “Go spend your time in drinking and pleasure at the Shang Lin Yuan tonight! I am going to see Lei LaoGe and Song ErGe to find out the situation before proceeding with our plan. Tonight will be a very busy night.
※ ※ ※
The intense attack and defense battle continued from morning to nightfall.
The Tang Army was mainly attacking, the Zheng Army was mainly defending.
Under Li Shimin’s command, the Tang Army’s officers and soldiers launched continuous, wave after wave of violent attacks and fierce strikes toward the Zheng Army, from long-distance arrows to hand-to-hand close combats, this side was rising the other side was continuing, they were fighting nonstop. foxswuxia.wordpress.com
The dust being kicked by the horses’ hoofs and the soldiers’ boots was hiding the sky and covering the earth, both sides suffered injuries and deaths, blood dyed the grassland red, dead bodies were scattered everywhere on the wilderness, the battle was desperate.
Kou Zhong, using Yijian Technique’s frame of mind faced this severe battle as if he was in command, Wang Shichong became his general transmitting his order instead.
At this moment, he became the conductor that only sought success, every single general was a chess piece that he put on the chessboard, he made his judgment with cold eye, which piece should stay, which piece ought to be thrown away, in order to strive for the final victory. If it were not so, the Zheng Army would have not been able to withstand the Tang Army’s shocking strike early on, and would have been forced to retreat to the camp inside the city.
The bugle horn sounded. The Tang Army on the battlefield retreated like a tide. Kou Zhong gave the order to pursue and attack, but was forced back by the Tang Army’s strong bows and powerful arrows, which rapidly closed the gap. The two sides fell into standing in opposition to one another again. Translated by foxs
Kou Zhong inwardly blamed himself for being careless. The Tang Army retreated but not in confusion, even the dead and wounded were entirely sent back behind the front line. Clearly it was an orderly retreat, not advisable for pursue and attack. Just this momentary slip cost him more than a hundred lives lost at the enemy’s hands; as the commander-in-chief, it was indeed a great responsibility.
The enemy and us, two troops dispositions lit up hundreds and thousands of torches, the day battle has turned into night battle. It was a different scene and another atmosphere.
Wang Shichong spoke heavily, “What crafty idea does Li Shimin still have?”
This was exactly the question that everybody in the Zheng Army was anxious to know. Li Shimin’s command on the battlefield seemed to be determined, but his tactics changed endlessly. Were it not for Kou Zhong, this junshi [military advisor], whose talent was made in heaven – dealing with it calmly, neutralizing the attacks one by one, the Zheng Army surely would not be able not to lose a single cun of soil like right now.
Both sides regrouped their disposition of troops and moved away their dead and injured. foxswuxia.wordpress.com
Kou Zhong’s body had a lot more wounds, but he was unconcerned at all, as if nothing happened to him, he even refused to have his wounds bound up and treated. Others thought that he was an exceptional hero, unafraid of any pain from the wound, but he knew his own condition, the Long-Life Qi had more healing efficacy than any sacred elixir.
He and the five hundred personal guards that Wang Shichong assigned to him launched attacks many times, repeatedly crushing the enemy’s assaults. His Piercing the Sun Bow [see my previous note, original text says ‘shooting’] released strings of arrows, which made the enemy even more heart-turned-cold-guts-perishing; otherwise, the battle might develop into the situation where the Tang Army was having a full control over it.
The two thousand elite troops, Wang Shichong’s personal guards, were divided into four groups that Kou Zhong could dispatch and command at will, hence each time they were able to strike back at the Tang Army with powerful-and-brave-and-irresistible attitude, time and again they rendered amazing meritorious service.
“Really strange,” Zhang Zhi said, “How come Li Shimin has not dispatch his celestial soldiers yet?”
Up to this moment, that one thousand horsemen, which Kou Zhong’s discerning eyes were able to see through that they were the celestial soldiers, had only pretended to attack twice; they were still preserving and nurturing their spirit, waiting for the fortunate timing.
Kou Zhong smiled and said, “Is Da Jiangjun tired?”
Zhang Zhi sighed and said, “Unless you are made of iron, how could you not be tired?” Translated by foxs
“Therefore,” Kou Zhong replied, “Everybody is tired! Li Shimin is precisely waiting for this moment. Only then will his celestial soldiers be able to display their greatest effectiveness.”
He had not finished speaking, the Tang Army’s staying-behind-and-had-not-participated-in-the-attack team of cavalry was starting to move, and the celestial soldiers cavalry was precisely part of this group. The twenty thousand cavalry was pulled back to regroup, to hold back their troops without moving. But if Li Shimin gave the order, they could throw themselves back into the battlefield at any time.
The enemy was pressing in continuously.
Kou Zhong pulled the Moon in the Well and shouted to the five hundred cavalrymen, who have had good rest behind him, “Success or failure, it will depend on our ability.”
The five hundred fighters responded with a roar. In their hearts, Kou Zhong had already established an unequalled leadership position; everybody was willing to follow him, to die for him. Although this matter incurred Wang Shichong’s jealousy, Kou Zhong was already unable to change much, otherwise his dead body would lie in this place. Luoyang, Shao Shuai Army, and everything else no longer be any concern of him. foxswuxia.wordpress.com
Ahead, the middle army’s infantry, following the direction of the battle drums, flags and bugle horns, moved to both sides to open up a gap, so that the troops under Kou Zhong’s leadership could rush out to be the first to meet the attacking Dark-armored Celestial Soldiers and the tens of thousands of Tang Army.
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