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The person Situ Yilan recalled was definitely Ning Que. She was not indulging herself in their youth memories because of the dangerous situation she was facing. She was simply trying to obtain some strength. The veterans in the barracks were like Ning Que. They were unimaginably tenacious and able to fulfill many unexpected achievements.
But what upset her was that deep down in their indifferent eyes, she saw their irreconcilable wills. Especially when they saw the war horse she held, they seemed extremely envy and restless.
Indeed, that was still the problem.
Situ Yilan lowered her head and pondered. Why did the royal court agreed to cede Xiangwan Plain to the Divine Halls of West-Hill? Why did they agree to compensate the Golden Tribe and Yan with war horses? They were indeed facing very severe situation back then. But didn't they know that by yielding to these requests they were basically committing suicide?
The black death cord had been gradually twisted for years in silence and eventually came to its extreme on the gra.s.sland, placing tremendous pressure on every soldier in the North Battlefront Army.
Even people in Chang'an were fully aware of the situation. And so should the ministers in the royal courts. Prince Li Peiyan even hanged himself due to the cession. But Situ Yilan knew it was the Academy's decision. More precisely, it was Ning Que's decision.
But why did the Academy agree with him back then?
Coming closer to the barracks, Situ Yilan saw a man and a woman by a table. She felt awkward. She was a disciple of the Academy, while these two people represented the Academy. Thinking of her disagreement with the Academy's decision previously, she did not know what she should say now.
Mu You used to be fond of light yellow dresses. But now she had to wear something more practical like cotton-padded clothes. The Sixth Brother was still topless as he used to be in the back hill of the Academy, wearing only a piece of fur.
Situ Yilan could say nothing harsh to these two seniors from the Academy. Because instead of enjoying their celestial lives, they had been fighting together with ordinary soldiers these days.
The situation of the war had been changed. The enemies never stopped trying to a.s.sa.s.sinate their generals. Many Tang generals would have been killed by the Golden Tribe Royal Court if it was not for the ingenious arrays Mu You had set up in the barracks and the intensive defense Mr. Six made with his iron hammer, not to mention the countless weapons Mr. Six had fixed throughout the nights.
Situ Yilan found someone missing and asked, "Where is Mr. Fourth?"
Fan Yue, Mr. Fourth from the Academy was now the brain of the North Battlefront Army. General Hua Ying trusted him so well and put him in charge for everything from stationing to strategic planning.
Mu You wrung out a towel and came to her. She wiped the dust off her face and said gently, "No matter where you are … a pretty girl like you has to be neat even when you cannot dress yourself up."
Situ Yilan was not in the mood of dressing up and could only put on a bitter smile. Recalling the army of the Golden Tribe Royal Court she saw on the gra.s.sland, she felt stressed and asked quietly, "When will Mrs. Third make the attack? When will the powerful figures from the Light's Doctrine and the Wild People arrive?"
The North Battlefront Army was in inferiority now. She could not think of a solution no matter what. However General Xu Chi had been so calm that she reasoned the Academy must have planned for alternatives and back ups.
After working on the arrays for many days and nights, Mu You was quite exhausted. Upon Situ Yilan's question, she answered after a while, "I have no idea where the Eldest Sister is."
Hearing this, Situ Yilan felt disappointed and lost again.
"According to the original plan, she should have taken the East Wilderness in early spring and joined us… She should have made the attack. There must be a reason for her not showing up until now, either it is not the right time yet or because of something else." Mu You tried to comfort her and pushed her to sit down for breakfast.
Anything that contradicted common sense must had its reason. As for an army, the common sense was always an objective judgment of the situation followed by a reasonable solution.
Hua Ying stood outside the barracks and stared at the scarlet morning glow. He could vaguely see the countless yurts of the Golden Tribe Royal Court. There must be something wrong with the General's solution. But what was it?
A chief delivered him a telescope. He took it and looked out to the Golden Tribe Royal Court, then toward some dozens of miles away in the northeast. He observed for a long while in silence.
The telescopes were made by the Academy and brought here by Mr. Six. Almost every chief in the North Battlefront Army had one now. They treated them like great treasures and carried them everywhere.
Hua Ying was amazed. With such help from the Academy they could see clearly the moves of the Golden Tribe Royal Court while the enemies were not aware at all. If it was in the past the North Battlefront Army would have definitely won the battle.
Especially now when Chanyu had risked the entire tribe to make the attack to the south, they never thought about retreating and a.s.sumed their tactics were invincible. But to the Tang generals, their strategies were full of loopholes. As long as the Tang could send out a strong cavalry, they would definitely crush the Golden Tribe.
"If only … I could have ten thousand … no, even eight thousand…" Hua Ying put down the telescope and looked to the north. His voice trembled, "If only I could have eight thousand best war horses, I would have no problem guarding Guhe. I would even drive them out of Wei."
Chanyu was too arrogant. Hua Ying saw it as their best chance hence his voice was trembling. It was very unbearable for him to let go such a perfect chance.
Xu Chi firmly believed that the North Battlefront Army could defeat the cavalry of Golden Tribe Royal Court in the battlefield. But Hua Ying seriously doubted it. He was not questioning his military order, but only longed badly for another ten thousand best war horses.
However it was not going to happen.
Even if Haotian were to return to the human world, she would never be able to get ten thousand suitable and well-trained war horses for the Tang within such a short period of time.
The Golden Tribe Royal Court knew that Tang was running out of war horses. That was exactly why Chanyu dared to invade to the south and made such arrogant plans. They were fearless facing the decisive battle tomorrow.
Many Tang soldiers fantasized that their royal court must have secretly raised many war horses and would raid their enemies in the decisive battle. But it merely their fantasy. Chanyu never thought so.
To raise horses, they needed a lot of forage, stables, labors and resources. A huge number of war horses could never be raised secretly in the Tang. They could never be hidden from Taoism. Even if they could, how could those untrained horses be useful in a battle?
They needed experienced war horses, war horses, or even just horses.
It was what Situ Yilan was longing for, what the former cavalrymen were longing for, what Hua Ying and everyone else was desperately longing for. They were yelling furiously inside, Why don't we have war horses?
If they could not get experienced war horses, even some ordinary horses would do. As long as they could carry the cavalrymen, they could be any horses, steeds, mares, naughty horses, ponies, whatever kind of horses. As long as they were horses!
Without horses, the Tang army was seriously doomed.
Throughout the North Battlefront Army, only General Xu Chi was still confident.
Yu Lian never showed up on the gra.s.sland, neither did the national master of Golden Tribe Royal Court and the ten priests. They were well protected by the gra.s.sland cavalrymen in the rear.
Xu Chi's confidence did not come from Yu Lian or Tang, the World Wayfarer of Devil's Doctrine. He had gotten the message from Helan City earlier on that the Wild People were delayed by the cavalrymen of the Divine Halls from the Yan and could not come immediately to back him up.
It was a very bad news. But fortunately, ten days ago he received another message. It was from the Academy and brought him some hope.
Many carriages had left the North Battalion and arrived at the rear of Guhe. They were full of hidden supplies for the main force of North Battlefront Army. To keep it a secret as long as he could, he did not even tell Hua Ying.
The dawn was yet to come, and the moon was already gone. The sky was turning bright from the east while some dimming stars still shone in the west. People on the gra.s.sland were awake. Kids were playing and women were murmuring throughout the countless yurts of the Golden Tribe Royal Court. But more noises came from the clashing of machetes and armors, as well as the restless neighs of the war horses and the crackles of burning gra.s.s.
According to their tradition, the gra.s.sland cavalrymen should never bring their families to battles. But the Golden Tribe Royal Court was seriously throwing the entire tribe into the battle. Therefore they had women, children, as well as slaves in their yurts. Chanyu and the n.o.bles prepared them well so that they were not a burden for the soldiers. Instead, they had become the best stimulator for the warriors to fight fearlessly against the Tang army.
The warriors of the Golden Tribe already a.s.sembled. They were solemn and firm. The slaves and families had helped them get armed.
It was the darkest time before dawn. They were not planning to do sneak attack in the darkness because darkness was not favorable for themselves either. The cavalrymen needed to see the field clearly. They were much more superior and did not need to take the risk.
They made an early a.s.sembly because it was in their blood to fight and it would be a severe battle today. Human beings could fight with morale, but not the war horses. Therefore they had to feed them well before the battle. They fed the horses with the best forage, mixed with grains and beans, and provided them with enough fresh water as well as some salt.
They had to finish all these preparations within four hours before the battle. Then the cavalry of Golden Tribe would crush whatever stayed in their way.