Joy of Life - Chapter 554 - The Attack In Front Of Zhengyang Gate[Updated at: 2021-01-12 01:49:51]
Chapter 554: The Attack In Front Of Zhengyang Gate
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
The sound of rapid footsteps rang out on the palace walls. A few imperial soldiers in armor ran to them, knelt down on one knee, and said some things. Fan Xian stood behind the Great Prince and listened calmly without any feelings of shock. After a night of searching, they had captured the empress but had not captured the Crown Prince. The soldiers that had been sent to the Ye and Qin family manors had also come back empty-handed.
These figures in the elder generation were clear about the direction of the wind, even though they no longer had their previous ruthlessness, particularly the Ye and Qin families. Since they had set their hearts on riding the Eldest Princess’ skirts in creating a rebellion, how could they allow Fan Xian to capture a useful hostage?
As for the other personal officers, they were reporting the defensive situation in Jingdou. The Great Prince listened with his brows slightly furrowed. He then waved his hand to dismiss them. Turning to Fan Xian, he said, “If we retreat back into the Palace in the pre-arranged way, then it would be the same as giving them all the territory outside of the Royal Palace. If the rebel troops set up an array and surround this Palace, we have no chance of turning the tables.”
Fan Xian looked at him.
“However, if we start carrying out attacks the moment the rebel army enters the city, it could only be effective as a form of harassment. It won’t be of any actual use.” The Great Prince continued, “I have too little military power in my hands.”
The morning sun had already risen. The red light shone on the cinnabar red palace walls and reflected back, enveloping the entire palace and square in front in a warm color. Even the clear and small moat to the rear of the Palace glimmered with a terrifying red that was like fresh blood.
“If we are to stall for time, we have to attack the moment they enter the city,” the Great Prince watched the rising sun and said with narrowed eyes. “Unfortunately, the Overwatch Council secret agents are held back by the surrounding walls and have no way of handing in their reports. We must make a guess as to which gate the army will use to enter the capital.”
“The city gate is some distance from the Royal Palace. It is enough for us to destroy some of their spirit,” Fan Xian said with his head down. “If I really had to guess which gate they will enter through, I would bet on the Zhengyang Gate.”
“I thought the same.” The Great Prince nodded his head. The rebel army was heading straight for Jingdou from Yuantai Camp. The closest city gate was Zhengyang Gate. Furthermore, the 13 city gate’s yamen was also at this location. Although Zhang Deqing had rebelled, this was the only gate he controlled personally. This would be the safest and smoothest path for the Eldest Princess’s army to enter the capital.
The Great Prince furrowed his brows and said, “I left a squadron there.”
Fan Xian glanced at him. A strange light flashed through his eyes. The force facing them was too powerful. I was impossible to keep them outside the city. He and the Great Prince had to land a heavy blow the moment the rebel army entered the city to be able to reduce their spirit.
This squadron left behind would certainly be swallowed by the army surging forward violently. It was likely no one would survive.
As if sensing what Fan Xian was thinking, the Great Prince furrowed his brows slightly and said in a heavy voice, “It is reasonable for a soldier of Qing Kingdom to risk their life and limbs.”
Fan Xian thought with slight bitterness that it was only the Emperor’s family’s struggle for power, yet these normal soldiers had to die and spill their blood. A gust of wind blew through suddenly. Along with the wind came the sounds of enthusiasm and killing up and down the palace walls. It was the officers of the Imperial Army giving their subordinates a last motivating talk before the battle. For a moment, there was a murderous aura inside and outside the Royal Palace. The air seemed tense.
“Asking for the last time, should we go?” The Great Prince narrowed his eyes at the city gate in the east and didn’t glance at Fan Xian. “Once the army has surrounded the Palace, it will be impossible to break out.”
This was a question he had discussed with Fan Xian many times. The Great Prince was willing to lead the Imperial Army and draw the rebel army into the Jingdou to carry out a bloody killing. Fan Xian, with the help of a thousand secret agents from the Overwatch Council, would lead the people in the Palace to a safe path, kill their way out of the city gate, and quickly make their way south to Weizhou.
Like in the previous discussions, Fan Xian gently shook his head. Putting aside the possibility of success in getting out, even if they could, he would not allow the Great Prince to be torn apart by the Eldest Princess’s army alone. Furthermore, he was still waiting for something with enough anticipation to keep both his feet planted firmly on the palace walls.
He followed the Great Prince’s gaze and stared at the solemn Zhengyang Gate below the rising sun without a word.
Jingdou did not wake with the rising sun. Tens of thousands of people stayed in their homes out of fear with their ears perked to hear the noises outside. The streets of the residential neighborhoods, Tianhe Avenue, and various yamens were completely devoid of people and absolutely silent.
Such silence and emptiness made one feel that the incoming daytime was still an endless night. Jingdou had become an isolated and dead city.
The morning wind brought an inauspicious sound. It sounded like someone was opening the thick and heavy Jingdou city gate.
There was no sound of horse hooves or their neighing. There was no sound of the clash of armor and swords. No military flags could be seen floating in the air. At such a distance, it should be impossible to hear the sound of the city gate opening and closing.
In such a deathly silent Jingdou, any unusual sound from the city gates could touch on the sensitive thoughts of the people in the Royal Palace.
Fan Xian abruptly turned his head and looked toward the west and south. With narrowed eyes, he observed the smoke Overwatch Council agents had risked their lives to send out. A moment later, he met the Great Prince’s gaze and said, “We all guessed wrong.”
The Great Prince’s expression became solemn as he nodded his head.
The white smoke rose as alarms rang out. Gazing down from the palace walls, one could see there was smoke rising from a dozen different places on the outer wall around Jingdou. Hooves thundered and charged through the city gate, along the wide open streets in Jingdou, and came toward the Royal Palace.
Fan Xian and the Great Prince guessed that the rebel army would enter the capital through Zhengyang Gate. Unexpectedly, the rebel army had openly and publicly come through all nine of the city gates at the same time with an imposing air.
The two princes on the palace walls sucked in a cold breath and wondered just how many people were in the Eldest Princess’s rebel army that they could divide the army to enter through all nine of the city gates. Putting righteous pressure on the city, they created a very terrifying spectacle.
In just a moment, fire beacons burned all over Jingdou.
Outside Zhengyang Gate, the yellow dirt that had been trampled by the horses’ hooves was kicked up again and turned into a cloud of dust. It gradually rose up to become a cloud of yellow smoke, covering the light from the rising sun that had climbed over the horizon line. It threw a shadow over the area inside and outside the city gate.
At a steady speed, the 5,000-person army rode toward the open Zhengyang Gate five abreast. Everything appeared silent and quick. The dust that the horses’ hooves picked up was charged down by these horses as they sliced into the city. They looked like a yellow dragon without a head or tail. They moved without stopping as they struggled into Jingdou to try and swallow up the pitiful common people.
Amongst the yellow dirt flying in the air, a large military flag was fluttering in the wind. There was a large “Qin” character painted onto the black flag. The last stroke of the character was painted with great strength. It gave one a sense of invincibility. Although it flew in the dusty air, it still possessed a powerful killing aura.
The former Deputy of the Bureau of Military Affairs and present Commander of the Jingdou Garrison, the second generation military figure of the Qin family, Qin Heng, was below this flag, calmly watching his troops. He entered Jingdou with an aura that none could withstand.
He narrowed his eyes but did not cover his mouth and nose to prevent breathing in the yellow dust. He only looked at everything calmly. An unusually complicated feeling rose in his chest. As the Commander of the Jingdou Garrison, he was familiar with Zhengyang Gate. He knew that if the gate was tightly closed, he could charge it for three years with his 3,000 soldiers and still not get in.
The capital of Qing Kingdom had previously been surrounded, but no enemy had ever broken into the city. The fairly young Jingdou had sufficiently demonstrated its powerful defensive strength.
Now, the gates of this capital had finally been broken through. Like Master Zhuang Mohan wrote once in his book, the most powerful capitals in the world are often broken in from the inside.
The Qing Kingdom rebellion this time was not an exception.
Qin Heng watched all of this. As a military man of Qing Kingdom, his feelings were complicated. He felt endless admiration for the Eldest Princess, who easily gained control of the 13 city gate guards, as well as endless fear.
The present situation did not allow him to think too much. The army was entering the capital through the nine city gates. The troops he was leading were going through Zhengyang Gate. He had to get to the Royal Palace before anyone else.
The army this time brought together the Ye and Qin families’ armies, as well as the Jingdou Garrison. There were 30,000 people, while the defensive force in the Palace had less than 6,000 people. The army wanted to enter the capital properly and formally, imposing others with power. They had to make the people in the Royal Palace too scared to do battle and end with a surrender.
For Qin Heng, it was not difficult to fight this battle with a six-to-one ratio. He had never thought that the people familiar to him in the Palace would be able to stand against such a powerful army.
The rushing horses and soldiers in front of him flashed through his eyes. Then, a person’s name flashed through his eyes. Qin Heng was not particularly worried about the Royal Palace. He was worried that Ye Zhong would get to the Royal Palace ahead of him.
Thinking of Ye Zhong’s name, Qin Heng breathed out a muddy breath. This permanent member of the Jingdou Garrison had accepted the empress dowager’s edict but had not returned to Dingzhou. Although it seemed that the Ye family’s refusal to retreat was by the Eldest Princess’s secret arrangement and had great implications for the Jingdou battle, for the Qin family, the existence of the Ye family’s military power had another meaning.
Ye Zhong was the Second Prince’s father-in-law while, naturally, the Qin family supported the Crown Prince. Thus, old Master Qin had ordered that the Qin family’s army must be sufficiently valiant in this battle and arrive at the Palace before the Ye family so that the Crown Prince’s future bid for the throne would be stabilized.
Qin Heng squeezed the horse between his legs and led his personal guards into the main troops entering the city, becoming a bright scale on the yellow dragon.
The rebel army divided into nine to enter the capital. The Qin family took up six of the routes, while the Ye family took three. Because the rebel army was so powerful and knew that the defenses in Jingdou were empty, they did not care about splitting up. With such a large force entering, it also weakened the Royal Palace’s resolve to break through the siege.
The thousands of soldiers in the city gate guard were not part of the rebel army. The normal soldiers watched all of this in astonishment, not knowing what had happened. Some of the clever officers guessed that one of the princes had rebelled but did not make a move with the pressure from superiors. Zhang Deqing was a clever man. He knew that even if grew another hand, he wouldn’t be of much help to the rebellion. Holding tightly onto his city gate department was the wisest choice of action.
The sound of hooves thundered down the street between Zhengyang Gate and the Royal Palace. The Qin family army took out their weapons and became more alert. Their speed did not reduce as they rode through like a whirlwind.
Presently, the world revered the color black. The Qin rider’s light armor was very dark colored, similar to that of the Overwatch Council’s Black Knights. It was only missing the deepest black. There were also a few shiny pieces on the chest of the armor.
A dozen riders abruptly broke off from the main group and increased their speed, moving like lightning into the silent streets. Passing under the residences’ low eaves, they began to scout ahead for the main army.
Everything was as normal. These riders went through the streets, made another turn, and dispersed like arrowheads as they began to move deeper into the streets. All of this happened quickly and naturally, sufficiently demonstrating the level of training the Qing Kingdom’s armies had and the power of the Qin family army.
The main group of riders did not slow. They followed in the direction the dozen riders had gone in and continued moving forward. Qin Heng sat on his horse, leading his own soldiers. He coldly observed a hundred or so meters in front of him. He knew that Fan Xian and the Great Prince would not sit and wait for death. This quiet and long street would certainly see brutal and violent killings.
However, he didn’t care. Regardless of how many people Fan Xian and the Great Prince had, he knew what he wanted was speed from the moving army and a valiant aura. Regardless of whatever obstructed them, they had to crush it mercilessly with the force of the army.
The rebel army had entered too quickly. As for the dozen riders in front, there was nothing to blame them for. More accurately speaking, they were only brave lures. They were like the brave soldiers who rolled through minefields in Fan Xian’s world. They used their lives to touch the deathly silence in Jingdou to find out just what danger existed inside.
The rebel army was already 1,500 meters through Zhengyang Gate. The dozen brave riders still had not run into an attack. Even when they could faintly see the eaves of the Royal Palace by the light of the rising sun, the alley was still completely silent.
The battle horse at the front of the rebel army, which were about 300 meters behind the dozen scouts, was struggling to breathe the Jingdou air and maintain a steady pace. It began to cry out in pain.
The cry cut off in the middle. A number of horses fell down at the same time.
The battle horses’ heavy bodies fell mercilessly against the stone pavement of the street, sending up plumes of dust that seemed to shake the entire street. The horses’ heads fell heavily against the ground as fresh blood poured out.
No matter how skilled the riders on the battle horses were, they were caught off guard by this sudden change and fell to the ground. Before they had even woken from the pain of their broken legs, a number of poisoned arrows were fired from the residences on the side of the street and pierced ruthlessly into their bodies.
Just as the horses fell to the ground and the riders were shot to death by arrows, countless hissing sounds suddenly came from the silent street.
This noise was not from the noses of the battle horses. It came from the ground. The streets of Jingdou were paved with square tiles. The gaps between the tiles were filled with yellow dirt.
The hissing sound came from the narrow strips of yellow dirt between the tiles.
At the same time, the yellow dirt between the tiles suddenly cracked. There seemed to be some mysterious power on either side of the street. A thin, black hair flew out of the cracks in the yellow dirt. The hair was too thin to tie a hook to it, but it gave off a faint light. It was a thin poisoned needle.
A dozen specially made black tripwires suddenly and mysteriously appeared on the street.
Countless groans rang out at the same time. The riders of the Qin army were mercilessly attacked. Roughly 100 riders had been brought down by these dozen tripwires and smashed into the earth.
For a moment, the street was filled with people falling and horses flipping. Wretched cries rang out endlessly. Countless people and horses snapped their tendons and broke their bones. Crashing heavily together, they rolled and bled.
Immediately after, whistling sounds broke through the air. These sounds were like the whistles that spirits used before they came to collect a life and shook one’s heart. Countless black crossbow bolts shot out from the residences on the side of the street. The bolts landed on the bodies of the rebel soldiers and immediately stopped their wretched cries.
In just a moment, there were an extra 100 dead people on half of the street. Most of the dead had bolts stuck into their bodies. The ambushers did not fire at the horses. The broken-limbed and poisoned battled horses lay weakly on the ground by the bodies of their owners. As they neighed painfully, they also kicked their legs.
The scene was incomparably tragic.