Chapter 34: Third World (6)
Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
Zhou Mo’s army had been stationed in the county town for some time to facilitate the production of the cannons with Bai Duan. Now that the experiment was successful, they could naturally continue to advance to the capital.
After a moment’s hesitation, Bai Duan decided to accept Zhou Mo’s invitation and continued to contribute his own strength to his dear ‘brother’. Since he successfully built the cannon, Bai Duan felt like he suddenly lit up some strange skill tree, and even designed several kinds of military equipment that could be used in the battlefield.
Although these instruments were only in the sketch stage, the rest of the soldiers believed in him and were greatly encouraged by the news. Bai Duan’s name changed from a previously intimate ‘little brother’ to a respectful ‘sir’, and some even called him ‘master’.
Although they had no blood relationship, the old carpenter and Bai Duan depended on each other for so long, and it was tough to give up his little apprentice. However, young people would always leave their families, build up their own fame and success, and, as elders, they could not and would not stop them from leaving the nest.
The old carpenter was too old and weak to adapt himself to the laborious life of marching. He finally chose to stay in the county. He could, for better or worse, sweep Bai Duan’s mother’s grave from time to time and do his best to fulfill his filial piety.
To please Zhou Mo, Lord Liu of Zhixian clapped his chest to ensure that he would take care of the old carpenter. He would surely be able to make him comfortable with clothing and food and help him in his old age. At least, Bai Duan did not need to worry about the livelihood of the old carpenter before the defeat of the Empire’s army.
With the encouragement of the old carpenter, Bai Duan took a backpack and began his journey far away from his native land and into a new vast world.
Because of the canon, Zhou Mo and his deputy generals decided to change their conservative and stable strategic policy and launch a more active attack. So they set their goal on Huzhou City, a large city with a prosperous economy, strong walls, and numerous garrisons.
Originally, those in Zhou Mo’s army were afraid to attack the heavily guarded big cities because of their inadequate equipment and lack of useful equipment for attacking cities. After all, siege battles were extremely difficult, requiring soldiers to climb the city walls one after another, sacrificing a significant number of people, and Zhou Mo’s soldiers were not so profligate.
This was also the reason why the court did not worry too much, although they were frightened by the forces under Zhou Mo’s command. They believed that their cities were solid and hard to conquer without additional defense.
When the city lord of Huzhou City heard Zhou Mo’s army was approaching, they also held the same attitude as the court. But although he believed he could win, he still made sufficient preparations. Hot oil, rolling stones, and rockets were all ready. He vowed that Zhou’s soldiers would not succeed in climbing the wall.
However, things did not develop as he expected.
Zhou Mo’s army stopped its march beyond the range of the arrows. Although their standard weapons were set aside, they did not rush straight up. Instead, they pulled up a dark, strange-looking cart.
The city lord stood on the high wall and looked at it from afar. His heart was worried as the name of the God of War, Zhou Mo, was widely circulated. What he could do to lead the battle could not be underestimated. Nevertheless, even if the city had made enough psychological preparations, he was still startled by the roaring black artillery shell. When it hit the wall with high precision, it scared him to death, and he almost fell to the ground.
If only a stone hit the wall, it would only break a gap at most, but the shells burst apart after hitting. The rocks broke into the sky and make the whole wall tremble. The fragments and chunks of the broken stones were scattered, and the strength was astonishing. The soldiers who were not able to run far soon enough were blown up into mere blood and flesh.
The loud noise was like thunder’s rage, and the power was like a star falling to the ground, unlike the force of the world.
Suddenly, a vast depression and rubble rolled over the stable wall, which had been regarded as pride by the city lord. The wall was turned upside down into a pot of porridge. Soldiers fled the collapsed wall one after another, and when Zhou Mo’s army stuffed the same shell into the strange equipment, they were even more frightened, and, like a swarm of bees, ran under the wall. This time for another reason, because Zhou Mo personally went to battle and aimed and manipulated the new weapon.
No one wanted to stay in the city as a tool, let alone this battle. They were reluctant to fight, and even hoarse shouting could not stop the collapse of the soldiers’ morale, it seemed that only a shell was left and the overall situation was settled.
Seeing the general situation, the city lord sighed deeply; he could not defend the county gate for the Son of Heaven. Although he died gloriously, he could only comfort himself that those who knew the current affairs were choosing trees for the handsome and good fowls. This day, it was about time to change the dynasty.
Almost bloodless, Zhou Mo’s army took Huzhou City, and, for the first time, they took a big city as a stronghold and had the strength to seize the world.
For this ‘victory’, all the people in the army were exalted, and morale soared. On the contrary, Zhou Mo was not. He cleaned up the army in time and suppressed the unrealistic delusions of the soldiers. Although the first use of the cannon on the battlefield had achieved such brilliant results, it was only because he had beaten the enemy. Unexpectedly, once the other party was ready, it would not be so easy to solve.
To avoid the talented people in the court seeing through the principle of the cannon and coming up with solutions, Zhou Mo did not stay in Huzhou City for long. After rectifying the army and supplying good grain and grass, he continued to march forward, with the momentum of breaking bamboo all the way down to several cities. At this time, the court was in disorder and rushed to mobilize a large army to surround the city. Zhou Mo must be eliminated at all costs.
The cannon had a remarkable effect in siege battles, but it had a flat performance on other battlefield terrains. To cope with the cannon, the Imperial Army took a loose formation, even if it were fired, it would not cause much damage, but once the two armies confronted, it would only depend on the real abilities of both sides.
Although Zhou Mo’s army succeeded in capturing large cities and gaining a batch of more sophisticated equipment, compared with the Imperial Army, both quantity and quality were still on the downside.
Under the full encirclement and suppression of the imperial court, Zhou Mo’s troops went through a period of considerable hardship, even falling into the enemy’s trap once and were suddenly attacked by the other side.
It was the most dangerous battle Bai Duan had ever experienced. In peacetime, as a non-combatant, he always stayed in the safe rear and did not really face the horror of war. But this time, he was caught in the chaotic army, surrounded by the screams of soldiers fighting, blood splashing, limbs flying, feathers and arrows whistling by his ears, every minute and second, life was taken away by death’s sickle.
Although Bai Duan had also trained for several days under Zhou Mo’s guidance since joining the army, he was still not able to cope with such a situation. Fortunately, Zhou Mo was more worried about his safety than he was. As early as the first time, he was dragged onto Zhou Mo’s horse, firmly held in his arms, and was blocked from the dangers on all sides of him.
However, even if Zhou Mo had three heads and six arms, he would not be able to cope with the rush of enemy troops. Moreover, he had to protect a Bai Duan. What the Imperial Army wanted most was Zhou Mo, a commander, and Bai Duan, a craftsman who was said to have made powerful weapons like the cannon. As long as one of them could be killed, they would surely be able to severely shake the morale of Zhou Mo’s army. Even if this encirclement and suppression failed and the Rebel Army succeeded in breaking through the encirclement, it would already be a steady profit.
Bai Duan and Zhou Mo rode together, naturally becoming the focus of the Imperial Army, and there were always hidden arrows coming from afar. The other side was bound to be unwilling to let go of such excellent opportunities.
While fighting with the enemy forces around him, Zhou Mo also had to be alert to the hidden arrows in the distance, which inevitably led to powerful moments of arrest and overwhelming defense.
Bai Duan was surrounded by Zhou Mo’s arms, his brain was a mess, and his nose was filled with the smell disgusting blood, which made him dizzy. Knowing that he could not help at all, he could only try to calm himself down, huddle in the arms of Zhou Mo, and try not to make trouble for him.
Unfortunately, on the battlefield, accidents were bound to happen all the time. Suddenly, the horse under Bai Duan’s body seemed to be injured, neighing, twisting, and leaping. Bai Duan subconsciously bent down to hold the horse’s neck, and stabilize himself, but suddenly, a feathered arrow was shot at a slant, straight towards Bai Duan and out of the shelter of Zhou Mo’s body.
Bai Duan’s eyes shrank. The first reaction was to let go and hide. But at this moment, once he let go, he would very likely be thrown off by the horse. In case of falling off, the horse would trample him, and the enemy would chop off the horse’s hooves, which would kill his soul for nine years.
There was no escape, and Bai Duan intended to clench his teeth to take the arrow, but unexpectedly, Zhou Mo also saw the danger. He was wrestling with the enemy general, causing him to be unable to cut down the arrows, so he simply clipped his feet against his horse.
The warhorse accompanied Zhou Mo for a long time. It had long been in touch with his mind, and followed him in a spin, making Zhou Mo’s back face the arrow.
Zhou Mo grunted, but his face remained unchanged. He cut down the enemy general with his sword, urged with his reins for the horse to break through, and glanced at Bai Duan to make sure that he was safe and sound.
Bai Duan was in Zhou Mo’s arms, his teeth clenched his lower lip tightly, his body began to tremble slightly, and his eyes were red to the extreme. He knew how much Zhou Mo had paid for his safety, and he hated himself and was ashamed in his heart, but he could not say or do anything.
By the time they finally broke through, Zhou Mo had already taken several arrows in his body. The blood flowed through his underwear and armor, and even Bai Duan’s back was stained with blood.
Zhou Mo’s army stopped to repair their equipment after breaking away from the pursuit of the Imperial Army and finally felt somewhat safe. Zhou Mo quickly rectified the army and rescued the wounded. When everything was settled properly, he was weak, and his body shook slightly, supported by Bai Duan.
Zhou Mo bowed his head, and his face was pale, but his expression was still calm, and his eyes were full of concern, “My dear brother, are you alright? Did it frighten you?”
Bai Duan’s nose was sour and he had already endured for half a day before tears finally flowed down his cheeks. He felt so humiliated that he could only cry like a weak woman. He gritted his teeth tightly and tried to hold back the useless tears, but his voice was trembling, “I’m okay, Big Brother Zhou… You need to treat your wounds.”
“Mmn.” Zhou Mo gently smiled, raised his hand to wipe away Bai Duan’s tears, but found that the other had wiped his white cheeks like a cat, so instead touched his head, “Good brother, do not cry.”
Bai Duan sniffed and saw the doctor with the army rushing over with the medicine box. He gave up his position but held Zhou Mo’s hand tightly and refused to leave.
Zhou Mo sighed slightly, motioning the military doctor to pull out an arrow for him to treat his wounds, and soothed his sweetheart who was about to die of self-reproach and self-hatred in a soft voice, “I’m so skinny and fleshy that I’ve been used to it for a long time, and it’s okay to get hurt a little bit. Besides, I’m experienced, and I’ve already avoided getting hit in the vital areas, and I can recover from this in two or three days. But you are different, your body is not good. In the case of repeated injuries, wound infections would be hard to heal.”
Bai Duan licked his lips; his mood was not good because of Zhou Mo’s persuasion, but he also knew that he could not make Zhou Mo continue to worry, so Bai Duan could only squeeze out a smile, and give a little nod.
Zhou Mo lost the battle this time. Although he was injured, he could not be rest assured due to his upbringing. After dealing with the injuries, he immediately devoted himself to the busy military affairs, trying to make up for this downtime.
Bai Duan looked at everything, worried, impatient, and regretful in his heart, but nothing could help him, so he could only get into his drawings one by one. He was anxious to prove that he was useful to Zhou Mo, not just dragging his feet behind him and be protected.
He was unable to fight against the enemy, but he was able to produce powerful instruments to protect and help Zhou Mo win instead of himself.