The Empress's Gigolo Chapter 369
They pressed on unceasingly, only catching up to Li Qianqiu the next night.
Ren Baqian face-planted into the floor upon dismounting from the fork-horned cow, unable to move.
"How much longer before they leave Dayao?" Ren Baqian asked.
"Approximately five days at this speed," Li Qianqiu answered gravely.
"How long can they endure if we harass them every night and disrupt their sleep?" Ren Baqian suddenly quipped, inspired by his own exhaustion. He was fortunately able to get some sleep on the back of the horned cow. The Great Xia troops had to march in the day, and would likely collapse after only a few days of sleep deprivation.
"Three days at most, though Great Xia's commanding general would realize soon enough and set up the relevant countermeasures," Li Qianqiu replied.
"So what if they become aware? We'll pretend to attack when they let a portion of their troops stand down to rest. I don't think they'll be able to continue resting then. If they ignore our act, we'll attack them for real. What can they do about it?" Ren Baqian continued, all the while keeping his eyelids open with great effort. The troops from the aboriginal tribes were much faster than those from Great Xia anyway. The aboriginal soldiers could afford to continue the chase after resting for half a day, but surely Great Xia couldn't afford to take a break?
If Great Xia dared to stop, the reinforcements from the Protectorate of the South were only a day away.
Even at Great Xia's current pace, they could catch up within three days.
As Great Xia's army continued to wear down, they might just crumble at the start of the inevitable battle.
"We can give it a shot!" Li Qianqiu nodded.
Even though this strategy was unlike those he was used to, it sounded equally effective.
Li Qianqiu and his men left with 200 grenades and returned at dawn.
He did as discussed with Ren Baqian, harassing the enemy without engaging them directly. The Great Xia troops were put on guard at all times.
The Great Xia camp was notably different this time around. The two different groups had come and merged together.
They seemed to be running low on manpower and could no longer sustain two separate camps.
After a long, restless night, it was once again time for Great Xia's exhausted troops to break camp.
As the aboriginal soldiers started to rest, Ren Baqian woke up from a good night's sleep feeling refreshed. He toured the entire camp before finding a corner to think.
It was only at lunchtime that Ren Baqian chanced upon Li Qianqiu again. "Sir Li!"
"What's the matter, Sir Ren?" Li Qianqiu asked.
"Do you know of anything that can influence the thoughts of other people? Something that makes them think in atypical ways," Ren Baqian replied.
"Lots!" Li Qianqiu exclaimed.
"Really? Tell me more, Sir Li!" Ren Baqian was wide awake. He had been racking his brains over this matter for many days to no avail.
"I know of a kind of mushroom that induces hallucinations. It makes the affected person see everyone else as a good deal shorter than themself, as if they themselves had grown into a giant. The affected person's ego swells as well, egging them to provoke people and beasts that they would usually shun," Li Qianqiu said with a look of remembrance on his face as he recalled the time he accidentally ate one of those mushrooms. What a commotion he had caused then.
Next thing he knew, he was lying in bed for half a month.
A truly memorable experience!
The look on Li Qianqiu's face piqued Ren Baqian's interest quite a bit!
However, this story was not what he was looking for.
"Not this type" Ren Baqian considered a while before divulging the incident. He emphasized that he felt mind controlled.
"Oh, could Sir Ren have been plotted against?" Li Qianqiu asked.
"What do you mean?" Ren Baqian countered.
"From what I know, there is a coquettish woman called Xia Wanniang from Great Xia. Her Heaven-grade weapon is capable of disrupting emotions and arousing desires, subtly influencing others' thoughts. This all hearsay, though. I don't know for certain the true extent of her abilities," Li Qianqiu answered seriously.
Ren Baqian fell silent after hearing this. Surely it could not be the case that someone from Great Xia had crossed over to Earth to plot against him?
Forget it, maybe it was just the aura of death from the battlefield rubbing off on him.
He would find out if this was only temporary once he returned to Earth to look for Qi Jiayu.
Ren Baqian finally put the matter aside.
They neared the Great Xia camp that evening. Before nightfall, Ren Baqian had already fired a few mortar shells into the camp from two kilometers away.
The artillery fire was immediately followed by the winged cavalry charging up to within 30 meters of the camp. They left after seeing that the soldiers inside were riled up and on high alert.
Giving them a moment to drop their guard, the winged cavalry then turned back to attack.
Breaking them through continued harassment meant disrupting any moments of reprieve they had.
Marching in the day without being able to rest at night had indeed taken its toll on the Great Xia troops. The charges by the winged cavalry kept them on their toes, but the moment the winged cavalry left, the Great Xia troops lost their focus. Many of them were practically sleeping while standing guard.
"General, I don't think our troops can endure much longer." Leading officers in the Great Xia encampment reported to the general.
A middle aged officer stroked his beard and solemnly said, "These barbarians actually know such tricks? They're trying to break us by wearing down our troops. Pass down the order that one third of the troops are to rest. Under no circumstances are they to leave their tents. They will replace a different third of the active troops after four hours."
The movements in the Great Xia camp were obvious. Li Qianqiu and Ren Baqian quickly noticed that two thirds of the soldiers were kept on guard while the other third were sent to rest.
"Do we continue?" asked Li Qianqiu.
"Continue!" Ren Baqian replied without hesitation. There was no way they could have a good rest as long as the pressure was kept up.
If harassment wasn't enough, they would fake an attack. If they ignored the feint, then Ren Baqian would order a full scale attack. Regardless, Great Xia was stuck in their mind games.
All through the night, the Great Xia camp was filled with war cries and the sound of explosions.
The winged cavalry often charged to within firing range of Great Xia's defenses before retreating.
By sunrise, the Great Xia troops were all about to collapse from exhaustion.
Nobody dared to let down their guard even if they knew the winged cavalry was only feigning an assault. The Great Xia troops were on full alert every time they charged over.
They were often woken up during their rest breaks and didn't manage to fully recover. To make things worse, they had to strike camp first thing in the morning.
The following night, Great Xia's responses to the winged cavalry charges were slightly more relaxed. Most of the soldiers were thoroughly drained and dropped their guards a little to catch a few winks of sleep. In addition, the multiple false assaults had lulled them into having a false sense of security.
The real assault began as soon as their guard slipped. Mortar fire rained upon the Great Xia frontline troops, decimating them. Yet, this was nothing new.
This time around, however, the winged cavalry charged well into Great Xia's shooting range, entering the camp in the blink of an eye and slaughtering the enemy soldiers. Death cries rang out all through the camp.
After completing one round of attacks, the winged cavalry fled before Great Xia could reform their defensive perimeter.
Great Xia's camp had made preparations to remain on alert for the whole night just to prevent such a scenario from happening. Troops had been specially stationed throughout the camp, lying in ambush. Despite their best efforts, the winged cavalry's surprise attack still managed to sweep the floor with the Great Xia corpses.
It was as though the enemy could see through their ploys.
Even the Great Xia commanders began to wonder if there was a spy in their midst.
Everyone in the camp heaved a huge sigh of relief when the sun rose.
The aboriginal soldiers had typically stopped their attacks at dawn.
Tortured expressions could soon be seen across their faces as they remembered that they had to march on.
Great Xia's commander's face grew ashen. Even though he had let the men take shifts, four hours of rest after an entire day's worth of marching was simply not sufficient. A good bulk of them had been broken after only three days.
The enemy's strategy was crude and simple. Their message was obvious: "You will not get the rest you need. We will wear you down to the bone!" Although Great Xia's general knew this, the countermeasures put in place were of no use.
They were the ones who had spent night after night attacking, so how were they keeping it up?
Sometimes he envied the aboriginal commanders for having such formidable warriors at their disposal. He knew that if he had an elite unit of Man Wheel level soldiers and 1,000 Earth Wheel soldiers at his disposal, the outcome of this battle would be completely different.
In terms of military strategy, his opponent was but a child. When paired with a fast and powerful army, however, such infantile tactics were more than sufficient to trap him in an impossible situation.
His opponent could easily win with both eyes closed!
His army could do little to fight or trap these powerful opponentsthey simply came and went as they wished. Fighting against the Protector General of the North was much easier in the past. Relative to army size, the casualties incurred by both sides were often quite equal. Yet, ever since the appearance of their strangely powerful siege weapons, even getting equal trades became an impossibility.
To add insult to injury, the commander still couldn't figure out how his opponent was able to read them like a book. Nothing happening in his camp seemed to escape those barbarians' eyes. They were somehow able to detect an ambush no matter how well hidden the soldiers were.
A confident general with lofty goals led an army into enemy territory. What a terrible plight he was now in!
Standing tall, the general barked out his next order, "We stand our ground today! Continue with the manpower rotation from the night before."
Getting caught up in the same cycle would only leave the troops worse for wear. They were disadvantaged whether they moved or stayed, so why not get a good day's rest in preparation for the aboriginals' next assault instead.
Forcefully marching on would lead only lead to self defeat.
The soldiers cheered wildly upon hearing the order.
A solemn look was slapped upon his face. The general was well aware that despite how close they were to the border, only a handful of them would actually make it out of Dayao alive.
He had slightly less than 90,00 troops left, while his opponent had 1,000 winged cavalry and 6,000 soldiers belonging to the Protector General of the Center. Despite having the numerical advantage, the odds were stacked against him even in terms of face to face combat. Moreover, they still had those formation wrecking siege weapons.
They were probably conserving strength and playing it on the safer side for now. There would be no holding back once they got closer to Great Xia.