The Truth Behind History
Bai Chuan explained the battlefield situation to the half-asleep ZiChan Xiu. “Here’s the current situation. Despite their recent defeat, the Demon Army is still over fifty thousand strong, and they have those powerful armored beasts. They almost broke through our defenses last time. I can’t figure out why they suddenly decided to retreat, and now they’re in complete disarray. The other officers in charge and I can’t agree on whether to give chase or not. We await your instructions.”
Still muddled from sleep, ZiChuan Xiu asked, “So who wants to give chase?”
“Deputy Banner Master Luo Jie. He advocates for giving chase,” answered Bai Chuan.
“Then let him.”
“But Sir!” Bai Chuan raised her voice, “I understand you may be disappointed with Luo Jie. He hasn’t accomplished a single thing since he was promoted to Deputy Banner Master except being a blowhard. In fact, I feel the same way. However, the five thousand men of the Far Eastern Army under his command are innocent! Surely, they don’t deserve to die with him?”
“Hey, come on now. How can you say that about your commanding officer, Master Bai?” ZiChuan Xiu’s eyes flashed with a glint of cunningness —the kind you show when you catch someone red-handed—, “Let him go. It will be fine.”
“But the enemy has fifty to sixty thousand troops! Luo Jie has less than five thousand!”
“Use your head, Bai Chuan: Luo Jie commands a cavalry unit. The mobility of his unit is far superior to that of those big Demon brutes. Even if he can’t beat them, he should be able to run, right?”
“But Sir, you know as well as I do that as soon as that idiot Luo Jie starts to charge, he stops using his head. What if he really forgets to—”
“Don’t worry, I have prepared for every contingency!”
Faced with Bai Chuan’s inquisitive gaze, ZiChuan Xiu took out a flyer from inside the tent which read: “Imperial Capital Funeral Parlor, from June 1st to August 30th, sixty percent discount! Everyone is welcome!”
“I did the math: If Luo Jie dies today, we can still make the discount. Besides, I’m good friends with the owner! Perhaps we could even get the urn box for free…”
Bai Chuan rode back to the frontline filled with anger, causing puzzled looks between the other two Deputy Banner Masters.
“Banner Master Xiu orders Deputy Banner Master Luo to attack!”
“Long live the king!” cheered Luo Jie. He turned his head towards his men shouting, “Follow me!” and charged forward. Following his lead, five thousand black riders lined up in formation and charged down from the top of the hill; hooves thundering, shouts echoing, “Long live the king, king, king…” Like a swooping black dragon, his unstoppable force surged downward, pouncing at the retreating Demon Army.
“What an idiot! Still laughing even though he is about to die!” Bai Chuan cursed bitterly.
“Maybe not,” spoke Deputy Banner Master Chang Chuan, “The way I see it, the Demon Army is in shambles, so Luo Jie may actually win. I wonder what happened to them.”
“So what do you think happened?” asked Bai Chuan.
“We don’t know, but maybe Master Xiu does. Every time he orders Luo Jie to attack, it’s like he’s telling us: ‘The time for thinking has passed. Now, you just need to charge forward. We will win.’ I have faith in Master Xiu.”
Bai Chuan sneered at the thought, thinking, “That’s because you haven’t seen him sound asleep at the base camp, ready to run away.” However, she didn’t speak it out loud, fearing it might undermine army morale; or perhaps—
But then, as the battle progressed, she couldn’t believe her eyes. Like a hot knife through butter, Luo Jie’s force exploded forward, charging almost directly into the heart of the Demon Army. The Demons scattered in all directions without even attempting to put up a fight, leaving their weapons and armor behind. Absolute chaos. The Demon Army —fifty thousand strong— was defeated, no, humiliated by the Human Army with less than one tenth of their number, in a way history had never seen!
Both Deputy Banner Masters gasped in unison, “But how?!”
Chang Chuan shouted, “This can’t be real. It must be a trap! Luo Jie is surrounded!”
Bai Chuan shouted back, “It can’t be a trap! Look at them! The way their forces fled so chaotically, you can’t fake something like that! And, even if it was a trap, he still has a chance!” She turned towards the back, raising her voice while giving the order, “All riders! Forward!”
Chang Chuan stopped her, “You do not have the authority to give that order! Only Master Xiu does!”
Bai Chuan answering backhand sent him tumbling off his horse. Unsheathing her sabre, she laid it against his neck, “If you cost us this opportunity, I will kill you!” She glared around at the stunned guards and couriers, and gave a second order in a deeper voice, “What are you waiting for?!”
“Toooot” the sound of bugles came from everywhere as the sea of riders lined up in formation, forming several lines in anticipation.
Bai Chuan’s cavalry regiment lined up in front of the army. She casually raised her right hand and, still like a statue, she waited. Suddenly, she waved her raised hand forward, and the riders began their charge, shouting, “Long live the king!”
Rows and rows of riders rode past her in tandem. First, they began with a trot, slowly accelerating until the entire regiment galloped forward with shocking speed. Like a flood swallowing the land, they struck the Demon Army waiting at the foot of the hill. The charging riders soon engulfed the entire hillside with their shining steel, and the intensity of their war cries made the heavens tremble in their wake.
The sound of battle soon reached the base camp and awoke someone from his sleep. He stuck his head out of the sleeping bag, attempting to discern the source of the interruption. He yawned, “So we went on the offensive… Looks like Bai Chuan finally figured it out. Jeez, if you want to attack, then attack! What’s the point of shouting? Can’t even get a good night’s sleep over here.” He stuffed his head back inside the sleeping bag, hoping to find the way back to the sweet dreams he had left.
House ZiChuan’s History Record: Imperial Calendar, Year 778. During the third battle of Heng Chuan, ZiChuan Xiu personally led the charge and fought bravely against the enemy, greatly raising the morale of the soldiers. Under his command, the three Deputy Banner Masters —Luo Jie, Bai Chuan, and Chang Chuan— remained calm under pressure and fought fearlessly in a coordinated fashion, bringing their thirty thousand cavalry forces to a decisive victory over the elite forces of the Demon Army. Over forty thousand men of the enemy forces were wounded or killed, and over ten thousand were captured. Ge Sha, known to be the most fearsome Demon warrior, was slain by Banner Master ZiChuan Xiu himself. It was a heavy blow to the Demons, and the first turning point in the war of the Holy Defense.