Under the grey sky, snow rained nonstop.
The Rebel Army violated the peace treaty and reignited the flames of war. Commander Fang Jin led over a hundred-thousand Militias in eager pursuit of the Rebel Forces after they had ambushed one of his scouting parties. Following their disappearing trail in the rain of flying snow petals, his army had marched into the Plains of Moon Bay.
In front of them, a large shadow loomed over the horizon. The gasping soldiers hesitantly halted their steps, peering into the distance: “What is that? It is all dark. Is that a forest?” “That does look like a forest, but why is it getting bigger?”
A veteran soldier tilted his head back slightly, hoping to see further into the distance. He yelled abruptly: “It is moving! That is no forest! It is an army heading our way!”
The realization spread like a wave as confusion began to ripple through the ranks of the militias: “That is one huge army! They must be the Rebels!” “What do we do?”
On top of his horse, Commander Fang Jin inspected the lines, shouting: “Do not be afraid! The Rebel Army is made of farmers. They are no match for us on the open field; we can defeat them no matter how many men they have! Form the lines and wait for them to come to us!” His calm and imposing presence quickly brought the soldiers back to themselves. Under his leadership, the militias had started moving into position.
One group at the time, the militias marched into the open and fanned out across the full width of the plain. In an instant, a giant square formation made of steel was occupying the entire Plain of Moon Bay. Mounted couriers dashed between each smaller formation, relaying the order: “Ready~!” The infantries raised their spears in unison, and a sea of cold steel radiated brilliantly over the giant square formation. Riders readily mounted their horses on the flanks, preparing themselves for the counter-attack against the enemy. Rows upon rows of unsheathed sabres shined like a glittering band of light in the snow. As they waited, snow fell silently on top of their helmets and shoulders, blanketing them in a shallow layer of white.
From the distance, hooves thundered and earth shook ever so slightly with their every step. An expanse of darkness rapidly approached. Like a tidal wave, a tsunami or the contour of the clouds, its shape became increasingly clearer. Long and sharpened steel extended from the edge of the darkness, behind them, hundreds of thousands of hooves tore across the snow covered plain, kicking up a trail of snow in their wake. It was as if the darkness was galloping amidst the clouds, flying towards them! Like a legendary monster from the darkest part of the earth, ready to swallow anything or anyone standing in its way!
“Steady!” The mounted couriers dashed between the lines shouting: “Front row, kneeled-position!” The soldiers let the blunt end of their spears rest on the ground, arrowhead facing forward, and went down to one knee, bracing themselves for the impact. The officers shouted loudly next to their ears: “For House ZiChuan! Fight with courage, honor and glory!”
“Steady!” The couriers shouted the order again. Heeding the command, the soldiers planted their feet deeper into the earth while holding tightly onto their spears. Everyone’s heart pounded against their chest. The soldiers on the front row shivered uncontrollably as they chattered their teeth. Tasked with overseeing the battle, the constables were lined up loosely behind them, aiming their sharpened arrows at the soldiers’ backs. Meanwhile, the enemy forces approached with surprising speed, narrowing the distance with each passing second! The hideous faces of their riders and the steam coming from their horses’ noses were barely visible amidst a sea of banners and a forest of spears. Hundreds of thousands of horses and men in a compact formation surged towards them with the power of a storm and the speed of a hurricane!
Wind peeled away the shroud of secrecy, revealing the truth behind the snowy curtains. Suddenly, a voice overcome with terror shrieked in the middle of the lines: “Heavens! They are Demons!” Instantly, panic broke out everywhere. Soldiers yelled with complete disregard to army discipline: “Demons! Demons are coming!”
“Heavens! Run! Run for your lives!” One after another, soldiers threw away their weapons and abandoned their post. Trying to stop them, the officers shouted loudly: “Stand your ground! This is your last warning!”
“Stop! I order you to stand fast!”
“Loose!” The Juridical officer mercilessly waved his hand, ordering the constables to let loose a barrage of arrows, felling a row of deserting soldiers in the midst of their outcries. Yet, it did nothing to stem the tide, as more and more soldiers started to flee! Fang Jin shouted on his horse: “Do not be afraid! They are rebels in disguise! Do not be scared! Return to your posts! For House ZiChuan…”
The heavens collapsed, drowning out his voice in a thunderous roar. “Samuhali! (For the Emperor!)” Demon soldiers roared: “Ougala! (Kill!)” All doubts were erased in an instant, because those were the war cries of the Demon Empire’s Royal Army! Earth shattered and heavens fell. The sight of the green skinned creatures of the Demon Empire had always terrorized humans to their core. They would never forget how, three hundred years ago, it was those monsters who destroyed the once powerful Empire of Light. Less than two-hundred-thousand Demons had swept through the world of Western River, killing the last Emperor and Field Marshal of the Empire of light, annihilating five-hundred-thousands of Empire’s finest on the battlefield of Blue River. The legends described the demons as man-eating, fire-spewing monsters. They were said to be the greatest, cruellest evil of this world!
The square formation crumbled. Soldiers ignored the orders as they discarded their weapons and fled. Like a flood or a tidal wave, they overran the constables overseeing the battle. Everywhere, voices panicked: “Run! Run! Run for your lives!” The routing soldiers pushed, pulled, collided and trampled over each other, leaving a field of weapons and banners glittering over the battlefield. It took but an instant for an entire army to vanish into thin air, as if it never existed.
The Demon riders charged into the scattering mass, slaughtering anyone in their path. Blended with countless death throes, thousands of Demonic cheers reached high above the clouds. Fang Jin ceased his pointless shouting. There was nothing left for him to do. Knowing his fate was sealed, he watched in silence as his entire army scattered in front of him, running across the battlefield like scared rabbits. Seeing waves upon waves of soldiers fleeing past him, a horde of demons laughing wildly on their heels, his army being massacred and House ZiChuan’s banner being trampled, he was deeply ashamed. Over a hundred thousand men were defeated without a fight! It was a shameful display a hundred times worse than the battle of Red Lake!”
Still gasping, his personal guard Captain, Ming Ke ran towards him, asking: “Sir, the Demons will be upon us soon. We need to fall back!” Fang Jin looked at him sideways, not saying a word, then shifted his eyes away from the battlefield, towards the grey sky above. Ming Ke thought he didn’t hear him clearly, he repeated: “Sir, we must retreat! We can still regroup…”
“Go! Ming Ke.” Fang Jin leapt onto his warhorse as he told him: “When you get back, tell my two daughters that their father was a coward, but he would never do anything to tarnish his name.” He exhaled deeply, and lowered his voice: “Death was but a word! I was such a fool!”
Ming Ke hurriedly grabbed his reins: “Sir, where are you going?” Fang Jin smiled to him in silence, then pulled his sword free and severed the cord, dashing forward, in opposite direction of everyone else. He charged straight towards the incoming mass of the Demon Army, leaving Ming Ke stunned where he left. The young officer watched the stalwart form of Fang Jin gradually disappearing into the crowd of fleeing soldiers. Everything was so serene and so peaceful. In that moment, above the battlefield deafened by the cries of war, the spirit of a great man ascended.
That was the last time anyone saw him. He would forever be known as the Valiant Commander. No one quite understood what he meant with his last set of words, except one. Di Lin knew; that was how Fang Jin wished to end his life. He didn’t want to live on under someone else’s thumb. Di Lin cursed softly under his breath: “Idiot.” Then took off his hat and saluted in the direction of the Far East.
Fang Jin was the first Commander to fall in the War of Holy Defence. He died like a hero, charging head on into the Demon Army all by himself. Both his body and horse were full of arrows before he even got near the Demons, but he was still alive, and he fought on against several of their riders despite the dozen arrows protruding from his armor like the branches from a tree. Demon soldiers realized he was a high ranking officer and tried to capture him alive, but anyone who got within five steps of him was quickly cut down without mercy, leaving a ring of body piling up around him. In the end, the Demon officer was forced to give the order, and over a dozen spears penetrated Fang Jin’s upper torso at the same time. In a fountain of blood, he fell. Two demon soldiers, one green skinned infantryman and a black skinned rider rushed forward to take his head. To their surprise, Fang Jin suddenly rose up from the ground, splitting the green skinned soldier in half, and then he fell, for the final time. The black skinned rider smiled at his dead competitor, exposing his mouthful of rotten teeth. Carefully, he cut off Fang Jin’s head and added it to the chain of heads sitting on the back of his horse.
That night, the moon above the Plains of Moon Bay shrivelled in darkness, and snow continued to rain. It was as if the Heavens were shying away from the massacre, hiding its eyes behind the clouds. Over a-hundred-thousand Humans were on the run, and over two-hundred-thousand Demons were on the chase. Demon’s excited cheers and Human’s agonized screams echoed in the air. Even though the Human soldiers were already on their knees with their hands raised, begging for mercy, the demon riders never hesitated for a second when they decapitated them, separating their heads from their shoulder. The Demons knew, some of the Human’ heads could fetch them a fair price. Taking in prisoners would only serve to slow them down. It was much faster to simply cut them off.
In order the escape the Demon pursuers, Human soldiers scrambled over each other to jump into the icy river, trying desperately to swim ashore. However, the Rebel Army of all races had been waiting for them on the other side, and a rain of arrows welcomed them. Struggling, the Human soldiers wailed in the water, waiting for the death to come. Soon, the river was painted red, as the rapid stream carried their drowning bodies downstream… Hundred-and-fifteen-thousand soldiers of House ZiChuan participated in the battle of Moon bay that day, only less than five thousand of them managed to escape the initial onslaught. General Rudy’s Demon Army pursued the runners relentlessly along the way, in the end, only eighty seven managed to reach Fort Warren alive. All this time, the snow never stopped falling. And hundreds of thousands headless bodies were buried in the white. It was as if none of it ever happened, the plain of Moon Bay was still so serene, so spotless.
In the three days that followed, Demon Empire unleashed a series of attack against the defenders. Like an unstoppable flood, the Demon Forces poured through the gap created by Rudy’s Demon Army. Meanwhile, the careless armies of House ZiChuan were expecting a prolonged period of peace, and like sleeping lambs, they never stood a chance against the ferocious wolves of the Demon Empire…
Deep into the night, the same time when the alert sounded from outside the camp, Demon Dragon Riders broke through the barricades and into the undefended western encampment of the Black Banner Army before any of them could respond, and a massacre began. House ZiChuan’s soldiers woke up into a nightmare. With no weapons in hand, no directions to follow, they were mercilessly cut down by sabres, stabbed by spears and pierced by arrows. Those who survived the demons were trampled by their own, burned down with their tent or drowned in the nearby river… By the time the first light of the morning sun reached them, the western encampment was left with nothing but dead bodies, not one of the twenty thousand men stationed there was still standing.
Through Far Eastern First Commander, Ming Hui’s heroic efforts, he managed to gather three divisions… it was all the forces he had left…
In an attempt to thwart the Demon’s advance, he ordered the counter attack. In the province of Dusa, ten thousand Human infantries and cavalries were taught the meaning of desperation as they stared down at the most horrifying creatures in the world… Under the great golden banner of the Demon God King, close to two-hundred-thousand demons and armored beasts of the Royal Guard Brigade marched towards them, seeking to overwhelm them…
After the battle of Dusa, the entire defence line of House ZiChuan crumbled. First it was only small groups of infantries retreating from the frontlines sparingly, then it was entire division running away, abandoning their position. It didn’t take long before any chance of an organized defence disappeared along with them. In the midst of chaos, and not having a unified command, the remaining militia armies were easily cut off and isolated by the rapidly advancing Demon Army. When confronted by a hopelessly superior force, the undisciplined militias surrendered without a fight. Even though they hastily discarded their weapons, it did not stop the Demons from severing their heads… Next to the pile of headless bodies, the Demons from the Seneya Tribe celebrated their victory as they kicked the skulls of the Human soldiers around like toys…
Behind the retreating Armies of House ZiChuan, several powerful Demon Armies were in pursuit. Kardun, the Prince of Demons led his army to the north, attempting to close the encirclement on the large armed forces still stationed in province Deja and Iriya. The quiet Demon General, Ling Buxu led his forces south. Following the great road of Far East, his forces marched into the rear and undefended regions of House ZiChuan. When the scouting team of a dozen Demon Dragon Riders suddenly appeared at the Bridge of Blue River, thousands of Human civilian and soldiers broke out in a panic, trying to cross the bridge…
But far worse, the defenders on the western coast mistakenly assumed it was the bulk of the Demon Army as they began cutting away at the bridge… and soul-tearing screams ensued on the eastern side of the river…