EIF - Book 03 Chapter 064: Suicide at the River Wu
Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom!
The army set up, moving in formation as they marched to the front from behind Ensnaring Performance.
As the vast army headed out, the unified footsteps sounded like loud war drums. Shouts of “kill” rang out, spreading out with the boundless, ferocious, and murderous air of the majestic army as it rushed at the skeleton army.
“Kill! Kill! Kill!”
Just this shout made the skeleton soldiers in front shudder; they looked like they would scatter like smoke.
When the army marched, the ground rumbled.
Finally, the frontmost soldier came in contact with the skeleton army.
Hundreds of skeleton soldiers roared as they swung their weapons at Ensnaring Performance’s army. Ensnaring Performance’s army wore azure armor, so they did not fear the white skeleton army.
“Kill!” the azure army bellowed.
The soldiers in the front row immediately thrust their spears forward, stabbing the skeleton army in an orderly fashion.
The spears struck the skeleton soldiers. However, some endured the spears stuck in their chests and continued swinging their sabers.
The second row of azure-armored soldiers readied their weapons and thrust their spears through the gaps of the first row, instantly piercing the heads of a group of skeleton soldiers.
The skeleton soldiers immediately exploded.
“How incredible!” Mu Chenfeng exclaimed, wide-eyed.
A vast army, no, a million-strong, azure-armored army surged out in all directions, charging at the skeleton army.
“Kill! Kill them! Just one squadron of them could kill so many skeletons. How powerful would they be? Hahaha! Fight with me! Little fellows, kill them all!” Ensnaring Performance yelled excitedly.
At the side, Gu Hai and Long Wanqing relaxed. However, Ensnaring Performance’s cocky appearance rendered them speechless. If others saw you, they might think that you were the one who composed “Ambush from Ten Sides.”
Boom! Boom! Boom!
After the soldiers of the azure-armored army arranged themselves in rows, they split up in different directions—which actually created an extremely vast military formation if one looked carefully.
The azure-armored army spread out like a large net, gathering the scattered skeleton soldiers into the net and surrounding them.
This net covered a large area, about one-fifth of Love Flower Valley.
The skeleton soldiers got herded together. Soon, close to one hundred thousand skeleton soldiers were caught in the net.
Outside, Army Breaker suddenly raised his eyebrows and said, “Oh, no! We’re trapped.”
However, Duke Lu Yang’s eyes lit up. “An excellent trap, great piece, and a magnificent army!”
Boom! Boom! Boom!
The azure-armored army suddenly turned around and charged at the skeleton army in the center. The one hundred thousand skeleton soldiers were like frantic, trapped rats. They ran in all directions, but all that met them were the azure-armored army’s spears. The spears repeatedly stabbed the rats, killing them.
“Kill! Kill! Kill! Kill!”
There was no escaping the azure-armored army’s attacks; the skeleton soldiers seemed like they were ambushed from ten sides. The spears immediately struck the skeleton soldiers.
“Hah! Kill! Hah! Kill!”
Assaulted on all sides by a vast army, the one hundred thousand skeleton soldiers quickly fell.
“All the soldiers in that direction fell. What piece is this?” Army Breaker goggled.
“Hahahaha! Army Breaker, why don’t you continue? Is this all you are capable of? This is the great me’s ‘Ambush from Ten Sides. Your ‘Breaking a Revolution’ does not seem that impressive, right? Hahahahaha!” Ensnaring Performance’s cocky voice came from the Thorny Ritual Array.
Ensnaring Performance and Army Breaker both possessed astonishing hearing. Naturally, they could hear each other.
“‘Ambush from Ten Sides.’ Humph!” Army Breaker snorted coldly.
“‘Ambush from Ten Sides.’” Admiration flashed in Duke Lu Yang’s eyes.
There were countless music pieces for the music Dao but not many war-based pieces for killing. “Breaking a Revolution” was a piece that Duke Lu Yang was proud of. Unexpectedly, an “Ambush from Ten Sides,” which was not inferior to “Breaking a Revolution,” appeared. Jealousy? Naturally, Duke Lu Yang would not feel jealous. Those who achieved great things did not bother about trifles.
Furthermore, if Duke Lu Yang could make use of the composer, his forces would become stronger.
“Gu Hai?” Duke Lu Yang narrowed his eyes slightly.
Duke Lu Yang was already paying attention to Gu Hai because of the “Butterfly Lovers” from not long ago. When Gu Hai’s ritual array suppressed the dragons, it made him feel anticipation. Now, “Ambush from Ten Sides” only fanned his anticipation for Gu Hai to even greater heights.
“Money is easy to come by, but a good general is hard to find.” Arrogance flashed in Duke Lu Yang’s eyes.
Army Breaker looked in the direction of Ensnaring Performance’s army coldly.
“Humph! This is just the beginning of “Breaking a Revolution.” Indeed, the skeleton army is indeed a scattered group. However, that is because the skeleton king has not appeared yet. Just continue listening. See if you can ambush the skeleton king!” Army Breaker sneered.
Ding! Ding! Ding
Army Breaker played ferociously, sending out intense zither music.
The zither music instantly charged into the ritual array.
A roar rang out amid the zither music. A gigantic skeleton ten times larger than the other skeletons appeared, the skeleton king. The skeleton king wore a large red cape. As it roared, the sky changed color.
The skeleton king roared, and countless skeleton soldiers suddenly paused. Then, the strength of the skeleton soldiers more than doubled. They slowly became more organized as they attacked the surrounding treants and the azure-armored army with the skeleton king at the center.
Dang! Dang! Dang! Dang!
The two armies started fighting again, producing metallic clangor. The two sides seemed equally excellent.
Outside the ritual array, Army Breaker showed a cold smile.
When the skeleton king appeared, it boosted not only the skeleton soldiers’ morale but also their strength. When they clashed with the azure-armored army, they were no longer at a disadvantage.
Inside the ritual array, Ensnaring Performance’s face sank. Some frustration appeared in his eyes.
“Master, the other side became stronger?” Ensnaring Performance said somewhat worriedly.
Gu Hai’s expression turned grave as he said, “What are you worried about? Continue playing. There are many sections in this piece. You’ve played Setting Up Camp, Beating the Drums and Sounding the Horns, Firing the Cannons, Calling the Roster, Maneuvering the Troops, and Laying Ambush. Now we are just in the Skirmish section. There will be the Major Battle later on. That will be the time for a massacre. Continue!”
[TL Note: “Ambush from Ten Sides” contains 13 sections grouped in three narrative themes. Setting Up Camp, Beating the Drums and Sounding the Horns, Firing the Cannons, Calling the Roster, and Maneuvering the Troops (the first five sections) make up the first theme: a magnificent and glorious description of the Han Army. Laying Ambush, Skirmish, and the Major Battle make up the second theme: the vivid and fierce representation of the battle between the Chu and Han armies. King Xiang Defeated and Suicide at the River Wu make up the third theme: the sad and mournful depiction of Xiang Yu’s suicide at the River Wu after his defeat by the troops of his rival Liu Bang. Modern renditions stop here, at the tenth section. Many Victories, Issuing Decorations and Awards, and Returning in Triumph (the final three sections) are in the original score but are not normally played in modern renditions.]
“Yes!” Ensnaring Performance answered.
“Ambush from Ten Sides” continued. Indeed, as the two armies fought, they seemed equal. However, the azure-armored army used this opportunity to spread its men out in an even larger formation.
This time, the formation did not just cover one-fifth of Love Flower Valley but the entire Love Flower Valley.
Outside, Army Breaker’s expression changed. “Oh no! This time, it’s a large-scale ambush formation. An ambush from ten sides?”
“Kill! Kill! Kill!”
When the formation was completed, the entire azure-armored army shouted and initiated the decisive battle, the Main Battle.
The vast military formation marched inwards like tigers charging down the mountain, sweeping aside anything in its path.
When facing this all-out charge, the skeleton army was helpless, even with the skeleton king. The sound of killing, horses screaming, weapons clashing, and shouting echoed in the entire Love Flower Valley—a very shocking pandemonium.
The various sounds horrified the one-million-strong army of Duke Lu Yang.
“Kill! Kill! Kill! Kill!”
The azure-armored army appeared like a meat grinder, quickly shredding the skeleton soldiers and charging towards the skeleton king in the center.
“That’s impossible! There are ambushes everywhere, in all directions? Even when the skeleton king leads the troops and tries to break out, it has nowhere to go? Both the sky and the ground have ambushes?” Army Breaker exclaimed with an unsightly expression.
“An ambush from ten sides, an excellent ‘Ambush from Ten Sides.’” Duke Lu Yang stood up as he listened to this exciting zither music.
Duke Lu Yang was also a music Dao expert. Naturally, he could make out the scene of a vast army charging in from the zither music. This was an exciting scene—for his opponents.
However, Duke Lu Yang took an objective view to this due to his appreciation for this piece. He could feel the might of it.
The one million azure-armored soldiers quickly shredded the skeleton army, dealing it a massive defeat. Ambushed from ten sides, the skeleton army had nowhere to flee; it could only die.
The military formation in “Ambush from Ten Sides” contracted slowly, shrinking towards the skeleton king.
The skeleton king tried to break out of the encirclement with its troops several times but failed. The skeleton soldiers lost morale and looked like they would lose soon.
“Master! Master! What an incredible formation! What section are we at now?” Ensnaring Performance said excitedly.
“This section is called King Xiang Defeated,” Gu Hai said softly.
“Ambush from Ten Sides” was an ancient classical piece from Earth. It described Han Xin commanding his soldiers in laying an ambush from ten sides, defeating Xiang Yu, and forcing him to suicide at the River Wu.
[TL Note: Han Xin was a famous general of Liu Bang, the first Han Emperor.]
This piece had already reached the King Xiang Defeated section. Next would be the final section, Suicide at the River Wu.
The zither music continued. The azure-armored army had eliminated nearly all of the skeleton soldiers, slowly forcing the remaining skeletons to the center while closing off all escape routes.
At this moment, Ensnaring Performance’s zither music intensified even further, appearing to surround Army Breaker’s zither music slowly. The moment Army Breaker played something, it felt like tenfold—even hundredfold—more of Ensnaring Performance’s zither music surrounded it.
This pushed Army Breaker’s zither music into desperate straits, as it did with the skeleton king. It felt like there was no escape.
Ensnaring Performance’s zither music increased in tempo and even volume. At this moment, Ensnaring Performance’s music rang out everywhere, completely drowning out Army Breaker’s zither music. The cornered skeleton king looked like it would collapse.
Ensnaring Performance showed a ferocious expression. The skeleton king seemed to suffer a mental breakdown, as it slowly raised its saber and set the saber at its neck.
“No! That’s impossible! You cannot force my skeleton king to commit suicide!” Army Breaker roared in rage.
At this moment, Duke Lu Yang felt entranced by the intense zither music. Before this, he would not have expected that this “Ambush from Ten Sides” could turn out so berserk, forcing the enemy commander to commit suicide.
Even when Army Breaker played with all his might, he could not control the skeleton king. Then, the saber in the skeleton king’s hand slashed hard.
With the tragic melody as a backdrop, the skeleton king fell over after committing suicide. The zither music had also entered the final section, Suicide at the River Wu.
At its most intense moment, “Ambush from Ten Sides” came to a sudden stop.
Everything ended. The skeleton army was annihilated.
It sounded like the strings of the invisible zither Army Breaker played had suddenly snapped, shocking and horrifying him.
“‘Ambush from Ten Sides, what an excellent piece!” Duke Lu Yang said, his emotions surging as he opened his eyes wide.
The one-million-strong army outside remained immersed in the earlier zither battle. The zither music had sounded so intense that the soldiers could not calm down even after a long time.
Loud rumbling came from within the ritual array.
A gigantic root at the largest love flower tree enveloped Huangfu Chaoge as it buried into the ground, sending him away.
Unfortunately, Army Breaker was distracted by his loss in the music battle, and he failed to notice that change.
“Metal counters wood. Heptagold Energy, chop!” A bellow suddenly rang out.
[TL Note: The literal translation for Heptagold is Geng Gold, where Geng is the seventh of the ten heavenly stems, so this likely refers to something that has to do with the elements or Daoism. I chose to use the made-up term Heptagold to make it sound better.]
Suddenly, a golden sword qi charged into the ground and instantly cut the root buried underground in half.
“Chu Chen?” Granny Qing Hua roared furiously.
“Duke, hurry! Huangfu Chaoge is about to flee!” Chu Chen shouted, immediately pulling everyone out of their immersion in the zither music.
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