Chapter 1720: Duan Zhuyan's Strength!

Chapter 1720: Duan Zhuyan's Strength!

Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
"How was it?"
Upon seeing Wang Chong return, Bai Siling and Li Lin both went up to welcome him, concern on their faces. The crowd around the drilling ground was so dense that they had not been able to clearly make out the scene on that side.
"Everything has been handled," Wang Chong nonchalantly said, glossing over the entire incident, and then quickly turned his focus back to the drilling ground.
Bong!
With the fierce banging of drums, the contest continued.
Now that Zhao Fengchen had fought six matches in a row, the Eastern Palace could no longer do anything to him for this round. As the remaining six Vice Marshals stepped onto the field, they acted just as Wang Chong expected and challenged the Marshals of the other Imperial Army divisions.
But no one challenged the two armored Marshals the Eastern Palace supported.
On the northern end of the drilling ground, the First Prince watched all of this unfurl with his hands behind his back and nodded in satisfaction. Although he hadn't gotten what he wanted with Zhao Fengchen, the overall event was going as he expected. At the very least, the twelve Vice Marshals he had chosen had not challenged his men.
"Have them prepare for the second round!"
"Yes, Your Highness!"
A Golden Guard quickly turned around to convey the order.
"For the last round, I want to challenge Marshal Duan Zhuyan of the Feather Forest Army!"
This sudden, resounding voice from the drilling ground caused the entire place to fall silent. All the members of the Eastern Palace paled in unison and looked over.
"What is going on here?"
The First Prince angrily turned to Meng Tu.
"This… I don't know either."
Meng Tu paled, his face even more stunned than the First Prince's.
"I already went to all twelve Vice Marshals and had them swear fealty to Your Highness!"
Eleven of the twelve Vice Marshals had followed the plan, but the last one had gone astray.
"What's the name of that Vice Marshal?"
The First Prince had a dark and sinister look on his face.
"He seemed to have been called Wei Xiyuan," Meng Tu said.
……
"Wang Chong, did you do this?"
On the southern end of the drilling ground, Bai Siling smiled as she looked toward Wang Chong. Although she didn't know what had happened, after seeing the reaction of the Eastern Palace members, she felt almost by instinct that Wang Chong had done something.
"Heheh, the First Prince was just too certain, believing that all the Tang would swear fealty to him. But he completely forgot that the Sage Emperor's status is still much higher than his in this empire!" Wang Chong commented, not denying it.
The First Prince had bought the loyalty of eleven Imperial Army Vice Marshals, and six of them had challenged Zhao Fengchen. Wang Chong was naturally capable of persuading one of the Vice Marshals to swear fealty to the Sage Emperor and pretend to join the First Prince.
"Hmph, cunning," Bai Siling poutingly said, but there was no rebuke in her eyes, only a sense of pride. "The First Prince seems to be furious. He probably didn't think that you would be able to bribe one of his Vice Marshals so soon after returning to the capital."
"Heh, I didn't do it in the last few days. I had this planned out long ago!" Wang Chong casually said as he looked at the drilling ground.
Bai Siling smiled and instinctively wanted to say a few more words of praise, but she quickly realized what exactly Wang Chong had said and stared at him in a daze.
The First Prince had only begun to show his ambition recently, but Wang Chong had apparently bribed this Vice Marshal some time ago. Just how long ago had he predicted that the First Prince would make this move?
Bai Siling naturally did not know that Wang Chong had long ago known about the Rebellion of the Three Princes that was only just beginning to take form before their eyes.
Moreover, only by making his plans long beforehand could he have actually hidden them from the First Prince and the Eastern Palace.
Neigh!
Meanwhile, there was a fierce neighing as the match on the drilling ground began.
The mysterious Marshal of the Feather Forest Army, clad completely in armor, slowly rode forward with his five hundred men.
An immense energy erupted from his body, flooding across the entire drilling ground.
All was silent as everyone stared at the Feather Forest Army Marshal.
The two mysterious Marshals had yet to step onto the battlefield, and the information on them was extremely sparse. Even their real faces were unknown.
"Let the contest begin!"
The drums thundered, and the match began!
Boom!
As the drums ended, a thunderous rumble came from the eastern side as the last Vice Marshal came forward, his body erupting with fierce fighting intent as he locked his eyes onto Duan Zhuyan.
"Kill!"
As he thrust out his spear, his five hundred cavalry burst forward, their speed immediately reaching its maximum. At a glance, it seemed like an unstoppable wave was surging forth, capable of blasting apart everything that stood in its way.
"Aaaah!"
Such was this power that the great clan scions and nobles on the western end of the drilling ground couldn't help but cry out in fear and back away. All of them felt as though those Imperial Army soldiers on the other side were not charging at Duan Zhuyan, but at them.
Eight hundred feet, six hundred feet, three hundred feet!
The distance was shrinking, and the Vice Marshal's aura began to fuse with his men, one war halo after another bolstering their strength to frightening levels.
But Duan Zhuyan merely gave a cold snort and then began his assault.
Bang!
Before anyone could react, Duan Zhuyan led his five hundred men, who shot out like bolts of lightning and clashed with the Vice Marshal's men like two primordial titans.
Time seemed to stop, a second stretched into infinity. But a moment later, Duan Zhuyan's five hundred men stabbed into the opposing force like a sharp sword. Cries of alarm and the shrieks of horses resounded as the last force was pierced straight through.
Blood spattered across the drilling ground. While the battle had been extremely short, it had been far more gruesome than many had imagined.
More than two hundred men had been knocked to the ground, in great pain and deprived of any will to fight.
This had been an overwhelmingly one-sided battle!
"So strong!"
On his horse, Zhao Fengchen raised an eyebrow. He had known that this man was very strong, but not to this level.
The Vice Marshal had been no weakling, and in fact had been one of the strongest, but he couldn't even fight back against Duan Zhuyan.
"This is going to be difficult!" Li Lin sternly said. "Lord Zhao has a real opponent!"
Zhao Fengchen was no weakling, and his Xuanwu Army had been tempered on the field of blood that was the Battle of Talas, their strength unquestionable. But from this battle, he could see that Duan Zhuyan was comparable in strength to Zhao Fengchen, as was his Feather Forest Army to the Xuanwu Army.
And this was only the first round, where his foe had clearly not used his full strength!
"The First Prince has been planning for this competition for some time and is determined to succeed… Moreover, he has the Army-Shattering War God helping him. All of this is to be expected!"
Wang Chong was much calmer than Li Lin, his face devoid of any ripples of emotion.
In normal circumstances, the Imperial Army would not be able to match Zhao Fengchen's Xuanwu Army, but things were different with Hou Junji involved. As one of the major officials in Taizong's reign, Hou Junji was a master of training and drilling soldiers.
Bong!
The drums banged as a eunuch entered the drilling ground.
"The last match! Duan Zhuyan wins!
"The next round will begin in fifteen minutes!"
These fifteen minutes soon passed, and the blare of a horn announced that the second round, the advancement stage, was beginning.
The second round was even more fraught with tension than the first.
"Milord, it will be our turn soon!" one of Zhao Fengchen's deputies said somewhat nervously, stepping up beside him.
In the end, the result of the first round had been basically what everyone had expected. None of the twelve Vice Marshals had been able to remove a Marshal. But in this round, three of the six Marshals would have to be eliminated so that the remaining three could go on to the final round.
The six divisions of the Imperial Army had almost always been on par in strength, and at this level, none of them were weaklings. Moreover, one had to consider that each Marshal had hand-picked the five hundred men that would join them in the contest, so these five hundred were guaranteed to be the best of the best.
At any other time, this would not have been important, but every member of the Xuanwu Army knew that this competition was not merely about the posts of the three Grand Marshals.
"Have our brothers get ready. Just do as we trained and leave the rest to me!" Zhao Fengchen sternly said. He appeared calm on the surface, but as he looked at the other five divisions, he nervously clenched his fists.
Defeat was not an option!

Starve, Hypersheep325's Notes:

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Written by Huangfu Qi 皇甫奇. Translated by Starve, Hypersheep325. Edited by Desertdoe, Welmar, RED, Michyrr.