Pressed between Zhang and Gan Ning the soldiers under Tong Zhao and Qian Long withered away until only but a handful was left. Like two raging beast Zhang and Gan Ning’s forces ravaged the soldiers of the Heavenly Sword Army.
As Qian Long was forced to watch the slaughtering unfold his eyes were full with regret and a hint of anger. He regretted that his betray had led to this but was not regretful of the betray itself. While his rage was at targeted at Zhang, Gan Ning and lastly Jian Wei.
Had Jian Wei simply died he wouldn't have been in such a situation. Had Gan Ning not launch a war of fear after being cornered in the gorge then the soldiers of the Heavenly Sword Army wouldn't be so fatigued and low or morale. Had Zhang not come with his hundred and ninety thousand soldiers then Gan Ning’s attempts at escaping would have been futile once the entire Heavenly Sword Army arrived at the entrance of the Beast’s Gorge.
“If not for those two bastards my plan would have succeeded and I would have become the new lord of Aurora…” Qian Long thought as creases appeared on his brow.
“Strategist Qian Long stick with me, as long as there's an opportunity I can get us both out of here.” General Tong Zhao whispered into Qian Tong’s ear.
“Listen up men move together! Break through the enemy force!” General Tong Zhao yelled while raising his sword into the air.
Moments later Tong Zhao became the tips of the spear and lead a wave of slaughter toward the south west. With their comrades currently pushing forward from the south, Tong Zhao only needed to avoid directly facing Zhang and then break past and he would be able to make it out alive.
This battle had been like a chess game where one wrong move or one right move would change the outcome of the entire match.
“Don't let them escape! I want Qian Long’s head!” Zhang yelled while slashing away at the enemies in front of him.
As if they were extension his arms, Zhang's swords danced and whoever or wherever they went a trial of blood followed. Zhang skillfully motioned his swords in a way that kept them in constant motion.
From this constant motion no, one would be able to close in and directly engage him in battle. A kill zone had been established and everyone who walked into it would face their end. In front of Zhang armor was useless because every attack that he preferred was aimed at the gaps in between the armor.
With twin swords Zhang did not cut his enemies to pieces like he did with his halberd but instead opted to sever arteries or tendons. This would be equally deadly but requires less strength and would be more effective against large crowds of enemies.
As Zhang passed through the mass of soldiers as if he were some sort of intangible phantom, everyone on his path fell to the ground and awaited their death. With tendons and arteries cut, these people had no hope of survival.
While Qian Long and Tong Zhao tried to escape they could see from the corner of their eyes the terror that Zhang was unleashing with his twin swords.
It was only a matter of time for Zhang caught up to them and they would be done for.
“Quickly! We have to make it to General Xiahou Yan or else it will be the end of us!” Qian Long yelled to Tong Zhao. He had forgone formalities and simply yelled due to the urgency of their current situation.
“Shut up and just follow me!” General Tong Zhao barked back as he as sword slid out of a soldier clad in black armor.
In his mind he had cursed listening to Qian Long because originally he had wanted to have the majority of their forces assault and occupy Aurora City but Qian Long had talked him out of it.
Had they managed to occupy Aurora City then they would have the advantage of the tall city walls in the battle and then this battle surely would have played out differently. So a small part of Tong Zhao resented Qian Long. Had it not been for Qian Long’s initial merit of nearly wiping out all of the soldiers under Jian Wei’s command then perhaps Tong Zhao would have killed him.
“Lay down your arms and surrender and you'll be spared!” Zhang roared. Although his forces were currently being sandwiched just like Tong Zhao’s, Zhang’s soldier were not as pressured. This was thanks to the fact that their rear was being held by fifty thousand horsemen. The fifty thousand horsemen made it difficult off Xiahou Yan’s forces to push forward which allowed the rest of Zhang's army to focus one front of the battlefield.
Some soldiers of the Heavenly Sword Army upon hearing Zhang’s words dropped their swords and held their hands up into the air. It was clear that they no longer possess the will to fight from the looks in their eyes.
“Damn! Quickly let’s go!” Tong Zhao yelled as he grabbed Qian Long’s wrist and began running.
“Follow the general!” Many who were still loyal to Tong Zhao yelled.
“You think you can get away?” Zhang laughed as he weaved through the soldiers in front of him and resumed his pursuit.
Seeing Zhang closing in Tong Zhao came to a conclusion in his mind. With a flick of his wrist he made Qian Long tumble into the ground.
“Leave him and let's go.” Tong Zhao roared to his men. He figured since it seemed like Zhang’s main target was Qian Long so if he left Qian Long behind he could buy himself some time.
The center of the battlefield had become consumed by chaos, soldiers of the Heavenly Sword Army were surrendering left and right while others fought to the bitter end.
“You bastard!” Qian Long cursed as he watched the fleeing soldiers and Tong Zhao abandon him. While on the ground Qian Long noticed something that no one else had before. All of the blood on the ground was moving in streams toward the southern gate.
With a confused look he observed the tiny streams of blood converge and flow into rivers. Then from out of nowhere a thick green fog rolled in and all visibility was lost.
That was when Qian Long noticed a few of the corpses around him began twitching. With a now horrified look on his face Qian Long tried to get up but he could not feel any strength in his legs.
As he dragged himself on the ground trying to escape this madness but as he was pulling his stiff body across the battlefield a sudden feeling of pain struck Qian Long. In the mix of battle someone had stepped on and dislocated his ankle. Wincing from pain Qian long continued to drag his mud caked body trying to seek safety.
“Where do you think you’re going?” Zhang’s voice rang out from behind Qian Long. That was when Qian Long felt his body being constructed by cold metal chains. The chains constricted his body and pushed the air out of Qian Long’s chest. As he gasped for her Zhang tugged on the chains and dragged Qian Long off.
“I’ll take you somewhere safe.” Zhang chuckled as he dragged Qian Long through the mud and disappeared into the battlefield.
While Zhang was busy detaining Qian Long, Tong Zhao and the little men he had left managed to fight their way to their comrades under Xiahou Yan’s command. Likewise, Zhang’s men also regrouped with their comrades who were under Gan Ning’s command. The two forces were now clearly divided with the soldiers of Aurora to the north and the soldiers of the Heavenly Sword Army to the south.
“General Tong! Where is Qian Long?” General Xiahou Yan asked once he and Tong Zhao regrouped.
“He died in battle.” General Tong Zhao said with a straight face.
“Is that so… What shall we do now General Tong?” General Xiahou Yan asked, show that General Tong Zhao was clearly his superior in this expedition.
“We are retreating... The longer we stay here the more losses we will suffer.” General Tong sighed.
The majority of the soldiers under his and Qian Long’s command had surrendered or met their grisly ends. Most likely only about a hundred and fifty thousand of the original three hundred thousand soldiers are alive. Of course Zhang and Gan Ning’s forces did not get off scot free either, they most likely only had about two hundred thousand soldiers altogether at the moment.
“Sound the horns! We are retreating! Grab whatever supplies you can!” Xiahou Yan yelled to his men. If they retreated her and wished to return to the Heavenly Sword Province, then supplies would be needed for the trip or else they might have to raid whatever villages are on the way back. However, that would take up precious time because obviously Zhang and the rest of the forces of Aurora would be pursuing them while they try to leave.
Soon the sound of horns rang throughout the battlefield and upon hearing this the soldiers of the Heavenly Sword Army slowly began retreating while grabbing whatever food they could from the storage tent on their way.
Whereas the majority of the Heavenly Sword Army was making their retreat into the woods, the few men who were currently locked in battle at the front lines were somewhat abandoned.
“My lord should we pursue?” Gan Ning asked Zhang after having met up with him.
“No sound the horns we must reorganize our forces first, let them leave for now, a cornered beast with bare its fangs at its pursuer. But if we let them think they have a chance of getting away we can take our time chipping away at them.” Zhang replied while still gripping onto the chains that bound Qian Long.
But suddenly the sound of gushing water could be heard from where Zhang was standing. A massive wave of blood flowed through the woods and smashed into some of the retreating soldiers of the Heavenly Sword Army. While they were still on their backs a dark purplish fog blanketed a small section of the woods. Whomever this purple fog touched would foam from their mouths and then lose consciousness.
“Leave them! Retreat!” General Xiahou Yan commanded.
Abandoning their comrades, the remains of the Heavenly Sword Army continued fleeing into the woods with fear ever present in their eyes. By now the Heavenly Sword Army had been thoroughly routed and were fleeing without regard for their comrades, it had become every man for himself.
Once the Heavenly Sword Army disappeared into the north west a single carriage with hundreds of black armored soldiers escorting it appeared out from the south west.
“Gan Ning where is Lord Jian Wei I have a present for him?” Zhang asked while looking at Qian Long from the corner of his eye.
“Lord Jian Wei is safely inside the gorge, I will have my men inform him of our victory and he and the rest of our men should move here.” Gan Ning replied.
“Good, I will go fetch the madams so inform me when Lord Jian Wei arrives and hand him this gift for me.” Zhang said while handing Gan Ning the metal chain in his hand.
“Hahaha I think he will enjoy this gift.” Gan Ning chuckled while looking down at the silent Qian Long. Before as Zhang dragged him through the battlefield he had yelled and screamed for help but after a few strikes to the face he was now as docile as a rabbit.
After handing Qian Long to Gan Ning, Zhang whistled and a fiery horse appeared. Once atop of his Inferno Wind Walker Zhang road of the fort and toward the carriage that was heading toward the fort.
Upon seeing Zhang's approach, the carriage and its escorts halted their advance and waited for his arrival.
Moments upon arriving and jumping off his steed Zhang opened the door to the carriage and peered inside to see four lovely faces. The four beauties could be seen sitting at table inside of the carriage with silky visibly by Yuying’s side. The instant Lingqi saw Zhang a broad smile appeared on her face whereas the other three were trying to pretend they are angry he tried to leave them behind.
“What do we have here? Where are the four elderly businessmen? All I see are four beauties.” Zhang chuckled with a cheerful smile on his face.
“What businessman? I don't see any here.” Ai said while turning away and not looking at Zhang.
“Guess I'll have to find to go find them because I wish to purchase these four beauties.” Zhang said with a hint of mischief in his tone.
“You'd need a lot of money to buy these four.” Yuying said with a smile on her face.
“Really now? Well the one thing I have the most is money.” Zhang said while pulling up a chair and joining the four at the table then putting his arms around the Ai and Ling.
“Hey! What about me.” Lingqi shouted with a bit of envy as she watched Zhang put his arms around the other two.
But before Lingqi could do anything a voice was heard from the entrance of the carriage.
“My lord shall we proceed into the fort?” A soldier said standing with hands clasped.
“Begin moving into the fort.”
This the carriage and its escorts began moving toward the fort once more. While the carriage for on the move Zhang and the fort beauties engaged in conversation amongst themselves.
Later that day Jian Wei and Lu Xun arrived at the fort from out of the gorge. Upon his arrival a celebration was held and all of the soldiers of an Aurora engaged in a large feast of course after a moment of silence to mourn for their fallen comrades.
It was decided that after resting for the remainder of the day a portion of them would return to Aurora while Lu Xun would lead a sizable force to pursue the Heavenly Sword Army.
Unknown to them the flames of war had already ignited and battle had already broken out elsewhere.