Chapter 161: Aerial Skirmish
While Zhang and Ling continued to unleash lightning and ice across the sky, their soldiers released countless arrows and ballistae bolts into the air.
Sadly, the arrows shot toward the Golden Wind Eagles proved to be rather useless and were simply deflected. This was because the feathers of the Golden Winged Eagles were as hard as iron and thus impervious to regular arrows.
However, despite not being affected by regular arrows, the massive ballista bolts the size of spears proved to be very effective. But there were simply too many eagles and too few ballistae to do very much damage.
Since Zhang and Ling could only do so much, the Golden Wing Army soon descended upon the fortress at blinding speeds. With their eyes set on Zhang’s ballistae, only weapons under the disposal of Zhang’s soldiers that could harm them, thousands of Eagles swarmed the Sky Fortresses hangers.
Alone the Golden Winged Eagles were already monstrous opponents, but since they had mounted riders armed with pikes and bows, their battle potential was much more devastating. Mixed into their ranks were also low-level mages who could unleash a fury of attacks from the sky and fly away unharmed.
It was obvious that Zhang’s army was currently at an absolute disadvantage and if it were not for Zhang and Ling, they would have little to no means of defeating the Golden Winged Army.
“Turtle formations and retreat!” Some of Zhang’s captains commanded as they tried to fend off the onslaught of razor sharp talons and a vast array of attacks being sent flying toward their men.
Seeing that they had no part to play in this battle, Zhang’s commanders, ordered for their men to retreat to defendable locations to minimize their casualties.
Even with the Sky Fortress on their side Zhang’s forces were still at an overwhelming disadvantage so one could only imagine how much more deadly the Golden Wing Army would be when facing a landlocked army on an open plain.
Seeing his men being picked off one by one by the massive eagles, while still tapping into the essence core Zhang began to activate his Abyssal Cape.
As the cape that appeared to be a doorway into an endless abyss fluttered in the wind, Zhang’s shadow expanded and began spread from the spot under his feet until it covered the majority of the land on the upper side of the fortress.
Once the fortress was cloaked in shadows, thousands upon thousands of terrifying screech rang into everyone’s ears. Soon enough countless black colored eagles and winged snakes rose out from the shadows and up into the skies.
Much to the horror of the Golden Winged Army, an army of Abyssal Eagles practically identical to the Golden Wing Eagled and massive winged snakes appeared out of nowhere, ascended into the sky and charged straight toward them.
As a clash of talons and claws began in the skies, the soldiers of the Golden Winged Army unlike their companions, began to panic. Since this could be counted as the first time in its history that the Golden Wing Army had to face an opposing force in the skies.
“How could there be such a large force of flying demonic beasts besides ours in the Warring States Region!” A soldier atop one of the massive eagles said as anxiety filled his mind.
“Prepare to engage the enemy! It doesn't matter how they amassed such a number of flying demonic beasts because the skies belong to us! As like as we stay within the area ruled by the sacred bird no one can challenge us!” Another soldier of the Golden Wing Army roared as he lifted his spear up into the air. However, moments later this very same soldier found himself in dire straits as three Abyssal Eagles surrounded him.
Since they were trained to use their aerial advantage and take out opposing enemies who were stuck on foot, the soldiers of the Golden Wing Army were at a loss at what to do when Zhang’s Abyssal Beasts closed in on them.
But since the Abyssal Beasts did not really possess much intelligence nor durability, they were rather lacking when compared to the Golden Winged Eagles that were bred and trained for war. But what they lacked, the Abyssal Beasts made up for in numbers.
It was simple to say that for everyone Golden Winged Eagle there were roughly three or four Abyssal Beasts.
“Sis do you think I can catch one of them?” Ai asked as she stood beside Lingqi and Yuying, looking up into the sky.
“One hundred gold coins says you can’t.” Lingqi teased.
“You don't know until you try.” Yuying laughed as she saw Ai gripping onto her black whip.
While Ai, Lingqi, and Yuying were watching the battle unfold, Zhang noticed that the soldiers of the Golden Wing Army were quickly forming aerial formations while regaining their composure.
After the initial clash with the Abyssal Beasts, they began to realize that despite being outnumbered and despite how terrifying the swarm of Abyssal Beasts appeared to be, they weren't much of a problem.
That isn't to say the Golden Wing Army was not suffering any damage at all. Although they did not lose a large portion of their forces, roughly about ten thousand riders were lost while more the six or seven thousand Golden Winged Eagles were shot out of the sky by either Zhang, Ling or one of the many Abyssal Beasts flying around.
As the battle heated up, the rate at which riders of the Golden Wing Army were falling from the skies began to increase despite the fact that the number of Abyssal Beasts were dwindling. This was because as the Eagles swooped through the sky, they would get shot be sticky blobs of spider webbing, which would tangle their wings and cause the eagles to lost the ability to stay in the air.
Yuying’s horde of Wraith Spiders could be seen unleashing barrage after barrage of their webbing into the skies, further adding to the casualties of the Golden Wing Army.
But of course, the arrival of the Wraith Spider did not change much because the sheer difference in numbers between the two groups of demonic beasts. Eventually, some of the Wraith Spider were even attacked by the Eagles that swooped down from above.
“Shit…” Yuying cursed as she saw some of her spiders being hooked by the claws of some of the eagles and being lifted into the air.
However much to her delight, the spiders were able to break free of the eagle’s grasp by injecting them with venom then jumping back onto the Sky Fortress.
“Guess I’ll have to use some of the fortress’s defensive mechanisms.” Zhang thought as he saw the tide of battle go unchanged and continued in the favor of the Golden Wing Army.
Soon enough the silver ring on his finger began to emit a blood red glow. Moments later the Sky Fortress’s sixteen azure colored towers began to light up and countless runes and inscriptions began to appear on their exterior.
Sensing something was wrong, the Golden-Winged Eagles screeched and flew upward into the air to create distance between themselves and the Sky Fortress. Much to the distress of the soldiers riding atop these massive birds of prey a terrifying aura fluctuated in the air as the fifteen midsized essence cores positioned at the tower of the small azure colored towers began to resonate and send out beams of pure essence toward each other and the fortress’s main essence core where Zhang and Ling were standing.
With quick movements Zhang hooked his arm around Ling’s waist and hoisted her over his shoulder as he made his way off the roof of the main tower just before the rays of essence from the ten mini towers on the upper half of the fortress connected with the main essence core while the small azure towers at the underside of the fortress connected with each other.
Before long the rays of essence that were being shot out from the towers began to split apart and form a net around the entire sky fortress. This, of course, was not before a pitch black whip lashed out into the sky and wrapped the leg of one of the eagles, dragging it and its rider toward the Sky Fortress.
Looking toward the fortress Ai could be seen with her whip in hand, reeling in her catch with twinkling eyes.
Just as the eagle caught by Ai crashed into the ground, as the entire fortress was encased in a massive sphere made of essence. Once the sphere was formed none of the Golden Winged Eagles nor their riders dared to move in.
The essence given off by the sphere alone made the hairs on everyone's body stand and their senses to scream. Radiating pure essence, it was without a doubt that anything that touched that sphere would be either repelled or burnt to ashes depending on its characteristics and of course no one was willing to find out nor could they because the skies were still filled with Abyssal Beasts although their numbers had greatly dwindled compared to before.
So with the sphere constructed of essence up, Zhang began to move the Sky Fortress. Since the force field could not be kept active for a long time he decided his best course of action would to temporarily retreat.
“I'll be back with countermeasures.” Zhang mumbled as the fortress moved through the sky.
Since their objective was to conquer the Southern Region, allowing such a powerful force to remain wouldn't be a wise thing to do at all.
As the massive Sky Fortress retreated, the Golden-Winged Army followed closely behind until the fortress flew over a range of mountains that marked the border of the Golden Peak Province.
“My lord, a total of twenty thousand of our men are unaccounted for while another five thousand are under medical care.” Guan Yu reported to Zhang as they departed from the Golden Peak Province.
“Tsk… To think the confrontation only lasted no more than two hours…” Zhang clicked his tongue once he found how many soldiers he lost.
“Also a total of six hundred enemy demonic beasts and five hundred eighty enemy riders have been captured upon crash landing into the fortress or by the princess's spiders. My men also report that although the Golden Winged Eagles acted fairly calm when placed in captivity, they have begun to act strangely after we departed from the Golden Peak Province.” Guan Yu also said.
“I guess they didn't get off without suffering any damage either.” Zhang said. If one actually thought about it, the Golden-Winged Army had suffered a greater loss than Zhang’s army.
Normal soldiers and elite soldiers could be easily replaced whereas tamed demonic beasts trained for battle was not. Especially since the Golden Winged Eagles were fairly high-level demonic beasts.
“Brother! Look!” Ai’s voice could be heard coming from outside as it echoed up to the highest floor of the Azure Tower, where Zhang was.
Walking out onto a balcony and looking downward, Zhang could see Ai, Lingqi, and Yuying standing on a platform that was lifting them up toward where he and Ling were.
In Ai’s hand was her signature black whip and surprisingly it was still attached to the Golden Winged Eagle that she had caught earlier. The poor bird was helplessly flapping its wings and trying to escape but to no avail due to Ai’s monstrous strength. Its rider was also nowhere to be seen either.
Zhang couldn't help but laugh at the sight of the massive eagle trying to flee away from Ai, since if she was compared to the eagle in terms of size, it would be easily twice if not three times her size.
Once the platform Ai, Lingqi, and Yuying were on arrived at the balcony where Zhang and Ling were, Little White who had not taken part in the battle due to its inability to fly, licked its lips as it spotted the Golden Wing Eagle.
“Brother look at what I caught!” Ai said happily as she jumped off the platform and onto the balcony. Perhaps it was due to jumping onto the balcony or perhaps it was because an act of heaven, Ai lost grip of her whip and the eagle on the other end of the line spun in the air and broke loose.
Immediately realizing her blunder, Ai’s face sank and a frown appeared on it. However, the eagle did not get very far because from within Ling’s embrace, Little White shot forward and changed into its maximize size.
An instant later Little White’s claws sank into the Golden Winged Eagle’s wing and sending them both plummeting toward the ground.
“It's okay were able to catch a few hundred of them.” Zhang said with a laugh as he patted Ai on the shoulder.
After Ai’s moon took another one hundred and eighty-degree spin back to a cheerful one, Zhang and his wives headed toward where all of the capture Golden Winged Eagles and captured enemy riders were being held.
Walking to the base of the main Azure Tower, Zhang activated a hidden mechanism in the floor that caused a section of it to begin to lower into the ground. Moments later Zhang, the beauties, Guan Yu, Zhang Fei and a few of their guards descended into the depths of the Sky Fortress.
Deep within the Sky Fortress, where the sun doesn't shine were hundreds of cells filled with men and beasts.
For the most part, all of the soldiers captured were heavily injured while the eagles were all tangled in spider webbing or had broken wings. However, there was something very peculiar about all of Zhang’s captives, regardless of man or beast they all gazed or faced the direction where the Golden Peak Province was.
Although the eagles simply looked toward the direction where the Golden Peak Province was, the soldiers were also chanting something in a low inaudible tone. These soldiers were so lost within their chanting that they did not even notice Zhang, the beauties and their entourage passing by.
“By the will of the divine ruler of all that reside in the south, the chosen who guard the sacred land that rises above the sea will be blessed upon the lord’s rebirth.” Zhang heard as the soldiers chanting thanks to his heightened sense of hearing.