This time I will wrap up our series on Yi Huang’s Dragon War in the Wilderness (黃易的“龍戰在野”) by reviewing a short portion of volume 2. Our story arc with the Turkish army appearing at the southern outpost in the Tianshan Mountains continues with Futai explaining a few things to Longying.
Volume 2 can be purchased here:
Picking up in the middle of Futai and Longying’s conversation that ended volume 1, the text spends a fair amount of time numerically assessing the enemy Turkish troops who surround the men and the outpost. What follows is a blow by blow description of the fight, which is mostly Longying shooting arrows at this point with some sort of bullets or fiery projectiles mentioned earlier. Futai still tries to talk him into collaborating, but Longying says he has too different of an approach to help. I think Longying is still using the undulation technique to help against the enemy troops, but it’s only mentioned very briefly.
Can Shichan is back with his martial arts masters, though everyone is too far away for close combat at this stage. Many of the troops are over 1,000 steps away from the outpost’s southern wall. It seems Can is a general in the army. Longying kills 60 or 70 enemy troops before he begins attacking horses. Toward the end of the first chapter, they recover an ancient sword from one of the enemy horses. The sword is quite special, and the description includes the fact that the body of the blade is crystal clear. It is compared to Feng Guoting’s Rainbow Heaven Sword, though I don’t recall reading about that before to know exactly what that is. The story doesn’t linger over these details, however, as Can Shichan is waiting at the gate with his men. Can takes the lead advancing on the outpost with more than 30 cavalry behind him as Longying jokes about how many bouts they’ve already gone in the war.
Chapter 2 picks up the same scene as Futai continues to unsettle with his witchy appearance, this time disturbing Can Shichan. Finally, Bozhen and 20 men come out of the outpost to aid Longying. Futai meanwhile enters the outpost in the midst of the confusion to explain that the Turks are attacking. There are 750 people in the outpost, 62 of them women, with a mix of young and old. Longying has already injured 200 enemy troops, but the outpost inhabitants must defend the outpost’s wall, which is likened to a city wall. Five hundred able-bodied men rise to the occasion. Longying rushes to close the gate and yells out to the various men he knows among the Turks, like Can and Dan Luodu.
Bozhen asks that smoke be prepared as a defense of the outpost, and the men talk about potential spies being among them. As the enemy advances through the snow, Longying takes out his bow, grabs four arrows in one hand, and arranges them on his bowstring as a bugle blows again in the distance. He lets the arrows fly as a group of ten people, including men, women and children, bring flaming sticks out of the hall. The group throws the sticks out toward the enemy, creating a lot of smoke and changing the outpost wall into a wall of fire. Cuiniang is with the group, and they return to the safety of the hall while the battle continues. Longying shoots more arrows with the smoke providing cover. I think he’s counting on the heavy snowfall to control the fire. Longying’s trademark fighting technique seems to be shooting arrows four at a time, and this continues as the men yell back and forth. Then Longying’s comrades in arms take out lances and sabers as they prepare for hand to hand combat.
In the next chapter, a few of the men go out with Longying on their horses to meet with Can and his men outside of the outpost, armed with poisoned lances and short spears. Futai is one of the men who go out to fight, and Longying uses his bow and arrows to shoot the enemy from horseback. They can’t see clearly in the blowing snow. Futai appears in the middle of a cloud of snow bathed in blood during the battle. Using techniques of psychological warfare, Longying appears in the midst of the enemy, who then blows a horn signaling retreat.
After the enemy scatters more than 20 li to the south of the outpost and the snow has stopped, Longying meets with two old friends who also were helping defend the outpost and talks with them. I’m going to stop there since there’s a break in the story line and the book goes on for another 16 volumes. You get the idea that it’s a pretty straightforward, historically-based war story from that brief profile. If it is as big as it’s hyped to be, we may be hearing more about it in the west eventually as they make movies and shows based on it.
Part five of a five part series.
Next time: We return to Japan to take a look at one of the novels based on the La Corda D’oro franchise!