Chapter 481: Renowned Generals Emerge

‘How is this possible!’ 

This was Yang Miaozhen’s sole thought at the moment. She had fought Song Qingshu in Kaifeng before; though his martial arts were slightly superior, it was only by a narrow margin. Their victory or defeat could go either way in a real fight. So why was he so confident now?

Seeing Ah Qing and Xu Zhu’s match conclude, Huang Rong stepped onto the stage again. “Due to the sudden movements of the Qing army, the third round will begin in an hour, followed swiftly by the finals. Competitors, please conserve your energy.”

The Qing army, determined to crush the Golden Serpent Camp, had mobilized their elite Eight Banners troops, divided into four armies, each led by renowned generals from the Qing court.

The central army, 40,000 strong, was commanded by Prince An, Yue Le. A highly respected member of the Qing imperial clan, Yue Le was the grandson of Nurhaci and the fourth son of Prince Abatai. He had earned great military achievements, including the defeat of Zhang Xianzhong and the subjugation of the Khalkha tribe. Historically, he was also the commander who quelled the Revolt of the Three Feudatories.

Now in charge of the Imperial Clan Court, even Emperor Kangxi treated him with great respect. The court’s decision to reemploy him signified their determination to annihilate the Golden Serpent Camp.

The western army, 25,000 strong, was led by Grand Marshal Fei Yanggu. A member of the prestigious Manchu Plain White Banner, Fei Yanggu’s sister was the beloved Consort Donggo of Emperor Shunzhi. Despite his aristocratic background, Fei Yanggu was a capable and accomplished commander, noted for his roles in the Revolt of the Three Feudatories and against the Zunghar forces.

Fei Yanggu was Prince An Yue Le’s most trusted general. His appointment to lead the western army reflected Yue Le’s confidence in his abilities.

The northern army, 8,000 elite cavalry equipped with the most advanced firearms, was under the command of the distinguished frontier general Sabu Su. Historically, he led the Qing forces in the Siege of Albazin, resulting in the Treaty of Nerchinsk with Russia.

Sabu Su, having fought against Russian firearms and Cossack cavalry for years, developed a formidable cavalry firearms unit. Despite the smaller number, his troops were considered the most formidable among the four armies.

The eastern army, 30,000 strong, was led by Prince Taifu, Grand Chancellor of the Central Hall, and Minister of Rites, Tu Hai. Although he held a string of civil titles, Tu Hai was a proven general. He had eradicated the remnants of Li Zicheng’s forces, quelled the Chahar rebellion, and forced the surrender of Wang Fuchen. In the historical Revolt of the Three Feudatories, his achievements were on par with Prince An Yue Le.

However, Tu Hai and Yue Le were long-time rivals, with Tu Hai believing his contributions were greater, yet he had to remain subordinate to Yue Le, causing deep resentment.

This time, Dongfang Muxue, posing as Emperor Kangxi, ordered the armies to hold their positions to buy time for Song Qingshu. She justified it by claiming the Golden Serpent Camp’s guerrilla tactics were most troublesome for the court. If the army withdrew, the rebels would re-emerge like locusts. The new Golden Serpent King, eager to establish authority, would likely choose to attack, giving the Qing forces a chance to annihilate the rebels in one decisive strike.

Yue Le agreed with this reasoning and ordered his troops to wait. However, Tu Hai, defiant as ever, couldn’t bear the delay and advanced his forces towards the Golden Serpent Camp, aiming to seize glory and embarrass Yue Le.

Tu Hai wasn’t worried about defeat. His 30,000 elite troops were highly capable, and having faced opponents like Li Zicheng, he dismissed the Golden Serpent Camp as insignificant.

Upon learning of Tu Hai’s advance, the leaders of the Golden Serpent Camp quickly decided to expedite the selection of their new leader.

Hearing Huang Rong’s announcement, the assembled heroes murmured among themselves, while the semifinalists and their factions frowned. They now had to strategize not only to win their matches but also to conserve enough strength for the final battle.

Song Qingshu smiled slightly. Everything was going as planned. Even Tu Hai’s rash advance was orchestrated by him and Dongfang Muxue.

The selection of the Qing generals was a joint effort between him and Dongfang Muxue. They aimed to entrap the most loyal Qing forces and their leaders while exploiting the internal conflicts among the generals. If the Qing commanders were unified, even with all the intelligence Song Qingshu had, it would be nearly impossible for the Golden Serpent Camp to overcome the Qing forces. Now, with Tu Hai isolated, they had a chance to defeat them piecemeal.

“Big brother, thank you just now,” a crisp voice broke Song Qingshu’s reverie. He looked up to see Ah Qing smiling brightly at him.

“It was a small matter,” Song Qingshu smiled back. “With your martial arts, you would have handled it even without my warning.”

“Not necessarily. I was about to touch those ice shards,” Ah Qing admitted with a pure smile, then suddenly looked puzzled. “I think you’re quite nice. I don’t understand why Sister Yuan and the others say you’re a bad person.”

Song Qingshu glanced towards the Red Flower Society members, seeing Yu Wanting glaring at him with malice, Wen Tailai full of anger, and Yuan Ziyi looking at him with disdain.

‘Yu Wanting’s lifelong plans were ruined by me, Wen Tailai’s wife was taken by me, and Yuan Ziyi was tricked once. It’s natural they hate me. But Yuan Ziyi, do you have to act like you were r*ped?’ Song Qingshu thought with some exasperation.

He patiently explained to Ah Qing, “People’s views on good and bad differ. For example, if you lost a gold nugget, it would be bad for you but good for the one who found it. Do you understand?”

Ah Qing frowned, “Losing a gold nugget isn’t a big deal to me.”

Song Qingshu almost choked, realizing she might not even know what gold was. “Let’s put it another way. If you lost a sheep and someone took it…” He hadn’t finished when Ah Qing’s eyes widened angrily, “That damn thief! How dare he take my sheep!”

Song Qingshu sighed with relief. She seemed to understand now.

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