Chapter 391 - Ambush

The commander of the bodyguards nodded his head and spoke to the men behind him, “A few guys should set up an ambush in the nearby trees. The rest of you stay with me and help Brother Yu set things up.”

The traps that Yu Hai was setting up used rattan ropes to create a type of noose with a slipknot. If the Wokou pirates stepped into the trap, as long as you used a little bit of force they would get pulled up into the air. At that time, the trapped pirates could be easily handled by them.

Putting the traps together wasn’t a complicated task. Yu Hai took a few bodyguards and, before long, they were able to set around a dozen or so traps in the areas that the Wokou pirates were most likely to traverse through. At this time, through the thickets of the trees, they could already see the cruel and aggressive pirates who were all gabbling in a foreign language.

Commander Zheng signaled Yu Hai with his hands, telling him to retreat to a safer area. He regrouped his men and they all chose some nearby large trees to hide in and easily jumped up. The bodyguards not only had a long sword with them but they also carried a bow and quiver of arrows. Those who were hiding in the trees took out their bow and arrows. They prepared an arrow and aimed it towards the direction of the pirates.

Within the thickets, they could hear the pirates approaching and it was obvious that these pirates had a lot of people. Before long, a short pirate could be seen by Yu Hai and the others. He was dressed in unfamiliar attire and the top of his head had been shaved bald. The pirate had cruel and malicious looking eyes. Yu Hai, who had hidden in a dense shrub, intently watched where the pirate set his feet. His breathing slowed as he saw the Wokou pirate step into one of the rope traps.  

He was in, he was in! That pirate’s left foot had already stepped into the middle of the noose! Yu Hai immediately made the decision to lightly pull at the trap mechanism in his hand. The noose tightened quickly around the pirate’s ankle and the rope started to fly away using the elasticity of the tree branch above. The pirate only felt something clamp on his ankle before he shot up in the air towards the trees. 

The trapped Wokou pirate howled in fear and another pirate, who had been behind him, was stunned for a moment before he turned around to holler something behind him. The other pirates started to pull out their long knives. Among them was a slightly taller man and the clothes he was wearing were also more complex and decorated compared to the other pirates. Nothing needed to be said as it was obvious that this man was the leader of all of these pirates.

The head of the Wokou pirates pointed at the strung up pirate and jabbered a few sentences to his subordinates. It sounded like he wanted the others to bring the man down. After receiving his command, before they had the chance to move, an arrow whizzed through the air and squarely hit the trapped pirate in the throat. The trapped pirate immediately passed away and dangled like a dead dog in the trees.

The expression on the head of the pirates immediately changed. He hastily ordered the other men to protect him. During the chaos, there were a few other pirates who stepped into the rope traps and were now hanging in the trees.

“Guard yourselves! Guard yourselves!” Earlier, the head of the pirates didn’t think it would take much effort to run over a small fishing village. He had boasted when talking to General Yamaguchi and claimed that he would be able to fully subjugate this tiny fishing village in half a day and then bring his men to meet up with the general at the harbor.

He absolutely did not expect that this fishing village, which only had a dozen or so families in it, would find out early about their attack and pack up all of their valuables to flee into the nearby mountains. Although the villagers had left in a hurry and there was still quite a bit of stuff left back in the village, the head of this group of pirates was unsatisfied. When he was younger, he had also participated in a raid and had privately gotten a lot of good loot. There were over a dozen other commanders who came up with the general this time to attack. If he had the smallest haul out of all of them, wouldn’t that mean he had lost credibility in the general’s eyes? 

Fury roiled within the head of the Wokou pirates when he saw the empty village. These poor fishermen weren’t anything in his eyes. With the skills of his men, why wouldn’t they be able to catch up with these fleeing peasants and grab all their belongings?

Who knew that, as soon as they stepped into the mountain forest, they would encounter a hard rock. Apparently, these fishermen had some experienced hunters among them. It looked like he had underestimated these peasants too much. 

However, the head of this group of pirates didn’t think that the villagers would be able to do much just by relying on a few hunters. Compared to his men, who were well trained and armored appropriately, those hunters were only seeking their own deaths!

Bakayarou [1], go look around! Those damned bastards must be in the vicinity. Don’t leave a single one alive. Kill whoever you find!!” The head of this group of pirates revealed a cruel and vicious expression and he waved the long knife in his hand as he snarled out his orders.

At this moment, an arrow shot towards his direction. The head of the pirates revealed a frazzled expression but his reaction speed was quite fast. He grabbed one of the subordinates next to him and threw the other man in front of him as his shield. Then, he ducked down and made sure to hide himself completely behind the hapless pirate.

Warm liquid that smelled slightly fishy sprayed onto his face. The hapless pirate that had been dragged over twitched as he dropped down to the ground. The arrow that had almost hit him was pinned firmly in the other pirate’s heart. Cold sweat spontaneously erupted onto his head and he silently rejoiced that his reflexes were fast enough. Otherwise, the person lying dead on the ground wouldn’t be his subordinate but him!

A burst of violent anger bubbled in his heart. He needed to drag all of these stubborn fishermen out and dig out their hearts before stringing them in the open air to let them become human jerky!

“Find them now! Drag all of these Great Ming pigs out for me now!” The head of the pirates stomped on the ground in fury and sent down a direct order to his shivering subordinates while he hid himself behind his two bodyguards. Occasionally he would reveal his head here or there to observe the situation. 

The arrow that had almost taken out the leader of the group of pirates earlier was shot by the commander of the bodyguards who was still hidden in the trees. Although he had never stepped onto the battlefield before, he understood the concept of eliminating the enemy commander first. He felt quite regretful that he wasn’t able to kill the head of the pirates. Although he continued to look for a second opportunity to kill the pirate head, he discovered that the fellow was deathly afraid of being offed and was currently sticking very closely behind the other pirates. He could only start targeting the other pirates instead.

The other nearby bodyguards of the imperial prince’s estate also started shooting arrows after their captain sent out the first one. Although they weren’t as skilled as their commander, they were still able to kill one pirate for every three arrows they shot. The Wokou pirates hadn’t been able to even see who their enemy was before their ranks were drastically thinned.

“Retreat! There are too many enemies here, so first retreat!” The head of this group of pirates was a cowardly fellow, so when he saw his men falling one after another, he lost his bravado. He had no idea how many enemies were waiting for them. From the look of things, this didn’t look like the work of a few hunters and instead resembled the attacks of experienced soldiers. Was it possible that they had a spy in the ranks who tattled on them and gave the Great Ming soldiers time to prepare? That wouldn’t do. They couldn’t just stay here like a bunch of sitting ducks. Otherwise, their losses would be too high. They needed to retreat to a safer place first and then decide what to do next.

After getting this new order, the Wokou pirates all started to retreat in a panic. There were quite a few pirates who got shot by arrows in the back as they were leaving. It was quite a chaotic sight.

At this time, Yu Hai had arrived on the side of the group of Wokou pirates. He had a pitchfork in his hands as a weapon. There was a pirate who was on his own, so Yu Hai forcefully threw the pitchfork towards the pirate. The pitchfork hit the pirate straight in the chest and the man’s screams resounded in the forest and drew the attention of the other pirates. However, the vegetation was too thick in this area, so they couldn’t see anything despite their efforts to try. Furthermore, they were too scared to investigate themselves.

Yu Hai used this opportunity to go up and retrieve the pitchfork. Then he made a few turns in the lush vegetation that was tall enough to hide a man and disappeared into the forest again. By the time the nearby pirates got the courage to investigate, all they saw was the dead pirate on the ground.

Using this advantage, Yu Hai found another area to ambush more pirates. In this way, before long, he managed to kill an additional seven to eight Wokou pirates. Although this was the first time he had killed humans, the enemies he killed were vicious and cruel pirates and were not much different, in his mind, than savage beasts. Yu Hai had already prepared himself inwardly for this, so he wasn’t the least bit merciful when he attacked them. He knew that if any of the villagers from Dongshan Village fell into their hands, none of them would have a good outcome!

After killing those seven to eight pirates, Yu Hai returned back to the area where the imperial prince’s bodyguards had set up their initial ambush. Commander Zheng had already jumped down from his tree so Yu Hai asked him, “Are we going to chase them further?”

The commander of the bodyguards made a few hand signals to his subordinate and all of them jumped down from the trees they were hiding in. He shook his head at Yu Hai and stated, “The Wokou pirates are retreating because they don’t know how many men we have here. Because we struck first, they don’t dare to just push forward. Although we killed quite a decent amount of pirates, they still have the advantage in raw numbers. Once they get their bearings and come back to find us, it will be just us few against their large group. We’re not going to be able to fight against a hundred or so Wokou pirates to a standstill. Our primary objective isn’t to kill all of these pirates but to give the princess consort and the villagers enough time so they can get to the hiding place!”

“Then...what should we do now?” Yu Hai felt like everything that Commander Zheng said made perfect sense. Those Wokou pirates looked like they had undergone training. The only reason why he was able to kill a few of them was because they weren’t prepared and panicking when he attacked them on the sly. If he truly confronted them, he wouldn’t be a match for any of them!

The commander was silent for a bit before he finally said, “In a moment, when the pirates come back, we should separate and draw the enemy apart. Using our advantage in the knowledge of the terrain, we need to find the right time to strike!”

He had a very good idea of the capabilities of the men under his command. Each one of them would be able to fight three to five Wokou pirates without any problems. He was most worried about Yu Hai, who hadn’t gone through deliberate training and had no martial arts skills. He had already promised the Yu Family that he would protect Yu Hai and wouldn’t let him face the dangerous situation on his own.

“Brother Yu, in a moment, you should go with me!” Commander Zheng still thought that having Yu Hai next to him was the safest place to be.

Yu Hai shook his head in refusal, “Don’t worry ah! In these woods, I have the ability to protect myself with no problems. If I encounter any pirates that I can’t fight against, I should have no problem escaping with my life. Commander Zheng, you should do what you need to do and not worry about me!”

The head of the group of pirates was currently discussing the situation with one of his assistants. Both of them were certain that their enemy didn’t have a lot of people and that they had used up most of their arrows on the last flurry of attacks. Thus, they shouldn’t have enough to whittle their numbers again. 

Consequently, the head of the pirates decided to reform the ranks and send them back into the forest. This time, they were a lot more cautious and had split up into small groups of three to five men each. Furthermore, none of the groups stayed very far from each other. If danger approached, they could easily help one another. 

The Wokou pirates crept forward and carefully looked around them as they approached the last battlefield. They didn’t encounter any enemy attacks the whole way there and, before long, they were back at the area where they last fought. Other than the dead corpses on the ground and a mess of arrows, nothing else was left behind. The few pirates that had been trapped in the trees had long become the dead. Every dead hanging pirate had his throat cut open by someone using a knife. Their blood had subsequently flowed onto the ground below.


[1] Bakayarou - Stupid/dumbass in Japanese, slang in Chinese to imitate the sound of 'bakayarou'

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Myst's Thoughts

Sanguine’s Thoughts: Guerilla warfare is probably the best option for them right now...

Translator: Sanguine