Wudang Pai’s Yu, Zhang and Yin, three heroes accepted the orders. Zhang Wuji made further assignments: who would set up ambush, who would cut the enemy’s rear flank, who would engage them frontally, who would make flank attack, and so on; all in detail arrangement.
Yang Xiao and the others noticed how he planned this ingenious tactic and deployed troop’s formation to engage the enemy; everything was so clear and orderly as if it was all premeditated. They were all utterly impressed; nobody knew that he had used the military tactic legacy of Yue Wumu. Only, he modified it slightly because of different terrain and different troops.
Finished assigning tasks, Zhang Wuji finally said, “I am asking Kong Wen Fangzhang and Kong Zhi Shen Seng to lead gentlemen and ladies of the Emei Pai to take care of the injured and the dead.” Since Zhou Zhiruo was not present, Emei Pai had no one to give leadership. Zhang Wuji was aware Emei Pai had deep resentment against him, so he felt it was inappropriate for him to give them direction. For this reason he asked Kong Wen and Kong Zhi, two divine monks; both men of good moral standing and reputation to act as their leaders. Presumably, Emei Pai people would not refuse to be under their leaderships. Sure enough, hearing his order, male and female disciples of Emei Pai silently accepted it; no one open his or her mouth in dissent.
In a loud and clear voice Zhang Wuji said, “Today, the warriors of the Central Plains are united to fight the Tatar invasion. Masters in charge of bells and drums of the Shaolin Pai, please beat the drums and ring the bells.” The multitude of heroes responded with an earth-shattering cheers; they unsheathed their weapons in high spirit.
The Lie Huo Flag had transported the firewood amassed in the Temple out from its storehouses and piled it up in front of the Temple. They lighted it up and very soon flames and thick smoke rose up to the sky. The Hou Tu Flag had spread silt on top of various halls in the Temple, where the Lie Huo Flag then stacked firewood on it. This way, when they lighted the firewood, the fire would not spread to the building below. Yet from a distant, the several hundred buildings in the Temple complex appeared to be burning.
From the base of the mountain, the Yuan army heard the bells and drums first, which sounded like emergency alarm; then the saw the raging fire up the mountain. “Not good!” they said to each other, “The ‘man zi’ [insulting term for south Chinese/southern barbarian] set the Temple on fire; they must be running away.”
Leading more than 150 warriors excelled in ‘qing gong’, Yu Lianzhou rushed down the mountain from the left side of Shaoshi Peak. Before they even reached the waist of the mountain, Yuan troops had already made loud ruckus and lined up in formation to pursue. The crowd of warriors scattered in all direction, making it hard for the Yuan army to shoot them with arrows.
Zhang Songxi led the second group. Yin Liting led the third group. Each of them carried a large bundle on his back. The bundles contained either wooden planks or bundles of clothes. In the eyes of the Yuan troops, it appeared that they were abandoning the Temple, escaping with difficulty carrying valuables; but the bundles were actually shields against the Mongolians’ arrows.
Because of the heavy smoke, the Yuan troops could not see clearly how many people were escaping. Thereupon they divided their forces into two groups; ten thousand soldiers pursued the escapees immediately, while the other ten thousand stayed in their original defensive position.
“Yang Zuo Shi,” Zhang Wuji turned toward Yang Xiao, “The Tatar General is quite knowledgeable of military tactic; he did not order the entire army to pursue. This might give us trouble.”
“Yes,” Yang Xiao replied, “They do give us reason to be concerned.”
They heard bugles sound from the bottom of the mountain. Two thousand strong Yuan cavalry divided itself into two groups and advanced to the top of the mountain from left and right. The mountain roads were rugged, but Mongolian ponies were able to gallop fast, as if they were flying. With their long spears and iron armors, the troops’ appearance was very impressive.
When the vanguard of the Yuan cavalry arrived at the pavilion halfway up the mountain, Zhang Wuji gave his signal. From either side of the road, Lie Huo Flag people closing in, crouching among the tall grass. As the two-thousand strong cavalry advanced about another hundred ‘zhang’s, Xin Ran let out a whistle; his troops immediately sprayed oil toward the enemy, followed by balls of fire, burning both horses and their riders. The horses neighed in fear and pain; most of them rolled down the mountain, creating a great chaos.
The Yuan troops discipline was very strict. As the front group was being defeated, the rear group did not budge. Under the command of their general, three thousand soldiers got down from their horses and marched forward to attack. Again the Lie Huo Flag shot their fire, burning several hundred troops. But with extreme force of will, the remaining troops were still marching on.
Tang Yang, the Flag Leader of the Hong Shui Flag waved a black flag; poisonous water spurted out. Next, the Hou Tu Flag also shot poisonous sand, throwing the Yuan army into total disorder. Several hundred troops managed to advance toward the mountain peak. These soldiers were completely wiped out by the Rui Jin Flag and Ju Mu Flag.
From the bottom of the mountain suddenly came the sound of beating drums. Five thousand troops marched forward with large shields lined up in front of their bodies, creating a slowly advancing wall. This way, the fire, poisonous water and poisonous sand lost their effectiveness. Even gigantic logs rolled down by the Ju Mu Flag only managed to create a few gaps, which were quickly closed again.
Seeing this desperate situation, Abbot Kong Wen said, “Zhang Jiaozhu, please have everybody retreat quickly. We must preserve the vitality of the Wulin world of the Central Plains. Although we are defeated today, we will stage a comeback in the future.”
In the midst of this anxiety, suddenly they heard rousing sound of metal drums from the foot of the mountain, followed by a rocket shot up to the sky. Battle cries rose up from all directions.
Yang Xiao was delighted. “Jiaozhu,” he said, “Our reinforcement arrives!”
From the top of the mountain looking down, they could not see the situation at the foot of the mountain; but they saw the dust rose and they heard the shouts of the people and the neigh of the horses. Obviously, the incoming troops were numerous.
Zhang Wuji loudly called out, “The reinforcement has arrived; everybody, charge!” From the top of the mountain, the multitude of heroes charged downward with weapons in their hands.
Zhang Wuji cried out again, “Gentlemen Heroes, kill officers first before killing the soldiers.”
The crowd of heroes echoed his cry, “Kill officers first before killing the soldiers!”
The Mongolian armed force was organized into teams. Every ten soldiers formed a ten-man unit. Every ten-man units formed a hundred-man unit. Likewise, they formed thousand-man unit and subsequently ten-thousand-man unit, following a layered chain of command. When they go to battle, it was just like the mind giving order to the arm, the arm giving order to the hand, the hand giving order to the fingers. If the two forces were battling against each other arrayed in formation, Zhang Wuji’s order to kill the officers first would be difficult to follow; but at this moment the Yuan army was scattered on the hillside. Although the Yuan army could be considered elite troops, the martial art skill of their officers, after all, was inferior to the heroes and warriors of the Central Plains. Soon several ‘qian fu zhang’ [leader of a thousand-man unit] and ‘bai fu zhang’ [leader of a hundred-man unit] were killed. The Mongolian troops were thrown into confusion.