Chapter 2 Weird Black Pearl (3)
“What? Are you playing with me?” The squad leader suddenly stood up angrily. His 1.9m frame towered over Zhou Weiqing, giving off an intimidating aura as he grabbed Zhou Weiqing’s cuff and brought his angered face closer.
“Uhhh… No what I meant was that I need more time to think what branch I should apply for…” Zhou Weiqing said quickly with a bitter smile on his face. As the saying goes, a wise man knows better than to fight when the odds are against him, Zhou Weiqing certainly did not want to get beaten up. In truth, if he had revealed his background, it was likely that all of them would be kneeling in front of him right now. However, although Zhou Weiqing’s character was sly and cunning, but he had always been extremely obedient towards his father’s instructions. Since young, his father had always drilled into him that a real man will work and live on his own merits, and not just depend on his family background. As such, although Zhou Weiqing had one of the highest ranking noble backgrounds in the empire, he had never used it to take advantage of anyone, unlike Princess Difuya.
In fact, even if Zhou Weiqing really reneged on applying, the squad leader couldn’t do anything about it. Too bad he was young and inexperienced and had been scared into agreeing without knowing that.
Upon hearing Zhou Weiqing’s reply, the squad leader sat back down with a satisfied smile, crooking his head to look at him before saying: “Alright, hurry up and decide and then fill up this form and you can take your test. Let me tell you brat, you are very lucky as this is the first of recruitment so we’re still rather lax in our testing. Otherwise, do you think joining the army is that easy?”
Zhou Weiqing asked a sullen expression: “Officer Bro, uhm, can I ask, on the battlefield which unit branch can stand at the back and will not have much contact with the enemy?”
Zhou Weiqing had his own thinking, after all every boy dreamed of being a hero when they were young. He was not willing to just join logistics or to be a cook, if he had to be a soldier he had better be a proper one. If not, if his father heard about it, he would likely be beaten to death! He himself also didn’t want to throw face. But then as a soldier who would have to enter the battlefield, Zhou Weiqing still wanted to look for a role that would be relatively safer, after all in his mind, safety was always number one. To him, being afraid of death was a natural human state, and he wasn’t so heroic that he could just stare death in the face.
The squad leader’s eyes glinted with a sly look, and said quickly: “That’s easy, of course that would be archers. Archers are generally put in the back-lines, even if they had to fire from the front, but when both sides clash they would retreat back behind to fight. Unless the entire army is wiped out, otherwise archers usually will not have direct contact with the enemy.
Upon hearing that, Zhou Weiqing was delighted and immediately said, “Great, this is great! Of course, why didn’t I think of our Heavenly Bow Empire’s most well known unit. Officer Bro, I want to be an archer!” Archers were usually positioned behind the other close combat units for protection, this much he did know at least.
The squad leader saw that his cunning plan had succeeded, and gave a laugh of delight before standing up and grabbed his pen: “Name, age?”
“I’m called Zhou…” Zhou Weiqing almost gave out his actual name before catching himself in time. “I’m called Little Fatty Zhou. 16 years of age.” Although Zhou Weiqing was only 13 years old, but he had after all been born in a noble family and was the only son, as such he had some knowledge of the worldly ways of the world, at least a bit more than an ordinary kid. Since he had already decided to join the army, in order to hide the fact from his father, he decided to give himself an alias, it was his kid nickname which hadn’t been used for more than 10 years. It was unlikely that his father could discover him from it.
“Little Fatty Zhou? You’re not fat at all though!” The squad leader muttered to himself while writing down the details. He did not doubt for a second that Zhou Weiqing was younger than his proclaimed age of 16.
Very soon, the registration was complete, and he passed the form to Zhou Weiqing and pointed to a corner of the area and said: “Okay, go over there to take the test for archers. As long as you pass the test, you will be an official soldier of our empire.”
“Thank you Officer Bro.” Zhou Weiqing happily took the form. In his mind, this was the best possible outcome, joining an actual combat unit which would not put him in too much danger. Perfect.
Rushing excitedly to the test area, there were about 4-5 soldiers there dressed in black and grey uniforms, with light leather armor, custom protective wrist guards, head adorned with a large hat to cover the sun, with a longbow on their backs, and a quiver of arrows slung on each side. This was the normal equipment for archers, and did seem rather valiant looking. Currently, there was no one taking the test, but the few archers were standing at attention. Zhou Weiqing knew how strict his father was by nature, and if he was so fierce towards his own son, naturally his army had to have strict discipline as well. As such, even though Heavenly Bow Empire was quite small, with an army strength of a few tens of thousands, but they were all very elite and were more than able to hold their own against enemies of similar or higher numbers. Zhou Weiqing knew that his father had never lost a battle, and was very well renowned in the surrounding countries.
“Hi big bros, I’m here to take the test.” Zhou Weiqing handed his form over to one of the archers, who looked at him and said “Little bro, well done, congratulations on choosing to join us, the units with one of the best prospects in the army. Here, take this to try pulling it.” The archer unlimbered his bow and passed it to Zhou Weiqing.
Zhou Weiqing took the long bow and examined it closely. It was made out of high quality Star Wood, was around 1.8m long and 0.9m wide. The front of the bow frame was in a circular arc, while the back was straight. The centre grip was about 4 cm wide, getting gradually thinner towards the ends which were wrapped up in sinew.
This sort of long bow had been developed over the ages, across years and years of wars, from the various mixed materials of ancient times in the Boundless Mainland to crossbows which were less than 1.2m long, having a max range of less than 200m and effective range of less than 100m, and a much lower penetrating power. As time passed, bows gradually were developed to be larger, especially with the discovery of top grade materials like Star Wood, allowing the use of longbows to be more widespread. This long bow which was common for the archers of Heavenly Bow Empire was extremely deadly, even the most ordinary ones had a max range of less than 400m, an effective range of less than 250m, almost double that of the old crossbows. Their firing rate was as high as 10-12 arrows per minute which was also better than the crossbow. In the hands of a skilled archer, the accuracy was way higher. Since the long bow was lighter due to its material, it was also easier to wield despite its increased range and damage, suitable for both skirmishes and direct clashes, and thus its appearance had meant crossbows had been rendered obsolete. It could be said that the longbow was the king of the battlefield for ranged weapons.
The sheer rate of fire of the longbow could cause the effect like an artillery barrage, when their own infantry were charging forth, the archers in the backline could fire upwards in a high arc to hit the enemies. This was also the weakness of light cavalry where the mounts were not armored. Fired at max range, the sharp arrows could even pierce through light armor.