“Liu Mang?!” In Xiapi’s Province Governor's Mansion, Cao Cao was muttering a name. From Lu Bu’s escape to Xiahou De’s banner and finally the stratagem of sowing dissension, it appear that this man’s shadow was everywhere!
“Han imperial clansman?!” Cao Cao was dumbfounded, another Han imperial clansman?!
[TL: direct translation, relative to the Han Dynasty’s clan. Using imperial clansman as opposed to royal clansman because china is an empire during this period, not king or queens.]
This man really got old Cao good! Cao Cao almost even lost his life! He only knew of such a person from the mouth of captured Lu Bu soldiers.
“A capable individual! A great talent!” Cao Cao sighed deeply. “Alas, this talent does not work for me! Fengxiao, say, do you think that I could recruit this Liu Mang?!” Cao Cao’s success wasn’t accidental, it was significantly because of his approach toward people of great talent!
[TL: Fengxiao is Guo Jia’s courtesy name. Guo Jia is one of Cao Cao’s main advisors, he’s the dude who told him to flood Xiapi.]
“My lord, you’re overthinking!” Seated below Cao Cao was a prodigal looking scholar. This man had not once stopped when he started drinking. Even when Cao Cao inquires him about things, he did not stand up. Yes, this man have a haughty attitude, but it was precisely because of this haughty attitude that that gave birth to the reputation of this sly genius, Guo Jia, Guo Fengxiao.
“Not mentioning that this man’s scheme almost cost you your life, let’s just think about general Xiahou Yuan who was heavily injured by Lu Bu, do you think general Xiahou Dun would allow such a man to join us?!” Xiahou Yuan almost died in the hands of Lu Bu. Even though he survived, his injuries requires at least half a year to heal! The animosity was certainly going to be there!
“Regarding Yuanran and Miaocai, I could get things flowing!” Cao Cao still did not give up. For his talented individuals, for his great ambitions, what harm is there for him to lower himself?!
“Hehe, my lord oh lord, I know of your talent loving heart but you still need to consider who the talent is!” Guo Jia smiled wryly at his lord and shook his head. “It was reported that this man is called Liu Mang and is a Han imperial clansman. Say, do you think that those Han imperial clansmen would be interested in Prime Minister Cao? Would they really be willing to work for you?!”
“That’s impossible! Isn’t Liu Bei also a Han imperial clansman?! He’s even the emperor’s imperial uncle! There’s also Liu Ye, Liu Ziyang! Are they not subordinates of I, Cao Cao?!” said Cao Cao, fully pleased with his accomplishments.
[TL: Ziyang is Liu Ye’s courtesy name. He’s an advisor to Cao Cao.]
“Liu Bei?!” Guo Jia sneered. “He is not a man who is contented with his roots. Lord, it is better to remove this man as soon as possible!” Guo Jia, Xun Yu and the other advisors regarded Liu Bei as the biggest thorn in the current Cao army!
Guo Jia understand that Liu Bei grew up in a poor family, having lost his father when he was still a child. To support themselves, Liu Bei and his mother sold shoes and straw-woven mats - a very difficult livelihood. On the southeast corner of Liu Bei’s house, there was a mulberry tree of fifty foot tall. From afar, the tree looked like a canopy of a chariot. All the passersby felt that this tree was not something from the earthly world and believed that there will certainly be a nobleman originating from this house. In his childhood, Liu Bei played underneath the tree with other kids and pointed at the mulberry tree and said “In the future, I will certainly ride a feathered canopy chariot like this one!”
Imperial canopy! This was something only the emperor was qualified to sit underneath. But, a straw mat weaver dared to speak of his wishes to sit underneath such a canopy - one could tell that this person’s ambition was certainly not small!
Sure enough, although this big eared Liu did not show any ambitions from the Yellow Turban Rebellion, he have been constantly calling himself a Han royal clansman and was even finally recognized as one by Emperor Xian of Han!
This caused Guo Jia to be on extra alert against Liu Bei! Having ambitions was not scary, what’s scary was having great ambitions! Had Liu Bei been alone, Guo Jia would still not be so alert, but that was not the case. The big eared Liu had three brothers! Neither Guan Yu nor Zhang Fei are regular men. Instead, they exuded the qualities of great generals!
Guo Jia have always told Cao Cao to separate the three brothers, to divide and conquer. However, every single time, he was blocked by this big eared Liu. Say, being a subordinate, if you really are loyal, then why must you hide your generals? Perhaps you are trying to rely on them on a rebellion?!
“Fengxiao ah, although Xuande is unbearable, it is not not the time to get rid of him!” Cao Cao wasn’t reluctant on killing Liu Bei. Afterall he was an overly suspecting man who was willing to wrongly kill three thousand than to let one escape!
But Cao Cao wanted Liu Bei’s Zhang Fei and Guan Yu! Especially Guan Yu! Outstand martial abilities, familiar with the arts of war and with the spirit of loyalty and self sacrifice, he was certainly a valiant general!
Should he kill Liu Bei right away, then in this lifetime he could forget about trying to rein such a valiant general!
“Sigh!” Guo Jia too knew what his lord was thinking about! The desire for a good general and the difficulty of removing a major enemy!
“As for Liu Ye, Liu Ziyang? Hehe, if it wasn’t for me, my lord, would you really dare use him?!” Although Liu Ye was very talented, as talented as Guo Jia, Cao Cao never really trusted him!
Xu Shao of Runan have once said ‘Liu Ye, Liu Ziyang, have a talent in assisting the building of an era.' According to Cao Cao’s love for talent, he should’ve had Liu Ye as a confidant. However, he never had. Instead, he gave Liu Ye an official position as the Assistant to the Excellency of Works. What does the Assistant of Excellency of Works do? He was in charge of provisions! Had he been in charge of the army provisions, then the position was pretty good, enough to not bring shame as a descendant of Liu Bang! Alas, he wasn’t in charge of the army provisions. Instead, he was in charge of the provisions in the Excellency of Work’s Mansion. In other words, he was the chief housekeeper!
[TL: 司空倉曹掾 : Assistant to the Excellency of Works. Cao Cao was the Excellency of Works(司空). 倉曹 according to the novel was in charge of the provisions. So basically dude’s position is the aide to Cao Cao but instead Cao Cao sent him to his home and turned him into a butler because he wasn’t willing to use someone he didn’t trust.]
To turn such a talented man into a housekeeper, one could tell how much Cao Cao values Liu Ye!
“Fengxiao oh Fengxiao, I cannot hide anything from you!” Cao Cao smiled wryly.
“How’s the army preparations going? For Lu Bu to escape this time is certainly troublesome!” Regarding soliciting Liu Mang, Cao Cao had already given up. He now set his focus on the Lu Bu army!
“There is no need for panic, my lord! The tiger who just lost his home is currently grieving! Should we chase after him now, certainly we would experience great casualties!” said Guo Jia after drinking some wine.
“Then could it be that we are not to chase and allow Lu Bu to leave?!” Cao Cao did not want to let Lu Bu go for that man left too deep of an impression on him! In Dong Zhou’s residence and then again underneath the White Gate Tower, a single man’s might was like that of gods and devils!
“Having lost half of Xiapi, Lu Bu have lost half of Xu Province! Of his seventy thousand troops, only a few thousand managed to break out! Thus, the only thing he could do right now is to find an opportunity to make a comeback, finding a way to replenish his troops!” Guo Jia spoke frankly with assurance. “Lu Bu was widely known for his despotic rule.The Xu Province borders Qing, Yang, Yu and Yan Provinces. As for our Yan Province, he certainly would not dare come toward it! Although Lu Bu came from the Yuan Shao’s region to our Yan Province and then the Xu Province, the Yuan clan held no goodwill toward Lu Bu! Thus, Yuan Tan of Qing Province will certainly not take him in! Yang Province? Yuan Shu himself is in trouble, even more impossible! As for Yu Province, say, do you think he could go there?!”
[TL: Lu Bu cannot go toward Yu Province either because Liu Bei is in charge of it.]
“Then where would Lu Bu go?!” Cao Cao asked.
“He’s going nowhere! He’s still in Xu Province!” As expected from the genius Guo Jia, he guessed the whereabouts of Lu Bu right away. “Langye! In Langye was one of Lu Bu’s eight superior general Zang Ba and his Mount Tai bandits!”
“Mere Mount Tai bandits, how could they possibly accomplish anything?!” Cao Cao laughed. Having fought the Yellow Turban Bandits, how could he possibly be afraid of some Mount Tai bandits?!
“My lord, you shouldn’t underestimate this man named Zang Ba!” said Guo Jia. “As for the subordinates of Lu Bu, if you seek a scholars, then it’s Chen Gong, if you seek a general, then it’s this Zang Ba!”
“Oh?!” said Cao Cao, puzzled. “How is he compared to Zhang Liao or Gao Shun?!”
“Not inferior in any aspect!” said Guo Jia. Although this Zang Ba’s wasn’t as famous as Gao Shun or Zhang Liao, he was someone who was a boss! The Mount Tai bandits numbered numerous, crooks mixed with honest folk, but was completely obedient under Zang Ba’s administration! One could tell how talented this Zang Ba was just from that!
Training an army? Unifying the soldiers? Maybe Zang Ba wasn’t at the level of Gao Shun or Zhang Liao. However, unifying the generals, this Zang Ba was a lot better than Gao Shun and Zhang Liao!
“Are you saying that if Lu Bu obtains the Mount Tai bandits, then it’s like giving wings to a tiger?! We have only just obtained this Xu Province… could it be that we are to battle again?!” Cao Cao grew anxious. Lu Bu was a fierce tiger and it would appear that this Zang Ba wasn’t someone to be taken lightly!
Once these two get together, then old Cao’s Xu Province will be in trouble.
“Worry not, my lord!” Guo Jia drank another cup. His face was already bright red. Although Cao Cao was anxious like a fiery flame, Guo Jia was calm like a silk thread!
“From Xiapi to Lanye, the distance is at least three hundred li! Even under forced march, the soldiers under Xiahou Yuan would still require three days to get there! Currently, Lu Bu is with kids and women. Taking into consideration of their health, Lu Bu is certainly going to delay his speed. Thus, it will take them at least three to five days to get there! And although Lu Bu’s breakthrough was a success, he had a fatal flaw!” having said to this point, Guo Jia stopped because the wine bottle ran out of wine.
[TL: remember li is a chinese mile that’s 500meters and ⅓ of an american mile.]
“Men! Supply Guo Jia with more wine!” Guo Jia caused Cao Cao to lose his appetite. He even think that the soldier bringing up the wine was too slow and decided to pour Guo Jia more wine himself.
“In Lu Bu’s break through, apart from the family and soldiers, he have overlooked his army provisions!” Guo Jia came to the main point.
“Preceding the advance of the army, the advance of provisions!” said Guo Jia with a smile. “Although three to five days is not a long period of time, it is also not a short period of time! Although one could not stave to death in that period of time, surely it will starve one enough to lose consciousness! My lord, you only have to dispatch the Ferocious Riders and have them follow behind the Lu Bu army slowly, after three to five days, when the Lu Bu army is about to faint with blurred vision from hunger is the time to capture Lu Bu!”
After hearing Guo Jia’s words, Cao Cao was full of delight. However, he thought of something being wrong and hesitated! “If Lu Bu harden his heart and conduct a forced march? Then won’t he be able to reach Langye and Zang Ba?!”
“Rest assured, my lord! The first disposition of troops was already sent by someone else for me!” Guo Jia drank a cup of wine that was poured by Cao Cao. He didn’t feel that he couldn’t bear the weight at all.
“Chen Deng of Guangling!” From Guo Jia’s mouth was the name of a man! Chen Deng of Guangling was even more anxious than Cao Cao! Losing Xu Province, half of it was because of their Chen family selling out Lu Bu! Thus, the first thing Lu Bu does after getting away might not be bothering Cao Cao, but this Chen family was already on Lu Bu’s blacklist!
Cao Cao’s family was big and widespread. There’s also the protection of guards and generals! But the Chen family did not have that! Should Lu Bu decide to launch a surprise attack, ending the Chen family and their Guangling. Then the Chen family really might be extinguished from history in the Latter Han Dynasty!