Translated by Gamer @ endlessfantasytranslations.com
“Zi Rou has obtained Lu Bu’s secret weapon!?” Liu Biao could not believe it. It was that easy? Originally, Liu Biao just wanted to pay for the release of Huang She, to appease the heart of his veteran general Huang Zu. He also hoped that Lu Bu would not sell the secret weapon to the Sun family. However, he somehow managed to obtain the weapon instead.
His happiness came suddenly! Liu Biao has been fighting Sun Ce for years. Even that rebel weakling Gan Ning was able to send 30,000 of the Jiangdong Navy into the river with this weapon! (Liu Biao did not recognize Gan Ning’s ability because Liu Biao is blind for talent.) On the other hand, he has tens of thousands of elites along with many veteran officers! He does not believe that he could not send Zhou Yu running back to Jiangdong! It is very rare for Liu Biao to be this energetic.
“Yes Milord, Zi Rou has obtained the ballistae and is on his way to Jingzhou!” Kuai Yue was also very happy. With this weapon, there is no longer a need to fear Jiangdong. He was also very happy and proud of his brother’s achievement
“Hahaha Yi Du (courtesy), you and Zi Rou are like my left and right arms! When Zi Rou returns, there will be a great reward!” The Kuai brothers were Liu Biao’s 2 most important men. The younger brother Kuai Liang was good in business while the elder brother Kuai Yue was good in military tactics. Liu Biao is only able to suppress Jingzhou because of them.
(TN: Wikipedia told me Kuai Liang is the older one that does military tactics but that doesn’t matter here.)
Liu Biao should not be underestimated. Even if he is like a sick cat right now, his army was powerful. He was graceful and attracted recruits from afar. He preserves himself with the soldiers. Liu Biao’s Army was also the one that killed Sun Jian.
These were Liu Biao’s achievement but Liu Biao grew old and lost interest in conquering the lands. After this year, Liu Biao would be 58 years old. During that era, being 30 years old is already considered an old man. He is 10 years younger than Tao Qian, and older than Cao Cao by 13 years.
It could be said that Liu Biao was born at the wrong time.
“Milord. The Lu Bu’s Army did not sell the ballistae to just us!” Cai Mao was standing at the side looking unhappy. The Kuai family and the Cai family are both noble families from Jingzhou. They even had marriage dealing with each other. However, Cai Mao did not like to see the Kuai brothers being praised. Cai Mao is Liu Biao’s brother-in-law. Although the Cai family was not inferior to the Kuai family, Liu Biao was kinder to the Kuai family and treated them better.
Cai Mao also knew that this was Liu Biao’s way to keep the powers in balance. It was his way of keeping the peace in Jingzhou. Liu Biao and Cai Mao’s sister Cai Shi also have a son called Liu Cong. This child also received the affection of Liu Biao.
When Liu Biao passes away, there is a possibility that he will give the rule to Liu Cong. It is precisely because of this that Liu Biao favors the Kuai family more. That way, the Cai family would not have a chance to take over the kingdom as the Kuai family would keep them in check.
“Lu Bu has sold the blueprints of the ballistae to Jiangdong’s Sun Ce!” Cai Mao’s intelligence system was not weak and he managed to obtain this information. “Jiangdong’s Zhang Zhao has managed to obtain the blueprints before Zi Rou arrived!” Cai Mao said as he looked at Kuai Yue. The meaning of his words was although Kuai Zi Rou managed to obtain the ballistae, he did not manage to prevent others from obtaining it first.
“General Cai Mao! If you say it like that, why did you not volunteer to go yourself?” Kuai Yue also became furious and shouted. No one else was willing to go as Lu Bu’s reputation was terrible. There were many messengers who died at his hands. The latest person to die was Sun Ce’s Army’s Chen Rui. They were also not confidant of convincing Lu Bu. Only his younger brother Kuai Liang volunteered to go. At that time, he had blamed his younger brother for volunteering but never expected his brother to actually succeed. It was a pleasant surprise to him. However, Cai Mao had to stand up and say something sarcastic which made Kuai Yue angry.
“Don’t be like that Yi Du. I, Cai Mao, am only stating facts. I am also a naval commander and I am not suitable for lip service. This is why, Zi Rou is the most suitable candidate!” Cai Mao replied to Kuai Yue.
Kuai Yue also smiled coldly. You cannot do lip service? The lord has given you privilege, military power, and other things. Where was the part that shows that you are bad at lip service.
“Enough. No need to argue.” Liu Biao stood up. He was still very happy and hoped that the Kuai and Cai families would stop bickering. If the two families were united, he would have more things to worry about like the succession rights. Although he was happy, he pretended and put on a sad face. Acting was also a skill!
“Yidu, De Gui, both of you are Jingzhou’s great talent. It is because of you two that Jingzhou is peaceful but now you all quarrel until like this!” Liu Biao acted out.
“Milord, Yue is wrong!” Kuai Yue was the first to say it out. “I should not have gotten angry at General Cai Mao!”
“Milord, Cai Mao is wrong!” Cai Mao also apologized and knelt down. “I should not have question the abilities of Zi Rou!”
“Isn’t this good! The two of you should join hands and advance together!” Liu Biao nodded his head. “Good! Now that we have the ballistae weapon, we can settle our debts with that little Sun Ce!”
Although Lu Bu gave Jiangdong the blueprint, Jingzhou was given 23 of the actual thing. Now, each day that pass, the situation would also change greatly.
“Pass on my military orders! It is time for Huang Zu to attack Jiangxia! Remember! I want Official Zhou’s head!” Liu Biao’s eyes flashed as if full of fighting spirit. His appearance surprised Kuai Yue and Cai Mao for a moment. Is this truly the old and dying Liu Biao Jingsheng!?
At the time that Liu Biao entered Jingzhou with just a single horse, Kuai Yue was still a boy. Nevertheless, Kuai Yue could remember Liu Biao’s appearance from back. At that time, Kuai Yue was very impressed and believed that Liu Biao is his lord. Liu Biao did not disappoint him when Liu Biao managed to conquer the whole of Jingzhou with the help of the Kuai family. After capturing Jingzhou, he should have ignored Jiangdong and captured Yizhou. However, Liu Biao has given up. Kuai Yue is also going to give up after this battle! This is because Kuai Yue has also grown from a youngster into a middle-aged man.
Now Kuai Yue has seen this appearance of Liu Biao again. He rubbed his eyes as he did not believe it.
“De Gui, go down there and give your assistance! I will leave the rest to you! I am tired and will sleep first!” Liu Biao finished his command and sat back down. (TN: Go to bed!)
*Sigh* Kuai Yue sighed in his heart. His lord is already old! If he were younger, Jingzhou would not be in this condition. Kuai Yue felt a little bit sentimental. Although Liu Biao was strong, he was always the one being bullied. The other warlords would attack him but he would not attack them. He could defeat Sun Jian, the man who made Dong Zhuo lose sleep. He could also occupy Jingzhou for decades and had hundreds of thousands of soldiers.
“De Gui shall leave!” “Yi Dui shall leave!” The two men cupped their fists and left the hall.
After leaving the hall, the two men who should have been incompatible suddenly shared a laugh.
“Yi Du! Mao congratulates you and Zi Rou for his meritorious contributions!”
“No, no. De Gui give too much praise. Zi Rou still has much learn and would still need your help!” Their words were really friendly and sincere without any tone or hint of sarcasm. These two were real friends!
Kuai Yue and Cai Mao were actually childhood friends who were also distant relatives. As a family, how could they insult each other? They only pretended to hate each other in front of Liu Biao. Performance acts was not something only Liu Biao could do! They acted in front of Liu Biao to show him the ‘balance’. They had different political opinions but in reality, they were allies. Jingzhou could change their officials but in the end, the Cai family and the Kuai family were one family.
“What do you think about Milord?” Kuai Yue wanted to ask if Cai Mao has also felt that long-lost feeling.
“Yes. I saw it as well!” Cai Mao also nodded his head. Cai Mao also saw the same scene as Kuai Yue. He initially thought his eyes were playing tricks on him. It was the same feeling Liu Biao gave off when he conquered Jingzhou. It was that kind of courage. “Even then, what about it! Milord is old! Old!” Cai Mao shook his head. Liu Biao also seemed to know that his time was running out and did not want to take unnecessary risks. He was only willing to guard Jingzhou until the end.
*Sigh* Kuai Yue sighed again. “What about now? Milord’s orders.” Although Liu Biao has already given the command, it was Cai Mao’s decision as to whether he should execute it.
“Of course I am going!” Cai Mao nodded heavily. “Don’t you think that Sun Ce has gone over the line?” Although the Jiangdong Navy has always fought with the Jingzhou Navy, it always happened outside of Jiangxia. Both sides have their victories and defeats. This was also one of Kuai Yue and Cai Mao’s stratagem. The threat of the Jiangdong navy would make Liu Biao throw most of the tax money into the navy. This is why Jingzhou Liu Biao’s Army have hundreds of thousands of navy troops but only one or two thousand land troops. Now, Jiangdong has conquered half of Jiangxia and is starting to intrude on their profits.
Now that Sun Ce has the ballistae, he would naturally go after Liu Biao, and also the Kuai and Cai family. Better off attacking Sun Ce first! Now Jingzhou also has the ballistae on top of the towered ships. If this is not the time to attack Jiangdong, there would never be another better chance!
“If we continue to wait for Jiangdong, we will never obtain that Zhou’s head!” Kuai Yue also nodded. As their families are united, Cai Mao’s actions would also be to Kuai Yue’s benefit.
“Don’t worry!” The two men parted. Cai Mao went to the naval camp and Kuai Yue went back to the mansion. Jiangxia is going to war. Kuai Yue would need to prepare provisions for the soldiers and try to copy the ballistae.
“The battle at Wan Cheng is over.” Cao Cao said as he looked at the documents. He was currently at Guandu and is having a confrontation with Yuan Shao but he had some free time. He was facing his childhood friend from across the river and both sides were ready to mobilize their army.
Cao Cao who was watching the battlefield suddenly got the news that the battle at Wan Cheng is over. He felt that the news was wrong. Sun Ce attacked with 100,000 soldiers while Lu Bu would only have 50,000 soldiers at most. Cao Cao has also seen Lujiang, Wan Cheng before. It was a very big city with large walls and has a moat. When Sun Ce attacked Lu Kang at Wan Cheng, he took 2 full years to finally capture Wan Cheng. Even if it was only for 6 months, Cao Cao would be celebrating as there is nothing more entertaining than watching 2 enemies fight each other. How long has it been? One month? One and a half months? Sun Ce even fled back with only 5,000 soldiers!
“The Lu Bu’s Army has become strong!” Cao Cao held the information and whispered. Cao Cao was truly scared. He was scared like when Dong Zhuo was scared of Sun Jian. Otherwise he would have talked about making an alliance with Lu Bu in Xiapi. Originally, he thought that chasing Lu Bu out of Xuzhou would make Lu Bu like a homeless dog. He never expected Lu Bu to capture Lujiang so quickly and also defeated Sun Ce’s Army of 100,000. Even if Sun Ce was not used to land battles, the Lu Bu’s Army were merely remnants of the army. Gongtai! Is this your work!? Now Cao Cao was thing if it was Chen Gong’s stratagem that destroyed the Sun Ce’s Army as it was possible for a good stratagem to completely destroy an army. For example, Zhao Kuo who only used his strategies on theory, he proposed a stratagem of controlling a few hundred thousand soldiers and the commander changed. It made the king of Zhao think that Zhao Kuo was a good strategist and gave him soldiers to fight the Qin Army. The final result was a long war and 200,000 of the Zhao Kingdom’s soldiers perished.
Another example was Xu You selling off Yuan Shao. If it was not because of Xu You, Yuan Shao would not have been defeated so badly. Cao Cao also had an example of his own when his army of 800,000 was destroyed at Chibi by Zhuge Liang and Zhou Yu’s fire attack.
This is the frightening part of the advisors. One word could mean the life and death of the military or even the country!
“Milord!” Cao Cao was in deep thought when a scribe came to him. The thin scribe looks very weak but had very good eyes. While other scribes had a book in their hand, this scribe was holding a wine gourd. The scribe’s name was Guo Jia!
“What is it? Is Fengxiao running out of wine and looked for me to negotiate?” Guo Jia was not conventional which not only put Cao Cao’s heart at ease but also to his appreciation. This is because talented people are more arrogant. Guo Jia’s arrogance put Cao Cao’s mind at ease as it is because Guo Jia has high IQ. Controlling such a person too much would not be good.
For example, Jia Xu was a poisonous character who places himself as a priority. His strategems were also poisonous and would cause the death of tens of thousands people. Li Jue and Guo Si who used Jia Xu’s stratagem almost got rid of Lu Bu.
A person like this should be having wonderful strategems in the Cao Cao’s Army. However, Jia Xu knows that Cao Cao is paranoid. If Jia Xu had proposed a stratagem, he would not be far from death. This is because Jia Xu does not have backup plans. He was not like Guo Jia who was unconventional. If Jia Xu wanted to be great he must first be less competent so that Cao Cao would allow him to guide the future generations.
This is one of the reasons Jia Xu did not talk much when he joined Cao Cao’s Army.
Cao Cao was really afraid as Jia Xu was too clever. If Cao Chong was alive, he could still suppress him. However, Cao Chong is dead. Therefore, Cao Cao did not hesitate to kill the prodigy.
(TN: Author is saying that Jia Xu was ‘killed’ by Cao Cao as I confirmed from the following sentences but Wikipedia told me otherwise. I am just going to assume this is in an ‘Alternate History even without Liu Mang’ kind of world and stop questioning every inconsistencies with the original book.)
There was also Sima Yi who was a very suspicious person and was also the only person who could make Zhuge Liang have a heartache. Cao Cao has seen this and wanted to kill him. However, Sima Yi, learning from Jia Xu’s mistakes, hid his claws. Slowly, Cao Cao relaxed his guard. After that, the Sima family was able to capture the Cao family’s rule.
On the other hand, Guo Jia made Cao Cao very relaxed. He was an unconventional person that many people will not tolerate. The noble families treated Guo Jia with respect on the surface but did not truly look at him. This is because, in their eyes, Guo Jia was a wasteful person. Another reason was because Guo Jia was a poor scholar. He is not a noble. Even if had suspicious behavior, it was unlikely to succeed. The noble families would not tolerate people like him. This is one of the reasons Cao Cao was able to treat him as a friend. They joke with each other without any misgivings! Guo Jia even laughed at Cao Cao who was afraid of his wife! Guo Jia who was just a common official and was ‘disputing’ with the lord who usually be the first to be beheaded! Cao Cao did not care. He even took Guo Jia to brothels and other such places and then told Guo Jia’s wife. The one with bad luck in the end was Guo Jia!
(TN: Cao Cao. That is so evil…)
Guo Jia really loves wine but drinking in the military is a taboo. The only person allowed to drink wine was Cao Cao. Every time Guo Jia finished his wine, he would look for Cao Cao to ask for more. These past few days, there were no progress in their confrontation with Yuan Shao. Now, Guo Jia appeared again so Cao Cao thought that he came for more wine.
“I still have half a gourd!” Guo Jia shook his head and also shook to gourd to show much wine there is left.
“In that case, why are you here in the middle of the night? Or is it that you want to go back to Xu Du to see your wife?” Cao Cao teased.
“I wouldn’t dare!” Guo Jia smiled wryly and shook his head. Although he was the one in service to Cao Cao, all of his salary was paid to his wife. Since Cao Cao’s previous ‘complaint’ many days ago, Guo Jia has not seen money at all.
“Hahaha!” Cao Cao laughed. The high tension accumulated from the long confrontation with the Yuan Shao’s Army was swept away. “Come, let’s get to business!” Cao Cao also said seriously. He knew that Guo Jia appearing at this hour would mean that there is something important to discuss.
“Yes!” Guo Jia also became serious. “Did Milord receive that report yet?”
“The report about the battle at Wan Cheng?” Cao Cao lifted the documents and replied. “I am reading it now! The Jiangdong’s Little Conqueror was defeated by the Bingzhou’s fierce tiger.” Sun Ce may have met his match. The little tiger may be very fierce but when he met a large tiger, his teeth and claws were just not enough.
“In that case, have you read the section about the naval battles?” Guo Jia asked. Guo Jia was also in charge of look through the information.
“Naval battle?” Cao Cao frowned and looked back at the report. “At the naval camp of Wan Cheng, 30,000 of the Jiangdong Army was lured out by 7,000 of the Lu Bu’s Army and were annihilated!
Annihilated!? Cao Cao’s eyes widened. The 30,000 soldiers were annihilated by 7,000!? What kind of situation is that? Is the report false? No. It clearly said that 30,000 army was annihilated.
“Milord, don’t doubt it any longer. That 30,000 Jiangdong Army is gone.” Guo Jia waited for Cao Cao to make his own conclusion. Although he was more experienced, he also wants Cao Cao to find the important information by himself.
Cao Cao continued to read the report. It is said that the 7,000 Lu Bu’s Army was led by Gan Ning. “Gan Ning!? So strong!?” Cao Cao was a bit puzzled and wondered what kind of person this Gan Ning was. To be able to defeat 30,000 with only 7,000! That is nearly 5 times the difference in numbers! It is more likely if it was cavalry defeating infantries! Cao Cao also remembered that the Lu Bu’s Army had no navy. Even if Lu Bu had navies from Xuzhou, the Xuzhou navy is inferior even compared to Cao Cao’s navy. Lu Bu was also not interested in navies.
“Gan Ning, Gan Xingba, gathered troops in his youths. Uses a bow and commits crimes such as robbing ships. Wears a small bell and has magnificent clothing. He is also known as Jin Fan Zai. The local sailors know that when there is a bell ringing at the river, it means that the Gan Ning is here. Was captured and joined Liu Biao’s Army but was not placed in an important position by Liu Biao or Huang Zu. Killed Ling Tong’s father, Ling Cao and became sworn enemies with Ling Tong. Surrendered together with Su Fei and Huang Zhong after Lu Bu attacked Xuzhou!” Guo Jia gave the detailed information.
“This is truly a great talent!” Cao Cao really knows that this person is a talented naval officer as he could fight in such a large battle. Cao Cao envied Lu Bu for obtaining another talented general. If he was the one who had Gan Ning, he would immediately give his 50,000 naval soldiers to Gan Ning.
“Gan Ning is indeed a talented person but Milord forgets. The Jiangdong general was also a talented person called Jiang Qin. Also, the 30,000 soldiers were all annihilated by Gan Ning who only had 7,000 soldiers!” Guo Jia did not mention Lu Su. It is not that Lu Su was not stated in the report but rather, it was Lu Su’s debut in the world.
“Jiang Qin!?” The general stated in the report was Jiang Qin who was one of Sun Ce’s talented naval general. He and his brother Zhou Tai were tyrants on the Yangtze River. Even if Jiang Qin was weaker than Gan Ning, it is impossible for them to lose so badly. Although strong, Gan Ning could not be so ridiculously strong to this extent.
“Fengxiao. Did you obtain some kind of information?” Cao Cao did not want to guess anymore because he felt a sense of crisis!
“That’s right.” Guo Jia did not beat around the bush. “This is because the Lu Bu’s Army have a weapon that can shoot giant arrows from hundreds of paces away. These arrows could pierce through the towered ships!”
“Weapon? Can shoot giant arrows from several hundred paces away? Can pierce through towered ships?” Cao Cao imagined the tool in his mind. “Fengxiao, are you talking about a giant crossbow!?” Cao Cao was not a person without knowledge. He has seen the ballistae at the borders of the cities. These weapon can indeed shoot very far away and has strong piercing power.
(Chuang Nu: Bed crossbow which I called ballista because it looked like one. And Ju Nu: Giant crossbow which was what it is. A giant crossbow that was not quite a ballista yet.)
“Giant crossbow?” Guo Jia thought for a moment. “Should not be right. This weapon can shoot rapidly. As a result, the 30,000 Army could only face destruction.”
Cao Cao was stunned. A giant bow that can shoot rapidly. A normal one would need more than 20 people to pull the bowstring. It takes a very long time just to shoot one arrow and was very laborious. Now Guo Jia told him that this thing could shoot rapidly. “Impossible! Impossible! Feng Xiao! I have seen the giant crossbow before. It absolutely could not shoot rapidly!”
“Is that so!?” Guo Jia was also a bit uncertain. If the Lu Bu’s Army had a weapon like this, Xuzhou would not have fallen so easily. They just need to place a few dozen of these weapon on top of the castle and Cao Cao would receive heavy casualties. Perhaps the information was wrong?
As the two men thought about this issue, a guard barged into the tent.
“Didn’t I say that we are not to be disturbed!?” Cao Cao was angry. His discussion with Guo Jia was interrupted and his eyes glint murderously.
“Milord! Urgent message!” The guard panicked and quickly knelt. Old Cao already felt like killing. He had a brother-in-arms that saw Cao Cao sleeping. As the friend wanted to cover Cao Cao with a blanket, he was killed. This is because Cao Cao woke up from a good dream. The guard did not want to die like this and quickly knelty down as he handed out the letter.
“Urgent message!” Cao Cao refused to deal with the guard and picked up the letter. After he read the letter, his expression changed.