Liu Bei had really gained a big advantage. He had a total of fifty thousand soldiers. Aside from five thousand navy, he had forty-five thousand soldiers. Ten thousand soldiers were left behind at Runan. He was afraid that Cao Ren who was left behind by Cao Cao would strike him from the back. The remaining thirty-five thousand people were all sent out. The warriors were Zhang Fei, Chen Dao and Liu Pi. Although Liu Pi was weak in comparison, he was still a second class general. Zhang Fei and Chen Dao were both first class generals.
All the advisors besides Sun Gan was also taken by Liu Bei. Jian Yong was responsible for the transport of provisions. Pang Tong was the military advisor. Both of them cooperated for a splendid formation.
“Liu Bei has dispatched his soldiers?” Xu Shu learned about this information and knitted his eyebrows. Not only did Zhang Xiu’s banner appeared around Guangzhou. Even Liu Bei’s soldiers have appeared. On top of that, the number of intelligence officers sacrificed for this information showed that Liu Bei brough several tens of thousands of soldiers this time.
This is terrible. At Shouchun, Xu Shu only has fifty thousand people. However, these fifty thousand people cannot do field operations. These are soldiers recruited after the 1.2 million people arrived. Defending the city was still possible but they were only recruits for field operations. On top of that, Shouchun does not have a lot of weapons or armor. It was already a lot for half of them to be wearing the navy soldier’s armor.
It would now be difficult as Liu Bei and Zhang Xiu has cooperated. Zhang Xiu has cavalries. Although he could wreak havoc for a while, he cannot siege if they simply closed the gates. However, it was different now that Liu Bei had brought foot soldiers. It was enough to plunder the city.
“Seems as though Marquis wen is requesting reinforcements.” Xu Shu commanded a soldier. Right now, he could only ask for reinforcements. However, he was not completely helpless. “Have Zhang Rui and Deng Yi take two twenty thousand soldiers each to guard Hefei and Lujiang. Tell them to focus on defense. They must not go out and fight!”
“Take twenty thousand soldiers each?” The general at the side could not understand. “Military advisor. What about you?” Shouchun only had fifty thousand soldiers. If they each took twenty thousand soldiers, Shouchun would only be left with ten thousand soldiers. How could Shouchun be protected?
“Haha. I do not need to worry!” Xu Shu smiled. If Lujiang and Hefei were captured, Shouchun would become exposed and dangerous to defend. A battle need not be fought. A direct siege would be enough to pin down and kill Xu Shu. After all, there is a shortage of forage in Shouchun. However, if Hefei and Lujiang was not captured, Liu Bei would not dare to enter Shouchun’s hinterland. This is because Liu Bei and Zhang Xiu’s supplies would be exposed to the Lu Bu’s Army. There are also no provisions at Shouchun to supplement Liu Bei and Zhang Xiu. If they wanted military rations, they would need to bring their own food. It would not be safe for the transport of supplies if they could not capture Lujiang and Hefei.
He believed that Marquis Wen would not be indifferent to Shouchun. Once there is a problem with Liu Bei and Zhang Xiu’s supplies, they would have no choice but to retreat.
Xu Shu had kept ten thousand soldiers as a precaution. Cavalries are very fast. If Zhang Xiu had really sent the cavalry to raid the city, Xu Shu would need some soldiers.
Ten thousand soldiers would not be enough to defend the city. However, there was a million of common people in it. It would be enough to use them to guard the city.
Zhang Xiu’s Xiliang armored cavalry and Liu Mang’s forty thousand soldiers would meet at Guangzhou. Liu Bei would be delivering supplies from the back.
“Left General. Lord Xuande. What is the purpose of your arrival?” Although Zhang Xiu and Liu Bei had dealings with each other, it has only been through letters. They had never met face to face before. This time, both sides had personally took out their armies to do battle.
“General Zhang. I came here this time to help the general seek justice. Originally, that sixteen thousand gold was a gift for the general, in admiration of general fighting back against Traitor Cao. Who would have expected it to be stolen by that Slave of Three Surnames. General has sent a messenger to contact him but he insulted you and killed the messenger. This one is prepared to help general to seek justice.” Liu Bei spoke righteously as though he was a saint wanting to help Zhang Xiu obtain justice.
“Seek justice?” Zhang Xiu was not a fool. He secretly sneered when he heard Liu Bei’s words. “If this is the case, Left General, please go back! Although weak, I am able to obtain justice on my own. I will not bother the Left General!”
“This is…!” Liu Bei and Zhang Xiu acted politely. However, Zhang Xiu did not accept, causing Liu Bei’s expression to change, looking without appreciation.
“Zhang Xiu. How dare you speak to my brother like that!” Zhang Fei who was at the side looked dissatisfied. He took his Serpent Blade and pointed it at Zhang Xiu.
“Who dares to hurt Milord!” By Zhang Xiu’s side was a valiant general that looked as powerful as Zhang Fei. He held a pair of iron hammers with formidable strength. He knocked it together, giving out a buzzing sound. The sound proved that the hammers were not hollow but solid. Each hammer weigh no less than one hundred pounds.
“Hu Che Er. Move aside. Otherwise, don’t blame Zhang Fei’s Serpent Blade for being unable to recognize people!” The man Zhang Fei saw was Hu Che Er, one of Zhang Xiu’s subordinate that has accompanied him drinking. The people that would easily make friends are the people with a common interest. Both Zhang Fei and Hu Che Er loved drinking. When two drinkers meet, it would become difficult to separate.
“Black Face Zhang! You are the one that should step aside. If you disrespect Milord anymore, do not blame me for feeding you the hammer!” Hu Che Er was not Han. He was Qiang. He had followed Zhang Xiu from an early age. It could be said that Zhang Xiu was as much as his brother when compared to Zhang Fei and Liu Bei. He had good opinion of Zhang Fei and the two became friends after drinking. But friends are nothing in front of his lord. After all, he had already killed one of his old friend, Dian Wei.
As Zhang Fei and Hu Che Er confronted each other, Liu Bei and Zhang Xiu were also glaring at each other. The smell of hostility was strong.
“Milord. General Zhang. Allow this Pang Tong to say something!” Pang Tong interrupted.
“There is no harm for Shi Yuan to speak.”
“There is no harm for you to speak.”
“General Zhang. Bright people do not speak secretive words. This time, our purpose here is the same as yours!” Pang Tong said.
“Oh? Is that so? Is the Left General also here to discuss about the sixteen thousand gold?” Zhang Xiu spoke with ridicule. It was understandable for Zhang Xiu. Before leaving for the expedition, he had spoken with Jia Xu. After killing Cao Cao’s son, Jia Xu does not speak unless asked by Zhang Xiu. Jia Xu was a lifesaver. He had also told Zhang Xiu that the sixteen thousand gold was taken by Liu Bei, not Lu Bu.
The gold was initially given to Zhang Xiu by Liu Bei. If Liu Bei took it back, it meant that Liu Bei did not give the gold at all. It is entirely an excuse to provoke a battle between Zhang Xiu and Lu Bu.
If it was before this, Zhang Xiu would become furious. Instead of sending soldiers to Lu Bu, he would go and question Liu Bei. However, that was before this. Now, Zhang Xiu did not settle his problems with Liu Bei and instead focused on Lu Bu. The first reason was that Lu Bu killed his messenger. At that time, Zhang Xiu had thought that Lu Bu was the one that robbed him. If Lu Bu had explained himself, Zhang Xiu may have felt more comfortable. However, Lu Bu killed the messenger, which insulted him. The second reason was the more important one. This one was because of Sun Ce’s stratagem. A few months ago, Sun Ce had given letters to Liu Bei, Liu Biao and also Zhang Xiu. With 1.2 million people living at Shouchun, the Lu Bu’s army would not be able to eat. If they were to block entry to Shouchun, they would face the bitterness of the world losing faith in them.
1.2 million people’s worth of food was not a small amount. In a simple manner, Lu Bu does not have enough provisions for 1.2 million people. Once there is not enough forage, not only will the people riot. Lu Bu would also have difficulty sending troops. Taking advantage to rob others was something Zhang Xiu knows how to do. After all, the Xiliang Cavalry’s first boss was that bandit Dong Zhuo.
Zhang Xiu would of course not let go of such a good opportunity to send troops.
Zhang Xiu’s earlier words meant that he had already seen through Liu Bei’s thoughts. Are you trying to use me? You better wait until I am senile first!
“General Zhang. Although Milord was unable to give you the sixteen thousand gold, do not forget that Milord has given you seventeen thousand gold in the past. Are there any deficits to generously dispatch troops for the General?” Pang Tong said indifferently.
It was true. Even when not counting the sixteen thousand gold, Liu Bei had already given Zhang Xiu plenty of things in the past. It was still more than ten thousand from the start. Liu Mang sold the ballista also for about that price. This was enough for Zhang Xiu to support tens of thousands of soldiers.
As Zhang Xiu understood this, Pang Tong brought it up.
“What does the Left General want?” Zhang Xiu was not a rude and unreasonable person. Even if Liu Bei was using him, he had solved one of Zhang Xiu’s big problems. So, Zhang Xiu had to return the favor.
“What does General Zhang think we want?” Pang Tong asked and did not immediately reply.
“You want all the money and food in Lujiang!” Zhang Xiu replied.
“The money and food in Lujiang?” Pang Tong froze for a moment.
“Is that right? You want my twenty thousand Xiliang Cavalry to deal with their five thousand wolves!” Zhang Xiu was a little unsatisfied. The Lu Bu’s Army had two places that were rich. One was Shouchun and the other was Lujiang. Zhang Xiu had already left for Shouchun so there was not much else he could think of.
“No. No. General Zhang has misunderstood out intentions! Milord intends on letting you have all the money and provisions. All the money from Lujiang and Shouchun would go to you!” Pang Tong looked very generous on the surface but he was feeling happy in his heart. Money and provisions? This Zhang Xiu is really short-sighted. What good is money and provisions in these chaotic times. Right now, the most important thing is land. We would only have greater development by occupying land. Even if all the money and provisions from Lujiang and Shouchun were to be given to Zhang Xiu, he only has one prefecture, no, one city. It does not have many common people. Almost all of it has turned to military bases. Having troops and no land only meant that all of his money would be spent.
Giving a man a fish would only feed him for a day. With land, there would be a population that could give a steady flow of provisions and tax money.
Another reason why Pang Tong was so generous was that the Lu Bu’s army may have money but definitely not much provisions. It would definitely be cleaned out. If Lu Bu’s Army had provisions, nobody would recklessly fight with him in the first place.
“Are those words true?” Zhang Xiu asked delightedly. He could not be blamed for being short sighted. In the first place, Zhang Xiu and Liu Bei have different thoughts. Zhang Xiu was just like Cai Mao from Jingzhou. They both do not seek hegemony or domination. Instead, they are waiting for a master to join. In other words, they are waiting to serve the powerful. Cao Cao and Yuan Shao are currently their targets.
The more soldiers they own and the more money they have, they would have more weight to their new masters.
“A written agreement can be made!” Pang Tong confirmed
“What do I need to do?” Zhang Xiu also calmed down. With such benefits, there would definitely be a price.
“General does not need to do anything! Several months had passed and Jiangdong’s Little Conqueror’s stratagem is gradually coming into effect. Lu Bu lacks provisions and would have problems sending out troops. However, we still should not take things lightly. That is why, if Lu Bu’s reinforcements arrive, General Zhang should obstruct them and also plunder. Allow us to be the one besieging the city.” Zhang Xiu’s Xiliang Cavalry has good mobility. They could obstruct Lu Bu’s Wolf Cavalry and even threaten Lujiang. With them attracting the attention of Lu Bu’s Army, all Liu Bei needed to do was strike at Yangzhou.
“Good. Xiu will swallow up the enemy and oppose the enemy cavalry for the Left General!” The twenty thousand Xiliang Cavalry was not for show. The reason why Cao Cao fancied Zhang Xiu was because of the Xiliang Cavalry. In the original history, Cao Cao had still accepted Zhang Xiu even though his son and his treasured Dian Wei was killed. This was because of the Xiliang Cavalry.
If Zhang Xiu were to continuously hold the Xiliang Cavalry, Cao Cao may be afraid. After Zhang Xiu joined Cao Cao, the Xiliang Cavalry was divided into three, leaving Zhang Xiu with only several thousand people. With the huge power already demolished by himself, who else would Cao Cao get rid off?
Zhang Xiu has his own confidence. If the Lu Bu’s Army appeared, it would be the whole army. The Xiliang Cavalry had experience fighting with the Formation Breaker and the Wolf Cavalry. The Wolf Cavalry were two times more powerful than the Xiliang Cavalry at most. However, the Xiliang Cavalry has more than twenty thousand soldiers.
“Haha. Today, Milord also has a courtesy gift for General Zhang!” Pang Tong winked at Liu Bei and then he nodded.
“A gift?” Zhang Xiu did not understand.
“I wonder if General Zhang is interested in the taxes from Gushu and Anfeng of Guangzhou?”
“Gushu and Anfeng of Guangzhou? Today? Does Liu Bei plan to capture three cities?”