When Yuan Shao dies, the large Hebei would no longer be a single entity. It would also no longer be a match for Cao Cao. To Cao Cao, Yuan Tan and Yuan Shang were useless people, just like Tao Qian’s two children. Otherwise Tao Qian would not have surrendered so easily. In other words, Hebei was about to fall into Cao Cao’s lap. Cao Cao could not help but smile as he thought of this.
“Does Military Advisor Guo believe that Xu You is right?” Cao Cao laughed as Xu You turned his objective towards Guo Jia.
Guo Jia was slightly distracted as he had been slacking off. As a loafer, he had no regards as to where he could slack off. When Xu You entered the Cao Cao’s Army, the happiest person was Cao Cao himself. The second happiest person would be Guo Jia. This is because there is now an additional person sharing his burdens. This meant that he had more time to slack off and drink wine. He never expected Xu You to now target him. “Haha. Mister Ziyuan. Your words are reasonable.” Guo Jia laughed in reply.
However, Xu You refused to drop the matter. He joined up with Cao Cao because there was no future with Yuan Shao. Yuan Shao was furious at him after Shen Pei made him a fool. If anything wrong happened, he would be the first one to be looked at. Naturally, he would not stay and defected to Cao Cao. In the Yuan Shao’s Army, he had been a disposable piece as he refused to join Yuan Tan or Yuan Shang. Both brothers would not allow this. Now that he is with Cao Cao, he carried himself with arrogance. As Cao Cao’s good friend, he should be the number one subordinate. As Guo Jia was Cao Cao’s number one subordinate and the army’s Military Advisor, he was targeted by Xu You. “I still have many aspects of which I am lacking. Can the Military Advisor dispel my doubts?”
“Mister Ziyuan have already done well. I have nothing to add!” Guo Jia was a lazy person. He was too lazy to compete against Xu You for rank and position. Cheng Yu always gave Guo Jia a hard time but Guo Jia did not care. He would be happy to let you have the rank and position if it meant he would be able to relax more. Cheng Yu who was unable to accept Guo Jia’s slacker attitude always tried to give him trouble but would only find himself in an awkward position every time.
“Haha. Military Advisor Guo is too kind.” Xu You looked at Guo Jia with a content expression. He wanted to show off to everyone, especially Cao Cao that he was better than Guo Jia. He wanted Cao Cao to remove Guo Jia and then take on Guo Jia’s position.
However, Xu You did not understand the current Cao Cao. Cao Cao was no longer the Cao Aman that he knew but the overlord of Hebei.
Xu You did not know that Guo Jia did not like to compete with others. Although Xu You seemed to have placed pressure on Guo Jia on the surface, the others in the Cao Cao’s Army knew Guo Jia’s nature. To aggressively compete against a person that doesn’t compete only made him look more repulsive. Cao Cao frowned at Xu You’s performance. Xu You was not like Guo Jia who could act as Cao Cao wished and also act as a friend. This is because Cao Cao knew that Guo Jia was lazy and not ambitious. Guo Jia would not go and show off. On the other hand, Xu You was extremely greedy. It was his greed that made him get caught by Shen Pei. This also caused Xu You to defect. Cao Cao acted polite but once Xu You has served his purpose, he would be met with tragedy.
Xu You did not notice Cao Cao’s feelings. He also treated Guo Jia’s actions as though Guo Jia had conceded defeat. Now that he felt as though he was number one, he stopped pestering Guo Jia.
Cao Cao then asked another question to attack Xu You’s ego. “Fengxiao. Have you delivered the provisions to Shouchun?” This question made Xu You stunned. Shouchun was Lu Bu’s territory and Lu Bu was Cao Cao’s mortal enemy. Why would Cao Cao give them provisions? When Cao Cao captured Wuchao, he gained over two hundred thousand provisions. Half of what he earned had been given away to Lu Bu. He initially thought those provisions had been sent to Xudou but now he realized that he had been mistaken.
“Milord! It has already been delivered!” Guo Jia replied. If they were in private, Guo Jia would have replied that he had delivered the provisions a long time ago as he drank wine. His current actions had gave Cao Cao face which was as expected as Cao Cao’s favourite advisor.
“Good. This is good!” Cao Cao nodded. The first thing he thought of when he obtained the provisions was Shouchun.
“Aman! Why did you give others your provisions? On top of that, that territory belongs to Lu Bu!” Xu You was puzzled. That was a lot of provisions that not everybody could just fork out. “Is this the Military Advisor’s actions?” Xu You glanced at Guo Jia. For no reason, Guo Jia was suddenly looked at as a spendthrift.
“Haha. Ziyuan. You really would not know this! I did not give away these provisions without proper thought! People have already paid for the hundred thousand provision!” Cao Cao laughed as he stroked his beard.
“Is it a reconciliation?” Xu You could not understand and asked.
“Fengxiao. Explain this to Ziyuan!” Cao Cao called out Guo Jia directly. He wanted Guo Jia to bring Xu You back down, as a message to Xu You that he is not the only intelligent guy around. ‘How could you show your face if you cannot even think of this?’
“Milord?” Guo Jia was stunned. He looked into Cao Cao’s eyes and understood Cao Cao’s intentions. After all, they had worked together for many years. Cao Cao also knew that Guo Jia did not want to fight against Xu You. Guo Jia felt as though Cheng Yu was enough. He had no reason to offend Xu You and give himself more trouble. However, now that Cao Cao had called him out, he had no choice but to act.
“Mister Ziyuan. You might be unaware of this but when Milord said that Lu Bu had already paid for the provisions, he was talking about the battle at Guandu.” Guo Jia replied as he glanced at Cao Cao. His expression towards Cao Cao seemed to say ‘please spare me’ as he knew that Xu You would come after him for this. However, Cao Cao feigned ignorance and Guo Jia ended up remaining silent.
“Mister Ziyuan. This is what is meant by part of it being paid for already!” Since he was unable to retreat, then he could only push forward. After all, Guo Jia also found Xu You as a disagreeable person. Cheng Yu had also went against Guo Jia a lot but Cheng Yu was an old and obstinate person. Despite that, Cheng Yu’s actions was for Guo Jia’s good. For example, Guo Jia had a weak body. Drinking wine would only worsen his condition and provided no benefits. Cheng Yu wanted Guo Jia to stop drinking and live a healthier life but Guo Jia refused to change. On the other hand, Xu You only thought of climbing up the ranks. Although Guo Jia did not want to look for trouble, he don’t have any qualms doing it after he was forced to.
“The battle at Wuchao was half the price sent by the Lu Bu’s Army!” Guo Jia impolitely dropped this huge information.
“What?” Xu You was no longer calm. He joined the Cao Cao’s Army and acted proudly because he believed that he had made a huge contribution. When he arrived, Cao Cao left the camp and said, “Ziyuan has arrived. We can do great things now!” Xu You then sat down and discussed with Cao Cao.
“How long can be provisions last?”
“We can last for a year.”
“How could there be so much more? Speak truthfully!”
“We can last for half a year.”
“Do you not want to defeat Yuan Shao? Why do you not speak the truth?”
“I am just joking with you. We only have one month of provisions left.”
“You have no support and no provisions. This is a critical situation. Right now, Yuan Shao’s Army has provisions at Wuchao. Although there are soldiers, they lack a proper defense. As long as you attack Wuchao and burn their food, the Yuan Shao’s Army would be defeated within three days.”1
This was a big contribution but Guo Jia now said that this contribution belonged to the Lu Bu’s Army. Even if one wants to lie, at the very least, the lie needs to be a properly made one.
“Haha. I wonder if I have offended the Military Advisor somehow that my contributions ended up belonging to others!” Xu You coldly replied. He believed that Guo Jia only wanted to supress him as he was superior to Guo Jia.
“Sigh.” Guo Jia shook his head. Since he was already the man’s enemy, he would no longer hold back. “Mister Ziyuan. We were already told about Wuchao by the King of Shu, Liu Mang while you were still Yuan Benchu’s advisor. We were only uncertain about this information during that time. We were only made more assured of this after you came.” Guo Jia explained that Xu You only made them more certain about Liu Mang’s advice. In other words, the contribution did not belong to him.
“Haha. Military Advisor. Do you think I would believe this? Why did you not speak of what would happen five hundred years from now before that battle at Guandu?” Prophecies are only a legend. Even skilled tacticians would make mistakes. How could a person thought of a way to defeat the enemy before the battle start?
“Mister Ziyuan. I also had difficulty in believing this. You can ask the others and even ask Milord!” Guo Jia waved his hands. Xu You was afraid of losing face and asked. After all, Cao Cao had rewarded him generously after the capturing Wuchao.
“That’s right. We already knew about Wuchao.” All of Cao Cao’s trusted subordinates replied but Xu You refused to believe them. He believed that all of them were either jealous of him or was taking into account of Guo Jia’s position. In the end, he waited for Cao Cao’s words. Cao Cao simply raised his hand when he saw that Xu You was still unwilling to give up.
“Ziyuan, do not be discouraged. The King of Shu is an extraordinary person. Not even Fengxiao and the others could have thought of the things he could think of!” Cao Cao seemed to console him on the surface but was actually telling Xu You that he was inferior and to stop comparing himself with others.
“This…” Although Xu You was unwilling to believe this, Cao Cao did not seem to be lying. Xu You could only clench his teeth and groan. He had always been a proud person. He believed that Cao Cao would not have achieved this without his help. He believed that Cao Cao would be driven out of Yanzhou by Yuan Shao without his help. Now, he was being told that all this while, he only played a supporting role while someone else was the main actor. This made him feel ashamed.
“King of Shu, Liu Mang! I want to see what kind of person you are!” Xu You gritted his teeth in anger. Liu Mang also did not know that he had accidentally offended a first rate advisor. With no face left to remain at camp, Xu You told Cao Cao that he had a headache and excused himself.
After Xu You had left and the Yecheng stratagem was made, Cao Cao waved his hand and had his generals make the preparations to capture Hebei. Only Guo Jia was left behind. Once Cao Cao saw that only Guo Jia was left, he no longer held back and immediately laughed loudly. Fortunately, Xu You was already far away. Otherwise, he would have regretted joining Cao Cao’s army.
“Milord! You truly made me miserable!” Guo Jia looked at Cao Cao and also laughed. However, his laugh was bitter as he had become Xu You’s enemy. Based on that man’s nature, there was no longer any chance for them to reconcile. He had completely been used by Cao Cao as a borrowed knife. Although he knew this, he had no way to refuse.
“Fengxiao. Stop pretending. Don’t tell me you did not want to see Xu You’s face turn ugly? I will not believe you. Aren’t you laughing in your heart?” Cao Cao teased. When Cao Cao pointed this out, Guo Jia also remembered that Xu You’s initial expression was prideful and annoying. After that, it red in anger and pale in disbelief and shame. When Guo Jia thought of this, he could not help but smile.
“Milord. No matter what, I will not leave until you compensate me!” No matter what was said, Guo Jia had been used by Cao Cao as a borrowed knife. Although Guo Jia was quite pleased with the results, he had still been used. He would not be angry but would also naturally extort something from Cao Cao.
“How about a jar of Dukang2 wine?” Cao Cao raised a finger.
“A jar? Haha. Milord, it seems that I won’t be leaving!” Guo Jia negotiated. Cao Cao laughed bitterly and shook his head. “Is two jars enough?”
Guo Jia did not reply but walked to the couch by Cao Cao’s side and took off his shoes.
“Three jars! Is that still not enough?” Cao Cao raised another finger but it was obvious that Guo Jia was still not satisfied. “Alright. Feng Xiao. Just tell me how many jars of wine you want!”
“Haha! Milord, do not be like that. Don’t say that I want wine. You are simple compensating me.” Guo Jia replied as he stretched out both hands.
Each hand had five fingers which totalled up to ten. “Ten jars? You might as well sleep here!” Cao Cao replied. The Dukang wine were not ordinary wine. Even if Cao Cao were to gather up all the Dukang wine from all the land owning classes, he would only be able to obtain ten jars at most.
“Tch!” Guo Jia looked at Cao Cao in disdain. Guo Jia knew Cao Cao well. Cao Cao had three interests. Those three interests are authority, poetry, and his lust. Right now, Cao Cao was a subordinate of the Han Emperor. He was in a position where only the Han Emperor had the authority to command him. However, in reality, the Han Emperor had to conduct himself according to Cao Cao’s needs. As for poetry, he was one of the reasons for the Seven Scholars of Jian’an3. However, poetry was not something that could just appear from nowhere. Highly skilled people would need inspiration from the heavens. Finally, he had lust. This was normal for any man but Cao Cao had more lust than them. During the Battle of Guandu, he was so nervous that he could not sleep, much less have fun with women. However, now that he had defeated Yuan Shao, Yuan Shao was about to die, and Yuan Shao’s children would not be able to cooperate with each other against him, Cao Cao’s mood improved. Guo Jia could see that Cao Cao would want to have fun for a few nights. People have even sent beautiful women to him from within Zhaoge.
If Guo Jia were to stay, Cao Cao would not be able to have sex!
Guo Jia’s actions caused Cao Cao to raise seven fingers. Cao Cao naturally knew how to compromise. “My good Fengxiao. My good Guo jia. Seven jars. I can’t go any higher.”
“Seven jars?” Guo Jia licked his lips. He continued to watch Cao Cao and fought a psychological battle. This was something he was an expert in.
“If you want more, you might as well sleep here!” Cao Cao was helpless. He only had ten jars Dukang wine. He did not know how Guo Jia found out about it. However, seven jars was the limit Cao Cao could give. This is because Cao Cao would need good wine for the guests when it was time to celebrate heroics. So, he would not be able to give more to Guo Jia and can only say he was helpless.
“Alright. Seven jars it is!” Guo Jia replied with a regretful expression but he was actually cheering in his heart. He actually only wanted five jars. When he showed ten fingers, he was telling Cao Cao that he knows how many jars of Dukang wine Cao Cao had. However, Cao Cao assumed that Guo Jia wanted ten. Now, Guo Jia received two jars more than the minimum amount he wanted. Naturally he was so happy that he could not conceal his smile. When Cao Cao noticed this, he realized that he was caught by Guo Jia’s psychological trick and gnashed his teeth. “Guo Fengxiao! You even scheme against your own Lord!” Although Cao Cao was angry, he could not take back his words and could only have his sergeant present Guo Jia with seven jars of Dukang wine.
“Alright then. We should now discuss about the actual business. How is the matter regarding the provisions given to Lu Bu?” Cao Cao asked. Although Cao Cao did not show it, he also felt his heart ache from giving away a hundred thousand provisions. Cao Cao was not a person that would just give away provisions to Liu Mang. In the original timeline, the credit for Wuchao went to Xu You but Cao Cao still got rid of Xu You in the end. As the unscrupulous hero, Cao Cao was brazen. Cao Cao rules by control as he play the guise of a loyal minister. If he had been a loyal minister, he would not have tried to replace the Han the Emperor. Liu Bei was also not a loyal minister. When Cao Pi forced the Emperor to abdicate, instead of attacking Cao Pi, Liu Bei proclaimed himself Emperor.
In other words, they were all people that spoke with empty words.
Cao Cao provided aid to Shouchun not because he was a charitable person but to have a safeguard against Liu Bei. Although Cao Cao had captured Guandu, he would still need a long time to pacify Hebei. He had enough provisions to pacify Hebei but not enough to also guard against those from the Central Plains. He knew that Liu Bei joined up with others to defeat Lu Bu. Sun Ce would then be able to focus on Liu Biao, reducing the number of competitors for the Central Plains. One of them would be able to control the Central Plains by the time Cao Cao pacifies Hebei. That was why, Cao Cao could not let Lu Bu be defeated yet. He needed Lu Bu to slow down both Liu Bei and Sun Ce so that none of them would be able to control the entire Central Plains. As Cao Cao lacked troops, he could only send provisions. He also knew that Shouchun was lacking in provisions.
“Milord! I have already sent men. I believe that Lu Bu will not refuse this!” Cao Cao and Guo Jia also sent the provisions to obtain the ballista. Cao Cao had the simple ballista made by Liu Ye and that itself was enough to make him extremely happy. It also showed Cao Cao the might of the ballista. In a naval battle, Cao Cao’s army of thirty thousand ordinary navy could fight against a hundred thousand of Yuan Shao’s navy. Although the navy on both sides were weak, the results made Cao Cao extremely shocked. Especially the unforgettable scene where the enemy army was devastated before they could even approach. If it was not for the fact that the ballista could only shoot twice, they may not have been completely routed. This was because they ran out of arrows. If they could shoot continuously, even Yuan Shao would be hiding like a tortoise.
Cao Cao was truly anxious about the ballista that could shoot repeatedly. He knows that his luck was terrible if he comes across this. The ballista was not only good for naval battles but could even be used for defending against a siege. This was why Cao Cao wanted the ballista urgently. Lu Bu refused to sell the technology while both Liu Biao and Sun Ce kept the secret guarded closely to the extent that they would gather the scraps of the ballista after the battlefield.
Cao Cao had now helped Lu Bu in his hour of need. He would not believe that they would be so heartless and not feel touched. If he could obtain the technology for the ballista, he could speed up the unification of Hebei.
The entire conversation belonged to Xu You and Cao Cao before Wuchao got captured. It was also crammed together into one paragraph along with Cao Cao said : “ “ Xu You said: “ “. I simply spread it out to make it easier to read (personal opinion). Also the pointlessness of Cao Cao giving wrong information only serves to fuel my headache.
Dukang is the inventor of alcoholic beverages in Chinese legend. Just think of it as a brand name.
The Seven Scholars of Jian’an is a group of scholars. The name was coined by Cao Pi. Cao Cao isn’t one of them. However, Cao Cao himself is an accomplished poet, whose poetry style, along with others, developed into the Jian’an style.