“Let us go and prepare! Cheng Yu. Help me to gather two thousand of the Urban Army!” Liu Mang said to the kneeling Cheng Yu.
“Yes, Little Lord!” Cheng Yu nodded. He knew that it was no longer possible to dissuade Liu Mang once Liu Mang has made up his mind. Rather than waste time doing that, it was better pick elites for Liu Mang to bring.
“Huang Xu. Go and get those good at archery. You only need about five hundred!” Liu Mang needed people to operate the ballista. Although it was not archery, it was more formidable in the hands of archers than in the hands of common soldiers.
“Yes, Milord!” Huang Xu nodded. His Huang Family was a family of archers. Many of his own guards were good at shooting.
“Xu Sheng, Wang Wei and Hao Shao. Once I leave, you are to listen to the Military Advisor! Regards his words as though they were mine! You must help me to protect Guangzhou!” Liu Mang was going to act as bait but he did not want Xu Sheng and the others to follow him. Guangzhou was equally important to Liu Mang.
“This General will obey!” The three of them cupped their fists together but then, the Military Advisor, Liu Ye, stopped them.
“Milord. I am afraid I would be unable to accomplish the task of staying behind at Guangzhou!” Liu Ye smiled and refused the task given to him by Liu Mang.
“What’s wrong? Do you want to stop me as well?” Liu Mang frowned. He did not believe that Liu Ye could not see his reasoning. If Liu Mang does not go, things may not work out as planned. At that time, Shouchun would be in danger.
“Milord. I do not intend to stop you.” Liu Ye shook his head. He would not stop Liu Mang as he was the one that proposed this strategy. Even if Liu Mang had never suggested going personally, Liu Ye would have suggested for him to do it.
“What do you mean?” Liu Mang looked at Liu Ye in confusion. Liu Ye was the highest ranked person after Liu Mang in the army. Otherwise, Liu Mang would not have let Liu Ye lead the soldiers after splitting up at Yuzhou.
“Milord. You must lead from the front in order to attract the attention of the Xiliang Cavalry but the ballista at the rear should be handed over to me!” Liu Ye replied indifferently.
Liu Mang wanted to refuse as the ballista would be exposed once the enemy breaks through the front. This placed Liu Ye in an even more dangerous situation than Liu Mang. Besides that, Liu Ye was only a scholar. Once the Xiliang Cavalry rushed over, Liu Mang would not be able to save him.
“Milord. Do not be in such a hurry to refuse me. The ballista would need someone to control as to when it would be best to shoot. More importantly, the ballista is huge. Where would you hide it?” Liu Ye asserted. He was the one that proposed this and brought danger to his Lord. It was not something a subject should have done. This is why Liu Ye had decided to follow Liu Mang into danger. If they were successful, everyone would be happy. If they failed, he would die together with Liu Mang.
“Alright. If you say this, it would be my mistake if I do not bring you.” Liu Mang understood Liu Ye’s intentions and he truly needed someone to help him control the ballista. The soldiers holding the front lines needs to be at a certain distance away from the ballista. Liu Mang who led them would not be able to do both tasks at once. He would need Huang Zhong to replace him. However, if Huang Zhong were to leave him, his safety would not be assured.
“In that case, Xu Sheng, Wang Wei. Listen to Hao Shao for the defence of this city!” Liu Mang said to the two.
“Huh?” The three of them were stunned. Not picking Wang Wei was understandable as he was just a Deputy General of the Black Flag Army. However, Xu Sheng was the General of the Black Flag Army and had a higher rank than Hao Shao. By right, Xu Sheng should be the one leading the defence. Hao Shao was also shocked. Although he had been in the army longer than Xu Sheng, the man was Liu Mang’s trusted subordinate while he himself had only been in Liu Mang’s Army for a few months. No matter how it is looked at, he could not compare to Xu Sheng.
“Little Lord. Many thanks for the promotion but I still think that Xu Sheng is more suitable to be the commander leading Guangzhou’s defence!” Hao Shao said as he cupped his fist at Liu Mang. He never expected Liu Mang to put him in charge of Guangzhou. Xu Sheng also felt more comfortable hearing Hao Shao said that and considered Hao Shao tactful.
“Do not be so modest, Botong1. If we were to break through enemy lines, I would definitely make Xu Sheng the vanguard. This is because with Xu Sheng and the five thousand Black Flag Soldiers, we would achieve victory!” Liu Mang said this not only to Hao Shao but also to Xu Sheng. He also knew that Xu Sheng would feel uneasy if he did not explain this. After all, he was being placed under Hao Shao.
“Thank you for the compliment Milord!” Xu Sheng felt shy. He became modest as he had been praised.
“However, we are currently defending the city! You are more familiar with Guangzhou compared to Xu Sheng! With two thousand men, you stopped Liu Bei’s Army of twenty thousand. They were unable to even capture such a small location! I believe that with the five thousand Black Flag soldiers and the three thousand Urban Army soldiers, you would have a greater advantage than Xu Sheng. So, I decided to choose you instead of him!”
Hao Shao gave Liu Mang a profound look and then knelt. “I will not fail you! The city will only fall if I die!”
Xu Sheng also knelt down. “I will properly assist the Hao Shao. I will not allow the enemy to even step into Guangzhou!”
Two thousand men from the Urban Army were quickly picked by Cheng Yu. All of them were full of spirit. Behind them were fifty racks of ballistae. Liu Mang had even taken out all the old ones. These were the ones Gan Ning had used on his warship. Wheels had also been fixed onto the ballista to make them easier to transport as they were difficult to move.
Liu Mang stood in front of the army feeling proud. This is because the Urban Army was something he had personally created. The soldiers gathered and loudly shouted Liu Mang’s slogan. He looked at the two thousand five hundred soldiers in front knowing that they were going to follow him to battle.
1. Hao Shao (Zhao)’s courtesy name (Bodao) went back to Botong including the next chapter. I don’t even know which is typo and which is intentional anymore. So, I will just follow blindly. Just keep a note that they are the same person.