Liu Mang did not need to admonish any of the soldiers or raise their morale. All of those that entered the Urban Army were good soldiers. None of them retired or captured. The ones that ‘left’ are the ones that were killed in battle. The ones with serious injuries also chose death over dragging down their teammates.
“Brothers! Let us depart!” Liu Mang waved his hand. Everyone took enough provisions to last for three days and started their journey.
Outside Guangzhou city was an endless plain. Liu Mang’s Army marched such that they hid the ballista. They also covered the ballista with white cloth to conceal it.
After walking for a long time, Liu Mang saw the slope of a hill. The hill was not too large but it was enough to hide fifty ballista. Besides that, they could see everything at the plains from on top of the hill. It was a good place to set an ambush.
“Ziyang. Let us prepare the ambush here.” Liu Mang was satisfied with this hill. It was not easy to find such a hill on Yangzhou and Yuzhou. This showed that Liu Mang had good luck.
Liu Mang had thought that the place he chose would be agreeable to Liu Ye but Liu Ye had shook his head and replied, “Milord, we cannot prepare the ambush here.”
“Is this place not good?” Liu Mang thought that this was strange as he believed that finding such a hill was good luck.
“It is certainly a good place for an ambush but you must remember that we are trying to be bait. Do you think anyone would take the bait if we set up an ambush here?” Liu Ye explained. The hill could be used for an ambush and it would be hard to find a better place. However, if they could tell that this place was good for an ambush, the enemy could also do the same. The Xiliang Cavalry came not only to escort the provisions but also to show off their strength. With such an action, Liu Mang could tell that the one leading the Xiliang Cavalry was not a useless person. The man did not yell out or send messengers when he came to Guangzhou. That was simply telling Liu Mang not to act blindly as they only came for the provisions and would not provoke Liu Mang’s Army needlessly. That is unless Liu Mang were to act shamelessly.
A commander such as this could easily tell that there would be an ambush at that location. At that time, not only would he not take the bait but he would become even more alert. At that time, he might cause more damage the next time they were to set an ambush.
“So where should we go to set out ambush?” Liu Mang was less experienced compared to Liu Ye in such matters. Naturally, he would let Liu Ye deal with this. He knew that all first-rate advisors during that era were not simple people.
“Milord. Look over there!” Liu Ye and Liu Mang had climbed the hill and gazed over to the distance. Liu Ye pointed to the plains and said to Liu Mang, “That is the place that would determine our success.”
“There? How could that be possible?” Liu Mang looked at where Liu Ye pointed and suddenly felt that this was not possible. It was a wide open field with nowhere to defend. At that location, the heavy infantries would not be able to match against the heavy cavalries even with their battle formations as the location was too wide. The Xiliang Cavalry would be able to make use of their charges. Besides that, it was also near a small hill. If Liu Mang was the one that led the Xiliang Cavalry, he would have the cavalry charge down that hill for greater momentum and a more powerful charge. The Xiliang Cavalry’s fighting strength would increase further.
At such a location, they would not have good surveillance and have nowhere to place the fifty ballista. Their every move could be seen from the hills and ambushes would be impossible. It would be impossible to catch the Xiliang Cavalry unprepared.
“Haha. Milord, we cannot prepare an ambush here with the fifty ballista but why must we place the ballista on the ground here?” Liu Ye asked rhetorically, causing Liu Mang to be at a loss. ‘If not on the ground than would it be in the sky or under the ground?’ Liu Mang suddenly blinked and asked. “Ziyang. What do you mean?”
Liu Ye saw Liu Mang’s hurried expression and knew that Liu Mang had already guessed the secret of this plan. “Yes. If we place the ballista on the ground, there would be nowhere to hide. If we hid on the hill, we might as well just tell the enemy that we are going to ambush them. However, it would be a different story if we placed the ballista in the ground. Of course, it would not be as simple as digging a hole to put in fifty ballista. We need to make a foundation such that the ballista could just be pushed out. The grass on the plains cannot be thrown away and can be used for camouflage. This way, they would not be able to see us even from the hills. Once the Xiliang Cavalry takes the bait, we tear away the camouflage and bring the fifty ballistae out. This would be the perfect scenario for the ambush and it would catch the Xiliang Cavalry unprepared.
If they placed their camp below the hills, the Xiliang Cavalry would be able to see them. As it was not a place possible to set an ambush, they would let down their guards. At that time, they would face their ends.
“Haha. Good. Do it that way!” Liu Mang had it easy. Just do everything as Liu Ye says. The two thousand five hundred soldiers immediately got to work. Although they did not have proper digging tools, they had their swords. Some also found a piece of wood to start digging. As they were at the borders of Yangzhou and Yuzhou where it rains a lot, the ground was easier to dig. The hole then needs to be supported with wood or the mud will cover it back up. The hole was quickly dug up by the two thousand five hundred men in about half a day.
“Just like that. Ten ballistae is enough here. Place the remaining at the other two sides with twenty on each sides.” Liu Mang commanded the soldiers as he worked.
“Milord. Why did we not place all the ballista in the center?” Liu Ye planned to hide the ballista under the ground. As the ballista needed a large area to show their strength, Liu Ye had planned to place all fifty racks of ballistae together. This way, the fifty ballistae would show its strength and also its power of intimidation. Scattering the ballistae made it less intimidating. Liu Ye also did not believe that scattering the ballistae would make it more powerful.
“Haha. Ziyang, I may not be as good as you in making strategies. However, your Lord still has knowledge that you do not know of!” Liu Mang laughed. He could not explain to Liu Ye what is crossfire and what is the meaning of firepower being sealed off. Although it was more intimidating to put the fifty ballistae together, it would be less effective. This is because each soldier may be shot with two arrows, wasting the arrows. They do not have enough ballistae this as there are over eight thousand enemies. Doing this would give the ballistae a wider range and they would be able to place pressure on the enemy even if they broke through. They ballistae would be able to seal them off no matter where they went.
“Hm? Really?” Liu Ye still could not understand. Fortunately, Liu Mang continued and said, “Hao Shao, Hao Botong used this when defending Guangzhou to defeat thousands of Liu Bei’s men!” Hao Shao’s achievement at Guangzhou was something Liu Ye nodded at with praise. It was to the extent that Liu Ye even told Liu Mang that Hao Shao was a talented individual and must be valued. Hao Shao only had two thousand men and he defended such a small location from Liu Bei’s Army of twenty thousand. They killed almost five thousand men and loss only one thousand men. This was a glorious achievement.
“In that case, it is good!” Liu Ye did not ask Liu Mang to give him any evidence as Liu Mang had a lot of things Liu Ye had never even heard of.
“Alright. The preparations here are done. The next part is how to make sure they take the bait.” Half a day had passed and the preparations had been made. Liu Mang went to the hill to make see what the camp below looked like and if the ballistae were properly hidden. He could see that something was different with the telescope in his hand. This is because the earth had been overturned when digging up a hole. However, this is with a telescope in hand. On top of that, Liu Mang already knew that an ambush had been set up there. This is how Liu Mang noticed the oddity. If the person was the general of the Xiliang Cavalry who does not have a telescope, it is likely that he would not notice it.
“Do not worry Milord! I have already done that part.” Liu Ye nodded to Liu Mang and replied. When Liu Mang was still busy leading the troops out of Guangzhou, Liu Ye had already dispatched the scout and the bait along with him. All they need to do now was wait for the Xiliang Cavalry to take the bait.