“Men. Send Zhang Xiu to my brother!” Zhang Fei’s mission was to save Zhang Xiu. Zhang Fei let most of his Qingzhou Army protect Zhang Xiu to ensure the man’s safety. In case they encountered an emergency, Pang Tong and Liu Bei were at the camp set up several miles away waiting for Zhang Fei and Chen Dao.
“Third General. What about you?” The deputy general asked. Their mission was to save Zhang Xiu. Everything else was not important.
“I am already here, how could I return empty handed? I must definitely kill some people!” Zhang Fei replied directly.
“But, Third General. Milord ordered us to immediately withdraw after saving General Yang Wu!” The deputy general tried to dissuade Zhang Fei.
“Annoying. Do you think I would not understand my brother’s words? I am going to greet Shuzhi and will withdraw together with him later!” Zhang Fei replied. He also knew how to tell lies and claimed that he would go and help Chen Dao without even batting an eye.
“Scram!” Zhang Fei was too lazy to deal with his deputy general.
The deputy general sighed helplessly and could only escort Zhang Xiu to Liu Bei safely. Other matters could be discussed later.
“Lord Xuande. I cannot thank you enough for rescuing me and I will repay this debt in the future.” Zhang Xiu greeted. Without Liu Bei’s assistance, he would already be dead. This was why he felt gratitude towards Liu Bei.
“There is no need for words, my little brother. You are still injured, it is best to quickly go and take a rest. We shall talk once my whole army arrives here!” Liu Bei first mentioned about Zhang Xiu’s injury while being extremely polite. He did not even give such treatment to his own parents.
“Thank you Lord Xuande.” Zhang Xiu was still bleeding and needed to bandage his body. He did not know why Liu Bei who was supposed to attack the city was here but it was not time to think about that. It was the time to rest and recover from his wounds.
“Haha.” Liu Bei laughed as he looked at Zhang Xiu’s retreating figure. His cautious decision was good as Zhang Xiu still had his uses. Although Zhang Xiu’s current army was in a mess, he still has his soldiers at Nanyang. This was what Liu Bei wanted. Once Zhang Xiu surrenders to him, all of those would be his. Rescuing Zhang Xiu would make Zhang Xiu feel gratitude. Obtaining Zhang Xiu’s army would allow Liu Bei to once again fight for the Central Plains.
“Milord?” Pang Tong interrupted Liu Bei’s daydream. “Milord. Isn’t something too strange?”
“Strange?” Liu Bei was stunned. He did not understand Pang Tong’s words. “Milord. Don’t you think that the rescue effort has gone too smoothly?”
“Smooth? Isn’t that a good thing?” Liu Bei was confused. Wasn’t this better than having the whole army potentially defeated?
“I feel uneasy because it has gone too smoothly!” Pang Tong was not being paranoid. The Qingzhou Army had experienced too little losses for rescuing Zhang Xiu.
“Shiyuan. There is no need to be worried. We can ask Third Brother’s deputy general.” Liu Bei then called in Zhang Fei’s deputy general and asked the man for an explanation. Pang Tong frowned when he heard the explanation. The rescue had truly gone too smoothly.
“What? Third Brother had brought his bodyguards with him to fight?” Liu Bei was dissatisfied. They came to rescue Zhang Xiu, not to fight Lu Bu. Liu Bei did not want to experience losses just to save Zhang Xiu. He had thought that Zhang Fei was leading the rear only to find out that Zhang Fei had advanced towards the enemy. Help Chen Dao? Why would the White Eared Soldiers need his help?
“Not good!” Pang Tong suddenly screamed. “Milord. Lu Bu purposefully let Zhang Xiu go!”
Pang Tong and Zhang Xiu had guessed correctly. Lu Bu had purposefully let Zhang Xiu escape. The entire ambush was meant to take revenge for his Wolf Cavalry. Naturally, Lu BU also wished to kill Zhang Xiu but he was stopped by Chen Gong.
Zhang Xiu could be dealt with easily but Zhang Xiu also has a poisonous helper Jia Xu with him. Jia Xu was a self preserving character. As long as nobody else harms his interests, Jia Xu would not help Zhang Xiu to plot against them. Even when Zhang Xiu had troops, he was incompetent and did not know how to administer them. To deal with Zhang Xiu, they simply needed to cut off his supplies. Zhang Xiu’s Nanyang was not meant for growing crops and Zhang Xiu could not do business. He was only a guard dog for Liu Biao. As Zhang Xiu had a huge army, running out of provisions would be a huge problem.
Initially, Zhang Xiu should be fine with Liu Biao as his boss but Zhang Xiu decided to defect to Cao Cao’s side at one point in time. Liu Biao was enraged and decreased Zhang Xiu’s pay. Zhang Xiu could not go to Cao Cao at the end due to a falling out. Now, Zhang Xiu and Cao Cao were enemies and as long as their interests do not align, Zhang Xiu would not be able to receive help from Cao Cao. The remaining two neighbours he could pledge allegiance to were Liu Bei and Zhang Lu. Unfortunately, Zhang Lu was too far away.
The real problem was Liu Bei. This person was even able to make Chen Gong feel afraid. Although Chen Gong had only been watching from Lujiang, he already saw this coming. Lu Bu would not be able to hide his appearance at Yangzhou from Liu Bei so Chen Gong had Lu Bu bring the Wolf Cavalry to Yangzhou brazenly while having the Formation Breaker and Taishan Army march at night to conceal their movements. Chen Gong also knew that the only one that could intercept the Wolf Cavalry was the Xiliang Cavalry as Liu Bei only had infantries.
Chen Gong planned for the Xiliang Cavalry to be ambushed but he said that Zhang Xiu had to be spared. This is because Zhang Xiu’s two children and little brother would definitely be tricked by Liu Bei while Liu Bei annex Zhang Xiu’s Army for vengeance.
Zhang Xiu brought twenty thousand of the Xiliang Cavalry out for this expedition but he still has ten thousand heavy cavalries and twenty thousand troops back at his city. It was a huge force that was useless in Zhang Xiu’s hands but it would be terrifying if they were under Liu Bei and Pang Tong’s command. If they manage to obtain these soldiers, peace would not come to Yangzhou.
In other words, Zhang Xiu’s men could not be given to Liu Bei. Zhang Xiu must not die until Liu Bei is defeated. At first, Lu Bu did not expect Liu Bei to come and rescue Zhang Xiu. He was trying to find out how to let Zhang Xiu escape. However, since Liu Bei appeared, Lu Bu quickly stepped back.
Lu Bu sneered as he looked at the battlefield. Zhang Xiu had to live and the remaining Xiliang Cavalry could also be spared. However, the same could not be said to the White Eared Soldiers that were a big threat to the Lu Bu’s Army.
Their continued existence allowed Liu Bei to keep coming back from defeat. As long as they were around, Liu Bei was a force to be reckoned with regardless where he went. The White Eared Soldiers had to go. Lu Bu letting go of Zhang Xiu also meant freeing up more of his own soldiers to deal with the White Eared Soldiers.
“Hm?” Zhang Fei never expected Lu Bu to withdraw so easily but immediately assumed that Lu Bu was afraid of him.