“Wenhe. Was that meant to be a gift for me?” Liu Mang laughed as he looked at Jia Xu. When Jia Xu had come to rely on Liu Mang for help but he had also brought with him two gifts. The first gift, was six thousand and four hundred of the Xiliang Cavalry. Liu Mang also left Ge Jun and Zhang Hu in charge of a majority of the Xiliang Cavalry. Only about a hundred cavaliers were transferred to the Black Flag Army and Urban Army as scouts. Lu Bu also transferred Zhang Liao to Liu Mang’s command. It was not that Zhang Liao had made a mistake but Zhang Liao would only continue to miss his brother by remaining in the Wolf Cavalry. Zhang Liao is firm and good at training the troops. So much so that he was acknowledged by the Xiliang Cavalry. The most important thing was that Zhang Liao still had hatred for the Xiliang Cavalry even though Zhang Xiu was already dead. Liu Mang and Lu Bu both did not want a fight to break out between the deputy of the Wolf Cavalry and the Xiliang Cavalry as they had already surrendered.
All feelings of suffocation must not be ignored. That was why Lu Bu and Liu Mang let Zhang Liao stay at Shouchun to become the commander of the Xiliang Cavalry. Zhang Liao would not do misdeeds but his hatred would also make him train the Xiliang Cavalry even more severely. Just like that, another elite cavalry would belong to Liu Mang. Naturally, this brought joy to Liu Mang.
The second gift was Zhang Lei, Zhang Xiu’s son. Accepting the Xiliang Cavalry gave him good reputation which could be used to unite the land. After all, Liu Mang and Zhang Xiu were enemies. Zhang Xiu and Liu Bei had almost caused Liu Mang to lose his foundation and even killed half of the Wolf Cavalry. Lu Bu had also been ambushed. Naturally, the hatred should be deep. However, Liu Mang and Lu Bu discarded their hatred. Not only did not retaliate for Zhang Xiu’s actions but they had also incorporated the Xiliang Cavalry and sheltered Zhang Lei. With instigation from Xu Shu and Liu Ye, Liu Mang had even taken Zhang Lei as foster son. Such magnanimity made Liu Mang admired by many officials.
What Liu Mang never expected was for Jia Xu to burn Nanyang’s provisions. Now, Liu Bei had to go cold and hungry. Liu Bei initially thought of resupplying at Nanyang but now he could only supply for himself. He is also unable to abandon Nanyang and had to rely on provisions from Yuzhou. Fortunately for Liu Bei, there were not many civilians at Nanyang to drag down his new territory.
“This is not a gift for Milord. This is merely self-preservation!” Jia Xu did not want to take credit for his actions. It was not his contribution and was merely his poison. Liu Bei had dared to go against Jia Xu’s plans which caused Jia Xu to strike back. It was also to serve as a warning.
“Er..” Everyone else trembled as they felt that Jia Xu was a little bit too vicious for burning the provisions for an entire region simply because one other person provoked him. If Nanyang had been an ordinary region, hundreds and thousands of citizens would starve to death. It was plain to see that Jia Xu was a person who would sacrifice others for his own interests. The others could not help but distance themselves from him.
“Haha!” Liu Mang laughed awkwardly. He also felt as though Jia Xu was a little excessive. However, Liu Mang already had a grasp of what Jia Xu was like. As long as his foundation remains stable, he should not need to worry about Jia Xu. “Looks like Liu Bei Liu Xuande would be regretting his lack of investigation now!” Liu Mang had learned about everything from Jia Xu. After the ambush, Liu Bei and Zhang Xiu escaped in a sorry state. Lu Bu wanted to chase them but he lacked provisions and it would be difficult to track them in the forest.
News of Zhang Xiu’s defeat spread to Nanyang very quickly. Jia Xu could accept this news. After all, victory and defeat were common during military operations. Although Zhang Xiu had lost twenty thousand Xiliang Cavalry, it was not a very huge setback as Zhang Xiu was someone looking to serve another. It was also only a portion of Zhang Xiu’s Army. He still had eighteen thousand of the Xiliang Cavalry as well as thirty thousand infantries. When Zhang Xiu returns, he could still go and find someone good to serve. Jia Xu prepared to advice Zhang Xiu to find a Lord to serve. There were three powerful Lords to choose from. Zhang Xiu simply needed to bring his troops and money there to be welcomed.
What Jia Xu did not expect was for Zhang Xiu to die. He was also unable to believe it. He believed that Chen Gong of the Lu Bu’s Army would not allow this to happen as it would make Nanyang without a Lord and only bring hatred towards them. They would then go and take revenge on the Lu Bu’s Army, causing more losses. Chen Gong would not do this. Later, he saw Zhang Xiu’s corpse which was brought back by Hu Che Er. Jia Xu now started to believe that Zhang Xiu was killed by the impulsive Lu Bu. It was possible that Lu Bu did not listen to Chen Gong’s advice. After all, Hu Che Er had followed Zhang Family for two generations already. He was Zhang Xiu’s trusted subordinate and he had high integrity.
Jia Xu slowly believed this and shook his head bitterly. He had initially thought that Lu Bu was a hero but in the end, this happened. Jia Xu was prepared to leave and live in seclusion.
Hu Che Er then spoke of Zhang Xiu’s final will. The one that would be the next Lord would not be his son Zhang Quan but Zhang Ji’s son Zhang Cheng. This is to return the position back to Zhang Ji. The inheritance system had its drawbacks. One of the reason Zhang Xiu had been chosen to rule by Zhang Ji was because Zhang Ji was very fond of Zhang Xiu and also because his own son was still too young and not fit to rule. At the time, the Xiliang Cavalry was also facing a crisis with provisions and Zhang Ji hoped for Zhang Xiu to be able to solve it. Zhang Ji had made the right choice as Zhang Xiu managed to bring them out of that crisis by cooperating with Liu Biao, setting up an agreement where Zhang Xiu would guard Liu Biao’s South while Liu Biao kept them fed.
As Zhang Xiu is dead, his position should have been passed down to his eldest son, Zhang Quan who is no longer young instead of Zhang Cheng. In fact, Zhang Quan was older than Zhang Cheng. Naturally, Zhang Quan could not accept this. He had no reason to simply surrender the foundation his father had built up to someone else. He was also the one that had been groomed by Zhang Xiu to be the next Lord. Now, Hu Che Er said that the next to rule was Zhang Cheng. Zhang Quan was not satisfied.
On the other hand, Zhang Cheng was overjoyed as he had also expected Zhang Quan to be inherit the position. After all, Zhang Quan was still Zhang Xiu’s son. There are no parents that do not love their own children. Although Zhang Xiu also cared about him, Zhang Xiu had also been vigilant. Naturally, he felt moved that Zhang Xiu would have given him this position after his death. Originally, Zhang Cheng wanted to step back as he had only been in a civil post with no authority. It was not possible for him to succeed. However, Hu Che Er swore loyalty to Zhang Cheng. As Hu Che Er had high prestige in the Xiliang Cavalry, having Hu Che Er’s support meant he already won half the battle. It was entirely possible for him to win the position as the Lord of Nanyang with the help of Hu Che Er and the other veterans that had followed his father Zhang Ji. With this advantage, Zhang Cheng prepared himself to be the Lord of Nanyang.
However, Zhang Cheng never realized that Hu Che Er also swore loyalty to Zhang Quan. The day Zhang Cheng was to become Lord, Zhang Quan attacked with his own soldiers. Zhang Cheng wanted to look for Hu Che Er and ask for help but Hu Che Er had already vanished. Zhang Cheng’s fate was set. He was dragged down from the seat of power before being executed by Zhang Quan. Unfortunately, Zhang Quan did not have much time to revel in joy. After executing Zhang Cheng, Hu Che Er appeared once again. Hu Che Er did not come to congratulate Zhang Quan but to kill him. Hu Che Er accused Zhang Quan of trying to usurp the position. Regardless of whether he was Zhang Xiu’s son or not, the one that got nominated to be the Lord of Nanyang was Zhang Cheng. As Zhang Quan had already killed Zhang Cheng, Hu Che Er was able to step forward and kill Zhang Quan in the name of justice.
After the deaths of Zhang Quan and Zhang Cheng, the only one left was Zhang Lei. Hu Che Er wanted to make Zhang Lei the Lord of Nanyang. As Zhang Lei was only five years old, it is clearly to be as a puppet.
Jia Xu watched Hu Che Er’s every move with indifference. Initially, Jia Xu was unconcerned about Hu Che Er as the man had high prestige in the army and also simply because he did not want to get involved. He did not expect that Hu Che Er would destroy his plans even though he did not provoke the man. Hu Che Er wanted his help and had declared that he was the one that killed Zhang Xiu. However, did Hu Che Er really kill Zhang Xiu or was he simply helping the Liu Bei’s Army? The reason for Hu Che Er’s defection was because Zhang Xiu blamed him for the deaths of eight thousand Xiliang Cavalry soldiers and also because Hu Che Er himself had lost an arm. Hu Che Er was afraid that Zhang Xiu would abandon him. On the other hand, the Liu Bei’s Army needed the Xiliang Cavalry.
Hu Che Er wanted Jia Xu to help him because he no longer wanted to be Liu Bei’s subordinate. After killing Zhang Quan, he felt great to be at the seat of power. He did not want to lose it. If he were to become Liu Bei’s subordinate, he would still be someone’s lackey even if he made a lot of contributions. Hu Che Er also knew he would not be able to go far alone and needed Jia Xu to help him stabilize his position.
Hu Che Er wanted Jia Xu’s loyalty. Of course that was not going to happen. Hu Che Er was a handicapped barbarian. He did not have the qualifications. Even Zhang Xiu and Dong Zhuo did not have the qualifications, much less him.
Even though Jia Xu had no integrity and behaved insidiously, he was still a Han. He would not support a foreigner. Being a Han was his dignity. Jia Xu immediately refused. He then immediately regretted his actions as it caused Hu Che Er to start acting against him.
Fortunately, Jia Xu also had reputation amongst the Xiliang Cavalry. The Xiliang Cavalry would give Jia Xu face. This was why Hu Che Er could not just kill Jia Xu on the spot. As Jia Xu was a cultured person, he had higher support amongst the Han soldiers in the Xiliang Cavalry while Hu Che Er had the support of the Qiang soldiers.
Although Hu Che Er did not immediately kill Jia Xu, he was a tyrant. Since he could not have Jia Xu, he wanted Jia Xu dead. Jia Xu already knew too much. Hu Che Er would be doomed if Jia Xu divulged this information to Liu Bei. On top of that, Jia Xu was a talented person. It would be terrible for Hu Che Er if Liu Bei took fancy of Jia Xu.
Hu Che Er was also not stupid. He knew that the Han soldiers respected Jia Xu. They would definitely not want him to kill Jia Xu. They had already become dissatisfied when he killed Zhang Quan. After all, even if Zhang Quan was guilty of coveting Zhang Xiu’s position, a foreigner like Hu Che Er had no business in it.
Hu Che Er separated the Han soldiers. He even privately called out a few high ranking Han officers and killed them. If Hu Che Er could be considered smart, Jia Xu was definitely smarter. He would definitely not allow Hu Che Er to deal with him so easily. He did not slack off during the time Hu Che Er made his move. Originally, Jia Xu needed to expand a great deal of effort to contact the Han officers as Hu Che Er was still the deputy general of the Xiliang Cavalry. However, when Hu Che Er separated these officers, he had also pushed them to Jia Xu’s side. Jia Xu also showed a little bit of selfishness during this period. He went to all the ones that did not have too strong opinions. On other hand, the ones where Jia Xu had bad relationship with or the ones that were difficult to manage were all left behind for Hu Che Er to kill.
The remaining ones left behind were Ge Jun, Zhang Hu and another person named Liu Jie. These were the people Jia Xu had contacted. They had become afraid when they saw so many senior officers met their end. They went to Jia Xu for protection but Liu Jie was later killed in battle.
The Xiliang Cavalry had eighteen thousand men. Ten thousand of these people were of Qiang ethnic while the remaining were Han. Hu Che Er disposed of at least a thousand, leaving only seven thousand Han soldiers behind. Jia Xu realized that Hu Che Er had begun to act. Just as Hu Che Er thought that his preparations were complete and was about to kill Jia Xu, Jia Xu led the three generals with him and the remaining seven thousand Han soldiers to charge through Nanyang and attack the governor’s residence and took Zhang Xiu’s family with them. The important one was Zhang Lei who would act as Jia Xu’s protection. With Zhang Lei on their side, the Xiliang Cavalry could be converted to their side. After that, Jia Xu attacked the granary.
Hu Che Er never stayed in Nanyang but in the Xiliang Cavalry’s barracks. Although Jia Xu was not able to kill Hu Che Er, he could still make the man suffer by burning all of Nanyang’s provisions. After all, Jia Xu was not going to stay in Nanyang any longer. Leaving the provisions there would be pointless.
Hu Che Er would truly be an idiot if he still haven’t acted by then. The two armies clashed outside Nanyang. While Hu Che Er was not able to stop Jia Xu from escaping, One thousand of the Han soldiers perished along with one of the generals, Liu Jie.
Now, Nanyang had no provisions and Hu Che Er was also not able to rob the common people. He was only able to go and rely on Liu Bei for help.
As expected, all those that provoked the viper would only experience suffering.
Liu Mang finally understood how Jia Xu takes his revenge. When he left Nanyang, he burned down all of the provisions until there was nothing left. They would need to rely on Yuzhou and Runan for support.