“Cao Cao, Cao Mengde! I will kill you!” Liu Bei smashed the table. He was a person that seldom got angry. Even when he was angry, it could only be seen through his eyes and even then, it would be hard to notice unless a person paid attention. He was a man of career, adept at hiding his emotions.
Cao Cao was a formidable person who had a grasp on political affairs and paid little mind to the Emperor. On the other hand, Liu Bei was a careerist. He was respectful to the Emperor and also Cao Cao. However, the moment a person turns around, Liu Bei would drive a sword into his back. That was why even Cao Cao had been deceived by Liu Bei. It was also why Liu Bei is known as a hero.
Now, Liu Bei was so furious he was unable to hide it. This was because he had certain victory in his hands. He could have captured Shouchun and conquered Yangzhou. However, it was thwarted by Cao Cao.
The nearby soldier trembled. This soldier was one of the spies that revealed himself. Altogether, there were about a hundred spies that revealed themselves. Xu Shu would definitely not be lenient and wiped them all out in one fell swoop. He was spared to deliver this message to Liu Bei. Otherwise, he would also be dead.
“A hundred thousand provisions! Well played, Cao Mengde!” Liu Bei felt awed. He also had enough provisions at Yuzhou. However, he would be unwilling to give away that much provisions to others. Now, Cao Cao had simply gave that amount to the Lu Bu’s Army at Shouchun.
“A hundred thousand provisions! Where did Cao Mengde get those provisions?” Liu Bei asked. This was not a small amount. Based on the information Liu Bei had gathered before this, Cao Cao was being pressured by Yuan Shao at Guandu. Although Cao Cao managed to defeat Yuan Shao’s Army of a hundred thousand with his thirty thousand navy, Yuan Shao still had several times the number of Cao Cao’s soldiers. Cao Cao also no longer had enough provisions. The only reason the army had not yet crumbled is because dead people do not need food. Even then, they were at death’s door. Cao Cao was also not a self-sacrificing person. That begs the question, where did the provisions come from?
“Milord. The battle at Guandu should already be over!” Pang Tong laughed bitterly. They had received two bad news that day. The first one was that Shouchun was now difficult to capture. With a hundred thousand provisions, they would be able to feed the millions at Shouchun for more than a month. Liu Bei’s original plans had all been disrupted. Pang Tong planned to attack the heart and confuse the people. Now, not only his stratagem had failed but the millions of people were now stimulated by the provisions. If they wanted to capture Shouchun, they would need to fight the people.
According to the spy that returned, the people in Shouchun now hated Liu Bei and have already treated him as a mortal enemy for attacking Shouchun and killing so many of their people. Liu Bei would need to sacrifice a lot of lives if he wanted to continue to attack Shouchun.
Most importantly, Liu Bei no longer had much provisions. His own provisions had not been transported over. In the past few days, they had been eating out of their own savings and they also needed to give some to Zhang Xiu’s Army. They would not be able to last long.
The second bad news was that winner at Guandu had been decided. The amount of time Liu Bei had left was little. It could easily be seen that Cao Cao was the winner. It would be better for them if Yuan Shao did not die. If Yuan Shao were to die, his two sons would not be able to hold out long. It would become impossible for Liu Bei to capture the Central Plains if Cao Cao were to conquer the north before he could do so.
“Shi Yuan! Does Zhang Xiu have any news?” Zhang Xiu had dispatched to Guangzhou two days ago in order to protect the provisions and if possible, wipe out Liu Mang’s main army. This is to re-establish the flow of provisions.
“There is still no news!” Pang Tong shook his head and replied.
“Hm?” Liu Bei frowned. No news was the worst news. Right now, Shouchun was blocking his way. After capturing Shouchun, he would be able to join up with Sun Ce and defeat Lu Bu. This caused him to feel agitated.
“Milord, there is no need to worry. It would take two days to reach Guangzhou from Shouchun. Right now, Hu Che Er and the Xiliang Cavalry should have arrived at Guangzhou. It is possible that they have already started fighting. Once they defeat Liu Mang’s main army, we would be able to re-establish the supply routes and it could also serve as morale to once again attack Shouchun. Although it was difficult to capture Shouchun, Xu Shu’s men were also trapped within Shouchun. Even if there were millions of people, they would scatter away easily during battle.
“Hahaha!” Cao Cao stepped on the land of Jizhou. It was where the ancient capital of Zhaoge used to be. He was here because he had won the Battle of Guandu. Cao Cao did not even have a hundred thousand soldiers. On top of that, his soldiers were all exhausted after fighting against Lu Bu and Liu Bei. On the other hand, Yuan Shao had three hundred thousand soldiers. This was truly frightening to Cao Cao.
Before this, Cao Cao only defended against Yuan Shao’s attacks with thirty thousand soldiers for half a year. Cao Cao’s Army was about to be defeated after taking down about fifty thousand of the enemy soldiers. Although Yuan Shao lost a lot of men, he still had his heavy cavalry. Once they cross the Yellow River and enter Yanzhou, Cao Cao could only choose to flee. Cao Cao had already thought of many ways to ensure that he was not completely destroyed by Yuan Shao. He never would have expected to step into Yuan Shao’s territory instead.
“Milord. Yuan Benchu has gathered his forces at Yecheng! It seems like he wants to stop us there!” A handsome and enchanting general said to Cao Cao. If he was anymore enchanting, he would be prettier than a woman. Although he had a face that would make women jealous, his attire and the scar on his face would tell them that he is a man.
“Junyi!” Cao Cao looked at the general. A few days ago, this man was Cao Cao’s enemy. The two of them would have tried to kill each other. This man was also one of Yuan Shao’s Four Pillars of Hebei, Zhang He, Zhang Junyi. Cao Cao was very pleased with him.
Zhang He had partic.i.p.ated in the subjugation of the Yellow Turbans. Later, he joined up with Yuan Shao and contributed in defeating Gongsun Zan, and then getting promoted to the General of Household Who Brings Peace to the State1 for his achievements.
Cao Cao was respectful to Zhang He. When the two armies clashed, Zhang He was Cao Cao’s biggest headache as the man was a powerful warrior and also know strategy. Cao Cao defeated Yuan Shao because of the battle at Wuchao. However, he had almost lost because of Zhang He. Fortunately, it was Yuan Shao that gave Zhang He to him. Zhang He had warned Yuan Shao that Cao Cao’s men would be able to defeat Chunyu Qiong at Wuchao. At that time, Yuan Shao’s ambition would come to an end. However, Yuan Shao’s advisor Guo Tu said that Zhang He’s idea was not good and suggested attacking Cao Cao’s main camp. His reasoning was that Cao Cao would pull back his forces once his main camp was threatened. Zhang He retorted that Cao Cao’s main camp was well guarded and the attack would end in failure and that they would all become prisoners of war once Chunyu Qiong is defeated. In the end, Yuan Shao listened to Guo Tu and ignored Zhang He’s advice. When Guo Tu’s stratagem ended in failure, he accused Zhang He for taking pleasure in their defeat to draw attention away from himself. Zhang He became afraid when he heard of this and defected to Cao Cao.
Cao Cao was naturally happy about this and immediately made Zhang He a Lieutenant-General1 and Marquis of a Chief Village1.
Cao Cao had high opinion of Zhang He, causing Zhang He to feel as though he had met his Lord. Although he was one of Yuan Shao’s Four Pillars of Hebei, he did not even have his own division. He had a large halberd in his hand but during battle, he was only controlled by Guo Tu. In Yuan Shao’s Army, position is not dependant on a person’s ability but on a person’s reputation. This is especially true after defeating Gongsun Zan. Yuan Shao became something of a narcissist2. Sincere advice became grating to his ears. Talented people like Tian Feng would be removed. Zhang He could not tolerate this. Most importantly, Yuan Shao’s two sons were seizing power. There were two camps in Yuan Shao’s Army. One supported his eldest son Yuan Tan while the other supported Yuan Shang. Normally, the heir should be the eldest son. However, Yuan Shao preferred his younger son. Besides that, Yuan Tan’s mother was already dead while Yuan Shang’s mother was Yuan Shao’s legal wife. This caused both factions to be like oil and water.
Many of Yuan Shao’s subordinates have already chose a side. The ones that haven’t gets restrained and pushed away by both sides. Zhang He was one of those victims.
“Ye Cheng!” Cao Cao shouted in a good mood. Ye Cheng was Yuan Shao’s home base. It was like Cao Cao’s Xu Dou. Capturing Ye Cheng caused a huge blow to the morale of Yuan Shao’s Army which would also cause their effectiveness in battle to drop.
This was why Cao Cao needed to capture Ye Cheng even if he needed to spent lives. At that moment, Cao Cao had a considerable amount of troops. He had obtained hundreds and thousands of provisions and also the scattered and defeated soldiers from Wuchao. There had been about ten thousand enemy troops. Only about three thousand had perished while the rest joined up with Cao Cao. Amongst those that defected, about five thousand were still capable of battle. Cao Cao had also received about ten thousand cavalry, increasing his own to about twenty thousand cavalry.
That being said, Yuan Shao must still not be underestimated. Even a starving camel is still larger than a horse3. Although defeated, Yuan Shao still had no shortage of capable people and more than a hundred thousand troops. It would not be an easy battle.
“Who is the enemy’s general?” Cao Cao wanted to know what was going on in the Yuan Shao’s Army. Cao Cao was very cautious and did not lower his guard even though he won at Guandu. He wanted to know everything so that he could coordinate his forces.
“Report. The flags at the front are Yan, Wen, Shen and Feng!” Zhang He replied without hiding any information.
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“Yan, Wen, Shen and Feng?” These referred to Yan Liang, Wen Chou, Shen Pei and Feng Ji. In this timeline, Guan Yu was not around to kill Yan Liang and Wen Chou. As a result, those two were still alive. With over a hundred thousand troops along with two powerful generals and two first cla.s.s advisors, Cao Cao would experience a hard battle.
“Why is Guo Tu no longer at Benchu’s side in Jizhou?” Right now, Yecheng was very secure. They had hundreds and thousands of troops stationed there and also lots of provisions. They could hold out for more than a year. Guo Tu had no reason to escape. “In that case, there could only be two possible reasons. “The first one… Sigh. It is possible that Benchu is already dead!”
“Benchu is dead?” Cao Cao was also stunned. Although he and Yuan Shao were now enemies, they used to be friends. Yuan Shao’s death would also make Cao Cao sad. “If Benchu is dead, there should be a huge uproar in the army!” Cao Cao replied confused.
“It is possible that Yuan Shang had given a gag order. The other possibility is that Benchu is still alive but is not far from death!” Xu You felt melancholic. Yuan Shao should still be alive but seriously ill and in a coma. It probably cannot be cured. Otherwise, Guo Tu would not escape. After all, he is someone Yuan Tan had placed by Yuan Shao’s side. If he was no longer by Yuan Shao’s side, Yuan Tan would not know even if he was slandered by others.
Either way, the reasons had nothing to do with Cao Cao. He was more worried about the competent people In the army. Now, Hebei should be experiencing a commotion. Guo Tu left as he was afraid that Yuan Shang would kill him.
Once Guo Tu informs Yuan Tan of Yuan Shao’s condition, there would be an internal strife between the two brothers. Although Yecheng is difficult to capture, it no longer needed Cao Cao’s attention.
I admit to using Wikipedia for these. 寧國中郎將 These names don’t really translate well. On the off chance that it gets mentioned again like Left General, I may just leave it out. It is too much of a mouthful for a normal conversation. I did not bother (did not even think about whether it is right or wrong to do so) using artistic license in making the names sound nicer as I am someone who would name a cat, Cat… or maybe Dog just for laughs. Here are the rest,
度亭侯 Marquis of a Chief Village
天下我有 literal translation, ‘I have heaven and earth’. Something like ‘I am almighty!’ The story said Yuan Shao started to become something like this. Bolded the something because it literally said something like ‘Yuan Shao started to become something like I am almighty’. So I just went and put narcissist. Not entirely correct as narcissist are supposed to have low self-esteem. This is more like an annoyingly overconfident fellow who acts like a narcissist. I could also say ‘become even more arrogant’ but that may not attribute to his ability (or lack thereof) to listen to good advice.
Chinese idiom(?). Camel = Yuan Shao’s Army. Horse = Cao Cao’s Army.
Hebei ‘can be decided/fixed’ 河北可定 . I found this confusing so I searched ‘deeper’ and found Rosuvastatin calcium.
Based on Wikipedia which can be said to be an unreliable source for history lessons, Yuan Shao only had three sons. His ‘fourth son’ Yuan Mai could have been his grandchild (Chinese wiki) and Yuan Bu died at childbirth here so it doesn’t matter.
月子酒 Hakka rice wine or mother wine. Used to treat guests during festivals. Mothers are also encouraged to drink this after giving birth as it helps with their postpartum period.
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