Chapter 6 - The Moon Waxes Only to Wane
Tiger Cage Pa.s.s!
“Dang! Dang! Dang! Dang!.............”
The sound of a gong ordering a retreat rang outside the Tiger Cage Pa.s.s.
Tiger Cage Pa.s.s had a huge city gate tower which was sandwiched between precipitous cliffs. At this moment, regarded on whether on the tower or outside Tiger Cage Pa.s.s, there was a sea of bodies, countless fire arrows and rising smoke. At the side of the city gate tower, there were a lot of ladders that was being burnt by a big fire.
Gu Qin, who had dyed his hair white, stood at the entrance of the city gate tower, overlooking the large numbers of retreating Song soldiers.
Behind Gu Qin stood Chen Tianshan and Chen Liangyi.
“Hiss… What a close shave! Who knew that the news we received earlier, that Gao Xianzhi was frightened by Gu Hai and stopped his march was actually fake. He moved faster than we thought, furthermore, they were all elite soldiers. Good thing you have made preparations; Tiger Cage Pa.s.s was nearly destroyed!” Chen Tianshan face still showed some lingering fear.
Chen Liangyi nodded his head in certainty: “Good thing you have prepared kerosene and used it to burn the ladders through which they were climbing. Or else, it would be too horrible to contemplate. Indeed they were elite soldiers, just one of them would be able to deal with five of ours. This….!” Chen Liangyi also still showed some lingering fears as well.
Gu Qin did not look at the two of them, instead, while gazing into the distance, he softly said, “The two of you, regardless of the situation, do not let the cat out of the bag, remember, now, I am Gu Hai!”
At this moment, Gu Qin’s hair was dyed white along with many wrinkles on his face. Although he did not look like Gu Hai, the number of people who had met Gu Hai were spa.r.s.e. Even in these few years, the number of people who had seen Gu Qin were not many. Furthermore, Gu Qin’s appearance had changed a lot, most people would not be able to recognize him. Even the people of the Gu Mansion would not be able to recognize him.
Chen Tianshan and Cheng Liangyi looked at Gu Qin, and solemnly nodded their head.
When Gu Hai initially made the arrangements, Chen Tianshan was not willing. He was worried about any accidents. But now, he was not resentful, at least, Gu Hai antic.i.p.ated the enemies moves and managed to block the earlier five hour long attack, causing Gao Xianzhi to retreat helplessly.
“I will obey everything you say, however you want things to be, it shall be, as long as you can hold off Gao Xianzhi!” Chen Liangyi said resolutely.
“Immortal Expert Chen, G.o.dfather wishes to use the fastest method to completely defeat the Song Kingdom. Thus, in order to prevent any accidents, please do not reveal the movements of my G.o.dfather to anyone.” Gu Qin Solemnly said.
Chen Tianshan nodded his head: “I will keep it a secret. It’s just that, in the battle earlier, we have lost three thousand good men. And even though Gao Xianzhi has also lost three thousand men, that is just a small portion of his army. When his whole army arrives and gather at Tiger Cage Pa.s.s, how are you going to defend?”
“Just relax, I trust my G.o.dfather, he will bind them up very soon!” Gu Qin said after a moment of silence.
“The ones who attacked the Pa.s.s was Gao Xianzhi’s vanguard, the one leading them is known as Lin Chong. This is a very valiant man, we need to pay more attention to him. We should go back and get the impressionist to draw his face out and stick it everywhere for the soldiers to see, as long as they see him, they should attack with all their might!” Gu Qin said.
“Yes!” Chen Liangyi replied.
Outside the Tiger Cage Pa.s.s.
Inside a large tent at a large barracks.
A scholarly man in red clothes around the age of 40 was holding a cup of hot tea, carefully observing a huge sand table. The terrain of the Tiger Cage Pa.s.s was meticulously detailed on the sand table.
Beside him stood a group of bodyguards who were completely quiet, no one dared to interrupt this scholarly man who was holding a teacup.
The man’s appearance seems talented and bright, there was a vague heroic spirit between his brows. Whoever looked at him would feel their mind tremble.
After he took a sip of tea, he used his hands to make some changes on the sand table.
Suddenly, a majestic man drenched in blood rushed into the tent.
The majestic man knelt on the ground, his face full of guilt.
But the scholarly man just continued to look at the sand table, turning his back to him.
“General, Lin Chong is incompetent, we were not able to take down the Tiger Cage Pa.s.s. The commander of the Tiger Cage Pa.s.s seemed to know that we were coming and had prepared kerosene in advance. We suffered many casualties, three thousand soldiers are dead and two thousand soldiers were heavily injured. This subordinate is incompetent, causing a great loss, please punish me!” The majestic man knelt and pleaded guilty.
The general holding the teacup did not turn his head and continued to look at the sand table.
“Please punish me, this subordinate is incompetent, he is unable to defeat the city gate tower!” The majestic Lin Chong knocked his head against the ground.
“You failing to attack the city gate tower is normal, if you could do it, then something is actually wrong!” The general said gently.
“Ah?” Lin Chong started blankly at the general.
This man was none other that the General of expedition against Chen Kingdom, Gao Xianzhi!
Holding the teacup and slowly turning around, Gao Xianzhi smiled at Lin Chong while looking at him: “I did not hope for you to defeat the Tiger Cage Pa.s.s! I just used the vanguard troops to test the strength of Tiger Cage Pa.s.s. You don’t have to blame yourself, the people defending the city cannot be defeated by you.”
“General, you don’t blame me?” Ling Chong said in shock.
Gao Xianzhi took another sip of tea and nodded his head: “I have already sent people to investigate the terrain of the surroundings of the Tiger Cage Pa.s.s. Gu Hai does lives up to his name, his defense is impregnable. Even the steep mountain pa.s.ses have been destroyed, cutting off our routes of attack!”
“But, our three thousand brothers……!” Lin Chong face turned ugly.
“It’s alright, there will naturally be deaths in a battle. This Gu Hai is different from everyone we met, never ever look down on him. You must treat him as an extremely strong opponent, remember, he is even stronger than me!” Gao Xianzhi said sullenly.
“Ah? How can it be? General, within the Song Kingdom, I admire only you!” Lin Chong said in disbelief.
“But under the skies, I admire only him!” Gao Xianzhi sullenly said.
“Ah? What?” Lin Chong said in shock.
“Although I admire him, but I still must defeat him. Thus, you all have to be careful!” Gao Xianzhi solemnly said.
“When Gu Hai commands armies, it is impossible to defend against them, furthermore, there are many unorthodox strategies that you will not be able to discover. From now on, even if it did not happen on the battlefield, report all strange happenings to me immediately!” Gao Xianzhi said in a solemn tone.
“Attack for another three days, even if more die, it does not matter. For every death of a soldier, the Tiger Cage Pa.s.s will weaken as well. When those inferior soldiers see the death of their comrades, their resolve will be shaken. Three days later, we will withdraw. In the coming days when the whole army is here to attack them, they will crumble by themselves!” Gao Xianzhi said coldly and took his last sip of tea.
After three days.
Atop the city gate tower at Tiger Cage Pa.s.s.
“They have withdrawn, they have finally withdrawn!” Chen Liangyi said with his eyes br.i.m.m.i.n.g with tears of excitement.
“But over these three days, we have lost 10 thousand men!” Chen Tianshan showed an ugly expression.
There was only a total of 100 thousand inferior soldiers, now that 10 thousand were dead, the drop in morale was horrifying. Furthermore, the opponent still has 700 or 800 thousand soldiers around their borders.
“You are worried that the soldiers will get restless?” Gu Qin smiled lightly.
“Wouldn’t they?” Chen Liangyi worriedly asked.
“They will!” Gu Qin had a look of certainty.
“Gao Xianzhi learned his psychological warfare from my father, what he knows, would my father not know? Just relax and leave it to me to manage it. By changing the way we announce this, the death of these ten thousand soldiers would not scare them, but instead will rouse their fierce nature, causing them to not be afraid of dying!” Gu Qin smiled.
Gao Xianzhi, who was riding on a big black horse, slowly moved towards a huge city while bringing ten thousand injured soldiers along with him.
Although they did not defeat the Tiger Cage Pa.s.s, but to Gao Xianzhi, that was already sufficient because he had planted a seed of terror into the hearts of the remaining Tiger Cage Pa.s.s’ Chen Kingdom soldiers.
The Tiger Cage Pa.s.s’ army had lost ten thousand men, this might end up provoking them, but, so what. In the days to come, when 800 thousand soldiers were going to attack, the seeds of terror would blossom and rapidly cripple the fierce nature of the men.
Right in front of them was the largest stronghold of the 800 thousand strong army. It was also the Chen Kingdom’s largest city aside from the capital. Also known as the ‘Merchants’ City’, this was where the richest merchant in 6 countries came from.
At this moment, it had long been conquered by them and was designated as their stronghold. The soldiers were scattered throughout the city.
“The General is back!” Soldiers from far away came forward to welcome them.
“Within the Merchants' City, was there any merchant who behaved errantly?” Gao Xianzhi asked.
“No, general, you can relax, you have already ordered us to keep an eye on them long ago. Not just the Merchants' City, but other cities as well. There are no merchants who dared to misbehave!” The leading soldier reported.
“En!” Gao Xianzhi nodded his head.
The army slowly made their way into the city, heading to a huge drill ground in the heart of the city. The drill grounds was also the gathering point for the army. Not counting those sent into battles, there were at least 300 thousand soldiers stationed here.
They were still a distance away from the drill grounds when there was the sound of firecracker coming from the grounds. Gao Xianzhi suddenly frowned.
“Pi Li Pa La!”
The firecrackers were going off nonstop, it was very noisy!
“What is going on?” Gao Xianzhi frowned.
“General, these are some of the merchants from our Song Kingdom’s cities, they are here to show appreciation to our army!” the soldier reported.
“What? Merchants?” Gao Xianzhi’s complexion changed.
He suddenly thought of the richest merchant in six countries, Gu Hai.
Gao Xianzhi spurred his horse on and his black horse immediately sped up.
Very soon, they arrived at the drill grounds. At this moment, there was a group of men wearing embroidered clothes, paying their respects to a middle-aged man in a flowery gown.
“Crown Prince is complimenting us too much, we merchants are incapable, all we can do is to express our appreciations, this is really nothing, it’s just a token of our appreciation. Seeing the Song Kingdom grow stronger makes us happy, thus our city’s Merchants' a.s.sociation decided to send goods for the army to use, to prevent Gu Hai of the Chen Kingdom from causing a shortfall!”
The man in front wearing the flowery robes was the Song Kingdom’s Crown Prince. At this moment, he was standing in front of a group of merchants, his eyes had a glint of satisfaction.
“The General is back!” Suddenly, a low-ranked soldier shouted.
“Whis.h.!.+ Whis.h.!.+ Whis.h.!.+”
From everywhere, regardless if they were officers, the Crown Prince, the merchants or odd-job workers, they all turned their heads.
They saw Gao Xianzhi riding a big horse das.h.i.+ng to their front.
From somewhere nearby, there were firecrackers going off. However, there was a chilly glint in his eyes.
“I have seen the General!” the Song Kingdom’s Crown Prince smiled.
“Greetings to the General!” A group of merchants excitedly greeted.
“What is going on?” Gao Xianzhi asked coldly.
“Oh, This is the Merchants' a.s.sociation from Song Kingdom’s Peng City. They have heard that you ordered all granaries and medicine stores to be monitored in order to prevent Gu Hai from causing havoc and causing a shortfall. Thus, the Peng City’s Merchants' a.s.sociation rallied and sent over huge amounts of grain and medicine, to do their part for the kingdom, and support our army!” Crown Prince Song laughed.
“Oh?” Gao Xianzhi was mildly surprised.
After Gao Xianzhi heard that Gu Hai was commanding the army, his first reaction was that Gu Hai might make use of business connections to cut off the resources, thus he made preparations. Who knew that the Merchants' a.s.sociation of Song Kingdom’s Peng City acted on their own initiative.
The leading merchant was filled with smiles and said: “Congratulations General, the army is in high spirits, and have even vanquished the Chen King. When I received the news, my heart palpitated, I am completely convinced of your abilities. Thus, I brought some army supplies to show my appreciation, as well as to send my sincere congratulations. Hopefully, this general will allow that.”
However, Gao Xianzhi suspiciously eyed this group of merchants. Given the vigilance of Gao Xianzhi, his first thought was whether if these are spies sent by Gu Hai. What if it was a trap? But, seeing the mountain of food and medicine, Gao Xianzhi was at a loss. It did not seem like a trap!
If they were really here to offer congratulations and resources, then there was no need to take action.
“In that case, then I, on behalf of the entire army, thank all of you! This General had came from far away and is a little tired, I won’t be able to entertain you further!” Gao Xianzhi said.
“Naturally! Naturally!” The group of merchants laughed.
“General, go have a rest, there is still me here!” The Crown Prince smiled.
Gao Xianzhi nodded his head.
In the evening, Lin Chong went into Gao Xianzhi’s tent.
“General, I have already investigated, the grains and medicine have no problems, they are of the best quality! Looks like this group of merchants are not related to Gu Hai!”
“All the best quality?” Gao Xianzhi frowned.
“Yes, this group of merchants are very cordial, later, they are holding a fireworks convention to congratulate us on our huge victory!” Lin Chong laughed.
“Send someone to keep an eye on this group of merchants!” Gao Xianzhi said in a low voice,
“General, I heard that they would be leaving the first thing in the morning, why are we……..?”
“I still have a bad feeling. In any case, just keep an eye on them!” Gao Xianzhi said in a low voice.
The next day, Gao Xianzhi rose from the bed and washed up.
“Pi Li Pa La!”
Outside the barracks, there was another round of firecrackers.
“Huh? Lin Chong!” Gao Xianzhi coldly shouted.
“Here!” Lin Chong quickly rushed into the tent.
“Didn’t I tell you to keep an eye on the Peng City’s merchant? Did something went wrong?” Gao Xianzhi asked in a low voice.
“Nothing is wrong, they have already left this morning. Oh, but today the merchants from Yun City are here to reward the army. The firecrackers were set off from outside the city to the barracks at the heart of the city. They also brought large amounts of medicine and grain. It does not seem to be fake!” Lon Chong smiled.
“Merchants from Yun City?” Gao Xianzhi seemed a little stunned.
“Yes, the grain and medicine are all of the best quality, I have sent someone to check. Haha! We no longer have to worry about Gu Hai hindering us!” Lin Chong laughed.
A look of suspicion appeared on Gai Xianzhi’s face.
Song Kingdom Capital, Song City. Tian Mansion.
In front of Gu Hai was a Weiqi board and he seemed to be playing with himself and standing at one side was his G.o.dson, Gu Han.
“G.o.dfather, according to your wishes, the Peng City’s, Yun City’s, and Hui City’s Merchant a.s.sociations have continuously gone to the Merchants' City and sent large amounts of grain and medicine. Every Merchants' a.s.sociation had continued to send people under our prompting, only, what is the purpose of sending them so much grain and medicine?” Gu Han asked puzzledly.
Placing a white piece on the board, Gu Hai smiled: “Exactly, what use it is? Gu Han, are you not able to figure it out?”
Gu Han’s expression changed: “Oh, I got it. Because Gao Xianzhi was making preparations against us, they have already prepared enough grain and medicine. Thus when we sent food and medicine, it is useless. Under normal circ.u.mstances, the grain and medicines would be precious, but now, when there is sufficient, the surplus is useless. They can only store it and collect dust, it still required people to manage and move. They are better off just receiving money, the money could be given to the soldiers, boosting their morale. But it is not easy to reward the soldiers with grain, especially during war times. After they are given the grain, they would not be able to bring it away. Although these are useless, they are actually trash that is used to fool people.”
“This is known as ‘the moon waxes only to wane’, when there is a surplus, not only is it useless, but it can cause harm!” Gu Hai said in a low voice.
“Indeed, that group of officials who watched as these gifts arrived in the barracks while they received nothing at all, must be feeling frustrated in their hearts.” Gu Han laughed.
“What else?” Gu Hai asked as he placed a black piece down once again.
Gu Han knew that Gu Hai was teaching him, and did his best to a.n.a.lyze the situation, after some silence, Gu Han’s eyes lit up in shock.
“Firecrackers and fireworks?” Gu Han said in astonishment.
Gu Han smiled gently: “Explain.”
“Merchants' City has 300 thousand soldiers stationed there, the other 500 thousand soldiers have been sent out to conquer other cities. Merchants’ City is the main stronghold, but it is also a place for the soldiers to recover. The elite soldiers are continuously being dispatched out, but the injured soldiers are being sent back to be healed. Some of them have broken arms or legs, some injured throughout the whole body, they are very upset, they have been disabled and do not have much hope for the future. Yet at this time, people are celebrating, setting off firecrackers, singing and dancing. This is akin to pouring salt on the injured soldier’s wounds, causing psychological damage to them!” Gu Han explained.
“The fireworks at night looks very pretty and dazzling, but to the injured soldiers, it is a form of ridicule! In addition, the large amount of grain and medicine were not distributed to them, causing the injured soldiers to feel even more upset. Other people could bask in the glory of victory but they only have a bleak future to look forward to?” Gu Han said.
Gu Hai nodded his head: “Is there more?”
Gu Han thought for a little longer, then his expression changed.
“G.o.dfather, are you referring to the civilians of the Merchants' City?” Gu Han asked in astonishment.
Gu Hai stopped playing and nodded his head: “Indeed, Gao Xianzhi executed 600 thousand Chen soldiers, these 600 thousand people are the pillar of support of many civilians. They could be sons, husbands or fathers. They are the mental support of every family, after their deaths, many families are in grief, with a bleak outlook of their future. Only, they had no way of resisting against these invaders. However, at this moment, these invaders are actually celebrating and laughing every day, attempting to a.s.similate with them. Although they had no other choice, but in their hearts, more and more hate are set ablaze!”
“One day, when this hatred reaches its peak, it will become a horrifying force?” Gu Han took a deep breath.
“Remember, no matter who it is, they would have no way to resist the anger of the civilians. When it comes, it would be like a major natural disaster, it cannot be stopped!” Gu Hai said in a low voice.
“Hiss!” Gu Han sucked in a cold lump of air.
“G.o.dfather, I have never thought that these small trinkets have such treacherous uses, it can actually change the popular opinion!”
“The will of the people is the strongest! Likewise, it is also the weakest! Crus.h.i.+ng their hearts is just the beginning!”
When he finished, Gu Hai placed another piece on the board.