“Have you inquired about it?” An old man asked a young man outside the main camp at Sanjiangkou. Although the man was old, he was still very energetic. Evidently, he was a militaristic man with enormous strength.
“General! Report!” The young man wanted to cup his fist when old man hit him on the head. “Idiot! It is not general here! It is!”
Although the old man hit the young man on the head, he was not angry. Instead, he was happy. “Yes, god! I have already inquired clearly. For some reason, the thirty thousand navy initially stationed at Sanjiangkou has now been reduced to less than three thousand.”
“Less than three thousand?” The old man furrowed his brows. That was ten times the number and it was a huge change. “Did you find out why?”
“This, I still do not know.” The young man shook his head. He had asked the citizens, only to be told that they were stationed elsewhere. The citizens knew about the number of soldiers as the soldiers would need to buy goods and have recreational breaks. They would naturally know of this information. On top of that, some were elite navy soldiers and could tell the difference in number.
“God. I know the reason for this.” Another man appeared. His face was red and had the smell of alcohol in his breath. The old man furrowed his eyebrows and wanted to beat him up. However, the man quickly said, “God. Do not beat me up. Didn’t I go and inquire discreetly as well?”
The old man lowered his hand and replied, “Speak. Tell me what information a monkey like you can obtain!”
“God. There is a reason the soldiers disappeared. This is because a huge incident occurred at Dongting Lake!” he tried to provoke his god’s appetite then saw that the old man raised his hand again. “The river bandit Zhang Shuo appeared again at Dongting Lake.”
‘The river bandit Zhang Shuo?” The old man pondered again, not expecting Zhang Shuo.
“This bandit Zhang Shuo may not have many troops but he still have about five thousand men. They use small and fast boats to loot and pass through Dongting Lake for a living. The army had campaigned against them multiple times but they would escape to the reeds every time. For some reason, they fought for something that they should not have. This provoked Cai Mao who was then determined to wipe out Zhang Shuo.” The man replied.
“Do they really need to dispatch tens of thousands of soldiers just for the river bandits?” The old man frowned and asked.
“It is not just because of that. The warship needs to be painted. Apparently, there is a new warship coming as well and they were needed to take over.”
“New warship?” The old man became anxious. “What is it like?”
“I was unable to find out this information!” The man laughed. The younger man had asked the common people. He would naturally be unable to obtain any useful information. On the other hand, he had bought and treated wine to the troops. As a navy soldier’s pay was not high, they would naturally be grateful when they were treated. Just like that, they slowly gave away information. However, their ranks were also low and he was unable to obtain concrete information.
“Shit! Another new warship!” The old man recalled. It was because of the new warships1 obtained from the Lu Bu’s Army that he ended up being sunk into the river. He would have died if it were not for that two young men.
Without a doubt, this man was present during the fight at Sanjiangkou. He was one of those whose ship sank. The man, Han Dang, was one of the oldest warriors of Jiandong. He had been fighting for them since the rule of Sun Ce’s , Sun Jian. Han Dang excelled in archery and horsemanship. He was brought along for expeditions because Sun Jian appreciated his worth. He repeatedly obtained outstanding military service. Later on, he also followed Sun Ce and also obtained outstanding military service.
Besides that, he also had friendly relations with the other veterans in the army, such as Huang Gai and Cheng Pu. In private, Sun Ce even called him Uncle Han Dang. His position in the navy was high, yet he almost lost his life at Sanjiangkou. Fortunately, these two fierce men brought him out of the water. He was so grateful to them that he took them as sons.
Han Dang sank into the water because he felt ashamed after his fleet was destroyed. The worst part was that he was the one that loss Sanjiangkou because he underestimated the enemy. That was why he thought of dying there at the Yangtze River.
After he was saved, he realized that he needed to retake Sanjiangkou if he wanted to return to Jiangdong. Now, the opportunity has arrived. Han Dang would not let this opportunity go. “Ping Er. Take my letter to my good friend Huang Gai! He will understand my movements once he reads this letter. In three days, I will attack Sanjiangkou from the inside. Have him allow my return to the Jiangdong Army! Remember to give this to General Huang Gai!” Han Dang wanted the letter to reach Huang Gai because he wanted to coordinate an attack together with Huang Gai. This would give a pleasant surprise to Jiangdong and a less pleasant one to Jingzhou.
“This general will obey.” Now that it was a serious moment, the young man no longer dared to call him god.
“Jiang Er. You are to follow me into Sanjiangkou. We will cause havoc in there.” Han Dang said to the other one as he faced Sanjiangkou.
Huang Gai read the Analects of Confucious out loud. Although he was old, his voice was still clear and resonant. He was a descendant of Huang Zilian. His grand moved to the Lingling district. At a young age, he was orphaned and lived a hard life. However, he was ambitious and constantly reminded himself to study and learn military arts. He was promoted to the government office after some time.
In the year 190 AD, Huang Gai joined Sun Jian’s militia that was raised to supress the Yellow Turbans. In the year 191 AD, Sun Jian passed away and Huang Gai followed Sun Ce. During that time, he was involved in Sun Ce’s conquest of Jiangdong. The reason why Huang Gai was remembered was because of burning Cao Cao’s ships at Yangtze River. It could be said that Huang Gai was not only an old and strong figure but also skilled in tactics.
Huang Gai loved reading books no matter what kind of book it was. He had started reading the Analects of Confucious again but did not read it for war. He had a lot of free time due to the truce with Liu Biao. Sun Ce could also feel relieved with him overseeing Wuchang.
“Master!” Just as Huang Gai was relishing in his book, a steward-like person walked into the hall and interrupted him. Huang Gai’s eyebrows creased and he was about to become angry. The person that came in was his family’s housekeeper. “Didn’t you know not to disturb me when I am reading?”
As a valiant general, his anger and killing intent made the housekeeper feel terrified. The housekeeper immediately knelt and said, “Master, spare my life! I did not intend to disturb you. However, a robust man outside said that he wanted to see you!”
“Somebody wants to see me? I am a General of Jiangdong! Does he think I am someone that he can just simply meet?” Huang Gai was still enraged because his reading was interrupted. Besides that, there were also lots of robust men. He cannot be meeting all of them just because they asked.
“No!” The housekeeper replied. “I did not want to disturb you. However, the man said that your good friend had a message for you!”
“My good friend? Who is it? Is it Cheng Pu?” Huang Gai could only think of Cheng Pu as his good friend. However, Cheng Pu was at Jiangdong. He would not appear here. Wuchang was the frontlines. Only officials who no longer wanted to live would come here.
“Let him in!” Huang Gai’s reading mood had already been interrupted. He decided to just deal with the matter instead of accepting it.
“Yes, master!” The housekeeper quickly escaped. Huang Gai was a ferocious general that was not pleasant to serve. A small mistake would have that person convicted with martial law. That person would be executed without discussion. He would not have went and interrupted Huang Gai if the robust man had not threatened him to take responsibility.
After a while, the robust man was brought into the hall. Huang Gai nodded when he saw this man. The man was robust and his movements firm. This could also be seen amongst the talented men in the army. However, Huang Gai could recognize Cheng Pu’s men. He even trained some of them. “Whose family sent you?”
The man immediately knelt and said, “Child of the Han family greets Uncle Huang.”
“Han family?” Huang Gai’s expression changed. His admiration turned to anger. The only one whose surname started with Han in Jiangdong was Han Dang. Han Dang was certainly Huang Gai’s good friend. However, Han Dang had already perished. Han Dang’s son Han Zong was a hedonistic son. However, Han Dang was someone who had remorse for those that failed to meet expectations. In other words, this man was not Han Dang’s son. Huang Gai felt remorseful for the death of his friend. Now, someone had appeared, feigning to be his son. How could Huang Gai not feel anger?
1. The old man, (Han Dang) doesn’t know what a ballista is. ‘Warship’ is from his point of view.