“Zilong. Are you obstinately going to choose the wrong side like this pretty boy?” Zhang Fei held on to his spear in anger. He had known Zhao Yun for many years. When Liu Bei joined up with Gongsun Zan, they were fighting against Yuan Shao. At that time, Zhao Yun was there. When Tao Qian gave Xuzhou to Liu Bei, Zhao Yun was also there. In other words, both Zhang Fei and Zhao Yun were old friends. Yet, Zhao Yun had just attacked Zhang Fei with such force that would pin Zhang Fei onto the walls of Shouchun had Zhang Fei decided not to give up killing Xu Shu. This were not actions of a friend but the actions of an enemy. Even mortal enemies would not be so ruthless.
“What benefits did that False King give the two of you that the two of you become blinded? I am not a studious person but I know if you do not surrender, you will only arrive at a dead end!” Zhang Fei roared at Zhao Yun and Xu Shu. Zhang Fei’s words had no pressure on Xu Shu as they were strangers. However, Zhang Fei was confused about Zhao Yun. Shouchun would not last much longer. There were only few hundred defenders left on the walls. Liu Bei’s flag was flying on the walls. In just a few moments, Shouchun would belong to the Liu Bei’s Army.
“Obstinately choosing the wrong side? General Zhang. We have been on the same side once but now, we are enemies. General Zhang best remember that if you continue to slander Milord, you cannot blame me for forgetting our old connections!” Zhao Yun replied with pain in his eyes. Zhao Yun was a loyal man. He held Zhang Fei, Guan Yu and even Liu Bei in admiration. He really did not want to fight against them. However, when he thought about the words Liu Mang said to him along with the people of Yangzhou, he became determined. “If nothing else, I will do this for the millions of common people in Shouchun!” Zhao Yun said again as he cupped his fist at Zhang Fei.
“The millions of common people? Zilong. You must be confused. My brother is the one truly restoring the Han. He is the one working for the common people. Have you forgotten the common people eagerly following him after he loss Xuzhou? Have you forgotten his love and respect for the people of Xuzhou?” Zhang Fei also did not want to fight against Zhao Yun. It was not a matter of whether he could win. He was simply unwilling to.
“Haha! The people eagerly followed him? Truly the Left General! Truly the Imperial Uncle! He abandoned the people to escape!” A military general like Zhao Yun did not notice it but Xu Shu could see it with a single glance. Liu Bei had the people follow him so that he would have more time to retreat. With the people blocking the roads, the soldiers chasing Liu Bei would have two choices. The first choice was to wait for the people to pass by. This would allow Liu Bei to escape. The other choice was to kill the common people. This would give them a bad reputation. As for how Liu Bei earned the favour of the people from Xuzhou, this was because they were already afraid of Cao Cao. Cao Cao wanted them dead to avenge his father. Tao Qian could not save them. At that time, Liu Bei appeared. The common people were simply grasping at straws. Besides that, Liu Bei had good luck. Just as Cao Cao was about to capture Xuzhou, his own Yanzhou was taken by Lu Bu. Cao Cao had no choice but to withdraw his troops.
“Hmph. Either way, you cannot hold on to Shouchun for much longer! There are only a few hundred weak and injured men on the walls!” Zhang Fei was stunned by Xu Shu’s words but he was unable to refute it. This was because Xu Shu explained the reasons of most of Liu Bei’s actions.
“Zilong. Stop caring about me and leave with those things! Go to Guangzhou and find Milord. Then, Milord would be able to succeed in his great cause!” Xu Shu pushed Zhao Yun away. Those things were very important and it would be a huge loss if they were to lose it.
“Rest assured, Military Advisor! Those things have been sent by ship and should have already arrived at Lujiang!” Zhao Yun smiled lightly. Zhao Yun had disobeyed military orders this time but he was not stupid. He knew that those things were more important than his own life. So, Zhao Yun ordered the navy to go to Lujiang with it. Before this, they had to worry about Liu Bei’s navy. However, Liu Bei’s navy had already been sent to the bottom of the river. “Besides. Who said that there were only a few hundred soldiers?” Zhao Yun laughed. Before he even finished that sentence, shouting could be heard coming from behind.
“Kill! Drive those bandits away from Shouchun! Kill them all!” A group of two hundred men with weapons appeared. They were from the White Horses. Although they were supposed to be heavy cavalry, they used to be part of the Urban Army, who were heavy infantries. Naturally, they were very valiant.
“Only this few hundred people?” The shouting shocked Zhang Fei but when Zhang Fei took a look, he only saw a few hundred people. Even if they were elites, they were still heavily outnumbered.
“Of course not!” Zhao Yun glanced back at Zhang Fei and replied. “ Behind the White Horses was a large group of people in plain clothing. They held weapons but did not have any armor or shields at all. Yet, their fighting spirit was high as they charged forward.
“The common people of Shouchun?” Zhang Fei furrowed his brow.
“Those people shouted for blood all day long?” Liu Bei had constantly watched the movements on the wall. Now he felt like he was swallowing flies as the people on the walls were all the common people of Shouchun. Zhao Yun had opened up the armory so, some of the common people held swords. However, there were many more holding hoes and other tools. Some even held wooden sticks! Using the common people to defend the city and for war. This was Liu Bei’s strategy. It was one of the reasons why Cao Cao was unable to kill Liu Bei.
The White Horses struck at the Liu Bei’s Army with the common people accompanying them. Although the common people were initially cowardly, they soon got used to the killing. With the White Horses leading the charge, the common people with swords were able to behead the enemy soldiers. The others that weren’t holding swords simply ganged up on their opponents. Liu Bei’s soldiers that managed to climb up the walls with great difficulty could only fight a little before becoming overwhelmed.
“Reinforcements! Our reinforcements!” The defenders cheered. The reinforcements were the common people that volunteered to fight. Seeing them raised their morale. The numbers in Liu Bei’s Army decreased the more they fought. On the other hand, more of the Shouchun’s common people started using actual weapons. They simply picked up the weapons from the ground.
“Liao Hua! Take the Yuzhou Army and rush to the city walls to support Zhang Fei!” Liu Bei’s eyes flashed coldly. ‘If the common people are going to act recklessly, then don’t blame me!’ Liu Bei wanted all of his soldiers to fight and massacre the common people.
“Milord. Withdraw the troops!” Pang Tong stopped Liu Bei from taking further actions. This was because it would now be hard for Liu Bei’s Army to gain a foothold on the walls. The morale of the defenders were high while the morale of their own soldiers continue to drop. Besides that, they would never be able to finish killing the common people.
Even if they managed to kill them all, Liu Bei’s reputation as a benevolent person would be gone. This was one of his greater advantages and should not be thrown away.
“Hmph! Withdraw!” Liu Bei also felt helpless and could only listen to Pang Tong’s suggestion. The sound of retreat was then played.
When Zhao Yun, Zhang Fei and Xu Shu heard the call for a retreat, they all sighed with relief. Zhang Fei felt relief because he was injured and Zhao Yun was as strong as him. If they were to continue fighting then, Zhang Fei would lose. Zhao Yun felt relief because he did not want to enter a life and death struggle with Zhang Fei. He had thrown his spear at Zhang Fei and was only holding a normal sword. It was good enough against the average soldiers but he would be at a disadvantage when fighting against someone like Zhang Fei. Zhao Yun also needed to protect Xu Shu. He would be in trouble if Zhang Fei decided to take Xu Shu’s head first. Xu Shu sighed with relief because Shouchun can now hold out longer as they had been lacking manpower.
“General Zhang. Are you not going to leave? Do you need us to send you off?” Xu Shu asked as he looked at Zhang Fei. His face was still pale from fighting Zhang Fei. He would need to train more in the future or his body would not be able to take it.
“Hmph” Zhang Fei snorted. On this rare occasion, he did not retort. Instead, he looked at Zhao Yun and said, “Zilong. I hope you look after yourself!” Zhang Fei then took his Serpent Spear and escaped. He quickly descended the walls of Shouchun.
After that, Xu Shu was finally unable to hold on and started coughing. He spat out blood from his mouth and had obviously suffered from internal injury.
“Military Advisor! What’s wrong?” Zhao Yun rushed to Xu Shu and asked but Xu Shu had already passed out. Fortunately, Zhao Yun could hear that Xu Shu still had pulse and quickly ordered for Xu Shu to be brought down the walls.
“Brother. If you dispatch troops again today, Shouchun would fall!” Zhang Fei said to Liu Bei at camp. “This time it went well. That pretty boy has already been chased off. I only got this.” Zhang Fei continued and threw Deng Yi’s head forward.
“Third Brother. You did a good job killing the deputy general of Shouchun. This Shouchun would not fall in a few days. I am sure you are tired now. I allow you to take leave and drink wine at night!” Liu Bei said with a smile.
“Many thanks Brother!” Zhang Fei laughed as he left. It was good if there was wine.
Liu Bei smiled as he watched Zhang Fei leave. However, when Zhang Fei left, his expression turned sour. This was because he knew that it would become even harder in the future if he could not take Shouchun on that day. At the very least, it would not be as easy the next day. The common people had gone to the walls to defend. This was usually Liu Bei’s tactic. The common people could be told that they would be slaughtered if the enemy captures the city. This would make them desperate and fight for you.
Although the common people may not be strong, they had numbers. Even an elite could not fight off a hundred men on his own. If Xu Shu was able to mobilize twenty percent of the city, it would already be two hundred thousand people. It was a number that made Liu Bei shudder.
“Milord. What is there to worry about?” Pang Tong just entered the camp. He had just asked Zhang Fei about his encounter with Xu Shu. After that, he entered the camp only to see Liu Bei sighing away.
“Shi Yuan. Tomorrow’s siege is going to be difficult. If we do not do it well, Shouchun would become hard to capture!” Liu Bei said with a wry smile. If the common people start to move, the battle would become difficult.
“Milord is too concerned!” Pang Tong laughed. “It is true that the common people are helping to defend the walls. However, from another point of view, it is also saying that Shouchun is about to fall! If there are enough defenders, why would they use the common people?”
“But Military Advisor. Haven’t you seen how frightening the common people can be?” Liu Bei had explained that he could have only escaped and saved most of his strength after defeating Cao Cao because of their help.
“Haha. Milord. The common people are terrifying but they are not only for Xu Shu to use!”
“Hm? Will Teacher teach me?” Liu Bei’s eyes turned brighter the moment he heard Pang Tong’s words. The calmer Pang Tong is, the more Liu Bei would have a peace of mind. This is because it showed that Pang Tong had a well thought out plan.
“Milord. Why did these people abandon their businesses and come all the way to Shouchun? This is naturally for the fertile land. However, the harvesting period would only be next year! This meant that their food for the year is all supplied by Lu Bu’s Army.”
Liu Bei nodded. This was Sun Ce’s strategy but Liu Bei had also contributed to this.
“In the past few days, no matter what cities we capture, the results had been the same. That is, very little provisions were found. This meant that there is not enough food in Yangzhou! Where would he obtain the provisions to feed millions of people? What do you think would happen if we spread the rumour that there is no longer any food and the people would starve to death?”
“Military Advisor. Are you saying…” Liu Bei was a person who could understand strategy.
“Rather than a siege, attack the heart. Although the power of the people is strong, it is also a double-edged sword. One would hurt themselves if they cannot use it well!” Pang Tong gave a light reply. He then added, “Milord. I have already dispatched a spy into the city. I just need to give them the order.” With a good military advisor, there would be nothing to worry about. Everything was already settled.
“What do you need?” Liu Bei asked. If there was nothing for him to do, Pang Tong would not be here.
“Milord. We need the army to make food. Take out our grains and cattle. Kill one cattle and prepare it, then put it below the walls of Shouchun. After that, inform the people of your benevolence.
Why would the common people help Xu Shu defend the city? This was most likely because they were afraid that Liu Bei would slaughter them after capturing the city. Now, Liu Bei would send food, telling them that they attacked for the people and that the Lu Bu’s Army no longer have enough food. At that time, the common people may even help Liu Bei to attack the Lu Bu’s Army for food. At that moment, Shouchun would fall without even wasting a single soldier.
“Alright. Do as you had planned!”