“Is it not possible to go any faster?” Liu Mang asked.
“Milord. This is the fastest we can go!” The general of the navy, Gan Ning, was helpless. The Huai River was a small river where the wind only blows gently. All the warships had their sails up but Liu Mang was still unsatisfied.
Liu Mang sighed. He knew this fact but he was still anxious. The messengers he dispatched to Shouchun have not returned. He knew that the roads had been blocked off and Liu Bei was the only one that could do this. He knew Liu Bei did this to make use of Lu Lingqi. How could Liu Mang not feel anxious?
Xu Shu was a loyal and righteous man. This was his strong point but it was also his weak point. Liu Ye had already told him that is Pang Tong were to use Lu Lingqi, Shouchun would fall. This made Liu Mang even more anxious.
“Milord. There is nothing more we can do even if you are worried!” Liu Ye said to Liu Mang. “We must believe in Yuanzhi. He will hold out until we arrive.”
“No.” Liu Mang shook his head. “I am worried about Yuanzhi because I believe in him! This man is straightforward and loyal. While this is good, it is also his weakness! I am afraid he would act in justice!” Liu Mang was afraid as Xu Shu was straightforward while Pang Tong would use anything to win.
In the original timeline, Pang Tong wanted to put pressure on Zhuge Liang and even used himself as bait to lure out an ambush when attacking Sichuan. Although he died for it, he had helped Liu Bei split the land into three.
This goes to show that Pang Tong would do anything to win and is a person that Xu Shu cannot handle.
As Liu Mang and Liu Ye discussed this, the ship left the Huai River. The water current there was stronger, allowing the ship to move faster.
“Milord, we are almost there.” Gan Ning said the momet they were close to Shouchun. He had passed by that area many times before during training.
Liu Mang nodded. The closer he was to Shouchun, the further his heart sank. This is because there were only a few people stationed at the water camp. This showed that there was a change in Shouchun.
“Milord. What do we do now?” Liu Ye also did not know what to do. The safest course of action would be to avoid Shouchun and take the troops back to Lujiang to prepare for a counter attack.
“We cannot leave! All soldiers, prepare to enter Shouchun!” Liu Mang had a terrible expression. He had spent a lot of effort on Shouchun. It was his biggest project since he entered that turbulent era. Zhao Yun and Xu Shu were also behind those walls. They were like his right hand man. Liu Mang would regret it if he loses Shouchun. He also did not want to see how far Liu Bei could expand with Shouchun.
“Milord. If we enter Shouchun now, we might end up getting obliterated!” It would have been safe if Shouchun had not yet fallen. However, it would also be extremely dangerous if Shouchun was already in Liu Bei’s hands. Besides that, the sky was already turning dark. Not only would the soldiers become confused during battle but they also had a higher chance of falling into an enemy ambush. Last but not least, most of the Urban Army and Black Flag Army had seasickness, lowering their capability to fight.
“We must enter either way! There is no time left!” Liu Mang gritted his teeth. Shouchun must not fall. Even if it falls, he needed to get Zhao Yun and Xu Shu out. “Brothers! Can you guys hold out?” Liu Mang asked the Urban Army and the Black Flag Army.
“We can!” The soldiers replied but their voices lack energy. This showed that they actually can’t do it.
“Milord! Let us from the navy follow you!” Gan Ning went over to Liu Mang and said. There were over five thousand soldiers in the navy.”
“The navy?” Liu Mang hesitated. The navy was once of Liu Mang’s weapons. However, he needed them to deal with Sun Ce and as a result, treated them like a precious treasure. He was unwilling to dispatch them regardless of what kind of battles he faced.
“Milord. We have trained a lot but we still do not have actual combat experience. Are we supposed to be side lined forever?” Gan Ning asked with a hint of anger. He still haven’t participated in a single battle ever since he joined the navy in Yangzhou. Gan Ning had been given ships and had been training all these while. Liu Bei’s navy would definitely be inferior to his. He wanted to help Xu Shu at Shouchun but was refused. He may have been Liu Mang’s trump card but he was not patient enough to continue watching from the side lines.
“Hm?” Liu Mang furrowed his brows. He finally noticed that his treasuring of the navy had been too excessive and made Gan Ning unsatisfied. Now that Liu Mang had no one else to use, it should be time for them to shine. After all, the soldiers still needed to be bloodied to truly become powerful.
“Alright. Gan Ning, take five thousand men and follow me to the city! Ziyang. You, the Urban Army and the Black Flag Army are to remain behind and take precautions!” Liu Mang left behind a thousand navy to take control of the ships.
“Understood!” Liu Ye nodded. He knew he was not able to help Liu Mang in entering Shouchun. After all, he was only a scholar that could not fight. It would be better for him to remain behind.
“Gan Ning. Ready the soldiers!” Liu Mang said to Gan Ning.
“Brothers! We’ve got a job to do!” Gan Ning said cheerfully. He was still unable to supress his bandit like nature and immediately showed his cheerfulness. Fortunately, Liu Mang paid no mind to these things. If he had been Yuan Shao, he would have immediately sacked Gan Ning.
The camp was empty. Gan Ning’s men climbed over the escalade and then opened up the gates. They then quickly went towards the city.
“Xu Sheng and Cheng Yu. Take your armies to the camp!” Liu Ye ordered the moment Liu Mang left. “Make preparations so that we could immediately give assistance to the Lord when needed.
Xu Sheng and Cheng Yu looked at each other for a moment. They then cupped their fist and nodded. “Understood!”
Liu Ye looked towards the direction Liu Mang left in. He already did the best he could out of this terrible situation. If needed, he would have the Urban Army and the Black Flag Army attack Shouchun. Regardless of the number of casualties, they would need to drag Liu Mang back out.
Zhang Xiu left to deal with the Wolf Cavalry. However, the lack of news from Shouchun made Liu Bei anxious.
“Military Advisor. How are things?” Liu Bei asked again. Liu Bei was a man that could keep his composure but on that day, he was so anxious he kept asking Pang Tong about the situation at Shouchun every few moments. This showed how important Shouchun was to him.
“Don’t worry Milord, the time has not yet arrived.” Pang Tong calmed down Liu Bei. There was still some time left until the promised time. As Xu Shu was loyal and upright, he would wait until it was the exact time. He would also give out notice if he intended to fight until the end.
Although he only needed to wait for a little while more, it felt very long to Liu Bei. Eventually, the promised time arrived.
“Hm?” Pang Tong furrowed his brows. The time was up but there was still no movement in the city. Just as Pang Tong started to feel uneasy, Shouchun’s drawbridge was lowered.
“They are coming now!” Pang Tong and Liu Bei both looked at each other. They could see the joy in each other’s eyes.
Sure enough, the city gates opened after the drawbridge was lowered. The white armored warrior, Zhao Yun, rode out on a horse along with hundreds of others.
Seeing the people that came over, Liu Bei and Pang Tong rode up to them. The army behind them moved closer towards Shouchun City. “Zilong. I trust you have been well!” Liu Bei was the first to speak as he cupped his fist towards the general. Instead of responding to Liu Bei’s greeting, Zhao Yun snorted in disdain. “Despicable villain!”
“Zilong. Why do you treat my brother this way? Do you think, this Old Zhang cannot put a dozen holes in your body with my spear?” Zhang Fei expressed his annoyance over Zhao Yun’s attitude. He wanted a reason to fight against Zhao Yun.
“I am afraid you can’t!” Zhao Yun glared back as he held his spear.
“Yide, don’t be rude.” Liu Bei was in a good mood and called back Zhang Fei. He did not want to continue arguing with Zhao Yun and he also did not want any side issues. Liu Bei was truly an unscrupulous careerist. Even though Zhao Yun had already seen his true self, he still showed an expression as though he was wronged. “Zilong. I had no choice. Hate me if you wish. I am willing to be known as a despicable person for the sake of the common people!”
Zhao Yun did not want to watch Liu Bei’s performance and immediately asked, “Left General. Where is Milady?” Someone then pointed towards the carriage.
“Alright. Left General. Shouchun is right here. Return Milady and we will leave!” Zhao Yun said as he looked at the carriage.
“Men. Bring the carriage over to General Zilong!” Liu Bei waved his hand. From the gaps between the frames of the carriage, a woman could be seen in it. “General Zhao Yun. Please move aside and allow us to enter the city!”
Zhao Yun nodded and ordered his cavalry to move aside. Just as Liu Bei was about to move his army into the city, one of Zhao Yun’s troops suddenly shouted. “General! This person is not Milady!” This person was not very familiar with Lu Lingqi but he knew that Lu Lingqi was a very beautiful woman. On the other hand, the woman in the carriage had dry skin and looked like she came from the countryside.
“A fake?” Zhao Yun opened up the carriage and saw that the man was correct. Zhao Yun then asked in anger. “Despicable Liu Bei! Where is Milady!”
‘Did they find out?’ Liu Bei shook his head. This truly cannot be helped as there were not many people left at Yangzhou. Even this woman was difficult to find. Naturally, their trick would easily be exposed.
“Haha! Zilong. My brother never actually captured your Lord’s wife!” Zhang Fei laughed.
“Yet you still deceive us for Shouchun?” Zhao Yun’s anger had reached his limit.
“General Zilong. All is fair in war! We thank you for Shouchun!” Pang Tong replied.
“Close the gates!” Zhao Yun roared in anger. If this was a trick, the consequences would be too horrible. They did not secure Lu Lingqi and Shouchun would be captured. On top of that, the Military Advisor would lose his life. Zhao Yun became extremely worried.
“Capture Shouchun with haste!” Pang Tong shouted at the same time as Zhao Yun. The soldiers immediately attacked Shouchun. Fortunately, the soldiers that heard Zhao Yun’s shout quickly started to close the gates.
“Leave this to me!” Zhang Fei rode his horse straight towards the Shouchun’s gate. Knowing that he would not reach the gate in time, he quickly threw his spear. Fortunately, the gate closed first and the spear stuck itself on the wall. Zhao Yun breathed a sigh of relief when he saw that the gates were closed.
“General Zhao Yun! Do you think these gates would be able to stop our army? I want to see how long Shouchun can last without their general and elite soldiers!” Liu Bei said as he showed killing intent. His tone towards Zhao Yun became unkind. Zhang Fei roared in anger for failing to stop the gates from closing. However, the drawbridge could no longer be raised.
What Liu Bei had said was the truth. Liu Bei was not able to capture Shouchun because Zhao Yun and the other elites were defending the city. However, these two were now outside the city and Xu Shu’s figure could not be seen. The militia would quickly fall without a leader.
“Shit!” Zhao Yun cursed as he quickly took out his spear. He truly wished he could just stab Liu Bei right then and there but he knew that he was not able to do so. This is because Zhang Fei was still around.
“General Zhao Yun. You best watch carefully, how Shouchun will fall to my army!” Liu Bei’s anger grew without restraint. He was about to wave his hand down to command the entire army to attack.
“Report! Report!” A messenger quickly rushed towards Liu Bei.
“Hm?” Liu Bei frowned. He was about to chide the man but then realized that this man was from the Xiliang Cavalry. He suddenly felt a sense of uneasiness.
“Report! Milord got ambushed and is surrounded at Lu’an! Left General, please go and quickly save Milord!” The Xiliang Cavalry was covered in the blood of both his enemies and his allies. He had managed to escape with much difficulty.
“What?” Liu Bei was stunned. He did not know how Zhang Xiu got ambushed. The only threats were Liu Mang’s Urban Army and Black Flag Army. However, those two armies were at Guangzhou. It was not possible for them to suddenly appear here.
“Milord. It seems like a problem had arose at Jiangdong!” Pang Tong laughed bitterly and said the moment he heard the news.