“Milord, these are the troops following us to Jingzhou?” On the second day, Jia Xu helplessly followed Liu Mang to the White Horses’ camp. Yang Hong had seek out his eldest son Jia Mu, one of the few people Jia Xu treasured. Jia Mu was then made to stay in Shouchun and become and apprentice under Xu Shu. Jia Xu was a crafty person while Xu Shu was an honest person. Liu Mang wanted to see a combination of a son who would sacrifice himself for others together with a father who would sacrifice others for his own gains. When Liu Mang thought of such a combination, he could not help but laugh to himself.
Although Jia Xu was unwilling he still had to follow Liu Mang for his own life and his family. However, when looked at the camp in front of him, he wanted to wail in anguish. There were only three thousand troops who would be accompanying them.
“What’s wrong Wenhe? The ones going to Jingzhou are not these troops but that one over there!” Liu Mang smiled at Jia Xu as he pointed to another location.
Jia Xu looked at where Liu Mang was pointing and his mouth twitched. He saw Guan Hai and Zhou Cang bringing about ten soldiers wearing armor along with some horses over. There would only be about twenty people following them into peril.
“Don’t worry. In actuality, it would be more difficult to move when there is too many people.” There was a reason Liu Mang only brought twenty people with him. Aside from Guan Hai and Zhou Cang, the remaining men were all information officers brought to him by Yang Hong. They are all familiar with the roads of Jingzhou. They would be able to lead easily lead Liu Mang to a save path if he was in danger by hiding in a small alley or amongst the people. On the other hand, if Liu Mang were to bring a large number of people, Liu Biao would be able to find them easily. On top of that, Liu Mang would need to leave as soon as soon as something goes wrong. It would be impossible to leave stealthily with such a huge group. On top of that, they would end up fighting on the enemy’s home ground. This was why a small group would be better.
“Are we attacking Liu Bei?” In that case, Jia Xu could understand. The objective is smaller when there were less people. But when it comes to Liu Bei, one cannot see whether the objective was large or small.
“Aren’t these White Horses here to attack Liu Bei?” Liu Mang calmly replied despite being in the White Horses’ camp.
“Just these?” Jia Xu was stunned. Liu Mang’s objective was the Nanyang region. However, the Xiliang Cavalry was also present in the Nanyang region. Regardless of how many of the Xiliang Cavalry Jia Xu had taken with him, they were still a powerful cavalry with almost forty thousand members. Meanwhile, Liu Mang only dispatched a small cavalry of three thousand. Each person would need to be able to take down more than ten people to win.
Besides that, the Xiliang Cavalry was a heavy cavalry while the White Horses were light cavalry. When it comes to a heavy cavalry or infantry pitting against its lightly armoured equivalent, the heavily armoured one would simply massacre the other. Jia Xu really did not want to go on this journey. He would need to follow the White Horses and if they were to run into the Xiliang Cavalry, he may not be able to escape.
“This is enough.” Liu Mang did not look down on the Xiliang Cavalry or Liu Bei. He simply had confidence in Zhao Yun. “The Nanyang region would be a good training ground for the White Horses.”
“Milord. I am really old. I implore you to leave me behind!” Jia Xu did not know what madness Liu Mang was trying to achieve by making three thousand men who have not yet truly formed an army to fight against a heavy cavalry of forty thousand. It would already be great if they could escape alive.
Liu Mang thought that Jia Xu was extremely laughable. Still, he waved his hand and ordered for them to set off. Liu Mang led the three thousand cavalry that has six thousand horses to replenish their charge. The spare horses also carried their supplies for the trip.
Liu Biao paced back and forth within his halls in the Xiangyang district of Jingzhou. His actions despite his old age showed his troubled thoughts.
“Yidu. Were my actions this time right?” Liu Biao had never been this fidgety ever since he obtained Jingzhou. Everything that had happened, such as the coalition against Dong Zhuo and the incidents at the Central Plains was seemingly unrelated to him as JIngzhou was still as stable as before. All of these, along with his age, made Liu Biao more like an exhausted and spiritless man instead of his old self that was capable of forging ahead.
Unfortunately, Liu Biao could no longer escape from the passage of time. The powerful Dong Zhuo had been overthrown. Yuan Shao was now in a hopeless situation. It was also time for Jingzhou to fall into disorder.
Liu Bei, Lu Bu, Zhang Xiu and Sun Ce. These four people were going against each other. Although Zhang Xiu had died, the situation had become even more chaotic. It had gone to the extent where he could no longer decide what to do.
The person Liu Biao addressed as Yidu was the one of most influential person in Jingzhou, Kuai Yue. Kuai Yue was a very well-known person who looks at a problem comprehensively. Unfortunately, his shortcoming was that he was too ambitious. Last time, he had helped Liu Biao to take Jingzhou but now, he was thinking of the best way for his family to benefit from this.
“Milord, there is no right or wrong in this world. There is only victory and defeat!” Kuai Yue knew what Liu Biao was worried about. Instead of telling Liu Biao whether he was right or wrong, he instead used those words to mislead Liu Biao even more.
“There is no right or wrong? There is only victory or defeat?” Liu Biao mumbled back Kuai Yue’s words.
“Milord. Not interfering in the battle between Lu Bu and Sun Ce could bring two outcomes. If Lu Bu were to win, you could just placate him. If Lu Bu loses, there would be no one to find fault with you.” Kuai Yue appeased Liu Biao.
“But Yidu…!” Liu Biao could not understand this. Before this, he wanted Lu Bu to go and cause harm to Sun Ce. After all, Lu Bu had also caused trouble for Liu Biao. He never expected Sun Ce to attack Sanjiangkou, which he retaliated against in anger. Now, Lu Bu had become Sun Ce’s unexpected ally, a person that Liu Biao was going to offend very badly.
Liu Mang was lacking provisions. This was something Liu Biao already knew as he had also learned of this from a letter of explanation from Sun Ce. When Lu Bu dispatched an envoy to buy provisions, Liu Biao dragged his feet as he thought of whether he should raise the price of the provisions. When Lu Bu had won, Liu Mang dispatched another envoy. At this point, Liu Biao should have sold Liu Mang the provisions. Unfortunately, this plan had been destroyed by Liu Bei’s envoy Pang Tong, who killed the envoy from Yangzhou. To kill an envoy would mean declaring war. Pang Tong wanted to force Liu Mang and Liu Biao to fight. Fortunately, Kuai Yue quickly proposed to compensate Liu Mang. However, Liu Biao was still worried.
“Milord, what is there to worry about? If they send an army, we could simply resist them by stationing our troops at the South. At worst, we can just give Xinye to them. Didn’t Liu Bei also say that they would be willing to be a gate guard for us if that were to happen?” Kuai Yue said as he dispels a little of Liu Biao’s worries.
“But Yidu, Liu Mang is not a good person. The same could be said for Liu Bei.” Liu Biao was not someone who was terrible at judging people. The Lu Bu’s Army expanding made him worried but he could still tell that Liu Bei was an ambitious person. Even in the original timeline, Liu Biao never trusted Liu Bei when Liu Bei escaped to Jingzhou after Cao Cao chased him away from Xuzhou. Liu Biao did not want to take Liu Bei in because of that. However, he was not able to mistreat Liu Bei as well. If he were to kill Liu Bei, his reputation would be finished but if he were to spare Liu Bei, he would be inviting trouble.
In the original timeline, Liu Biao planned to confine Liu Bei. He had first welcomed Liu Bei and help replenish the man’s troops to save face. After that, he placed Liu Bei at Xinye. At that time, Cao Cao had already captured Nanyang, which shared a border with Xinye. Putting Liu Bei there showed his true purpose of making Liu Bei his hired thug.
Here, Liu Biao was also being vigilant against Liu Bei. If Lu Bu was worrying, Liu Bei was just as worrying. Learning from the mistakes of others, Liu Biao’s dog, Zhang Xiu and Liu Bei were in their honeymoon phase. Now, Liu Bei took Zhang Xiu’s place. Liu Bei and Sun Ce were also allied. If the both of them launch an attack from both sides, he would be in trouble.
Kuai Yue looked at the sixty year old man white haired old man that have become indecisive and fearful of everything. As he was fearful of Sun Ce, he had Lu Bu keep them in check. In the end, Lu Bu gained the achievement of defeating Zhou Yu’s navy.
After that, he was afraid of Lu Bu and Liu Mang who defeated Sun Ce’s Army at the Battle of Yangzhou. Now, he wanted to keep Lu Bu in check. Pang Tong had killed Liu Mang’s envoy but if Liu Biao were to sell them provisions, nothing would happen. In fact, his previous inaction could be forgotten. Unfortunately, Liu Biao followed the advice of the Cai Family and Pang Family to only compensate for the death of the envoy and not mention anything about selling provisions.
Such persistence showed his desire to ally with Liu Bei. However, Liu Biao was afraid of Lu Bu which was why he posed this question to Kuai Yue. Thanks to his little brother, Kuai Yue did not think too badly of Yangzhou. The enemy of my enemy is my friend. This meant that the enemy of Jingzhou was Sun Ce and not Liu Mang. It does not matter if Liu Mang occupies the Central Plains. As long as they have the Yangtze River, Jingzhou would remain safe. After all, there were only two groups near that river. One was Liu Biao and one was Sun Ce. It was obvious who was going to be attacked.
When Liu Mang pacifies the Central Plains, Cao Cao would have also finished pacifying the North. Cao Cao would then need to move South and his first opponent would be Liu Mang. Liu Mang who was enemies with Sun Ce would definitely need to go and take Jiangdong. Although attacking was impossible, Jingzhou’s stability could be defended for another ten years.
Unfortunately, the Pang, Cai and Huang Family wanted Yangzhou destroyed due to their hatred for Liu Mang. On top of that, Liu Mang also had Wei Yan capture Yiyang using the attack from three sides as an excuse.
Kuai Yue had better strategies in mind but he did not want to offend these three families, especially the Huang and Cai Family that have the most beneficial businesses with him. These three families are of one mind. The moment Kuai Yue speaks out differently, he would offend all three. Because of that, he gave a neutral stratagem. Rather than refuse to sell provisions and offend Liu Mang, he made it such that Liu Mang had to come personally to buy provisions. If Liu Mang were to attack, Liu Biao would be able to claim justification. If Liu Mang were to come personally, they would sell provisions but they could also take Liu Mang as a hostage to keep Lu Bu in check. Lu Bu only has one daughter and one son-in-law. He would not act rashly.
On the other hand, Kuai Yue did not like dealing with strange fickle men like Liu Bei. He was a person who acted like an ally on the surface and then annexes his ally’s territory behind their backs. Kuai Yue thought of this person cautiously. If Zhang Xiu had truly been killed by Lu Bu as accused by Liu Bei, Zhang Xiu’s son would not be with Jia Xu as they escape to Lu Bu, seeking shelter.
There was definitely no way Kuai Yue would like such a person. Also, to Kuai Yue, Liu Bei was like a cockroach that cannot die. Despite his many defeats, he continues to climb back up and people continues to follow him.
The Mi Family were the richest people in Xuzhou. Now, they were just Liu Bei’s bookkeeper. Liu Pi had Yuzhou but because of Liu Bei, he had lost it. The Kuai Family cannot afford to play such games.
“As long as Liu Bei doesn’t cross the Yangtze River, there would be nothing to worry about. However, Milord better give more concern to Pang Gong.”
“Pang Gong?” Liu Biao narrowed his eyes. His old face wrinkled up even more.
Kuai Yue’s words were all meaningful. The person he spoke of was naturally, Pang Degong of the Pang Family. Although the man was older than Liu Biao, Kuai Yue was being very vigilant towards him. His words had asked Liu Biao to be more concerned about this man who is known favorably in Jingzhou but in actual fact, he was asking Liu Biao to be careful of the man.
Pang Degong was a virtuous person. He did not care for power, fame or wealth. However, the old Pang Degong only had a son, Pang Shanmin and a nephew, Pang Tong. Although Pang Shanmin was older, he was less knowledgeable than Pang Tong. Pang Degong was still managing family affairs but once he is gone, that duty will fall to Pang Tong. However, Pang Tong had already joined Liu Bei.
It can be said that the Pang Family had already allied themselves with Liu Bei. Kuai Yue said that Liu Bei would be harmless if he does not cross the Yangtze River but this is not a certainty if the Pang Family were to assist him especially since Pang Degong had a lot of students in Jingzhou.
If Pang Tong receives political power and serves Liu Bei, it was certain that the others would accompany him. Even if they do not accompany Pang Tong, they would not make life harder for him as well to show respect to Pang Degong. At that point one would not be able to tell who the Lord of Jingzhou is. Asking Liu Biao to show concern for Pang Degong was really asking Liu Biao to restrict the Pang Family.
“Yidu is the only loyal minister of JIngzhou!”
“Report! Urgent report from Yangzhou!” Just as Kuai Yue finished discussing countermeasures with Liu Biao, a report came from Yangzhou. Both Kuai Yue and Liu Biao both stood up.
“What! How could this be?” The report states that Liu Mang has set out with his troops.