Nobody expected Liu Mang to send troops immediately without dispatching another envoy. Doing that means war. Right now, most of their troops were at Jiangxia. Even though they had a lot of troops, their elites were all navy. If they were to fight the Liu Mang’s Army on land, they would simply be looking for trouble.
“At this moment, do the rest of you still not have any solutions?” Liu Biao asked coldly.
They have not yet prepared for war. If they were to fight now, they would be torn to shreds. Although Jingzhou itself was opposite the Yangtze River, there are also places such as Xinye and Jiangxia that bordered Liu Mang’s lands.
“Degui (Cai Mao)! What should we do? Should we send our troops to battle or surrender Xinye?” Liu Biao’s anger could be seen in his eyes. Although Xinye was small, it was still his region. Losing it would make him feel heartbroken.
Although the Pang Family had a lot of influence in Jingzhou, it is not yet at the level where they could hide the truth from others. It would not have been possible for Pang Tong to kill Liu Mang’s envoy if that action had not been approved by Cai Mao. In other words, Cai Mao also had to face the responsibility for forcing Liu Biao and Liu Mang to fight against each other.
“This is…” Cai Mao also did not know what to do. Although Liu Biao wanted to keep the Yangzhou Army in check, he did not want to offend Liu Mang and Lu Bu. If this was not the case, he would not compensate the envoy’s death with provisions. If Liu Mang were to be given provisions, he would definitely accept it as he was lacking provisions. He wanted Liu Mang to come to Jingzhou as a hostage and then sell the man provisions to allow Yangzhou to overcome this crisis. Whatever problems Liu Bei and Liu Mang have with each other can be settled amongst themselves.
However, had already Liu Mang rashly dispatched his troops, stunning Liu Biao. He wanted to restrict Liu Mang’s Army, not start a war with them. Even if they had good foundation, they cannot fight two wars at the same time. This was making Lu Bu ally with Jiangdong. Cai Mao now regretted taking that thousand gold that night as bribe money. This would not have happened if Liu Mang’s envoy was still alive.
Although Cai Wei was the Military Advisor of Jingzhou, he rarely sent out troops to fight. The one that went out to fight during Huang Zu’s time had been Wen Pin but Wen Pin was not present. Although there were a lot of talented individuals at Jingzhou, there are not many loyal to Liu Biao. Even if there are those loyal to Liu Biao, he would not know who was loyal. A few examples of such talented people were Huang Zhong, Gan Ning and Wang Wei who now served Liu Mang.
If Liu Mang were to attack Xinye, they would not have anybody that could stop Liu Mang. Although Cai Mao had Zhang Yun as a general under him, Zhang Yun was a navy general. Liu Mang would not engage them on the river.
“Huang She! What about you? What do you think?” Liu Biao looked at the other person. This was an old acquaintance of Lu Bu. He was son of the previous Jiang Xia’s governor, Huang Zu. Huang She was someone who always hated Lu Bu to the extent that he gave his own father a bad reputation. He was someone who has commonly killed envoys and have once killed Lu Bu’s enovy before. This caused Lu Bu to attack Jiangxia. Originally, Lu Bu could have been stopped by Huang Zhong but in the end, Huang She caused Huang Zhong to switch sides. Huang She was also one of those who firmly decided to vilify Liu Mang and was on a united front with Cai Mao and Pang Tong.
“Why should Milord panic? Milord just need to allow me to take ten thousand men and I will show that little boy Liu Mang my skills!” Huang She was still the same as before and continued to have an unhealthy desire for military power. It was his dishonest conduct that made his own father vigilant towards him in military affairs. That was why he left his son at Xiangyang as Liu Biao’s civil officer while he went to Changsha.
“Ten thousand men?” Liu Biao laughed in irritation. Did Huang She fancy himself as Sun Tzu or Bai Qi? Even Sun Tzu would not take ten thousand men to fight against an opponent’s elite cavalry. On top of that, Liu Biao would definitely not dispatch him with his terrible track record. Huang She was too disappointing even though his father was an extremely heroic and valiant warrior. The only reason Huang Zu continued to be suppressed in the past few days is because of his age. On the other hand, his son is trash.
It would not be so bad if this idiot had some form of self-awareness. Unfortunately, the man believes himself to be a genius. He believes that he lost to Lu Bu because of the disloyal Huang Zhong’s stratagem.
“Go back!” Liu Biao could not stand it anymore. If he were to continue to see Huang She, he believe that he would eventually cut the man down.
“Hahaha!” While everyone was worried, only one person laughed happily. This was Liu Bei’s envoy, Pang Tong.
Of course Pang Tong was happy. He came to Jingzhou seeking provisions and saw Liu Mang’s envoy. He then killed the envoy hoping for Liu Biao and Liu Mang to go to war. He never expected Liu Biao to be such an overly cautious person. As the envoy was not killed by Liu Biao, he could just ignore Liu Mang. Not wanting to offend Liu Mang too much, he turned to Kuai Yue who requested Liu Mang to come to Jingzhou personally. Pang Tong was not happy with this but it did not matter much for him as he had ways to deal with Liu Mang the moment Liu Mang enters Jingzhou.
Yet Liu Mang was now sending his army to the South just as Pang Tong wanted. Pang Tong eagerly looked forward to the war between Liu Mang and Liu Biao. Once the war starts, Liu Biao would have no choice but to give Liu Bei provisions. Besides that, they would be able to obtain Xinye and Yangzhou.
“Yidu! What do we do now?” At the end of the day, Liu Biao could only ask Kuai Yue again. Kuai Liang did not participate in this meeting as he was angry at Liu Biao’s desire to benefit from every side. His actions made his younger brother feel helpless. Seeing that Liu Biao had questioned him again, he replied, “Milord should first send an envoy to Liu Mang as probe his intentions! It would be great if we can turn hostilities to friendship!1”
“How is it possible to turn hostilities to friendship?” Liu Biao laughed wryly as he shook his head. After all, the envoy was already killed. Even though Liu Biao had compensate Liu Mang with provisions, the one that actually gave the provisions was the Cai Family. Their manners to those from Yangzhou was like giving alms to the poor. Previously, Jingzhou’s inaction had already caused Liu Mang to become angry. When Liu Mang told Wei Yang to take Yiyang and Zaoyang, Liu Biao also kept silent because he knew he was in the wrong. Unfortunately, this case was even more serious. Not selling provisions was one thing but even the envoy had been killed. After that, they even asked Liu Mang to come personally. This was just humiliation. It was also why Liu Biao did not believe they could turn hostilities to friendship.
Meanwhile, Pang Tong thought to himself that he would not give them such an opportunity. He gave a meaningful glare to a nearby scholar of the Lumen Academy. The scholar nodded and stepped forward.
“Milord, at this point in time, Liu Mang would not let things go! In my opinion, rather than dispatch an envoy in a futile attempt, it is better to deploy the troops for a life and death struggle!”
“If we can’t be friends then we can only fight! Dispatch an envoy only as etiquette. We must not forget our etiquettes.” Kuai Yue looked at the scholar who wholehearted fanned the flames of war. Although dissatisfied, Kuai Yue did not show it. “Deploy these troops in Xinye and wait for the enemy to become exhausted. Also, Shiyuan. I believe Lord Xuande’s troops does not have any horses to place at Nanshan?” Kuai Yue turned his attention to Pang Tong.
Pang Tong felt happy when he noticed Kuai Yue looking at him. He immediately cupped his fist and replied, “Liu of Jingzhou and Yidu need not worry. My Lord Xuande would definitely not allow that little boy Liu Mang to assault Jingzhou. They would work effectively as long as they can eat their fill.
Pang Tong spoke grandly but he was simply asking for provisions. Pang Tong initially came to buy provisions but he didn’t even need to pay money as long as Liu Mang attacked. Liu Biao would certainly request Liu Bei for help and Liu Bei’s problems with provisions would be solved.
After their problems with provisions were solved, they could spend more money in gathering weapons and armor. Why wouldn’t they take advantage of a boss that provides food? The most important thing was to make those two enemies to each other.
“Hm?” Kuai Yue narrowed his eyes as he looked at Pang Tong who spoke with assurance. Years ago, Liu Biao dared to give Zhang Xiu all those provisions because Zhang Xiu did not know how to govern. However, Liu Bei was different. Liu Bei had the powerful ability to bewitch people. He had people like Sun Qian and Jian Yong who could govern. It wouldn’t be effective to give such people provisions. Even then, what else could they do? After all, Liu Mang had already dispatched his troops. Kuai Yue shook his head in disappointment as Liu Mang was too rash. Had Liu Mang come alone, he would have been able to take the provisions, build up his strength and continued his battle against Liu Bei. Although Liu Biao wanted to control Liu Mang, he would not dare to harm Liu Mang for as long as Lu Bu still lives. In fact, he would have treated Liu Mang very well and then sent him off after obtaining an alliance against Jiangdong.
Unfortunately, Liu Mang had recklessly sent out troops. Now the one that benefits was Liu Bei.
Kuai Yue was unable to affect Liu Mang’s decisions. All he could do was decrease the amount of provisions given to Liu Bei.
“In that case, I hope Shiyuan can give thanks to Xuande for me!” Liu Biao replied to Pang Tong. Jingzhou would not be able to continue fighting like this even if they were prosperous. Xinye and Jiangxia were like protective screens. Liu Biao did not want to lose XInye or he would need to dispatch officials to that region placate the people and nobles. If Xinye were to fall, his authority would also diminish.
“This is something Milord should do!” Pang Tong beamed as he accepted Liu Biao’s gratitude. As Liu Mang had been Liu Bei’s enemy this entire time, they would need to fight eventually. He was merely shifting the date earlier. Now, he would receive provisions from Jingzhou to fight. It was like Liu Bei using the money from Jingzhou to do his own things. It was certainly a nice feeling. Although Liu Biao thanked Liu Bei, it should be the other way round.