“Zi Jing. Brother is dispatching troops to Yangzhou!” One youth said to another while the two drank together. The one that spoke had two pupils in his eye like the late Xiang Yu1. He was also an outstanding person but his elder brother was even more outstanding, overshadowing his achievements.
Even though Sun Quan has the symbol of the conqueror, his brother was the one that became the conqueror. The title ‘Little Conqueror’ is not just for show. Everybody knows about Sun Ce but only few people knew about Sun Quan.
“Yangzhou?” The other youth, Lu Su, almost drop his wine cup when he heard this. “Isn’t a war about to start at Jiangxia? Why does Marquis Wu want to start another war at Yangzhou? Are we going to stop fighting at Jiangxia?” Lu Su was reasonably astounded. His job was to manage the transportation of supplies Both Jiangdong and Jingzhou have been deploying troops to fight at Jiangxia. Even most of the taxes collected in Jiangdong were being channeled to Jiangxia. If there was going to be a fight at Yangzhou, it might be possible that a secret agreement have been made between Jiangdong and Jingzhou.
Sun Quan who heard Lu Su’s words and shook his head. “The situation at Jiangxia is no longer in Brother’s control!” Jiangdong and Jingzhou had a mutual understanding. Liu Biao would not do anything and just watch while Sun Ce dealt with Lu Bu. Unfortunately, Han Dang and Huang Gai’s actions in retaking Sanjiangkou caused Liu Biao to feel betrayed. Liu Biao launched a counterattack using that as a reasoning and Sun Ce had no choice but to brace himself. That also meant that Sun Ce had no say as to whether they could stop the fight at Jiangxia.
“This Zhuge Kongming is truly a Sleeping Dragon.” Lu Su commented. This person is the most talked about person in Jiangdong. Zhuge Liang had become a military advisor at a young age. However, just this is nothing much as Zhuge Liang already came from Jingzhou. He could have obtained his post through favors. The real reason why he is such a popular topic is because he is a formidable enemy that even made Zhou Yu sigh with lament. His presence alone greatly increased the amount of casualties suffered by Jiangdong.
Lu Su was interested in Zhuge Liang and at the same time, he was also quite upset. He himself was similar in age with Zhuge Liang. He also had Zhou Yu’s recommendation and was dispatched to battle along with Sun Ce. Yet, he was defeated and captured. He even had to be bought back by Zhang Zhao. It was an extraordinary humiliation.
On top of that, Zhuge Liang was able to control the situation at Jiangxia. The longer the war is fought, the more inferior Lu Su would seem.
“Marquis Wu wants to fight two wars?” Lu Su put aside his feelings of lament for that moment and asked about Sun Ce’s plans.
“Yes.” Sun Quan replied, causing Lu Su to frown.
Declaring war on two sides could only be done if one has excess men and supplies. Otherwise, they would only cause themselves to be attacked on two sides.
Going to Yangzhou means war against Liu Mang. While Lu Su also wanted to defeat Liu Mang, he knew that Liu Mang was not a simple person and have many elite troops. The Black Flag Army in particular were a group Lu Su could not understand. The Black Flag Army were originally Zhou Yu’s men but they were now helping Liu Mang instead. Besides that, if Sun Ce were to take Yangzhou, Lu Bu would not stay idle.
“Brother is going to Yangzhou because of Qin Feng at Linhuai.”
“Linhuai? Sigh.” Lu Su did not know who Qin Feng was but he knew that Linhuai was the only territory they have left that is across the Yangtze River. He too, would not dare to lose Linhuai. If they lose Linhuai, advancing to the Central Plains would be significantly harder in the future.
“Fortunately, Liu Mang would also be fighting two wars!” Sun Quan explained.
“Liu Mang had set off for Nanyang after Liu Bei killed his envoy!”
If Liu Mang were to also fight two wars, then the situation could be salvaged. Qin Feng still had a lot of troops and Tuzhong. On the other hand, Liu Bei may have lost his heavy infantry but he obtained the Xiliang Cavalry and have occupied total control of Nanyang.
“Zhongmou. Are you…?” Lu Su looked at his friend and asked. Sun Ce’s decision had nothing to do with Sun Quan. Sun Quan had no obligations. With his brother and other powerful generals around, Sun Quan was an unnecessary surplus.
“Zijing. I am almost thirty years old. It is the age where people are completely independent. Yet, I have no place where I can stand independently! All this years I tell myself that it is obvious that my brother should be more formidable than me. However, wouldn’t I also want to prove myself?”
“Hm?” Lu Su furrowed his brows. He felt a certain passion and stubbornness in Sun Quan. The reason why Lu Su served Sun Quan was because he knew that Sun Ce was not the Lord he wanted. He also wished for Sun Quan to seize authority. However, this is not possible as long as Sun Ce was around.
“This time, I want to go to Yangzhou as well. I want everyone to know that the Sun Family does not only have Sun Ce. The Sun Family also has me, Sun Zhongmou!” Sun Quan suddenly stood up and declared. If he were waste this opportunity he would definitely disappear from the eyes of the world. His brother who is in the prime of his life would be able to suppress him for the rest of his life. Sun Quan could not let that happen.
“Sigh.” Lu Su wanted to dissuade his friend but found himself unable to do so. Sun Quan had been overshadowed for far too long. Everyone referred to him as Sun Ce’s little brother or Sun Jian’s son. Nobody truly saw him as Sun Quan Sun Zhongmou.
“Zhongmou wants to lead the troops to Linhuai himself?” Sun Ce asked Zhang Zhao.
“How many men does he intend to take with him?” Sun Ce asked calmly.
“Second Lord says he needs Milord to provide him with ten thousand elite. He will raise the remaining troops himself.” Zhang Zhao cautiously replied.
“Raise his own troops? Where did he find those men? Who said he had the privilege to recruit his own troops?” Sun Ce stood up in anger.
Zhang Zhao seldom saw his Lord this angry. “It… It is the Lu, Wu, Chen and Zhang Family. These nobles all support Second Lord and provided him with thirty thousand men!”
Sun Ce narrowed his eyes. “These damn families! Thirty thousand men and tens of thousands of provisions? They never showed such sincerity when I attacked Wancheng! Now they dare to make such schemes?” Sun Ce was impulsive but he was not dumb. When he attacked Lujiang, a dozen noble families only gave him a total of sixty thousand men, provisions not included. Now, four families was able to provide thirty thousand men.
Sun Ce knew that his brother had the support of the nobles in Jiangdong but he did not expect them to support him this much. All Sun Quan needed to do was ask and they would give him thirty thousand men. As all of Sun Ce’s own forces were fighting at Jiangxia, he would not be able to fight against this army of thirty thousand in the event that they decide to revolt.
Sun Ce’s anger caused Zhang Zhao to tremble. Fortunately, this Zhang Family was not Zhang Zhao’s Zhang Family. Although he himself wanted to support this, he realized that Sun Ce was the real Lord and decided not to. He felt that he made the right choice as someone is definitely going to suffer based on Sun Ce’s expression.
Zhou Yu had always reminded Sun Ce that his brother was problematic. When Sun Quan was fourteen and went up the walls to take care of certain matters, Zhou Yu realized that Sun Quan was a capable man. Unfortunately, he also noticed that Sun Quan was somebody that refused to be overshadowed. He made lots of friends and earned popular support like a Lord. This caused others to feel alarmed. Even though Sun Quan was a noble, he was only the second son. Jiangdong still belonged to Sun Ce.
At that time, Sun Ce laughed at Zhou Yu’s worries. Now, he realized that he has underestimated his little brother. Sun Ce had to do so much for the nobles to provide help while Sun Quan simply needed to ask for it. If this was in Cao Cao’s territory, Sun Quan would have already been executed or permanently placed in house arrest
Sun Ce raised his hand and wanted to act. He did not dare to imagine what things would be like if Sun Quan managed to get military power considering what he could accomplish without any power. Noticing this, Zhang Zhao turned pale. The moment Sun Ce swung down his hand, these nobles and even Sun Quan would be kept very far away from any power.
However, Sun Ce eventually sighed and put away his hands. “Zhang Zhao. Let Zhongmou deal with Linhuai. Send him ten… No. Twenty thousand men from the Jianye Navy, including Lu Meng and Ling Cao. Tell them to protect Zhongmou even if it means losing Linhuai.”
“Milord?” Zhang Zhao was stunned. How did it turn out this way? Shouldn’t Sun Ce be trying to put Sun Quan back in his place?
“Go. Also tell the nobles that I may agree to provide men but don’t expect me to send any provisions!” Sun Ce tiredly waved his hand.