No matter what happens, Sun Quan was still Sun Ce’s little brother. He had personally raised and watched his brother grow up ever since his father died. At that time, Sun Quan was only a few years old. No matter what, Sun Ce did not want to strike out against Sun Quan.
“Brother gave me twenty thousand men?” Sun Quan was stunned. Sun Quan had been waiting anxiously in his own personal home outside the Wu residence. He expected one of two outcomes when Zhang Zhao reported his intentions to Sun Ce.
The first outcome was his brother allowing him to go to war. The second was his brother putting him on house arrest while bringing misfortune to the other nobles that helped him. Sun Quan trembled in fear as he regretted his rash desire for military power.
He never expected his brother to agree and even provide more troops than he asked for. Jianye only had thirty thousand troops left. Giving Sun Quan more than half of the remaining troops would heavily influence the safety in Jianye. Of course, Sun Ce had also taken into account that Jiangdong was safer than last time as his foundation was already secure.
“Yes. Marquis Wu gave us twenty thousand men!” Lu Su confirmed Sun Quan’s question with a complicated expression. He was certain that Sun Ce or one of his advisors could see that Sun Quan was unwilling to resign himself to Sun Ce’s rule. Yet, Sun Ce had still treated Sun Quan so generously. Lu Su sighed. As an outsider, he cannot interfere in someone else’s family matters.
“Zhongmou. Since Marquis Wu has given us twenty thousand men, we would have a total of fifty thousand men. This is enough to capture Linhuai and Tuzhong.”
“Hahaha!” Sun Quan laughed. He has finally obtained military power. He could now attack Yangzhou and break away from his brother’s shadow.
“Zijing! With this fifty thousand men, we will take Yangzhou and secure our foundation.”
“Taking Yangzhou with fifty thousand men?” Lu Su did not dare to destroy his friend’s dreams. Last time, he attacked Lujiang with a hundred thousand men only to end up completely routed. Lu Su believed Sun Quan was the more worthy Lord. However, this was not because of Sun Quan’s military leadership. He was certain that Sun Ce was better at military affairs which is why he did not have much hope that Sun Quan could capture Yangzhou.
“Then let us go quickly!” Lu Su replied to Sun Quan. He did not have any confidence that he could help his friend take Yangzhou. However, retaking Linhuai and chasing away the Liu Mang’s Army is still something that is possible.
“Shiye. It is already late today. We should rest early and then set out tomorrow.” Sun Quan said as he restrained his excitement.
“Ignorant Zhang Liao! Bingzhou barbarian! You simply got Linhuai by luck! You have no real ability!”
“Truly! Zhang Liao only got our Linhuai by mounting a sneak attack! He has no skill at all! Are all those from Bingzhou so useless?”
“You guys must not know. This Zhang Liao is not even a Han. He is actually one of the Bingzhou barbarian invaders! His mother is someone who was stolen away and then saved after she got pregnant. I wonder, who is the father?”
“Haha! Of course it’s one of the barbarians!” The veterans of Qin Feng’s Army ridiculed Zhang Liao as a greeting.
“General. Let us attack!” Zhang Hu and Ge Jun could no longer endure listening to such slander and wanted to attack right away. Even though they and all the other soldiers were asking to fight, the slandered person himself remained calm.
“There is no hurry.” Zhang Liao waved his hand as he continued to observe the enemies on the wall.
“Argh! I cannot take it anymore! Brothers! Follow me out to attack!” Zhang Hu could not endure this. Even he as a deputy general would not feel good about the general being insulted like this. At the end of the day, they were still the Xiliang Cavalry, a fact ignored by Qin Feng. He would prefer to disobey orders to attack.
“Come back here!” Zhang Liao yelled as he scowled.
“Come back? Hmph! You don’t have any face to feel anything even though you are insulted like that. But the Xiliang Cavalry still needs their face!” Zhang Hu replied rudely while in anger.
Zhang Liao did not bother arguing with Zhang Hu. He simply narrowed his eyes and asked. “Are you prepared to violate military orders?”
“You!” Zhang Hu glared back. Zhang Liao’s eyes was full of killing intent. He has hated the Xiliang Cavalry for a long time but he was a man with principles. He would not harm the Xiliang Cavalry on purpose. However, if Zhang Hu dared to disobey orders, Zhang Liao would not spare him. “So what if I disobey orders? I’d rather die than let people insult me like this!” Zhang Hu resolutely wanted to disobey orders in his anger.
“Zhang Hu!” Ge Jun knew this wouldn’t end well and quickly pulled back his friend. He knew that Zhang Liao was a strict but fair person. If Zhang Hu were to disobey orders, he would definitely be killed.
“Ge Jun! Don’t stop me!”
“Zhang Hu! I won’t stop you but do you want the Young Master to be alone? Do you want to die here?” Ge Jun shouted back angrily and slapped Zhang Hu. “The General have already said that he has a plan! Open your eyes and look at Tuzhong. Do you see those walls and the moat? Do you want to use the lives of our brothers to overcome that?” The cowardly Qin Feng had heavily fortified the city. Attacking without a proper plan would cause a lot of casualties just like when Sun Ce attacked Wancheng. Right now, Zhang Liao only had ten thousand men including the Black Flag Army. It was not enough to capture the city.
“Phew.” Zhang Hu breathed out as he regained his thoughts. There were still many enemies on the walls. If he were to attack, he would waste the lives of his men and it would be questionable as to whether he could manage to scale the walls. Not only would it be a futile effort. He would even implicate his family that is still living in Shouchun.
“Quickly apologize to the general!”
“General. I was impulsive!” Zhang Hu may have calmed down but he still felt unwilling.
Zhang Liao coldly looked at Zhang Hu for a while and then shouted something that made the others stunned. “Men! Arrest him!”
“Ah! General! Zhang Hu was impulsive earlier. He didn’t mean to oppose you! He simply couldn’t endure the earlier insults! Please forgive him!” Ge Jun quickly knelt down and pleaded for Zhang Liao’s leniency when he heard the order to arrest Zhang Hu.
The other soldiers were also troubled. Zhang Liao may be their general now but Zhang Hu and Ge Jun were their previous general. They were the ones that brought them to Yangzhou. They also did not want Zhang Liao to execute Zhang Hu.
“Are you disobeying me or have you all turned deaf? Arrest him!” Zhang Liao eyes turned cold.
“Understood!” One soldier could not help but walk up to Zhang Hu to arrest him under Zhang Liao’s cold gaze.
“General! Don’t do this!” Ge Jun kowtowed in hopes for a lenient treatment for Zhang Hu.
“Military law is ruthless!”
“Hmph! Ge Jun. There is no need to beg! Isn’t just death? I am not afraid of death! If I was afraid, I wouldn’t join the army!” Zhang Hu then turned to Zhang Liao. “Zhang Liao! I have known for a long time that you hate the Xiliang Cavalry! However, let me tell you that the ones who killed your brother Zhang Fan are not us! The ones that killed your brother have already died in Yangzhou!” After that, he turned back to Ge Jun “Ge Jun! I have never asked you for anything in my life before. But this time, I would hope that you can take care of my children!” After saying his piece he loudly said to Zhang Liao while forgetting that they were both Zhang. “Come! Execute me! If I even so much as furrow my brows, I will share your surname!”
“My brother?” Zhang Liao’s killing intent became even thicker.
“General! Zhang Hu is merely confused and spoke out of line in his anger!” Ge Jun became even more anxious. It was as though Zhang Hu intentionally poured oil onto the fire. “General. If you must kill Zhang Hu, please kill me as well! I hope General can take care of our families!”
“Ge Jun?” Zhang Hu’s eyes grew wide. If Zhang Liao wanted to kill them both, they would not escape. He resolved himself to rebel and just as he was about to act, Zhang Liao replied. “Take care of your children by yourselves. I don’t have the obligation to take care of them for you!”
“Hm? General. Are you not going to kill us?” Ge Jun asked.
“Who said I want to kill you?” Zhang Liao coldly replied. He then sneered at Zhang Hu, causing him to tremble. “Zhang Hu, you are truly very daring! Men! Take Zhang Hu away. According to military law, he is to be punished with thirty strokes of a large plank for insulting his superior officer! Since this is before battle, it would ten strokes instead of thirty!”
“Understood!” This time, the soldiers replied quickly and took Zhang Hu away.
“Thank you General!” Ge Jun said gratefully when he realized that Zhang Hu no longer needed to die.
“Don’t thank me. The military law is like this!” Zhang Liao replied. Would Zhang Liao dare to kill Zhang Hu and Ge Jun? In the event that they went against military orders, Zhang Liao would do it without hesitation. He was confident enough to kill both of them and his hand was already on his sword. However, Ge Jun managed to stop Zhang Hu from going against orders. This helped them avoid the worst case scenario.
“Ah. I understand!” Ge Jun saw Zhang Liao move his hand away from his sword and trembled. He realized that he and Zhang Hu had just escaped death.
This event allowed the Xiliang Cavalry to see Zhang Liao in a new light. A strict and impartial general who rewards and punish his men in a clear manner are the most admired and preferred general to the soldiers.
After some time, a scout came with a letter. “Report! General, a letter has arrived for Shouchun!”
Ge Jun and Zhang Hu stood at the side. Zhang Hu insisted on standing even though he had just been beaten. He was afraid Zhang Liao would restrict him even more with some military law.
“Wonderful” Zhang Liao expressed his delight.
“Hm?” Zhang Hu and Ge Jun were confused until Zhang Liao handed them the letter. After they read it, they felt as though Zhang Liao had gone mad. What is so wonderful about bad news? The letter said that Sun Ce’s little brother Sun Quan was coming over with an army of fifty thousand.
Fifty thousand soldiers were much more than they expected. Even if Qin Feng had a high position, his reinforcements should only be up to eight thousand men. Fifty thousand men together with the ones already in Tuzhong would add up to seventy thousand men. On the other hand, they only had ten thousand men. How was this good news?
“Are you afraid?” Zhang Liao sneered in mockery.
Of course they were afraid. They were badly outnumbered and the enemy even has a city. It would become a huge joke if the enemy decides to attack them instead.
However, Zhang Hu became angry from the look of disdain Zhang Liao gave him. He did not like to be looked down on. “Who? Who is afraid of this?”
“It’s better to be afraid.” Zhang Liao replied in disdain. He then asked, “Has Xu Sheng arrived?”
“General Xu Sheng has arrived!”
“Good! Zhang Hu. Didn’t you want to attack the city earlier? I will give you the opportunity now!”