“This enemy is sharp!” Zhang Liao said after he received a report from his scout. The enemy hid themselves in the jungle. They numbered around five thousand and they all had killing intent. One glance was enough to tell that these aren’t common soldiers.
Zhang Liao originally thought of attacking them on the plains when they approach Tuzhong. This would take away the vanguards of the reinforcements and also lower the morale of those at Tuzhong. Unfortunately, it seems that attacking the vanguard does not seem like a very reliable method anymore.
With the jungle there, Zhang Liao would not be able to use the Xiliang Cavalry. Although Tuzhong is an hour’s distance away, a battle would take much longer.
“What is the word written on the enemy banner?” Zhang Liao wanted to know who he was fighting.
“General. The word on the banner is Lu!”
“Lu?” Zhang Liao had never heard of this person before. The more famous ones were Huang Gai and Han Dang. He had never heard of a Jiangdong general with the surname Lu.
“Is it Lu?” Xu Sheng repeated but his tone implied that he knew of this person.
“Does General Xu Sheng know of him?” Zhang Liao asked.
“I do not know the specifics. However, I have heard of Milord speaking of a general with the surname Lu before. That person is Lu Meng. He is a talented young general around twenty years old that is good at leading troops. However, he may not have tempered himself much so he could either be a commander-in-chief or an idle theorizer.
Zhang Liao heard of this explanation and thought of Lu Meng. Lu Meng was young which is why Zhang Liao had never heard of him. However, Zhang Liao nodded in approval. A calm and perceptive person is now rare amongst youngsters.
Right now, Zhang Liao’s Army was in a predicament since their initial plan of wiping out the enemy’s reinforcements was not as easy as expected with the presence of the jungle.
“General. Should we capture Tuzhong and eliminate that twenty thousand soldiers first and then deal with Jiangdong’s army of fifty thousand?” Ge Jun suggested.
“That’s right. Our catapults have plenty of ammunition. We can take Tuzhong first then only deal with this enemy. Otherwise, it would become troublesome when the enemy’s main army arrives.” Xu Sheng agreed. As Xu Sheng was also a commander, Zhang Liao put his suggestion into consideration and did not immediately reject this.
Even if Lu Meng’s troops rush to the rescue while they attack Tuzhong, there would not be much issues. Zhang Liao was confident that he could deal with them using two thousand men.
However, there was not much point in capturing Tuzhong as well. He was part of the Wolf Cavalry that only knew how to attack and not defend. He did not know how to be on the defending side. As they also need to deal with the main army coming from Jiangdong, the army would suffer heavy losses.
“Zhang Hu. Go and find a common person living here.” Zhang Liao said to Zhang Hu.
“Find a common person?” Zhang Hu did not seem to understand but he went searching for a person anyway. He was not able to find anybody even after half a day. Most people would have already hidden themselves in the city or have left a long time ago. In the end, Zhang Hu caught a messenger. This is one of the messengers sending messages to Jiangdong. While they normally allowed the messengers to send the messages, they do catch some so that the enemy doesn’t notice that they wanted the reinforcements to come.
“Let me go!” Qin Feng’s messenger shouted while being escorted by Zhang Hu.
“General. I could not find any citizens. I could only find this person.”
“It doesn’t matter.” Zhang Liao was not picky. The only important thing was that the person was from Tuzhong.
“I will not say a thing! Just kill me!”
“Haha. This person has guts! Unfortunately, he follows a cowardly and greedy Lord.” Zhang Liao said with a smile. This was the conclusion he had of Qin Feng’s personality after the man immediately escaped from Linhuai. He did not expect that such a Lord to have such good soldiers. He had initially expected the soldiers to be as terrible as Qin Feng in personality.
“You still refuse to speak at this moment?” Zhang Hu kicked the messenger, causing the messenger to spit out blood.
“I won’t say a thing even if you kill me!”
“General. Should we torture him?”
“No need!” Zhang Liao shook his head. There was not enough time to go and torture the messenger.
“Having a strong will is good. Do not worry, I won’t make you betray your Lord. I just want to ask you a simple question.” Zhang Liao asked as he approached the messenger.
“If you can answer my question, I will allow you to go free. If you still remain stubborn, you will die. It is not impossible to find another person. I do not believe everyone would be as resolute as you.”
“Hmph! I still won’t speak! If I were to tell anything to butchers like you, you would kill everyone in Tuzhong! So what if I die?”
“Massacre?” Zhang Liao finally understood why this person was so stubborn.
“Since when did our General say he wants to massacre everyone in the city?” Zhang Hu shouted.
“Sigh.” Zhang Liao sighed and stopped Zhang Hu. Although they never said that they would kill everyone in the city, Qin Feng said it. Qin Feng would have definitely said that they would kill everyone after capturing Tuzhong to make the soldiers alarmed and share a hatred for their enemies. It was a good excuse to control the feelings of the people. On top of that, Liu Mang’s Army had a precedent of massacring people before so Qin Feng’s excuse could work.
No matter what Zhang Hu says, the enemy would definitely not believe him.
Zhang Liao did not need Zhang Hu to explain that he is not here to slaughter everyone. He just needed to know whether the messenger was native to Tuzhong.
“I have already said, I won’t ask you things about Tuzhong. All I want to know is the weather. You just need to tell me things like when it would rain. I will let you go once you tell me these things. I am sure your mother is still in the city. Do you want your mother to watch you die all alone out here?”
Zhang Hu and Ge Jun looked at each other in confusion. Zhang Liao and the messenger were strangers. How would Zhang Liao know whether the messenger still has a mother living in Tuzhong?
“Mother!” The messenger thought about his own mother once Zhang Liao mentioned her.
“Once you are dead, who is going to take care of your mother? Are you placing your hopes on your fellow soldiers? Are you placing your hopes on your greedy and cowardly Lord? You just need to tell me about the weather and I will let you go and be a filial son!”
“Are you speaking the truth?”
“He really does have a mother?” Zhang Hu and Ge Jun were shocked as they wondered how Zhang Liao know. Naturally, Zhang Liao deducted this based on how neatly the person was dressed despite the fact that he was only a messenger. This meant that the person still had a mother or a wife. However, the man was only a commoner about twenty six years old. Commoners don’t marry that early and so Zhang Liao guessed that it was the mother that helped the son stay neat and tidy.
“Of course.” Zhang Liao nodded.
“You won’t ask me anything other than the weather?”
“Of course. I won’t ask you anything else other than the weather. I won’t lie to you either. You are just a small ranked officer that is not worth lying to. Whether I kill you or not won’t make a difference.”
In the end, the messenger agreed. He told Zhang Liao that it had not rain for half a month. Zhang Liao also looked at the clear cloudless skies and confirmed that the messenger was telling the truth. Zhang Liao then allowed the messenger to leave unharmed.
After that, Zhang Liao ordered for the soldiers to go and cut down a tree at the nearby jungle. Once the tree was brought over, he checked the moistness of the branches and leaves. He found out that only the roots were moist while the rest of the tree was quite dry.
“Men. Rest for half a day! We will attack the enemy camp tomorrow morning!”
“General Zhang Liao. You have found a stratagem to use?” Xu Sheng and Wang Wei asked.
“If you already have a stratagem, why not do it now?”
“There is no hurry. We do not even have the key item yet. How are we supposed to execute the stratagem?”
“The key item?”
“Oil?” Wang Wei finally understood. He was more of an intellectual person than a fighter. That was why Liu Mang had him follow Xu Sheng.
“General. You want to use fire?”
“General. How are we supposed to use fire at the Jiang River?” One of the officers asked. It would be difficult to use a fire attack because of the lush forest and the river.
“Haha. Why did you think I asked Qin Feng’s messenger about the weather? There was no rain for half a month. Other than the roots, the rest of the tree have already turned dry. Even the Gods favor us!”
“What about the streams in the jungle?” There are small streams flowing inside the jungle. These could be used to put out the fire.
“That is why we are using the oil!” Xu Sheng was the one that explained this time. He had seen Liu Mang use this before. It could even set fire on top of a river, not to mention the small streams in the jungle.
“Haha! You will all understand tomorrow!”