“What did you say? Liu Mang’s Army is coming to our camp?” Lu Meng obtained this information from his scout. He never expected the Liu Mang’s Army to attack him instead of the city.
“Yes, General. The Liu Mang’s Army is coming this way. Usually, Tuzhong would still be attacked but right now, it is relatively peaceful.
“Let them come! We will kill them all!” Ling Cao shouted.
“It is not so simple!” Lu Meng frowned. He knew the person leading the attack was Zhang Liao Zhang Wenyuan. He knew Zhang Liao was once part of the Wolf Cavalry led by Lu Bu. In other words, Zhang Liao was Lu Bu’s number one general. That was why Lu Meng was vigilant. Even then, Zhang Liao decided to attack Lu Meng in the forest with the Xiliang Cavalry. Lu Meng doubted that Zhang Liao wanted the Xiliang Cavalry to dismount and fight. Although he could not understand Zhang Liao’s actions, he was not a pushover. If Zhang Liao wants to come and fight, he would accept the fight.
“All soldiers, prepare for battle! If Zhang Liao dares to come, make sure he doesn’t leave!” Lu Meng shouted and the army quickly gathered. With the jungle around, Lu Meng did not need to fear the Xiliang Cavalry.
Meanwhile, Zhang Liao and the Xiliang Cavalry were looking at the jungle from the plains. “Is that person Lu Meng?” Zhang Liao asked as he looked at the man wearing a general’s armor.
“Hm?” Lu Meng was a warrior. He could sense someone staring at him and looked back to see Zhang Liao.
“Let me teach you a lesson!”
“Soldiers!” Zhang Liao raised the banner. In the era of cold weapons, cavalries were normally the strongest on land. Even Lu Meng would be unwilling to fight them head on. However, Lu Meng was not afraid because of the jungle.
“Get ready!” Lu Meng also readied his soldiers. His camp was in an empty space in the jungle. This allows him to station the troops and also have enough wood.
“Attack!” Zhang Liao swung the banner down, signaling the XIliang Cavalry to attack. The soldiers rushed towards their enemies like ferocious beasts.
“Kill!” The five thousand troops shouted. Their killing intent gathered into one pressuring force.
Lu Meng took in a deep breath as he stood in the middle of his army. He wondered what the Wolf Cavalry would be like when the comparatively weaker Xiliang Cavalry was already so formidable.
Lu Meng and his army felt nervous. They were more suited to fighting on the water. When besieging cities, they fought against people like Liu Yao and Liu Biao who did not have cavalries. This was also the first time Lu Meng was fighting against heavy cavalry.
It was alright for Lu Meng to be nervous but he must not panic or everything would be lost. On top of that, the five thousand men with him were not like the other thirty thousand noble soldiers following them from behind. These were all elites and survivors of the Jiangdong Army.
Jiangdong did not only have the Danyang Troops but also the Jiangdong Army. These Jiangdong Army were also known as the Chu Army. The men were all descendants of Chu. Although it has already been the Great Han Dynasty for several centuries, the Chu soldiers still followed Chu customs and they were the kind of soldiers that fought until the end. The Chu then surrendered after the death of Xiang Yu.
Right now, Lu Meng’s soldiers were that very same Chu soldiers. When Sun Ce attacked Wancheng and captured it, he had used these soldiers. Unfortunately, most of them ended up in the bottom of the river courtesy of Gan Ning and the ballista. Sun Ce helplessly pulled out the remaining five thousand of the Chu Army out of Wancheng to save them.
“Raise the bows! Use eighty percent strength!” Lu Meng ordered and the soldiers pulled the bowstrings. They were using two shi bows. Even Liu Mang could not get all of his Urban Army soldiers to use this bow.1
“Come!” Lu Meng looked at the approaching enemies. If they really approached, they would be showered with arrows. Even if they could avoid the arrows, they would not be able to escape. Lu Meng then ordered for his men to shoot once the enemy reached the optimal range.
“Withdraw!” Zhang Liao shouted and changed direction. He sneered as the rest of the Xiliang Cavalry followed. They were almost a hundred and fifty paces away from the enemy. At this range, even the arrows would pierce through the first layer of their armor. If it hits a spot not covered by the armor, the arrow would pierce through their entire body. Besides that, the men may be protected by armor but the horses were not. The horses would not survive. Killing the horses first was one of the ways of defeating cavalry.
However, at this range, the Xiliang Cavalry suddenly turned and left outside of the bow’s range. This made Lu Meng feel awkward. They were about to shoot only for the enemies to leave. Even the soldiers had already drawn the bow and heightened their focus. Some of the soldiers even shot early but the arrows did nothing at that distance. The unlucky ones had the bowstrings gash their faces.
“Put down the bow!” Lu Meng ordered.
“General! Look!” Not much time has passed since Lu Meng’s last order when the Xiliang Cavalry turned back towards them again.
“Raise the bows!” Lu Meng shouted again. That being said, the soldiers all knew enough to raise their bows again without Lu Meng’s orders. “Shoot at two hundred paces away!” This time, Lu Meng had the soldiers pull their bowstring to its maximum. Previously, he only had the soldiers draw the bow to about eighty percent because the soldiers would need to fight with their swords after shooting the arrows. As the fight could take over half the day, they needed to conserve their stamina.
Now, Lu Meng no longer cared and decided to make an all-out effort. By pulling the bowstrings to its limits, they could shoot up to two hundred paces away. Unfortunately, their efforts were fated to be in vain. Zhang Liao once again had the Xiliang Cavalry turn around but this time, he did it at two hundred paces away.
“General Lu Meng! Did you want to shoot us? Haha! Don’t bother!” The Xiliang Cavalry taunted with the backsides of their horses facing Lu Meng. Zhang Liao had already expected them to shoot at these two distances earlier. These were all Zhang Liao’s work. Zhang Hu and the others were more used to advancing blindly and crushing their enemies with overwhelming force. They have never baited enemies into attacking like this before.
“Lu Meng! What would you do next?” Zhang Liao muttered to himself as he looked at Lu Meng’s camp. In war, thirty percent is meant for survival while seventy percent is for killing the enemies. If one does not follow this rule, that person is mostly likely to be the first to die.
To survive, one needs to conserve at least thirty percent of his strength. That was how Zhang Liao predicted the first shot to be at a hundred fifty paces away. If they were to shoot from further away, those arrows could be ignored.
For the second volley, Zhang Liao predicted Lu Meng’s intentions to shoot with all their strength. That was why he played safe and turned around at two hundred paces away.
Lu Meng was foiled twice. Zhang Liao wanted to see if Lu Meng would lose his calm and charge towards the plains to kill Zhang Liao. Even if they were the Chu Army, they would have to bow their heads to heavy cavalries.
Lu Meng’s face turned purple. He wanted to harm the enemy before the battle starts but the enemy predicted his actions. It would be weird if he was okay with that.
“General. Let us advance a little! That way, we would be able to shoot them!” Ling Cao suggested. He wanted to pursue the Xiliang Cavalry the next time they attacked.
“Gather the three shi bows!” Lu Meng ordered as he endured his anger. He wanted to pursue the enemy like Ling Cao suggested but his rationale told him that Zhang Liao’s Army would come out in good condition while Lu Meng and the Chu Army would end up as laughing stocks.
“All soldiers be on standby! No one is allowed to go out without my orders!” Lu Meng was afraid that Ling Cao or another soldier would charge out in anger. To a general, a soldier’s discipline is the most important.
Like the difference between a shortbow and a longbow.