Chapter 288 – Xu Shu’s Stratagem 2
Xu Shu’s Stratagem (2)
At Liu Pi’s tent.
They were at Baohe district in Yangzhou, located between Hefei and Shouchun. Shouchun was hundreds of miles away. Based on their current journey, it would take two days to reach. Originally, Zhang Xiu’s cavalry should be able to reach within a day but both Zhang Xiu and Liu Bei’s Army needs to replenish their provisions.
Liu Pi’s Army was the vanguard. The trrops in the center army had been replaced by the five thousand White Eared soldiers. Zhang Fei’s Qingzhou elite were at the rear. The most important part of the army would naturally be the one in the middle. The one at the center closest to the Lord and are the Lord’s most trusted subordinates. That was why Liu Pi was very happy when he left Yuzhou. This is because Liu Bei had let him control the middle army. Liu Pi was overjoyed from the feeling of trust. Everything then changed after Guangzhou. Liu Pi had caused Liu Bei to lose face. He was unable to capture a small city even after four days and even had thousands of casualties. Liu Bei no longer cared about whether it was to put on a show, he would no longer let Liu Pi control the center army. He also started to question Liu Pi’s ability, which was why he transferred the White Eared soldiers to the center army.
Liu Pi could be seen drinking heavily in his tent. Although he was not allowed to drink during march, Liu Pi no longer cared. Would anyone in his tent expose him? On top of that, Liu Pi was very depressed and needed to drink to relief his depression.
“Move aside. I want to see the general!” Outside the tent, someone shouted to two of Liu Pi’s bodyguards.
“General Liao. The Lord has already fallen asleep. So, General Liao Hua should go back.” The two bodyguards stopped him impolitely.
Liao Hua stopped and looked at the two bodyguards. “I have important things to tell the leader. Move aside.”
“Apologies, General Liao. But the Lord has given his orders. Without his orders, nobody can enter.” The two bodyguards continued to stop Liao Hua.
“If I am delayed in passing on this important information, can the two of you take responsibility?” Liao Hua looked irritated. He actually did have important things to say.
“This…” The two bodyguards hesitated.
“Let me tell you. If you do not let me in to see the leader, when he finds out tomorrow, both your heads are going to be cut off!” Liao Hua intimidated the two bodyguards. Although Liao Hua’s information as important, it was not that terrifying.
“Ah.” One of the bodyguards was obviously hesitant. He became lost in thought and then told the other bodyguard. “You keep on stopping General Liao Hua. I will go in and ask the Lord to see if the Lord would allow him in.” He then said, “General Liao. Please wait for a moment.”
The bodyguard then entered Liu Pi’s tent and said, “Report. General Liao Hua is outside requesting an audience. He said that there is something important.”
“Something important? What do you mean something important? Can’t you see that the sky is dark? If there is anything, we will discuss it tomorrow. Ask him to leave. Say that this general had fallen asleep. Tell him to come back tomorrow!” Liu Pi then put the wine he was drinking onto the table. He was feeling annoyed. Who was the one that wanted to come and disturb him? Important matters? What could happen at night? Enemy attack? What a joke. The Xiliang armored cavalry is there. The center army also has the White Eared soldiers and at the rear was the Qingzhou Army. Anyone who dared to attack were also people sick of living. Liu Pi was also not a good for nothing. He had already sent sentries outside. There were sentries during the day and during the night. If there was something important, they would have reported already. With this in mind, he admonished the bodyguard.
“Yes!” The bodyguard was admonished without reason, making him feel depressed. He walked out, keeping Liao Hua in his mind. His mood changed when he saw Liao Hua and his speech became stiff. “General Liao. The Lord does not want to see you. He said to talk about it tomorrow. Come. Someone send off General Liao.” The bodyguard was not a commander of five thousand like Liao Hua. However, he still had four hundred subordinates and his job was not any lower in rank compared to Liao Hua.
“I will not go. I want to see the leader!” Liao Hua broke away from the two bodyguards and walked to the entrance of the tent.
“General Liao Hua. Please do not make it inconvenient for me. The Lord really did ask you to go back.” As the bodyguard had been scolded for no reason, he no longer showed a good expression to Liao Hua.
“General Zuo You. I really need to talk to the Lord. Please help me.”
“General Liao Hua. How many times do you want me to say it? This one cannot help you. Please go back!” Zuo You replied as he tried to make Liao Hua leave.
“I want to see who dares to even touch me!” Liao Hua was anxious. He had found an important piece of information in the evening. He wanted to tell the leader but the leader did not want to meet him. He was very anxious and took out his sword.
“Hm!” The bodyguard furrowed his eyebrows. “Liao Hua. I think you are trying to court death! You actually dared to take out your sword in front of the Lord’s tent!” Zuo You smiled with anger. “Arrest the rebel Liao Hua and then notify the Lord tomorrow!”
“Yes!” The other bodyguards took out their swords and faced Liao Hua.
“Protect the general!” Liao Hua had also brought a few people. They also took out their swords and looked at the bodyguards. “I want to see who dares to move!”
The two groups started shouting at each other for the other group to drop their weapons.
“Enough!” Liu Pi’s furious voice came out. All he wanted was to drink a bottle of wine and yet it was so difficult. He had endured a lot of anger in the past few days. He was removed from his position in the center army. He was also laughed at by Zhang Fei. Zhang Fei who beat up the Yellow Turbans definitely did not give any good impression to Liu Pi who was born a Yellow Turban. Now, when he was trying to drink a bottle and divert his attention away, his subordinates caused disturbances. At that moment, it was still in a good condition. If something had went wrong, they would start killing each other.
Liu Pi threw the wine onto the floor. He flipped the table and walked out with anger. He glared at Liao Hua. “If you do not give me a good explanation or your information is not important, do not blame me for disregarding old feelings!” Liao Hua’s opponents were all Liu Pi’s bodyguards and he dared to take out his sword. If one were to look at it meticulously, Liao Hua would be a rebel. Liu Pi would also lose face. If Liao Hua does not give a good explanation, he would really be executed.
However, Liao Hua was not afraid. He cupped his fist towards Liu Pi and said, “Leader. This general has an important report. Otherwise, this general would not be so bold. If leader is dissatisfied, leader would not need to act. This general would take his own life in front of leader.”
“Then speak.” Liu Pi was curious. What kind of information did Liao Hua want to give him?
“Leader. This…” Liao Hua looked around. This meant that it was inconvenient to speak there and he needed a quieter place for it.
“Hm. Come into the tent with me!” Liu Pi waved his hand impatiently. We even need to use the tent?
“Yes!” Liao Hua nodded and commanded his soldiers to sheathe their weapons. He then followed Liu Pi into the tent.
“Speak!” Liu Pi did not bother asking Liao Hua to sit.
Liao Hua also did not care and cupped his fist towards Liu Pi. “We have caught an enemy scout during the day.”
“Just such a small matter?” Liu Pi frowned. With such a small matter, just kill that guy. Why do you still need to report it?
“Twenty-two of us had died in order to arrest this scout.” Liao Hua continued to explain.
“Twenty-two!” This is no longer a small number. What a powerful scout. This had perked Liu Pi’s interest. However, this was not the reason Liao Hua told interrupted him. Killing twenty-two showed that this was a battle-hardened warrior. Liu Pi himself only had a few of such people.
Actually, this scout could kill twenty two of Liao Hua’s men because Liao Hua lack warhorses. They were slowly shot and killed by arrows as they pursue. Luckily, Liao Hua’s archery skill along with his superior numbers manage to shoot back.
“Leader. The scout has not been killed. We have received two information when we caught the scout!” This was the key of Liao Hua’s words. The two information were very important. Otherwise, he would not report to Liu Pi with the risk of being killed. The greater the risk, the higher the return. If the two news was true, Liao Hua would benefit a lot. At the very least, Liao Hua would be acknowledged by Liu Pi.
“What information? Just say it!” Liu Pi did not want to be kept in suspense by Liao Hua. He was very unhappy. His wine drinking had been interrupted, making him even more unhappy. He did not want to listen to Liao Hua’s smug parade.
“Yes. The first information we got was that Lu Bu’s Army no longer have enough food in Shouchun.” Liao Hua could also see that Liu Pi was in a bad mood. He did not dare to brag too much and quickly spoke of the first information.
“Rubbish! I already… No. The entire Yangzhou knows that the entire Lu Bu’s Army no longer have sufficient food!” Liu Pi was very angry. This information was known by everyone. It was not only that. Liu Pi even knew that the Lu Bu’s Army not having enough provisions was caused by Zhang Xiu, Sun Ce, Liu Biao and Liu Bei. It could be said that Lu Bu did not have any good neighbors other than Cao Cao who was busy fighting at Guandu. All of them plotted against Lu Bu. This was something Liu Pi already knew and did not need Liao Hua to tell him.
“No! No!” Liao Hua saw that his first information was not effective and quickly spoke of the second information. “Leader. We also learned from the scout, the route used by Lu Bu to send provisions from Lujiang to Shouchun.”
“Transporting provisions from Lujiang to Shouchun?” Liu Pi’s eyes lit up. If the information is correct and Liu Pi gets the exact news, his image in front of Liu Bei would receive a huge change. The little bit of provisions was nothing. The main point was the merits. If Liu Pi were to intercept the provisions and caused Shouchun to be captured, Liu Pi would benefit greatly. He may not have merits from capturing Shouchun but he would still have meritorious deeds.
“No. What is the route used for transporting the provisions? Is it a land route? Are there any other routes from Lujiang to Shouchun?” Liu Pi was puzzled.
“Leader. They used the official roads for transportation.” Liao Hua became smug again.
“Impossible. Impossible! The official roads? Are they not afraid of being intercepted by our army?” Liu Pi could not understand.
“Leader. Do you know about the strategy darkness under the lamp?” Liao Hua proudly said. This information was also obtained from the scout.
“Darkness under the lamp?” Liu Pi looked at Liao Hua with a puzzled expression.
“Yes. Darkness under the lamp.” Liao Hua paused. “We cannot see far away at night. There is also another place we cannot see. That is, the lamp itself covered whatever is under it, producing a dark area. The Lu Bu’s Army must be thinking that we believe the official roads could not be used and will have lower defenses there compared to the other places. So they used it as a deception.”
“A good plan. A good plan!” Liu Pi could not help but be attracted to this. It was true that most of the scouts did not go and check the official road. As the road was too big, most people would think that it could not be used by the enemy. Naturally, they would be less prepared.”
Liu Pi already believed a little about the alleged route of Lu Bu’s transport of provisions.
“Leader. Think about it. A few days ago, our performance at Guangzhou made the Left General very dissatisfied with us and even made us frontline soldiers. Chen Dao then showed that he could control the center army because he captured the small Gushi.” Liao Hua also knew that Liu Pi was drinking alone in the tent because of Liu Bei’s attitude towards Liu Pi. So, Liao Hua changed his train of thoughts to Liu Pi’s.
“Ah. This words must not be said recklessly. General Chen Dao was also one of the Lord’s men. He is not under me!” Although Liu Pi said that, he felt pleased.
“Yes. Yes! Leader. If you take the provisions and Shouchun falls because of lack of provisions, wouldn’t the merits of breaking into the city be yours?” Liao Hua was good at systematic guidance, making it hard for Liu Pi to refuse.
“But!” Liu Pi hesitated. “What if this information is false?”
“Haha. Leader. This is the information I obtained from the scout. That scout was really a dauntless man. He wouldn’t speak even when we beat him up. We broke his fingers one by one until he crumbled. The scout finally spoke to die peacefully.” The scout that Liao Hua caught was Lou Shaoqi. Liao Hua who was originally a Yellow Turban naturally did not care too much about heaven. He tortured Lou Shaoqi until the man spoke the information.
“Besides that, even if the information is false, we would not lose anything. We just need to prepare an ambush on the road and wait. If the information is true, we can just jump out, kill the enemy and take the provision. If not, we will just return to camp!” Liao Hua’s words were meaningful. If this was true, Liu Pi would benefit a lot. Not only could he wash away his image in Liu Bei’s mind. He could also obtain provisions for the army and then tell Shouchun that their provisions had been robbed, forcing them to surrender. This would be a great contribution and I don’t even need that many people. Five thousand men should be enough!
“Alright. Let us do it this way!” Liu Pi was finally moved. “Liao Hua!”
“This general is here!” Liao Hua was also very happy. If it was successful, Liu Bei would give Liu Pi merits. The happy Liu Pi would also not ignore his own merits. Liao Hua now had five thousand soldiers. Once this was over, it would become ten thousand.
“Take your men and set up an ambush on the road. If this is successful, I will not treat you unfairly.” Liu Pi also knew he had to give his subordinate a large piece of the cake. If not, his subordinates would not be so desperate. “After this, I will recommend you to the Lord.”
“This general receives the order!” Liao Hua was delighted. Liu Pi actually wanted to recommend him to Liu Bei. This made Liao Hua laugh. If Liu Pi’s Army was a small pond, Liu Bei would be a lake. If he could show his face to Liu Bei, he would definitely be happy.
“When would the provisions arrive?”
“Tomorrow afternoon. About thirty miles away from Baohe.”
“Good. Go and prepare.”
The same thing happened at Zhang Xiu’s camp. Zhang Xiu was really bewitched in front of food and gold. After all, he had no tax and could only rely on looting. Naturally, he cared about food and money a lot. However, the time given to Zhang Xiu was after noon.
TN note: Hard to translate it to sentences as it is a Chinese term. The time given to Liu Pi was between 11 pm to 1pm. Time given to Zhang Xiu was 1 pm to 3pm
As for the darkness under lamp thing, basically it means people do not look at ridiculously obvious places. My experience of playing hide and seek in a really old third person shooter told me the same thing. It is apparently easier to hide by standing in an open space that has many hiding spots on the ceiling.