Gu Fang Bu Zi Shang Vol03 Ch64
Chu Beijie spent the last few days on the road while hiding his trails. He constantly sent out elite spies, assessing the news from all sorts of places.
They finally found a secluded place to set the camp. Afterwards everyone gathered inside the tattered tents, discussing various things again.
“Miss Bai’s plan was indeed very useful.” Ruohan was pleased to report, “On the day the Duke of Zhen-Bei appeared in the forest, I followed Miss Bai’s words and arranged a few men who had a similar stature to the Duke of Zhen-Bei to appear before normal Yun Chang soldiers. I also got them to announce themselves as the Duke of Zhen-Bei so the entire Yun Chang army’s morale will panic.
Luoshang excitedly nodded. “This tactic killed two birds with one stone. The normal soldiers of Yun Chang were terrified out of their guts, spreading rumours everywhere. However, it’s simply impossible for one person to appear at so many places. The ranking soldiers and generals of the Yun Chang army would all think it’s an enemy’s trick. Even if He Xia knows about, he’ll just think it’s a rumour. As long as he doesn’t immediately send troops to crush us, we still have a chance to recuperate and train.”
“That little thieving He Xia definitely fell for it.” Sen Rong heartily laughed, “The spies reported He Xia has received urgent reports from the various locations. Not only did he not assemble his army to head for Dong Lin but immediately left for Gui Le. That just shows he doesn’t believe the Duke of Zhen-Bei is truly in Dong Lin. Ha ha, all in all, Miss Bai’s defence in seeing the enemy’s first attack is one clever trick.”
Pingting sat next to Chu Beijie. Although she was being praised again and again by everyone, her elegant expression didn’t light up at all. She gently sighed, revealing a wry smile. “Pingting feels rather ashamed. If He Xia personally rushes to Gui Le, this means Pingting’s plan to confuse the enemy has been seen through.”
“What?” The smiles on their faces froze for a moment.
Chu Beijie lightly held onto Pingting’s small hand under the table. He turned to look at Pingting, calmly laughing. “The day He Xia reaches Gui Le, the day the army of Gui Le will be destroyed. To us, it means we will never be able to get help from the troops of Gui Le. It will become a lost dream.”
The Yun Chang army was increasingly growing day by day. Contrarily, the armies of Bei Mo and Dong Lin had collapsed. If even the army of Gui Le were to be crushed, then where else could they find sufficient strength to oppose He Xia’s power?
They couldn’t possibly go head on against Yun Chang’s tens of thousands with their fifteen hundred, right?
The generals who were just celebrating over tricking He Xia instantly had their expressions darken.
If He Xia gets rid of the Gui Le army, he would no longer have anything to worry about. With Yun Chang’s current strength, it was likely all rebel troops of the future would form in the palm of his hand. He could toy with them like a cat savouring its play time with a mouse.
Chu Beijie saw everyone’s confidence drop. He smiled, defending Pingting. “Miss Bai’s tactics are still clever, perhaps you have a way to deal with this bad situation before us?”
Pingting returned him with a gentle gaze. She sincerely replied, “Why ask me? Duke looks very confident enough, obviously already knowing a way out.”
Chu Beijie broke out laughing. “You’re testing me.” He squeezed her hand even tighter under the table.
The Queen of Dong Lin’s condition had improved slightly. She too was there, leaning propped up against a cushion. At this time, she interrupted them, “I’ve almost watched the Duke of Zhen-Bei grow up, so I am completely confident in the Duke’s ability to lead troops. He will always calmly cope, no matter how terrible the situation is. But it’s Miss Bai’s abilities that I would really like to see.”
She was Chu Beijie’s Sister-in-Law. Whenever she spoke, her words were never light. Pingting knew that she was testing her own abilities but didn’t mind. Her gaze shifted, eyeing the tent once, before her delicate lips parted. “Yun Chang has many soldiers while my side has few which is He Xia’s biggest advantage. At the moment, we must change his advantage into his disadvantage.”
Moran frowned. “Of course turning advantage to disadvantage is the most ideal plan, but how could we do that?”
Sen Rong was the most direct. “Almost impossible.”
“How isn’t it possible?” Pingting faintly returned with another question. Although her voice was light, it held a hidden self-confidence. Each word was like a bead clattering into a jade bowl as she clearly analysed, “The reason why the Yun Chang army has such immense strength is because they have taken in a large number of captives and prisoners of war. General Sen Rong, do you know how many soldiers of the massive Yun Chang army have been single-handedly trained by He Xia himself?”
Luoshang answered the question before Sen Rong. “At the moment, the Yun Chang army is composed of two factions. One factions is made up of prisoners of war from various other countries while the other is the official Yun Chang army. Of course the prisoners of war joined halfway so their loyalty isn’t particularly high. As for the Yun Chang official army, they were never originally part of He Xia’s men anyway. If the big changes were to occur in the Yun Chang, He Xia would find it difficult to control the situation.”
“Which is also the reason why He Xia has resorted to a high pay system. He would rather arouse resentment amongst the peasants to conquer the four countries in the shortest time and with any means possible. He must achieve his goals while he can still control them. He can’t afford a large-scale moment of unrest in the army.” Chu Beijie added.
After all, he was only a Prince Consort leading an army. Above him, was the dead but still present Royal House of Dong Lin. Below him are the generals and officials that have yet to full acknowledge him. Outside, he has the furious Dong Lin and Bei Mo soldiers who have yet to surrender. The seemingly brilliant army of Yun Chang is in fact built without a solid foundation.”
He Xia was deeply aware of this.
“He was never such a bad person, but…” Pingting’s face inadvertently had a passing hint of vague sadness. She cheered up before continuing, “What we must do now is to cause great disturbance within the Yun Chang army.”
Now that a clear goal appeared, the dispirited generals instantly cheered up.
“Wonderful!” Sen Rong began to laugh and applauded. “Rather than painstakingly expanding our own army, it’s better to destroy the enemy’s army.”
Moran was relatively calmer. He rationally examined, “Easier said than done. He Xia is a famous general who has his own way with training soldiers. The Yun Chang army won’t become chaotic so easily.”
“Moran is right. To cause a riot in the Yun Chang army, we have to approach from multiple sides. To be honest, someone has already done the first for us.” Chu Beijie looked encouragingly at Moran, “Moran should be able to guess who I’m talking about.”
Due to the Duke of Zhen-Bei’s direct address, Moran carefully thought for a moment. His eyes suddenly brightened. He raised his head. “That’s right, Bei Mo’s Main General Ze Yin did it. He openly challenged He Xia before Yun Chang’s several thousands of soldiers with just a single horse and himself. Even though he failed, he managed to injure He Xia’s shoulder. This matter has been secretly spread throughout the land. He Xia can be injured. This undoubtedly left a hidden scar in the hearts of the normal soldiers who revere He Xia like a god, as well as the deeply revered He Xia himself.”
As expected, he answered correctly. Chu Beijie revealed a pleased smile at this subordinate who followed him for all these years. He nodded in appreciation and sighed. “Even though Ze Yin was one of my opponents, I am extremely impressed by the courageous strength in his blood.”
“A heroic man.” Luoshang agreed.
Ruohan and Sen Rong were generals alongside Ze Yin for many years too. Hearing their former Main General, they couldn’t help tear up a little.
“I believe the second has already been done by someone else.” The Queen of Dong Lin also entered the discussion. “That is, the news of the Duke of Zhen-Bei appearing everywhere. The Duke of Zhen-Bei and the Marquess of Jing-An are the two widely acclaimed generals in this world. Ever since the Duke of Zhen-Bei’s disappearance, everyone has viewed the Marquess of Jing-An as an invincible war god. That’s why, the Duke of Zhen-Bei’s appearance shook the image of invincibility He Xia had finally established within the army of Yun Chang.”
Chu Beijie revealed a bitter smile. He turned to look at Pingting. “I really am a bit ashamed. Back when I saw He Xia at Gui Le’s borders, I should have used the tactic of feigned retreat. I should have pretended to retreat but actually forcefully clash with He Xia, leaving behind history in which the Duke of Zhen-Bei defeated the Marquess of Jing-An on the battlefield. That way, my appearance would shock the soldiers He Xia leads today even more.”
Pingting grinned at him, before whispering, “Duke seems to have forgotten that back then, Pingting was plotting for the Gui Le army. If you did forcefully clash, I would help Master so Duke may not actually get much out of it.”
Chu Beijie caught the glimpse of intelligence in her eyes. All of his hairs felt like they wanted to dance for joy. He smiled sheepishly, “I overestimated myself, please forgive me, Advisor Pingting.”
Their gazes lightly touched, causing their cheeks to redden and their hearts to thump. It seemed like they had lots of loving words in their throats, dying to happily pour out towards the other. Unfortunately they were in front of a crowd, discussing military affairs that involved life and death which could not be taken lightly. Pingting lowered her gaze, wanting to take out her hand from under the table but Chu Beijie’s grip around hers had already tightened with just the slightest twitch.
“The third, I believe, is within Yun Chang. He Xia is only a Prince Consort. This title isn’t particularly high or low, but rather embarrassing.”
“That’s why he is in such a rush to build a new country, so he can officially ascend to the throne as the King, straightening up his rank.”
Ruohan coldly replied, “It isn’t that easy to erase a country’s centuries-old Royal House. There are definitely some Yun Chang officials and generals who are unsatisfied with He Xia, but like how he dealt with Yun Chang’s Official General, he would definitely think of ideas to persecute those Yun Chang people who don’t agree with him.
“I heard Princess Yaotian of Yun Chang’s death was suspicious. I bet He Xia not only dares to go against the generals or officials who dislikes him, but even his wife too.”
As Pingting listened, her face fell.
Sen Rong seemed to be quite excited though, “Their struggling under the surface, so we should take this opportunity to succeed. We use this excuse to set up rumours about He Xia harming Princess Yaotian, causing the morale of the army to shake as they have always been loyal to the Royal House.”
“Shouldn’t we try to contact the generals who are secretly being persecuted by He Xia? Maybe they will betray him and surrender to our side,” suggested Moran.
“We cannot afford to act rashly. If He Xia sees through us and uses our plan to his advantage, then we will be in danger.” Pingting said, “It isn’t a fair contest yet. If He Xia takes a wrong step, he has a huge force that can restore it, but if we make the slightest error, we’ll lose the entire war.”
Chu Beijie agreed with Pingting’s comments. He said, “I reckon we must send out spies. The spies must infiltrate and learn more about Yun Chang’s inside. They need to distinguish who we can rely on and those who will never betray the Yun Chang army. These first two groups will be contacted in secret, encouraging them to revolt.”
The Queen of Dong Lin understood, continuing, “The final group will be assassinated in secret, framing He Xia. The conflict between the people of Yun Chang and He Xia will escalate.”
Chu Beijie laughed, “Clever insight, Sister-in-Law.”
“The Duke of Zhen-Bei put it so clearly that even people who don’t understand can.”
Chu Beijie then said, “The words I just said are only a rough guideline, like a dry forest bathed in oil. To ignite it into a huge bonfire, we still need a small spark.”
This remark mentioned a key point. Everyone listened to him, holding their breaths.
They didn’t expect Chu Beijie to tilt his head and smile at Pingting. “If Advisor Bai can think of the solution to generate this spark, I will personally kiss Advisor Bai’s hand ten times to show my gratitude.” His heart had been itching for ages and could no longer keep it in. He just blurted the words out.
A sudden honey-sweet atmosphere flooded in the tense military conference.
The crowd felt embarrassed.
Even Moran, who knew the Duke of Zhen-Bei’s personality the most, couldn’t help break into a cold sweat.
Pingting’s pitch black eyes widened in surprised. She had always been quiet and indifferent. Now two red clouds immediately climbed onto her face, thanks to Chu Beijie’s direct address in front of these generals. She rolled her eyes lightly, already forming a good response. She smiled, “It’s not that I don’t have a solution, but please change the reward, Duke. If Pingting is correct, Duke mustn’t touch Pingting’s hand for ten days.”
Without waiting for Chu Beijie’s response, she slowly said, “There are two tangible measures to destroy the enemy’s army. Of course one is to directly fight each other until one is beaten so that after the battle, the enemy would collapse whenever hearing the Duke’s name. We have to try and narrow the gap between the two troops before having the final confrontation. However this method cannot be used at the moment.”
Chu Beijie waved it away. He eloquently asked, “And then the second?”
“The second, of course, is to stop the enemy’s food supply. How could there not be chaos if the soldiers are hungry?”
Moran said, “That’s another thing that’s easier said than done. He Xia is deeply aware of the art of war and deeply understood the importance of food resources. How could it possibly be so easy to stop his food supply for several tens of thousands of soldiers?”
Pingting’s pupils flickered as she exchanged a playful glance with Chu Beijie. She softly asked, “If Pingting answers incorrectly, how will Duke fine her?”
Chu Beijie frowned as he murmured, “You selfishly changed it to such an annoying bet, so I don’t want to bet with you anymore. I’ll think of a plan myself.”
“A bit too late, the stakes are set.” Pingting beamed before looking back at the crowd. “The only way to stop He Xia’s food supply is to take the risk and capture Yun Chang’s central forage.”
Ruohan was utterly shocked. “The forage must always be in the very centre, so it is undoubtedly deep with Yun Chang territory. If our army infiltrates there and gets caught…”
“Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” Pingting’s small smile was wise and particularly calm, radiating in every direction. “Not only do we have to get inside Yun Chang, we have to get in without leaving a trace, raising any sort of alarm like a ghost. The Yun Chang army will promptly surround us if we make the slightest mistake. We would die without proper burial.”
“This…” Sen Rong gasped, “How is this possible?”
He wasn’t afraid of death, but he definitely would never rashly agreed to die.
The Queen of Dong Lin slowly said, “Even the long-missing Duke of Zhen-Bei’s return to the mortal world has happened, what else is impossible? Please continue, Miss Bai. I do wonder if Miss Bai has already concluded which is the city must be captured.”
Moran said, “The forage for the Yun Chang army is an important fortress in Zuxi. However, it’s the most important one in Yun Chang, and we don’t know how many Yun Chang soldiers are guarding it. Even if we desperately manage to make it there, there is no way He Xia wouldn’t notice us.”
“When did I say to make it to Zuxi?” Pingting shook her head, the bright light of wisdom shining in her eyes. “Although the fortress is important, aren’t the checkpoint cities on the way to Zuxi equally important?”
At this remark, everyone’s eyes shone.
Sen Rong suddenly slapped his knee hard. “True! Haha, that’s very true! We won’t be able to slip into the heavily guarded Zuxi, so we’ll just focus on when the resources are still on the way.”
Luoshang also appeared to be excited. After standing up, he immediately bowed to Pingting, his face quite solemn as he pleaded, “Please, Miss Bai, don’t keep us hanging and freely solve the mystery. Where on earth is such a city in Yun Chang? My sword hand is really beginning to itch.”
Pingting received the bow and seemed to be a bit embarrassed. She quickly solved the mystery with two words, “Qierou.”
Pingting slowly turned back, seeing the happiness in Chu Beijie’s eyes. She softly asked, “Pingting has already solved the mystery. Who won?”
Chu Beijie pretended to be helpless, sighing painfully. “You won.”
Everyone had strained their ears, waiting for his reply. They couldn’t help laugh. The heavy, oppressive atmosphere due to the bad situation was instantly swept away. Even the Queen of Dong Lin couldn’t hold back her chuckles which she held behind her long sleeve.
“Good, then let’s get to the details. Firstly, how do we get the army inside Yun Chang so the enemy army won’t realise we’re trying to capture Qierou.” After laughing, Chu Beijie stood up, the sharpness returning to his eyes. He took out a scroll of cloth from his sleeves and spread it on the table. “Come see.”
The people all came closer, inspecting the detailed yet tidily-drawn army map.
“This is the map that I finished compiling last night after receiving several army reports from my spies. This place here is our target of capture, Qierou City.”
In Yun Chang…
The inside of Qierou City was beautiful except the City Governor’s mood was quite bad.
“Came back again?” Fanlu repeatedly fiddled with his light crossbow in his hands, asking rather lazily.
“Didn’t he leave the city yesterday?”
“Governor Bing and Sir Bei Zhi An said they invited Sir Pu Guang and Sir Pu Sheng outside the city yesterday, treating them to a good meal. But for some reason, the two Sirs changed into peasant clothing and entered the city again. The two played around in the restaurant’s brothel, saying they were trying to understand public opinion. They said they were here to check Governor’s performance and wouldn’t leave a day earlier if they hadn’t examined it properly.”
“Public opinion my ass!” Fanlu had been enduring for many days and could no longer suppress his fury. He set his crossbow on the table with a thud, causing the cups to jump a couple of times into the air. While at it, they tipped on their sides, causing the water to splosh over the edges until the table was covered in tea. “Those two little cheaters blackmailed the officials against Yun Chang to earn his favour. How dare they come to blackmail me!”
“Gov…Governor…” The clerk behind him, Dujing, stroked his goatee as he came beside Fanlu’s ear. He urged, “Sir, choose your words carefully. The air in Yun Chang is somewhat jittery, and the Prince Consort has been sending people around to look for those who disrespect him. If Sirs Pu Guang, Pu Sheng or other henchmen of the Prince Consort were to hear those words, then…”
Fanlu harrumphed coldly.
There was no way Fanlu didn’t know of He Xia’s rapid and barbaric methods.
He was a general promoted by Gui Changqing and therefore counted as someone on Gui Changqing’s side. He Xia hated the Gui family to the guts, so naturally he didn’t have a good impression of him.
Currently He Xia was outside, plotting to take down Gui Le. Inside, he had to deal with the important officials and generals who held the real power. He didn’t have time to care about the unimportant governor of Qierou City.
But what about the future?
What if He Xia really did establish a new country, ascend to the throne as the king, completing all of the other physically-depleting tasks? Would he personally come to clean up the rest of the unimportant soldiers and generals?
Needless to say, the future looked bleak. Even now, those cheaters who joined up with He Xia were putting their homes up at stake.
“What else do they do in Qierou City, apart from indulging themselves in drink and other pleasures?” Fanlu shook off the angry expression, revealing an absentminded sarcastic smile.
His subordinate saw he was no longer furious before daring to continue the report. “The two generals have been indulging themselves. As they don’t pay the bill, the boss of the restaurants are asking Governor for the money.”
“Pay for them.”
“Then…Chunyan House’s Old Yang, she came too…”
“Pay for them too.”
“You don’t need to say any more, pay for all of them. Serve them properly and let them do what they want.”
After sending away his subordinates to deal with that Pu Guang and Pu Sheng, he still had to deal with the various matters of Qierou City. Fanlu’s heart was anxious. After approving a few documents, he could no longer sit still any more. He summonded for his clerk, Dujing, saying, “This stuff is a mess. Pick out the important ones, write a approximate summary, and hand it to me later.” He then stepped out of his office.
Once he reached the courtyard, he habitually turned right, inadvertently stroding until he reached the door to a very familiar place.
Zuiju happened to be holding a pile of clothes as she headed outside, bumping into Fanlu. She jumped back in shock, her eyes flickering up. She stared at him, “Why’re you being a door god? You’re standing there like a rock, not letting me pass.”
Ever since Dong Lin was invaded by Yun Chang, there had been no news of the people Zuiju knew. Since she had nowhere to go, Fanlu retrieved the lock on her door so she could freely roam around in the residence.
“You mended my clothes?” Fanlu’s gaze fell on her hands.
At this question, Zuiju’s cheeks reddened slightly. She immediately stuffed the clothes into his arms, biting her lip as she said, “Who would spend the effort to mend your clothes. It’s not like I’m a servant you bought.”
“Then why did you take my clothes?”
“I…” Hearing his cold interrogation, the fire in Zuiju’s heart couldn’t help flare up. She grinded her teeth, “I reckon your clothes are dirty because you’re far too annoying. You obviously know that some laundry maid in your residence sucks at washing, yet don’t bother getting another. You’re a dignified governor, yet you don’t even have common sense. Let me tell you this straight off, I’ll never re-wash your clothes again.”
“Oh…understood.” Fanlu liked to see her blushing the most. He lowered his head until he was close to her ear. “You reckon that I don’t smell nice when I hold you? But truthfully, it’s the clothes that don’t smell nice. I am very, very clean and smell nice.”
Zuiju had her heart racing with these soft frivolous words. She clutched to her chest as she took a step back, stomping. “You damn hateful man. How could you say such a thing when I kindly washed your clothes for you? You always bully me.”
Fanlu squinted at her widened eyes. “You’re the hateful woman, getting more and more spoiled. You know I’m not afraid of anything, just your spoiledness. How could I, a dignified governor, always be bullied by you?”
Zuiju was stunned by his shamelessness in stealing phrases for a while. “You…you, you…” She bit her lip, wiping her eyes as she rushed into the room.
Fanlu raised his voice, “Don’t cry, don’t cry. Fine, I’ll take it back. You’re not hateful and I’ll bully you the way you want me to. If that’s not good enough, I won’t fight back.” He said this as he chased her inside, holding onto the huge pile of clothes.
He was rather eccentric. He deliberately tried to provoke Zuiju and then went out of his way to cheer her up again.
Zuiju wasn’t that easily cheered up, however. She turned her back on him, fuming, “I don’t want to see you. I’m going to pack up my bags and go see my Teacher.”
“I’ll come with you.”
“Who wants you to?”
The corners of Fanlu’s lips lifted to a smirk. “Fine, you don’t let me accompany you, so I’ll go accompany some other woman.”
Zuiju abruptly turned around. “You’re so annoying! If you want to go, then go. Don’t bother me.”
While the two seethed, Fanlu’s subordinate hurried inside. He reported, “Sir, Sir Pu Guang and Sir Pu Sheng have arrived at the residence entrance.”
Fanlu knew the two men were satisfied with their indulgences and came back to make trouble again. His eyebrows furrowed slightly, and his voice became serious. “Understood. You first go prepare the guest room and attend to them properly. Find a few pretty ladies to accompany them while they drink. Just don’t let them bother me.”
The subordinate noted down the instructions and left.
Zuiju curiously asked, “You ought to see those eyebrows of yours. Who dares to make Governor so upset?”
“Two very annoying bed bugs.” Fanlu didn’t want to say any more, so he returned to his slovenly look. “Just ignore those annoying bed bugs. We haven’t finished yet.”
“What ‘we’? You’re you and I’m me.”
“Sigh, I surrender.” Fanlu came in a bit closer, lowering his voice. “I have a secret to tell you, which could be regarded as a sin. Want to listen?”
“That laundry maid who cleans poorly was specially arranged by me. I knew that someone would stupidly fall for it and re-wash my clothes again…ow, don’t hit, don’t hit me. I told you not to hit me. Why are you still hitting me so hard? Oi, I’m going to fight back…”
After the confession, Fanlu spent ages trying to cheer Zuiju up until she was willing to listen. Most of the tension in Fanlu’s heart had dispersed. He looked up at the sky, only to realise that he unwittingly wasted half the day. He stood up and stretched, “I’d better stop playing with you and go do paperwork. The peasants of Qierou’s peaceful daily lives all depends on me.”
Zuiju narrowed her eyes at him, “What a bragger. Hurry up and go then.”
“I’ll come here in the evening for dinner.”
Seeing that she had dropped her guard, Fanlu lightly pinched her on the cheek. “Then you come to my place for dinner.”
By the time Zuiju fumed up again, Fanlu strode off far away.