“Something big is already happening right before our eyes, so what else could there be?!” General Chu’s irritable reply worked in tandem with a kick to send the kneeling soldier sprawling. “Stop your muttering. If it’s nothing important, you’re fortunate that I don’t kill you instead!”
The event was so momentous that the soldier didn’t even have time for fear before he blathered, “General, all of Western Zhou’s forces have amassed in the north to attack Youyun Prefecture. The Duke of Qin’s remaining two generals have arrived from the south central regions as well, and are attacking Yaoshui Prefecture. War has already broken out in the north and south!”
General Chu suffered a great blow from the news and staggered back until he bumped into the wall. His face had completely paled, while Chu Yunyi stood dumbstruck by his side.
Mobilization of the three armies? Mobilization of the three armies!
So this is the true three-way mobilization. Both we and Ning Cheng and were tricked by Long Feiye!
Western Zhou’s eastern three prefectures were on the borderline with Tianning. From north to south, they were respectively Youyun Prefecture, Fenglin Prefecture, and Yaoshui Prefecture. The northmost Youyun Prefecture was also the location of the Three-Way Battlefield between Western Zhou, Tianning, and Northern Li, while the southernmost extremity of the south-based Yaoshui Prefecture bordered Tianning’s south central region.
General Chu’s personal garrison station was located in the Fenglin Prefecture, which was situated between the other two. This was also the site of the main battles with Western Zhou and where most of the Chu Clan troops were kept. Because of that, it was better to stand guard here than the northern or southern regions. Who would have expected Long Feiye and Western Zhou to attack the very north and south of the border prefectures after forming their alliance, leaving only 5,000 crack troops to attack them personally?
This was the real plan of the three armies. Long Feiye hadn’t accounted Ning Cheng into the proceedings!
“Does he suspect Ning Cheng? But how…” Chu Yunyi asked in disbelief.
General Chu had no time to consider those matters. He had to figure out how to deal with Long Feiye now! Before, he was prepared to charge out the gates and meet him in battle, but how he needed to reconsider his plans again. Otherwise, the Chu Clan troops would be utterly defeated!
“All archers await for further orders! Everyone else, guard the city!” General Chu cried before hurrying down the stairs to collect his advisors into the military tent.
The military tent was located to the lower right of the city gates. Soon enough, all of the Chu Clan advisors had gathered within to hear the startling news of the north and south. General Chu had spread out a map of the three prefectures on the table. His palms were resting against the paper as he furrowed his brow in thought.
This is a chessboard! A beautifully played move!
Using the Western Zhou troops to deal with Youyun Prefecture and the south central troops to face off against Yaoshui Prefecture, they pitted a majority against a minority and used their advantage in numbers to secure a 100% success of victory! Meanwhile, the 5,000 soldiers headed for them now were merely a demonstration of the threat they posed.
If General Chu deployed troops north or south, then Fenglin Prefecture would be in danger. But if he stayed where he was, he’d stand to lose both strongholds. The three separate mobilizations left General Chu completely stuck. It could be said that the Chu Clan had already lost two cities without fighting at all! Who knew that Tianning’s Duke of Qin could create such a beautiful move on his first foray into the battlefield? Aside from shock, the advisors admired their foe’s brilliance. If he hadn’t been aiming for the Chu Clan, General Chu might have respected him too, but the current situation only left him feeling unresigned. They had faced off against Western Zhou on even footing for so long before Long Feiye barged in. How was he supposed to accept this turn of events?
After a moment passed with no word from his counsellors, General Chu raised his head to scold them. “What are you all spacing out for? This soldier didn’t raise you all to be rice buckets! Say something!”
Silence greeted his words. Who could call the shots in a situation like this? In truth, everyone knew the only viable option was to sacrifice their two prefectures and focus their forces on this stronghold! But no one dared to voice the idea. General Chu’s intelligence and wisdom, coupled with his extensive battle experience, had led him to draw the same conclusion, but he didn’t want to face the facts. As the silence stretched on, Chu Yunyi’s gaze grew more and more complicated. He wanted to speak but stopped himself. In terms of war, he couldn’t compare to General Chu, so it would be useless for him to speak up here. After some hesitation, he simply decided to depart from the sidelines. No matter what General Chu decided to do, he still had to contact Ning Cheng as soon as possible! Right now, their only hope laid on his shoulders.
General Chu seemed to come to his senses once he saw Chu Yunyi leave. He pounded the table with his fist a few times, resolving to do the undesirable. “Great General Ning will support our Nether Clan. Tell me, which city do we defend?”
Hearing this, the advisors were all stunned again. They weren’t clear on the relationship between Great General Ning and the Di Clan, and the terms of their alliance were muddied. It was surprising for the great general to suddenly change sides during a war. But none among them were idiots, so they began to harbor their own guesses from the situation at hand. The Duke of Qin’s early arrival here with Western Zhou must have risen from suspicions towards their third ally, Great General Ning!
“General, when did this happen? Why weren’t we informed?” someone asked unhappily. Something that important should have been relayed to everyone ahead of time so they could prepare for it! All of them were still staking everything on the fact that Empress Xue was their hostage!
General Chu glared at the speaker. “Is now the time to talk about that? This soldier is asking you all a question! Which city do we defend?”
General Chu had assumed that Ning Cheng’s troops would arrive before Long Feiye’s own. Even if their battle ended in a draw, it wouldn’t be a loss---but now Long Feiye had ruined everything!
“With preservation in mind, this one suggests amassing all the soldiers to protect Youyuan Prefecture. On one hand, our soldiers have more experience fighting Western Zhou troops and are familiar with their tactics, so they’ll be well equipped against potential ambushes; on the other, Youyun Prefecture is closest to the Three-Way Battlefield. As soon as the cavalry forces arrive, we can combine our armies in the shortest time and then head south!”
“No, we mustn’t! If the Duke of Qin has already started leading troops to our city, then he absolutely won’t spare the regions north of Fenglin Prefecture, either. We have to protect this prefecture, or else it’ll be difficult to recover the loss of morale!”
“As this one sees it, why don’t we give up on the three eastern prefectures and directly kill our way to Tianning! As long as Great General Ning doesn’t block our way, what’s wrong with giving up some prefectures for an entire nation?”
The conversations continued with opinions aplenty. General Chu listened to them all as he fell deep in thought. But he didn’t have time to waste. Soon enough, a soldier came to report. “Reporting! General, Tianning’s Duke of Qin has led his troops to the city and called for a one-on-one match with you.”
A one-on-one match?
Everyone sucked in a sharp breath at those words before simultaneously looking towards General Chu, whose face had turned dark.
“Long Feiye, you’re going too far!” General Chu punched the table again, almost breaking it with his fists. In the battlefields of Cloud Realm Continent, one-on-one matches were only reserved for times when victory was imminent for one side. The apparent winner, in order to cut down on battle time, typically challenged the loser’s side to a duel. If the winning army won the duel, the other side would surrender. If the winning army lost the duel, the other side had three days to flee. Their armies had yet to engage in battle, but Long Feiye was already issuing his challenge. He was clearly looking down on General Chu and humiliating him!
This was Long Feiye’s first time fighting a war. It wasn’t that he didn’t know the rules, but that he was wrecking them on purpose!
“Abominable! Abominable!” General Chu paced back and forth in rage, but still couldn’t make up his mind on which city to protect.
Chu Yunyi took this time to hurry back in. “Ning Cheng’s forces will need at least three days before they reach Youyun Prefecture,” he announced.
“Youyun Prefecture won’t last for three days,” someone declared.
“General, since the Duke of Qin’s asking for a duel, why not think of ways to delay him?” someone suggested.
General Chu was thinking of the ‘three days’ problem as well. He would never directly confront Long Feiye in battle because he was sure to lose. He had to think of another way to buy time. No matter what, as long as they held out for three more days, the situation would change.
While General Chu was thinking, Chu Yunyi murmured three words in his ear: “Han Yunxi!”
General Chu furrowed his brow as Chu Yunyi’s eyes flickered with cold laughter. “You’ll know once you climb up the watchtower.”
General Chu didn’t hesitate to climb the stairs. This time, he could see Long Feiye’s soldiers loud and clear! All 5,000 of them were standing in orderly lines at the foot of the city, but carried the air of a 50,000 strong army. At their head was precisely Long Feiye, but in his lap was a woman---Qin Wangfei, Han Yunxi!
General Chu couldn’t help but shake his head. “Heheh, that vixen!”
In the war history of Cloud Realm Continent, from the time of the Great Qin Empire to the three kingdoms that came after it, no leader had ever led a woman into battle, much less shared his horse with her! After all, women were akin to clothing to men, and burdens to generals! Yet here was Long Feiye, charging into his first-ever battle with his woman on his lap! He was so frivolous that it was laughable.
Long Feiye had one hand wrapped around Han Yunxi’s slender waist and the other grasping his sword. He sat atop a tall steed, the commander-in-chief of 5,000 men! He had foregone his armor in favor of flowing black robes. His inherent nobility and domineering air were second nature to him. Despite not saying a word or showing any anger, he gave off a frightening, awe-inspiring aura all the same. Han Yunxi was also dressed in black robes, yet she looked heroic and valiant, even as she sat atop her commander’s lap. She faced the battlefield as she faced her patients, stern and cold. When this woman got serious, she wasn’t very beautiful, but she commanded respect.
When she spotted General Chu’s face atop the city, she shouted, “He’s here!”
Long Feiye raised his sword at the watchtower and called out to the man above him. “General Chu, why haven’t you accepted the duel yet?”
Reuploaded with edits: 12/12/2020