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Chapter 29: Military Counselor
At the end of summer in the twelfth year of Yuanwu, a conflict arose on the border of the Qin and Wuzhi. The reason for the conflict was a bucket. Because of this bucket, a Qin soldier died.
That night, the Qin border arm requested the Wuzhi country to hand over the Wuzhi warrior who killed the Qin soldier. Yet the Wuzhi emphasized the Qin soldier had crossed the border.
The Qin border army thought that it was a bucket from the Qin military, and that soldier’s proper request had not received a response. So after the request was refused, the Qin border army quickly chose a decisive measure.
An army launched an attack at the base the Wuzhi warrior was located at. This conflict escalated over the next few days. As the Qin continued to pump in more troops, it quickly turned into a war.
Yet, if future generations were willing to calculate, they would easily discover the same day the soldier died because of a bucket, many of the Qin troops had crossed the Yin Mountains and moved towards the Wuzhi border. Many Changling cultivators had departed that night and headed towards the place that was a desolate plain for Qin people. And in the views of those who later studied the war, the Qin Dynasty had chosen a great time.
The Yuzhi and Western Qiang were the closest to the Wuzhi. After the Yuezhi became a subordinate country of the Qin Dynasty, as the war started, the armies of the Yuezhi directly entered the campaign against the Wuzhi.
Western Qiang itself had just recently endured internal strife. Multiple princes worked together to kill the old king but then their mother, leading the subordinates of the old king, defeated them. Their powerful mother became the true leader of the Western Qiang, but they did not have any forces to spare to help the Wuzhi.
In the summer of the twelfth year of Yuanwu, Ding Ning was among the many cultivators who travelled towards Yin Mountain from Changling. The cultivators who had never been in war, regardless of their cultivation strength, were newly enlisted and escorted by the conscription officers of the Warden’s Office.
The military orders of the Qin were very strict. If they were delayed, the conscription officers would lose some of their military merit and be demoted as labourers. If they delayed war, they would be executed.
So escorting new soldiers was not just for protection as they had to deliver these troops like they were prisoners. Because this was wartime, the conscription officers who left Changling were themselves generals on the borders. The troop that Ding Ning was part of was originally stationed a hundred and thirty miles outside of Changling as part of the Imperial Guard Army.
This army was two thousand people, but carried large amounts of iron and bronze tools used for daily military use and for pioneering land. Like many past dynasties, the Qin Dynasty had strict controls over the production of tools and powerful metal weapons. Most workshops were gathered in Changling. When it was wartime, the items would flow outwards like water along the armies. While this would cost great amounts of manpower and money, this had a benefit — the orders would definitely arrive, and the Qin armies would respond quickly.
The highest officer of this army was Guo Feng, from Guanzhong. He was old acquaintances with Nangong Caishu’s father and respectful towards Ding Ning. When they received Ding Ning and the others outside of Changling and they officially set off, he immediately invited Ding Ning and Nangong Caishu onto his own chariot.
“Many people in Changling have heard of your affairs.”
This general was not tall, and even slightly hunchbacked. His head was bald, but he emanated the hardened bloody tang unique to soldiers who had experienced countless battles. He bowed slightly to Ding Ning, his voice humble. “Especially I heard how you refused Li Lingjun, and helped that gangster called Wang Taixu become the head of the Changling underground. I know you are not just strong in cultivation and your abilities to fight above your level, but your foresight and strategy.”
Ding Ning was not a humble person and would nott say polite courtesies. He listened to this general’s words and bowed respectfully, saying, “I am seriously injured. I fear I cannot be of much help in battle. If General needs my help in any matters on the trip, please ask.”
Guo Feng was satisfied with his attitude and admired Ding Ning more. He laughed and said, “You should be my military counselor … Of course, just help me along the way.”
After a pause, he put away his smile and said, “The trip is long. You are too famous, and I fear the trip will not be peaceful.”
Ding Ning looked at the seemingly ordinary general and said, “General is a smart person.”
“What do you think about the Qin fighting the Wuzhi?” Guo Feng asked Ding Ning without any extra words.
“The key is the attitude of the Chu Dynasty, separated from the Wuzhi by Yin Mountain. Western Qiang or Donghu cannot change Wuzhi’s fate.” Ding Ning smiled mockingly and said, “So much noise, and even your Imperial Guard Army has been dispatched. Countless cultivators have been sent out of Changling. If Wuzhi is not defeated, will they be content?”
Guo Feng nodded and said, “I agree with your view.”
Ding Ning looked at him and continued. “Donghu will of course send troops. Donghu is not just neighbors with Wuzhi, most of Donghu’s metal and bone tools come from Wuzhi. If Wuzhi becomes a part of the Qin and does not need to make cross-border trade, Donghu likely will not even have military weapons in a decade. But whether it is Donghu sending troops or Chu crossing the Yin Mountain, the trip will be long. So Wuzhi will not immediately have a final battle with us Qin, they will delay. We only need to set up a border city behind Yin Mountain. The reason is Donghu was previously called the desert barbarians as they are most skilled in their cavalry. If we chase, us Qin soldiers cannot catch up. After Yin Mountain, I fear that it will snow in a month. They will delay until snowfall no matter what.”
Guo Feng’s gaze flashed violently. Some of these things he had thought of, but not as thoroughly as Ding Ning. Even more importantly, he felt Ding Ning spoke correctly.
“I think the empress has considered this, so all the armies have brought along so many things.”
Ding Ning slowly turned around to look at the vehicles and said, “She will not be in a hurry and will let the opponent delay until snowfall before the final battle. This choice will avoid many deaths, but the time will be hard to pass. For a small army, there are too many variables.”
Guo Feng took a deep breath and looked seriously at Ding Ning. “We will go towards Donghu in the end. There is a small army we will all belong to.”
Ding Ning smiled and said, “It will be so after we reach Donghu. But in the process of reaching there, I fear we are as General thinks, bait.”
Guo Feng was not surprised by the words. His expression just turned colder.
“General said I am too famous and cultivate too quickly. For the other three dynasties, I am a great threat.” Ding Ning said coolly, “There are not enough powerful cultivators in General’s army. So for people who want to assassinate me, they do not have to pay too great a cost.”
“Since you see more clearly than I do, this means you have the ability to warn me in time to deal with changes.”
Guo Feng looked at the path ahead and said slowly, “My duty is not just to deliver you all in time, but for these men who have come with me to return home as best as I can.”
- Sword Dynasty Volume Seven Chapter 85 “Wound”
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- Sword Dynasty Volume Seven Chapter 82 “Defeat the Heart”