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Chapter Sixty-Two: Tang Mei on the Road
Zhangsun Qianxue did not understand.
Ding Ning turned to glance at her and said, “Of the thirteen marquises of the Qin, each of them are giants in the country, but this is not like the time when Ba Mountain Sword Field led the army. Back when Ba Mountain Sword Field led the army, most of the generals were brothers, people who could fight to the death for each other. They had a common goal between them that surpassed life and death. But these marquises are different. They have their own thoughts. The alliance between them is more like the one between the Chu, Yan, and Qi.”
Zhangsun Qianxue thought and said, “But with just this possibility, the chance is too slim, especially when Yuanwu has shown the power of the seal weapons during the Deer Mountain Conference. The advantage of the Chu weapons mostly will be that they can be used by normal cultivators, and at most, just make up for the lack of numbers compared to the Qin army.”
“Zhao Mu and Tang Mei are both good generals. Zhao Mu is better than Tang Mei because he can ignore life and death. Sometimes, on the battlefield, some deaths and sacrifices cannot be avoided. Ignoring and forgetting these unavoidable deaths can give your subordinates the feeling of being strong and like steel, so the general will not hesitate and be restrained.” Ding Ning picked up some snow salt and added it to his drinking jar. He shook it and then drank. He said, “The best part of Zhao Mu is that he knows how to use people. Based on the Wuzhi information, back then, he sacrificed one of Tang Mei’s subordinate armies, which caused Tang Mei to retire in anger. He knows Tang Mei’s ability to lead an army, and also his personality. Tang Mei cares very much for the death of each soldier, so when Tang Mei leads the army, he will not make major movements, he will be very delicate, and drag out the length of the war.”
“In quick battles when the two sides crash against each other, it is a pure struggle of power. It is hard to find a chance. But once there is more time, and a war made from many battles, there is a higher chance of finding a chance for victory.”
Ding Ning smiled, somewhat admiring, and said, “Even more importantly, Zhao Mu knows that they will have to rely greatly on outside powers in this war, for example, the Ba Mountain Sword Field. Right now, the biggest worry of the Chu Dynasty is if Ba Mountain Sword Field will control the dynasty. If this war is determined by one or two big battles, and Ba Mountain Sword Field was in charge, even if Lin Zhujiu stands up and says he wants to be the strategist, it will cause a backlash. Most people in the Chu Dynasty will not agree.”
“But if the few big battles are turned into small skirmishes, even if Lin Zhujiu appears in one of battles, it will not cause much strong resistance from the Chu.” Zhangsun Qianxue understood and slowly said, “And finding a chance from chaos is what you are most skilled at.”
Ding Ning glanced at the old monk at the front and said, “We also have another key to victory. We have a cultivator who is the strongest next to Yuanwu. While he had acted in the Donghu imperial palace, the people of Changling do not know that he has followed us as an attendant. Zheng Xiu is skilled in assassinations, but we can also become skilled.”
Many of the places where Qin and Chu met were originally not suited for inhabitation. The natural conditions were too poor, and the production too scarce. Only a few people could live. In the lands with rich water and plants, many people had gathered since antiquity, so there were naturally cities there, the centers of wealth and power.
But when the Chu and Qin armies started to move on the border, during this spring, these desolate areas attracted the gazes of the world. The result of the war would completely change the situation of the world.
Many people were traveling like Ding Ning. A group of seven was urgently riding in the wilderness of the Daliang Commandery.
The Daliang Commandery was one of the north most commanderies of the Chu Dynasty, in the hills at the base of Yin Mountain.
Many years ago, Daliang did not belong to the Chu Dynasty but was a country of its own, Liang. But the dynasty was so weak that it survived in the cracks, and sought protection of the Chu.The Chu wanted this area, but due to face, could not attack it. When the Qin Dynasty started to wage war with the Han, Zhao, and Wei, the Chu Dynasty almost smoothly got this area in their bag.
The Chu Dynasty only let one Qin army pass through here. The Qin army stepped over the Liang without any effort. Then the Chu Dynasty sent their army, and took back the Liang. The royal clan of Liang had completely disappeared when the Qin army came, so the Chu just installed a distant relative of the King of Liang to be a commandery prince here.
Such a story of trickery like this would frequently occur in history, and did not make many waves. Yet the Daliang Commandery was very strategically important to the Chu. Over a third of the battle horses in the Chu Dynasty, and beasts used for fighting came from here. Even more importantly, there were packed river valleys and hills in Daliang Commandery. They could be used to set up forts, many intricate battles. Large scale battles could not occur here. But after Daliang Commandery was the dual river plains of the Chu Dynasty. There were large swathes of flat land, and both land and water routes that reached straight into the center of the Chu Dynasty.
So on the front lines where both sides had positioned millions of people, the most important on the west line was Yangshan Commandery, and on the north line, it was this Daliang Commandery.
The Daliang Commandery was the command center for the north armies of the Chu. Within the Razor Cliff and Giant Stone Forest in the center of the Daliang Commandery, there was an elite army of two hundred thousand stationed there.
At this time, these seven riders were at the south edge of the Daliang Commandery, and were two days worth of travel from the Razor Cliff. Three of the riders were at the front, one in the middle and three in the rear. The one in the middle had a calm expression, and was occasionally thoughtful. This was the general of the Chu Dynasty’s unprecedented war, Tang Mei.
There were no fields in the wilderness, no roads, just natural grasslands. So the horses did not need to be restrained, and the horses could be let to gallop forward freely. The sunlight was bright, the fresh smell of the newly emerged grasses kept creeping into his nose. As he moved up and down, he felt slightly sleepy.
At this time, there were still two hours until sunset. Yet from the low lying part of the river ahead, a wisp of smoke rose. Soon after, many indigo wisps of smoke followed and covered the world in front of the seven riders.
Tang Mei slowly looked up.
The ground started to tremble. A cavalry troop rushed up from the low lying area like they had come out of the ground and appeared on the flat ground ahead of them.
“While I am already the general in name, in the end, I have to reach the command camp and sit on the seat before I am truly the general. It seems that there are skill people who do not want us to get there.”
“Tang Zhefeng, no wonder your blade does not sharpen. It appears you do not just need a sharpening stone, but also blood and flesh to sharpen.”
“You are right. This time is not bad. This way, I can sharpen before reaching Razor Mountain Camp.”
“Tang Zhefeng, can you not split up like this, and talk to yourself.” A cold voice helplessly rebuked.
The one to speak was a rider behind Tang Mei. Back on the day that Zhao Mu’s subordinate had reached Tang Mei’s residence, this person had been watering in the backyard. When he had been doing farm work, he looked the same as a normal farmer. But now, his coiled hair was loose, long and eerie, reaching his waist. His face was also delicate, his chin sharp, and his face very white. If he was not also pretty tall, at a glance, people would feel he was a woman.
But the person who had said the first three sentences was a rough man with a beard, whose hair was casually tied up with a cloth ribbon, and seemed to dislike the heat. What was most eye-catching was that he carried a very large and flat cloth bag.
The three sentences had seemed to be three people talking, but in reality, he had been the only one talking.
Hearing the scolding from the icy long-haired man next to him, he winked and said, “Tang Zhefeng, so many years, and when excited, cannot change this problem.”
“But if it could be changed, will it still be a problem?”
“Yes, just be happy. If it is changed, I will not be happy.”
Then, he said two sentences, and laughed.
As he spoke, the riders on his side, and the incoming cavalry did not stop, and the two grew closer.
There were thousands of cavalry coming from the low lying ground of the river. The general seemed to be in his thirties. He wore black armor that looked like snake scales. The fine seal scripts on the armor gathered the primal energies of the universe, and threads of dark and icy energy came out.
This general’s features were not special, but his expression very cold, like he was carved out of metal. His fingers were covered in fine scale armor. His left hand hell a wild purple flower that seemed to have just been picked. But as time passed, the bright wildflower was frozen by the cold energy coming off the scale armor of his fingers, and withered.