This chapter has been brought to you by me and larkspur.
Chapter Sixty-Five: Night Ambush
Yin Mountain was very tall. Even standing on the slopes, the stars above were many times larger than in Changling. They looked like pearls that were within reach.
Many of the parts of the Yin Mountain were natural borders between the Qin and Chu dynasties. This slope was closer to the Chu side, and belonged to the Chu Dynasty. But at this time, it was the Qin army stationed on the slopes. The black tents were crowded on the slopes and formed a camp.
Below the slope was twenty miles of river valleys and desert. The bonfires were more closely packed together than stars in the sky. The black tents and the red bonfires merged together and stretched out of sight like a hell river of legend.
In the central tent of the Qin army, felt made from the hair of black yaks formed an enormous tent with a black ceiling. There were dozens of thick can candles used to illuminate a sand table.
The sand table was something that was used by almost all generals starting many dynasties ago. It could be used to directly see the geography where the army was, the movements of each army, and to judge the details even better.
Two enormous dynasties were fighting at close distance with an unprecedented military power. As a result, the sand table in the tent was enormous, and the small flags that represented the armies were packed among the mountains and rivers.
They had finished discussing the deployment of the units. When the sun rose tomorrow, some of the small flags on here would move to new positions, or disappear.
In the enormous tent, only Sima Cuo and Fu Su were left.
Standing amid the flickering shadows, these small flags had some marks. These little flags that looked so insignificant on the sand table represented many lives. Thinking of how these small flags would disappear, and the corpses piled up on the true battlefield, Fu Su could not calm down, and his breathing was heavy.
Sima Cuo looked at him like this, and a slightly scornful smile appeared at the corners of his lips.
“What is this?” he pointed at a part of the enormous sand table in front of him and asked.
Fu Su shook slightly, and instinctively responded, “This is the life and death of countless people.”
Sima Cuo’s scorn grew. He shook his head, and said, “This is the entire world, all of the Qin Dynasty.”
Fu Su was stunned, and could not understand the meaning in Sima Cuo’s words.
“Most generals may be powerful cultivators, but powerful cultivators may not become generals.” Sima Cuo looked at him and said coldly and slowly. “What is different between a general and powerful cultivators is that they look at things from different heights. You are the imperial son that the Holy One and the empress value the most. If you do not make great mistakes, the throne of the Qin Dynasty will naturally be given into your hands. So you must look at things from the position of a general, from the position of the country.”
“What this sand table shows now is war, but this great war is with the power of the entire dynasty. The result of the war will decide the fate of the country. Compared to the country, each of the flags here, while representing the deaths of tens of thousands of people, blood in rivers, and piles of bones, they are nothing.”
Sima Cuo’s gaze moved from Fu Su’s face and the sand table to the night sky outside the tent. He stopped for a long moment before he slowly said, “From a certain point of view, Zhao Mu is the opponent that I am most worried about. Because only he cares about winning and losing, and not the process. Tang Mei is similar to you in personality, he cares too much about the life and death of these people.”
“Each dynasty will have numerous powerful cultivators, and fierce generals skilled in battle. As the commander-in-chief, and in the position that you are in, what you have to grasp is the state of the general situation. These people will fight the battles.”
Sima Cuo laughed. “Like right now. You just have to confirm what problems the Chu Dynasty armies will have with Tang Mei leading them, are you able to see with him leading the army, in the overall situation, the Chu armies already have a fatal weakness? If you cannot see, then there is no meaning in being the commander-in-chief, and your orders have no meaning. Maybe armies represented by these flags will win most of their battles, but in the end, you will find that you have inexplicably lost.”
Listening to Sima Cuo’s lecture, Fu Su looked dazedly at the sand table. He could not see where the fatal weakness that Sima Cuo said the Chu armies had.
“The more complex the front line, the more time it takes, and the more variables there are. As the Yan, Qi, and Ba Mountain Sword Field join in, the more disadvantageous it will become for us. Zhao Mu stayed behind in Chu to steady the rear, and recommended Tang Mei as the commander. Tang Mei’s fighting style will naturally achieve this.”
Sima Cuo’s smile faded. He said darkly, “But when he leads the armies like this, their fatal weakness is food. The Chu army has prepared an entire winter, but they will still not have enough food. The finer the battle, the more routes to transport grain and equipment, and the more places where problems can occur. If you find this, all your orders just have to be targeted at this.”
Fu Su stopped breathing. He finally understood some.
Sima Cuo said coldly, “Grain and grass, both are needed. Of all of the orders sent tonight, the fifty thousand Bright Tiger Army that Lian Bo is leading seems to have moved the most. But in reality, this is just to contain the main Chu army. The key is those small flags. Much of the fodder that the Chu has prepared will be burned. Even Wei Wu Jiu leading the army to advance to the Green River Meadow is just a lure. The use of many powerful cultivators in a war is mostly to contain and protect some generals. Sometimes, what decides victory is not the battles between these people, but the victories gained by some inconspicuous armies.”
An inconspicuous part of the sand table.
A mountain valley of the Yin Mountain reached this place. Because sunlight never reached here, even at the start of the summer, this valley was covered in white snow. This pass was in the north of Daliang Commandery. Because it was so remote, it only guarded against bandits from outside the passes. So there had been a stone city built at the entrance of the pass, and there were only four hundred soldiers stationed here. Yet many days ago, some of the nobility of the Chu Dynasty and their entourage arrived here. Adding on the soldiers that came, there were seven hundred people.
These nobilities came from the Chu capital and surrounding areas, and belonged to powerful families. But they were not strong enough for Consort Zhao Xiang to have mercy. All the people among them who could fight were reorganized into the army. Only the old and weak that could not follow the army were left in the capital and “cared for”.
Before they were sent to the front lines, the armies made from these nobilities were split up and sent to different places. In the end, the combat power of the group sent to Xuegu Pass was very weak, much weaker than the four hundred soldiers stationed here.
The soldiers stationed here did not have good feelings towards the nobility, and feared that they would desert. So when these people arrived, they were grouped into five person teams and led by veterans. Many of the ordinary soldiers here immediately became “captains”.
The “captain” in charge of the sentry tonight, Song Wei, was such a veteran.
The sentry was just a hidden tent on the side of the slope that just allowed six people to sit together. In order to fend against the cold, the six people were squeezed together, relying on body warmth. But Song Wei could clearly sense the hostility of the five people he was leading.
“If we are quiet, the wind in the valley can cover our voices, and powerful cultivators cannot hear us. How about we talk about something, it is easy to fall asleep, so why not talk?” the old soldier whose skin was leather like due to the wind and sunlight of the mountains rubbed his hands and said.
No one answered.
Song Wei did not care and said, “I know that you are discontent. Everyone wants to live good days. Who wants to come here to suffer? Not just you think this, so do I. I am not a cultivator, I do not have the assets to get military merit.”
“Then why did you join the army?” Many moments later, a voice sounded.
“No choice, ” Song Wei laughed self-mockingly. “My father had two sons. I am the older one. My younger brother was of a weak body from birth and learned better at school than me. My family is poor, we do not have any farmland. Based on the Chu laws, if you cannot pay the military tax, you must have someone join the army. If I do not come, then who?”
“You are not the same as me, but you also do not have a choice.” Song Wei turned to look at the people squeezed in with him. He said seriously. “I mean, since you came here, then settle. If there is no choice, the only way is to think of ways to survive. Living is better than dying here. Anger is not of much use. Here, everyone is at peace. We will be fine after this war.”
The tent grew silent.
Seeing that his words were accepted, Song Wei smiled, and said, “Luckily, we are remote here, not some important place to be fought over. The Qin army should not make an ambush here. Our chances of surviving~”
He wanted to say that their chances of surviving would be higher, but then he stopped. His throat choked up, expression froze, and his pupils contracted.
Some different colored white appeared on the white snow. Many white figures silently appeared in the mountain valley like ghosts.
Then more white figures spread towards the back of the valley.