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Xiaohu, I didn't have any problem opening the thread. I even tried using my cellphone, which I had not done before. But I wonder why nobody else seems willing to test it for you? Ysabel, spy, Chua, Jaya, you are welcome. Chowbeng, Xu Xiong, I agree, that was a lot of work on Xiaohu's part. Anybody care to respond to Xu Xiong's poll?

EDIT: Sorry, forgot hungry before ...

Book 18 Chapter 10 - Great Reward to Family Member

Standing on the bow of the ship, Xu Ziling was staring blankly into the distance.

River breeze came directly at his face, his clothes were fluttering in the wind, yet it was unable to blow away the horrific memory of the wretched and severe war!

He understood the inevitability and unavoidability of war, just like the never-ending struggle and feud of Jianghu.

Even for someone as detached from the world as Shi Feixuan, it would still be difficult to ignore the suffering of the common people, that she realized that she must use wu [martial/military] to overcome wu, and that unification of the world was a must.

Kou Zhong came to his side; looking into the distance at the sinking red sun ahead, he said leisurely, "Only after a fierce battle will one realize that the ordinary things in ordinary everyday life are actually precious. One might well ask, the moment we were fighting hand-to-hand, deciding life or death, on the battlefield, who would have time to pay attention to the touching beautiful scenery of sunrise and sunset?"

Revealing a pained look on his face, Xu Ziling smiled ruefully and said, "Zhong Shao seems to enjoy the pleasant lingering effect of the aftermath of the battle a bit too much."

Kou Zhong replied, "As long as we did not die, everybody would feel the indescribable happiness. Especially after a big victory. Much less the victory was so close!"

After a short pause, he mused, "I must form an invincible cavalry of my own personal guards; otherwise, when I encounter Li Shimin in the future, how could I resist his Black Armor Elite Cavalry?"

Xuan Yong's voice came from behind, "Kou Ye's way of thinking is extremely insightful, I wonder if you ever heard about the ten advantages of using the cavalry?"

Delighted, Kou Zhong said, "I'd like to hear the details."

Xuan Yong came to Kou Zhong's side, and said seriously, "One: facing the enemy right from the start. Two: taking advantage of weakness to defeat the enemy. Three: chasing scattered enemy, striking disordered enemy. Four: attacking the enemy striking the rear, making the enemy run. Five: protecting the provisions, securing the army's path. Six: defeating the enemy's closed or separated-by-water path, while developing the connection between two areas. Seven: catching the enemy off guard, striking the soldiers before they rouse their brigade. Eight: attacking the slack when it is the least expected. Nine: burning its accumulation, emptying its city. Ten: sweeping its open land, capturing its children. With these ten principles, the advantage of cavalry will be maximized. This time Kou Ye was able to deal a big blow on Li Mi, all because you were able to display the advantage of cavalry battle to the fullest, hence you could use the few to defeat the many, and use the rapid to subdue the weary."

Xu Ziling said, "Problem is that everybody knows the advantage of the cavalry, but why is it that only Li Shimin could have invincible cavalry, plus their number is limited to only a thousand?"

Xuan Yong replied, "This kind of matter is always easy to grasp but difficult to put into practice. Who wouldn't want to think that his own cavalry's prestige surpasses others', but has to suffer the limitation of talented military officers, horsemanship, warriors' quality, warhorse, and equipment? Purely from cavalry standpoint, nobody in the world could surpass Flying Horse Ranch's expertise in breeding and trading horses, so that even though they number in merely several tens of thousand, they are able to resist Du Fuwei in the east, ward off Zhu Can in the west, blocking Wang Shichong in the north, and pressing down Xiao Xian, Lin Shihong, in the south, even making it difficult for the Three Big Bandits to gain a cun advancement, while displaying their prowess in equestrian archery at the same time. Coming in like fire, leaving like the wind, so that it is impossible to defend effectively."

Kou Zhong's eyes immediately lit up.

Yanshi appeared ahead, their flag was flying on the city wall.

Kou Zhong breathed a sigh of relief and said, "Thank Heaven and thank the Earth! As long as Yanshi, you, Senior, is still safe and sound, this time Li Mi will really be done for!"

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Finished listening, Yang Gongqing swept Kou Zhong, Zhai Jiao, Xuan Yong, Wang Xuanshu, Tu Shufeng, Linglong Jiao, six people sitting around the table with his eyes one time all the way through; only then did he nod and say, "We have nothing to fear of Li Mi and Bing Yuanzhen, but Shan Xiongxin's new army is currently constructing a rampart to strongly defend their position. If they can hold off against us for then days, half a month, when Li Mi finishes restructuring his army and stabilizing his footings, the situation might be completely different."

Zhai Jiao looked at Kou Zhong; apparently, since he single-handedly engineered this close-to-impossible miraculous feat of defeating Li, her impression on him was greatly changed, and now she would follow him blindly.

Xu Ziling was not present at this most important military meeting after the big battle; he withdrew into a quiet room.

Kou Zhong slyly said, "Because Li Mi thought that we are short of provisions, he decided on blitzkrieg strategy, to avoid us replenishing our supply from the Eastern Capital; therefore, in coming south this time, he did not bring too much provisions. As a result, as long as we can occupy Wang Bodang at Jinyong so that he is incapable of supporting Shan Xiongxin, even if Shan Xiongxin has millions of main forces, he would surrender as it will be the only way to go."

Zhai Jiao nodded and said, "Wang Bodang's force defending Jinyong is only several thousands strong, plus they can be considered new army recruits, definitely powerless to defend Jinyong."

Xuan Yong said, "We have our people within the Jinyong city; as long as Da Jiangjun makes a bluffing move of attacking Jinyong, when the people's heart grew timid, we could seize the opportunity to burn their granaries. Inside and outside collaborate, Wang Bodang will have no choice but to abandon the city and cross the river to go back to Heyang."

Emotionally moved, Yang Gongqing said, "That is certainly a feasible plan."

Frowning, Wang Xuanshu said, "Supposing when we are marching to Jinyong, Shan Xiongxin divided his troops into two, one proceeded to assist Jinyong, the other to attack Yanshi, and then Li Mi also seized this opportunity to come to the east, won't we be caught is perilous situation?"

Yang Gongqing laughed and said, "Er Gongzi need not worry. Let's talk about Jinyong first. We only need to send five thousand cavalry, to advance and station outside the city of Jinyong, by the time Shan Xiongxin received the news, we would already gain a stable footing, then we could use light cavalry on surprise attack to make his new army tired of constantly running for their life. And when their heart is in the state of panic like that, Shan Xiongxin's new army practically won't have the morale and strength to face an attack and meet it."

Tu Shufang leisurely sucked in the tobacco pipe in his hand; puffing out a hazy smoke, he said with a smile, "As long as we can force Wang Bodang to give up defending Jinyong, leave it to Ol' Tu to deal with Shan Xiongxin. I will inflict pain that he had never knew before, to see if he is a sensible soldier with a clear view of things. However, before I see him, it would be best if we could make Bing Yuanzhen surrender without fighting, so that Li Mi would lose his momentum, exhaust his strength, and forever will not have any hope of making a comeback [orig. return to office after living as a hermit on Mount Dong (must be an idiom with historical background, but I can't find it yet. Sun Quan of Three Kingdoms period?)]."

Linglong Jiao also spoke up, "Shan Xiongxin has at least a ten days' time, before he could cut lumber to build cart and make ladders, and make preparation to attack Yanshi; now he ought not dare to act blindly without thinking."

Yang Gongqing said, "Capturing Jinyong city is a trivial matter. Even if we can't burn Wang Bodang's provisions, as long as bluff by pretending to attack the city, I guarantee Wang Bodang would be on the lookout to make his escape. Jinyong really is not a strong fortified city; it is far inferior to Yanshi. It did not fell before, simply because Li Mi's main force was holding us up!"

A slight pause later, he went on, "But if we want Bing Yuanzhen to surrender, we must lure Li Mi out of Luokou; otherwise, based on his former prestige, he might make apprehension to grow in Bing Yuzhen's heart."

Having a card up his sleeve, Xuan Yong said, "Whether it's Bing Yuanzhen or Shan Xiongxin, both were Zhai Ye's former subordinates, they are dissatisfied that Li Mi murdered Zhai Ye, only they are angry, but not daring to speak out. For the past few years Li Mi continuously supports only his trusted aides, which increases their resentment; therefore, as long as we could create a situation where they feel deeply threatened, I can guarantee that they are going to surrender and return their allegiance to us, and will not throw their life in for Li Mi, whose prestige is falling fast."

Looking at Kou Zhong, Yang Gongqing said, "Kou Junshi, what's your view on this matter?"

Kou Zhong laughed and said, "This plan is called 'dividing the troops into two directions, bluffing the enemy'. On one hand, we dispatch fast riders to force Jinyong, on the other hand we send the army to cross the river, acting as if we are going to besiege the hard-to-shake Luokou's defense. Of these two, the former must be accomplished first; only if we can force Wang Bodang to move will we make the river crossing."

Wang Xuanshu said, "If we want to transport the siege equipment across to the camp on the opposite bank, due to the limited load capacity of the pontoon bridge, it will take a long time. If Shan Xiongxin and Li Mi receive the information and come to attack, won't we be in a very bad situation?"

Kou Zhong smiled and replied, "Hence the reason we must force Wang Bodang to leave first to break Shan Xiongxin's retreating route and persuade him to surrender before we can proceed with this plan. By that time, if Li Mi heard and came to attack, he would find that Shan Xiongxin is holding the troops in self-defense, while Bing Yuanzhen has offered up Luokou as sacrifice to Heaven; other than running away, what else can he do?"

Yang Gongqing laughed aloud and said, "Kou Junshi has certainly given this plan thorough consideration. There is no time to lose, tonight we'll take a good rest, bestow all three armies, boost their morale. Tomorrow we take advantage of the dark before dawn to start moving the troops. We'll send five-thousand-cavalry toward Jinyong to bluff. As long as Wang Bodang abandon the city and flee, the other plans can be executed one by one, to make that boy Li Mi suffer a setback that will lead to total collapse, and something that he will regret the rest of his life."

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