Book 22 Chapter 7 – Ambushing Troops’ Secret Crossing
Bai Wenyuan took a map, drawn on silk cloth, and spread it out on a makeshift crude wooden table setup by the command tent. As if by prior agreement, Kou Zhong, Xu Ziling and Xuan Yong immediately stooped down to examine it carefully.
Pointing to a big mountain range spanning diagonally across the map, Xuan Yong said, “This must be Dahong Mountain. Even the mountain roads are listed clearly. This is the first time that I see such a meticulous map.”
Kou Zhong’s sharp eyes caught a line of small characters on the corner of the map; he read, “Respectfully made by Bai Wenyuan. Ha! Turns out Bai Xiong is an expert in drawing map. Apologies for failing to venerate.”
Bai Wenyuan modestly declined, “It’s just a minor art handed down in my family, it can’t be considered anything.”
Sighing with admiration, Xu Ziling said, “The writing brush Bai Xiong used must be stiffer than ordinary writing brush tip, otherwise, how could you draw such fine lines? Plus there are many kinds of color, it is nice-looking and pleasing to the eye.”
Slapping the table in praise, Kou Zhong said, “The most awesome thing is that it won’t discolor; the ink must be very special.”
Seeing that his hand-painted map received so much appreciation, Bai Wenyuan’s mood was somewhat better; he cheerfully said, “All Zaixia’s ancestors were geography masters; we studied Fengshui and Five-Element meticulously, therefore, since childhood I followed my humble father going everywhere to survey mountain and river terrain, and drew it for the record. Only I’ve never thought that in the future it would find itself for military use.”
Xuan Yong said, “From here to Flying Horse Ranch, there are at least a hundred different routes, plus we have Bai Xiong, who is familiar with the mountain and river terrain, leading the way. What are we afraid of?”
Smiling ruefully, Bai Wenyuan said, “Because of the Dahong Mountain and several big rivers separating east and west, in reality there are only five routes in the interior of the mountain, plus two routes north and south of Dahong Mountain. The worst part is that the setup of the sentry locations was all designed by Zaixia, no matter how we try to conceal our track, it will be difficult to escape the opponent’s eyes and ears. Ay! It’s all my fault!”
Proud of himself, Kou Zhong said, “If we do not go to the Flying Horse Ranch, but go straight to Yiling instead, what do you think?”
Bai Wenyuan dejectedly said, “That is worse. Xiao Xian already ordered Dong Jingzhen, he knew from the war two gentlemen waged against Li Mi that gentlemen can effectively use ambushing troops, therefore, there is a great possibility that you might launch surprise attack to Yiling, hence they are already prepared to guard against this. Furthermore, the only route to Yiling from here is by way of Chang Jiang [Yangzte River]; it will be more easily exposed.”
Xu Ziling asked, “Does Bai Xiong know the route An Long and Zhu Mei took to return to Han’s interior?”
Bai Wenyuan’s pair of eyes flashed coldly, he also replied coldly, “Naturally via Chang Jiang; this way they won’t have to be afraid that Fu Gongyou might overtake them.”
Kou Zhong’s spirit greatly aroused, he asked, “How many ships do they have?”
Bai Wenyuan replied, “Their fleet consists of ten wine-transporting ships; we came here disguised as cargo ships transporting wine. The fleet should still remain on the crossing dock west side of Tong’an, pretending to wait for the shipment of the raw material to make wine, while actually we are waiting for An Long.”
Kou Zhong laughed aloud and said, “This is called the Heaven is helping me. Now we must immediately hasten to hit the road; before An Long and that poisonous woman’s arrival, we’ll take possession on those ten wine-transporting ships, and then we’ll execute the ‘secretly crossing the Wei Riber at Chencang’ stratagem [idiom: refers to a stratagem used by Liu Bang against Xiang Yu], using them to advance to our destination.”
Xuan Yong accepted the order and hurried out to notify the other generals.
Emotionally moved, Bai Wenyuan said, “Shao Shuai, please uphold justice for Wenyuan.”
Wrapping his arm around Bai Wenyuan’s shoulder, Kou Zhong said, “Bai Xiong, don’t worry. What I am afraid of is that at that time, you will still find it difficult to abandon old feeling.”
‘Pei!’ Bai Wenyuan spat, and spoke with a cold snort, “Even if that poisonous woman cut me up into ten thousand pieces, I will not knit half my brow.”
Xu Ziling said, “Killing Zhu Mei is easy, but An Long’s martial art skill is no small matter; if he slips out of our net, he might spoil our plan big time.”
Kou Zhong nodded and said, “Hence we must really plan it well before making any move; we will setup a large and tight net so that An Long will not have any door from which he could escape.”
Bai Wenyuan was silent for half a day; finally he shook his head and said, “My bad; there is no reason for you to risk your lives for me, it is also not worth it for me to take this risk for the sake of this cheap s1ut. As soon as we get the ships, we will head west immediately. A gentleman wants to take revenge, ten years is not too late. Let An Long and that cheap s1ut fall into emptiness, with Fu Gongyou’s pursuing troops behind them. That can already make me extremely happy.”
Kou Zhong laughed and said, “Very well! In short, I, Kou Zhong, guarantee that I will wipe Bai Xiong’s deep enmity clean. How’s Bai Xiong’s spirit? We are still relying on you to lead the way!”
This moment their men arrived leading their horses. Bai Wenyuan flew up the horseback and said with a laugh, “As soon as I remember that cheap s1ut, my vitality rose up a hundredfold; two gentlemen please be at ease.”
Kou Zhong, Xu Ziling, Xuan Yong and Bai Wenyuan jumped down their horses, and flew up to the top of a hill. Under the moon and the starlight, about half a li down below they saw the rippling waves of the Yangtze River. Moored on the crossing-dock were seven medium-sized sailing boats, with no light at all.
“Thank Heaven and thank the Earth,” Kou Zhong said, “Bai Xiong is indeed a geographical expert, so we can catch up ahead of that pair of dog man and woman. But why seven ships instead of ten?”
Bai Wenyuan shook his head and said, “I am not sure. Perhaps the other three are on another mission!”
“Who’s guarding the boats?” Xu Ziling asked.
“All of them are An Long’s men,” Bai Wenyuan replied, “We must kill them all, lest they leak the news.”
Noticing Xu Ziling’s eyebrows were immediately furrowed, Kou Zhong hastily said, “That is too cruel and heartless; as long as we can capture them all alive, we can set them free in some deserted riverbank. Even if they wanted to, it would be difficult for them to transmit the news, only homing pigeons will be faster than we are.”
Stunned, Bai Wenyuan said, “Shao Shuai’s style of work is certainly entirely different from Zhu Can, father and daughter. Ay!”
Trying to console him, Xuan Yong said, “Our people are ready, the most urgent thing is to survey what’s ahead of us.”
Turning to Kou Zhong, he said, “At the Yellow River, several times has subordinate led my men to attack enemy ships moored on the riverbank. Shao Shuai only need to set the time of the attack, I guarantee that everything will be executed properly.”
“This matter should not be delayed,” Kou Zhong said, “We seize the ships and capture the men immediately, using fast to defeat slow, using well-prepared to beat ill-prepared. Pure and simple: it will be a delight!”
Like a ghost or a demon Xu Ziling floated back; he gave report to Kou Zhong and his men, who had been hiding behind a pile of rocks by the shore, “The ship’s defense is sloppy and ordinary; each ship has about a dozen sailors. If we move fast enough, I guarantee that we will be able to capture everybody in one net.”
Kou Zhong signaled Xuan Yong, who had been waiting by his side, to move. The latter immediately let out an owl cry, the seven groups consisted of seven hundred men in total, who had been crouching low on the ground, responded by going into the water, and then without making any noise they swam toward the seven ships.
Xuan Yong sent out another signal, Bai Wenyuan, leading more than four hundred men cavalry, responded. From the mountain road, with battle formation at its peak, they galloped down toward the crossing dock.
The dense sound of hoof beat broke the serenity of the late-night riverbank, completely drowning the rustling sound of the flowing water.
Lights immediately appeared on the moored ships. Shadows flickered and flashed, all attention was at Bai Wenyuan and the men who dressed as his subordinates.
Bai Wenyuan galloped out of the formation and shouted, “Summon everybody immediately, prepare to set sail!”
Someone on the ship responded, “Everybody is already waiting onboard! What about Da Laoban [big boss]?”
Bai Wenyuan cried out, “Da Laoban is here, but Jiang Huai Army’s pursuing troops are behind him. Quickly let us aboard!”
Hearing the ‘pursuing troops’, the men on board immediately panicked. They set down the plank, raised the sail, and set sail in confusion.
Kou Zhong whispered in Xu Ziling’s ear, “Success! It’s our turn now.”