Chapter 24 – If We’re Going To Do It, Then We’re Going Big
Original by Bro Got a Gun, Translated by James
Although there were neither guns nor cannons in the era of cold weapon, it had something that weapons could not replace – the reek and sight of blood.
From Cao Cao’s single command, the whole Cao army, like ants, began to rush toward the city walls.
North, South, West and East, all four gates were being besieged. Waves after waves of Cao troops had dyed the walls red with blood.
Although Zang Ba had dismissed his troops, he had been stationed in Kaiyang for a long time. Thus, the defenses of Kaiyang was no worse than Xiapi. In fact, had Xiapi not been protected by rivers on all sides, its defense might not even be able to match Kaiyang’s!
Boss Lu was at the front gate. As for the other three gates, there’s Gao Shun, Zhang Liao and Zang Ba. Their presence managed to keep the morale in place.
Having just finished killing a wave of Cao troops that have climbed the walls, before Liu Mang was able to take a rest, another wave of Cao troops had already climbed up the walls.
Four gates. Each of them were being attacked by twenty thousand Cao troops. Underneath the gates there’s the also the Ferocious Cavalry gazing upon and waiting for their opportunity.
“Kaiyang. Kaiyang!” Cao Cao narrowed his eyes as he looked upon the city in front of him. He had originally thought it to be just a county city in outskirts of Xu Province, never did he imaged it to have defenses comparable to strategic cities like Xiapi. Even though he had the number advantage and the siege tools he was still met with disastrous amount of casualties.
“Fengxiao, do you know who was the originally guarding this Kaiyang?!” inquired Cao Cao.
As if knowing what Cao Cao was thinking, Guo Fengxiao drank his wine and said. “Zang Ba, Zang Xuangao, originally from Huaxian of Mount Tai, his father is called Zang Jie, he had two sons, Zang Ai and Zang Shun. When he was young, he had once gathered numerous people to rescue his father who had committed a crime and had been drifting all over the place ever since. Later entered the service of Tao Qian and was tasked with resisting the Yellow Turbans. With Sun Guan, Yin Li and others, he had gathered soldiers in Kaiyang and created an independent power. In the second year of Jianan, he defeated Xiao Jian and occupied the city of Ju. This led to Lu Bu dispatching his army to attack Zang Ba. After that, the two men reconciled!”
[TL: Second year of Jianan = 198 AD]
[TL: Xiao Jian was Lu Bu’s ally.]
“Zang Ba, Zang Xuangao?!” Cao Cao lowered his head and began to ponder.
“This Kaiyang was originally Zang Ba’s base. Prior to being subdued by Lu Bu, this Kaiyang was the reason why Zang Ba was able to negotiate with Tao Qian!” To be able to transform Kaiyang into something like a capital city, this Zang Ba was certainly a great talent.
“My dear lord, you shouldn’t always think of obtaining talents. You want to obtain Zang Ba too? Well, the South Gate is currently guarded by him. General Xiahou Dun had already dispatched multiple waves against it but was still unable to even reach the city walls!” What a headache it must be for Guo Jia. This lord of his have a disposition for suspicion but also wanted to obtain every single talented individual he met. If it really was that easy to obtain talents, then why would they come all the way to Langye?!
“My lord, this general is asking for permission to enter the battle!” next to Cao Cao, Xu Huang grew anxious seeing that his subordinates had already attacked Kaiyang for so long but was still unable to enter the city.
“Gongming ah!” Cao Cao looked at Xu Huang and shook his head. “Don’t be anxious, it is still not the time yet!” On the city walls of the main gate, there’s a golden armored general standing underneath the radiant sunshine. With his armor glittering, he was like the God of War! This was Lu Bu, as long as he’s standing there his army will never be defeated.
[TL: Xu Huang’s courtesy name = Gongming.]
How could he, Cao Cao, send forward his generals when Lu Bu had yet to make a move?! Xu Huang, Cao Ren, Xiahou Dun, Yu Jin and Li Dian were all Old Cao’s top generals. However, none of these people were able to match Lu Bu. If they were to be sent out, Cao Cao would only be presenting to Lu Bu their heads!
Men cannot win against a tiger alone. However, men could use stratagems to win against a tiger – stratagem of attrition! To constantly attack the city, both day and dusk, for Cao Cao had plenty of people! As long as he could kill Lu Bu after tiring him out, then it would all be worth regardless of the amount of casualties!
“Pity that my E Lai is already no longer by my side!” Old Cao had a gloomy expression.
[TL: E Lai referred to Dian Wei. E Lai = Fei Lian’s son and a man of great strength. Fei Lian is the chinese god of the wind. Hence by calling Dian Wei E Lai, Cao Cao is praising him.]
Guo Jia knew that Cao Cao was thinking of Dian Wei again. In the Battle of Wancheng, Cao Cao lost both his precious son and a fierce general.
The sky gradually darkened. The sun was about to set and both the Cao and Lu soldiers felt a relieve. Unlike modern times, there’s no light in the night other than the moon. Thus, whether sieging a city or fighting a battle, both are usually conducted on daytime.
“Beat the gong to recall the troops!” Cao Cao looked at the golden armored man atop the city walls. Lu Bu, as if knowing Cao Cao was watching him, also looked at Cao Cao. Their two sights met and a spark belonging to heroes of the warring era surged amidst the empty air.
“How’s the casualties?!” Lu Bu asked one of his officer.
“Over three hundred and eighty wounded, one hundred and twenty two dead!” By wounded, the officer meant seriously injured and unable to return to the battlefield. From just a single day, there’s already five hundred casualties. Take into account that there’s four walls, the total casualties would number more than two thousand.
How many people do Lu Bu have? He have less than ten thousand! Can he only last for five days?!
As to the amount of Cao casualties, no one bothered to pay attention to it for there’s already more than three thousand corpses underneath the city walls. But so what if they had more casualties? Cao Cao could afford to waste but Lu Bu cannot!
“Do you know of where Gongtai is?!” Lu Bu had never been like today, actively seeking out his advisor in hope of creating a strategy to cause Cao Cao’s army to retreat.
“Fengxian!” Chen Gong also had a bleak expression, they were all screwed over by Zang Ba. Had Zang Ba not dismissed his troops, with the thirty thousand Mount Tai soldiers and the ten thousand Chen family soldiers, then Lu Bu would have forty thousand troops in hand. With forty thousand troops, even Cao Cao would not dare to do anything rashly. However the thirty thousand soldiers were gone and all that remains were some five thousand stones of provisions, a few hundred armor and less than a hundred war horses.
The current situation was even more severe than Xiapi. There’s already no where outside of Xu Province that would have soldiers to reinforce them now!
“Sigh!” Lu Bu sighed. He too knew that he was already at a dead end. From the battle of Xiapi, he already knew that there is no such thing as an unbreakable city.
“If there’s really nothing we can do then Gongtai, breakthrough with my daughter, Liu Mang, Gao Shun, Zhang Liao, Zang Ba and them on the hundred war horses that’s in the city!” Lu Bu’s eyes shined. “With I, Lu Bu, here, I will certainly be able to help you delay them for a day or two!”
“My lord! You absolutely cannot!” The Lu Bu army was called the Lu Bu army precisely because of Lu Bu. If Lu Bu’s gone, then would they still be the Lu Bu army?!
Liu Mang was standing on the side. He did not speak but he was moved. In such a critical moment, Lu Bu did not think of himself but instead thought of Liu Mang and his daughter. Liu Mang, if one thinks of it, was but a worker working for Lu Bu. However, the Boss was actually thinking of his worker! That kind of feeling was like, yep, it’s like the feeling of an elder had toward those who come after.
The transfer button Liu Mang had with him once again began to shine. Liu Mang originally planned to leave but now…
“Give me money!” said Liu Mang calmly.
“Ah?!” Chen Gong frowned. What kind of situation is it to think of money?!
“I said to give me money!” Liu Mang repeated. Seeing the confused expression of Lu Bu and Chen Gong, Liu Mang explained. “Three days, as long as you all can withstand three days, I will be able to come back! Didn’t general Zhang Liao said that as long as he have enough horses, his Bing Province Cavalry will be unstoppable?! I can bring you horses and armor but I need money, lots of money!”
“Is this true?!” Lu Bu’s eyes lit up. Once his Bing Province Cavalry was to have horses, only then are they the real Bing Province Cavalry. Ferocious Cavalry, Righteous White Cavalry and the Heavy Cavalry of Western Liang, none of them could even bother Lu Bu.
“When have I ever lied to you?!” Liu Mang gave a supercilious look. “But I need a large amount of gold!”
“How much do you need?!” Chen Gong was still with a face full of distress. Kaiyang does not have a lot of money left. In the warring era horses became things of strategic importance and were all in the control of a few frontier warlords, people like Yuan Shao, Ma Teng, Han Sui and them. None of them were willing to sell their horses. Even if they were to sell them, it’ll be tens of gold per horse. With this kind of pricing, how many could they possibly be able to purchase with the money left in Kaiyang?!
Liu Mang wasn’t profound in the arts of purchasing horses. But alas, he had a classmate whose family breeds horses. Liu Mang learned from that classmate that an ordinary adult horse was only some ten thousand yuan and only race horses would cost several millions. He also knew that there’s a huge horse farm in the city of Hongwei of Shandong Province.
Gold. The market price of gold was three hundred yuan per gram before Liu Mang came here. To purchase a horse, it’ll cost him thirty five grams of gold. For one hundred horses, three thousand five hundred grams.
“How many horses do you need?!” Liu Mang asked instead.
“A thousand war horses?!” Chen Gong carefully said a number.
“A thousand?” Liu Mang began calculating. He figured that it’ll be thirty five thousand grams of gold. That’s seventy pounds of gold and according to the gold weight of the Three Kingdoms period, it’ll be a thousand and a hundred twenty gold.
Liu Mang rounded off the number. “A thousand two hundred gold!”
“What?!” Lu Bu was so shocked that he jumped.
“That’s impossible!” Chen Gong wasn’t calm either. This pricing was too unrealistic.
“Too expensive?!” Liu Mang didn’t know of the pricing of horses in the Three Kingdoms period. However, this was precisely the price of horses in modern times. “If it’s too expensive, I can negotiate with the other side!” Buying a thousand horses was a transaction of more than ten million. A transition this large will certainly be eligible for a discount!
“No! No!” Lu Bu and Chen Gong quickly shook their head.
“How much gold is left in the Kaiyang palace?!” Lu Bu fought back his happiness as he asked Chen Gong.
“There remains less than two thousand gold. However, General Zang Ba should have a couple thousand gold!” Zang Ba was already planning to retire to the countryside. Thus, he certainly would’ve taken a lot of Kaiyang’s assets.
“Good!” Lu Bu composed himself and said. “Borrow five thousand gold from Zang Ba. Tell him I will return him twice fold in the future! Then give all these seven thousand gold to Hanyang. I want five thousand warhorses!” said Lu Bu as he held out five fingers.
“Five thousand?!” Liu Mang looked at Lu Bu with eyes shocked wide open. “That’s seven thousand gold, even if I purchase five thousand horses, there’s still two thousand gold!” Was the rest of the gold to purchase armor?!
Boss Lu was prepared to go big.