Sha Po Lang

Chapter 123


Chapter 123


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Who said that Great Liang’s navy could not fight on the open sea?

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      The Western and Great Liang armies have been locked in battles for a very long time in the frontline, neither of them would yield. They fought countless battles both large and small. Generally speaking, they were almost equal in strength and talent, neither could do anything to the other.

      On the 16th day of January, a group of Great Liang’s sea jiao warships set out in the early hours of the morning, leaving the port without anyone knowing. Under the situation that the materials have begun to stretch taut, they once again divided their troops and left quietly along the river.

      At that time, before dawn, Shen Yi said to Gu Yun in the dark, “You are too adventurous.”

      Gu Yun did not pay attention to him, giving an unrelated response, “Tell someone to make me a bowl of noodles in the morning, remember to drop an egg in.”

      Shen Yi was too dizzy from having his hands full, he could not understand for a moment; after a while, he remembered what day it was and muttered, “You’re still quite free.”

      He whispered a few words to the soldiers next to him, then return to the topic and continued to nag: “Didn’t you say that we should wait for the track to be finished at least? If the Ziliujin-dedicated rail line is really open, our chance at winning will be higher. If you make a move right now, in case there will be any problems with the cooperation between the two sides, then… It will be too risky!”

      “Seeking wealth in danger,” Gu Yun said without a shift in expression, “Why should I, a man in his prime condition, be as cautious as the old man on the opposite side?”

      Hearing that he was talking nonsense again, Shen Yi said angrily, “Gu Zi Xi!”

      Gu Yun sighed and took a look in the north direction. At this time, his eyesight was no longer able to penetrate the mountains and rivers.

      “Ji Ping,” Gu Yun said in a low voice, “If things in the capital are going smoothly, the enemy would have already get out themselves even if we did not fight. If you think this campaign is a big risk, then do you want them to continue to drag on and wait until an even bigger risk arises in the court?”

      Shen Yi was speechless and unable to answer. He was the general in charge of one side. He only needed to arrange troops, not to think about the layout of the four sides, and not to worry about whether there would be wars fifty years from now.

      “In any case, this time, we must achieve something before the pro-peace faction had a chance to open its mouth. Once we give those traitors the chance to open their mouths, we don’t know how long they will drag it out. The drum of vigor will be exhausted again and again. Even if we have a rest, it can not last more than three or five years. Otherwise, the nobles in the capital will gradually forget the pain after the wound heals. When our generation dies, later generations will think that the southern half of the country was governed by both sides from the start.”

      Gu Yun glanced at Shen Yi and said, “It’s worth taking a risk. At that point, I’ll leave the Black Tiger Emblem with you, in case I… You can quickly gather up the rest of the troops, no need to panic. You can immediately transfer the Black Iron camp for temporary support. The Westerners are mostly capable on water, but not fearsome on land, we have room for maneuver. “

      Shen Yi’s brows wrinkled.

      At this time, the soldiers in charge of the kitchen brought the cooked noodles, the person cooking was very attentive to this dish especially made for Marshal: the longevity noodles strands were even, the egg was done just right, broth and meat are both visible, with a few strands of bamboo shoots soaked in the broth floating inside.

      Gu Yun took it; after eating two bites, he suddenly asked, “How come there are no green vegetables?”

      “Did you not eat vegetables?” said Shen Yi in surprise.

      “When did I say I don’t eat them…” Gu Yun murmured and took a few bites. He still felt that there was something missing with this bowl of noodles. After thinking for a while, he realized it.

      Turns out, the so-called birthday and festival were only born because of the people. There was someone who was willing to hold a small ‘ceremony’ for him on such a day, it was another way to express ‘I hold you in my heart‘.

      In fact, the feeling was hidden in the sentence under the bowl of noodle soup rather than these few mouthfuls of tasteless food.

      Five days later, Gu Yun formally received the list of the Foreign Affairs Mission. After only glancing at it, he gave it to Shen Yi and said lightly, “See? We can only prepare to start.”

      Shen Yi had no choice but to follow his orders.

      “Just in case, Ji Ping, I’d like to give you a few words — if something goes wrong, you’ll be in charge of the army in my place. On the ground, you have the power to fight against those foreigners, but remember not to go into the water. You have too little experience in naval battles and will not be able to go against that old man.”

      Gu Yun spoke, and took out four letters he had written in advance in the Marshal tent, “If there is no mistake, send the first war report to the capital city. If fate doesn’t favor us and we have an accident, then send the second one, and let the Grand Council cooperate with us to remedy it. Don’t forget to attach an apology letter, sealed by the Black Tiger Emblem. All faults are for me to bear alone…

       “The latter two are private letters. The third one is to be sent to Chang Geng first, so as to stabilize him. When things calm down, if you have the chance, give him the fourth one.”

      Shen Yi said angrily, “Are you leaving behind your wills to me?”

      “This Marshal need to leave behind wills because of those western monkeys?” Gu Yun casually raised his eyebrows and said, “This is called being thorough. When the time comes, I would not have to write them again either. Military orders must be obeyed, stop talking nonsense, get to work!”

      The next night, without warning, the Great Liang navy suddenly initiated an attack and invading the Western army. Both sides were almost familiar with each other, and were enraged as soon as they met head-on. Although the Western army was surprised, it still organized a counter-attack quickly. As soon as they started, they could feel that Great Liang’s navy was particularly fierce this time around.

      Master Ja directly put on his coat outside his nightgown. However, he couldn’t figure out what made Gu Yun suddenly want to break the locked down front line situation. According to the information they got at the moment, Great Liang should not have such an opportunity.

      This time, Gu Yun even skipped the routine scouting process. As if he didn’t care about the enemy’s storage and distribution, heavy artillery was mounted directly, and ‘sea cuttles’ went out like rain. The Western main ship caught several unexpected blows, and the newly repaired side sank again, becoming almost paralyzed.

      The main Western ship was in chaos momentarily.

      “Don’t panic, don’t panic!” Master Ja pulled a tong hou, “all standing by! Short Jiaos, immediately gather to stop them… Your Majesty! “

      The pope walked slowly out, came to the deck and looked out from the Qian Li Yan.

      “Calm down.” He whispered.

      The elderly leader seemed to possess a magical power that could soothe people’s hearts. In one word, the crew and guards around him went quiet, awaiting his orders.

      “The size of the other side’s vanguard ships is about a little more than half of the normal size. Such a fierce advance is not Gu Yun’s style,” the pope whispered. “Why?”

      Master Ja reluctantly pressed down his mind: “Great Liang people are too crazy. I don’t think they are advancing, but more like making a last struggle.”

      “It’s illogical,” the pope shook his head as he asked the heralds to adjust the formation of the convoy.

      Master Ja frowned and thought for a long time, and suddenly said: “That’s right! I remember that Your Majesty received a message a few days ago that a foreign mission from the enemy camp was about to arrive at the front line. Would it have something to do with that?”

      The pope: “You mean that there are cracks in the internal affairs of the Great Liang people. There are people who want to compromise to end the war?”

      “There is evidence to support it,” Master Ja said quickly. “You see, we have estimated the completion and opening time of Great Liang’s train. Your Majesty also said at that time that when their whole line is completed, we will be very passive. Haven’t we even designed several plans to destroy the line? However, according to our calculation, the railway line should have been built before the end of last year, or the trial operation may have already begun, but they have not made any movement so far, indicating that there is indeed an internal problem! “

      The pope crossed his arms, a finger slightly rubbed his chin. At this time, Gu Yun’s vanguard had pierced the defense line of the Western warship like a sharp knife, came charging to the sea in a murderous manner.

      The Western convoy encircled the main ship into a solid ball. The stored Eagle Armor flew out of the main ship and attacked down like rain.

      “If it was me,” Master Ja said to himself, “I would back up the main ship, quickly make a circle, lead their vanguard into it, and wipe out the enemy. They could not support such a heavy fire for a long time. Once they are cut off from behind, they would die here!”

      The pope asked quietly, “Do you think Gu Yun will make such a low-level mistake?”

      Master Ja: “…”

      “Before you go to war, the most important thing you need to do is to understand your opponent — give my command: shrink the wings, focus on defense, move to the southeast, and call for reinforcements immediately.” As the pope ordered in an organized way, he said to Master Ja, “If you have seriously studied Gu’s cases of pacifying the rebellion in the East Sea and arresting the mountain bandits in the southwest, and carefully reflected on our several contacts with him in the north, you should have a rough understanding of Gu Yun.

      “When his resources are really at a disadvantage, he will not let you see it; not only that, he would even seamlessly bring the complete Black Iron Camp in front of you, frighten you to death. The Great Liang people call this ‘false is true, true is false’.”

      Master Ja did not agree, but he did not dare to object, so he just followed the pope’s words and said, “Yes, Your Majesty.”

      “Look, it’s just a lure,” the pope said with a smile. “Let us be patient, drag his hook a little further, and soon we’ll really see the trump card in his hands.”

      At this time, the herald came to report: “Your Majesty, the first, second, and third fleets are not in port. They are going out on a ‘mission at sea’. You see…”

      ‘Mission at sea’ was especially to escort and receive the Holy Land supply ships.

      The pope replied without turning back, “They should have not gone far, transfer them back immediately. It’s safe along the ‘high seas’. It doesn’t need three fleets to escort those goods. It’s necessary to have respect and sincerity when dealing with a dear old enemy.”

      “Yes!”

      “Return! Close the wings!”

      “Escort fleet adjust southeast direction, pay attention to speed—”

      “Eagles! Retreat for the time being. Pull down all defense steel plates of the main ship, drain the water…”

      The whole Western fleet quickly gathered together becoming a closely linked giant, the supply escort fleets that just left the port quickly returned, watching the fierce and fearless Great Liang Navy in front of it, forming a solid defense.

      Every time, it was Gu Yun who walked the Westerners. This time, the situation suddenly changed. It became the Westerners that used heavy defense to stop the advance while Great Liang navy looks for a place to land their teeth.

      Two minutes later, Great Liang’s mad dog-like advance finally slowed down, apparently exhausted.

      The pope: “Jacques, look.”

      With his voice, he saw a large number of reception and supply fleets coming down from three directions. At last, the trump card of Great Liang could no longer be hidden, its ferocious tusks were exposed in the night.

      Master Ja was shocked — if he had just surrounded and eaten Great Liang’s advance immediately as he said, the two sides of his side without the three fleets would be stretched and weakened by the enemy, and would easily be pierced and torn by Great Liang’s ambush!

      “I told you,” the pope gave him a slightly reprimanding look, “Only by knowing your enemy will you know where your true opportunity is — all fleets ready to fight back! While they still have not stood still, hit them in the head!”

      As soon as he spoke, the artillery of the Westerners was pushed out like a tsunami, and the main forces of the third route of Great Liang suffered heavy losses as soon as they clashed with each other. Before they even had time to fight back, the most front-end sea Jiao warships had been sunk one after another.

      At a glance, this effective supply almost seemed to have wiped out nearly a quarter of the living force of the main force of the Great Liang navy.

      The Western water fleet was seething. From the day when Gu Yun took charge of Liangjiang, they had never had such a large chunk out of him!

      However, Gu Yun himself was not so angry and anxious as one would imagine.

      At this time, on a small to medium-sized sea Jiao in the Great Liang navy, Gu Yun just spent his spare time watching a large number of his ‘warships’ being sunk. Without blinking, he said to the guard on his side, “See, what did I say? Know yourself and know your enemy. That old man can prepare for more than ten years for a battle. He must have studied me very hard.”

      If it was daylight, the Westerners would find it easier to see the special features of the sunken ships.

      The ships were all empty, their form resembled a different design of the ‘sea cuttle’.

      This is the poor idea of the old-schooled bunch of Ling Shu Institute, gathering up the broken battleships in the front line, then imitate the power system of the cuttle, emptying the whole ship. This kind of warship with only the shell was very light, it could slide far on the water automatically with little power. Although it’s useless, it’s a powerful tool to frighten people.

      Gu Yun had sent part of the navy elsewhere; if he directly went on the battlefield, of course, it would be doubted by the foreigners, thus he simply used this method to feign.

      “It would be better if they are delirious from this momentary victory,” Gu Yun sat aside with his legs crossed. “Spread out and remember that our task today is to hold the enemy back.”

      The soldier licked his lips: “Marshal, can ‘the other side’ keep up?”

      “That I dare not say, if it cannot then my fate is at its end,” Gu Yun laughed low, “Pay attention to maneuver.”

      On the Western main ship, Master Ja was indeed overjoyed and lost his head. Unfortunately, there was a pope beside him. He didn’t dare to forget himself too much.

      And he soon found that this disadvantageous Great Liang navy was not so easy to deal with. After their horse lost their front foot, they had quickly made adjustments. Gu Yun’s fighting style got the Westerners in a mess again, making the situation that was supposed to be a battle of annihilation to become a match of equal strength.

      The main forces of the two armies were entangled from midnight until the next morning——

      When the first ray of sunlight pierced the sea, the battlefield of chaos fighting all night in the dark was suddenly exposed to the sun.

      On the main ship of Great Liang, the soldiers said: “Marshal, there is no news on the other side. Let’s withdraw. If we go on like this, the position of the main ship will be exposed. We don’t have the big iron monsters that can’t be sunk no matter how it was bombed. You can’t risk yourself like this!”

      Gu Yun reached out his hand and stroked the frame of his liuli glass: “Don’t be impatient.”

      At this time, the pope suddenly put his Qian Li Yan into Master Ja’s hands: “The ship with the Wu Yue sign! That must be the enemy’s main ship. Gu Yun must be on it. Take it down!”

      With the pope’s order, the heavy artillery moved, Gu Yun’s main ship was unable to avoid it.

      Private: “Marshal!”

      At the critical moment, four to five small ships rushed out without Gu Yun’s order, using themselves to guard in front of the main ship; an explosion instantly sounded.

      Gu Yun’s side face suddenly tightened. At this time, a sailor stumbled in and said, “Marshal, we cannot hold on anymore!”

      Gu Yun narrowed his eyes slightly.

      “Marshal!”

      “It’s alright, don’t panic. The back team changes to the front, hold them for a while,” Gu Yun whispers, “From… “

      He didn’t finish his words; suddenly, there was an Eagle sound in the air. It was so sharp that it was like an alarm post. Even Gu Yun, a half-deaf, could hear it.

      Gu Yun looked back.

      That was the code from Shen Yi, who was in charge as the chief dispatcher on the shore — the other side had succeeded!

      The soldier froze for a moment, then jumped up: “Our Eagles!”

      Gu Yun: “Give me a Qian Li Yan.”

      The soldier licked his chapped lips: “Marshal, we…”

      “Be careful!”

      Boom!——

      At this time, a stray bullet was passing through the gap of the guarding ships, hitting the tail of Great Liang’s main ship. The whole sea Jiao warship trembled greatly, smoke and sparks arose from all directions.

      In the chaos, a piece of a liuli glass flew away, broken.

      On the 24th day of January, Li Feng was awakened by the urgent battle report in the middle of the night before the Foreign Affairs Mission could arrive at the front line.

      Signed with the Black Tiger emblem — the frontline achieved great victory!

      Gu Yun’s arrangement in the past half-year had begun to take shape. No one knew when he had sent his men to the south, secretly instigated a group of islands in Nanyang occupied by the Westerner troops and ambushed a large part of troops in the southwest border.

      On the night of January 21st, a part of the main forces of Great Liang’s navy raided the enemy directly on the battlefield, using the cautious nature of the enemy’s general to contain the enemy’s forces. At the same time, the warship group which was lying in ambush on the southwest border, both sides in and out cooperate and swept over the islands at Nanyang, annihilated the forces of the foreigners occupied here, then immediately sent troops to intercept the supply line of the enemy, choking the enemy’s neck!

      Who said that Great Liang’s navy could not fight on the open sea?

      The war report was very concise, stating only the results, not much for the details and casualties.

      After this battle, the Western troops retreated to the sea area of Dongying in a panic. The local militia took the opportunity to attack the enemy on the ground. The southern half of the country exploded in all directions; it was the first dawn on the frontline after a long gloomy period.

      Li Feng almost jumped up, getting dressed in the middle of the night wanting to summon a grand court meeting.

      Foreign Affairs Mission bullshit, if they could beat the foreigners back to their home, they would not allow them to take even a grain of sand.

      The servants were running around in a circle around him. After Zhu Little Feet’s death, the position of serving beside Li Feng had changed several people, but none were to his liking. At this time, it was also an old man who was serving him. He was not talkative and could be seen as smart: “Congratulations, Your Majesty, with Marshal Gu, the day we recover Jiangnan is upon us!”

      Li Feng laughed aloud, his speech was almost incoherent, “I no longer have to worry about explaining to my ancestors in the afterlife, truly.”

      Li Feng, who had been limping for a long time, almost ran out as if there was wind at his feet. Walking halfway, being blown by the night wind, Emperor Long An’s feverish brain finally cooled down, and the happy look on his face dimmed.

      Yes, this battle has been won. Then what’s next?

      Many of the decrees carried out by the Grand Council were under the banner of ‘prioritize the war’. In addition to bringing out their Red Imperial Edict and Iron Plaque and their old age to lecture him, every noble family only wanted to stop the war.

      If Li Feng was hesitant about war and peace before, then Gu Yun’s victory had added a lot of chips to one side of the scale, making the balance in his heart turn to one side.

      “The guts of these aristocratic families are getting bigger and bigger, even wanted to intervene such a big war,” the emperor thought quietly, “What are they scheming?”

      Li Feng’s steps were halted, and he said to the servant absent-mindedly: “My nanny Zhao has not been in the palace for several years, do you remember her?”

      The servant did not know much, so he bowed his head and answered: “I heard that Madame Zhao now has only one daughter, which is still on duty in the palace. She has accepted Third Master Fang as her adopted son. A few days ago, she frequently presents her plaque, she must have come to beg for help.”

      Li Feng said “Oh” and half-lowered his eyes: “Nobles who broke the law and committed crime are the same with the common people. In those days, Wei Wang was still imprisoned like anyone else, no one had come out to demand his justice. On the other hand, how come the sons of these families are all so precious?”

      The servant heard the light killing intent in it. He looked at Li Feng carefully and didn’t dare to speak for a moment.

      Li Feng’s hot sweat on his forehead was blown down by the cold wind. He covered his chest and coughed a few times. The servant quickly draped a fur coat on him.

      At the age of seven, the crown prince was fairly smart, but he was too meek and weak, not quite resembling himself. Instead, he was more like the former emperor Yuan He. And what were the circumstances of Yuan He’s ruling?

      Li Feng could still remember —— the former emperor always felt that his position was unjust, having to rely on this and that, not having even military authority in his hands. Even though the Gu family had only one young child, he still allowed the deadly Black Iron Tiger Emblem to be passed down. Always asking others for opinions even for the most insignificant matters, always bringing up affection to coerce, raising a bunch of national vermin, almost ruining the rich possessions left by Emperor Wu.

      It took Li Feng ten years, yet he had still not finished cleaning up the mess left by the former emperor.

      Li Feng felt more and more helpless in the past two years. He did not want his son to fall into the same predicament of his father.

      But in this situation, who should he believe?

      Yan Wang?

      Yan Wang‘s ‘will not marry’, ‘will not have children’ and ‘willing to die for the country’ were all his own words, there were plenty of easy to hear, beautiful words in the world. When the evidence of those disorderly subjects and traitors were indisputable, they were still crying and saying that they were all struggling for the country and the people. Although Li Feng could be moved by him for a while, but after a long time, he would sober up.

      Li Feng was protecting Chang Geng at present because he also saw the value of this reform. Yan Wang was right in saying that the system and rules were the most important. No matter what Yan Wang wanted to change into, this scarred nation was indeed developing in a better direction.

      Li Feng hoped to use Yan Wang‘s hands to completely clean up the previous dynasty’s terminal illness and leave a clear and bright life for the crown prince in the future.

      At the same time, however, he could never give his weak son to the hands of his younger brother who had the resolute to kill. If one day he was going to follow the former emperor, the first person he needed to deal with was Yan Wang, and the second was Gu Yun.   

 (T/N: respect point -1000)

      “No, go back to the palace. Call for the court tomorrow morning. When the day breaks, ask the prince to come over.” Li Feng suddenly gave orders.

      The internal servant was in confusion. They were talking about nanny Zhao’s affairs, how come the emperor, after a moment of silence, had moved on to the prince?

      “And,” Li Feng said again, “What about the memorial I brought back? Bring it to me. “

      The memorial was written by Xu Ling. His idea of reforming the constitution of school was not very fluent, even a bit inexperienced, but it didn’t matter, they can leave it to the Grand Council to coordinate and improve it. The court was making a fuss about killing and beheading people and severely punishing the imperial examination fraud. Only a few scholars could think of the future.

      If he could, Li Feng, like any ordinary father, would like to give his young son more years of shelter and let him play with grass crickets in the harem. But who knew what would happen soon in this era?

      The next morning, the news of the great victory on the front lines of Liangjiang came straight down, all forces have not yet had time to respond to this sudden result, but for the first time, Li Feng took a clear stand and forcefully implemented two new policies at the great court meeting:

      First, he agreed with the ‘Long An New Policy’ of the Grand Council on abolishing the Feng Huo tickets and changing the currency policy.

      Second, on the court, he agreed with Xu Ling and the two courts’ requests for the reform of the constitution of the Imperial Academy, in which the imperfect parts would be led by the Grand Council, with the cooperation of the Imperial Academy, the Ministry of Rites, and the two courts to revise. 

      At the same time, Li Feng dragged Jiang Chong and the Ling Shu Institute out together on the court for a scolding, demanded them to speed up the investigation of fraud cases in the nine provinces at once. All the people involved, regardless of their origins, would be punished severely. He also ordered Ling Shu Institute to think of a way to expand the steam rail line from the capital to Jiangnan. They must not give the Westerners a room to breathe and waste this victory. They must continue this vigorous momentum and attain more victory. 

      Before the court was dismissed, Li Feng announced his final decision: the 11-year-old prince was about to attend the court.


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