Hefei and Guangzhou were hundreds of miles away from each other. On foot, they would take at least four days. However, for the heavily armored Xiliang Cavalry, the journey was only two days.
Hu Che Er took eight thousand Xiliang Cavalry straight to Guangzhou. Guangzhou not only has a few thousand injured after being attacked by Liu Bei. Although the Guangzhou had not yet been repaired, it also has about ten thousand heavy infantries.
At the gates Shouchun, the arrival of the Xiliang Cavalry did not seem significant but at this small Guangzhou, the people started to lament. The quake caused by the stampede of the Xiliang Cavalry caused the gates of Guangzhou to shake as Guangzhou was just a small county town. Its walls was made from the earth and had almost been destroyed by rams. The vibration could be felt from the walls and this made the troops concerned. They quickly went and inform their superior officers.
"Enemy attack!" A loud horn came from Guangzhou as the soldiers quickly gathered at the walls. Amongst them were about several hundred soldiers in heavy armors. These were the Urban Army and the Black Flag Army. Standing between them was the King of Shu, Liu Mang.
"Milord is right. The Fake King Liu Mang is really at Guangzhou!" Hu Che Er was not an idiot. He only showed his straightforward nature for his enemies to see. Those that underestimate him would pay for their mistakes with their lives.
"The Xiliang Cavalry?" There were not many troops from the Urban Army and the Black Flag Army. This is because the walls from Guangzhou is too small for that many people. Liu Mang was simply up there just so he could see who the enemy was. From their banners to their appearance, it was evident that they were foreigners.
"This must be the Xiliang Cavalry!" Liu Mang said to himself. He had seen many heavy cavalries such as the Wolf Cavalry, Tiger Cavalry and the Yuzhou Cavalry. Except for the Wolf Cavalry, Liu Mang had confronted them before.
Now, Liu Mang was going against the Xiliang Cavalry. He had very little information of the Xilliang Cavalry but he knew that his father-in-law's Wolf Cavalry had fallen into a trap set by the Xiliang Cavalry and were badly defeated. Even then, Liu Mang did not underestimate them. He had sent a messenger to Shouchun using the river. This was how the message reached Shouchun so quickly. However, the Xiliang Cavalry reacted and arrived in just two days. This demonstrated the speed of the Xiliang Cavalry.
"Little Lord. Let Hao Shao defend this city! As long as these hundreds of soldiers are here, nothing will happen to Guangzhou!" Hao Shao cupped his fist at Liu Mang. He worshipped Liu Mang for being able to stop a hundred thousand soldiers with ten thousand at Wancheng. He wanted to show his idol that he was also not an ordinary person.
"Hao Shao." Liu Mang glanced at the man. He had truly underestimated Hao Shao. He would probably not even notice this man if it was not because of Zhang Liao's recommendation. For what reason would Hao Shao follow him to Shouchun if he was not even given the chance to fight against the Xiliang Cavalry. As Liu Mang already had Zhao Yun and the White Horses, Zhang Liao's recommendation put him in a bind. Liu Mang had already given the others positions. He was not able to create a new position just for Hao Shao or even provide Hao Shao with troops. As a result, he had Hao Shao become the governor of Guangzhou as a favour to others despite the fact that he had already given up on Guangzhou because it would not be able to stop the enemy unlike Gushi and Anfeng.
However, Gushi and Anfeng fell in less than a day. One had its leader killed by Zhang Fei while the other surrendered to Chen Dao and the Liu Bei's Army. It could be said that the two gates of Yangzhou had already been opened. However, Guangzhou lasted for four days before Liu Bei gave up on it as it was too small. Guangzhou now became the city assisting Shouchun. This was an unexpected surprise.
'Hao Shao...' The name sounded familiar to Liu Mang. He could not help but ask. "Hao Shao. Where are you from?"
"Hm?" Hao Shao froze for a moment. Why would Liu Mang ask him this question at this moment? "Little Lord. I came from Taiyuan."
"Taiyuan? Hao Shao? Hao Shao!" Liu Mang's eyes suddenly lit up as he received an insight. "Are you Bodao1?"
"Hm? Little Lord. How do you know?" Hao Shao felt that this was strange as he never told Liu Mang his courtesy name. When men call each other in their courtesy names, it was a show of respect and intimacy. Although Hao Shao was Liu Mang's subordinate, he was not Liu Mang's direct subordinate. So, Hao Shao was not able to tell Liu Mang his courtesy name. The hundreds of Hao Shao's surviving troops also would not call him with this name as they were mere underlings and did not have the qualifications to know. After a while, Hao Shao 'understood' that it must be mentioned in Zhang Liao's recommendation letter.
In truth, when Liu Mang received Zhang Liao's letter, he had skimmed through the letter instead of thinking about things deeply. On top of that, Liu Mang felt like grumbling to Zhang Liao. 'What is the meaning of sending me men that you do not want?' As Liu Mang did not want to have a falling out with Zhang Liao, he had to make arrangements for Hao Shao. Now, Liu Mang thought of this as a treasure.
Two thousand defenders stopped an enemy army of twenty thousand and even caused a few thousand of the enemy to perish. They even captured hundreds of prisoners and obtained four hundred of the White Eared's heavy armor. When Liu Mang saw the moat, he laughed bitterly noting that he himself would have send troops down the middle if he did not have any catapults.
"Hao Shao Hao Bodao!" Liu Mang's eyes flashed. This was truly a treasure. In the original timeline, Hao Shao ended up working for Cao Cao after Lu Bu got defeated and became a high ranking general. Liu Mang could not remember much about Hao Shao. There was also not much written in the records. However, Liu Mang could remember the name as it was one of the people that gave Zhuge Liang trouble.
After the Battle of Jieting, Zhuge Liang changed his target to Chencang Zhuge Liang heard of Hao Zhao's might and believed that attacking would be a difficult task. So, he sent Hao Zhao's friend, Jin Xiang, to persuade Hao Zhao to defect. Hao Zhao replied to his friend, "You know me and the laws of Wei. I have received much from the state and my family is important. There is no need for you to say anymore as I will die defending this place. Go back and tell Zhuge Liang to attack." After that, Jin Xiang came back with another message from Zhuge Liang, "You are outmatch. There is no need to seek death." Hao Shao replied, "My decision is set. I know you but my arrow doesn't."
Zhuge Liang had more men and Hao Zhao's reinforcements would not arrive. So Zhuge Liang's army marched towards Hao Zhao. The ladders used to climb the walls were burned down by fire arrows. Zhuge Liang filled up the moats and sent siege towers but Hao Shao build another wall behind behind the outer wall. Zhuge Liang tried many other methods but Hao Zhao foiled them. After more than twenty days, reinforcements came, forcing Zhuge Liang to withdraw.
This was truly an impressive feat. Hao Zhao may not be an expert in sieges but he was still able to make a person feel invincible. Some say that Chencang was a place that was easy to defend but hard to attack. Even then, Hao Zhao's was still formidable at defending. It could even be said that one could rest easy as long as they place Hao Zhao at the borders. They would only need to listen to reports of the number of enemies and the number of enemies defeated.
Liu Mang felt regret. If he knew that this person was so good at defending, he would have given Gushi or Anfeng to him. After all, Hao Shao managed to hold out for four days with only two thousand soldiers and also earn precious time for Xu Shu at Shouchun. If Liu Mang had let Hao Shao be in charge of all the cities, it is possible that Liu Bei would not have even entered Yangzhou.
"Bodao. It is fine to have the men just be a little bit more alert. There is no need to be too flustered!" Liu Mang wanted to see Hao Shao's defensive tactics with his own eyes but he could not find the opportunity. The enemies outside the city would also not be able to provide him with that opportunity.
"Hm?" Hao Shao could not understand his Little Lord. Liu Mang had suddenly asked about his courtesy name and then his eyes shined as he laughed. Fortunately, Hao Shao knew that this was his Little Lord. Otherwise, he would have thought that he came across a person with mental disorder when he was asked not to be flustered with the enemies below the city.
"The Xiliang Cavalry would not attack the city!" Liu Mang replied as he looked at them.
Sure enough, one of the men in the Xiliang Cavalry asked Hu Che Er. "General. Are we going to prepare to attack the city?"
"Siege the city? No need!" Hu Che Er shook his head. He would only do that once he became retarded as his heavy cavalry was not suited for attacking cities. The only time when a cavalry would be used to attack cities was when they lack infantries.
Hu Che Er will not do this even if Guangzhou was worn out and its walls were made of soil. At the end of the day, Guangzhou was still a city with walls and gates. If his men were to climb the walls, they would have to abandon their horses. At that time, they would be no match for the ten thousand heavily armored defenders. Besides that, capturing Guangzhou would not bring him any benefits. They were only here to protect the provisions and kill those that went out.
"Alright. There is nothing worth seeing here. Let us go back." Liu Mang shook his head and said. There was no city tower at Guangzhou and a person would be able to feel the cold wind blow just by standing on the walls. Rather than feeling the cold on the walls, it was better to drink wine below it.
"General! Look at that!" Liu Mang leaving could be seen by the Xiliang Cavalry below. One of the thousand men generals saw this and told Hu Che Er.
"All units, take precautions." Liu Mang had already descended the walls but Hao Shao did not dare to be careless.
"Is this the King of Shu, Liu Mang?" Earlier, Hu Che Er had said Fake King. Now, he said King of Shu. Hu Che Er saw that Liu Mang had knowledge and courage to know that he would not attack. It was a person that had a kind of contempt for his enemies while also having self-confidence. "Let us go!" Hu Che Er took his men and left as he had achieved his purpose. His actions made Hao Shao increase his opinion of Liu Mang.
Guangzhou had become a resting place for Liu Mang after it was occupied.
"Military Advisor. This is truly a good stratagem! We have cut off Liu Bei's supplies from the Wei River to the borders of Yuzhou and Yangzhou, making him unable to attack Shouchun with all of his strength and force him to split his forces. It seems that we have been successful!" Xu Sheng was the first to speak. He truly admired Liu Ye. Although Liu Ye had been tricked by Sun Qian's empty fort strategy, he later sowed dissension in the Liu Bei's Army. Unfortunately, the provisions at Ruyin had already been burned and they no longer had the strength to attack Runan. Liu Mang and Xu Sheng had initially thought of returning to Shouchun for a decisive battle against Liu Bei but Liu Ye claimed that this would only delay Shouchun's fate with the possibility of dying together with Shouchun. He then advised to cut off Liu Bei's provisions. Now, it would seem that the strategy had been a little successful. The appearance of the Xiliang Cavalry was proof that Liu Bei had divided his forces.
"No. It is not successful yet." Liu Ye shook his head and did not accept Xu Sheng's compliments. This is because his strategy was not successful yet. "Xu Sheng. Our strategy was to cut off Liu Bei's provisions and to divide his forces. However, this soldier is not one of Liu Bei's." Liu Ye wanted Liu Bei to send his own troops. If only a little troops came over, they could be wiped out while Shouchun could be saved if a lot came over.
However, the ones that came was the Xiliang Cavalry from his ally Zhang Xiu. This was a problem for Liu Ye's stratagem as the eight thousand cavalry would be able to escort the transports carrying provisions, solving Liu Bei's problems with provision.
With this, Liu Bei could continue his siege on Shouchun while not having any problems with his provisions. On the other hand, Liu Mang's Army would just be stuck at Guangzhou.
"The Xiliang Cavalry must be removed!" Liu Mang said as he lightly hit the table. If the Xiliang Cavalry remained, they would be able to send supplies to the Liu Bei's Army. At that time, Shouchun would be closer to being captured.
Although it was easy to say that the Xiliang Cavalry needs to be removed, it was hard to actually pull off. After all, cavalries were the strongest in the cold weapon's era as they were mobile and powerful. On top of that, the Xiliang Cavalry were heavy cavalries.
"Milord. I will see if we can ambush the Xiliang Cavalry!" When dealing heavy cavalries, ambushes was the best method to be used. Even the Wolf Cavalry suffered a lot because of an ambush.
"No. An ambush would be useless!" Liu Ye shook his head. The borders of Yangzhou and Yuzhou were plains. It was the best place for cavalry's charge while being a terrible place for ambushes. There were barely any locations to set an ambush and even when an ambush is sprung, the cavalry could quickly escape. There would be problems if the ambush failed. Besides that, they would not be able to finish off the Xiliang Cavalry if they dispatched too little people for the ambush. However, Guangzhou would become vacant if they were to dispatch a lot of people for the ambush. The Xiliang Cavalry did not attack the city simply because there were ten thousand heavy armor infantries in the city. If these soldiers were to leave and prepare the ambush, the Xiliang Cavalry would simply enter and capture the city. As the provisions for the Liu Mang's Army were all in Guangzhou, they would starve if the city gets captured.
"How about we just strike at their supplies?" Huang Xu gave his opinion. He thought of ignoring the Xiliang Cavalry and go straight for Liu Bei's supplies. It would cause Liu Bei to have a shortage of supplies for a time.
"This is also not possible." Liu Mang stopped this idea from going further. This is because they only had heavy infantries. They could attack light infantries but had to fight defensive battles if they were fighting against heavy cavalries. They may be able to attack the supply troops but they would lose a lot of soldiers to the heavy cavalry. Liu Mang could not afford this as the loss would be too great. He only had that ten thousand troops. He could not lose them even if he could take down the eight thousand heavy cavalries.
"Sigh. This won't work. That won't work. It would be great if we could get them to attack us!" Xu Sheng said resolutely. Heavy infantries was at its most formidable when it is able to take battle formation. Even the heavy cavalries would avoid engaging recklessly with them. If we can use the ballista, we would be able to put holes into their bodies!" The Xiliang Cavalry would only court death if they were to attack the city.
"Have the enemy attack us?" Liu Ye thought for a moment and then said, "Milord. I have a strategy!"
"Ziyang. Tell us what you have thought of!" Liu Mang finally realized the benefits of having an advisor. They could think of things that you could not and could even improve your ideas. This was the time for the military advisor to solve their problems.
"Milord. Just as Xu Sheng had said earlier, we would need to make them attack our city if we want to defeat them. With the ballista, we would be able to defeat as many of the Xiliang Cavalry that comes as long as they do not enter the city." Ever since the invention of the ballista, it has been used in both naval battles and siege battles. It made Liu Bei and Zhang Xiu experience bitter hardships. If it was not because of Ma Jun and his catapults, Liu Bei may not even get to touch Shouchun or fill up the moats.
"But we would still need to get them to attack us!" Liu Mang laughed bitterly as he shook his head. The problem how to make them do that. If they were to come, Liu Mang was confident enough to force them to stay at Guangzhou.
"We cannot make them attack Guangzhou but we can get them to attack us outside the walls!" Liu Ye replied with a smile.
"Ziyang. Are you saying we should fight the Xiliang Cavalry outside the walls with the Urban Army and the Black Flag Army?" Liu Mang could not understand. Why would the Xiliang Cavalry attack them if they do this? The eight thousand heavy cavalry and the ten thousand heavy infantries would be evenly matched. If the Xiliang Cavalry appeared and attacked them, there would be a lot of casualties on both sides. Both Liu Mang and Zhang Xiu could not afford such casualties. The person that would be the happiest from this is Liu Bei. Not only would his problems with provisions be solved but he would have used Zhang Xiu's men to dispose of Liu Mang's main force.
"Haha. He would not appear if ten thousand soldiers were dispatched but what if it was five thousand or even two thousand?" Liu Ye replied. In that situation, the Xiliang Cavalry would definitely appear as they outnumber the enemy. It wouldn't matter even if they were in formation as they cannot fight outnumbered. The two thousand soldiers would be completely routed.
"That would bring them out but how would we defeat them?" Even if you use a bait, you must still be able to catch the fish. Otherwise, it would be a huge loss.
"Milord. Have you forgotten that we have a weapon that could deal with the heavy cavalry?" Liu Ye laughed.
"You mean...?" Liu Mang's eyes also lit up.
"Yes. If we want to annihilate the Xiliang Cavalry, we only need to have them attack us. As we do not have walls outside the city, we build the walls with our body. The ballistae can be carried. The heavy infantries can form the front lines to withstand the enemy. The ballistae at the rear would attack them."
There were only two things that could rout a heavy cavalry on a large scale. The first one was another heavy cavalry. For example, the Wolf Cavalry had defeated the Yuzhou Cavalry and also the Tiger Cavalry. The second one was Liu Mang's ballista. The ballista was powerful enough to pierce through warships much less heavy cavalries. Having heavy armor would not make a difference as the armor was like paper. On top of that, Liu Mang's ballista can now shoot rapidly. As long as the heavy infantries can withstand the attacks from the Xiliang Cavalry, the Xiliang Cavalry would be slaughtered by the ballista.
"Let's do it!" Liu Mang shouted excitedly.
The strategy had been set. Now, they simply need to prepare. They also had to pick the soldiers for this operation. This was a bad assignment as they would need to act as bait and fight face to face against the Xiliang Cavalry.
"Milord. Xu Sheng volunteers to fight!" Xu Sheng knelt and cupped his fist at Liu Mang.
With Xu Sheng taking the initiative, the three behind him, Wang Wei, Cheng Yu and Huang Xu also followed. Hao Shao then arrived and also joined in.
"Xu Sheng, Wang Wei, Cheng Yu, Huang Xu and also Hao Shao! Your courage is commendable but you are all not allowed to participate this time!" Liu Mang replied as he looked at them. This was a very dangerous operation. Two thousand heavy infantries would face against heavy cavalries that has four times the number. Liu Mang had fought a similar battle at Mount Bagong. He fought against two thousand Yuzhou Cavalry with one thousand of his Urban Army. The enemy was only twice their number but they were badly defeated. If Lu Bu had not arrived in time, the Urban Army would be completely routed.
Now, the enemy was four times their number. They would not only need to protect themselves from the enemy's blades but also from the cavalry's charge. If they could not withstand it, they would be completely routed. Once that happens, the ones operating the ballista would also suffer. It was extremely dangerous which is also why the generals were rushing to do it.
"Milord. Are you...?" Liu Ye heard Liu Mang's words and frowned. This is because he had a bad feeling.
"Ziyang. Do you think two thousand heavy infantries would be enough to serve as bait? It is definitely not enough!" Liu Mang laughed. Although it was an attractive bait, it would not work if the Xiliang Cavalry's general had a little bit of patience. After all, they would not gain much from defeating two thousand heavy infantries. This meant that there was no need to take risks. They simply need to continue escorting provisions and complete their mission. Once Liu Bei captured Shouchun and gains control of Yangzhou, they could come back to Guangzhou and get rid of Liu Mang without any risks.
"And so, I will personally lead the troops this time!" Liu Mang stood up and said. There was a possibility that the Xiliang Cavalry would not take the bait with only two thousand heavy infantries but it would be a different story if Liu Mang led them. Liu Mang could be said to be the master of Yangzhou. He was the Little Lord in the Lu Bu's Army. Lu Bu had given Liu Mang his foundations and also his own daughter. In the Lu Bu's Army, Liu Mang was the second most important person. It was even higher than Chen Gong.
Once Liu Mang is captured, Shouchun will fall. The master of Yangzhou would be determined in a single battle. Liu Mang's life can also be used to threaten Lu Bu. His title as a Sage King could also be used. This title was not an empty title and even gave him the right to found a country. If Yuan Shu had taken Liu Mang as a son in law earlier, he would not have lost his 'righteousness' and get attacked from all sides. Liu Mang was so valuable it would be worth the risk.
"Milord! Please reconsider!" Xu Sheng, Wang Wei and the others did not dare to let Liu Mang act as bait. It would be a miracle for him to survive. Once Liu Mang is dead, there would be no meaning. After all, to them, Lu Bu was not their Lord but Liu Mang.
Xu Sheng had surrendered to Liu Mang at Wancheng as Liu Mang was ferocious and generous to use others without doubting them. He was accompanied with three thousand Black Flag soldiers as he helped defended Wancheng while awaiting reinforcements from the Wolf Cavalry.
Wang Wei had simply been curious about Liu Mang which was why he went to Hefei. However, he got dragged into a fight by Wei Yan. Liu Mang who later found out about his identity sent a letter to Liu Biao which prevented Wang Wei from returning. Initially, Wang Wei was not pleased about this but he eventually relaxed. This is because Wang Wei was only a small time military officer in Jingzhou with only about ten subordinates. On the other hand, Liu Mang made him a deputy general. Although that was not a particularly high rank, the Black Flag Army were heavy infantries and were also one of Liu Mang's elites. He was treated as one of Liu Mang's trusted subordinates. Naturally, he felt like repaying Liu Mang.
Cheng Yu was a veteran from Xuzhou. He had become acquainted with Liu Mang from long ago. He was also one of the first few people Liu Mang got to know in this era. On top of that, Cheng Yu had almost killed Liu Mang. Afterwards, Cheng Yu had no choice but to admire Liu Mang as his Little Lord for assisting Lu Bu, sowing dissension and almost getting Cao Cao killed and giving horses to Lu Bu. Cheng Yu was initially Liu Mang's guard but eventually became a deputy general and now, the general of the Urban Army. It could be said that Cheng Yu would always follow Liu Mang as long as Liu Mang does not betray Lu Bu.
Huang Xu was rescued by Liu Mang from Huang Zu's son, Huang She. His pneumonia was also treated by Liu Mang, allowing him to once again pick up a weapon. He became a warrior and was no longer a sick person awaiting death. It could be said that Liu Mang gave Huang Xu a new life. This was why he would never leave Liu Mang.
Huang Zhong was also originally Lu Bu's enemy. Huang Zu sent Huang Zhong to fight against Lu Bu as he after Sun Ce used Lu Bu as a borrowed knife. Huang Zhong was very strong and almost gave Lu Bu a serious injury. If it was not because of Huang She, Huang Zhong may have even won as he was cautious. However, Huang She was jealous and wanted to take power from Huang Zhong. Huang She then kidnapped Huang Xu and forced Huang Zhong to kneel. Huang Zhong could endure this because he believed that everything he did for his son was worth it.
It was Liu Mang that saved Huang Xu and defeated Huang She. It was also Liu Mang that accepted Huang Zhong. Liu Mang cured Huang Xu, allowing Huang Xu to become great. That is why Huang Zhong became loyal to Liu Mang turned down the offer to become a general so that he could remain as Liu Mang's guard.
"I have thought of this plenty. It must be me!" Liu Mang was also afraid of death especially when he just arrived. When he first arrived, he even thought that he would never return. He also underwent situations of life and death when fighting against enemies. Now, he had some military power but even if he was afraid of death, he had to continue. To lose would be to die. To win would be to live. He had no choice but to continue such a life as he now has a family.
"But Milord!" Liu Mang's subordinates continued to try and stop him. However, their words was rejected by Liu Mang. "Do not worry. I will not go and court death! I have Huang Zhong by my side. Who can take my life? I may not succeed but with Huang Zhong here, I will survive!" Liu Mang replied as he pacified the fears of his generals. He knew that they were simply worried that he would encounter an unexpected event.