“You are still in the past, and are therefore of no use to me,” Liu Xun
scoffed. “You grade me as the humble administrator with a few thousand men at
my command, that you had to save from Zhen Bao; I am a very powerful warlord
now, a man with in excess of thirty-thousand men at my command, just like Sun
Ce, only mine are trained soldiers and not a bunch of fickle, shabby pirates. I
was a Liu Bei, but now I am a Liu Biao, and just as capable of dealing with the
likes of Sun Ce. He knows that, which is why he is humble: that is all there is
“…Ayah… you are not to be made to see sense,” Liu Yè realised. “Fine: I will remonstrate no further.”
“Good!” Liu Xun said condescendingly. “I would rather have you at my side, Mister Liu, than at the back of the room. I shall respond positively to this suggestion and ready my men for the journey: a journey that, at the end of it, will have delivered us our first proper foothold in Jiangdong… and once we have that foothold, the rest can only follow.”
Liu Xun and his reluctant consultant Zhang Xun led a force of thousands
toward the Yangtze River, intent on travelling southward - past the
long-suffering peoples of northern Haihun - and seizing Shangliao; as soon as
the move was confirmed, Bofu and Gongjin left their base at the city of Qu’e in
Danyang Prefecture and sailed down the Yangtze toward Lujiang with one army
while Sun Ben and Sun Fu pursued Liu Xun and blockaded the route that led back
to his base. With Liu Xun trapped in Jiangdong, the Lujiang defence forces were
generally disorganised and confused: Bofu and Gongjin had a clear route to
Lujiang’s capital, Huancheng, and they quickly surrounded it.
“…Wasn’t this going to happen…?” Yuan Yin sighed as he peered over the battlements of Huancheng and shuddered at the thousands of Jiangdong soldiers.
“So what happens now, Mister Yuan…?” an officer asked.
“…In a way, I want to laugh!” Yuan Yin replied. “I brought my lord’s
remains here, along with his family, so that he should have a dignified end,
and Liu Xun took me as a hostage! I surrendered to Liu Xun, only because I
thought that it would, perhaps, provide a new opportunity to save my lord’s
progeny and ensure his proper burial, and now I have Sun Ce - the one man that
hates Liu Xun and my lord more than any other - standing at the gates now,
demanding that we capitulate! Can I surrender twice in a row to despicable
types without laughing or crying…?”
“Lord Liu has treated you graciously,” the officer growled.
“Oh, yes, he has,” Yuan Yin replied sarcastically. “He has indeed…! My lord is still unburied, and my lord’s children are still quartered in lodgings that one would think twice before offering to Shanyue pelt traders. Yang Hong is obviously a rotting prisoner, and-!”
“Lord Liu left you here with rank as a consultant for moments such as these,” the officer interrupted. “What do we do, Mister Yuan? Either offer advice or be thrown over the wall!”
“…I will personally accompany the lord’s coffin from this place while another man feigns negotiations,” Yuan Yin ordered. “Once my lord’s remains are removed from Huancheng, my suggestion is that you find a way to escape with your loyal men and let Sun Ce take the city.”
“You advocate running away???” the officer exclaimed.