“Jiangdong is a big, sparsely-populated place with vast areas of
untilled land, just waiting for a new generation of ambitious people to
cultivate it,” Gongjin replied. “We won’t need to feed them: they’ll feed
themselves. They’ll be free of all of the politics and strife of the north, and
they’ll have us to thank for it.”
Bofu grinned and said, “You always know what to say. I’m resolved, Gongjin: we just made a fool of Liu Xun and stole everything back that he took from the Yuans and from me, and next, we’ll deal with Liu Biao. We’re almost there… we’ve almost built a place that’s truly ours.”
Bofu and Gongjin had arrived at Huancheng with 20,000 of their 50,000 men: they returned to Jiangdong with close to 30,000 extra soldiers that had once belonged to Yuan Shu, although some were actually men that had been recruited by Sun Jian, Sun Ben or Sun Ce and stolen by Yuan Shu in days long gone. In addition to that, Bofu had invited the soldiers’ families and much of Lujiang’s civilian population, which numbered beyond 100,000, to cross the river as well: when Liu Xun finally learned of it, he knew that there was only one place left to turn if he hoped to regain any of what he had lost.
Jing Province Governor Liu Biao rubbed his grey beard and stared at his
assembled courtiers with tired eyes.
“…As if I don’t have enough problems as it is,” Liu Biao grumbled. “Liu Xun has just shown himself to be more unlucky - or maybe incompetent - than my other distant relation, Liu Bei: Bei, at least, can argue that he started life a sandal weaver and knew nothing of civil administration. What’s Liu Xun’s excuse…?”
The politician Huan Jie - whose previous lord was Bofu’s father Sun Jian - frowned and said, “You do not intend to help him then, Lord Liu…?”
“Of course I’m going to help him!” Liu Biao snapped. “Do I have a choice…? Sun Ce just lured Liu Xun into a child’s trap and stole what Xun’s envoy estimates to be in excess of twenty-thousand men - I suspect more, but he pares it down to avoid further humiliation - and Xun’s prefectural domain. I… I cannot imagine ever making such a mistake myself. I have to help him, to somehow see if we cannot coax some of those thousands of defectors ‘back to the light’, else Sun Ce’s got what, sixty, eighty-thousand men to throw at me when he comes back here…? But can I trust such a stupid man not to lose things of mine as well…?”