Su Fei shook his head sadly; he was forced to shout over the mocking
laughter, saying, “He’d be an asset!”
“…Don’t be ridiculous,” Huang Zu scoffed. “Your role in this campaign - and I don’t want to hear that you used Gan Ning to fulfil it - is to prevent any pincer attacks by watching at Wulin and Red Cliffs, just as you have done before. Go at once.”
Su Fei bowed humbly and left Huang Zu’s court.
“What is my role, my lord…?” a brawny officer asked.
“You will remain here, Zhang Shuo,” Huang Zu replied. “Your role is to continue recruiting and training; the same goes for Chen Jiu.”
Zhang Shuo turned to his colleague Chen Jiu, who looked to his lord Huang Zu and said, “As you command.”
Huang Zu lowered his head and muttered, “This won’t end well.”
“…Am I comin’ with you or what…?” Gan Ning asked as Su Fei passed him on his way out of Huang Zu’s mansion.
“Not officially,” Su Fei replied.
Gan Ning laughed and said, “He really don’t like me, does he? What is it that I’ve did that makes me so diff’rent to all the other ‘cutthroats’ he has workin’ f’r’im…?”
“…I honestly don’t know,” Su Fei replied. “But I’ll win him around, Xingba: it’ll take time, but I swear that I’ll get you employed.”
“I know you’re tryin’ mate, an’ I ‘preciate it,” Gan Ning said. “So what is it, Wulin again…?”
Su Fei nodded and said, “Wulin and Red Cliffs.”
“S’go, then!” Gan Ning chuckled.
Liu Xun had retreated to the region around Mount Xisai - which was in the west of Lujiang - after his humiliating and simultaneous defeats at Shangliao, Haihun and Huancheng. He now had around 4,000 men, since most of his recruits from Yuan Shu’s armies had deserted; he looked around him at the defensive position that his loyalists - led by the reluctant defector Zhang Xun - had constructed and said to his adviser Liu Yè, “Will it be enough to repel Sun Ce…?”
“We’re not looking to ‘repel Sun Ce’ from this camp,” Liu Yè replied.
“This is a ring of wooden beams, some tents and some lookout towers. We’re
entirely dependent on Liu Biao’s assistance now. If Sun Ce ever got here, he’d
“…Do I not know that?” Liu Xun heckled.
“If you know, then why ask?” Liu Yè retorted.
A soldier approached and said, “Lord Liu, a General Huang Shè will arrive shortly with five-thousand men and fifteen-hundred boats.”
“Aha! So Liu Biao has kept his word!” Liu Xun said excitedly. “With a fleet of that size on its way, Sun Ce is doomed!”
“Sun Ce’s defeated Huang Zu a few times now,” Liu Yè noted. “We should have a backup plan.”
Liu Biao frowned and said, “I shan’t rebuke you again, Ziyang, for you have been right too many times. What would we do if…?”
“Go to Xuchang,” Liu Yè replied. “There’s no other option.”
Liu Xun nodded slowly and said, “Yes… Mengde would surely ensure a decent role at the court for me, so it… it wouldn’t be as good as what I have known, but it would be something.”
Liu Yè looked at Zhang Xun - who was visibly irritated at Liu Xun’s lack of interest in any other person’s wellbeing but his own - as he replied, “We’ll be able to negotiate for our families at that point, Lord Liu.”