Bofu’s nerves were frayed once again: Huang Zu was proving to be as
formidable as he had been 8 years previously, and that meant a cautious
approach when time was not on his side. Matters were made worse still when a
messenger brought word of an alliance and an invasion that was scarcely
“REPORT!” the messenger began. “The acting Administrator of Wu Prefecture, Zhu Zhi, requests immediate aid! The Administrator of Northern Guangling, Chen Deng, has seized Southern Guangling and launched an attack on Wu with the aid of the Shanyue!”
Bofu choked and tried not to scream.
“…You may go, and get some refreshment and rest,” Gongjin said to the messenger, who retreated at once.
“The Shanyue…?” Cheng Pu exclaimed. “Chen Deng… allied to the Shanyue tribes…?”
The messenger had left a written account that Lü Fan was now reading; he sighed and said, “It’s White Tiger: he’s left Xu Zhao’s estate and he’s commanding the Shanyue again.”
“I knew that we should have just raided that fool’s lands and got rid of his guests before they harmed us!” Cheng Pu cried. “Once this is over, we should burn that idiot’s estate to the ground!”
“I caused this,” Bofu said. “By attacking Yan Xiang-”
“As you said, Yan Xiang had moved down to Liyang, and that meant encroaching on us sooner or later,” Gongjin insisted. “You - we - had no choice. For whatever mad reason he had, Cao Cao left us with no choice.”
“But we have to leave here again!” Bofu complained. “Huang Zu will survive again! I have to come back here again! I don’t want to come here again! I wanted this to be the last time that I had to fight him!”
“Heaven’s will is unfathomable,” Gongjin said. “Let’s press our enemy one last time and then go.”
“This is becoming monotonous,” Huang Zu complained as he watched the swift approach of Bofu’s navy.
“How many times must we do this…?”
“To answer your question, ‘As many times as it is necessary’,” Kuai Yue replied. “But if we want to win, we must be the aggressors. We must meet him on the river if we don’t want him to attack Xiakou.”
“I’ll lead the navy,” General Chen Jiu said.
“Zhang Shuo and I will be ready to support you if you fail,” Huang Zu replied.
Chen Jiu’s navy advanced to meet Bofu’s vanguard; an additional force led by Liu Biao’s deputy naval commander Zhang Yun was also approaching the Jiangdong navy, and that was a cause for concern.
“Has Liu Biao diverted all of his forces here…?” Lü Fan wondered. “Have Cao Cao and Liu Biao made peace, and…?”
“I doubt it,” Gongjin replied. “That’s not Cai Mao we’re dealing with, so Liu Biao is keeping his best naval general close to him.”
“Cai Mao might be on his way,” Bofu suggested. “We want to retreat now, so that’s not a good thing: we’ll have to be quick.”
“Leave it to me!” Lü Meng cried.
“For once I won’t try to stop you!” Lü Fan said to Lü Meng, who advanced immediately.
“I’ll have to do my bit!” Bofu cackled. “Let’s make them glad that we’re leaving!”
“I’m with you, Brother!” Sun Yi said.
“Aiee… here we go again,” Sun Hè complained.
“Only now there’s two of them,” Song Qian muttered.
“I’ll be there to help you,” Gongjin said.
A week passed.