After listening to the report of the Black Snake Guards, Ouyang Shuo's brows tightly locked together.
In the entire north region of Zhaoqing Prefecture, including Wulong County, there were a total of twelve territories. Each city had around one to two thousand troops.
The problem laid in the fifty thousand iron cavalry on patrol.
The camp of the fifty thousand iron cavalry was fifteen kilometers north of Tianshuang County.
Based on the intel from the Black Snake Guards, the twelve cities had formed a wartime alliance. The moment one of them were attacked, the fifty thousand iron cavalry would learn of the news and head to assist.
It seems like a smart person was instructing the South Alliance. The entire north region of Zhaoqing Prefecture was airtight, and it did not seem to have any weakness.
Ouyang Shuo's goal was to take down Tianshuang County, which acted as the grain base of the alliance army.
Wulong County was a three days journey away from Tianshuang County.
The fifty thousand cavalry patrolled the entire north side. Hence, to attack Tianshuang County, they needed to deal with the cavalry first. If not, the enemy could easily pincer them in.
With only one division to fight fifty thousand soldiers, it was another one versus five scenario.
Considering that there were around thirty thousand troops housed in Tianshuang County, they could only play it smart in this battle. Without specific intel, Ouyang Shuo did not dare to strike.
The same day, Ouyang Shuo sent out around ten spy squads to investigate the movement patterns of the enemy.
Zhaoqing Prefecture, Yun An County.
220 thousand alliance army troops had already gathered up at Yun An County. Along with them, there were also large amounts of grain and siege weapons. They transported the endless supply of grain from Tianshuang County to Yun An County.
The fifty thousand vanguard force had investigated the locations of the Shanhai City Army. The South Alliance members had gathered once again to discuss tactics.
Hefu did not solely make decision anymore.
The other Lords brought their advisors and generals, who would voice their opinions one by one. After all, they were better at wartime commanding. Hefu and the others were only in charge of strategic decisions.
Amongst the generals, one of them was the most eye-catching, he was the famous General of North Song, Di Qing.
Di Qing had a tattoo on his face, and he was skilled at riding and shooting. He was born in a cold and povertous area, a courageous man. During the Song Xia War, he wore a bronze mask and charged to the front, gaining many war credits.
In the imperial court, Yin Zhu, Han Qi, Fan Zhongyan, and other important generals all had relationships with him. Fan Zhongyan had given him the Spring and Autumn Annals, causing him to start to read and get familiar with the art of war.
Di Qing had participated in a total of twenty-five wars, and he gained fame for his night assault on Kunlun Pass. However, the imperial court had doubted him, which resulted in him dying of depression. After his death, he was respected and worshipped, given the title of Wuxiang.
"For military matters, what we worry the most about is a person who doesn't know much giving orders to people who are more experienced." Hefu looked around, “Hence, I suggest that we Lords don't do anything. We will leave the military matters to the generals. What do you all think?"
"Alliance leader is right. I agree!"
"Good, so that is settled." Hefu continued, “Since that's the case, we must choose a commander to lead all the troops. The order of the commander is equal to my orders, so whichever general dares to betray or go against the orders, the commander will deal with them based on military law. We Lords won't interfere. What do you think?"
The Lords knew that although the alliance army was strong, it had many problems. The biggest issue was that the soldiers came from many territories. Without military law controlling them, they were just like scattered sand.
Just a few simple words from Hefu solved the two biggest problems of the alliance army. Even Yuan Ping felt impressed, and he did not jump out to create problems.
As expected, Di Qing was pushed to become the commander of all the troops.
In front of all the Lords and generals, Di Qing was handed the power. Hefu and the others backed out of the tent and allowed Di Qing to lead the battlefield.
Di Qing was a person of few words. Only after considering everything and thinking clearly would he strike. He desired absolute certainty. His style was similar to Baiqi’s.
Di Qing had planned the troop distribution to the north of Zhaoqing Prefecture.
Di Qing knew that in a war, grain was of utmost importance. As the grain base of the army, they needed to defend Tianshuang County; they could not lose it.
As the Lords backed down, Di Qing officially started the meeting. Like the legends said, he wore a bronze mask and had disheveled hair. He sat at the lead position, emitting the aura of a leader.
Not all the generals in the alliance army were happy with him leading them.
"The enemy is housed in three cities, forming a triangle formation. How should we break it?"
Di Qing was an eccentric character, directly throwing the hardest question to the generals seated.
When the other generals heard his question, they all looked at one another. They did not know what he meant.
This was the intelligence of Di Qing in play. He knew about matters of the military. It might seem like the other generals did not have any objections to him taking the lead, but in their hearts, it was different.
Since the olden times, there was no second to martial arts.
Hence, Di Qing decided to act independently from the start. He wanted to use this chance to clearly learn the characters of the generals present. After knowing them, he would make plans.
Only by knowing oneself can you win all wars.
"Why, you all don't have any ideas?"
Seeing the tent remain silent, Di Qing took the chance to speak, stimulating the generals.
"We should gather all our troops and attack one city."
As expected, one of the generals could not hold it in and stood up.
Di Qing shook his head, “Since the enemy has formed a triangle formation, they would naturally help one another out. If one side gets attacked, the rest would act. If we aren't careful, we might get caught. We mustn't forget that their general is the invincible Baiqi. Even Han Xin is in their ranks. Their ability, I'm sure all of you know about it."
All the other generals were left speechless.
"Commander don't praise them too much and dampen your prestige." The generals in the alliance army were all bold; none of them were cowards. One of them got up and retorted, “Our army has the absolute advantage in numbers. Naturally, we can defend against the other two sides while taking down one. With that, the cities will each be fighting for themselves."
The generals cheered.
When Di Qing heard this response, he gave a slight nod and said, “Your words are logical but you have forgotten something."
"Please enlighten me!"
The General that retorted did not dare to act truly preposterous.
"The enemy is in three cities. They have formed a formation of three, and it is easy for them to switch around. Although we have the numerical advantage, they are much stronger. Moreover, our armies are not well meshed. Just these two points alone are enough to lower some of our advantages. Hence, the gap isn't really as big as it seems."
There was also another point that Di Qing did not speak out to save some face for the generals. To put it bluntly, their generals were weaker than that of the enemy.
Any general from the Shanhai City Army was a famous general; their ability far stronger than any of them present. In such a large-scale battle, this advantage would grow exceedingly obvious.
As expected, although the generals felt slightly miffed, they did not oppose his words.
When Di Qing saw the situation, he looked around and said solemnly, “Which is why the current situation doesn't allow us to be careless. If the troops we send to attack are too little, we can't take the city down. If we send too much, the defending troops won't be able to hold on, and we might lose."
Through these words, one could see how careful Di Qing was when he commanded troops.
When the other generals heard these words, they could help but look on in awe.
"Thank you, General, for your words."
At this point, the other generals finally woke up. Their commander had done a large-scale analysis of this battle.
When Di Qing heard such a response, he knew that the time was right, and the other generals had basically acknowledged him. Hence, he finally spoke out his plan, "The key to this battle is just real and fake, two words."
"What's real, what's fake? There are two meanings. Firstly, the enemy troops. The enemy troops are in three cities. Now, we only know whose the main general there. As for how many troops are in each city, we have no idea. If we can't find out the truth about the troops, we can't fight them. Which city would be a trap that we shouldn't touch it?"
The other generals all nodded at these words.
"Secondly, our own troops. Although we don't have an absolute advantage, we must make it such that our enemies cannot see through us. Before we officially attack, we must make it that the enemy doesn't know which city we will attack. When we reveal the truth, it must be too late for them."
Applause broke out in the tent.
With such an analysis from Di Qing, all the generals felt a lot more confident about this battle.
Di Qing pressed his hand down to calm down the atmosphere in the tent, “These two words, real and fake, are easy to say but hard to execute. The key would be investigating and scouting. Hence, after this meeting ends, we need to send out more spies. Around the three cities, we mustn't miss out anything."
"Spies investigating is only the first step. The enemy troops are in the city, so all the gates should be tightly locked. Hence, to find out about the enemy, the most effective method is to attack them. We should use the smallest number of sacrifices to exchange for first hand intel."
As a result of Di Qing's words, only the gods would know how many soldiers they would sacrifice.
The generals all understood that the enemy was not simple. In order to test them out, normal probes would not work. Rather than a probe, it was more of an assault. The alliance army could only relentlessly attack the enemy until they revealed their weakness.
Even so, no one said anything.
"Please give the order!"
"We await your order!"
The more than ten generals all stood up and shouted.
"Tomorrow, we will split our troops into three and attack the cities. Before they reveal their weakness, we mustn't back off. If any one of you doesn't give your all, don't blame me for being merciless."
With a Shua! Di Qing unsheathed the sword at his waist. With a shine of light, a corner of the table was cut off. A chilling aura spread out from his body. Along with the bronze mask, it was an overbearing presence.
"We will follow your orders!"
The other generals were all stunned, and they did not dare to take him lightly.
The next day, the alliance army split into three routes and launched probing attacks against Yaogu County, Cangcheng County, and Genglou County.
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