Yuan Ping stood up, attracting the attention of all the people in the hall. Many of them thought that Yuan Ping was planning to personally create problems for Hefu.
The atmosphere in the hall grew more and more serious.
"Everyone." Yuan Ping looked around, "Everyone, please listen to me. Now is not the time to chase responsibility. The most crucial question is, what do we do now?"
The moment his words sounded out, the hall fell silent.
All of their moods instantly became heavy, and they all lost the mood to quarrel.
That's right, what should the alliance army do now?
At this point, they had two choices.
Firstly, they could continue to reinforce the troops and go all in against Shanhai City.
Although the alliance army had suffered heavy loses, they still had deep pockets after all. The 110 thousand troops that remained were twice the numbers of the Shanhai City Army.
If they gritted their teeth, they could take the fight.
Secondly, they could accept the defeat and escape.
The back side of the alliance army was still stable for now. As such, if they chose to retreat, the Shanhai City Army could not do anything about them. However, this had a downside—if they did so, South Alliance could never raise their heads again.
Apart from the problem of face, there were also strategic considerations.
The moment the alliance army retreated, the fall of Zhaoqing would be imminent. The moment they lost this barrier, the other few prefectures in Lingnan Province would be at risk.
Hence, in a long term standpoint, retreating would not be a good idea.
Unexpectedly, the majority of the Lords decided to retreat. Baiqi and Han Xin’s two strikes had blinded these Lords, causing them to lose all their courage.
They only saw the actual threat in front of them. As for the long term implications, there was still time, so who knows what would happen?
Typical ostrich mentality.
"Everyone, the longer this war drags on, the more beneficial it is for them. They will have enough time to gather more troops to attack us. At that time, even if we want to escape, it would be too late. Why not just leave now and keep our losses to a minimum? Our side has low morale, so if we leave, we can wait till the spirits rise to have a final fight with them. This strategic retreat will give us the chance to deal a heavy blow to Shanhai City in the future. No matter what, we have taken down Cangcheng County in this battle and forced Baiqi to escape, so we have already attained good achievements."
Yuan Ping's words gained the approval of everyone.
This fellow's eloquence was truly commendable. Based on Yuan Ping’s’ words, the alliance army had not lost, and they had won this encounter instead.
Although Yuan Ping hated Ouyang Shuo to the core, he still supported the decision to retreat. He had his own plans. Despite their side losing this battle, it was not all bad for the alliance.
From this battle, it was enough for them to realize the terrifying strength of Shanhai City. When they returned to their territory, they would definitely increase their preparations.
Apart from that, they would band together.
Under the suppression of Shanhai City, not only would South Alliance not disband, it would even grow closer, increasing their cooperations with one another. For example, the city-state system that Hefu had used in the last life might come to work.
With this, Yuan Ping would have a chance to rise up. In the alliance, the prestige of Hefu had plummeted to the ground. Naturally, Yuan Ping now had a chance to win the position of alliance leader.
If he could lead the alliance and successfully build up the city-state system, he could solidify his position. Not only in Lingnan Province, but even the entire China region.
Most importantly, only this move could grant him the capital to go against Ouyang Shuo.
Hence, Yuan Ping resolutely decided to retreat.
Thanks to Yuan Ping rallying and motivating them, even some neutrals chose to join the retreat camp.
Of course, there were obviously some who insisted on staying, like Hefu for example. His territory had already fallen, so he had no way back. Taking down the south of Zhaoqing was his only hope.
The moment his territory fell, Hefu had already lost the way of return.
Unfortunately, Hefu's words held no weight now.
As time moved on and both sides continued their debate, the people who supported leaving gradually gained an overwhelming advantage.
Just as Yuan Ping was ready to enjoy the fruits of this small victory, a shout jolted everyone's senses.
"We cannot leave!"
This shout was incredibly loud, so it immediately attracted everyone's attention.
Looking over, the ones who spoke up was one of the Zhaoqing Prefecture Lords, who had not made a sound till this point. For South Alliance to retreat, the Zhaoqing Prefecture Lords would naturally not agree. If they left, that meant that they would be left alone against Shanhai City.
"This brother, it seems like you do not understand the situation."
A member of the South Alliance stepped up and mocked, "In the end, our South Alliance came down as a form of humanitarian help. Why? The Lords of Zhaoqing Prefecture still dare to order us around? We will leave if we want to. Can you even stop us?"
"That's right; we only came to help!"
The attitudes of the South Alliance members were atrocious, and they instantly angered the Lords of Zhaoqing Prefecture. The honeymoon period between the two sides was about to end.
When Yuan Ping heard these words, he shook his head.
It is okay if you want to back off, but why sprinkle salt onto their wounds?
That is so stupid.
The Zhaoqing Lord that had spoken up stepped out once again, his tone similarly mocking, "The way I see it, you're the one that does not understand the situation. If you want to leave, we will not stop you. However, our teleportation formation is reserved for friends only. If you are not our friends, you can just walk back yourself!"
These words left the South Alliance members speechless.
This was when they realized something they had forgotten in the heat of the moment. The teleportation formations were still in the hands of the north region Zhaoqing Prefecture Lords. If they did not agree to help, South Alliance could not teleport out.
This time, they had lost all their face.
Hefu looked on, as he coldly watched these developments.
A bunch of idiots!
This was great, they broke the bridge and even harmed themselves in the process.
"Brother, everything can be discussed. I apologize on the behalf of that brother."
When Yuan Ping saw the situation, he could only try to salvage the situation.
Unfortunately, the Lords of Zhaoqing Prefecture did not buy it.
The entire meeting entered a standoff just like that, neither side happy with the other.
Luckily for them, Shanhai City army did not act at this moment.
However, the Guards Division would soon break this stalemate.
8th month, 24th day, Tianshuang County.
Lin Yi led the disguised Guards Division and finally reached the outskirts of Tianshuang County.
Under his lead, a soldier walked up and shouted at the guard on the city wall, "Open the gates! Quick, open the gates!"
"Who are you?"
The thirty thousand alliance army troops were in charge of defending Tianshuang County. As the logistical core of the alliance army, their defence was airtight.
Even during the day, they kept the city gates locked tight.
There was only a small door opened at the side to transport grain. Even this small door was totally shut before the Guards Division had arrived.
"Are you blind? we are Qu Yi's forces." The soldier Lin Yi chose was truly an acting genius. He projected an attitude of arrogance.
The city guard had little understanding of Qu Yi's forces. Upon seeing the cavalry dressed in fancy armor, they had already believed in half of the story.
In the entire north region of Zhaoqing, the only active cavalry force was Qu Yi's troops.
Even so, the city guard did not relax and asked, "Since it’s General Qu Yi's forces, what are you all doing here?"
"We do not have enough grain, so the general has sent us here to rush the transportation of grain."
This was the reason that Ouyang Shuo came up with after discussing the matter with Lin Yi. As the grain supply of Qu Yi's forces truly came from Tianshuang County, there was nothing false about this part of their story.
"Do you have any token of identification?"
"Naturally, we brought the personal insignia of the general."
"Bring it up!"
As they spoke, they lowered a basket from the city wall.
The soldier went up and placed Qu Yi's personal item in the basket.
After the city guard saw the item and verified it, he would never have guessed that Qu Yi's forces had all fallen.
At this time, the city guard had no reason to stop them.
"Since it’s members of General Qu Yi's forces, based on the rules, no more than five hundred of you can enter. As for the rest, wait outside!"
The city guard really followed his duty.
"What bullsh*t. I'm following orders from my general to rush here, so both my horse and I are tired. We only want to enter the county to rest. You actually want us to camp outside, how bold are you? When I go back, I'll report this matter to the general!"
When the city guard heard this outburst, he was put on the spot.
"What rights do you have?"
"Let us in!"
Under the silent cues of Lin Yi, the Guards Division vented their frustration.
When the city guard saw their actions, he wiped off his sweat. He truly did not dare to mess with this bunch of people. After weighing the pros and cons, he decided to let them in. After all, they were their allies, and this was not going against the rules.
A short while later, they slowly lowered the drawbridge of the city protection river, and the city gate opened.
Just like that, the Guards Division smoothly entered the city.
What happened next, they did not need to describe it in words.
After entering the city, the Guards Division suddenly attacked and took control of the city gate. Their second target was the relay. They wanted to prevent the spreading of the news of Tianshuang County being sneak attacked.
A massacre followed.
Facing the sudden attack from right beside them, the thirty thousand alliance army in the county were caught completely unprepared. In less than three hours, the Guards Division had taken full control.
The thirty thousand alliance army soldiers either died in battle or were captured.
Half a month later, Tianshuang County had fallen into the hands of Shanhai City once again.