Chapter 12 Book 1: 11: Stratagem of Sowing Dissension
Chapter 12 Book 1: 11: Stratagem of Sowing Dissension
Book 1: Chapter 11: Stratagem of Sowing Dissension
A horse carriage quickly left Song City.
The scared and startled crown heir, Song Zhengxi, sat inside the horse carriage.
As Song Zhengxi leaned on the horse carriage’s side, looking out of the window, he felt the jolts of the horse carriage. All the while, he thought about the conversation with that strange man from earlier.
“Gao Xianzhi? How can it be possible? He wants to kill me; why would he save me?” Song Zhenxi glared at Gu Hai.
Gu Hai smiled faintly and shook his head. “Crown Heir, are you still unable to figure it out? Today was just a show. You are the crown heir. Can’t you understand the current situation?”
“How old is the emperor now?”
“Huh? My Imperial Grandfather is eighty-two years old this year. What do you mean?” Song Zhengxi replied, feeling confused.
“Do you know about the war between the Song Nation and the Chen Nation?”
“The Chen Nation only has Hulao Pass left, right? However, it seems like there is a Gu Hai leading the army there. I heard that he is very incredible. Even Gao Xianzhi fears him. That’s why he laid down such severe laws?” Song Zhengxi said with a frown.
Gu Hai smiled faintly and said, “A ferocious army of eight hundred thousand soldiers against one hundred thousand inexperienced soldiers, who can save that situation? It’s just an insignificant old man; do you think he can do it? Do you believe that? Gao Xianzhi is a famous general, unrivaled in leading armies. No, even without Gao Xianzhi, even a fool could command the eight-hundred-thousand-strong army to fight head-on to the death. Why the need to make things so complicated? What do you think?”
“Right, right. I know this too. Gao Xianzhi was so incredible. How could an old man obstruct him like that? Could there be more to this?” Song Zhengxi started to feel suspicious.
Gu Hai smiled faintly and did not explain.
“What’s going on? Tell me, what’s going on?” Song Zhengxi could not figure it out.𝑓ree𝘄e𝗯𝗻ov𝒆l.𝘤𝗼𝑚
Gu Hai did not answer. Instead, he looked towards the imperial palace and sighed softly, “The emperor is getting old…”
Song Zhengxi felt mind blown. The presiding official at the side also broke out in cold sweat.
“You…you are saying that my father wants to seize the throne?” Song Zhengxi said with a quiver as he stared at Gu Hai.
No one knew whether this quiver was out of fear or excitement.
Gu Hai said with a faint smile, “I did not say anything…”
“I understand. Eight hundred thousand soldiers? Father followed Gao Xianzhi to the frontlines to control the eight hundred thousand soldiers. Conquering the Chen Nation was just a matter of convenience. Father did not immediately destroy the Chen Nation to buy time. Is he going to put some big plan into action?”
Gu Hai looked at Song Zhengxi. Although the crown heir was young, his heart was already quite scheming. Gu Hai had only hinted at the beginning, but the crown heir came up with the rest by himself.
“Although Gao Xianzhi is the commander-in-chief, a wise man submits to his circumstances. Do you understand?” Gu Hai asked.
“I understand. My Imperial Grandfather does not have much time left, even if he remains in power. Furthermore…Gao Xianzhi only has a future by following my father. Gao Xianzhi is pandering to my father? Had he become my father’s subordinate long ago? I understand! I understand now!”
“However, why did Gao Xianzhi come back to push for the crown heir’s execution? To create death and destruction?” The presiding official knew that he could only continue on this path after hearing all this.
Song Zhengxi glared at the presiding official and said, “Idiot, you can’t even understand that? Didn’t Commander Gao save me? He wants me to leave in case something happens to me when the eight hundred thousand soldiers march on Song City. That way, I won’t get targeted by others.”
Gu Hai stared at Song Zhengxi from the side.
Indeed, this person’s heart is incomparably dark and insidious.
“This one, hey, I have a question. What about Lin Chong and the others?” Song Zhengxi suddenly asked with a frown.
Gu Hai revealed a cold smile and countered, “Do you think they can return alive?”
“Right! Right! Hahaha! Commander Gao is really capable. To think that he managed to find such an excuse!” Song Zhengxi immediately said excitedly.
“Crown Heir, now that you are ‘dead, you cannot appear in Song City anymore. In fact, we cannot leak the fact that you are still alive,” Gu Hai said gravely.
“I understand. You are sending me out of the city. However, where should I hide?”
“Nowhere is safe. There is always the possibility of being found. There is only one place with the best security!” Gu Hai said.
“Gao Xianzhi’s army camp, by the crown prince’s side. Commander Gao already prepared a horse carriage. You are to leave Song City immediately and head for the army camp. Would that be alright?” Gu Hai stared at Song Zhengxi.
Song Zhengxi nodded excitedly. “Good! Good! I’ll listen to you!”
On a small hill outside Song City, Gu Hai stood upright with his hands behind his back, watching the horse carriage leave with Song Zhengxi. Gu Han stood behind him.
“Adoptive Father, I have already arranged for everything. There will be a good show at Hulao Pass!” Gu Han said with a smile.
Gu Hai nodded.
Outside Hulao Pass:
Eight hundred thousand soldiers camped here, looking vast and mighty.
At this moment, the eight hundred thousand ferocious soldiers showed high morale and intense battle hunger. Although Gu Hai’s schemes had played on their emotions, everyone believed that the commander would give an account to everyone.
So what if it was the crown heir?
The recent letters to the soldiers clearly described the situation back home. Everything remained calm; nothing happened.
At this moment in the commander’s tent, Crown Prince Song appeared very frustrated and restless.
He had already arrived outside Hulao Pass. Looking at the date, Gao Xianzhi’s group should be returning soon. Gao Xianzhi’s return meant…
Crown Prince Song held a brush in his hand, unable to write anything. He breathed deeply, again and again, trying to repress the anger and hatred in his heart. His son had been executed, yet he could not do anything about it.
The hatred in Crown Prince Song’s eyes intensified. “Gu Hai!”
“Your Highness the Crown Prince!” someone respectfully greeted the crown prince from outside the tent.
“Come in!” Crown Prince Song said, repressing his rage and putting down the brush.
An officer entered the tent with joy on his face. However, when he saw Crown Prince Song’s sullen expression, he immediately constrained his own expression to solemnity. He guessed that Crown Prince Song was upset over the crown heir’s death. Hence, showing a joyful expression now was inappropriate.
“Crown Prince, this is only the second day since we arrived outside Hulao Pass, and thirty-six people already fled Hulao Pass to defect to us!” that officer said while clenching his fist.
“Oh? Gu Hai allowed them to come out?” Crown Prince Song asked, feeling suspicious.
“Of course, Gu Hai is not willing. These people sneaked out during the night, using ropes to scale down the city walls. This is just the first wave. I believe that there will be more tomorrow and even more the day after. Hahaha! Even before we attack, chaos is already happening in Hulao Pass. Heaven is helping us!” That officer could not help laughing.
Naturally, with the recent death of the crown heir, the crown prince could not laugh. When the officer saw the crown prince’s expression, his expression immediately changed, regaining its previous solemnity.
“There are already thirty-six people? They are defecting? What news did they bring?” Crown Prince Song asked sullenly.
“Indeed. These people are some of the Chen Nation’s nobles. If the Chen Nation gets destroyed, they will have nothing. They fled to carve a future for themselves. Naturally, they spoke without reserve, telling us everything. There is information on the number of troops, the strength of the various defenses, even where the commander’s tent is. Crown Prince, I will organize the information and deliver a detailed report to you. How should we deal with these people for now?” that officer asked.
“Lock them up first and obtain all possible information. Get all the details, even everything about Gu Hai. Remember, I want everything!” Crown Prince Song ordered sullenly.
“Yes!” that officer answered.
The officer left, but Crown Prince Song remained sullen. His eyes turned bloodshot as he looked towards the distant Hulao Pass.
“Gu Hai? For forcing my son to his death, I will eradicate your entire clan!” Crown Prince Song muttered to himself with a cold expression.
In a large hall within Hulao Pass:
Impersonating Gu Hai, Gu Qin sat in the main seat as he looked through a pile of information laid before him. Chen Liangyi and Chen Tianshan sat beside him. Although the two possessed noble statuses, they did not interrupt Gu Qin or intend to interfere.
A large group of officials—both military generals and civil officials—stood before Gu Qin. At this moment, everyone felt very anxious.
[TL Note: The ancient Chinese government was generally made up of two categories, military and civil. Unlike modern times, where generals take orders from the government, usually the Minister of Defense (considered a civil officer as he obtained the position through politics or by presidential appointment (potentially different in various countries)), the generals themselves formed part of the government. Once a soldier achieved a sufficiently high rank, the soldier had to attend the royal assembly and report to the emperor, becoming a military official. The one with the ultimate control was the emperor, with the various officials serving as advisers. Of course, the emperor would delegate work to the officials, but every decision had to be presented to and approved by the emperor.]
However, when the various officials saw the calm and leisurely expression of the white-haired “Gu Hai,” their anxious hearts calmed down significantly.
“Commander, the eight hundred thousand soldiers of the Song Nation have arrived outside the city. Although we have been continuously recruiting, we only have one hundred twenty thousand soldiers as of today!”
“Indeed. Commander scattered the one hundred twenty thousand soldiers and reorganized them. Although they look more ferocious, the other side has eight hundred thousand soldiers!”
A few officials looked at Gu Qin worriedly.
Gu Qin stopped what he was doing and looked at the group of officials. Then, he said indifferently, “What are you afraid of? In this Hulao Pass, one man can hold back all the enemy forces. With one hundred twenty thousand soldiers and reinforced walls, we can face all dangers. So what if they have eight hundred thousand soldiers? Even with eight million soldiers, they can forget about barging in. Previously, Gao Xianzhi attacked with no success; isn’t that already a good example?”
“Huh? Yes!” Everyone nodded.
Although the officials still felt worried, they relaxed significantly when they saw “Gu Hai” treating the situation casually.
“Commander, thirty-six soldiers fled last night. Among them were three high-ranking officers. They had heard Commander’s various arrangements. Will they leak our military secrets?!” a red-robed official said anxiously.
Right after the red-robed official spoke, the other officials showed worry.
“I have a report!”
A green-robed official rushed into the hall with an anxious expression. “Commander! Commander! This is bad! The vanguard general led fifty-eight men and fled earlier. They escaped from the southwest city walls. This subordinate saw them. They ran towards the Song Nation’s army!”
“Ah?!” This report immediately caused a huge commotion in the large hall.
“It’s over! It’s over! What should we do?”
“The more people flee, the greater the blow to our army’s morale!”
“After this, more and more people will flee!”
The various officials appeared anxious as they discussed this.
“It’s over?” Chen Liangyi showed an unsightly expression.
Chen Liangyi understood that this would start a chain reaction. As long as one person fled, morale would fall. Now that dozens of people had fled, it was no longer a problem of morale. There was no way to stop the soldiers from fleeing. After this, there would be more. They had not started the battle yet, and Hulao Pass was already so chaotic. What would be the point of fighting?
Chen Tianshan also appeared anxious. He looked at Gu Qin and said, “Commander, what should we do now? Didn’t you say that you wanted to mobilize the army? You need to stop this quickly!”
Everyone felt incredibly anxious. Only Gu Qin maintained his previous calm. He picked up his teacup and gently took a sip.
Upon seeing that, Chen Liangyi and Chen Tianshan almost erupted in rage.
Just at this moment, Gu Qin casually said something after drinking his tea, silencing the entire anxious hall.
“What are you worrying for? I sent them!” Gu Qin said indifferently.
This instantly quenched everyone’s anxiety as they looked at Gu Qin with shock. Now, surprise filled their eyes.
Following that, the anxious officials released their bated breaths and started laughing as if they were not anxious earlier.
Only a few officials held their breaths as their pupils contracted.
The next day, in Crown Prince Song’s tent:
Crown Prince Song had been feeling frustrated during this time as the pain from his son’s death had not passed yet. Now, a secret report lay before him.
As Crown Prince Song read the report, his pupils suddenly contracted.
The crown prince’s many subordinates looked at him inquisitively.
“Crown Prince, what does the report say?” a subordinate asked, feeling curious.
“Humph!” Crown Prince Song seemed to have found a place to vent his frustrations, letting out a cold snort.
Crown Prince Song slammed the secret report onto the table.
“Crown Prince, another eighty-six people surrendered last night. They are waiting outside right now, and they brought the latest news. Should we…?” an officer asked softly.
“Surrender? Hahahahaha! Gu Hai! Do you think that I am a fool, using such tactics against me? Humph! Men! Bind up all the people who surrendered and execute them under the city gate tower that is Hulao Pass! Spies?! This crown prince hates spies the most, furthermore, Gu Hai’s spies. Humph!” Crown Prince Song snorted coldly.
Not far away from Hulao Pass.
“Don’t kill me! Don’t kill me! Crown Prince Song, I am here to surrender!”
“I want to see Commander Gao. I brought information about Hulao Pass with me! Commander, don’t kill me!”
“I beg you, let me go! I’m here to surrender. I even brought intel. Don’t kill me!”
Many cries rang out outside Hulao Pass.
The Song Nation army bound a total of one hundred eighty-six men and brought them near Hulao Pass, as though they were showing off to Gu Hai.
At the top of the city gate tower:
Gu Qin stood upright with his hands behind his back. Chen Tianshan, Chen Liangyi, and the other officials stood behind him as they watched the scene on a small mound not far away. All of them revealed shocked expressions.
Not too far away, five hundred Song Nation soldiers held the one hundred eighty-six bound Chen Nation soldiers that fled not long ago. What was going on?
Gu Qin said indifferently, “If the soldiers want to see, let them come up the city gate tower to watch.”
“Ah?! Oh!” Chen Liangyi immediately nodded.
Inside Hulao Pass, countless soldiers interested in taking a look rushed up the city gate tower when given permission to do so. They stood on the walls and around the tower, looking into the distance.
“Ah? Is that Vanguard General Zuo? Oh, that’s Count Wang. Ah?! That is Lord Zhang!”
“They told me to flee with them yesterday, but I ignored them. What is going on?”
“Those are the people who fled over the past two days?”
A large number of Chen Nation soldiers revealed shocked expressions.
Then, they saw someone who looked like a general, on the mound outside the city, swing his hand down.
One hundred eighty-six heads immediately flew off, leaving their bodies headless.
The Song Nation army did not spare anyone who fled over the past two days, killing all of them?
The soldiers in the city gate tower and the walls inhaled sharply. Some of the restless people preparing to flee felt very fortunate—all thoughts of flight vanished.
Flee? That was just sending themselves to death!
Then, the five hundred Song Nation soldiers withdrew quickly, leaving one hundred eighty-six corpses in pools of blood. The entire city gate tower fell silent.
“Commander, you sent them out, but…!” Chen Liangyi said with an unsightly expression.
At this moment, Gu Qin smiled faintly. “I did not send them out. However, there should no longer be any soldiers wanting to flee and defect to the enemy.”
“Huh?” Chen Liangyi felt slightly stunned.
Two days later, Gao Xianzhi finally arrived at the camp from Song City.
“Crown Prince, you fell for it. That was Gu Hai’s stratagem of sowing dissension. You…you should not have killed them. Now, all the soldiers in Hulao Pass will fight to the death,” Gao Xianzhi said anxiously with a depressed expression.
“Stratagem of sowing dissension?” Crown Prince Song’s expression changed.
“Gu Hai once said, ‘Surround the three sides and leave one side open. This will allow the soldiers a place to flee to, giving them hope and creating chaos within their ranks.’ However, you removed the one open side, the place for their soldiers to flee. What you killed are not one hundred-odd traitors; you killed the hope of the Chen Nation’s army, their confidence. Now that they no longer have hope, they will fight to the death. No matter how ferocious a soldier is, it cannot compare to a desperate, reckless soldier. I came back two days late. Just two days! Hah! Hah!” Gao Xianzhi said with a bitter expression.