Chapter 6 Book 1: 6: Water Overflows When Filled to the Brim
Book 1: Chapter 6: Water Overflows When Filled to the Brim
“Dang! Dang! Dang! Dang!”
The sound of a gong sounding a retreat rang out outside Hulao Pass.
Hulao Pass was a huge city gate tower between two precipitous cliffs. At this moment, be it above the city gate tower or outside Hulao Pass, corpses and countless arrows filled the place, and smoke rose into the air. Large numbers of scaling ladders were on fire at the sides of the city gate tower.
Gu Qin, who had dyed his hair white, stood at the top of the city gate tower, looking down at the legion of Song Nation soldiers retreating.
Chen Tianshan and Chen Liangyi stood behind Gu Qin.
“Hah! That was dangerous. We previously received news that Gao Xianzhi was startled into stopping the army upon hearing about Gu Hai. Unexpectedly, that was a feint. He came faster than expected, even bringing his elite troops. If not for your early preparations, Hulao Pass would have fallen,” Chen Tianshan said with a trace of lingering fear on his face.
Chen Liangyi nodded with certainty as well. “Fortunately, you prepared the burning tar. When they brought over the ladders, you used the burning tar to burn their ladders. Otherwise, the consequences would have been dire. They are indeed a ferocious army. As long as they climbed up, they would be equal to five of our soldiers each. This…this…” Chen Liangyi stammered with some trepidation.
Gu Qin did not look at the two. Instead, he looked into the distance and said softly, “The two of you, no matter when, don’t let it slip. Remember, I am Gu Hai now.”
At this moment, Gu Qin had his hair dyed white. Many wrinkles also appeared on his face. With Gu Qin’s drastic change in appearance, most people would not recognize him. Although he did not look too similar to Gu Hai, few had seen Gu Hai before. In fact, not many people had seen Gu Qin in recent years, either. The members of the Gu Residence could not possibly give him away.
Chen Tianshan and Chen Liangyi looked at Gu Qin and nodded thoughtfully.
Back when Gu Hai made this arrangement, Chen Tianshan had been reluctant, fearing accidents. However, he no longer felt any resentment. At the very least, Gu Hai had anticipated the opponent’s move. The attack lasted for only ten hours, and they had managed to repulse Gao Xianzhi and force him to retreat with no results.
“I will listen to you. Just do what you want to do. As long as you can block Gao Xianzhi, anything is fine,” Chen Liangyi said resolutely.
“Immortal Venerate Chen, Adoptive Father wants to defeat the Song Nation at the fastest speed possible. Hence, you should not leak Adoptive Father’s current movements to avoid accidents,” Gu Qin reminded gravely.
Chen Tianshan nodded. “I will keep it a secret. However, only three thousand people died in the earlier attack. That means that Gao Xianzhi lost only three thousand men. This is just a small portion of Gao Xianzhi’s army. How are you going to defend when his large, endless army marches on Hulao Pass?”
“Don’t worry. I believe in Adoptive Father. Adoptive Father will restrain them soon,” Gu Qin replied after some silence.
“The one who attacked earlier was Gao Xianzhi’s vanguard’s general, Lin Chong, a high-ranking military officer. This person is very ferocious, and we need to pay attention to him. After we return, I will draw his appearance. Hand the portrait to all the soldiers on the city walls. If they see this person, they are to attack him with everything,” Gu Qin said.
“Alright!” Chen Liangyi said.
In a large tent within a large camp outside Hulao Pass:
A red-clad, scholarly man about forty years old held a cup of hot tea in his hand as he carefully studied a huge sand table replicating the terrain outside Hulao Pass.
A group of bodyguards stood quietly beside this person. No one dared to interrupt this scholarly man holding a teacup.
This man looked handsome and showed an indescribable heroic spirit, inspiring some surprise with a glance.
After taking a sip of tea, this person used his hand to draw on the sand table.
“I have a report!”
A blood-covered, imposing man rushed into the large tent.
The imposing man fell to his knees, appearing ashamed and feeling guilty.
However, the scholarly man holding the teacup continued looking at the sand table, his back to the imposing man.
“Commander, Lin Chong is incapable. I failed to conquer Hulao Pass. The commander of Hulao Pass seemed to have anticipated our arrival and had burning tar prepared. We suffered heavy losses and severe injuries. There are three thousand of our soldiers dead and two thousand wounded. This subordinate is incapable, causing such a huge loss. Commander, please punish me!” The imposing man pleaded his guilt as he knelt.
The commander holding the teacup did not turn around, continuing to look at the sand table.
“Commander, please punish me. This subordinate was incapable, failing to conquer the city gate tower!” The imposing Lin Chong kowtowed as he pleaded guilty again.
“It is normal that you failed to conquer the city gate tower. If you could, it would be odd,” the commander holding the teacup said indifferently.
“Ah?” Lin Chong looked at the commander in confusion.
This was the Chen Felling Supreme Commander, Gao Xianzhi.
Gao Xianzhi turned around slowly while holding his teacup. As he looked at Lin Chong, he smiled faintly and said, “I did not hope for you to take Hulao Pass in one go. I only wanted the vanguard to test it. You do not need to blame yourself. You cannot match the people guarding the city.”
“Commander, you do not blame me?” Lin Chong asked in shock.
Gao Xianzhi took a sip and nodded. “I have sent people to investigate the terrain around Hulao Pass. Gu Hai lives up to his name. To think that there are no holes in his defenses. He even took the precaution of destroying the cliff at that steep entry, cutting off passage for us.
“However…however, our three thousand brothers…” Lin Chong continued speaking with an unsightly expression.
“That’s enough. There will naturally be death and injuries in war. This Gu Hai is different from everyone we met before. Do not ever underestimate him. You have to treat him as an extremely strong opponent. Remember, he is even stronger than me!” Gao Xianzhi said seriously.
“Ah? How can it be? Commander, I admire only you in the entire Song Nation!” Lin Chong immediately countered in disbelief.
“However, I admire only him in the entire world!” Gao Xianzhi said.
“Ah? What?!” Lin Chong exclaimed in shock.
“Although I admire him, I still have to defeat him. Hence, you all have to be careful,” Gao Xianzhi said gravely.
“This Gu Hai uses his soldiers in ways that catch people off guard. Furthermore, he has many other means at his disposal, means that you cannot discover. In the future, report anything strange to me, even if it did not happen on the battlefield,” Gao Xianzhi instructed.
“Keep attacking for three days. Even if a troop dies, it does not matter. Hulao Pass’s people will die too. When the inexperienced soldiers in Hulao Pass see their companions die, they will have a change of heart. Three days later, we will withdraw. When we come back with an overwhelming army to attack them in the future, they will crumble from their own fear,” Gao Xianzhi said coldly after taking a last sip of tea.
Three days later, at the top of the city gate tower that was Hulao Pass:
“They retreated. They finally retreated!” Chen Liangyi’s eyes turned wet.
“However, we lost ten thousand men over the past three days,” Chen Tianshan said with an unsightly expression.
They had only a total of one hundred thousand men. With ten thousand dead, how bad would the impact on the army’s morale be? Furthermore, the other side still had seven hundred thousand or so soldiers, an overwhelming number.
“Are you worried about the soldiers becoming restless?” Gu Qin asked with a faint smile.
“Will they?” Chen Liangyi countered worriedly.
“They will!” Gu Qin said with a certain expression.
“Gao Xianzhi learned his psychological warfare from my adoptive father. Since he knows about it, how could my father not know? Don’t worry. Just leave it to me. We will announce it in a different way. That way, the death of ten thousand will make them even more ferocious instead of scared. This will make them fight to the death without fear.” Gu Qin smiled.
Gao Xianzhi rode on a big black horse, bringing ten thousand injured and sick as he slowly headed to a large city not far away.
Although Gao Xianzhi failed to capture Hulao Pass, he was already satisfied, as he had left a seed of fear in the hearts of the remaining Chen Nation army at Hulao Pass.
Perhaps the deaths of ten thousand at Hulao Pass could turn the soldiers there even more ferocious, but so what? When Gao Xianzhi’s eight hundred thousand soldiers marched on Hulao Pass in the future, the seed of fear in the depths of the hearts of Hulao Pass’s defenders would spout rapidly and crush all the built-up ferocity at the fastest speed.
Right in front was the largest stronghold of the eight-hundred-thousand-strong army, also previously the Chen Nation’s largest city aside from their capital. This place was called Merchant City, the place where the richest man of the six nations started.
At this moment, Gao Xianzhi already captured it and used it as his stronghold, commanding his troops and spreading them out from here.
“The commander is back!” Soldiers came to receive Gao Xianzhi from afar.
“Are there any merchants in Merchant City that are behaving suspiciously?” Gao Xianzhi asked.
“There are none. Commander, don’t worry. You told us to keep an eye on them long ago. It is not just for Merchant City; it is the same for all the other cities. No merchant dares to cause trouble,” the young, high-ranked officer leading the group reported.
“Alright!” Gao Xianzhi nodded.
The army slowly made its way into the city, heading to a massive military drill ground in the city center. This drill ground was where the army gathered. Not counting the dispatched soldiers, there were at least three hundred thousand soldiers camped here.
While still a distance away from the camp at the military drill ground, Gao Xianzhi suddenly raised his eyebrows. The sound of firecrackers going off rang out from the distant military drill grounds.
Firecrackers went off continuously, making the place incredibly noisy.
“What’s going on?” Gao Xianzhi frowned slightly.
“Commander, these are some wealthy merchants of our Song Nation here to encourage our soldiers,” that young officer said with a smile.
“What? Wealthy merchants?” Gao Xianzhi’s expression changed. He immediately thought of Gu Hai, the wealthiest person of the six nations.
“Giddy-up!” Gao Xianzhi quirted his horse, making it break into a gallop.
Gao Xianzhi soon arrived at the camp. At the moment, a group of people in embroidered clothes were bowing respectfully to a middle-aged man in magnificent robes.
“Your Highness, you are being too formal. We merchants are incapable and can show our regard only through these token actions. Naturally, we feel happy seeing our Song Nation growing stronger. So, the merchant association of our city decided to send goods for the military to use, to prevent the Chen Nation’s Gu Hai from taking advantage of this aspect,” the leader, who wore expensive and lavish embroidered robes, said respectfully.
The middle-aged man in magnificent robes was the Song Nation’s crown prince. At this moment, he appeared satisfied as he stood before the group of wealthy merchants.
Suddenly, a soldier shouted, “The commander is back!”
Be it the soldiers, the crown prince, the wealthy merchants, or the miscellaneous people around, they all turned their heads to look.
However, when Gao Xianzhi arrived on his large horse, they saw a cold look in his eyes as the firecrackers rang out not far away.
“Greetings, Commander!” Crown Prince Song said with a smile.
“Salutations, Commander!” the group of wealthy merchants greeted, feeling somewhat excited.
“What’s going on?” Gao Xianzhi asked coldly.
“Oh, this is the merchant association of my Song Nation’s Peng City. They heard that you ordered all granaries and herb warehouses to be monitored to prevent Gu Hai from causing trouble using the commerce angle and cutting off our supplies. So, the Peng City’s merchant association banded together and sent over large amounts of food and herbs, contributing to the nation and cooperating with my army!” Crown Prince Song said with a smile.
“Oh?” Gao Xianzhi appeared somewhat surprised.
When Gao Xianzhi heard that Gu Hai took command of the Chen Nation’s army, his first reaction was worry that Gu Hai would use his commerce ties to cut off supplies, so he had made preparations long ago. Unexpectedly, the merchant association of the Song Nation’s Peng City was so self-aware.
The leader of the wealthy merchants smiled embarrassedly. “Commander, congratulations on your string of victories, even killing the Chen Nation’s emperor. When we heard the news, we all felt excited and impressed by you. So, we brought some essential military supplies as a congratulatory gift to show our sincerity. I hope Commander will permit that.”
Gao Xianzhi just stared at this group of wealthy merchants. Due to his wary nature, his first thought was that Gu Hai sent them as spies and that there was a plot. However, when he looked at the mountain of food and herbs not far away, it did not seem like Gu Hai’s plot. He was slightly confused.
Anyhow, if these merchants were here to offer congratulations and resources, there was no need to reject them.
“In that case, I thank everyone on behalf of the entire army. This commander has been rushing all the way and is feeling fatigued. I won’t be entertaining everyone,” Gao Xianzhi said.
“Of course, that is natural,” the group of wealthy merchants immediately said with smiles.
“Commander, go and rest. I’m here to deal with this.” The crown prince smiled.
Gao Xianzhi nodded.
During the evening, Lin Chong entered Gao Xianzhi’s tent.𝑓𝘳𝘦𝘦𝘄e𝘣𝑛𝒐vel.𝘤𝗼𝙢
“Commander, I have already checked everything. The food and herbs are fine, all of the best quality. It looks like this group of wealthy merchants has no connection to Gu Hai.”
“All of the best quality?” Gao Xianzhi frowned slightly.
“Indeed. This group of merchants is very enthusiastic. Later, they will be putting on a fireworks party to celebrate our huge victory,” Lin Chong said with a smile.
“Send some people to keep an eye on these merchants,” Gao Xianzhi said.
“Commander, I heard that they would be leaving tomorrow morning. Why…?”
“I have a bad feeling about this. Just keep an eye on them in case of surprises,” Gao Xianzhi said sullenly.
The next day, Gao Xianzhi got out of bed and washed up.
The sound of fireworks rang out outside the camp again.
“Huh? Lin Chong!” Gao Xianzhi shouted coldly.
“Present!” Lin Chong rushed into the tent.
“Didn’t I tell you to keep an eye on the Peng City merchants? Did something happen?” Gao Xianzhi asked.
“Nothing happened; they left early in the morning. Oh, but Yun City’s wealthy merchants came to reward the army. They have been lighting firecrackers from outside the city all the way to the camp. They also brought large amounts of herbs and food. It looks like they are not frauds,” Ling Chong said while smiling.
“Yun City’s wealthy merchants?” Gao Xianzhi appeared somewhat confused.
“Indeed. They sent food and herbs of the best quality. I had already sent people to check. Haha! Now, we no longer have to worry about Gu Hai using his commerce connections to cause trouble.” Ling Chong grinned happily.
However, Gao Xianzhi appeared somewhat puzzled.
Tian Residence, Song City, the Song Nation’s capital:
Gu Hai had placed a Go board before him, playing with himself. His adoptive son Gu Han stood beside him.
“Adoptive Father, Peng City’s merchant association, Yun City’s merchant association, and Benevolent City’s merchant association went to deliver large amounts of food and herbs to Merchant City in accordance with your instructions. Due to our instigation, various merchant associations have been traveling over in a steady stream. However, what is the point of sending them so much food and herbs?” Gu Han asked, feeling confused.
Gu Hai placed a white Go stone on the Go board. Then, he revealed a faint smile and prompted, “Indeed, what is the point? Gu Han, can you not figure it out?”
Gu Han’s expression changed. “Hey, I got it. Adoptive Father, Gao Xianzhi already prepared sufficient food and herbs, as he kept his guard up against us. Hence, the food and herbs that we sent over serve no purpose. If they lacked these items, they would cherish them. However, when they have enough, these would be useless. They can only leave the food and herbs in the warehouse to collect dust. Furthermore, they will need people to manage them and move them. In reality, these items are not as practical as money. They could use money to reward the army, to increase their morale. However, food and herbs are hard to use as a reward. At the very least, they cannot use it as a reward while they fight the war. Even if they give it out, the soldiers cannot bring them away. The food and herbs are as good as trash without appearing so.”
“This is the principle of water overflowing when filled to the brim. When in excess, it will not only be useless but can even cause problems,” Gu Hai said.
“Yes. When the soldiers see the large amounts of gifts reaching the camp but do not receive any benefits, they definitely will find it unfair.” Gu Han smiled.
“What else?” Gu Hai said as he placed a black Go stone.
Gu Han knew that Gu Hai was teaching him, so he did his best to analyze this. After some silence, his eyes lit up with shock.
“Firecrackers and fireworks?” Gu Han ventured in awe.
Gu Hai smiled faintly. “Explain?”
“Three hundred thousand soldiers are camped at Merchant City. However, the other five hundred thousand soldiers are dispatched to other places, claiming the various cities. Merchant City is the headquarters and a place for recuperation. The elite soldiers are continuously sent out, but the injured soldiers are continuously sent back to Merchant City to rest and recover. There would be people with broken arms and legs and covered in injuries. Naturally, they would feel distraught. Some would even despair because of their crippled bodies. However, the others are singing and dancing at this moment, setting off firecrackers and celebrating. This creates a huge disparity in the hearts of the injured soldiers. This is like pouring salt on the injured soldiers’ wounds,” Gu Han said.
“The fireworks of the night look beautiful, but it is like ridicule to the injured soldiers, a mockery of the future of the crippled. Furthermore, the large amount of food and herbs sent over are not distributed to everyone’s hands. This would make the injured soldiers feel even more upset. Why should others enjoy a luxurious victory while they have only a future of despair?” Gu Han said.
Gu Hai nodded and prompted, “What else?”
Gu Han thought for a while before showing an excited expression.
“Adoptive Father, are you talking about the citizens of Merchant City?” Gu Han asked in astonishment.
Gu Hai put down the Go stone in his hand and nodded. “Indeed. Gao Xianzhi killed six hundred thousand Chen Nation soldiers. These six hundred thousand Chen Nation soldiers were the pillars of their families. They were sons, husbands, and fathers, the spiritual pillars of these common citizens. These common citizens are in mourning over their passing, despairing over their future. They just cannot resist this group of invaders. Yet, the invaders are celebrating every day, laughing every day. The invaders will seem like demons trying to assimilate the citizens. Although the citizens do not have a choice, they will only feel more hatred as time goes by.”
“Eventually, the hatred will peak and turn into an extremely horrifying force?” Gu Han speculated, inhaling sharply.
“Remember, no matter who it is, no one can resist the wrath of the sea of citizens. When the waves of rage surge over, it will be like the heavens crumbling and the earth breaking. It will be unblockable,” Gu Hai said seriously.
“Hiss!” Gu Han inhaled sharply.
“Adoptive Father, this child did not imagine that these insignificant firecrackers and fireworks hid such dangerous applications. To think that they can affect the people’s hearts!”
“The people’s hearts are the strongest. Likewise, the people’s hearts are the most fragile. This is just the start to killing their hearts!”
After Gu Hai finished, he placed another Go stone on the Go board.