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A white armored cavalry sped along the plains. These were Liu Mang’s White Horses.

“General. Why are we going to Yuzhou and not Fancheng?” The deputy general, Zhao Yi, complained. They longed for a proper battle. However, they were going to Yuzhou instead of participating in the battle at Fancheng.

“This is the Lord’s orders!” Zhao Yun replied without beating around the bush.

“But…!” Zhao Yi still wanted to object but turned silent the moment he saw Zhao Yun’s expression.

“Who said there will be no battle unless we go to Fancheng? Our mission is extremely important!” Zhao Yun’s words placated Zhao Yi. However, there will be no battles unless they plan to besiege Yuzhou. At that moment, the only elites in Yuzhou were the Qingzhou Yellow Turbans. However, these people certainly won’t come out and fight. Were they going to go back harassing people at Yuzhou?

“Report!” A scout arrived while Zhao Yi was thinking. Zhao Yun had sent out many scouts, covering about fifty kilometers around him. He receive a report every hour.

“Continue scouting.” Zhao Yun said to his scouts.

“Yes.” The scout nodded and left. Not long later, another one arrived.

“Report. General, there are no troops in the South.”

“Keep scouting!”

“Yes!”

“General. What do you want to do?” Zhao Yi did not know what Zhao Yun wanted. They were far away from enemy cities so an ambush is unlikely. There was no need to be so careful.

If Zhao Yi was the general, he would immediately search for a shallow river down South. Then cross it and block the escape route of the enemies at Fancheng.

Zhao Yun did not reply. Another hour passed.

“Report! General! There are troops coming out from Gu City at the East!”

“They have finally sent out troops? What about Anle City?”

“There are no movements!”

“Looks like Anle does not have enough troops so only Gu is sending troops.” Zhao Yun explained.

“General. Are you going to attack Anle?” Zhao Yi asked. Anle was one of the cities in Yuzhou. He felt the motivation to attack when he heard Zhao Yun say its defenses weren’t strong.

“Who told you that?” Zhao Yun asked with a laugh.

“General! Didn’t you say that?” Zhao Yi was confused as there was nothing to do here.

Zhao Yun only had three thousand White Horses with him. With this number and the lack of siege weapons, it would be impossible to siege a city. Naturally, he would not attack Anle.

“Then are we going to kill the troops that got dispatched?” Zhao Yi asked in doubt.

“There is no need!” Zhao Yun simply waved his hand. He then waited for another hour.

“Report! The soldiers at Anle are moving out! They are heading towards Quewei Slope!”

“Oh.” Zhao Yun said as he looked at the map. He then analyzed the enemy’s intentions based on the information.

“Looks like Milord is right! Liu Bei will go to Yuzhou instead of Nanyang!” Zhao Yun said. This is because elites in Nanyang were the Xiliang Cavalry. The rest weren’t worth mentioning. Liu Bei must have already thought of an escape plan before attacking Fancheng.

“General. What are you saying?” Zhao Yi asked.

“Nothing.” Zhao Yun no longer had the time to explain things to Zhao Yi. “Zhao Yi. Weren’t you complaining about how there is no battlefield for you to fight in? Now, I will give you that chance!”

“Really?” Zhao Yi asked happily. He was initially happy when they had orders to help attack Fancheng. However, he ended being placed in the rear before having to regroup at Xinye. He felt jealous when he heard about the battle at Fancheng from the others who went there. Now he had the opportunity to fight.

“There are no jokes in military matters! Zhao Yi! Prepare to receive your orders!”

“This general is present!” Zhao Yi quickly lowered his head.

“Zhao Yi! You are to take two thousand men with you to fight against those soldiers that left Gu and Anle. Remember not to fight continuously. Stall them for at least six hours!

“Two thousand men?” The White Horses were shocked. They only had three thousand people. What about the remaining one thousand?

“This general accepts the order!” Zhao Yi replied. Two thousand men sounded like a small amount but their equipment and number of horses still made them a formidable force.

“The remaining one thousand will follow me!” Zhao Yun said. Without giving much explanation, he took one thousand men with him and immediately left.

“Let’s go! We are also going to meet Yuzhou’s troops!” Zhao Yi said and led his own group after watching Zhao Yun leave.

***

“This vibration…” Guan Ping muttered at the front of the formation. He was leading the troops dispatched from Gu under Guan Yu’s orders. His orders were to greet Liu Bei and transported food. In order to make this a success, Guan Yu had taken out half of his elites, which is about five thousand Qingzhou soldiers and another five thousand reserve soldiers. Another five thousand will be coming from Anle. This totaled up to fifteen thousand men. All of them will be used to transport provisions.

Guan Ping did not have Guan Yu’s experience but he could tell that a cavalry was coming.

“All soldiers! Take precautions!” Guan Ping warned. They were about to encounter a cavalry in the wilderness. Escape was nearly impossible. The only thing they could do was face the cavalry head on.

The five thousand Qingzhou Troops under Guan Ping were elites. They were quickly able to make a battle formation. Although messy, the other five thousand normal troops was also able to make a battle formation under the guidance of their military officers.

When the cavalry finally appeared, Guan Ping became nervous. His opponents all wore white and were too extravagant. Guan Ping did not dare believe his eyes. Each rider had two horse. This may be common to the warlords in the North but it was extremely luxurious at the Central Plains.

“Not bad!” Zhao Yi praised when he saw Guan Ping’s two formations. With a single glance, Zhao Yi could also tell who the elites were.

The first one was a Tortoise Formation made by reserve soldiers. It was not a difficult formation but it was good enough for reserve soldiers.

The elites were in a hook shaped formation. The frontline has to be a square while its left and right wing have to bent backwards in a hook shape. This formation was flexible in that it is easy to change to another formation, be it for attack or defense, depending on the situation.

“Hmph! You still think of fighting back? Not bad! But that depends on your enemy! Brothers! Let us enjoy our prey!” Zhao Yi raised his spear as both he his army charged at Guan Ping’s Army.

“The White Horses?” Guan Ping identified his opponent. He had heard of them from his father and two uncles that they were once Gongsun Zan’s subordinates. Guan Ping had also admired them. Now the target of his admiration were his enemies. Guan Ping felt his hand sweat.

“Ah! They are coming!” The reserve soldiers shouted in fear as they had never fought a charging cavalry before.

“Don’t panic! The enemy only have two thousand men! We are ten thousand! There is no need to fear them!” Guan Ping shouted loudly but the reserve soldiers were of poor quality. The White Horses shouting for blood also frightened them even more.

Guan Ping then threatened his soldiers with death if they were to break formation and run. The soldiers who thought of running immediately stopped, realizing that they only had a chance to live if they were to stand their ground.

“Not bad!” Zhao Yi felt respect for the enemy commander that was able to calm the soldiers.

Zhao Yi saw Guan written on the enemy banner and wondered if Guan Yu was the commander. However, it seemed as though the enemy commander looked different. Regardless, his mission was still the same.

“Brothers! Shoot them down!” Zhao Yi ordered and the White Horses took out their bows.

“Little General! Look!” Guan Ping’s deputy called out.

“Archers?” Guan Ping was shocked when he saw the White Horses take out bows and arrows.

“It must be a bluff!” Guan Ping immediately concluded as only the cream of the crops could do mounted archery. One would need to practice for at least ten years to achieve it. Guan Ping believed that only a few of them within the White Horses could actually pull it off. However, Guan Ping was soon forced to believe it when the White Horses pass by them and covered the sky with arrows.

“Argh!”

Guan Ping’s Army received heavy damage. The damage could have been lessened if Guan Ping had ordered them to raise their shields. Instead, hundreds of soldiers were killed in the volley.

“Shit!” Guan Ping never expected the White Horses to be able to pull it off. He ended up having to pay for his mistakes with the blood of his men.

“Little General! They are coming again!” Before Guan Ping could react, the White Horses had already started to make their second volley.

“Raise the shields!” Guan Ping quickly shouted and the shields were raised in time to protect them from many arrows.

“Wow. They have already learned how to block!”

“Change formation!” Guan Ping ordered. Even with the shields, there would still be some casualties. Slowly taking damage like this was not Guan Ping’s style.

“Little General?”

“I said change formation! Goose Formation!” Guan Ping shouted again.

“Yes!” The deputy nodded and waved the flag in his hand. The troops quickly moved as expected of elites. This is especially true for the ones trained by Guan Yu. Unlike Zhang Fei, Guan Yu was skilled in both his martial skill and training soldiers.

“So quickly?” Zhao Yi underestimated his enemy. He did not think the enemy could change formations so quickly.

“Raise the bows!” Guan Ping shouted. The Qingzhou troops from the Goose Formation took out their bows.

“Fire!” The two generals shouted and the arrows flew.

““What!”” Both Guan Ping and Zhao Yi exclaimed.

Zhao Yi could not believe that the White Horses lost out. Although they were riding a horse, it was not much difference to shooting on flat ground due to the stirrups. Yet, they weren’t able to cause serious harm to the enemy and while also received casualties.

Guan Ping was also surprised. Although he still had the advantage, his army had suffered heavier casualties. He even saw one person rode away unharmed with seven arrows on his body.

“Aren’t they supposed to be light cavalry?” Guan Ping could not understand why this light cavalry did not fear arrows.

“Change the horses!” Zhao Yi ordered. Several of his subordinates died while about hundred were injured during the last volley. Zhao Yi himself was struck by arrows. He would have bled badly if it was not for the silk armor.

“Milord’s silk cloth is really well worth its price!” Zhao Yi commented as he looked behind him. The ones that died were all unlucky. The arrows had struck in between their armor or in the head. The White Horses pulled out the arrows. Although the arrowhead was red, they had only suffered flesh wounds.

In ancient times, the arrows were had barbed heads. Its victims don’t die immediately. If one were to leave the arrow there, the barbed head would make the victim continue to bleed. On the other hand, pulling the arrow out may worsen the injury. That was why veterans break the arrows while leaving the arrowheads in their body. The arrowheads would only be taken out after the battle. Whether they survived or not depended on luck.

However, things were different with the silk cloth. Each soldier wore several layers of silk cloth under their leather armor. When the arrow struck the armor, its piercing power is reduced enough for it to get stuck in the silk cloth. As the barbed head would be wrapped in silk, it would not harm them as badly when the arrow gets pulled out.

Pulling out the arrows which should have been a painful experience was done without even a groan. After pulling out the arrows they stopped their bleeding. They also kept any arrows that did not break after they pulled it out.

“That’s right! The wind!” Zhao Yi suddenly remembered what Zhao Yun had told him when Zhao Yun taught him archery.

“It is the direction of the wind!” Zhao Yi laughed. He finally understood why the White Horses suffered casualties earlier. They had been charging against the wind, thus, their arrows won’t cause as much damage. On the other hand, the enemy’s arrows which followed the wind did more damage.

“Let’s try again! I want to see how they intend to block us this time!” Zhao Yi and the White Horses attacked again. This time, they had no casualties although a few people got injured while hundreds of enemies perished.

“Haha!” Zhao Yi and the others continued to shoot their arrows following the direction of the wind. Guan Ping soon lost over a thousand men.

“It’s the wind!” Guan Ping understood what happened but was unable to do anything about it. As they weren’t as mobile as the White Horses, they could only fight passively.

“Little General! If this goes on…!” One person reminded Guan Ping. They were losing over ten soldiers for every enemy killed.

“Inform the others that exchange ten of our lives for one of theirs is worth it!” Guan Ping said fiercely. He wanted the White Horses to exhaust themselves.

“Their arrows are limited!” Guan Ping said, believing that a cavalry would not carry that many arrows. However, this was Guan Ping’s mistake. The White Horses actually carried a lot of arrows with them. Liu Mang had initially made the White Horses with them using bows in mind.

The White Horses rode with two horse. One horse would carry their sword and bows. The other would carry their food and arrows.

Guan Ping lost another thousand men. Most of them were his elites as they shot arrows back. He only had about four thousand elites left. Meanwhile, over half of the reserve troops had already been killed.

“Circle Formation!” Guan Ping gnashed his teeth. The soldiers all formed shields in a circle like formation. They had truly become like a turtle.

“General!” The White Horses feared this formation the most as they were hard to attack. Zhao Yi himself would have started cursing in ordinary situations. Fortunately, this was not one of those ordinary situations.

“What is the time now?”

“General. It is around noon!”

“Noon.” Zhao Yi said as he looked at the sun. More than two hours had passed since the battle started. Zhao Yun’s orders was for them to delay the enemy for at least six hours.

“Let them stay as a turtle! After all, there is still time! Continue raining arrows down on them!” Zhao Yi ordered calmly.

Arrows continued to rain down on the enemy but thanks to Guan Ping’s formation, the number of casualties decreased. There were only about a hundred soldiers dead after three volleys.

“Little General! Are we going to wait until they stop shooting arrows?” One of Guan Ping’s officers asked.

“These arrows will probably continue raining down for a while!” Guan Ping shook his head.

“Then what do we do? At this rate, our army will be routed!” The officer was impatient. Although the casualties had decreased, they could not keep this up forever. On top of that, the morale was decreasing. The elites were still alright but the reserve troops were about to crumble.

“No!” Guan Ping shook his head. He did not believe that the whole army would get wiped out as the White Horses would run out of arrows first. However, Guan Ping was worried about his mission. His mission was to support Liu Bei at Quewei Slope, who is bringing back provisions from Fancheng.

“Not good! We are not their real targets!” Guan Ping’s eyes grew wide. The White Horses’ real objective was the provisions.

“Did they find out? But it is too late!” Zhao Yi noticed the changes in the Yuzhou Army. Four hours had already passed at that time. Zhao Yi simply needed to delay them for another two hours.

“General! They have started to move!” One soldier beside Zhao Yi shouted.

“Huh? What formation is this?” Zhao Yi became confused when he saw the enemy’s movements. It is as though the Yuzhou Army opened up and then some soldiers scattered out towards the White Horses.

“Are they tired of living?” Zhao Yi did not know what the enemy was thinking of. Could it be that the enemy has crumbled?

“Withdraw!” Zhao Yi had his men fall back as there was no need to advance. If the enemy was already routed, advancing to fight them would only result in unnecessary casualties for the White Horses. On top of that, the light cavalry was better at chasing people running away from them instead of towards them. He would have charged towards them if the White Horses were heavy cavalry.

“Something’s wrong! General! Look at their army!” Someone reminded Zhao Yi.

“That direction is…!” Zhao Yi saw Guan Ping and the others going towards Anle instead of Quewei Slope.

“They are trying to join up!” Zhao Yi remembered that there is another group of enemies dispatched from Anle. The Yuzhou Army must have intended to join up with those from Anle and then move towards Quewei Slope with this Circle Formation.

“We cannot let them pass!” Zhao Yi said coldly. As he had intercepted this army, he could not deal with the one from Anle. On top of that, the enemies from Anle aren’t that far away. They were only about five kilometers away from them.

The White Horses continued to shoot their enemies as they rode around them. They could not directly block the enemy’s path. Zhao Yi did not allow them to charge towards the enemy as the White Horses were too expensive. Each fully equipped White Horse cost as much as a hundred men.

The soldiers that ran out were all reserve troops. Guan Ping resolutely sacrificed them to be cannon fodder. The vacancies could later be replaced by the troops from Anle.

“Kill!” The White Horses killed two thousand men without stopping, stripping off the outer armor of the enemy’s formation. However, the Qingzhou elites remained safe.

“Little General! Look!”

“General! Look!” Both Guan Ping and Zhao Yi looked towards the same direction and found another five thousand troops. These are the soldiers from Anle.

“Haha! Anle’s defenders are here!” Guan Ping rejoiced. With these troops, they could keep fighting and press onward. The light cavalry would out of options.

“Have the reserve troops keep going!” Guan Ping ordered.

“Little General! We are out of reserve troops!” The officer replied. The reason why all the reserve troops complied to the death order was because Guan Ping had threatened them with the lives of their family. Their lack of morale also helped with their decision.

However, there were only a limited number of reserve troops. Only about a hundred soldiers were left.

“Then have the Qingzhou troops do it!” Guan Ping did not care. He wanted to accomplish the mission given to him by his father.

“Yes!” One of the 1000-men commanders helplessly nodded and left.

“So you are sacrificing them too? You’ve got guts!” Zhao Yi saw that about one thousand Qingzhou troops came out to stall him. Fighting against them directly would be too costly as the White Horses were expensive.

Gritting his teeth, Zhao Yi gave the order to go around them. Although they also continued to rain arrows down on their enemy, the detour cost them time.

He only needed to stall them for another two hours but the Yuzhou Army was already approaching Quewei Slope. More and more groups of soldiers rushed out to stall the White Horses.

“It’s the Quewei slope!” One officer cheered when he saw a slope the shape of a magpie’s tail. It was proof that their destination was near.

Only seven thousand troops out of fifteen thousand were left but this was unimportant. It was enough to set up a defensive perimeter. Liu Bei would also have troops of his own. All Guan Ping needed to do was help protect the provisions by setting up a camp and waiting for reinforcements.

“What is the time now?” Zhao Yi asked loudly. He was smart enough to realize by now that Zhao Yun was going after the enemy’s provisions.

“General. We still need to stall them for one more hour!”

“One more hour!” If these enemies appear behind Zhao Yun, the consequences would be dire. This is especially true since the White Horses will be restricted by the terrain. The Quewei Slope was narrow and rugged. All would be lost if the enemy managed to fortify their positions there.

“It is over!”

“Haha! The Quewei Slope is here!” They just needed to transport provisions and they would no longer have shortage.

“White Horses! Charge!” At this moment, another group of cavalry appeared from atop the slope.

“General?” Zhao Yi was shocked to see his general, Zhao Yun.

“Kill them!” The White Horses charge forward with their swords. Although they were light cavalry specialized in archery, their skill with also skilled with their swords. There was even one leading the charge with a spear.

“Form a line!” Guan Ping shouted but the soldiers were too exhausted. Even if they still had the strength to move, their morale were already rock bottom.

“We are defeated?” Guan Ping was stunned. When he was dispatched, he had ten thousand soldiers. When added together with the troops from Anle, it was fifteen thousand troops. Yet, they were defeated.

“Little General! Let us leave!” Guan Ping wanted to struggle but the high ranking officers in the Qingzhou Troops held onto Guan Ping. They could be defeated but the Guan Ping must not be allowed to die. If Guan Ping were to die, so would they. The only way to survive was to make sure Guan Ping survives as well. It did not matter whether Guan Ping agreed with them or not, they would drag him away.

“Chase them!” Zhao Yi shouted enthusiastically but Zhao Yun’s calm voice stopped him. Zhao Yi had no choice but to turn back.

“General! This one is incompetent! This one is unable to accomplish the mission!” Zhao Yi quickly knelt in front of Zhao Yun.

Zhao Yun then slapped him hardly in the face. Zhao Yi did not dare to voice his complaints.

“Do you know where you have gone wrong?” Zhao Yun asked calmly.

“This general is unable to complete the mission!” Zhao Yi replied.

However, Zhao Yun was not satisfied with this answer. He sneered and pointed at the White Horses. “The White Horses are cavalry! Cavalry! Milord’s elites! They aren’t supposed to be cowards! Besides the bow, you also have your swords!”

Zhao Yi’s mistake was that he continuously avoided direct confrontation even though they were cavalry.

“Get up!” Zhao Yun did not rebuke Zhao Yi any further and commanded. “Each person take one horse! Gather up the remaining horses!”

Zhao Yi did not understand but did as ordered. There were horses that was killed and also those whose legs had been cut off. In total, they had lost about five hundred horses.

“This is…!” Zhao Yi and the others were led through the narrow path where they found carriages full of provisions.

“General! This provisions are…?”

“This is a portion of Liu Bei’s provisions obtained from Fancheng. There is also gold and silver!” Zhao Yun explained. There were about two hundred thousand provisions here and also gold. This was about half of what Liu Bei obtained in Fancheng.

If this provision reaches Yuzhou, they would regain its vitality and will once again be able to threaten Liu Mang. Nearby the carriage were also plenty of prisoners that looked at Zhao Yun with fear in their eyes. How could they not be afraid when their general was slain in less than three bouts.

They were just defenders from Nanyang classified as second rate troops. They all quickly surrendered.

“Take them with us back to Yangzhou!” Zhao Yun said and then collapse. Fortunately, Zhao Yi was there to support Zhao Yun. Zhao Yi then found out that Zhao Yun was injured.

“General! General!” Zhao Yi shouted as Zhao Yun fainted. It was not only the Nanyang defenders that guarded the carriage but also the Xiliang Cavalry, led by someone named Zha Muhe. Liu Mang had miscalculated. He never expected Liu Bei to use the Xiliang Cavalry to escort the provisions. Zhao Yun could have won easily if he was heavy cavalry like before. However, the current White Horses were light cavalry. Without any advantage in both time and terrain, Zhao Yun ended up risking himself as he led his one thousand White Horses to defeat one thousand Xiliang Cavalry and several thousand defenders.

Liu Bei’s subordinates knew that they could surrender to anyone except Liu Mang. This is because Liu Mang was known to execute Qiang ethnics that had Han blood on their hands. They knew they would die even if they surrender.

After two and a half hours, half of the White Horses were killed while the rest were injured. Zhao Yun himself was seriously injured. On the other hand, the entire Xiliang Cavalry were completely routed. Their general Zha Muhe was slain. The remaining defenders surrendered. When Zhao Yun fought at the Quewei Slope, he was merely persevering.

***

“Zilong is injured?” Liu Mang became restless when he heard this information. Zhao Yun was the person he thought most highly of amongst his group. This is because Zhao Yun was skilled, good at training soldiers and above all, loyal.

Liu Mang had already obtained the provisions and gold before the war had even started thanks to Zhao Yun but Liu Mang was still uneasy because of Zhao Yun’s injury.

“No. I must return to Yangzhou!” Liu Mang was so worried he could not sit still. He did not trust the ancient medication and wanted to use the modern medicines found in his room. There were only a little bit of it left, saved for emergencies. However, he was willing to use it on Zhao Yun.

“Milord! How can you go back to Yangzhou now?” Jia Xu quickly stopped Liu Mang. Liu Biao would not allow it. Even if Liu Biao allowed it, Liu Mang’s presence was vital for the cooperation of Jingzhou and Yangzhou in the battle for Fancheng. Liu Mang himself knew what kind of temper Lu Bu had and it would be disastrous if Lu Bu were to turn against his own allies. That was why Liu Mang could not leave.

“What should we do now?”

“Stay calm! Even if you go back now, you would not be in time for General Zilong’s treatment!”