Chapter 39: Sometimes, Adding Lies is Better than Seeing the Truth
As Zhao Kuo placed down his brush, the fresh handwriting on the new bamboo slips were almost the exact replicas of the original ones.
Hundreds of thousands of lives. Just because of this little thing, they will fight to the death. After this war, my name, Zhao Kuo, will certainly be cursed for ages. Ten thousand years is not enough to calm it.
His expression was wooden, but his eyes narrowed sharply.
Zhao cannot be allowed to collapse. Even if it ends in defeat, the battle will leave the Qin army too weak for a northern invasion. This is all the loyalty he can offer to his king.
Zhao Kuo looked at the slip, and after a deep breath, he shouted out to the guards outside, “Orders! Call the commanders for a meeting.”
Zhao army’s meeting tent.
One after another, the flaps of the entrance opened and yet another commander quietly sat down.
Zhao Kuo waited quietly in the main seat.
In the beginning, the commanders nearly all felt dissatisfied with this newly-arrived, green youngster becoming general. Their respect was only earned after he successfully repelled several Qin assaults.
But still, they speculated and doubted why the general would suddenly summon them. It was also their first time seeing their young general so serious and grim.
After all of the seats were filled, Zhao Kuo slowly placed the slip onto the table.
“Gentlemen, the day of the Qin army’s defeat is within sight.”
With a single sentence, the air in the tent seemed to solidify.
All eyes were focused on Zhao Kuo, urging him to continue.
It’s common knowledge that the Qin army six hundred thousand strong, but the Zhao army merely has a bit more than four hundred thousand. Adding onto this disparity, the mountainous terrain limits the Zhao’s ace units, their cavalry, and makes defeating the Qin army nearly impossible.
With two years of campaign and persistent food shortages, no one wants to stay in this wretched place where even birds don’t shit. But that’s not to say they wouldn’t wish to slaughter those six hundred thousand Qin dogs.
Zhao Kuo looked around and showed a confident smile on his face. “Yesterday, I received a personal decree from the King. By the end of the month, there will be three hundred thousand reinforcements and more than ten thousand units of supplies and food.”
As he spoke with great confidence, he cast another glance at the bamboo slip on the able. “If you don’t believe it, you can look at the message yourself.”
As his voice fell, a veteran commander sitting nearby directly took the slips without pleasantries and unrolled it quickly, scanning over it with his eyes.
Not long after, he clapped closed the bamboo slip. “Hahahaha.”
“Good! Good!” He shouted twice. His face was flushed red and aged, but his liveliness was just like a young teenager.
“Mo, what are you laughing at? Quickly, let me see!” The other commanders were beginning to turn restless.
Another person scrambled to snatch the bamboo slip, and eventually, it passed through the everyone’s hands. Although the tent was chaotic, laughter was everywhere. A like of proud joy surrounded the room.
“Good! This old man has always said that those Qin dogs were irritating to look at. If it wasn’t for them outnumbering us, who would fear them!? Good!”
“Yes! Spoken well!”
“Not yet. When that time comes, I can finally take away this frustration. For the last two years, I’ve never eaten a full meal.”
The tent was in a continued frenzy, and within it all, Zhao Kuo smiled remorsefully, unnoticed by anyone.
As the loud voices died down, another veteran commander sitting beside Zhao Kuo cupped his hands in a bow.
“General, whatever order you have, I will certainly complete it! This time, those Qin deserve to be massacred until none remain.”
Being repeated suppressed for more than two years, everyone felt like their hearts were suffocating in anger.
It’s time to repay that grievance with interest.
Zhao Kui sat quietly and there was no more of that seriousness on his face. Instead, he let out a few smiles, as if signaling that his previous stony-face was nothing more than an attempt to keep this good news a secret.
Zhao Kuo’s eyes scanned over the circle of people sitting around. He nodded slightly. “Then I will speak.”
“I have already coordinated this operation with the King. It can allow us to defeat the Qin army in one fell swoop.”
As he spoke, he stood up and pointed to the large, simply-drawn map hanging behind his seat.
“Two days later, when the Qin army comes to provoke us, we will rush out with four hundred thousand troops, leaving fifty thousand to guard the camp.
“We will attack head-on with our main force, attracting the Qin army’s attention. The three hundred thousand Zhao reinforcements will rush through the weakened Qin perimeter defenses. When the reinforcing army arrives at the battle, it will collide with the Qin’s undefended rear formations. The two Zhao armies will attack together and annihilate the Qin army.”
The plan is very simple, but the feasibility is quite high. If it’s like this, the reinforcing Zhao army can really change the tide of the battle and catch the Qin army by surprise.
“Good.” A veteran nodded but decided to ask after some hesitation, “General, it’s just, why don’t we wait for the reinforcements to arrive, attacking with our combined strength?”
Zhao Kuo shook his head. “If three hundred thousand troops entered the camp, the Qin will certainly take notice. Therefore, we need to first entangle with the Qin army to make the best use of our secret army. I also only called the reinforcements to be a supporting army, not to directly participate in the assault.”
“So it’s this.” The veteran nodded.
Zhao Kuo and the commanders discussed the matter for a long time. Even as the day passed the afternoon, the commanders have not yet left.
During the discussions, several commanders had some hesitation. After all, they haven’t had reinforcements for two years, so why now? But Zhao Kuo didn’t seem to be a suicidal commander, so they gradually fully accepted this news.
Waiting as the commanders all left.
Once Zhao Kuo sat in the empty tent, the smile on his face faded. Lowering his head, his hands were clutched in a tight fist.