The Song City was the imperial capital of the Song Kingdom. In a desolated area of the imperial capital of Song was a mansion which was named “Tian Mansion”.
It was already late at night, but there were lamps illuminating the main reception hall of the Tian Mansion.
In the big hall, there were only 2 people, one of whom was Gu Hai.
Gu Hai’s body was dusty, as though he have rushed over from a long journey. There was one difference in his looks, his previously snow-white hair was now jet-black.
The other was a man in a yellow robe, he was about 30 years old, he had a square face and thick eyebrows, while his eyes were bright and full of expression.
“Godfather, you came really quickly!” The man in the yellow robe handed a hot towel to him and smiled.
Gu Hai received it and gently wiped his face and hands before he returned it to the man in the yellow robe.
“I’m old already, in a few more years, I will no longer be about to run around, I cannot fail this time!” Gu Hai said in a solemn voice.
The man in the yellow robe was Gu Han. Gu Han immediately brewed a cup of tea and respectfully served it to Gu Hai.
“Godfather, did the Clear River Sect’s leader agree?” Gu Han asked in anticipation.
Gu Hai nodded his head: “That’s right, or else why would I be here!”
“That’s great, If Godfather can break through the Xiantian realm, Our Gu Clan will be prosperous for another hundred years. No! All Godfather is lacking is just an opportunity, once you break through, no one would be able to stop Godfather!” Gu Han said with a trace of excitement.
“I watched you brothers grow up, your Natural Endowments are excellent beyond compare, even without me, sooner or later the path to immortal cultivation will be opened!” Gu Hai laughed.
“No, Eldest brother and I both believe in Godfather!” Gu Han said in a deep voice
“Alright, Gu Qin has impersonated me and have taken the commanding position of the Chen Kingdom in the Tiger Cage Pass. Gao Xianzhi might attack at any moment, and we are short on time First, tell me about the matters in the Song Kingdom, for I have not been to the Song Kingdom for more than 10 years! In this battle between the two nations, are there any unusual issues?” Gu Hai said in a solemn voice.
Gu Han’s expression turned solemn and nodded his head: “Yes there is, by the orders of the Song emperor, Gao Xianzhi was appointed as the General for the expedition against the Chen Kingdom, he is completely free to mobilize all the troops as he wishes. However, the Song Emperor was worried and he designated the crown prince as vice general, and he was dispatched together with the army probably as a method to keep an eye on Gao Xianzhi. But, the crown prince has no military authority. I have been in the Song Kingdom for 8 years, and have been responsible for managing all the stores here. And according to Godfather request, I changed my name to Tian Han. All these years, I have fully supported the Crown Prince financially, to the point where his promotion from a regular prince to Crown Prince was due to our support. Thus, I have already gained the trust of the Crown Prince!”
“Crown Prince?” Gu Hai’s expressions changed slightly.
“Throughout the years, I believe you have collected plenty of information on the officials of the Song Kingdom?” Gu Hai asked.
“Yes, I even organized them into volumes!” Gu Hai nodded his head.
“Bring all the information on the officials to me now, I need to do some research on how to oppose this country with that information.”
“Father, you have rushed all the way here, why don’t you take a rest first?” Gu Han said worriedly.
“There’s no need, time waits for no man, quickly!” Gu Hai said in a solemn voice.
“Yes!” Gu Han replied.
Clear River Sect, Sect’s Main Hall.
The Clear River Sect’s leader and the Song Jia Sect’s leader were accompanying the Reverend Liu Nian and the young lady as before.
Everyone was looking at the map.
“Reverend Liu Nian, will you make an analysis of the situation? How would the armies of the two nations move?” The young lady asked.
“The army of Gao Xianzhi has high morale, they should immediately capture the Tiger Cage Pass with one go. Whereas, with the death of the Chen King, the Chen Army has low morale, so now is the best time to attack. Furthermore, this Gu Hai is only a merchant, he only just entered the battle and took the commanding position, the soldiers would be jealous. Gao Xianzhi is an extremely wise person, he should dive right in, and use the elite troops to make a blitz attack and immediately storm the Tiger Cage Pass. This way, the Chen Kingdom would not be able to resist and the war will come to an end!” Reverend Liu Nian said solemnly
“Oh, aren’t you looking down on Gu Hai?” The young lady was curious.
“It’s no use, he can’t make it in time! That Gao Xianzhi is not stupid, how can anyone strike back at him?” Reverend Liu Nian said as he smiled.
Suddenly, there was a loud shout coming from outside the main hall.
“Ha, the message has arrived, let’s see if Reverend Liu Nian’s analysis is right or wrong.” The young lady laughed.
Very soon, a man dressed in white entered the main hall.
“Greetings to the sect leader, Hall Master, Clear River Sect’s leader!” The man in white said.
“How is it? Has Gao Xianzhi’s army conquered the Tiger Cage Pass yet?” The Song Jia Sect’s leader asked.
However, that man in white shook his head: “They did not overrun the Tiger Cage Pass yet, instead, they have stopped and slowly annexed the surrounding cities.”
“Oh?” Reverend Liu Nian was slightly surprised.
“What is going on?” the Song Jia Sect’s leader squinted his eyes.
“This disciple has been following by Gao Xianzhi’s side, and the moment I receive any news, I send it here. Originally, after defeating the three passes, he reorganized the 800 thousand soldiers and was preparing to send 500 thousand soldiers to slowly annex the surrounding cities, leaving 300 thousand soldiers to storm into the Tiger Cage Pass with Gao Xianzhi. However, suddenly, when the news came that the Chen Kingdom has hired Gu Hai, Gao Xianzhi immediately stopped!” The man in white reported.
“Oh? Because of Gu Hai?” The Clear River Sect’s leader’s eyes were brightly lit.
The man in white unwillingly nodded his head.
“How is this possible? That Gu Hai is just an old man who has his one foot in grave, why is Gao Xianzhi so afraid of him?” The Song Jia Sect’s leader eyes were wide open.
The man in white bitterly said: “Gao Xianzhi’s reaction was very intense. He immediately sent a letter back to the Song Emperor saying to monitor all the merchants in the nation to prevent the merchants from causing disorder, and at the same time, to control all the grain stores and medicine stores to prevent Gu Hai from cutting off supplies from the army!”
“Gao Xianzhi is too sensitive, he’s just a small merchant, how can he affect the battle? Grain store? Medicine store? Can Gu Hai affect the whole nation?” The Song Jia Sect’s leader asked angrily.
The man in white bitterly smiled and said: “This disciple asked him the same thing, Gao Xianzhi said he can!”
The Song Jia Sect’s leader was stupefied: “…!”
“Hahahahahaha!” The Clear River Sect’s leader was instead in a good mood.
Reverend Liu Nian and the young lady exchanged surprised looks.
“What is the situation now?” the Song Jia Sect’s leader asked in a sullen voice.
“From what I heard, the situation is under control, the Song Kingdom sent a large number of soldiers to secure sufficient food and medicines for the army at the front lines, in order to be absolutely safe!” The man in white said.
“Since food and medicine are secured, why haven’t they attacked?” Song Jia Sect’s leader asked in a sullen voice.
“Gao Xianzhi said, now, the priority is to annex the surrounding cities, in order to cut off the chances of the Chen Kingdom being able to counterattack! Thus, the attack to Tiger Cage Pass has been put on hold. Gao Xianzhi said to first wait for three-quarters of the land to be annexed first so that the people of the Tiger Cage Pass would be anxious, the longer they wait, the more fearful they will grow. When the time comes to capture the Tiger Cage Pass, they would not even need to attack!” The man in white said.
“Oh? Psychological warfare? However, it’s going to take a long time!” Reverend Liu Nian frowned.
The Song Jia Sect’s leader, who was at the side, also said: “Psychological warfare? How long is this going to drag on for? Isn’t Gao Xianzhi a divine strategist? He is afraid of an old man who appears out of nowhere?”
“This disciple also asked him the same thing!” The man in white smiled bitterly.
“Oh? What did Gao Xianzhi say?” Reverend Liu Nian asked curiously.
“Gao Xianzhi said, even though Gu Hai is a merchant, he is the best in the world at commanding troops!” the man in white smiled bitterly.
The Clear River Sect’s leader eyes were suddenly lit up. This was Gao Xianzhi’s evaluation! Best in the world? How could it be? After hearing Gao Xianzhi’s evaluation, the Clear River Sect’s leader was happy. Maybe the Chen Kingdom could overturn the situation.
“Best in the world at leading armies?” The young lady was immediately interested.
“Hall Master, these bunch of mortals’ scope are limited to this secular area. It is limited to within the six mortal nations, you can’t consider it true!” That man in white immediately burst into laughter.
“Stop speaking rubbish, Why did that Gao Xianzhi say that Gu Hai was the best in leading armies? Looking at the way he leads the army, Gao Xianzhi is incomparably confident and arrogant, why is he so cautious and timid now?” The young lady asked.
“Yes, this subordinate also asked Gao Xianzhi. Gao Xianzhi told me the truth, this Gu Hai used to lead armies in the past, furthermore, his results were shocking beyond compare!” The man in white replied.
“Oh? Why didn’t anyone reported that in the past? Didn’t you all say that he was always a merchant?” The young lady frowned.
“This matter was a secret, I did not know of it until earlier. Gao Xianzhi knows about it because his father told him that forty years ago, Gu Hai came out from nowhere. Back then, he was 30 years old. It was not known how he befriended the Chen Emperor Chen Taiji. Back then there were eight secular nations, amongst which the Chen Kingdom was the smallest. It had come to a point where the Chen Kingdom was suffering the threat of extermination, but Gu Hai quietly became Chen Taiji’s military advisor, helping Chen Taiji lead the army. In a short period of time, all the dangers were resolved. It even came to a point where under Gu Hai’s direction, the Chen army’s morale was so high, they were unrivaled!”
“Oh? Unrivaled?” the young lady asked out of curiosity.
“Yes, unrivaled, the other armies got smaller and smaller, but the army Gu Hai commanded was getting larger. Back then, numerous classical military tactics appeared, something like ‘surround the cities from the countryside’, ‘sparrow warfare’, ‘tunnel warfare’, ‘surround Wei, rescue Zhao’, ‘obtain safe passage to conquer Gao’, which I do not understand either. But Gao Xianzhi said in a familiar manner, these were the terms Gu Hai used in those days, he also used the military tactics to win battle after battle. In five years of continuous battles, he never lost even one. And the Chen Kingdom from the verge of extermination had come to destroying other nations. Back then, there were eight nations, but after the Chen Kingdom destroyed one, the other six nations were alarmed and allied together to rally against the Chen Kingdom!” The man in white recalled.
“From the verge of being exterminated to destroying a great nation, furthermore defending against the allied forces of six nations?” Reverend Liu Nian complexion changed slightly.
“Yes, Gao Xianzhi said, when Gu Hai commanded the army, it was divine, the six nations allied together but they still got played around in the palms of Gu Hai. Six nations, two million soldiers, yet they failed in the end, the Chen Kingdom carried on the momentum and destroyed another nation.” The man in white said solemnly.
“Destroyed another nation?” The young lady exclaimed in shock.
“Yes, the army that Gu Hai commanded was like rivers flowing into the sea, it can’t be stopped. They accepted everyone who came, even those who were enemies. Thus the Chen army grew larger and stronger, the Chen Kingdom became more and more tyrannical. In those times, Gao Xianzhi’s father was a famous general. He was a member of the allied army, but after a battle with Gu Hai, he lost confidence in his military abilities and returned home to retire. Gu Hai’s army was like a divine sword being unsheathed, wherever the blade pointed to, a trail of destruction followed. Back then, Gu Hai was prepared to destroy the five nations but the big sects interfered, stopping the momentum of the Chen Kingdom, putting an end to the wars! Even so, the remaining five nations were traumatized! For tens of years they did not dare to attack the Chen Kingdom.” The man in white explained.
The Clear River Sect’s leader frowned and said: “Back then, a few sects came to look for me, for the interest of the sects, I issued a decree, stopping Chen Taiji from engaging in further battles. So, it was not him leading the battles, but Gu Hai doing so from the dark?”
“Gu Hai’s military ability is actually so great?” The young lady’s eyes flickered with a bright gleam.
“Gao Xianzhi said, his father only found out by coincidence that Gu Hai commanded the armies. After he returned home and retired, he collected every information of every battle which Gu Hai commanded and organized them into books. Since Gao Xianzhi was young, he studied from these books, unceasingly pondering over every one of Gu Hai’s battles. Gao Xianzhi said that after many years of research, he deeply understood the terror of Gu Hai. Thus he chose the safest method to take down the Tiger Cage Pass!” The man in white said.
“You just said that Gu Hai continuously won hundreds of battles over five years and never lost a single one?” Reverend Liu Nian curiously asked.
“So many battles but he only used five years?”
“Yes, that’s what Gao Xianzhi said. He said that Gu Hai was able to engage in several battles at the same time, using five years of time to turn the Chen Kingdom, that was on the verge of destruction, to the strongest of the six nations. Only later, it was not known why, there was some disagreement with Chen Taiji, thus he stopped getting involved in the military and government, becoming a rich merchant. Even as a merchant, he managed to be the richest in the six nations!” The man in white smiled bitterly.
Within the main hall, everyone turned silent, because all these sounded very strange and uncanny.
[TLN: I kept the name as it is in the original, but now I will briefly explain all the tactics one by one
- Surround the cities from the countryside: The most direct meaning is breaking easy target first and then breaking the hard target. Here easy target are the rural areas and hard target are the cities. There are many other meaning or different way to interpret this strategy, but I think this will do. If anyone have some knowledge of other then please do tell.
- Sparrow warfare: Created by imitating sparrows foraging, basically it is Guerilla tactics.
- Tunnel warfare: General name for war being conducted in tunnels and other underground cavities
- Surround Wei, rescue Zhao: One of 36 Stratagems of Art of War. When the enemy is too strong to be attacked directly, then attack something he holds dear. Know that he cannot be superior in all things. Somewhere there is a gap in the armour, a weakness that can be attacked instead. The idea here is to avoid a head-on battle with a strong enemy, and instead strike at his weakness elsewhere. This will force the strong enemy to retreat in order to support his weakness. Battling against the now tired and low-morale enemy will give a much higher chance of success.
- Safe passage to conquer Gao: Borrow the resources of an ally to attack a common enemy. Once the enemy is defeated, use those resources to turn on the ally that lent you them in the first place.]