Ravaging Times

series 3 chapter 1

{Wei Yan}

[Wei Yan]: Zhuge Liang… it’s not fair… it’s not fair!
(“I can’t accept this”)

In 234 AD, chaos broke out within Zhuge Liang’s army after his death.

During the Mourning Period, Chief Clerk Yang Yi and General-in-Chief who Conquers the West Wei Yan accused each other for plotting a mutiny.

{Jiang Wei}
Palace Attendant Dong Yun, Chief Clerk (at court) Jiang Wan and the likes sided with Yang Yi to oppose Wei Yan. Three days later, Jiang Wei and Yang Yi attacked Wei Yan in Hanzhong…

{flag reads: Commander, Jiang}

[Zhang Jian]: Excuse me,

[captain]: Halt! Which team are you from!

[ZJ]: I am a servant of the Prime Minister (ZGL).
[ZJ]: He left a letter for Overseer Jiang.

[Jiang Wei]: Prime Minister’s letter? For me?

Chen Mou
chapter 1

The Last Pillar

Not Human series (3)

Bo Yue, I’m sure that you would have gained control of the situation by the time you receive this letter…

Having had caused today’s predicament, I feel inexcusable, and it fills me with regret.

Back then, I had first wanted to serve Jingzhou’s Liu Biao, thus I went to Jiangxia first for an interview with Huang Zu, who was in charge of defense there.

[?]: If the enemy surrounds our army, mister,

[?]: and cuts off both our communication and supply lines, what should we do?

[Zhuge Liang]: If we want to win, then we must try to break through immediately, and never try to defend till the end.

[ZGL]: During the counter-offensive, the leading troop should deploy the “Four Force-Charger Formation”.
(see footnote)

[ZGL]: First a surprise attack with the cavalry,

[ZGL]: with chariots as backing;

[ZGL]: the purpose of this battle is to startle the enemy,
[ZGL]: from which point on the counter-offensive will proceed smoothly.

[?]: Another question, mister. If our army has broken through,
{Huang Zu}

[?]: and wants to take this chance to defeat the enemy, how can we achieve it?

[ZGL]: Good question. First we must use the left and right flank to attack the enemy on two fronts.

[ZGL]: We should favor more side-assaults and avoid direct confrontation.
[ZGL]: We must never scatter our forces, while the middle force should continuously attack the enemy by shifts. Assault their front when they advance, and assault their back when they retreat.

[ZGL]: This way, we can still win even against a larger number.

[Huang Zu]: Mm, what does everyone think?

[Wei Yan]: General, this is the Speed-assault Tactic of “Six Teachings“.

[WY]: I’ve used it before as well, but I have a different interpretation.

[HZ]: Oh, Wen Chang, do tell.

[WY]: As they say, northerners are good on horseback while the southerners are good on water. Therefore the outcome depends on the cavalry.

[WY]: Our Jingzhou’s force is mainly composed of marines and infantry, not so many in cavalry.

[WY]: Not to our advantage.

[WY]: Northern armies have very powerful and experienced cavalries.

[WY]: We will lose if we just send out our riders casually.

[WY]: Right now we have three thousand riders, and one thousand war chariots.

[WY]: But how many do you think the enemy has?

[WY]: To the north, Yuan Shao has a hundred thousand riders.

[WY]: Cao Cao also has about fifty thousand; to the west, Liu Zhang has forty thousand.

[WY]: To the northwest, Ma Teng also has thirty thousand.

[WY]: And we mustn’t overlook a lurker in Xinye,

[WY]: a man who has secretly gathered a mighty cavalry of two thousand – Liu Bei.

[soldier x]: Wei Yan you bastard! Are you suggesting that Ambassador Liu intends to take over Jingzhou?

[soldier y]: Imperial Uncle Liu is an honorable man.

[HZ]: Quiet…

[soldier z]: Hmph! Jingzhou would’ve been gone had it not been Ambassador Liu who defended our northern border!

[soldier w]: You’re “full of vengeful bones”!
(something about Wei Yan with a protruding bone on the back of his skull; by superstition, I think it means the person is likely to betray others)

[WY]: Mister, do you still think this formation will work?

[ZGL]: Sorry, I’m only here to discuss formations, not to debate.

[WY]: Hmph! I say you’re way too naive!
[WY]: You think two-legged can outrun four-legged?

[ZGL]: Yes, but do you want to hear the explanation, General?

[WY]: Hahaha! Right, I forgot that you people are good at tactics. Where were my manners!

[WY]: Whatever you will say, aren’t they just from the books?

[WY]: You can memorize books, but couldn’t the enemy do so as well?

[WY]: You wind-bags! I’ve seen plenty of your kind!

[ZGL]: How can you disgrace the experience of our ancestors like this?

[ZGL]: As if you have a better method?

[WY]: I only need one method.

[WY]: Since the difference in number is so great,
[WY]: the outcome then depends on the commander.

[soldier]: Look, Wei Yan and his grand theory again.

[WY]: Before deploying the formation, assign a Supreme Commander to be in charge of an ambush on the side. His cavalry will attack the enemy Commander by surprise.

[WY]: Just once will be enough to disrupt them, making the Commander uncertain about the number of ambushes we have.

[WY]: When the Commander is scared he will retreat.

[WY]: Your target is the army. My target is the Commander.

[ZGL]: Oh, capture the leader.

[ZGL]: So are you saying that YOU are that Supreme Commander?

[ZGL]: Or are you saying your strategies are comparable to the “Six Teachings” and the “Book of Changes“?

[ZGL]: To capture the rebels you capture their leader first. Does Jingzhou have such a mighty Supreme Commander?

[ZGL]: Sadly he and I have never crossed path!

[soldier]: This guy thinks so little of us!

[WY]: Bastard!

[ZGL]: Hahaha!

[WY]: What’re you laughing at?

[ZGL]: Military texts say, a great commander would be happy to meet a talent.

[ZGL]: He, who has a tolerant and resolute personality, would humbly accept others’ opinions.

[ZGL]: I was just testing you, and I say you’ll never become a Supreme Commander!

[WY]: You…

[WY]: Boy… how dare you mock me!
[soldier]: Wen Chang, calm down!

[WY]: Or I’ll kill you too!

[HZ]: Wen Chang!

{sfx: dang!}

[Huang Zhong]: Not again you brat!

[WY]: Old geezer!

[Zhong]: You chased away the last one,

[Zu]: Oh!

[Zhong]: and almost killed this one. What’s the matter with you, huh?

[soldier 1]: Oh no, General Huang Zu’s heart is acting up again!
[soldier 2]: Doctor! Go get a doctor!

[Zhong]: You should get away while you still can, mister.

[Zhong]: Someone else will take you if we don’t. Have hope.

[HZhong]: You don’t even want these precious books anymore?

[ZGL]: Ay! I bring shame to my ancestors.

[HZ]: Ay, how can you young people lose hope so easily!

[HZ]: We see people like you everyday.

[HZ]: Those so-called Advisors have caused us a lot of suffering in the recent years,
[HZ]: and that last one only knew what the books say, ay…

[HZ]: That Wei Yan fellow was too reckless; don’t mind him, don’t mind him.

[ZGL]: How can I rise above the crowd?

[ZGL]: Tell me, old General.

[HZ]: Reputation.

[HZ]: It’s reputation.

[HZ]: Strive for a good reputation. The better it is the less others will ridicule you. The louder it is the more likely you’ll serve a lord.

[HZ]: It’s a screwed up reality, but reputation is everything. Go home and think about what I said!

[HZ]: Striving for a reputation; you young people are really blessed!

[HZ]: We old folks don’t have the opportunities anymore, ay…
Years later, this old man fought Guan Yu at Changsha and made a name for himself. I recommended him to my former Lord. He accomplished many great tasks and became one of the Five Tigers. He died during battle in the following year.

冲阵, “Four Force-Charger Formation” (my translation), some claimed it’s just 盒形阵 “Box-shaped Formation”;
This formation was mentioned in Jiang Zi Ya’s “Six Teachings” text, its setting being the Zhou dynasty. A friend of mine told me that Cavalry didn’t exist then, and only until later during the Han dynasty did Cavalry start to become significant. If that’s the case, then my first impression that this formation involves a square-shaped lineup with chariots/cavalry on the outer parameter and infantry in the middle doesn’t work in the “Six Teachings”‘ context. My friend then told me about 刚车, which is a type of horse-less cart that’s originally used to carry food supplies. It is reshaped to fit soldiers in it, who wield shields to protect themselves. Spearheads are attached all along the outside of this cart, like a hedgehog. This formation is useful when the army is trying to break out of an enemy encirclement.

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