Chapter 348 – Hunting for He Xing
Budugen, the current young leader of Xianbei Tribe, was overseeing 15,000 men of Gongsun Du Army.
The Xianbei Tribe was one of many tribes among the northern lands beyond the Great Wall of China. Unlike the aggressive Xiongnu Tribe, Xianbei under Budugen was less aggressive.
In history, after Cao Cao defeated the Wuhuan Tribe along with Yuan Shao's sons in the year 207, Budugen sent tributes and formed a peace treaty with the future Wei Empire. As a result, his Xianbei Tribe maintained a peaceful relationship with the northern warlord.
Unfortunately, the relationship between the northern tribes was similar to the relationship between the warlords of China. Tribal chieftains also struggled for the supremacy over the other tribes for resources.
In 224, Budugen formed an alliance with Cao Pi to eliminate his rival, Kebineng.
But a politician's mind could not be predicted as Budugen formed an alliance with Kebineng to attack the Wei Country together in the year 233.
In the end, Kebineng betrayed Budugen and killed him later.
The Budugen in this world had not suffered a significant defeat yet, so he was confident that his tribesmen could reap profits from this alliance with Gongsun Du.
Several scouts returned with reports.
"I've received a report from Gongsun Du that the empress has escaped, and she's running away into our net. Yet, none of you found her!?"
All of the scout teams found nothing but deserters and peasants, which nothing proved worthy of Budugen's attention.
"Is there any report about a sighting of a noblewoman?"
"N-No, my lord!"
"Bunch of idiots!"
Budugen tossed a bamboo scroll at the scout captain.
"If you find any stray with women, capture all of them! One of them might disguise as a peasant! Remember, she has a son, so she will appear along with her disguised family!"
All scouts left Budugen's commanding tent, leaving him and his guest alone.
Budugen turned to his guest, who was a middle-aged man in his 40s.
He was Cheng Yu, one of Cao Cao's best advisor!
"She'd better be here as you predicted, old man."
Cheng Yu sighed, "It was not even a prediction. It's a fact."
"If none of them can find He Xing, I'll be claiming your life."
"Haiz, so young, so impatient. Very well, so be it. But for now, I'll take my rest."
Cheng Yu bowed and retreated to his tent. Once he arrived, he found Xiahou Dun in there.
Xiahou Dun opened his eyes, waking up from his nap, "How's the search?"
"Messy and terrible. You can't count on these barbarians after all."
Before both of them arrived here, Cao Cao and Pu Jing made many moves behind the scenes.
First, Pu Jing knew about the discontentment among the Gongsun Clan to Gongsun Zan, so he sent a diplomat to negotiate Gongsun Du for an alliance. He offered assistance for his rebellion against his clan master.
Gongsun Du accepted the offer without hesitation. He marched his troops south in disguise as Gongsun Zan's reserve troops after Gongsun Zan had deployed his men to Luoyang.
Because of the coalition, Xu Huang's Silver Axe did not stop them from entering their territories!
Instead of moving to the gathering location and assault Hulao Gate together with other ally forces, Gongsun Du camped south of Ye City, claiming that he wished to restock supplies before he continued marching.
Sima Fang, who acted as a temporary governor, believed in Gongsun Du's words. He allowed the convoys of Gongsun Du to come and go between Ye City and his camps.
After Cao Cao's forces retreated from the chaotic coalition, Cao Cao sent Cheng Yu and Xiahou Dun north to meet with Gongsun Du, whom Pu Jing had been secretly contacted before the gathering.
Cheng Yu spread words to Gongsun Du that the empress was traveling along with Gongsun Zan's forces, and they requested his aid for capturing the empress and her son.
They claimed that the empress had been suppressed by Tong's forces, and Cao Cao wished to rescue the empress for the Han Dynasty.
Obviously, Gongsun Du did not care about the Han Dynasty. As long as Gongsun Zan was dead, he did not care who would become the overlord of the new country since he planned to devour everyone else later.
However, the threat of Tong's forces was too significant to overlook. After absorbing Gongsun Zan's territories, their borders would connect with Tong's.
To weaken Tong's armies, Gongsun Du accepted Cao Cao's terms, and another alliance against Zhang Tong between Cao Cao and Gongsun Du was formed.
Although Cheng Yu did not know how Gongsun Du collected many tribe leaders into his forces, he did not put any importance to them.
"We should get ready to leave soon."
Xiahou Dun frowned, "Are we not going to wait for the empress?"
"Our objective has been completed. We've sowed discord between Gongsun Clan and Zhang Tong, and they'll be busy fighting each other for years. Our lord will have more times to expand and consolidate the central plain."
6 AM, a new day.
Zhao Yun and He Xing continued traveling on foot, except Liu Xie who rode on Zhao Yun's neck.
The journey was slow as they trekked through the forest, and they were walking along the shallow river they found.
At first, Zhao Yun planned to head north, but he changed his mind when He Xing confessed about the clan chat.
Zhao Yun was amazed by the details of the chat, which He Xing recited it to him from the part which all strategists brainstormed for a counter plan against Gongsun Du.
Furthermore, Zhao Yun could use He Xing as a medium to contact Lu Zhi and others.
"Can you ask lord Lu Zhi about Tian Yu? How is he at the moment?"
He Xing: "Zhao Yun asked about Tian Yu's condition. Is he fine?"
Lu Zhi: "Ah, that boy is doing alright, minus the part where he messed up his bodyguard duty, though."
Lu Zhi: "I'm lecturing him as we're marching. We plan to follow your trail from behind, so you can backtrack if you encounter the enemies."
Lu Zhi: "Also, our camp was raided last night, but it was a probing attack from horse archers."
Lu Zhi: "It was the right decision not to regroup with us, your majesty."
Lu Zhi: "Had you been with us, you might have suffered an injury. Those guys intentionally aimed at your tent."
He Xing: "I see that you're having difficulty."
He Xing read the chat logs as they traveled since they had nothing to talk about. It gave Zhao Yun a broader vision about the current movements about the ambush and troops.
"Where is Sima Fang's army, your majesty?"
"He wants us to detour east first and head north. We have to avoid Ye City since they are planning to trap Gongsun Du here."
"What about our destination?"Find authorized novels in Webnovel，faster updates, better experience，Please click for visiting.
"Probably Zhao County or Ganling Commandery. The Silver Axe Legion is moving to Ganling, and Sima Fang's reserves are blockading east of Ye City. Sir Li Feihong said we can also stay in the wilderness until he comes to pick us up in three days."
"So many options!"
"Yes, everyone is working hard to help us."
Once again, Zhao Yun was impressed by the teamwork and the brains behind Tong's forces. No matter how many mistakes they made, someone would appear to cover for their weaknesses.
Zhao Yun could choose if he could backtrack south to Lu Zhi, travel northeast to Ganling, or they could even be lazy and not moving, so Li Feihong would come to rescue them.
Working with these talented people gave Zhao Yun a new experience.
'But I can't be a burden! I can't drag them down!'
Zhao Yun motivated himself. He swore that one day, he would become someone who could be relied on like these talented officers.
Gongsun Du returned to his main camp with all his surviving soldiers.
He was in a bad mood. Yesterday, his forces charged into Lu Zhi's spear wall formation and suffered heavy casualties. In the end, only 500 men made it back.
Wang Men and his men also returned after they attempted to raid Lu Zhi's camp. During the raid, they confirmed that He Xing was inside the camp. As many guards and servants presented around her tent, and her shadow could be seen from the outside, Wang Men concluded that the empress had regrouped with Lu Zhi.
In the grand commander's tent, Gongsun Du sat on the main seat. Budugen and Wang Men stood by his sides while the other squad commanders lined in rows and columns.
Gongsun Du stared at his men. He rolled his eyes around in deep thought before he spoke to everyone, "It's confirmed that He Xing is with Lu Zhi, but I don't think it's worth it to fight them anymore."
Budugen raised his eyebrows, "What about the promise with Cao Cao?"
"I don't give a fOOk! He didn't do crap shit for our cause. His diplomat and bodyguards also left our camp last night. It's obvious that they are using us. Why should we work and waste our resources for them? If they want to secure the empress, let them come and get her themselves!"
"So, are we retreating then?"
"That's obvious! Don't forget that this Xu Huang is creeping behind our back, and there are troops in Ye City. We're in the enemy's territory, and we poked a hornet's nest, so they will come for us soon. We will take the initiative and retreat as quickly as possible before they assemble an army to retaliate! Send my order, pack up, and full retreat!"
Budugen frowned as he disliked how indecisive Gongsun Du was.
As he was disappointed in this Han warlord, he thought of many reports he got last night.
Many of them were reports about the spotting of running-away peasants.
Thinking at this point, Budugen stepped forward, "Lord Gongsun, please listen to my idea first."
"What? Make it quick."
"I think the empress in Lu Zhi's camp is a bait."
Wang Men glared at Budugen. Calling it a bait equaled telling him that his info was false, and it was a slap to his face.
In anger, Wang Men yelled, "On what basis do you think my intel is fake? I saw them with my own eyes!"
Budugen retorted, "And did you see the empress in person?"
"I saw her shadow!"
"Shadow? Really?" Budugen laughed, "I think we fell for Lu Zhi's trick here. Do you think that an old fox like him is naïve enough to decorate a tent keep the empress entertain for an entire night?"
"What do you mean?"
"If I were Lu Zhi, I would have hidden the empress within an unnoticeable tent of a common soldier without erecting a royal tent at all! This move will give us a vibe that they do not have the empress, and it will make us scramble around searching for the non-existence runaway empress, no?"
Everyone stared at Budugen with widened eyes.
"You mean …"
Budugen bellowed, "The empress isn't with Lu Zhi! She's running away somewhere, and Lu Zhi is acting as a bait! The real empress should have disguised herself as a commoner and are wandering somewhere in the wild right now!"
Gongsun Du stood up in shock. He commented Budugen with his eyes as he gave a new order.
"Cancel the retreat! Form teams and start searching! Once we have the empress, Zhang Tong can't retaliate against us! Do whatever it takes to capture her alive!"
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