Chapter 10 – Death
“Is Zhang Liao present?!” shouted Lu Bu. He began to give orders.
“This general is here!” Zhang Liao half kneeled on the ground.
“Zhang Liao, you are to be the vanguard. Your task is open up a path for our main army!”
“Yes!” Zhang Liao accepted the order.
“Is Gao Shun present?!”
“This general is here!” Gao Shun was also half kneeling on the ground. Being their lord, Lu Bu was like their master.
“Gao Shun, your Formation Breaker will be our rear guard. Your task is to provide cover and protection for our main army!”
“Yes!” Gao Shun knew that being the rear guard, his troops would most certainly be attacked by the Cao army when they try to withdraw from Xiapi. The casualty would certainly not be small. Nevertheless, he accepted the order without any hesitation.
“Brother Liu Mang!” Lu Bu gave the last order. “You are to lead your troops and follow in the middle of the army. Your task is to protect my family!” If it wasn’t for Liu Mang, Lu Bu likely would’ve already died in Xiapi.
“Yes!” Liu Mang tried to do as the two generals did earlier and also half kneeled down. This surprised Lu Bu because for regular generals their method of accepting an order is only holding one’s fist and only familial generals would half kneel down to accept an order.
“Congratulations Fengxian on receiving another great general!” A middle aged scholar said with a laugh while rubbing his beard. This person was the person that was captured by the Cao army earlier, Chen Gong, Chen Gongtai. Although Lu Bu was unable to kill Cao Cao, he managed to save Chen Gong – an unexpected delight.
Chen Gong too admired this young man called Liu Mang. Although he was young, he was able to rescue Lu Bu and even came up with such a stratagem. This raid of the Cao army barracks, if it wasn’t for that messenger, Lu Bu might really be able to kill Cao Cao. If he did, then both the Yan Province and the Xu Province will be set to chaos, free for Lu Bu to take over!
“Hehe!” Lu Bu smiled bitterly and shook his head. He already felt that sometime was wrong with this kid named Liu Mang from the first time he met him. From his actions to his speech, everything was inharmonious with this world. Say, was he a country boy that know of nothing? To be able to analyze people to well and also put forward plans and ideas, how could he possibly be a country boy that knows nothing? But, for him to not know even the basic manners… it really was a miracle.
“Maybe!” Lu Bu also didn’t know what Liu Mang was thinking. Even if he wanted to have Liu Mang be one of his familial generals, he still require Liu Mang to be willing to serve him.
“All army! We are to breakthrough!” Lu Bu climbed onto a maroon colored horse. With his order, the army soon began to break out of the enclosure.
Xiapi’s East Gate was burst open. Leading in the front was Zhang Liao’s troops of less than a thousand men. Following Zhang Liao’s troops was Lu Bu and Liu Mang, they led a couple hundred troops protecting a couple horse carriages and Lu Bu’s family. Finally, following behind and still on the other side of the East Gate was the Formation Breaker. They once numbered eight hundred but there was only seven hundred left. Majority of them are also wounded. Their task is to protect the frontal and middle army’s escape. They may have to face enemies numbering tens or hundreds times more than themselves. They may even face complete annihilation. But even then, they did not have the slightest fear. For they are the Formation Breaker!
Seeing that the last of the middle army soldier have passed through the gate, Gao Shun was ready to shut the East Gate and block it with sandbags. While doing such could delay the enemies, it also meant that the Formation Breaker would be stuck inside too. These seven hundred men was ready to fight till the death!
“Brothers! Are you afraid?!” Gao Shun, who usually never speaks, spoke.
“We are not afraid! We are not afraid!” The soldiers of the Formation Breaker replied to Gao Shun with voices full of morale.
Contrary to expectations, Gao Shun was unhappy and he even scold at them. “Bullshit! You are afraid, I am afraid, there’s nothing to be ashamed of! Within two hours, this gate will be completely blocked. Death? We’re all afraid of death! You don’t have to be ashamed of it! I, Gao Shun, am not an unreasonable man so If there is anyone who is afraid and regrets his decision, feel free to leave! I will not blame you for leaving!”
Not a single man uttered a sound. They were all looking at each other. On their face was expressions of struggle, reluctance and composure. They were not afraid of dying.
“Zhang Kui, step forward!” Gao Shun suddenly shouted a man’s name.
“General, I am not afraid of death! Not afraid of death!” shouted the man who Gao Shun called for.
“Did I say you are? No need to get excited!” Gao Shun laughed.
“Zhang Kui, you have followed me and been a part of the Formation Breaker ever since Bing Province!” said Gao Shun.
Zhang Kui nodded as if remembering something.
“Zhang Kui. From Jinyang County of Bing Province, the only son in the family!” Gao Shun said while looking at Zhang Kui.
“Is your mother still of good health?!” Gao Shun dragged on.
“Mother, my mother have passed away!” Sadness filled Zhang Kui’s eyes.
“Oh!” Gao Shun saw Zhang Kui’s expression and decided to not continue asking.
“Zhang Kui, this general orders you to cross the gate, discard your supplies and catch up to our lord!” said Gao Shun.
With this speech, Zhang Kui was made anxious. “General! Zhang Kui is not afraid of death! Not afraid of death! General, please allow me to stay! Please don’t abandon me!”
“You are the sole child of your family. If you died, then what will happen to your Zhang family?!” Suddenly, Gao Shun’s voice got louder. “Your mother has deceased, ever since you joined my army, you have not done anything filial. If you then die, how would I possibly face your mother in the next world?! Must I tell her that it’s because of I, Gao Shun, that your family will be without a hier? That it is I, Gao Shun, that caused the extinction of your Zhang family?! Are you trying to make me into an immoral man?!”
“General! This was not the intent of Zhang Kui, this was not the intent!” This man who kills people without even batting an eye on the battlefield was almost brought to tears.
“Scram!” Gao Shun said. “Telling you to leave is not me abandoning you, it is to let you catch up to the lord’s army. This is to leave a seed for our Formation Breaker! Gao Shun may die. Zhang Kui may also die. But the Formation Breaker, our lord’s Formation Breaker, cannot be extinguished!”
“General!” Zhang Kui knew that he cannot convince Gao Shun. He kneeled down onto the floor and started kowtowing at Gao Shun. Every kowtow of his hit the ground clearly and resounded. Soon, his head was bleeding.
Gao Shun did not pay attention to him and instead shouted loudly. “Lu Yi, Zhang Yao, Lu Jie, Cheng Yun, Hao Hao…….. Zhao Kai, step forward!” He pointed out some twenty people. “You all are to go with Zhang Kui, discard your supplies and catch up to our lord!”
“General, what is your intent by this? Even if all of them are the sole child within their family, I, Cheng Yun isn’t! I still have an older brother!” argued Cheng Yun.
Gao Shun looked at Cheng Yun and slowly muttered. “Right, right. You still have an older brother. You are not the sole child in your family. But where is your brother now?! He is in our hearts! He will always live in our hearts!” Cheng Yun’s older brother was named Cheng Fun. He was once a part of the Formation Breaker but he have since passed away on the battlefield.
“Scram! Scram! For your brother, you are to live! Understand?!” Gao Shun was almost shouting.
“Yes!” Cheng Yun held back his tears and accepted the orders. These twenty some men stood in a row. “Brothers, discard your supplies! Let’s go!” After saying that, a group of men left without even looking back. It wasn’t that they were heartless but rather that they feared that if they were to turn around, they would not be able to get themselves to leave!
“Hehe. I, Gao Shun, may die! My brothers too may die. But our Lord’s Formation Breaker cannot perish!” Gao Shun looked at these twenty some people that was leaving. He was gratified. With these men, certainly they will be able to set up a new Formation Breaker!
“A Formation Breaker without Gao Shun, would it still be the Formation Breaker?!”
“Who is it?!” The soldiers of the Formation Breaker found unknown individuals.
“General Wei?! General Song?!” Some of the soldiers recognized the two.
“Wei Xu, Song Xian, why did you come? Perhaps did you think that just because the lord refuse to kill you that I, Gao Shun, will also not kill you?!” Gao Shun did not held a hint of goodwill toward Song Xian and Wei Xu. Although they were brothers for years, his murderous intent was not a bit lacking.
“Yes yes yes! Both Song Xian and I deserve to die, we came here to apologize!” Song Xian said laughing.
“Apologize?!” Gao Shun frowned. He was ready to kill these two traitors.
“Old Gao, you can leave! Tell the lord that although the Bing Province army was our home, we are too ashamed to return!” Wei Xu said lightly. There was something strange in his eyes. This strange thing was something that Gao Shun knew of – a heart of certain death!
“What are you planning to do?!”
“Die for the lord in place of you!” All of a sudden, Wei Xu and Song Xian’s troops surrounded the gate. Both sides began to aim at each other with their bows and arrows.
“Why should I believe you?!” If Song Xian and Wei Xu start a mutiny again, allowing the Cao army to catch up to the the Lu Bu army on this flat land. With his family, Lu Bu cannot possible be able to escape fast enough!
“Don’t worry! Cao Cao had killed Hou Cheng and we had killed quite a lot of Cao troops. We can’t possibly revolt again!”
After a long pause, Gao Shun said. “Have you really set up your minds?! Once this gate closes, you will no longer be able to get out!”
“Rest assured, Old Gao. In the Bing Province Army, it’s not just you that isn’t afraid of death!”
“Good!” Gao Shun took inhaled a deep breath. “Attention Formation Breaker! We are to withdraw from Xiapi and catch up to our Lord!”
“Yes!” The seven hundred Formation Breaker soldiers accepted the orders. In every one of their mind was a hint of joy from not having to die.
“Old Song, Old Wei, we shall meet again!” Gao Shun’s speech was against his hearts. Once the gates closed, it’s simply impassable. It’ll become a place of certain death.
“Old Gao, don’t forget to burn more paper money for Old Wei and I every year at this date. To not be able to attain riches and glory during this lifetime, in death, you should certainly compensate us!”
“Take care!” Gao Shun nodded. With a wave of his hand, the Formation Breakers pulled away from the city.
“Go away, go away!” Wei Xu looked at the faraway army, shook his head and said. “Old Song, do you think we are stupid?!”
“You’re not stupid! Why would you be stupid?! We are good brothers forever! Old Hou is already downstairs waiting for us. If we don’t keep him accompany, he’ll be lonely!”
“That’s right! Old Hou, don’t worry. We’ll come find you soon!” Suddenly, Wei Xu’s facial expression changed. He shouted. “Pass my orders! Seal the gate! For this battle, we cannot withdraw! As long as a single one of us live, we will not let a single Cao troop out of here!”
Lord oh Lord! Let’s be brothers again in the next life! This time, I’ll be the elder brother!
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