Chapter 198: Before the War (Part One)

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It was only two days away from the Lunar New Year, and the decorations were already completed.

The red ribbons and lanterns were hung in the massive Tai Chi Palace, and the red festival color added another kind of beauty to this solemn place.

The people in the Royal Palace changed to new clothes and said celebratory words to each other.

However, such an atmosphere couldn’t be found in the military encampments in the northwest.

Although the military of Great Sui conquered Nirvana City and pushed 250 kilometers into the territory of Mandu Flag, it wasn’t worth celebrating. According to the original war plan, they should have occupied the entirety of Mandu Flag.

After all, Mandu Latu only had 50,000 soldiers under his command. Even if all the civilians joined the war, they were no match for 700,000 fully-equipped soldiers of Great Sui.

If the military of Great Sui took control of the grassland that had a width of 1,000 kilometers west of the border, obtained tens of millions of livestock, and captured hundreds of thousands of civilians, then the record would be satisfactory.

There was no problem with the plan that the Ministry of War had, but the situation didn’t pan out according to plan.

After the first battle, almost all 2,000 elite cavalrymen under Mandu Lang’s command died. He backed into Nirvana City with only a few hundred of them, but how could he guard the city with so few men?

Also, the military of Great Sui was skilled with sieging cities; it was as easy as recalling something from yesterday for them.

Although the last big war was close to 20 years ago, the soldiers weren’t strangers to sieging cities.

The small Nirvana City was easily conquered, and Mandu Flag fled with less than 30 people. Before leaving, he poisoned all the livestock in the city.

Nirvana City wasn’t the only case. The tribes in Mandu Flag poisoned the livestock that they couldn’t take with them.

The meat from the livestock couldn’t be used as food.

As the military of Great Sui advanced, they saw many frozen corpses of cattle and lamb. The soldiers all felt heartaches when seeing this.

So many cattle, lamb, and warhorses were poisoned to death. For Great Sui that lacked warhorses, losing these warhorses that should be their spoilage of war was a huge loss.

According to plan, after conquering Nirvana City at lightning speed, the livestock would be transported to the east of Wolf Breast Mountain Range. However, the food that they obtained from Mongo-Yuan couldn’t even feed one legion! What was the use of the large grassland if there was no livestock?

“Your Highness…” Mou Liangbi, the Head of the Ministry of War, hesitated for a bit and said, “Although we didn’t get the livestock as planned, the war is still going well. After all, the military has ventured about 250 kilometers into the grassland, and we have enough supplies. Even though we don’t have enough cattle and lamb to treat our men, we have enough liquor and pork.”

Yang Kai nodded and sighed, “I just feel ashamed since His Majesty placed so much trust in me.”

There were only Yang Kai and Mou Liangbi in the room, so he said many things without hesitation, “Although we have enough food, according to plan, the military wouldn’t need food to be transported from within Great Sui; we should be self-sufficient here. His Majesty is waiting for our victorious reports in Chang’an; he doesn’t want this situation.”

Mou Liangbi sighed and said, “It is tough to be victorious when there is no unity. Look at those great generals and governors-general; none of them are aggressive and have the desire to win. They want to pressure Your Highness and me to return to Chang’an with shame!”

“We can’t say that,” Yang Kai said while shaking his head, “The various legions and guards aren’t lazy in attacking the enemies.”

“They aren’t lazy, but many battles that should be easy victories got complicated. How do these people live with the trust that His Majesty places in them?”

“I didn’t arrange everything properly,” Yang Kai said in a sad tone, “His Majesty asked me to manage this war; any faults should fall on me.”

“Your Highness, why are you putting all the blame on yourself?” Mou Liangbi said, “I have already written a memorial to the throne, asking His Majesty to give Your Highness the Imperial Sword. Without something that can scare them, they wouldn’t have any respect for Your Highness.”

[TL Note: In Chinese culture, the imperial sword is the sword that the Emperors uses, and he would give it to trusted officials so that they would have the power to execute anyone without reporting back to him.]

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