Chapter 3: Don’t Talk When You Eat
The old man took another sip and chuckled at the girl who devoured the food with ferocious fervor. “How was it, enough food?”
“uhm.”Gu Nan put down the bowl and wiped a bean off the side of her mouth. “Thank you.”
Originally, she was wary that she’d get trafficked, but to her surprise, it was actually a free meal!
Although it was only rice and beans, it was more than enough to satisfy her growling stomach.
Granted, the rice is rather strange. The soybeans were boiled and directly mixed in. The amounts of oil and salt were so small that the beans had a rather bland taste. Under normal conditions, Gu Nan really couldn’t stomach this meal.
Gu Nan didn’t know the proper gesture to express gratitude so she only mimicked the ones from TV dramas. Her hands were clasped together and held over the chest. “This wanderer was faced with troubles, and this grace will be etched in my heart.”
“Forget it.” The old man waved his hand. “Keep eating.”
“Hmhm.” Gu Nan made a courtesy nod and resumed gobbling up the rest of the bowl.
The old man seemed to have something on his mind, frowning into the distance before pouring himself another cup of tea.
While contemplating, his index finger rapped on the table. The old man’s face appeared especially weary as he looked at the people walking past,
Zhao is strong, if it can fall, great Qin can unify the world. Hm, what a sight that would be.
But for this old soul, could I see such a peaceful and tranquil world?
Gu Nan swallowed a few more mouthfuls of rice and looked at the old man’s strange expression. “Hey, old man, what are you thinking about?”
The old man heard Gu Nan’s voice and turned his gaze back. Taking another sip of tea, he then set the cup down, the water rippled gently on the surface.
After a few moments, he seemed to have thought of something. “Might as well. If this old man asked you something, could you answer it?”
To be honest, this question was without much thought and he didn’t expect much from it. The old man’s fingers tapped on the table, and he seemed to be organizing his thoughts.
After a good length of time, he slowly asked, “Consider that you’re a general, a commander of 600,000. And you are about to besieging a city that is both easy to defend and difficult to attack. The enemy has 450,000 troops. Their forces are largely cavalry, good at advancing and retreating quickly. The your position is in a mountain valley. However, the enemy is encamped on a flat mountain plain. How would you engage?”
“I say, old man, you’re not a general are you?” Gu Nan had almost eaten her full and placed down the bowl. It was quite the strange question to ask so casually.
She didn’t know too much about battles, but strategic games were pretty close.
Gu Nan thought intensely for a few seconds.
“Hmm, well ‘before the army moves, the grain and grass advance…'”
“Stop!” Just as Gu Nan finished one sentence, the old man abruptly interrupted her.
Being rudely interrupted is unbearable enough, even more so by this old man who had just previously touted on about being a gentleman. “Hey old man, where’s your man-”
“Repeat what you just said.” The old man frowned and looked at Gu Nan sternly.
Gu Nan put on an annoyed look as she repeated, “Before the army moves, the grain and grass advance.”
“This line, where did you hear it from?” The old man’s brow furrowed deeply and honstly looked a bit intimidating.
“I…” Then she realized that this line may never have existed in this world. In that case, is it even plagiarism? She said with a slightly guilty conscience, “I thought of it myself.”
“You thought of it yourself?” The old man didn’t quite believe it. “You didn’t lie to this old man?”
This sentence was only the most basic aspect of warfare, even common sense. Although it’s simple and direct, it’s nothing to be suprised about.
No, what surprised him was something else.
In this era, commoners have no formal education. Judging by her ragged attire and her lack of parents, she’s obviously not from a wealthy family. It would be impossible for her to have studied military affairs.
But under these circumstances, she could actually isolate the fundamentals of military doctrine.
The old man continued to look at Gu Nan.
“Well, I don’t have a reason to lie.”
“Have you read any military works?”
Gu Nan didn’t even stop to think about it. “Nope.”
Who would read military books of their own free will? Even if I felt like it, I couldn’t sit through all of it.
The old man thought about it and nodded. “You can continue.”
“Although the battle between hundreds of thousands of troops is obviously very important, the logistics for so many people would be staggering. Because of this, I would definitely consider cutting off the enemy’s food. And even if you can’t cut theirs off, you need to ensure that your supply is secure.”
Gu Nan picked up the teapot and poured herself a cup. “Is there a river nearby?”
The old man poured some to his cup as well. “There is a river.”
“A river, huh.” Gu Nan placed one hand on her chin and thought.
“Since there’s a river, it would be best to dredge the river and prepare it. Moving the food and supplies by water is much better than transporting through the mountains. This way we’ve already secured our grain and grass.”
The old man nodded at Gu Nan’s words.
This little girl is quite interesting.
Indeed, before the battle, their course of action was to clear the waterways and secure the supply lines.
Without him noticing it, his look became serious. This was no longer the old man that sipped tea leisurely.
“Correct, and then?”
Gu Nan felt a vaguely threatening aura, but continued, “Then, the next step is to bait the enemy out. We first issue an attack and then we retreat and lure the enemy into the valley. The plains are a very favorable place for the enemy’s cavalry. We’d be at a big disadvantage fighting there. Well, the solution is to change the battlefield. So long as the enemy enters the valley, we could just swarm them with our infantry and we’d win, pretty simple.”
In her opinion, although her explanation may be riddled with loopholes, it’s enough for this old man to believe it.
The old man slowly picked up his cup and took another sip of tea. Over the years it has became a habit of his to evaluate each of the generals of the court. It was no different this time as he thought about her response.
The plan is still very rudimentary, but the overall strategy is sound. Like a jade, the details can still be carved and polished. Indeed, with a few more additions, it would be viable.
But what shocked him was that it wasn’t a general presenting his plan to the court, it was a girl without even basic military education!
This doesn’t seem to be a simple matter.
Pondering, the old man looked quietly at the girl in front of him.
It would be good enough if a commander thought of such a plan, but for an uneducated girl to do so, it truly is a confusing reality.
Taking a deep breath, the old man extended four fingers. His eyes held an incomprehensible meaning.
“Four hundred and fifty thousand enemy troops, you have surrounded them and are engaged in melee. They want to break of your encirclement, what do you do?”
“Oh, I never said that I’d fight them head-on.” Gu Nan gulped down another cup as she extended two fingers.
“As long as the enemy enters the valley, only two very simple methods are required. The mountain has forests, and we will ambush them with fire. The mountain has earth and stone, and we will roll rocks upon them.”
After that, the old man shook his head with a chuckle and then a grin. He didn’t say anything but slowly finished drinking the tea.
After a long time, he took a deep breath.
But unfortunately, it is a girl.
Gu Nan didn’t bother with the odd looks the old man gave her and continued eating.
The old man closed his eyes, his heart awhirl with thoughts. Suddenly, like a revelation, an idea formed in his heart. No one knows what it was, maybe he doesn’t even know.
His sudden idea became the start of a two-thousand-year story.
This young girl wandered alone, not even knowing where or when she was and met this old man.
This is a strange fate…
The old man opened his eyes and looked at Gu Nan with a forceful stare.
“This old man is Bai Qi of Qin. Girl, will you be my student?”