What was I Thinking when I Ditch the Second Male Protagonist Chapter 62

Chapter 62

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Finally given a chance to speak, Xie Duo pointed at the map and drew a semi-circular shape with his fingertip, encompassing an area about three miles in diameter at the southeast foot of the mountain.

Looking across, Xie Duo saw the disapproving expressions on the faces of the old generals. He had to shift his gaze and explain to his two Big Brothers, “This area is relatively flat and open, making it easy to attack but difficult to defend. From the process of the refugees raiding for food yesterday, it’s evident that their leader has some terrain awareness. So, I believe this location is the best breakout point they can discern.”

Prince Yan thought this judgment made some sense, but the two generals beside him seemed somewhat disdainful.

The Third Prince, leaning towards his Ninth Brother, paid no attention to others’ reactions and nodded in agreement.

Encouraged, Xie Duo continued to explain, “Coincidentally, within three miles from the southeast foot of the mountain is the Changlu River. In three days, our army can secretly dig a curved trench and encircle the southeast foot of the mountain, then divert water from the Changlu River. Using water instead of soldiers to encircle the refugees will help avoid unpredictable combat outcomes in a head-on clash, minimizing casualties on both sides.”

“Makes sense! Makes sense!” Han Jiao immediately expressed his approval.

“Your Highness’ idea is good,” one of the old generals spoke up, “but our strategy is to flank to the mountaintop in the encirclement. How do we ensure that the refugees will willingly fall into your trap?”

“It’s quite simple. First, we’ll slowly advance towards the mountaintop with our army. The Forbidden Army advancing from the northwest can use artillery and firearms to create a frightening commotion, forcing the refugees to retreat towards the southeast of the mountain ridge. Afterward, the Forbidden Army implementing the encirclement from the southeast can deliberately reveal a defensive weakness when encountering the refugees, giving them hope to escape the gunfire. The refugees will then attempt to break out from this weak point, and the southeastern forces will make way, allowing them to pass. Then, they’ll turn around and pursue. The refugees, with no other choice, will likely rush down the mountain and enter the trench-encircled area, facing our army across the water. At this point, the route back to the mountain will be occupied by our troops. We can use this opportunity to communicate with the refugees and calm them down. In this situation, with our army having both a terrain and numerical advantage, the refugees will be powerless. If negotiations fail, we can directly annihilate them, which is safer than fighting at the mountaintop.”

As soon as the big boss finished speaking, Han Jiao got so excited that his heart almost leaped out of his chest!

Using water instead of soldiers to encircle the refugees, both sides would feel temporarily safe, completely avoiding a chaotic confrontation, and forcing the refugees to negotiate calmly.

This method was brilliant. Han Jiao eagerly looked at the people around him, waiting for their approval.

However, the two old generals showed no reaction, staring at the map on the table with stolid expressions.

Prince Yan and the Third Prince both stared at Xie Duo in astonishment, suspecting their younger brother had been secretly replaced.

Was this still their little brother, who used to skip classes to play cuju every day?

“I think it’s feasible!” Unable to wait for others’ approval, Han Jiao enthusiastically cheered on the big boss. “This way, it’s much safer than directly flanking on the mountaintop. After all, the refugees are just farmers who’ve never fought before. As long as we give them a chance to escape, they won’t choose to fight!”

“I also think it’s feasible.” Prince Yan turned to the Third Prince, seeking his support, “What do you think, Third Brother?”

“Absolutely brilliant!” The Third Prince wrapped an arm around his ninth brother, excitedly saying, “Well done, you cheeky brat! Who taught you this?”

Prince Yan, suppressing his excitement, humbly asked the two old generals, “Do the two Generals believe that this plan is feasible?”

The two old generals exchanged a look and then fixed a stern gaze upon Prince Yan.

Prince Yan’s heart skipped a beat, nervously awaiting their criticism.

The older of the two generals spoke firmly, “Your Highness Prince Ling, despite your young age, possessing such strategic acumen is indeed a blessing for Great Chu and its people!”

The big boss’ battle plan received unanimous approval.

Han Jiao’s feelings were quite complex.

When they first met, he considered the big boss as an overwhelmingly powerful adversary, filled with fear and caution.

However, after spending some time together, the big boss’ laid-back nature gradually made him relax his guard.

Now, the big boss occasionally displayed the otherworldly talents as seen in the novel. Han Jiao couldn’t help but be on alert!


While Prince Yan and the two generals went to oversee the trench-digging at the foot of the mountain, Han Jiao seized the opportunity to have a one-on-one conversation with the big boss. “I’ve read The Art of War dozens of times. The book mainly explains theories about assessing our own strength. When faced with such specific battle situations, I often feel lost. Your Highness, how do you come up with such flexible and specific battle strategies?”

The big boss was not hesitant to provide some insight. “It’s because there’s a river near the southeast foot of the mountain.”

Unsatisfied with this somewhat cryptic response, Han Jiao continued to seek guidance, “Was that river alone enough to inspire you to come up with the ‘water-encirclement’ strategy?”

Xie Duo cast a sidelong glance at the little child prodigy and retorted, “Who’s the one who couldn’t win an argument with senior officials and started crying in front of me? Who’s the one with red eyes, begging me to save people? To avoid casualties, apart from using water instead of soldiers to encircle the refugees, what other options are there? It wasn’t that river that inspired me. It was you, Han Xiaobai.”

Learning that the big boss’ military talent was brought out by his own actions, Han Jiao felt not fear but excitement. “Really? I’m deeply honored!”

Xie Duo eyed the little child prodigy skeptically. “You don’t seem to be afraid of me now?”

Han Jiao, eager to save face for the big boss, immediately denied, “How could that be? The person I hold the utmost respect for is you, Prince Ling.”

“Is that so?” Xie Duo dangerously narrowed his eyes. “Then how come you dared to step on my foot and pressure me to express myself just now?”

“Huuuh?” Han Jiao quickly denied any wrongdoing. “Could it be that the table in the tent was too small, and someone accidentally bumped into your shoe?”

“Who was it that bumped into it?” Xie Duo lowered his head to examine the footprint on the tip of his boot and spoke with a serious tone as he sought justice, “Take off your shoe and compare, let’s see which cheeky cotton-padded paw dared to reach for me.”

“I should get back to supervising the relief efforts. Excuse me, Your Highness!” The suspected cotton-padded paw immediately found an excuse to make a hasty exit.

Fortunately, the big boss was also going to the mountain to oversee the military projects, and Han Jiao, who stepped on the boss’ toes, managed to keep his life.

Back at the refugee camp, Han Jiao immediately noticed the tricks being played by the relief official.

The porridge was so thin that one couldn’t find more than a few grains of rice in a bowl.

Han Jiao promptly organized the refugees to open the rice sacks and cooked several pots of thick porridge.

After all, Han Jiao had already written a document taking full responsibility, and the relief official was too lazy to inquire further. He simply handed over all refugee affairs to Han Jiao and left the camp to get some fresh air, avoiding the stench.

The first day of relief work went very smoothly. The once gloomy refugee camp now displayed a happy atmosphere, like a rainbow after the rain. The elderly, women, and children all gathered around Han Jiao, laughing and chatting, their gratitude beyond words.

A child with teary eyes asked Han Jiao, “Righteous Master, that official just said that you defied the imperial orders by providing us with porridge, and in a few days, they will chop your head off.”

“I heard that too!” Several children gathered around, looking at Han Jiao with worry. “Let our fathers take you with them to escape! Both my father and uncle have already fled. They’re going to loot that murderous official’s belongings to buy food, and then they’ll come back to take us home!”

The smile faded from Han Jiao’s face. He lowered his eyes to the children and spoke seriously, “Do you believe me or that official who was just here?”

“We believe the Righteous Master!”

“Very well, then I’ll be honest with you.” Han Jiao spoke solemnly, “I was ordered to provide you with porridge, and this food was meant to fill your stomachs. The court sent officials to guide you here yesterday, and their purpose was to distribute relief food to you. However, the official in charge of leading you here was impatient and used force to drive you away, which led to the chaos and trouble among the refugees. The court will hold that murderous official accountable, so do you still trust the court?”

The refugees were all left in shock.

After a long silence, a child answered loudly, “We believe in the Righteous Master!”

“So it was the corrupt officials causing the bloodshed! The Righteous Master cares about us, and he will take care of our grievances!” A hoarse-voiced elder among the refugees shouted, “We’ll return to our fields and continue to provide grain for the court!”

Believing Han Jiao’s words, the refugees willingly confessed the details of the recent unrest.

These refugees were driven out of the city by the soldiers and then escorted into this desolate mountain area. Along the way, rumors started among the refugees, suggesting that the soldiers intended to bury them alive in the desolate mountains. This misinformation led to the panic and breakout of the young and strong among them.

Those who successfully broke out were probably unwilling to leave behind their families. They hid in the mountains to discuss a rescue plan, only to be surrounded by the Forbidden Army that very night.

Lack of communication had been the root of their hostility. Thankfully, the big boss devised a plan for negotiations across the water.


Three days later.

According to the joint deployment of Xie Duo and the two old generals, the Forbidden Army began a slow encirclement towards the mountaintop.

The process of the battle went exactly as Xie Duo had predicted.

The refugees on the mountaintop, upon sensing the approaching artillery fire but without spotting the Forbidden Army, began to flee in the southeast direction.

Soon after, they encountered what seemed like loosely organized encirclement by the Forbidden Army in the southeast. The refugees promptly chose to evade the northwest artillery fire, easily breaking through the defenses of the southeast Forbidden Army and desperately fleeing down the mountain.

Thus, like dumplings dropping into a pot, the thirty thousand refugees jumped into the big boss’ trap…

The scene was truly awe-inspiring!

Across the water-filled trench, Han Jiao saw the desperate shock on the faces of the young and strong refugees.

They were surrounded by water, and looking back, the mountain ridge had been occupied by the Forbidden Army.

The refugees were dumbfounded, as if their souls had been snatched away in an instant.

The unfavorable terrain wasn’t enough to entirely defeat them, but the sudden loss of hope for survival crushed their resistance.

However, the Forbidden Army on the mountain didn’t launch an attack against them.

On the other side, soldiers facing them across the water gradually stepped aside, revealing a group of elderly, women, and children.

“Father!” The tender voice of a child called the refugee men back to their yearning for life.

The men stared blankly at their loved ones on the opposite bank, their eyes filled with desolation.

Han Jiao instructed the children to calm down and walked to the riverbank, personally calling for the leader of the refugees on the other side to come forward for negotiations.

After explaining the misunderstandings between the court and the refugees, Han Jiao asked Prince Yan to step forward and offer reassurance.

He ordered the soldiers to bring the official who had ordered the unjust killings of refugees to the riverbank.

Prince Yan kicked the official to his knees and shouted to the refugees, “In Great Chu, we consider the people as our top priority. Even in times of natural disasters, even if the national treasury has only a single grain of rice left, it shall be used for the people of Great Chu. The ones to blame are these criminals who unjustly killed innocents. Today, all of you who have been pushed to the brink by him can safely return to the relief camp. I swear by the heavens above, within a month, all refugees will be resettled in the new county, given homes and land, and their homes will be rebuilt!”

On the other side, silence prevailed, except for the gradually rising sound of suppressed sobbing. Eventually, the men on the other side knelt down and wept, repeatedly bowing their heads in gratitude for the court’s forgiveness.

In the end, there were no casualties on either side.

Following Han Jiao’s plan, the refugees were resettled in the new county.

The heroic deeds of the battle fought to save the lives of the refugees seemed to grow wings and quickly spread throughout the capital city.

Han Jiao, the Hanlin Compiler who disobeyed orders, sought aid far and wide, risking his life to provide relief, became a hero in the eyes of the common people, known for his love and care for the people.

Additionally, the Ninth Prince, who proposed the “water-encirclement strategy” to avoid direct confrontation with the common people, also gained recognition and fame.

This marked the first time the Ninth Prince became famous for something other than his handsome appearance, shedding the title of “Royal Chief Vase.”

The joy and inspiration from this battle were felt not only by the common people but also by the Emperor himself, who resided in the ninefold palace.

The Emperor never expected that his less accomplished son would unexpectedly win the people’s hearts in this manner.

That little child prodigy named Han Jiao might just be a heaven-sent genius sent to assist him.

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