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The Classic Art of War
An Empty Town (3)
空城计

19 October 2008
 

An Empty Town (1)
An Empty Town (2)

The lose of Pavilion Street Town had seriously upset the military balance, and Zhuge Liang had to devote all the troops he could summon up at the time to help hold the line, while evacuating civilians and field depot from garrison town West City where Shu's combatant commander's headquarter was situated.

However, before they could finalize evacuation, Sima Yi's 150,000 troops had already borne down on West City from two directions.

Zhuge Liang ordered to lower the flag from the top of the front gate.

He then instructed to throw open all city gates, and arranged two dozens of elderly soldiers to take off their military uniforms and worked as civilian street cleaners.

Finally Zhuge Liang ascended onto the citywall with a pair of junior assistants.

When a stick of incense started burning, a solo concert took place, performed by a military strategist-turned-audio artist.

When Sima Yi's force arrived at West City to unfold a full scale assault, they found what awaited them was not a military station but a five star hotel, completed with trainee housekeepers and a veteran musician.

There is a piece of conventional Western intelligence which regards anything that sounds too good to be true as false. When Sima Yi heard Zhuge Liang's beautiful music coming from the West City city-wall, he instinctively responded to this Western wisdom and believed it must be a trick, thus he ordered to lift the siege and pull out the troops. But Sima Junior once again challenged his daddy's judgment. "It might really be an empty town, and Zhuge Liang could just sit there pretending to be something." The daddy therefore patiently explained to the son, "I'm myself a veteran musician plus a para-psychologist plus a con master, I listened attentively to his music, and detected no trembling notes in the sound - I can assure you, my dear boy, this guy does have something in his sleeves."

Sadly, the son was right and the daddy was wrong (once again). But by the time the daddy learned from his cias that the city was indeed defenceless, the best time to mount a general offensive attack had already passed: Shu's relieve forces arrived from all directions, and reserve units were all activated. In the face of a strong counter offensive, Sima Yi's troops had to struggle a hasty retreat back to their own territory.

Justice was finally served. Writer-turned-Lieutenant General Ma Su was tried before court martial and the honourable defence force magistrate Zhuge Liang sent the offender to write his true story The Book of Death in the hell.

Zhuge Liang was tearful. "I should know dogmatic bookworms are as a dangerous species as belligerent warmongers," he allegedly said (or something similar along this line)

While loving peace, Zhuge Liang was also acutely aware that this world is full of warmongers, and that peace can only be gained through active defence mechanism. The king promptly approved Zhuge Liang's proposal to upgrade Shu's military capacities to support strategic initiatives, and a campaign to educate the soldiers and officers that it is their revered duty to defend their people and homeland is also believed to be underway.

(THE END)

Original drawings were done by Chinese artists 钱笑呆,徐余兴

Pre: An Empty Town (2)
Next: A Cave in A Tree.

 
 
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