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Kingdom 5 – 06

A battle episode with no fighting?  Indeed, and it was as much a surprise to the would-be combatants (most of them) as it was to me.  It’s Day 3 of the Battle of Heiyong, and by all accounts it should be a decisive one, with the pendulum having swung sharply in Qin’a favor.  Diao certainly expects it to be.  But in the end it’s only waiting and staring off into the distance, as everyone waits for Qin’s inscrutable commander to finally swing into action.  They’ll have to wait at least one more day.

The success of the Fei Xin force has pushed the front line forwards, leaving the Qin forces with a number of attractive options.  Diao shrewdly splits the Fei Xin, moving most of the army into position to mount an offensive against the flanks of the central hill.  This forces Zhao’s Ma Cheng to split his own forces, leaving his army exposed and vulnerable to attack.  What Diao has done is set the table for Huan Yi – if he moves his forces onto the field, Ma Cheng is spread too thin to hold the hill.  Either the Fei Xin, the Hei Ying Army, or Huan Yi’s own forces can steamroll Zhao’s defenses using the other two armies as decoys.

Having served Zhao and the central hill to Huan Yi on a silver platter, all Diao has to do is wait for the general to move.  Except  – he doesn’t.  As everyone on both sides, up to and including Qiang She and Liu Dong, had expected him to.  As the sun sets lower and lower in the sky and the opposing forces tensely stare each other down, Huan does nothing.  Or at the very least, his army doesn’t move.  Eventually Diao and Hei Ying freak out enough to send messengers to Huan Yi’s camp, but even his exchange officer has no idea what the boss is thinking.

Meanwhile Qian Lei recovers in the hut of the village headwoman who rescued her (after her horse carried her there).  The old woman is cognizant of the fact that this strange girl is the enemy, an invader.  But it’s not lost on her that Quan Lei took the time and risk of warning the village that battle was coming.  That why she’s letting her recuperate there.  When she spots a small doll among Qian Lei’s possessions, the woman muses on why the invader girl would have a “Liyan guardian” with her.

Liyan is clearly an important word in this arc, and Zhao history.  It’s tied in with Ji Hui, and why he seems to be the central figure of the battle despite no one on the Qin side having any knowledge of him.  The Tragedy of Liyan is the key, seemingly, and the headwoman proceeds to begin spinning the tale for Qian Lei.  One could say that she’s taking advantage of the old woman’s kindness to gather intelligence, but in her position that’s exactly what she should be doing.  It’s not going to be easy for Qian Lei to get what she learns back to Xin (and by way of him, Huan Yi) but one suspects her doing so is going to prove decisive in this battle.


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