“Second Master, you have returned.” A servant of the Pang Family greeted.
“Where is my brother?”
“The Young Master should be in the study.” The servant replied as he lowered his head. He was an elderly who had been with the Pang Family for ages. Naturally, he also had literary skills and was one of the more respected people in Jingzhou. Even the high ranked military officers showed him respect. Yet, this man showed a lot of respect Pang Tong as he knew that Pang Tong would be the one to take over Pang Family.
“Do you want me to inform the Young Master?”
“No need! I will go and greet him myself!” Pang Tong replied and immediately went towards the study. He found his brother reading in the study.
Pang Tong's elder brother was not his real brother but his cousin. He was Pang Degong1's son, Shanmin (山民) . The names of the people in the Three Kingdoms are usually two characters long. Only barbarians such as Hu Che Er (胡车儿) had three character names. The only other three character names is only when they include two character surnames2. However, Pang Degong boldly gave his son such a name.3
Pang Shanmin was just like his name. He was simple and honest like a mountain (山).
“s.h.i.+yuan, you have returned.” Pang Shanmin put down the scroll he was reading. The two of them had partic.i.p.ated in the meeting with Liu Biao earlier but Liu Biao had Pang Tong stay behind to discuss about the matter of provisions.
“Have Liu Jingzhou4 consented?”
“N.” Pang Tong nodded. “Liu Jingzhou has promised us two hundred thousand provisions. A hundred thousand would be sent first while the rest would be given after we push back the Fake King Liu Mang.” Pang Ton replied in joy. With Liu Biao's backing, Liu Bei would be able to expand his army without worrying about provisions.
As Hu Che Er was a Qiang, there were other ways to recruit soldiers. The Qiang people could join Liu Bei's Army and they were more skilled in horseback archery and were considered elites. Now that provisions were no longer a problem, they would be able to easily recruit these people.
“In that case, Lord Liu's Army would no longer have hards.h.i.+ps.” Pang Shanmin wors.h.i.+pped virtue and benevolence like his father. On top of that, Liu Bei's reputation was good because of his brother. Pang Shanmin. Right now, he was merely waiting for Pang Tong to introduce him to Liu Bei.
“No hars.h.i.+ps?” Pang Tong did not agree to his brother's view. This is because Pang Tong was worried about Liu Biao's envoy.
Pang Tong could tell that Liu Biao did not want to go to war with Liu Mang. What Liu Mang wanted was provisions. If Liu Biao's envoy managed to come to an agreement with Liu Mang in a discussion, all of his efforts would be wasted. This was why Pang Tong wanted to make this envoy disappear. The one that might know about the envoy would be his brother.
“Brother. I have not seen Brother Qishan for a long time. If he well?” Based on the information he got from spies, the envoy this time would be his brother's good friend, Tang Yun, Tang Qishan. However, that was all the information he got. He did not know when the envoy would leave, which route the envoy would take and whether the envoy would go to Liu Mang or Lu Bu. Only Liu Biao and Kuai Yue were privy to that information. If there was anybody else that would know, it would be his brother.
Qishan and his brother were very close. They were close enough to notify each other when they need to go on a long journey.
“Brother Qishan?” Pang Shanmin wondered why his little brother thought of Tang Qishan. Tang Qishan was a very elegant person who spoke in a n.o.ble manner. Although Tang Qishan was close to Pang Shanmin, his relations.h.i.+p with Pang Tong could not be described as good. The reason for this is because Tang Qishan and Pang Tong were at two extremes. While Tang Qishan was elegant and had a n.o.ble bearing, Pang Tong was fat and short. When they go out together, people usually thought that Pang Tong was Tang Qishan's servant. Even if Pang Tong wears luxurious clothing, people would think that Tang Qishan generously gave his servant such clothes.
Although Tang Qishan had not directly offended Pang Tong, Pang Tong still felt resentful. This was why Pang Tong would deliberately avoid Tang Qishan. All the more reason to feel suspicious when Pang Tong is asking about Tang Qishan.
“s.h.i.+yuan. I thought you hated Qishan?” Pang Shanmin asked.
Pang Tong had no longer kept in touch with Tang Qishan. To prevent his brother from suspecting something, he laughed and replied, “Brother. I might be returning to Yuzhou once Liu Jingzhou prepares the provision for Lord Xuande. I do not even know when would be the next time I could see you all so I thought of seeing both Elder Brother and Brother Qishan.” At the end of the day, Tang Qishan could still be considered as one of Pang Tong's childhood friend. In ancient times, there were no such things as phone calls or convenient transportation. Once separated over long distances, the next meeting could even be ten years later. If there were any with medical problems, that meeting could be extended indefinitely. This was why the people of that era treasured friends.h.i.+p.
Pang Shanmin felt happy to see his little brother wanted to meet his friend to part on more pleasant terms. “I am sure Qishan would be very happy to see you so concerned!” Truly, Pang Tong was extremely concerned about Tang Qishan.
“Unfortunately, Qishan had already been sent to Yangzhou on a diplomatic mission under Liu Jingzhou's orders.”
“Hm?” Pang Tong's eyes shone after he heard his brother's words. As expected, the envoy was Tang Yun Tang Qishan. Without batting an eyelid, he feigned regret and replied, “Is that so? I initially wanted to invite him out to go hunting but I missed that opportunity. I do not even know when would be the next time we would meet. Perhaps it is no longer possible in this life.” Pang Tong's lonely expression made his brother feel heartbroken. His little brother was part of Liu Bei's Army while Tang Yun was Liu Biao's. If the two Lords were to go to war against each other, their separation would become permanent. “Qishan is going to Luokou…” Unable to hold it in, Pang Shanmin accidentally spoke of Qishan's route before he realized his mistake and kept quiet. He then looked at his little brother warily as though afraid that his little brother had heard too much.
However, as though Pang Tong had entered his own world, he began talking about the past while even shedding tears. Pang Shanmin felt relieved seeing his little brother that way. Although Pang Tong was his own little brother, Pang Shanmin still had his principles. As one of Liu Biao's officials, he cannot divulge Liu Biao's secrets. On top of that, Tang Yun was his good friend. Kuai Yue had personally warned him not to tell anyone as he was afraid of people with aspirations. If Tang Yun and Pang Shanmin were not good friends, even Pang Shanmin would not know of this.
“Yes. s.h.i.+yuan need not be like this. Qishan would return quickly! I am sure you would be able to meet him.” Pang Shanmin consoled his little brother never expecting that those tears were crocodile tears.
As a person from Jingzhou, Pang Tong knew of the place. The route used could be considered a shortcut and one could directly get to Xinye. It seems that Liu Biao was serious about having a discussion with Liu Mang before the war. Unfortunately, Pang Tong would not allow Liu Biao to make peace so easily. After some more courtesy with his elder brother, Pang Tong excused himself by saying he was tried.
After returning to his room, Pang Tong called for He Feng and Cao Zhi, two men specialized in doing things not fit to be seen by others.
I should probably have said this earlier but Pang Degong could be something like “Master Pang De”. But I wasn't sure so I used Wikipedia and found Pang Degong as a name.
I don't really understand since Pang Degong and Liu Xuande are also '3 characters'.
Couldn't make sense of this statement even after seeking advice.
I don't know why they stopped saying Liu Biao. Probably to get an extra character in.