King Gwanggaeto eps 87: The hidden Sheonyangcheong trap

Watch Gwanggaeto the great episode 87 if you haven’t. Damdeok is dealt a setback but how far can Houyan take advantage of this situation?

Dealing a loss to the impatient warrior

Your true character reveals itself when a dilemma hits

The two men standing a stone’s throw away, the Houyan emperor sees the opportunity to finally capture his adversary. I’m finally going to get you, he states. However, should the invader submit peacefully, Murong Xi won’t kill him. Where can he go when the Houyan army surrounds the fortress?

The Goguryeo king refuses outright and right away both engage the other.

With a smug look, Murong Xi watches approvingly as Gwanggaeto fights for his life. That is until after a few kills, Damdeok turns to the observer and launches a spear, barely missing. Infuriated at the attempt to his life, Xi almost moves to confront his attacker but the generals stop their leader from entering the dangerous battle directly.

Meanwhile, the Goguryeo generals inform their ruler that the time to flee has arrived; a way out exists now. Not needing to be told twice, the king of Goguryeo leaves the scene immediately, using the fighting soldiers in between as a barrier. The Houyan king can only watch as the rat slowly escapes the cat’s paws.

Hesitation: Avoiding the deadliest action after falling down

At a safer distance, Damdeok learns the surprise attack has scattered and ruined the army’s formation. Turning to Ung Sim, he hands out royal orders to pass on:

  • General Hae Mowol and Mo Duyeong are to secure the south gate.
  • A group of soldiers will accompany the king as he returns to the fight once more.
  • While Houyan focuses its attention on himself, everyone should use this opportunity to pull out.

Back on the Houyan side, the emperor searches for the whereabouts of Damdeok in a frantic panic. How could they have allowed the enemy to escape? Not a second longer do they spot him right up ahead. Somehow he hasn’t withdrawn from the battlefield as they feared.

I’m going to kill him myself, Murong Xi barks as he rushes at his opponent’s direction.

Stepping in front of the pointing blade to save others

Just as steel clashes, the Goguryeo generals at the South gate finally clear the passage and call for everyone to move out. Hae Mowol and Mo Duyeong, though, soon discover the king was left behind to fight off the Houyan soldiers by himself. How could Ung Sim leave the king alone like that? There was no other choice, Chongmyeong steps in. If the king did not become a target and distract the enemy from the rest, the whole army would have been annihilated.

The generals then order everyone to withdraw and prepare something on the way out.

Rushing to join the Goguryeo king, they find the ongoing dance of swords between both country rulers. As Damdeok overpowers Murong Xi, he receives word that an escape route has been secured and makes his way to Daiyacheong now that his mission is completed.

The Houyan emperor runs after them confident they can deal with the few guards escorting Damdeok. Yet, the Houyan soldiers up ahead turn back and warn Xi of danger up ahead. They realize the Goguryeo troops who escaped first have reorganized into ambush units and are waiting for them outside. Murong Xi still wants to continue but his servants stop him. They only brought a force large enough to capture Damdeok, not to fight Goguryeo’s larger force. Grudgingly, they turn back and reconnect with the main army.

After the fact: A time to rethink the past and future

When the bad news overshadow the good news

In frustration, the Houyan emperor demands to know how their prey could have escaped.

Without batting an eye, Murong Un readily supplies the answer,

Everyone was focused on you when you fought Damdeok. We could not follow all our plans.

Before dealing with the implication that it was his fault, general Jubu arrives only to report the Beiwei betrayal and the heavy losses suffered. But upon further inquiry, Murong Un unravels the events of that mysterious night: Goguryeo worked on their weak ties to trick both sides into attacking each other. Houyan needs to send an envoy and clear up the misunderstanding right away. They need the reinforcements from Beiwei.

Of course, waiting until then won’t achieve anything. And so Murong Un proposes a tactic many wouldn’t expect of Houyan due to their smaller force: fight Goguryeo head on. The ultimate goal? Raid them to lure the enemy into a trap. Reminding the Houyan emperor how well the first plan went, it doesn’t take much to get people on board.

The key to success: Turning a loss into a win

Back at the Goguryeo camp in Daiyacheng, the Goguryeo army learns of the great success in neutralizing the Houyan and Beiwei forces. However, the king can’t seem to get over last night’s mistake costing 20,000 soldiers.

Yet, the generals bring up his earlier deed. Had it not been for the king becoming a target, Goguryeo would’ve suffered further losses. Furthermore, morale and a deeper sense of loyalty is running high in the camp.

Hae Mowol

The soldiers are touched that you tried so hard to save them. Everyone is praising you highly.

Damdeok decides the need to be more cautious from now on. To that, he lays out a strategy

  1. Houyan knows Sheonyangcheng is a key base protecting Sujuncheng & Longcheng. And because they will likely fight strenuously to hold down their fort, they will gather the bulk of their army there, thereby weakening the other fortresses.
  2. Thus, Yeon Salta will lead Biryeo & Mohe to attack from behind, namely their supply base, Sujuncheng.
  3. Goguryeo, then, must distract & battle Houyan at Sheonyangcheng to buy enough time for Yeon Salta. Although risk exists, they will rely on the allied forces performing well.

Suddenly, reports come in pegging the large Houyan army heading towards Daiyacheng, a move that meshes well with their plan. Subsequently, Damdeok orders general Mo Duyeong and Gal Samu to Sheonyangcheng, though, it must be done covertly by going around.

Staging a fight simply to outmaneuver an opponent

The first skirmish: A taste of the tension

When Murong Un learns Goguryeo soldiers advancing to Sheonyangcheng as per their plan, he sends out Fengba and a unit to attack. In turn, Yeo Seokgae volunteers to go upon hearing who the unit leader is noting, I could take him with my fist.

Riding out to the enemy general. they insult each other and enter a duel. Ultimately, Yeo Seokgae breaks the spear of the unit leader and general Fengba begins retreating. Although, Yeo Seokgae chases him down, he stops when he receives the halt signal. Returning to Daiyacheng, he is told, How many times did I tell you they’re trying to lure us?. Everyone is then reminded not chase the raiding Houyan units too far.

Preparation alone can never determine an outcome

For a while, the raids and confrontations continue between both forces as Goguryeo gets closer and closer to Sheonyangcheng. It is gathered from inspecting the battleground that Houyan is down by 20,000 troops yet Damdeok isn’t so sure.

This isn’t a general situation. Houyan is facing its greatest crisis. Ko Un is pulling the army back in a sly manner. They will try to attack us at once and annihilate us.

As the allied forces should be nearing Sujuncheng by now, tomorrow is the set day when the big battle erupts.

Over at the Houyan command center, Murong Xi waits impatiently inquiring about their progress and learns

  • Houyan has slowly pulled out 40,000 soldiers from the capital to reinforce their army.
  • Goguryeo is only 120km away before entering the trap.
  • No one has heard of the envoys sent to Beiwei.

Everything is riding on the next battle.

The full-scale battle: A bump in strategies

Next day, both nations line rows of troops opposite the other ready for the facedown. Inspiring his men to fight, Murong Xi yells

Soldiers of Houyan! Anyone who brings me Damdeok’s head will be given the position of commander.

At once, the war drums sound off as both sides collide, blades clash and blood runs down but minutes into the fight, a red flag waves in the air. The signal given, hordes of Houyan men pour in from the sides flanking the Goguryeo army, revealing the true size of Houyan’s army.

Regardless, the king of Goguryeo rides his horse forward and personally joins the fight. When all the reinforcements come out, a wave of Goguryeo troops come rushing down from the same area and attack the Houyan soldiers behind. Boxing the Houyan army are none other than Mo Duyeong and Gal Samu.

Though surprised, Murong Xi is still confident they can take them on but that changes when news arrive that Sujuncheng is in danger. How could Goguryeo be attacking another base? It finally dawns on Murong Un how Damdeok anticipated their whole strategy and had countermeasures in place. In panic, orders are rapidly sent to everyone to move to Sujuncheng.

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