Watch Gwanggaeto the conqueror episode 88 before reading further. Goguryeo faces Sujuncheng, the last thing in the way to the capital.
Dealing with the consequences for a plan that never took off
The surprise when you turn back without looking
Panic sets in. How can the combined armies of Biryeo, and Mohe be attacking Sujuncheng?
Everything becomes clear in a flash.
Its all been planned!
Should Murong Xi further engage Damdeok here, the enemy’s countermeasure is poised to cut them off. Realizing the danger, the Houyan army decide to retreat to their Sheonyangcheng base.
In a hurry, everybody marches back but as they get closer to the Sheonyangcheng fortress, something seems off: Flags with the three-legged crow symbol decorate the castle. How did those foreign things get up there?
Suddenly, lines of archers appear above. Pulling back on his bow, Yeon Salta welcomes his guest with a hateful tone
Murong Xi, I’ve been waiting for you.
Released, a wave of arrows fly down knocking the front line of the Houyan army.
With Sheonyangcheng taken, the generals plead the Houyan emperor to move the soldiers to Sujuncheng. If they stay and fight, Damdeok, who isn’t far behind, will trap them from the back. Although initially reluctant, the Houyan troops soon move out and make the 160km long journey.
Seeking the low hanging fruits
Moments later, the Goguryeo army arrives at Sheonyangcheng expecting a continuation of the battle and instead discover their flags hanging all over.
Unsure if a Houyan ploy, the Goguryeo generals tread carefully until the gates open wide revealing Yeon Salta ready to greet the king. Delighted at the surprise, Damdeok praises his achievement.
You moved two steps ahead. You are a great general indeed.
As the allied forces headed to Sujuncheng earlier, scouts reported a nearly empty Sheonyangcheng castle to Yeon Salta, who then took a small detachment to conquer it while the main Houyan army was busy.
Coming off a victory, the Goguryeo leaders decide:
- Avoid the retreating Houyan: Now that Murong Xi and his men are going to Sujungcheng, Goguryeo will pull back the other allied soldiers at Sujuncheng to avoid unnecessary deaths.
- Reorganize & invade: Goguryeo will plan to conquer Sujuncheng but worries arise over its reputation as a defensive stronghold. It will be a rough fight given Houyan men will fight for their lives.
What will make you turn on your own?
Over at Sujuncheng, more problems stack up on top of the recent defeat: the current military rations they have won’t last long. Of course, they could transfer supplies from the capital but there’s a risk Goguryeo might intercept them. No, Murong Xi wants the people to chip in, regardless if they already offered a lot in the last battle.
The generals try dissuading their leader explaining that burdening the people may cause riots. Murong Xi is appalled at the whining and selfishness.
The people exist for me. They should give their lives if I give the order. They won’t give up some rice so they can live? Even when I order them to?
At this, the outraged emperor puts his foot down and orders the soldiers to search all the houses for rice and kill anyone who opposes. Seeing the order carried out, Murong Un becomes uneasy and tries convincing general Fengba to help but to no avail. He only suggests Murong Un to come up with a strategy to defeat Goguryeo.
Later that night, Houyan patrols capture farmers attempting to leave the fortress. Brought before the emperor, they are sentenced to death as an example to others. How can people leave without permission? Murong Un, though, steps in and convinces him to spare them suggesting:
- A yellow dust storm will be coming from the desert in the north. Goguryeo troops have no experience fighting in such conditions.
- Add these people too, and Houyan can capture Damdeok.
Although intrigued and willing to follow the plan, considering all past failures Murong Xi doesn’t trust him and warns he will certainly die if Sujuncheng falls.
Clearing the path to Houyan’s heart: The last obstacle to the capital
Keeping the pouncing beast at bay
At the Goguryeo camp in Sheonyangcheng, the Goguryeo leaders discuss ways to conquer Sujuncheng but find little headway.
- The large force waiting for your arrival: The numbers who retreated and the reinforcements that joined the Houyan army are more than expected. Not only that, this doesn’t even take into account the many soldiers who were already stationed in the base.
- No choice but to conquer the castle: Despite a general’s proposal, Goguryeo can’t skip Sujuncheng and attack Longcheng directly. The capital is guarded day and night.
- Nature helping out the invadee: The upcoming yellow dust storm will hinder the campaign’s progress. It’s already notorious to the people trying to live here.
The worries prove to ring truer after fighting Houyan for days and returning with continuous defeats.
- Sujuncheng indeed is an impregnable fortress helped by how different the defense design is from the others.
- The Goguryeo men struggle under the conditions of the storm.
- No word on Beiwei’s movement, the x factor that can worsen the situation.
- It looks like a contagious disease is about to break out.
- Trouble exists in relaying accurate information on time. The yellow dust storm is getting in the way of scouts & carrier pigeons.
- Even though the storm will also prevent Houyan from attacking, this will just extend the duration of the war, playing to Houyan’s favor.
Does remembering your past mistakes help or hurt your future?
Afterwards, Yeon Salta appears privately before Ha Muji to speak of a way to bring down their target. Checking out the outer areas of Sujuncheng earlier, he found a group of Houyan citizens who fled the castle and were hiding nearby. Apparently, they were starving inside and thought it best to run away to search for food.
If Yeon Salta and a special unit take advantage of the storm, they can infiltrate the fortress via a secret passage that the Houyan farmers pointed out. From there, they can ruin the weapon and rations storage, and open the gates from inside.
Knowing full well how much Damdeok likes him, Ha Muji is against this plan. Nevertheless, Yeon Salta begs for the chance to make up not protecting the first queen. More importantly, he reasons, if Goguryeo does nothing to advance the campaign, this can soon turn to a disaster.
Giving in, Yeon Salta departs right away as Ha Muji remarks
I sent another great general to his death.
Although Damdeok doesn’t take the news well, he agrees to go along Yeon Salta’s mission and raid the unsuspecting enemy.
Enters the lion’s den by your own will
Back at Sujuncheng, the Houyan emperor impatiently asks when will Goguryeo soldiers attack inside. Since the people who ran away haven’t lured the enemy, Murong Xi orders a member of their family killed each day that they don’t return. Just as everyone becomes surprised at the rash decisions, they learn Goguryeo soldiers have just entered.
Rushing outside, general Fengba and his men surround the infiltrators, who have managed to set the storage buildings on fire.
Realizing how everything was set up, Yeon Salta criticizes Houyan’s tactic.
How could you use people to lure us? You are utterly shameful.
At once, the Houyan soldiers attack the intruders and, fight as they may, the larger numbers overwhelm the Goguryeo force. Cut in the left arm, Yeon Salta sees the dire situation and calls for everyone to hold out and open the gates.
Soon the news of Goguryeo’s army attacking both the eastern and western gates amidst all the dust outside alarms the Houyan generals. Seeing where this is leading up to, Murong Un quickly orders all the soldiers to the gates.
Pounding on the doors of Sujuncheng to enter
Reaching the fortress, Damdeok sends forth some troops to the northern gate.
Within moments, the catapults strike the fortification with a will to come in at all costs.
Fire arrows fly over the defensive walls killing any soldiers caught in its trajectory.
Siege towers move closer to the fortress.
Men climb the walls.
Houyan is horribly unprepared for a raid and it dawns on the leaders how unlikely they can win. Yet, there’s a dilemma. They must abandon the ship less the enemy annihilates the whole army if they continue fighting. However, at the same time, if Sujuncheng falls, Houyan risks putting Longcheng in grave danger.
Fengba volunteers to stay behind and hold the fort while the Houyan emperor escapes. Agreeing, Murong Xi and his men leave for the northern gate.
＼(ﾟ▽ﾟ=))／ Woaaah, Fengba such a courageous hero to stay on the sinking ship.
His minions ask the general if it wouldn’t have been better if they tagged along them. Fengba quickly replies,
Fool. We would only be blamed for all this. The best thing we can do is defend the fortress and prove our loyalty. Go and get some arrows.
The not so unreasonable actions of a defeated chief
As defeat enters Murong Xi’s head, he decides the Goguryeo king can’t occupy his base and orders his servants to burn everything.
And then suddenly he remembers. What about the strategist who failed to protect Sujuncheng? Drawing out his sword, the Houyan emperor turns around and angrily places the blade next to Murong Un’s neck. The moment they reach the capital, he’s going to die.
Pushing Murong Un away, the ruler rushes towards the north gate. Along the way, he spots unknown Goguryeo soldiers already inside and immediately calls for an archery unit. Not caring who is who, Xi wants them all killed; the gates must be defended at all costs. Surprised, Murong Un tries preventing the slaughter of their own troops.
The fighting Goguryeo and Houyan soldiers cease fighting each other as they watch in horror at the archers ready to shoot them down. Seeing no one shooting, Murong Xi repeats the order and eventually the wavering archers give in.
Lines of men fall to the ground at the incoming arrows. Yeon Salta is not spared as his body accumulates wooden sticks all over his body. Still taking hits, he commands his subordinate to complete the mission who then runs to the east gate.
The once dividing barrier opens up.
Immediately, an influx of Goguryeo soldiers barge in causing the Houyan men to forcefully pull their emperor away.
Riding in, Damdeok looks and calls for Yeon Salta but all too late: his fellow man lies on the ground barely hanging on.
Damdeok holds onto the dying general in time to hear his last words
I’m going to have to leave you. Become a great king… who embraces the people.
Closing his eyes, his head inclines downward and releases all worries. And so dies Yeon Salta.