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Bloodshed at tong pass
With the death of the emperor the struggles began however succession was not one of them as Li Yong was made emperor by Nui as he adopted him as his own , despite the late emperor efforts many did not trust him do to his family linage, the struggles were on to end the war with the tang which the new emperor tried to end quickly to end the war and prove his loyalty, even before the death of Niu he had prepared to finally break the defense at tong pass , he had called for his old ally to lead it many courtiers didn't like Cui but they knew that to contradicting the words of the late emperor especially in Li Yong position was not an option.


As the days passed Ciu arrived to Luoyang and his footsteps were heard in the palace many courtiers and eunuchs could only stare, as the general prostrated himself to the emperor who saw him with reverence , the courtiers and eunuchs began to whisper one of them went to the emperor he pushed him aside , Li Yong stood and had a private conversation with the general and approved his campaign to finally drive out the tang , he sent the general with 30 000 men , the news of the army quickly reached the tang which were not that worried after all they held out but some were concerned after all Cius reputation reached far and wide therefore they began preparations against him , once he arrived he set up camp and began to prepare .



As the days passed Ciu began his first probing attacks on the sending many scouts and then a few hundred men these had few encounters, with some bigger fight with tang soldiers , still the tang commanders refused to take the bait , Ciu could not afford to wait but the scouts had told him of possible weakness the northern part was the weakest in their defense , however the river was very wide and any delay in communication could end horribly and he had to wait he barely had any vessels that carried vital supplies he could not risk disembarking his supplies and have a tang force target them and even if he did the ships would not accommodate for the large vanguard that he wanted to send .



The general had to think on that night, one of his subordinates entered his tent saying that one of the many siege engineers wanted to see him , he entered and told the general that he could use the siege engines strip them down and make emergency rafts to help cross part of the army , without hesitation he sends order to one of his officers " prepare your men have them prepare an attack on the fortress of the pass make them shout but make sure not to engage " he then said to another officer "reunite your best siege engineers and strongest soldiers to follow this man" as his warriors distracted the tang the men worked their sound and any probable scout rushed back to figure out what the distraction was about , as the dawns rays broke through the sky the emergency rafts had been completed as 5000 soldiers had already moved to cross with clear instructions by Ciu.

They left just as the men from the attack of the tong pass returned tired but with minimal casualties as they won a deserved rest, Ciu gave one last warning to the Tang even though the original letter didn’t survive the fragments of quotes give a clear message if they surrender they would be spared and be accepted to the Qi army and even their leaders might not only be giving clemency but they too might kept their position, some did defect to his side but many didn’t still been confident of their earlier victories , Ciu organized 4000 heavily armored cavalry men as vanguard with some infantry to attack the pass the tang were surprised and send part of their force to engage these manage to push the Qi back but the men countered attack as Ciu encouraged his men but as news spread that the Qi general was commanding himself messengers were sent to bring more forces.


These marched out and charged the Qi vanguard was pressed with limited space and been pushed back and kept been pushed back ever slowly as attacks launched at Ciu position intensified despite that the tang comanders were still cautious as they wouldn't advance beyond a certain point fearing an ambush ,despite the overwhelming numbers the narrow pass allowed the Qi force to not be routed still they kept retreating ever slowly, seen how in s matter of minutes the tang comamder was thinking of retreating but then it occurred Ciu was struck by a crossbow bolt and knocked of his horse and as rumors of his death spread the Qi broke and made a hasty retreat as the tang ordered a full attack to finally end the battle .

The vanguard was cut to pieces as the screams of men and horses were heard only to be drowned out by the screams of terrified men and horses along with the sound of them running and galloping, the disorganized vanguard crashed with the main force and like a small flame becoming a forrest fire the panic spread to the other troops , Ciu after getting some help quickly got in to his horse and trew his helmet of so that the troops might recognize their general .

By this point the vanguard had almost been killed to a man but he managed in time to organize his main just in time , still the tang had killed so many and didn't know that Ciu was actually alive so charged to end the battle ,like hammer the tang lines crashed now with more space but the Qi wall resisted still outnumbered it would not last long, his comanders urged him to flee before the lines collapsed but he just told them to hold the line and retreat slowly .

Men began to collapse but the line didn't break as even the mortality wounded grabbed their weapons and killed as many as they could before they were killed just as all seemed lost , screams were now heard from the back ,Ciu outflanking force had finally manged to attack now the tang began to panic and disintegrate as Ciu ordered a counter attack , in one last desperate move a cavarly contingent tried to attack Ciu position but the spearman held and cut them down in mere minutes the 40 000 dispered and now the Qi soldiers began to slaughter the fleeing survivors .

One later chronicle says that on that day a stream of blood rushed from the tong pass to the river .

The victory was a heavy one Ciu had lost 10 000 men still with the fall of Tongguan the door to Chang'an was now wide open and with it the fall of the tang dynasty.
 
The flight of a dynasty.
Ciu victory was outstanding and a testament to his leadership and the courage of the Qi soldiers but also a massive gamble that impressed many commanders but just as many were jealous, everyone wanted to climb up the ranks especially after the death of Nui , this made the other commanders take more risk in Jiangling the commander had to debate the senior one wanted to attack while the second in command was more cautious putting saying that they should wait till they starved like Xiangyang , but after Ciu victory at tong pass he used this as an example to attack and won the debate, little is now about the attack only that it was hard-fought and the Qi on the next 3 days made breaches but in all of them the tang beat them back with great casualties , while inflicting many to the Qi , on the third day the first in command himself was shot by a crossbow in the neck killing him instantly, with his death the second in command called of the attack .

With this the besiegers in Ezhou didn't even attempt anything , in the east the situation was different after the failure to conquer Guangzhou the tang pushed back conquering some towns and in the next months after the siege , pushed back all the way to Zhangzhou here they took the city and continued moving as they crossed the Zhangjiang river , the armies had been so focused on retaking land that they ignored word of possible counter attack it was a surprise when they attacked as 1/4 of his force crossed the river and were attacked the tang commander fled upon his big war horse while many others drowned , the victory combined with the news of the victory in tong pass made the Qi commander , who was a rival of Ciu and his faction in court do to this and wanting to end the war the Qi pressed their advantage but pushed to far and handed an easy victory to the tang .

As these events went on the survivors of the massacre of tong pass told the emperor the news and a debate broke out as the tang emperor didn't want to flee as he believed that if Chang'an fell the dynasty would fall with it , but his loyal generals and courtiers told him that they could still win if he was still alive as they could reunite their remaining armies with the Uyghurs , the emperor told his courtiers that he was no coward and that he would not be seen as such especially with the the traitor who became the "emperor" of the Qi, but after a week was convinced to flee, by this point Ciu already crossed the tong pass and had taken Weinan, with this panic struck the citizens of the western capital especially after what remained of the army and the emperor left ,with most of the army gone men began to raid the great market of the city ,others fought against the tang soldiers that remained as they began to conscript the men , but many just reunited what ever they had to flee fearing the fate of Xiangyang.

Two weeks later Ciu arrived with his army , he gave the ultimatum to the city to surrender or be destroyed , the tang soldiers afraid of this but also wanting to resist for as long as they could lied to the inhabitants of the cities saying that they due to the capital been a symbol and wishing vengeance on the tang for their Nuis defeats near the tong pass, this was partially true as the general did want to cleanse the city , after 10 days Ciu learned that the soldiers in reality were conscripted peasants , the general who was not great in negotiations and feared that he might alienate them , they successfully convinced the men and then they learned the truth , as they open the gates the conscripted men rioted and captured the tang officials as the tang soldiers fought the Qi ,the "battle" didn't last long as the city quickly fell to them and the officials were publicly executed to a jeering crowd.

Still the was partially sacked for the few recourses due to all these calamites the great capital glory was greatly diminished to a ghost city , When news of the city fell the tang emperor then executed what he saw as incompetent courtiers by this time the emperor had already arrived to Lingzhou ,even though it seemed as the new Qi dynasty had won Xuanzong had not yet given up, the promised the Uyghurs even more special privileges and tittles so that they might still stay in the war and it worked , he also sent word to his rivals asking for warriors of the Tibetan empire which they could not send as much due to their own ill situations .

The emperor also sent word to the Dabuyid empire who did sent more warriors as like the kingdom of Nanzhao they chose the devil they knew, still the tang with peace assured in the west more Chinese and Turkic vassal troops from the protectorate , the tang emperor would need all the warriors he could get, as with the fall of his capital many governors in all but name declared their Independence from the tang dynasty, but not all as the governor of Guangzhou still said that he was loyal to the tang, the same was the case with the general protector of the west.

Due to this the emperor made an official alliance with the kingdom of nanzhao promising them many titles and trade deals making the governor even more powerful , with these alliances the tang dynasty could still have hope , Xuanzong himself promised that before he died he would return , retake his two capitals and murder Li Yong.
 
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Battle of Chaozhou
As Xuanzong began to prepare what he had to save his dynasty, the greatest general of the new Qi dynasty was taking a break as they cheered and celebrated or at least tried to but the ghost city was an eerie place ,still the Qi had both capitals and the tang even sent word for a truce for 3 months , the general disliked this but what option did he have? he had barely 16 000 men and with them he knew that he could not march to the north to defeat the tang emperor , he with his current force could pivot south and help take Jiangling but he knew the emperor told him to attack the west and he need it approval so he sent word to him if he could move south and if he couldn't that he please sent reinforcements .


As he waited he lead he already sent many scouts and some hundred cavalrymen to raid to the north , while he waited the other fronts were also in stalemate , but with full support from the kingdom of nanzhao ,the tang went on the offensive as the Qi responded and the decisive battle would be in the Han River some 10 kilometers from Chaozhou , here the 14 000 tang and 6000 nanzhao forces met the 35 000 strong Qi force , the tang force managed to cross the river , the battle commenced with the 1800 nanzhao cavalry with their leather and rhinoceros hide armor, with their spears and bows send to skirmish and probe the Qi forces who in turned responded with their arrows and bolts this caused them to flee , after this the tang then sent their cavalry and clashed with the Qi cavalry and were pushed back as the tang commander of the cavalry was nearly killed .


Here they retreated despite the Qi commander telling him not to follow the heavy cavalry which they did , the Qi commander quickly moved his troops but the tang sent the nanzhao cavalry to slow them down , when the Qi cavarly pushed to far the trap was set and the tang infantry and cavalry quickly encircled the force the slaughter was quick as the men tried to fight for their lives to no avail , with no space to charge the men were grabbed and thrown of their horses , the luckily ones would get a sword or lance trough their neck or another exposed part , but most suffered a painful death as the sounds of swinging maces and spears ,broken bones and screams were heard.

Some others gave up and those with extreme fear threw themselves of their horses , with their destruction the Qi still had a 5000 advantage in numbers but the men were broken and as both armies clashed as the Qi had few cavalry support , the Qi wings were pushed back and then broke as the tang and nanzhao cut down the fleeing as others were showered with arrows , but most deaths were do to trampling as some tried to surrender while others tried to flee , still many were captured including the Qi commander the same one who had less the siege of guangzhou and the subsequent battles , he was promptly was executed along with other high ranking officers .


With the Qi force nearly destroyed the tang began to expand to the north and in the next month they began conquering many towns , they took the city of Zhangzhou and moved to take Quanzhou as some other contingents moved north to probe the defenses of the Qi, when news arrived to the Li Yong was furious he ordered reinforcements and his navy to go save the city, he recalled half of the army of the 20 000 men he was sending to Ciu and gave the rest of the reinforcements he was going to give for the siege of Jiangling and Ezhou amounting to a 25 000 strong army which he ordered to march south immediately , he also sent word for the defenders telling them to resist as much as they can ,the Qi general had not spent his time idly he had recruited 4000 men of Chang'an and the surrounding region when the arrival of reinforcements with new commanders among them, Shi Lang a officer who became a cavalry commander in the fighting in Shoufang and most importantly a courtier named Gu Guangyan he was one of the many officers of the late emperor who helped him in his battles and spent his time in the Yellow river keeping the Uyghurs at bay but with frontier stabilized he was sent to deal with what remained of the tang .

How ever now the Gu and Ciu argued they had the troops and the latter knowing it was early September knew that he could still have enough time to push up to finally destroy the tang the generals and commanders agreed , But Gu while been a commander he was a great courtier he knew that the general had sworn an oath to the tang emperor and he feared what might happened if the broke his oath, so instead he proposed to wait gather more troops and wait for more reinforcements, send raids and that one of them should go south and take Jiangling , but the general was not going to waste more time he had in his mind already waste to much time , the men Ciu accused Gu of been cowardly and not finishing the tang before winter arrived would be an absolute failure of command , while Gu said that him breaking an oath would have grave consequences for their allies and potential allies the Qi could have .

Ciu used the emperor word that he could do as he wish in terms of command for the interest of the Qi dynasty , Gu been trained as politician and argued that his attack would not be interest of the Qi empire, there was no guarantee of victory and the potential consequences , this convinced many generals to join his side, so fearing a bigger conflict with the second in command he agreed to attack Jiangling and thus the cracks began to spread.
 
The prelude
The Qi army left Chang'an under the joint command of Ciu and Gu even though they marched separately taking half of the army leaving Shi and other locals commanders , But Ciu forced marched his troops and went ahead of Gu army he disapproved , but Ciu correctly told him that there was no tang army to take advantage , his forced march made him arrive in almost 18 days but loosing some 2000 men in the march , still with his numbers the Qi commander attacked the defenders were nearly on the verge of starvation and like Xiangyang they began to eat their animals , the siege barely lasted 2 days after Ciu arrival and like Xiangyang the soldiers and civilians were massacred with that completed Ciu told the men to thank Gu for this and left and told Gu who still marching of the fall of the city , as he marched north to meet with him .


With the fall of Jiangling part of the forces moved and Ezhou, as Ciu returned north he cough up with Gu nearly 200 kilometers north of Jiangling by this time the city of Ezhou had already fallen and the troops were resting before pushing south , when it was finished Ciu wanted to do another force march but Gu didn't approve and a normal march ensued still they went faster and arrived back at Chang'an in half a month.



Then the news of the scouts told him that the tang had prepared an emergency ambush force to attack them in the mountains but when they heard that they moved south they left and continued to prepare, these news made the debates begin again the two months had yet not passed , Ciu argued that they need to attack now before the tang army could fully prepare and entrench themselves , but Gu argued that they still need to wait till the emperors reinforcements arrived and so that even if the tang prepared a defense they could still shatter it , the troops also became divided , those who had attacked the tong pass were loyal to Ciu he was a their best general and he led them to crush the tang and take their capital , but the reinforcements preferred Gu after all his call for attack was success they conquered the 2 cities in a matter off days and the scouts proved that the march north could have ended poorly.


But after some days of debate Gu relented and accepted the army moved how ever again the armies marched separately Gu ,Ciu and Shi went west to take Baoji they arrived 3 days later and the siege began, but even here they disagreed Ciu wanted to take it and March north before winter truely set in but Gu argued that the forces could take it and they meanwhile could get reinforcement in the winter and not risk starvation by moving north ,most of the generals agreed with the latter after all it was already mid October , during this time the events on the south were getting dire after the fall of the two cities they began to push south , even though the area in named belong to Jiangnan circuit in reality it was divided in to 4 with their respective capitals in Guizhou ,Wuzhou , Yongzhou and Jizhou the men helped but also bickered and at many times nearly fought but with the Qi know pushing they all reiunited and agreed to set aside their own squabbles .


This was also great news to the governor of Lingnan after all when the Qi invaded his territory the governor of Jizhou couldn't help as he was stuck in a squabble with the other governors and now he received reinforcement with these the conquered Quanzhou before the Qi army and navy could arrive and he waited there were some more movements but in general once November arrived all operations in the north stoped , in the south the Qi army and navy finally arrived and they laid siege to the city just captured by the tang , the recent besiegers had become the besieged , to make matters worse not all of the governors army was there as he sent a part of his force to the other governors for in their words a decisive battle , therefore the tang governor could do little except wait for the other governors to save him .


To the west the Qi armies continued their march show still believed that the squabbling governors would not figth them and the governor of Yongzhou even told the army that he would join them in Tanzhou as the tang armies marched they like they arranged met near the city and then the other tang armies attacked them , the battle began and was a drawn out both sides started out with their archers and crossbowmen attacking and sending the lighter cavarly to the sides , then both armies clashed , the Qi had a slight advantage in numbers still battle was a hard one were the Qi slowly but surely took the field , but at the height of the battle the governor of Tanzhou betrayed the Qi charging at them from the left with chaos they spread was met with a charge from the tang armies , the Qi army collapsed , some scholars still debate whether the governor actually did want to join the Qi basing themselves of the fact that the betrayed them very late in the battle , while other argued that this was planned , what ever the case the Qi army was broken and only 1/3 of the 30 000 strong force survived with the victory the tang moved to relieve the siege of Quanzhou there was debate on what to do .

But the army decided to stay and face the relive
Force , little is know about the battle but despite the sallies of the besieged army the Qi manged to halt them and pushed them back to the city while figthing the tang , after hours the tang force retreated with heavy casualties but at least they managed to also inflict great damages the Qi victory even though it was pyrich one still raised moral due to the recent string of defeats of the area , despite this the seeds of destruction were about to bloom
 
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the cracks widen
As 831 arrived the winter made the stalemate continue , however recent actions made some allies distrust the Qi , the khitans heard that Ciu broke his oath to the tang was this not the same general that gave an oath that no harm will come to us , said the khitans to their leader he knew that the most likely explanation was that he wanted to end the war quickly but it still produced doubt , when this war was over what would happened to them would they become more than vassals of the Qi empire, the thought of this hunted him and the same ideas spread to the other nomadic tribes .



The rumors spread to the Qi and like rumors usually do these were exaggerated they said that the Ughyurs made a deal with the khintans and other tribes so that they might betray them others said that the tang emperor made a separate deal with them and other said that the kingdom of balhae wanted more chaos so that they could take advantage of the power vacuum, the rumors spread to the emperor but the young ruler didn’t buy in to them however he need to kill the rumors and suspicions that could potentially lead to conflict , so he send 2 courtiers with small escort and told them to be amiable with his ally and vassal and merely ask he told them to arrive as fast as possible so that these rumors might not spread, they arrived a few weeks later by early February , by this point to the west the tang emperor had received the reinforcements he need 6000 warriors from Persia and mostly from their eastern domains along with more troops for the tang western holdings , but the emperor didn’t attack it was still winter and he had used this time to raise a new armies he used every able men who was not making weapons or farming for his new army.



By this point the Qi had just taken the city the city of Baoji and where making the spring preparations, back to the North West the courtiers had arrived they reunited with the leader of the Khitans and other tribes they warmly greeted them they were invited to a banquet and the leader of the Khitans began to explain the situation to the courtiers, but then the senior of the two dropped dead most likely a heart attack due to his age , but rumors spread fast that the Khitans poisoned him and despite the other courtier efforts saying that he drank the same drink and didn’t die , it still put many in the area in high alert and to others it validated the rumors , to add to their misery and these rumors put the men in high alter near the frontier with the Uyghur the Qi raiding party found an unknown raiding party and in their fear of the enemy force or because of the rumors of betrayals, unknown to them they killed a raiding party of their own allies .

Distrust now filled both sides to make matter worse the stubborn official tried to justify his actions the courtier wanted to punish him to avoid a bigger conflict but if he did he would cause troubles but if he didn’t he would also cause troubles for the Qi , what could he do?

So he told their superiors to detain the group and paid some sort of compensation to the families and a formal apology to the leader of the Khitans and other tribal leaders, however when they were detained there was brawl, there are two explanations the first been that the soldiers simply resisted what they saw as an arrest the other reason and the one most sources cite as is that they believed that they were been detained and be executed to avoid a bigger problem so the men not only resisted and reunited with their allies and attacked a local post overwhelming them but avoided to kill anyone sadly in the chaos some did die among them Qi soldiers and nomadic soldiers .

The leader of the khitans believed this to be hostage situation as unknown to them his cousin and other leaders and another leader of another tribe , so he sent word to the courtier to resolve this however one commander would not stand this because he saw this as insubordination, as he didn’t know that this the men feared that they were going to be sentenced to death , but now that they killed other soldiers they were , so he sent a group of 800 men to attack the fort and bring the 150 men to trail but they had permission to kill them , whatever the case was they need to avoid killing the two tribal leaders and save as much Qi soldiers, these attacked and these explicitly told the men to surrender either way they were dead men , this confirmed in the minds of the 150 that they were originally going to be sentenced to death due to this a small battle started but the outnumbered men soon got overrun but a fire started in the chaos this fire consumed the fort.

To add to the misery as if the heavens themselves cursed them the fire killed the cousin of the leader of the khitans and gravely injured the other tribal leader with smoke inhalation before this death he said that they purposely set the fort a light, not specifying if it was the 150 in an act of desperation or it was the 800 to force them out of the fort , with these news the leader of the khitans patience ran out and called for the punishment of the troops who took the fort and the commander who sent him to give an explanation but the courtier told him that he commander told them to not attack and if they did it was not his responsibly , but by this the leader of the khitans had had enough the courtier tried to calm the situation down and the the leader noticed and tried to be patient but at the same time he knew that squabbling would lead to no were so he sent word to the emperor to resolve the matter.
 
Siege of Tianshui
As the tension grew in the north and the news to resolve the matter were going south the rumors had spread already that the leader of the khitans set the events up as justification for war, of course Li didn't believe it because if that was the case he already should have attacked, but some courtiers who already didn't like him began to doubt him more ,he ignored them and waited for news of the western front , here spring started out well the armies marched to Tianshui which had small force that didn’t even engage due to mistrust of the locals and fled.


But all of the commanders knew what this most likely meant that the tang were preparing a siege, the Qi commanders began to improve the fortifications and stocked grain, just a couple of days later the massive 35 000 strong force under the command of the emperors cousin moved, the massive army had the Dabuyid warriors, tang armies from the north along sogdians, Turks and other tang soldiers from the west with direct orders to what to do and when to retreat.

The tang didn’t attack instead they made camp, every time Ciu sallied and retreat they were met by Uyghur and other nomadic horse archers who chased them to a certain point but the tang refused to take the bait , it was on 23rd of march that the tang began their first assault , large siege towers , rams and catapults and missile units against the city , were moved to the city walls, the Qi responded with arrows , bolts and their own catapults , these made the eastern attack a failure .

But the tang moved to the western side of the city , the attack was swift that the tang quickly used their ladders and began climbing up , due to the angle the Qi catapults could do little and some tang soldiers made it to the top of the walls but were killed , the defenders to try to drive them of they carried the stones and drop them , it worked as they retreated the Qi catapult stopped attacking , this convinced some that they ran out of stones .


With this they attacked and managed to breach the outer walls but as they were committed the Qi cavalry charged as Shi had Sallied out killing many and routing the tang as the cavalry didn’t chase for long as Shi burned their siege engines, the first day ended with hundreds of deaths, however on the next days debate began on what to do next , no comamder wanted direct assults but Ciu and Gu debated on how to attack.

Ciu argued to do minor engagements while preparing traps , he said for their cavarly to strike attacking their camp doing minor engagements and fleeing there they would chase and they would see a weaker part of the wall and attack while he prepared the cavarly to attack them once they committed , Gu on the other hand argued that it would be better to send horse archers and cavarly to attack , the tang would most likely respond with archers and crossbowmen then they could attack them with their cavarly quickly and retreat slowly but surely withering them down .

After these debate the cavarly went out they like Gu had instructed went on daily attacks showering the camps with arrows but there following attacks would vary , if they responded with archers the cavarly would attack killing them , if they responded with cavarly and infantry like Ciu ordered they would charge engage for a while and run back to the city where the catapults and missle units made short work of the men in some occasions the men got to walls attacked only to be driven back by a Qi sally , in these hounders of tang soldiers died while Qi causalities were more limited .

These engagements continued for 25 days these engagements convinced all commanders that the time agreed after another successful lure the force sallied out killing the force that chased them and then attacked , however the tang force was just preparing for an assult and met the force , despite the causalities they still had the advantage in numbers ,the Fighting was brutal the tang pushed their force back but at great cost, even so as the corpses mounted up the Qi had to retreat leaving their most elite and armoured spear men to allow the rest of the army to retreat.

Once they the tang called up the chase ,Despite this been inclusive the tang knew that it was over their emperor with 7000 loses and no prospect of taking the city any time soon that very same night the tang force left , Ciu and Gu both thought this might be a trick so they waited after four days it was clear that they had left , the Qi had only lost 2800 men , with the victory the preparations to strike deeper in to the north were made .

The emperor was very glad at the news of victory sadly he couldn't afford to send many reinforcement to them as from the south the "tang" governors kept pushing back and even laid siege to the two cities they captured just recently , while to the east the situation was still a stalemate as the siege of Quanzhou still continued , still by this time the events that had also begun on March were reaching it conclusion when news finally arrived about it the emperor quickly reunited with some of his trusted courtiers and made an agreement.

That the soldiers who rebelled would be killed , that the other soldiers would face light punishment , the commander that sent the attack not striped of his rank but moved to another area and that the leader of the khintans and other who were attacked or lost something would by the mutineers would be given wealthy compensations .

Once the news arrived in mid June the leader of the khintans and other tribal groups agreed as they saw it as a fair deal , how ever it had arrived to late as more episodes of violence had occured and the men demanded for more compensation which their leader agreed but he said that could be fixed but they first they need to agree to the first proposal by the emperor which some did and some didn't , these tensions were at least seeming to calm down after the emperors decree , but harvest time was nearly here .
 
Disaster of Qingzhou
As the events in the east were still ongoing the war in the west was reaching its climax after the victory of the siege in the first days of May, the commanders moved to north west but they as they did debated as the cities of Yuanzhou, Pingliang , Qingzhou were still tang bases , after all the tang army had prepared to launch their attack they were lucky that the tang were cautious as to not attack , both commanders wanted to deal with this they didn't even disagree with the others because both men and their subordinate were at a lost .


If they moved for siege that would take time and they would be closer to the areas of power of the tang, also the distances were short enough for the tang army to at least wipe one army if they made three sieges at the same time if they only attacked on they risked many attacks from the tang army, it is here when Shi Lang spoke he told his superiors that he could take part of the cavalry and move to the north, this would make it seem like that they would attack and keep them there as Gu and Ciu could move to take Minzhou , so just a few days as they moved Shi moved with 3000 cavalry to take the towns close to Tianshui , he ordered some of his men to go on foot to make it seem that they were a vanguard rather than a raiding force.


He also sent word to the garrisons of Baoji and Chang'an he news reached Baoji in two days and they quickly accepted as Gu and Ciu gave him authority to do as he wish if he deemed it necessary for the success of campaign part of their garrisons moved to attack once news reached Chang'an on the fifth day they also moved to the north , unlike most plans in military history this one went almost exactly liek they planned the tang believed that they were going to attack as the main force moved to take Minzhou, it was on the sixth day that news had arrived from Qingzhou , the garrison disillusioned with the tang and fearing that the Qi attack sent word to Shi that they not only wanted to surrender the city to him but also part the garrison, the cavalry commander didn't know what to think of this it could be a trap but then again if he could take the city he could distract the tang so he accepted, he reunited with the garrison Baoji and moved as the part of the garrison of Chang'an also moved with all of them being cavalry they moved quickly arriving in a mere 4 days once they on the night of their arrival the defenders fulfilled their promise and opened the gates.



This made the tang forces panicked and the reinforcements moving to Minzhou returned with this they soon laid siege to it, however the distraction went perfectly as without the reinforcements the city felled in a short while but now Shi was under trouble and like most decisions the two generals disagreed, Ciu wanted to quickly march to the area surprise the tang forces and annihilate them, Gu disagreed even if they forced marched their troops they would not arrive on time it would be best that if they sent word to him to abandon the city , they bickered for 3 days until were the book of the tang said:


As soon as the bickering was over he had sent his part cavalry with a thousand horsemen, by travelling more quickly so that they might arrive at first Qingzhou and he directed them to maintain the tang in their place, he thought that his two thousand horsemen, attacking and with the rest of the army, would do their enemy great harm and make them abandon the siege.

The cavalry arrived only to see smoke and the dogs eating what corpses were not burned, two days later the main Qi army arrived the few survivors told them that the city had fallen some three days before the arrival of the cavalry, among the survivors was Shi who told his superiors that they debated whether to leave or not, the tang had burned all the supplies therefore they were stuck and starving finally he committed a sally which some managed to breakthrough, with these news the Ciu was quick to accuse Gu of been responsible for this because of his cautious behavior which he called cowardly.


However he refuted him that they took even with the force marched took 10 days and the cavalry arrived in 8, even if he had agreed the main army would never have gotten in time , but Ciu argued that the cavalry could have arrived on time and Gu partially agreed , Ciu also blamed him for not marching faster but he argued that if they did greater part of his force would have died and they would have been utterly exhausted he told him that while it was tragedy they to quickly attack , however Ciu patience reached a limit he wrote a letter to the emperor the letter did not hide who he believed was in fault and send it to Li , two weeks later it arrived the emperor was surprised due to the anger the general expressed anger that he had never seen before , he recalled Gu and sent a word that the army that Ciu was encharge , however he didn’t punish Gu as he told his story still he knew that these two in the same place was disaster waiting to happened.

So he sent the general south to deal with the siege that was still ongoing , still the emperor was happy despite this setback the tang were on the verge of collapse and the situation and no more news of the north came they must have fixed the issue the thought but unknown to him the cracks were soon to ripple .
 
Battle of Yingzhou
After Gu left Ciu quickly moved to take as much land as possible so that the reinforcements when they would come he could use them to finally end the campaign, but the city of Qingzhou stood against him he had no time to waste for a siege but he knew the city had no supplies of food, so he ordered to his men to not assault the walls but get close and do lots of noise in one area of the wall while he told another part to wait and do the same, this continued to the night as he ordered his men to scout constantly if tang reinforcements would to arrive as these had left to attack Minzhou.

After two days the tang who were sleep deprivation and lack of food the scouts reported that many reinforcements were arriving in reality they were part of the garrison of Chang'an who he ordered that they would arrive in in sets of ten to make it seem like large army, with these news the garrisons of Qingzhou with no prospect of help they left the city in the darkness of night, with this victory Ciu left a small garrison and quickly moved to take Pingliang.

Here the book of tang said he used the same tactics as in Qingzhou and took the city in 3 days with no casualties while Du Shenyan wrote that on the night they arrived Ciu ordered his men to light 4 camp fires per each person and the scouts reported the massive army of the Qi ,this caused many to desert with that the Qi general sent an attack the next day and took with city with minimal casualties whatever the case might be he took both cities in a week and news had just arrived to the Tang army who had just arrived to lay siege to Minzhou,the army debated whether to go back and help or go north and they decided that Yuanzhou was a lost cause .

As the events went in the northeast the situation had been going well once the emperors decree had arrived they had all agreed and went to resolve other issues since the emperor’s letter arrived when other episodes of violence had occurred between the Qi and their nomadic vassals and some of the high ranking nobles pressured their leaders to demand more from what the emperors resolution offered them which many of them refused among them leader of the khitans which nephew saw as an act of cowardice , so the general invited them to a friendly meeting to settle the matters , both men agreed and the meeting turned in to a celebration were many men became drunk.

Here the two leaders the nomadic vassals were assassinated as well as well as the Qi general quickly their respective successors blamed each other and violence erupted all around the area with some even joining the Uyghurs and moved to attack but some switched side and kept their loyalty but another accident made it so that one tribe that wanted betray their leaders but were killed by a force in the border who didn’t know about it or though they would betray them, making many tribes that doubted their loyalty to join the Uyghurs , the tribes attacked raiding the cities and towns of the north the Uyghurs with the help of the tribes went and attacked pushing as far as Yingzhou were they met the Qi army.

The battle began with extensive exchange of arrow shots but as the wind was favorable to the nomads these inflicted heavy casualties after this the Uyghurs then attacked the center as the wind were still favorable to them their volleys caused massive casualties to the center which retreated, seen the hole left by the retreat of the Qi the latter quickly moved to fill the gap as the Uyghur’s had entered and attacked them from the flank and rear however the Qi general with his reserve and men who had retreated pushed them back seeing this the rest of the nomadic groups that were not engaged in hit and run tactics against the Qi sides charged as the Uyghurs redeployed some of his cavalry to his left wing without the Qi general noticing it .

With this extra pressure the left routed, this exposed the center right of the Qi army and despite some resistance they were cut to pieces, as the rest of the Qi army fled and the Qi general failed to reform his line, Du Shenyan stated that the generals was killed with other commanders in the hail of arrows trying to reform the lines while the book of tang stated that he died attempting to flee , whatever the case the Qi army fell in to full route and the horse archers pounced for easy kills.

By the end of the day of the 45 000 Qi men that took the field 1/3 of them died while the nomadic armies 28 000 took minimal casualties, the khagan son who led the battle found the Qi general and order his head to be cut off and put on pike then to be showed to the terrified defenders of Yingzhou the siege didn’t last long where the population was killed and the survivors been enslaved, while the many buildings were razed, with the defeat of the Qi army and the taking of the city the kingdom of Balhae also joined the raids to the Qi provinces ,in a matter a month and a half the situation which seemed stable had crashed ,the Qi emperor smiled in his palace as news came that the army he sent to the west had arrived and joined Ciu , he began to think that soon all of china would be his and he even began to think that once this was over he would punish the Uyghurs just as the tang had done with the eastern Turks , but a messenger arrived he quickly asked for paper and pen his dream of uniting china faded as he was now a man trying to understand what happened.
 
so finally finishing the china situation (just some more years) and hope to do it since i have really got a lot of things planned for Heraclonas and his guards ill just have to say "hopes , dreams and tragedy"
 
The ripples widen
After the disaster at Yingzhou the news arrived relativity fast in just 19 days the emperor by that time the 20 000 reinforcements had sent 40 days earlier arrived to Lanzhou to join Cui as he then marched north , the messengers who were enunchs were given the best horses and a small guard and told them to arrive were Ciu was as soon as possible .

The general had like before forced marched his troops and had arrived to Lingzhou in a matter of twelve days and began to prepare for the final siege ordering his troops to build their camp and wall like the city siege of Youzhou ,the next day the enunchs arrived , he asked them why they were there they told him about the war in the east and that he was need there , he quickly took the letter and began to read it

His annoyed expression turned into shock then anger every line he read filled him with rage by the time he was done , he threw the letter he said to them clearly that he didn't believe that it was from his emperor .

That this was who ever made this request was at best a coward who couldn't deal with the issue and at worse commtimg borderline treason to ask him of all people such a thing , he had not wasted years of his life , defeated tang armies, battled the mighty tong pass , risked the life of many brave men and fought against Gu and brought the light of victory were he was on the grasp of defeat just to give it all up not now , not when he assured them that at most he was weeks if not less from ending this war , he told the enunchs that :

I do not think in his wisdom , the son the my friend and the Tianzi would ask such a preposterous order so long as his signature and assurance that he himself wrote this i shall not touch that letter .

However the other comanders questioned him for disobeying an imperial order he tried to convince them

(the speech has been subject to much interpolation as the original source was lost and quotes survived whole later sources added to these the most would be reconstruction) :

through the will of the heavens and your courage we have gained Pinglu ,Hedong the lands of the treacherous barberians , both capitals and the vast cities of the south , so why do you hesitate to extend the power of Qi to all of china unto this city Are you afraid of orders that the Huangdi has not sent for we know his wisdom and these words lack them .

I say Come and who so ever does claim the glory that I will share with you and no other man so that they shall speak of your deeds for centuries for the truth is

These "defenders" either surrender without a single bolt fired or are they will be as incest crushed under the soles of your feet ,but if you desire to leave so be it I assure you that your ancestors will look with shame , your children with distain and the heavens will make sure will make those who leaven envious of those who left .

Despite his words most generals agreed that they need to return and this the greatest general was forced to sing a temporary peace of two months with the tang forces agreed and in that sumer Cui left his siege and began to march he sent 2000 men to garrison Lanzhou as he marched south west to the three cities he had captured some weeks ago he again forced marched his army making it to Qingyang and leaving 6500 men to garrison the three cities he captured .

By the time he arrived at Baoji a week later news arrived to him about the situation the nomads began to raid with impunity sacking many towns and some cities , their armies then decided to march south towards Youzhou, the relive army sent by the Qi was destroyed when the nomads noticed an ambush planed by them and then feint a retreat drawing much of the cavarly who was then encircled and destroyed , the survivors then fled to garrison the other cities how ever Yuyang didn't surrender , despite the threats of the nomads their morale was high as they were told that general Cui was coming .

Once he heard the news the force marches became even worse as he began to loose some several hundred , but due to this he arrived in Chang'an in five days then he crosses the tong pass a site that most of his soldiers crossed with bad memories but also the pride of the greatest victory they had , how ever their general looked at it with disappointment he was supposed to cross the pass to end the war and return to Louyang in triumph not to save them, once he arrived to the capital he ordered his exhausted troops to rest as he even before he was ordered to quickly moved to the palace and talked with the emperor who reprimanded him for disobeying his orders, the conversation was short as the emperor didn't want to deal with his general and immediately told him to go north and gave him some 8000 troops .

However the words of Cui had reached the court , those who were in favour of him or were just simply against the emperor began to doubt if the most honorable of their leaders doubted the emperor orders and even called it treasonous then it called to question his actions and worse his loyalty after all he was the biological son of the emperor they hated , equally on the other side men of the court accused Cui of seeking power and Glory at the cost of the empire and it's people using his example of the forced marches showing that he didn't care about them and then denying an ordering so that he might conquer the tang.
 
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Second battle of Youzhou New
When Cui left Louyang on the last days of august the forced march to the north , the garrison of Youzhou was already facing trouble even though the siege which had began on the 4th of july after Pingzhou and Jizhou surrender as soon as news of the nomads arrived and the terror they felt was the same that the inhabitants of Youzhou felt as the siege was seemingly almost over , the garrison was staring to run out of food the nomads knew this and decided not ceased their attacks some two weeks prior as they had defeated the earlier relive force and were confident they could deal with another one , as September arrived and the month slowly passed there was no sing of him and his army came to save them in mid September the garrison began negotiations to spare the civilians , but they quickly failed as the nomads didn't hide their intentions on what they were going to do to the soldiers , the citizens and their wife's .



But then a few days later the scouts told them that Cui was about a week march from the city a great debate then broke out on whether to take the city by strom or prepare for a battle against the Chinese general it was decided that if they could defeat the greatest general the city would surrender as the days passed word spread to the great general was arriving, great cheers could be heard from the city for many days the men celebrated convinced that they had won ,about 8 days later the general arrived he had rested he forced marched his troops a lot so he decided to rest about 100km south of the city instead of directly going to relive it


On the next day when he arrived the nomads left moving to flatter ground of their choosing and to their surprise Cui followed them , after some time they arrived in to an open field, due to his disadvantage he put his most armored units in the front and behind them crossbowmen and archers , while in the wings light cavalry , quickly deployed his forces with he himself with the heavy cavalry and spearmen in the center and the best of his cavalry in the reserve behind the center, the nomadic horse archers moved galloping towards the whole line loosing their arrows killing many but the line held as the better armored took their attacks and the missile units fired back killing many unarmored or lightly armored nomads.


These continued to attack and then sent their heavier cavalry to hit the enemy lines and then commit various feint retreats yet Cui firm commanded undermined the efforts, every time they tried to outflank the cavalry in the wings would response and push them back only to a certain point were then they had to return and this was the course of the battle for four hours on which the sun began to set, with this the Chinese general who at this point his troops had been slowly advancing ordered a full charge , he was trying to get in to a battle as the nomads made a crescent retreating using hit and run , in a mere 30 minutes he captured the enemy camp but he ordered a retreat , with this confusion the Son of the khagan ordered half of his nomads and these pounced the Chinese left and began to surround it .



The Chinese general attempt to strike but was met by the Khagan son as he saw his left was been massacred it seemed that the legendary general first defeat was at hand but the nomads but as the Du Shenyan wrote : At the time were the barbarians had victory in their grasp they heard the sound of thunder but it was not Tia (tengri) rather the hooves of the reserve cavalry that in the lust of victory the barbarians had ignored they came as a great typhoon against ships for they filed the barberians with fear and drove them off , as they went the field turned in to blood and the lust of victory was replaced with the anger of men and the glee of their death .


In mere minutes the lines collapsed and the nomads went out in a full route but Cui didn't pursuit as his own forces were bloodied of his 40 000 aprox men that he had over 9000 died but the nomads army nearly a third of them had been killed and others had been taken prisoner among them leaders of some tribes, the sources conflict as the book of tang said he gave his word for that no harm would come to them and immediately asked for a ransom and once he got it, the prisoners were quickly executed while Du Shenyan and other writters mention that he did give his word and once he was paid he was to return them but rumors spread that they were plotting trying to bribe the soldiers to either kill their general or give information about the army , due to this he had them killed what ever the case the men were dead and many of these tribes simply abandoned the Uyghurs.

Back in the city a great celebration was held for the victory for the scourge had been beaten but here some men due to his victories began to idolize the great general and the murmurs against the emperor grew in to cheers for their "new emperor" that soon they would crush the tang and the traitor that was their emperor for all the tang had lost the mandate of heaven including him , Cui tired to talk to his troops but to no avail but once they began to shout their death wishes upon the emperor , Cui despite his difference with him got furrious and with a mighty cried silenced them, he also threatened to commit suicide if the troops ever spoke like that again, the men quickly retuned to their celebrations in fear and shame .
 
The end was near New
After his victory Cui began to push back the nomads but as he did three weeks later the news of the victory and the incident at the feast , despite the eunuchs and courtiers murmuring lies to his ears he dismissed him and told the messenger to congratulate him and sent gifts he told them to winter there and come back so that he might receive the honor to march with him to destroy the last of the tang , by this time Gu had arrived to the south giving the besiegers desperately need boost in morale despite this his arrival in mid September didn't change much, how ever the departure of Cui helped the tang but they didn't make any move yet but made massive preparations in case of a siege while they prepared for an offensive as the tang sent even more gold and promises to Uyghurs so that they didn't leave the war , as for the Qi the eunuchs and courtiers continued to spread lies about his greatest general, still the rumors of Cui possible betrayal spread like wildfire mostly by the court convinced the emperor to sent two eunuchs two Zhang Jingmei and Song Lingzi.

These also arrived some 18 days later to Youzhou , these immediately began to "question" him about what he planed after the winter was over and he answered what the emperor asked of him , so then these began to complain about his broken oath to the nomads that these were not actions that would win them allies , they also complained about what they called excessive cruelty , as the general did punish his subordinates for minor failures especially those who failed at scouting , those whos incompetency made the men uneasy or failed his preparations by not meeting deadlines , for himself Cui detested the eunuchs and some courtiers he had already a bad experience with them with Gu, but at least that man cared for his subordinates and their well been he was also fiercely loyal , he also some times gave good advice in matters of war, but these two didn't care about no one rather then themselves and the were as he put it a constant annoyance to him in all matters .

In one instance as Du Shenyan records that the general punished a man for lying about the spoils that he took when one nomadic tribe and he planed to punish him , but the eunuchs prevented him and began to argue then debate turned in to a.. shouting match finally the general tired made reduced his punishment to be more acceptable to them and told him to leave his sight , in another case one man failed to scout that led to a failed raid were 300 of the 500 men died and he ordered the scout execution and the commander of the raid to be punished , the eunuchs got note of this and another heated debate broke out and these was just one episode of the 22 recorded ones , the debates were so heated and personally to the general as waste of time that he prohibited them to join maters in council of war on which they confronted him about it and he promptly ignored them.

By December there was another case of his secretary was caught in the act of corruption but this was not yet reported to the general due to this he sent a list to the eunuchs of an execution list , angered the men went to the feast that was held during the Dongzhi Festival ( winter solstice) , during the feast as they celebrated drank and ate the men began to question the general before he responded , Song Lingzi leaped from his seat and declared that the army and the emperor would no longer be the victim of Cui depravities, both men accused Cui responsible for the empire's troubles, accusing him of breaking oath, putting his glory above that of the benefit of the empire and even accused him of trying to steal the empire for himself.

The general stood silent with a defiant look and told them that if they were doing wasting their time brining false accusations and unimportant events to the feast which they responded that his biggest crime was indeed treason to the emperor , when Cui attempted to defend himself from the charges, he stood up but when he did both men drew their daggers, striking him but he responded grabbing one of the daggers of his assassins stabbing him killing him instantly, but Song managed to stab him in the liver, the other men reacted and pinned him then killed him , the death of the general would be what historians would call the beginning of the end .

The rumors that the emperor sent the men to assassinate him became widespread by January the news of his death and the evidence of Cui secretary treachery reached him and his anger reached a limit he ordered for his secretary to be torture him but he didn't need to as the men loyal to the late general already did and once they received the orders from the emperor they gladly accepted the order of his execution, as winter came to an end the tang hearing of the death of the great general now struck in late February by mid march they captured Yuanzhou and Pingliang in quick succession while laying siege to Qingzhou.

So he sent a force of 20 000 men to relive the cities it was then when his adoptive fathers brother asked if he could take the position of Cui and he immediately rejected him , he knew the reason why the late emperor didn't even consider him to be his successor , insulted he took advantage of the situation of the rumors and found men loyal to the general and he told them to "guard" the emperor they hesitated but been feed his lies and some bribes , in the 1st of April as the emperor went to ride in his few days were he took a break as he saw the fields the four men attacked killing him .
 
Gu's struggle New
Some weeks after the death of the great general Quanzhou finally had fallen to Gu but he could not push more as his troops were exhausted from one of the longest sieges of the war by the time the news arrive the emperor received one the last good news of his life , With his came the period that historians called the implosion , the late emperor brother Tan Sian took power , he immediately abolished the last emperors laws and proposed laws to take more wealth from them to help but he did keep the favors he was also planning for them , these were to be given once they the tang had been defeated and the economy had fully established , when the couturiers heard this they acclaimed him his emperor , however those who were against him used the argument that the great emperor not only didn't choose him but rejected him and they acclaimed his son as emperor , successfully evacuating him from Louyang along with the younger brother of the recently dead emperor Li Zu .

The courtiers fueled his anger and his thirst for power he decreed that they were to return to Louyang , in this chaos the nomadic tribes attacked again with Tan not doing much to stop them as the locals pleaded for help as rumors said that his nephew was there trying to gain the loyalty of the people , due to this Gu himself send 8000 men to reunite more men as they marched north , as the book of tang and other sources all agreed that despite his disagreement with Cui he admired his fierce loyalty to the emperor and his dream to end the war , he would respect that how ever people who were against the new emperor spread the rumor that it was the new emperors nephew ordered Gu to send his force and sent a letter to the general explaining his " treason" which he sent a letter in a formal way telling the emperor that he did nothing to relive the situation in the east and was not doing much to deal with the east and was not doing much to deal with the situation in the west, this was true as he was contempt with taking bribes for them .

Insulted by this he demanded that he return to Louyang immediately, but he refused he knew that he at best would receive a light punishment and at worst a death sentence but he been a courtier himself realized that Tan squabbles was to much even for him , there was clearly influence for the court for his growing punishment for certain members in the military it was clear to him that it was a purge , so to honor his late emperor and colleague he gave his full support to Juhan Sian and sent a smaller army to deal with him as he moved against the tang, while the tang emperor moved to siege Lanzhou , Tan sent an army to relieve it but the tang emperor bribed the general and then struck capturing many , by mid July the smaller army came to demand the resignation of the emperor but the he refused to battle them knowing this small army was trying to have a battle as they could not siege Louyang with this and some bribes the commander have to leave.

About 100 kilometers from Louyang the men were ambushed and the commander was captured which he ordered him to sent word to Gu to ransom him and once he sent it and was assured he would have the money he killed him , by that time as well the city of Lanzhou was on the verge of collapse but at least the north situation was becoming more stable , once the news reached the south Gu left the south to attack Tan with 30 000 men to the north leaving his best men which totaled 40 000 men as his primary objective was to defeat the tang while his forces were from professionals and some conscripts, by that time Lanzhou had just fallen to the tang, when he marched out in mid August as he moved north the city of the Qingzhou had fallen , as Gu moved he met no opposition till he reached Ezhou taking the city with east a few days later he met an army there which Gu discovered an ambush using a feint retreat to lure them from their positions then attacking destroying the army , the survivors fled to Xianyang which they refused to accept them and after Gu sent men which they gladly accepted with this many towns and cities just surrendered to him been tired of the abuses of Tan , after that he marched north hailed as liberator by the city of Ciazhou.

Were there he faced an army which he defeated by all sources by tricking them in to attacking the center were they believed he was and getting enveloped and defeated with this show of force the city of Yingzhou and Bian surrendered with this Tan panicked and the the courtiers debated if they should flee or stand their ground , Tan chose the latter hoping the walls would save him as the city cheered Gu and Juhan names as the general wanted to set the true emperor to the throne , the tang took this opportunity and by the time Gu arrived at Louyang the tang were laying siege Tianshui , when Gu arrived by late October he pleaded with Tan for the last time that they could resolve this but the "emperor" didn't bother to respond this made the general criticize him on how the men he killed were men who served under him in the past , that he forced him to kill them and that he chose to stop him instead of facing the tang armies and yet he had the nerve to accuse him , the general issued an ultimatum, for him to surrender or prepare for torture or death which Tan refused and the preparations for the siege of the capital began .
 
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