Skep's Place


Chapter 7: Protagonistic Mortality

After the coalition breaks up, everybody starts pretending Dong Zhuo isn't a monster anymore and plot against one another instead.

For reasons. There's no clear justification here. Honestly there probably wasn't one, these are basically warlords we're talking about here at this point.

Yuan Shao is eyeing up a province called Jizhou, because that's where he's buying his grain from, and he figures he might as well own it himself and cut out the middleman. So he comes up with a plan that can't backfire whatsoever: He sends a letter to Gongsun Zan, asking him to use his army to help him take Jizhou, the pretense being the two of them can split it 50/50. Buuut he correctly predicts that the governor of Jizhou will see Gongsun Zan's troops marching in and be like, "welp, we can't defend against that, maybe we throw in with Yuan Shao for protection, he's a good fellow."

Yuan Shao is not, in fact, a good fellow, and when he's handed the keys to the city, he ousts the governor and takes Jizhou for himself. So now Yuan Shao has exactly what he wanted, with absolutely no downsides!

...Oh, except Gongsun Zan is actually pissed because, you know, he was promised half a province. Forgot about that bit.

Anyway, Gongsun Zan himself challenges Yuan Shao's army, but Shao's general chases Zan back to his line and presses the advantage, and things don't look so good for Gongsun Zan... When suddenly, an unknown general rides to Gongsun Zan's aid and fends off the attacker!

This is Zhao Yun. We'll be seeing a lot of him in the future. He rides a white horse and is great with a spear and he's basically a dreamboat.

Anyway Gongsun Zan tries to attack again the next day, but Yuan Shao's tactics are better, and Zan's army gets ridden down again until they reach the rearguard where Zhao Yun is. Zhao Yun turns the tables and presses the attack for a while, but eventually he too is pushed back, and things are once again looking bad for Gongsun Zan, when he gets saved out of the blue A SECOND TIME by Liu Bei and his crew showing up.

But from there on things are pretty much stalemated for a month until Dong Zhuo steps in and orders both sides to back down. And Liu Bei cries because he's crushing hard on Zhao Yun, but with the fighting over they have to go their separate ways. For... some reason.

And now for something completely different:

Yuan Shu hears that his brother Shao has taken Jizhou and is like, great, now he can give me some horses.

He doesn't.

Then Yuan Shu is like, damn. Well, okay, I also need grain, maybe Liu Biao will give me some grain.

He doesn't.

So Yuan Shu gets whiny because he doesn't like not getting his way. Seeing no alternative, he hits up Sun Jian—who, you might remember, is the guy who got his ass kicked by Hua Zhong because Yuan Shu denied his army grain two chapters ago—and says, heeeey, so, Liu Biao and Yuan Shao are bad people we should do something about, so I'll keep Yuan Shao busy if you take out Liu Biao.

Sun Jian actually agrees to this, because despite not liking Yuan Shu for the grain thing, Liu Biao pissed him off at the end of the last chapter and he wants revenge.

He attacks and is actually doing pretty well, because he's a better commander and his forces are stronger. But a pole in Sun Jian's camp that holds up a banner reading "commanding general" snaps and the banner falls, and everyone's like, "yeah that's a bad omen." Sun Jian don't listen tho.


Liu Biao sends out a general at night, with orders to A) set up an ambush if Sun Jian follows him, or B) get a message to Yuan Shao and ask for reinforcements if Sun Jian leaves him alone.

(No word, by the way, on whether Yuan Shu is actually keeping Shao distracted right now, but I have to believe he's a villainous snake who's just watching from the sidelines.)

Anyway, Sun Jian chooses to chase after this guy, runs into the ambush, and is shot with arrows and crushed with rocks. Aaaaand that's Sun Jian dead.

Wait, that wasn't supposed to happen, was it? *checks notes* Yeah, he uh, he was hyped up to be pretty important, but here we are. Huh.

Well, his oldest son, Sun Ce, takes over, figures there's not a lot he can do here, and goes home to build up his strength and pull good people into his court. This is actually going to be a good decision, but we're going to leave him to it and see how he's getting on later.

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