Skep's Place


Chapter 12: Pulling Cow Tails

After Cao Cao's defeat at the end of the last chapter, Chen Gong has a new plan: have a wealthy citizen from one of the nearby counties write to Cao Cao saying he's going to open the gates and surrender the city. Cao Cao is thrilled to take a win for once, but before he enters the city, Cao Cao is advised to leave most of his troops outside. It's a good thing he does, because he sees the streets empty of people and thinks, "hang on, this could be a tr—"

On cue, Lu Bu's generals set fires throughout the city and burn the gates, and Cao Cao is basically at the mercy of the heavens now. At one point he even runs right into Lu Bu himself.

...But there's so much flame and smoke, Lu Bu just asks Cao Cao which way Cao Cao went.

"Obviously, Cao Cao is down by the bay, and definitely not right in front of you. Yep. Go look there."

So Cao Cao gets away from Lu Bu. A burning beam ends up falling on him when he tries to clear a gate, but he's saved by Dian Wei once again, because that's what Dian Wei does. But, Cao Cao spreads word that he died from his burns, and Lu Bu decides to press the attack, whereupon he gets ambushed for his trouble. So it's not all straight victory for Lu Bu here, either; Cao Cao still has a few tricks up his sleeve.

...Except right around now locusts start eating everybody's grain, because we haven't figured out a way to keep grain safe from locusts at this point in history I guess, and dudes have to resort to eating other dudes. Suffice to say, there's a ceasefire between Cao Cao and Lu Bu.

Meanwhile, over in Xuzhou, Tao Qian croaks. But before he goes, he tries to give his position to Liu Bei again, who surely can't refuse now that Tao Qian is sick. He makes the case that, since both of his sons are incompetent (thanks dad), Liu Bei would just have to advise them anyway. Meanwhile, all the common people come around and say "yeah, Liu Bei, we are basically pleading with you to watch over us".

So Liu Bei decides, okay fine. I'll take the province. But only temporarily.

Cao Cao does not have a high opinion of these events, taking the stance that "come on now, Tao Qian is dead, I never got justice for daddy, and Liu Bei gets Xuzhou without even firing one stupid arrow?!"

But instead of taking advantage of the turmoil involved with a change of leadership to try again, Cao Cao instead goes on an adventure to defeat more Yellow Turban rebels. During this time, he recruits a man named Xu Chu, who matches Dian Wei in battle, and who claims to have dragged two oxen by their tails about a hundred meters. Cao Cao is excellent at recruiting absolute beefcakes.

So he's feeling pretty confident when he goes to take on Lu Bu again, especially since the latter's generals ain't general-ing very well. Out scavenging the countryside instead of garrisoning the city, which is, you know, pretty much their one job. That city understandably falls pretty quickly, and when Cao Cao rocks up to city number two, Lu Bu rides out to meet him in the field. Except this time, the wealthy citizen from earlier really does defect to Cao Cao, and pulls up the drawbridge behind Lu Bu. With nowhere to reatreat to, Lu Bu goes running off for somewhere to live. Again.

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