Skep's Place


Chapter 22: Long-Forgotten Friends

Chen Deng, who is now freely offering advice to Liu Bei for some reason despite planning ambushes against him last chapter, tells him that they should persuade Yuan Shao to attack Cao Cao.

"Um," says Liu Bei, "it's kinda our fault his brother is dead. He might not be keen on helping."

But Chen Deng says "Nah, there's a guy in the city who's been friends with Yuan Shao a long time! You already know him! It's the most obvious solution in the world! Why don't you get Zheng Xuan to write him?"

"Ah, Zheng Xuan, of course! Naturally I've been seeing him regularly this entire time, even if the book hasn't mentioned it at all! Speaking of which, isn't there zero way the reader would have guessed this name because he hasn't come up yet?"

"Not so! He was mentioned as one of your teachers back in Chapter 1!"

"That's good enough for me!" says Liu Bei. Anyway you can go ahead and forget the name Zheng Xuan now.

Anyway, they write Yuan Shao, who consults his advisors on attacking Cao Cao. One of them is like "yeah, we can do that, but we gotta prepare first. I can get it done in three years."

"Hell with that," says another, "we can march right now if we want."

Yuan Shao likes the "now" option a lot better, so he has somebody draft up a pamphlet detailing Cao Cao's crimes so that they have a legitimate reason to declare war. No joke it's six pages long. It's insane. And it's mostly just a recap of what Cao Cao has done in the story so far.

With that taken care of, Yuan Shao marches out, and Cao Cao meets in the field. However, Yuan Shao's camp has a lot of infighting, and Shao himself is indecisive, so nobody ever actually does anything.

Meanwhile, Cao Cao sends two of his generals and a small force to fly his personal colors near Xuzhou to fool Liu Bei into staying on the defensive instead of attacking while Cao Cao is distracted. Liu Bei is skeptical this is Cao Cao, but wants to make sure. So he asks his brothers who will go find out for him.

Zhang Fei says meeeeee; but Liu Bei says, no, you have a temper and will ruin everything.

Guan Yu says he'll do it, and Liu Bei says yes, I'll feel much more comfortable if you do this. Presumably leaving Zhang Fei to wonder why the hell Liu Bei bothered asking both of them in the first place if he was only going to pick Guan Yu anyway.

Anyway Guan Yu pulls a Ma Chao and yanks one of the generals off his horse. Zhang Fei responds by saying "well I can do that," and goes to get the other guy. Except the other guy doesn't want to come out. However, Zhang Fei rolls a natural 20 on his Intelligence check and actually comes up with a plan for once. He'll plan a false nighttime raid, then he'll spend the day in his tent drinking and "feigning intoxication".

Uh huh, "feigning". Sure bud.

Well he "gets drunk" and beats a soldier who defects over to Cao Cao's general and spills the beans about the raid. So the general prepares for a raid... which isn't actually happening. And Zhang Fei catches him off-guard and yanks him from his horse.

Liu Bei is very proud of Zhang Fei Hell, Zhang Fei is very proud of himself.

Liu Bei releases the guys to go home and tell Cao Cao that he only did what he had to do and maybe don't be mad. ...Except on the road home, Zhang Fei intercepts them, ready to run them through because he thinks Liu Bei should have killed them. So maybe Zhang Fei just forgot to take his Stupid Pills the other day, I don't know.

But Guan Yu shows up to stop him and the two guys go home.

Despite it all though, Cao Cao isn't gonna let Liu Bei off that easy, and it will be his turn to do some scheming next chapter.

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