Skep's Place


Chapter 32: Takes Yuan to Know Yuan

I feel like this is kind of the Yakety Sax chapter.

Yuan Shao works up the gumption to march on Cao Cao again. Except he's still sick, so his youngest and favorite son, Yuan Shang, goes instead. Shang is a decent fighter, but Cao Cao routs him without so much as breaking a sweat, and Yuan Shao is so surprised that his son could lose a battle that he just up and dies.

Before he pops off, though, he names Yuan Shang as his successor. Which is something of a problem because his eldest son Yuan Tan expected to be heir, and he's willing to take action to get what he thinks he's owed. So now we have a succession crisis WHILE Cao Cao is attacking, which is never something you want.

Thankfully, the brothers realize Cao Cao is a bigger threat, so they put their problems on hold for bit and team up. Cao Cao knows he can't take their capital while they're working together, but figures that these two will turn on each other and tear each other apart the moment they lack a common enemy, so he decides he's gonna bugger out of the north and attack Liu Biao instead.

From here onward, there's just a revolving series of schemes between Yuan Shang, Yuan Tan, and Cao Cao as each of them tries to outplay the others. It gets pretty convoluted after a while; but the whole thing wraps up when Yuan Tan calls Cao Cao back from his offensive on Liu Biao and offers to help him attack Yuan Shang. Long story short, Cao Cao claims a victory when he seizes the capital from Shang.

Also, there's some great random acts of violence in this chapter if you like that sort of thing. I don't, but here we go anyway:

Yuan Shao's wife has his five concubines put to death pretty much first thing after he dies. Which at the very least is a level of petty that's somewhat amusing, if nothing else. And one guy who defected to Cao Cao gets to watch as the heads of eighty of his family members are thrown down at him from atop the city wall. I can't make that funny, I just need to point out that some people think this is an okay thing to do (it's not, by the way).

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