Skep's Place


Chapter 33: Three Brothers Die (no not those)

Here we meet Cao Cao's oldest son Cao Pi. Well, his oldest living son. The son that didn't get killed after Cao Cao stole some other guy's wife. Anyway Cao Pi takes after his father because the only thing he does in this chapter is steal some other guy's wife.

Granted, in this case, the "other guy" in question—Yuan Xi, middle Yuan son between Tan and Shang—he's still alive. Although... perhaps not by the end of the chapter. Spoiler.

Also, real quick aside, Xu You who defected in Chapter 30 keeps gloating about how he helped Cao Cao's army take the city. Cao Cao doesn't mind because they're old friends, but Xu Chu gets pissed off and kills Xu You. And Cao Cao is like... I dunno, he's kind of like, "I mean, was that really necessary?" in about the tone of voice I would use if my nephew threw one of his toys onto the floor.

Anyway, the eldest son Yuan Tan writes to Liu Biao for help with Cao Cao. However, Liu Bei interjects here, telling Liu Biao they're better off just playing defense for a bit rather than going out and mucking with Cao Cao's army. Instead, Liu Biao writes letters guilting Yuan Tan and Yuan Shang to get over their issues with each other and make up so they can actually stand a chance against Cao Cao.

But Yuan Tan ends up getting merced by Cao Cao's brother before that happens and there's no actual emotional reconciliation, so like, okay then. Did we just want to shoehorn Liu Bei into this chapter somehow?

After that, Cao Cao basically plays Whack-a-Mole with Yuan Shang and Yuan Xi as he mops up the rest of northeast China. The brothers run into the desert at one point, and Cao Cao's best schemer Guo Jia tells him yeah, it's cool to chase after them now, no worries.

Except Guo Jia gets sick in the desert and he eventually dies, so really, nice work there.

Not that it matters, because after the Yuans escape again, it turns out a very forward-thinking Guo Jia left a letter detailing how Cao can get their heads by doing absolutely nothing. He notes that the guy the Yuans took refuge with doesn't trust them not to dick him over one bit, but would be resigned to require their help if Cao Cao were to attack. Meaning that all Cao Cao has to do is not attack. Cao Cao didn't get to where he is by not listening to good advice, so he goes home, and the guy sends Cao Cao the Yuans' heads in a box as thanks for not attacking.

So Guo Jia called it. And then died of desert I guess.

And thankfully, that's all the Yuan nonsense wrapped up. We're going to start getting into much meatier stakes pretty soon, promise.

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