Skep's Place


Chapter 35: Be a Good Boy

After escaping across the river in the last chapter, Liu Bei spends the night in the home of an enigmatic recluse. Mostly this guy just speaks in riddles and doesn't give any useful responses to Liu Bei's questions. However, he does vaguely tell Liu Bei that he could find great success if he can recruit Sleeping Dragon or Young Phoenix to his cause. Doesn't tell Liu Bei who they are or where to find them, of course, because that would actually influence the plot.

Oh, and he also tells Liu Bei about a new children's rhyme that's going around. This rhyme heavily implies that Liu Biao is about to die (because these kids have been reading the book so far, even if nobody else has), and that Liu Bei will take over the province. You know, in case you guys like foreshadowing that straight-up tells you what's going to happen. Still has no bearing on Liu Bei's actions though.

Instead, Liu Bei goes home to his county, where he writes Liu Biao to tell him what happened at the party. Liu Biao decides it's not better to ask for forgiveness than for permission, and is about to execute Cai Mao for the scheme, when Liu Bei's own envoy stops him and says, "Wait! If you kill Cai Mao, Liu Bei won't be safe!"



Listen, envoy, I'm gonna need you to show your math on this one. Anyway, stupid Cai Mao doesn't get executed, or even fired.

However, Liu Biao does send his older son to Liu Bei to apologize on his behalf. But when he gets there, he begins to weep openly to Liu Bei, extremely worried that "Lady Cai is going to have me killed so she can put my younger brother on the throne, what should I do?"

Liu Bei tells him, eh, just go home and be a good son to your dad, you'll probably be fine.

Later, after all those shenanigans die down, Liu Bei meets a guy named Shan Fu. I don't remember this guy at all, so you don't need to either.

He says he wants to work for Liu Bei, trying to get on his good side by telling him that his horse is unlucky. But he also says that, if Liu Bei wanted to cure this horse's terrible fortune, he would just need to give the horse to somebody else, wait for the horse's bad luck to get that guy killed, and then just take the horse back.

Skep: "But didn't the horse's previous owner get speared by Zhao Yun? I guess that doesn't count somehow."

Not that it matters, because Liu Bei tells Shan Fu, I would never stoop that low good sir! To which Shan Fu responds, haha, that was just a test to see if you were really worthy.

You know, that cop-out excuse.

Anyway Cao Cao's about ready to march against Liu Biao now. Naturally, the county that Liu Biao had assigned Liu Bei to is the one that borders on Cao Cao's territory, so he gets to be the first line of defense. Cao Cao's cousin, Cao Ren, is trying to put together a plan to deal with him.

One of Cao Ren's generals tells him, "Liu Bei is very strong, so if we want to attack him, we're going to need to take our time and form a very careful strategy. Anyway, if you give me and my brother a bunch of guys, we'll go rush in and pop him right now!"

Strangely, this doesn't work, and Liu Bei scores an early victory. Although this is largely due to the presence of Shan Fu, who, it turns out, actually has some knowledge of military strategy—something that Liu Bei has sorely been lacking to this point.

However, Cao Cao's army is starting to look unstoppably large at this point, especially compared to Liu Bei's ragtag group of soldiers, and it's going to take some impressive strategy just to survive for much longer.

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