Skep's Place


Chapter 39: A Brooklyn Accent

Since Huang Zu got killed at the end of the last chapter, a modicum of vengeance has been won on behalf of Sun Jian, but it won't be enough. However, for now, Sun Quan decides against occupying Huang Zu's territory because it'll be too extended to defend, so he pulls back and starts adding more ships to his already huge fleet.

At the victory party, somebody tries to kill Gan Ning. His name is Ling Tong; Gan Ning killed Ling Tong's father when he was still serving Huang Zu. Sun Quan intervenes and makes the very smart decision of assigning them to opposite sides of his territory.

And that was our Sun Quan check-in.

Back in Jing, Liu Biao is pretty miffed that Sun Quan just attacked and killed one of his best generals, and he asks Liu Bei to lead the army against Sun Quan in retaliation. But Zhuge Liang comes up with the genius plan to have Liu Bei tell Liu Biao that he needs to think about it for a bit.

Then Liu Biao's older son Liu Qi drops by to see Liu Bei. Somehow, he's still concerned that Cai Mao and Lady Cai are going to have him killed so that Biao's younger son can inherit. You know, that problem that wasn't really solved when Liu Bei told him to "go home and be a good boy and it'll be fine".

Liu Bei still doesn't have a good answer, so he tells him to go talk to Zhuge Liang, because that guy's really smart. Liu Qi invites Zhuge Liang over and pleads repeatedly that he's going to die without some advice; but Zhuge Liang tells him, listen kid, I can't get involved in inheritance shit.

Eventually Liu Qi gives up and figures, well, I'm gonna die anyway, and he's about to slit his own throat right there; so Zhuge Liang is forced to say, Jesus Christ kid, fine, I'll give you advice you sick bastard.

(Of course Zhuge Liang speaks like a middle-aged construction worker from Brooklyn even if he's actually only in his twenties.)

On Zhuge Liang's advice, Liu Qi tells his father he's going to go take some guys and guard the area where Huang Zu was just killed. This not only gets him out of the capital, but gives Liu Biao an excuse not to pit Liu Bei against Sun Quan—because remember, Zhuge Liang's plan involves Liu Bei and Sun Quan being allies. So it's a good idea that they, you know, not do a war against each other. Instead, Liu Bei gets to go back to where he lives now and play defense in case Cao Cao shows up.

Coincidentally, Cao Cao shows up.

More specifically, Xiahou Dun shows up—because Cao Cao is busy today I guess—and he's got a hella lot of troops. At best, Liu Bei can only field a tenth of what Xiahou Dun brought with him, which means it's time for Zhuge Liang to work his supposed "military magic".

Guan Yu and Zhang Fei are super skeptical about his abilities because he's so young. It also doesn't help that Zhuge Liang gives them their assignments, and then basically says, "okay well I'm gonna chill out here at home, have fun!" So they're not exactly happy, but for Liu Bei, they're willing to roll with it this once.

Xiahou Dun shows up, and Zhao Yun advances on him with just a laughable amount of troops. Stupidly small numbers here. Zhao Yun duels with Xiahou Dun for a bit, but he can't win the fight, so he starts running away. The two guys with Xiahou Dun—Li Dian and Yu Jin—they're like, hey, this is probably gonna be an ambush, because it's ALWAYS an ambush. But Xiahou Dun says, look, I brought a hundred thousand dudes with me, they could ambush me ten times and I couldn't lose.

Predictably, he gets ambushed by Liu Bei's army. But like Xiahou Dun said, Liu Bei's ambush is a lot smaller and they can't hope to win, so they turn to retreat. Xiahou Dun starts chasing them down again; with impunity now, even, because the ambush has already been sprung.

However, Li Dian and Yu Jin notice that they're chasing Liu Bei through a narrow pass between hills and a river that's full of dry reeds and dead leaves and all sorts of autumn overgrowth... and the wind is blowing real good... and they say, uh, boss? It would be, like, catastrophic if they used fire right now.

Anyway the fires are lit before Xiahou Dun can finish having his "oh shit" moment.

Guan Yu burns all their supply wagons in the rear so their escape route is blocked off, while Zhang Fei causes chaos in the center and kills an officer. It ends up being a huge slaughter, and Xiahou Dun has to go home crying.

So Guan Yu and Zhang Fei are humbled, and Zhuge Liang has proven his chops spectacularly. But they can't rest too easy yet, because surely Cao Cao will be looking for some revenge.

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