Skep's Place


Chapter 48 / Red Cliffs Part 6: The Pride...

The person who confronts Pang Tong turns out to be Xu Shu—AKA Shan Fu, AKA the guy who helped Liu Bei with military strategy before Cao Cao strongarmed him into his own service. Xu Shu sees through Pang Tong's plot, but he has no love for Cao Cao (despite still working for him for some reason), and he promises not to say anything, so long as he can be guaranteed to be far away from the chaos that would ensue if this plan goes off.

Following Pang Tong's suggestion, Xu Shu secretly spreads the rumor that the northwestern generals Ma Teng and Han Sui are threatening to move on Cao Cao's capital. Then, Xu Shu offers to protect against them.

This was actually one of Cao Cao's biggest fears, so he sends Xu Shu off. With that anxiety off his plate, Cao Cao decides to throw a sick rager.

He promptly gets drunk and sings a song about his impending victory; but one of his best advisors says that the lyrics actually sound defeatist if you analyze them. Cao Cao is like, are you trying to ruin this fun party I'm throwing? And he stabs the guy with a spear. Which seems to me like it would be a bigger party-ender, but oh well.

Anyway the next day Cao Cao chains all the ships together, and he's feeling pretty good. Some of his advisors are like, man, we're dicked if they attack with fire though. But Cao Cao tells them, nah, it's the dead of winter, the wind only blows from the northwest this time of year, so if they set our ships alight, it would only be blown right back at them. Pretty dumb strategy.

Then a couple of his guys come up and are like, hey, we're northerners who can actually do boat stuff, we want to lead an advance raid. Cao Cao says, sure! ...And then leans towards his advisors and whispers, "watch this!" He gives the guys some men and boats, and watches as the only people in his army with any naval experience whatsoever sail off and get cut down like nothing.

Cao Cao then says, see? We can't match the south navally if we unlink our ships. And now they know they can win without fire, so they have no reason to risk it. Nah, this is definitely the right call.

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