Skep's Place


Chapter 49 / Red Cliffs Part 7: ...The Fall

Zhuo Yu is observing how great all of his preparations are going, when he has a sudden realization and collapses ill.

Zhuge Liang stops in to see him, and he's like, yeah, I can cure you. Because you're not even sick. You're just stressed out because you heard Cao Cao mention the wind last chapter; it's not blowing the right way, and it'll just spread the fire to our ships rather than theirs.

Then he tells Zhuo Yu, I've got an in with the heavens, right? So I bet if I prayed, I might be able to get a southeast wind going. Just get me a bunch of guys to build an altar to my exact specifications, on this one hill waaay over here away from you.

So they do that. The book goes into far too much detail explaining the numbers and colors of the flags and what they represented, and who was there and how they were dressed and what they were holding. It's a little extra, especially considering one interpretation (the most likely interpretation, I should specify) is that Zhuge Liang is just putting on a big goddamn show and isn't praying to anybody; he just knows when the wind is going to shift.

Well, shift it does; the southeast wind totally starts blowing.

When he's notified about this development, Cao Cao's response is, well yeah, the deepest part of winter is about over now, so the wind will turn like that from time to time, no big deal. They certainly couldn't have planned for this.

Meanwhile, Zhuo Yu's reaction is, ah great, Zhuge Liang is controlling the goddamn weather now, that's all we need. You people hustle to the altar and go cut his head off while we still have any ounce of opportunity. But they're too late; Zhuge Liang is already off in the boat he'd cryptically arranged for Liu Bei to send when they met up a couple chapters ago.

So he's out of Zhuo Yu's clutches for good. At least for now.

Zhuge Liang reunites with Liu Bei and starts sending generals out to set up ambushes along the route that Cao Cao is likely to escape along. But he doesn't send Guan Yu.

Guan Yu is like, what the shit, I'm the most loyal and most capable person here!

Zhuge Liang says, well, I was going to send you to be the last ambush point, but you're too honorable to get the job done. You still feel like you owe Cao Cao for treating you so well when you served him, so you'll just let him go.

Guan Yu's says, whaaat, that's crazy, of course I'd kill him. So Zhuge Liang figures, well fine, go on out then.

Liu Bei has reservations about whether or not Guan Yu is actually going to do what he's told. Zhuge Liang actually knows what's going to happen already, because of course he does. And in fact, he tells us what's going to happen, but I'm not going to tell you yet because it's more fun for me if I don't.

Anyway, Zhuo Yu sends his armies out, and gives Huang Gai the go-ahead to start the fire attack. Huang Gai sends a message telling Cao Cao, hey, I stole our grain shipment and I'm coming over!

And Cao Cao is like, great!

And Cao Cao's advisor is like, if his ships were full of grain, they'd be a hell of a lot lower in the water.

And Cao Cao is like... oh shit.


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