Skep's Place


Chapter 51: Armchair General

Everybody is celebrating the victory at Red Cliff when Zhuo Yu receives word that Liu Bei has camped in a position to attack Nanjun, a city in Jing, currently held by Cao Ren. Zhuo Yu is like, what the actual hell, I wanted Nanjun. So he goes to see Liu Bei.

Liu Bei—following Zhuge Liang's instruction—is like, yeah, we're still kinda homeless, so we figured Nanjun might be a good place to set up. Zhuo Yu says, maybe, but we kinda did the heavy lifting to save your ass in that last battle, I think we get dibs on attacking Nanjun.

Liu Bei replies, that's understandable. But maybe, if you can't take it, we can give it a try after?

Zhuo Yu shrugs, figuring, eh, there's no way I don't get that city. So he agrees and marches out.

Cao Ren is holed up in Nanjun, and Cao Hong is in nearby Yiling to provide a pincer defense. Gan Ning goes to take Yiling—eliminate the pincer, standard warfare practice. He succeeds in running out Cao Hong and takes control. However, Cao Ren recognizes the importance of holding Yiling and sends reinforcements, which manage to trap Gan Ning inside the city.

Zhuo Yu wants to go save Gan Ning, but he doesn't want to lift the siege on Nanjun to do so. Looking around to see who he can possibly leave behind to babysit the siege, he spots Ling Tong lounging on the couch watching The Office again. Zhuo Yu asks, hey, you good holding things down here? This won't take longer than ten days.

Ling Tong rolls his eyes, saying, fiiine, but if it's any longer than ten days then this entire siege is just going to fall apart because I can't be bothered holding responsibility that long. Nothing ever comes of this plot point though; and long story short, Zhuo Yu takes Zhuo Tai over to Yiling and breaks the siege, saving Gan Ning.

At this point Cao Ren is starting to feel like he's in over his head. Then, he suddenly remembers that Cao Cao left a super-secret plan here last chapter in case Ren happened to get into trouble someday.

(I forgot this was a thing, and I had to go back and check to make sure Cao Cao actually left a strategem behind. Turns out that the book ISN'T poorly written, it's just that Skep is a dippy.)

So the super-secret plan is for Cao Ren to evacuate the city.

...Great. So he does that.

Zhuo Yu rocks into Nanjun, feeling pretty good. Buuut just kidding, Cao Ren hid crossbowmen on the walls, and Zhuo Yu takes a bolt to his side. Meanwhile, his army tries to get out of the city; but Cao Ren circles his evacuated soldiers back into battle, and Zhuo Yu only gets away because Ling Tong decides to show up for work today.

Zhuo Yu spends a couple days resting; his doctor says he needs to avoid stress or his wound will never heal. So his soldiers hang around and don't get into any more scrapes for a bit.

Cheng Pu is like, maybe we should retreat and give you time to heal?

Zhuo Yu says, bitch, we're soldiers, sometimes we die in battle. And he puts on his helmet and rides out. In fact, he straight-up does a YOLO charge at Nanjun; but before he gets there, he falls off his horse in pain, and his soldiers pull him back out again.

Back at camp, Zhuo Yu's like, naaah I'm just messing, I feel fine. Aside from falling off a horse, that shit hurts. But anyway, let's get the rumor going that I'm dead.

Cao Ren hears that rumor, and he's like, great, let's hit their camp tonight while they're all too sad to do anything.

Yeah, that doesn't go over. Zhuo Yu chases Cao Ren all over the place, most notably away from Nanjun. When Cao Ren is sufficiently beat, Zhuo Yu says, okay, now let's go back and claim the city we won.

New problem: Zhao Yun is there on the order of Zhuge Liang, and doesn't let Zhuo Yu in. As far as he's concerned, Zhuo Yu made his attack on Nanjun and didn't win it, so Liu Bei was free to make the attempt per their earlier agreement. Very fortunate, then, that they found it completely empty.

Zhuo Yu figures, screw it, at least let's go take some of the other towns around here. But it turns out that Liu Bei's troops swiped military documents from Nanjun, and used them to easily take the other towns already; so everywhere Zhuo Yu goes, Liu Bei's men are there to greet him.

So Zhuo Yu does about the only thing he can do and blows a gasket.

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