Skep's Place


Chapter 53: Ominously Vague Warnings

Zhang Fei finally heads off to take another city. It goes very smoothly and isn't interesting to talk about.

Guan Yu is tasked with the last one. Before he goes, Zhuge Liang warns him of a 60-year-old enemy general named Huang Zhong who's still an incredible marksman and warrior despite his age. Guan Yu basically replies "sure whatever." But when he gets there, Guan Yu and Huang Zhong duel for a long time, but neither wins the first day.

I take that back; when Guan Yu gets there, he's actually first met by some other dude who tells the governor, "I have a plan for taking Guan Yu alive!", but his plan basically ends up being "engage Guan Yu in a one-on-one duel and immediately get ganked". Which, in my opinion, was a bad plan.

So anyway, on the second day, Huang Zhong and Guan Yu duel again. Eventually Huang Zhong's horse stumbles and he's thrown off, leaving him vulnerable. But Guan Yu—being the honorable warrior—spares Huang Zhong, and tells him to get another horse and come back tomorrow.

On day three, Huang Zhong is ordered by the governor to just shoot Guan Yu and call it a day because we're all getting bored of this, which is honestly the most sensible idea anybody has had this entire book. But Huang Zhong is conflicted because Guan Yu showed him mercy the day prior.

So they duel, and Huang Zhong turns around in a fake retreat. He snaps an empty bowstring twice, pretending to fire arrows at Guan Yu, who thinks, man, those arrows must have gone so wide, this guy can't aim worth shit. And then Huang Zhong sinks a third arrow right at the very tippy top of Guan Yu's helmet. Guan Yu gets the hint and lays off the chase.

But the governor of the city thinks Huang Zhong is in league with Guan Yu now, because he hasn't killed Guan Yu in three days of fighting. So he tries to have Huang Zhong executed.

Out of nowhere, Wei Yan steps in. This is the guy from Chapter 41 who threw the gates open for Liu Bei when the latter was seeking refuge from Cao Cao, only for the resulting internal squabble to lead Liu Bei to go look somewhere else for protection. Wei Yan didn't actually disappear after that; he tried to find Liu Bei, but ended up here instead. He leads a revolt against the governor and is tremendously successful, and turns everything over to Guan Yu and Liu Bei.

Liu Bei says, great work everybody, I'm hiring you all, welcome aboard!

Zhuge Liang says, actually Wei Yan needs to die. Because he revolted against his master and turned over the city. That's not really a quality you want in your employees, and Zhuge Liang says as much.

But Liu Bei is like, well if we kill him, then nobody will ever want to surrender to us! This is actually such a good point that Zhuge Liang has to admit that he doesn't have an argument against it, so he says, fine, but mark my words, Wei Yan will betray you one day, even if it's so far into the book that everybody will have forgotten about this warning by then.

Anyway, Liu Bei basically has full control of Jing now, so that's cool.

Meanwhile, Sun Quan is attacking Hefei, which is being held by Cao Cao's officer Zhang Liao. The first attack doesn't go so well; but there's a disgruntled servant in the city who's like, hey, I'll totally stab Zhang Liao for you guys.

He starts a fire and pretends there's a riot going on in the city, with the intention of stabbing Zhang Liao in the confusion. But Zhang Liao keeps a cool head and falls for zero percent of it; actually, he does one better and makes it look like the riot was successful, and Taishi Ci charges in. Of course, it's now an ambush; Taishi Ci is severely wounded, and dies a few days later. Sun Quan ultimately withdraws the attack.

Back at Jing, Liu Bei learns that Liu Qi, the last son of Liu Biao, dies of that random unexplained illness he had last chapter. Liu Bei's like, well, I guess the Southland is going to be wanting Jing now.

Sure enough, Lu Su soon shows up and kicks off the events of the next chapter.

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