Skep's Place


Chapter 58: Implausible Mail Networks

With Ma Teng out of the way, Cao Cao prepares to march south. Liu Bei is concerned about this, so Zhuge Liang has him write to Ma Teng's son, Ma Chao, who we met a looong time ago; he pulled a dude off of a horse mid-duel. Zhuge Liang figures maybe Ma Chao can raise a stink and divert Cao Cao's attention.

Ma Chao is worked up anyway because Cao Cao just killed his father, which, you know, that'll make a guy unhappy. Although the book wants you to believe that somehow Cao Cao kills Ma Teng, then plans his southern campaign; at which point Liu Bei summons Zhuge Liang from another city, learns of Ma Teng's death, and then sends out a letter, which is delivered to Ma Chao two seconds after he receives news that his father is dead. The passage of time is funny like that I guess.

Anyway, Ma Chao rolls out, aided by his neighbor Han Sui, and they spend the rest of the chapter basically wrecking Cao Cao's armies. Together they actually out-scheme Cao Cao, and Ma Chao very nearly manages to kill him twice. It's good fun. At one point, Cao Cao has to strip out of his fancy clothes and chop off his beard to get away. Another time, Xu Chu picks him up, jumps onto a boat that's drifted out onto the water, and then protects him from arrows with a saddle.

There's just something innately satisfying about watching Cao Cao flee for his life over and over.

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