Skep's Place


Chapter 70: Call In the Retirees

Okay, enough of that boring last chapter, let's get back to some good old-fashioned war.

While Cao Cao has most of his army out dealing with Wu, Liu Bei launches an attack on the lands that Wei just took from Zhang Lu. Zhang Fei leads the charge against Zhang He, who is holing up on top of a mountain pass and won't come out.

Zhang Fei then spends fifty days at the base of that mountain, doing what Zhang Fei does best: getting drunk and yelling at people. When word of this gets back to Liu Bei, Zhuge Liang just says, goodness, we'll have to send him some better wine.

Liu Bei is less than amused about this, because he knows bad things happen when Zhang Fei gets drunk. Zhuge Liang has to convince Liu Bei that if he'd been paying attention, he'd know that Zhang Fei is the only character who's had any personal development this entire book, and this is probably a ploy.

Turns out, it is a ploy. Zhang He scouts the Shu camp after the new shipment comes in, and sees Zhang Fei hanging out in the open, watching his soldiers drunkenly wrestle. Zhang He takes the bait and launches an attack; he charges in on horseback and spears Zhang Fei... just to find out that it was just a scarecrow all along, and the real Zhang Fei is quite sober, and quite in the way of the only escape route.

After that catastrophic failure, Zhang He is ordered to go defend a different pass.

This time Huang Zhong wants a crack at him, even though he is nearly 70 years old. Zhuge Liang—much to the ridicule of everyone else—tells him, yeah fine, take the other old fart we just picked up and go have fun.

Zhang He laughs at the geezers all the way up until he gets his shit wrecked in battle, and he needs to call Xiahou Dun's nephew in for reinforcements. Together they duel with Huang Zhong, who holds both of them off for a bit, but he eventually has to turn and run, and the Wei officers take his camp.

This happens a couple of times, with Huang Zhong trying to hold off attacks on his camps, only to turn tail and run from each one in succession. Eventually, they push him back to the pass, and he digs in and refuses to come out for a while.

When he does come back out, it's at high velocity in the middle of the night, after the Wei army has grown complacent just sitting there. In one fell swoop, Huang Zhong takes back all his forward camps, plus all the supplies Wei had restocked them with.

Despite having exhausted his troops in the push, Huang Zhong presses the attack on Zhang He's fortifications. The time spent losing and subsequently retaking the camps gave the other old geezer he brought enough time to get in position and attack the enemy from behind. Once again, Wei is driven away and Shu scores a victory.

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