Skep's Place


Chapter 78: Don't Get an Education

While Liu Bei is mourning Guan Yu, Cao Cao is also having problems, since he's now being haunted by the spirits of all the people he's wronged.

...Maybe. Historians think it was actually migraines; but this book is very anti-Cao Cao and it wouldn't be very dramatic if he suffered from migraines. So now it's ghosts, don't ask questions.

At one point he calls for a doctor, and he gets the guy who scraped the poison off of Guan Yu's bone just a few chapters ago. Here, we're finally given some of this doctor's previous exploits. Although most of these follow the pattern of him diagnosing "yeah, the problem is there's something weird buried in this person's skin" and everybody laughing at him and then him cutting the lump open and a weird thing coming out, like chess pieces or a live sparrow.

Unsurprisingly, his proposed remedy is to cut Cao Cao's skull open to remove the problem and let out some built-up air pressure. You know, that old migraine cure. Cao Cao is incredibly suspicious of this, which you can't really blame him for because his last doctor legitimately tried to poison him. So he throws this doctor in jail, where he dies.

Also, before he does, he gives his entire life's work to the jailor to carry on his legacy. But the jailor's wife destroys it all because she's afraid if her husband becomes an amazing doctor he'll just end up dead in jail like the last guy. So that's a fun ending to that story.

There's a random bit around this time where Cao Cao gets a letter from Sun Quan, who goes, heeey buddy, tell you what, I would really appreciate if you'd go fight Liu Bei for me, since he's probably reeeaally mad at me right now. So I could really use some help with that. And then if you would ever, say, I dunno, claim to be emperor of China or anything like that, I wouldn't denounce you doing that or anything. Does that sound cool?

Cao Cao sighs, alas, I could never do something like declaring myself emperor because I am still a loyal subject of the Han, and I want history to remember me as a good guy that way. But also if I've somehow set my heir up perfectly to do that very thing, well, that wouldn't technically be my fault, would it?

But he does have the power to do something about Liu Bei. And what he decides to do is delegate Sun Quan to fight Liu Bei. Which the book somehow doesn't make out to be a huge gag because that shit is legitimately hilarious. "Oh, you're asking me to do a thing for you? Okay, I'll send you to do it." But I guess it doesn't matter because the book immediately drops this plot point and never mentions it again.

Instead, Cao Cao starts seeing the ghosts of the high-ranking people he's had killed and is getting haunted in his sleep and stuff. Xiahou Dun is sent to check on him at one point, but he also sees the ghosts and freaks out and basically won't recover even though he never actually had anything to do with these victims.

Seeing the writing on the wall, Cao Cao officially names his eldest son Pi his heir, and then kicks the bucket.

There's a bit of tension after this because some of Cao Pi's advisors are saying they need to petition the emperor to make him the new King of Wei and give him the power he needs to keep the place running, but that will take time. Meanwhile, others are saying he just needs to take up the mantle right away because it's not like the emperor has a whole lot of power anymore anyway so who cares, and if you don't do it now your brothers might try to steal it from you.

But then one guy shows up and is like, nah it's cool I already petitioned the emperor, congratulations you're the new King of Wei. So that's that matter settled I guess. Pour one out for Cao Cao.

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