Skep's Place


Chapter 83: I Have the Speaking Sword Right Now

Right, so Huang Zhong. Well, Liu Bei praises the exploits of Zhang Bao and Guan Xing, being like, man, I'm glad I have you guys now because all my other generals are getting old and useless.

Of course, Huang Zhong's defining character trait is that you don't tell him he's too old to do something. So he goes on the attack, and duels a bit with the guy who now has Guan Yu's massive polearm for some reason. And he wins a great victory.

Then he gets shot in the armpit and dies from his wounds. Ah well, at least there's no time-displaced Huang Zhong anymore.

Gan Ning—former pirate, current Wu general, huge badass—shows up here, having come along for the war even despite suffering from dysentery. He hears there's an attack; he runs out to the front, sees a big-ass army and decides it's not a battle he can win. But he takes an arrow to the skull anyway; he rides away for a bit, then sits under a tree and dies.

Okay, let's stop killing off characters for a little while and move on to something else.

Guan Xing gets lost chasing after the guy with Guan Yu's blade, so he finds shelter for the night at the house of a farmer who coincidentally has already deified Guan Yu. Got a shrine in his closet and everything.

Then the guy with Guan Yu's blade shows up to the same house for shelter. Guan Xing kills him, takes the polearm, and rides off, leaving the nice farmer to clean up the mess. Heroic.

Next, we see the two guys from a couple chapters ago who defected to Wu after Guan Yu said he was going to execute them for blowing up the powder stores. Well, they hear their men conspiring to kill them and re-join Liu Bei, and they decide that's a pretty bad outcome for them. So instead, they kill their commanding officer who helped eliminate Guan Yu, and they go and try to re-join Liu Bei before their men do anything funny.

But Liu Bei says, you little shits, you're only here looking to rejoin me because the Southlands are getting their asses handed to them right now. So our hero has them cut up nice and slowly, giving Guan Xing some nice vengeance.

Good lord, is this chapter still going? Okay, let's see what's next.

At this point, Sun Quan is getting the reports from the front, and he's like, man, we are getting our shit so wrecked right now.

One of his advisors thinks they might be able to make Liu Bei a peace offering to get him to go home. This is how the conversation goes:

"Let's respectfully return Zhang Fei's head, and chain up the two guys that shanked him and send them over too."
"Okay, that's a good start, but I offered him a lot of great stuff last time, and he wanted none of it. What else can we offer to buy off peace?"
"Right, okay, then let's try offering him this: the exact same thing as last time."
"Perfect, I'll draft a letter."

Predictably, that doesn't fly; but those guys that killed Zhang Fei also get cut up nice and slowly, and Zhang Bao has vengeance now too.

So with that having failed, Sun Quan is scrambling to find a real ace in the hole he can use. One of his advisors suggests, hey, you know, Lu Meng technically appointed a successor when he suggested Lu Xun as his replacement. Why don't we bring that guy in?

Sun Quan figures anything's worth a try at this point, so he appoints Lu Xun grand commander of the army. Lu Xun warns him in advance, hey, just so you know, I'm still really young, I'm just a scholar, and I haven't done anything impressive yet. Your generals aren't going to listen to me.

But Sun Quan says, take my sword; if they give you any lip, just execute them and apologize to me later. And so Lu Xun goes out to the front.

As he guessed, the generals aren't keen on him. Han Dang in particular is like, look at all those soldiers coming in, we need to be out there taking the fight to them, but you want us to just sit around on defense with our thumbs up our asses?

Nobody else wants to play the tight defense game either, but Lu Xun is the one with the sword, so they begrudgingly listen.

But there is plenty of discontent for a while. At one point, Zhou Tai asks Lu Xun, hey, Sun Quan's nephew is besieged in a city nearby, how are we going to rescue him? And Lu Xun goes, well, I was thinking we would beat the Shu army and he would just be able to walk out.

And everybody laughs at him for that because it's obvious he has no plan.

Well, after a few months of Liu Bei being unable to clear the heavily-defended pass, it turns to summer, and his soldiers start baking out in the open fields. So he decides to move his soldiers into the nearby hills, which are nice and wooded and shady. But he leaves a crappy decoy army out front, which will make a tempting target for Lu Xun and his battle-hungry men. And then the decoy army will flee and pull the Wu troops back into Liu Bei's ambush.

I'm not sure where the ambush is hiding since they're out in open fields, but that's the plan regardless. And we will see how Lu Xun responds next chapter.

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