Skep's Place


Chapter 84: Xuns Before Sons

(Yes I know the chapter title isn't actually a rhyme.)

Lu Xun sees the crap army Shu left behind in front of the fort, and he looks off in the distance to see more Shu soldiers peeking out of trees occasionally, and he's like, yeah, nah, those guys out front are bait. So he keeps the hold position order up.

Over the next couple days, the Wu forces are drooling over these troops like a starving wolf staring at a t-bone steak. Despite these Shu guys hurling up insults, their lines are sloppy, and a bunch of their men are half-naked, lounging around and sunbathing. Like, could this be a more obvious trap? But apparently Lu Xun is the only one that sees it.

On the third day, Liu Bei's decoy army gets bored and leaves their position. All of Wu's generals are stunned, they had no idea it was a trick. Lu Xun just rolls his eyes.

Then Lu Xun announces, great, now that the trap is cleared out, we can finally fight Liu Bei. But his commanders reply, hang on. If that's what we were going to do all along, then we should have done it right when he got here, rather than giving him frickin' months to fortify all his defenses.

Lu Xun says, you dipshits, when Liu Bei's armies got here, they were coasting on a ten-nothing win streak against us, they were at the top of their game! Is that what you wanted to fight? All their momentum is gone now, which was my plan all along, thank you very much, and in just ten more days, they are absolutely, without a doubt done for.

We cut over to Cao Pi real quick, who's going over the scouting reports. He hears the positions of the battle lines, and he immediately begins preparations to invade Wu.

We cut again, this time over to Zhuge Liang. He's in the northeast, overseeing defenses against Wei. Liu Bei's advisor arrives, showing him the map detailing the locations of Liu Bei's camps.

Zhuge Liang takes one look and spits out his coffee.

One funal cut to Liu Bei at his camp in the forested hills. He's getting irritable at how long this invasion is taking, and he's preparing his next moves. Scouts report that a handful of Wu troops were spotted, but Liu Bei waves it off as a misdirect.

Then he smells the camp next to him burning.

Wu lights up every other camp site, which are all stretched out in a huge long line that makes them difficult to individually defend. And on that particular day, a southeast wind picks up, rapidly spreading the fire through the forests that the Shu forces are now camped in. This is what Lu Xun had been waiting for.

He lets his armies fly, and between the panic of the fires and the onslaught of enemies, Liu Bei's formerly-overwhelming forces are torn apart. There is an incredible number of poems in this chapter lamenting all the C-tier generals that get cut down in the attack.

So the Wu army chases Shu away for a while. You remember last chapter, when Lu Xun was asked about saving Sun Quan's besieged nephew, and Lu Xun was laughed at for saying they would just solve the problem by forcing the entirety of Shu to pull back? Well, that is, in fact, how the problem is solved.

Liu Bei has to take flight alongside Guan Xing and Zhang Bao, and when the Wu navy blocks their retreat, they're only saved thanks to a timely appearance by Zhao Yun, who's here now I guess. The retreat back to Shu goes so poorly that Liu Bei has to tell his remaining soldiers to take their armor off and burn it in piles to block up the Wu advance; literally everything he brought along as supply is lost.

Wu pursues all the way up to a pass between a mountain and the river; but when he reaches it, Lu Xun gets some real weird vibes from the place, so he orders it scouted out. All day long, nobody has any information for him except that there's like eighty or ninety random piles of rocks dotted around. Eventually, Lu Xun attempts to pass through.

When he's inside, sand starts kicking up in a huge storm, sharp rocks start flying all around like blades. Lu Xun is quickly disoriented and doesn't know what to do.

I guess this is supposed to be similar to that complicated Eight Gates formation that Cao Ren use poorly against Liu Bei that one time; it's always shifting and stuff, so it's impossible to figure out the right way through. And just like that formation, nobody trying to replicate it these days seems to understand how it's supposed to work either. I've played four entries in the Dynasty Warriors series, and this maze is in all of them, and all four versions suck to play.

Also in those games Lu Xun's biggest claim to fame is that he defeats Zhuge Liang's stone sentinel maze. Except here's what actually happens:

An old man with a walking stick suddenly shows up in front of him, asking if Lu Xun wants him to lead the way back out of the maze. Of course Lu Xun doesn't turn this down, and they retreat to safety.

The old man tells him, yeah, I'm Zhuge Liang's father-in-law, I live around here. Zhuge Liang was here building this a while back. He specifically told me that a Wu commander would come through eventually, and it was very, very important that I not show this commander the way out.

But the father-in-law is just a decent guy I guess, so he felt like he needed to completely ignore his son-in-law's request to help Lu Xun anyway. "People not listening to Zhuge Liang" is going to become a theme.

Anyway, I think this part of the story is supposed to explain why Wu didn't pursue Shu any further. Except Lu Xun then says, well, we should turn around right now anyway because I'm kind of worried Cao Pi might invade while we're overextended out here.

And then he gets the report that that exact thing is happening, so there's a perfectly justifiable reason for not continuing the pursuit. I don't know why you needed the confusing, mystical nonsense and the underwhelming resolution. I guess this is why I'm not a writer.

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