Gain it, then sell it. For millennia, what has the Central Plain been selling?
(“Central plain” is synonymous with “middle kingdom”; it may be confusing since I don’t use this term often enough. But recently I think it might be better if I switch them up once in a while to remind readers why the Chinese title is “fiery phoenix lights up the plains”)
In year 208, Cao Cao was routed at Red Cliff and retreated through Huarong.
[?]: There has been a dramatic shift. Zhou Yu’s army marched north, and Sun Quan has mobilized his forces too.
[?]: The four commanderies in the south have never been stable. They’ll surely try something once the court loses control over them.
[?]: The Long River has been lost. Absolute power is no more.
[?]: Guan Yu has crossed the river and occupied the rallying point first.
chapter 473 Slaves And Whores
[Zhuge Liang]: The battle to restore Imperial Han has just begun.
[Liu Bei]: Despite their alliance, the four commanderies each harbored ulterior motives.
[LB]: But remember, everyone, they still vastly outnumber us.
[ZGL]: Marching southward with such a small army is no less difficult than the battle of Red Cliff.
[ZGL]: The best approach is to preserve troops by using strategies and persuasion to gain grounds.
[?]: Survey says refugees have been swarming to the four commanderies prior to Cao Cao’s southern incursion.
[ZGL]: Most of these new civilians opposed Cao, and that’s what I’ve been waiting for.
[?]: Okay, allow me to report further.
[?]: Lingling’s population has grown past seven hundred thousand, and Changsha’s over nine hundred thousand.
[?]: Guiyang’s is over four hundred thousand, and Wuling’s over three hundred thousand.
[?]: Wow, that’s a lot more than half a year ago.
[ZGL]: The large number of refugees made it easier for our spies to infiltrate.
[ZGL]: Their work at various commanderies have begun to show success.
[ZGL]: The southern territories are strong enough to influence future power dynamics.
[ZGL]: Remember not to squander this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!
[LB]: After ten years of plotting in Jing, this is the point the Crouching Dragon wanted to sell!
(it’s kind of awkward wordplay on “sell”)
[LB]: We’ll follow this strategy: Guan Yu as vanguard, Zhang Fei as a surprise, and I with reinforcement.
[LB]: But the last part is the hardest.
[ZGL]: Yes. Guiyang at the furthest south will have the longest time to prepare for us.
[ZGL]: The terrain there will make it difficult for an attack.
[ZGL]: And Sun Quan will be right behind if the battle drags on.
[Zhang Fei]: You’re right. A frontal assault would wear down our forces like Sun Quan wanted.
[?]: But the most important thing now is to guard against reinforcements from Guiyang.
[ZF]: I’ll use a surprise attack on River Qu. A success there will boost our morale.
[ZF]: But I won’t be able to take on reinforcements from Guiyang.
[?]: Our Lord may still succeed as long as third master can lure out the troops at River Qu.
[?]: The background of Guiyang’s Zhao Fan is still a mystery though. We have yet to figure out his true strength.
[?]: Perhaps we could stall him a little.
[ZGL]: Yes. Jian Yong has been in Guiyang for months, but still no clear news from him.
[?]: There must be many skilled people in that commandery.
[LB]: The fog of war is still thick. Perhaps stalling is the best strategy.
[Zhao Yun]: My Lord, I could try something.
[LB]: What do you think, Kong Ming?
(Kong Ming is Zhuge Liang’s courtesy name)
[ZGL]: Can you stall for three days?
[ZY]: Three days, more than enough.
(“three day, enough”; this doesn’t make sense here, but there will be a callback to this, so I’m leaving it like this instead of “certainly”)
[?]: If possible, hold Zhao Fan hostage.
[?]: My Lord, General Zhao may be bold,
[?]: but an assassin might lack the necessary experience…
[ZF]: Haha, not even I dare to be careless around Zi Long.
(“zi long” is the courtesy name of “zhao yun”)
[ZF]: Since we’re on the same side, tell them,
[ZF]: how did you make a living?
[?]: Haha, right, must be selling buns!
[LB]: Then we’ll put off the task of retrieving miss Sun.
[ZY]: I didn’t want to go anyway, my Lord.
[LB]: She was yours to begin with. If you don’t go, then forget it.
[ZY]: No. She’s a hostage. Send someone else.
[ZY]: Don’t worry, my Lord. There’s nothing between me and her.
[ZY]: Our goal is more important.
(“grand undertaking is important”)
[ZY]: No time for love affairs.
(the tone may be bitter, like “who cares about relationship”)
Except during that brief period living together,
she has already occupied much of my memory.
(there is a tiny wordplay here that’s lost in translation)
It’s funny that… she didn’t know me then. But now it’s my turn to not know her.
The only thing we have in common is that we’re both selling something.
I sell my life.
(wordplay lost in translation)
She sells her body.
We only stand to lose in this day and age, never to gain.
We sell, and sell out…
[ZY]: I… am an assassin.
[ZY]: I infiltrated the Zhao clan with an ulterior motive.
[ZY]: I’m not a Zhao.
[Zhao Fan]: Ha,
[ZF]: he sold you out, and you sold him out.
[ZF]: A perfect match.
[ZF]: She… wields her body like a weapon…
[ZF]: and practices the art of the bedroom…
[ZF]: She, is also an assassin.
[ZF]: Hahaha, just like you.
[Eighth]: The woman is a whore.
[Eighth]: And you are a slave.
[Eighth]: You forgot about yourself in order to help someone else’s conquest.
[Eighth]: Oh slave, you’re slaving for your master.
[Eighth]: Forgetting that you’re human, that you have a family.
[Eighth]: All you could do is secretly search for your humanity beneath that tree.
[Eighth]: There’s no Greater Good in this world, only slaves who sell a performance.
[Eighth]: Sell this pretense. Before this “love” rots,
[Eighth]: why not face your real value,
[?]: Hand signal.
[?]: Get ready.
[Eighth]: choose again?
[Eighth]: Once you discover yourself,
[Eighth]: let my threats become your relief.
[ZY]: I chose someone in the courtyard that day.
[ZY]: She was the one I chose.
(“that [her whom I] already decided on”; not sure if I got the wording right)
[ZY]: She also didn’t say anything then.
[ZY]: But I’ve never forgotten.
[ZY]: The slivers of my true self inside this slave.
[ZY]: Yes, I am a slave.
[ZY]: The burdens I carry have made it impossible to return to the real me.
[ZY]: And I don’t expect anyone to understand.
[ZY]: I just remember how the slave lived as a man during that brief period.
[ZY]: That moment…
[Lady Fan]: Three days,
[F]: more than enough.
I was sold out again, but it feels different.
I’ll feel less weighty as a ghost.
(connotation on the burdens of living)
There will be no shortage of sorrowful souls to keep me company on the road to the underworld.
They’re praying that they could sell something as soon as possible.
For once it’s sold, they’ll become human again.
Sell out this country.
This thing is rotting away.
(“…almost become rotten”)
magazine-release-only teaser: “Next chapter: Who Would Be Satisfied At That?”
(not sure about a more natural-sounding equivalent phrase in English, my first impression is to say, “who wouldn’t feel cheated”, but that might make people think cheating is involved, which is not always true when you’re on the losing side)