Ravaging Times

chapter 6

chapter 6 Zhong Da’s Resourcefulness

{headband reads: Sixth in the World, Fifth in the World, Fourth in the World}

{army movement sfx}
[?]: Wow! Are those Battering Rams?
[?]: So big!

[Fifth]: I heard they’re attacking Luoyang.
[Fourth]: Luoyang? Where’s that?

[Fifth]: Sixth! Doesn’t our big brother work in Luoyang?
[Sixth]: Fourth Uncle said, he works as a “Bastard of Raccoons” or something.
(“…chew books fox” in the original volume, changed to “…dumb-to-death” in the deluxe volume; both were meant to be a wordplay, so I’m going by something that sounds similar to “records”)

[?]: Raccoons? Is that a real post?
[?]: Meng… Meng.

[Meng]: It’s “Master of Records“, not “Bastard of Raccoons”!
[Sixth]: Ah! Right!

[M]: Your teacher is here! Get back to class!

[?]: Run! Sister Meng is so scary!
[?]: I heard that Liaoyuan Huo is back too. He’s even scarier. We should behave!
[M]: Sheesh…

{movement sfx}

[M]: War is here…

The Guandong Alliance marched on Luoyang in year 190 The northern division of one hundred and twenty thousand strong pitched camp in Henei.
Even a large city like Henei became congested and the situation gradually succumbed to chaos.

[?]: Business halted for all eighty shops of the seven streets.

[?]: The military brutes take without paying!
[?]: Had it not been Zhong Da’s assassination plot, we’d all been killed as rebels.
[?]: Why complain when we’re still alive?

[Fourth Uncle]: Bad business is bad for my health.
(“deals cannot conduct, full body uncomfortable”)
[Third Uncle]: Has Bo Da not returned yet?
[Third]: A whole day of waiting. We’ll die of old age.
{Sima Lang’s courtesy name is Bo Da. He is the eldest son of the Sima clan}

[First Uncle]: Didn’t we write to him before the assassination to have him return immediately?

[Fourth]: Don’t scare me like that, big brother! You know we’re at war now…
[Fourth]: Could something have happened to him?

[?]: You heard that, Zhong Da? Your brother hasn’t returned!

{sfx: shoo~}

[First]: Seriously… Sigh!
[Third]: He dozes off every time we discuss business.

[Third]: I wonder what scary idea he’ll have when he wakes up.
[Fourth]: He won’t scare me this time.

[First]: Sigh, second brother asked us to look after his son once he’s gone.
[First]: But who’s the real caretaker when he has guided us over the years?

[Third]: The boy’s something else.

[Third]: A monster of the Sima clan.

[?]: Master, the streets are clear now. Should I prepare the return trip?
[Third]: Got it.

[?]: Must be the congestion that’s keeping Bo Da.

[?]: Zhong Da is asleep. Maybe we should come back tomorrow!

[Third]: Teacher Chen, have the kids been focused on their studies?
[First]: Fourth, your face tells me you’re thinking about money again?
(“…your facial expression weird, again thinking about money”)

[?]: First Uncle, Fourth Uncle, are you leaving?

WAH~
{major headings read: those owing a thousand, those owing five hundred, those owing three hundred, those owing fifty}
[?]: I just came up with a big money-making scheme!
{major headings read: seven street eighty shops, Yanzhou’s fifty shops, Henan’s hundred shops}
WAH~

[Sima Yi]: Wanna hear it?
{Third}: Scared me again.

[Third]: What do you think?

[Third]: Come on, let’s hear it!
[Fourth]: The thought of money perks me right up.

[SMY]: First,

[SMY]: consolidate all of our funding and invest in construction material like wood and bricks.
[SMY]: Advertise widely that we’re hiring all the carpenters from Luoyang and Yanzhou.

[Fourth]: For what?
[First]: We already have construction companies. Why so many?

[SMY]: We’ll be building the city of Luoyang.
{spit}

[First]: Is that another joke? Luoyang is still standing, why…
[Third]: No Emperor nor an edict for it. Why?
[Fourth]: Zhong Da, isn’t this my bright moon jade tea set?
[Fourth]: Why do you have it?

[SMY]: Listen to me,
[SMY]: Dong Zhuo’s army of three hundred thousand came from Xiliang…

[SMY]: If the war drags on and once the Guandong Alliance in the south cuts off his supply line from Xiliang…
[SMY]: Dong Zhuo will lose for sure.

[SMY]: Xu Lin’s death means Dong Zhuo’s backup plan to get supplies from Yanzhou fell through…
[SMY]: The longer the Xiliang soldiers are away from home, the lower their morale will be.

[Third]: Here comes the reasoning…

[SMY]: Soon, Dong Zhuo will move the capital to Changan, closer to Xiliang.
[SMY]: And Dong Zhuo knows that Luoyang will strengthen the new occupational force.

[SMY]: Therefore he will destroy Luoyang first!

[SMY]: A destroyed Luoyang is still a vital military position that tempts any of those warlords!

[?]: Rebuilding Luoyang will give us the initiative!
{sfx: pa}
[?]: We could raise the prices on building materials and labor…

[First]: Huge deal, Fourth!
[Third]: Zhong Da, you sure are our lucky charm!

[SMY]: As for Bo Da,

[First]: Oh right, we got distracted by money matters.
[Third]: Bo Da hasn’t returned!

[SMY]: Don’t worry, he wrote back and said he’s delayed by traffic on the official routes.

[M]: The flare of fire

[SMY]: signals your entrance.

{sfx: shoom~}
[Liaoyuan Huo]: For we’re one and the same.
(“because I and fire same body”, wordplay on “huo” and “fire”)

[LYH]: I know about Bo Da.
{sfx: shoom~}
[LYH]: The Handicapped Warriors are ready to go anytime!

[LYH]: Guo Ang, Zhang Lei, what do you think?

[Guo Ang]: I can’t believe First Master was really kidnapped by Dong Zhuo.

[Zhang Lei]: It’s hard, but doable!

[?]: The scout reports that aside from big brother, all relatives of Guandong Alliance forces have been kidnapped.

[SMY]: Dong Zhuo planned to do this to curtail oppositions from these relatives in the capital.

[GA]: That must’ve been Xu Lin’s idea, right? Clever!
[LYH]: What about your plan, Zhong Da?

[SMY]: I want big brother to return safely!

[SMY]: Take the ring of command.

{sfx: hoo~}

[SMY]: It will command the Qingfeng Triad of Luoyang!

[LYH]: Yessir!

[SMY]: Luoyang’s household verification process is strict. These fake registrations should help you get in.

[SMY]: Details of the operation are within.

[SMY]: Minister over the Masses Wang Yun is an old friend of father’s. He will help you in Luoyang.

[SMY]: If there are no more questions, head out immediately!

[group]: Yessir!

[LYH]: Take care of logistics please, Xiao Meng.

[?]: Xiao Meng!

[GA]: Not again.

[M]: Why must I play a woman again, Young Master?

[GA]: Who would believe you’re a man, sister Meng? Wanna get frisked?
[LYH]: Xiao Meng, women have an easier time getting in!

[M]: But as a courtesan? That’s insanely difficult!

[SMY]: That identity took me a long time to come up with.

[SMY]: Your mission is critical. Only you could enter the palace and serve as the insider.
[M]: But…

[SMY]: From now on, you shall be the person in the letter…

{cover reads: foster daughter of Luoyang’s Wang clan, Diao Chan}

I am Diao Chan?

Beauty is bad for a woman and worse for a man. Misfortune will plague the life of a beautiful woman. More so for a man.

So… what about those between genders? Will they have even less volition?

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