Ravaging Times

chapter 18

[?]: You’re back, brother Zhang?
[?]: Just in time for a good show!
[?]: Someone challenged the Geniuses of Water Mirror. Check it out.
[?]: Who do you think got it right? Advisor Pang? Or Master Water Mirror?
[?]: We’re full! Stop trying to squeeze in here!

chapter 18 Crouching Dragon And Fledgling Phoenix

[?]: I heard this boy is Sima Yi, the second eldest of their clan?
[?]: That means he’s the younger brother of Master of Records Sima Lang.
[?]: Sima Lang? The one Dong Zhuo placed under house arrest?

[?]: The older brother might stand a chance of solving the puzzle.
[?]: But… this unworldly kid is just going to embarrass his clan.

[?]: Master Tian Feng is at another camp. Your message will reach him soon.
[?]: Hopefully lord Yuan Shao will hear of it in time…?

Zhong Da, I know this is a stalling tactic. But… you seem determined to solve this puzzle…

But, you’re up against five of Water Mirror’s Eight Geniuses…
I’m afraid that…

[?]: Teacher…

[?]: He… he has an answer?

[Water Mirror]: You have it, Seventh?

[Seventh]: Not yet.
[Seventh]: But… I’ve found a clue. I’d like to take a stroll.

[Tian De]: Sheesh, I thought he solved it.

[Yan Liang]: Is there really another way, teacher?

[WM]: Seventh has found a clue. Can anyone beat him?

[?]: Seven left,
[?]: eight right,

[?]: fold ten,
[?]: turn five.

[?]: The next chapter is the opposite.

That’s it!

{whoosh}
[?]: We’re not done yet, Sixth!

[?]: What’re you doing? Have you found a solution?
[?]: Quiet!

[?]: So fast… Impossible!

[?]: This is… the folding method!

[WM]: Take a look, everyone!

{gasp~}

[?]: It’s here.

{circled message: On day six of the month, bait the Guandong Army with an attack, then set fire in the northern woods.}

[?]: On day six of the month, bait the Guandong Army with an attack, then set fire in the northern woods!
[?]: The first message was to have Guo Si attack our main camp to make us defend it.
[?]: The second message was to have Li Jue burn our rations at Mount Dragon in the meantime.

[?]: Now the third message is saying they’ll burn us in the woods if we dispatch troops to save our rations depot!
[?]: There’re so many layers to that strategy. We’d be defeated if we follow any one plan.
[?]: Dong Zhuo has another talented man!

[?]: I have ten other solutions.

[?]: But this one’s the most credible if we factor in the time.

[YL]: Good boy! We’d be dead if it weren’t for you!
{sfx: pa}
[YL]: What’s your name?
{sfx: pa}

[?]: Yes, teacher, who is this Genius?

[WM]: You have surpassed me in how fast you could solve this puzzle.

[WM]: No one has been able to claim the two elite titles in my group, until today.
(“…today finally someone ride dragon climb phoenix”)

[WM]: From now on… the “Fledgling Phoenix” shall be him!

[?]: What? This boy is the Fledgling Phoenix? I thought no one could get that title?
[?]: They say the two elite titles are “Fledgling Phoenix” and “Crouching Dragon”. Either one would be enough to conquer the world!
[?]: He sure is worthy of that title!
[?]: Thank you for the title, teacher!

[?]: Darn. The Sixth got the title first!
[?]: Should’ve went all out!
[?]: Ha! Yeah right.
(“…stop boasting”)

There are always talents in every generation…

I’m not as skilled as him. The Eight Geniuses do live up to their reputation.

[?]: Young Mister Sima has failed, Young Master. We’d better leave now!
[Tian De]: Yes, you’re right!
{crowd noise}

[TD]: Zhong Da, time to run!

[?]: What should we do with this boy, Advisor Pang Ji?

[Pang Ji]: Since Young Mister Sima did nothing, execute them.

[TD]: Pang Ji, are you really…

[?]: Not so fast, Advisor Pang.

[?]: Who said the Fledgling Phoenix was right?

[Sima Yi]: It’s my turn to solve it.

[PJ]: To pull from your ass, you mean?
(“…fart”; empty boast or lies)

That boy…

Another…
solution?

[SMY]: Yes. And another Genius will bullshit with me!
(“…fart”)

[Seventh]: Then we shall see whose bullshit stinks, Young Mister Sima.
(“…see who fart loud”)

[?]: What’s that nonsense, Seventh?

[SMY]: I think there’s only one real solution.

[Seventh]: I wonder if we’re thinking of the same thing?

[Seventh]: May I borrow your knife, General?
[?]: Be my guest.

[SMY]: These words are like a smoke screen. The real answer…

[SMY]: lies in these ink dots on the edge of the cloth.

[Seventh]: Same indeed!

[?]: Those aren’t stains?
[?]: Impossible!

[SMY] (upper): I count; you carve.
[SMY] (lower): What do you think?

[Seventh]: Fits with me.

Mathematics?

[SMY]: Twelve minus ten.
[SMY]: Twelve Minus nine.
[SMY]: Eleven minus eight.
[SMY]: Eleven minus seven.
[SMY]: Ten minus seven.

[?]: Teacher, which method is Seventh using?
[WM]: I don’t know either.

[SMY]: Five minus two. What do you think?

[Seventh]: Fully agree!

My goodness… There’s another person who thinks just like me!

[Seventh]: It’s ready, Young Mister Sima, based on your numbers.

{swoosh~}

[?]: What now?

[Seventh]: A bit lower.

[?]: Go take a look?
[?]: What kind of trick are they playing?

[?]: There’re characters on it!
[?]: Who knew the overlapped dots could form words!

{message reads: gather below the city}
(“city below one/once gather”)

[?]: What does it mean to “gather below the city”?
[?]: What does it mean?
[?]: And these two figured out such an impossible solution?
[?]: Amazing!

Zhong Da…

Gather below the city…

What…

what…

what does it mean?

[?]: Advisor Pang, do you know what that sentence means?
[?]: What’s the intention behind “gather below the city”?
[?]: This answer is vital! Hurry up and look into it!
[?]: The puzzle has been solved! Quick, inform chief Yuan Shao!

Who knew Dong Zhuo has another brilliant mastermind other than Xu Lin.
“Gather below the city” means to round up the citizens to migrate to Changan together.

In order for their move to succeed, they embedded many decoy strategies within the scripture to confuse the enemy. The advisers of the Guandong Army would fall prey to this mind trick the longer they dig into the puzzle.
Eventually their focus will have been lured so far away from Luoyang, that by the time they realize the truth, the Xiliang army will have reached Changan.

If the Guandong army knows about the move, the selfish warlords will fight over this precious Luoyang. That would make rescuing my brother harder, not to mention… they’re unlikely to believe me anyway.

[Seventh]: Teacher, gather below the city means only one thing.

[WM]: Still what you once told me?

[Seventh]: Correct. Dong Zhuo is about to leave Luoyang!

What? He guessed it too?

[?]: Soon after Dong Zhuo occupied Luoyang,
[?]: Seventh started having that ridiculous notion. Hahaha!

[WM]: Luoyang symbolizes the power of the son of Heaven. Why would Dong Zhuo abandon it so easily? The so-called “gather below the city” is merely the name for a tactical trap.

[WM]: Guo Si is known for his traps. Therefore an order for him to reinforce defenses means Dong Zhuo wants to defend Luoyang.
[?]: Makes sense.

[Seventh]: But, teacher…
[WM]: Enough. I was only stating the facts.
(I often receive this kind of retort when I get defensive about something, so to me it has the connotation of “I was not criticizing you, only talking about the issue”)

This guy is brilliant and insightful. Too bad…

[YL]: We’ll use Mister Fledgling Phoenix’s answer and take the enemy by surprise around the northern woods!

If the Fledgling Phoenix is already born, then…

[TD]: Don’t miss your chance, Zhong Da, now that so many army officers want to meet with you!
[SMY]: Brother Tian, you know I hate military stuff.

[TD]: You’re amazing, so different from just a few years ago.
(“…reincarnated and changed bones…”)

Hm…

[SMY]: I was bad at studying, so I had to rely on cheating.

[SMY]: Honestly, I used that same trick to write answers on my belt.

[TD]: Hahaha, I knew you couldn’t be that smart.

[SMY]: I’m only good at eating and sleeping.
That kind of child’s play… I already know it by age six.

[?]: Master Water Mirror, let’s rest in a nearby tent!

[?]: That boy was amazing, teacher. Don’t you want to speak to him?

[WM]: No. I already met him years ago. He once had a chance to become one of you!
[?]: What?

Seven years ago,
his father Sima Fang brought him to my school.

He wanted me to teach his son.
Except that…

[WM]: a boy like him only knew how to eat and sleep. He slept on my seat the whole day.

[?]: Hahaha, our teacher hates that kind of people the most! No wonder!
[?]: He did say that boy was annoying!

[WM]: Rich kids are good at accounting and not much else.
[WM]: A pupil like that won’t make it far anyway. Who knows how he got by just then.
(not sure about last part)

[WM]: A military adviser must act on facts and not flights of fancy.
(“…step [on] solid and forward, you all must use him as counter-example”)
[?]: Yessir!

[WM]: Where is Seventh?
[?]: He got upset from your lecture, so he went for a stroll.

[WM]: Still so stubborn?

I think I’ve seen that weird old man seven years ago. He had so many interesting books, so I read all night and slept through the next day. Then father took me home…

Eh?

[Seventh]: Deliver this to First Disciple Brother in person.
[?]: Yessir!

[Seventh]: Are you leaving, Young Mister Sima?

{wind sfx: hoo~}

[SMY]: If I’m not mistaken…
(“if I not calculated wrong”)

[Seventh]: What?

[SMY]: the title of “Crouching Dragon” will be yours.

He let out a chuckle without saying anything.

People like that are the scariest.

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