Ravaging Times

chapter 44

All warfare is based on deception.
Master Sun’s Art of War: Laying Plans”

When we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.

When able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive.

{sign reads: Tiger Cage Pass}
(“…prison…”)

Make the real seem fake, and make the fake seem real.

chapter 44 Deception In War

[?]: The enemy has begun formation setup!
[?]: Garrison troops, get ready!
[?]: Archers, get ready!

[Hua Xiong]: A city abandoned turned into the Tiger Cage Pass; a city relocated was our great accomplishment.
(he’s trying to sound poetic, make a literary couplet out of the situation)

[Lü Bu]: “Gather below the city” isn’t just one time only!

[HX]: They would never have expected us to return!

{flag reads: Yuan, Gongsun, Wang?}

[?]: Hurry! Set up the barricade! We can’t allow a cavalry charge from them!

{Han Fu’s General-in-Chief, Pan Feng}
[Pan Feng]: Listen up! Kill anyone who dares to leave the encampment!

[PF]: Aid status?
[?]: The few administrators have depleted their rations and refused to send aid.

[Yuan Shao]: Swift but silent like wind. The Redhare cavalry of Xiliang is truly frightening!

[Gongsun Zan]: We’re surrounded by mountains, and they’re on higher ground, blocking the exit. This is a dead zone according to the Art of War!
[?]: In my opinion, we have to align our formation and make a group-charge in order to escape.

[?]: Then we’ll have fallen into the enemy’s trap, sirs.

[?]: Their goal is to destroy us without any casualty.
[?]: Wh… what do you mean?

[Yuan Fang]: They’ve accounted for everything. Regrettably I couldn’t stop it in time…

[Yuan Shao]: Will we lose by the depletion of rations?

[YS]: You mean those refugees… were lured here by Dong Zhuo?
[?]: Refugees?

[YF]: They used the refugees to deplete our rations; your humanitarian efforts caused us to have only ten days worth of rations left.

[YF]: The Tiger Cage Pass is easy to defend and hard to breach. As long as they arrive before us,
[YF]: they could use the terrain to trap us and wait for our rations to run out. Then they’ll finish us when our morale crumbles.

[YF]: If we choose to retreat back the way we came, traversing the difficult terrain of the Tiger Cage mountain
[YF]: will take us over ten days even without an enemy pursuit. The rations won’t last, so that’s still a defeat!

[YS]: What about the plan we discussed for an all out charge…?

[YF]: That tells the enemy we’re out of rations, and they’ll just lock themselves in and wait us out.

[YF]: When far away, make the enemy think we’re near; when near, make them think we’re far away. Are they heading for Changan or coming to attack us? Make the real seem fake, and the fake seem real. This is the art of deception in warfare.

[YF]: But… when the truth is revealed, our morale is already on the edge. By the constraint of low rations we can neither attack nor retreat. This is the pinnacle of the art of war- to subdue the enemy without a fight.

[YF]: I heard that there are already deserters within the troops.

[?]: Then aren’t… aren’t we…

Master Sun said, “Birds and beasts when brought to bay will use their claws and teeth.”
Sadly… we haven’t been pushed to the edge yet! Because morale hasn’t crumbled…

[?]: Yu She of Yuan Shu army.

[?]: Lu Deng of Yuan Yi army.
[?]: Chen Ai of Wang Kuang army.
[?]: Huang Wei of Kong Zhou army.

[?]: Officers, please enter the tents!

[?]: When will it be our turn…?

[?]: I heard the opponents this time are Lü Bu and Hua Xiong…
[?]: No wonder those called were all renowned warriors.
[?]: I heard that this win means an instant promotion to General-in-Chief!

[?]: Deng Xing of Gongsun Zan army.
[?]: Big brother, they’ve finally called on you!
(doesn’t have to mean blood relation)

[?]: Here’s to your success, big brother!
[?]: Congratulations, big brother.
[Deng Xing]: I will not let you all down!

[?]: Secretariat, are we on the list?
[?]: Next… on loan from Gongsun Zan to Yuan Shao…

[?]: Ah!

[?]: On loan? Is he some kind of big shot?

[?]: Is this a mistake? But this is definitely Advisor Yuan Fang’s handwriting.
[?]: Read it. Let’s not offend lord Yuan Shao.

[?]: Cough!

[?]: Cavalry archers on loan from Gongsun Zan to Yuan Shao.

[Zhang Fei]: Cavalry archer Liu Bei! It’s our turn, big brother!

[?]: Cavalry archers? Low-grade soldiers…?
[?]: Impossible!

[?]: Ahahaha! You must’ve read it wrong, Secretariat!
[?]: Cavalry archers are low in rank. How can they qualify?

[?]: Cavalry archers? Hahahaha!
[?]: Damn you cavalry archers! Get back here!

[ZF]: Damn it! They all look down on us.

[Guan Yu]: Don’t mind them, third brother…

[?]: Looks like Yuan Shao didn’t forget that we saved him.

[Liu Bei]: The difference in status is so vast…
[GY]: Don’t mind that either, big brother.

[ZF]: I found a seat, big brother.

[?]: Cavalry archers? This is getting interesting.

[ZF]: Big brother, sit sit sit!

[PF]: Do you deserve to take this seat, cavalry archer?

[PF]: Men of low status only get to stand.

[PF]: Step aside!

[ZF]: Fuck you!

AH~

[PF]: I don’t know by what merit you got in here.

[PF]: But among us we value strength. Anyone without it better get the hell out now!
(“…this is a want/about strength social-circle…”)

[ZF]: You look down on us? Fine! I’ll show you!

[?]: You think a clown like you can beat General Pan Feng? Dream on!
[?]: Anyone here can end your petty life, you conceited fool.

[PF]: Brother Lu, do you know who he is?
[Lu]: He’s the younger oath brother of the man pretending to be royalty.

[ZF]: Pretending? My big brother is a descendant of Prince Jing of Zhongshan, how dare you…

[PF]: A descendant of Prince Jing? But your big brother doesn’t seem to think so.

[LB]: As a man of the countryside, he’s unfamiliar with formal settings. My inadequate mentoring is at fault.
[LB]: Please spare his life, General Pan Feng.

[LB]: I’m willing to take his punishment for him!

[ZF]: Big brother! You really are…

{punch~}

{crash~}

[PF]: A descendant of Prince Jing ended up as a cavalry archer? I’d rather die than believe that. What do you all think?
(I’m leaving the die part in here because it’s more poetic/ironic later)

[?]: So many swindlers these days who speak irresponsibly.
(“…muddy water grabbing-for fish”; this might be the first instance where the motif of “fish” for Liu Bei has appeared)
[?]: A light punishment will do.

[LB]: I appreciate your sentiment, third brother.

[LB]: And I’ve never doubted both of your strengths either.
[LB]: However… capable doesn’t mean you can be rash. Otherwise… it’ll only ruin our plan.

[LB]: These people earned their status through blood and sweat.
[LB]: So they’ll certainly look down on the likes of us.

[LB]: Getting into the tent is already a good start. Thick-skinned as I am, a few slaps won’t kill me.

Use deception when you fight.
(rephrased)

{whack~ whack~ whack~}

{whack~}

Pretend you cannot fight when you can.
(rephrased)
Pretend you are not fighting when you are.
(rephrased)

{whack~}

Big brother!

[LB]: Master Sun’s philosophy for war is mine to live by.
[LB]: If we don’t use deception here…
(“…in this social-circle…”)

[LB]: we’ll remain as bandits forever and never be able to step onto a grander stage!
(“…great elegant hall/chamber/office”)

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