Ravaging Times

chapter 85

There is no joy in killing people.

And even less in saving a country.

[?]: Surveying our lives?

[?]: Who cares, as long as they’re not bandits.
(“who cares what he is, it’s okay as long as not bandit”)

chapter 85 Decide On Xuzhou

[?]: Please don’t mind the poverty of the country side…

[?]: What country side? This used to be a major city too!

[?]: A few years back…

[?]: the streets here were filled with people.
[?]: If it wasn’t for the Yellow Turbans… this place could’ve rivaled Luoyang.

[?]: No! The Luoyang now… is probably no different…

[?]: There’s nothing good to eat in these run down parts, please don’t mind.

[Cao Cao]: Rations Keeper, give this elderly man some rice!

[?]: Officers, I suggest you not to bother.

[?]: Any amount you leave me will only be taken by bandits.

[?]: Instead, I feel safe owning nothing.

[CC]: Even if the adults don’t need it, the children must eat, no?

[?]: At my age I should be surrounded by grandchildren, however…

[?]: all of my sons went to war and died.

[?]: Women and children died of hunger if not illness!

[?]: Why should this old crow keep on living?
(“remaining old bones, why keep living?”)

[?]: A home is no home, a country is no country;
[?]: what kind of world is this?

[?]: This… Isn’t this weed and roots?
[?]: For the sake of your health, my Lord, don’t eat it!

[?]: As they say, suffer the bitterest of the bitter to become the best of the best. Is there a difference between delicacies and roots if they both fill your stomach?

[CC]: That’s right. During wartime you’ll die whether you fight or not.

[CC]: My elder, I would like your opinion…

[?]: You want to know if this world can still be saved?

[?]: The world is like this old house, full of holes.
[?]: The supporting beams are unstable, and so even if it looks normal on the outside, the inside is still a mess…

{sfx: pa.}

[?]: Look… look out!

{sfx: pong~}

[Xiahou Dun]: A-Man, look out.
(“A-Man” is Cao Cao’s family nickname)

[CC]: A noble man will not stand next to a fragile wall, but… the world is full of them.

[?]: This old house is my world. The world those warlords want is but a desire that they can’t let go of.
[?]: And desire is like termites, eating away at all the supporting beams of the world.

[?]: Once the supports are ruined, no amount of repair will save the house from collapsing.
[soldier]: You okay?

[CC]: To rebuild the house, one must replant the supports, but…
[CC]: some people are content with what they have. It’s hard to force them to relocate.

[?]: Some men think they’re being kind by fixing the houses,. Unfortunately they lack foresight…

[?]: And the resident will be crushed by the falling roof. Forgive my bluntness…

[?]: What this world needs is someone who will force the relocation, not a kind but short-sighted man!

[CC]: If I work in the court, that’d have been the end of you.

[?]: What’s there to live for if there’s no tomorrow? Please give these laymen a thread of hope!

[?]: If there’s no hope, warlords will just put us through another Warring Period hell!
[?]: You… you mean…

[CC]: I appreciate your moral message, but do you know why the First Emperor could conquer the world so quickly?

[?]: Because the people of the six states desired it.

[XHD]: Bullshit! If you compare our A-Man to the First Emperor, a repeat of brutal tyranny will just ruin the country again!

[CC]: The fall of the First Emperor was due to his inflexible ruling policy. However… I’ve heard of a critique…

[?]: Master once said, Cao Cao is an able minister in peace time, and an anti-hero in wartime.

[?]: Able… minister? Anti… hero?

[CC]: So Mister Water Mirror knew what I would do?

[?]: He was only speculating, nothing more.
[?]: I made my own conclusions.

[CC]: I could bring chaos or stability? Then…

[?]: All conquerors bloodied their hands.

[?]: Even the most humane army must kill to win.
(“…be brutal to enemy…”)
[?]: War is cruel. Behind a leader’s wins or losses are countless deaths of innocent soldiers!

[?]: Killing is killing; how is one form better than another?
(“…how do you kill in a good way? Kill in a just way?”)
[?]: Tyrants and liberators are all murderers.

[?]: If there’s no difference, why fear killing? For reputation?
[?]: What are you saying?

[?]: If you want a revolution, why care about what the world thinks?

[?]: The benevolent fawn over a depraved imperial court; are they pedantic, or too attached to wealth and status?
[?]: To speak of benevolence, why make improvement in the face of chaos? Denial will only make things worse.

[XHD]: Utter nonsense!

[XHD]: How can we march on without a just cause? How can we win without people’s support?
[XHD]: I can’t believe such a short-sighted man is Water Mirror’s student!

[?]: Then in your view, General… why are things the way they are?

[XHD]: What?
[CC]: Brother Xiaohou.

[CC]: He means that the old way of thinking isn’t working anymore.
(“…old road is blocked, view/vision blurred”)

[CC]: “Restoring Imperial Han” is an empty rhetoric.

[CC]: Even if we achieve it, there still won’t be a tomorrow for Imperial Han if those short-sighted fools stay in court!

[CC]: A reform must be thorough. All obstacles must be eliminated!

[XHD]: A-Man… you…

[CC]: The enemy is no longer the Yellow Turbans, nor Dong Zhuo. It is the warlords and our own moral shackles.

[CC]: I ask you, waging a war always require an excuse – to shame the enemy or to rally our forces…
[XHD]: A-MAN!

[?]: Dong Zhuo stormed the capital in the name of avenging General He Jin‘s death…
(“…to kill the eunuchs…”)

[CC]: So what excuse can I use for war?

[?]: Filial Piety is the most important virtue.

[?]: I heard your father passed away due to illness on the way to Juancheng.
(city of Juan)

[?]: Suppose he was killed for his assets…

[XHD]: Shame on you! A-Man! Tao Qian is a noble man! You can’t do this to him!
{note: Tao Qian, Inspector of Xuzhou}

[XHD]: You don’t have to kill him to get Yanzhou!

[?]: Yanzhou can’t be stabilized if he lives.

{sfx: pa~ pa~ pa~ pa~}

Devil!

[CC]: Why fear bloodshed when we’ve decided to wage war?

[CC]: Guo Jia the Fourth, COME TO HELL WITH ME!

[Guo Jia]: Chaos before stability.

[GJ]: The dark art of war: Massacre in the name of filial piety!

In the summer of 193 AD, Cao Cao’s army advanced on Xuzhou and ordered a massacre at Sishui.

{Xuzhou . Tanxian}
(county of Tan)

[?]: We’re at war! Cao Cao’s coming!

[?]: I heard Cao Cao’s father was killed and looted by Tao Qian on his way to Juancheng…
(“…countless assets”; city of Juan)

[?]: Tao… Lord Tao Qian? No way! I heard he’s a nice man.
[?]: You can know a man’s face but not his heart. In these chaotic times, it’s better to strike first.

[?]: Cao Cao ordered a massacre for all cities under Tao Qian’s rule!
[?]: Cao Cao’s sizable army has taken ten cities in a row. We’ve already been surrounded.

[?]: When the ruler asks for wood, the subjects raze the forests; when the ruler asks for fish, the subjects drain the valley.
(a quote by Huannan-zi, chapter “Discourse on Mountains”)

[?]: I think… this is the dark art of war: annihilate one city to frighten ten into submission.

[?]: You mean the horrific tactic that defies all moral teachings?

[?]: It’s a fine line between good and evil. Some see the fearful unrest at the moment,
[?]: while others see the peace after the brutality.

[?]: War is coming and you choose to stay?
[?]: I’m pragmatic; my concern is how it’ll impact major businesses at Xuzhou.

[?]: You mean those hundred business partners?

[Liaoyuan Huo]: Weapons are blind; thousands of lives are at stake!
(“blade and swords have no eyes…”)

Two different values clashed on that day…

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