[?]: Since our last meeting you’ve risen quickly through the ranks, lord Yuan. You’re now the dominant power in the north.
[?]: My clansmen are united because I devote myself to the governing duties – all for the good of our country.
chapter 308 The Clash of Classmates
(“taught by same master, tormenting each other”)
[Water Mirror]: Yuan Fang is gifted, and he has earned his success.
(“…he succeeded because he worked hard”)
[Yuan Shao]: No no; where would he be today without the title “the First of the Eight Geniuses”?
[WM]: Where would he be, indeed.
(“even if he couldn’t face the public, it’s hard to meet him”; not sure how to translate this to be sarcastic/ironic)
[YS]: Fang-er couldn’t free himself from the affairs of the clan. Please excuse us.
[WM]: He’s capable and diligent – proving that I chose the right student.
(“capable person works more…”)
[WM]: To be honest, Fang-er’s natural intellect makes him stand out even amongst his seniors.
(deleted last part, “…I liked him too much to let go”; this may imply “favorite”, but it’s not a guaranteed implication, and we know he likes Seventh a lot; keeping this literal translation would add to the confusion)
[WM]: For fear he would become baffled during his studies, I then accepted other students to accompany him.
[YS]: I (deeply) admire your willingness to teach anyone.
[WM]: Those seven boys got lucky on account of Fang-er.
[YS]: It couldn’t have been mere luck that landed them in your school now could it?
(“those good enough to be chosen by you, couldn’t be because they were lucky, right”)
[WM]: I’m already retired. Why don’t you speak your mind, General-In-Chief.
[YS]: Fang-er is certainly smart enough to learn everything those seven would know.
(“with Fang-er’s talent/potential, learning seven people’s knowledge, has no difficulty”)
[WM]: I teach based on their potential. And Fang-er has learned much more than others.
[WM]: But having come from a wealthy family, he might choose comforts over study. So the other students were there to encourage each other.
(“royal/high-class family is full of comforts, I worry that he will lose interest, so I just think accepting some students will help them push each other forward”)
[WM]: By breaking his heart, General-In-Chief, you made him more capable than I could ever have.
[YS]: We’re all concerned about our children’s future in this day and age. Please don’t take my verbal disrespect to heart.
[WM]: I know you’re concerned for your clan. It weighs heavily on your heart.
[WM]: Drop this weight and the world will be at peace.
(“if you had let it go, the peace would have returned long ago”)
[YS]: I need power to protect my ancestors’ hard work from being taken by ambitious men.
[YS]: Cao Cao was a classmate of mine. I know him very well.
[YS]: We learn what we intend to use. Sadly there will only be competition instead of encouragement from classmates.
[WM]: Please speak your mind, General(-In-Chief).
[YS]: Those seven classmates… were meant to counter Fang-er in the future, right?
[YS]: In other words, you knew Fang-er has what it takes to unite the world-
[YS]: but not the world you wanted.
[WM]: Your allusion sends a chill through my heart…
(“the deeper your words, the colder my heart feels…”)
[WM]: Have you forgotten the duty of a minister? How – for generations – your clan has served Imperial Han?
[?]: You misunderstood, Mister (Water Mirror).
[?]: Minister Yuan isn’t alluding to usurping Imperial Han. He’s merely thinking of the greater good.
(“…for the good of the world/people”)
[?]: And deep in your heart the answer is no different when you favor one warlord over another.
[YS]: Master Water Mirror, allow me to introduce…
(here master is “teacher”)
[WM]: No need.
[WM]: My heart can see when my eyes cannot.
[WM]: If only it can tell what your true intentions are.
(“unfortunately it still can’t see through General-in-Chief’s heart/intention”)
[WM]: I only represent one of many schools of thought (in the world).
[WM]: Fang-er is intelligent. It’s not difficult for him to learn from the strength of many.
[WM]: Not only was he one of the Eight Geniuses…
[WM]: he’s also a student of the Eight Eccentrics, yes?
[WM]: Isn’t that right, Mister Zuo Ci?
[Zuo Ci]: The deeper you go, the harder it is to escape. Aren’t you afraid of putting yourself in danger?
[WM]: I’m free of concerns now that my students have learned their craft.
[WM]: Though in my old age I did take up an interest in watching the fight from the sidelines.
[ZC]: Except it’s not playing out the way you had hoped.
[WM]: Right. I didn’t expect that the Yuan clan intends to conquer the world from two fronts.
[WM]: Play as loyal minister to win over the nobles; use religion to pacify the masses. A perfect combination.
(“loyal vassal for country, religion for people’s hearts…”)
[WM]: This strategy kills two birds with one stone. What an eye-opener.
[WM]: Ever since the defeat of Yellow Turbans, the Taiping cult has now learned to move with the times.
[ZC]: Infighting amongst classmates isn’t news.
[ZC]: Thanks to the Yuan clan, the Taiping sect managed to clean up the mess caused by the Zhang brothers.
[ZC]: Your hatred for heretics came from a bad history with Zhang Jiao. You can’t compare the two situations.
[WM]: Every school of thought claims to be “in the right”. Apparently I just lack experience.
[ZC]: Fighting amongst yourselves and follow in our (sect’s) footsteps? Foolish, isn’t it?
[WM]: Too bad the Eight Eccentrics fell short. Another one has dropped out today.
[ZC]: It’s unfortunate that you chose to interfere with the workings of our sect.
(“our organization/cult faces many obstacle because you interfere to stop us, it’s a pity”)
[ZC]: A life for a life is a matter of course.
[ZC]: Yu Ji’s killer will pay with blood!
[ZC]: Like what we say in our sect, Heaven is dead;
[ZC]: and so…
[ZC]: he couldn’t (possibly) receive Heaven’s blessing.
(“possibly” is added for tonal emphasis, not in the original)
Dead? Are you dead?
Heaven is still silent.