Ravaging Times

chapter 390

A wily hare has three burrows. Two in the open;

one in the dark.

[?]: Boss.

[Liu Da]: Bad news. We couldn’t kill Liu Bei, and…

chapter 390 A Deal of Ingenuity

[?]: Liaoyuan Huo turned on us too.

{Jia Kui}
[Jia Kui]: We’ve long expected him to turn.

[JK]: He might not have said it, but he never forgave Young Master for letting Xiao Meng die.
[JK]: Xiao Meng’s insistence, instead, made Young Master a dishonorable man in his mind.

[LD]: Yes. Our scheme to propel Young Master to the throne by supporting Liu Bei and Cao Cao’s conflict…

[LD]: gave him the excuse to leave with the help of Liu Bei’s pretentiousness.

[LD]: Having grown up doing dirty work, maybe…

[LD]: he had an awakening – a rebirth – when confronted by great good and great evil.

[LD]: Now he’s even dumb enough to disregard his own life for Liu Bei’s sake.

[LD]: Haha, I watched over his successes, and then his selflessness…
(minor wordplay lost in translation)

[LD]: And frankly I was a bit moved by his moment of awe-inspiring righteousness.

[JK]: You’ve changed much, Liu Da.

[LD]: A man grows dumber as he ages, of course.

[LD]: Similarly, Young Master’s wild ambition fills me with inexplicable emotions.
(not sure)

[LD]: Except… it’s all too late.

[LD]: Young Master stands to lose any credit for this battle if we can’t kill Liu Bei.

[LD]: Young Master won’t be able to ransom back his family from Jia Xu.

[LD]: And if Jia Xu cannot threaten the Sima clan, he’ll try to eliminate it.

[JK]: Liu Da, Cao Cao has no reason to wait until now to kill Young Master.

[JK]: Guo Jia’s strategy has also rendered Young Master powerless to revolt.

[JK]: Plus Liu Bei’s awareness of Liaoyuan Huo’s identity. How could he do as he pleases in the presence of Guan Yu and Zhang Fei?

[LD]: So then, what is it that they want?

[JK]: The Eight Geniuses never miss a hole in their calculation.

[JK]: If you want to hook the enemy, let them know your next move.

[JK]: That’s how Young Master plan to enter the game.

[JK]: You think Cao Cao could get rid of Liu Bei that easily?

[JK]: Liu Bei once joined Tao Qian, then Lü Bu, Yuan Shao, Liu Biao…

[JK]: Today Sun Quan, tomorrow Liu Zhang. The warlords might surrender to Cao one day, then turn against the criminal the next.

[JK]: The world is big and full of dissenters; enough for Liu Bei to use.

[JK]: Both sides need to obtain real information on the other, and Young Master will play this role.

[JK]: He’ll be untrusted but needed,
(“…[a role] that might have ulterior motive, but extremely useful”)

[JK]: and long-lasting because he caters to both sides.
(“…left right make deals, unbeatable unfailing…”)

[JK]: Catch a fish for sure by drying the marshes, but expect none the following year.
(official translation found by a reader; colloquially this can be translated to English’s “killing the goose that lays the golden egg”; quoting from Lü Bu Wei’s “Spring and Autumn of Master Lü“, section “Filial conduct”, 义赏/”Proper Reward”)

[JK]: Liu Da, Young Master must play dumb if he wants to revolt.

[JK]: So dumb that everyone knows what his next move is.

That… is Lü Bu Wei’s business scam.

[Cao Pi]: Jia Xu.

[Jia Xu]: I’m here.
(“subordinate is here”)

{Cao Cao’s second son, Cao Pi}
[CP]: How many ships have we lost since reaching the upstream of Red Cliff?

[JX]: For Xiahou Dun to take ground advantage, I say the loss is rather acceptable.

[CP]: However, you put a damper on my very first commanding mission.
(“…dimmed lost color”)

[JX]: So, does Young Master wish to take full control of the navy?

[CP]: My only concern is what the supporters of my younger brother (Cao Zhi) would say.

[CP]: Shooting off their mouths comes easy to my brother-in-law’s (Yang Xiu) pack of literati.

[JX]: Don’t worry, Young Master. I have reorganized the navy. Success will be ours soon.

[CP]: They say Zhou Yu is invincible over water; not even his senior classmate could handle him.

[CP]: Could I win today without any casualty and become renowned through this battle?

[JX]: Young Master… do not try to be brave.

[CP]: If you don’t counter-attack on the battlefield, Jia Xu, the verbal attacks in our rear will have their chance.

Don’t you realize that my enemies are more than just Sun and Liu?

[?]: General, look over there.

[?]: So many warships!

[?]: Sun clan’s flags!
[?]: They didn’t withdraw, instead…

[?]: Look, Cao Cao’s tenth battalion is retreating!

[?]: They really are passing through this way as predicted!

[?]: Onshore!

[Taishi Ci]: Are you all the refugees of Jingzhou?

[TSC]: You have two options: go back with the Cao army, or come with us to the southeast!

[?]: I’ll go! Why not!

[?]: Right. It’s safer there than in Jiangxia!
[?]: Yes! We’re never going back to Jingzhou!

[?]: Like you expected,

[?]: Jingzhou’s refugees all retreated.

[Zhuge Liang]: Excellent.

[Zhou Yu]: But Shidi, Cao Cao will dominate these waters once I take the refugees home.
(“shi di” ~ male lowerclassman)

[ZGL]: You set out to conquer the southeast, but you still need more population to develop the territory.

[ZGL]: Hasn’t it always been your strategy to take civilians for the region?
(“…jiang dong (east of river)”, I’m a bit confused by it saying “take civilian from jiang dong”, so I’ll be vague here)

[ZY]: Yes, bull’s eye.

[?]: I’m just curious about the one benefiting from me stepping back.

[ZGL]: Like you said, Shixiong, each side takes what is needed in a business deal.
(“shi xiong” ~ male upperclassman)

[ZGL]: This business friend of mine is always offering something one can’t refuse.

[ZY]: Be careful. That kind of man doesn’t keep his word.

[ZGL]: Yes, but…

[ZGL]: I really want to see how a businessman manipulates power control.

[?]: Scout reports that Zhou Yu is downstream of us.

[CP]: Good, but be careful. We’ll retake the waterways once it’s confirmed that he’s pulling out.

[CP]: Opening the path to Red Cliff will be a great achievement in this battle.

[CP]: Father will view us two in a new light, and it’ll silence my younger brother.

[CP]: Right?

[JX]: Right. With you backing him, he has to keep giving good advice.

[CP]: Your willingness to be my top supporter, Jia Xu, means you know that politics is a game about long-term benefits.

[CP]: Except I think you and that advice-giver had a little misunderstanding.

[JX]: Please speak your mind, Young Master.

[CP]: I want Sima Yi to be free of nagging concerns.

[JX]: I can only promise not to hurt his family.

[CP]: Haha, that should be enough.

With someone to back him, Sima Yi was mere one step away from doing whatever he wanted.

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