Yang Xiu's Chicken Ribs Theory.
"By tonight's orders I see that the Duke of Wei is soon going to retire. 'Chicken ribs' are tasteless and barely have anything to savor, yet a pity to let them go waste. Now, even if we advance, we cannot win; and if we retreat, it will be humiliating. With no advantage in remaining here, the best course is to retire. You will certainly see the Duke of Wei retreat before long, and I have made all possible preparations so as not to be hurried and confused at the last moment." Yang Xiu style name Dezu - Luo Guanzhong's Romance of Three Kingdom, chapter 72
Yang Xiu silently stare at this abandoned field, West of Puyang, Baima…. Where the raging battle against the Yuan clan occurred several days ago. Yang Xiu cupped his hands in respect to recall his late comrades in arms who died here and burn the incense before he left this place. After he finished in giving the last salute, he silently left this place…
The battle between Cao Cao and Yuan Shao in Baima has ended.
Though during this battle Yuan Shao lost her two greatest general Yan Liang and Wen Chou, most of her military power still remained intact. Cao Cao lost her Elite Xiliang division in this battle and was forced to retire to her fortress in Guandu. Yuan Shao later used this opportunity to set encampment in Yangwu, directly north of Guandu for the next military campaign. Both side realized that continuing from here on…. The fate is decided after the battle of Guandu.
Knowing the approaching time of the next impending battle, Both side placed their best defense while they quickly make the last possible preparation. After leaving her vanguard and two wise advisors Tian Feng and Ju Shou in Yangwu; Yuan Shao and Xun You returned to their main city in Jizhou, Ye to take care their internal problem.
For now, both side has entered an involuntarily ceasefire between them before the next battle.
Yang Xiu straddling his horse back to Chang An after finished in scouting and paying respect to his late comrades, the Elite Xiliang troops. He wanted to make sure that he knows what to do for the next ongoing battle.
Imperial Capital Xu Du (Xuchang)…
After he returned the military horse which he borrowed back to the stable, Yang Xiu noticed that situation is a bit quiet than the usual liveliness. Though he realized that there are no schedule for military training… but at least there will be more people than now. He asked to the horse caretaker. It seems that all officers are visiting the new general who brought the critical victory in Baima.
Hearing this, made Yang Xiu remember that he has not said any word of gratitude to the said general. He quickly returned to his own room to clean himself and wore a bit proper civil officer clothes and visited the general.
Seems that the new star general is having so many guest who fawn over their new hero (or heroine, not the one that means narcotics). Yang Xiu waited for a while until the line of the guest has thinned over. He enter the star general's chamber prepared by Lord Cao. He can not help but notice so many gifts there from the guest and even from lord Cao herself, piling up the room. As he bowed to show his respect, he notices that the star general, Guan Yunchang there only accompanied by Zhang Wenyuan and Xu Huang who remained there. The celebrated new heroine give a weak smile to his arrival.
As Shia saw him standing, she quick waved her hand to call Yang Xiu to go closer to them. Seems that after facing difficulty together during the battle of Baima, Zhang Liao and and Xu Huang come to bond together as comrade in arm with General Guan Yu. They are congratulating each other with a cup of tea for each other. Zhang Liao then offered another cup for Yang Xiu so he can also toast for them, reminiscing the battle of Baima. A friendship between pugilists who recognized of each other's skills. Kazuto felt honored to be able to witness this occasion.
Kazuto felt hesitated… he does not think that he is worthy to be placed among these three renowned generals. so, he scratched his hairs in embarrassment, "Wenyuan, I don't think that I am worthy to receive the same treatment from all of you. I am merely a civil retainer who can only give his suggestion. I am nothing compared to those who fight bravely at the frontline."
Zhang Liao was annoyed by the advisor's humbleness. "Advisor, please don't humor me. I recount what you did since the start…" Zhang Liao was actually referring to what Kazuto did since he was the wicked advisor Li Ru and now as the tragic genius Yang Xiu. But, of course it was a tacit understanding between former compatriot.
"No.. No… when I recount of the famed reputation of these generals here, it was hard to not being humble." Yang Xiu in the end raised her cup to receive the toast from other generals who merrily congratulate others. "I am only a lowly person who only think for himself. I am nothing compared to General Zhang who will never abandon her comrade even in great distress. A proud general known for her solidarity." He made a gesture to toast Zhang Liao who felt bashful, Kazuto was formerly her superior back then when she served Prime Minister Dong Zhuo. His treatment was kind of unexpected to her.
"I am nothing compared to General Xu Huang who put her duty first before anything else, Really a general of integrity." Xu Huang was also toasted by Yang Xiu, she return the gesture with the same respect.
And General Guan Yu "Who is renowned for her unwavering loyalty." Kazuto raised his cup, which Guan Yu also return the gesture. But on contrary to Kazuto who emptied his cup of tea, Guan Yu only place them down. Which raised the others confusion.
The General only replied gloomily in absent minded answer "I don't know if I am worth." And she stood up and goes to outside to look at the cloudless sky. Kazuto was worried whether he offended her, and he approached her, trying to say word of encouragement to her until….
He reckon something familiar at the famed General's neck.
Cao Cao made a private banquet to discuss the upcoming battle to her supporter, the Sima clan. At surface it was a friendly banquet, but closer view, Cao Cao also wanted to ensure where their loyalty goes. All of her adviser has reminded her of their importance, and it will be unfavorable if they at the worst possible time, turn to where wind blows.
And before her, is their representative, the Genius decision maker whom even their Head of the clan had to listen. Sima Yi with style name Zhongda.
It is true that Zhongda, had helped her from the beginning , even when the Cao Clan are still a small, insignificant clan among the whole realm. It was due to her assistance that the Cao clan reached this position, where they are able to stand on an equal with the Yuan clan. And Cao Cao personally admit, that she felt utmost gratitude for the capital she bet on her, the resource, the influence and … for recommending …. That man to her.
But, she is now in a position where you can not even trust your friend, family and even own kin. She had to be wary and suspicious of anyone scheming before her. And she admit it, at the prospect of the conflict between Yuan clan and her own Cao Clan…. It was like an egg trying to smash a rock.
However, thanks to Zhongda's calm and friendly attitude in this banquet, she can put on an act of composure before her. Even they are now joking against each other.
But, due to Zhongda's defenseless attitude this made Cao Cao have the difficulty. The leak of her maneuver during the battle of Baima now could be narrowed down to several people. It was thanks to Xun Yu's elaborate tactics. She almost caught all the bugs who are scheming against her in this battle, and Zhongda was more or less suspicious.
It was suspicious because only Zhongda who did not fall to Keifa's trick. From the record and spies she spread to all region, the Sima clan make frequent contact with their allies of merchant who are known as Yuan clan's affiliates… But, she did not find any evidence implicating her of the treason. Could it be… Zhongda managed to confiscate a direct order?
It was hard to decide. Cao Cao's mind still raced with numerous thought as she put a smiling face to her guest. And Cao Cao had to admit, that it seems that they are both master of using deceptive look. Smiling with 'knife' behind their back.
It was until a palace attendant arrive with a message for her, that she stopped in entertaining her guest. She nodded and allowed the palace attendant. She smiled when the palace attendant withdraw from her presence and allow another person to intrude the feast. She greeted him from her seat.
"What amusing thing are you planning for me, Yang Xiu?"
Yang Xiu smiled to his lord, as he brought something with him. He showed it before them and removed the cover of the thing he brought. Cao Cao was surprised at the thing he brought, which she can not help but express her awe.
"I though you greatly abhor cooking. But, now I see you bring me some kind of unfamiliar dish to me."
She smiled, because she remember that Yang Xiu is a good cook, but to her regret, he loathed his own skill, which she deplore his unwillingness in cooking. She accidently tasted one of his dish, and was greatly surprised of the unfamiliar tasty feeling from Yang Xiu dishes. She had numerously urged Yang Xiu to cook frequently, but the latter is reluctant to do so, to her regret.
So, in seeing Yang Xiu brought a weird dish to her, it was apparent to her that it was once again Yang Xiu's own doing, to her own delight. She can not help but revealed her pleasantry.
"It was such a joyous occasion, that we managed to defeat the Yuan clan during the last battle. So in commemorating that victory, I have boldly decided to offer my lord of this lowly retainer's handmade cuisine." Yang Xiu handed the dish to Cao Cao "may Lord Cao will not be offended by this lowly retainer's insolence of barging this banquet."
Cao Cao however did not show any disliking, but instead was thoroughly glad to see Yang Xiu cooked for her. She readily replied. " No, no…! In fact, I am greatly excited that you offered me of your delicious cook. It has been long time, since the last time you cooked. I always missed the taste, and this boring stuff pale to comparison to your cooking."
Cao Cao readily called Zhongda, showing her the dish which Yang Xiu made. Zhongda was thrilled in seeing it.
"I never know of this side of you, Yang Xiu."
"Young Master Sima…." Yang Xiu cupped his hands to honor Zhongda. Kazuto greeted his 'benefactor' , and her praise made him uneasy.
"Oh.. Yang Xiu, quick tell me what kind of peculiar dish you are serving us !" Cao Cao reached her chopstick, knocking them against each other, creating *patch *patch sound, as Cao Cao excitedly thinking to piece the dish before her. "It is not some normal chicken, right?"
It was some kind of chicken served in wholesome appearance.
"As expected of Cao Cao Darren! Today, I have boldly come here to serve you, a chicken roasted in salt." Yang Xiu proudly exclaimed.
Chicken roasted in salt, also known as Dong'an chicken roasted. A Cantonese cuisine, famed for it's delicious flavor. The chicken was cooked in unusual method, with the skin in yellowish color appearance but crispy in mouth, with very soft and juicy flesh. Though the bone was usually discarded, but some people opt to consume them because it leaves a crunchy and smooth feeling in mouth. A favorite among Chinese cuisine enthusiast.
"Yang Xiu, quickly cut them down and serve them to us!" Cao Cao exclaimed in exhilaration.
"It is unnecessary. Cao Darren. Please take any part that you favor, using your chopstick."
Cao Cao was confused, but she does it without muttering anything. Though she wondered, that should not he rip the meat apart first? Well but she processed to take the chicken thigh. She used her chopstick to pull them apart.
To her surprise, the chicken come off easily from it's part. Cao Cao take the chicken flesh to her and examined it closely, and muttering in astonishment. "hm… I see.. the cut of the tendon is so neat. You must have pre-cut them before you serve them… Am I right, advisor Yang?"
Yang Xiu calmly nodded and bowed to Cao Cao, admitting her point.
"Though I had to admit that you have done such tedious work of cutting the whole chicken in to smaller fillet meat only to arrange them again , shaping them as whole some chicken again.."
"Such praise is too much, Lord Cao."
Zhongda exclaimed. "The chicken flesh were easily removed from it's bone ….and it did not fell apart. Yang Xiu… are you Chef Ding or what?" Zhongda also processed to take another part of the chicken with her own chopstick and examined it herself, just like what Cao Cao did earlier.
"I am not worthy of such praise, Young Master Sima…" Yang Xiu calmly reply. Chef Ding is a character from the Zhuang Zi, known for his skill in butchering an oxen.
"The color of the flesh is white like pearls while the yellowish skin seems tantalizing, pleasing to the eyes…. " Cao Cao turn around the chicken in her chopstick to judge it before she allow it to pass her mouth. Cao Cao is some kind of food enthusiast. It is common for her.
"The sweet fragrance is so mouth watering." Zhongda brought the chicken near her nose.
"I wonder what kind of method you use them to cook this chicken…." Cao Cao pondered while she enjoyed the glistening color of the chicken fillet.
She draw the chopstick near to her mouth. Placing them on her mouth and savoring the taste. After remaining silent for several second, as Cao Cao tried to enjoy the chicken… she unleashed a bright smile.
"I never expected less from you! Zhongda, what do you think?"
"It has juicy soft, nice feeling. It does not feel heavy. The skins are chewy but not hard. It has a slight salty after taste." Zhongda placed her chopstick in her plate. She sighed in disappointment. "If only I knew about this side of him… I would never allow Yang Xiu to leave my residence."
"But, now he is mine…!" Cao Cao said in gleefully manner.
Yang Xiu muttered. "I am not a property, you know…"
"Well, you are. You are my advisor, under my payroll. So abandon all hope." Cao Cao excitedly took another fillet from the chicken wholesome. Taking another bite of the chicken."Now, tell me. Tell me how you made this chicken so tasty, Yang Xiu~….." Cao Cao mentioned her name in another playful and sarcastic manner.
Kazuto cupped his hand, proceed to explain.
"First you smeared the mixture of liquefied salt and leek to the whole some chicken meat. Then Wrapped them in a three layered oil paper, Then you heated a big pile of salt in a big (Chinese) wok until the peak temperature."
Kazuto quickly described them as if a poet composing song, in which he brought the illusion of him processing the food. He make a gesture of mixing and piling the chicken.
"Then the flavored chicken were buried in the heated salt pile for some time, and leave them cold."
"The chicken were thus, cut in to smaller pieces. Usually it was served as pieces of chicken fillet. But for this joyous occasion, I prefer to rearrange them to their original shape as a wholesome chicken. This was done so anyone can choose each of their favored part and savor them."
Yang Xiu closed his explanation gracefully.
For the reader who did not understand Yang Xiu mouth watering explanation, let me give you a flashback for this cuisine. As you already know, Chinese Cuisine is indisputably the best dish in the world, hence the saying it is a heaven bliss to live in a Western style house, Marry a Yamato Nadeshiko and eat Chinese food everyday. (Oh.. by the way, though the narrator also enjoy the Indonesian food, let just go along. )
During the Qing dynasty, Guangdong province is the main area for desalinization of sea salt. The labor usually have to work for several days in the salt field, so their food have to be prepared for several days from their home. Sometimes they brought Boiled Chicken and buried them in the salt to prevent it from spoiling. When the chicken were served, it become tasty, especially if they are accompanied with rice and some wine.
By the way, the process of salting meat product (whether they are farm or fish) are considered as method of food preservation. Though in this case, the salt pile were used as method of cooking. Perhaps it is similar with hot sand cooking.
Hearing such story accompanied by eating delicious food, made them have better appeals in eating them. The chicken soon only left with bone, without anything left on them. Only very little flesh were left hanging at the chicken ribs.
With stomach full of tasty food, their mood become brighten. Karin and Erika smiled at each other while they continue to tell story of their own. The tense feeling between them where they are wary and suspicious against each other (especially what Karin felt earlier vanished at once). They talked like a friend, they are. Reminiscing how they are, along with Reiha, and her little sister Miu are back then close friend of each other…. But now, when they have responsibility on their own, they have to abandon their friendship, busied by their own matters.
"Mengde, you may have won the first battle against the Yuan clan in Baima…. But…"
"I understand what you are pointing, Zhongda. They still have the upper advantage to me. But I trusted all my retainers."
"This is why I placed my bet in you. you will not disappoint me."
"I am Cao Cao Mengde. I will not give up. I can still overturn this situation."
"Yuan Bengchu may have lost her feared duo (Yan Liang and Wen Chou), but they still have superior number against you. Be careful."
"I always am. Because I am facing them inside and outside."
Zhongda grimly speak. "In this screwed up era, where men devour each others… where not only friends but even siblings betray each other… we can only trust money and weapon.. Mengde."
Cao Cao calmly accepted Zhongda's bold and blunt honesty. Seems this young master of Sima clan, the revered genius of their Sima clan understand her intention in this banquet. She silently accepted 'her honesty'. "Perhaps the Legalists are correct . I want to know the feeling of Lord Mengchang of Qi who experienced the feeling of being abandoned by his retainers."
Yang Xiu however interrupt her pondering. "But, Marquis Mengchang-jun in his distress still win the service of Feng Xuan. He was not left all alone. If not for Feng Xuan, he will not be employed back and if not for Feng Xuan's loyalty, Marquis Mengchang-jun will not be able to sleep soundly at night ."
Karin was interested, she now admit it, this Yang Xiu is really smart with his mouth, but it is really annoying to see him showing of his knowledge. Well Karin has a big ego, after all…
"Oh.. you are talking about The Politic and Deception of Warring States Period (Zhan Guo Ce)?" Zhongda commented.
"That is right. Marquis Mengchang may have 3000 retainer in his hospitality and service, ruling a fief in Xieh. But what is the use of it? They can not help Marquis Mengchang-jun when their lord is in distress. But, Marquis Mengchang-jun won the service of one Feng Xuan, he managed to seize all of them back, even sleep soundly." Yang Xiu bowed and started explaining.
"Lord Cao, Young Master Sima…. Yuan Shao of Hebei may have the largest territory among all the warlords in this realm, she is may come from the Four Generation of Minister, she may have the possession of the Imperial Seal to legitimate her position, she may command the service of capable men with the greatest number of army among all the warlords of this realm and the wealthiest clan at her command." Yang Xiu bowed "But… did she have the service of loyal retainer like Feng Xuan?"
Cao Cao and Sima Yi looked at each other, smirking as if understanding something. This sneaky man…. at once pointing the weakness of Yuan Shao, erasing the troubling mind of his lord….and…
"The Market is full in the morning but empty in the evening (Zhan Guo Ce). But if, Lord Cao have the service of a loyal retainer like Feng Xuan…. What is the need to worry? What Yuan Shao of Beiping situation now is like this chicken ribs" Yang Xiu pointed at the already eaten chicken, left only with bone.
"The ribs may have few flesh remained on it, a pity to waste it. But…." Yang Xiu remarked.
"a ribs is only a ribs. They are merely bones with very little flesh remain. They are tasteless and barely have anything to savor." Sima Yi continued.
"That is right. young master Sima. Though a little flesh remain, you can not really savor it and enjoyed the taste. This is why while Minister Wen Zhong of Yue was executed for suspicion, Fan Li of Yue avoided danger and enjoyed his wealth and peace of mind in his remaining days."
Sima Yi laughed…. He got me! "So.. you want to remind me to gauge the profit? To balance an enormous profit and small loss?"
"Precisely. What is the use of small profit compared to undying loyalty and friendship?"
"Yang Xiu, you are talking in roundabout. I am now really suspicious. You are not here just playing a good chef or as Han Gaozu's Li Yiji, right?" Karin smiled conspicuously.
"Frankly speaking, I am here to congratulate lord Cao in her victory at the last battle in Baima."
"Funny. I won numerous battle back then since you served me, but you never treat me this kindly."
"Lord Cao employs her retainers without question (Do not question those she employs and Do not employ those questionable), hence everyone will do at best. As they say, a general in field is not bound by his lord's command."
"That is right. that is my method of leadership."
"Hence everyone will do anything which will ensure Cao darren's victory. No matter how questionable their methods are."
"…" Karin was perplexed.
"I am a failure for losing an entire division of elite Xiliang troops, my failure deserve punishment. My action almost led us to a defeat. Such is unforgivable. Hence advisor Guo Jia had to be troubled by my mistake, ordering General Guan to cover up this lowly retainer lost."
"Guan Yunchang…. That is right. I always want her service, that is why when I heard of her submission, I was really exhilarated. Though I never expected such stubborn character to join my cause, no matter how many times I tried to win her over before."
"Lord Cao, Young Master Sima, forgive my insolence. But I remember that General Guan Yu Yunchang is a general who only loyal to her true master, her act of submission is… for this retainer is … unusual act for her character. "
"Are you trying to say that she have an ulterior move in joining?" Sima Yi asked.
"General Guan Yunchang is of a noble character. A straight forward character. There is no reason she hid her mind." Instead of Yang Xiu it is Cao Cao who voiced her opinion. She turned to Sima Yi. "Zhongda, whenever I made assessment of people's capability, it will never turn out wrong."
"Then, this retainer have suspicion that General Guan intent to submit is not because of her own will."
"… She felt really docile, which killed the fun. I loved her fiery nature back then… which enchant me." Cao Cao think. (you can interpret it however you like)
"Lord Cao, do you remember the female warrior who fought me during the battle of Xiapi?"
Cao Cao nodded.
"That girl is an old acquaintance of mine, along with the wise advisor Chen Gong during my unworthy service to former Prime Minister Dong Zhuo. She is an obedient girl who will follow her lord, but will never bend to enemy will. When I met her again, I was surprised when she almost did not recognize me."
"something must be wrong with her mind." Zhongda calmly commented.
"That is right. hence I suspect the similarity with General Guan. Something must have influenced her mind."
Both Cao Cao and Sima Yi looked surprised and look at each others. Does he meant someone manipulated Guan Yu to join Cao Cao?
"Lord Cao, if you really managed to win over Guan Yu's loyalty to your side… this lowly retainer will not bother you, but… If someone are plotting to place Guan Yu in your employ not because sheer loyalty to you…. I am afraid that sooner or later some one will take advantage of this matter on you. Guan Yu's loyalty to her true lord, Imperial Sister Liu Xuande is undisputed fact."
"so, you meant to me to take care of this small matter before it grows worse?"
"Frankly speaking…. To lose a general at the caliber of Guan Yunchang is really a pity. Hence I was at loss… but for the sake of greater picture…" before, Yang Xiu managed to finish his speech, Zhongda intervened.
"Mengde, can you bring General Guan Yunchang here?"
"Hearing this Yang Xiu voicing his opinion, I have my own suspicion." Sima Yi clenched her fist, "I don't like it, when someone is plotting behind my back."
Yunchang were brought before them, Sima Yi clicked her finger, calling her two apprentices, Jiang Wei and Deng Ai. Ordering them to subdue Yunchang. Yunchang was startled, but noting that Cao Cao did not react, she remained obedient.
Zhongda then frisked and checked Yunchang, finally upon seeing her neck….
Yang Xiu asked Zhongda. "Young Master Sima, what is that thing in her neck? i.. I remember Ren have something similar with her…"
Zhongda did not reply nor respond to Kazuto, instead she cupped her hand.
"Mengde, I ask for your pardon. What Yang Xiu said earlier was correct. Yunchang is under the control of this thing." Zhongda pointed at Yunchang's neck.
"this is artifact Mind Binding Bangle. an artifact to control and influence mind. It was made by scholar of Daoism and Yin Yang school of thought."
"What..? but… is that possible to warped their mind?" Cao Cao asked in confusion.
"The Dao De Jing (chapter 27) annotated. The skilful traveler leaves no traces, the skilful speaker says nothing at fault, the good mathematician uses no abacus, the good door requires no bolts nor bars. The capable master did not use anything to bind whoever he taught, yet still capable to place them under his control. Mengde, you don't need hostage or any valuables to command peoples at your bind. Ever heard of it?"
"… no, you don't say."
"Not loyalty. It is the method of imprisoning their will. You don't need hostage (weak points) to force them or valuables to bribe them. As long as you seized their 'mind' (brain)."
Kazuto was shocked. "Mental conditioning!" he was surprised.
"This artifact released a subliminal message to their brain which eventually make them accustomed to the message, giving them mental conditioning…" In simple word, it is method used by wicked cult … the brainwashing method. "It is pitiful for any of their victim, because their brain is 'poisoned' frequently with propaganda message no matter how unacceptable it is for their own. It is to educate their mind. It revert the wearer to 'child mind' condition where they are unable to discern good and bad, and when they are less expected and exhausted of the subliminal message, the message started to corroded and corrupted their mind, influencing their action."
The phenomena of Child-Soldier, Fanatics, and Radical cults are because of this method, Mental conditioning. It is the greatest and the most despicable method to win warfare. With Mental conditioning, people will not hesitate to do anything, even giving up their own life.
"But… is that really possible?" Kazuto asked.
Sima Yi only answered him plainly. "Want to try? I know of this, because…. Our clan owned one."
Kazuto did not answer, but Zhongda explanation pained him. It's reminded him of Ren… and Nenene… no wonder they … they have endured that much suffering (so, you prefer that Asagi raped their body repeatedly? Be grateful for once Ka~zu~to…. Grin.)
Kazuto bowed down to Karin. "Cao Darren…. I…"
Karin looked up at Yunchang who give her a helpless look, even if she approached her and hold her chin with her hand.
Karin thought for a while "'Chicken ribs' are tasteless and barely have anything to savor, yet a pity to let them go waste…. In the end I still failed to won over her loyalty."
Karin leaves for a while to outside.
Karin returned back inside after thinking alone.
She turned to Erika. "Zhongda, you said that you own this bangle right?"
"Can you release her from the influence of said artifact?"
Zhongda nodded. "Are you sure?"
"I will surely regret it…. But what I want to win from Yunchang is…. her beauty which I witnessed back then. If after she was released from that artifact, she choose to return to Imperial Sister Liu….then so be it. She is serving a different master, after all."
Zhongda give a hand gesture to Jiang Wei, who understands it immediately. She took her blade and cut off the bangle, destroying it.
City of Ye, Province of Jizhou.
Xun You was substituting for Reiha who rested in her own chamber.
She sighed worriedly numerous time. The death of general Yan Liang and Wen Chou become a hard mental blows to the said girl. They are her closest friends, irreplaceable to Reiha, who had to live as clan master of the distinguished four generation of Minister, the wealthiest clan, the Yuan clan.
A lonely position where she can not trust anyone.
Iishe and Toshi were the only closest friend who never leaves Reiha, without any ulterior move (even if they have, they are to stupid to think of one). All other retainers of the Yuan clan have their own personal motives, even plotting against each other. This is the risk of being a big and wealthy clan amongst the realm.
Even for Xun You, she was only trusted by Reiha because she is capable. Though during the battle of Baima, for the first time, the lonely Reiha started to opened up her heart to her sly advisor. For the first time, she replaced Reiha, directly to led a council for the next battle.
"As what I mentioned already, for now on, during the next upcoming battle, I, under the command of Yuan Shao Darren am assuming command of the whole affair for the Yuan Clan. Yuan Shao Darren have decided those who acted arbitrarily shall be responsible. Did not during the last military council, I asked you, of all people to station in west Puyang?"
All the Yuan clan general and minister lowered their head in shame, because they are duped by Xun Yu's trick which led them to prepare a fruitless defensive stand in Beihai, Pingyuan, Ye, and Jinyang.
"To prevent such act happened again, I thereby stripping all of your military command and the regulation regarding the war resource shall be under my direct supervision. If anyone want to voice their objection, they shall be executed immediately in accordance to military law!"
Xun You at least can sigh in relieve that the loss of Baima can be blamed to this 'disobedient' retainers for violating deployment order. In one political maneuver, she managed to seize their command, so she suppressed the voice of opposition and unify them under one command. Though she still worried of what the favorite of these Yuan clan elder shall do next.
During the times, when they are facing Cao Cao, instead of united together, they still have time to plot against each other.
"Oh… Before we ended this council, where is brother Xin Pi of the Xin clan?"
Yuan Tan move forward, bowing and replied. "the Xin clan is found guilty of colluding with the enemy."
"What!?" Xun You was startled by his answer.
"for the crime of colluding with the Sima clan who supported villain Cao, leaking of information of our troops and resource, Xin Pi as the clan elder is being held responsible and executed immediately."
"Yuan Darren never gave such order…! How…How dare you!"
Yuan Shang swiftly move and answered. "We found numerous evidence of his activity and shady deals with them. Hence we acted first in sting operation to take him down. Rest assured advisor Xun Darren, now the Yuan clan is free from Cao Cao's pest."
Guo Yuan and Gao Gan move to defend Yuan Shang "Xin Pi's crime is clear as the sunny sky, and numerous evidence arose in it. Brother Yuan Tan and brother Yuan Shang action was done to prevent the worst, they have to act first and report later to avoid the leak."
Xun You was speechless. She held her anger, clenching her fist.
What treason are you talking about…. You both knew that they are my ally! These two have acted first! I am sure those so called evidence were planted by you two…. If not, you will eradicate them! How much bribe you are swallowing to keep their existence!
"Very well then." Xun You pretend to not care.
Xun You was startled in hearing Xin Pi being assassinated, she then go to offer her condolence and presents for Xin Pi's previous merit during the battle of Baima to the Xin clan's residence.
Xin Pi's little sister however did not accept her condolence willingly though…
Xun You left their residence, noticing the cloudy sky, signifying the future of the Yuan clan… holding her own tears… not because of the lashing of emotion she got from the Xin clan… for betraying their trust… but also because she had an epiphany of what will happen after this….
"Are you sure for your suggestion to kill Xin Pi of the Xin clan?"
"Yes. I suppose you never read Romance of Three Kingdom. Sooner or later, the Xin clan will betray the Yuan clan, surrendering city of Ye to Cao Cao. He will also be the cause of your death."
"But, their clan are so wealthy… I still prefer to ally with them."
"If you want to be betrayed, and ended up death because of him… be my guest. Remember, you two owed your life to me."
"… I don't like it. If not because of that man…. "
".. we will never lower ourselves to serve you."
"Huh… you are just a doll without any role. If not for me giving you two roles… you will end there… even your miraculous victory against Gongsun Zan of Beiping are all thanks to me. So… if I lost my amusement to you…. then… bye-bye."
"… damn it."
"… Daoist bastard."
Karin still sighed, she sit there while Kazuto poured the Biluochun to her cup. In this room, only Erika and Kazuto left who accompanied her.
"Did you regret it, Mengde?" Zhongda asked.
"Even If I do… Guan Yunchang is indeed a noble warrior. I will always admire her."
"Mengde, I am now having a good impression of you. In the end you judged well. You prefer to have her true loyalty, instead of her service."
"Are you trying to humor me, Zhongda?"
No. Zhongda firmly replied. "But… Mengde, Yang Xiu… can you believe in me?"
Karin and Kazuto turned to her.
"Will you believe me if I say that…. Even if the bangle is our Sima clan's treasured artifact….. it has nothing to do with me?"
Yang Xiu was at loss of word… While Karin simply said "No. It is not you who did such wicked thing. You are a greedy fellow. You prefer to get continuous enormous profit, than short term gain.", which made Kazuto soften his expression.
"Thank you for trusting me, Mengde."
Erika softly smiled at them, raising her cup and swallowed the Biluochun before going back to her home.
As Karin accompanied Zhongda to the front gate, Karin still looked sad. Kazuto placed her hands at her shoulder from behind.
"Are you blaming me because of this… Karin-san?"
Karin calmly shook her head, she turned her head to Kazuto behind her. " No, it just… your words made me worried. I understand what you are saying… using that food diplomacy. I just… I just worried. After the King of Qi lost his favor to Marquis Mengchang-jun…. all his retainer who have received his kindness and hospitality…. All those three thousand retainers who have received of his kindness, they all abandoned Marquis Mengchang-jun. "
In enduring the external and internal trouble made her worried. And the same can be said to Yuan Shao's situation.
"Kazuto… will you abandon me … or instead become a Feng Xuan to me?"
Kazuto hugged her from behind (good thing no one around).
"A Hegemon can distinguish allies and enemies only when they are in despair, but Karin-san… I vowed back then…. I will not abandon you in distress." Karin smiled faintly as she tightly held Kazuto's hand. She felt stronger after hearing Kazuto's sweet word.
"Then… I will trust you."
Erika felt really tired at her home, but as she is going to her own chamber, her brother Sima Lang told her that there is a guest looking for her. Erika asked who is the guest who came so suddenly.
"It is our ally at the north area, the Xin clan."
The Xin clan? Oh… it must be brother Xin Pi who came to voiced his gratitude for the merit during the battle of Baima. Xin Pi is a kind fellow who never forgot of others kindness. Erika quickly ran to her chamber, wearing her usual dress.
But… when she arrives at the guest room, she was confused. Because it was not Xin Pi who came but…
"Miss Xin? How unexpected of you to come to visit me!" Erika face brighten. This Miss Xin is Xin Xianying, a little sister of Xin Pi. A very beautiful and cute little sister of Xin Pi. She is usually bashful, but Erika remembered how Xin Pi always pride himself to be the brother of Miss Xin. Miss Xin loved to wear an accessory which covered her two ears, which shaped just like a big white headphone. (Well… she is modeled after Ohana from Hanasaku Iroha)
Miss Xin smiled at Erika, bowing a little and as they are exchanging greetings, she suddenly said.
"Sister Erika, can we talk alone? I don't want anyone to bother us when we are talking."
Erika tilted her head and mentioned, sure. But before she can say another word, Miss Xin also added. "Also, please ask your two exceptional apprentices, Jiang Wei and Deng Ai to leave us, Please?"
Erika remained motionless for second but smiled, as she muttered, sure. She whispered. "You heard me? Please leave us. I don't want to hear any opposition."
Now… what are you going to talk…? As Erika turned to Miss Xin, she was surprised that the little girl revealed a small dagger in her hand, quickly charging at her and straddling on top of her. Her hands are being subdued by Miss Xin's left hand, while a dagger (which she held in her right hand) is being pointed, close to her throat. Erika calmly asked in disinterested tone.
"Miss Xin… what are you trying to do?"
"Zhongda, My Beloved Brother Xin Pi is dead. I want anyone who have their part in it to DIE!"
 Xun Qing says all human being is evil. Hence a system of strict social order is needed to regulate them. (Xun Zi)
 Feng Xuan's metaphorical speaking about Marquis Mengchang-jun to have three additional back up plan for the future, just like a hare with three nest. (Zhan Guo Ce)
Thank you very much, well that should be predictable, right ?
Amen to that.
who, rabbit, kusu and trolololo or something like that.:
very amusing, though with the very few readers in this fanfic, i think your trolling is kind of wasted.
thank you for the effort though.
ohh that is not important anymore.
What battle formation?