I now proceed to condense volume 23 of The Ravages of Time.
- Chapter 183: Liu Bei accepts Lü Bu’s olive branch, waiting for a payback.
- Chapter 184: Pang Tong hires Liaoyuan Huo to assassinate Cao Cao.
- Chapter 185: Cao Cao accepts Zhang Xiu’s surrender and ‘forgives’ a failed assassination attempt.
- Chapter 186: Liaoyuan Huo notices Xiao Meng on the way to assassinate Cao Cao.
- Chapter 187: Zhang Xiu turns on Cao Cao as a result of a misinformation scheme.
- Chapter 188: Dian Wei and Liaoyuan Huo engage in a duel.
- Chapter 189: A messenger blackmails Sima Yi into cooperating with the anti-Cao coalition.
- Chapter 190: Zhang Xiu finishes Dian Wei, who was cut down by Liaoyuan Huo.
This volume basically deals with Cao Cao’s acceptance of Zhang Xiu’s capitulation and the schemes by other parties that led to the skirmish in Wan (and the death of Dian Wei). Given that Jia Xu has already expressed his admiration for Cao Cao in previous volumes, some other twists are introduced to explain Zhang Xiu’s decision to rise up despite his surrender. Liu Bei’s plunge into the path of duplicity and vengeance (Zhang Fei’s goal all along) is also touched upon briefly. Similar to Zhuge Liang’s interventions in Cao Cao’s first Xuzhou campaign, Pang Tong enters the fray much earlier than expected as the adviser coordinating various factions to fight Cao Cao. Lastly, the now-financially-troubled Sima clan and the officially-disbanded core team of Handicapped Warriors become more prominent in the story, as the anti-Cao coalition moves to co-opt them into the fold.