I now know what to do.
Hopefully this plan to lure more people into reading Ravages would work out just fine.
So basically I’m gonna add a little something extra to the blog administrator’s
currently-frozen grand plan of providing chapter summaries and volume recaps, by making less systematic and more synthetic posts about characters and their interactions and relationships.
Welcome to the brand new dramatic tales segment.
This mini-project of mine attempts to present yet another way of summing up Ravages, by focusing on the inter-personal conflicts and drama of the more prominent members of the cast rather than, say, the schemes and the debates and the other textual and structural devices.
I have to say though that this ain’t a detailed play-by-play account of what the characters have done, and I’ve no plans of making well-crafted character posts and pages since they’re too taxing to make on my own so I’m leaving those tasks for the partisans who’re planning to augment the wiki and the TV Tropes pages.
I’m wishing that this approach to Ravages would be friendlier to readers who are looking for a way to understand what’s going on, who don’t really mind spoilers that much, and who would prefer a more free-flowing approach of telling the stories involved.
Now lemme introduce what may be called the main thread in the convoluted intricate Ravages bundle, involving the duo of Sima Yi and Liaoyuan Huo.
- For a bit of prologue, Sima Yi is the second son of Sima Fang and at a young age acts as the de facto decision-maker of his merchant clan on account of his intellectual prowess. Liaoyuan Huo is an orphaned child with an impaired capacity to feel pain who was adopted as a servant of the Sima clan and would become the leader of the clan’s secret assassination group composed of skilled fighters with handicaps. Sima Yi and Liaoyuan Huo also have similar recurring dreams involving a monstrous warrior killing an old adviser sitting on the imperial throne, but whereas Sima Yi’s dream features him as the adviser, Liaoyuan Huo’s dream features him as the monstrous warrior.
- In a high-profile mission, Liaoyuan Huo led a team to assassinate Xu Lin, Dong Zhuo’s most senior adviser. Also, during Dong Zhuo’s planned retreat from Luoyang to Chang’an, Sima Yi ordered Liaoyuan Huo and his teammates to rescue Sima Yi’s older brother, Sima Lang. Liaoyuan Huo was not only able to secure the release of Sima Lang after briefly holding Dong Zhuo hostage, he also survived a lengthy fight against Lü Bu, Dong Zhuo’s mightiest general.
- Early in the game, Liaoyuan Huo, pretending to be a Dong Zhuo follower by the name of Zhao Huo, encountered Liu Bei who surmised his name to be Zhao Yun. Meanwhile, Sima Yi helped out a former classmate, Tian De, and in the process teamed up with Zhuge Liang, the seventh of Water Mirror’s Eight Geniuses, to decode a puzzle.
- Lü Bu threatened Sima Yi and Liaoyuan Huo into cooperating with the plan to assassinate Dong Zhuo. After this, Sima Yi in turn used a threat to pressure Lü Bu into backing off and not harming the Sima clan. Liaoyuan Huo also manages to secure an imperial decree recognizing Liu Bei as an imperial relative.
- When Cao Cao attacked Xuzhou for the first time, Sima Yi sent Liaoyuan Huo to help defend Xuzhou and mainly to ensure the safety of the Sima clan’s business partners, such as Chen Deng. While trying to take out Guo Jia, the fourth genius now working for Cao Cao, Liaoyuan Huo encounters Xu Lin’s son, Xu Chu, who has since become a subordinate of Cao Cao. A few blunders allowed Xu Chu to expose the Handicapped Warriors to Cao Cao. Liaoyuan Huo is rescued by Liu Bei, before proceeding to confront Dian Wei, an ex-assassin working for Cao Cao. Sima Yi and Zhuge Liang team up once more to thwart Guo Jia’s plans.
- During Lü Bu’s attack on Yanzhou, Xun Yu, the second genius and also working for Cao Cao, blackmails Sima Yi into assisting in the rescue of Cao Cao. Liaoyuan Huo with the help of his teammates repels Lü Bu. Cao Cao now decides to employ the Sima clan and compel the merchants to provide supplies and fund future campaigns.
- The Sima clan, along with rival merchant clans of Tian and Shan, have been assigned by Cao Cao to help destabilize the Yuan clan by working on Yuan Shu and collaborating with the Sun clan. Sima Yi outwits Yuan Shu’s nameless adviser and rescues his ambitious fiancée, Shan Wuling, eventually winning her heart. Meanwhile, Liaoyuan Huo accompanies Ling Cao, a servant of the Sun clan, in a dangerous mission. Ling Cao is killed, and Liaoyuan Huo had to be rescued by Xiao Meng, a feminine-looking eunuch member of the Handicapped Warriors who harbors feelings for him. Liaoyuan Huo left the clan after Xiao Meng’s sacrificial move, and found his way to Xuzhou where Liu Bei is staying. Xiao Meng survived and ended up in Lü Bu’s camp.
- Liaoyuan Huo stayed with Liu Bei until Lü Bu’s betrayal. He then laid low until he was found by Pang Tong, the sixth genius who wants to have Cao Cao assassinated. Liaoyuan Huo botches the plan upon catching a glimpse of Xiao Meng, who was assigned by Lü Bu to also attempt to kill Cao Cao. Liaoyuan Huo kills Dian Wei, and his actions along with those of Xiao Meng are used by Pang Tong to blackmail Sima Yi into joining the conspiracy. Xu Lin’s other son Xu Ding, who has wormed his way into becoming the new leader of the Handicapped Warriors and who also serves Cao Cao, begins the massacre of the Sima clan out of vengeance. Sima Yi cries his heart out.
- Liaoyuan Huo manages to return and helps secure Sima Lang’s escape. Shan Wuling, now a devoted wife, secretly harbors Sima Yi, his younger brothers, and other clan survivors. Sima Yi resolves to have his revenge on Cao Cao and the others involved in the fall of his clan, by submitting to Cao Cao and slowly building enough power to take over. Sima Yi and Sima Lang offer good deals to Xun Yu and Guo Jia, who then vouch for Sima Yi’s indispensability. Liaoyuan Huo is assigned with the task of empowering Liu Bei as a rival force to ensure that Sima Yi doesn’t become expendable in the Cao camp.
- Sima Yi starts gaining the trust of Cao Cao’s subordinates, and manages to deceive Lü Bu one last time, leading to Cao Cao and Liu Bei utterly defeating Lü Bu’s forces. Guo Jia holds Sima Yi’s family hostage, ostensibly to protect them from Xu Chu and Xu Ding. Sima Yi warns Cao Cao about Xiao Meng in order to prevent loose ends in his plans, but this only strains his relationship with Liaoyuan Huo, who also has some feelings for Xiao Meng. Liaoyuan Huo swears to abide by his task, but also wishes for the ominous dream to come true someday.
- Sima Yi continues his rise to power and gets close to Cao Pi. After Cao Cao’s victory over Yuan Shao in Guandu, Yang Xiu, whose father became an enemy of Yuan Shao before being taken in as Cao Cao’s hostage, returns from his espionage and sabotage work in the Yuan camp and tells Sima Yi his own plans of swallowing Cao Cao by getting close to Cao Zhi. Liaoyuan Huo, now known as Zhao Yun, is confronted with the question of who to really side with when the going gets tough. Sima Yi continues his secret collaboration with Zhuge Liang and some other anti-Cao elements, while a dying Guo Jia prepares to counter or delay Sima Yi’s usurpation scheme.
- Zhao Yun seeks out Zhuge Liang to persuade him to serve Liu Bei. Zhuge Liang eventually accepts. During Liu Bei’s retreat along with several refugees, Zhao Yun is approached by his old mentor and assassin predecessor, Liu Da, who asks him to assassinate Liu Bei and Zhuge Liang for the sake of Sima Yi. Zhao Yun eventually refuses and repels Liu Da’s assassination team, successfully rescuing Liu Shan from their clutches. At Changban, Zhao Yun proclaims Liu Shan to be his only young master in front of Cao Cao and Sima Yi. In response, Sima Yi holds Xu Shu’s mother hostage to get Xu Shu to leave the Liu camp and join the Cao camp. Xu Shu, as Zhuge Liang’s close confidante, gladly collaborates with Sima Yi’s revenge plan. Zhuge Liang and Sima Yi meet once again and solidify their collusion after the battle.
- Liaoyuan Huo turns out to have a son named Zhao Tong. Zhao Tong’s mother is Fan Furen, the paramour who Liaoyuan Huo unintentionally abandoned after Xu Lin’s assassination as a result of Xiao Meng’s jealous scheme. Zhao Fan and the Eighth Genius, who happens to be his oath brother, found Fan Furen waiting by a tree and already visibly pregnant, then took her with them. Fan Furen and Zhao Tong eventually became assassins in the southern commanderies of Jingzhou. Meanwhile, Sun Shu, the daughter of Sun Jian who was rescued by Liaoyuan Huo during the burning of Luoyang and has since developed feelings for him, is arranged to marry Liu Bei. As part of Liu Bei’s plan to conquer the four southern commanderies, Liaoyuan Huo goes to Guiyang in an attempt to take Zhao Fan hostage, but instead was exposed and detained thanks to the efforts of Fan Furen. Their brief reunion ended on a tragic note when the Eighth Genius returns and holds Fan Furen hostage, only to kill her when Liaoyuan Huo refused to safely release Zhao Fan. The two eventually try to settle things in a one-on-one duel, and the Eighth Genius, who lost but did not die, is revealed to be a native of Changshan and a member of the very same Zhao clan that Liaoyuan Huo infiltrated so long ago. In the aftermath, in the site where Fan Furen was buried, Zhao Tong meets his father for the first time, and decides to join Liu Bei’s victorious force, along with Wei Yan and Huang Zhong.
- Liaoyuan Huo also happens to have an alleged foster son, Liaoyuan Guang, who now heads the next generation of Sima clan assassins, with Sima Yi’s youngest brother Sima Min taking over as the ringleader.
Looks like it became longer than expected.
More to come.