One of Sheng Xian’s long-time vassals - a man named Dai Yuan - shook his
fist and said, “We’re left to rot,
Administrator Sheng! Cao Cao will never
help us, no matter how often you say it!”
A second man, Gui Lan, nodded and said, “Mister Dai is right. Look at the fate of Liu Xun, who had turned back to the light! The Suns are only going to be removed by intriguing against them!”
“I’m not interested in all that ‘plotting’ nonsense, gentlemen,” Sheng Xian insisted. “I’ve always been a simple man, devoted to serving the Han loyally and doing my job as best I can. I haven’t the ability to scheme as some men do.”
“Then let us scheme for you!” Dai Yuan pleaded. “We cannot bear to see you trapped while villains like Xu Gong enjoy rank and-!”
“The matter will resolve itself in good time,” Sheng Xian insisted. “Let the court deal with these things, gentlemen, and keep your hearts free of the darkness that comes with all of that plotting.”
Gui Lan sighed and said, “You are as stubborn as ever, Administrator, but you are right, so I cannot criticise you.”
“…All will be well,” Sheng Xian chuckled. “You wait and see…”
The man that had usurped Sheng Xian, only to be usurped himself - Xu
Gong - pondered Liu Xun’s defeat as he sat in the court of Bofu’s appointed
‘Acting Administrator of Wu Prefecture’, Zhu Zhi. Xu Gong was normally known
for his defiant tone and conviction that he was still the rightful
Administrator in the region, but his perceived ‘submission’ to the Suns and
actions against his former ally ‘White Tiger’ Yan had started to damage him,
and the loss of a potential ally for future reclamation campaigns had left him
speechless, a fact which was not lost on the observant Zhu Zhi.
Xu Gong retreated to his home after the meeting; he passed two of his dwindling collection of trusted aides and entered his living quarters, where his son Lang was waiting for him.
“Damn Sun Ce… damn his clan and all that follow them!” Xu Gong muttered as he passed his son and went into his private study.
“…Please do not write again,” Xu Lang sighed. “Heng only just avoided
being caught the last time and-!”
“Then I’ll send Yan this time!” Xu Gong retorted. “I must make the court see sense, before Sun Ce conquers everything!”
Xu Lang shook his head and watched as his father started to pen another letter to Cao Cao’s office in Xuchang; the consequences of such a letter being intercepted were obvious, but Xu Gong was a man driven by desperation, and no-one would stop him now.
Guangling Prefecture was situated to the northeast of Bofu’s capital Qu’e, and was separated from the rest of Jiangdong - and northern Yang Province as well - by the Yangtze River; for that reason - and the fact that it was connected to the same land mass as Xu Province at its northern tip - the proper jurisdiction of the area was contested continually, and it was, at present, divided between the Han’s appointed Administrator of Guangling, Chen Deng - who answered to the governor of Xu Province - and the Sun clan. Cao Cao had never defined Chen Deng’s remit clearly, but there were some that thought that he should ‘take the southern region back’ once the pirates in the northern region were properly dealt with. The pirate king Xue Zhou had been humbled repeatedly in recent times, and so Chen Deng was petitioned by several officials and forced to give a response to his court.