Men just like Wang Lang, Tao Qian and Liu Yao
would be sent here… and all that we have achieved would be undone. I only hope
that Zhou Yu, Lü Fan, Zhang Zhao, Qin Song and the rest of them are sure to
tell my brother to stand firm.”
“I doubt that he needs them to tell him,” Pan Zhang suggested. “Lord Sun Ce is a hero of the era.”
“…He is,” Sun Quan replied. “I am… lucky… to be a son and brother to such men.”
“And I am lucky to have you as lords and masters,” Pan Zhang said. “It has not gone unnoticed that you have become a great statesman, and I have now started to learn from you and become a better man myself. My debts are repaid, my subordinates are happy, and your other officials no longer have cause to complain. Now there is nothing that cannot be accomplished.”
Sun Quan smiled and said, “I hope so.”
A week passed. Word reached Zhu Zhi that Bofu was preparing for a more
decisive attack on Huang Zu than was previously planned, and within a few days,
another pressing letter was urging aggressive action against Bofu: it had been
sent by the Wu Prefecture official Xu Gong, and it was being read by its
recipient Cao Cao, the Han’s Excellency of Works, who had summoned his most
trusted aides to discuss it.
“…This man Xu Gong is becoming more and more insistent… and more and more careless,” the adviser Guo Jia sighed.
“One can understand the reasoning behind his words, Fengxiao,” Cao Cao said. “He again calls Sun Ce ‘another Xiang Yu’, and ‘warns me’ that I should consider the lad to be the greatest threat to the Han that we have faced thus far. I just don’t know whether I should heed him or not.”
A tall, middle-aged adviser with a sour expression waved his hand and said, “Ignore him.”
“Can we afford to, Elder Cheng…?” Xun Yòu asked.
“Xu Gong is a troublemaker that benefitted from the regency of Li Jue and Guo Si, else he’d be rotting in a cell or worse,” Cheng Yu retorted. “How the man that overthrew Sheng Xian can have the nerve to say ‘punish the violent hankerer’ is beyond me; and, furthermore, I think that his constant slander is more about hypocritical revenge than concern for the Han Dynasty.”