A parody of the Sanguo Yanyi
Chapter One: Bathtime with Mengde
“How tiring this day has been,” exclaimed Cao Cao as he reclined on a soft lounge in his private apartments. “Indeed, there is something that I desire so much that I would travel to the ends of the world for it.” He glanced around the room to see his dearest advisor, Xun Wenruo, standing by. Xun Wenruo stepped forward and suggested to the Prime Minister, “Perhaps a warm and relaxing bath is what you seek?” Cao Cao smiled as he replied, “My thoughts exactly.” Xun Wenruo called for attendants to fill a tub with water for Cao. As attendants ran around the chamber preparing the bath, Guo Jia unexpectedly entered. Cao Cao told him of his desire to have a bath, and Guo Jia jumped and clapped his hands in delight. “I was just on my way to suggest such a thing to you, Prime Minister,” laughed Guo Jia. “There has been a children’s ditty going around Luoyang recently, that goes like so:
The tiger will chase the wolf,
Across the Han’s bleak lands.
We must pour disinfectant soap for gentle skin with SPF 30+,
Onto Lord Cao’s blemished hands.
The wolf represents the dirt and grime that has accumulated on your body today; and the tiger represents a cleansing bath. The Han’s bleak lands are your skin, which must be refreshed through use of the tiger!” “Then let the bathing commence,” said Cao Cao. As the three made their way to the Palace of Eternal Cleanliness, they came across the High Counselor Dong Zhao, who proposed that Cao Cao be given the title of duke. “In all history, no one has rendered such devotion to cleanliness as you have, O Prime Minister, not even the Duke of Zhou or Lu Wang. These thirty years you have exposed yourself to all manners of bathing equipment, been combed in your hair and bathed in your body, and you have swept grime from your skin, washed the distressed, and soaked the Han in a full body soak lotion that not only promotes healthy skin but also is non-irritating. Who of all bathers can rank with you? It would be fitting for you to become the Duke of Wei and receive the Nine Dignities, that your merit and lack of body odour be known to all.” What were the Nine Dignities?
- 1. A bottle of Ginseng Facial Scrub With Ten Essential Oils drawn by eight horses
2. Bath robes and a bath mat that reduces the effects of spillage
3. Music in the bath to increase bathing enjoyment
4. Red doors for the bathing chamber to stop people from peeking in
5. An inner staircase for the bath to protect every step
6. An Imperial Rubber Duck Guard, to prevent intruders from intruding on the bathing
7. Imperial Assorted Bath Toys, to reduce levels of boredom within the bath
8. Red-lacquered plug to ensure that water is not wasted
9. Drinking vessels to ensure that the bather is well hydrated
Guo Jia supported the idea, but Xun Wenruo did not. Cao Cao angrily dismissed Xun Wenruo from the bathing procession and continued with Guo Jia and Dong Zhao to the Palace of Eternal Cleanliness. However, when Cao Cao reached the Palace of Eternal Cleanliness and entered the chamber allotted for him, he was surprised to find the bath already occupied! Frustrated by the lack of bathing attention he had received, he pulled the bath curtain aside to find none other than Cao Hong! Cao Hong prostrated himself and begged forgiveness for his occupation of the bathing chambers. “The world can do with a dirty Cao Hong, but not with a dirty Cao Cao, my lord!” Cao Cao graciously accepted Cao Hong’s apology and waited patiently for Cao Hong to gather up his belongings.
Back at Xun Wenruo’s household, one of the advisor’s friends told him of the Nine Dignities that Cao Cao had received. Xun Wenruo looked to the Heavens in grief and cried, “I did not think to see this day!” One of his servants overheard his comment, and, looking to further himself, reported the comment to Cao Cao. Infuriated, Cao Cao sent a bottle of conditioner to Xun Wenruo, but when the advisor opened it, he found nothing inside. Xun Wenruo did not miss Cao’s meaning; he took poison and died. News of the man’s death reached Cao Cao, who was stricken with sadness and regretted his actions. But Guo Jia urged Cao Cao to commence his bathing, and Cao Cao replied, “My thoughts exactly.” All went well in the bathing ritual and Cao Cao felt refreshed. To maximise his bathing entertainment, he took out his bath toys. However, he found that his rubber ducks would float away from one another, and he was greatly angered. He called for a quill and scrolls and forged a decree in the Emperor’s name, which said thus:
The honoured Prime Minister Cao is unable to complete his bathing activities for a lack of control of his ducks. His ducks continue to float apart even when a strict word is spoken! A reward will be commissioned to whoever fixes this trouble of the Prime Minister.
Men from far and wide came into Cao’s bathing chamber, but none succeeded in keeping the ducks together. After twenty unsuccessful visits, a strange-looking man came in, calling himself the scholar Pang Tong. He whispered a few words into Cao Cao’s ear and then disappeared without a trace. Cao Cao then followed the scholar’s advice: tie the ducks together! Cao Cao smiled as he watched the ducks bob in unison. Cao Cao remained for so long in the warm water that he became groggy and soon he fell asleep. A spy of Wu, hiding in the nearby shower reported this to Zhou Yu, who ordered that arrows of flame be shot at the Palace of Eternal Cleanliness. As the Palace caught fire, Cao Cao rose with a start to find himself surrounded by flames! As he struggled to get out of the bath, he became tangled in the heavy ropes holding the ducks together. Indeed:
Cao Cao had a bath,
But it wasn’t very good as the Palace of Eternal Cleanliness caught fire because Zhou Yu shot fire arrows at it and Cao Cao was in mortal danger, oh yes.
Would Cao Cao survive?
Chapter Two: Poker at Xuande’s
As the flames crept higher, Cao Cao was certain that he would meet his doom. Suddenly, he heard wood breaking and lifted his head to see a man dressed in strange clothes. The man threw Cao Cao over his shoulder and burst out of the Palace of Eternal Cleanliness in such a spectacular fashion that it cannot be described. As the mysterious man helped Cao Cao to his feet, he introduced himself. “I am Jin Tong. My Taoist name is Deus Ex Machina. I saw the fire in the Palace and came to save you.” “Blimey,” replied Cao Cao. Declining the Prime Minister’s offers of a hefty reward, Jin Tong strode away. A poet of later times wrote:
Such a plot twist,
Dear me, what rhymes with unexpected?
(The poet was later fired for his lack of artistic talent.) As Cao Cao began to realize that he had just come out of the bath and thus was missing important items, and as a crowd of commoners started laughing at him, several asterisks came along, signalling a scene change.
* * * * *
“Bored,” complained Liu Bei. “Bored, bored, bored.” He lay back in his bed and stared at the ceiling. Suddenly, an idea struck him. “Brother Yu, Brother Fei! An idea has suddenly struck me,” he cried out with delight. Guan Yu and Zhang Fei, Liu Bei’s sworn brothers, rushed into Liu Bei’s room. Liu Bei sat upright on his bed with a stupid smile on his face. After about a minute, Guan Yu stepped forward. “The idea, elder brother?” “Poker! A game of poker with my dear friends,” shouted Liu Bei. “Good,” grumbled Zhang Fei. “There’s usually booze at a poker game.” Ignoring Zhang Fei’s comment, Liu Bei began to rattle off names of people to invite. “Zhao Yun, Cao Cao, Tao Qian, Yuan Shu -” “That faithless old traitor? Why on earth would you invite him?” exploded Zhang Fei. “Well, I pity the poor fellow. Nobody likes him, and I thought he might be a bit lonely.”
That night, the invited guests turned up on Liu Bei’s doorstep. He ushered them in and asked them to take their seats. Cao Cao looked up at him and inquired, “Is there any beer? I’ve had a rough day, and I could use a good drink.” Liu Bei nodded and started for the kitchen, with Guan Yu and Zhang Fei close behind. However, when they reached the fridge, they were disappointed to find that the beer was not there. A boy asked Liu Bei his name, and then explained the beer’s absence. “The beer’s movements are uncertain, and I don’t know where it has gone. It could be gone a few minutes, or a few hours.” “It’ll get warm! I hate warm beer!” roared Zhang Fei, and Liu Bei reprimanded him. Liu Bei asked the boy to tell the beer that he had visited and left with his two brothers.
When he got back to the table, Cao Cao noted his empty hands and remarked, “Too hard a task for you? Just get some beer and bring it back!” Liu Bei prostrated himself and turned towards the kitchen, but Zhang Fei blocked his way. “Why waste our time going to the beer? Just get it brought here!” “This beer is the greatest beer of our day. How can I simply have it brought to me?” Zhang Fei sulked, but went with Liu Bei and Guan Yu to the fridge. When they got there, the boy told them, “The beer is just inside.” Excited, Liu Bei pulled the door open, only to find a can of Budweiser. “I seek a better beer than this,” said Liu Bei. Again he returned empty-handed to the table.
“For crying out loud,” exclaimed Cao Cao. “Damn good host you are!” He rose, walked into the kitchen and returned with the beer he wanted. Liu Bei prostrated himself before Cao Cao, but Cao Cao grumbled, “Let’s just start the game.” Liu Bei sat in his seat and began to deal the cards. As he dealt his fourth card, it slipped out of his hand and fell to the floor. Zhao Yun jumped from his seat, leaped over the table and snatched up the card. Zhao Yun stood and carefully handed the card to Liu Bei. But Liu Bei threw the card to the ground and cried, “To preserve that card, I nearly lost a great commander! He could have had a nasty paper cut!” Zhao Yun, looking feeble, returned to his seat.
All went well until the seventh hand. All of the players had folded save Liu Bei and Tao Qian. Tao Qian was about to fold, making Liu Bei win, but Liu Bei’s arm shot out to stop the man from folding. Tao Qian cried out in surprise. “You, Xuande, are a member of the imperial family and you are worthy to win this hand. Please, grant this old ruler his wish and win!” “Never! I play for humanity and honour, and these words make me think that I have come here out of greed.” At this, Cao Cao grunted, “Of course you came here out of greed. That’s why you play poker: to win money.” As Liu Bei was distracted, Tao Qian threw his cards down. “Very well,” Liu Bei said tearfully. “I will accept your fold, but if another comes along more worthy to win, let him have the prize.” “Drama queen,” mumbled Cao Cao.
At the last hand, Cao Cao and Liu Bei were the only two remaining players. Cao Cao leant towards Liu Bei, saying, “Do you know the evolution of the dragon?” “What does this have to do with poker?” inquired Liu Bei. “Just trying to set the mood. Now, who do you consider the poker heroes of the realm?” Yuan Shu, until now ignored, kicked Liu Bei under the table. “Perhaps Yuan Shu? His cards are bountiful. Remember that flush he had?” Cao Cao looked over at Yuan Shu, smirked, and then turned back to Liu Bei. “A rotting skeleton in a graveyard. I will put him out of the way shortly.” Yuan Shu shrank into his seat, feeling upset that he didn’t even get a line of dialogue. Liu Bei then rattled off the names of all the poker players, but Cao Cao shook his head at each suggestion. “The poker heroes number just two: you and me,” Cao Cao whispered. “I said your name before!” retorted Liu Bei, but Cao Cao hushed him. “Never mind that. Ready to show me your hand?” Indeed:
Two dragons at the table sat,
But only one could win (unless there was a tie).
Would Liu Bei lose?
Chapter Three: Zhongmou's Sunday Drive
Liu Bei began to perspire as the tension rose. A wry smile played on Cao Cao’s face. At once, the two showed their hands. Liu Bei had a pair of sevens and three kings. A full house! Cao Cao had five aces, and as he showed his cards he threw his head back and laughed. “You are no match for my wit, Xuande!” Cao Cao pulled the money in the centre of the table towards him, and Xuande felt deeply ashamed. Yuan Shu, still feeling dejected, was the only person who knew how many aces there were in a deck, but he was too busy sulking to realise Cao Cao’s deceit.
After the guests had left, Liu Bei returned to his bedchambers. Suddenly, Liu Bei noticed a shadow hiding behind a screen. It looked intriguing, feminine, beautiful, and as Liu Bei’s mind began to wander, Zhuge Liang stepped out from behind the screen. Liu Bei was secretly disappointed but welcomed the advisor nonetheless. “I have come to advise you, Imperial Uncle Liu, for advisors do things such as this,” explained Zhuge Liang, as he sat beside Liu Bei. Liu Bei stifled a yawn and tried to look interested in Zhuge Liang’s words. “The court is corrupt; Cao Cao holds the emperor with an iron fist of cleanliness. I predict that the house of Han will soon fall, but I cannot tell which house will rise to follow it. Follow in the footsteps of your ancestors and take hold of what is yours!” “... iron fist ... Han ... of ...” Liu Bei began to doze, but Zhuge Liang jumped up and continued to talk. “China will be cut into three portions, like a pie. The pie will be warm and will taste quite nice, I’ll have you know. The crust, in particular will be scrumptious. Now, one serve of this pie has already been allotted for Cao Cao, another for Sun Quan of the Southland; you must take the third serve and feast upon the pie!” Liu Bei woke with a start. A poet of later times left these lines in admiration:
Zhuge Liang predicted a pie,
And stole this chapter from Sun Quan.
Meantime, Liu Bei was a-snoring,
Dreaming of better times for the Han.
“Any other predictions to share, friend?” Liu Bei looked at Zhuge Liang inquiringly, hoping to find out if his package from eBay would arrive soon. “Ah, yes, one more thing. Cao Cao, upset about his bath being disturbed, has decided to march south with a massive host to fight Sun Quan and Zhou Yu. They will meet him at Red-Actually-More-Of-An-Indigo-Colour-Wouldn’t-You-Say-Or-Even-Slightly-Violet-Coloured Cliffs and a large battle will occur.” “And why should I care what happens to Sun Quan?” “Well, for one thing, Sun Quan owns sixty-two percent of eBay, so if he goes down, so does eBay.” Liu Bei, knowing that Zhuge Liang had read his mind, decided then and there to go to Liu Biao, take control of his province and muster a massive host to fight against Cao Cao’s massive host. “We cannot stay here, my lord. Let us go to Liu Biao, take control of his province and muster a massive host to fight against Cao Cao’s massive host. This also ensures that we have a place in the next chapter.” Liu Bei began making preparations for taking Jingzhou, temporarily forgetting that he fought for honour and the Han. After all, eBay had to live on.
* * * * *
Meanwhile, in the Southland, Sun Quan was having a tantrum. He stood impatiently outside the bathroom door, occasionally yelling insults at the occupant of the room. After twenty minutes, the door swung open. Hot steam rolled out, masking the figure of the person within. A sweet scent spread throughout the hallway. Lady Sun stepped out, her hair still moist. “For such a manly woman, you sure spend a lot of time in the bathroom,” jibed Sun Quan. “For a warlord, you sure spend a lot of time whining,” retorted his sister. Sun Quan stuck his tongue out at Lady Sun and pushed past her to get into the bathroom. Sun Quan turned on the shower, waiting for a blast of hot water to explode from the shower head. He closed his eyes. He heard the water rattling through the pipes. “Sweet Gao Zu!” Sun Quan’s cries rang throughout the house. Lady Sun had used up all the hot water and Sun Quan was soaked in icy droplets. “Can this day get any worse?” Sun Quan muttered a curse to himself as he stepped out of the shower and pulled on a gown. As he did so, he glanced at the calendar and froze. It was Sunday, and that meant only one thing: Aunty Wu.
Aunty Wu was Sun Quan’s grandmother, and every Sunday the family would cram into a carriage and begin the long, tedious journey to visit her. It wasn’t only the journey, though: Aunty Wu herself was a mean old bat, and she would certainly disapprove of Sun Quan’s new purple goatee. As Sun Quan slouched over his Southland-O’s, he tried to think of a way to get out of the trip. Suddenly, Zhou Yu entered the kitchen unannounced. “Today is Sunday, as you certainly know, and I have devised a plan to get you out of the journey to see Aunty Wu!” Sun Quan lifted his head with a jolt and commanded Zhou Yu to share the plan. “As you well know, Imperial Uncle Liu has recently lost his wife. I suggest that you present your sister, Lady Sun, to him as a wife; the wedding can take place today and you can avoid visiting your grandmother.” Sun Quan smiled and replied, “That would be excellent! Also, I wouldn’t need to have cold showers anymore! Organise it at once.”
Liu Bei was summoned immediately, but as his carriage rolled past the palace gates, he was seen by Lady Wu, the mother of Lady Sun. She asked him his business in the Southland and Liu Bei explained that he was going to marry Lady Sun. Lady Wu, who was not informed of this, was about to call for Sun Quan to explain, when she suddenly noticed how handsome Liu Bei was. “I wouldn’t mind him for a husband of my own,” she murmured to herself. Because Liu Bei did not know what Lady Sun looked like, Lady Wu decided to impersonate her. “Yes, I am Lady Sun, your betrothed,” she said, grabbing hold of Liu Bei’s hand. “You’re a lot older than I had thought,” replied Liu Bei. “You’re old enough to be my mother!” Enraged, Lady Wu snarled and shoved him back into his carriage. “Out! Out!” Liu Bei, confused, could not disobey, and he returned to his home, continuing preparations for taking Jingzhou.
Sun Quan soon realised that his plan was exposed, and knowing that he had to go, he sat in the family carriage and took the reins. Within minutes the rest of the family was ready, and with a sigh, Sun Quan cracked the reins. “You missed the gateway turnoff! What kind of a son are you?” Five minutes into the journey, the carriage was hurtling along the highway, with Lady Wu screaming a mixture of insults and commands at her son. “Toll bridge! Where’s the change? You know I like to keep it in the glove compartment!” Sun Quan turned to his mother, his eyes wild with fury. Indeed:
A cold shower on a Sunday,
Made poor Sun Quan pretty angry, I’ll have you know.
What would Sun Quan say?
Chapter Four: Red-Actually-More-Of-An-Indigo-Colour-Wouldn’t-You-Say-Or-Even-Slightly-Violet-Coloured Cliffs
As Sun Quan was about to say something incredibly witty to his mother, he saw a flash of metal to the right of his head. He ducked straight away, just managing to dodge a dagger that landed harmlessly in Lady Sun’s arm. “Dear me, that was close,” exclaimed Sun Quan, who then turned to examine the damage. Lady Sun seemed to have lost large amounts of blood and her eyes were fluttering. “Think she’ll live?” Zhou Yu piped up from behind, “Nope. But that means you won’t have cold showers!” Sun Quan smiled to himself and ordered his sister interred richly. As Lady Wu continued to stare into space without a line of dialogue, Sun Quan calmly turned the carriage around and drove it home, preparing an army to fight whoever had tried to kill him.
* * * * *
“Failed? A pity. Well, guess I’ll have to kill you.” Cao Cao dismissed the assassin and called for his adviser Xun Wenruo. “Your Excellency, permission to speak?” One of Cao’s attendants stepped forward. “Xun Wenruo killed himself in chapter one.” As this dawned on Cao Cao, he ordered that Xun Wenruo be richly interred and that his son be brought up in his own household. “I’m afraid you’ve already done that, Your Excellency.” Feeling a bit peeved, Cao ordered that a later poet write these lines of admiration for Xun Wenruo:
That you would depart this world!
You are without life.
Which is, to say,
When Cao needed you,
“Can nobody write good poetry anymore?” Cao began to sulk, but Guo Jia soon entered his chamber. “Lord Cao, I suggest that we make a full-scale attack on the Southland, that we may establish a bazillion-year patrimony.” “An excellent idea,” said Cao Cao. “But our northern soldiers are untrained in the skills of sailing.” “I have already built a large lake outside Xuchang for training the troops,” replied Guo Jia. “You just need to give it a name. I suggest ‘The Pool of the Dark Tortoise’.” Cao Cao frowned, deep in thought. “Yes, it is a good name, but I would prefer ‘The Pool of the Fluffy Bunny’. It shows the soldiers that we love them.” Guo Jia, understanding Cao Cao’s plan, said no more, but left to make the necessary arrangements.
* * * * *
Meanwhile, in Jingzhou, Liu Biao was sitting in his armchair making strategies. “Truly an armchair strategist,” breathed Liu Bei. “Now, give me the province.” Liu Bei had been in Jingzhou for three days, and every day he had demanded Jingzhou. On the first two days, Liu Biao had refused, pleading illness, but today he made an offer to Liu Bei. “They say that the most worthy rulers must vault the Tan River upon the dilu, or the marked horse. If you can accomplish such a feat, then Jingzhou is yours.” “Piece of cake,” responded Liu Bei. He was, in fact, calling fro more cake, but Liu Biao thought by this he meant that the feat would be simple. “Very well then. Let us go!” Outside the city walls, Liu Bei sat on the horse, looking out at the rampaging Tan River. He closed his eyes, spurred the horse forward, and it leapt into the air. The wind rushed through his hair, and he knew he would make it. However, the excess weight he had picked up from sitting at the computer buying things on eBay weighed down the horse, and the two fell into the rapids of the Tan. There was much laughter. As Liu Bei straggled to the shore, he saw Liu Biao pointing at him, doubled over with laughter. “Well, I’ll just kill you and take the seal.” Liu Biao suddenly looked up to see Liu Bei’s sword come crashing down on his neck. “Right, Jingzhou is now mine. Let’s muster a force and send it to Red-Actually-More-Of-An-Indigo-Colour-Wouldn’t-You-Say-Or-Even-Slightly-Violet-Coloured Cliffs.” However, Zhuge Liang stepped forward. “I think I’ll go ahead and size up the situation.”
After arriving in the Southland, Zhuge Liang met up with an old friend of his, Lu Su. “Sun Quan has decided to summon forth a massive host and has sent the army, under Zhou Yu’s command, to Red-Actually-More-Of-An-Indigo-Colour-Wouldn’t-You-Say-Or-Even-Slightly-Violet-Coloured Cliffs.” The two men journeyed towards Zhou Yu’s camp. They entered his tent and found him slouched over a desk, deep in thought. “Trying to think of a plan, Zhou Yu?” Zhou Yu looked up to see Zhuge Liang smiling at him. “I have a plan that will destroy Cao Cao’s army in the blink of an eye. Now, listen closely ...” Zhuge Liang leaned forward and whispered his plan into Zhou Yu’s ear. Suddenly, a trumpet sounded. Zhou Yu jumped to his feet and ran out, calling behind him, “Cao Cao has arrived! Let us put your plan into action!” Zhou Yu, in accordance with Zhuge Liang’s plan, had Huang Gai summoned, and then, without explanation, had him whipped mercilessly. “That’s done. Now what do we do?” Zhou Yu turned to Zhuge Liang who shrugged. “I only thought of this part of the plan, the rest wasn’t finished.” Zhou Yu gave a cry and collapsed. He was carried to his bed, where he screamed, “Oh Heavens, when you created Zhou Yu, did you also have to make a phttbbphphtbb ...” The men assembled around him asked him to repeat those words, but he was already dead. Lu Su, tears streaming from his eyes, ordered that General Phttbbphphtbb be arrested and charged for killing Zhou Yu.
Cao Cao, hearing news of Zhou Yu’s death, ordered the his army to mobilise and crush the Southland soldiers. However, as he himself put on his battle regalia, three men in suits entered his tent. “We are executives for eBay, which you hold thirty-eight percent of. Sun Quan holds another sixty-two percent. If you fight him, then the value of your stock will drop dramatically. We urge you to retreat.” Cao Cao did as he was told and moved the army back to Xuchang. Zhuge Liang and Lu Su watched the army march off. “What an anti-climax. Imperial Uncle Liu will not be pleased.” Then, without another word, Zhuge Liang mounted a horse and rode back to Jingzhou. Lu Su took command of the Southland army and led them back to the capital. Sun Quan was extremely saddened by the loss of Zhou Yu, but he took a hot shower and felt better. In Jingzhou, Zhuge Liang reported the outcome to Liu Bei, who had mustered a large army. “Great, I have an enormous army at my command, and nothing to do!” Zhuge Liang simply smiled. “We must simply wait for the next chapter to be written. Something good might actually happen!” Indeed:
If you like this parody,
Then praise me! Praise me! My ego must be satisfied!
What would happen in the next chapter?