Continued Romance of the Three Kingdoms

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Re: Continued Romance of the Three Kingdoms

Unread postby Li_Shengsun » Sat Dec 28, 2019 6:57 pm

DaoLunOfShiji wrote:If Shu gets landmines and flamethrower tanks, it's only fair that Jin gets cannons. It's not their fault Wu never decided to advance to the Imperial Age, they're still stuck in the castle age.

Hahaha, more likely, they only prefer to sit like Tortoise hiding in its Shell, because of the natural barrier. Only think: "the Jin would never invade us because of the River". With this in mind, they'll never think anything else nor advance their technology, what a bunch of peace loving dudes. They forgot bunch of their general who know naval battle surrendered to Jin while they killing each other for the thrones. :lol:
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Unread postby Taishi Ci 2.0 » Tue Dec 31, 2019 3:16 am

第四回 王渾王浚大爭功

Chapter 4 - Wang Hun and Wang Jun Argue Over Achievements


In the last chapter, we recounted the events of Jin's campaign against Wu. By this time, the situation was indeed dire for Wu. Wang Jun's fleet had just inflicted a great defeat against a Wu army at Lesser Dangyang, and the survivors of this defeat had fled back to the Wu capital at Jianye to report the disaster. Sun Hao, shocked by this latest defeat, hastily assembled his civil and military officials to discuss how they might yet drive back their enemy.

The Prime Minister, Zhang Ti, said, "The situation has already gotten so bad that we are faced with a dire emergency. Unless I go in person, I fear that the people may not be willing to heed their orders, and it would be difficult to repulse the Jin armies."

Sun Hao said, "Sir, you are the chief minister of the state. If you are willing to lead this army to smash our foes, then I will turn over every soldier of the state to give strength and power to your efforts. Only be sure to carefully develop a plan. Let me hear of your success as soon as possible; that will restore my hope." And he mustered all of the elite capital guards, some two hundred thousand strong, to serve as Zhang Ti's army. He assigned the General of Agile Cavalry, Shen Ying, to be in charge of Zhang Ti's vanguard, and he appointed Zhang Xiang and Zhu Wan as his chief generals and Sun Zhen and Zhuge Jing as his Protector-Generals.

Zhang Ti's army advanced by ships, moving forward by the light of the stars. They encountered Wang Hun’s army at Zhuque Bridge, with the Jin general Zhou Jun leading the vanguard. Zhou Jun fought Shen Ying west of Jianye, where the Wu army was greatly defeated. Zhang Xiang dipped his banners and surrendered, while Zhu Wan and Sun Zhen, indignant and angered by this display, plunged headlong into battle to give it their all and were soon struck down by arrows.

Zhuge Jing knew that, with the soldiers defeated and the generals killed in battle, the Wu army could not possible maintain their position any longer. So he said to Zhang Ti, "It is all over, we have lost. A building about to topple over cannot be held in place by a single rope. Prime Minister, let us get away from this place, and make plans for some other day."

But Zhang Ti, refusing to heed this advice, continued to personally direct his troops to fight to the bitter end. Zhuge Jing was worried that Zhang Ti might come to harm, and he tried to pull him away, saying, "The rise and fall of states is part of the natural order of things. Sir, there is nothing that you alone can do to prevent this. Why insist upon dying here?"

"Zhongsi," replied Zhang Ti, for that was Zhuge Jing's style name, "do you know nothing of my heart? This is the very day I have been living for. When I was but a child, the late Prime Minister, Zhuge Ke, recognized my worth and recruited me. How often have I felt burdened with shame that I might not live up to his expectations. To think that I myself would someday reach that same pinnacle and likewise become Prime Minister should have been enough to satisfy me. Yet I have always worried that I would not be able to express the full measure of my loyalty or receive the approbation of wise and worthy people. Now here is my chance to lay down my life on behalf of the state. How could I do anything less?"

When Zhuge Jing saw that Zhang Ti would not be moved, he could do no more than release Zhang Ti's hand and dash off, with tears in his eyes. Zhang Ti kept up the fight until at last he too fell in battle. The Wu soldiers, all moved to grief by his loss, scattered and fled.


With the defeat of this last gasp, Wang Jun's triumph was now complete. He unfurled a great display of flags and banners and continued to sail downriver, full speed towards Jianye. His arms and armor filled the Yangzi, and the sound of his drums shook the heavens; his power and might were so total that the people of Wu were deathly afraid.

Sun Hao soon learned of the death of Zhang Ti. Recognizing that the state no longer had any troops left to defend it and was without any hope of outside reinforcements, Sun Hao could do no more than offer his submission. He wrote out his declaration of surrender and dispatched copies by several envoys to the vanguards of the Jin generals Wang Jun, Wang Hun, and Sima Zhou.

On the day Renyin (May 1st), the fifteenth day of that month, Wang Jun's ships sailed past the Three Mountains. Wang Hun, worried that Wang Jun might snatch Jianye out from under him and thus claim the chief achievement of the campaign, sent a messenger with a letter to intercept Wang Jun's route and order his fleet to halt, so that they could discuss the final conquest of Wu together. But Wang Jun hoisted his sails to continue his advance, and his response to Wang Hun was, "The wind is favorable and the current swift; I cannot slow down." That very day, Wang Jun beat the drums as he entered the Shitou fortress.

Seeing that his reign was now over, Sun Hao had himself bound up and tied to a coffin, and then presented himself at the gate of Wang Jun's camp to surrender. Only a single civil and a single military official, Xue Ying and Shen Ying, had remained behind long enough to accompany him on this journey. His other ministers, including Yao Xin, Guo Lian, Teng You, and Liu Xue, had all slipped away during the chaos and fled to Jianping commandary or to Jiaozhou and Guangzhou.

Wang Jun accepted Sun Hao's surrender. He then entered Jianye, where he issued a proclamation to reassure the people and forbade any plunder or harassment by his troops. He collected Wu's various records books, which showed that they possessed four great commandaries and forty-three lesser commandaries, 513,000 households, and 230,000 armored soldiers. And he was just about to dispatch his agents to return to Luoyang to bring news of his triumph, but had not yet sent them out.


The next day, Wang Hun led his own army across the Yangzi. Still assuming that Wang Jun had heeded his earlier command to halt, Wang Hun was planning to rendezvous with him. However, he soon received reports that Wang Jun had already received Sun Hao's surrender and had gone into Jianye to reassure the people there, and was not present at his army camp.

Furious, Wang Jun swore, "You old bandit, how dare you act so monstrous? You're just a subordinate general; I am the commander! Besides, the imperial edict placed you under my authority! Yet rather than halt and await my further orders, you dared to take matters into your own hands and accept the enemy's surrender ahead of me! I was the one who smashed all those Wu armies; I was the one who killed all of Wu's defending generals! It was thanks to me clearing the Yangzi of obstructions that you were even able to sail downriver in the first place, you thief! And now you dare to snatch the chief achievement out from under me, without the slightest trace of modesty or humility? Where is your respect?"

Wang Hun's subordinate generals were worried that, now that Wang Jun had seized the chief achievement for himself, they and Wang Hun would receive fewer rewards and honors than Wang Jun. So they further egged on their commander, saying, "All of us fought to the death to take Laixiang and defeat the enemy's garrison at Hengjiang. We were the ones who took the heads of Zhang Zun and Zhang Xian and broke the power of the Wu army. The fleet never would have been able to charge ahead without our efforts. Yet now, General Wang has claimed the enemy's surrender for himself and disrespected his commander. We were the ones who labored to sow and plow the field, yet General Wang's army were the ones who reaped the fruits of our efforts; we were the hunters who cleared the way, while they were no more than running dogs who chased down the hare."

Driven to further anger by these comments, Wang Hun said, "When Wang Jun's fleet was passing the Three Mountains yesterday, I as his commander ordered him to halt and discuss our next moves together. Yet he hoisted his sails and rushed ahead, spouting off some nonsense about 'the fierce wind making it hard to stop'. He has violated my direct orders and gone against the spirit of the Emperor's decree. All this, purely so that he could be first into the enemy capital to plunder their wealth and goods for himself! But just you wait. I will send a petition back to court to denounce Wang Jun for his corruption and make clear his crimes for all to see. I will tarnish that old bandit to slake my hatred."

But his subordinates only sought to rile him up even further. They said, "Sir, you are the commander; you wielded supreme authority over all the armies of this campaign, and the staff of command was in your hand. Yet Inspector Wang refused to respect your orders. We ought to attack him and take his head; that is the best way to punish him for his crime. Why rely only upon a petition, and thus give the villain a chance to talk his way out?"

Wang Hun agreed. So he set his flags and banners in order and readied his troops, planning to attack Wang Jun.


There were those in Wang Hun's camp who pitied Wang Jun's fate, feeling that though he had achieved much and committed no crime, a perverse disaster was soon to befall him. Some of them even sent word of their feelings to Wang Jun's camp to alert him to the danger. When Wang Jun learned of what Wang Hun was planning, he too stewed with anger. "I braved the slings and arrows of the enemy as much as he did, and I too overcame the Wu soldiers in battle after battle. All that I did, I did on behalf of the court; I have wronged neither my subordinates nor my superiors. Yet Wang Hun, jealous of me, now wishes to come and attack me. Then let him come! I will array my troops at once and prepare to face him. How could I sit by with folded hands and wait to be taken?"

When one of Wang Jun's Army Advisors, He Pan, heard that Wang Jun was intending to fight fire with fire, he rushed into Wang Jun's tent to remonstrate with him. "General," he said, "is it true that you are planning to cross blades with the soldiers of General Wang Hun?"

"Indeed I am," replied Wang Jun. "I have done nothing wrong, yet here he is coming to attack me. Do you expect me to meekly place my head beneath the axe?"

He Pan objected, "You cannot do this, General. If you insist upon fighting with General Wang, then you will be in direct violation of the imperial decree; you will throw away all your good work, and make yourself no better than someone like Zhong Hui. Besides, it is a fact that the Son of Heaven placed General Wang in overall command of this campaign, making all other generals his subordinate officers. You were no exception to that rule. Yet rather than wait for his arrival as he ordered, you went ahead and accepted the surrender of the lord of Wu, thus going against General Wang's wishes. Having already committed this original fault, General, how can you compound your error by violating the imperial decree and lashing out at his army with your anger?"

Wang Jun protested, "I have been absolutely loyal to the state. The day that our armies set out, I too received an imperial edict, commanding me to sail downriver at full speed to reach the enemy's capital at Jianye. And didn't everyone say that Wu could not easily be eradicated? Yet I always placed myself in the forefront of the fighting, thinking nothing of my own safety; I exposed myself to the enemy's fire, and I suffered several wounds from arrows. And in the end, I was able to seize and reduce the Shitou fortress and capture the false lord bound in ropes. I have vanquished this great enemy that has troubled us for a hundred years, and I have brought peace and harmony back to the Six Directions of the realm. My achievements are hardly insignificant! Yet all because of the jealousy of a superior, I find myself about to be cut down by an army. What would you have me do?"

"The solution is simple enough," said He Pan. "At this point, all that General Wang really desires is to get his hands on Sun Hao in order to seal his achievement! Besides, by now everyone, whether young or old, near or far, is quite aware that you were the first one to take Moling (Jianye) and capture the false lord of Wu, General. You hold the reality of this great achievement clear in the palms of your hands. Since no one can deprive you of that fact, why not just send Sun Hao to General Wang's camp and hand him over? That would ease the tension between the two of you, and prevent this mutual hostility from boiling over."

Wang Jun turned over this suggestion in his mind for a long time, then at last replied, "You make an excellent suggestion, Sir. I only fear that Wang Hun would never go along with it! Could I trouble you to go to him and explain things on my behalf?"

"Certainly you may," said He Pan. So Wang Jun sent He Pan to go as his envoy, and He Pan traveled to Wang Hun's camp to express his wishes.


Once He Pan had arrived at Wang Hun's camp and the introductions were complete, Wang Hun asked him, "What brings you here, Advisor He?"

"General," began He Pan, "I have heard that you wish to have your soldiers attack Inspector Wang. Is this true?"

"Of course," said Wang Hun. "Wang Jun is no more than an Inspector. When our sage sovereign issued his edict granting me overall command of this campaign, he made Wang Jun my subordinate as much as anyone else! It is only right that he should have waited to receive my orders. Yet he has committed five faults in his actions during this past day.

“When his fleet was passing the Three Mountains yesterday, I ordered him to halt and further discuss affairs with me, yet he left without paying any heed to my command; that was arrogance. He has seen fit to accept the surrender of the lord of Wu and confiscate for himself the contents of the enemy's arsenals and warehouses; that was presumption. When he entered Jianye to calm the people there, he sent out orders and issued commands based purely on his own authority; that was usurpation. He has reserved the enemy's records and accounts for himself in order to inflate his own achievements; that was deception. And he has taken the enemy's treasures and gathered up their weapons and equipment for his own purposes; that was greed. Since he has committed these five faults, how can I ignore them?

“Furthermore, he has thrown open the gates of the enemy capital and failed to arrange his troops to ensure that the area is properly defended. If the Wu army were to seize upon this opportunity and make a desperate rising, and we suffered from a future disaster, who do you suppose would be responsible for it?"

He Pan said, "General, it is as you say. But Inspector Wang is all too aware of these faults which you describe. And as for your summons to him at the Three Mountains, it really was the case that the fierce wind back then impeded him from turning his boats back to halt. Though he thus went ahead and smashed his powerful foe, his intention was to then await your own arrival!

“General, I know that you have received the grace of the state and are determined to share weal and woe together with it, and you are a righteous man and close to the royal family. It was for that reason that the Emperor entrusted you with such a weighty role as commander of this southern expedition. Yet Inspector Wang too has risked his life in battle through serving as the vanguard for this campaign, and his actions were on behalf of both the state and yourself. Though he captured the lord of Wu and his ministers, he was always intending to wait until you arrived as well. Nor has he sent anyone to resolve this dispute in his favor; surely that is because he wants to honor you, General, by allowing you to escort these prisoners to Luoyang yourself. He can have had no other intentions.

“Yet now, General, you mean to go so far as to attack Inspector Wang. That would be like the arm warring with the hand; they would cripple each other, and who could benefit from such a struggle? And if you wish to speak of the people of Wu 'seizing upon an opportunity', what would give them a better one than to see our two chief armies engaged in mutual destruction? Thus I cannot help feeling afraid for you, General!"

"Then what do you propose?" asked Wang Hun.

"I happen to know," said He Pan, "that Inspector Wang wishes to send Sun Hao to your camp, where he can kowtow before your camp gate and apologize for his faults. Yet Inspector Wang is afraid that even so, you will still charge him with a crime. Thus he has sent me on ahead to pay his respects to you, General. Might you be willing to forgive him?"

Wang Hun bowed his head in thought for a while, then at last replied, "Advisor He, I see that you are the teacher, and I your unworthy pupil. Could I do dare do anything less than what you instruct?"

He Pan thus returned and reported to Wang Jun, and Wang Jun sent agents to escort Sun Hao and his surrendered ministers to Wang Hun's camp. Wang Hun accepted them, and the threat of a clash of arms between the two Jin armies was over.


Yet although Wang Hun no longer planned to outright attack Wang Jun, he still nursed a grudge, feeling that Wang Jun had stolen the achievement that was rightfully his. So he fell back on his original plan to send a petition to the court denouncing Wang Jun. He accused Wang Jun of having helped himself to Sun Hao's treasures and of violating Wang Hun's prerogative by being the first to accept Sun Hao's surrender. Furthermore, according to Wang Hun's account, Wang Jun had been first to enter Jianye, where he had confiscated everything in the Wu arsenals and warehouses, set loose his troops to sack and pillage the city, taken Sun Hao's palace residents for his own use, and otherwise engaged in unspeakable corruption and theft. All in all, he accused Wang Jun of having violated military authority, ignoring a clear order, acting contrary to the imperial decree, and displaying a total lack of respect.

There was little time to truly look into these charges once Wang Hun's petition arrived at Luoyang. However, a compelling reason for the court officials to go along with the accusations was the presence in the capital of Wang Hun's son Wang Ji, who was married to the Princess of Changshan. He wielded considerable and aggressive personal influence, and his clan and their partisans were strong and numerous as well. So the officials, in order to gratify Wang Ji and side with him, all asked Emperor Wu to dispatch a cage cart to imprison Wang Jun and bring him back to the capital, while drafting up official charges of his guilt and sending them out. Emperor Wu, knowing that Wang Jun had committed no crimes, refused to have him arrested and brought back. However, he did issue an edict rebuking Wang Jun for having not respected Wang Hun's authority and for having plundered the storehouses of Jianye.


Wang Jun thus wrote a petition of his own, defending himself from these charges. He wrote:

"The Inspector of Yizhou, your servant Wang Jun,

"Having graciously received your special appointment as Dragon-Soaring General, I have endeavored to uphold the charge that you gave me. I first set out from Baqiu, subdued Xiakou, and followed the river to attack Wuchang. Upon arriving at Xiling, I received a handwritten edict increasing my soldiers and ordering me to defeat and pacify our foes in Wu. It was for that reason that I made straight for Jianye.

“I arrived at the Three Mountains on the fifteenth day of the month, where I saw Wang Hun's army from afar, on the north bank of the Yangzi, and Wang Hun sent me a letter asking me to halt to discuss affairs. But at that time, my fleet was pressed by the wind and pushed by the current, and it was too difficult for me to turn back and halt.

“By the middle of that day, I arrived at Moling, and that same evening I received Wang Hun's letter placing me under his command. He wished to order me to return and besiege Shitou and to wait for the main army to rendezvous with us; only then would he give us permission to attack. He also wanted to clarify the names of all the generals and officers in my army.

"The next day, as I was about to heed this new order by leading my troops back to besiege Shitou, I saw that Sun Hao had sent a letter to me proposing to surrender. Although I feared that the people of Wu, who after all are very crafty, were trying to buy time to gather more troops and hatch some new plot, nevertheless I canceled my plans and sent word into the city proclaiming the power and virtue of our court. Sun Hao then presented himself at my camp.

“The sovereign of Wu had thus surrendered to me. What further reason did I have to once again send forth soldiers and needlessly disturb the local people? Since the situation was already entirely settled, it was not the proper time to rush to carry out an order that no longer had any purpose. That is at least how I, foolish as I am, saw things in the moment. Yet my accusers claim that I was knowingly refusing to heed orders.

"A superior fellow will ensure that their actions will benefit the state; they will live and die by this principle. Thus to indulge in jealousy and sow suspicion is selfish behavior, unbecoming of a loyal subject, and it will not bring blessings to the wise sovereign of a state. You know that I am quite ignorant of affairs, and now I have run afoul of a powerful minister, thus I face untold calamity. Even so, I will bare my heart to all the realm.

"As for the charges of my conduct after entering Jianye, allow me to dispel these notions. According to the testimony of the locals, at the very moment when Sun Hao was contemplating bowing his head in surrender and his officials and generals had not yet completed their discussion, Sun Hao's attendants got word of his intentions and exploited the opportunity. They were the ones who set fire to his palace gates and flaunted their power unchallenged. As soon as I learned of what was going on, I quickly rushed to the scene to fight the fires and deal with these miscreants in person, and to halt any further plunder and calm the people; I had no other intentions. And out of all the generals, only Zhou Jun was the first to enter Sun Hao's palace and only Wang Jun was the first to climb into his boat. By the time I went to those places, there was not even a mat left to sit on. If there had been any treasures there, Zhou Jun and Wang Hun must have obtained them first. How could I have taken anything?

“This was the year that we pacified Wu, which should be cause for great celebration. Yet my body has become even more burdened by blame and strain. I can only hope that my wise sovereign will take pity on me."


Emperor Wu read this petition and knew that Wang Jun had been repressed. But since Emperor Wu had originally placed Wang Jun under Wang Hun's command, he decided to set aside both of their petitions.

Later, Wang Hun led Sun Hao and the surrendered Wu ministers into Luoyang, and the various Jin generals from the southern campaign all came to court to discharge their duties. Wang Jun too arrived at the capital. Wang Hun's partisans among the officials continued to accuse Wang Jun of having grossly disobeyed the imperial edict, and they asked that he be handed over to the Minister of Justice. But Emperor Wu could not bear to do this.

Even so, Wang Hun continued to claim that Wang Jun had achieved nothing on his own, and everything had come about purely because of the efforts of his army. Wang Jun too kept arguing on his own behalf. Since Wang Hun's and Wang Jun's dispute over the credit had not been resolved, Emperor Wu ordered the Colonel-Director, Liu Song, to review their achievements and render a judgment on the matter. Liu Song, going along with the wishes of Wang Hun and his partisans, gave Wang Hun the chief achievement for having pacified Wu and recommended that he be appointed as a Duke; he claimed that Wang Jun could only claim a lesser achievement, and his reward should simply be a promotion in office. After making inquired for himself, Emperor Wu felt that Liu Song had gone against the laws and decided without legal reasoning, and had him demoted and transferred to be Administrator of Jingzhao. Wang Hun sent up yet another petition disdainfully pressing his case, but Emperor Wu took no heed of it.

Emperor Wu issued an edict announcing the rewards for the campaign. He increased the fiefs of Jia Chong's and Wang Hun's noble domains by eight thousand households each, and promoted Wang Hun to be the Duke of a commandary. He appointed Wang Jun as General Who Upholds The State, and reckoning his achievements on the same level as those of Du Yu, Wang Rong, and the other leading generals of the campaign, he appointed all of them as Dukes of counties or towns. All the other generals and officers of the campaign were granted rewards as suited to their personal achievements.

Emperor Wu also dispatched officials to offer sacrifices to the spirit of the late Yang Hu. He granted Yang Hu a posthumous appointment and a posthumous name as well, and he appointed Yang Hu's widow as the Lady of Wansui Village and gave her a fief of five thousand households.


Wang Jun had himself made great achievements, but he was constrained by Wang Hun, his son, and Wang Hun's partisans. Whenever Wang Hun entered court, he was always going on about his achievements and service in conquering Wu in front of Emperor Wu. Sometimes, Wang Hun would be so resentful and incensed at not having claimed victory in his struggle with Wang Jun that he would depart without taking his leave. But Sima Yan was tolerant of him.

The Army-Protector of Yizhou, Fan Tong, was related to Wang Jun by marriage. He said to Wang Jun, "General, your achievement was indeed a beautiful one. I only regret that the one who occupies the highest spot now is not the one who did the most good. That day, your banners flew, but now you just have the triangle cloth over your personal home, and you do not speak about your merits during the conquest of Wu. If anyone praises you for it, you tell them, 'What achievements could an old fellow like me claim?' We are seeing another case of 'Lin Xiangru humbling himself before Lian Po'."

Wang Jun replied, "I have been seeking to prevent what happened when Deng Ai and Zhong Hui argued over their achievements. I feared misfortune for myself, and so I have not said anything. I do not think I shall ever be able to explain myself fully; that is the constraint I am under." And though he deeply thanked Fan Tong for his thoughts, he never again spoke of his achievements in Wu.

The people of that time were all indignant on Wang Jun's behalf, because his achievements were great and yet his rewards were slight. One of the Academicians, Qin Xiu, submitted a petition extolling Wang Jun's hard work and good deeds. So Emperor Wu transferred Wang Jun to be Grand General Who Guards The State.

Wang Hun often invited Wang Jun to feasts. But Wang Jun would invariably first prepare strict guards for himself, and only afterwards meet with Wang Hun. Such was the great animosity which these two men had for one another. And later, as Wang Jun continued to be worried about the great power and influence of Wang Hun and his clan and partisans and feared that he would eventually come to harm, he resigned his office and retired to live out his years at his old estate. Truly, no good deed goes unpunished.


Having finished deciding upon the rewards and honors for his own ministers, Emperor Wu then bestowed Sun Hao with the title Marquis of Guiming ("Marquis Who Submits To The Mandate"), and he appointed his son as a Bureau Gentleman. The old ministers of Wu who had surrendered to Jin were all examined for their past good works and granted offices in Jin according to their talents. Thus Sun Hao and his former subjects all danced and made obeisance to Emperor Wu, grateful for his generosity.

There was, however, one exception. We had earlier mentioned that Sun Hao's kinsman Sun Xiu had surrendered to Jin before the invasion and had been appointed by Jin as their General of Agile Cavalry. He was now standing to one side, taking in this pitiful display. Unable to master his feelings of anger and indignation at seeing the Sun clan brought to such a sorry state, he turned towards the south, his mind full of regrets and his eyes wet with tears. "Alas!" he lamented. "It was not so long ago that the General Who Punishes Rebels, Sun Bofu (Sun Ce), established the foundation for our state while he was a mere Colonel, and his good deeds have echoed for several generations. Yet though our last lord, lacking in virtue, was actually raised in the Southland, now he abandons it. 'O thou distant and azure Heaven! Why did you create such times?'"

Thus troubled, Sun Xiu returned to his home, with his concern still plain on his face. His son Sun Hui asked him the reason for his distress.

"You know the story of Lord Xinling, Prince Wuji of Wei," Sun Xiu told him. "In ancient times, when Lord Xinling was unable for a time to return to his native state of Wei, he received the mockery of Lord Xue. But in the end, he led the King of Wei's carriage in triumph back to Wei and smashed the army of Qin there. Thus even lords of domains of a thousand chariots all bowed to his virtue and reputation.

“As for me, I too was forced to exile myself to this land, burdening myself and checking my path forward. Still, I have never forgotten my homeland. But how could I have expected that Wu would meet its destruction in such a short span of time? My heart is cut like knives; there will be no triumphant return for me to save my home, and I cannot bear to see how far my clan has fallen. Why else would I mourn so deeply? But I tell you, this is not the end. Though it is too late for me to save Wu, I shall wait for some opportunity to present itself, and then seize my chance to make the Sima clan pay for what they have done."

And indeed, when in later years the Sima clan tore itself apart and the realm was rent to pieces, Sun Xiu would be present at the destruction.


One day, seeing as Wu and Shu had now been conquered and the whole realm was at peace, Emperor Wu decided to hold a feast. He ordered the feast to be held in the palace, where he could congratulate the generals responsible for the conquest of Wu and toast the generals and officers from the campaign.

Once the civil and military officials had assembled for the feast, someone offered Emperor Wu a cup of wine to drink towards his good health. Emperor Wu took the cup and, wiping away tears, said to everyone present, "All of this was thanks to the good work of the late Grand Tutor, Yang Hu, who strategized with me beforehand on how to conquer Wu and then joined with Du Yu and Zhang Hua to encourage me to carry out the campaign. Now we have been fortunate enough to make the conquest of Wu a reality, and everyone else responsible for that is present with us here at this feast. Alas, that Grand Tutor Yang is already no more, and we cannot see him here as well." And he sighed deeply, feeling pity that Yang Hu had not lived to see his dreams realized.

Then Emperor Wu said to Du Yu, "Back then, after our initial successes during the campaign against Wu, most of the generals and officers said that it was not the right time to push further ahead, and most of the chief ministers at court too felt that we could not make a rash advance, but ought to wait until winter and then discuss our next move. Only you and Zhang Hua were adamant that Wu could be conquered at once, and I absolutely agreed with you. And later, there were those who urged me to recall the armies again, fearing lest we should suffer some sudden defeat. Some went so far as to claim that even cutting Zhang Hua in half at the waist would not be enough for me to atone to the realm for my decisions. Even I began to waver. How fortunate that your petition reassuring me of victory happened to arrive just afterwards. Our success is thanks to all the good service that you, Zhang Hua, and Yang Hu have done for me. Now may us drink our fill today, and let no one hold back."

Jia Chong felt deeply ashamed and guilty, for it was he whom Emperor Wu had alluded to. He bowed to the ground and asked forgiveness for his crimes, saying, "I was foolish and blind, and my thinking was inadequate to the occasion. Who can compare with Your Majesty's divine martial prowess, your sage wisdom, or your penetrating foresight?"

But Emperor Wu, who still regarded Jia Chong as a senior minister of long service, reassured and comforted him, and there was no further question of his errors.


That same day, after the feast had ended, Emperor Wu asked around to see which worthy fellows of the Southland had not yet submitted to him. Everyone spoke to him of how excellent a man Zhuge Jing was; this was the same Zhuge Jing who had narrowly escaped from Zhang Ti's last stand. So Emperor Wu sent agents to look around in search of his current location.

Now Zhuge Jing had gone into hiding after that defeat, not wishing to associate himself with Jin. Some of his friends urged him to put such things aside and accept appointment in the Jin government. But he only waved them off, saying, "It is already bad enough that my state has fallen yet I was unable to give my life to preserve it, and that my sovereign was lacking in virtue yet I was unable to rectify his behavior in time. Yet you would have me drag out my ignoble existence by outright serving my conquerer and seek after honor for myself. Only a beast could do such a thing as that! How could I ever act that way?" And he shook out his sleeves and departed.

By now, Zhuge Jing was being sheltered at the estate of his sister. Zhuge Jing and this sister had the same parents, for their father had been Zhuge Dan. And she was the concubine of Jin's Prince of Langye, Sima Zhou. Emperor Wu eventually discovered that Zhuge Jing was hiding with his sister, so he sent his agents to her home to try to strongarm Zhuge Jing into coming to see him. But Zhuge Jing was obstinate and would not be moved. So Emperor Wu decided to personally visit the residence, hoping to find an opportunity to summon Zhuge Jing to see him there. But when Zhuge Jing realized that Emperor Wu had come, he fled into the lavatory to avoid seeing him.

Emperor Wu called the household servants of Sima Zhou's estate and asked them for Zhuge Jing's whereabouts, saying, "Where have you fellows hidden him?"

They replied, "Would we have dared to keep him from you? But as soon as he heard that Your Majesty's carriage had arrived, of his own volition he fled into the lavatory to hide from you."

Emperor Wu could not bear to drag Zhuge Jing unwillingly out of the lavatory. So he only stood beside and and called out to Zhuge Jing, saying, "Zhongsi, do you truly wish to avoid me this much?"

Faced with little choice, Zhuge Jing at last presented himself and performed obeisance to Emperor Wu. But as he bowed his head, he began to weep as he said, "My father was charged with a crime by His Late Majesty (Sima Zhao), and in order to avoid his fate, I fled to the Southland, where I became a minister of Wu and accepted their pay. Now that state too has been destroyed. I turned my back on Wei before, and now I have failed Wu as well. I felt the shame of having failed to avenge my family against yours; though I was like Wu Yun (Wu Zixu), maintaining myself in a foreign land by playing a flute, yet I failed to go as far as Yu Rang by swallowing charcoal. Now I faced the prospect of looking upon your sage countenance in person, and the thought was truly too much for me to bear. That was why I tried so hard to avoid you!"

Emperor Wu replied, "Neither Wu nor Wei exist any longer. The whole realm is now all part of one family. Please do not think of such things." And he personally offered to appoint Zhuge Jing as a Palace Attendant. But Zhuge Jing could not bear to accept. Once more making a show of obeisance, he firmly declined the offer and asked only for permission to go back to his hometown in peace. Emperor Wu, appreciating Zhuge Jing's absolute sense of loyalty, obliged him.

Thus, donning a shabby coat, Zhuge Jing returned to his hometown. For the rest of his life, he never traveled in the markets of Jin, nor when sitting on his mat would he ever face towards the Jin court. He thought of nothing further than enjoying his poverty and his simple pleasures. And within a few years, he passed away at his home. His son Zhuge Hui eventually served Jin as a Palace Attendant.


Even in later ages, there were still those who praised Zhuge Jing's actions, as this poem attests:

Rich in knowledge, insight grand
Many claim these in the land
But little can one demonstrate
These things, 'til faced with something great
Before the bathroom, there he stood
Tough as iron, firm as wood
He turned aside a generous offer
No honors he, no gold-stuffed coffer
For all he sought, his one desire
Was to go home, and there expire
And was not this humility
Far greater than nobility?

Yan Ling in his youth once too
Had been friends with the young Guangwu
Yet once Guangwu to his throne rose
And at last enjoyed repose
When offered he such riches and fame
To this old friend, none would he claim
There was no wealth for which he yearned
Nor rank nor title; all these he spurned
His sole wish was tranquility
To live his life at home in Qi
And was not this what Zhongsi sought?
So little, yet so dearly bought.
"You have attacked us before, and we survived! You cannot defeat us. Submit!"
"We have. You did. We can. No."
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Re: Continued Romance of the Three Kingdoms

Unread postby Li_Shengsun » Thu Jan 02, 2020 11:35 am

Well, two hundred of thousands strong is a bit too exaggerate, even if they were real, not all of them were brought to the frontline.
Poor Zhuge Jing, he shouldve stayed with Zhang Ti if he wishes to die for the state, not dashes off from the frontline.

idk why, but it seems Sun Hao's tyrannical rule was a lot worse than Dong Zhuo is, even though Dong Zhuo was said to be a tyrant, bad as he is, no one mutinied against him during his rule (with exception of some dude who lust over a woman).
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Re: Continued Romance of the Three Kingdoms

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Fri Jan 03, 2020 1:29 pm

I suspect the author and I have very different definitions of poverty. Wasn't entirely sure if I was meant to see Zhang Ti in a positive light as his words come across as rather ego driven, felt they went into more detail then RTK on Zhang Ti's death and was nice to see the Wang generals split being included.

I suspect we see the ministers who fled south again...

Li_Shengsun wrote:-Edit-
idk why, but it seems Sun Hao's tyrannical rule was a lot worse than Dong Zhuo is, even though Dong Zhuo was said to be a tyrant, bad as he is, no one mutinied against him during his rule (with exception of some dude who lust over a woman).

I'm assuming coalition doesn't count as a mutiny but there were other attempts to kill Dong Zhuo like Wang Fu and that plot Xun You was involved with

Hard to tell who was worse. Sources for both can be described as hostile and Sun Hao is badly hit by the last Emperor trope. Dong Zhuo, by the plunge into civil war, did more damage to his state then Sun Hao who inherited a disastrous situation and was unable to reverse the decline despite some miliatry success in the south
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Re: Continued Romance of the Three Kingdoms

Unread postby Jordan » Sun Jan 19, 2020 2:28 pm

Requesting a sticky/pin for this thread. Thank you for Taishi Ci 2.0 for translating and sharing this. It's awesome.
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Re: Continued Romance of the Three Kingdoms

Unread postby Taishi Ci 2.0 » Wed Feb 19, 2020 5:03 am

第五回 郴嶺吳將敗晉兵

Chapter 5 - The Wu Generals Defeat The Jin Army at the Chen Ranges


In the last two chapters, we had described Jin’s conquest of the rival state of Wu, which had taken place in Jin’s first year of Taikang (280). It had been in the first month of that year that Emperor Wu of Jin had sent forth his armies against Wu, and by the fourth month, he had brought the majority of Wu under his control and compelled the surrender of their sovereign, Sun Hao. He appointed Sun Hao as Jin’s Marquis Who Heeds The Mandate.

In the fifth month, Emperor Wu held a meeting in the main hall of his palace at Luoyang, and he had his guests take their seats in a side hall. Sun Hao, who had also been invited, took his seat as well. Emperor Wu turned to look at him and said, “I’m glad to finally have you here as my guest, sir. You see, I’ve had that seat prepared for you for a very long time.”

Sun Hao quipped, “It’s just as well, Your Majesty. When I was in the south, I too had such a seat prepared to receive you.”

Jia Chong also was present, and he wanted to see how good Sun Hao was at coming up with witty responses. So he asked him, “Sir, I heard that when you were in the Southland, sometimes you punished people by gouging out their eyes or peeling off their faces. What sort of criminals merited such extreme punishments?”

Sun Hao retorted, “Simply those who murdered their lord or else proved themselves wicked and disloyal!”

This silenced Jia Chong at once, and he felt deep shame, for he had been responsible for the death of one of the Emperors of Wei, Cao Mao, during his time as a Wei subject.

Emperor Wu was impressed by these displays of Sun Hao’s nimble mind and clever repartee. To him, Sun Hao did not at all seem to fit the caricature of a talentless fool who had led to the downfall of his state. Yet there was the truth of Wu’s rapid collapse in the wake of his own invasion. How to explain it?

He decided to pose this quandary to Sun Hao’s former subject Xue Ying, who had accompanied his master to Luoyang. “Sun Hao is clearly a clever and ingenious fellow,” he said, “and he had inherited the legacy of several generations of rulers before him. So why was it that Wu came to ruin during his reign?”

Xue Ying replied, “It was because my lord surrounded himself with petty people, and he was excessive and harsh in his punishments and accusations of guilt. The chief ministers of Wu and all its people were terrified; none were certain of their own safety, and all feared that they would be executed. Thus no one was able or willing to tell my lord of the true state of the realm. This was what led to Wu’s fall.”

Emperor Wu praised him for these remarks. He ordered a feast to be held in a side hall, and he granted Sun Hao a fine residence to live in.

Around this time, Du Yu and Zhang Hua sent word to the court, stating, “Although the lord of Wu has himself submitted to the mandate of our dynasty, there are still several provinces and commandaries in the Wu territory which have not yielded to us. You ought to order the generals to march through these unsettled areas, where they may impose peace and reassure the local people. Do not allow this threat to linger, like a tiger lying in wait, for future generations to deal with.”

Emperor Wu felt that this was wise, so he arranged for further expeditions. He organized one force of a hundred thousand soldiers to march to the Chen Ranges in southern Wu in order to pacify the region and compel the submission of the places south of those mountain ranges, such as Jiaozhou and Guangzhou, which had not yet surrendered to Jin. Commanding this army would be the Champion General, Luo Shang, the General of the Left, Liu Hong, the General of the Right, Shan Jian, the Vanguard Commander, Zhou Zhi, the Adjutant Generals, Yu Qin, Yu Zan, Pi Chu, and Ying Zhan, and the Protector Generals, Liu Zhun, Liu Qiao, and Tao Rong. Emperor Wu also dispatched a second army of another hundred thousand soldiers to quell the local Wu resistance in Xiangdong, Jianping, and other commandaries in that area. This army would be led by the Credential Bearer, Jia Mo, the acting General Who Pacifies The East, Xiahou Jun, the Adjutant General of the Left Army, Xie Xi, the Adjutant General of the Right Army, Huangfu Zhong, the General Who Routes The Enemy, Xin Ran, and the General Who Resists The Foe, Li Wei. Having received their orders to march, these two armies took their leave of the court and each set out to approach their designated targets.


Let us focus on the first of these Jin armies, which was marching towards the Chen Ranges in order to subdue Jiaozhou and Guangzhou. We should mention that Wu’s Inspector of Guangzhou was Lu Yan, the eldest son of Lu Kang. This Lu Yan was quite adept in the arts of war, and he had a mind as nimble as his grandfather Lu Xun.

When Lu Yan had first gotten word of Jin’s invasion of Wu by four different routes, he had called a great assembly of the local Administrators, generals, and officers in order to discuss with them how they might save the state from this dire threat. Among the Administrators was a man named Teng Xiu, styled Xianyou; he was a native of Xi’e county in Nanyang commandary, and was an exceptionally intelligent fellow. At the meeting, he proposed to the others, “We should immediately coordinate with the Administrator of Cangwu, Wang Yi, the Administrator of Shixing, Lü Feng, and other regional commanders. Let us all raise troops together and then march to the aid of the state.”

Lu Yan had heeded his advice, and he had immediately sent out orders to those two places to call up troops. In just a few days, Wang Yi and Lü Feng had arrived with their local forces. So too had the Administrators of the southern commandaries of Jiaozhou, Guan Gong and Bo Feng, who brought another fifty thousand veteran troops. These leaders had gathered together, and Lu Yan held a banquet to receive them. But they were still in the middle of discussing their next step when several new guests arrived and gave them a great shock.

We had earlier mentioned that when Sun Hao had decided to surrender the Wu capital at Jianye to Jin, some of his remaining ministers had chosen to flee south rather than submit. Among them were Yao Xin, Liu Xue, Guo Tong, and Teng Xiu. And these were the people who now arrived at Lu Yan’s headquarters. Their names were announced, and as they entered the room, Lu Yan could hardly miss their gloomy and downcast expressions. Introductions were quickly exchanged, then Lu Yan and the other locals pressed their guests for news of events in the north.

The fugitives told them, “The Jin armies advanced against us by four different routes, and since we were forced to disperse our soldiers and horses in order to guard against all of these thrusts, the capital at Jianye was left empty. That was when Wang Jun suddenly descended upon Jianye with a great fleet coming down the river. Our lord proposed surrender, and he even went so far as to write a letter of submission and to leave the city to report to the enemy camp. We felt that we were no longer strong enough on our own to resist the enemy. So we fled here, hoping to join with you gentlemen in order to rescue the state.”

As they listened to this sad tale, the locals began to cover their faces in their hands and to weep freely. But Teng Xiu spoke up, saying, “Tears will do us no good. Considering the situation now, it would be difficult for us to defend what remains of the Southland against the enemy. Nor would the population be quick to rally to our cause, for by now they must feel that it is too late to save them. Let us continue our earlier discussion and see what remains for us to do. I propose that, if we can hold this eastern corner of the realm against our foes and acclaim a member of the Sun clan to be our leader, we may yet prove our full loyalty to Wu.”

Lu Yan told those assembled, “Gentlemen, you must not go your separate ways. It is only a matter of time before the Jin army reaches this place; Guangzhou will be the first place to bear the brunt of their attack. But if we can hold this place against them and keep it secure, then I can assure you gentlemen that you will be as unshakeable here as Mount Tai.”

Then Yao Xin said, “All of us here come from loyal and righteous families of the state and are border vassals of the southeast. So long as we combine our strength and work together, we shall drive back the Jin army. Why should we fear that we might not make a name for ourselves?”

The leaders all declared, “We will not dare not to do our utmost to avenge this shame!” And they rolled up their mats and dispersed.

Still, by the next day, there were signs of wavering resolve. When the leaders each came to make their thanks to Lu Yan, two of his assistants said to him, “Our state of Wu has really already been destroyed, and the lord of Jin has issued his edict calling on us to stand down. Sir, what do you and the generals really mean to do here?”

But Lu Yan told them, “Our families have accepted the pay of Wu for generations. Although it is true that our sovereign indulged in cruelty and went too far in his behavior, still he had not committed any unspeakable acts that called for his destruction. Indeed, he was defending the state which his predecessors had guarded for generations, and he was offering prayers to the spirits of his ancestors. Yet, without any sort of justification, Jin raised their troops and wrested his state away from him. I feel deep shame in my heart just thinking about it. If it is fate that the state should be no more, then so be it. But how could I ever willingly accept the command of such a person to willingly submit?”

Wang Yi observed, “Inspector, no one can deny your loyalty or courage; your sincerity is as true as the sun in the sky. Yet it is the case that our lord has already surrendered our state to the enemy, who are now calling on us to submit and receive salaries and payment in their service. Should you expect the people here to be so quick to spurn these offers of wealth and honor and prefer to exhaust themselves to avenge the state?”

Lu Yan replied, “Jin has brought this great show of force to intimidate us, hoping by their pure might to make us submit. We have no choice but to fight them! Besides, if it is a contest of strength, we may easily prevail against them. I have no fear of their great hosts; the one thing I would fear to see would be the lord of Wu riding on a lone horse with an edict compelling us to surrender. Now gentlemen, all of you prepare your troops and take your places.”

Guo Tong was afraid that more of the leaders would begin to hesitate as well. So he exhorted them, saying, “All of us who have gathered here today are generals and ministers whose families have employed their talents in the service of East Wu for generations. We fled so far to this place together for precisely the cause of avenging the state. Anyone who flees from peril at this hour is no loyal subject.”


Lu Yan and the others were in the middle of this discussion when a swift messenger suddenly arrived from the road, bearing news of the enemy. The messenger reported that the Emperor of Jin had sent the commander Luo Shang to lead an army of men and horses, one hundred thousand strong, to subdue them. This army had set out from Changsha along the main road, and would arrive at the borders of Guangzhou in less than a day. They must make all their defenses quickly, and avoid allowing the common people to panic.

As he heard this report that the enemy had actually begun their attack, Lu Yan became roused with anger. At once he gathered all his officials together and began discussing what strategy they might use to defend Guangzhou and hold off the enemy.

One man stepped forward from among his subordinates and offered the following plan: “Since there is only this one road which the Jin army must take in order to approach our territory, all that would be necessary to halt them would be to send forth a bold general with ten thousand troops to hold the steep and narrow pass through the mountains at the Chen Ranges. Even if Luo Shang and the rest had a million soldiers or the Six Strategies of Chen Ping of old, they could not simply fly over those mountain ranges; they are obliged to go through that pass.

“While this vanguard is keeping them at bay, you may disperse your remaining soldiers among several other generals and send them out to occupy various routes behind the enemy in secret. Since the enemy has brought a hundred thousand soldiers with them, any delay before the mountain pass will quickly exhaust their provisions, and then they will be forced to retreat. At that time, you can send out the hidden detachments to ambush them, and victory would be certain.

“Once we have defeated their army, the enemy will surely lose heart. By then, we can discuss further plans for how we might revive the state again, as well as coordinate with the other loyalists at Jianping and elsewhere. If our struggle against Jin proves successful, we may yet be able to restore Wu again. And even if we are unable to retake the Southland from Jin, at the very least you could be like old Commandant Zhao Tuo, and rule the far south as your own kingdom.”

The man who had offered this advice was Lu Yan’s younger cousin, Lu Xuan. He had earlier been appointed as Commander of Dingchao, and was now serving as Colonel of Southern Man Tribes.

Lu Yan said to him, “Cousin, your advice is outstanding. Yet I fear we lack the bold fellow you propose. This role would call for someone both courageous and intelligent. Where shall we find such a man?”

He had hardly gotten the words out of his mouth when another man suddenly stepped forward. This man had a most remarkable appearance: he had a head like a leopard and a neck like a tiger, eyes like a wolf and brows like a lion. He towered nine chi tall, he had a sparse beard shot through with purple, the strength of his arms far surpassed others, and he had a free and easy manner about him. Who was he? He was called Zhou Chu, styled Ziyin; he was a native of Yixing county in Wu commandary, and was the son of the old Commander of Xiling, Zhou Fang. And when during the discussion of defending the pass at the Chen Ranges he heard Lu Yan lament the lack of a suitable leader, at once he stepped forward to recommend himself for the role.

“I am a minor officer of no real talent,” said he. “But I am willing to hold the pass against the Jin army, and I swear not to shirk my duty.”

Lu Yan was delighted to hear Zhou Chu volunteer himself. He replied, “Ziyin, if you go, my heart will be at ease.” And at once he appointed Zhou Chu as Vanguard Commander Who Smashes Jin. He selected the Champion General, Guan Gong, to lead the left wing of Zhou Chu’s army, and the General Who Smashes The Enemy, Bo Feng, to lead the right wing. He assigned them twenty thousand soldiers with which to occupy the pass at the Chen Ranges and check the advance of the Jin army. And the three commanders mounted their horses that very day and prepared to set out.

When it was time to leave, Lu Yan raised a toast to them before the crowd, declaring, “The pass at the Chen Ranges is the shield of Guangzhou and the far south. This is no light responsibility. Generals, the three of you must be sure to consider the situation carefully before you make any movement. Do not let the enemy spur you to rash actions.”

Zhou Chu replied, “We will stick to the plan.”

“Then,” said Lu Yan happily, “the people of the south and east may rest assured.”

At this point, Lu Xuan spoke up. “The generals are certainly dependable. Still, Ziyin has always been a fierce and brash man. If the enemy should provoke him, I fear he might rush to act and not think clearly. Thus I am not so assured of success as you. But if we could supply him with someone skilled at strategy and advice, who could help him to calculate and measure the success of any proposal, then we could toast all of them together and send them off, and be absolutely certain that they will prevail.”

“Who then would you propose for this role?” asked Lu Yan.

Lu Xuan replied, “There is the Marshal of the Central Army, Zhuge Shen. His plans and schemes are perceptive and penetrating, and his intellect and knowledge are grand and profound. Besides, he is the grandson of Zhuge Ziyu (Zhuge Jin), and he has inherited his grandfather’s nimble mind. Everyone considers him a worthy man. If you were to send him to advise Ziyin and the others on army affairs, there would be no mistakes.”

Lu Yan agreed with his thinking. He sent agents to fetch Zhuge Shen, explain the circumstances to him, and ask him to assist the vanguard. Zhuge Shen gladly agreed to help, and he set out for the Chen Ranges together with Zhou Chu and the others.


While Zhou Chu and the others are on their way to the Chen Ranges, we shall indulge in a story of Zhou Chu’s past. We have already observed how bold and strong he was, thus it would hardly be a surprise to learn that as a youth, Zhou Chu was quite the thug. He did not practice virtue or cultivate good conduct, but committed wickedness and proved himself a rascal. He did wrong to everyone in his village at one time or another, thus no one dared to oppose him. Everyone feared and dreaded him.

One day, as Zhou Chu was walking nowhere in particular, he saw the Thrice Venerable of his village passing through the gate, making a long mournful sigh. When Zhou Chu asked him what the matter was, the old man would not answer him. So Zhou Chu approached him and forced him to explain himself.

The Thrice Venerable told him, “I am sighing simply because of the three scourges of our village, who are spreading their poison among the people. But what does that matter to you?”

Zhou Chu asked him, “Won’t you tell me what these three scourges are? You’ll have to point them out, since I don’t know what they are.”

“The first scourge,” began the old man, “is the tiger with the white forehead that lives in the southern hills who is always devouring people. Once it comes out in the afternoon, no one can ever get past it on the road. And the second scourge is the wicked serpent that lives in the river under the long bridge, which is constantly churning up the river and making waves. It keeps flooding out the farm plots and washing away the houses, ruining the livelihood of the people. They are what cause me to make such painful sighs.”

“Just a moment,” said Zhou Chu. “You said there were three scourges, but you’ve only told me about two of them. What about the last one? Or are you keeping it a secret?”

The old man said, “There certainly is a third one. Only I dare not speak its name!”

“You’ve already told me about the other ones,” complained Zhou Chu. “Why can’t you talk about this one?”

“It’s not that I can’t talk about it,” said the Thrice Venerable. “But I am worried that if I do, you will be angry at me.”

“Old fellow, you are my honored elder and the teacher of the village. I swear to you that I will not get angry. Now won’t you instruct your poor student?”

At last the old man declared, “It is you! You are the third scourge! You do whatever you like and harm whomever you wish, and you care nothing for your behavior. And whenever someone refuses you, you are always using brute force to take what you want. Though the people dare not oppose you to your face, they all speak ill of you. So do not think it so strange that I consider you a scourge.”

Zhou Chu sighed and said to himself, “It’s a sad man who doesn’t know his own faults. I must be a real mess if the people think so poorly of me.”

And at once he made a full apology to the Thrice Venerable, then walked away, saying, "I'm going to get rid of those three scourges for you."

The next day, Zhou Chu went into the hills, where he tracked down the tiger with the white forehead and cut off its head. Then he dived into the river beneath the long bridge, where for three days and three nights he hunted the serpent, until at last he captured it and took its head, thus putting a stop to the flooding.

Having removed these first two scourges, Zhou Chu then sought to change himself, turning away from his faults and practicing good conduct. He was so successful in his reformation that his virtue soon became known far and wide, and his local province recommended him. The lord of Wu then appointed him as Attendant Officer With Separate Carriage of Guangzhou and as General of the Serrated Gate, and later he was transferred to be Colonel of Southern Man Tribes. Thus he had been present for Lu Yan's assembly.


By now, Zhou Chu, Zhuge Shen, and the rest had arrived at the pass at the Chen Ranges. They set up their camp there, and ordered their officers to lead detachments to build ramparts and barriers at the various defensive points nearby.

Within a few days, Luo Shang, Liu Hong, Shan Jian, and the other Jin commanders had arrived in the area with their grand army of a hundred thousand. Being quite unaware that any resistance lay in store, they were advancing in all their glory, a mighty host. But when they came close to the mountains, their scouts rode back to report that Wu soldiers had occupied the pass through the Chen Ranges and would not permit any further advance to go uncontested. They further reported that the Wu commander was named Zhou Chu, that he had ten thousand bold and unstoppable warriors at his command, and that they would have to wait below until the enemy came out to offer battle; only then would they be able to pass through. After hearing this report, Luo Shang ordered his generals and officers to set up camps and barricades on the plains.

The next day, Luo Shang personally led his troops out to get a better sense of the terrain. He went together with his subordinate generals to the foot of the pass, where they scouted out the various places nearby. Yet there was no promising road to press forward. The crags and cliffs of the mountains were so towering and imposing, so awesome and formidable, that it was the sort of place that people claim that one man could defend against ten thousand. Luo Shang said to his subordinates, "See how the enemy has such impressive natural defenses, and even the other little paths we might take are all blocked by their soldiers. Even if we had brought a million soldiers with us, we would be no better off. How will we get through the Chen Ranges in order to pacify Jiaozhou and Guangzhou?" And he began to sigh.

But just at that moment, there came a blast from a signal gun atop the pass which shattered the heavens and a roll of the drums that shook the earth. Then the gate opened and a host of soldiers poured forth, banners streaming forward. At their head was a great general, grasping a steel blade paler than snow and astride a fine horse swift as the wind. He had an aura like a bear or a tiger, strength like a pixiu, and a roar that made the very hills quiver and shake. He led the Wu troops to charge downhill, and behind him came Guan Gong and Bo Feng, all ready to kill.

Luo Shang and the others did not even have enough time to draw up their troops into a proper formation before Zhou Chu was upon them. He led his vanguard to smash through the enemy line, and as he swung his great blade to and fro, he cleaved through the heads of Jin soldiers and crushed them beneath his blows, killing countless numbers of them.

Then Jin's General Who Breaks And Charges, Yu Zan, forced his way through the melee to face the enemy, beating his horse and twirling his blade as he rode towards Zhou Chu. The two warriors, breaking off from the fighting for a time, clashed in a duel as they rode at each other again and again, fighting more than thirty bouts. At last there was a thundering sound when, taking advantage of an opening, Zhou Chu brought down his blade and knocked Yu Zan from his horse. The Jin soldiers all panicked when they witnessed the fall of their champion.

Though the Jin general Yu Qin tried to make a stand, Guan Gong and Bo Feng pressed their side's advantage and charged into the Jin army, making straight towards Luo Shang's command canopy. Luo Shang had been caught completely by surprise, and it was impossible for him to direct his troops at all. His vanguard dissolved into flight, and his soldiers lost all will to fight; they were driven back by the force of the Wu charge, and they abandoned their armor and cast aside their helmets in their rush to flee. This slaughter marked a great defeat for the Jin army, and the corpses and bones of their dead littered the ground. The survivors retreated more than twenty li before they were able to reorganize again. When Luo Shang took stock of his men and horses, he learned that Yu Zan had perished in the fighting, along with more than ten thousand of his soldiers and officers.


Luo Shang, nervous and angered by this sudden defeat, was planning to send word back to the court to ask for reinforcements in order to put down this opposition. But his Vanguard Commander, Zhou Zhi, advised him, "When our sovereign appointed you as commander of this army, it was so that you would be the one to campaign against the rebels in Jiaozhou and Guangzhou. Have you lost your nerve so quickly after just a single repulse that you are going to alarm and disturb the court and beg them for a strategy to save you from this peril? If you did that, wouldn't you just become the laughingstock of all the chief ministers? Instead, we ought to form up the soldiers tomorrow and try for a decisive battle here with the rebels. If we triumph, we can press our victory to force our way through the Chen Ranges, and your campaign here can still be successful. And if we should fail, then it will not be too late for you to send your petition asking for help afterwards."

Luo Shang was somewhat reassured by this advice, so he called a council of war to discuss how they might force a battle and take the pass. Shan Jian told him, "Tomorrow, we ought to prepare ambushes while enticing the Wu army out, in order to destroy them. Have General Ying Zhan take one thousand soldiers and prepare an ambush on the left side of the defile, while General Pi Chu takes another ten thousand to do the same on the right side. General Yu Qin should take another ten thousand to lay in hiding on the left side of the road, and General Tao Rong will prepare another ambush with yet another ten thousand on the right side. General Zhou Zhi can lead a further ten thousand forward as the vanguard, in order to draw the Wu soldiers out to fight. Commander, you and General Liu Hong can remain in the rear with another twenty thousand as a reserve, which we can use to attack the pass. Initially, when Zhou Chu rides out from the pass with his troops, our vanguard will clash with him and fight with all their strength. Then, once the fighting has turned fierce, they will pretend to pull back and flee; the enemy will not suspect deception, so they will surely give chase. Once they come out onto the road, we will fire a cannon as a signal for the ambushes to come out. We will have the Wu army surrounded on all sides, and Zhou Chu will fall into our hands."

The generals were all delighted with this plan, saying, "What an excellent strategy! Just tell us what we each should do; we will keep things secret."


Early the next day, the Jin army formed up and prepared for battle, and when morning came they marched into the defile. Zhou Zhi and Luo Shang personally approached the bottom of the pass, where they flaunted their strength and greatly taunted the Wu defenders. They fired off cannons that shook the hills and mountains, and they needled the Wu soldiers to come out and fight.

Faced with these taunts, Zhou Chu was eager to march out at once. But Zhuge Shen told him, "The enemy is calling and taunting us and itching for a fight because they have some plan in store for us and are hoping to make us fall into their trap. So long as we are here at this pass, we cannot be impetuous. Yet you, General, want to face them right away. You ought to show a little more caution, in order to avoid being ensnared. Do not rush to destruction. Better for you to wait until noon first, when the enemy soldiers and horses will have lost their initial enthusiasm and become tired. That will be the time to march out from the pass. And if we can claim another victory today, the enemy will no longer even dare to gaze up at the Chen Ranges."

Thus Zhou Chu held back and did not rush out to fight. When Zhou Zhi saw that the Wu army showed no inclination to offer battle, he ordered the grand cannons from Xiangyang to be set up and had them fired up at the pass. But the Wu defenders only laughed heartily and did not respond.

As noon approached, Zhou Zhi went so far as to order his officers to strip their torsos bare and scold the Wu soldiers. Zhou Chu could hardly endure this further provocation, and he went in to see Zhuge Shen and told him, "Those damned Jin soldiers have no respect! I'm going to go out of the pass right now and behead the Jin general! That will shut them up and stop their taunts!"

Zhuge Shen advised him, "If they taunt us, that is their own business. Why should we pay them any heed? Better to stick to the plan; your time to attack will be here soon. But General, I must warn you about what might happen out there. If the enemy stands their ground and fights long enough for you to take the head of their general, that will truly cause the enemy soldiers to lose their nerve; their retreat will be genuine, and you may press your pursuit to rout them. But if you notice that the enemy soldiers start to fall back before you can even get close to their general, that will be a sign that they are carrying out a plan to trap you. If that happens, rein in our soldiers and do not pursue the enemy, but come back to the pass and we will discuss what to do next."

Zhou Chu agreed to follow his advice. Then Zhuge Shen instructed Guan Gong and Bo Feng, "You generals take ten thousand soldiers and go out of the pass to help with the fighting. Watch for an opening and then advance. If General Zhou's vanguard gains a victory, you two should follow after him and lend weight to his advance in order to make the enemy quiver. And if the enemy has ambushes laying in wait, you fellows should strike them from behind and rout them as well."

The Wu generals and officers all received their orders and made their preparations. Then a signal cannon was fired atop the pass, and Zhou Chu led five thousand crack troops out of the pass, looking like some god rushing down from the heavens.


When Zhou Zhi saw this fierce being before him, he knew that he must be facing Zhou Chu. So he ordered his soldiers to form up and stand their ground, while he rode his horse out in front of them. In a loud voice he called out to Zhou Chu, "Surely you must be Zhou Ziyin? I am called Zhou Zhi. General, you and I are part of the same family, and I have some words of advice for you. Are you willing to hear me out?"

Zhou Chu retorted, "If you have something worth saying, I am wholeheartedly prepared to listen. But spare me such nonsense as what you have just said. Part of the same family? Zhuge Ziyu (Zhuge Jin) and Zhuge Kongming (Zhuge Liang) were brothers in fact, yet after they began to serve different lords, never once did they put their personal relationship above their duties to their states. Why then should I show you any special regard just because we happen to share a surname?"

"I would never dare to suggest such a thing," said Zhou Zhi. "Yet do allow me to observe that the time of Wu has ended, while it is Jin that is prospering. Though you may win a single battle against us, you cannot hope to preserve your state. General, I recognize that you and the other generals with you, talents and heroes all, wish to prove your loyalty to your state. Yet your lord has already surrendered to Jin; there is no master whom you are actually fighting for. Would it not be better for you to submit to Jin, just as Ma Yuan and Dou Rong recognized the supremacy of Emperor Guangwu of Han and bowed to his authority? Then your legacy and reputations would be secure. Would that not be glorious?"

Zhou Chu said, "The lord of Wu may have inclined towards cruelty, but I never heard that he had committed any great faults. You fellows of Jin are simply using brute force to come and attack us here. We are defending this small and distant corner of the southeast, where we are keeping the fortunes of Wu alive and acting the way loyal subjects should. You are the ones who are so greedy that even what you have already taken is not enough for you, that you come all the way here to trouble us too. So the only thing I intend to do today is right out and fight you to prove who is the better man. Spare me any more talk." And he spurred his horse forward down the road.

Zhou Zhi too twirled his blade and rode ahead to face Zhou Chu. Both of them were bold heroes, and they fought with the zeal of immortals. They struggled so hard to kill each other that the heavens grew cloudy and the ground broke to pieces, the sun turned dim and the mountains wobbled. For more than forty bouts their deadly dance continued. At length, Zhou Zhi felt that it was time to feign defeat, so he made a false swing of his blade to cause Zhou Chu to block it. But Zhou Chu responded with such great strength that he rapidly counterattacked. Zhou Zhi could not respond in time, and Zhou Chu's blade smashed into the hollow of his shoulder and wounded his upper arm. Zhou Zhi at once dropped his blade and turned to flee. The Wu soldiers roared in triumph, shaking the ground, and they were so stimulated by this sight that they advanced.

When Luo Shang and Liu Hong witnessed the brutal ferocity of Zhou Chu, who in two days had vanquished as many generals, they no longer dared to face him in battle; both of them fled from the rear. This left the Jin army without a leader, and they were once again greatly defeated; their wailing shook the land. And even as the tide of battle surged past the place where Yu Qin and Tao Rong were still in hiding, they never stirred, because no one had fired the signal cannon for them to spring their ambushes. But when they saw Zhou Chu riding hard towards their position, with Guan Gong and Bo Feng coming fast behind him, and that their own commander and his generals were fleeing like the wind, they too withdrew their troops and retreated. All this served as proof to the Wu soldiers that the Jin army would never turn and fight them, so they threw caution to the winds and pressed their pursuit to slaughter their foes. The Jin soldiers stampeded in their rush to get away, and countless numbers of them died in the retreat. The pursuit continued for more than thirty li, as the Jin soldiers abandoned their provisions and equipment within the defile and the Wu soldiers took advantage of the confusion to bring these captured goods back up to the pass.

By the time Luo Shang had reorganized his forces at his barricades and counted up his men and horses, he found that he had lost more than ten thousand more soldiers. Zhou Zhi had broken his arm, and all the field provisions had been lost. There was nothing more they could do but send a messenger to ride day and night for Luoyang to present a petition to the court asking for reinforcements. In the meantime, Luo Shang kept his soldiers back to wait for Zhou Zhi to recover.


Such was the fate of the army sent against Guangzhou and Jiaozhou. But we had also mentioned another army which had been dispatched to subdue Jianping, led by Jia Chong's nephew Jia Mo, by Xiahou Jun, and by others. What had become of them?

By this time, Jia Mo and the others had led their troops to the borders of Jianping commandary, where they had established a camp for themselves. The Wu scouts brought news of their arrival to Wu's Administrator of Jianping, Wu Yan, styled Shize. This was the same Wu Yan who had earlier learned of Wang Jun's plans to build a navy with which to invade Wu, and had even sent samples of the discarded lumber to alert Sun Hao, but to no avail. Wu Yan was a native of Wu commandary, and he had always been a clever and calculating man, well-versed in the arts of war. So even though his warning had been disregarded, Wu Yan had thatched the roofs, fortified the defenses, and repaired the walls of his city, and he had forged and restored armor and weapons to be ready for whatever might come. When Wang Jun's soldiers had reached Jianping during their invasion of Wu, they had realized that Wu Yan had been expecting them and had already prepared to hold out against them. Since it would not be easy to take Jianping, they had not dared to assault it, but had simply passed it by and continued downriver. And all this time, Wu Yan had been maintaining his post and never daring to give it up. This was why Emperor Wu had been compelled to send an army to come and subdue the loyalists in the region.

When Wu Yan received this report of the arrival of the Jin army, he summoned his subordinates and discussed things with them. "The cruel brigands of Jin, flaunting their strength, indulged their senseless ambitions and did violence to our state. All of us come from families which have accepted our lord's pay for generations; who among us does not wish to repay our debts to our sovereign? Though the altars of state have been toppled and this enemy army has arrived here, I will never turn my back on the state. Our duty is to avenge ourselves against them; let us devote our full efforts to defend this place."

Wu's Administrator of Xiangdong, Teng Tiao, advised Wu Yan, "The Jin army is counting on their superior numbers to overawe us into submission. They have only just arrived here, and thinking that Jianping is a small city in a cramped region, they will surely not be concerned about us. Thus we should take advantage of the fact that they have not yet had time to prepare themselves here by attacking them at once. We can certainly claim an initial victory over them, and after we have defeated them once, Jianping is strong enough for us to hold out against them. Eventually we will be able to send agents to establish contact with the loyalists in the far south at Guangzhou, and then we can occupy several commandaries and restore the state together. That would be a great success."

Wu Yan agreed with him, and he prepared his army to march out of the city to oppose the Jin army.


Wu Yan girded himself in armor, put on his helmet, arrayed his troops in clear formations, grasped a spear in one hand and wielded a halberd in the other, mounted a tall horse, and rode out to lead an army to battle. As they approached, they heard three rolls of the drum and saw that the Jin army had been split into two wings.

From the front of the Jin army formation, flanked by banners, emerged Xiahou Jun. He crowned his head with a golden helmet, he wore an embroidered coat over a suit of scaled armor, he carried a great blade so massive it could chop off a horse's head in one stroke, he sat atop a horse that dashed about faster than a dragon, and hanging from his side was a quiver of wolf-fang arrows. Behind him, commanding the Jin army, was the commander Jia Mo, who was dressed in a robe of flying fish embroidery, wore a headdress bound in gold, and displayed a coiled-dragon jade at his waist. To either side of Jia Mo were Xin Ran and Li Wei, who commanded the two wings of the army.

From atop his horse, Xiahou Jun brandished his whip at Wu Yan and shouted to him, "Our lord of Jin wishes to extend his benevolence and noble spirit to all and bring the whole realm under the same family. Those who submit to him can be sure they will receive fair treatment and great employment. Sir, why do you insist on this wayward course?"

Wu Yan called back, "Our sovereign had committed no crime which called for his punishment, nor did your state have any personal grudge against him. Why then did you invade us? Besides, all of us come from families which have accepted the pay of Wu for generations. We intend to uphold our duty and defend this city, for we have never received permission to presumptuously give up these walls and moats to someone else. There's no need for further words."

Then Wu Yan beat his horse and rushed towards the Jin army, while on the other side Jin's General Who Routs The Enemy, Xin Ran, hefted his blade and spurred his horse forward from the right wing to meet the challenge. These two generals soon clashed between the two armies, spear against spear and blade against blade; their horses pranced about one another as they closed for bout after bout. For nearly two hours they struggled against one another, without any clear winner.

Jin's General Who Resists The Enemy, Li Wei, saw that his companion Xin Ran had not yet been able to subdue the Wu commander. So he too whipped his horse forward and left his place before the left wing to join the fight. Wu Yan was now flanked on either side, and though he twirled his spear to keep both attackers at bay, there was not a single person in the Wu army who did not fear for his life.

Then suddenly, while they were still fighting, there gradually arose a great tumult from the rear of the Jin army. For suddenly a separate Wu force had appeared from behind them, led by one man on horseback: the Administrator of Xiangdong and native of Wuxing commandary, Teng Tiao. Faced with enemy forces on both sides, the Jin soldiers became uncertain. Their formation soon became loose and disordered, and their discipline broke down. Jia Mo, who after all was more a civil official than anything and had little experience in warfare, quickly lost his courage at this unexpected threat; he took to his horse and was one of the first to flee the field.

The sight of their commander quitting the battle caused a general panic among the Jin soldiers, who now began to scatter. Xiahou Jun called on the soldiers to halt, but he could not stop the stampede. However, determined not to give up, he rushed to the rear of the Jin army to organize a resistance against Teng Tiao's attack.

When Li Wei saw what was happening with the Jin army, he was too distracted to fight clearly. Wu Yan soon speared him in the left shoulder, and Li Wei fled back into the Jin formation. Xin Ran had already broken off to try to help stop the rout, but when his wing of the army refused to stop their retreat, he fled along with them. Wu Yan did not pursue him, but beat his horse to lead his own troops to help Teng Tiao against Xiahou Jun. Xiahou Jun saw that he could not hope to stand against both these forces, so he abandoned the field to go report to Jia Mo.

Thus the Wu army had won the battle, and they pursued the fleeing Jin soldiers, who offered no resistance but simply fled for their lives. The road soon became filled with dead and wounded, and the area was filled with the cry of their mournful wails. The Jin troops fled for more than thirty li, leaving ten to twenty thousand dead behind them. Wu Yan pursued them no further, but brought his forces back into Jianping. Jia Mo too set up a new camp for his soldiers.

The next day, Xiahou Jun tried to fight another battle, but he was routed and put to flight by Wu Yan's skillful maneuvers. And over the following days, though Xin Ran and the others too repeatedly offered battles, they could not gain a victory. Eventually they admitted that Wu Yan and Teng Tiao could not quickly be subdued with the forces they had on hand. So Jia Mo too wrote a petition asking for reinforcements and sent a messenger to travel day and night back to Luoyang, who arrived within a few days.


Emperor Wu was about to attend court when the Yellow Gate servants brought him the two petitions from the commanders Luo Shang and Jia Mo. The petitions reported that the Wu generals Lu Yan and Wu Yan were remaining loyal to their original duties by maintaining a heavy defense of Guangzhou and Jianping, that both Jin commanders had suffered defeats with the loss of generals and soldiers, and that both were begging for more reinforcements in order to subdue these threats.

When Emperor Wu read their petitions, his heart became nervous and uncertain. At once he assembled his civil and military officials and discussed the matter with them. "These remnant Wu ministers are occupying Guangzhou and Jianping against us and refusing to submit to our authority. We shall have to send more troops south now. A greater expeditionary army will be needed to bring these foes to heel. Gentlemen, what are your suggestions?"

Zhang Hua stepped forward and said, "The reason these Wu generals cannot bear to surrender to us is simply because they want to prove their full loyalty to their state as dutiful subjects. Such righteous leaders will never submit to raw force. But their nominal master is none other than Sun Hao, who has already surrendered to us and is present here at the capital. Why don't we order him to write a letter calling on these two commanders to heed his will and submit to Jin? Lu Yan and Wu Yan are wise fellows and faithful servants, so when they see this letter from their old sovereign, they will certainly come and surrender to us. Why should we insist upon further fighting, which will only harm our mandate?"

Emperor Wu was delighted to hear this advice, and he immediately ordered his officials to summon Sun Hao to court. When Sun Hao arrived, Emperor Wu said to him, "The Wu generals occupying Guangzhou and Jianping are resisting our rule and cannot bring themselves to submit. Would you be willing to bring them over to our side?"

"It would be a simple matter," replied Sun Hao. "Those two have always treasured loyal and righteous conduct, but since even I have already surrendered to you, why should they do any less? Just let me write a letter explaining the situation to them and commanding them to give in, and they will surely heed my orders. There will be no further need for you to resort to arms."

Emperor Wu was overjoyed, and he ordered Sun Hao to go back to his residence and write the letter, furnishing him with writing materials. After Sun Hao had finished, he first had it sent to Emperor Wu for his review. Then it was sent out with messengers to be shown to Wu Yan at Jianping and Lu Yan at Guangzhou.

The letter arrived at Jianping first. When it was brought to Wu Yan, he saluted the messenger, then broke the seal and read it.


This is what the letter said:

"In my conduct as a sovereign, I lacked virtue. Heaven refused to support me, nor were the times in my favor. The power of my army and the strength of my people were both exhausted. These were the reasons why I have submitted to the mandate of the great Jin court.

"Recently, gentlemen, I have heard that you are still insisting on holding out in your isolated cities. I appreciate that you wish to remain steadfast and earnest in your duties and feel deep shame for the loss of the state. Yet why must you insist upon killing and harming so many with your actions, snuffing out lives and covering the ground with corpses? My generals, you have more than proved your full loyalty. I am the one who was at fault, not you. Besides, I am not worthy of your support, and I have already given up the state. Who then are you fighting for?

"Do not suppose that you have any chance of success. Your struggle will fail in the end, and you shall be remembered as traitors. After all, even the combined forces of Shu in the west and all of Wu were still not strong enough to resist the might of the north. How then can you ever expect to prevail against a massive state with only the resources of Guangzhou and Jianping to sustain you?

"Gentlemen, if you truly wish to prove your loyal hearts, then on the day that you receive this letter, I command you to roll up your armor and set out for Luoyang. Spare the children of the realm from further bloodshed and give rest to the common people. Thus may you demonstrate your kindness and your regard.

"By the hand of the Marquis Who Heeds The Mandate and former sovereign of Wu, Sun Hao, on this day of the eighth month of the first year of Taikang (280)."


When he realized what he was reading, Wu Yan slowly burst into tears. Upon finishing, he turned to his subordinates with tears in his eyes and said, “Since the lord of Wu has sent us this letter, how can we not surrender? Who is left for us to defend this place for?”

Wu Yan sent a messenger to bring Sun Hao’s letter to Jia Mo’s camp, along with his own notice that the letter should be forwarded to Lu Yan, Wang Yi, and the other loyalists in Guangzhou. Wu Yan pledged that as soon as they recognized the handwriting, they too would cease their resistance and come north to surrender, and then Wu Yan and his forces too would set aside their armor and submit. Jia Mo was overjoyed to learn this, and he sent a messenger to ride a swift horse through the night to bring the letter to Lu Yan and the others.

When Jia Mo’s messenger arrived at the Wu garrison at the Chen Ranges, he presented Sun Hao’s letter and a letter from Wu Yan as well. Zhuge Shen, Zhou Chu, and the others all began to weep as they read these words, wiping their tears away on their sleeves. They sent Bo Feng on ahead to bring the letters to Lu Yan in Guangzhou.

Lu Yan, Teng Xiu, Wang Yi, and the other leaders were in the middle of a discussion when Bo Feng suddenly arrived from the front. He handed over the letters to them and explained the situation. The leaders all dashed forward to see the letters, and they buried their faces in their hands and bitterly wept as they learned the terrible news. But there was nothing left to be done.

Lu Yan mustered all the men and horses under his command, then led them north to join Zhou Chu at the others at the Chen Ranges. Together they all continued north along the main road through Changsha. Upon reaching Jianping, Wu Yan and Teng Tiao led their forces to join them as well, and the whole host marched north until they arrived at Luoyang. Once in the capital, the loyalists went to see their former lord and performed obeisance to him, and they confirmed their submission to Jin.

Thus were Jianping and Guangzhou finally pacified. Jia Mo, Luo Shang, and the other Jin generals remained in these regions for some time longer in order to calm the people there, then brought their armies back to Luoyang as well and appeared in court to report the success of their mission. Emperor Wu was delighted, and he distributed heavy rewards among the officers and soldiers. He also promoted the various generals from the campaign, and they all came to thank him.

Even now, Emperor Wu was still curious about what had led to the downfall of Wu. So while meeting with Wu Yan, he asked him, “What was it that brought Wu to its knees? Was it that its lord was bereft of benevolence? Or perhaps that his servants were lacking in intelligence?”

“The lord of Wu was a talented hero,” retorted Wu Yan, “and his chief ministers were wise and worthy men.”

Emperor Wu laughed, saying, “If it was as you claim, then Wu would not have fallen.”

Wu Yan declared, “It is the will of Heaven alone which measures the life of states; those it favors will rise, and those it curses will fall. Mortal efforts cannot stop Heaven’s decree.”

Emperor Wu praised this noble response.

Though their struggle was futile, history never forgot the struggles of Wu Yan and Lu Yan on behalf of their state. Even centuries later during the Song dynasty, when the Duke of Ye, Kou Zhun, was demoted and exiled to the far south to serve as Household Director of Leizhou, he paid his respects to the spirits of Wu Yan and Lu Yan at their shrines when he was passing through Jianping and Guangzhou.


At the shrine of Wu Yan, he left this poem:

Hitching my horse at this place

I turn my gaze upon Jianping

Recalling the resistance of Wu Yan

His struggle to maintain his city.

Many were the servants of Wu

Loyal to their lord in their own ways

Yet whom among them could compare

To the crimson heart of the General?


And at the shrine of Lu Yan and of Lu Xuan, this was his offering:

This lonely servant, in exile

Sentenced to the south of Chen

Reminiscing on good and loyal subjects

I cannot stop the flow of tears.

If only all the generals of Wu

Had been the peers of these cousins Lu

The Southland and all its strongholds

Would never have been lost.
"You have attacked us before, and we survived! You cannot defeat us. Submit!"
"We have. You did. We can. No."
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Re: Continued Romance of the Three Kingdoms

Unread postby Fornadan » Wed Feb 19, 2020 9:56 am

This story is great, but also completely bonkers
Translations from the Book of Jin:
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Joined: Thu Nov 07, 2013 6:38 pm

Re: Continued Romance of the Three Kingdoms

Unread postby Taishi Ci 2.0 » Mon Feb 24, 2020 10:16 am

第六回 晉武帝大封宗室

Chapter 6 – Emperor Wu Grants Great Fiefs To His Kinsmen


In the last chapter, we discussed the last gasp of the state of Wu. Yet by now, that state too had fully submitted to the Jin dynasty. Emperor Wu of Jin had thus reached the zenith of his reign; he had accepted the abdication of Wei and subdued the rival states of Wu and Shu, and the whole realm was united under his state.

Emperor Wu felt that he had thus achieved all the ambitions of his life. He was now inclined to divide up the realm into large fiefs and grant them to members of his clan as great princes, so that they could defend the realm on his behalf, and to have them each select suitable civil and military officials who could accompany them to their new domains.


The minister Liu Song kowtowed before the gates of the palace and offered up the following petition opposing this idea:

“I have often felt great concern over the ways in which Your Majesty has already treated the princes of the royal clan. You have always been tolerant with them and slack when it comes to enforcing the laws and regulations against them, and this has caused them to become proud and arrogant. Now I hear you are further proposing to grant them great fiefs overnight and send them all out at once, as well as placing large armies under their command. Though I am sure your noble intention is that with these fiefs and these armies the princes can guard and protect the royal family and the state, in truth you will simply be sowing the seeds of disaster.

“One must be sure to straighten out crooked behavior when the time is right, and root out threats before they have even sprouted. Certainly Your Majesty is not wrong to consider how to secure the fortunes of state, and in wishing to carve up the land and split up the grasses in order to instill honor and appreciation, great benefits might result. Yet it is also imperative that you consider the potential of what might happen when such power and influence is distributed, and what domestic troubles may result. If the princes adhere to righteous behavior and observe the duties of their positions, then their strength will indeed be sufficient to shield the capital region and assist the royal family, and such things would help the dynasty to long endure. But if they harbor villainous intentions and are arrogant and unrestrained in wielding their power, they will either spread their poison among the common people or else bring trouble to the border regions. Either way, they will be great pests afflicting the state.

“Thus your foolish servant, risking the heavenly wrath, proposes that in granting fiefs you keep to and honor the ordinances and canons and by no means distribute military authority. I implore you to heed my advice given this day and show prudence and caution by putting off this proposal for some later time. If you find my words unsuitable, then may you further consult with worthy and accomplished gentlemen to seek the truth. And if it should be the case that I have spoken rashly, then may I suffer execution as an apology to the princes for being so unable to master my fear that I have committed a crime against you.”


This petition was brought to Emperor Wu, and as he read it, he began to groan, for he felt that there was some sense in Liu Song’s objections.

But then Emperor Wu’s servant Feng Dan stepped forward and said, “Does Your Majesty not recall that it was Liu Song who, as Colonel-Director, ignored the law and made that mistaken judgement of the relative merits due to Wang Jun and Wang Hun from the conquest of Wu? You had him punished by demoting him to Administrator of Jingzhao. I admit the man has some talent, but he is given to speaking rashly, after all. And how could he presume to speak on such a public matter as this? You had better not listen to him.”

This reassured Emperor Wu, and he decided to go ahead with his proposal. He ordered the officials to make determinations for how much each prince would be entitled to, both by the size of their fief and by the number of guards assigned to their command. The princes were each assigned their places according to whether they were a closer or more distant relative. And when the size of the fiefs were confirmed, the division of the realm had been settled, and the fiefs had been bestowed, each of these men were to depart the capital to take up their new titles.


Who then were these members of the royal clan? We shall consider their family tree.

Now Emperor Wu’s grandfather had been Sima Yi, posthumously declared as Emperor Xuan. Sima Yi had had nine sons.

Three of these sons had been the children of Lady Zhang (Zhang Chunhua). The first was Sima Shi, posthumously declared Emperor Jing; the second was Sima Zhao, posthumously declared Emperor Wen; the last was Sima Gan, posthumously declared the Prince of Pingyuan. By now, all of these men were deceased.

Another three sons were the children of Lady Fu. The first was Sima Liang. Thus at this time, Sima Liang was declared the Prince of Runan and assigned to Xuchang. He was appointed as Commander of military affairs in Yuzhou, and granted a garrison of fifty thousand soldiers and a fief of five thousand households. And among his trusted subordinates were his Chief Clerk, Liu Zhun, his Army Advisors, Cao Shu, Cao Jiong, and He Xun, his Generals of the Standard, Li Long, Liu Qi, Xu Hai, Jing Yan, and Guo Lü’er, and his grandson Sima Yì.

The next son of Lady Fu was Sima Zhou. He was now declared the Prince of Langye and assigned to Yízhou. He was appointed as Commander of military affairs in Yanzhou and Yunzhou, and granted a garrison of fifty thousand soldiers and a fief of five thousand households. His trusted subordinates included his Chief Clerks, Wang Heng and Wang Dao, his Generals of the Standard, Zu Shi, Zhou Qi, Chen Min, and Chen Hui, his son Sima Jin, and his grandson Sima Rui.

Lady Fu’s last son was Sima Jun, who had already passed away by now. His son Sima Xin was declared the Duke of Xinye and assigned to Runan. He was permitted limited authority to appoint his own civil and military officials, and granted a garrison of five thousand soldiers and a fief of one thousand households. His trusted subordinates were his Commandant of the Guards, Zhou Bi, his Advisor, Fang Yang, and his General of the Standard, Bi Heng.

Sima Yi’s fifth son was the child of a different Lady Zhang; his name was Sima Rong. At this time, he was declared Prince of Liang and assigned to Bianhe. He was appointed as Commander of military affairs in Weizhou and Huazhou, and granted a garrison of fifty thousand soldiers and a fief of five thousand households. The subordinates whom he trusted included his Chief Clerk, Fu Ren, his Army Advisor, Xu Shi, his Marshals of the Left and Right, Xu Shu and Xu Keng, his General of the Standard, Dian Sheng, and his leading general, Fu Yin.

Two more of Sima Yi’s sons, the sixth and the ninth, were the children of Lady Bo. The elder was Sima Kan, but he had died young and left no children behind, so he was simply granted the posthumous title Prince Ai (“the Mourned”). But the younger son was still alive; he was called Sima Lun. This Sima Lun was now declared Prince of Zhao and assigned to Bohai. He was appointed as Commander of military affairs in Handan, and granted a garrison of fifty thousand soldiers and a fief of five thousand households. Who were his trusted subordinates? They included his Chief Clerk, Sun Xiu, his Army Advisor, Sima Zhi, his Marshals of the Left and Right, Zhang Hong and Shi Yi, his Generals of the Standard, Xu Chao and Lü He, and his sons Sima Kua and Sima Fu.


Such were Emperor Wu’s uncles. As for Emperor Wu’s own progeny, he had fathered twenty-five sons. Some of these too had died early and without issue, and were granted posthumous ranks and titles. And five of them had not yet had their capping ceremony to mark their coming of age, so they were simply appointed as Generals of the Palace Halls and left to remain in the capital. But those who had already come of age by now were granted full titles as princes. We shall now consider them.

The eldest of Emperor Wu’s sons was Sima Zhong. He had naturally been appointed as Crown Prince already, and his “fief” was simply the Eastern Palace, to which his status as heir entitled him.

The second son was Sima Jian. He was now appointed as Prince of Qin and assigned to Xianyang. He was appointed as Commander of Military Affairs in Guanzhong, and granted a garrison of eighty thousand soldiers and a fief of ten thousand households. His trusted subordinates were his Chief Clerk, Liu Qiao, his Army Advisor, Chen An, his Marshals of the Left and Right, Jia Yin and Zhang Chun, his Generals of the Standard, Bian Sheng, Liang Cheng, Chunyu Ding, and Lü Yi, and his son Sima Mo.

The third son was Sima Wei. He was now appointed as Prince of Chu and assigned to Fancheng. He was appointed as Commander of Military Affairs in Jingzhou and Xiangyang, and granted a garrison of fifty thousand soldiers and a fief of eight thousand households. His trusted subordinates included his Chief Clerk, Gongsun Hong, his Army Advisor, Li Zhao, his Marshals, Meng Guan and Rong Hui, and his General of the Standard, Sheng Qi.

The fourth son was Sima Yàn. He was now appointed as Prince of Wu and assigned to Hefei. He was appointed as Commander of Military Affairs in Yingchuan and Cai, and granted a garrison of thirty thousand soldiers and a fief of five thousand households. His trusted subordinates included his Chief Clerk, Suo Chen, his Army Advisor, Yan Ding, his Marshals, Xun Zui and Xia Xiang, and his Generals of the Standard, Qiu Guang and Bao Sheng. (We should mention that his son Sima Ye later had his title changed to Prince of Qin, in order to take Sima Yong’s place, and would later be known as Emperor Min.)

The fifth son was Sima Yun. He was now appointed as Prince of Huainan and assigned to Huaiyin. He was appointed as Commander of Military Affairs in the region between the Yangzi and the Huai River, and granted a garrison of fifty thousand soldiers and a fief of eight thousand households. His trusted subordinates were his Chief Clerk, Dong Shu, his Army Advisor, Meng Ping, his Marshals, Li Le and Xia Wensheng, his Generals of the Standard, Ji Zhan and Huangfu Zhong, and his subordinate generals, Wang Chan, Wang Zui, Zhou Quan, Jian Chu, and Xing Qiao. (After Sima Yun was later unjustly killed, his son Sima Chao was appointed to succeed his line and went south to Jianye.)

The sixth son was Sima Ai. He was now appointed as Prince of Changsha and assigned to Xiangyin. He was appointed as Commander of Military Affairs in the region between the Xiang River and the Yuan River, and granted a garrison of fifty thousand soldiers and a fief of eight thousand households. His trusted subordinates were his Chief Clerk, Chen Zhun, his Army Advisor, Chen Zhen, his Marshals, Song Hong and Lu Bao, and his Generals of the Standard, Cheng Fu, Shi Rong, Shangguan Si, Huangfu Shang, Zhang Yan, and Li Zhi. (After Sima Ai later came to grief, his son Sima Shao’s title was changed to Prince of Changshan.)

The eighth son was Sima Yue. He was now appointed as Prince of Donghai and assigned to Pengcheng. He was appointed as Commander of Military Affairs for Xuzhou and Pei, and granted a garrison of fifty thousand soldiers and a fief of eight thousand households. His trusted subordinates were his Chief Clerk, Sun Wenhui, his Army Advisors, Liu He and Pan Tao, his Marshals, He Lun and Wang Bing, his Generals of the Standard, Mi Riguang, Song Zhou, Peng Mo, and Lou Pou, and his subordinate generals, Peng Sui, Cao Wu, and Sima Zuan.

Last was the sixteenth son, Sima Ying. He was now appointed as Prince of Chengdu and assigned to Ye. He was appointed as Commander of Military Affairs in Henei, and granted a garrison of eighty thousand soldiers and a fief of ten thousand households. His trusted subordinates were his Chief Clerk, Lu Zhi, his Army Advisors, He Yan and Wang Yan, his Marshals, Zheng Yan and Cai Ke, his advisors, Wang Hun and Cheng Mu, his Generals of the Standard, Shi Chao and Qian Xiu, his cavalry generals, Dong Hong and Gongshi Fan, and his subordinate generals, Li Yi, Zhao Rang, Qiu Tong, and Cui Kuang.


Some other relatives were likewise empowered. Emperor Wu had a younger brother by the same mother, Sima You. He was now appointed as Prince of Qi, but he remained in the capital to attend court and assist the government. His son Sima Jiong was the one sent out to manage his fief instead, and was assigned to Jinan. Sima Jiong was appointed as Commander of Military Affairs in Qingzhou and Linzi, and granted a garrison of fifty thousand soldiers to manage his father’s fief of five thousand households. His trusted subordinates included his Chief Clerk, Gu Rong, his Army Advisors, Sun Xun and Dong Jiao, his Marshals, Wang Bao and Ge Yu, his Generals of the Standard, Lu Xiu and Wei Yi, and his subordinate generals, Han Tai and Liu Zhen.

Emperor Wu also had a second cousin, Sima Yong, who was the grandson of Sima Yi’s younger brother Sima Fu. Sima Yong was now appointed as Prince of Hejian and assigned to Ji. He was appointed as Commander of Military Affairs in Yan and Ji, as well as all affairs north of the passes, and granted a garrison of eighty thousand soldiers and a fief of eight thousand households. His trusted subordinates were his Chief Clerk, Li Han, his Army Advisors, Xi Qu and Lou Bao, his Marshals, Diao Mo and Lü Lang, his Generals of the Standard, Zhang Fang and Zhi Fu, his cavalry generals, Lin Cheng and Zhang Fu, and his subordinate generals, Ma Zhan, Guo Wei, and Su Zhong. (Later, Zhang Fang would become the most powerful of these, and Sima Jiong would be transferred to Guanzhong and act as Prince of Qin in all but name.)

We have mentioned Emperor Wu’s son Sima Jian. Sima Jian himself had a grown son named Sima Xiao. Thus Sima Xiao was now appointed as Prince of Fanyang and assigned to Tongtai. He was permitted limited authority to appoint his own civil and military officials, and was granted a garrison of five thousand soldiers and a fief of three thousand households. His trusted subordinates were his Army Advisors, Feng Song and Liu Fan, and his Generals of the Standard, Wang Kuang and Zhang Bian.

Sima Teng was the son of Sima Yi’s elder brother Sima Lang. He was now appointed as Duke of Dongying and assigned to Liyang. He was permitted limited authority to appoint his own civil and military officials, and granted a garrison of five thousand soldiers and a fief of three thousand households. His trusted subordinates were his Commandant of the Guards, Zhou Liang, his Army Advisor, Shi Xian, and his Generals of the Standard, Nie Xuanbing and Sima Yu.

Last was one of Emperor Wu’s cousins, Sima Yao, the son of his uncle Sima Zhou. In recognition of the good deeds which Sima Zhou had performed during the conquest of Wu, Sima Yao was now promoted to Prince of Dong’an and placed in command of the garrisons guarding the capital region. He was appointed as Commander of the Household Guards and other patrolling troops, and granted a fief of five thousand households. His subordinates included the Guard Generals, Yang Zhao and Liu Li, and some of the surrendered Wu generals, such as Zhou Chu, Shao Xiang, and Bu Chan.


After these princes had officially received their new titles and appointments, each of them came to court to offer their thanks for the great grace they were receiving. Emperor Wu then issued a decree ordering all of them to set out at once to report to their new assignments, and not to cause trouble by lingering in the capital. So they all picked out soldiers and horses for their new commands, selected the generals and officials who would be accompanying them, determined an auspicious day, and then departed.

When the new princes left, all the civil and military ministers and officials of the capital traveled outside the walls of Luoyang in order to hold a farewell feast for them and see them off. But there were those among them who saw in this great dispersal of soldiers a dark portent for the future. Such people sank to the ground and sighed, lamenting, “This will lead to chaos and turmoil among the Jin royal clan. Was not the Emperor’s intention to provide a shield for the royal family? Why then did he ever allow the princes to make their own selections of generals and assistants and choose for themselves the soldiers and guards under their command, thus ceding all authority to these outer forces? Even if things do not come to outright civil war, there will be no avoiding mutual envy and suspicion among the princes and nobles; they will plot to seize power from another wherever they can. When the branches are broken, how long can the trunk stand alone? Is there not great danger here? If only the Emperor had heeded Liu Song’s remonstrations! Alas that he was ignored!”


Now that Emperor Wu had sent so many members of the royal clan out into the realm to act as princes, power and influence in the capital passed into the hands of the family of Empress Yang (Yang Zhi). In particular, her father Yang Jun wielded authority over court and government affairs. Yang Jun was a man of only average talents or intelligence, but he was an accommodating and agreeable fellow, and Emperor Wu was fond of him.

Emperor Wu was even inclined to appoint Yang Jun as Marquis of Linjin, acting Prefect of the Palace Secretariat, and effective General of Chariots and Cavalry and leave him in charge of supervising all civil and military affairs, all matters of army or state, and directing the court. He was about to issue a decree to this effect. But two of the Gentlemen of the Masters of Writing, Chu Huo and Guo Yi, sent up a petition stating, “Fiefs should be granted in recognition of accomplishments; exalted titles are a reward for virtue. Although it is true that the Empress’s father Yang Jun is a marital relative of the royal family, he has never endured the toils of the field on campaign, so the law forbids counting him among the nobility. We ask you to honor and respect these ancient precedents, and not to sow confusion among the regulations. Wait until Yang Jun has actually accomplished something worthy of this title, and then the matter can be discussed further.”

Emperor Wu thus refrained from naming Yang Jun as a marquis. But he did still appoint him as General of Chariots and Cavalry. This led to another petition from Chu Huo and Guo Yi, who now wrote, “Yang Jun is a man of meager worth, not suited to bear the burdens of the fortunes of state. We fear that by granting him this appointment, you are going to cause disarray among the precepts of the realm and even bring down harm upon your family. Do not forget that the royal family of the Han dynasty was once brought under the control of Liang Ji and Dou Gu, both of whom were their marital relatives; this is a clear example of what danger might result. We ask Your Majesty not to do this, both to ensure the security of the state and to preserve the lives of the Yang clan.”

However, this time Emperor Wu chose to ignore them. He showed greater favor and love to Yang Jun, and entrusted all affairs of state to him. Indeed, Emperor Wu only became more decadent and indulgent by the day; he was remiss in presiding over court, and he delegated all major decisions. Yang Jun shared his power with his younger brothers Yang Yao and Yang Ji, whose abilities he appreciated, and they remained in constant contact. Their power soon surpassed anyone else in the realm, and everyone feared them, from the nobles and chief ministers on down. Near and far, they became known simply as the Three Yangs.

Only the Colonel-Director of Retainers, Liu Yi, ventured once to urge Yang Jun to downplay his achievements and reputation, diminish his power and authority, and surround himself with worthy people while sending away bad influences, in order to secure his position. But Yang Jun could not follow his advice.


At this time, the Grand Commandant was He Zeng. When he saw how Yang Jun was wielding power with Emperor Wu’s full blessing, he privately told his younger relatives, “Our sovereign was a fitting ruler during the times when he established the dynasty and set up the new enterprise of our state. Yet these days, whenever I attend a feast at which he is present, he never discusses long-term plans for the benefit of the state, but only chats about the commonplace occurrences of the past few days. He has entirely lost himself in sloth and decadence. He is unable to reform the blindness of his sons or check the jealousy of his daughters-in-law. He favors and employs Yang Jun more than is proper, and he has sown the seeds of disaster through making princes of his relatives. None of these are ways to store up blessings for future generations or ensure the state or the royal family are well-governed. If he allows this situation to stand, will his heir not face danger? Gentlemen, I tell you, if chaos and disorder does not spring up during your own lifetimes, it will surely cause problems for your children’s generation.”

They told him, “But you are an esteemed minister of the court. If you are aware of these things, why do you do nothing to correct them yourself? Why not lead the civil and military officials to remonstrate against the situation? If you can put the government to rights and prevent the looming disaster, then the Jin royal family may yet know peace, and as the family of Jin ministers, we too can enjoy good fortune.”

He Zeng replied, “It is not that I do not know the truth, nor that I am not inclined to criticize. But the issue is that those in power are already set in their ways, and they will not change. I could offer ten thousand words in a single day, but that would merely stir up their anger. I am afraid it would be difficult to make them see reason.”

The future would prove the accuracy of He Zeng’s words all too well. “A learned man, and wise”; such words might describe He Zeng.


Someone wrote a poem describing He Zeng’s foresight:

Granting fiefs to close kin

In antiquity was not unknown

Yet ceding control of soldiers

This went against all reason.

Why should reins of power

Be given out to all?

Why let some average fellow

Serve as the guiding hand?

Carefree was this Emperor Wu

And heedless of the dangers

Lord He proved his foresight

The situation he read true.

The slaughter of later years

Still might have been prevented

For wisdom was not wanting

Alas! It was not sought.
"You have attacked us before, and we survived! You cannot defeat us. Submit!"
"We have. You did. We can. No."
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Taishi Ci 2.0
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Unread postby Taishi Ci 2.0 » Thu Apr 02, 2020 8:41 pm

第七回 陶璜郭欽諫撤兵

Chapter 7 - Tao Huang And Guo Qin Protest Emperor Wu's Decision To Disband The Armies


In the last chapter, we mentioned how Emperor Wu had dispersed his soldiers to the various regional commands across the realm. This left the capital region peaceful and tranquil. Indeed, Emperor Wu felt that, since the enemy states of Shu and Wu were no more and there was no longer any threat on the northern or southern borders of the realm to guard against, that peace reigned in the realm and there was no further need for armies.


By this time, whenever Emperor Wu was presented with money or funds, he invariably had all of it sent off to his private accounts, and used it to lavish gifts upon the residents of his palace and act upon whatever he desired.

One day, when Emperor Wu had thrown a feast for his closest ministers and was indulging in wine and song, he turned to his minister Liu Yi and said to him, "Sir, you've always been known as an honest man. So tell me, which of the Emperors of the Han dynasty do you think I resemble?"

Liu Yi replied, "Your Majesty most resembles Emperors Huan and Ling."

Now this was quite the cutting remark, for if one were forced to select the very worst sovereigns of the Han dynasty, it would be difficult to find better examples than these two wastrels. Emperor Wu asked Liu Yi, "What makes you suggest such a thing?"

Liu Yi replied, "Those Emperors sold offices to provide money for the government treasury. Your Majesty sells offices to provide money for personal uses. When I put it that way, you almost do not even measure up to those emperors."

If the first cut had been unkind, this one was most cruel, and Emperor Wu was hardly pleased to receive such a retort. Still, he was able to bite his tongue. He even forced out a great laugh and quipped, "During their day, they never heard such words said to them. But as for me, I have a minister who will speak forthrightly, and so I may surpass them." And after returning to the palace and turning over the incident in his mind, Emperor Wu recognized that Liu Yi was simply being a loyal subject. So he rewarded Liu Yi with twenty catties of gold, as a display of his appreciation for candor.

Liu Yi was not hesitant to censure any of the high and mighty of that day, nor did he consider any subject taboo, thus people all dreaded him. And as for Emperor Wu, although he wasted his final years on wine and sensual pleasures and entrusted the government to those of mediocre talents, setting the stage for turmoil in the years to come, yet the reason all the realm within the Four Seas remained stable and calm during his lifetime was because he was able to tolerate and accept such criticisms as this, and his ministers were always able to speak their minds.

A certain poet of a later age composed these verses on the subject of Emperor Wu's magnanimity and Liu Yi's candor:

of loyal and faithful tongue
was Liu Yi
nor had he any fear
of enmity

straight to the heart of things
by his words
stripping bare the false front
of the sovereign

of grand and gracious heart
was Emperor Wu
receptive of such unkind truths
without a murmur

was all the realm of Jin
while still beat
that heart of such nobility
within his breast


Having thus exalted Liu Yi for his willingness to speak truth to power, Emperor Wu filled his court with ministers who likewise were willing to offer loyal remonstrations. Yet there were no longer any crises or pressing concerns for the court to concern itself with, and one could indeed consider the realm to be at peace. So Emperor Wu intended to lay aside martial concerns for good in favor of focusing on domestic rejuvenation; when better than now to beat the swords into plowshares and enjoy the fruits of tranquility?

To that end, Emperor Wu felt that it was time to reign in the temporary measures imposed by such a long period of strife. One such expediency was the fact that the various princes at their regional commands and the Inspectors in the provinces across the realm all had strong local armies under their control. If by chance some of these people decided to flaunt their authority, bully the weak to get their way, wrest control of and annex their neighboring commandaries, plot treason and presumption, and induce others to go along with their plans, they could pose great dangers to the dynasty. And even if the leaders of these local armies never contemplated such wickedness, there was still the fact that these were all standing armies whose very existence imposed constant burdens on the people. After all, these soldiers had to be constantly provided with funds and supplies, causing endless toil and suffering on the people to maintain them.

As a demonstration of his thoughts for the future, Emperor Wu had earlier declared a new reign era, called Taikang or "Great Tranquility". And it was in the third month of the fifth year of this Taikang era (284 AD), during the court session one morning while all the civil and military officials were present, that Emperor Wu led a great discussion in which he proposed the near-total elimination of these standing armies at the various garrisons and border posts in order to liberate the people from the crushing labor required to sustain them. The armies would be so drastically reduced under Emperor Wu's proposal that the larger commandaries would retain garrisons of only a hundred troops and the smaller commandaries half that number, while all the remaining soldiers would end their military service and return to their places of home registration to fulfill their new duties of tending their farms and being available for any necessary corvee labor. At a stroke, Emperor Wu intended to prevent these local armies, who now stood idle, from either causing any mischief to the people or rousing the suspicions of neighboring commanders as to their intentions.

At the time of this discussion, hardly any of the gathered ministers and officials uttered dissent. But one of the Palace Attendants, Zhang Hua, offered his thoughts. "Confucius tells us," said he, "that there are three essentials for any government: sufficient food, sufficient weapons, and the faith of the people. I call them 'essentials' because they are the things which no government can do without. Yet Your Majesty is now proposing to disband the regional garrisons overnight. This would leave the provinces and commandaries without any defensive preparations, and the common people would find themselves deprived of their protectors, weak and helpless. If some villain took advantage of this situation to stir up trouble, we would find it difficult to deal with them. Suppose those rebel leaders Wu Guang and Chen Sheng from the Qin dynasty were reborn in our time; when they saw the absence of local troops, they would be quick to raise a new rebellion, and how would we be able to stop them? Any army drafted quickly to respond to such an uprising would be nothing more than a flock of crows, the mere sweepings of the marketplace, hardly veteran soldiers. What good would they do to put down rebels? Thus I implore Your Majesty to consider how essential such garrisons are to the foundation of the state, and not to sow seeds of turmoil by disbanding them."

But Emperor Wu replied, "It is true that any newly-drafted army would be green. But the rebels would be green also; they will be green alike. Why should we require hardened veterans simply to deal with rebels and bandits?" And he did not listen to Zhang Hua's objections, but went ahead with his plan.


Emperor Wu drafted a petition which his agents would bring out to all the garrisons and command posts, ordering the local officials to disband their garrisons, nor permitting them to stockpile funds or supplies.

The edict stated, "Years ago during the twilight of the Han dynasty, when eunuchs ran the government and the court was powerless to control anything, the various Inspectors of the provinces directly governed the people under their command and took control of soldiers and horses for their personal use. Thus over time these warlords inflicted their newfound power to take and steal whatever they wished, and they incessantly warred with one another, until all the realm within the Four Seas was torn asunder and the common people terribly suffered. But things are very different in our time, when stability has returned to all the realm and the very mountains and rivers themselves are at peace. What further need have we for such armies? Now is the very time when we should sheath our weapons of war for good.

"Thus I command the Inspectors to return to their original responsibilities and honor the former system as was practiced in the heydey of the Han dynasty. They are to retain only small bodies of soldiers purely for defensive purposes and dismiss the rest of their troops. Thus the returned soldiers may take up farming and the local governments may lighten their demands of bothersome corvee labor. By such means shall we ease the burden under which the people have been struggling. The greater commandaries may retain a hundred soldiers and officials for their garrisons, and the smaller commandaries fifty such people. All others currently employed as soldiers shall be sent back to their original places of registration. Furthermore, they are banned from gathering together into large groups, in order to prevent criminal or immoral activity.

"Upon hearing the words of this edict, you are obliged to carry out my commands."

When the draft of the edict was sent to the Masters of Writing for review, the Supervisor of the Masters of Writing, Shan Tao, objected to what Emperor Wu was doing. "The reason that the provinces and commandaries gathered these local armies was in order to guard against invasion, defend against the threat of bandits or other miscreants, and reassure the people of their safety and allow them to practice their livelihood in peace. The people need the soldiers no less than the soldiers need the people; they are like a single body. And ever since ancient times, it has never been easy to organize suitable defenses. Yet now Your Majesty wishes to dismiss all these soldiers for no reason? If some great villain sprang up overnight, how would we be able to check or control them? I hope that Your Majesty will preserve the present defenses as they are, and consider how by doing so you will ensure peace for the future."

But Emperor Wu did not listen to him either.


Thus the edict was sent out. The first place that received the edict was the province of Jiaozhou in the distant south. The Inspector of Jiaozhou, Tao Huang, assembled his subordinates to hear the reading of the edict. But after the reading had been concluded, Tao Huang told his subordinates, "Despite what you have just heard, we cannot carry out such an order. If the Emperor wishes to disband the local armies, perhaps it would be feasible for the counties and commandaries which are within a short distance from the capital region. But Jiaozhou is so far away, on the distant border of the realm. How could we manage it?"

His subordinates were uneasy. "This is the clear will of our sage sovereign and his court ministers. The edict has arrived, and we cannot violate its command. Sir, what are you proposing to do?"

Tao Huang told them, "Every place and every situation has their own unique circumstances, and we ought to do only what makes sense to do. I am a leading minister of this corner of the realm, and if there is something which will not benefit the realm, I must prove my loyalty by saying so. We are right in the midst of the region of the Man and other tribal peoples, and if we disband our armies and garrisons, then if the tribes take advantage of our weakness to seize the advantage, how could we resist them, and with what defenses? So before we do anything, first wait for me to send a petition to the capital explaining how unfeasible this plan is."

And Tao Huang wrote a petition and sent it to the court. He wrote, "The Inspector of Jiaozhou, your servant Tao Huang, earnestly fearful and trembling, presumes to address His Majesty.

"I am a commander on the border of the realm. On the day when Your Majesty's edict arrived here and I heard its contents, I could not help but be shocked. It seems clear to me that, although this proposal of disbanding the armies might be feasible in the inner provinces within the interior of the realm, this region of Jiaozhi, which is full of the Man and other peoples all about us, cannot hope to control their bestial nature except by the power and authority of our soldiers. If we should suddenly be deprived of the defenses provided by these troops, then if the Man tribes took advantage of our weakness to make an uprising, the provincial staff and the commandaries would be powerless to stop them. And should one such rebellion be allowed to have its way and grow stronger, others like them would be emboldened to rise up as well. They would be beyond all control, and the danger posed by this possibility is simply unfathomable. Furthermore, this province is several thousand li across from east to west, and there are more than sixty thousand unsubmissive households within it. Even those families which submit to government service merely account for some five thousand families.

"Even in the central provinces, when danger threatens close at hand, it is only by the strength of military might that the rise or fall of states is determined. This principle is even greater when it comes to controlling the local tribes here and ensuring peace in the border regions. Even during this age of peace, it is still a fact that the tribal peoples live in close proximity to one another and presume to occupy the upper reaches of the rivers, so that it would not be difficult for them to advance by land and by water straight into the heart of the southern provinces. If they should hear that our garrisons have been disbanded, they would turn to rebellion and establish their own power. Such a possibility requires us to be even more prepared to guard against it.

"I beg Your Majesty to consider these things, and I await my punishment if I have said anything amiss."

But although Emperor Wu read Tao Huang's petition, it did not persuade him to cancel his proposal. He merely declared, "Since Jiaozhou occupies a border region, it shall be granted an exemption: it will retain its best soldiers for its garrison, while dismissing the old or weak troops. All other provinces shall heed the edict as written."


Emperor Wu's edict also arrived at Liaodong commandary in the far northeast, where the local commander was the Attendant Imperial Secretary, Guo Qin, who oversaw and comforted the local people. Guo Qin too addressed his subordinates after the reading of the edict was concluded, telling them, "It will be a hard thing to implement this order. Why didn't the court give this more thought? If our region here along the Liao River were to suddenly send away its garrison troops, then the Qiang and other tribal peoples would work their villainy against us, and then what could we do? Not only would their depredations trouble the people, but this entire border region might slip away from the control of the state."

His subordinates objected, "But this is the will of the sovereign, nor would this edict have been sent out to us without the careful consideration of the court ministers and officials. Yet you say that it cannot be done. That would mean going against the edict. How would we ever wash away the infamy of such disobedience?"

"Not so," said Guo Qin. "The same things do not apply in all circumstances, and if I know of anything that might benefit the state, I ought to speak of it. This proposal will do us no good. How then can I, a loyal subject and filial son, stand idly by and say nothing, and simply watch and wait for disaster to come to fruition? If we do as this edict says and disband all the soldiers of the provinces and commandaries, we shall be left defenseless against the tribal peoples of every corner of the realm. Are even our own people all such sages as Yao and Shun, that we would require nothing to guard against their darker impulses? And that applies even more in this region beyond the Liao River, where the barbarians scattered about all have the nature of mere sheep or dogs; one cannot predict their comings and goings, no can one grasp what might make them stir up trouble and chaos. Certainly it would be the case that if these Jie and other tribal peoples saw that we had no soldiers to man our defenses, they would cause turmoil at once, band together into hosts, and rise against us. How then would I, who am charged with defending this place, check their power? Could I defend this land? Could I even defend myself?"

"All this is true," said his subordinates. "But how will you respond to the edict?"

"With a petition of my own," replied Guo Qin, "outlining the mistakes behind it. And if my petition goes unheeded, then I shall do my duty."

Guo Qin thus sent an agent to present his petition to the court. This was his counsel: "The barbarians are powerful and vigorous, and they have been a threat since ancient times; no dynasty has been spared from their raids against the Middle Kingdom. It was only when Emperor Wu of Han turned his soldiers against the northern tribes that the region south of the Gobi Desert submitted, and it was only when the Wei dynasty followed a martial policy that the region along the Liao River bowed in awe of their authority. And though during his southern campaign the Martial Marquis (Zhuge Liang) pledged not to harm a single hair and swore to win over the hearts of the tribal peoples through benevolence and virtue, still he employed the use of military might to back up his authority, and this was the reason why the distant places did not dare to stir up trouble against him. What was true for these people is no less true for us.

"Furthermore, I observe that the regions of the northwest are broad in territory but sparse in population, and half of the people living in the border commandaries there are not our own people, but barbarians. They have gradually been shifting their dwelling places further and further into the interior of the realm, to the extent that the commandaries of Jinyang, Shangdang, Dai, Hongnong, Yan, Qi, and others all have their share of tribal populations. The reason these interlopers have remained compliant until now is because of the grand military strength of the Middle Kingdom and the boldness of our arms, which makes their hearts tremble with alarm and fills them with fear. Yet now I have heard this edict which commands us to dismiss the soldiers of the provinces and commandaries. If the Qiang, Jie, and other barbarians should take advantage of our weakness and presume to rise up against us, there will no longer be any soldiers to oppose them, and how would we be able to control them?

"Beyond that, there is the nature of the barbarians to consider. They are nothing like the pure people of our Middle Kingdom; they cower before the strong while they despise the weak. Nor do they know anything of literacy. When their violent impulses compel them to commit violence, if they encounter a forceful response, then they submit, but should they sense weakness they indulge all their wanton cruelty. They live for chaos, from which no age is completely spared. I have seen for myself the nature of the barbarians which live in this region, and though they bow to us in obedience, their innate lust for violence and destruction is never tamed, nor have they made the slightest reforms to their character. My greatest fear is that they might become accustomed to our ways, and thus if, a hundred years from now, there were some trouble caused by suffering and misery, the tribal cavalry would be able to ride from Pingyang and Shangdang and reach Meng Crossing (near Luoyang) within three days. Not only would the capital region be caught completely unawares, but all the commandaries of Beidi, Xihe, Taiyuan, Fengyi, and Anding would become the domain of these barbarians.

"Thus I implore Your Majesty that, since Wu has now been pacified and there are still local armies scattered across the realm, you should move all of the various tribes living in the internal commandaries back out beyond the border passes of the realm, so that they will no longer pose any future threat to us. Have strict controls on the movements of all the tribal peoples, and emulate the wise kings of old by using the Domains of Wilderness and of Restraint to control them. That would truly be a policy to endure for ten thousand generations.

"Allow me to warn Your Majesty that, if you do not heed my words and thus fail to expel the barbarians from the realm or maintain the garrisons of the commandaries, then disaster will surely spring up, much to the regret of future generations. I entrust Your Majesty will carefully consider this, as I await my crime. Respectfully submitted."

Upon reading Guo Qin's petition, Emperor Wu said to his closest ministers, "I am very much aware that every era must deal with the problem of the barbarians. Yet so long as the sovereign governs with virtue, how could the situation ever come to such a state? It is by virtue that I shall reform these people, and within a few decades, they will be fine subjects of the dynasty. I mean to live up to the implication of Wu Qi's old slogan: 'Unless the sovereign cultivates their virtue, the Yue peoples will be our foes.' After all, didn't the First Emperor of Qin go to all the trouble of building the Long Wall, ten thousand li in length, in order to guard against the barbarians? Yet he never considered the danger of Zhao Gao, who was right under his own armpit, and who was the true cause of the dynasty's ruin. And I too can quote Confucius: 'Danger will come not from the foreigners, but from within the screens of the court'. Why must I maintain the garrisons? Why must I drive out the barbarians?"

Thus Emperor Wu did not heed Guo Qin's excellent advice; he enforced his plan to disband the armies, and he did not relocate the tribal peoples. If only he had heeded the remonstrations of his border officials and given greater thought for how to secure his dynasty for the future! Then the Uprising of the Five Tribes and the fall of the house of Jin might have been prevented. Nor could a poet of a later age resist dwelling upon it:

Local troops of service long
He cast them all away
By doing so, inviting in
Barbarians to stay
The soldiers might have stopped them
But such was not his will
The capital soon was fallen
Though they might have held it still
If Wu of Jin had listened well
That year to Guo Qin's plea
Ne'er would Huai or Min have bowed
To such barbarity


Still, it must be admitted that Emperor Wu's plan returned several hundred thousand former soldiers to their home regions, as well as dispersed the collected funds of the local garrisons. There was also a bumper crop that year. So the people of the realm enjoyed a brief spell of wealth and abundance, and there was great peace in the world.

Unfortunately, Emperor Wu responded to these developments by becoming even more idle at tending to the affairs of government. He now preferred to spend his time feasting with his ministers and listening to music. And his constant companions were all the sort of people who enjoyed drinking and pleasure trips much more than giving any thought to considerations of long-term plans for the state. They fully gave themselves over to wine and sensuality, and were incapable of making any plans with their sovereign.

Emperor Wu issued an edict selecting five thousand beautiful women of the Southland, former residents of Sun Hao's harem, to enter his palace. He had them trained in song and dance, in painting and music, and in passing around the wine. The rear palaces became so stuffed with a splendor of women and a dazzle of beauties that there were more than ten thousand of them altogether.

Every day, whenever Emperor Wu went to visit some palace or other, he would always be accompanied by a hundred renowned singers and dancers. He even indulged in riding in a cart pulled by goats, letting the goats pull him anywhere they pleased. And as all the concubines and women from each palace each sought to attain the favor of the Emperor's visit, hoping that they would become one of his favorites and receive his blessings, they plotted against one another. They would plant bamboo leaves at their doorways so that the goats would pause to nibble on them as they walked by, hoping that by doing so Emperor Wu too would alight from his carriage and spend the day there. Some even sprinkled salt juice on the ground so that the goats would notice it as they approached and stop to lick it off the ground, thus enticing Emperor Wu to visit them. Day and night were spent in pursuit of such pleasures, while no further thought was given either to the government or the state.

And who were these close ministers whose minds were ever on feasting and wandering rather than anything sensible or practical? One was Wang Rong, who thought only of pleasure and profit; another was Wang Yan, whose sole occupation was the wordplay of so-called Pure Conversation; two more were Ruan Ji and his nephew Ruan Xian, savage in their conduct and unrestrained in their drinking; still another was Liu Ling, who was utterly shameless in his devotion to alcohol. Yet such people as these received acclaim from the people of that time, who even numbered them among the "Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove".

In clear contrast to these sorts were the Prince of Qi, Emperor Wu's younger brother Sima You, as well as Zhang Hua. Sima You was a worthy man, virtuous, wise, and nimble-minded, and he was well-equipped for the affairs of government. And Zhang Hua was a loyal minister, trustworthy, pure, and modest. Nor was either a sycophant for power or favor. They were both great talents who would have easily guided the ship of state. But they fell prey to the slanders of such greedy people as Feng Dan and Xun Xu, and so they were sent far away from the capital, out to Youzhou in the northeast, rather than be allowed to remain close to the halls of power. They feared that their words, no matter how often offered, would simply fall on deaf ears.

The government in the hands of Yang Jun, and the court mere followers of Feng Dan and Xun Xu; what a pathetic state! How could it be that Emperor Wu, who had been so wise upon his ascension to the throne, in the end became so blind? Why was it that he gave no further thought to the future of his dynasty? Perhaps it was because Emperor Wu himself fell prey to extravagance, and then his ministers and subordinates simply followed his example until they too were irredeemable. All alike were unrestrained, without scruples, and with no one left to put a stop to such conduct.


The spirit of the age infects even us. We likewise shall indulge, in a tale of a contest of wealth.

Now Emperor Wu's mother was the Empress Dowager, Wang Yuanji, and she had a younger brother named Wang Kai. Wang Kai was so absurdly rich that he liked to put forward the claim that he could bring about the downfall of the state from out of his own pocket. Indeed, he boasted that he was the richest man in all the realm, without peer. But there was another man whose stockpiles of money too beggared belief: the Commandant of the Guards, Shi Chong. And neither one of them was willing to yield to the other the title of the richest.

"Look here," Wang Kai declared to Shi Chong on one such occasion. "Talk, unlike myself, is cheap. I shall settle the matter with a display of something you cannot surpass: a basket full of pearls."

"Just a basket?" scoffed Shi Chong. "Why, that's obtained easily enough. I would have thought that you'd show off something harder to find, like a whole bushel of them."

"How ridiculous!" retorted Wang Kai. "A whole basket of pearls, and yet you make so little of it. I wonder just how many such baskets your household has? It's clear that you're making empty boasts of your wealth, just to intimidate me! But I bet you don't know that every year at my home, I scrub clean my pots using malted sugar! What do you have to say to that?"

"How expensive can sugar be?" asked Shi Chong. "Why, when we need fires at my estate, we don't use firewood; we use white wax instead! Why would I even notice something like sugar?"

Now this was a level of ostentation that even Wang Kai felt that he could not claim to have reached, and thought he wanted to think of some retort, he was momentarily stumped. But quickly recovering, he announced, "A front, it's all a front! You say these things, but how can anyone believe them? Besides, you have no witnesses to back up your claims.

“Now allow me to mention that at my estate I have a certain Garden of a Thousand Flowers, about forty li from here. Tomorrow, I intend to invite all the nobles and ministers of the court to come and visit this garden, where I shall throw a lavish feast and entertainment for them. I shall welcome them all to arrive beneath my own canopies, so that none of them will need to bring a parasol or fear the sting of the wind. Each shall be welcomed in their turn. And of course, Sir, you too will do me the honor of attending." And having said this, he left in quite good spirits.

Upon returning home, Wang Kai ordered his household servants to prepare a temporary feast hall with mats, and he commanded his stewards to set up canopies of purple silk all along the forty-li footpath to the garden and to cover the ground with felt and flowers. At dawn the next day, he dispatched more than a hundred mounted couriers to seek out the various luminaries among the nobles and ministers, both civil and military, and invite them all to join the festivities. They came in their throngs to attend the feast, Shi Chong too among them, and not a man or woman among them failed to be impressed by the sight of such splendor.

When Shi Chong and the others arrived at the Garden of a Thousand Flowers, he could hardly fail to notice the oohs and ahhs pouring from every tongue. Such great admiration for the wonders of his rival did not sit well with him. So at last he stood up and addressed the guests. "Today, Lord Wang has blessed us all with this magnificent venue, for which we are all most thankful. But my lords and ladies, if I may beg your attention for a moment, I would be most obliged if you might do me a similar honor. For I have a humble chateau as well, called the Garden of the Golden Mulberries, which happens to be fifty li from the capital. It would be my greatest delight if tomorrow all of you would pay me a visit there. Please, I am at the mercy of your benevolence; do not decline."

The guests at once all agreed that they would go to Shi Chong's estate as well.


Then Shi Chong made his excuses and departed for his estate, where at once he sent all his servants to their various tasks. They raised a canopied footpath, all of brocaded fabric, which stood three zhang tall and stretched more than fifty li out to the country estate. And all along the path, he set down dazzling embroidered cushioning on the ground and placed stands of incense of such ineffable delight that no one could tell the source of their scents. He even set up little devices of music and song to pump out music on either side of the walkway, at such close intervals that the music never died out.

The next day, Shi Chong dispatched his own couriers, riding outstanding horses with engraved saddles, to bring special invitations to all. They visited all the oldest and most accomplished officials, the Three Excellencies and the Nine Ministers, the Six Supervisors and the Four Chancellors, and all the members of the royal family, great or small. So many guests of both civil and military persuasions answered this call that they quite dwarfed the mere hundred people who had attended Wang Kai's party. Shi Chong had convinced the Grand Diplomat to organize the guests into a procession, and as they all set out from the capital to travel down the footpath to the Garden of the Golden Mulberries, the line stretched so long that hardly was one foot lifted before another took its place. And as they gazed here and there while they walked under the canopy, they caught the dance of the sunlight against the fabric, and the dazzling colors shimmered in every eye while the tune of music filled every ear, as though they had all been transported to a palace of jade and a world of brocade. Every guest exclaimed their admiration; every voice praised the artifice. And all the people within Luoyang abandoned the marketplace to marvel at their departure.

When Shi Chong welcomed his guests at his estate, he ordered the doors of every house and hall to be thrown open and permitted all the guests to wander and explore wherever they wished, so that all their curiosity could be satisfied and everyone could find some amusement. His walls were all fashioned from bricks of whitestone, and they had been scrubbed down with peppers and other such things until they shone with the brilliance of jade. And when the guests passed through the walls, they found that all the rooms were filled with some indescribable fragrance; they could smell its scent all about them, but no one could guess from whence it came. Some suspected the origin was from an incense of exceptional quality burning in some hidden place. But when the guests questioned Shi Chong's servants, they learned that this was simply the natural scent produced by the whitestone walls.

Every guest, from the highest minister to the lowest official, was overwhelmed with adoration. "This is no mere display of treasure and riches," cried they, "but a showcase of sublime secrets! These are halls of supernatural wonders! Never in all the ages has there been such a place as this."


When Wang Kai found that the guests were all enraptured by Shi Chong's estate, he said to them, "Why, this is only the same sort of mansion and walls that all the officials and eunuchs of the court possess. It's merely that Lord Shi has been most lavish with his feast stand and his mats. If I could but trouble my fellow guests to pay another visit to my villa in a few days' time, I too will show them the same splendour to repay our host's hospitality."

In the end, all the guests rolled up their mats, graciously offered their thanks to Shi Chong, and departed the feast to go their separate ways. When Wang Kai returned home, he gathered his servants and told them, "That villain Shi Chong thinks to surpass us with just a little whitestone tallow and a few smears of pepper upon his walls. How could I have failed to match his example? I already invited all the ministers yesterday, but now I shall have to invite them to come again and have a look at my walls as well. We must find some way to make them so exceptional that they surpass my rival's walls."

His steward told them, "It will be simple enough. We shall buy up great stocks of incense today, then stock the middle hall with redstone tallow, the front hall with purplestone tallow, and the wings with whitestone tallow. That will naturally exceed your enemy."

Wang Kai agreed, and followed his advice. He at once had contraptions built and set up so that the tallows of redstone and the other fragrances would hang thick in the various halls, and over the course of several nights he furiously scrubbed clean his walls, until within a few days they were of exceptional quality. Then he once again extended formal invitations to Shi Chong and the others to return to his home for another feast, so that the guests could take in the new sights.

When they saw the various shades of his walls, the guests could not help but be amazed. But Shi Chong quipped, "Certainly, there is beauty here. Yet it is a momentary wonder that will soon fade; it is not the natural state." And the guests all agreed with his assessment. Wang Kai was most displeased, yet he could think of no way to gain the advantage of his rival.


Trying a new approach, Wang Kai decided to send reports to the palace decrying Shi Chong's extravagance, hoping thereby to put a stop to him. But Emperor Wu, who was himself no stranger to decadence, made no move to curb the ostentation of these two wastrels. Yet he was not entirely without interest in their antics. He told his mother Wang Yuanji, "I have heard that lately, Uncle Wang and Shi Chong have been pitting their wealth against one another. Yet it seems that Shi Chong possesses so great and glorious a fortune that he has quite gotten the better of Uncle. I can hardly allow a member of the royal family to stand inferior to a mere Commandant of the Guards."

Seizing upon her son's interest, Wang Yuanji said to him, "Since Your Majesty happens to be thinking of your poor uncle, why not take a look inside the imperial treasury and storehouses and see if there is not some wondrous treasure there which you might spare on your uncle's behalf? If you could but give him one or two items of priceless value, he would surely put Shi Chong in his place, for how could Shi Chong respond?"

Emperor Wu said, "Now that you mention it, there is a little tree of coral in the storehouse which one of the vassal states sent to us, a bit more than two chi tall. If I were to give such a treasure to Uncle, then he would have Shi Chong in his palm."

Greatly pleased, Wang Yuanji said, "A fine treasure! It will be just the thing. Let's send it to your uncle's estate. Once Shi Chong gets a look at it, he'll be stupefied."

So Emperor Wu ordered the storehouse to be opened and the coral tree to be brought out. It was placed inside a little box, then brought to Wang Kai's office, where the servant told Wang Kai, "Our sage sovereign and his esteemed mother, being aware of Lord Wang's contest of wealth with Commandant Shi, have sent this blind and lowly servant to present to you this coral tree from a vassal state. You may be certain that armed with this, you shall prevail over Commandant Shi."

Wang Kai offered his thanks, then opened the box to look inside, where he saw the coral tree; it was so suffused with crimson that it seemed to dazzle the eye like fire. It was two chi and five or six cun in height, nor did it possess the slightest fault or blemish. Wang Kai was overjoyed to receive this present, and he said, "Though I have coral trees in my home of two chi in height, none are so magnificent as this one. I've never laid eyes on such a wonderful specimen. Now that I may borrow this fine treasure, I'll have no further fear of failing to surpass Shi Chong." He returned the box to the servant and sent him on ahead to Wang Kai's house, where all Wang Kai's treasures were gathered together and the coral tree was placed in his study.


The next day, Wang Kai dispatched his steward to go seek out Shi Chong and invite him to Wang Kai's residence for a game of chess. When Shi Chong accepted the invitation and arrived at Wang Kai's household, following their pleasantries, Wang Kai turned to instruct one of his household servants to open the doors of the study. "Gentleman Shi and I will be retiring to the study to pass the time with a few rounds of chess. You servants may quietly observe us from the heights as you eat, but I will not permit you to mingle with us." The servant did as he instructed. The two rich men then entered the study hand in hand.

As the game of chess was in progress, Wang Kai took advantage of a free moment to gesture towards the coral tree. "Lord Shi, how often you have claimed to me to be a man of wealth and taste, and how many times you have boasted of the many treasures and artifacts in your home. But have you ever chanced to see something so precious as that coral tree?"

Shi Chong, who happened to be fiddling with an iron ruyi scepter in one hand, glanced over at the tree. A grin soon danced upon his lips. "Fine, yes, very fine. But I wonder: how sturdy is it?" And he swung the scepter at the tree. With a single strike, the tree toppled to the floor and shattered into several fragments.

Wang Kai was so shocked and furious by this sudden attack that his face turned the color of ash. He seized Shi Chong by the sleeve and fumed, "What is the meaning of this? Were you so jealous of lacking such a priceless treasure that you were petty enough to break my nine-branched coral tree into pieces?"

But Shi Chong only laughed and said, "Look at you go off! As it happens, my home is filled with trinkets like that. In fact, I can think of ten such nine-branched coral trees like that one, any one of which I could give you to make good your loss. And after all, it was only an innocent mistake that I broke it. Why get so angry?"

"Do not try to fool me with such baseless words," said Wang Kai. "How could a common person like yourself obtain such treasures so easily? If you could indeed provide me with an exact copy of that tree, then that would be one thing. But otherwise, things will be very dire for you."

"Please," protested Shi Chong, "there's no need for such rash threats as that. Sir, if you will simply accompany me to my home, I will pay you back with two twelve-branched trees."

"I won't let you talk your way out of this one," said Wang Kai. "The only place the two of us shall be going is to see our sovereign, where your lies shall be exposed. And when you are forced to make good, then there will be proof that you possess no such treasures."

"Master Wang, really, you go too far!" said Shi Chong. "Why not at least come to my residence first and see for yourself? If I truly lack any trees which resemble the one you have just lost, or else they prove to be not as valuable as yours, then it will not be too late for us to go and see our sovereign afterwards. In fact, I shall make you a special deal, an exchange very much to my own detriment. I will grant to you whichever of my coral trees you wish, no matter how big or tall it may be; you need only give me the word."

When Wang Kai saw that Shi Chong was continuing to make such elaborate promises, he felt that perhaps Shi Chong was telling the truth after all, and that the forest of coral trees he spoke of might be more than mere illusion. He angrily snatched his hand away from Shi Chong and said, "My displeasure with you stems not from mere value. That particular coral tree happened to have come from the imperial storehouse, where it had been sent by a vassal state, and I received it thanks to my elder sister within the palace. Our sovereign had taken notice of this contest of wealth between you and I, and so he granted it to me. Yet you have so lightly smashed this treasure to pieces. If the palace should someday inquire as to the condition of the tree and learn that it has been ruined, how could I avoid being charged with the crime of disrespecting a gift from the Emperor? That's the only reason why I was so quick to accuse you of a great crime."

Shi Chong replied, "If the situation is as you say, then the true source of this gift is not from the benevolence of the Emperor, but from the hand of your sister who was acting on your behalf and playing her part in this competition between us. So if I make good the loss to you, then neither of us will have any cause for guilt. Now please, let us go to my residence at once."

Wang Kai thus accompanied Shi Chong back to his home. Once they arrived, Shi Chong ordered his warehouse to be opened so that Wang Kai could examine it for himself. There was indeed a grand collection of coral trees for Wang Kai to peruse. He found that some of them were as much as four chi in height, and more than ten of them were at least three chi. As for the ones two chi in height, resembling the one which Shi Chong had smashed, there were too many of them to count. Wang Kai was struck dumb at the sight.

From that day on, Wang Kai no longer dared to boast any further of his own wealth and riches; in his very heart, he yielded to Shi Chong and respected him. For his part, Shi Chong was magnanimous; he drank together with Wang Kai that day and apologized for his offenses. He gave Wang Kai two of the most wondrous coral trees from his collection and had them sent off to his residence.

Shi Chong's victory in this struggle for prestige ensured that his reputation spread all across the realm, and everyone considered him to be so rich that he was wealthier than the state treasury. Yet although Emperor Wu was well aware of Shi Chong's extravagance, he never charged him with any crime for it.


This example of obscene wealth spread to the other great ministers as well, Wang Rong and all the rest, each of whom stockpiled funds and bought up farmland and gardens close to the capital. He Zeng and many others were indulgent and unrestrained in their tastes, and their loathsome habits encouraged one another until such decadence was the order of the day.

Only the Marshal of the Left, Fu Xian, maintained a modest heart. And when he witnessed the great wastefulness of the age, certain that the common people would not endure such things for long, he sent up a petition of remonstration to Emperor Wu, urging frugality and restraint.

He wrote, "When the kings of ancient times government the realm, they always imposed limits on what was acceptable in clothing and in dress, in palaces and in houses. Nor did they ever indulge in excess, but always maintained the old traditions. By such policies did they receive honor and esteem. When Yu the Great dined on simple meals, everyone praised him as a sage; when Yao was going to make lacquer tools and ten people remonstrated with him, he put a stop to even this indulgence and was not sorry to give up expensive things. The danger posed by decadence is as grave a threat as any natural disaster. Mortals ought to respect the will of Heaven, and to fear its wrath. It is by frugality and restraint that one receives the support of Heaven. We can see this by reflecting upon the fate of King Zhou of Shang. He was decadent to such a gross extent that he drank from cups of jade and he built such things as the Pool of Wine and the Forest of Meats. Yet before his Deer Terrace could be fully completed, King Zhou burned himself to death. How can we explain such a sudden demise but that his excessive decadence incurred the wrath of Heaven above?

"Allow me to comment upon the circumstances of the times. In ancient times, there were many people close together and little land for them, but everyone saved up, and thus there was plenty to go around. But now, the land is broad while the people are spread out, yet so often they encounter days when there is not enough to sustain them. How can this be? It is because of the excessive spending of the government officials, and at a moment when they ought to be appreciating the importance of frugality, they are exhausting the people through their taxation! The people are the foundation of the state; when the people cannot sustain themselves, how could the state possibly expect to survive?

"Now Your Majesty is a wise and intelligent sovereign, blessed with the assistance of Heaven, and you have the examples of a hundred rulers before you. You ought to send out an edict to the government bureaus, ordering them to seek out and condemn any examples of extravagance and wastefulness while honoring and exalting those who demonstrate frugality and restraint. Only then will the people of the realm bow to your judgment, and you will avoid this creeping disaster. But if you do nothing to purge this wastefulness and allow the bad behavior of each to encourage the ruin of all, then I fear that even all the riches of Heaven and Earth will never be enough to satisfy their lusts, nor will there be any end to their decadence. And as the funds of the people dwindle further and further and they grow more and more exhausted, the realm will have no answer for their concerns."

When Emperor Wu read this petition, he praised Fu Xian's remarks and saw the truth in them. Yet the rot had already set, and no one in that age could hope to stop it.


And it was thus that all the relatives of the imperial clan and all the families of the chief ministers thought only of wealth and power; they competed to outdo one another in ostentation, and no one could put a stop to this sickness. All the meager wealth of the people soon made its way into the imperial coffers, and the people were left with nothing and driven to the very brink. Was it any surprise that they all considered turning to banditry, when the vast riches of the government ministers were on such display? And when, only a few years later, Li Te and Qi Wannian sounded the call of rebellion and thousands flocked to their cause, causing the dynasty to lose control of the regions of Shu and Qin, what other cause could explain it except the decadence of the sovereign and his ministers, the heavy taxes and demands upon the people, and the loathsome spirit of the age?

Dwelling upon these things, a poet from a later age put their thoughts into verse:

How highly did the lord of Jin
esteem his age of greed
How lowly did the people bow
to fulfill every need
The ministers were rich as gold
the people poor as mud
Could any state ever survive
by feasting on such blood?
To every loyal word of warning
the sovereign paid no heed
Extravagance and luxury
remained his only creed
Thus he brewed a bitter draught
a poison to the bone
How sad a legacy did he leave
those next to sit the throne!
"You have attacked us before, and we survived! You cannot defeat us. Submit!"
"We have. You did. We can. No."
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Taishi Ci 2.0
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Unread postby Taishi Ci 2.0 » Wed Jun 10, 2020 2:31 am

第八回 關防孔萇相結納

Chapter 8 - Guan Fang and Kong Chang Forge A Bond of Friendship


Thus far have we dwelled upon the rise of the Jin dynasty, which in the midst of its triumphs sowed the seeds of its own travails. Was it any wonder that Heaven decreed that they should have been brought low? Yet the will of Heaven is carried out by the hands of mortals, and we had better reacquaint the reader with the instruments of fate, those noble scions of a fallen state who had fled into the trackless wastes, hoping against hope that Heaven had not forgotten its former blessings for the Han dynasty of old. The reader may recall that there were several groups of these young fellows, each of whom had gone their own ways and would confront their own hardships and toils. We shall tell each of their stories in turn.


Now the first party of exiles were the seven young men who had spent the night at the home of the family of Li Yu of Zitong commandary: Guan Fang, Wang Mi, Li Gui, and the others. They had continued their journey into exile by traveling far to the north, into the Hexi region (by which we mean that northwestern corridor of land which stretches west beyond the Yellow River). They found a new home in the Mayi district there, having entrusted their lives to a certain roadside innkeeper, Jin Zhun by name, and his family.

It may be wondered for what reason these scions had thought best to escape to this place in particular. Thus we observe that although the Hexi region was still within the borders of the great civilized realm and was no foreign domain, still the great bulk of the population there were not natives of the Han lineage, but various peoples of different stock. Many of their hearts grasped the natural order of things, and they had always known of the great affection which the people of the realm held for the Han dynasty. Thus when Jin Zhun beheld the noble aspects and heroic strides of these young men, he received them into his household not as mere lodgers, but as guests of his family. He gave to them freely of his own larder, never thinking of repayment.

One day, in a moment of repose, as Jin Zhun was preparing another repast for Wang Mi, Guan Fang, and the others, Jin Zhun mentioned to his guests, "Young masters, do not think I have failed to notice your awesome strength or your remarkable auras. Truly, there are no such men in this region as yourselves. My neighbors have even begun to suspect that you might be a band of villains. Of course, I know that you are nothing of the sort. But as I have provided this my home to you so that you may sustain yourselves, will you not be so good as to inform me of your origins and where you have come from, so that I may be certain of whom I am dealing with? Why should we who dwell all under one roof remain strangers to one another?"

Wang Mi and the others then told him of the harrowing circumstances which they had lately escaped. Nor did they omit their desire to restore the dynasty as it had been in happier years, though, alas, as yet they had no means of accomplishing this dream. They did happen to know that the Marquis of Yangquan, Liu Bao, had earlier been sent out to the city of Zuoguo and had afterward remained at that place, but as Zuoguo was such a great distance from Yizhou, the young men had never been able to learn whether he was still there or not. With no further leads of a safe refuge, they had been forced to resort to lodging with whomever would take them and depending upon the kindness of strangers. As they finished their story, Jin Zhun saw that each of them were weeping and sniveling at the thought of their loss. And when he learned that they were scions of the fallen Han, his esteem for them only grew. Thus often afterwards, he was on the lookout in his inn for some means of granting them further assistance.


On another day sometime afterwards, two brash gentlemen stormed into the inn, at the head of a company of misfits. The two chiefs claimed their seats at the head of the assembly, while the others sat around them in attendance. One of them called to the innkeeper, "Hurry up with that wine and meat! What's taking so long?" The arrival of these blackguards terrified the usual occupants of the inn, who rushed helter-skelter into the street without the slightest delay.

Guan Fang happened to be present in the room. He saw for himself how impressive the two leaders were: fine specimens indeed, tall and large in stature, with wide shoulders and stout waists. There was majesty in their aura and dignity in their visage. Clearly they stood above the common run. So Wang Mi inquired with Jin Zhun, "Who are those fellows who have just entered the inn, that seem to command such power and respect?"

"You and your companions would not know of them," replied Jin Zhun, "and it may be better if indeed you did not involve yourselves with them."

Yet Wang Mi insisted on learning more. Jin Zhun could see that he was not to be dismayed, and so he began to regale Wang Mi with what he knew of them. "For as you say, they are more than ordinary..."


The senior of the two chiefs was named Kong Chang, styled Shilu; he was a descendant of the old Administrator of Beihai, Kong Rong. Though Kong Rong had unhappily been put to death by Cao Cao, on that same day, Kong Rong's servant Kong Zhong had cradled Kong Rong's young son Kong He and smuggled him out of the house by scaling the wall and fleeing, until he had brought him to far-off Mayi. There he had brought up Kong He in secret, hiding any traces of his past identity. In time, Kong He too had a son, and this was Kong Chang. The youth soon proved to have the courage of ten thousand men, and even tender in age as he was, he was stronger than any grown man. And it was at this very age when he first won renown.

At that time, lurking somewhere in the area, whether it be in the wild grasses or the narrow hills, the thick forests or the deep caves, there dwelt a strange beast which defied description. Though similar to an ape or a bear, it was not quite either of those. It had red hair and a torso like a human, but with a mouth like a panther and wicked fangs, and arms that hung down below its knees. Of its body hairs, the longest were several chi in length, while even the finest were more than seven cun long. It had claws as tough as iron armor, and was strong enough to bear a weight of three hundred catties. Nor was it sluggish; adept at scaling cliffs or climbing trees, it was nimble as a dragon and ran fast enough to overtake a dashing horse. Its eyes were so perceptive and its hands so quick that it could even catch an arrow in mid-flight. And the reverberation of its shout could crack a gong.

This beast came to be known as the Night Devil of the Pass, for it went into hiding each day in the late morning and emerged again at dusk, and it had a habit of camping along the road and blocking any passage there, for as soon as anyone came along, it would fall upon them at once and devour them. Travel along that road became entirely impossible, except for the six hours or so during the height of the day, when the beast went away to rest. The local people were terrified of the creature and kept far away from its territory; shepherds and wood-gatherers never dared to approach the area, fearing the beast even more than they would fear tigers or wolves.

When the lord of that county, Liu Yin, heard about the so-called Night Devil, he recruited many bold fellows from families practiced in hunting, planning to capture or slay the beast and thus remove a blight upon the people. Yet the creature proved cunning as well as fierce. If it observed a host of hunters coming up fast, beating their gongs with weapons in hand, it would flee to the high hills and not come out. But if it saw that only a few men were present, it would dash out to snatch them and immediately gnaw them to pieces. It came and went with such agility that no one could hope to avoid it. And though the local government posted a garrison in the area, they rarely ever saw the Night Devil, for it kept to its habit of hiding itself during the day and only emerging at night, and if it ever lacked for food in its own domain, it would push open the doors of a local homestead, slip inside, and find itself humans or cattle to feast upon.

When Lord Liu saw that his own efforts had proven futile against the beast, he had notices sent out and posted up throughout the region, promising a reward for any good man able to capture or kill the Night Devil: they would be rewarded with a hundred catties of silver, and the county would provide them with a lifelong pension of a 擔 of grain every month and a new set of clothes every season.

When Kong Chang saw one of these notices, he came to the county office to meet with Lord Liu about it. "This is a terrible beast that eats people," said he, "one that causes great harm and spreads considerable fear. I shall be sure to get rid of it, to demonstrate my love for the people."

The lord of the county told him, "The creature has also been on my mind, for I worry about it day and night. Do not suppose that I have been negligent in my duty, or have not exerted my utmost of body and mind to rescue the common people from this threat. But the beast is deadly indeed, for no man could match the strength of its arms and no one can devise a means of controlling it. If the beast sees many people, it flees, and no one can catch up with it; if it sees few people, it charges, and no one can dodge it. Several times I have commanded it to be ensnared by a net, but the creature is wily and usually avoids it; on the few occasions where we did snare it, it still managed to rip the netting to shreds from within and escape. Twice I have ordered five ranks of archers to fire blind volleys of arrows at it, but never were they able to hit it. Now you, good fellow, are clearly a strong man, and if you have come here about the Night Devil, you must have come up with some clever plan to take it. I will gladly offer you great rewards if you can succeed in this task. Only tell me what strategy you have devised."

"But this is only a beast in the end," said Kong Chang. "Does one devise strategy or tactics simply to go hunting? I may be a youth of meager talents, but even so, I am willing to risk my life in order to sever the head of this creature and thus remove a danger to the people."

Lord Liu told him, "Do not think so little of the beast. It is an awesome foe, rough, fierce, and utterly merciless. You shall find it difficult indeed to match it. Besides, it has its claws and fangs and is swift of foot. I fear it will destroy you. Are you so willing to die in vain, and leave no descendants to carry on your lineage?"

Kong Chang replied, "I have set my heart on this task. If I prove unable to capture or kill this vile creature, I shall gladly taste death without regrets."

Liu Yin knew that the young man was the lone descendant of Kong Rong, and that Kong Chang lacked sons of his own, so again and again he implored Kong Chang to set aside this determination and avoid tempting fate. But Kong Chang only declared, "A real man would do what he can to save the people from harm. Why should I avoid it?"

Thus Liu Yin knew that Kong Chang was firm in his ambition and would not be swayed. Still he advised him, "I see that you are determined to go. But wait here a little while for now, until I can bring up some soldiers to go with you and assist you in your hunt. I hesitate to let you go by yourself."


But Kong Chang told him, "If I bring others with me, I fear that the beast will flee before us and we shall never get hold of it. Wouldn't that just be wasting time and money? Better for me to go alone, so that the creature has no cause for fear. Then I can get my hands on it. Only give me a firm piece of light armor from the arsenal, in order to protect myself."

Lord Liu then personally selected two pieces of armor: one light and oiled, and one a thin sheet of steel. These were called the Silver In Three Pairs, and as Liu Yin was handing them to Kong Chang, he instructed him, "This armor is heavy enough to protect you, yet light enough not to hinder your movements. So long as you wear both parts of it, your courage and strength will be secure, and you need not fear for yourself. I appreciate your strength and potential, young man. But the reason why I believe that you will triumph over the Night Devil is because of your great sense of purpose."

Kong Chang thanked him, then returned home, put on his full attire, and ate a hearty meal for strength before setting out. At his belt he wore a pair of keen blades, and in his hand he wielded a long-handled iron hammer more than sixty catties in weight.

Kong Chang then headed out into the wild grasses and the thick forests, in search of the Night Devil. After looping back and forth up into the hills for several li, he spied a cave in the distance, hidden by a cluster of trees. "Surely that must be the vile creature's lair," he thought to himself. So at once he headed towards the cave.

As Kong Chang was getting close enough to get a better look at the cave, suddenly he heard the nearby sound of teeth gnashing against bones. At once he halted and carefully looked all around, until he saw an enormous beast crouched over a large deer, a third of which it had already consumed. Kong Chang dared not step forward to startle the beast. Yet suddenly the Night Devil cast aside the carcass and rose up, stretching languidly at first with a yawn. But the moment it laid eyes on Kong Chang, it charged towards him, ready to pounce. In a panic, Kong Chang tried to swing his iron hammer at the beast's head to repulse it, but the Night Devil was too fast for him and crashed into him. Though Kong Chang tried to endure this assault, he had failed to account for the unsteady footing of the hills, and as he took a step back to steady himself, he tripped and tumbled backwards. At once the Night Devil hopped on top of him.

Kong Chang might then have became the creature's dinner, but fortunately for him, the Night Devil had just dined upon the deer and had a full belly, so it only remained crouched atop him. Still, Kong Chang feared that the beast would make a quick end of him. Desperately he grabbed the keen blades at his belt and drove them into the sides of the Night Devil below its armpits. The Night Devil howled so fiercely that its very cry shook the trees all around. Enraged at the sudden bitter pain, but not knowing how to pull the blades from its sides, it resorted to a flurry of scratches, raking Kong Chang's clothes and armor. Kong Chang's shoulder and arm were broken, and blood began to run down his face.

Yet though he could not exert his full strength because of these injuries, still he could grasp the keen blades and pull them down through the Night Devil's flesh, widening the wounds with all his remaining strength from the armpits down to the soft parts of its sides. Now grievously injured, the Night Devil threw Kong Chang aside and began to flee; by the time Kong Chang got to his feet, the beast was already more than fifty paces away. Kong Chang quickly scooped up his iron hammer and chased after the Night Devil, but he could not keep up, and several times he had to pause after a few paces. Afraid that the beast might get away, Kong Chang hefted his hammer and threw it towards the Night Devil, striking it firmly in the middle of its back. Yet the creature was so strong that it seemed unfazed, and it rushed ahead, scaling the cliffs and heights as it fled along a route no man could follow. Kong Chang stood there and watched it go, but saw that as the Night Devil approached its cave lair, its wound proved so serious that it collapsed to the ground and could not enter the cave. So he picked up his hammer and began to search for a way back up to the cave. By the time he reached the place, he found the Night Devil lying in a thick pool of its own blood, unable to move any further. He cut off its head and turned back to return to town, trophy in hand.

Once Kong Chang returned to the county office and reported his triumph, Lord Liu was overjoyed. He ordered some people to go and collect the corpse of the Night Devil, while commanding others to prepare a feast for Kong Chang. He doubled the posted reward and offered Kong Chang two hundred catties of silver, but Kong Chang firmly declined and would not accept it. And from that time on, everyone in the county, young or old, respected and appreciated Kong Chang, and the government officials also treated him as an honored guest and a valued friend.


Such was the story of the captain, Kong Chang. To his right was his lieutenant, Tao Bao of Wuwei commandary, styled Wuhua. Tao Bao had heard that Kong Shilu was a great man of the age, so he had come to seek out Kong Chang in order to measure his courage and strength against him. When they contended with one another and found themselves to be equal in measure, they swore an oath to be as brothers, respecting one another as though they had come from the same womb.

This Tao Bao had originally been named Tao Rong. He too had been a knight errant of sorts; he delighted both in protecting the weak and in challenging the strong and putting a stop to tyranny. In his homeland, there was a strong and powerful gentry leader who wanted to have his way with the wife of a certain commoner. When she refused, the brute drove her to death. He then tied up her husband in his home and compelled the man to write a false testimony condemning his younger brother as having tried to rape his wife and then having beaten her to death during the ensuing struggle. Once the accusation was drawn up, the villain ordered the widower to personally set out for the county office to deposit it with the justice officials there.

As the man was walking down the road, weeping and wailing, he encountered Tao Rong. Curious as to why such a man should be in tears on the roadway, Tao Bao asked him what was wrong. "Surely there must be some injustice afoot?" he said.

The man told him the source of his grief and woe, every detail from beginning to end, and even handed over the damning indictment for him to read. After glancing over it, Tao Rong asked the man, "Suppose you did as the man bids you and then return home. What harm could befall you?"

The man objected, "My younger brother is a worthy and able man, a filial and righteous man of honorable conduct. Would he ever have dared to engage in villainy or violate the natural order? Yet now that scoundrel has driven my wife to death and is going to harm my brother as well. If I go to the county office and deposit this accusation, they will surely arrest my brother and destroy him. Then it will be like losing one of my own hands or feet to that man's poison, and it might even be possible that my nieces and nephews would become slaves of his household as well."

Tao Rong asked, "Then why not flee to take refuge with a righteous lord in a just land? If you tell them of your circumstances, would there be any doubt that they would not avenge your wife's life?"

"What chance would the egg stand against the rock?" wailed the man. "Besides, the wretch has the accusation written out in my own hand; how could I get free from him?"

"If that be so," said Tao Rong, "there still remains one way out, one that offers the sweetest rest."

"There could be no sweet rest for me," said the man. "I would sooner swallow my words and bear my pain than submit to a pointless and unjust death. And shall I accept being the author of my own flesh and blood's destruction? For when our oppressor learns that I have failed to carry out his order, he will simply present it himself and so accuse my brother of perversion and evil. I might snuff out my own life, but I cannot save myself from the realization that in doing so, I would only assure my brother's death as well. That is why, even if I sought a sweet release, my foe would deny it."

Tao Rong sighed and said to himself, "To think that the world has such injustice! How can my eyes and ears bear to witness this?" And he told the man, "Go and return home, but tell no one else that you are being made to act unjustly or pervert your principles, lest any of your neighbors should suspect you. I, Tao Rong, swear to take vengeance on behalf of your family. Then my two brothers and I shall go far away, and no harm will come to you. But be sure to keep my name a secret."

The man thanked him profusely, and they took their leave of one another. Then Tao Rong returned home, where he packed up all his grain and possessions to permit for immediate departure. That night, he went to the home of the wicked gentry, wielding sharp blades in either hand. He slew the whole family and took their wealth, more than two thousand pairs of silver, back with him.

Tao Rong then told his younger brother, "Now I have avenged this man and saved him from injustice. Although people might now accuse me of murder and violence, ever since ancient times there have been people in the same situation who later rose to high honor and conspicuous office. Lord Yunchang (Guan Yu) was such a one. For now, let us all flee to another place for a time, where we may consider how we shall someday improve our lives and fortunes, rather than fall into obscurity and oblivion."

His younger brother told him, "I am fully willing to go. But there is still our youngest brother; he is too young, and unsuited for a journey on the road."

Tao Rong replied, "That presents no trouble. I shall purchase a little cart and a donkey, and the two of you may sit inside while I escort you. We will travel slowly, so that we do not arouse suspicion. Still, we ought to change our names as well, to ensure that no one recognizes us." So because Tao Rong had acted to uphold righteousness and avenge injustice, he renamed himself to Tao Bao ("panther"), and his two brothers to Tao Hu ("tiger") and Tao Biao ("tiger cub").

And after moving to the northwest, he fell in with Kong Chang. Now they lived together and acclaimed each other as brothers, and they led a band of men like a pack of wolves and dholes or a host of tigers and panthers.


"Such are the tales of these men," Jin Zhun told Wang Mi, "and who does not honor and respect them or fulfill their wishes? Even I never deny them anything. Thus they are always coming to our inn, calling to our servants and talking to our serving girls as though they were part of my own household. Really they are possessed of the most noble of spirits. It is just that they like to indulge in wine too much, and once drunk they become rowdy, so that they neither fear their superiors nor show courtesy to their closest kin. It would not do for you and the other gentlemen to linger here with them today. Why not go off and amuse yourselves with some diversion? If you stay here, those two fellows might become presumptuous and say some cutting remark which you could not bear to hear."

Thus Wang Ru, Li Zan, and Fan Rong took bows and slings and went with Jin Zhun's younger brother Jin Shu into the woods to hunt birds, while Guan Fang, Guan Jin, Wang Mi, and Li Gui killed time by wandering around outside the inn.


A short time later, Guan Fang went back inside the inn, intending to get some bows and arrows to join the hunt. But he suddenly noticed Kong Chang haranguing a bowing servant, telling him, "You worthless mutts! Why didn't you bring us the best wine? You dare to foist these cheap stuff off on us?"

The bowing servant replied, "But this truly is our best wine, of the highest quality."

Tao Bao, not liking the servant's reply, thwacked him with a blow of his fist and laid him out across the floor. When Guan Fang saw this, he hurried over to help the servant up. Then he turned to Tao Bao and said, "How can you be so disrespectful? If you like the wine, drink it; if you don't, leave! Why did you have to hit this man? If he died, don't you think you'd have to pay life for life?"

Tao Bao angrily replied, "What's it any business of yours if I hit these servants? What gives you the right to come over here and criticize me?"

"This is an age of peace," said Guan Fang, "and yet here you are acting like savages. Yet I'm the one who's being rash?"

Tao Bao pushed back the table and got to his feet, then grabbed a wine cup and swung it straight at Guan Fang. But Guan Fang, seeing his intent, was determined to get in the first blow. So he quickly stepped forward and smote Tao Bao in the side with his fist. Tao Bao was caught off guard, not knowing just how strong Guan Fang was, and he fell over backwards.

Now Kong Chang angrily shouted, "You've got some gall, bastard!" And he scooped up a footstool and dashed over to Guan Fang, planning to hit him in the back.

But by this time, Wang Mi had noticed the commotion and he too had joined the fray. As Kong Chang raised his hand to bring the stool down on Guan Fang, Wang Mi shot out his arm to grab Kong Chang's hand. "Are you really going to hit him with that footstool?" he said. "Don't you think you might hurt someone that way?"

"Let go of my hand," snarled Kong Chang, "or else you're next!"


Wang Mi could see that Kong Chang had no intention of standing down. So he yanked down on Kong Chang's hand, sending him to the floor with the momentum.

Tao Hu saw that both of his brothers had been brought low, and he quickly called the other men to arms; they all grabbed various things lying around and hurried to join the melee. Guan Jin and Li Gui picked up some firewood sticks and tossed a couple to Wang Mi and Guan Fang, while Kong Chang and Tao Bao leapt back up as well. The inn was soon a scene of confusion as countless urns, vases, and household objects were smashed in the fighting. Alerted by the sounds of the disturbance, Jin Zhun urged them all to stop fighting, but to no avail. Indeed, one man was even knocked out into the road.

Within a short time, people from within the county capital began to rush outside the walls to come and see what all the commotion was about; some wished to break up the fighting, while others wanted to support Kong Chang and Tao Bao. As the fighting went on, suddenly Wang Ru, Li Zan, and Fan Rong rushed up, calling out, "Are these not all good and righteous men? Why should they be fighting one another for no reason? Both sides have their heroes, and we ought to be urging them to support one another. Why do you lackeys turn these guests against each other? Let us have the government sort out this affair. Why help the many to bully the few?"

When the people there heard their words, they quickly sent someone to inform the county office of what was going on. Liu Yin, fearing that someone might be injured or killed in the fighting, immediately dispatched a leader of the county troops, Diao Ying, to lead twenty famous fighters to hurry out and deal with the situation. This Diao Ying was himself a bold and powerful man, skilled at martial talents; he was adept at capturing infamous criminals, and he was good friends with Kong Chang. So when he heard that Kong Chang was fighting someone and that he had been ordered to apprehend him, Diao Ying rushed like the wind to the scene of the fighting.

When the two sides saw that government troops had arrived, they each broke off from the struggle. There were more than ten people on Kong Chang's side, five or six of whom had been injured by blows. Wang Mi and the other three scions who had been fighting had not suffered the slightest damage on their heads or their faces, while Wang Ru and the other two had only been standing by to protect and encourage them. When Diao Ying saw that Kong Chang's followers had been injured, he ordered his troops to arrest the troublemakers; the soldiers spread out to encircle them so that no one could get away.

"You fellows have been brawling and causing mischief," declared Diao Ying, "and now you shall be brought to the county office so that we can get to the bottom of all this and see who is responsible and who may go free. Are you going to come quietly? Or will I have to clap you in irons first?"


"We shall not make the Supervisor waste his time and effort," said Fan Rong. "We are all of us guests here and must act accordingly. Reporting to the county office would be the least we could do."

Kong Chang was standing to the side. As he noticed how clear-spoken the others were and how bold and manly they seemed to be, he considered that never in his life had he encountered such heroes and worthy opponents, and in his heart he developed a desire to become friends with Wang Mi, Guan Fang, and all the rest. So he took Diao Ying to one side and secretly told him, "Supervisor, I pray you will show some forbearance. Although it's true that these guests got into a bit of a scuffle with me, it was all just because of some loose talk, and they did not know who I really was. Really, I am the one at fault here. If you will but do me the honor of going back now, I pledge to report to the county office tomorrow to bow before the lord of the county and admit my crimes, and to show my humble respect and sincere gratitude to him. And I swear to you that I will forgive these fellows and put aside our differences, so that it does not come to a law dispute between us, or that there might be any more cause for disruption."

From the moment Kong Chang had opened his mouth, Diao Ying had been observing Wang Mi, Guan Fang, and the others, and he could see for himself that they would not make it easy to apprehend them if it came to a struggle. So he readily agreed to Kong Chang's suggestion and made an arrangement that the two sides would swear to get along and not cause any further disputes, for anyone who violated the orders or commands of the county office would surely be arrested and interrogated for their crimes. Having concluded the agreement, he begun leading his troops back to the city, encouraging Kong Chang one last time to forgive and yield to the strangers and not cause any further mischief with them.

Jin Zhun also soothed Kong Chang with kind words. Kong Chang took him by the arm and secretly told him, "Sir, I am ashamed to think that after becoming wild and crazy from drinking, I went so far as to cause a scene in your inn and destroy your valuables. I promise you that I shall repay you for every single thing that was smashed today. And really, I have no quarrel with your friends the strangers; it was only that my blood was up and my heart was out of sorts. It all started with they presumed to hit Tao Wuhua, and the rest of the turmoil resulted from that. But we have no grudge with those gentlemen. I would be much obliged if you would assure them not to hold the matter against me, for tomorrow I shall return to apologize for my faults and to ask them for their guidance."

Jin Zhun could see that Kong Chang was trying to excuse himself from the scene. So he patted Tao Bao as well and told them, "You fellows had better go back home for now; let's not get into things any further. Come back tomorrow, and then everyone may make their apologies to one another." So Kong Chang and his mates gathered up their things and all turned to go.

Wang Mi and the other young scions went back inside the inn. They pleaded with Jin Zhun to forgive them for having caused trouble for him. Jin Zhun reassured them as well, saying, "I mentioned to you before that those gentlemen have always had some little regard for wine, and that after drinking they are full of passion. But when they saw how all of you are so heroic and bold, they only respected and appreciated you all the more. That's why they've left now rather than have it out with you. Gentlemen, you need not blame yourselves; the fault lies with me." And with yet more encouragement, he sent them off to their rooms.


Guan Fang discussed what had happened with Wang Mi. "We are strangers who came to this man's establishment to seek his help," Guan Fang told him. "And yet now, all because of a single lapse in judgment, we started a brawl like tigers and caused a commotion. Even though everyone agreed to let things slide for now, who knows what the County Supervisor or his officials are really thinking? Suppose they come back here tomorrow with more troops to arrest us again. Then we would be in trouble whether we fled from them or submitted to arrest. If we openly flee in the face of government troops, we will cause even more trouble for our host. But if we submit to arrest, we will have to kneel to them. Neither outcome would be good for us." And he proposed to go off to some other place, where they could lay low for a time and listen for news, then set out on the road again.

Wang Mi said, "We ought to do just as you propose."

Then Fan Rong observed, "It is excellent advice, and the sooner we leave, the better. Even the ancients said that strong guests are a burden on a weak host. The people you were fighting earlier are natives of this place, while we are only strangers. Besides, they can be sure of having the government troops to support them. Not only would we be obliged to kneel, but I fear we might suffer even worse indignities."

Thus the young scions packed up all of their possessions and made ready to set out. They rose to have their breakfast at midnight, then came into the common room at early dawn, where they offered their thanks to Jin Zhun and took their leave of him before departing.

Jin Zhun told them, "Although Kong Shilu had that little scuffle with you gentlemen, really he is a man of righteous principles, and yesterday he told me that he would return to admit his guilt to you all and express his lack of enmity. Will you not wait a while before setting out? I have not even had time to prepare food and drink for you; how can I bear to see you go so soon?"

Guan Fang replied, "Sir, you have been most gracious to us; the courtesy you have shown us is etched upon our hearts, and there is nothing we can say to express our gratitude. Yet we repaid you by acting like a bunch of dogs and horses yesterday. We will linger here a little longer, and hope that we may meet again someday soon, so that no one may reproach us for being ungrateful."

Jin Zhun could see that, though they wished to humor him, the young men were anxious to escape any looming danger, and it would be difficult to dissuade them any further. So he did not press them to stay longer than they had already agreed. But he did offer them wine and gave them food, and he also pressed them to take some money for the road. They were all most reluctant to leave one another, and everyone wiped their tears with their sleeves.

Guan Fang told Jin Zhun, "It is not that we do not wish to remain here with you and help you however we may. But when we are pressed by such circumstances, how could we be even more of a burden upon you? If we are able to gain something for ourselves in this world, Sir, we shall send for you to come and see us, and I pray you will not refuse. And if the times should be against us, then we hope you shall not deny us your shelter and hospitality again."

Jin Zhun readily agreed to the young man's request.

At last, it was time for the parting of ways. The seven scions mounted their horses and rode off together. As Jin Zhun went back inside the inn and began to clean up the shop and the bedrooms, he discovered that Guan Fang and the others had all left behind their payments for the room and board, and notes thanking Jin Zhun for his courtesy to them. Their words were so wondrous and refined and their ambitions were so passionate and sincere that Jin Zhun could not help but sigh. For a moment he thought of chasing after the young men, but he feared that by now they were too far away for him to catch up. So he only gathered up what they had left him and kept the mementos in a box, not speaking a word of them to his servants.


We mentioned that Kong Chang had returned home after the brawl. As he considered the bold courage that his four opponents had displayed, his esteem and admiration for them only doubled.

Tao Bao grumbled, "I've been thinking about what rough strength those fellows had. Whenever I threw a punch or swung a leg at them, it was like striking stone! I couldn't grapple them to the floor at all, and every punch was like slamming my fist into a rock. Those are some real men! Our worthless followers don't even approach what those guys can do. And they sure struck us some mean blows on the heads with those sticks! We had more than a dozen people on our side, and yet the four of them took out seven or eight of ours. Damned if they don't have a lot of guts."

But Kong Chang replied, "It's not like that. They were originally just trying to ask you nicely to stop acting wild and hitting people, since they were afraid that someone might get hurt by mistake. You were the one who swung that cup at him, don't try to blame them."

Now the reason why Kong Chang had taken Tao Bao under his wing and recruited a band of companions in the first place was because someday he hoped to avenge himself against the Cao clan and correct the injustice that his grandfather Kong Rong had suffered. So when Tao Bao saw that Kong Chang was blaming him instead of the strangers, he angrily retorted, "Aren't you the one who's acting high and mighty every day, Elder Brother, and always swearing that you'll never rest until you get payback on anybody stronger or tougher than you? So why are you being so timid about those guys we just fought?"

"You've got it all wrong!" said Kong Chang. "Even the ancients said that 'one good man recognizes another'. You and I have been organizing our band of heroes in order to launch an uprising someday, right? And now we've met these impressive people, skilled at fighting and full of courage, yet we don't even know what their names are. Why should we squander this chance to evaluate their skills and develop an excellent friendship with them? Worthy Brother, think no more of our little squabble with them. Join me in moving forward, and we'll forge a bond with these men. Then someday, we'll be able to carry out our grand ambitions together."

Tao Bao replied, "It's true that the ancients teach us to 'repay anger with virtue'. Elder Brother, if such is your intention, how could I dare not to follow your lead?"

Early the next morning, the two of them prepared some wine and food to present as gifts, then set out for Jin Zhun's inn. When they arrived, a little boy came out to greet them, telling them, "Those travelers were afraid of what you might do to them, Sirs, and they have already left."

When Kong Chang heard this, he worried that he had already lost his chance to make amends. Feeling troubled and most displeased, he barged into the inn, shouting, "Where is Brother Jin? Where have those fellows gone off to, and when did they leave?"

Jin Zhun came out and said, "The gentlemen were all packed up to go early this morning. But they stayed a while longer while I heated some wine and prepared some food for them, so they have only recently departed. They left towards the north, but they cannot have traveled more than five li or so by now."

No sooner had Kong Chang heard this than he whipped his horse and rode off in a flash, rushing like the wind. It was all Tao Bao and their other followers could do to hurry after him.

After riding for about twenty li, Kong Chang at last caught sight of Guan Fang and the others in the distance. In a loud voice he called out to them. "Brothers, please wait a moment! I have hurried all this way here just to see you; will you not allow me a word? What happened yesterday was all a misunderstanding caused by wine, and I am quite ashamed for having failed to show my respect. I come to apologize for my crime; do not leave me behind."


When Guan Fang heard such humble and meek words from Kong Chang, he reined in his horse and halted. Once Kong Chang drew near, he dismounted his horse and walked forward, and Guan Fang too got down from his horse to see what Kong Chang intended. Kong Chang stopped a few paces away and bowed his head to make a sign of obeisance, and Guan Fang quickly returned the gesture, saying, "I was blind yesterday and could not recognize your heroic spirit or great virtue; that was what led to our misunderstanding, and truly the fault is all mine. I asked Lord Jin about you afterwards, and when he told me the truth about you, I was too ashamed to face you again. That's why we left in such a rush instead of waiting for you; we hoped that someday we might return and apologize for our mistakes. Really we would welcome the friendship of one as bright and luminous as yourself, if only you would pardon and forgive us."

Kong Chang replied, "My eyes were the blind ones, unable to distinguish good from evil, to the extent that I incurred the anger of such honorable gentlemen as yourselves. I beg you to forgive my foolishness." Then he asked Guan Fang, "Might I ask where you fellows come from, what your distinguished names are, and where you are headed?"

Guan Fang told him, "We have come from Chengdu, in order to avoid the destruction of our families, and our wish is to avenge ourselves and wipe away the shame of the injustice done to us. We came to this place merely to seek out the location of our missing friends."

"To avenge yourselves and find lost friends," said Kong Chang, "is not something that can be quickly achieved, I fear. If you are truly on the run and uncertain of where to go, why not come with me to my home? There you may rest yourselves for a while longer and ascertain what the situation is. It won't be too late to leave afterwards."

Guan Fang could tell that Kong Chang was fully sincere and had no ulterior motives. So he called over Wang Mi and the others to join them, and Kong Chang spoke exceedingly modestly and respectfully to them as well. A moment later, Tao Bao at last arrived with the other men, and they too stepped forward to salute the young scions and apologize. "If only we had known from the start that you righteous fellows were so magnanimous; would we ever have dared to impose upon you? It was not until afterwards that we realized our mistake. We beg you to forgive our blindness. May the dust of the past lay still and may we wash away our old hatred. Won't you gentlemen honor our wishes and let us have our say?" And each of them confessed to his mistakes.

Tao Bao was for breaking out the wine and food then and there. But Kong Chang told him, "This is no place for idle chatter. Besides, I have already invited these gentlemen to come to our home, where they may eat and be merry in peace. Wouldn't that be better?" So the two of them called over their followers to ready the horses to ride. When Wang Mi, Guan Fang, and the others saw that Kong Chang and his men were preparing to depart, they too followed behind, and the whole company repaired to Kong Chang's residence.

After a moment's pause to enjoy the meal, each man clarified his age so that all of them could address one another with the proper amount of respect and deference, and they all told their names and their stories from beginning to end, so that everything was cleared up to the last detail. Kong Chang and the others stood up and once again saluted the young scions, saying, "Who knew that we were in the presence of such kirin youths and tiger cubs, such jade sprouts and coral stems? You put a bunch of young ruffians like us to shame." And their respect for the seven men only grew.

From then on, the two groups were as one, and they spent day and night together. At home, they discussed and debated their plans and strategies, pondering how they would achieve their revenge in the end; outside, they trained and displayed their martial skills and practiced their archery on wild game. They also sent out clever agents in the northwestern regions of Qin and Yong to discreetly inquire about the whereabouts of Liu Qu and of the descendants of the Zhang, Huang, Zhao, Ma, Zhuge, Wei, Liao, or other clans, whose fates were as yet unknown.

The newfound camaraderie of these young men won the approval of later ages, who preserved the moment in a certain poem:

Kong Chang and Tang Bao
Were a brash, boorish batch
Til' in Guan Fang and Wang Mi
They at last met their match
From the throw of a punch
A great friendship was born
These trustworthy heroes
Were to each other sworn


Such was the episode which led to Wang Mi, Guan Fang, and the others of that group of seven scions to become close friends with Kong Chang, Tao Bao, Jin Zhun, and the others in those two families of the city of Mayi. But as we have just raised the prospect of what may have befallen the rest of the exiles from Chengdu, we shall focus on another of those groups.

We had earlier mentioned that Zhuge Zhan's son Zhuge Xuan was one of the people who had fled from Chengdu. He had also taken into his care Ma Su's son Ma Ning and the three grandsons of Wei Yan, named Wei You, Wei Yan, and Wei Hao. After escaping Chengdu, this group had not experienced any incidents along the road. They had traveled north through Lianzhou and gone out to Jiuquan commandary in the northwest, where they stayed in a home in a small village. Yet even though they were now cloaked by obscurity, there were always people coming by to ask what their names were. And though Zhuge Xuan was skilled enough at rhetoric to provide only vague responses to these inquiries, he was still uneasy about the situation.

One day, Zhuge Xuan discussed the matter with the others. "We have all been given the unhappy lot of having our families snuffed out by our foes. We were compelled to abandon our relatives and flee from danger, and we were lucky indeed to escape from out of the tiger's maw. But by now we have been in this place for several years, yet there has been no news of what may have happened to our other friends, and even if we wished to go somewhere else, I fear we might not be able to manage. The thing that concerns me is that the whole region is under the control of the Cao family and the Wei dynasty, and the county prefects are all their subjects. If they should someday discover where we have come from, and they learn what our real names are, why would they ever let us go?"

"Then what should we do?" asked Ma Ning.

Zhuge Xuan replied, "In my view, the most expedient thing to do is to abandon our former names. We shall have to bide our time here and wait for some later day when Heaven takes pity on us. Once 'the peach gardens bloom again and the old walls have been restored', then we shall avenge ourselves against Wei and repay the grace which we received from the Han dynasty. Only then may we resume our original names. And since we will write the truth in the history books, why should we have any worry that we would be shaming our ancestors by doing so? Wouldn't that be best?"

"I would sooner move mountains than alter my surname," said Ma Ning. "Besides, there must be a necessity for such things."


Wei You said, "There is no hindrance here; the moment simply demands it! As for me, I have already decided to do so. 'Wei' is the name of the dynasty which usurped Han and has incurred our undying hatred, which is the first reason why I ought to do away with my surname. And though my grandfather (Wei Yan) had this surname when he came to serve Emperor Zhaolie (Liu Bei), later when he resented that the Prime Minister (Zhuge Liang) did not use his plan to march through Ziwu Valley and launch a surprise attack against Chang'an, that caused mutual loathing between them. Once Yang Yi took command of the troops, my grandfather nursed his grudge so badly that it brought him to ruin. He brought shame to his surname, and that is the second reason I should do away with it. Now we are currently living in the borderlands among tribal peoples, and I ought to remove this surname that shames me and choose another one to fit in among them. What surname would be suitable for that?"

"What you have said is all true," said Zhuge Xuan. "Yet you need not entirely disassociate yourself from your grandfather's clan and thus lose your origins. Your grandfather was Wei Yan, styled Wenchang; though you now intend to discard the hated associations of the 'Wei' part, why not preserve the substance of the 'Yan' part? Thus you would show that you had not forgotten your grandfather. And going along with what you said about having a tribal name, why not combine those concepts? Take Hu ('tribesman') and Yan together to make Huyan. I shall dub the three of you as Huyan Yan, styled Boning, Huyan You, styled Shuda, and Huyan Hao, styled Jichun. This way, no one will know of your backgrounds, and you need not avoid calling yourselves by your names. Would that be suitable for the three of you?"

The three brothers were overjoyed with their new appellations, and they thanked Zhuge Xuan and set to memorizing their new names.

Zhuge Xuan continued, "From now on, I too must hide my surname. Let them call me Xuan Yu, styled Xiuzhi. As for you, Ma Ning, you well know that ever since you were in swaddling clothes, our Prime Minister (Zhuge Liang) looked upon you and cared for you as one of his own sons and kept you as part of our family, and your father has been dead for a long time. So I do not think there is any need for you to change your name. Besides, the people of Wei would not know the significance of your name even if they did hear it. Still, I think it would be best if we refer to you only by your style name from now on, until happy days are upon us again."

From that time on, each of the refugees set themselves to some occupation, pooled their resources, and took up places in the market. Zhuge Xuan opened a shop for fortune telling and divination. People put such faith in his spiritual prowess that his shop was always full and he gained a thousand cash a day; people near and far acclaimed him, yet none ever knew that he had once been a minister of the Han dynasty.

A poet of a later age applauded the lives of these enterprising fugitives:

Panther and tiger, bear and beast
From far Shu valley did they roam
Cleverly covering up their trail
As in the north they found new home
Awaiting 'til in southern hills
A lingering fog would soon descend
To stir up chaos 'midst the foe
And with the very fates contend
Last edited by Taishi Ci 2.0 on Sun Sep 20, 2020 2:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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