Another Glorious Death: Liu Biao and Cai Mao

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Another Glorious Death: Liu Biao and Cai Mao

Unread postby Cai Mao » Mon Apr 22, 2019 10:49 am

As you may have guessed, I find Cai Mao an interesting character.
We're told he's opposed to Liu Bei and favours Cao Cao.
But why?
In Romance, that's meant to be enough to show he's a 'bad guy' but history is a bit more convoluted.
I found out from history he and Cao Cao were childhood friends and apparently Cao Cao got Cai Mao an education under Liang Gu, a distinguished calligrapher and Imperial Scholar. Clearly, he felt he could trust Cao Cao and he wasn't alone.
History states that was more of a politician than a naval officer and so didn't participate in the Battle of Chibi. There's no record he made an attempt on the life of Liu Bei or Liu Qi. After Liu Cong was given the marquisate and later transferred to the Governor of Qing, Cai Mao appears to have retired and lived the rest of his life in luxury, supported by Cao Cao.

So in my take on it, Cai Mao is one of several factions vying for dominance over the Jing Court. Liu Biao is dying of a slow disease and his mental health is ailing. He's had many wives and outlived them all. Each of the families his wives came from wants to get closer to him and Cai Mao's in their way. Put simply, there are a hell of a lot of people who want Cai Mao, along with his sister and nephew, dead. And his family and friends mean everything to him.
And as the war grows worse for Jing from both the Wu and Wei front and defeats are blamed on Cai Mao, Liu Biao considers more and more on removing Cai Mao from his seat of power.
Cai Mao meets Cao Cao early on when Cao Cao's after the Attendants, chasing after their illegal activities in Jing. They become good friends and look out for each other whenever they can, such as against Zhang Xiu, Yuan Shu and Yuan Shao. Liu Biao opposes Cai Mao's actions but Cai Mao states that as Cao Cao represents the Han, it's their obligation.
Tensions flare between Liu Biao and Cai Mao and as Liu Bei arrives in Jing, things only get worse.

Liu Biao is an unfortunate case. He is well-respected for following traditional Confucian ethics to the letter but he seems to think of nothing else. He shows little love for his sons and virtually none for his wife. When Liu Bei arrives, he treats him warmer than any man they've ever seen. This could be the result of his worsening health and lack of hope for Jing's future in the wars to come.
Liu Bei insists Jing openly oppose Cao Cao which Liu Biao agrees with, though he states that, with his disease, he will likely not live long enough to survive the war even being declared so he gives Liu Bei tutelage of Liu Qi and grants him the responsibility of taking the war to Cao Cao. Meanwhile, Cao Cao pays an unexpected visit to Jing and makes a huge show of benevolence and charisma. Young Liu Cong takes a shine to him and Cao Cao showers him with praises, gifting him with a trio of puppies.
The factions pretty much reorganise themselves into Cao-supporters and Liu-supporters.
Eventually, Liu Biao's health dwindles and he's confined to bed, barely able to move but names Liu Qi his successor and denounces the Cai family. Hearing of this from his sister, Cai Mao lures Liu Bei and Liu Qi out of the city by drawing attention to a bandit raid on the borders while he sneaks into Liu Biao's room.
While there, he asks if Liu Biao is bothered at all by the fact that his wife and son will likely be killed by his own courtiers once the will is announced.
Liu Biao tells him, quite frankly, that wives and children are expendable compared to the will of the heavens.
Cai Mao replies that 'sisters and nephews' aren't.
He then grabs a paperweight and starts to slowly crush Liu Biao's hand, ordering him, coldly and quietly, to change the will. After some degree of torture, too weak to cry out for help, Liu Biao, with his undamaged but shaky writing hand, writes a new will. Once finished, Cai Mao takes the will and promises Jing will be safe in his nephew's hands. Liu Biao swears that terrible punishment will befall Cai Mao and his kin for his treason.
Cai Mao then sighs, points out the foolishness of telling him outright, takes a pillow and smothers his lord to death.

So his actions are eviler but given more depth so one can understand his reasoning.

Regardless is his lax loyalties to Liu Biao, Cai Mao proves dedicated to Cao Cao who grants him the highest rank among the navy, Grand Admiral of the Changjiang. Scoring a few victories for Wei, Cai Mao finds himself among the heads of the climactic battle of Chibi.
Zhuge Liang indeed writes the letter of defection of Cai Mao and tension spreads among Cao Cao's navy. While Cao Cao and Xun Yu are hesitant to believe it, they arrest Cai Mao for the sake of conduct. Xun Yu and Jia Xu then hatch a plan. Cai Mao's third of the fleet, mainly consisting of Jing natives, actually fake the defection, pull their fleet in forward, release Cai Mao, steal aboard Liu Bei's fleet and capture Liu Qi, proving Cai Mao's loyalty.
Unfortunately for Cao Cao's fleet, Zhuge Liang either sees through the ploy or pays it no heed as once Liu Bei's ships draw in to meet Cai Mao's...they don't stop.
Liu Bei's fleet ploughs through Cai Mao's and launch a direct boarding attack on Cao Cao, Liu Biao's former warriors hungry for vengeance. Cai Mao is broken out of his cage but grievously wounded.
In the retreat, Cao Cao is knocked down by a falling sail but later, he emerges from the flames and duels Zhou Yu before being mortally wounded. As the fleet burns together, the survivors swim to the shore. Two Cao Cao's wash up together, one in sodden silk, the other in bloody armour.
Cao Cao awakes and removes his own helm from its wearer to show Cai Mao, having pulled Cao Cao from the debris, dressed in his armour, sent him to shore on a raft and held the line for him.
Cao Cao: (Shakes his head) Cai Mao...Cai Mao!
Cai Mao: (Smiles through a bleeding mouth) Cao Cao...You''re alright.
Cao Cao: Doctors! Get doctors down here, now!
Cai Mao: (Holds his hands) It's alright, Cao Cao...It's done now...You'll live...As you should.
Cao Cao: No! Cai Mao, hold on!
Cai Mao: It's fine...I'm ready...I did what I set out to do...Find a master that...deserved my loyalty...that earned my loyalty. And this is how it ends...
Cao Cao: It doesn't have to!
Cai Mao: Yes, it does! Yes...It does...You need to live, Cao Cao...You need to end this...It's only going to get worse from here...I can't deal with that, but you...You're better than that...Better than I could ever be.
Cao Cao: No, Cai Mao...I would not have got here without you...Just stay with me and this'll all be alright.
Cai Mao: (Clasps him by the shoulder and smiles through tears) I would follow you into the end...and beyond...if that was what it friend...(Head lolls back in Cao Cao's arms as his eyes slowly close)
Cai Mao
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Re: Another Glorious Death: Liu Biao and Cai Mao

Unread postby Xu Huang fan » Mon Jun 03, 2019 6:48 am

gosh i actually really adored this as Cai Mao was always one of those super interesting minor characters in the series, well done.
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