Continued Romance of the Three Kingdoms

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Continued Romance of the Three Kingdoms

Unread postby Taishi Ci 2.0 » Tue Nov 19, 2019 3:19 am

This text, Continued Romance of the Three Kingdoms, was written in 1609, almost three hundred years after the original novel. Its author went by the pen name The Unauthorized Historian of Xiyang of Western Shu; their real name is unknown. It continues the story of the Romance, beginning with the fall of Shu-Han and continuing into the Jin era, and it assumes that its reader is familiar with the Romance already. The basic premise is something along the lines of “what if most of the people who brought down Western Jin were actually descendants of people from Shu-Han?” It goes without saying that you shouldn’t expect too much historical accuracy here beyond the broad strokes.

One thing to know is that this is a long novel, clocking in at 145 chapters (making it longer than the Romance’s 120 chapters). Ironically, the work was never finished; the end of the 145th chapter states that the text up to that point was only the first half, and that the second half (either never written or lost) would finish the story.

Table of Contents
1. The Later Lord Surrenders, Young Heroes Flee The Chaos
2. Two Worthies Plot Together To Execute Deng Ai
3. Emperor Wu of Jin Musters Soldiers And Campaigns Against Wu
4. Wang Hun and Wang Jun Argue Over Achievements
5. The Wu Generals Defeat The Jin Army At The Chen Ranges
6. Emperor Wu Grants Fiefs To His Kinsmen
7. Tao Huang And Guo Qin Protest Emperor Wu's Decision To Disband The Armies
8. Guan Fang and Kong Chang Forge A Bond of Friendship
9. Liu Qu Changes His Name And Seeks Refuge With Hao Yuandu
Last edited by Taishi Ci 2.0 on Mon Jun 22, 2020 1:06 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Unread postby Taishi Ci 2.0 » Tue Nov 19, 2019 3:20 am


Chapter 1 – The Later Lord Surrenders, Young Heroes Flee The Chaos


In the beginning, the heavens stretched into being, the earth took form, and mankind arose. Ever since the dawn of humanity, there have been wise rulers who have inherited the legacy of Heaven, stood atop the pinnacle, and directed the affairs of the people. In distant antiquity ruled the Three Emperors. Then came the Five Sovereigns. And after them were Tang of Shang and Kings Wen and Wu of Zhou. Each of these passed on the administration of the realm. During these ages, sovereigns were pure and conducted themselves with propriety and ritual. There was never an instance of someone who gained the realm by acting unrighteously or killing the innocent. Thus Confucius could state, “King Wen of Zhou possessed two thirds of the empire, yet with those he still served the dynasty of Yin (Shang). The virtue of the house of Zhou may be said to have reached the highest point indeed.” And the house of Zhou indeed ruled for thirty reigns and eight centuries; never has there been another to equal them.

By the time of the Warring States, the royal sway had fallen into decline and the Hegemons ruled the realm; every day saw bloody battle, and the destruction and turmoil were absolute. The state of Qin, following the policies of Shang Yang, achieved military dominance. But they cared nothing for propriety or ritual, and though they achieved their ambitions for a time by swallowing up the other Six States, they did not enjoy a long legacy, and perished after only two reigns. Who then can claim that the ways of Heaven ought to be slighted and belittled, or that the education and culture provided by ritual and ceremony can be ignored?

When Gaozu of Han (Liu Bang) established the Han dynasty, he was able to transform the canons of Qin, and he established the laws in three articles. He won the hearts of the realm, who helped him to vanquish the Qin dynasty and the rival state of Chu. And though at times the house of Han fell prey to the dominance of its ministers and the flattery of its relatives, in the end, Emperor Guangwu was able to continue the succession. He propagated its rule and inherited its legacy; well that it was so!

When the realm split into the Three Kingdoms and the states of Wu and Wei tore the land asunder, the flame of the dynasty was nearly snuffed out. Yet even so, it could still depend upon the efforts of that devoted fellow, Xuande, who was worthy to be called its lord. Even when driven to his lowest points, he never abandoned his benevolence; even when defeated for the hundredth time, he never gave up his ambition. Heaven itself provided him with worthy and talented people to serve as his wings. And though he established his state in a corner of the realm, truly both he and his subjects displayed the selfsame virtue. Six times he mustered his armies for war, nine times he campaigned against the foe. His enemies feared him like a tiger. Worthy was he to be acclaimed as a talent of the age.

Alas, that Xuande’s star should fall while he was in the midst of his camps, and that the Prime Minister (Zhuge Liang) too should expire. Their deaths allowed the wicked villains to attain their evil desires. Even a thousand years later, our hearts still rend with pain at the thought. But how fortunate, then, that Heaven was not finished with the house of Han, and it allowed their descendants to slay the cruel and smite the wicked. They restored the fortunes of Han and revived the flame of the Liu clan. The lingering virtue of their house had not been extinguished; the rites and ceremonies of the dynasty had not yet fallen. And our hearts beat with admiration for them!


But us set the scene. The lord of Shu, Liu Shan, had risen to the throne in the Guimao year (223). And thanks to the supervision of Kongming over the state of Shu, Liu Shan had enjoyed a peaceful reign for more than forty years. But by now, the Prime Minister had died, and it was the first year of Yanxing (263). Liu Shan favored the eunuch Huang Hao and entrusted him with affairs, while the descendants of those great civil and martial servants of his father’s age, the families of Guan, Zhang, Huang, Ma, and Zhao, were no longer granted any part in either the army or in government. Some of these scions lived in obscurity, while others held minor posts. But the state had fallen into decline and decay, and the morale of the soldiers had sunk too low to be revived.

When Sima Zhao of the state of Wei heard that such a state of affairs prevailed in Shu, he held a discussion among his subordinates, proposing a campaign to conquer Shu. Among these men was a certain Wang Xiang, who had always cherished the virtues of the Han dynasty. Thus he sent up a petition opposing the proposed expedition. He stated, “Although the territory of Shu is a cramped place, the people there venerate the kindness of their lord, and the relationship between its sovereign and his subjects is proper and harmonious. There is no internal dissension within the state which we could take advantage of. Besides, the Year Star (Jupiter) is currently hanging over Shu. It is well-known that no state which is enjoying the protection of the Year Star can be attacked. Thus to campaign against Shu would only invite misfortune upon us.”

However, Sima Zhao did not listen to the pleas of Wang Xiang. Being determined upon the campaign, he devised a strategy for his armies to destroy the rival state. He would order the general Deng Ai to lead fifty thousand soldiers from Didao to cross the Gansong mountain ranges and enter Tazhong, where he could keep the army of Shu’s Grand Commander, Jiang Wei, occupied. At the same time, he would order the general Zhuge Xu to lead another fifty thousand soldiers from Qishan to cross the bridgehead at Wujie and cut off Jiang Wei’s route of escape. While these operations were taking place, Sima Zhao would send the main army of a hundred and fifty thousand under the general Zhong Hui to advance along three roads through Xie Valley and Ziwu Valley and capture the Shu bastion at Hanzhong.

Word of the planned Wei operations made their way to Jiang Wei at his base at Tazhong. He wrote a petition informing Liu Shan of the situation and dispatched a messenger at once to bring it to the capital. Liu Shan thus ordered the generals Jiang Shu and Fu Qian to lead twenty thousand soldiers to form garrisons to guard Yangping and other strategic places.

Liu Shan even planned to mobilize the full manpower of the state to reinforce Jiang Wei’s army. But Huang Hao, who monopolized power at the capital, deeply hated Jiang Wei and had often wanted to get rid of him. He was worried that, if such a mobilization proved critical to letting Jiang Wei drive away the invaders, then Jiang Wei would surely be rewarded and honored while his own influence would diminish. Thus he opposed this mustering of troops, telling Liu Shan, “I have always heard that the ruler of Wei has been most suspicious of the Sima clan. The Sima clan must be entirely focused on securing their own position in Wei; how could they have a free hand to plot against us as well? If we panic in the face of this rumor and thus bolster Jiang Wei’s ranks, we will only augment his power for no purpose.” And he also brought in some shamans to perform a false ritual, and they deceived Liu Shan. Thus Liu Shan canceled his drafting preparations and dropped all discussion of reinforcing the defences of the state. None of his ministers ever realized that Jiang Wei had submitted this petition asking for reinforcements.

In the eighth month of that year, the Wei armies surged forward, advancing far into the state. When Jiang Wei heard that Zhong Hui’s troops were on their way, he held a discussion with Liao Hua, Zhang Yi, and the other generals. They resolved to man the defenses at Jiange Pass and hold out against the enemy. When Zhong Hui’s army arrived at Jiange, they launched an assault. But Jiang Wei devised a plan which allowed special troops to sever Zhong Hui’s supply lines, and he also personally dueled enemies for dozens of bouts during the fighting. Each side had their share of victories and defeats. Zhong Hui was worried about keeping his troops provisioned over so far a distance and across such rough terrain, and he had his troops fall back to prepared camps to maintain their position. But when Jiang Wei’s special troops continued to appear in his rear and launch surprise attacks against Zhong Hui’s supply lines, Zhong Hui’s heart failed him. He was resolved to fall back to Chang'an, then wait for some later time to plan another campaign.


When Deng Ai learned that Zhong Hui’s resolve had begun to waver, he sent him a letter criticizing him. He wrote, “Shu is an exhausted state, unable to accomplish anything. Its affairs are in the hands of a pathetic eunuch, and its loyal and good servants can do nothing. It is thanks to Jiang Wei’s cunning alone that they are able to resist at all. But they lack the ability to move their forces about or march long distances. They can do no more than make threatening noises sufficient to cause us to divide our forces, allowing them to safely receive the brunt of a reduced attack.

"General, you need but hold firm and maintain your position. Allow my humble self and my son to lead the soldiers of my command to march through the badlands at Yinping, pass by Deyang Point, and emerge from behind Jiange Pass. From there, it will be no more than three hundred li west to the enemy capital at Chengdu; we can seize it by surprise and occupy the very heart of the enemy’s country. Once Jiang Wei learns of it, he will surely bring his troops at Jiange to hurry to hold Fucheng against me, and you can then simply follow in his wake. Why then would you need to retreat? Or if the soldiers at Jiange do not turn back towards the capital, Fucheng will be defenseless and extremely easy to take. Jiang Wei will be surrounded by enemies on both sides, and he would doubtlessly fall into your hands. It would not take a genius to recognize that.”

Without waiting for a response, Deng Ai at once led his troops along his proposed route. They traveled through more than seven hundred li of uninhabited land, carving through mountains and clearing roads as they went. When the road suddenly ended in a cliff, Deng Ai had himself wrapped in felt and personally rolled down the cliff, and his generals and soldiers then fashioned a fish-scale rope to descend the precipice. When they arrived at the city of Jiangyou at the far end of the road, the Shu generals Jiang Shu and Fu Qian were waiting for them. But Jiang Shu surrendered, and Fu Qian perished in battle. Deng Ai’s troops then advanced to Yinping.


As Deng Ai’s troops were marching along the side of a cliff, Deng Ai suddenly saw a stone stele. Upon it was written these words: “Two fires arise; men pass by here. Two commanders compete; both will soon perish.” Deng Ai realized that Zhuge Kongming must have earlier placed the stele here as a warning to him. Greatly frightened by the omen, Deng Ai went to visit the grave of Kongming, and he personally conducted the rites to offer a sacrifice to the spirit of Kongming, hoping to win his pardon and forgiveness.

That night, Deng Ai saw two strong men in his dreams, who said that they had been ordered by the Steadfast Lord to fetch him. Before Deng Ai realized it, the two strong men had grabbed him, and they took him with them. The three of them soon arrived at a magnificent residence; its halls and pavilions were lofty and towering, and it shone with a glorious luster. The strong men brought Deng Ai through the gates of the residence. Deng Ai looked up to gaze at the hall, and he saw that everything was laid out meticulously and in strict order, with everything in its proper place.

The Steadfast Lord soon appeared to receive Deng Ai. He told him, “I am none other than Kongming. In life, when I walked the world below, I saw with my own eyes how Cao Man (Cao Cao) and Sima Yi were both lacking in benevolence or virtue, caring only for wickedness and cunning. They deceived their sovereigns above and beguiled the people below, seeking covetously how they might take the land for themselves. But I have heard the wishes of the Supreme God above, and I know how he has laid out the fates of dynasties. Through the twenty-six rulers of the Liu clan of Han, they have held fast to principle and nurtured the people. Never since the beginning have they abandoned their virtue. Thus it shall be that their descendants shall restore the fortunes of Han. Only for the moment shall the minions of the cruel and wicked villains be suffered to hold the laws in their hands. I have foreseen that Lord Liu shall surrender to you, for in his benevolence he wishes to protect the masses and spare the people from suffering. When you advance to the capital, unless you restrain yourself, disaster will overtake you as well. I have informed you so that you might reform yourself.” Having finished speaking, he ordered the strong men to take Deng Ai away again.

Alas for Deng Ai, that he later forgot this warning and set loose his soldiers to pillage; father and son both suffered a grisly end. So too did Zhong Hui suffer execution. Nor did the fortunes of Wei or Jin long endure either. For the Liu clan was able to restore itself and the Han dynasty once again flourished, just as this dream had foretold.

When Deng Ai awoke from the dream, his thoughts were troubled by what the spirit had told him, and for several days he kept his troops back and would not advance. Then his son Deng Zhong and the other generals stepped forward and said, “Sir, you have always been wise and clear-sighted. Don’t you see this is some sorcery that has taken hold of you? This is no different from when Wang Lang heeded the spirit of his wife and opposed Emperor Guangwu, to his ruin! Why should you burden the hearts of the army all for the sake of a dream? You must see through this craft.” Deng Ai thus set aside his doubts and put his troops in order, and they advanced to Mianzhu.

When word arrived in Chengdu that Deng Ai’s army was close at hand, Liu Shan was so shocked that he was at a loss. He hastily summoned a council to discuss sending out an army to oppose Deng Ai. But none of the assembled ministers dared to volunteer to lead it.


Then in rushed Zhuge Zhan, the son of Zhuge Liang. In a voice full of grief, he lamented, “The state has raised its soldiers and trained its officers for just such a day as this. How is it then that none of you will take up the call? It is all because Your Majesty has favored and employed Huang Hao that things have come to this. But though the emergency is already so great, and I have no talents to speak of, still I am willing to take the command and oppose the foe. Thus I may repay Your Majesty above and soothe the heart of my late father below.” Liu Shan thus assigned Zhuge Zhan twenty thousand soldiers from the palace guards.

When Zhuge Zhan’s forces arrived at Mianzhu, they encountered Deng Ai’s army. Once the camp was complete for the day, Zhuge Zhan summoned his own son, Zhuge Shang, and discussed the situation with him. “Since our soldiers have suffered several defeats and their spirits have sunk low,” said Zhuge Zhan, “we must rely on a special plan to gain a victory. We shall have to follow the example of Han Xin of old, and post our soldiers with their backs to the river. Then our men will fight with all their strength to defeat the enemy.”

“You see things all too well, Father,” said Zhuge Shang. “And the enemy, after having won several victories, will have also grown complacent and remiss. Thus if we can compel our soldiers to fight to the death, it will be quite easy to triumph.”

The next day, just as the two armies were about to clash, Zhuge Zhan began to have his men fall back. Deng Ai led his own army in pursuit, pressing Zhuge Zhan’s soldiers as far as a nearby river landing. Zhuge Shang then called out to the soldiers, “Before you is the flowing river; behind you is the enemy in hot pursuit. Unless you fight for your very lives, not one of you will survive.” The Shu soldiers then turned and plunged into battle, fighting for dear life, and Deng Ai’s army was greatly defeated.

Zhuge Zhan did not dare to press the pursuit too closely. Thus Deng Ai was eventually able to gather up his scattered soldiers again. He reproached his troops for not fighting with their full strength. But Deng Zhong said to him, “A man driven to the brink of death can overcome even a hundred opponents. Besides, victory and defeat are the common lot of any army. Why should you reproach them? As I see it, Zhuge Zhan is not the equal of his father. He has seized upon a momentary advantage to snatch a victory, but now his troops will be flush with their triumph, and they will surely not have prepared any defenses against us. If we march immediately and strike their camp at once, we will win a great achievement."

Deng Ai remarked, "The schemer does not account for schemes, as they say.” So he ordered Deng Zhong to lead the vanguard, while he held overall command. His army advanced at once, determined to see Zhuge Zhan dead.

That night, Zhuge Zhan and Zhuge Shang had indeed failed to prepare their defenses. Deng Zhong was thus able to break into their camp, where he found the Shu soldiers in the midst of sleep. They did not even have time to put on armor or place bridles on their horses before being overrun. Zhuge Zhan wailed, “Can it be that Heaven does not aid the servants of Han?” He and his son rushed into the battle, where both died in the fighting.

What a pity, that such a loyal and righteous son should meet with such a tragic fate. But we can see from his victory at Mianzhu that he was truly Kongming’s son.

Some of the soldiers who had fled from the night attack returned to Chengdu, and Liu Shan was thus informed of Zhuge Zhan’s fate. He did not know what to do. Some of his ministers advised him to immediately summon Jiang Wei back to save the capital, while others advised him to abandon the city and flee to Baidicheng, where he could seek aid from the state of Wu. Arguments flared back and forth, and no one could decide what should be done.


Then the Prefect of the Astrologers Bureau, Qiao Zhou, offered his thoughts. “The Grand General is busy opposing Zhong Hui,” he said, “and his army cannot break off from that struggle; if they did so, they could neither defeat Deng Ai nor Zhong Hui. As for Wu, they are no good friends of ours. Besides, Deng Ai’s army is already so close to the outskirts of the city that even if His Majesty tried to flee, Deng Ai could send light cavalry to pursue him, and I fear he would never escape. So that is not a suitable plan either.

“As for me, I have seen the signs and omens and recognized in them the steady decline of the state. The stars are abundant in the quadrant of the sky symbolizing the enemy, while wayward stars have violated our own quadrant and the luster of our chief star has grown dim. It would do you no good to risk a battle. Better to go out and surrender at once. By doing so, our sovereign may ensure the lives of all those within the city, and we may protect the lives of our own families and clans. It is time to heed the will of Heaven and the sign of the times. Though I am not disloyal, still I must dare to propose that Your Majesty bend the knee.”

Liu Shan was beguiled by Qiao Zhou’s words, and he proposed going out to surrender. Deng Ai thus halted his troops and waited outside the walls of the city.

When Shu’s Prince of Beidi, Liu Shan’s third son Liu Chen, learned what was about to happen, he rushed into court to oppose the planned surrender. “Who has proposed this idea and thus led Your Majesty astray?” he cried. “Shall you let future generations wonder at your actions? Besides, there are still a hundred thousand soldiers within the city. We could easily have some of them go out to fight while the others remain to defend the city. Then how could the enemy ever break inside? The enemy army has traveled a great distance, and there is no food in the fields for them to forage, nor provisions in store to keep them supplied. We need only defend the city for a month before their whole army wastes away beneath our walls. And Jiang Wei and the other generals are still in the field; can they really do nothing to help us?

“Bring forth this person who has proposed that you surrender, for not only has he misled you, he ought to be beheaded! At the very least, we should do our utmost and exert every effort by risking a final battle, fathers and sons together with our backs to the city! How could you swallow such disgrace and endure such shame merely in order to save your own lives? How will you be able to face His Late Majesty in the world below?”

But Liu Shan told him, “What does a brat like you know of affairs of state? Begone at once.”


Liu Chen recognized that Liu Shan had only the kindly nature of a woman, and he was stubborn in his decision and would not be swayed. So Liu Chen first entrusted the care of his young son Liu Yao to his cousin Liu Qu to raise as his own. Then, wailing as he entered the ancestral temple of Emperor Zhaolie (Liu Bei), he killed his wife and then cut his own throat.

This Liu Qu was the son of the Prince of Liang, Liu Li. Among the princes of the royal family, he had gained a name for himself as a clever and intelligent young man, and he was quick-witted and had a calculating mind. He too had been planning to offer his thoughts in the recent discussion. But when he saw how Liu Chen had been driven to death, he knew that Liu Shan would not change his mind and rhetoric would not do any good.

Liu Qu was weeping as he thought of Liu Chen’s demise, when Liu Ling came into his residence; this Liu Ling was the second son of Liu Bei’s adopted son Liu Feng. Liu Qu said to him, “The state has been driven to such dire straits. What are we to do?”

Liu Ling told him, “Why not discuss things with your elder brother Liu Xuan and the others? We might preserve ourselves and stave off danger. Why should we sit here with folded hands and await disaster, or else submit to becoming slaves and bending the knee?”

Liu Qu replied, “I had just been thinking the same thing. Liu Xuan is the only one who can tell us what we should do.”

Liu Ling thus quickly sent word asking Liu Xuan to join them. When Liu Xuan arrived, Liu Qu told him, “The trunk is about to fall, and the branches can hardly survive; the city is about to be taken, and the jade will be smashed alongside the stones. Elder Brother, can you think of nothing for us to do?”

Liu Xuan replied, “Younger Brother, you are a hundred times as talented and clever as I am, and you will surely be able to think of something. But in my own humble view, it seems clear that the Emperor’s intention cannot be changed and the state can no longer be saved. Thus all I can suggest is that you run away and seek refuge in some distant place, then muster your strength while watching for some opportunity. By doing so, you may find some chance to revive the state. That would be the best plan. But if you stay here and linger any longer, you too will have to suffer the great disgrace of surrendering.”

Liu Qu said, “Elder Brother, that is exactly what I was thinking.”

He had not yet finished speaking when another man approached the residence, calling out, “Is Liu Zitong here?” Liu Ling quickly hurried out to see who the new arrival was, and discovered that it was Yang Yi’s son Yang Long. “I was just about to attend the council,” Yang Long said, “when they told me that you were here, so I came to find you. I only hope that His Highness will be willing to see me.”

They both went back inside to rejoin Liu Qu and Liu Xuan. Yang Long told Liu Qu, “The reason that I had never taken up office is because I have always been thinking of the words that my father once heard from Prime Minister Zhuge on his deathbed. Back then, my father was the only one by his side, and he was asking the Prime Minister about his last will. The Prime Minister told him that although the Liu clan would fall into decline, thirty years after that time, a bold hero would emerge to restore the endeavor of the Han dynasty and reconquer the Central Plains. My father told this to me and instructed me to be sure never to forget it, saying that such a day for the state was sure to come. Only I never thought that things would come to this.

"Now our sovereign has been led astray by the words of Qiao Zhou, and he surely cannot be moved. I have studied the appearances of the other seven princes of the royal family, but none of them measure up. The only one who seems to have a remarkable appearance and has the makings of a grand leader is Your Highness.

"A wise man recognizes what is going to happen long before the event comes to pass. Why then do you linger here? Do not forget the fates of the sons of Duke Xian of Jin; Shensheng remained at home and so met with death, while Chong'er fled and reclaimed his inheritance in the end. These are clear examples for Your Highness to heed. As for me, I am willing to follow Your Highness wherever you go, and I would not complain even if I suffered ten thousand deaths.”

Yang Long had hardly finished speaking when some bold fellow strode into the room, shaking out his sleeves as he roared, “Why haven’t you people run away yet? Are you so eager to die?” Everyone turned to look, and they recognized him as a troop leader of the soldiers from the Liang garrison, Qi Wannian from Didao county in Qinzhou.


Liu Qu took Qi Wannian by the hand and said, “I know all too well that I ought to escape from this tiger’s trap. But without your assistance, General, I cannot do so. I have been entrusted with a new ward, and I shall have to depend upon you to defend him. Yesterday, the Prince of Beidi died before the altars of state, and Heaven and Earth grieved and mourned for him. He entrusted me with the care of his young son, Liu Yao, to nurture and raise, for he knew that I would never shirk such a duty. Yet though by my own strength alone I might be able to preserve my life, how could I ever protect this mere infant, still in his swaddling clothes? He would never be able to escape, yet I would not abandon him.” And as he spoke, his tears flowed like rain.

Qi Wannian said, “Your Highness has a grown son who is away with the army. Yet rather than speak of him, you show so much concern about this nephew that you even pledge that you shall live and die together? Truly you have the heart of a benevolent man. This very day, I recognize you as my master; who could have guessed it?”

This son was Liu Qu’s eldest son Liu Cong, who had been born with prodigious strength and was a skilled mounted archer. For that reason, Liu Shan had ordered him to assist Jiang Wei’s army. Jiang Wei had esteemed his strength and deeply appreciated him, thus he had remained at the frontlines.

Qi Wannian continued, “Would I dare not to honor the wishes of Your Highness’s heart or repay your loyalty to the Prince of Beidi? Yet I fear that I alone cannot protect both you and the babe. But I have a sworn friend named Liao Quan, the son of the General Who Pacifies The West, Liao Hua. He is a true warrior, not to mention an uncommonly righteous fellow. He has always wished to exert his strength on behalf of the state, yet since he is an only son, his father has kept him at home and not allowed him to venture forth. He has thus taken the opportunity to test his strength against me, and we have become friends who would live and die together. Allow me to go and fetch him here, and I will have him tie the Young Master to his back, while I clear the way in front. I pledge that we will repay the grace that the state has shown us, in life or in death. But we must move swiftly; to delay further would only be a mistake.”

The others all said, “Yongling is indeed a bold and righteous fellow. Quickly bring him here.”

So Qi Wannian went to get Liao Quan, and the two of them rejoined Liu Ling, Yang Long, and the princes. Qi Wannian wielded a large blade and went in front to clear the path, while Liao Quan followed behind with a spear in hand and Liu Yao on his back. Liu Ying and Liu Xuan stood in the middle of the group, protecting their family members and dependents. Liu Qu, Liu Ling, Liu He, and others brought up the rear.

The group all fled out of the west gate of the city. But they soon found the road barred by Wei troops under the general Fang Lai, who had occupied that place. He said to them, “I can see that all of you are dressed in the attire of officials. Besides, your lord is going to surrender, so you are all people of Wei now, and our lord is going to take good care of you. Why then should you scurry away?”

Qi Wannian did not bother with words, but, with eyes full of rage like lightning, he hefted his blade to cleave Fang Lai’s face in. Fang Lai too brought up his spear, and the two of them traded blows. Now could a man like Fang Lai have ever been a match for Qi Wannian? But the enemy was so numerous, and besides, Qi Wannian had to protect the others as well. So he did no more than charge the enemy and break through, leaving the road filled with blood behind him. Liao Quan too put on a bold display. The enemy did not dare to pursue them, thus they were able to escort the others out of the encirclement.

Yet Fang Lai would not stand by, and he soon led his troops to chase after them. Qi Wannian said, “These villains don’t know the meaning of life and death, to dare to follow after us. Unless I behead this one, they will not recognize my prowess as a hero.” So he turned his horse about to face Fang Lai, and before the two of them had gone two bouts, just as Fang Lai was raising his hand, Qi Wannian lopped off his head with one swing of his blade. When the Wei soldiers saw their commander suffer such a grievous wound, who among them would have dared to pursue any further? They all scattered and fled.

Truly it could be said: that year saw the laying of the foundation for the new state, and here was displayed the first achievement in their flight from Chengdu.


We should mention that, when Deng Ai had learned of the disturbance and slaughter at the west gate, he had dispatched the general Chu Qun to reinforce the garrison there. These reinforcements were now coming around from behind, determined to slaughter the fugitives. Liu Qu hastily ordered Liu Ling to deal with these foes, telling him, “Unless you slay these scurrying bandits, I will not be able to quell the rage in my chest.”

Liu Ling stepped forward and announced to the Wei soldiers, “Do you recognize the banner of General Liu?”

Chu Qun suddenly noticed Liu Ling standing before them; he was a man of great height, with broad and powerful shoulders, and the very air around him seemed to chill in a fearsome aura. Chu Qun was greatly astonished. He turned his horse toward Liu Ling and called out, “Your family has already been smashed, so where are you planning to flee to? Why not surrender at once?”

Liu Ling retorted, “Bandits, slaves! Only the women and children of my generation could deign to submit to you. How could I give in and still call myself a general?” And with these words, he charged forward to attack.

Now Chu Qun too was a Wei general of some renown, so he also lifted his blade and rushed to engage his enemy. As they were fighting, the Wei soldiers began to close in around them. Then Liu Ling quickly devised a plan; he pulled on his horse and, pretending to yield the fight, he ran away. Chu Qun, not suspecting that anything was amiss, dashed after him. But Liu Ling suddenly turned his horse about; Chu Qun’s horse was unable to react in time, and the two horses collided. Liu Ling seized the opportunity by driving his spear straight into Chu Qun’s heart, and Chu Qun toppled dead from his horse. The other pursuit troops all scattered and fled, none daring to chase Liu Ling any further.

Truly it could be said: Through skill and guile one traps the tiger and catches the dragon. Thus was this kinsman of the royal line able to establish an achievement for the state.


We should mention that at the moment when Liu Ling had been preparing to depart from his family, he had suddenly remembered his good friend, Wang Mi. Liu Ling had thought to himself, “Wang Mi is no common fellow, and if by some chance he were to fall into the hands of the enemy and be used by them, we would lose a great pillar of our state.” So he had dispatched someone to go and inform Wang Mi of his intentions at once, so that Wang Mi might flee as well.

This Wang Mi was the son of the General of Beidi, Wang Ping. He had been remarkable ever since youth; his arm strength surpassed others, such that by the time he was grown, he possessed the strength of a thousand pounds. And he was exceptionally skilled at mounted archery. He had always been deeply appreciated by his father, who recognized his potential. After Wang Ping had passed away and Wang Mi had inherited his offices, Wang Mi had originally had the ambition to make a name for himself. But when he saw that the Emperor was a dull mediocrity who entrusted affairs to Huang Hao, was jealous of worthy people, and ignored criticism, Wang Mi shut the gates of his residence and would not go out. Thus the people of that time had not recognized how remarkable he was. Only Liu Ling knew about him. Liu Ling had been bitter at how his father Liu Feng had been put to death, and he had nursed his resentment and refused to serve in office. Thus he and Wang Mi had found kindred souls in one another; they formed a bond as brothers of different surnames, and at times they tested their strength against one another. So Liu Ling recognized Wang Mi as a worthy fellow.

Wang Mi had later become good friends with the brothers of the Guan family as well, for they had all been acclaimed as talents of that age. So when Wang Mi received Liu Ling’s message, he sighed deeply and lamented, “My later father always knew that this day would come. Now Brother Zitong is bidding me come and join him, and if I should fail to heed the call, I would be betraying my loyal and righteous heart and casting away the things I have learned all my life. But the brothers of the Guan family have entrusted me to share weal and woe together with them. They are still so young; how could they ever escape on their own?”

So Wang Mi hurried to the home of the Guan family. Guan Fang and Guan Jin saw him approach, and they led him inside. Then, bursting with great sorrow, they exclaimed, “Brother Flying Panther (for this was his nickname), you see how dire the situation has become. What are we to do?”

Years earlier, in the first year of Qianlong (233), their father Guan Xing had suffered a loss during one of the northern campaigns and had been lying in his sickbed at home. Guan Xing had recognized the steady decline of the state, and he was always lamenting, “Now is the season when the villains shall have their way; the day of grief is fast approaching. What shall become of our clan?” But then when he had seen Wang Mi come into their home and sit and speak of affairs, he had been reassured and thought, “He truly is the son of Wang Zijun. I can entrust the fates of my sons to him.” And he had commanded Guan Fang and Guan Jin to form a close bond with Wang Mi.

Wang Mi now told the brothers, “The state is about to fall into the hands of the sworn enemies of your family. You cannot allow this disaster to overtake you as well. Now Liu Zitong has bade me come and take refuge along with him, and because of my deep regard for you, I came especially to inform you of it as well. If you ask me what you should do, the only option is to seek shelter at once, then later join your efforts with those of the other scions to assist them in reviving the state. That would be the best plan.”

Guan Fang said, “Elder Brother, it is just as you say. But what shall we do about the members of our families?”

Wang Mi replied, “When a man acts in the interests of the state, he must put aside considerations of his family. Besides, the Sima clan is just about to fulfill their grand ambition of usurping the throne, and they will want to put on a show of benevolence and righteousness to win over the hearts of the masses. How could they indulge in vengeance against your family? I entreat you, my worthy brothers, to put aside your worries and think only of how to serve the state.”

Guan Fang and Guan Jin thus heeded the call and fled along with Wang Mi, leaving their families behind. Alas, the remaining members of the Guan clan perished at the poisonous hand of Pang De’s son Pang Hui; the whole family was caught up in that tragic disaster, so that the Guan clan was nearly extinguished. What a loss!


We should mention that when Wang Mi, Guan Fang, and Guan Jin had gone home to take leave of their families, they had buckled on their usual equipment, including strong bows and powerful crossbows. Then, in joyful company, they had all mounted their horses and dashed off.

Guan Jin observed, “Deng Ai himself is present at the north gate, and we could not easily break through there. And the east and west gates are both filled with enemy soldiers. But the road through the south gate, being somewhat narrow, will be less guarded by our foes. Let us flee through the south gate.” Wang Mi agreed, so they hurried towards the south gate.

At this time, the Wei general Li Yin had arrayed his troops to block this road. Wang Mi thus said to him, “We are travelers from another town who were in Chengdu to make a living for ourselves. But now the government troops have surrounded the city, and we have nothing to eat. So we want to go back to our hometown. General, we hope that you will clear a path for us; if you allow us to escape with our lives, we would be deeply grateful.”

But Li Yin replied, “I have my orders from my commander; would I dare to let any fugitives escape? You had better go to the main camp first, and once they have examined you, then you might be allowed to depart.”

Wang Mi saw that further deception was useless, so he lifted his blade and charged ahead, ready to kill. Li Yin too hefted his lance and hurried to meet his opponent. The pair were engaged in combat for quite some time before Guan Fang, whose heart and mind were now full of rage, also raised his weapon and plunged into the fighting. The trio of fugitives were thus slowly able to get away from the city, now turning to fight, now falling back, until they had advanced for more than twenty li.


We should mention that Deng Zhong had been on patrol near the south gate, and when he saw these fugitives making a desperate escape and that Li Yin had already gone in pursuit of them, Deng Zhong ordered his younger kinsman Deng Pu to lead two thousand of their household soldiers and chase after the trio like shooting stars.

Wang Mi and the Guan brothers soon found themselves totally surrounded by the Wei soldiers; they were unable to break through, and they were in a most perilous position. But suddenly they saw three riders charge out from behind a slope to the southeast, and behind them followed several hundred strong retainers, each wielding good weapons and prepared to slaughter the enemy ranks. And when these three horsemen led their forces into the enemy, they were like tigers among sheep, and their blades inflicted great destruction as they swung to and fro. Deng Pu turned his horse to attempt to face this new threat, but then an arrow loosed from some unknown direction struck his horse; Deng Pu tumbled to the ground, where one of the horsemen, Fan Rong, finished him off with a single swipe of his blade. The marksman had been another of the riders, Li Gui. Guan Fang and Guan Jin then took advantage of the confusion to cut their way out. Li Yin made a mad dash to pursue them, but they exerted all their strength to hold him off. Wang Mi then closed in from the side and pierced Li Yin in his left leg. Yelping with pain, Li Yin fled, and his subordinates did not know which way to turn. Then the three horsemen charged their flank, and the enemy pursuit troops were nearly wiped out; the ground was strewn with their fallen bodies and flowing blood.

When Wang Mi and the Guan brothers saw that the pursuit troops had all scattered, they turned back and descended from their horses to offer their thanks to their rescuers, deeply grateful for having been saved from certain destruction. They further asked these gentlemen where they had come from and inquired what their names were. The three riders replied, “We are the brothers Li Gui and Li Zan, along with their cousin Fan Rong. Our grandfather was Li Yan, who was censured and denounced by the court and exiled to the Le'an Garrison, some sixty li from here. Our late father Li Feng once served as an advisor in the army, but when he saw that the court had no regard for him, he charged us never to take up office ourselves. Until this time, we had been doing nothing more than living with our uncle Li Yu in his old home. But when we heard that the Wei troops were about to catch some fugitives, we went up on that slope earlier and saw that you gentlemen were being sorely pressed. Our hearts were moved by anger and indignation for you, so we led our retainers to come and help you in your struggle.”

Wang Mi and the Guan brothers thanked them unceasingly, and they too related the stories of their escape. Li Gui observed, “Then it seems that we all share the same ambition; we shall be as one family, for Heaven has arranged for us to meet this day. Yet see how the sky is already growing dark. Let us go and take shelter with our uncle at his village to spend the night, then tomorrow we can plan our next move.” The trio were moved by this hospitality, so they agreed to return to the village with the horsemen.


When they arrived at the village, the household servants came out to meet them, and Li Yu set out candles to welcome their arrival. Once the hosts and guests were all properly seated, Wang Mi and the others all gave their names and poured out their emotions. Li Yu passed around the wine, and from his mat he sighed and said, “When my late father was still alive, he was always exerting all his strength on behalf of the royal house, and devoted himself to the state even at the expense of his family. But alas, because my father committed a fault and was denounced, he was never able to fulfill his ambitions. And when he saw that Prime Minister Zhuge had died, he became so overcome with grief that he developed an illness and passed away as well. As for my own generation, we have seen with our own eyes that the state has fallen and our sovereign has been shamed. We are powerless to carry on the loyalty of our forefathers or rescue the royal family. What purpose do our lives have?” And the others were so moved by his grief that not an eye was dry, but all wept freely.

Wang Mi alone let forth a great laugh. He rose up and declared, “Sir, it is not you who has suffered this extreme fate or endured such bitter shame; why then should you grieve so? Besides, Heaven must have had some purpose in mind when it created such talented fellows as ourselves. Remember that Duke Wen of Jin too was once forced to flee his state and abandon his inheritance, yet worthy gentlemen flocked to his cause like the gathering of clouds, and in the end he was able to restore his lineage and become a hegemon. Although we young people cannot claim to be as talented as those heroes of old, still we too have our ambitions and mean to see them fulfilled. And who knows whether in some distant year we might not establish ourselves and put the achievements of Duke Wen of Jin to shame? What use is it for you all to sit around and weep like prisoners of Chu?”

Li Yu replied, “Flying Panther speaks true. That is truly what a man of ambition would say in such times.” And everyone present clasped their hands and apologized to him.

The next day, as Wang Mi and the others were preparing to take their leave, they asked for advice on where they should go. Li Yu told them, “I do not know where the Liu princes have gone off to. Why don’t you fellows stay in this humble village for a while longer, and wait until I can send people to fetch the scions of the Zhang, Huang, Zhuge, Zhao, and other clans and inform them of what is going on? Once they arrive, it would not be too late for you to all leave together. But otherwise, if you all go your separate ways like this, your strength will be divided and weak, and even if you wished to complete the great achievement, it would be hard to accomplish anything.”

Wang Mi replied, “You have been most kind to us, Sir, and would I dare not to consider your proposal? I am certainly willing to write a letter at once and let you send your messengers to seek out each family. By doing so, you would be able to both repay your loyalty to our lord and win the trust of our friends, and could kill two birds with one stone. But suppose our family members are unwilling to join us, and not ready to dedicate themselves to slaying the traitors before tending to their daily concerns? How then could you say that we would not be too late? So though we part ways for now, we will send out word for everyone to rejoin their former masters and let everyone seek out the whereabouts of their own families so that someday we may plan the great achievement together. For the same world cannot contain both us and the villains; either they shall die at our hands, or we shall die at theirs.”

Li Yu said, “With such loyal hearts and righteous souls as you gentlemen possess, Heaven and Earth themselves will lend you their aid. Should there be any worries of failure?” And he accompanied Wang Mi and the others on the first stage of their journey.

As the young men were about to depart, Li Yu clasped his hands and instructed them, “If you should someday launch your great endeavor, perhaps it will have been because I sent my three nephews earlier to aid you. Thus may I repay the ambitions of the generations of our state before us!” They all thanked him and took their leave. Li Yu added, “If you gentlemen are earnest in your efforts, be sure to write to me soon, so that you do not keep me in suspense.”


When the young men had all departed, Li Yu sang a verse to himself:

These scions of a worthy line

Depart their fallen home

Their kith and kin they leave behind

And far afield they roam.

But if their journeys can revive

The state, let them depart!

And should ambitions they achieve,

Send word to worried hearts.
"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 Dong Zhou » Wed Nov 20, 2019 12:11 pm

Interesting some of the changes it makes from the novel to Shu’s fall and which bits they keep the same. Enjoyed the poem at the end of the chapter
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Unread postby Taishi Ci 2.0 » Sat Nov 23, 2019 2:54 am

第二回 二賢合計誅鄧艾

Chapter 2 - Two Worthies Plot Together To Execute Deng Ai


In the last chapter, we mentioned the flight of some of the scions of the great Han families from Chengdu. But let us not overlook the descendants of the other families. Especially deserving of notice were the descendants of Zhang Fei.

Now when Zhang Fei had met his bloody end at the hands of Fan Jiang and Zhang Da, Liu Bei had mourned greatly at his loss, and he had built a residence in Chengdu to shelter Zhang Fei's family and dependents. And later, Zhang Fei's son Zhang Bao had accompanied Kongming on his campaigns, but while pursuing a Wei general to capture him, Zhang Bao had tumbled off a cliff and hit his head, and he soon succumbed to a fever. Liu Shan too lamented the loss of this young man, and he had shown even greater favor and generosity to Zhang Bao's young children and his dependents.

Zhang Bao had had a certain concubine, Lady Li, who had given birth to his son Zhang Bin. Lady Li had earlier had a dream in which she saw the scholar Lü Dongbin hand her a jade scepter, and she became pregnant immediately afterwards. Thus she named this son Zhang Bin; his style name was Mengsun, and his childhood name was Zhunu. And Zhang Bao had two sons by his legal wife as well; they were named Zhang Shi, styled Zhongsun, and Zhang Jing, styled Jisun. These latter two were certainly strong and bold fellows. Yet Zhang Bin was exceptional even from birth; he stood above the common run of people and surpassed the others of the age. He had a sharp eye when it came to the old texts and classics, and needed only a single glance at any text, ancient or modern, before he could recite it all from memory. There was nothing which he did not fully comprehend, from the ancient classics and histories to the military arts of Sun Bin and Wu Qi and even the musings of all the philosophers. Yet because he was the son of a concubine, his stepmother had no love for him, and she sent him off to be raised by someone else.

One day, when Zhang Bin went to pay his respects at the staff office of Jiang Boyue (Jiang Wei) and was discussing the affairs of the day, he spoke so heroically that no one else present could compare. Jiang Boyue was astonished and amazed, and said to Zhang Bin, "To think, that our state has someone as exceptional as yourself." And from then on, although Zhang Bin was cautious and retiring, and could not bear to get himself mixed up in military affairs because of the early death of his mother, whenever someone had a problem or uncertainty, they would come to him, and he would invariably give them good advice. Jiang Boyue thus decided to give Zhang Bin both the collection of military texts that Kongming had entrusted him with and his own various notes from a lifetime of study. He instructed Zhang Bin, "Sir, your talents are ten times as great as my own, and someday you will surely stand at the head of affairs and establish a great enterprise through your achievements. But remember, the greatest talents are always the slowest to develop. You would do best to cultivate yours." Zhang Bin took his advice, and in his duties he remained reserved and did not chase after achievements or reputation.

We had earlier mentioned that our story had begun in the eighth month of the first year of Yanxing (263). Deng Ai had advanced deep into the state, and Liu Shan, who was already benevolent, yielding, and indecisive by nature, had been persuaded by Qiao Zhou's advice to protect the people and preserve his family and was thus resolved to surrender to Deng Ai. By now, many of the other scions of the great families of Han had already fled the capital. Zhang Bin too was being urged by his friends and associates to run and hide as well. But Zhang Bin told them, "I have already taken a divination, and I have seen in the yarrow sticks that the existence of the state will not yet been snuffed out. The enemy generals and commanders will surely come to ruin of their own accord. Besides, if by some chance I should be in error, could I not still emulate the deeds of Zhang Zifang (Zhang Liang) of old and, with one good hammer, strike a blow against the enemy sovereign at Bolang Sands? Zifang never gave up on his fallen homeland of Hann to take refuge in Chu; how could I do any less?" So he shut the gates of his residence and did not leave the city, but only spent his days tending his hearth. Little did Zhang Bin expect that when the swarms of Deng Ai's army approached the city, Liu Shan, feeling unsuited to the contest, would be swept along by the rhetoric of Qiao Zhou and present a petition asking to surrender to Deng Ai's camp.

As for Deng Ai himself, he originally led his army into Chengdu in strict formation and stationed his soldiers merely to guard the defensive points, with orders that none of his soldiers were to indulge in pillage or harass the people, and that anyone who rashly killed or executed anyone would themselves part with their heads. Yet once he was in Chengdu, he began to send out instructions to the ministers of Han and the local populace according to his own wishes, beckoning and settling the senior and accomplished subjects and expressing his will, for he felt that he alone could claim the achievement for having conquered the state. And what a loss it was, that every inch of the land and its people were under occupation and the hundreds of years of the dynasty's legacy and the decades of Liu Shan's own reign were in an instant severed by the hand of this bandit!

Furthermore, it was at this time that Deng Ai's overweening pride overwhelmed him. For had he not conquered the state and accepted the surrender of its ruler, all thanks to snatching success through means of his cunning plan? In his eyes, not even Lü Wang (Jiang Ziya) or Zifang (Zhang Liang) could match his deeds. Nor did he think much of his colleague Zhong Hui, who had earlier planned to retreat back to Chang'an and thus shown himself to be a lesser intellect, or of the men of the Sima clan, who were merely taking advantage of the trends of the day to grasp for power. He no longer saw anyone in Wei worth concerning himself with. So, abandoning any notion of upholding military law, he soon turned a blind eye to the activities of his soldiers and let them do as they pleased. They proceeded to sack the city, and countless numbers of them even went so far as to burn the palaces, rape the women of the harem, and set other fires as well. And in reporting his achievements to Zhong Hui, Deng Ai used arrogant and conceited language, without the slightest hint of modesty. When Zhong Hui saw the report, he became immensely angry. This led to a grudge between the two commanders.


We had earlier mentioned that Jiang Wei was away leading the main Han army at Jiange, opposing the advance of Zhong Hui. But when Jiang Wei received orders from Liu Shan commanding him to surrender, he was now compelled to let Zhong Hui's army occupy the pass.

Jiang Wei first assembled his generals and said to them, "It was the unhappy fate of our state to be reduced to such distress as it now faces. In such a dark season, any filial son should have been prepared to die for the sake of his ancestors, and any loyal subject should have been prepared to die out of loyalty to their sovereign. Alas, thanks to the wild schemes of that yellow-mouthed Deng Ai, he has stolen into our state and smashed it from within. Truly it was because our state lacked the absolute resolve to spend its strength until the very end. How could we ever have defended against such a weakness? But though I am commanded not to give up my life, still I will never let that whelp attain his desire. Gentlemen, if you will but lend me the strength of your arms, I will restore anew all our mountains and rivers."

They replied, "We would not dare to disobey you!"

Jiang Wei said, "The time is ripe to carry out a plan that Zhang Mengsun and I have developed. At a time like this, we shall do such and such..."

Jiang Weu thus threw open the gates of Jiange and brought his troops to present themselves to Zhong Hui's army, where they spoke words of submission and performed obeisance before him, displaying the utmost sincerity. Zhong Hui was quite taken in by this display, and he reciprocated by looking upon Jiang Wei and the rest as his honored guests. He even proposed the granting of rewards and loans, and Jiang Wei was very solicitous towards him.

That night, Zhong Hui once again summoned Jiang Wei and invited him to drink together. Jiang Wei took the opportunity to advise him. "Grand Commander," said he, "you are the foremost general in all of Wei. You command this massive army, yet without even staining your sword, you have accomplished this great achievement. Truly one could say that no one in all this age can match you in worthy deeds. Yet I am afraid that, even as you are on the very cusp of completing your conquest, a single word of slander might bring you and your family to ruin. Do not forget that although Han Xin was quite willing to let Li Yiji be boiled alive in order to further his own interests and achieve military glory, it doomed him in the end.

"Furthermore, although General Deng possesses no more than a handful of cunning, thanks to some fluke he too has been able to achieve a great deed. Now he has become conceited and arrogant thanks to this achievement, and he no longer takes any heed of your commands, but does whatever he pleases. Shall you allow your subordinate to show you such disdain? Allow me to propose to you a plan: you should march with all haste to occupy Chengdu for yourself, then send out word to every corner to gather up the influential people of the region and offer careful orders and instructions to reassure the hearts of the common people. Then the proper chain of authority between the commander and his subordinate will reassert itself, and the people of this conquered state will be grateful towards you."

Zhong Hui was immensely pleased to hear this analysis of the situation, and he even said that he wished he had had the services of Jiang Wei available to him sooner. The next morning, he immediately mustered his soldiers and marched straight to Chengdu. His troops quickly occupied the city, and Zhong Hui issued orders forbidding any further disturbance or plunder. The common people of Chengdu felt so absurdly happy to hear the beat of his army's drums that they hurried to get a good look at their savior. When Deng Ai heard what was going on, he was terrified and very worried. Desperate to shore up his own authority, he at once began to enforce his commands he had been so quick to forget and executed soldiers who had violated military law. Zhong Hui, angered at this further display of presumption, sent word to Jiang Wei asking him to return to his camp so that they could discuss further plans.

At this time, Jiang Wei had accompanied Zhong Hui's army and was already in Chengdu as well. He had been searching around for any sign of the scions of the great families, only to discover that most of them had already avoided Deng Ai's army and escaped to parts unknown. He had thus assumed that he would now be on his own, with no one to help him carry out his plan. But soon he heard that Zhang Bin was still in the city as well. Greatly pleased, Jiang Wei said to himself, "Heaven has kept Mengsun here in order to help me succeed in this affair." And he quickly sent someone to fetch Zhang Bin.

When Zhang Bin arrived, the two men embraced and grieved together. Zhang Bin wiped away tears as he said, "How far we have fallen! But it is too late for regrets. At least you are still here, Commander, and so am I. Heaven has had a hand in this."

Jiang Wei then discussed his plan to Zhang Bin. Zhang Bin replied, "It is certainly a very devious plan. But considering the circumstances, we shall have to let the big fish war with one another until we can claim the fisherman's advantage. For if we can eliminate both Zhong Hui and Deng Ai, why should we have any cause to worry about the rest of the enemy generals, no more than so many mediocrities? We will mow them down like grass, then regain all the lands west of Chang'an with a single roll of the drums."

"Most excellent," said Jiang Wei, highly pleased. "Mengsun, your thoughts are the same as mine. Yet what a pity that Zhang Yi, Liao Hua, and other senior generals have all recently passed away, one after the other; I fear it was the sorry state of the realm that led to the illnesses which killed them. We shall need bold and clever people if we are to succeed in our scheme, yet where shall we find them now? Do you know of anyone who could assist us?"

Zhang Bin replied, "Although there is no one suitable within the city at the moment, there are still quite a few great talents out there. They have scattered to the four corners, but you need only seek them out to attain their assistance.

“For instance, I know of two grandsons of old Zilong (Zhao Yun) by the late General Who Conquers The West, Zhao Tong. One of them is named Zhao Gai, styled Zonghan, and the other is named Zhao Ran, styled Wenhan. They are not only peerless warriors, but they have righteous spirits as immovable as a mountain. I should mention their little brother Zhao Le as well, for I have noticed that he has an extraordinary appearance about him; he seems to have boundless potential, and he definitely stands out from the crowd.

“Then there are also the two grandsons of old General Huang Zhong; they are named Huang Chen, styled Liangqiu, and Huang Ming, styled Xiqiu. They too are bold and righteous fellows, and I have always considered them to be like my own brothers.

“Nor can I forget the younger son of Zhuge Zhan; he is called Zhuge Xuan, styled Xiuzhi. He too is a great credit to our side, for he has a vast abundance of military understanding within his breast, a worthy successor to the genius of Kongming. On the day when his father was about to set out to oppose Deng Ai, this Zhuge Xuan had fiercely opposed the expedition, saying that we ought to have shored up our defenses instead and waited for you to return with the main army to assist us. Zhuge Zhan did not listen to him, and you know how he went down in defeat. That showed how intelligent and calculating Zhuge Xuan was.

“Now all these people have the same wishes that we do, and the moment that you ask for their aid, they will be willing to devote themselves to the death for our cause. As for the other assorted military affairs, I can handle them myself. Thus I urge you, Commander, to focus on sending out word at once to invite these young men to join us. But remember, the situation is critical, and discretion and secrecy must be maintained."

Jiang Wei was overjoyed. "How lucky we are, Mengsun, that Heaven has seen fit to bring you into this age! It will not allow the fortunes of our state to fall to ruin, nor dash my lifelong hopes."


Jiang Wei then went to the Wei army camp and went to see Zhong Hui. He found Zhong Hui sitting alone and muttering to himself. Jiang Wei casually asked him, "Whence comes this muttering? Are you perhaps planning something?"

Zhong Hui replied, "It's that damn whelp Deng Ai. He's been contemptuous of military regulations and violated orders. That's why he rushed to execute those guilty soldiers and flouted my authority. It will be hard for the law to excuse his actions. Sir, I was just about to seek you out and discuss this matter with you. I must weed out this obstinate and overbearing scoundrel, not showing him any mercy, if I am to truly attain my wishes."

Jiang Wei then made a display of looking around. Zhong Hui realized his intentions, so he dismissed his guards and attendants and led Jiang Wei into a private chamber, then solicited his thoughts. "Sir, what do you wish to teach me?"

Jiang Wei replied, "I am just an old blade cast aside by now; would I presume to discuss great affairs? But, since you are kind enough to entrust me with your personal thoughts and ignore my status as a mere captive from a fallen state, how could I not do my utmost to show you my full sincerity and repay my gratitude for being able to know you?

"Now I am sure that you are familiar with hunting. Thus you know that in hunting, one must first establish a wall around the place to be hunted and set up a perimeter to prepare the prey. Then from east and west, one drives the game further and further into the trap. One must keep a firm hold on one's slings and arrows and refrain from rashly swinging the axe, for the goal is to capture all the beasts together in the end, the elk with the deer and the foxes with the hares. It would not do to flaunt one's strength too early with a fearsome shot and so scare the prey away. And this applies to life just as it does to hunting. For why should you be greedy simply for the slight profit in front of your eyes or worry excessively about the matter immediately at hand? Deng Ai is no more than a simple warrior who has been fortunate enough to claim a little credit for himself. He has always been an arrogant man, but he has no great capacity, thus he was entrusted with so little. Sir, why should you be so obsessed about how to deal with such a minor problem as Deng Ai?

"But I notice that Sima Zhao, who has himself long been insubordinate, must surely be jealous of anyone beneath him who seems superior to himself. Are you not such a person, Sir? For your military prowess is so great that even Emperor Wu of Wei (Cao Cao) could not surpass you. It is no laughing matter to Sima Zhao that you have been able to conquer Shu. Indeed, it is as was once said of Han Xin: your power is so great that it frightens your master, and your achievements are so great that they cannot be rewarded. I fear that even if your only wish was to remain safe and secure, you could no longer do so. In my humble view, you and Sima Zhao are now like two proud roosters who will not suffer the other to perch on the same branch. And if I may ask, who now wields more power and influence: yourself, or Sima Zhao?"

Zhong Hui said, "Sima Zhao uses the Son of Heaven as his pawn in order to compel the lords of the realm to do his bidding, and he wields authority over and commands all the armies and palace guards. He stands at the precipice, looking down at all others. How could I ever compare?"

Jiang Wei continued, "Since your influence is no match for Sima Zhao's, you cannot possibly escape disaster. What plan would avail you to save yourself? This is the true threat to your life, Sir. Compared to this looming disaster, Deng Ai and his son are nothing more than a mere skin irritation. What use is it to worry about them?"

Jiang Wei's forthright words had cut Zhong Hui to the core; his expression became so downcast that he could do no more than hang his head and rub his knees. Jiang Wei could see that he was having an effect. In a loud voice, he declared, "Sir, you are ten times as clever and cunning as Sima Zhao. Yet when the time to decide is at hand, you are hesitant. How then can you ever expect to escape your doom? Remember, when Han Xin refused to follow the advice of Kuai Tong and strike out on his own, though at that time he ruled as a king and commanded a great army, in the end he suffered execution by his liege Emperor Gao (Liu Bang) and his clan met a red end. But on the other hand, although Sun Quan had barely inherited the legacy of his elder brother and was a minor power at the time when Zhou Yu advised him to oppose Emperor Wu of Wei (Cao Cao) rather than submit, he chose to do so and thus secured his sovereign enterprise and split the realm into three. These examples are not too distant for you not to have taken note of them, and the same situation has now come again. But Sir, it is up to you to do something about it."

Zhong Hui rose and pushed up his sleeves as he replied, "The Sima clan has only ever had a prayer of usurping the throne and turning traitor because they have had the support of a handful of subordinates like myself. Now though I may not be able to save the dynasty by playing the same role as Duke Huan of Qi, how could I ever go so far as to outright aid the Sima clan in their usurpation and thus leave a stench that lasts for ten thousand years? Boyue, with your generous assistance, we shall first cut down that bandit Deng Ai and then campaign against the Sima clan and bring peace back to the realm together. It has always been my wish to save the common people. But still, I am worried that the people of Shu will not be willing to obey me just yet. Boyue, I will be counting on you to rally them to my side. And when the day of glory comes, you shall share with me in wealth and honor."

Jiang Wei said, "Yizhou is a land blessed by strong natural defenses and a rich populace. Kongming was always calling it the Storehouse of Heaven. Now it is yours to command. Heaven has thus provided you with a path to success. I shall go and summon the old and accomplished ministers of Shu, and we shall all support your lofty ambitions together. Not only will you be able to hold your own, but you shall roll up the land like a carpet and eat through the realm like a silkworm, and no one will be able to stand before you. How could the Sima clan possibly stop you? As for me, I will be quite satisfied to someday ride together into the capital in your carriage and look upon the tombs and coffins of the emperors of old. Would I dare to ask for wealth or honor?"

Zhong Hui thus confiscated all the supplies and other equipment of the Wei army and distributed rewards of food among the Wei soldiers. He occupied the Shu region and declared himself in rebellion against the Sima clan. Claiming the possession of an imperial edict ordering him to act, he arrested Deng Ai and his son Deng Zhong and put them in a cage cart. He also arrested any of the Wei generals and officers who refused to go along with what he was doing and imprisoned them all in a building, planning to get rid of them all once his other preparations were complete.

Now that Deng Ai and his son had been arrested, Zhong Hui stood alone and isolated. This was all according to Zhang Bin's plan, of which Zhong Hui was quite ignorant.


Jiang Wei felt himself very fortunate that things were going so well, and he wrote a secret letter and sent it to Liu Shan. He wrote, "It has been many decades by now since His Late Majesty (Liu Bei) established the dynastic enterprise and presided over the realm. We have been unfortunate in recent years, to have suffered the deaths of the foremost generals and administrators of the state one after the other, leaving the court without any guiding hand and the state without any firm pillar of support. The usurpers have taken advantage of this moment of weakness to pounce; this year they have campaigned against our western territories, and next year they will carve out our eastern lands. That the altars of your ancestors should be reduced to ruins in the space of a single day is because we your subjects failed to devote ourselves to fight to the end, and thus Your Majesty's domain has been lost. But I am even now carrying out a plan, together with Zhang Fei's grandson Zhang Mengsun, to take advantage of the enmity between Deng Ai and Zhong Hui to drive a wedge between them. Deng Ai has already been dealt with, leaving Zhong Hui on his own. It will be a mere matter of days or months before the imperial glory has been restored and the cosmos once again expand into being."


While Jiang Wei had been busy convincing Zhong Hui to rebel, Zhang Bin had gathered together most of the young men he had earlier spoken so highly of, and they had been plotting and discussing events together day and night. Zhang Bin had also extended his invitations to the three grandsons of Wei Yan; they were named Wei You, Wei Yan, and Wei Hao, and they were all bold warriors and skilled horsemen who fought with large blades. Also present was the son of Ma Su, named Ma Ning, who had a nimble mind and was no slouch with the spear. And there was also a certain horse-tamer from the household of the Zhao family, Ji Sang by name, who offered his thoughts as well, as he knew a thing or two about military affairs. This host of young heroes was fully prepared to act, as soon as the time was right.

Alas, though Zhang Bin was aware that Zhong Hui had arrested Deng Ai and his son, he had until now been unaware that Zhong Hui had gone so far as to imprison those other generals who had disagreed with him and kept them under guard. A great sigh escaped his lips the moment this information was brought to him, and he lamented, "There has never been an instance of a rebel who alienated the feelings of the many and yet succeeded in his plot." And he lectured his younger brother Zhang Shi, saying, "I am afraid that Boyue, old as he is, must have gone soft in the head. How could he not have stopped Zhong Hui from imprisoning the malcontents? This presents such a great difficulty to success that I fear that the whole affair will fall apart now. Such are the whims of Heaven."

Indeed, in the middle of the night, they soon heard reports of great turmoil among the Wei soldiers. At that very moment, Jiang Wei was in the midst of the Wei army, discussing plans with Zhong Hui. Suddenly they saw fires spring up on every side and a cloud of arrows falling wildly around them like rain, as soldiers stormed into the camp. Jiang Wei realized that his plan was now lost. He ordered his son Jiang Fa to escape and inform Zhang Bin and the others to flee the city at once, so that at least they could still plan for the future. It was not long after Jiang Fa fled that Jiang Wei fell victim to the Wei soldiers. The details of his last stand are sufficiently explained in Chen Shou's Records of the Three Kingdoms that we need not recount them here.

Zhang Bin and the others soon saw the fires rising from afar. They were about to hurry and find out what was going on when Jiang Fa suddenly arrived, and he told them the sad fate of his father and the downfall of Zhong Hui's rebellion. Everyone present was so shocked by this development that the color drained from their faces. But Zhao Gai quickly declared, "Since things have come to this, a real man would snatch life from the jaws of death. Why should we bind our hands and wait for the end? Surely there will be more opportunities for us to act, so long as we remain resolved to achieve our ambitions!"

Zhang Bin said, "It's just as Zonghan says. This is already the season when the jade shall be smashed alongside the stones; why should we willingly cast ourselves into the net? The thing to do now is to flee at once. Then someday we may develop another plan, in order to make our dream a reality."

Zhao Gai said, "For the sake of our cause, I am willing to cast aside my family without regret. But I cannot so easily abandon our little brother Zhao Le, for our late father was deeply fond of him. Who can safely spirit him from the city on our behalf?"

It was at that moment that the servant whom we had mentioned earlier, Ji Sang, stepped forward and in a stern voice declared, "A servant must protect his master like the hands and feet protect the head and the eyes. When the young master faces such peril, how could I not be concerned for him? I myself shall brave death in order to bring him safely from the city, and thus repay the grace which I have been shown by two generations of the Zhao family."

The others all said, "Minde, what virtue and courage you possess! We shall leave the child in your care." And Ji Sang took young Zhao Le and strapped him to his back, then strode from the house.

Who then was this Ji Sang, styled Minde? He was a native of Lexiang from north of the Wei River. Though he had no fondness for books, he was bold and fierce by nature and strong enough to be a match for ten thousand foes. He was also exceptionally fleet of foot, nimble as a dragon and able to catch up with a galloping horse. In the first year of Jianxing (223), when Zhao Yun's son Zhao Guang had camped his troops nearby, he had noticed the footprints of some enormous man there, with nearly two feet separating each footprint from another. He had marveled at what sort of man could leave such prints, and after following them to some mountain lair, he had spotted Ji Sang walking around with a tiger on his shoulders. Zhao Guang had had to choke back a gasp, and his attendant riders had been astonished. Zhao Guang had thus recruited Ji Sang to join his household and had shown him special favor by placing him in command of some of his retainers. Now Zhao Guang's household had in its possession a certain horse from the Qiang tribes with a wild mane; the horse was worth a thousand gold, but it was so obstinate and difficult to handle that no one had dared to ride it, so Zhao Guang had kept it bound up in the stable with an iron chain. But when Ji Sang had laid eyes upon the horse, he had unfastened its chain, vaulted upon its back, and ridden it around as though he were long accustomed to the horse. Thus people had recognized his bravery, and Zhao Guang had appointed him as a horse-tamer.

But we digress from the story. Zhang Bin and his brothers had at there disposal a group of warrior retainers, whom they now assigned to protect and escort the various civil and military officials to escape the city. And the brothers Wei You, Wei Yan, and Wei Hao declared, "We have always wanted to devote our efforts to repay our gratitude to the state. Even if we should die today, we are willing. Let us clear a path for you, and the rest of you may follow." So they took some of the warriors with them and advanced towards the south gate.


Let us return to Ji Sang and his young ward Zhao Le. It should be obvious by now that Ji Sang was a bold warrior indeed. Yet he did still have little Zhao Le strapped to his back, and though in his movements through the city he attempted to remain inconspicuous, he could not run as fast as his usual manner. Thus, at length he soon found himself faced with the enemy.

When Ji Sang encountered the Wei general Li Ming, Li Ming was going to run him through. But Ji Sang shouted with a voice that shook like thunder, and his enemies all shrank back with fear. Ji Sang swung his axe into the flank of Li Ming's horse, sending Li Ming flying, and with another chop Ji Sang severed his head. Another Wei general, Zhang Ping, soon came up as well. But when he saw how bold a fighter Ji Sang was, rather than face him head on, Zhang Ping directed his troops to encircle Ji Sang and keep him surrounded. Ji Sang charged left and dashed right, causing great confusion as he swung his axe hither and thither; he slew countless soldiers and felled many horses, and his uniform was soon drenched with blood.

As Ji Sang was fighting, a Wei horseman stood atop a nearby mound and fitted an arrow to his bow, ready to send it through Ji Sang's heart. Yet Zhao Le, who from his place on Ji Sang's back could see what was about to happen, quickly warned his protector: "Look out for the arrow!" Ji Sang at once snatched up a shield and turned to cover himself; the enemy arrows fell like rain, but none of them found their mark. Truly he had a charmed life, and the very spirits all protected him!

Now Ji Sang was no coward, and normally he would not have suffered the enemy to keep him surrounded. But he was afraid that if he charged the enemy to break through, some wayward blade might harm his young ward. Nor did the enemy soldiers, who feared Ji Sang's strength and boldness, dare to approach him.

At the very moment when Ji Sang was seeking some way to escape, Zhao Ran and Zhao Gai arrived at the head of a group of their retainers. They had earlier made good their own flight from the city, yet, perceiving that Ji Sang was not there already, they had turned back to seek him out. They plunged into the enemy lines and shielded Ji Sang and Zhao Le until the whole host could make their escape.

Meanwhile, a flying messenger rushed up to Zhang Bin and his brothers leading their group in another part of the city. The messenger reported, "There has been no breakthrough at the east gate, but we have heard that some of our own men are fighting there now, slaying many enemies and shaking the ground itself."

Zhang Bin, turning to hear this report, replied, "These must surely be the soldiers of the brothers Huang Liang and Huang Chen. Who will dare to hurry to their assistance?"

When at first no one responded, Zhang Jing became agitated and exclaimed, "Huang Liang and Huang Chen are our own kinfolk by marriage; how can we sit here and not aid them? I will go to them, and let anyone who is determined enough come with me." Then grasping his long spear, he charged into the enemy lines.

Ma Ning said, "What a man Zhang Jisun is! Truly he is bold and righteous, and I will support him." And he too rushed into the fight.

When Zhao Ran and Zhao Gai heard of the plight of the Huang brothers, they too drew their swords and hurried to aid them.

Thus all these groups swarmed into the enemy ranks and were able to save the lives of the struggling Huang brothers. Huang Liang and Huang Chen had misunderstood orders during the din of fighting and had mistakenly gone towards the eastern gate to flee the city, yet rather than find Zhang Bin and the others waiting there, they had nearly lost their lives at the hands of the Wei soldiers.

By the time that Huang Chen and Huang Liang had emerged from the city, the others noticed that Zhang Jing was now nowhere to be found. Zhang Bin said, "My brother has always had a thirst for killing, and I fear that now he has plunged into the thickest of the fighting in order to take as many lives as he can. Knowing him, I fear that no one but Minde can bring him back out again."

Ji Sang heeded this new call for his services, and blade in hand, he flew like a dragon and pierced through the enemy's formation. The Wei soldiers fled in the face of Ji Sang's frenzy, and he was able to reenter the city. He saw Zhang Jing was locked in battle with a great many Wei soldiers. Ji Sang was going to pull him away, but Zhang Jing objected, "Let me slaughter all of these Wei bandits so that I can slake my bloodlust." But Ji Sang dragged him away from the fighting and brought him back out of the city with him.

After Ji Sang and Zhang Jing had rejoined the others, Ji Sang said to the group, "The enemy is right behind us. We had better get away at once."

Zhang Bin said, "The whole region around the city is now under Wei's control, so we cannot linger. We had better keep moving until we reach the border, then see if we can find out where the Liu princes and Wang Mi have gone off to. Once we are all together, then we come up with some new plan."

The others agreed, and the whole group thus set off, eventually making their way to Zhangye far to the north.


A poet of a later era made a poem about this night:

Four and seven stars shot out of the city of Shu
Nine exceptionals, eight killers, six strong spirits.
They plotted to smuggle five brilliances away together
And thus the Central Plains knew no peace.


And another poet later extolled Ji Sang in particular:

Heaven sent a bold hero to help the fallen house of Liu
A Meng Bu or Xia Yu come again, to bear them to the Sacred Provinces.
The deer was loosed that year, the kingly chase was on
Yet who could match him for nimbleness of foot?


We should mention that the Wei general who had been coordinating between the two armies of Deng Ai and Zhong Hui had been a certain Wei Guan. By this time, he had taken advantage of the situation to arrest Zhong Hui and to pursue Deng Ai's cage cart and execute him and his son. He now wished to flaunt his authority and newfound fortune by exerting his will over the Shu ministers. Such things have also already been properly covered in Chen Shou's history, but allow us to elaborate somewhat.

There were those at this time who were quite aware of what Wei Guan intended to do to cow the Shu ministers. They urgently brought word of the situation of Zhuge Xuan, whom we had earlier mentioned. Unlike the other scions, Zhuge Xuan had not yet fled the city, but was still at his home in Chengdu. When these people brought him word of Wei Guan's designs, Zhuge Xuan declared, "It must have been for this very moment that I have refrained from leaving yet!"

Zhuge Xuan thus planned to disguise himself as a wandering Daoist and march right into the midst of the main Wei camp to see Wei Guan. His neighbors rushed to halt him from carrying out this plan, warning him, "We have heard that Wei Guan is just about to kill and execute all the Shu ministers. How then could you cast yourself down the tiger's gullet and poke at your enemy's tender spot?"

But Zhuge Xuan only laughed and said, "Do you think me ignorant of that fact? But I have studied the ancient texts ever since childhood, and I know well the unfathomable changes and flows of the five elements. How could Wei Guan ever harm me? Besides, if it had not been for Jia Biao journeying west to persuade Dou Wu, the Partisan Prohibitions would never have been lifted. How then could I sit by and do nothing to save these people?"

So Zhuge Xuan went straight into the Wei camp and said to Wei Guan's guards, "I am a recluse from the western provinces, and I wish to see the General to discuss weighty and important matters with him. May I trouble you fellows to relay my request to him?"

The guards went into the camp and informed Wei Guan of the arrival of this hermit, and Wei Guan sent word for him to be admitted. Zhuge Xuan serenely entered the camp. When Wei Guan noticed what sort of figure Zhuge Xuan cut and how remarkably refined he seemed to be, he invited Zhuge Xuan to sit and asked him, "Teacher, what weighty affairs do you wish to instruct your humble servant about?"

Zhuge Xuan replied, "I am just a simple hermit who has long dwelled among the mountains and forests, having no hand in affairs of state. But recently, General, I have heard of how your great army has quelled this region and how you have imposed very strict laws and regulations, and that wherever your command has gone forth, everyone in the region has leapt with joy and been moved by your actions. When I saw that you were thus on the verge of completing such an outstanding achievement, General, I wanted to help you to fortify your foundation and steady your roots. Besides, I have heard that one who would fulfill an endeavor to surpass the age must be sure to act with benevolence towards the times. Then their roots will be so sturdy that no one can pull them up, and they will have achieved something remarkable.

"Now I have heard that Zhong Hui and Deng Ai had often jested before about how they were going to settle the western provinces. But when the time came, rather than tend to the burdens of the common people and care for their aches and pains, these two miscreants instead indulged their personal ambitions and exhausted the treasury through their unbridled greed and violence. Such shallow characters they possessed! Yet I cannot help but note, General, that when you yourself are positioned to realize this achievement that shakes the ages, rather than ensure that the servants and people of the fallen state will be able to know peace, you are even going so far as to propose executing and purging the families of the ministers of Shu. That will only disturb and tremble the hearts of the local populace; everyone among them will bear fear and suspicion in their hearts, and many will turn to thoughts of rebellion or turmoil. I fear untold disaster will spring up from such things, and I can only foresee danger for you, General.

"In ancient times, sage sovereigns and worthy ministers secured the submission of the hearts of the people solely through virtue. How then can you contemplate executing those who have already surrendered, not even sparing the innocent from death? And even the Discourses of the States mentions that 'Only those who do not rashly kill others can reign over them; Tang of Shang and King Wu of Zhou set such examples'."

Wei Guan said, "How could I possibly have had such intentions? You have merely been hearing loose talk about me. And when such an unparalleled talent as yourself, Teacher, thus instructs your unworthy pupil to act in such a way, could I dare to refuse your commands?" And Wei Guan immediately sent out proclamations to reassure the people of his mercy and had them hung up in the marketplaces. Only then did the people begin to calm down.

After this incident, Wei Guan had hoped to retain the services of this mysterious Daoist and discuss other things with him. But Zhuge Xuan had already departed, and though Wei Guan sent agents to seek him out in hopes of inviting him back, they could not find any trace of him.


A poet of some later age composed a poem praising Zhuge Xuan:

He held within that breast of his
Some storehouse undefined
A boundless chest of cleverness
A constellation of the mind
He proved himself his grandsire's heir
Their genius of a kind.

Before he overthrew the Jin
And saved the dynasty
He soothed their savage minister
With naught but humble plea
Thus spared he many blameless souls
From dreadful destiny.
Last edited by Taishi Ci 2.0 on Wed Jun 10, 2020 1:16 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Continued Romance of the Three Kingdoms

Unread postby Fornadan » Sat Nov 23, 2019 10:09 am

I'm starting to wonder if there are Han/Zhao men who won't turn out to be from Shu-Han
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Re: Continued Romance of the Three Kingdoms

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Mon Dec 02, 2019 3:14 pm

-I'm worried at where Zheng Jiang's blood-lust will lead

-Wow didn't expect that portrayal of Deng Ai, intresting how negative it was.

-Didn't expect Ma Su to be part of the lineage

-Baby Liu Shan not as useful as Zhao Lie for a warrior
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Re: Continued Romance of the Three Kingdoms

Unread postby Li_Shengsun » Tue Dec 03, 2019 6:04 am

could this be the novelization of Book of Jin?

Qi Wannian and Ji Sang was part of Five Tribe Rebels, led by Fu Jian that wreak havoc Jin.
Anyways, its interesting there was a prelude of The tribesmen rebel against Jin, thx.

kinda hardly wait for the continuation :D
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Unread postby Taishi Ci 2.0 » Fri Dec 20, 2019 2:02 am

第三回 晉武帝興兵伐吳

Chapter 3 – Emperor Wu of Jin Musters Soldiers And Campaigns Against Wu


In the last chapter, we completed our account of the various scions of the great families of the fallen Han dynasty. But time marches on, and we too must look ahead to what came next.

We had mentioned that the conquest of Han was completed in Wei’s first year of Xianxi (264), when their ruler was still Cao Huan. It had been the Prince of Jin, Sima Zhao, who had ordered Deng Ai, Zhong Hui, and the other Wei generals to advance west into the regions of Ba and Shu and conquer them. After Liu Shan’s surrender, he was appointed by Wei as their Duke of Anle. Sima Zhao imagined that his next step would be twofold: conquer the last remaining rival state, Wu, and usurp the throne of Wei for himself. Alas for Sima Zhao, his ambitions would never be realized, for he fell seriously ill and passed away in the eighth month of the following year (265).

However, there was still Sima Zhao’s eldest son, Sima Yan, who inherited his father’s roles as Chancellor of State and as Prince of Jin. His second son, Sima You, had been chosen to inherit the bloodline of Sima Zhao’s elder brother Sima Shi, and Sima You was now appointed as Prince of Qi.

Sima Zhao had wielded considerable influence and authority over the state of Wei, and with his death, this power now fell to Sima Yan. He too wished to monopolize all power and exercise control over the government. And when he saw that the great generals who might have stood in the way of his path to power, Deng Ai, Zhong Hui, and Jiang Wei, were all no more, he even developed ‘a heart which knows no sovereign’. Half of the ministers and great gentlemen of the Wei court were his own cronies; Cao Huan reigned, but did not rule.

We had previously mentioned Wei Guan. By this time, he had become one of Sima Yan’s closest confidantes, and his peer in that regard was Jia Chong. These two fellows would spend day and night regaling Cao Huan with odes to the accomplishments and virtues of Sima Yan, and they recounted to him the old legends of how the ancient sovereign Yao had abdicated his position to his worthy successor Shun. Might not Cao Huan honor such an illustrious precedent as well, and by doing so, fulfill the hopes of the people? Cao Huan could see for himself how hopeless his position was: most of his court ministers were aligned with the Sima clan, and their authority and influence were far too great to be challenged. Fearing lest these people might go so far as to murder him if he refused, in the twelfth month of that year, Cao Huan agreed to abdicate the throne to Sima Yan.

Thus the state of Wei met its own demise, giving way in turn to the state of Jin. Sima Yan declared himself the Emperor of this new state; he would later be known as Emperor Wu (“the Martial”), thus shall we now refer to him.

Emperor Wu declared a new reign era, inaugurating the first year of Taishi (266). He posthumously honored his grandfather Sima Yi as Emperor Xiao-Xuan (“the Filial and Understanding”), his uncle Sima Shi as Emperor Xiao-Jing (“the Filial and Bright”), and his father Sima Zhao as Emperor Xiao-Wen (“the Filial and Cultured”). All civil and military ministers and officials were advanced or promoted as well.

Emperor Wu appointed Cao Huan as Prince of Chenjin, and sent him out to reside in the Jinyong fortress near Luoyang. However, since the state of Wu still remained a threat, Emperor Wu refrained from appointing any members of his own Sima clan to noble titles yet.

Emperor Wu had thus fulfilled the lingering ambitions of his three zealous predecessors, and his generals and ministers were of one heart in supporting him. He now wished to complete the unification of the realm by destroying the state of Wu and swallowing up the Southland for himself. Thus he called a council of his worthy ministers to discuss how they might conduct a campaign against Wu. Present for this council were the Grand Commandant, Wang Xiang, the Lesser Guardian, Wang Jian, the Grand Guardian, He Lu, one of the Palace Attendants, Xun Xu, the Prefects of the Masters of Writing, Feng Dan and Pei Xiu, the Imperial Secretary, Wang Shen, the Minister of Works, Xun Kai, the General Who Guards The North, Wei Guan, the General Who Protects The State, Wang Hun, the Duke of Lu, Jia Chong, the Grand Tutor, Wang Rong, the Assistant of the Left of the Masters of Writing, Zhang Hua, one of the Masters of Writing, Shan Tao, and others.

Feng Dan and Xun Xu began the discussion by offering their objections to the proposed campaign. They pointed out how the Yangzi River, Wu’s bulwark against any northern attack, posed a stout defense even now. Emperors Wu and Wen of Wei, Cao Cao and Cao Pi, had led several campaigns of their own against the Southland, but each time they had been forced to turn back without having accomplished anything. Furthermore, Feng Dan and Xun Xu observed that there were no internal troubles in Wu that Jin might be able to take advantage of. Indeed, Jin had just exhausted and burdened their own troops and horses during the recent campaign against Han, not to mention the labors of people conscripted as porters and laborers to support that campaign. Thus, they proposed that the state ought to take time to rest the army and tend to the common people, while waiting for the ruler of Wu to commit mistakes of his own that could be exploited. Only at that time would a campaign against Wu be feasible.

Jia Chong agreed with their assessment. He went further, noting that Wu had already endured through the reigns of three sovereigns; a plant with such deep roots and such a stout trunk could not easily be plucked out. He added, “An enemy that has existed for a hundred years cannot be snuffed out in a single morning. Now is the time to wait for some opportunity to exploit. It is the northwest province of Liangzhou which concerns me, not Wu.”

Faced with these objections, Emperor Wu became hesitant and could not make up his mind.


But soon, a petition arrived from the Inspector of Jingzhou, Yang Hu, on the southern border with Wu. Yang Hu argued that the barbarians of Liangzhou would calm down without any trouble once Wu was first dealt with. Furthermore, the ruler of Wu, Sun Hao, was so wicked and cruel to his people that his harsh punishments had stirred their anger against him. Thus the state might win a great achievement by marching against Wu, so long as they did so at once.

Still, most of the court ministers did not agree with Yang Hu’s views, and so for a long time nothing was resolved. When Yang Hu learned of this, he lamented, “What a pity it is that of ten affairs in the world, one always meets with eight or nine vexations! Is it not said, ‘One who does not accept Heaven’s blessing will suffer its curse’? How can we leave such a difficulty for future generations?”

Only the Inspector of Yangzhou, Du Yu, and one of the Palace Attendants, Zhang Hua, agreed with Yang Hu. They tried to urge the court to listen to the advice of a trustworthy minister rather than heed the cowardly words of the courtiers, and argued that Wu should be campaigned against at once. But the Personnel Director of the Masters of Writing, Shan Tao, stood against them. Although he admitted that Wu ought to be removed as a threat, he observed, “Though we might campaign against Wu, unless the state possesses a sage ruler, when there is quietness abroad, sorrow is sure to spring up at home. Yang Hu should remain where he is, in order to keep the soldiers alert and their hearts clear.” Thus the months dragged on, and still there was no decision.

One day, a report suddenly arrived that Wu’s Commander of Xiakou and General of the Front, Sun Xiu, had led his forces to come surrender to Jin. This Sun Xiu was a kinsman of the royal family of Wu, and he had run afoul of their Chancellor. Emperor Wu was overjoyed to read this report, and he at once issued an edict appointing Sun Xiu as Jin’s General of Agile Cavalry and Duke of Kuaiji; he was also granted the privilege of a Separate Office, with equal ceremonial to the Three Excellencies. These were prestigious appointments indeed, and Emperor Wu granted them in the hopes that he might thus entice more of Wu’s generals or ministers to defect to Jin as well. Sun Xiu was as impressed and grateful as Emperor Wu had expected, and he sent a letter back to the Southland, calling on Wu’s General Who Guards The Martial, He Chong, to come and submit as well. When He Chong read this letter, he led the five thousand soldiers of his command to come surrender to Jin, and on the way there, he happened to run into Wu’s Commander of Xiling, Bu Chan, who was bringing his own troops and horses to entrust his fate to Jin as well. Emperor Wu thus granted them both noble titles and appointed both of them as Guard Generals, with equal ceremonial to the Three Excellencies as well.

When the ruler of Wu, Sun Hao, saw that three of his border commanders had thus betrayed him to go over to Jin, he was furious. He issued an edict ordering his General of the Front, Lu Shu, to lead troops out to campaign against Bu Chan and capture him, and Lu Shu led his forces forward to threaten Jin’s Yiyang commandary. Sun Hao also ordered his General Who Rouses Valor, Sun Zun, and his General Who Spreads Might, Li Cheng, to lead fifty thousand soldiers to attack Jin’s city of Jiangxia, and he also sent his General Who Wrests Might, Shao Kai, and his General Who Gathers Boldness, Xia Xiang, to attack Jin’s city of Hefei. The Interior Minister of Wu, Sun Shen, led his own troops to help capture Jiangxia, and he kidnapped more than a thousand families from Jin’s Runan commandary. The Wu forces pressed their initial victories by raiding across their northern border, and they killed and slaughtered without rest.


Once Emperor Wu witnessed these series of attacks, he became determined to campaign against Wu in order to put an end to these border raids. Yet before he could send out his troops, news arrived of yet another incident, this one far to the south. One of Wu’s generals, Yu Fan, rebelled against his superior, their Administrator of Jiuzhen, Dong Yuan. Dong Yuan led troops in an attempt to capture Yu Fan, but he suffered defeat three times and was eventually killed. When word of this rebellion reached the Wu court in Jianye, Sun Hao initially responded by sending his general Qian Hong to campaign against Yu Fan. Yet the two sides, fighting a series of battles both great and small, both claimed their share of victories, and Qian Hong could not bring Yu Fan to heel. Sun Hao thus recalled Sun Shen and Sun Zun from their attacks across the Jin border and sent them south to reinforce the campaign against Yu Fan. At the same time, Wang Hun launched a surprise attack against Lu Shu’s siege lines at Yiyang and routed him, smashing more than half his army before turning back. Wang Hun also sent Sun Xiu to entice Xia Xiang and Shao Kai to surrender; not only did they both defect, but Shao Kai then persuaded Wu’s General Who Spreads Valor, Liu Fan, and their General of Harsh Valor, Zu Shi, to surrender to Jin as well. These four turncoats were all granted great rewards and high offices, in order to encourage further defections from the Wu generals. These developments extinguished the immediate threat to Jin’s border regions, but they also removed the impetus for an immediate campaign against Wu.

Sun Xiu sent up a letter to Emperor Wu, urging him to attack Wu at once. He was confident that, given the current situation, Wu could be crushed. However, if Wu were to depose Sun Hao and set up a new sovereign in his place, one who loved the people and trained the soldiers, then it would become much more difficult to dislodge them.

Emperor Wu was going to follow Sun Xiu’s advice. However, when he heard that Yang Hu had fallen seriously ill and was on his deathbed, he stopped. But Yang Hu then recommended that his replacement should be none other than Du Yu, and Du Yu himself sent up a petition to the court arguing in favor of a campaign. He wrote, "When Yang Hu explained his plans before, he did not expound upon them before the court ministers, but only discussed his planning with Your Majesty in personal discussion. That is the only reason why so many of the court ministers share the same reservations. It is true that whenever an idea is proposed these days, everyone will heed the interests of their heart, and every proposal has its share of benefits to some and harm to others. However, the campaign against Wu now being proposed shall benefit eight or nine of every ten people, while harming merely one or two. Why then should you say that you will delay once again, and wait for some more favourable season?

“Perhaps Sun Hao might have a change of heart as early as tomorrow. His fear might induce him to regret his past mistakes and turn towards the right path. Within, he might cultivate his refinement and virtue; without, he might drill his troops and make preparations for war. Suppose he were to restore and repair his towns and cities and gather his people in order to defend such places. If we were to wait to campaign against Wu until after he had done these things, then in advancing we would be unable to capture any of his strongholds, and in retreating we would be unable to forage any food to feed ourselves. He might gather a great fleet at Xiakou in order to check our advance by river, and he still has the natural defences of the Yangzi and the great mountain ranges with which to defend himself against us. If we were to wait until even just next autumn, it might already be too late.”

Emperor Wu was playing a game of weiqi with Zhang Hua, and they had not yet finished when this petition from Du Yu arrived. Zhang Hua pushed aside the board and stood up, clasped his hands, and urged Emperor Wu, "Your Majesty, you possess sage wisdom and martial prowess; your state is prosperous and your soldiers are strong. The ruler of Wu is a wild and wicked man, and he punishes and kills the worthy and the able. If we campaign against him now, Wu can be taken even without effort. What reason is there for any further doubts? Besides, recall how in former times, when the general Zhao Chongguo proposed establishing agricultural colonies, the Han court at that time dithered in discussion, and all the court ministers believed that the plan was impractical. Yet in the end, it was these same agricultural colonies which allowed Zhao Chongguo to vanquish the tribes, and when the Emperor reproached his court ministers, all of them accepted their guilt for having argued against the idea and none of them dared to defend themselves. So when it comes to this campaign against Wu, it is Your majesty who ought to make the decision yourself. Why should you let a bunch of bookworms and slick talkers tell you what can or cannot be done?"


Even such encouragements were not quite enough to convince Emperor Wu. But all this time, he had received continuous reports of the great cruelty and wickedness of Sun Hao. Examples certainly were not lacking! And so we shall elaborate.

Sun Hao had constantly executed or murdered his great ministers, though they were innocent of any crime. He was given to indulging himself in wandering or in hunting. There was one occasion where, making a trip to Huali, he had a train of more than a thousand of his consorts and palace women travel west with him. They encountered a great blizzard, bitterly cold, and countless numbers of the officers and soldiers of his escort starved or worked themselves to death. Moved to anger and indignation, they said to one another, "If we should meet the enemy, we ought to throw down our weapons." Sun Hao’s Prime Minister, Wan Yu, saw that the soldiers were unhappy, and he remonstrated with Sun Hao, along with the general Liu Ping and others. But this only enraged Sun Hao, who killed Wan Yu and executed Liu Ping and one of the Cavaliers In Regular Attendance, Wang Fan.

Wu’s Grand Minister of Finance, Lou Xuan, had advanced in Sun Hao’s favor because of his tendency to proclaim auspicious omens on Sun Hao’s behalf. One of the Palace Attendants, Wei Zhao, disliked Lou Xuan, believing that he was merely spreading false or malicious reports from among the common people and using empty words to deceive their sovereign. But Sun Hao only responded by executing Wei Zhao as well.

There was an incident where Sun Hao sent one of his eunuchs into the market to confiscate the goods and wealth of the merchants and other people there. Bristling at the injustice of this, many people appealed to the Market Director, Chen Sheng, who had the eunuch tied up, being ignorant that he was Sun Hao’s agent. This enraged Sun Hao, and he had Chen Sheng arrested. He ordered Chen Sheng's head cut off with a heated saw, then had Chen Sheng's body cast down from Siwang.

One of Sun Hao’s kinsmen, Sun Fen, tried to remonstrate with Sun Hao and argue against his misdeeds. But Sun Hao killed Sun Fen as well, then executed his five sons.

The Administrator of Xiangdong, Zhang Yong, had been Chen Sheng’s friend, and he resented Chen Sheng’s death despite his innocence. Sun Hao thus decided to charge Zhang Yong with having been negligent with keeping the army paid and supplied during the Huali excursion, and he had Zhang Yong beheaded.

When Kuaiji commandary suffered from a famine, the Administrator of Kuaiji, Che Jun, sent in a request for resources. Sun Hao believed that he was trying to buy favor, so he had Che Jun arrested and beheaded.

One of the Masters of Writing, Xiong Mu, sent up a petition remonstrating with Sun Hao. But Sun Hao had him killed as well.

One day, at a feast, Sun Hao ordered the Prefect of the Palace Secretariat, Zhang Shang, and several other ministers and their sons to be beaten to death with the rings of swords; their bodies were so covered by wounds that not an inch of skin was left unbruised, and people all grieved for them.

Another Prefect of the Palace Secretariat, He Shao, suffered a stroke and could no longer speak. Sun Hao suspected that He Shao was faking his affliction, so he had He Shao’s head cut off with a heated saw, and he exiled his son He Xun and his other family and dependents to Linhai commandary.

Sun Hao appointed ten of his Gentlemen of the Yellow Gate as recorders of faults; after each banquet was over, they would record the names of those who had committed errors or faults. Some of these people then had their faces peeled off, and some had their eyes gouged out with chisels.

These were the harsh and cruel punishments which Sun Hao inflicted. No one in Wu, whether in the court or out in the provinces, could feel at peace, and no one performed to their utmost. And when Emperor Wu recognized how dire the situation was, he at last made up his mind to launch a southern campaign against Wu.


Emperor Wu ordered Zhang Hua to send out orders to prepare the campaign and to choose a date for the armies to assemble. He designated several commanders to lead various armies against various Wu strongholds.

Emperor Wu appointed his kinsman Sima Zhou as Grand General Who Guards The Army and had him lead an army against Tuzhong, along with Fu Yin, Jie Xi, Liu Chen, Huangfu Zhong, and others. He ordered the Grand General Who Guards The South and Inspector of Jingzhou, Du Yu, to lead an army against Jiangling, along with the General of Agile Cavalry, Shi Bao, the General Who Spreads Valor, Luo Shang, the General Who Controls The Barbarians, Tang Bin, the General of Chariots and Cavalry, Chen Qian, the Chancellor of Jiangxia, He Yun, and others. He ordered the Grand General Who Establishes Valor, Wang Hun, to lead an army against Hengjiang, along with the Directing-General, Wang Rong, the General Who Guards The North, Wei Guan, and the Wu generals who had earlier defected to Jin: Xia Xiang, Shao Kai, Zu Shi, and Liu Li. He ordered the General Who Pacifies The West, Hu Fen, to lead an army against Xiakou, along with the General Who Drowns Invaders, Zhou Jun, the General Who Pacifies The Caitiffs, Ma Long, the General Who Breaks And Charges, Meng Guan, and others. He appointed the Inspector of Yizhou, Wang Jun, as acting Dragon-Soaring General and ordered him to lead an army against Badong, along with the Protector, Zhang Hong, and Wang Jun's other subordinates, Liu Hong, Fu Ren, and others. And he ordered the General of Broad Valor, Tang Bin, to lead an army against Baxi, along with the Agile General, Zhang Fang, Li Zhao, Qi Hong, and the former generals and officers of Shu-Han who had since surrendered to Jin. Emperor Wu also appointed the Grand Commandant, Jia Chong, as Grand Commander and acting Champion General, and he placed him in command of the armies of Yang Ji, Yang Yao, and others so that he could maintain a steady flow of supplies to the frontline armies, follow behind their advance and record their achievements, and provide direction and guidance to the overall campaign as needed.

The armies thus set out. Wang Hun's troops were the first to score a victory, overrunning Wu's bases at Xunyang, Laixiang, and Zhuhuo and capturing their General of Might and Valor, Zhou Xing. Wang Jun and Tang Bin combined their forces and took Wu's city of Xiling, where they killed Wu's General Who Supervises The Army, Liu Xian, their General Who Conquers The North, Cheng Qu, and their Directing-General, Zheng Guang. Du Yu too advanced and took Yiling, then captured Jiangling as well, where he took the head of Wu's defending general Wang Yan.

Jia Chong noted these triumphs, and he sent agents back to inform the court of the early successes of the campaign. When Emperor Wu received this notice, he issued an edict and sent it back to Jia Chong, ordering each of the commanders to continue their advance. His proclamation stated, "The Dragon-Soaring General, Wang Jun, and the General of Broad Valor, Tang Bin, are ordered to advance east downriver to Baqiu, where they shall join together with Hu Fen, Wang Rong, and the others to capture Wuchang together. From there, they will continue to follow the flow of the Yangzi and advance straight to the enemy capital at Moling (Jianye); Hu Fen, Wang Rong, and the others are to do all they can to facilitate this advance and consolidate the gains. Du Yu is ordered to pacify and guard Lingling and Guiyang; he is to keep a close hold on that region and not make any rash movements. Only once the main army has passed through Jingzhou can our southern border regions be settled by means of proclamations. Once Jingzhou has been pacified, Du Yu will then reassign ten thousand of his soldiers to Wang Jun's command and another seven thousand to Tang Bin and bid them continue their advance east downriver. Hu Fen too shall reassign seven thousand soldiers from Xiakou to support Wang Jun, and Wang Rong will do the same with seven thousand troops from Wuchang to reinforce Tang Bin. The Grand Commandant, Jia Chong, will at that time shift his base to Xiang, where he will continue to supervise the armies at the front. We shall take advantage of our momentum and crush Wu; let there be no complacency."

When the Jin generals read Emperor Wu's edict, they all set dates to prepare to subdue the Southland and advance to victory. The only question was who among them would reap the greatest of achievements.


We should mention a little more about the general Wang Jun. Earlier, while Yang Hu had been in command of the forces at Jingzhou, he had secretly harbored ambitions of conquerting Wu. At that time, he had heard the children singing a certain ditty: "Atong, Atong is the one with wicked blade within his mouth; like a snake he'll cross the wake and slip along into the South. Don't fear the tiger on the bank, who stands about to prowl and preen; fear the dragon in the depths, who slithers forward, by all unseen." Yang Hu knew that Wang Jun's childhood name happened to be Atong, and when he heard this ditty he was certain that it was an omen of good fortune for Wang Jun. Thus he had recommended Wang Jun to the court, and this was how Wang Jun had received his appointment as Inspector of Yizhou.

During the time that Wang Jun was in Chengdu as Inspector of Yizhou, he had gathered together soldiers and officers and prepared military equipment. In particular, he had built a fleet of several hundred warships. They were all a hundred and twenty paces in length, and able to hold more than two thousand men each. The shipbuilders made walls from wood, raised towers and great shields, and had open gates on four sides; soldiers could easily get on and off the boats, and the fronts and rears of the boats could even accommodate carts and horses, so that the boats were almost like standing on dry land. To complete the effect, the exteriors of the boats were painted with the heads of wondrous birds and beasts, to give them a most amazing aspect. Furthermore, in case of anything strange that might be present in the rivers, Wang Jun had also built several thousand rafts, fastening together great logs to make them.

With such a massive naval construction project in Chengdu, bits and pieces of lumber inevitably fell into the Yangzi and floated downstream in a constant flow. Wu's Administrator of Jianping, Wu Yan, was posted on Wu's border with the Shu region, and this stream of lumber was ample proof to him that Wang Jun was building a great fleet, whose only purpose would be for a surprise attack against the Southland. Wu Yan gathered up the floating scraps and informed Sun Hao that, since Jin would not build ships and rafts without a reason, they surely intended to sail this new fleet down the Yangzi to attack Wu. He argued that this called for immediate preparations to guard against the fleet, and he begged for reinforcements at the garrison at Jianping, in order to check any sudden advance that Wang Jun might venture. For their part, the Jin generals knew that Wu Yan already possessed a formidable garrison at Jianping, so until the time of the campaign they had never dared to rashly propose any attack against Wu from that direction, for if anything unexpected happened, they would never be able to reach Jianye. However, Sun Hao had not listened to Wu Yan's requests.

Thus, when it was time for Emperor Wu to organize his campaign against Wu, he took note of the fleet and other complete military preparations that Wang Jun had organized and appointed him as Dragon-Soaring General, so that Wang Jun would lead his fleet from Bajiang east downriver against the foe. Wu Yan, still fully aware of the threat that Wang Jun posed, sent agents to rush back to Jianye, traveling day and night, in order to bring his petition to Sun Hao. Wu Yan informed him that the Jin armies were approaching from every direction, and that the enemy fleet had already reached Jianping. He pleaded with Sun Hao to dispatch troops to halt the enemy's advance and to guard the state's strategic defenses. Sun Hao was shocked to hear this, and he hastily assembled a council of his chief military and civil ministers in the front hall of his palace in order to discuss how best to drive back the Jin armies. Present were the Prime Minister, Zhang Ti, one of the Palace Attendants, Yao Xin, one of the Masters of Writing, Zhuge Jing, the Imperial Secretaries, Xue Ying and Guo Lian, the Marshal of the Left, Teng You, and others.

Zhang Ti said, "The Jin armies are advancing against us from several routes, and it will not be easily to repulse them and drive them back. We must call a grand draft of our best troops and likewise divide them along several roads, marching day and night, to have them hold and defend the most critical defensive points. Wuchang and our other bastions must be defended; they cannot be lost. Most of all, our bases on the upper reaches of the Yangzi must be held at all costs; if we should allow the enemy to occupy them, they will be able to sail downriver with the fury of a storm and come upon us at once. Their power would be so great that we would not be able to stop them. Wouldn't even Jianye be in danger by then?" And others argued likewise.

Sun Hao heeded this discussion. He ordered Wu's General Who Guards The West, Sun Wan, their Naval Commander, Liu Lü, their General Who Rouses Might, Tan Luan, and Zhang Guan and Xue Ying to take command of an army of a hundred thousand to oppose the army of Sima Zhou. He ordered the General Who Pacifies Invaders, Zhang Meng, the Defending-General of Xiling, Zhang Zheng, the Commander of Wuchang, Liu Xian, the Director of Yidu, Lei Tan, and others to command another hundred thousand troops to oppose Du Yu. And he ordered the Directing-Instructor, Sun Xin, to lead yet another eighty thousand soldiers to face Wang Hun, along with Zhang Xian, Zhang Zun, Cai Gui, Cai Min, and others; the great general Wǔ Yan would lead their vanguard.


Having received his orders, Sun Xin led his troops forward by starlight to hurry ahead to Hengjiang. There he established a series of camps around the area; he set up defenses at the main choke points, while he built small ramparts at the other defensive points in order to hold them. When Jin’s vanguard generals witnessed what was going on, they reported back to the chief commander of that army, Wang Hun, telling him that since the Wu troops were now occupying such sturdy terrain, it would be difficult to force an advance. They urged him to set his own defenses in order and call a council of war before proceeding.

Wang Hun heeded their advice. The following day, he personally went ahead to reconnoiter the Wu positions, and looked out upon their lines from a high point. After getting a good view of the situation, he returned to his own camp. He summoned his vanguard commander, Ying Zhan, and ordered him, “I want you to take five thousand troops and go to menace the Wu defenses tomorrow. If they do not come out to offer battle, you may employ fire arrows and the grand cannons from Xiangyang to launch projectiles into their lines. They will be so agitated and vexed to thus suffer our fire that they will surely be provoked to come out and avenge themselves. But I only intend for you to do these things in order to probe the Wu defenses, then withdraw. I shall have my own plan in mind.”

Ying Zhan accepted these orders and moved out. Wang Hun then summoned the General of the Front, Liu Li, the General of the Rear, Zu Shi, the General of the Right, Xu Ci, and the General of the Left, Yang Zhao. He assigned them twenty thousand skilled troops altogether, and ordered them to prepare two ambushes on either side of the road. Wang Hun also ordered the Protector, Wang Rong, to lead another two thousand soldiers under Xia Xiang to prepare another ambush to the left side of the Wu defenses, and the Commandant of Side Cavalry, Wang Ji, and Shao Kai were to do the same thing on the right side, so that both of them could prepare to support Ying Zhan. The Directing-General, Wei Guan, was to take three hundred troops and remain in hiding atop a large mound; once he saw that the Wu soldiers were pursuing Ying Zhan’s retreating troops and were within range of the ambushes, his orders would be to fire a signal cannon and raise red standards atop the hill, so that the ambushes troops would spring out from all sides to attack. Once all these generals had received their orders, Wang Hun arranged a time for the following morning for the operation to begin.


When the time came to move out, Ying Zhan led his troops straight ahead, marching to the Wu defenses in order to attack them. Once Sun Xin saw these Jin troops approaching, he sent out orders to his generals, warning them, “The Jin troops have only just arrived here, so now is the time when their morale is highest and their fighting spirit is most keen. We cannot meet them in battle just yet. You are ordered to each maintain your posts and man your defenses, and do no more than prevent the enemy soldiers from forcing a crossing over the Yangzi. Further orders will come in time.” Thus the Wu generals and officers, having received these orders, each kept their defenses in order and intended only to defend against any attack, without marching out to offer battle.

By noon, Ying Zhan could see that his initial assaults were not enticing the enemy to come out and fight. So he ordered several of the great cannons to be drawn up and assembled, and they fired in unison; their blasts reverberated like collapsing mountains or peals of thunder, and their roaring shook the earth for dozens of li around. Then Ying Zhan had his archers loose fire arrows as well, and they soared through the air like shooting stars before raining down on the Wu defenses. The Wu soldiers, panicking, scurried around like mice; their generals called on them to man their posts, but they could not calm their panic or sooth their hearts.

Wu’s General Who Controls The Caitiffs, Zhang Xian, and their General Who Smashes The Charge, Zhang Zun, saw how pummeling these attacks were. So they sent word to Sun Xin, saying, “It is only because the Jin troops see that we are refusing to come out and fight that they are launching these attacks; their only aim is to draw us out of our defenses. In our view, we ought to wait until the Jin troops are compelled to fall back at dusk; it is at that time that their strength will be spent and they will be most complacent. If we wait until then to make a sudden sally and charge them, we will be sure to win.”

Sun Xin replied, “This is indeed the strategy of ‘waiting until exhaustion before striking’, and it is what we ought to do.”

The three of them having thus made up their minds, Sun Xin sent out orders for Wǔ Yan to take command of the main body of the troops being prepared for this counterstrike. Zhang Xian was assigned command of the left flank and Zhang Zun of the right, while Cai Gui and Cai Min were given command of the reserves. They intended to wait until the Jin troops began to fall back, then they would surge forward and slaughter them. The soldiers were ordered to get their equipment in order and eat their fill before the time came to attack.


When it was about mid-afternoon, Ying Zhan’s soldiers began dipping their flags and loading up their supplies to move back west. Their officers and generals soon began to withdraw, with Ying Zhan himself commanding their rear. Suddenly they heard a signal blast from within the Wu defenses, and Wǔ Yan emerged at the head of a body of troops. They charged forward, with Wǔ Yan spurring on his horse to lead the attack. Ying Zhan hastily rode forward to duel him, but before the two leaders had gone five bouts, Zhang Xian and Zhan Zun arrived from two other roads and flanked the Jin troops, ready to kill. Recalling his orders, Ying Zhan now ordered his troops to fall back towards the main body. As the Jin vanguard fled, the Wu army did not let up, but pressed their assault and pursued the enemy.

From his nearby hill, Wei Guan saw the Wu soldiers approaching. Once he was sure that they were within range of the ambushes, Wei Guan fired his signal gun and raised his red banners. At once a great warcry rose up, filling the heavens with the sound of bloodlust, as the ambush troops poured forth from every side. The Wu soldiers at once tried to retreat, but they soon found their escape route cut off by Liu Li and Xu Ci. Wǔ Yan and Zhang Xian tried to break out from the front, but they too were threatened by Yang Zhao and Zu Shi. There was nothing they could do but fight on. But by now, the hour had grown late, and Wang Rong and Wang Ji too led their infantry and cavalry to flank the enemy on either side and complete the encirclement. The Wu soldiers were in complete panic, for try as they might, they could not break out of the enemy lines.

Zhang Zun rode forth to risk a duel, and Liu Li slapped his horse to ride to face him. Before the two of them had gone ten bouts, Yang Zhao arrived as well, branding his lance, and he attacked Zhang Zun from the side. Now faced with two opponents, Zhang Zun could no longer parry every attack; he was eventually struck and knocked from his horse, where Ying Zhan with one swing of his blade hacked off his head.

Zhang Xian, overcome by fear, grabbed a horse and managed to ride through the Jin formation, attempting to escape. But Yang Zhao saw him flee, and he turned to ride him down. It seemed as though Zhang Xian might get away, when suddenly Xu Ci appeared at a narrow pass and cut off his escape route. Zhang Xian then turned back to duel Yang Zhao. No sooner had they clashed than Xu Ci arrived from behind to slay his foe, and when Zhang Xian hurriedly turned his head to face him, Yang Zhao took advantage of his opening to unhorse Zhang Xian with his lance. Though Zhang Xian at once tried to get up, Xu Ci pierced him with his own spear and finished him off.

Alas, that both Zhang Xian and Zhan Zun should be killed in battle!


Wǔ Yan was able to find an opening and broke out of the encirclement, but most of the Wu army was greatly defeated; only about two or three of every ten Wu soldiers were able to escape from the ambush. The surviving Wu generals wanted to bring their remaining troops to break through back to their original camp, but the weakened Wu defenses had since been besieged by Wang Hun, Wei Guan, Wang Ji, and others while the main body was away. Even so, Cai Min made a desperate attack and was able to slip back inside, since Yang Zhao, Liu Li, and the other Jin generals were focused on chasing Wǔ Yan and did not stop him. After entering the Wu camp, Cai Min joined with Cai Gui, and the two of them now sought only to protect Sun Xin as the survivors fled out the back of the Wu camp and retreated south towards Lexiang commandary.

When Sun Xin and the other survivors reached Wugeng, Wǔ Yan arrived at the head of his own band of surviving soldiers and horses, so from then on the two groups traveled together. Since it was bright that night, they hurried along without daring to stop. At length, when they saw the sun rising in the east, Sun Xin ordered the others, "Our men are exhausted and our horses are worn out. Let us stop to rest for a moment, then continue on."

However, they had barely hitched their horses before there was a sudden blast of a cannon, followed by the sound of trumpets and a roll of the drums. Then a young man on horseback swaggered into view, standing astride the road to the south. He called out to the Wu soldiers, "Which of you is the Wu general? Quench your fire, drop from your horse, and surrender at once if you wish to avoid your execution! We are Zhou Zhi and Wu Chao, vanguard subordinates of the Inspector of Yangzhou and Jingzhou (Du Yu). Our commander knew that when you fellows marched to clash with General Wang at Hengjiang, you would surely be defeated and then would flee along this road. Thus he ordered us beforehand to bring our crack troops here and await you arrival so that we could capture you. By now, you couldn't escape even if you had wings to fly away! Submit to our state at once, and at least you shall preserve your lives."

Sun Xin was enraged to hear these demands. He shouted, "Though my soldiers have been defeated in battle, we still have enough strength to take the heads of you pests! How dare you act so brash?" And he ordered his generals, "A real man does not seek to shirk his duty when faced with difficulties. Do you intend to fold your hands at this sign of danger and accept such shame and dishonor? Who among you will ride out and capture that miscreant in order to redeem our earlier disgrace?"

Wǔ Yan took up the call, and he whipped his horse forward and swung his sword about, charging straight towards the Jin formation. Zhou Zhi then hefted his own blade and rode out to face him. They clashed between the two formations; their blades flew through the air as they smashed together, and they came to grips several times. For a time, it was hard to know which of them would prove victorious, for they seemed an even match and both of them had their moments of advantage. But by the time the duel had gone on for more than twenty bouts, it began to become clear that Zhou Zhi held the upper hand, since he had his full measure of strength and was full of fighting spirit, while Wǔ Yan was still weary from the earlier battle. In the end, Wǔ Yan faltered; Zhou Zhi slashed his blade into Wǔ Yan's back and flung him from his horse. Cai Gui at once hurried forward to try to save Wǔ Yan, but he was quickly intercepted by Wu Chao, and Zhou Zhi finished off Wǔ Yan with one last swipe of his blade. Zhou Zhi then turned to help deal with Cai Gui, who hastily turned to face this new threat, but Wu Chao at once seized the advantage; he bound Cai Gui and captured him alive.

Sun Xin now saw how hopeless the situation was. He and Cai Min led a mad charge towards the enemy and were somehow able to break through; they fled south and got away, but more than half of their soldiers surrendered to Jin. Zhou Zhi and Wu Chao did not press their pursuit, but focused on rounding up and reassuring the surrendered Wu soldiers and gathering up the confiscated gear and equipment. Then they turned back to report their success to Du Yu.


As for Du Yu's army, by this time they had captured Jiangling. The power of Du Yu's army was so imposing that all of the Wu commandaries from the Xiang and Yuan Rivers south to the borders of Jiaozhou and Guangzhou at once submitted to him, sending envoys to hand over their seals and ribbons of authority. Du Yu wielded local authority and issued orders in order to soothe and win over the local populace.

Du Yu then called a council with his officers to discuss how they might press their advantage to move further downriver, into the heartland of Wu. Someone said, "An enemy of a hundred years cannot yet be fully defeated. The spring flooding will soon be upon us, and it will be difficult to remain in this place for long. We should wait until winter comes, and then we can resume the grand advance. Wouldn't that be better?"

But Du Yu replied, "That won't do. In ancient times, Yue Yi was able to overcome and annex the state of Qi because of a single battle at Jixi. The might of our soldiers is already mounting; our situation is like cutting bamboo, which welcomes the knife and gives way after the first few joints have been cut. There shall not be much further resistance." And he directed the various army commanders to carry out his strategy, arranging to have them converge on Jianye.

Suddenly a report arrived that Wang Jun's army had reached Xiling. Du Yu thus wrote to him saying, "Since you have broken through the enemy's western barrier, I direct you to continue your advance and take Jianye. If you can smash this foe that has troubled us for generations, then the people of the Wu and Yue regions will again be part of the same family with us. You may then lead our army back to the capital; would that not be the sort of thing seen only once in a lifetime?"

Wang Jun was overjoyed to receive this letter, and he set out from Wuchang to lead his naval force south downriver, straight towards Jianye.

The Wu generals defending the garrisons along the Yangzi were well aware of Wang Jun's advance, and they knew that the next place he would reach would be Xunyang, so they sent agents to hurry through the night and report to Sun Hao. Sun Hao was greatly shocked to hear what was going on. He hurriedly ordered his Grand General, Lu Jing, to lead an army of a hundred thousand to join forces with Sun Xin and Cai Min and camp at Xunyang in order to halt the advance of the Jin fleet.

These reinforcements for a moment stalled the progress of Wang Jun's fleet, for his vanguard could not force their way through. His officers sent a report to Wang Jun advising him, "The Wu generals are now defending this crossing of the Yangzi, and they have abundant soldiers on hand. We should fall back a slight distance while we wait for our own reinforcements."

But Wang Jun replied, "We cannot do that. Speed is the essence of war. Wu has already received the double-blow of losing the upper reaches of the Yangzi and suffering defeat at Hengjiang, so now is the time when their courage is failing them and their hearts are wavering. We need only devote all our strength to smash them in one battle, and we can surely destroy them. How could we fall back and do nothing?" And having said this, he immediately directed the fleet to advance.

Soon another report arrived from the vanguard: "There are iron boom chains stretched across the Yangzi in front of us, with long awls attached to them. We fear if we move ahead at full speed with the winds and the currents, these chains and awls will wreck the boats."

When Wang Jun received this report, he sent out orders for some of his troops to ride ahead of the fleet on giant rafts to have them pull out the awls. He also supplied them with large torches soaked in wax, which they used to heat the chains until they melted and broke apart. Thus the boats were no longer impeded. The rest of this episode is sufficiently explained in the Records of the Three Kingdoms that we need not repeat too much here.


When Cai Min saw that Wang Jun had foiled his defenses across the river, he set his own fleet in order to prepare to face the Jin fleet in battle. He put on a helmet and armor and took up his blade, and he stood atop the prow of his ship, ready to oppose the northern troops. Wang Jun, seeing this bold front by his opponent, was worried that his own generals and officers would be unnerved by the display. So he too put on heavy armor, picked up a keen blade in one hand and a sturdy shield in the other, and spurred his fleet to advance. They sailed forward, and soon the two fleets were tangled in deadly combat.

Cai Min shouted, “Wu’s General Who Pacifies Invaders, Cai Min, is here! Who dares to come and face me?”

Wang Jun, not wasting any time on words, steered his boat straight for Cai Min’s ship. Cai Min too lifted his blade and prepared to strike. When the two boats were about three meters apart, Cai Min swung his blade, but Wang Jun blocked it with his shield. Then, with a sudden burst of energy, Wang Jun leapt clear from his boat and went flying across to Cai Min’s ship. Cai Min moved to block this unexpected attack, but too late; Wang Jun struck him with his blade and knocked him into the drink. This heartened the Jin soldiers, who pressed their assault, while the Wu ships began to scatter.

Lu Jing saw that the enemy now held the advantage, so he quickly urged his soldiers to advance and face the enemy as well. These fresh troops each charged ahead, full of courage and zeal, and the northern soldiers were thus driven back some ways. But Wang Jun personally kept up their spirits, emboldening his generals and officers, and this kept them in the fight. Furthermore, the Jin ships were all tall and large, which encouraged them all the more, while the Wu ships were cramped and small, so they could make no headway.

Soon enough, the Wu fleet at Xunyang was completely defeated, and their soldiers all fled back towards Jianye. The Jin soldiers boldly chased after them; they were able to capsize countless southern ships, and they captured the Wu commander Sun Xin as well.

Wang Jun’s fleet now advanced to Lesser Danyang, close to the Wu garrison at the Zhuque Bridge south of Jianye. The defending general there, Wu’s Commander of Danyang, Cheng Ji, had been mustering troops to protect that place, and no sooner had he set his fleet in order west of Jiangpu when the Jin fleet arrived. Cheng Ji quickly ordered his fleet forward to oppose the enemy. The two fleets had not yet engaged when Wang Jun appeared; he had noticed the presence of Wu troops blocking his fleet and had once again come to the fore to lead his soldiers ahead. Cheng Ji sailed murderously forward, for he was so full of anger that his one wish was to personally slay the Jin commander. He put all his strength into one slash of his blade, hoping to bury it deep into Wang Jun’s breast. However, Wang Jun saw the blade coming and quickly stepped back in time; since the Jin ships were so large, Cheng Ji’s blade sank several inches into the wooden hull of Wang Jun’s ship instead. Cheng Ji struggled mightily to extract the blade, but unfortunately he was overtaken by a certain Zhang Hong, whose spear pierced Cheng Ji in the shoulder and sent him tumbling into the river. When Wang Jun saw that the Wu commander had fallen, he ordered his fleet to charge; although the Wu fleet attempted to withdraw in the face of their advance, they could not get away in time, so the ships in the front were all capsized while the ones in the rear scattered in confusion.

The survivors of this latest battle fled back to Jianye, where they reported their defeat to Sun Hao. When Sun Hao and his ministers heard this, they were so shocked that their faces turned dark as dirt. They quickly discussed how they might raise another force of men and horses to stop the enemy tide. Alas, they were quite ignorant of the methods which lead to victory or defeat; the two hundred thousand soldiers they were about to fling against the foe would soon end up at the bottom of the Yangzi, and the leaders of this sixty-year state of Wu would find themselves residents of the Jin capital at Luoyang.


Some later worthy fellow would compose this poem about the campaign:

Haughty were the Jin, and proud

By them were the Wu troops cowed

Warships flew across the tide

In bloody strife on river wide.

To witness with their very eyes

The hour of their state’s demise

Swelled every breast with pools of hate

Which even now will not abate.
"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 Dong Zhou » Tue Dec 24, 2019 2:01 pm

In fairness with Jin having cannon, Wu never stood a chance.

The novel ignoring Wu even in death is a weak point so good to see this go into more detail. Naval duels is a new one, takes up clear stances on issues like Sun Hao's evil or the kind of men who opposed invasion (tad harsh...), the way duels become multi fighting and way that impacts the outnumbered one. Loved the little build for Wang Jun, the rhyme, the description of his fleet, very poetic
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Re: Continued Romance of the Three Kingdoms

Unread postby DaoLunOfShiji » Tue Dec 24, 2019 2:10 pm

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.
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