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CHAPTER 10. Gathering Arms, Ma Teng Moves To Rescue The Emperor; Commanding An Army, Cao Cao Marches to Avenges His Father.

| Articles of Ancient China, English Version - Romance of the Three Kingdoms Novel | March 6, 2011

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In the last chapter the two arch rebels, Li Jue and
Guo Si, proposed to murder Emperor Xian, but their
followers Zhang Ji and Fan Chou opposed this.
“No; the people will not approve of his death now.
Restore him to power, and get the leaguers inside
Changan’s control. Remove his supporters, and then
we can compass his death. And the empire shall be
in our hands.”
So they ceased the attack. The Emperor again
spoke from the tower, saying, “Why do you still
remain? You have slain Wang Yun; now withdraw
these soldiers.”
Then Li Jue and Guo Si replied, “Your servants
desire rank us a reward for their good service to your
dynasty.”
“And what rank, Sirs?”
All four wrote their wishes and handed them up to
the Emperor who had no choice but to accede to the
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request, and they were created:
Li Jue was appointed General of the Flying
Cavalry, Lord of Chiyang, Commander of Capital
District, Court Administrator, and granted Military
Insignia.
Guo Si was appointed General of the Rear Army,
Lord of Meiyang, Court Administrator, and granted
Military Insignia.
Fan Chou was appointed General of the Right
Army and Lord of Wanian.
Zhang Ji was appointed General of the Flying
Cavalry and Lord of Pingyan.
Li Meng and Wang Fang, for opening the city
gates, were appointed Imperial Commander.
After receiving ranks of nobility, Li Jue and Guo Si
thanked the Emperor, and went away to camp at
Xunung, the suburb of Changan. The inferior rebel
leaders also were gratified with ranks. And once
more the capital was free of troops.
Dong Zhuo’s followers, having so far succeeded,
did not forget their late leader. They sought his
corpse for burial, but only a few fragments were
discoverable. Then they had sculptors engrave a
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statue of fragrant wood in his likeness, laid that out in
proper form, and instituted a noble’s sacrifices and
prayers. The remains were dressed in the robes of a
prince, laid in a princely coffin for burial. They
selected Meiwo for his tomb and having found an
auspicious day conveyed the coffin thither.
But a terrific thunder storm came on at the time of
inhumation, and the ground was flooded. The coffin
was rived asunder and the poor remains knocked out
by thunders. A second time they buried the coffin,
but a similar thing happened in the night. And yet a
third time in another place but the earth rejected the
remains. Meanwhile the thunder−fire had entirely
consumed them. So it may be said justly that
Heaven was exceedingly angry with Dong Zhuo.
So now Li Jue and Guo Si wielded the real power
of the scepter, and they were hard upon the people.
They also removed the attendants from the Palace
and replaced them by their own creatures, who
maintained a most perfect watch over every
movement of the Emperor so that he was greatly
hampered and embarrassed. All appointments and
demotions were made by the two rebels. For the
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sake of popularity they especially summoned Zhu
Jun to court, made him Minister of the Palace
Bureau and associated him with the government.
One day came a report that the Governor of
Xiliang, Ma Teng, and the Imperial Protector of
Bingzhou, Han Sui, with one hundred thousand
troops, are rapidly approaching the capital with the
intention of attacking the rebels in the name of the
Emperor.
Now these leaders from the west had laid careful
plans. Ma Teng and Han Sui had sent trusty friends
to the capital to find out who would support them.
They had conspired with three officials—Court
Counselors Ma Yu and Chong Shao, and Imperial
Commander Liu Fan—to be their inside allies and
plot against the rebels. These three obtained from
the Throne two secret edicts conferring the ranks of
Commander Who Conquers the West on Ma Teng
and Commander Who Guards the West on Han Sui.
With these powers the two commanders joined
forces and began their march.
The four leaders of the party in power—Li Jue,
Guo Si, Fan Chou, and Zhang Ji—held a
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consultation with their generals as to how to meet
the attack.
Adviser Jia Xu said, “Since the attackers are
coming from a distance, our plan is to fortify and wait
till shortage of food shall work for us. In a hundred
days their supplies will be consumed, and they must
retire. We can pursue and we shall capture them.”
Li Meng and Wang Fang rose and said, “This
plan is bad. Give us ten thousand troops, and we will
put an end to both of them and offer their heads
before your ensign.”
“To fight forthwith means defeat,” said Jia Xu.
Li Meng and Wang Fang cried with one voice, “If
we fail, we are willing to lose our heads; but if we
win, then your head is forfeit.”
Jia Xu then suggested to Li Jue and Guo Si,
saying, “Seventy miles west of the capital stand the
Zhouzhi Hills. The passes are narrow and difficult.
Send Generals Zhang Ji and Fan Chou to occupy
this point of vantage and fortify themselves so that
they may support Li Meng and Wang Fang.”
Li Jue and Guo Si accepted this advice. They told
off fifteen thousand horse and foot, and Li Meng and
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Wang Fang left in high spirit. They made a camp
ninety miles from Changan.
The force from the west arrived; Ma Teng and
Han Sui led out their troops to the attack. They found
their opponents Li Meng and Wang Fang in battle
array. Ma Teng and Han Sui rode to the front side by
side. Pointing to the rebel leaders, the commanders
abused them, crying, “Those are traitors; who will
capture them?”
Hardly were the words spoken when there came
out a youth general with a clear, white complexion as
jade, eyes like shooting stars, lithe of body and
strong of limb. He was armed with a long spear and
bestrode an excellent steed. This young leader was
Ma Chao, son of Ma Teng, then seventeen years of
age.
Though young he was a supreme valiance. Wang
Fang, despising him on account of his youth,
galloped forth to fight him. Before they had
exchanged many passes Wang Fang was disabled
and fell to a thrust of the young Ma Chao’s spear.
The victor turned to retire into the formation, but Li
Meng rode after Ma Chao to avenge his fallen
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colleague. Ma Chao did not see Li Meng, but his
father called out “You are followed!”
Hardly had Ma Teng spoken when he saw that
the pursuer was a prisoner seated on his son’s
steed. Now Ma Chao had known he was followed,
but pretended not to see, waiting till his enemy
should have come close and lifted his spear to strike.
Then Ma Chao suddenly wheeled about. The spear
thrust met only empty air; and as the horses passed,
Ma Chao’s powerful arm shot out and pulled Li Meng
from the saddle. Thus Li Meng and Wang Fang’s
soldiers were left leaderless and fled in all directions.
The army of Ma Teng and Han Sui dashed in pursuit,
and a complete victory was scored. They pressed
into one of the passes and made a camp. Then they
decapitated Li Meng and exposed his head.
When Li Jue and Guo Si heard that both the
boastful generals had fallen under the hand of one
young man, they knew that Jia Xu had given good
advice and was gifted with clear prescience. So they
valued his plans the more highly and decided to act
on the defensive. They refused all challenges to
combat.
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Surely enough after a couple of months the
supplies of the Xiliang force were all exhausted and
the leaders began to consider retreat.
Just at this juncture a household servant of Ma
Yu’s family betrayed his master and told of the
conspiracy of the three court officials to assist the
attackers. The two chiefs Li Jue and Guo Si in
revenge seized the three conspirators—Ma Yu,
Chong Shao, and Liu Fan—, with every member of
their households, and beheaded them in the market
place. The heads of the three were exposed at the
front gate of the capital.
Being short of food and hearing of the destruction
of their three adherents in the city, the only course
for Ma Teng and Han Sui was to retreat. At once
Zhang Ji went in pursuit of Ma Teng, and Fan Chou
followed Han Sui. The retreating army under Ma
Teng was beaten, and only by Ma Chao’s desperate
efforts were the pursuers driven off.
Fan Chou pursued the other army; and when he
had come close, Han Sui rode boldly up and
addressed him, saying, “You and I, Sir, are fellow
villagers. Why then behave so unfriendly?”
Three Kingdoms Romance
Fan Chou replied, “I must obey the commands of
my chief.”
“I am here for the service of the state; why do you
press me so hard?” said Han Sui.
At this Fan Chou turned his horse, called in his
troops, and left Han Sui in peace. Unwittingly a
nephew of Li Jue had been a witness of this scene;
and when he saw the enemy allowed to go free, he
returned and told his uncle. Angry that his enemy
had escaped, Li Jue would have sent an army to
wreak vengeance on his general, but his adviser Jia
Xu again came in, saying, “The people are yet
unsettled, it was dangerous to provoke another war.
Instead, invite Fan Chou to a banquet and, while the
feast was in progress, executing him for dereliction
of duty.”
This seemed good to Li Jue, so the banquet was
prepared. Zhang Ji and Fan Chou accepted their
invitations and went cheerfully. Toward the latter part
of the entertainment a sudden change came over
their host Li Jue, and he suddenly asked Fan Chou,
“Why have you been intriguing with Han Sui? You
are turning traitor, eh?” The unhappy guest was
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taken aback; and before he could frame his words to
reply, he saw the assassins rush out with swords
and axes. In a moment all was over, and Fan Chou’s
head lay beneath the table.
Scared beyond measure, his fellow−guest Zhang
Ji groveled on the floor.
“Fan Chou was a traitor,” said the host, raising
Zhang Ji by the arm, “and he has his deserts; you
are my friend and need not fear.”
Li Jue gave Zhang Ji command of Fan Chou’s
army with which Zhang Ji returned to his
headquarters garrison in Hongnong.
No one of the leaders among the leaguers dared
attempt an attack on the party newly risen from Dong
Zhuo’s disaffection, while on the other hand Jia Xu
never ceased to urge his masters to exert
themselves for the welfare of the people and thus to
tempt wise people to join them. And by these means
the government began to prosper and the court to
reassert its authority.
However, a new trouble arose in the shape of a
resurgence of Yellow Scarves in Qingzhou. They
came, under numerous chieftains, in the number of
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hundreds of thousand and plundered any place they
reached. Minister Zhu Jun said he knew of one who
could destroy this sedition, and when asked who was
the man he proposed, Zhu Jun said, “You want to
destroy this horde of rebels; you will fail unless you
get the services of Cao Cao.”
“And where is he?” asked Li Jue.
“He is Governor of Dongjun. He has a large army,
and you have only to order him to act; the rising will
be broken.”
A messenger went post haste with a command
for Cao Cao and Bao Xin, Lord of Jibei, to act
together in quelling the rebellion. As soon as Cao
Cao received the court command, he arranged with
his colleague first to attack the rebels at Shouyang.
Bao Xin made a dash right into their midst and
inflicting damage wherever he could, but he was
killed in a battle. Cao Cao pursued the rebels as they
fled. Ten thousand surrendered. Then Cao Cao put
his quondam enemies in the van; and when his army
reached any place, many more surrendered and
joined him. After three months of these tactics, he
had won over many thousands, both of soldiers and
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ordinary folks.
Of these new adherents the strongest and boldest
were made the Qingzhou Army, and the others were
sent home to their fields. In consequence of these
successes Cao Cao’s prestige and fame became
very great and increased daily. He reported his
success to Capital Changan and was rewarded with
the title of General Who Guards the East.
At his headquarters in Yanzhou, Cao Cao
welcomed wise counselors and bold warriors, and
many gathered around him. Two clever persons,
uncle and nephew, came at the same time, both
from Yanzhou, named Xun Yu and Xun You. The
uncle had once been in the service of Yuan Shao.
Cao Cao rejoiced when he had won the elder Xun
to his side, saying, “Xun Yu is my Zhang Liang.”
He made Xun Yu a Marching General. The
nephew Xun You was famed for his ability and had
been in the court service when it was in Luoyang, but
he had abandoned that career and retired to his
village. Cao Cao made him a Military Instructor.
Xun Yu said to Cao Cao, “There is a certain wise
person of Yanzhou somewhere, but I do not know in
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whose service he is.”
“Who is he?”
“Cheng Yu; he belongs to the eastern region of
Yanzhou.”
“Yes; I have heard of him,” said Cao Cao.
So a messenger was sent to his native place to
inquire. Cheng Yu was away in the hills engaged in
study, but he came at Cao Cao’s invitation.
“I shall prove unworthy of your recommendation,”
said Cheng Yu to his friend Xun Yu, “for I am rough
and ignorant. But have you forgotten a fellow villager
of yours, Guo Jia? He is really able. Why not spread
the net to catch him?”
“I had nearly forgotten,” said Xun Yu suddenly.
So he told Cao Cao of this man, who was at once
invited.
Guo Jia, discussing the world at large with Cao
Cao, recommended Liu Ye from Henan, who was a
descendant of Liu Xiu the Founder of Latter Han.
When Liu Ye had arrived, he was the means of
inviting two more: Man Chong from Shanyang, and
Lu Qian from Wucheng, who were already known to
Cao Cao by reputation. These two brought to their
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new master’s notice the name of Mao Jie from
Chenliu, who also came and was given office. Then
a famous leader, with his troop of some hundreds,
arrived to offer service. This was Yu Jin of Taishan,
an expert horseman and archer, and skilled beyond
his fellows in every form of military exercise. He was
made an army inspector.
Then another day Xiahou Dun brought a fellow to
present to Cao Cao.
“Who is he?” asked Cao Cao.
“He is from Chenliu and is named Dian Wei. He is
the boldest of the bold, the strongest of the strong.
He was one of Zhang Miao’s people, but quarreled
with his tent companions and killed some dozens of
them with his fists. Then he fled to the mountains
where I found him. I was out shooting and saw him
follow a tiger across a stream. I persuaded him to
join my troop and I recommend him.”
“I see he is no ordinary man,” said Cao Cao. “He
is fine and straight and looks very powerful and
bold.”
“He is. He killed a man once to avenge a friend
and carried his head through the whole market
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place. Hundreds saw him, but dared not come near.
The weapon he uses now is a couple of spears,
each weighs a hundred and twenty pounds, and he
vaults into the saddle with these under his arm.”
Cao Cao bade the man give proof of his skill. So
Dian Wei galloped to and fro carrying the spears.
Then he saw away among the tents a huge banner
swaying dangerously with the force of the wind and
on the point of falling. A crowd of soldiers were vainly
struggling to keep it steady. Down he leaped,
shouted to the men to clear out and held the staff
quite steady with one hand, keeping it perfectly
upright in spite of the strong wind.
“This is old E Lai again,” said Cao Cao.
He gave Dian Wei a post in the headquarters and
besides made Dian Wei presents of an embroidered
robe he was wearing and a swift steed with a
handsome saddle.
Cao Cao encouraged able people to assist him,
and he had advisers on the civil side and valiant
generals in the army. He became famous throughout
the East of the Pass.
Now Cao Cao’s father, Cao Song, was living at
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Langye, whither he had gone as a place free from
the turmoil of the partisan struggles. Now Cao Cao
wished to be united with him. As a dutiful son, Cao
Cao sent the Governor of Taishan, Ying Shao, to
escort his father to Yanzhou. Old Cao Song read the
letter with joy, and the family prepared to move. They
were some forty in all, with a train of a hundred
servants and many carts.
Their road led through Xuzhou where the Imperial
Protector, Tao Qian, was a sincere and upright man
who had long wished to get on good terms with Cao
Cao but, hitherto, had found no means of effecting a
bond of union. Hearing that the family of the great
man was passing through his region, Tao Qian went
to welcome them, treated them with great cordiality,
feasting and entertaining them for two days; and
when they left, he escorted them to his boundary.
Further he sent with them one General Zhang Kai
with a special escort of five hundred.
The whole party reached the county of Huafei. It
was the end of summer, just turning into autumn,
and at this place they were stopped by a tremendous
storm of rain. The only shelter was an old temple and
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thither they went. The family occupied the main
rooms and the escort the two side wings. The men of
the escort were drenched, angry, and discontented.
Then Zhang Kai called some of his petty officers
to a secret spot and said, “We are old Yellow
Scarves and only submitted to Tao Qian because
there was no other choice. We have never got much
out of it. Now here is the Cao family with no end of
gear, and we can be rich very easily. We will make a
sudden onslaught tonight at the third watch and slay
the whole lot. Then we shall have plenty of treasure,
and we will get away to the mountains.”
They all agreed. The storm continued into the
night and as Cao Song sat waiting anxiously for
signs of clearing, he suddenly heard a hubbub at the
west end of the temple. His brother, Cao De, drawing
his sword, went out to see what it was about, and
Cao De was at once cut down. Cao Song seized one
of the concubines by the hand, rushed with her
through the passage toward the back of the temple
so that they might escape. But the lady was stout
and could not get through the narrow doors, so the
two hid in one of the small outhouses at the side.
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However, they were seen and slain.
The unhappy Governor Ying Shao fled for his life
to Yuan Shao. The murderers fled into the South of
River Huai with their plunder after having set fire to
the old temple.
Cao Cao, whom the ages praise,
Slew his hosts on his former flight;
Nemesis never turns aside,
Murdered too his family died.
Some of the escort escaped and took the evil
tidings to Cao Cao. When he heard it he fell to the
earth with a great cry. They raised him. With set
teeth he muttered, “Tao Qian’s people have slain my
father: no longer can the same sky cover us. I will
sweep Xuzhou off the face of the earth. Only thus
can I satisfy my vengeance.”
Cao Cao left one small army of thirty thousand
under Xun Yu and Cheng Yu to guard the east
headquarters and the three counties of Juancheng,
Fanxia, and Dongjun. Then he set forth with all the
remainder to destroy Xuzhou and avenge his father.
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Xiahou Dun, Yu Jin, and Dian Wei were Van Leaders
with Cao Cao’s orders to slaughter all the inhabitants
of each captured city.
Now the Governor of Jiujiang, Bian Rang, was a
close friend of Tao Qian. Hearing Xuzhou was
threatened, Bian Rang set out with five thousand
troops to his friend’s aid. Angered by this move, Cao
Cao sent Xiahou Dun to stop and kill Bian Rang
while still on the march.
At this time Chen Gong was in office in Dongjun,
and he was also on friendly terms with Tao Qian.
Hearing of Cao Cao’s design to destroy the whole
population, Chen Gong came in haste to see his
former companion. Cao Cao knowing Chen Gong’s
errand put him off at first and would not see him. But
then Cao Cao could not forget the kindness he had
formerly received from Chen Gong, and presently
the visitor was called to his tent.
Chen Gong said, “They say you go to avenge
your father’s death on Xuzhou, to destroy its people.
I have come to say a word. Imperial Protector Tao
Qian is humane and a good man. He is not looking
out for his own advantage, careless of the means
Three Kingdoms Romance
and of others. Your worthy father met his unhappy
death at the hands of Zhang Kai. Tao Qian is
guiltless. Still more innocent are the people, and to
slay them would be an evil. I pray you think over it.”
Cao Cao retorted angrily, “You once abandoned
me and now you have the impudence to come to see
me! Tao Qian slew my whole family, and I will tear
his heart out in revenge. I swear it. You may speak
for your friend and say what you will. I shall be as if I
heard not.”
Intercession had failed. Chen Gong sighed and
took his leave.
He said, “Alas! I cannot go to Tao Qian and look
upon his face.”
So Chen Gong rode off to the county of Chenliu
to give service to Governor Zhang Miao.
Cao Cao’s army of revenge laid waste whatever
place it passed through, slaying the people and
desecrating their cemeteries.
When Tao Qian heard the terrible tidings, he
looked up to heaven, saying, “I must be guilty of
some fault before Heaven to have brought this evil
upon my people.”
Three Kingdoms Romance
He called together his officials to consult. One of
them, Cao Bao, said, “Now the enemy is upon us;
we cannot sit and await death with folded hands. I for
one will help you to make a fight.”
Tao Qian reluctantly sent the army out. From a
distance he saw Cao Cao’s army spread abroad like
frost and rushed far and wide like snow. In their
midst was a large white flag and on both sides was
written
“Vengeance”
.
When he had ranged his troops, Cao Cao rode
out dressed in mourning white and abused Tao Qian.
But Tao Qian advanced, and from beneath his
ensign he bowed low and said, “I wished to make
friends with you, Illustrious Sir, and so I sent Zhang
Kai to escort your family. I knew not that his rebel
heart was still unchanged. The fault does not lie at
my door as you must see.”
“You old wretch, you killed my father and now you
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dare to mumble this nonsense,” said Cao Cao. And
he asked who would go out and seize Tao Qian.
Xiahou Dun undertook this service and rode out.
Tao Qian fled to the inner portion of his array; and as
Xiahou Dun came on, Cao Bao went to meet him.
But just as the two horses met, a hurricane burst
over the spot, and the flying dust and pebbles threw
both sides into the utmost confusion. Both drew off.
Tao Qian retired into the city and called his
officers to council.
“The force against us is too strong,” said he. “I will
give myself up as a prisoner and let him wreak his
vengeance on me. I may save the people.”
But a voice was heard saying, “You have long
ruled here and the people love you. Strong as the
enemy are, they are not necessarily able to break
down our walls, especially when defended by you
and your people. I have a scheme to suggest that I
think will make Cao Cao die in a place where he will
not find burial.”
These bold words startled the assembly, and they
eagerly asked what the scheme was.
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Making overtures for friendship, Tao Qian
encountered deadly hate.
But, where danger seemed most threatening, he
discovered safety’s gate.
The next chapter will disclose who the speaker
was.
Three Kingdoms Romance

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