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CHAPTER 100. Raiding A Camp, The Shu Soldiers Defeat Cao Zhen; Contesting Array Battles, Zhuge Liang Shames Sima Yi.

| Articles of Ancient China, English Version - Romance of the Three Kingdoms Novel | March 7, 2011

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When the Shu officers got to know that the Wei
army had gone but they were not to pursue, they
were inclined to discontent and went in a body to the
Prime Minister’s tent and said, “The rain has driven
the enemy away; surely it is the moment to pursue.”
Zhuge Liang replied, “Sima Yi is an able leader
who would not retreat without leaving an ambush to
cover it. If we pursue we shall fall victims. Let him go
in peace, and I shall then get through the Xie Valley
and take Qishan, making use of the enemy’s lack of
“But there are other ways of taking Changan;”
said they, “why only take Qishan?”
“Because Qishan is the first step to Changan, and
I want to gain the advantage of position. And every
transportation from Xizhou must come this way. It
rests on River Wei in front and is backed by the Xie
Valley. It gives the greatest freedom of movement
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and is a natural maneuvering ground. That is why I
want it.”
They bowed to his wisdom. Then he dispatched
Wei Yan, Zhang Ni, Du Qiong, and Chen Shi for Chi
Valley; and he sent Ma Dai, Wang Ping, Zhang Yi,
and Ma Zhong for the Xie Valley; all were to meet at
the Qishan Mountains. He led the main army himself,
with Guan Xing and Liao Hua in the van.
When the Wei army retreated, Cao Zhen and
Sima Yi remained in the rear superintending the
movement. They sent a reconnoitering party along
the old road to Chencang, and they returned saying
no enemy was to be seen. Ten days later the
leaders, who had commanded in the ambush, joined
the main body saying that they had seen no sign of
the enemy.
Cao Zhen said, “This continuous autumn rain has
rendered all the ways impassable; how could the
soldiers of Shu know of our retreat?”
“They will appear later,” said Sima Yi.
“How can you know?”
“These late five dry days they have not pursued,
because they think we shall have left a rearguard in
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ambush. Therefore they have let us get well away.
But after we have gone, they will try to occupy
Cao Zhen was not convinced.
“Why do you doubt?” asked Sima Yi. “I think
Zhuge Liang will certainly advance by way of the two
valleys, and you and I should guard the entrances. I
give them ten days, and if they do not appear, I will
come to your camp painted in the face to own my
“If the army of Shu do appear, I will give you the
girdle and the steed that the Emperor gave me,”
replied Cao Zhen.
And they split their force, Cao Zhen taking up his
station on the west of Qishan in the Xie Valley, and
Sima Yi going to the east in the Chi Valley.
As soon as the camp was settled, Sima Yi led a
cohort into hiding in the valley. The remainder of the
force was placed in detachments on the chief roads.
Sima Yi disguised himself as a soldier and went
among the soldiers to get a private survey of all the
camps. In one of them he happened upon a junior
officer who was complaining, saying, “The rain has
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drenched us for days, and they would not retire. Now
they have camped here for a wager. They have no
pity for us soldiers.”
Sima Yi returned to his tent and assembled his
officers. Hauling out the grumbler, Sima Yi said to
him, angrily, “The state feeds and trains soldiers a
thousand days for one hour’s service. How dare you
give vent to your spleen to the detriment of
The man would not confess, so his comrades
were called to bear witness. Still he would not own
“I am not here for a wager, but to overcome Shu,”
said Sima Yi. “Now you all have done well and are
going home, but only this fellow complains and is
guilty of mutinous conduct.”
Sima Yi ordered the lictors to put him to death,
and in a short time they produced his head.
The others were terrified, but Sima Yi said, “All
you must do your utmost to guard against the
enemy. When you hear a bomb explode, rush out on
all sides and attack.”
With this order they retired.
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Now Wei Yan, Zhang Ni, Chen Shi, and Du
Qiong, with twenty thousand troops, entered the Chi
Valley. As they were marching, Adviser Deng Zhi
“I bear an order from the Prime Minister. As you
go out of the valley, beware of the enemy,” said
Deng Zhi.
Chen Shi said, “Why is the Prime Minister so full
of doubts? We know the soldiers of Wei have
suffered severely from the rain and must hasten
home. They will not lay any ambush. We are doing
double marches and shall gain a great victory. Why
are we to delay?”
Deng Zhi replied, “You know the Prime Minister’s
plans always succeed. How dare you disobey his
Chen Shi smiled, saying, “If he was really so
resourceful, we should not have lost Jieting.”
Wei Yan, recalling that Zhuge Liang had rejected
his plan, also laughed, and said, “If he had listened
to me and gone out through Ziwu Valley, not only
Changan but Luoyang too would be ours. Now he is
bent on taking Qishan; what is the good of it? He
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gave us the order to advance and now he stops us.
Truly the orders are confusing.”
Then said Chen Shi, “I will tell you what I will do. I
shall take only five thousand troops, get through the
Chi Valley, and camp at Qishan. Then you will see
how ashamed the Prime Minister will look.” Deng Zhi
argued and persuaded, but to no avail; the willful
leader hurried on to get out of the valley. Deng Zhi
could only return as quickly as possible and report.
Chen Shi proceeded. He had gone a few miles
when he heard a bomb, and he was in an ambush.
He tried to withdraw, but the valley was full of the
enemy and he was surrounded as in an iron cask. All
his efforts to get out failed. Then there was a shout,
and Wei Yan came to the rescue. Wei Yan saved his
comrade, but Chen Shi’s five thousand troops was
reduced to about five hundred, and these wounded.
The Wei soldiers pursued, but two other divisions of
Zhang Ni and Du Qiong prevented the pursuit, and
finally the army of Wei retired.
Chen Shi and Wei Yan who had criticized Zhuge
Liang’s powers of prevision no longer doubted that
he saw very clearly. They regretted their own
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When Deng Zhi told his chief of the bad behavior
of Chen Shi and Wei Yan, Zhuge Liang only
Said he, “That fellow Wei Yan has never been
quite true; he has always been disposed to disobey
and is unsteady. However, he is valiant, and so I
have saved him for our use, but he will do real harm
some day.”
Then came a messenger with news of Chen Shi’s
defeat and loss of troops. Zhuge Liang sent Deng
Zhi back again to Chi Valley to console with Chen
Shi and so keep him from actual mutiny.
Then Zhuge Liang called to his tent Ma Dai and
Wang Ping, and said, “If there are any troops of Wei
in the Xie Valley, you are to go across the
mountains, marching by night and concealing
yourselves by day, and make for the east of Qishan.
When you arrive, make a fire as a signal.”
Ma Zhong and Zhang Ni were told to go in similar
fashion to the west of Qishan and join up with the
other two. Then they were to make a joint attack on
Cao Zhen’s camp. Zhuge Liang would also attack in
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the center. Guan Xing and Liao Hua also received
secret orders.
The armies marched rapidly. Not long after
starting, two other detachments led by Wu Ban and
Wu Yi received secret orders and left the main body.
The doubts about the coming of the Shu army
made Cao Zhen careless, and he allowed his
soldiers to become slack and rest. He only thought of
getting through the allotted ten days, when he would
have the laugh against his colleague.
Seven of the days had passed, when a scout
reported a few odd men of Shu in the valley. Cao
Zhen sent Qin Liang with five thousand troops to
reconnoiter and keep them at a distance. Qin Liang
he led his troops to the entrance of the valley. As
soon as he arrived, the enemy retired. Qin Liang
went after them, but they had disappeared. He was
perplexed and puzzled, and while trying to decide,
he told the troops to dismount and rest.
But almost immediately he heard a shout, and
ambushing troops appeared in front of him. He
jumped on his horse to look about him, and saw a
great cloud of dust rising among the hills. He
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disposed his troops for defense, but the shouting
quickly came nearer, and then Wu Ban and Wu Yi
appeared advancing towards him. Retreat was
impossible for Guan Xing and Liao Hua had blocked
the road. The hills were on both sides, and from the
hill−tops came shouts of “Dismount and yield!”
More than half did surrender. Qin Liang rode out
to fight, but he was slain by Liao Hua.
Zhuge Liang put the Wei soldiers who had come
over to his side in one of the rear divisions. With their
dress and arms, he disguised five thousand of his
own troops so that they looked like his enemies, and
then he sent this division—under Guan Xing, Liao
Hua, Wu Yi, and Wu Ban—to raid Cao Zhen’s camp.
Before they reached the camp, they sent one of their
number ahead as a galloper to tell Cao Zhen that
there had been only a few men of Shu and they had
all been chased out of sight, and so lull him into
This news satisfied Cao Zhen. But just then a
trusty messenger from Sima Yi came with a
message: “Our troops have fallen into an ambush,
and many have been killed. Do not think any more
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about the wager: that is canceled. But take most
careful precautions.”
“But there is not a single soldier of Shu near,”
said Cao Zhen.
He told the messenger to go back. Just then they
told him Qin Liang’s army had returned, and he went
out to meet them. Just as he got near, someone
remarked that some torches had flared up in the rear
of his camp. He hastened thither to see. As soon as
he was out of sight, the four leaders waved on their
troops and dashed up to the camp. At the same time
Ma Dai and Wang Ping came up behind, and Ma
Zhong and Zhang Yi came out.
The soldiers of Wei were trapped and helpless;
they scattered and fled for life. Cao Zhen, protected
by his generals, fled away to the eastward. The
enemy chased them closely. As Cao Zhen fled there
arose a great shouting, and up came an army at full
speed. Cao Zhen thought all was lost, and his heart
sank, but it was Sima Yi, who drove off the pursuers.
Though Cao Zhen was saved, he was almost too
ashamed to show his face.
Then said Sima Yi, “Zhuge Liang has seized
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Qishan, and we cannot remain here; let us go to
River Wei, whence we may try to recover our lost
“How did you know I was in danger of defeat?”
asked Cao Zhen.
“My messenger told me that you said there was
not a single soldier of Shu near, and I knew Zhuge
Liang would try to seize your camp. So I came to
your help. The enemy’s plan succeeded, but we will
say no more about that wager. We must both do our
best for the country.”
But the fright and excitement made Cao Zhen ill,
and he took to his bed. And while the army were in
such a state of disorder, Sima Yi was afraid to advise
a return. They camped at River Wei.
After this adventure Zhuge Liang hastened back
to Qishan. After the soldiers had been feasted and
services recognized, the four discontented
leaders—Wei Yan, Chen Shi, Du Qiong, and Zhang
Ni—came to the tent to apologize.
“Who caused the loss?” said Zhuge Liang.
Wei Yan said, “Chen Shi disobeyed orders and
rushed into the valley.”
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“Wei Yan told me to,” said Chen Shi.
“Would you still try to drag him down after he
rescued you?” said Zhuge Liang. “However, when
orders have been disobeyed, it is useless to try and
gloze it over.”
Zhuge Liang sentenced Chen Shi to death, and
he was led away. Soon they brought his head into
the presence of the assembled generals. Wei Yan
was spared as there was yet work for him to
After this, Zhuge Liang prepared to advance. The
scouts reported that Cao Zhen was ill, but was being
treated by doctors in his tent.
The news pleased Zhuge Liang, and he said to
his officers, “If Cao Zhen’s illness is slight, they will
surely return to Changan. They must be delayed by
his serious sickness. He stays on so that his soldiers
may not lose heart. Now I will write him such a letter
that he will die.”
Then he called up the soldiers of Wei who had
yielded, and said to them, “You are Wei troops, and
your families are all over there: it is wrong for you to
serve me. Suppose I let you go home?”
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They thanked him, falling prostrate and weeping.
Then Zhuge Liang continued, “Friend Cao Zhen
and I have a compact, and I have a letter for him
which you shall take. The bearer will be well
They received the letter and ran home to their
o w n t e n t s , w h e r e t h e y g a v e t h e i r
Commander−in−Chief the letter. Cao Zhen was too
ill to rise, but he opened the cover and read:
“The Prime Minister of Han, Zhuge Liang, to the
Minister of War, Cao Zhen:
“You will permit me to say that a leader of an
army should be able to go and come, to be facile and
obdurate, to advance and retire, to show himself
weak or strong, to be immovable as mountains, to be
inscrutable as the operations of nature, to be infinite
as the universe, to be everlasting as the blue void, to
be vast as the ocean, to be dazzling as the lights of
heaven, to foresee droughts and floods, to know the
nature of the ground, to understand the possibilities
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of battle arrays, to conjecture the excellencies and
defects of the enemy.
“Alas! One of your sort, ignorant and inferior,
rising impudently in heaven’s vault, has had the
presumption to assist a rebel to assume the imperial
style and state at Luoyang, to send some miserable
soldiers into Beach Valley. There they happened
upon drenching rain. The difficult roads wearied both
soldiers and horses, driving them frantic. Weapons
and armors littered the countryside, swords and
s p e a r s c o v e r e d t h e g r o u n d . Y o u , t h e
Commander−in−Chief, were heart−broken and
cowed, your generals fled like rats. You dare not
show your faces at home, nor can you enter the halls
of state. The historians’ pens will record your
defeats; the people will recount your infamies. ‘Sima
Yi is frightened when he hears of battle fronts, Cao
Zhen is alarmed at mere rumors.’ My soldiers are
fierce and their steeds strong; my great generals are
eager as tigers and majestic as dragons. I shall
sweep the Middle Land bare and make Wei
Cao Zhen’s wrath rose as he read; at the end it
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filled his breast. He died that evening. Sima Yi sent
his coffin to Luoyang on a wagon.
When the Ruler of Wei heard of the death of Cao
Zhen, he issued an edict urging Sima Yi to prosecute
the war, to raise a great army and fight with Zhuge
A declaration of war was sent one day in
advance, and Zhuge Liang replied that he would fight
on the morrow. After the envoy had left, Zhuge Liang
called Jiang Wei by night to receive secret orders.
He also summoned Guan Xing and told him what to
Next morning the whole force marched to the
bank of River Wei and took up a position in a wide
plain with the river on one flank and hills on the
other. The two armies saluted each other’s
appearance with heavy flights of arrows. After the
drums had rolled thrice the Wei center opened at the
great standard and Sima Yi appeared, followed by
his officers. Opposite was Zhuge Liang, in a
four−horse chariot, waving his feather fan.
Sima Yi addressed Zhuge Liang, “Our master’s
ascension of the throne was after the manner of King
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Yao, who abdicated in favor of King Shun. Two
emperors have succeeded and have their seat in the
Middle Land. Because of his liberality and
graciousness, my lord has suffered the rule of Shu
and Wu lest the people should suffer in a struggle.
You, who are but a plowman from Nanyang, ignorant
of the ways of Heaven, wish to invade us, and you
should be destroyed; but if you will examine your
heart and repent of your fault and retire, then each
may maintain his own borders, and a settled state of
three kingdoms will be attained. Thus the people
may be spared distress, and you will save your life.”
Zhuge Liang smiled and replied, “Our First Ruler
entrusted to me the custody of his orphan son: think
you that I shall fail to exert myself to the uttermost to
destroy rebels against his authority? Your soldiers of
the Cao family will soon be exterminated by Han.
Your ancestors were servants of Han and for
generations ate of their bounty. Yet, instead of giving
grateful service, you assist usurpers. Are you not
The flush of shame spread over Sima Yi’s face,
but he replied, “We will try the test of battle. If you
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can conquer, I pledge myself to be no longer a
leader of armies; but if you are defeated, then you
will retire at once to your own village and I will not
harm you.”
“Do you desire a contest of generals, or of
weapons, or of battle array?” asked Zhuge Liang.
“Let us try a contest of battle array,” replied Sima
“Then draw up your array that I may see,” said
Zhuge Liang.
Sima Yi withdrew within the line and signaled to
his officers with a yellow flag to draw up their troops.
When he had finished, he rode again to the front,
saying, “Do you recognize my formation?”
“The least of my generals can do as well,” said
Z h u g e L i a n g , s m i l i n g . “ T h i s i s c a l l e d t h e
‘Disorder−in−Order’ formation.”
“Now you try while I look on,” said Sima Yi.
Zhuge Liang entered the lines and waved his fan.
Then he came out and said, “Do you recognize
“Of course; this is the ‘Eight Arrays.’“
“Yes; you seem to know it. But dare you attack?”
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“Why not, since I know it?” replied Sima Yi.
“Then you need only try.”
Sima Yi entered the ranks and called to him three
generals—Dai Ling, Zhang Hu, and Yue Chen—to
whom he said, “That formation consists of eight
gates—Birth, Exit, Expanse, Wound, Fear,
Annihilation, Obstacle, and Death. You will go in
from the east at the Gate of Birth, turn to the
southwest and make your way out by the Gate of
Annihilation. Then enter at the north, at the Exit
Gate, and the formation will be broken up. But be
cautious.” They started with Zhang Hu leading, Dai
Ling next, and Yue Chen in rear, each with thirty
horsemen. They made their way in at the Gate of
Birth amid the applause of both sides. But when they
had got within they found themselves facing a wall of
troops and could not find a way out. They hastily led
their men round by the base of the line toward the
southwest to rush out there. But they were stopped
by a flight of arrows. They became confused and
saw many gates, but they had lost their bearings.
Nor could they aid each other. They dashed hither
and thither in disorder, lose as in gathering clouds
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and rolling mists. Then a shout arose, and each one
was seized and bound.
They were taken to the center, where Zhuge
Liang sat in his tent, and the three leaders with their
ninety men were ranged in front.
“Indeed you are prisoners; are you surprised” said
Zhuge Liang, smiling. “But I will set you free to return
to your leader, and tell him to read his books again,
and study his tactics, before he comes to try
conclusions with me. You are pardoned, but leave
your weapons and horses here.”
So they were stripped of their arms and armors
and their faces inked. Thus were they led on foot out
of the array. Sima Yi lost his temper at sight of his
people thus put to shame.
Said he, “After this disgrace, how can I face the
other officers in the Middle Land?”
He gave the signal for the army to fall on and
attack the enemy, and, grasping his sword, led his
brave generals into the fray and commanded the
attack. But just as the two armies came to blows,
Guan Xing came up, his drums rolling and troops
shouting, and attacked. Sima Yi told off a division
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from the rear to oppose Guan Xing, and again turned
to urge on his main body.
Then the army of Wei was thrown into confusion
by another attack from Jiang Wei, who came up
silently and joined in the battle. Thus three sides of
the Wei army were attacked by three different
divisions of the enemy, and Sima Yi decided to
retire. However, this was difficult. The soldiers of Shu
hemmed him in and came closer every moment. At
last, by a desperate push, he cut an arterial alley
toward the south and freed his army. But he had lost
six or seven out of every ten of his soldiers.
The Wei army withdrew to the south bank of River
Wei and camped. They strengthened their position
and remained entirely on the defensive.
Zhuge Liang mustered his victorious army and
returned to Qishan.
Now Li Yan sent an officer, General Gou An, from
Baidicheng with a convoy of grain. Gou An was a
drunkard and loitered on the road so that he arrived
ten days late. Zhuge Liang, angry at the delay,
upbraided him, saying, “This grain is of the utmost
importance to the army and you delay it. Three days’
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delay ought to mean the death penalty; what can you
say to this delay of ten?”
Gou An was sentenced to death and hustled out.
But Yang Yi ventured to intervene, saying, “Gou
An is a servant of Li Yan, and Li Yan has sent large
supplies of all sorts from the Western Land of Rivers.
If you put this man to death, perhaps others will not
undertake escort duty.”
Zhuge Liang then bade the executioners loose
the offender, give him eighty blows, and let him go.
This punishment filled Gou An’s heart with bitter
resentment, and, in the night, he deserted to the
enemy, he and his half dozen personal staff. He was
taken before Sima Yi and told the tale of his wrongs.
“Your tale may be true, but it is hard to trust it,” said
Sima Yi. “Zhuge Liang is full of guile. However, you
may render me a service, and if you do, I will ask the
Ruler of Wei that you may be allowed to serve him
and obtain a post for you.”
“Whatever you ask, I will do the best I can,”
replied the deserter.
“Then go to Chengdu and spread a lying report
that Zhuge Liang is angry with the powers there and
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means to make himself emperor. This will get him
recalled, and that will be a merit to you.”
Gou An accepted the treacherous mission. In
Chengdu he got hold of the eunuchs and told them
his lying tale. The eunuchs became alarmed for their
own safety and told the Emperor all these things.
“In such a case what am I to do?” asked the
Latter Ruler.
“Recall him to the capital,” said the eunuchs, “and
take away his military powers so that he cannot
The Latter Ruler issued an edict recalling the
Jiang Wan said, “The Prime Minister has
rendered many and great services since he led out
the army; wherefore is he recalled?”
“I have a private matter to consult him about,”
said the Latter Ruler. “I must see him personally.”
So the edict was issued and sent to Zhuge Liang.
The messenger was at once received as soon as he
reached Qishan.
“The Emperor is young, and there is some jealous
persons by his side,” said Zhuge Liang sadly. “I was
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just going to achieve some solid success; why am I
recalled? If I go not, I shall insult my Prince; if I retire,
I shall never get such a chance again.”
“If the army retire, Sima Yi will attack,” said Jiang
“I will retire in five divisions. Thus today this camp
goes. Supposing that there are a thousand soldiers
in the camp, then I shall have two thousand cooking
places prepared, or if there are three thousand
soldiers, then four thousand cooking plates shall be
got ready; and so on, increasing the cooking
arrangements as the troops are sent away.”
Yang Yi said, “In the days of old, when Sun Bin
was attacking Pang Juan, Sun Bin decreased the
cooking arrangements as the soldiers were
increased. Why do you reverse this, O Minister?”
“Because Sima Yi is an able leader and would
pursue if he knew we were retreating. But he would
recognize the probability of an ambush; and if he
sees an increase in the cooking arrangements in a
camp, he will be unable to conclude whether the
troops have gone or not, and he will not pursue.
Thus I shall gradually withdraw without loss.”
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The order for retreat was given.
Confident of the effect that Gou An’s lying report
would produce, Sima Yi waited for the retreat of the
Shu army to begin. He was still waiting when the
scouts told him the enemy’s camps were empty.
Wishing to make sure, he rode out himself with a
small reconnoitering party and inspected the empty
camps. Then he bade them count the stoves. Next
day he paid a second visit to another empty camp,
and again the cooking stoves were counted. The
count showed an increase of a half.
“I felt sure that Zhuge Liang would have more
troops ready. He has increased the cooking
arrangements, and so, if we pursue, he will be ready
for us. No; we also will retire and await another
So there was no pursuit, and Zhuge Liang did not
lose a soldier on his retreat to Hanzhong.
By and by, people came in from the Lands of
Rivers to say that the retreat was a fact, and that
only the cooking arrangements had been increased,
not the soldiers.
Sima Yi knew that he had been tricked, and
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looking up the sky, he sighed, “Zhuge Liang imitated
the ruse of Sun Bin to rouse my suspicion. His
thinking is superior to mine.”
And Sima Yi set out for Luoyang.
When players of equal skill are matched,
Then victory hovers between;
Perhaps your opponent’s a genius,
So put on your lowliest mien.
What happened when Zhuge Liang returned to
Chengdu will be told next.
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CHAPTER 101. Going Out From
Longshang, Zhuge Liang Dresses As A
God; Dashing Toward Saber Pass, Zhang
He Falls Into A Snare.
By means of the artifice just described, Zhuge
Liang withdrew his army safely into Hanzhong, while
Sima Yi retreated upon Changan. Zhuge Liang
distributed the rewards for success and then went to
Capital Chengdu for audience.
“Your Majesty recalled me just as I was about to
advance upon Changan; what is the important
matter?” said the Prime Minister.
For a long time the Latter Ruler made no reply.
Presently he said, “I longed to see your face once
more, that is the only reason.”
Zhuge Liang replied, “I think my recall was not on
your own initiative; some slanderous persons has
hinted that I cherished ulterior objects.”
The Latter Ruler, who indeed felt guilty and ill at
ease, made no reply, and Zhuge Liang continued,
“Your late father laid me under an obligation which I
am pledged to fulfill to the death. But if vile
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influences are permitted to work at home, how can I
destroy the rebels without?”
“The fact is I recalled you because of the talk of
the eunuchs. But I understand now and am
unutterably sorry.”
Zhuge Liang interrogated the eunuchs and thus
found out the base rumors that had been spread
abroad by Gou An. He sent to arrest this man, but
Gou An had already fled and gone over to Wei. The
eunuchs who had influenced the Emperor were put
to death, and all the other eunuchs were expelled
from the Palace. The Prime Minister also upbraided
Jiang Wan and Fei Yi for not having looked into the
matter and set the Son of God right.
Zhuge Liang then took leave of the Latter Ruler
and returned to the army. He wrote to Li Yan to see
to the necessary supplies and began preparations
for a new expedition.
Yang Yi said, “The soldiers are wearied by the
many expeditions, and the supplies are not regular. I
think a better plan would be to send half the army to
Qishan for three months, and at the end of that time
exchange them for the other half; and so on
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alternately. For example, if you have two hundred
thousand troops, let one hundred thousand go into
the field and one hundred thousand remain. In this
way, using ten legions and ten legions, their energies
will be conserved and you can gradually work toward
the Middle Land.”
“I agree with you,” said Zhuge Liang. “Our attack
is not a matter to be achieved in haste. The
suggestion for an extended campaign is excellent.”
Wherefore the army was divided, and each half
went out for one hundred days’ service at a time,
when it was relieved by the other half. Full penalties
were provided for any laxity and failure to maintain
the periods of active service. In the spring of the
ninth year of Beginning Prosperity, the Shu army
once more took the held against Wei. In Wei it was
the fifth year of Calm Peace (AD 231).
When the Ruler of Wei heard of this new
expedition, he called Sima Yi and asked his advice.
“Now that my friend Cao Zhen is no more, I am
willing to do all that one man can to destroy the
rebels against Your Majesty’s authority,” said Sima
Three Kingdoms Romance
Cao Rui was gratified by this ready offer, and
honored Sima Yi with a banquet. Next day an edict
was issued for the army to move. The Ruler of Wei,
riding in his state chariot, escorted Sima Yi out of the
city, and, after the farewells, the general took the
road to Changan, where the force was gathering.
There was assembled a council of war.
Zhang He offered his services, saying, “I
volunteer to guard Yongcheng and Meicheng against
the Shu army.”
But Sima Yi said, “Our vanguard army is not
strong enough to face the enemy’s whole force.
Moreover, to divide an army is not generally a
successful scheme. The better plan will be to leave a
guard in Shanggui and send all the others to Qishan.
Will you undertake the leadership of the van?”
Zhang He consented, saying, “I have always
been most loyal and will devote my energies entirely
to the service of the state. So far I have not had an
adequate opportunity to prove my sincerity; but now
t h a t y o u c o n f e r u p o n m e a p o s t o f s u c h
responsibility, I can only say that no sacrifice can be
too great for me, and I will do my utmost.”
Three Kingdoms Romance
So Zhang He was appointed van−leader, and
then Guo Huai was set over the defense of the
counties of Xizhou. Other generals were distributed
to other posts, and the march began.
The spies reported: “The main force of Shu is
directed toward Qishan, and the Leaders of the Van
are Wang Ping and Zhang Ni. The route chosen for
their march is from Chencang across San Pass and
to the Xie Valley.”
Hearing this, Sima Yi said to Zhang He, “Zhuge
Liang is advancing in great force and certainly
intends to reap the wheat in Xizhou for his supply.
You get sufficient troops to hold Qishan, while Guo
Huai and I go to Tianshui and foil the enemy’s plan to
gather the wheat.”
So Zhang He took forty thousand troops to hold
Qishan, and Sima Yi set out westwards to Xizhou.
When Zhuge Liang reached Qishan and had
settled his army in camp, he saw that the bank of
River Wei had been fortified by his enemy.
“That must be the work of Sima Yi,” remarked
Zhuge Liang to his generals. “But we have not
enough food in camp. I have written to Li Yan to
Three Kingdoms Romance
send grain, but it has not yet arrived. The wheat in
Xizhou is now just ripe, and we will go and reap it.”
Leaving Wang Ping, Zhang Ni, Wu Ban, and Wu
Yi to guard for the camps, Zhuge Liang, with Wei
Yan, Jiang Wei, and several other generals, went
over to Lucheng. The Governor of that city knew he
could not offer any real defense, so he opened the
gates and yielded.
After calming the people, Zhuge Liang asked,
“Where is the ripe wheat to be found?” The Governor
replied, “Longshang is the place.”
So Zhang Yi and Ma Zhong were left to guard the
city, and the remainder of the army went to
But soon the leading body returned to say, “Sima
Yi has already occupied that city.”
“He guessed what I intended to do,” said Zhuge
Liang, taken aback.
Zhuge Liang then retired, bathed and put on
another dress. Next he bade them bring out three
four−wheeled chariots, all exactly alike, that were
among the impedimenta of the army. They had been
built in Shu some time before.
Three Kingdoms Romance
Jiang Wei was told off to lead a thousand troops
as escort for one chariot, and five hundred drummers
were appointed to accompany it. The chariot with its
escort and drummers was sent away behind the city.
In like manner two other chariots were equipped and
sent east and west of the city under Ma Dai and Wei
Yan. Each chariot was propelled by a team of
twenty−four men, all dressed in black, barefooted
and with loosened hair. Each one of the team also
had in hand a sword and a black seven−starred flag.
While the chariots were taking up their positions,
thirty thousand soldiers were ordered to prepare
wagons and sickles to cut and carry away the grain.
Next Zhuge Liang selected twenty−four good
soldiers, whom he dressed and armed like those
sent away with the three chariots. These were to
push his own chariot. Guan Xing was told to dress
up as the God of Clouds and to walk in front of
Zhuge Liang’s chariot holding a black seven−starred
flag. These preparations complete, Zhuge Liang
mounted, and the chariot took the road toward the
Wei camp.
The appearance of a chariot with such attendants
Three Kingdoms Romance
more than startled the enemy’s scouts, who did not
know whether the apparition was that of a human or
a demon. They hastened to their general and told
Sima Yi came out himself and saw the cavalcade,
and its central figure being Zhuge Liang, dressed as
a Taoist mystic, with head−dress, white robe and a
feather fan. Around the chariot were twenty−four
hair−loosened beings, each with a sword in hand;
and leading was a being as a heaven−sent god with
the seven−starred flag.
“Some of Zhuge Liang’s odd doings,” said he.
And Sima Yi ordered two thousand troops,
saying, “Chase as fast as you can, and bring in the
chariot, escort, and the seated figure.”
The soldiers went out to do their bidding; but as
soon as they appeared, the chariot retired and took a
road leading to the rear of the Shu camp. Although
the Wei soldiers were mounted, they could not come
up with the cavalcade. What they did meet with was
a chilly breeze and a cold mist that rolled about
They found it uncanny and halted, saying one to
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another, “How extraordinary it is that we have been
pressing on and yet we got no nearer. What does it
When Zhuge Liang saw that the pursuit had
ceased, he had his chariot pushed out again to the
front and passed within sight of the halted troops. At
first they hesitated, but presently took up the pursuit
once more. Whereupon the chariot again retired,
proceeding slowly, but always keeping out of reach.
And thus more than seven miles were covered and
the chariot was still not captured. Again the soldiers
h a l t e d , p u z z l e d a n d p e r p l e x e d a t t h i s
incomprehensible chase. But as soon as they
stopped, the chariot came again toward them and
they retook pursuit.
Sima Yi now came up with a strong force. But he
also halted, and said to his generals, “This Zhuge
Liang is a master in the arts of necromancy and
juggling and Eight Gates and knows how to call up
the Deities of Six Layers to his aid. I know this trick
of his; it is the ‘Ground Rolling’ in the ‘Book of Six
Layers Deities,’ and it is vain to pursue.”
So they ceased following. But then a roll of drums
Three Kingdoms Romance
came from the left side as if a body of troops were
approaching. Sima Yi told off some companies to
repel them, but there only came into view a small
force, and in their midst was a party of men dressed
in black, the exact counterpart of the cavalcade he
had first sent to pursue. In the chariot sat another
Zhuge Liang just like the one that had just
“But just now he was sitting in that other chariot,
which we chased for fifteen miles; how can he be
here?” said Sima Yi.
Shortly after they heard another roll of the drums,
and as the sound died away there appeared another
body of men, with a chariot in the midst, exactly like
the last and also carrying a sitting figure of Zhuge
“They must be heaven−sent soldiers,” said Sima
The soldiers were now feeling the strain of these
weird appearances and began to get out of hand.
They dared not stay to fight such beings, and some
ran away. But before they had gone far, lo! another
roll of drums, another cohort and another chariot with
Three Kingdoms Romance
a similar figure seated therein.
The soldiers of Wei were now thoroughly
frightened, and even Sima Yi himself began to feel
doubtful whether these appearances should be
ascribed to humans or devils. He realized, however,
that he was in the midst of dangers as he did not
know the number of the Shu soldiers, and he and his
troops ran away helter−skelter, never stopping till
they reached Shanggui. They entered the city and
closed the gates.
Having thus driven off the Wei soldiers, Zhuge
Liang proceeded to reap and gather the wheat,
which was carried into Lucheng and laid out to dry.
Sima Yi remained shut up within the walls for
three days. Then, as he saw his enemies retiring, he
sent out some scouts, who presently returned with a
Shu soldier they had captured. The prisoner was
“I was of the reaping party,” said the man. “They
caught me when I was looking for some horses that
had strayed.”
“What wonderful soldiers were they of yours that
one saw here lately?” asked the general.
Three Kingdoms Romance
The man replied, “Zhuge Liang was with one
party of them, the others were led by Jiang Wei, Ma
Dai, and Wei Yan. There was a thousand of fighting
soldiers with each chariot and five hundred
drummers. Zhuge Liang was with the first party.”
“His comings and goings are not human,” said
Sima Yi sadly.
Then Guo Huai came, and he was called to a
Said Guo Huai, “I hear the soldiers of Shu in
Lucheng are very few, and they are occupied with
gathering the grain; why not smite them?” Sima Yi
told him his last experience of his opponent’s wiles.
“He threw dust in your eyes that time,” said Guo
Huai with a smile. “However, now you know. What is
the good of more talk? Let me attack the rear, while
you lead against the front, and we shall take the city
and Zhuge Liang too.”
An attack was decided upon.
In Lucheng, while the soldiers were still busy with
the wheat, Zhuge Liang called up his generals, and
said, “The enemy will attack tonight. There is a
suitable place for an ambush in the newly reaped
Three Kingdoms Romance
fields, but who will lead for me?”
Four generals—Jiang Wei, Wei Yan, Ma Dai, and
Ma Zhong—offered themselves, and he posted
them, each with two thousand troops, outside the
four corners of the city. They were to await the signal
and then converge. When these had gone, Zhuge
Liang led out a small party of one hundred soldiers
and hid in the newly reaped fields.
In the meantime Sima Yi was drawing near. It
was dusk when he stood beneath the walls of
Said he to his officers, “If we attacked by daylight,
we should find the city well prepared; so we will take
advantage of the darkness. The moat is shallow
here, and there will be no difficulty in crossing it.”
The troops bivouacked till the time should come
to attack. About the middle of the first watch Guo
Huai arrived, and his force joined up with the others.
This done, the drums began to beat, and the city was
quickly surrounded. However, the defenders
maintained such a heavy discharge of arrows, bolts
and stones from the walls that the besiegers dared
not close in.
Three Kingdoms Romance
Suddenly from the midst of the Wei army came
the roar of a bomb, soon followed by others from
different places. The soldiers were startled, but no
one could say whence the sounds had proceeded.
Guo Huai went to search the wheat fields, and then
the four armies from the corners of the city
converged upon the Wei army. At the same time the
defenders burst out of the city gates, and a great
battle began. Wei lost many troops.
After heavy fighting Sima Yi extricated his army
from the battle and made his way to a hill, which he
set about holding and fortifying, while Guo Huai got
round to the rear of the city and called a halt.
Zhuge Liang entered the city and sent his troops
to camp again at the four corners of the walls.
Guo Huai went to see his chief, and said, “We
have long been at grips with these soldiers and are
unable to drive them off. We have now lost another
fight; and unless something is done, we shall not get
away at all.”
“What can we do?” asked Sima Yi.
“You might write to Xizhou and Yongzhou to send
their forces to our help. I will try my fortune against
Three Kingdoms Romance
Saber Pass and cut off Zhuge Liang’s retreat and
supplies. That should bring about discontent and
mutiny, and we can attack when we see the enemy
in confusion.”
The letters were sent, and soon Sun Li came
leading the troops, foot and horse, of two hundred
thousand. The new arrivals were sent to help Guo
Huai in the attack on Saber Pass.
After many days had passed without sight of the
enemy, Zhuge Liang thought it was time to make
another move. Calling up Jiang Wei and Ma Dai, he
said, “The soldiers of Wei are well posted on the hills
and refuse battle because, firstly, they think that we
are short of food, and, secondly, they have sent an
army against Saber Pass to cut off our supplies. Now
each of you will take ten thousand troops and
garrison the important points about here to show
them that we are well prepared to defend ourselves.
Then they will retire.”
After these two had gone, Yang Yi came to see
the general about the change of troops then due.
Yang Yi said, “O Minister, you have ordered the
troops to be alternated every one hundred days.
Three Kingdoms Romance
Now the time is due, and the replacing troops have
already left Hanzhong and that dispatches from the
leading divisions have come in. Here we have eighty
thousand troops, of which forty will be due for relief.”
“There is the order; carry it out,” replied Zhuge
So the forty thousand home−going soldiers
prepared to withdraw.
Just then came the news: “Sun Li has arrived with
reinforcements of two hundred thousand troops from
Xizhou and Yongzhou. Guo Huai and Sun Li have
gone to attack Saber Pass, and Sima Yi is leading
an army against Lucheng.”
In the face of such important news, Yang Yi went
to ask if the change of forces was to take place or be
postponed for a time.
Zhuge Liang replied, “I must keep faith with the
soldiers. Since the order for the periodical exchange
of troops has been issued, it must be carried out.
Beside, the soldiers due for relief are all prepared to
start, their expectations have been roused and their
relatives await them. In the face of yet greater
difficulties I would let them go.”
Three Kingdoms Romance
So orders were given for the time−expired
soldiers to march that day. But when the legionaries
heard it, a sudden movement of generosity spread
among them.
And they said, “Since the Prime Minister loves us
so much, we do not wish to go, but will prefer to
remain to fight the Wei army to death.”
“But you are due for home; you cannot stay here,”
said Zhuge Liang.
They reiterated that they all wished to stay
instead of going home.
“Since you wish to stay and fight with me, you can
go out of the city and camp ready to encounter the
army of Wei as soon as they arrive. Do not give them
time to rest or recover breath, but attack vigorously
at once. You will be fresh and fit, waiting for those
fagged with a long march.”
So they gripped their weapons and joyfully went
out of the city to array themselves in readiness.
Now the Xiliang troops had traveled by double
marches, and so were worn out and needed rest. But
while they were pitching their tents, the troops of Shu
fell upon them lustily, leaders full of spirit, soldiers full
Three Kingdoms Romance
of energy. The weary soldiers could make no proper
stand, and retired. The troops of Shu followed,
pressing on them till corpses littered the whole plain
and blood flowed in runnels.
It was a victory for Zhuge Liang, and he came out
to welcome the victors and led them into the city and
distributed rewards. Just then arrived an urgent letter
from Li Yan, then at Baidicheng, and when Zhuge
Liang had torn it open he read:
“News has just come that Wu has sent an envoy
to Luoyang and entered into an alliance with Wei
whereby Wu is to
attack us. The army of Wu has not yet set out, but
I am anxiously awaiting your plans.”
Doubts and fears crowded in upon Zhuge Liang’s
mind as he read. He summoned his officers.
“As Wu is coming to invade our land, we shall
have to retire quickly,” said he. “If I issue orders for
the Qishan force to withdraw, Sima Yi will not dare to
pursue while we are camped here.”
The Qishan force broke camp and marched in
Three Kingdoms Romance
two divisions. Zhang He watched them go, but was
too fearful of the movement being some ruse to
attempt to follow. He went to see Sima Yi.
“The enemy have retired, but I know not for what
“Zhuge Liang is very crafty, and you will do well to
remain where you are and keep a careful lookout. Do
nothing till their grain has given out, when they must
retire for good,” said Sima Yi.
Here General Wei Ping stepped forward, saying,
“But we should seize the occasion of their retreat to
smite them. Are they tigers that you fear to move?
How the world will laugh at us?”
But Sima Yi was obstinate and ignored the
When Zhuge Liang knew that the Qishan troops
had got away safely, he called Yang Yi and Ma
Zhong and gave them secret orders to lead ten
thousand of bowmen and crossbowmen out by the
Wooden Path of Saber Pass and place them in
ambush on both sides of the road.
“If the soldiers of Wei pursue, wait till you hear a
bomb. When you hear the bomb, at once barricade
Three Kingdoms Romance
the road with timber and stones so as to impede
them. When they halt, shoot at them with the bows
and the crossbows.”
Wei Yan and Guan Xing were told to attack the
rear of the enemy.
These orders given, the walls of Lucheng were
decorated lavishly with flags, and at various points
within the city were piled straw and kindling wood
ready to make some smoke as though there were
cooking activities in the city. The soldiers were sent
out along the road from the Wooden Path.
The spies of Wei returned to headquarters to say
that most of the Shu soldiers had left, only a few
being in the city. In doubt, Sima Yi went himself to
look, and when he saw the smoke rising from within
the walls and the fluttering flags, he said, “The city is
He sent men in to confirm this, and they said the
place was empty.
“Then Zhuge Liang is really gone; who will
“Let me,” replied Zhang He.
“You are too impulsive,” said Sima Yi.
Three Kingdoms Romance
“I have been leader of the van from the first day of
this expedition; why not use me today, when there is
work to be done and glory to be gained?”
“Because the utmost caution is necessary. They
are retreating, and they will leave an ambush at
every possible point.”
“I know that, and you need not be afraid.”
“Well; you wish to go and may, but whatever
happens you must be prepared for.”
“A really noble man is prepared to sacrifice self
for country; never mind what happens.”
“Then take five thousand troops and start; Wei
Ping shall follow with twenty thousand of horse and
foot to deal with any ambush that may discover itself.
I will follow later with three thousand to help where
need be.”
So Zhang He set out and advanced quickly. Ten
miles out he heard a roll of drums, and suddenly
appeared from a wood a cohort led by Wei Yan, who
galloped to the front, crying, “Whither would you go,
O rebel leader?”
Zhang He swiftly turned and engaged Wei Yan,
but after some ten passes Wei Yan fled. Zhang He
Three Kingdoms Romance
rode after Wei Yan along the road for ten miles and
then stopped to observe. As he saw no ambush, he
turned again and resumed the pursuit. All went well
till he came to a slope, when there arose shouts and
yells and another body of soldiers came out.
“Zhang He, do not run away!” cried this leader,
who was Guan Xing.
Guan Xing galloped close, and Zhang He did not
flee. They fought, and after half a score of passes
Guan Xing seemed to have the worst of the
encounter and fled. Zhang He followed. Presently
they neared a dense wood. Zhang He was fearful of
entering in, so he sent forward scouts to search the
thickets. They could find no danger, and Zhang He
again pursued.
But quite unexpectedly Wei Yan, who had
formerly fled, got round ahead of Zhang He and now
appeared again. The two fought a half score bouts
and again Wei Yan ran. Zhang He followed, but
Guan Xing also got round to the front by a side road
and so stopped the pursuit of Zhang He. Zhang He
attacked furiously as soon as he was checked, this
time so successfully that the troops of Shu threw
Three Kingdoms Romance
away their war−gear and ran. The road was thus
littered with spoil, and the Wei soldiers could not
resist the temptation to gather it. They slipped from
their horses and began to collect the arms.
The maneuvers just described continued, Wei
Yan and Guan Xing one after the other engaging
Zhang He and Zhang He pressing on after each one,
but achieving nothing. And as evening fell the
running fight had led both sides close to the Wooden
Then suddenly Wei Yan made a real stand, and
he rode to the front yelling, “Yield, rebel! I have not
fought yet and you have had it all your own way so
far. Now we will fight to the death.”
Zhang He was furious and nothing loath, so he
came on with his spear to meet Wei Yan, who was
flourishing his sword. They met; yet again, after
some ten bouts, Wei Yan threw aside weapons,
armor, helmet and all his gear, and even left his
horse, and led his defeated company sway along the
Wooden Path.
Zhang He was filled with the lust to kill, and he
could not let Wei Yan escape. So he set out after
Three Kingdoms Romance
Wei Yan, although it was already dark. But suddenly
lights appeared, and the sky became aglow, and at
the same time huge boulders and great bulks of
timber came rolling down the slopes and blocked the
Fear gripped Zhang He, and he cried, “I have
blundered into an ambush!”
The road was blocked in front and behind and
bordered by craggy precipices. Then, rat−tat−tat!
came the sound of a rattle, and therewith flew clouds
of arrows and showers of bolts. Zhang He and many
of his officers were killed.
With myriad shining bolts the air was filled,
The road was littered with brave soldiers killed;
The force to Saber Pass faring perished here;
The tale of valor grows from year to year.
Soon the second army of Wei under Wei Ping
came up, but too late to help. From the signs they
knew that their comrades had been victims of a cruel
trick, and they turned back. But as they faced about,
a shout was heard, and from the hilltops came, “I,
Three Kingdoms Romance
Zhuge Liang, am here!”
Looking up they saw his figure outlined against a
fire. Pointing to the slain, he cried, “I have gone
hunting in this wood, as you see; only instead of
slaying a horse, I have killed a deer. But you may go
in peace, and when you see your general, tell him
that he will be my quarry one day.”
The soldiers told this to Sima Yi when they
returned, and he was deeply mortified, saying,
“Letting friend Zhang He die is my fault!”
And when he returned to Luoyang, the Ruler of
Wei wept at the death of his brave leader and had
his body searched and honorably buried.
Zhuge Liang had no sooner reached Hanzhong
than he prepared to go on to Capital Chengdu and
see his lord.
But Li Yan, who was in the capital, said to the
Latter Ruler, “Why does the Prime Minister return, for
I have kept him fully supplied with all things needed
for the army?”
Then the Latter Ruler sent Fei Yi into Hanzhong
to inquire why the army had retired. And when he
had arrived and showed the cause of his coming,
Three Kingdoms Romance
Zhuge Liang was greatly surprised and showed the
letter from Li Yan, saying, “Li Yan wrote to warn that
East Wu was about to invade the country.”
Fei Yi said, “Li Yan memorialized to the Throne,
saying he had sent you supplies and knew not why
Your Excellency returned.”
So Zhuge Liang inquired carefully, and then it
came out that Li Yan had failed to find sufficient grain
to keep the army supplied, and so had sent the first
lying letter to the army that it might retire before the
shortage showed itself. His memorial to the Throne
was designed to cover the former fault.
“The fool has ruined the great design of the state
just to save his own skin,” cried Zhuge Liang bitterly.
He called in the offender and sentenced him to
death. But Fei Yi interceded, saying, “O Minister, the
First Ruler had loved and trusted Li Yan with his son.
Please forgive him this time.”
And so Li Yan’s life was spared. However, when
Fei Yi made his report, the Latter Ruler was wroth
and ordered Li Yan to suffer death. But this time
Jiang Wan intervened, saying, “Your late father
named Li Yan as one of the guardians of your
Three Kingdoms Romance
And the Latter Ruler relented. However, Li Yan
was stripped of all ranks and relegated to Zitong.
Zhuge Liang went to Chengdu and appointed Li
Feng, Li Yan’s son, as High Counselor.
Preparations then began for another expedition.
Plans were discussed, provisions were accumulated,
weapons put in order, and officers and soldiers kept
fit and trained. By his kindness to the people, Zhuge
Liang waited for three years before beginning
marching, and in the Two Lands of Rivers people’s
hearts filled with joys.
And the time passed quickly. In the second month
of the twelfth year (AD 234) Zhuge Liang presented
a memorial saying, “I have been training the army for
three years; supplies are ample, and all is in order
for an expedition. We may now attack Wei. If I
cannot destroy these rebels, sweep away the evil
hordes and bring about a glorious entry into the
capital, then may I never again enter your Majesty’s
The Latter Ruler replied, “Our state is now firmly
established, and Wei troubles us not at all; why not
Three Kingdoms Romance
enjoy the present tranquillity, O Father−Minister?”
“Because of the mission left me by your father. I
am ever scheming to destroy Wei, even in my
dreams. I must strive my best and do my utmost to
restore you to the ancient capital of your ancestry
and replace the Hans in their old palace.”
As Zhuge Liang said this, a voice cried, “An army
may not go forth, O Minister!”
Qiao Zhou had raised a last protest.
Zhuge Liang’s sole thought was service,
Himself he would not spare;
But Qiao Zhou had watched the starry sky,
And read misfortune there.
The next chapter will give the arguments against

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