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CHAPTER 111. Deng Ai Outwits Jiang Wei;

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

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Zhuge Dan Rises Up Against Sima Zhao.
Jiang Wei camped at Zhongti. The army of Wei
camped outside Didao. Wang Jing welcomed Chen
Tai and Deng Ai and prepared a banquet to
celebrate the raising of the siege and also rewarded
the army with gifts. Then Chen Tai sent up a
memorial to the Ruler of Wei, Cao Mao, eulogizing
the magnificent services of Deng Ai, who was
rewarded with the title General Who Pacifies the
West. For the time, Deng Ai was left in the west. He
and Chen Tai placed their men in cantonments in
Yongzhou, Xizhou, and the counties round about.
After Deng Ai had rendered his thanks to the
Emperor, Chen Tai spread a great feast in his honor,
and in congratulating his guest, said, “Jiang Wei
slipped off in the night because he was broken, and
he will never dare to return.”
“I think he will,” replied Deng Ai, smiling. “I can
give five reasons why he should.”
“What are they?”
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“First, although the soldiers of Shu have retired,
they have the self−possessed and confident look of
holding the victory; our soldiers are really weak and
broken. Second, the soldiers of Shu were trained
and inspirited by Zhuge Liang and are easy to
mobilize; our generals are all of different periods of
service, and our army indifferently trained. Third, the
Shu soldiers often use boats for traveling; ours do all
their journeys on land, so that while one army moves
at leisure and the troops arrive fresh, those of the
other arrive fatigued with marching. Fourth, again,
Didao, Longxi, Nanan, and Qishan are all places
suitable for defense or use as battle fields, and thus
the army of Shu can conceal their intentions and
strike where they will; we have to remain on guard at
many points, thus dividing our forces. When they
concentrate, they have only to reckon with a part of
our force. And fifth, if they come out by way of Longxi
and Nanan, they have the grain of the Qiangs to
depend upon; and if they choose Qishan, they have
the wheat there. These are the five reasons why they
should make another expedition.”
Chen Tai was overcome with the clear vision of
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his new colleague.
“Sir, your foresight is godlike. I think we need feel
no anxiety about what the enemy can achieve.”
The two leaders became the best of friends in
spite of the difference of age. Deng Ai spent his time
in training the army, and garrisons were placed at all
points where surprise attacks seemed possible.
There was feasting also at Zhongti, and the
occasion was taken to discuss a new attack on Wei.
But Fan Jian opposed. “General, your expeditions
have partly failed many times; you have never
scored a complete victory. But now on River Yao the
army of Wei recognize your superiority, and why
should you try again? There is small chance of
success, and you risk all you have gained.”
Jiang Wei replied, “You all regard only the
largeness and population of Wei and the time
necessary for conquest, but you do not see five
reasons for victory.”
The assembly asked what these were.
“First, the fighting spirit of the soldiers of Wei has
been badly broken on River Yao, while that of our
soldiers, although we retired, is unimpaired. If we
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attack, we shall certainly succeed. Second, our
soldiers can travel in boats and so will not be
wearied with marching; their soldiers have to march
to meet us. Third, our soldiers are thoroughly trained;
theirs are recruits, a mere flock of crows, quite
undisciplined. Fourth, when we go out by Qishan, we
can seize upon the autumn wheat for food. Finally,
they are scattered, having to defend various points,
while we can concentrate on any point we wish, and
they will find it difficult to bring up reinforcements. If
we miss this chance, can we hope for a better?”
Xiahou Ba said, “Deng Ai is young, but he is deep
and crafty. He has certainly taken great pains to
secure the regions under his charge as General Who
Pacifies the West. Victory will not be so easy as it
was before.”
“Why should I fear him?” cried Jiang Wei, angrily.
“You should not laud the spirit of the enemy and
belittle that of our own soldiers. But in any case I
have made up my mind and shall take Longxi.”
No one dared to offer any further opposition.
Jiang Wei himself led the first army; the others
followed in due order, and thus the soldiers of Shu
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marched out of Zhongti to Qishan.
Before they could reach Qishan, the scouts
reported the hills already occupied by the armies of
Wei. Jiang Wei rode forward to verify this, and,
surely enough, he saw the Wei camps, nine in
number, stretching over the hills like a huge serpent,
and all arranged to give each other support.
“Xiahou Ba spoke only too well,” said he. “The
plan of those camps is excellent and only our Zhuge
Liang could have laid them out with equal skill.”
Returning to his own army, he said to his officers,
“They must have known of my coming, and I think
Deng Ai is here too. Now from this as base you are
to send out daily small reconnoitering parties
showing my banner, but different flags and uniforms,
blue, yellow, red, white, and black, in turns. While
you are thus distracting attention, I will lead the main
army by Dongting to attack Nanan.”
Bao Su was sent to camp at the mouth of the
Qishan Mountain Valley while the main army
As soon as Deng Ai had heard that the enemy
would come out at Qishan, he had camped there
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with his colleague Chen Tai. But when days had
passed without anyone coming to fling a challenge,
he sent out spies to find out where the Shu army was
lurking. They could find nothing, and so Deng Ai
went to the summit of a hill to look around.
He came to the conclusion, saying, “Jiang Wei
must not be in this camp. He must be on his way to
capture Nanan. Those soldiers in the Shu camp
were nothing but a feint, accentuated by the daily
change of uniform. Going to and fro for days, the
horses look tired, and their leaders are certainly
none of the ablest. Therefore, General, I advise an
attack here. If that succeeds, the Dongting road can
be occupied, and Jiang Wei will be unable to retreat.
I think I ought to try to relieve Nanan. I will go by the
Wucheng Mountain, and if I occupy that, the enemy
will try to take Shanggui. Near that place is a narrow
and precipitous valley called Block Valley, just the
place for an ambush, where I shall lie in wait till Jiang
Wei comes to take the Wucheng Mountain.”
Chen Tai replied, “I have been here over twenty
years and have never known so much of the military
possibilities of the place. You are very wonderful and
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must carry out your plan.”
So Deng Ai marched toward Nanan by double
marches. Soon they came to the Wucheng
Mountain, where they camped without opposition. He
sent his son Deng Zhong and Shi Zuan, each
leading five thousand troops, to lie in wait in the
Block Valley and not to betray their presence.
In the meantime Jiang Wei was marching
between Dongting and Nanan.
Near the Wucheng Mountain, he turned to Xiahou
Ba and said, “That hill is our point, and Nanan is
close. I fear lest the artful Deng Ai may seize and
fortify it.”
They hastened, anxious to reach the hill before
the enemy. But it was not to be. Presently they heard
the roar of bombs and the beating of drums, and
then flags and banners appeared, all of Wei. And
among them fluttered the leader’s standard, bearing
the name “Deng Ai.”
This was a sad disappointment. The army of Shu
halted, and veteran soldiers of Wei came rushing
down from various points on the hill, too many for the
troops of Shu to drive back. So the advance guard
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was defeated. Jiang Wei went to their help with his
central body, but when he got near, the soldiers of
Wei had retreated up to the hill.
Jiang Wei went on to the foot of the hill and
challenged, but no one came out to accept. The
soldiers of Shu began to shout abuse, and kept it up
till late in the day, but they failed to provoke a fight.
As the army of Shu began to retire, the Wei drums
beat furiously, yet no one appeared. Jiang Wei
turned about to ascend the hill, but its defenders
prevented that by stones thrown from above. He
hung on till the third watch, when he tried again. But
he failed. Thereupon he went down the hill and
halted, bidding his soldiers build a barricade of wood
and boulders. The troops of Wei came on again, and
the Shu troops scrambled to run to the old camp.
Next day Jiang Wei brought up many transport
wagons and placed them on the slope as the
nucleus of a camp. But in the night a number of Wei
troops came down with torches and set fire to them.
A fight ensued, which lasted till dawn.
Seeing that a camp could not be made there,
Jiang Wei retired to consider new plans with Xiahou
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“Since we cannot take Nanan, our next best plan
is to try for Shanggui, which is the storehouse of
Leaving Xiahou Ba on the hill, Jiang Wei led a
force of veteran soldiers and bold officers along the
road toward Shanggui. They marched all night, and
dawn found them in a deep valley, which the guides
said was Block Valley.
“That sounds too much like ‘Cut−off Valley,’“ said
Jiang Wei. “And if a force held the mouth, we should
be in sorry straits.”
While hesitating whether to advance farther or
not, the leading troops came back to say they had
seen a cloud of dust beyond the hills, which seemed
to indicate a body of soldiers in hiding. So the order
was given to retire.
At that moment the armies under Shi Zuan and
Deng Zhong came out and attacked. Jiang Wei,
alternately fighting and retreating, tried to get away.
Then Deng Ai himself appeared, and the Shu army
had enemies on three sides. They were in grave
danger, but Xiahou Ba came to their rescue, and so
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Jiang Wei escaped.
Jiang Wei proposed to return to Qishan, but
Xiahou Ba said, “We cannot go thither, for Chen Tai
has destroyed the force under Bao Su, and he
himself was killed. All that was left of that army has
gone back into Hanzhong.”
It was no longer a question of taking the Dongting
road. Jiang Wei sought out by−roads to march along.
Deng Ai came in pursuit, and as he pressed hard on
the rear, Jiang Wei sent the others on ahead while
he covered the retreat.
Soon Chen Tai came out from the hills, and Jiang
Wei was surrounded by a shouting body of the
enemy. He fought all directions, but could not clear
the way. He and his horse were very weary when
Zhang Ni, who had heard of his straits, came to his
rescue with a body of cavalry. Zhang Ni cut his way
in, and Jiang Wei immediately broke the siege and
got out. Zhang Ni saved his general, but lost his own
life in the melee. Finally Jiang Wei got back into
From Hanzhong the death of Zhang Ni in battle
was reported to the Latter Ruler, who bestowed
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suitable honors upon his family. The Shu people
blamed Jiang Wei for the serious loss of life of their
relatives in the military operations that had just failed,
and Jiang Wei, following the precedent in Jieting of
the late Lord of Wuxiang, asked that he himself
should be degraded in rank, retaining, however, the
command. He was put back to General of the Rear
The country being now cleared of the enemy,
Chen Tai and Deng Ai prepared a banquet in honor
of victory and gave rewards to the soldiers who had
fought. Chen Tai sent a memorial to the capital upon
the services of Deng Ai, and a special commission of
Sima Zhao brought Deng Ai higher rank; the title of
lordship was given to his son, Deng Zhong.
At this time the style of the reign in Wei was
changed from Right Origin, the third year, to Gentle
Dew, the first year (AD 256). Sima Zhao commanded
all the military forces and made himself Empire
Commander−in−Chief. He assumed great pomp, and
whenever he moved outside his palace, he was
escorted by three thousand mail−clad guards, beside
squadrons of cavalry. All power lay in his hands, and
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he decided all questions so that the court was rather
in his palace than in that of the Emperor.
Plans for taking the final step constantly occupied
his thoughts. The question of mounting the throne
was openly mooted by Jia Chong, a confidant, who
was a son of Commander Jia Kui.
Jia Chong said, “Sir, all real authority is in your
hands, and the country is not tranquil. The only
remedy is for you to become actual ruler, and you
should find out who are your supporters.”
Sima Zhao replied, “This has been in my thoughts
a long time. You might be my emissary to the east to
find out the feeling there. You can pretend you go to
thank the soldiers who took part in the late
campaign. That would be a good pretext.”
Accordingly Jia Chong traveled into the South of
River Huai, where he saw Zhuge Dan, General Who
Guards the East. This officer was from Nanyang and
a cousin of the late Lord of Wuxiang, Zhuge Liang.
Zhuge Dan had gone to Wei for employment, but
had received no significant office while Zhuge Liang
was the Prime minister of Shu. After Zhuge Liang’s
death, Zhuge Dan’s promotion was rapid. He was
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now Lord of Gaoping and Commander of the south
and east of River Huai.
Jia Chong went to Zhuge Dan to ask him to
convey to the army the appreciation of the soldiers’
services. Jia Chong was received courteously, and
at a banquet, when host and guest were both mellow
with wine, Jia Chong set himself to discover Zhuge
Dan’s feelings.
Jia Chong said, “Lately in Luoyang there has
been much talk of the weakness and lack of ability of
the Emperor and his unfitness to rule. Now General
Sima Zhao comes of a family noted for state service
for three generations. His own services and virtues
are high as the heavens, and he is the man best
fitted to take the rulership of Wei. Is this not your
But Zhuge Dan did not favor the suggestion. On
the contrary, he broke out angrily, “You are a son of
Jia Kui of Yuzhou, and your family have received the
bounty of Wei. Yet you dare speak of rebellion!”
Jia Chong said, “I only repeat what people have
Zhuge Dan said, “If the state is in difficulty, then
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one ought to stand up for it even to the death.”
Jia Chong said no more. He soon returned and
told Sima Zhao what had been said.
“The rat!” cried Sima Zhao, angrily.
“Zhuge Dan is exceedingly popular there in the
South of River Huai; and if he is left too long, he will
do harm.”
Sima Zhao began to take measures. He wrote
privately to Yue Chen, Imperial Protector of
Yangzhou, and sent a messenger to Zhuge Dan with
an edict making him Minister of Works. This meant
that Zhuge Dan had to come to the capital.
But Zhuge Dan knew that Jia Chong had done
him mischief, and he interrogated the messenger,
who told him that Yue Chen knew all about the
“How does he know?”
“General Sima Zhao sent him a private letter.”
The messenger was condemned to death. Then
Zhuge Dan placed himself at the head of his
personal guard and marched to Yangzhou. The city
gates were closed and the drawbridge raised. He
summoned the gate, but no one answered.
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“How dare this fellow Yue Chen treat me thus?”
cried Zhuge Dan.
He ordered his troops to force the gate. Ten of his
bold generals dismounted, crossed the moat, and
climbed the ramparts, where they slew all who
opposed them and opened the gate. The others
entered, set fire to the houses, and began to fight
their way toward the state residence.
The Imperial Protector sought refuge in a tower,
but Zhuge Dan made his way up and reproached his
enemy, crying, “Your father, Yue Jin, enjoyed the
bounty of Wei; yet you have not sought to repay the
kindness of the Ruling House, but you want to help
the rebel Sima Zhao.”
Before Yue Chen was able to answer, Zhuge Dan
slew him. Then he sent to Luoyang a memorial
detailing Sima Yi’s many faults, and made
preparations for war. He called up all the militia of
the south and east of River Huai, to the total of one
hundred thousand, and took over the forty thousand
troops who had surrendered on the fall of Yue Chen
and gathered supplies. He also sent Adviser Wu
Gang to Wu for aid, offering his son Zhuge Jing as a
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hostage for his good faith.
At this time Sun Jun had died and his brother,
Sun Chen, was Prime Minister. Sun Chen was a
man of cruel and violent temper and had put many
officers to death on his way to power; among them
were Grand Commander Teng Yin, General Lu Ju,
and Minister Wang Chun. The Ruler of Wu, Sun
Liang, although intelligent, was helpless in his hands.
The messenger, Wu Gang, conducted Zhuge Jing
to the residence of Sun Chen in Shidou, who asked
what he had come for.
Wu Gang explained, “Zhuge Dan is a cousin of
the Lord of Wuxiang in Shu. Zhuge Dan had been in
service of Wei; and seeing Sima Zhao depose the
his prince and oppress good people, he wants to
punish the tyrant. But his force is not enough, and he
asks for your help. To show his sincerity, he sends
his son Zhuge Jing as a token of good faith.”
Wu Gang’s request was received favorably, and
Sun Chen sent seventy thousand troops with a full
complement of officers—Quan Yi and Quan Duan as
Commander, Yu Quan as Rear Guard, Tang Zi and
Zhu Yi as Leaders of the Van, Wen Qin as Military
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Guide. They marched in three directions to attack
Wu Gang returned to Shouchun report success.
Zhuge Dan thought all was going well and prepared
the army for a general attack.
In Luoyang, Zhuge Dan’s memorial angered Sima
Zhao, who wished to set out to revenge the attack at
once, but Jia Chong preached caution.
“My lord, you derived your power from your father
and brother, and people have not had time to
discover your own virtue. If you leave the court and
there be a revulsion of feeling against you, you will
lose all. Rather request the Empress Dowager and
the Son of Heaven to go with you in the expedition,
and nothing is to be feared,” said Jia Chong.
“That is an excellent plan.”
Sima Zhao went into the Palace and proposed it
to Her Majesty, saying, “Zhuge Dan is in revolt, and I
and my colleagues intend to punish him. I beg that
you will accompany the expedition as the late
Emperor would have done.”
The Empress was afraid, but dared not refuse,
and the next day was requested to set out with the
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Ruler of Wei, Cao Mao.
Cao Mao said, “General, you command all the
armies and dispose them as you will; why do you ask
me to go?”
Sima Zhao replied, “Your Majesty is wrong to
hesitate. Your ancestors traveled over the empire
and wished to unite the whole under one ruler.
Wherever there was a worthy opponent, they went to
face him. Your Majesty should follow their example
and sweep the land clean. Why fear?”
Cao Mao, fearing his minister’s terrible power,
consented, and an edict was issued for the
commands to mobilize two hundred sixty thousand
troops of two capitals. Wang Ji, General Who
Corrects the South, was in command of the van, and
Chen Qian, General Who Pacifies the East, was
second in command of the van. Shi Bao, Army
Inspector, and Zhou Tai, Imperial Protector of
Yangzhou, led the imperial escort. The army moved
into the South of River Huai like a great flood.
Zhu Yi, the Leader of the Van of Wu, encountered
them, and both sides drew up for battle. Zhu Yi rode
out and took the challenge, but was overcome by
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Wang Ji in the third bout and he fled. Tang Zi also
rode out, but was also beaten in the third encounter
by Wang Ji. Then Wang Ji ordered a full attack. The
troops of Wu were broken and retired fifteen miles
and camped. Thence they sent tidings of their
ill−success to Shouchun.
Zhuge Dan in Shouchun led out his bold and
strong soldiers to join forces with Wen Qin and his
two sons, Wen Yang and Wen Hu. Then they set out
against Sima Zhao.
Now here is a check to the armies of Wu,
And Wei’s gallant men advance.
The next chapter will tell how went victory.
Three Kingdoms Romance

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