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CHAPTER 113. Ding Feng Makes A Plan To Slay Sun Chen; Jiang Wei Arrays A Battle To Defeat Deng Ai.

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

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Fearing lest reinforcements would strengthen his
enemy beyond his own power of resistance, Jiang
Wei decided to retreat while he could. He sent all his
stores and baggage away first with the footmen, and
kept the cavalry to cover the retirement.
The spies reported his movements to Deng Ai,
who said, “He has gone because he knew that the
main army would soon be upon him. Let him go, and
do not follow. If we pursue, he will play us some evil
Scouts were sent to keep in touch with the
retreating army, and when they returned they
reported that preparations of dry woods and straws
had been made in the Luo Valley to check any
pursuit with fire.
The officers praised the prescience of Deng Ai,
“General, your calculation is superhuman!”
When Deng Ai reported these matters to the
capital, Sima Zhao was very pleased and confer
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more rewards.
The Prime Minister of Wu, Sun Chen, was greatly
angered by the desertion of so many of his soldiers
and officers to Wei, and revenged himself by putting
their families to death. The Ruler of Wu, Sun Liang,
disapproved of these acts of cruelty, but he was
The young Emperor was of an ingenious turn of
mind. One day he went to the West Park to eat of the
newly ripened plums. He bade one of the eunuchs
bring some honey. It was brought, but there were
mouse droppings in it. The Ruler of Wu called the
storekeeper and blamed him for carelessness.
The storekeeper said, “We are very careful to
keep the stores in good order, and the honey cannot
not possibly have been fouled in the storehouse.”
“Has any one asked you for honey lately?” asked
the Ruler of Wu.
“One of the eunuchs asked for some a few days
ago. I refused him.”
The Ruler of Wu called the named eunuch and
said, “You defiled the honey out of spite.”
The man denied it.
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“It is very easy to tell,” said the Ruler of Wu. “If
the dirt has been lying in the honey for some time it
will be wet all through.”
Then the Ruler of Wu ordered them to cut one of
the lumps, and it was quite dry inside. The eunuch
then confessed.
This shows the Ruler of Wu was quick−witted. But
clever as he was, he could not control his Prime
Minister, whose relatives were in command of all the
garrisons and armies, so that he was unassailable.
four brothers all had high offices: Sun Jun was
General Who Terrifies Distant Regions and
Commander of Imperial Guards; Sun En, General
Who Shows Prowess; Sun Gan, Imperial
Commander; and Sun Kai, Commander of
One day the Ruler of Wu, musing over his
sorrows and feeling very miserable, began to weep.
The officer in charge of the eunuchs, who was an
Imperial Brother−in−Law, stood by.
“Sun Chen holds all real power and does as he
wishes, while I am despised,” said the Ruler of Wu.
Three Kingdoms Romance
“Something must be done.”
Quan Ji said, “I would think no sacrifice too great
if Your Majesty would make use of me.”
“If you could muster the Palace Guards and help
General Liu Cheng to keep the gates, I would go and
murder that ruffian. But you must not let anyone
know; for if you tell your noble mother, who is a sister
of Sun Chen, she will tell her brother, and that would
be very serious for me.”
“Will Your Majesty give me a command that I may
have authority to act when the time comes?” said
Quan Ji. “At the critical moment I could show the
edict and hold back Sun Chen’s supporters.”
The command was given, and Quan Ji went
home. But he could not keep his secret, and
confided the plan to his father, Quan Shang. His
father told his wife, “Sun Chen will be got rid of in
three days.”
“Oh, he deserves that,” said she.
Although she seemed to approve with her tongue,
she sent a secret messenger with a letter to the
proposed victim.
That same night Sun Chen called in his four
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leader brothers, and the Palace was surrounded.
The conspirators were seized, with Liu Cheng and
Quan Shang and all their families.
About dawn the Ruler of Wu was disturbed by a
commotion at the gates, and a servant told him, “Sun
Chen with his army has surrounded the Inner
Sun Liang knew that he had been betrayed. He
turned on Empress Quan, who was of the Quan
house, and reproached her.
“Your father and brother have upset all my plans.”
Drawing his sword, he was dashing out when his
Consort and her people clung to his clothing and
held him back.
After putting to death Liu Cheng’s and Quan
Shang’s parties, Sun Chen assembled the officers in
the court and addressed them thus: “The Emperor is
vicious and weak, depraved and foolish and unfit for
his high office. Wherefore he must be deposed. Any
of you who oppose will be punished as for
Only one of those present dared to say a word of
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It was High Minister Huan Yi, who said, “How
dare you utter such words? Our Emperor is very
intelligent, and I will not support you. I would rather
Sun Chen wrathfully drew his sword and slew
Huan Yi.
Then Sun Chen went into the Palace and said to
Sun Liang, “O unrighteous and unenlightened
Highness, your death would be the only fitting
reparation to make to the empire, but out of
consideration for your ancestors you are only
deposed and degraded to princely rank as Prince of
Kuaiji. I will select a worthy successor.”
Minister Li Zong was ordered to bring in the royal
seal, which was delivered to Deng Cheng. The
deposed ruler retired weeping.
The sage example of the wise Yi Yin
Perverted now to traitor’s use we see;
And Huo Guang’s faithful services are made
A cloak to cover vilest treachery.
Even able princes are but toys of fate,
And need our pity, fallen from high estate.
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Sun Chen then sent two ministers of the court,
Sun Kai and Dong Chao, went as envoys to Hulin to
request Sun Xiu, Prince of Langye, the sixth son of
Sun Quan, to ascend the throne.
The Emperor−elect had had some premonition of
the high honor to which he was now called, for in a
dream he saw he ascended into the skies seated on
a dragon. Only the dragon seemed to have no tail.
He woke up in a fright, and the next day brought the
Imperial Envoys, Sun Kai and Dong Chao.
Sun Xiu set out. At Que his carriage was stopped
by a venerable old man who claimed to be Gan Xiu
and offered felicitations.
“Your Majesty should move faster, for things may
change swiftly,” said the aged one.
Sun Xiu thanked the old man.
At Busai Pavilion awaited Sun En with a chariot,
but Sun Xiu’s modesty would not allow him to mount
it. He remained in his own simple carriage and
therein traveled to the Palace. Officials lined the road
to salute him, and he dismounted to return their
salutations. Then Sun Chen stood forth and bade
them take the newly−elected Emperor by the arm
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and lead him into the Great Hall, where, after thrice
refusing the honor, he at last took his seat in the
Dragon Throne and received the jade seal passed
from one ruler to another.
When all the officers had made obeisance, there
were the usual amnesties, promotions, and honors,
and Eternal Tranquillity, the first year (AD 258), was
the name of the new reign. Sun Chen was confirmed
as Prime Minister, with the Protectorship of
Jingzhou. Moreover, Sun Hao, the son of his elder
brother, was created Lord of Wucheng.
Sun Chen, with five persons in his family holding
lordships and the whole army under their command,
was immensely powerful, able to set up and pull
down at will. The new Ruler of Wu, Sun Xiu, secretly
feared him; and although outwardly he showed Sun
Chen great favor, yet he kept careful watch over Sun
Chen, whose arrogance knew no bounds.
In the winter Sun Chen sent into the Palace
presents of oxen and wine as birthday gifts. The
Ruler of Wu declined them. Sun Chen was very
annoyed and took the presents to Zhang Bu’s
residence, where they two dined together. Zhang Bu
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was the General of the Left Army.
When warmed with wine, Sun Chen said, “When I
deposed the present Prince of Kuaiji, many people
urged me to take the throne myself. But I acted
magnanimously and set up this present Emperor.
Now I suffer the mortification of seeing my presents
rejected. You will see what will come of this slight.”
Zhang Bu showed sympathy, but the next day he
secretly told the Ruler of Wu, and Sun Xiu’s fears
increased so that he could not rest. Shortly after this,
Sun Chen sent a large body of troops under the
command of Minister Meng Zong into camp at
Wuchang, and Sun Chen armed them from the state
Whereupon General Wei Miao and Imperial
Guard Shi Shuo secretly memorialized the Ruler of
Wu: “Sun Chen has moved the troops outside and
provided them with state arms. This action points to
Sun Xiu was shocked, and called in Zhang Bu to
consult, and he said, “The Veteran General Ding
Feng is an able and trustworthy officer. He should be
Three Kingdoms Romance
So Ding Feng was called and taken into the
Emperor’s confidence.
“Have no anxiety,” said Ding Feng. “I will find
some way of ridding the state of this evil.”
“What do you propose?”
“When the winter court is held, and all the officers
are assembled, spread a great banquet and invite
Sun Chen. I shall be ready to act.”
Wei Miao and Shi Shuo were taken into the plot
and were to do what was possible outside the
palace, and Zhang Bu saw to arrangements within.
One night a heavy storm came on to blow, which
tore up great trees by the roots. However, by daylight
it had abated, and that morning an Emperor’s
messenger arrived bearing an invitation to a banquet
in the royal palace. Sun Chen rose from his couch,
and, as he did so, fell flat on the ground as though
he had been pushed from behind. This accident
troubled him, and he felt apprehensive, so he called
half a score of his trusty guards to act as his escort
to the palace.
As he was leaving home, his family besought him
not to go out, saying, “The storm last night and the
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fall this morning are fearful omens. You should not
go to that banquet.”
However, he made light of their fears and said,
“My brothers are holding the army; who will dare
come near me? But if there is anything amiss, you
just give a fire signal from the Prime Minister’s
So Sun Chen took his seat, and the carriage set
out. When he reached the Palace, the Ruler of Wu
rose from his place to welcome him, and at table Sun
Chen sat in the seat of honor. The banquet
“There is a fire outside; what does that mean?”
said a guest presently.
Sun Chen rose to go out, but the Ruler of Wu
said, “There is no danger, and there are plenty of
soldiers outside to take care of that.”
Just at that moment Zhang Bu entered at the
head of three hundred armed guards. He rushed up
the banquet chamber shouting, “I hold a command to
slay the rebel Sun Chen!”
Instantly the Prime Minister was seized. He fell
prostrate before the Ruler of Wu, knocking his head
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on the ground and crying, “Spare my life! Exile me to
Jiaozhou, where I will do plow work.”
“Did you exile any of your victims—Teng Yin, Lu
Ju, Wang Chun, and others?” said the Ruler of Wu,
The order went forth to carry out the execution,
and Sun Chen was hustled out and put to death. No
single person of his servants raised a hand to help
Then Zhang Bu read an edict: “Sun Chen is the
only culprit, and no other will be questioned.”
Then at Zhang Bu’s request, the Ruler of Wu
went up on the Tower of the Five Phoenixes. Zhang
Bu, Wei Miao, and Shi Shuo brought the brothers of
the Prime Minister before Sun Xiu, and he
condemned them to death. After this their families
were slain, so that many hundreds suffered death.
Not content with all these things, the tomb of Sun
Jun was broken open and his corpse beheaded.
M a g n i f i c e n t t o m b s w e r e r a i s e d t o h i s
victims—Zhuge Ke, Teng Yin, Lu Ju, Wang Chun,
and others. Thus at last loyalty was rewarded, and
the banished were permitted to return home with full
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pardon. The conspirators were rewarded.
News of this revolution was sent into Chengdu,
and the Latter Ruler sent an envoy into Wu with
felicitations. In return, the Ruler of Wu sent Xue Xu
as his envoy to Shu.
When Xue Xu returned, the Ruler of Wu
questioned about affairs in the west, and Xue Xu
said, “All affairs of state are in the hands of a certain
eunuch named Huang Hao, and all the courtiers look
up to him as to a father. At court plain truth is never
heard, and the country people look sallow and
starved. The whole country appears on the verge of
destruction. The birds on the roof do not know that
the building is about to be burned.”
“Ah ! If only Zhuge Liang the Martial Lord was still
alive; how different all would be!” said Sun Xiu, with
a sigh.
Letters were prepared saying that beyond doubt
Sima Zhao intended usurpation, and when that came
about in Wei, both Wu and Shu would be invaded.
Wherefore both should be ready.
On the arrival of these letters, Jiang Wei
hastened to seek permission to attempt another
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expedition. Consent being given, a large army
marched into Hanzhong in the winter of the first year
of Wonderful Sight (AD 258). Liao Hua and Zhang Yi
were appointed Leaders of the Van, Wang Han and
Jiang Bin as Commanders of the Left, and Jiang Shu
and Fu Qian as Commanders of the Right, while
Jiang Wei and Xiahou Ba led the main column.
Asked what he thought should be the first
objective, Xiahou Ba replied, “There is no better
fighting ground than Qishan, as the tactics of the late
Prime Minister made evident, and it is the only good
So thither three armies marched, and they made
three camps at the entrance to the valley. At this
time Deng Ai had a training camp at Qishan drilling
the Longyou troops. The scouts told him of the
coming of the western army, and he ascended a hill
to see and verify their reports. He seemed pleased
when he saw the enemy camp.
“They have just done as I foresaw,” said Deng Ai.
Now Deng Ai had carefully considered the “pulse”
of the countryside, and so had not interfered with the
Shu army when it was on the march or settling into
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camp. Moreover, he had excavated a subterranean
road to the spot where he had thought they would
halt, and their left camp had been pitched just on it.
Wang Han and Jiang Bin commanded in that camp.
Deng Ai called his son Deng Zhong and Shi Zuan
and sent them with ten thousand troops each to
attack the left camp, one on each flank. Then he sent
Zheng Lun and five hundred troops into the
underground road, which opened in rear of the camp
of Wang Han and Jiang Bin.
As the newly made camp was not yet well
fortified, Wang Han and Jiang Bin exercised great
care and kept their troops under arms all night,
watching with vigilance. So when the alarm was
given, they had but to seize their weapons and go
out. But as the two leaders were mounting their
steeds, Deng Zhong and Shi Zuan had attacked from
without, and Zheng Lun from within. Thus attacked
from three sides, soon Wang Han and Jiang Bin
found the position untenable and fled.
When Jiang Wei saw that his left camp had been
attacked on three sides, he mounted and took his
position in front of the center camp.
Three Kingdoms Romance
“Let no one move on pain of death!” he shouted.
“Stand still, and when the enemy approaches shoot.”
The right camp was ordered to stand fast. His
defense was effective. A dozen of times the troops of
Wei came forward, only to be driven back before the
arrows and bolts of the defenders. Daylight found the
Shu camps still firm, and the Wei troops drew off.
“Jiang Wei has indeed learned of Zhuge Liang,”
said Deng Ai. “His soldiers stood the night attack
without flinching, and the leaders took the chances of
battle quite calmly. He is able.”
Next day, when Wang Han and Jiang Bin went to
confess their fault, Jiang Wei said, “It was less your
fault than mine, for I did not clearly recognize the
nature of the terrain.”
So no penalty was inflicted. The camp was made
stronger, and the subterranean passage was filled
with the bodies of the slain.
A challenge to battle for the following day was
sent to Deng Ai, who accepted it joyfully.
Next day the two armies were arrayed in front of
the Qishan Mountains. The troops of Shu arrayed
according to the “Eight Formations” designed by
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Zhuge Liang, which are called Heaven, Earth, Wind,
Cloud, Bird, Serpent, Dragon, and Tiger. While the
maneuver was in progress, Deng Ai recognized it as
the Eight Gates Formation and placed his troops
Jiang Wei then gripped his spear and rode out,
saying, “You have made a good imitation of my
eight, but can you work variations?”
“You call these yours! Did you think that you
alone held the secret? Since I have made it, of
course I know the variations.”
Deng Ai reentered his ranks, gave the signal
officers certain orders, and the eight gates were
evolved in rapid succession into sixty−four gates.
Then he rode to the front again.
“What of my evolution?” asked Deng Ai.
“Not so bad; would you like to try a surrounding
move with me?” replied Jiang Wei.
“Why not?”
The two armies moved in orderly ranks. Deng Ai
stood in the midst of his army giving the necessary
orders. Then the clash came, but his tactics did not
grip. Then Jiang Wei waved a certain signal flag, and
Three Kingdoms Romance
his force suddenly assumed the form of a serpent
coiled on the ground with Deng Ai in the center.
Shouts arose all about him, and Deng Ai could not
understand what had happened and began to feel
afraid. Gradually the troops of Shu closed in upon
him, and he saw no way of escape.
“Deng Ai, you must surrender!” cried the soldiers.
“Indeed a moment of pride had led me into the
trap of Jiang Wei,” he sighed.
Suddenly from the northwest a cohort dashed in.
To Deng Ai’s great joy they were soldiers of Wei, and
they forced over the battle array and released him.
The leader was Sima Wang.
But although Deng Ai had been rescued, his nine
camps were seized by his enemy and he had to
retire. He led his army to the south of River Wei and
made a camp.
“How did you know exactly where to strike in that
maze?” asked Deng Ai of his rescuer.
Sima Wang replied, “In my youth I studied tactics
and was friendly with Shi Guangyuan and Cui
Zhouping. They explained that formation to me.
Jiang Wei used what is known as ‘The Serpent Coil,’
Three Kingdoms Romance
and the only way to break it is to attack the head,
which I saw was in the northwest.”
Deng Ai replied, “Although I have studied
formations, I do not know all the modifications. But
since you know about this, we may be able to
recover our camps.”
“I fear the little I have learned will not be enough
to overcome Jiang Wei.”
“Tomorrow you shall contend with him, and while
his attention is engaged, I will attack the rear of
Qishan, and we will recover our camps.”
So a force was prepared to attack on the morrow,
and Deng Ai sent a letter of challenge to a contest in
tactics for the same day. Jiang Wei marked in to
Jiang Wei said to his officers, “In the secret book
that I received from the Prime Minister, the variations
of the formation are three hundred and sixty−five,
corresponding to the circuit of the heavens. This
challenge from them is as one going to teach hewing
to the God of Carpenters. I think some ruse lies
behind this. Can you guess what it is?”
Liao Hua replied, “While they engage your
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attention in this competition, they intend to attack our
“Just so; that is my opinion,” replied Jiang Wei.
So he prepared a counter−stroke by sending Liao
Hua and Zhang Yi to lie in wait at the back of the hills
with ten thousand troops.
Next day Jiang Wei led all the troops from the
nine camps out and drawn up in front of the hills.
Sima Wang came out on the other side and
presently rode to the front to parley.
“You have challenged me to a contest; now draw
up your army for me to see,” said Jiang Wei.
Sima Wang did so and arrayed the eight
diagrams, Octagon.
“That is what we know as the Octagon,” said
Jiang Wei. “But it is nothing wonderful, only a sort of
array fit for a brigand’s raid.”
“You also have only stolen another man’s tactics,”
replied his adversary.
“How many modifications of this are there?”
asked Jiang Wei.
“Since I have arranged this, naturally I know the
variations, of which there are nine nines, making
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“Try them.”
Sima Wang returned to his array and evolved
many, finally riding out and asking his opponent if he
recognized them.
“My formation admits of three hundred and
sixty−five variations. You are but a frog in a well and
know nothing of the deeper mysteries.”
Now Sima Wang knew that so many variations
were possible, but had not studied them. However,
he put on a bold air and said contemptuously, “I do
not believe you. Prove it!”
“Go and call Deng Ai,” replied Jiang Wei. “I will
display them to him.”
“General Deng Ai has excellent plans and does
not think much of such tactics.”
“What plans? I suppose you mean a plan to keep
me here while he tries a surprise attack in the rear.”
Sima Wang was aghast. He made a sudden dash
forward, and a melee began. Jiang Wei made a
signal with his whip, and his force poured in from
both wings. The troops of Wei were seized with
sudden panic, threw down their weapons and fled.
Three Kingdoms Romance
Now Deng Ai had hurried on Zheng Lun to make
the first attack. As Zheng Lun turned the corner of
the hill, a bomb exploded. At once the drums rolled
and an ambush discovered itself. Liao Hua was in
command. Neither side stayed to parley, and the
leaders engaged in single combat. In the first
encounter Liao Hua cut Zheng Lun down.
Deng Ai had not expected such preparation, and
he hastened to withdraw. Then Zhang Yi came forth
and attacked on the other side. The army of Wei was
worsted. Deng Ai fought his way out, but he bore
four arrow wounds upon his body. He got to the river,
where he found Sima Wang, and they discussed
how to get away.
But Sima Wang proposed another form of attack.
“Recently the Ruler of Shu has had a favorite,
Eunuch Huang Hao, in whom he places all his trust
and with whom he spends his time in one round of
pleasure. Let us use the eunuch to sow distrust
between the Emperor and his general and so get
Jiang Wei recalled. In that way we shall retrieve our
So Deng Ai assembled his advisers and asked
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who could go into Shu and get into communication
with Huang Hao.
Dang Jun volunteered at once. Deng Ai entrusted
gold and pearls and precious things to him, and sent
him into Shu to win the treacherous alliance of the
eunuch. As Dang Jun went, he also disseminated
reports that
Jiang Wei was angry and intended to go over to
These rumors became the common talk in
Chengdu, and everyone believed them. Huang Hao
carried them to the Emperor, and a messenger was
sent to call the general to the capital.
Meanwhile Jiang Wei tried every day to bring the
enemy to give battle, but they remained obstinately
behind their defenses. Jiang Wei began to think
some evil scheme was afoot, when suddenly he was
recalled by Imperial Edict. Although ignorant of the
reason, he could not disobey; and when he began
the retreat, Deng Ai and Sima Wang knew that their
plot had succeeded. They broke camp and set out to
attack the retreating army.
Three Kingdoms Romance
Because of court intrigues
Yue Yi and Yue Fei failed.
How matters went will be told in the next chapter.

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