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CHAPTER 115. Listening To Slander, The Latter Ruler Recalls His Army; Living In Farms, Jiang Wei Avoids Disaster.

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

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In the autumn of the fifth year of Wonderful Sight,
in Shu−Han calendar (AD 263), Jiang Wei was
occupied with preparations for the renewal of an
attack; mending the hill roads, gathering stores, and
mobilizing his boats on the waterways of Hanzhong.
These things done, he memorized the Throne,
asking permission to go again to the attack:
“Although I have not been wholly victorious nor
accomplished great things, yet I have put fear into
the hearts of the
Wei armies. Our soldiers have been long under
training, and they must now be used, or the army will
go to pieces for lack of exercise. The soldiers are
ready to die, the officers prepared for all risks, and I
am determined to conquer or perish.”
The Latter Ruler did not consent at once.
As he was hesitating, Qiao Zhou stood forth and
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said, “I have observed the heavens. I have seen the
leader stars in Shu dull and obscured. This
expedition will be disastrous, and I hope Your
Majesty will not approve.”
The Latter Ruler replied, “Let us see the results of
this campaign; if it fails, then the war shall cease.”
Qiao Zhou resented the rejection of his advice,
withdrew to his home, and retired on the pretext of
As the final preparations were being made, Jiang
Wei said to Liao Hua, “We are pledged to get
through to the Middle Land this time; what do you
advise to start with?”
“I dare not presume to advise you, General. For
years we have been fighting and giving the people
no rest. In Deng Ai we find a most formidable and
resourceful opponent and an extraordinarily capable
man, so that you must exert yourself to the very
Jiang Wei was annoyed. Said he, “The late Prime
Minister made six attempts, all for the state. I have
attacked eight times. Was any one of those attacks
to serve my private ends? This time I go to attack
Three Kingdoms Romance
Taoyang, and no one shall say me nay. I will punish
opposition with death.”
Jiang Wei left Liao Hua in charge of the base in
Hanzhong and marched with three hundred
thousand troops to Taoyang. His movements were
reported in the Qishan camps, and Deng Ai’s spies
confirmed the news.
It happened that Sima Wang was with Deng Ai
discussing military matters, and the former, when he
heard it, said, “That move is a blind; he does not
mean it. What he really intends is an attack on
“However, he has really gone to Taoyang,” said
Deng Ai.
“How can you know?”
“Formerly Jiang Wei has always opened with a
march to those parts of the country where we have
stored supplies. Taoyang has no stores, so he thinks
we shall not have taken care for its defense as we
shall concentrate our efforts on Qishan. But, if he
can take that place, he can collect stores there, and
get into touch with the Qiang tribespeople and finally
work out some grand plan.”
Three Kingdoms Romance
“Supposing this true, what should we do?”
“I advise the abandonment of this place and a
march in two bodies toward Taoyang. I know a small
town called Houxia, eight miles from Taoyang, which
is the throat of the place. You go to Taoyang, hide
your force and open the gates. Then act as I shall tell
you presently. I will lie in wait at Houxia. We shall
score a victory.”
Deng Ai gave Shi Zuan the command of the
camps in Qishan when the main body left.
Meanwhile Xiahou Ba led the van of the Shu
army toward Taoyang. As he drew near, he noticed
the place seemed to have no defenses; not a flag
staff reared its head. The gates stood wide open. He
was too wary to go straight in however, and said, “Is
there any ruse in there?”
His generals said, “We think the city was deserted
when they heard your army coming. A few people
were running away along the southern road.”
Xiahou Ba rode south and saw there that the
northwest road, at a little distance from the city, was
crowded with fugitives.
“The city is really empty,” said Xiahou Ba.
Three Kingdoms Romance
He led the way in all ready to fight, and the troops
followed. As they came near to the curtain wall,
however, a bomb exploded. At this sound the drums
beat, trumpets blared, and flags suddenly appeared.
At the same moment the drawbridge rose.
“Caught!” said Xiahou Ba.
As he turned to retire, the arrows and stones flew
down in clouds, and under these Xiahou Ba and
many of his soldiers lost their lives.
Most able strategist and brave,
Xiahou Ba, outwitted here
By Deng Ai, more prudent still, and slain,
Deserves a pitying tear.
The flights of arrows from the ramparts was
followed by a sortie, which broke up the force of Shu
entirely, and the troops fled. However, Jiang Wei
came up and drove Sima Wang back into the city.
The army of Shu camped beside the walls. Jiang
Wei was very grieved at the loss of Xiahou Ba.
That night Deng Ai came up secretly and attacked
the Shu camp. At the same time the defenders within
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the city made a sortie. Jiang Wei could not resist the
double attack, and left the field. He marched some
seven miles and camped.
Twice beaten, the soldiers of Shu were very
downcast. Jiang Wei tried to console them, saying,
“Loss or gain is the platitude of war; but I am not
worried yet about our recent defeats, for a total
victory will surely come in this expedition if all of you
strive your best. But remember, no mutiny! He who
talks of retreat will suffer death.”
Then Zhang Yi said, “With so many troops of Wei
here, their camp at Qishan must be undefended. I
propose, General, that while you continue the
contest here with Deng Ai, I go to try to capture the
nine camps. If I succeed, Changan will be at our
The second division of the army was detached to
march on Qishan, and Jiang Wei went down to
Houxia to provoke Deng Ai into fighting. The
challenge this time was accepted forthwith. Deng Ai
led his troops out and engaged with Jiang Wei in a
fight, but after thirty bouts without a decision, both
retired to their camps.
Three Kingdoms Romance
For days after this, Jiang Wei challenged again
and again, but Deng Ai declined and would not fight.
The Shu soldiers howled abuse and hurled insults at
their opponents, but all without effect.
Then Deng Ai thought within him, “There must be
some reason for this persistence. I think they have
sent an army to try to seize Qishan while they hold
me here. Shi Zuan and the force there are
insufficient, and I shall have to go to the rescue.”
Deng Ai called his son Deng Zhong, and said,
“Hold this place most carefully. Let them challenge
as they may, do not go out. Tonight I go to the help
of Qishan.”
It was night, and Jiang Wei was in his tent, intent
upon his plans, when he was disturbed by a great
shouting and drumming. They told him Deng Ai had
suddenly appeared. The generals asked leave to go
out to fight.
“Let no one move!” said Jiang Wei.
The fact was Deng Ai had only made a
demonstration at the camp of Shu on his way to
reinforce Qishan.
Then Jiang Wei said to his officers, “The attack of
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Deng Ai was a feint; he has certainly gone to relieve
So Jiang Wei decided to go to the aid of Zhang
Yi. He left Fu Qian to guard the camp, and he
marched away with three thousand troops.
Zhang Yi was then actually attacking the Wei
position on Qishan. Shi Zuan had few troops, and it
looked as though the defenders must soon give in,
when the sudden appearance of Deng Ai made all
the difference. The onslaught of Deng Ai’s force
drove off Zhang Yi, and he was forced to take refuge
behind the hills. No road was open to him. When
things looked worst, he saw the Wei soldiers
suddenly falling back in confusion.
“General Jiang Wei has come!” they told him.
Zhang Yi took the opportunity to return to the
attack, and the tables were turned. Deng Ai lost the
fight and retired into his camp, which Jiang Wei
surrounded and attacked vigorously.
In Chengdu the Latter Ruler fell daily more and
more under the malign influence of Huang Hao, who
encouraged him in every form of self−indulgence and
ministered to every desire for luxury and dissipation.
Three Kingdoms Romance
Government was left to look after itself.
At that time High Minister Liu Yan had a very
beautiful wife, Lady Hu. One day she went into the
Palace to visit the Empress, who kept her there a
whole month. Liu Yan was not without suspecting an
intrigue with the Latter Ruler and took a brutal
revenge. He bound Lady Hu, and made five hundred
of his soldiers shame her to the last degree by
beating her on the face with their boots. She
swooned many times.
The story got to the ears of the Latter Ruler, and
he ordered the officials concerned to investigate and
decide the crime and its punishment.
The judges found that: “Soldiers are not proper
persons to administer a punishment to a woman, and
the face is not a portion of the body to be mortified;
the author of this crime ought to be put to death.”
Wherefore Liu Yan was beheaded.
As time went on the Latter Ruler indulged in
unbridled sensuality, and gradually all good people
left the government, giving place to the meanest,
who soon swarmed there.
Among the sycophants of Huang Hao was Yan
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Yu, General of the Right Army, whose lack of merit
had not stood in the way of preferment. Hearing of
Jiang Wei’s defeats at Qishan, Yan Yu got his friend
Huang Hao to propose to the Latter Ruler, saying,
“Jiang Wei should be recalled as he has not been
able to score a decisive victory. Yan Yu can be sent
to replace him.”
The Latter Ruler agreed, and the edict was
One day, as Jiang Wei was working out his plan
of attack on the camps of Wei, three edicts came, all
to the same effect, recalling him to the capital.
Disobedience being out of the question, Jiang Wei
ceased all operations and sent the Taoyang force
back first. Then gradually he withdrew the others.
Deng Ai in his camp wondered at the rolling of
drums one night, but next day he heard that the Shu
camps were empty. However, he suspected some
ruse and did not pursue.
Arrived in Hanzhong, the army halted, and Jiang
Wei went on to the capital in company with the
messenger who had brought his orders. Here he
waited ten days, and still the Latter Ruler held no
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court. He began to suspect mischief.
One day near the palace gate he met Secretary
General Xi Zheng, and asked, “Do you know the
reason for my recall?”
“What General! Do you not know? Huang Hao
wanted to push Yan Yu into favor, so he intrigued for
your recall. Now they have found out Deng Ai is too
clever to be tackled, and so they are not fighting any
“I shall certainly have to put this eunuch fellow out
of the way,” said Jiang Wei.
“Hush! You are the successor of the Martial Lord,
Zhuge Liang, the man to whom he bequeathed his
unfinished task. You are too important to act hastily
or indiscreetly. If the Emperor withdrew his support, it
would go ill with you.”
“Sir, what you say is true,” replied Jiang Wei.
However, soon after this Jiang Wei, with a small
party, got into the Palace. The Latter Ruler was
enjoying himself with Huang Hao in the gardens.
They told Huang Hao, who at once hid himself.
Jiang Wei approached his master and prostrated
himself, saying, “Why did Your Majesty recall me? I
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had the enemy in my power at Qishan when the
triple edict came.”
The Latter Ruler hummed and hawed, but made
no reply. Then Jiang Wei began his real grievance.
“This Huang Hao is wicked and artful and seems
to have the last say in everything. The times of the
Emperor Ling and the Ten Regular Attendants have
returned. Your Majesty may recall Zhang Rang
recently or Zhao Gao in the old time; but if you will
only slay this man, the court will be purified and you
may return gloriously to the home of your fathers.”
The Latter Ruler smiled, saying, “Huang Hao is
but a minor servant, one who runs errands for me. If
he tried to do as you say, he could not. I always
wondered why Dong Yun seemed to hate poor
Huang Hao so much. Now you are the same. I pray
you, noble Sir, take no notice of him.”
“Unless Your Majesty gets rid of him, evil is very
close,” said Jiang Wei, beating his head upon the
The Latter Ruler replied, “If you love anyone, you
want him to live; if you dislike him, you desire his
death; can you not bear with my one poor eunuch?”
Three Kingdoms Romance
The Latter Ruler bade one of the attendants go
and call Huang Hao. When Huang Hao approached
the pavilion, the Latter Ruler told him to ask pardon
of Jiang Wei.
Huang Hao prostrated himself and wept, saying,
“I am always in attendance upon the Sacred One;
that is all I do. I never meddle in state affairs. I pray
you, General, pay no heed to what people say. If you
desire my death, I am in your hands, but pity me.”
And tears ran down his cheeks. Jiang Wei went
away in ill humor. Outside he sought his friend Xi
Zheng and told him what had happened.
“General, you are in grave danger,” said Xi
Zheng. “And if you fall, the country falls with you.”
“Can you advise me?” said Jiang Wei. “How can I
secure the state and myself?”
Xi Zheng replied, “There is a place of refuge for
you in Longxi, and that is Tazhong. It is a rich
country, and you can make a cantonment there like
the Martial Lord did. Request the Emperor to let you
go thither. You can gather in corn and wheat for your
armies, you can secure all the west of Longyou, you
can keep Wei from troubling Hanzhong, you will
Three Kingdoms Romance
retain your military authority, so that no one will dare
intrigue against you, and you will be safe. Thus you
can ensure the safety of the state and yourself. You
should lose no time.”
“Your speech is gold and jewels,” said Jiang Wei,
Without loss of time, Jiang Wei memorialized the
Throne and obtained the Latter Ruler’s consent.
Then he returned to Hanzhong, assembled his
officers, and told them his plans.
“Our many expeditions have failed to achieve
success owing to lack of supplies. Now I am about to
take eighty thousand troops to Tazhong to form a
cantonment and grow wheat and corn ready for the
next expedition. You are spent with much fighting
and may now repose while collecting grain and
guarding Hanzhong. The armies of Wei are from
home and have to drag their grain over the
mountains. They will be worn out with the labor and
must soon retire. That will he the time to smite them,
and success must be ours.”
Hu Ji was set over Hanshou, Wang Han over
Yuecheng, Jiang Bin over Hancheng, and Jiang Shu
Three Kingdoms Romance
and Fu Qian went to guard the passes. After these
arrangements had been made, Jiang Wei went off to
Tazhong to grow grain and mature his plans.
Deng Ai heard of these dispositions and
discovered that the armies of Shu were distributed in
forty−eight camps, each connected with the next like
the joints of a huge serpent. He sent out his spies to
survey the country, and they made a map which was
sent to the capital.
But when the Duke of Jin, Sima Zhao, saw the
memorial and the map, he was very angry.
“This Jiang Wei has invaded our country many
times, and we have been unable to destroy him. He
is the one sorrow of my heart.”
Said Jia Chong, “He has carried on the work of
Zhuge Liang only too thoroughly, and it is hard to
force him back. What you need is some crafty brave
to assassinate him, so remove this constant menace
of war.”
But Adviser Xun Xu said, “That is not the way. Liu
Shan, the Ruler of Shu, is steeped in dissipation and
has given all his confidence to one favorite, the
eunuch Huang Hao. The higher officers of state are
Three Kingdoms Romance
concerned solely with their own safety, and Jiang
Wei has gone to Tazhong only that he may save his
life. If you send an able leader and a strong army,
victory is certain. Where is the need for an assassin’s
“These are excellent words,” said Sima Zhao,
with a laugh, “but if I would attack Shu, where is the
“Deng Ai is the ablest leader of the day,” said Xun
Xu. “Give him Zhong Hui as his second, and the
thing is done.”
“Exactly what I think,” said Sima Zhao.
So he summoned Zhong Hui and said to him, “I
desire to send you as leader against Wu; can you
“My lord’s design is not against Wu, but Shu,” was
his reply.
“How well you know my inmost thought!” said
Sima Zhao. “But how would you conduct an
expedition against Shu?”
“Thinking that my lord would desire to attack Shu,
I have already prepared plans. Here they are.”
He laid out his maps, and thereon were shown
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the camps, and storehouses, and roads all complete.
Sima Zhao was highly pleased.
“You are an excellent leader,” said he. “What say
you to going with Deng Ai?”
“The Lands of Rivers is large, and there is space
for more than one set of operations. Deng Ai can be
sent along another line.”
Zhong Hui was given the title of General Who
Conquers the West and the insignia of a
Commander−in−Chief over the forces within the
pass and control of the armies of Qingzhou, Xuzhou,
Yanzhou, Yuzhou, Jingzhou, and Yangzhou. At the
same time a commission with authority flag was sent
to Deng Ai giving him command of the forces without
the pass, with the title of General Who Conquers the
West. And the time for an attack on Shu was settled.
When Sima Zhao was settling the plans in the
court, General Deng Dun said, “Why are you sending
our armies into a distant and dangerous country and
thus inviting trouble? Jiang Wei has invaded this
many times, and the wars have cost us many
lives. We should rather seek safety in defense.”
Three Kingdoms Romance
“I am sending a righteous army against an
unrighteous ruler; how dare you oppose my
Sima Zhao ordered the executioners to put Deng
Dun to death forthwith, and they soon returned to lay
his head at the foot of the steps. This frightened all
those present, and they turned pale.
Sima Zhao said, “It is six years since I conquered
the east, and the six years have been spent in
preparation. I have long intended to reduce both Wu
and Shu. Now I will destroy Shu, and then like a
flood I will descend upon Wu and conquer that. That
is the method ‘destroy Guo to capture Yu.’ ((Guo and
Yu are two ancient states)). I can tell very nearly
what forces they have in Shu. There are eighty or
ninety thousand troops in the garrison of Capital
Chengdu, forty or fifty thousand on the frontier, while
Jiang Wei has about sixty thousand in his
cantonments. Against them we can pit one hundred
thousand troops under Deng Ai, enough to hold
Jiang Wei and keep him from moving east, and
Zhong Hui has two or three hundred thousand
veterans. And they will go in three divisions straight
Three Kingdoms Romance
into Hanzhong. Liu Shan, the Ruler of Shu, is a blind
fool with his frontier cities in ruins, his courtiers and
women quaking with fear. He will not last long.”
The assembly praised this perspicacity.
Zhong Hui marched as soon as he received his
seal of office. Lest his real object should be known,
he gave out that his force was directed against Wu;
and to give color to the pretense, he had many large
ships built in Qingzhou, Yanzhou, Yuzhou, Jingzhou,
and Yangzhou. He also sent Tang Zi along the
coastal regions of Dengzhou and Laizhou to collect
Even his chief, Sima Zhao, was deceived and
called him to ask why he was collecting ships.
Zhong Hui replied, “If Shu hears that we intend to
attack the west, they will ask assistance from Wu. So
I pretend to attack Wu, and Wu will not dare to move
under a year. When Shu is beaten, the ships will be
ready and useful for an expedition into the East.”
Sima Zhao was pleased. The day chosen for the
march was the third day of the seventh mouth in the
fourth year of Wonderful Beginning, in Wei calendar
(AD 264). Sima Zhao escorted his leader out of the
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city for three miles and then took his leave.
Shao Ti, Minister of the Western Affairs,
whispered a word of warning.
“My lord has sent Zhong Hui with a large army
against Shu. I think he is too ambitious to be trusted
with such powers?”
“Think you I do not know?” said Sima Zhao.
“Then why have you sent him alone and without a
Sima Zhao said a few words to Shao Ti which put
his doubts at rest.
Zhong Hui went alone, although his master knew,
Occasion serving, he would be untrue.
The next chapter will tell the reader what Shao Ti
Three Kingdoms Romance

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