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CHAPTER 117. Deng Ai Gets Through The Yinping Mountains; Zhuge Zhan Falls In The Battlefield Of Mianzhu.

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

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When Dong Jue, General Who Upholds the State,
heard of the invasion of Wei in ten divisions, he
brought to the frontier twenty thousand troops to
Saber Pass. And when the dust showed an
approaching army, Dong Jue thought it wise to go to
the Pass lest the coming armies should be enemies
to be stopped.
But Dong Jue found that the newcomers were
Jiang Wei, Liao Hua, and Zhang Yi; he let them pass
through and gave them the news from the capital,
bad news of the deeds of both the Latter Ruler and
Huang Hao.
“But do not grieve;” said Jiang Wei, “so long as I
live, I will not allow Wei to come and conquer Shu.”
They kept good guard at Saber Pass, while they
discussed future plans.
“Though we are holding this pass, yet Chengdu is
well−nigh empty of soldiers,” said Dong Jue. “If it
was attacked it would go crack!”
Three Kingdoms Romance
Jiang Wei replied, “The natural defenses of
Chengdu are excellent; it is hard to cross over the
mountains and climb the steep roads. No one need
fear.”
Soon after this, Zhuge Xu appeared at the pass
challenging the defenders. Jiang Wei forthwith
placed himself at the head of five thousand troops
and went down to meet the Wei army. He gained an
easy victory, slaying many of the enemy and taking
much spoil in horses and weapons.
While Jiang Wei went back to the pass, the
defeated Zhuge Xu made his way to Zhong Hui’s
camp, seven miles away, to confess his failure. His
general was very angry.
“My orders to you were to hold Yinping Bridge so
as to stop Jiang Wei, and you lost it. Now without
any orders you attack and are defeated.”
“Jiang Wei played so many deceitful tricks. He
pretended to be going to take Yongzhou, and I
thought that was very important, so I sent troops to
rescue it. Then he meanly got away. I followed to the
pass, but never thought he would come out and
defeat my troops.”
Three Kingdoms Romance
Zhuge Xu pleaded thus, but he was sentenced to
die.
Now Wei Guan, Army Inspector, said, “Zhuge Xu
is really a subordinate of Deng Ai and, admitting that
he is in fault, his punishment should not have been
pronounced by you, O Commander.”
But Zhong Hui swaggeringly replied, “I have a
command from the Emperor and orders from the
Prime Minister to attack Shu; if Deng Ai himself
offended, I would behead him.”
However, other leaders interceded for Zhuge Xu,
and Zhong Hui did not put him to death, but sent him
a
caged prisoner to the capital to be judged. The
surviving soldiers were added to Zhong Hui’s army.
This insolent speech of Zhong Hui was duly
repeated to Deng Ai, who was angry in his turn and
said, “His rank and mine are the same. I have held a
frontier post for years and sustained many fatigues in
the country’s service. Who is he that he gives himself
such airs?”
His son Deng Zhong endeavored to appease his
wrath.
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“Father, if you cannot suffer small things, you may
upset the grand policy of the state. Unfriendliness
with him may do great harm, so I hope you will bear
with him.”
Deng Ai saw his son was right, and said no more;
but he nourished anger in his heart. With a small
escort he went to call upon his colleague.
When his coming was announced, Zhong Hui
asked his staff, “How many soldiers are following
Deng Ai?”
“He has only some twenty horsemen,” they
replied.
Zhong Hui had a large body of guards drawn up
about his tent, and then gave orders that his visitor
should be led in. Deng Ai dismounted, and the two
men saluted each other. But the visitor did not like
the look on the faces of his host’s guards. He
decided to find out what Zhong Hui was thinking.
“The capture of Hanzhong is a piece of excellent
fortune for the state,” said Deng Ai. “The capture of
Saber Pass can now be accomplished easily.”
“What is your own idea, General?” asked Zhong
Hui.
Three Kingdoms Romance
Deng Ai tried to evade answering the question,
but could not. Zhong Hui pressed him to reply.
Finally he said, “In my simple opinion one might
proceed by by−roads from the pass through the
Yinping Mountains to Deyang in Hanzhong, and
thence make a surprise march to Chengdu. Jiang
Wei must go to its defense, and you, General, can
take the Saber Pass.”
“A very good plan,” said Zhong Hui. “You may
start forthwith, and I will wait here till I hear news of
your success.”
They drank, and Deng Ai took his leave. Zhong
Hui went back to his own tent filled with contempt for
Deng Ai’s plan. which he thought impracticable.
“They say Deng Ai is able; I think he is of most
ordinary capacity,” said he to his officers.
“But why?” said they.
“Because the by−roads by Yinping Mountains are
impassable, nothing but lofty cliffs and steep hills. A
hundred defenders at a critical point could cut all
communications, and Deng Ai’s army would starve to
death. I shall go by the direct road, and there is no
fear about the result. I shall overcome Shu.”
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S o h e p r e p a r e d s c a l i n g l a d d e r s a n d
stone−throwing machines and set himself to besiege
Saber Pass.
Deng Ai went out to the main gate of the court.
While mounting, he said to his followers, “What did
Zhong Hui think of me?”
“He looked as though he held a poor opinion of
what you had said, General, and disagreed with you,
although his words were fair enough.”
“He thinks I cannot take Chengdu; and so I will
take it.”
He was received at his own camp by Shi Zuan
and his son Deng Zhong, and a party of others of his
generals, and they asked what the conversation had
been about.
“I told Zhong Hui simple truth, but he thinks I am
just a common person of no ability to speak of. He
r e g a r d s t h e c a p t u r e o f H a n z h o n g a s a n
incomparable feat of arms. Where would he have
been if I had not held up Jiang Wei? But I think the
capture of Chengdu will beat that of Hanzhong.”
That night the camp was broken up, and they set
out upon a long march along the mountainous paths.
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At a distance from Saber Pass they were to make a
camp. Zhong Hui laughed at the attempt.
From his camp Deng Ai sent a letter to Sima
Zhao. Then he called his officers to his tent and
asked them, saying, “I am going to make a dash for
Chengdu while it is still undefended, and success will
mean unfading glory for us all. Will you follow me?”
“We will follow you and obey your orders,” cried
they all.
So the final dispositions were made. Deng Zhong
and three thousand troops went first to improve the
road. His troops wore no armor, but they had axes
and boring tools. They were to level roads and build
bridges.
Next went thirty thousand troops furnished with
dry grain and ropes. At every one hundred miles they
were to make a post of three thousand.
In autumn of that year, they left Yinping, and in
the tenth month they were in most precipitous
country of the Yinping Mountains. They had taken
twenty−seven days to travel two hundred and fifty
miles. They were in an uninhabited country. After
garrisoning the various posts on the way, they had
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only two thousand soldiers left. Before them stood a
range named Heaven Cliffs, which no horse could
ascend. Deng Ai climbed up on foot to see his son
and the troops with him opening up a road. They
were exhausted with fatigue and weeping.
Deng Ai asked why they were so sad, and his son
replied, “We have found an impassable precipice
away to the northwest which we cannot get through.
All our labor has been in vain.”
Deng Ai said, “We have got over two hundred and
fifty miles, and just beyond is Jiangyou. We cannot
go back. How can one get tiger cubs except by going
into tiger caves? Here we are, and it will be a very
great feat to capture Chengdu.”
They all said they would go on. So they came to
the precipice. First they threw over their weapons;
then the leader wrapped himself in blankets and
rolled over the edge, next the generals followed him,
also wrapped in blankets. Those who had not
blankets were let down by cords round the waist, and
others clinging to trees followed one after another till
all had descended and the Heaven Cliffs was
passed. Then they retook their armor and weapons
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and went on their way.
They came across a stone by the roadside. It
bore a mysterious inscription, translated literally it
read:
“This stone is a message of Zhuge Liang the
Prime Minister:
“Two fires were just founded; armies pass by
here. Two soldiers compete; both soon die.”
(Two Lius were just founded, armies pass by
here. Deng Ai and Zhong Hui compete; both soon
die).
Deng Ai was astonished. Presently he bowed
before the stone and prayed to the spirit of Zhuge
Liang.
“O Martial Lord, immortal. I grieve that I am not
thy worthy disciple.”
The rugged lofty mountain peaks
Of Yinping, pierce the sky,
The somber crane with wearied wing
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Can scarcely over them fly.
Intrepid Deng Ai in blankets wrapped
Rolled down the craggy steep,
His feat Zhuge Liang prophesied
By insight wondrous deep.
Having crossed this great range of mountains
without discovery, Deng Ai marched forward.
Presently he came to a roomy camp, empty and
deserted. He was told that while Zhuge Liang lived, a
thousand troops had been kept in garrison at this
point of danger, but the Latter Ruler had withdrawn
them. Deng Ai sighed at the thought.
He said to his troops, “Now retreat is impossible,
there is no road back. Before you lies Jiangyou with
stores in abundance. Advance and you live, retreat
and you die. You must fight with all your strength.”
“We will fight to the death!” they cried.
The leader was now afoot, doing double marches
with his two thousand troops toward Jiangyou.
The commander at Jiangyou was Ma Miao. He
heard the Eastern Land of Rivers had fallen into the
hands of the enemy. Though some thing prepared
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for defense, yet his post had a wide area to cover
and guard, and he trusted Jiang Wei would defend
the Saber Pass. So he did not take his military duties
very seriously, just maintaining the daily drills and
then going home to his wife to cuddle up to the stove
and drink.
His wife was of the Li family. When she heard of
the state of things on the frontier, she said to her
husband, “If there is so great danger on the borders,
how is it you are so unaffected?”
“The affair is in Jiang Wei’s hands and is not my
concern,” replied he.
“Nevertheless, you finally have to guard the
capital, and that is a heavy responsibility.”
“O, well! The Emperor trusts his favorite Huang
Hao entirely and is sunk in vice and pleasure.
Disaster is very near; and if the Wei armies get here,
I shall yield. It is no good taking it seriously.”
“You call yourself a man! Have you such a
disloyal and treacherous heart? Is it nothing to have
held office and taken pay for years? How can I bear
to look upon your face?”
Ma Miao was too ashamed to attempt to reply.
Three Kingdoms Romance
Just then his house servants came to tell him that
Deng Ai, with his two thousand troops, had found
their way along some road and had already broken
into the city.
Ma Miao was now frightened and hastily went out
to find the leader and offer his formal submission. He
went to the Town Hall and bowed on the steps,
crying, “I have long desired to come over to Wei.
Now I yield myself and my army and all the town.”
Deng Ai accepted his surrender and incorporated
his army with his own force. He took Ma Miao into
his service as guide.
Then came a servant with the news: “Lady Li has
hanged herself!”
Deng Ai why she had done it, and Ma Miao told
him. Deng Ai, admiring her rectitude, gave orders for
an honorable burial. He also went in person to
sacrifice. Everyone extolled her conduct.
When the Ruler of Shu had wandered from the
way,
And the House of Han fell lower,
Heaven sent Deng Ai to smite the land.
Three Kingdoms Romance
Then did a woman show herself most noble,
So noble in conduct,
That no leader equaled her.
As soon as Jiangyou was taken, the posts along
the road by which the army had come were
withdrawn, and there was a general rendezvous at
this point. This done, they marched toward Fucheng.
General Tian Xu remonstrated, saying, “We have
just finished a long and perilous march and are
weary and worn out. We ought to repose for a few
days to recover.”
Deng Ai angrily replied, “Speed is the one
important matter in war: do not encourage any
discontent. I will not have it.”
Tian Xu was sentenced to death; but as many
officers interceded for him, he was pardoned.
The army pressed on toward Fucheng. As soon
as they arrived, the officers yielded as if they thought
Deng Ai had fallen from the heavens. Some took the
news to the capital, and the Latter Ruler began to
feel alarmed. He hastily called for Huang Hao, who
at once denied the report.
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“That is just false rumor. The spirits would not
deceive Your Majesty,” said Huang Hao.
The Latter Ruler summoned the wise woman to
the Palace, but the messengers said she had gone
no one knew whither. And now urgent memorials
and letters fell in from every side like a snow storm,
and messengers went to and fro in constant streams.
The Latter Ruler called a court to discuss the danger,
but no one had any plan or suggestion to offer. The
courtiers just looked blankly into each other’s faces.
Finally Xi Zheng spoke out, “In this extremity Your
Majesty should call in the help of the son of the
Martial Lord.”
This son of Zhuge Liang was named Zhuge Zhan.
His mother was born of the Huang family and a
daughter of Huang Chenyan. She was singularly
plain and extraordinarily talented. She had studied
everything, even books of strategy and magic. Zhuge
Liang in Nanyang had married her because of her
goodness, and she had shared his studies. She had
survived her husband but a short time, and her last
words to her son had been: be loyal and filial.
Zhuge Zhan had been known as a clever lad and
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had married a daughter of the Latter Ruler, so that
he was an Imperial Son−in−Law. His father’s rank,
Lord of Wuxiang, had descended to him. In the
fourth year of
Wonderful Sight (AD 262) Zhuge Zhan received
the General rank in the guards as well. But he had
retired when Huang Hao, the eunuch, as first
favorite, began to direct state affairs.
As suggested, the Latter Ruler summoned Zhuge
Zhan to court, and he said, weeping, “Deng Ai has
defeated Fucheng, and the capital is seriously
threatened. You must think of your father and rescue
me.”
“My father and I owe too much to the First Ruler’s
and Your Majesty’s kindness for me to think any
sacrifice too great to make for Your Majesty. I pray
that you give me command of the troops in the
capital, and I will fight a decisive battle.”
So the soldiers, seventy thousand, were placed
under Zhuge Zhan’s command. When he had
gathered all together, he said, “Who dares be Leader
of the Van?”
His son, Zhuge Shang, then nineteen, offered
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himself, saying, “Since my father commands the
army, I volunteer to lead the van.”
Zhuge Shang had studied military books and
made himself an adept in the various exercises. So
he was appointed, and the army marched to find the
enemy.
In the meantime the surrender general, Ma Miao,
had given Deng Ai a very complete map of the
country showing the whole sixty miles of road to
Chengdu. However, Deng Ai was dismayed when he
saw the difficulties ahead of him.
“If they defend the hills in front, I shall fail; for if I
am delayed, Jiang Wei will come up, and my army
will be in great danger. The army must press on.”
He called Shi Zuan and his son Deng Zhong and
said, “Lead one army straight to Mianzhu to keep
back any Shu soldiers sent to stop our march. I will
follow as soon as I can. But hasten; for if you let the
enemy forestall you, I will put you to death.”
They went. Nearing Mianzhu they met the army
under Zhuge Zhan. Both sides prepared for battle.
The Shu armies adopted the Eight Diagrams
formation and presently, after the usual triple roll of
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drums, Shi Zuan and Deng Zhong saw their
opponents’ ranks open in the center, and therefrom
emerge a light carriage in which sat a figure looking
exactly as Zhuge Liang used to look when he
appeared on the battlefield. Everybody knew the
Taoist robes and the feather fan. The standard bore
his name and titles: “The Han Prime Minister
Zhuge Liang”.
The sight was too much for Deng Zhong and Shi
Zuan. The cold sweat of terror poured down them,
and they stammered out.
“If Zhuge Liang is still alive, that is the end of us.”
They led their army to flee. The troops of Shu
came on, and the army of Wei was driven away in
defeat and chased a distance of seven miles. Then
the pursuers sighted Deng Ai and they turned and
retired.
When Deng Ai had camped, he called the two
leaders before him and reproached them for
retreating without fighting.
“We saw Zhuge Liang leading the enemy,” said
Deng Zhong, “So we ran away.”
“Why should we fear, even if they bring Zhuge
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Liang to life again? You ran away without cause, and
we have lost. You ought both to be put to death.”
However, they did not die, for their fellows
pleaded for them, and Deng Ai’s wrath was mollified.
Then the scouts came in to say that the leader of the
army was a son of Zhuge Liang, and they had set up
on the carriage a wooden image of the late
strategist.
Deng Ai, however, said to Deng Zhong and Shi
Zuan, “This is the critical stage; and if you lose the
next battle, you will certainly lose your lives with it.”
At the head of ten thousand troops, they went out
to battle once more. This time they met the vanguard
led by Zhuge Shang, who rode out alone, boldly
offering to repulse the leaders of Wei. At Zhuge
Zhan’s signal the two wings advanced and threw
themselves against the Wei line. The center portion
of the Wei line met them, and the battle went to and
fro many times, till at length the force of Wei, after
great losses, had to give way. Both Deng Zhong and
Shi Zuan being badly wounded, they fled and the
army of Shu pursued and drove the invaders into
their camp.
Three Kingdoms Romance
Shi Zuan and Deng Zhong had to acknowledge a
new defeat, but, when Deng Ai saw both were
severely wounded, he forbore to blame them or
decree any penalty.
To his officers Deng Ai said, “This Zhuge Zhan
well continues the paternal tradition. Twice they have
beaten us and slain great numbers. We must defeat
them, and that quickly, or we are lost.”
Then Military Inspector Qiu Ben said, “Why not
persuade their leader with a letter?”
Deng Ai agreed and wrote a letter, which he sent
by the hand of a messenger. The warden of the Shu
camp gate led the messenger in to see Zhuge Zhan,
who opened the letter and read:
“Deng Ai, General Who Conquers the West,
writes to Zhuge Zhan, General of the Guard and
Leader of the army in
the field.
“Now having carefully observed your talent in
attack, I see you are not equal to your most honored
father. From the moment of his emergence from his
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retreat, he said that the country was to be in tripod
division. He conquered Jingzhou and Yiazhou and
thus established a position. Few have been his equal
in all history. He made six expeditions from Qishan,
and, if he failed, it was not that be lacked skill; it was
the will of Heaven.
“But now this Latter Ruler is dull and weak, and
his kingly aura is already exhausted. I have a
command from the Son of Heaven to smite Shu with
severity, and I already possess the land. Your capital
must quickly fall. Why then do you not bow to the will
of Heaven and fall in with the desires of people by
acting rightly and coming over to our side? I will
obtain the rank of Prince of Langye for you, whereby
your ancestors will be rendered illustrious. These are
no vain words if happily you will consider them.”
The letter made Zhuge Zhan furiously angry. He
tore it to fragments and ordered the bearer thereof to
be put to death immediately. He also ordered the
escort to bear the head of the messenger to the
camp of Wei and lay it before Deng Ai.
Deng Ai was very angry at this insult and wished
to go forth at once to battle. But Qiu Ben dissuaded
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him.
“Do not go out to battle;” said he, “rather
overcome him by some unexpected stroke.”
So Deng Ai laid his plans. He sent Wang Qi,
Governor of Tianshui, and Qian Hong, Governor of
Longxi, to lie in wait in the rear while he led the main
body.
Zhuge Zhan happened to be close at hand
seeking battle; and when he heard the enemy was
near, he led out his army eagerly and rushed into the
midst of the invaders. Then Deng Ai fled as though
worsted, so luring on Zhuge Zhan. But when the
pursuit had lasted some time, the pursuers were
attacked by those who lay in wait, and the Shu
troops were defeated. They ran away into Mianzhu.
Therefore Deng Ai besieged Mianzhu, and the
troops of Wei shouted about the city and watched
the ramparts, thus keeping the defenders close shut
in as if held in an iron barrel.
Zhuge Zhan was desperate, seeing no way of
escape without help from outside. Wherefore he
wrote a letter to East Wu begging for assistance, and
he gave this letter to Peng He to bear through the
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besiegers.
Peng He fought his way through and reached Wu,
where he saw the Ruler of Wu, Sun Xiu. And he
presented the letter showing the wretched plight of
Zhuge Zhan and his urgent need.
Then the Ruler of Wu assembled his officers and
said to them, “The land of Shu being in danger, I
cannot sit and look on unconcerned.”
He therefore decided to send fifty thousand
troops, over whom he set the Veteran General Ding
Feng, with two able assistants—Sun Yi and Ding
Fung. Having received his edict, Ding Feng sent
away his commanders with twenty thousand troops
to Mianzhu, and he himself went with thirty thousand
troops toward Shouchun. The army marched in three
divisions.
In the city of Mianzhu, Zhuge Zhan waited for the
rescue which never came.
Weary of the hopeless delay, he said to his
generals, “This long defense is useless; I will fight.”
Leaving his son Zhuge Shang and Adviser Zhang
Zun (Zhang Fei’s grandson) in the city, Zhuge Zhan
put on his armor and led out three thousand troops
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through three gates to fight in the open. Seeing the
defenders making a sortie, Deng Ai drew off and
Zhuge Zhan pursued him vigorously, thinking Deng
Ai really fled before his force. But there was an
ambush, and falling therein he was quickly
surrounded as is the kernel of a nut by the shell. In
vain he thrust right and shoved left, he only lost his
troops in the raining arrows and bolts. The troops of
Wei poured in more flights of arrows, so that his
army were all shattered. Before long, Zhuge Zhan
was wounded and fell.
“I am done,” cried he. “But in my death I will do
my duty!” He drew his sword and slew himself.
From the city walls his son Zhuge Shang saw the
death of his father. Girding on his armor he made to
go out to fight. But Zhang Zun told him, “Young
general, do not go out immediately!”
Cried Zhuge Shang, “My father and I and all our
family have received favors from the state. My father
has died in battle against our enemies, and can I
live?”
He whipped his horse and dashed out into the
thick of the fight, where he died. A poem has been
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written extolling the conduct of both father and son.
In skill he was found wanting, not in loyalty;
But the Lord’s word had gone forth,
That the Ruler of Shu was to be cut off,
Noble were Zhuge Liang’s descendants.
In commiseration of their loyalty, Deng Ai had
both father and son buried fittingly. Then he began
attacking the city vigorously. Zhang Zun, Huang
Chong, and Li Qiu, the defenders, however, held the
city desperately, but to no avail for their numbers
being small, and the three leaders were slain. This
was the end of the defense, and Deng Ai then
entered as conqueror. Having rewarded his army, he
set out for Chengdu.
The closing days of the Latter Ruler were full of
pain and sorrow,
As had been those of Liu Zhang.
The next chapter will tell of the defense of
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Chengdu.
Three Kingdoms Romance

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